Thursday: Dobrzyn

August 1, 2014 • 12:14 pm

It was very quiet yesterday; little to do besides nom, talk, take walks, pet Hili, read, write on this site, and read more. But that’s fine, for I know what’s waiting for me when I return on Tuesday: THE ALBATROSS!

When I went into the bathroom yesterday morning to take my shower, I found the Princess also waking up. She had had a restful morning quietly depositing her fur on the clean towels. And proud of her dentition, she always shows me her fangs:


Cue to dinner, one of the best we’ve had yet: Malgorzata made a buckwheat casserole with sausage, cheese, wild mushrooms, and a few pieces of leftover roast beef. It was scrumptious, and I had to restrain myself from having only two helpings. Buckwheat (kasha, as it’s known in Yiddish) is a vastly underappreciated ingredient; in fact, I’ve rarely seen it outside Jewish delis and restaurants, where it’s served with noodles as kasha varnishkes. Perhaps some readers can suggest how they use it. I do love buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup. 

Dinner was of course washed down with a cold Zubr.  Cyrus looked on hopefully, but he didn’t get any:


My first portion. If you ask nicely, and are serious about making this lovely dish, Malgorzata might be kind enough to provide the recipe. It’s fantastic.


And, right before I retired, I was given the last piece of fresh cherry pie until next summer’s harvest. You can see how, though I’m about to tuck into it, I’m disconsolate about the coming absence of pie once it’s in my stomach. Such is the glass-half-empty attitude of the secular Jew:


But no worries–at least for goys! Malgorzata made a Swedish apple pie today with custard sauce. I’ve already had a piece (well, two), and it is great. Pictures tomorrow. So far I have not been pieless for a day since my arrival in Poland.

49 thoughts on “Thursday: Dobrzyn

    1. By his ears, he looks confused. That’s the “what the hell is happening, I’m perplexed” dog expression.

  1. Fantastic-looking casserole. Definitely interested in the instructions for that one as I’m a sucker for a good stew/casserole/thing that is cooked in one pot/etc.

    And as we have a lot of Polish folks in London Zubr is very easy to get hold of. Normally I go for Lech or Tyskie, but Zubr is nice if you want something a bit stronger.

  2. The buckwheat looks similar to pearl barley that it used in British, and especially Scottish, cooking.

    1. It’s got a very different smell when it’s cooking. The wife loves it – and only cooks it while I’m on a different continent.

  3. I love kasha the traditional varnishkas way Though, I like to caramelize onions separately and add them only at the end And olive oil or butter is fine – who keeps schmaltz around?

    And, if you take some leftover kasha and add it to leftover pasta of any shape, you have the basis for tons of options, both hot or cold. A little kasha can transform a lot of pasta (or other starch)into something very different from the usual fare.

    1. Dad caramelizes the onions separately, too — and, I agree, that’s the way to go.

      Dad also makes schmaltz (and gribenes!), generally from fat he saves (and freezes) from chickens as my parents buy them, but he’s sometimes found butchers who’ll save it up for him.

      But, if you don’t want to go to that level of trouble, just make some chicken soup with legs, and refrigerate the leftover broth. You’ll get a layer of schmaltz on top that you can easily scoop off and use for whatever you like.

      …and I’m definitely ticking that checkbox on this one in the hopes that Malgorzata graces us with that recipe….


    1. Use couscous in place of kasha ; it has flavour and no stomach-turning stench.
      Horses for courses.

        1. Don’t you have that saying in EN_US? Some horses suit one particular (race) course and other horses suit other courses. So you choose a horse for the course. Or, if you’re going through the lists for a race at a particular course, then certain horses are going to attract longer (or shorter odds. (Or something like that – because I studied statistics, I’ve never even seen a bookie’s form, let alone placed a bet.)

          1. Sounds reasonable, though have never heard the exp’n. Have taught high school stats but also know nada about bookie forms. Btw, is your avatar Owl from Pooh, or another owl altogether. I just in fact noticed that it was an owl and not a guy in a helmet..

          2. It’s “Caba”, the owl from “Vinni Pukh.” which was a series of mid-length cartoons produced by a Soviet animation house in the early 1970s.
            Very different to the Walt Disney stuff. I’ll leave it as a debate for copyright lawyers whether it was illegal or not at the time – but it’s much better, if you ask me.

          3. Oh, yeah, the Russian Vinni that someone posted about a couple of weeks ago. So the owl does seem to gave the hunni pot:-)

          4. Probably me posting about it. The wife, being Russian and of a certain age, introduced me to the cartoons. My association with “Wol” goes back a lot further.

          5. I finally watched an episode & it’s pretty cute. I like the voice of Winnie, who looks much more bear like. The episode I watched had Winnie being somewhat existential & I was worried he was going to go all Dostoyevsky!

          6. I was worried he was going to go all Dostoyevsky!

            Doesn’t sound like Vinni and the bees ; surely it was Eeyore who was going all Dostoyevski on you?

          7. It was Winnie starting to question why bees and honey exist. I really liked the animation of the bees though when they were suspicious of Winnie – their expressions were great.

  4. You are so right bout Kasha. One of the best things about growing up in a place that has so many immigrants and so many transplants form other parts of America is that you get the best of everybody’s food. There was a small deli near my boyhood home run by an old Russian Jewish woman. Once a week or so she would serve this sort of pilaf with Kasha and mushrooms. It was so good. I wish I knew the name of that dish, I’d love to order it again some time and it’s healthy enough for me to actually eat too. Bonus.

    1. It’s a strong lager. 6% alcohol. A large meal and a tall glass of Zubr = a good night’s sleep, no doubt.

  5. I am full of curiosity about Malgorzata’s kasha casserole recipe.

    Also her pie recipe.

    All of Malgorzata’s recipes.

    I’m a big fan of the Polish posts, the people, the animals, the orchard, the landscape, Jerry’s clownish face, all of it.

  6. Dear Professor Ceiling Cat,

    Thank you for the great picture of you pre-pie consumption. The look on your face says it all. 🙂 Truly classic.

    Wishing you more pies,


  7. Somebody already mentioned it, but Japanese buckwheat noodles with vegetables and a sesame sauce is hard to beat. I’ve never heard of Malgorzata’s use of buckwheat as a casserole topping. I too am intrigued. There is a Polish deli nearby, so I can buy most types of Polish sausage…haven’t eaten any that are anything but delicious.
    Kasha is great, and I’m beginning to really enjoy Quinoa too…great with black bean salad and other South American dishes.

    Sorry about the last of the cherry pie Jerry. Awesome photo of you. Currently my desktop background 🙂

    1. After looking at it closer, I realize the kasha isn’t the topping, but mixed in, which should have been obvious. The topping looks to be cheese. yummm.

  8. So sad about the end of the cherry pies, if I had a cherry orchard I would have a freezer full of cherries, though de-pipping them is no joke even with Malgorzata’s machine. Onward ho to the apple pies!

    I am sure I can get buckwheat around here somewhere so I’d like to try that casserole some time.

  9. No cherry pie? Let him eat apple pie! 🙂

    Galettes de sarrasin are thin (buckwheat flour is used), crispy French buckwheat pancakes of which I am very fond especially when filled with sauteed veggies and a poached egg.

    Of all the knish fillings, kasha is my favorite — making them from scratch are not that hard either.

  10. The casserole looks very good!

    We have buckwheat kasha for breakfast every morning, topped with chopped walnuts, dried blueberries, and plenty of half and half. I soak it in water overnight so it cooks faster. When I can get them, I add whole dried apricots (like little rocks, sometimes called “Hunza” apricots) to the soaking water, and remove the pits from the softened fruit before cooking.

    I love it. More protein than other hot cereals, and needs little or no sweetener (a bit of honey or maple syrup is nice but not essential).

  11. I love the sad look mourning the lack of cherry pie. I ate a bad cherry the other day and threw up in the night – that’s way worse than no cherry pie. 🙂

  12. Be not sad, my son. I will tell you a story to make you feel better (I may have told this one before.)

    I maintained contact with my sixth grade teacher, Connie Johnson, first by doing odd jobs like polishing her brass and silver, and them mowing her extensive, bucolic yard in Northern VA (back when it was possible to have such there). The one thing I particularly remember her saying back in 6th grade was, “One thing you children need to learn is that just because someone writes something doesn’t mean it’s true.” That puzzled me at the time. Why would someone write something if it wasn’t true?

    Anyway, her husband, Augustus C, aka Gus, was an analyst for Booz, Allen, and ran, unsuccessfully, for US Congress against a hidebound Republican, Joel C Broyhill, hoping and explicitly saying at the time to be a scientist in Congress. This was in the ’60s (and if any of you collect political ephemera, I’m pretty sure I have a stack of cards somewhere picturing Gus and LBJ, attempting to ride on his coattails. Contact our host if you’d like some of them – free; send SASE.) In his retirement, ~1990, he was on (chair, I think) of the state library commission. His papers are kept with one of the Northern VA colleges. So these are worldly people (they met, or at least bonded, in Turkey in the late ’40s.)

    On one of the last times I saw them, at their gloriously rustic chic retirement place that nearly abuts Shenandoah National Park near Syria VA (where a friend and I still did yard work while in college), Connie brought out pie for dessert. Gus said, “Oh boy, pie! I’ve been married forty years, and this is the third time we’ve had pie!”

    1. And besides which, now you’re getting Swedish apple cream pie! Has Malgorzata taught you how to make pie crust? (This is something that I’m not sure is teachable – I gather it’s an art form.)

      1. my favorite book on how to make good pie crust? Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible. If you are inclined to the scientific method, you can make excellent pie crust with this. Ms. LB goes through how to do it very logically.

  13. Sure, we love new recipes! Especially if they’re not complicated, like the Ceiling Cat Special. (Good dishes abound, but good and simple dishes are harder to find.) And that does look delicious.

  14. Oh, and buckwheat:

    1) It seems to be a thing in West Virginia. At least, when we were near Blackwater Falls a few yrs ago, there was a lot of buckwheat flour in the store we stopped in.

    2) You can stuff pillows with something that I gather is produced from thrashing the stalks of the plant. You can confirm this by searching buckwheat pillow. I learned this when, not long after being suckered into joining LinkedIn, I got a request from someone I’d never heard of, but with a unique enough name that I figured I could find who he was by Googling. Yep – his main occupation seemed to be promoting these pillows. Oy!

  15. love buckwheat pancakes. I do have a suggestion for those who can’t get sour cherries for pies. King Arthur (the flour people) has a nice jarred sour cherry pie filling that gets my approval. and I am picky about my pies. 🙂 if you can make a decent crust (butter or lard), this makes an easy pie.

  16. Here’s how we eat kasha sometimes:

    1. Add 3/4 cup kasha to 1 1/2 cups boiling water.

    2. Add chopped onions and minced garlic (we like lots of both)

    3. Cook to tender (about 20 minutes)

    4. Add cider vinegar (1/4 cup, brown sugar (1/4 cup) and olive oil (1/6 cup). Stir and let sit for a few minutes. Season to taste.

    We have this with full-fat, large-curd cottage cheese and English beer. Great for sticking to your ribs on a cold day.

  17. Buckwheat (kasha) casserole
    You need buckwheat millets/groats (not buckwheat flour and not pearl barley). For 6 persons take 300 milliliter of dry buckwheat, fry it in a bit of margarine in a frying pan. Transfer into a pot and add 600 milliliters boiling water (always take double the amount of water to the amount of buckwheat). Add stock cube and little salt. Let it cook slowly with a top on until all water evaporated (15-25 minutes depending on amount of kasha). Wrap the whole pot in a blanket and let it stand for at least 1 hour.
    Cut sausage in pieces and fry it. You can add pieces of any roasted meat: chicken, beef, pork. Add fried onion (optional).
    Mushroom sauce:
    400 gram of mushrooms (wild Boletus boletus is the best, but mushrooms from the local shop are quite acceptable). Slice mushrooms and fry them in margarine until all the fluid evaporated. Add a heaping tablespoon of flour and fry for another minute. Transfer mushrooms to a pan and add 300 milliliter milk and 100 milliliter cream and bring to boil (stirring all the time). Add salt, pepper and two tablespoons of soy sauce.
    Put the buckwheat over from the pan into a greased baking tray. Add sausage-meat-onions and mix well. Cover with mushroom sauce and sprinkle generously with grated hard cheese.
    Bake in 200C for 20 minutes.
    (It’s is easier and faster to make than to write this recipe!)

  18. “I’m disconsolate about the coming absence of pie once it’s in my stomach. Such is the glass-half-empty attitude of the secular Jew:”

    Thank you for my morning belly-laugh!

  19. I don;t know how you all aren’t the size of houses, with all that terrific cooking by Malgorzata!

    I suppose the walks by the river help! 🙂

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