My grandmother, like many from her generation, was the matriarch of cooking in our family. She was from Poland, baptized Catholic, so Easter was a revered holiday for kinfolk and food. That dinner graced us with seven dishes; however, the two I remember the most deliciously were jajka and crusciki.
You think Polish jokes are funny? Try pronouncing my favorite Easter dishes! Jajka (Y’eye’ kah) are eggs. Faszerowane are stuffed, like deviled eggs, but with more ingredients. Crusciki (cross chee’ key) is basically deep-fried dough dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Preparing these was no joke to my Babka (Bob-kah)!
Eggs were boiled, colored, and decorated on Good Friday, blessed on Saturday, and on Easter Sunday, gobbled up. This recipe requires a small pot, large bowl, mixing spoon, baking pan, and ½ hour of time.
Needed to make 12 egg-halves:
6 hard-boiled eggs
½ pound of cooked, chopped ham
3 tblsp sour cream
1 tblsp mayonnaise
3 tblsp Polish honey cheese (specialty item)
3 tsp Polish mustard
2 tsp chopped chives
½ tsp. salt; ¼ tsp. black pepper
1 cup fine bread-crumbs
2 oz. warmed butter
Bread-crumbs, butter (separate) aside. Integrate yolks and other ingredients in bowl, mixing thoroughly.
Scoop mixture into each white-half.
Place stuffed eggs on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top-side-up with bread-crumbs.
Artistically drip butter over eggs.
Place baking pan in 500-degree oven for 4 minutes.
Crusciki is every kids’ motivation for showing up at the table. This sweet, yeast-free delectable is easy, requiring only a mixer, large bowl, cutting board, tongs, and a deep-set frying pan.
Needed to make 70-80 treats:
8 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tblsp whiskey
1 quart vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
2 ¼ cups of flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
With mixer, beat yolks, whole egg, salt, sugar, vanilla, and whiskey for 5 minutes.
Add flour and knead. Keep dough in plastic wrap. Pull out a chunk.
Roll chunk onto floured board until thin. Cut into 2×4 rectangular parallelograms.
Make slit in middle and pull pointy end through, creating a “bowtie”.
Place bowties into oil in pan. One minute, flip sides. Remove, place on towel to drain oil.
Dust crusciki with fine sugar. Repeat process.
Babka may be gone, but my memories and her recipes are quite alive. Happy Easter!