Vegan Potato Pancakes

Potatoes pancakes just might one of the best foods on the planet. Salty and flaky on the outside, while soft and warm on the inside.  Do I even need to say anymore?

I grew up knowing them as Polish dish, but they are pretty much the same as Jewish latkes. That’s why I decided to use a Manischewtiz Potato Pancake mix—along with some fresh potatoes. I also used olive oil, not vegetable oil for frying.
And yes, fried white potatoes are not the healthiest thing ever, but they are a nice treat once and awhile. Just eat them in moderation and watch your portion sizes. And these are especially good with a side of homemade apple sauce (I’ll post that recipe soon).

This makes 6 servings (not gonna lie, we ate them all).

Vegan Potato Pancakes
1 box ( 3 oz) Potato Pancake Mix, with no eggs or dairy in it
1 large russet potato, shredded or riced (I riced mine)
1.5 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tbs water, mixed together
3/4 cup cold water
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine the mix, shredded or riced potato, egg replacer mixture and water. Mix together well.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Don’t put too much oil, this is just shallow pan fry.

Once the oil is hot, drop in a big spoonful (like up to 1/4 cup). It should naturally flatten and spread out. Repeat a few more times, without over crowding the pan. I fit four at a time in mine.

Fry until they are golden on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side.

Remove from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel or wire rack.

Repeat until the batter is gone.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some apple sauce and you have one tasty meal!

Haluski: Polish Noodles And Cabbage

Today would have been my Grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away in February (see my Polish Barley Soup post) and I miss her everyday.  I am sad that my baby will never get to know what beautiful and loving person his Great Grandma was, but I am happy her bloodline gets to live on through him. I promise to make him (healthier versions of) Pierogi and kapusta while telling him the stories about her life on the farm in upstate New York and how our family came over from Poland. That is the best way I can honor her memory. I will make sure he is proud little Polish boy, just like she taught me be a proud little Polish girl.

I decided to make a healthier version of a traditional Polish dish, Haluski. It is a simple pan-fried noodle and cabbage dish common in most Slavic countries. I do remember my grandma making this for me once, but she never mentioned it was Polish. The dish varies a bit between the Slavic countries, but most call for a lot of butter and a giant glob of sour cream. Not vegan or healthy. So I cut out the sour cream, and used far less vegan butter. Also, I used a cabbage/kale mix and added some carrots for extra nutrition.  To be very traditional, you should make your own noodles, called Kulski. I have tried a few times to make them, but have yet to master a vegan version yet, so look out for that recipe at a later date. If you aren’t making your own noodles, normally you use egg noodles, which are not vegan. So I used normal pasta (well actually broken up lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Haluski
3 cups dry noodles or pasta (used a smaller, ribbon pasta)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cabbage/kale mix (I used Costco’s Sweet Kale Mix)
1/2 large carrots, shredded or peeled into ribbons with a peeler
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the noodles according the directions.  Drain and set aside

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Add the cabbage/kale mix and the carrots ribbons. Cook until slightly softened.

Reduce the heat to low.

Add the cooked noodles and caraway seeds.

Stir everything together well. Cook until it is all heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can enjoy this a light main dish, or pair it with some Tofurky Kielbasa to make it complete Polish meal.

I couldn’t help but smile as I ate this, makes me happy to honor my grandma.

Krupnik: Polish Barley Soup

I mentioned before that I am predominately Polish and I learned about my heritage mostly from my amazing grandmother (see my Pierogi post). I am heartbroken to say she passed away this week. My family has another angel to watch over us all now. She died of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries to due to fatty build up. I originally went vegan after my uncle passed from a heart attack, vowing I would do everything I could to counteract my family health history. Now I know I will never go back to the standard American diet.  The best way I can honor her memory is to live a long healthy, happy life. I want to live to see my great-grand children. I will tell the stories my grandma told me about her mother’s life back in Poland, and teach them how to make delicous Polish dishes.

I heard my grandma mention barley soup before, but when she visited we usually made pierogi or kapusta. I have wanted to make this soup for awhile, mainly because it is already vegan friendly. This is popular dish is quintessential peasant food. There are various recipes with different vegetable variations. This is common version (and it happens to already be vegan). There are ones that have meat, but meat scrapes used to be hard to come by, so it was a treat on occasion only.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Krupnik
Olive oil
1 large  yellow onion, chopped
2 cups porcini mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
10 cups vegetable stock (a few cups can be water)
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and the potatoes soften.

Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the vegetable stock.

Add the barley, parsley and the bay leaf. Mix together well.

Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

Once the barley is cooked, season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

I garnished it with a bit more paprika and some dill. I also had a side of pickled beats and kapusta I bought at a Slavic store.

I miss you so much already my beautiful babcia. Thank you for teaching about my heritage. I will always be a proud little Polish girl.

Barszcz: Polish Beet Soup

I’ve always wanted to try borscht, called barszcz in Polish. I love the taste of beets and figured all those jokes about the soup being awful soup were from McDonalds-addicted, over-processed food lovers. Now that I’ve tasted it, I know that is exactly the case. It has a mild and slightly rich flavor, totally in love.  My mom say it’s ok, but my grandma said she loves it too. Although she loves, my mom said she didn’t make it very much while my mom was growing up because my grandpa hates beets. Apparently he didn’t even want them in the house! I must confess that grating beets is a pain, so I shared my grandpa’s hatred while I was prepping everything at least. This recipe is based on one from cooks.com called Polish Beet Soup.




Barszcz
4 cups water
1/2 stick of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 good-sized beets
1 medium-sized onion
Salt

This part really sucks to do. I suggest wearing gloves so your hands do not turn bright red.  Peel and grate the beets and onion.

Add the 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the vegan butter.

Once the butter has melted, add the grated vegetables and salt to taste.

Cook for about 1/2 an hour, until the beets and onions are cooked.

If you want hot soup, serve it immediately. But I wanted mine cold so I made mine earlier in the day and then let it chill till dinner.

Top with some vegan sour cream (try Tofutti) and some dill or chives. My dad and I loved it, my mom wasn’t a big fan. I guess she takes after her dad.

One last Polish recipe posting up soon.

Polish Rye Bread

The Polish side of is calling out again. I am heading back to Hawaii in a few days and won’t have my lovely parents to cook for. So I decided to make Polish food for dinner tonight, embrace our heritage once again. Like I said on my pierogi post, a lot of polish food is not vegan so I need to change the recipes a bit. But despite the lack of eggs or pork here and there, they are pretty authentic.

I have never had barszcz, Polish variant of borscht, so I thought give it a try. I love beets so why not try a beet soup? While I was looking for recipes online, a bunch more Polish recipes came up too. I asked my mom what kluski is and when she explained they are delicious little homemade noodles, I knew I had to make them. Then I thought well, what would a Polish dinner be without kapusta? Kapusta is pretty much just plain sauerkraut and it is delicious….makes the house stink though. 
Then I thought a nice home-baked rye would go lovely with the barszcz so I added that to the list too.  I love its dry but savory taste. Plus, my dad was practically drooling over some we saw on TV last night so I figured he would be happy. 
Rye bread is not that complicated to make, just like with any bread you just need to be patience and not overwork it. And it’s already vegan! I found a recipe for a simple breadmaker version called Polish Rye Bread on Group Recipes, but adapted it for normal baking methods. 

Polish Rye Bread

1 cup warm water
1 packet dry yeast
1 and 1/2 tbs molasses  
3/4 cup rye flour
2 cups bread flour
2 tps caraway seeds
1 tps salt 
1 tbs vegetable oil 

Dissolve the packet of yeast into the warm water. I suggest doing this in a measuring cup. Add the molasses. Stir lightly if needed. Set aside until it all bubbly and frothy. 

I did my mixing and kneading in a stand mixer. I wish I had one of these in Hawaii. Can’t wait to not be a broke college kid and have a real kitchen. In the mixer bowl, add both flours, caraway seeds, and salt. Mix together well by hand. 

Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly add the yeast mixture. Use bread hook attachment. Then add the oil. Continue mixing until smooth and slightly elastic. 

Remove the bowl from the stand, cover with plastic wrap (I suggest putting a rubber band around it too) and cover with a dish towel (ścierka in Polish, I’ve been taught a few random words). Put in a warm place like the laundry room to proof. If you live in humid place, that’s really not an issue so just set aside anywhere really. My bread proofs so quickly in Hawaii. 

Momma rolled it out for me.

Once it’s risen, punch it down again. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll the dough out on it a bit. Shape into the size of pan.

Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and place in the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and a clothe again, then set aside to proof a second time. 
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  
Once it’s risen the second time, pop it in the over for 20 minutes. My mom made the suggestion of putting some hot water in a pot in with the bread to help crisp up the crust. 

Next, remove the pot of water and remove the bread from the pan. Put the freed bread back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. 

Your baking times may vary based on your oven. 

My bread skills need some work…my bread came out kinda dense. But  it was still pretty good. Like I said, if you are patience and take your time, your bread should come out lovely.  I would suggest more salt, my mom thinks more molasses. 

It smells so good. 
I’ll post the rest of the Polish recipes later. Still in the process of cooking all of them! 

Potato Pierogi

Although I am trying to counter-act my terrible family health history, that doesn’t mean I am still not proud of my heritage. I am 3/4 Polish, third generation born in America on both sides of my family. Although my great-grandparents passed away before I was born, I grew up hearing stories about their lives back in Poland and their journeys to America. My mom told me I would have loved my great-grandmother, she was a very sweet and funny woman. I think about her and my own wonderful grandma every time I make something Polish.

Pierogi are pretty much Polish dumplings. They are a basic flour dough filled with either farmers cheese, potatoes, beef or cabbage. They are usually boiled then lightly fried. They are traditionally topped with a little butter, and sour cream. I’ve seen them topped with all sorts of things. My mom saw them topped with tomato sauce once and said her grandmother would have cringed at such a horror, so I stay traditional to honor my Polish blood. I remember the first time I had them, it was pure heaven. My mom made some for my grandparents when the came to visit when I was about 8 or so. She served them with kapusta (similar to sauerkraut), and we were very happy Poles after that dinner.

I researched some vegan recipes, but most of them called for a lot of oil in place of the eggs, which isn’t really good for a family riddled with heart attacks. So I decided I would use Egg Replacer by Ener-G instead. It is made from starch and is wonderful for baking. I based this on a recipe I found on About.com, but veganized it and cut it in half.

You can make a fine pierogi dough without the sour cream, but I like it better. It makes it richer than other simple dumpling doughs. Try Tofutti brand, it’s not as moist as dairy sour cream but tastes just as good (plus has no cholesterol!)

Potato Pierogi
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tps salt
1 and 1/2 tps Egg Replacer
4 tbs water, divided
1/4 vegan sour cream
1 tbs vegan butter
1/8 tps salt
1 large potato, peeled, washed, and quartered
1/2 large white onion
1 tbs soy milk
4 tbs nutritional yeast

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Egg Replacer with two tablespoon of water. Add to the dry ingredients and mix.

Next add the sour cream, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Mix until it forms a soft but not sticky dough. I all the sudden had this flashback of my grandmother scolding me for overworking the dough, so be gentle.

Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least a half an hour.

Everything would have been organic in Poland back then.

In the meantime, peel, wash and quarter your potato. Place in a pot of water and bring to boil on the stove. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough that a fork can easily pierce through.

Organic onion from the Farmers Market.

While those are boiling, fine chop the onion and place it in a skillet with some cooking spray over medium-low heat. Normally they are sauteed in butter, but those are just extra calories that in my opinion do not add much to the flavor in the end. Cook until just translucent.

The filling should cohere but not be overly moist.

Once the potatoes are done, drain and add them back to the pot. Add the onions, soy milk, and nutritional yeast and mash well. “No one likes lumpy pierogi,” my mom told me. You can add some salt and pepper if you like too. Either my mom or grandma, can’t remember which, told me it is a lot easier to work with cooled filling. I let mine cool for about 15 minutes before I filling my dough.

I used a ramekin as a cutter.

Roll out the chilled dough on a well-flour surface to about 1/8 of an inch thickness. My family is from the Polish countryside, and my grandma told me they make them big in country. So I find the biggest cup or small bowl I have and use it as a cutter.

Overstuffed pierogi will break open while boiling.

Fill each circle with about 1 tablespoon of the cooled potato filling. Don’t over-stuff them or they will break open while cooking.

Make sure to do both sides.

Fold the circle in half to make a semi-circle. Go around the edges with a fork to seal properly. Flip over and repeat on the other side. You can use a little water too if you have a hard time getting them to close all the way.

Careful not to smash them when removing.

Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add the pierogi. Just like ravioli, they will float to the top when ready.

I like mine just barely golden.

Remove from the pot, but don’t use a strainer, they will just break apart. Scoop them out with a spoon or ladle. Next saute in a pan with some butter until slightly golden brown.

Top with some vegan sour cream and a little salt and pepper. I served mine with some steamed carrots. I am one very happy and proud vegan Polish girl 🙂

I just sent a picture to my mom, she said her grandma would be very proud. And, she said as good as hers all stuffed cheese and slathered in butter were, great-grandma never wore a bikini like I do! Made me laugh.