Praised by Nigella Lawson, English-language cookbook seeks to take pierogi to the British market
A new English-language recipe book is aiming to elevate the Polish dumpling and cement its place in the conscience of the international foodie.
Titled simply ‘Pierogi - Over 50 Recipes to Create Perfect Polish Dumplings’ the book is written by Zuza Zak, a self-confessed storyteller-cook. Comprehensive in its content, it delves into the world of not just pierogi, but also all other Polish dumplings.
Including mini-essays on Polish ingredients, history and the development of the dumpling, there’s also no shortage of expert tips on how to perfect them.
Divided into two sections, Traditional and Modern, in the first, Zak charts a journey across all four corners of Poland as well as the centre, through each region’s traditional pierogi recipes. Among these, readers will find highland recipes for cabbage and feta pierogi or a Silesian specialty of stewed meat and dried fruit fillings that Zak adapted after discovering such in an old recipe book.
In the other half of the book, Zak looks at more modern recipes as well as gluten free, vegan and creative varieties, with the aim of presenting a book that at once preserves old traditions, but also updates them for more modern times. In this way, she demonstrates the versatility of the dumpling.
For Zak, who moved to the UK from Poland with her family at the age of eight, the book revisits her memories of childhood – something illustrated by the inclusion of her grandmother’s Vegetable Pierożki in Broth recipe.
Speaking to TFN, Zak said: “It’s funny because I started in food writing trying to prove that Polish cuisine was about more than just dumplings, but I somehow felt that now was the right time to write a book about them.”
Continuing, she added: “The book is a collection of recipes from different regions but also old cookbooks, such as those by Hanna Szymanderska, as well as recipes inspired by those from friends and family. In terms of my favourite pierogi though, that depends on the time of year – even so, I really like sweet twarόg and kasza (sweet white cheese and buckwheat).”
Zak has been overwhelmed by the positive reception the book has received. It featured on Nigella Lawson’s Cookbook Corner where it was described as “an utter joy”. Zak’s deep-fried dessert dumplings with rum and poppy seeds were singled out for specific praise.
Zak has also received an invitation to appear on Sunday Brunch, a programme broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4.
“I think perspectives on Eastern European food have changed a lot in the UK, there is definitely more awareness than there used to be,” Zak said.
“Despite that, it remains considered a niche market and I really want Polish food to become more prominent when you hear people in the UK discussing global cuisines.”
Published by Quadrille, Pierogi is now available for purchase in the UK and Australia and in the US from September, with a French-language translation to follow at a later date.