If you were to judge this book by its cover, you would think that this is a book of Polish recipes, but a quick glance inside makes it clear that at Hanka's table, foods from many different countries are enjoyed. Ms. Sawka offers many traditional Polish recipes, such as Jellied Carp (for a Wigilia feast), Poppy Seed Cake, Bigos, Paczki and Sorrel Soup, but interspersed between them are recipes for dishes such as gazpacho, pumpkin soup, buttermilk biscuits, crepes, curried chicken and strawberry mousse.
Time constraints prevented me from making more than two of her recipes, but the ones I did prepare are her meatloaf (p. 230) and Mizeria (yogurt-and-dill cucumber salad - check mizeria's recipe, thanks to Hanka's permission. The meatloaf was a turkey/pork mixture, a lighter version of the all-beef version we usually make. The bits of soaked bread rolls mixed in with the meat kept it moist in the oven and the chopped onions gave it good flavor. The Mizeria went well with the meatloaf and some rice, and it took no time at all to prepare. To her instructions, I would only add that when making any type of cucumber salad, it is best to salt the cucumber slices after slicing and then place the slices in a sieve over a bowl for an hour or so, to catch the excess juice. Using these drained cucumber slices will prevent any dressing from being diluted, since cucumbers have such a high water content. In addition, although this recipe did not specify what kind of plain yogurt to use, I would not recommend fat-free yogurt for this dish. A spoonful or two of sour cream along with the yogurt would give this dish some extra tanginess and richness.
Most of the recipes are quite simple to make and are accompanied by clear, stepwise directions. It is evident that Ms. Sawka understands that fresh food, simply prepared, is the best. Although many of the recipes for more basic items are easily found in other cookbooks, it is nice to have in one place a varied collection of easily prepared recipes, some of which are very familiar to American cooks, while others might be new. The mixture of recipes makes the book useful to both beginning and more experienced cooks.
At Hanka's Table (Hardcover) by Hanka Sawka