I really have no idea how I am accomplishing anything today – see my post from earlier in the week. Right now, it’s 94 degrees inside, which is ten degrees less than outside anyway. I really don’t believe my weather site that says there’s only 34% humidity, though.
So, I finally decided to get this post out for a promise that I made a couple of weeks ago or so, over on Sarah Hoyt’s blog. I had mentioned that my wife had an old family recipe for cookies that required 190 proof vodka as one of the ingredients.
Diversion here… I might as well admit that I have an extremely idiosyncratic memory. I can remember phone numbers just fine, the numbers of all the bank cards, every family Social Security number (but not what year they were born). I can remember the plots of books that I have read. I can remember the spelling of words that perhaps a half dozen people in the world ever actually use. I have vivid recollections of places that I have seen only once in my life.
What I don’t remember are the things that most people don’t have a problem with. People’s names (yes, I do remember the kid’s names, even if I don’t always attach them to the proper owner of same). When and how I came up with a writing idea (although I usually do remember the idea). Or, in this case, where a recipe came from.
It turns out that this recipe (which I have nicknamed the “rocket fuel recipe”) is not an old family recipe. I thought it was, because the wife refers to a hand-written copy when she makes it. Nope. It actually is out of a book, and is hand-written because: a) it is not in the form that we in the West usually see recipes, and b) she had lent the book to her sister several years ago.
Well, I got the book back from the sister-in-law this last weekend. And it turns out that it is not a cookie recipe, either! It is actually one for the form of pastry that most people call a cruller. (Okay, I call just about anything that is sweet and crispy a cookie. I cook, I don’t chef…)
So, here is the recipe, which I am cribbing from my wife’s index card, not the book. Although – if you are interested in Polish cooking at all, I can heartily recommend the book (the sister-in-law is not getting it back for a while, I want to try several things in it). It’s called Polish Heritage Cookery. I’ve linked to the hardcover for it, although the Kindle version is about ten bucks cheaper – when you take a look at it, you will notice that the publishers don’t quite have this ebook thing down yet (the Look Inside is scans from the print book, which makes me somewhat doubtful of the Kindle version). The recipe also doesn’t include the pictures from the book on how to make the shape, and I can’t find any web diagrams. Sigh. Another good reason to get the book – it has plenteous and good illustrations.
Angel Wings (Faworki / Chrust / Chruściki)
2 cups white flour
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon 190 proof vodka (6% distilled vinegar may be substituted)
Pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 pounds lard (shortening or vegetable oil may be used, but with loss of flavor)
Confectionary or granulated vanilla sugar
Sift flour onto a cutting board, making a well in the center. Place the egg yolks, butter, sour cream, vodka, and salt into this well, then work it into a dough by hand, occasionally beating it down. When done, the dough should be uniform, glossy, and with small holes when cut into. Force as much air into it as possible! On a floured board, roll the dough out as thinly as you can, then cut and form your angel wings. Heat lard in a large pan to a temperature where a small piece of dough dropped into it floats to the top immediately. Fry the angel wings in small batches that can float freely, turning after approximately 30 seconds when the bottom is golden brown, and allow another 30 seconds for the top to turn. Remove to a rack over paper towels to cool down. When cool, dust thoroughly with the sugar.