Pros: Delivers comfortable food that is all about those “mmmmmm” moments
Cons: Some technical pitfulls
The best recipes to prepare at home are not always those found on the latest cooking program or come from trying to replicate the goodness found at the hottest restaurant. Some recipes may even be relaxed preparations found on hand-scrawled notes, the back of an envelope or scratched on loose-leaf paper, in faded ink in the author’s familiarly casual script. And can’t the same be said for the food itself? Comfort and deliciousness comes in all forms; a superior burger preparation at Shake Shack; lovingly prepared Chicken ’n Dumplings from grandma’s kitchen; sweetly spicy tamales from the nice lady on the corner. What makes food special is the heartbeat which resonates throughout the mouthfuls. There is that never-ending desire to have that comfort, warm embrace and near feverish glow after a good bite.
Within the pages of Polish Classic Recipes, Laura and Peter Zeranski deliver comfortable food that is all about those “mmmmmm” moments. Make no mistake, there is no painfully technical searing, impossibly hard to find ingredients, fanciful flights of culinary risk-taking. Rather, the Zeranskis bring the local Polish bakery, larder and soup kettle to life. They lift the curtain on familiar fare like Potato Pancakes, Red Cabbage with Apples, Chrusciki and the indomitable Polish classics of Cabbage Rolls - golabki - and Pierogi, among others. So what sets this collection apart? The genuine sincerity that delivers Babka, Poppy Seed Rolls and Classic Beet Soup is grounded in Peter Zeranski’s familial author lineage. Alina Zeranska pennedThe Art of Polish Cooking and that artful cooking has found another voice of the Polish kitchen in her son, Peter.
You know, as a reader or frequent browser of cookbooks or casual juggler of kitchen artistry, there is a certain genre with which we feel most comfortable and tend to embrace. I read food essays; that’s my thing. I look for works laden with history, anecdotes, origins and drawn-out tales of cooking adventures. I do not usually stick to photo-rich books that examine one particular cooking snapshot. So why Polish Classic Recipes? Because it is different not just for the sake of being different. The recipes are the Sunday suppers that close a weekend or the warm embrace of a chilly night. Polish brings to life the flavors we regard as the gentle tones that don’t startle or scare. Rather, the food the Zeranskis deliver reminds you of that really nice neighbor lady that always fed you after the street lights came on and before the ice cream truck made its rounds. The photographs are styled with a nod to reality rather than, say, a Trotter-esque painted plate of unattainable epicurean outlandishness. Instead, the food, the recipes, the photos all tell a story of people that understand and celebrate unpretentious Baked Fish and soothing Veal Stew with Dill. Forty-plus recipes, under 100 pages, Polish is succinct and intentional. There is as much an economy in the food of Poland as the Zeranskis deliver. Again, a relaxed approach to cooking that brings out what remember about nice cooking.