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May 23, 2024

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Things Are Really Cooking At The PNA

BALTIMORE, Md. Too Many Cooks? The proverb “Too many cooks spoil the broth” doesn’t necessarily apply in the kitchen of the Polish National Alliance – Council 21. Since 2011 monthly fall, winter and spring Saturday Polish cooking classes have been conducted here. The popular idea originated with PNA members Agnieszka Krajewski and Malgorzata Janowski, and now also includes committee members Lucia DiRado and Susan Miller. The class size is usually 10-12 participants costing $30 for each person. Everyone is welcome to attend – PNA membership is not a prerequisite – according to Council 21 President Maksymilian Bondyra.

PHOTO: Preparing Paczki for Carnival Time. Agnieszka Krajewski, Malgorzata Janowski, Lucia DiRado, presenter Joanna Jagielska and Irena Rybak are shown proudly displaying the delicious baked fruits of their culinary labor in preparing for Fat Thursday (“Tlusty Czwartek”), always celebrated on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday and the commencement of Lent.

The expert instructions for the various prepared-from-scratch and totally authentic dishes are instructor delivered via hands-on individual participation by the participants over the course of about 3 hours. Afterwards, everyone sits down in the lounge and consumes with gusto the culinary delights that they have proudly created. An extra bonus is that the aspiring gourmands are given detailed recipes to take home with them from their unique culinary experiences.

     All of the usual classic dishes in the the Polish repertory are prepared in monthly rotation, such as golabki, pierogi, bigos, kielbasa, placki, flaczki (tripe) and kaszanka (black/blood sausage). A selection of the traditional breads, soups and desserts are usually prepared and served in tandem with the main course.

Some dishes require going the extra mile in preparation, such as roasted goose and czarnina/duck soup. The fowl are farm raised and freshly slaughtered there.  The blood from the ducks is stabilized with vinegar and used as a required and key ingredient in the authentically prepared czarina with homemade noodles. The roasted goose with apples (actually a gaggle of 4 geese in this case) took a little longer in the oven than expected, but it melted in your mouth when served with the accompanying stewed red cabbage and roasted fingerling potatoes with herbs. Professional Chef Gerhard Kowalski led this this special demonstration.

     A larger family style and festive class was conducted on December 2nd mainly in the more spacious PNA Lounge featuring “Pierniczki Torunskie” – ‘Gingerbread Cookies, Torun Style,’ with expert presenter Malgorzata Bondyra who hails originally from the city of Torun, Poland. Seventeen adults and seven children, all with flour-covered hands, participated in the basic dough preparation, use of gingerbread man cookie cutters, and bringing to life the baked cookies with the royal (white) icing stylishly applied by hand. It really was a treasured old country Christmas tradition brought to a very appreciative Baltimore Polonia and its guests.

     So, the broth is doing just fine even with lots of cooks in the PNA kitchen. And to that we say “Smacznego”!     

By Richard Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau

February 8, 2018