My fellow food blogger, Erika Penzer Kerekes, asked me last week for a Polish Easter recipe to feature in her cooking column on LA Examiner.com. Besides writing for the national website, she also feeds her private blog In Erika’s Kitchen on a regular basis.
Having been approached with the challenge, I scratched my head, pondered, sighed really loud, rolled my mouth into a tube, whistled Ravel’s Bolero, and finally called my mother. The truth is I haven’t been celebrating Easter since I left Poland close to a decade ago. And certainly not with food.
My mom reminded me of the white sausage and black pudding that we pair up with colorful Easter eggs, a big piece of a country bread, salt, pepper, and some other delicacies to be served on the Easter table for breakfast. We take samples of each and place them neatly in a basket lined with a white, crocheted handkerchief. Then kids march to the church, often lead by their parents if still in the PG-13 age group, to have their Horns of Plenty splashed with Holy Water. Back home, all that baptized food gets cut in pieces and shared among all the members of the family along with their Holiday wishes.
MOM, I CAN’T GIVE ERIKA A RECIPE FOR COOKING WHITE SAUSAGE.
HOW ABOUT A CAKE THEN?
We settled on a cheesecake. Alright, no problem. About five seconds later I locked myself in a panic room. A CHEESECAKE?? Cheesecakes are scary! No one knows how to make a cheesecake. Hello! They come in a box, wrapped in cellophane, and with a price tag stuck to the bottom. Where do they come from? From Cheesecakeland. They grow on trees there and ripe just around Easter. Duh!
I pulled myself together at last, and got the eggs out. I whipped. I measured. I mixed. I stirred. I baked. I prayed. An hour and a half later I pulled this baby out of my oven:
I wish I had a smell-recorder to capture the aroma that had filled not only my kitchen but our entire house. I would post it here and let you sniff yourselves to sleep at night. The sweat tones circling in the air tickled my nostrils taking me on a whirlwind tour of my years of innocence. All the memories came back at once — the eggs we painted, the baskets we dressed, the holy water that splashed not only the food but also got into our eyes and wide open mouth. And the family, all the people we’re bound with through blood and/or love we have for them.
I can’t wait to show that all to Jason, when we land on Polish land in just a few short weeks.
I dressed my CHEESECAKE with rum-soaked raisins in CHOCOLATE-RUM GANACHE and let it rest in the ice-box overnight. We enjoyed that bad boy for a whole week after.
I typed up the recipe and sent it to Erika. You’ll find it on her blog on examiner.com.