By Cheryl Radkiewicz
It’s time to think about Easter! What do you put in your Easter basket?
Being of Eastern European descent, my basket is very special. It’s only use is sacred—to hold the Easter foods to be blessed. Once I retrieve my basket from the closet, I hang it outside to air. Baba Pidick told me it chases the evil spirits away from the house.
Once aired out and dressed with Easter linens and an Easter bow, I start filling it with the following items: A blessed candle, hrutka (big ball of eggs and milk considered Easter “cheese”), homemade paska (bread), salt, kielbasi, ham, horseradish, hard-boiled eggs, an orange, and butter. Some people put chocolate eggs, wine, and whatever they plan on eating for Easter.
Once filled, I make the annual pilgrimage to St. Mary’s Byzantine Church in Scranton for blessing of the baskets amid prayers of “Christos Voskrese” (Christ is Risen). I’ve kept this tradition ever since my mother and Baba have passed away.
One tradition I did change is the process of making the Hrutka. I now make it in the microwave rather than stirring it over a double-boiler for what seemed like an eternity.
Also, I cook my ham in beer. That’s the only way our family has ever made it. We didn’t drink beer. We cooked with it.
Next for discussion is the kielbasi. My parents liked two different kielbasi. My father preferred Komensky’s from Duryea and my mother liked Catalano’s from Cedar Avenue in South Scranton. My father’s tasted better hot, while mother’s tasted better served cold. Another tradition is standing in line at markets during Holy Week…..Bosak’s, Schiff’s and Oprisko’s in Simpson. The wafting of Easter aromas surround you as you’re waiting. My two favorite aromas at this time are kielbasi and hyacinths together….that’s Easter!
Now, what do we do with all that kielbasi? After Easter dinner, it’s time to think about how we’re going to serve leftover kielbasi. Here are just a few suggestions:
Kielbasi in Beer Sauce:
3 lbs. kielbasi, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 cup chopped green onion
12 Tbsp. butter
Flour, to thicken
4 tsp. dry mustard
4 tsp. caraway seeds
2 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups milk
24 oz. American cheese, cubed
12 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
2 2/3 cup beer
6 lbs. cooked linguine
Cook kielbasi until browned. Drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pot. In the same pot, cook green onions in butter until tender. Stir in flour until mixture thickens, making a roux. Add mustard, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir in milk and cook until thickened. Add cheese, beer and kielbasi. Stir until all cheese is melted. Serve hot over linguine. Can do ahead except for the pasta. Serves 12-15.
Kielbasi & Saurkraut:
2 lbs. fresh or smoked kielbasi
2 large cans sauerkraut
2 large onions
Small piece of salt pork or smoked bacon
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. bacon fat
Bake kielbasi in 325 degree oven for 1 hour in pan with water to cover. Thoroughly rinse and drain sauerkraut. Place in pan with 2 whole onions and salt pork, add salt and pepper to taste. Add water to cover; simmer 45 minutes. When kielbasi is cooked, drain, cut into 4″ pieces, add to sauerkraut and continue cooking for 30 minutes. In a small frying pan, brown flour in bacon fat. When golden brown, add to kielbasi and sauerkraut and mix thoroughly. Serves 8.
Kielbasi and Vegetable Skillet:
1 1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
2 beef bouillon cubes
1-24 oz. bag frozen vegetables for stew
1 Kielbasi, about 1 1/4 lbs., scored
In skillet bring water, bay leaf and bouillon cubes to boil. Add vegetables. Top with sausage rind. Cover and simmer until sausage is done, about 25 minutes. Remove sausage. Cut into 2″ chunks and remove casing. Return to skillet just to heat. Serve in bowls with mustard and crusty bread. Serves 4.
1 lb. kielbasi, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup sliced onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup green peppers, sliced
1-16 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and quartered
1-12 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained (save juice)
1 cup beef broth
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Cook kielbasi, onions, garlic, and peppers in 3 Tbsp. of oil until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, pineapple, broth, sugar and pepper. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch with pineapple juice. Add to kielbasi mixture and stir until thickened. Serve with rice. Serves 4.
Kielbasi Cabbage Stew:
1 lb. kielbasi, sliced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
1-14 oz. can chicken broth
3/4 cup water, divided
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
In large saucepan or nonstick skillet, brown kielbasi over medium heat. Add potatoes, cabbage, onion, broth, 1/2 cup water, sugar, caraway and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add beans and vinegar; cover and simmer 5-10 minutes longer. Combine flour and remaining water until smooth; stir into stew. Bring to boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serves 4.
From our house to yours, Happy Easter! Christos Voskrese!