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Polish dinner party? Please help!!!


My husband's boss is Polish..I mean, not from Poland recently, but his parents are. He's around 55?

And, he's coming to dinner!

I thought I would make Polish food...

Maybe some suffed cabbage rolls? cucumber soup?

I am looking for insights, advice and recipes!

Also, if you think this is a crappy idea, let me know. I can pull something else off. It just seemed fun! We just moved to Nothern VA from Vermont and I found this GREAT russian market, but I don't know what half the things in it are....maybe there some good stuff I could pick up there, too!?

My thought is to have a menu that combines comfort food with a couple of new things thrown in?

Thanks for your help!!

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  1. You can't go wrong with Kielbasa(have pleanty of horseradish!) and potato pierogies---served with sour cream,maybe a pickled beet salad also.

    Unless you've made stuffed cabbage rolls before(halupchi)they are tedious &
    time consuming to make.
    Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: grangie angie

      As we are about to start Holy Week, Easter is a prime time of year to find fresh (unsmoked, uncured) kielbasa (in a Polish market, it might be labelled Biała kiełbasa (BeeYAH-wah keeyehw-BAH-sah) - white kielbasa, due to its relatively pale color).

      1. re: Karl S

        Yes, FRESH kielbasa!! Way better than smoked, to me. Cabbage pierogies, golumpkis, horseradish, herring (in cream sauce or vinegar). rye or pumpernickel bread with butter. vodka, zywiec beer.

      2. Bigos (sp?) (Hunter's Stew), the national dish, has kielbasa and saurkraut in it and sounds good, though I have not made it.

        1. I wouldn't attempt making Polish food unless it is something that you already regularly make. He knows what the authentic stuff tastes like.

          Why not make something that reflects your heritage instead?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Njchicaa

            That's what I was going to say. There's a show called Chuck's Day Off and he drives me crazy because he does things like invite the owners of a Korean sandwich shop to lunch and then feeds them Korean sandwiches.

            1. re: dianne0712

              Maybe he's looking for insights/tips to improve his recipes? When we went to the his house, we got salmon...I could always do that!?

          2. Are there maybe two sides to this idea? Years ago I knew a couple that got engaged where they lived on the East Coast---she was Catholic and he was Jewish. She took him home to meet her family in the Midwest not sure of how they would accept him. When they got there her brother asked him to come into the kitchen---my friend thought maybe for a not-so-nice private talk. What he found was that the kitchen table had been spread with stereotypically "Jewish" food---bagels, cream cheese, lox, challah, etc. On one hand the welcoming gesture was meant kindly, but on the other hand it was stereotyping---imagine if you are white and invite your husband's (black) boss to dinner at your home and serve fried chicken and watermelon. Or if your husband's boss were Japanese-American two generations removed from Japan and you served sushi with chopsticks followed by sukiyaki and the Tea Ceremony. Some people might not take it kindly. The gesture could be seen as heavy-handed as if saying "when I look at you, I see a person who is different and not one of us".

            1 Reply
            1. re: Querencia

              I concur with your post. Remember the whole Linsanity thread?

              OP, your husband's boss may find it charming -- or he may find it a bit insulting. As this is a business dinner, it's best to play it safe.

            2. Hi again! I have made stuffed cabbage several times and it was great! I got confused about the bigos because there seem to be so many different variations...also, I may be totally off base here, but my guess was that he might have had more of a polish-american type of cuisine vs. completely authentic? I don't mind the tedium of stuffed cabbage if I can get it all done ahead of time!

              My heritage is really not the most inspiring....irish...norwegian...

              but, okay...if it sounds too smarmy...thought it would be fun to do something new!

              thanks for all your tips!!!

              1. Grangie Angie, do you serve the kielbasa with the pierogies? from my experience, almost everyone loves sausage!

                1 Reply
                1. re: cowanddog

                  Yes,kielbasa served with either pierogis or latkes.That's the starch component of the meal.
                  Also some kapusta(cabbage/sauerkraut soup) for starters.Lots of caraway rye w/ the soup!

                2. I dont think I would want to try to impress my husbands boss with something I had never made and possibly something that his mama or grndmama made ......

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Njchicaa

                      me too. make something you are comfortable with and is good.

                  1. I don't think it's necessarily a crappy idea but your husband, knowing his boss, would probably be a better judge. It could, however, be a time consuming, labor intensive one for you.

                    Is it going to be a simple, informal dinner or are you planning on something fancier, with multiple courses?

                    You may consider serving soup at the beginning of dinner:

                    - Clear red beet soup (borsht), traditionally served in demitasse cups. Tricky to make, but cheap. That soup can also be served on a plate with small ravioli or tagliatele type pasta.

                    - Wild mushroom soup. Very easy to make, but expensive because of price of dried porcini mushrooms.

                    - Sauerkraut soup (Kapusniak)

                    - Pickled cucumber soup (Ogorkowa)

                    If you decide to make cabbage rolls, you could make them the size of Greek dolmas and serve as appetizers.

                    For a main course, just about any meat dish made with sauce, pot roast style, would go very well with buckwheat (kasha) or potato dumplings (kopytka), very similar to gnocchi, instead of more pedestrian regular boiled potatoes. My choice would be beef rolls (zrazy, rolada) - easy to make very thin pounded slices of beef, also well known in Germany as rinderrouladen (well, it IS German dish, but very popular in Poland, especially Silesian region). Vegetable choices could include red cabbage-either hot or coleslaw style, sliced cucumbers in yogurt with dill weed, red beet salad, sauerkraut salad with julienned carrots, onions and apples.

                    Of course Polish dumplings (pierogi) are always fantastic, but fairly time consuming, unless you have access to a Chinese market that carries dumpling wrappers. Pierogi could be filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms, potatoes and onions or meat. Or check in that Russian market – they sometimes carry specialties of neighboring countries. But specifically ask for Polish pierogi (they look like Chinese pot stickers). Russian pierogis are quite different from Polish ones and only Pelmieni come somewhat close, but not in size.

                    Well, I made myself very hungry and only just scratched the surface, but if you don’t have much time for cooking, the hunter’s stew is of course a great idea. It is time consuming but, apart from initial prep/ cooking, only in a sense that it should be made over the course of 2-3 days, re-heating it each day and waiting until it becomes darker. Addition of red wine and few sliced prunes is often omitted in English written recipes, but greatly helps in developing more complex taste.

                    Smacznego (Bon Appetit)!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bigos

                      THANKS, Bigos! That's great advice! I don't mind the labor, as long as most of it is beforehand and not while they are here. His wife is from chicago...so I think she will probably be familar with this kind of stuff as well?
                      I think I will print out these comments to share with them at the dinner. I think some of them are pretty humorous!
                      The Polish meal sounds lovely and fun (though a bit heavy). I will give it a go and let you know how it turns out!
                      Thanks again to all for your time and for your help. I appreciate it!

                      1. re: cowanddog

                        Just to play Devil's advocate, I want to cheerfully point out that a steak and Guiness pie, nicely done, would be delicious and perfectly representational of your heritage. You could round out w/ soda bread, great butter, and a green veg.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          That does sound good...and a bit easier.... I'm not so fixated on the heritage piece...more something I can do ahead of time and trying to find a focus from the zillions of ideas.... Also, I believe his wife is a bit of a trad. eater, so I figured I should stay more mainstream as opposed to "delighting?" her with my Indian feast...or middle eastern.....?

                          1. re: cowanddog

                            Yeah, I'd totally go mainstream. As others have pointed out (and I'll stay out of the PC-ness of it all) it's likely that he has had many versions of traditional Polish food. And if his wife isn't adventurous, Indian and Middle Eastern spices may not be to her taste. (And this is not the occasion to educate her, at the risk of having a guest go hungry!!) You could certainly provide an appetizer along the lines of what you wanted to do, though; mini stuffed-cabbage rolls perhaps, or do a side of a great cucumber salad, which pretty much goes with anything but then head into a more all-'round menu that will make everybody happy. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record: I know of NOBODY that doesn't love perfect roast chicken. Zuni, maybe?

                    2. With due respect to others.....I find the whole being politically correct , non offensive approach to be a little too sensitive. I on the other hand believe the boss would be appreciative of your efforts and considerations for whatever menu you decide on, without any underlying meanings. The Polish friends I have love a good meal....and believe it or not, many love Chinese food. If you served that to them, they would love it. Whatever you serve will be fine.

                      I find there is a lot of cross over in Eastern European foods.....the Polish restaurants and markets around my area feature dumplings and pork as specialties. You could serve Kielbasa, Pork Roasts, Schnitzels, Stuffed Cabbage or any roasted meats.....braised cabbage/red cabbage and mashed/boiled potatoes as sides.

                      For dessert....strudel or blintzes.....fruit alone or with cheese.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fourunder

                        I agree, Fourunder! I mean...if you go to some effort, and are cooking with love and enthusiasm, how is that offensive? I guess, worst case scenario, which several have pointed out, is he thinks, "wow -- not like mom's" or "what was she thinking?" I just thought it would be fun for a change.... At the very least, this discussion will provide me with a fun topic for dinner conversation. : )

                        1. re: cowanddog

                          If you decide to do so I would suggest you edit the comments you have made...esp about how unadventurous his wife is....