Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“S” Like Sandwich and Sandwich Spread

Sandwich is a very popular type of food preparation in Poland. Already in 1860, the author of the first famous Polish cookbook, Lucyna Ćwierciakiewiczowa, mentioned small tartines topped with baked venison, pâtés, hams, salmon and sardines, served on elegant parties.

Now, in Polish we use the word “kanapka”, which describes a sandwich made of two slices of bread with one or two fillings between them. It is also used to describe one slice of bread with a topping or several toppings, which is called an open sandwich.

One can find more sophisticated or expensive toppings in fancy stand-up parties nowadays too. But first of all, simple sandwiches, using ingredients that are with easily accessible, are served on a daily basis in nearly every Polish home. It is a fact that slices of bread topped with cheese, sausages, ham, pâtés, or spreads (curd cheese, other cheeses, eggs or smoked fish mixed with favorite ingredients and placed on a sandwich) and some vegetables is the most popular version of Polish style breakfast ("śniadanie"). In many homes, especially those where families follow the traditions, people often eat sandwiches for supper as well. This is due to the fact that “obiad”* is the main meal whereas dinner is not. Obiad usually is eaten between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Of course, the younger generations living in large cities often adopt different culinary habits, closer to those one can find in Western European states. They eat lunch in place of “obiad”, and a hot dinner as a main meal, which slowly replaces traditional Polish sandwich dinner.

I grew up on Polish style sandwiches. When I was a kid, breakfast usually consisted of open sandwiches. They were followed by a second sandwich, a closed one, which was eaten at school as a “second breakfast” ("drugie śniadanie" - as we say in Poland), around 11 am. This sandwich was prepared by the parents, was wrapped in paper and often accompanied by an apple. In the seventies and in the early eighties I did not know hamburgers, the only fast food I knew was French frites or hot dogs, but they were not served in schools (and I believe, they still are not).  Bananas were not available at that time, as they were luxury products. Oranges were usually coming from Cuba, and they were sour, green and often non-eatable.
In high school (or rather, lycée), a sandwich was as valuable as a U.S dollar because nobody would survive until “obiad” without one, and only a few parents were still preparing sandwiches for their kids.
Then, often the third set of sandwiches was served for dinner (in Polish “kolacja”), around 6 or 7 p.m.

At the beginning of the eighties, my family became the happy owner of a miniscule Fiat 126P (by the way, it had been stolen one day and found on the following day) and thanks to that, we could travel all over Poland during the holidays without using any trains, which were dirty and overcrowded. My mom was always preparing a provision of tens of sandwiches and hard boiled eggs.

Besides, sandwiches (or "canapés") were mandatory served not only at family meetings, but also on special occasions: birthday parties, name day celebrations (which are important in Poland, too), office’s conferences and trips. It was incredible, even a one or two hour train trip required extra food, and right after a train left a station, one could hear around rustling of paper coming from unwrapping sandwiches. Some older people kept this sandwich habit until today.

When I was working as a corporate lawyer in Kraków, we had been spending hours on preparation of due diligence reports outside the law firm, having sandwiches served for an early lunch, by local canteens. Fixing some businesses in public administration offices or courts’ administration buildings, I could easily notice that a sandwich, like a client, was an inseparable “part” of the office ambience, presenting itself proudly on plates next to a cup of tea or coffee, sipped all day long by office clerks.

In these circumstances, it rather is not easy not to have any sentiment for sandwiches. Well, I do not eat them, now, three times per day, like when I was a kid, but still quite often I have them at least for breakfast. As opposed to my French husband, who is a pain-au-chocolat guy, I prefer salty breakfasts and bread with savory toppings than tartines with fruit preserves. And when we’re travelling with our car from Paris to Kraków, I always prepare a whole box of various sandwiches.

The most popular topping for Polish style sandwiches is cheese and charcuterie: sausages and hams, tons of which you will find in every food store. I only wished that the quality of charcuterie (Poland has great traditions in preparation of smoked hams and sausages), did not become a victim of industrialization after the collapse of communism. Unfortunately, there exist thousands of industrially made hams and sausages with artificial flavors and chemical additions, meaning products of a lower quality. Good quality charcuterie costs a lot of money. Products from the best producers, using traditional methods, are very rarely available in shops, as usually most of their production supplies good restaurants.

And despite many chefs whose opinion is that sandwiches are like “a drug for a hungry crowd”, I like sandwiches. What about you?

Today’s proposition of sandwiches is based on other Polish flavors and ingredients: Polish style curd cheese (tvarog) which may be replaced by cottage cheese; this cheese is mashed and may be mixed with chopped ham, sour cucumbers, raw spring vegetables, crayfish, smoked fish, horseradish, fresh herbs and eggs (this is what we call spread – “pasta” in Polish). They usually are seasoned with some fresh herbs, salt, pepper, caraway and powdered paprika. You can mix all those ingredients according to your liking.

I prepared my sandwiches using professional rings, which I bought a couple of weeks ago since I really wanted to use them. However, do not think that I usually spend hours preparing sandwiches like these. I rather prepare them in a couple of minutes, mixing quickly my ingredients.

You will find below some ideas for Polish style sandwich spreads. In general, they consist of easy-to-find ingredients (except for crayfish and bryndza). The proportions that I am using are for 1 huge sandwich or 2-3 small ones. You can use this spread idea to make one layer simple sandwich (this is how I usually eat them), just topped with some chopped vegetables and herbs.
The method of preparation of spreads is very easy: in a bowl, just mix all ingredients until the mixture is homogenous. Finally, season with salt and pepper, or other spices, according to your taste.

I decided to play a bit with my rings and here you have three examples of double layered, a bit posh (that’s what I have heard), sandwiches.

I did not calculate any cost for these recipes. Usually you use a bit of this and that to do your sandwich.

Polish Style Sandwich Spreads

Cucumber – radish

2 heaped tablespoons Polish style curd cheese (to buy in stores carrying Polish or Russian food), or cottage cheese**
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
1 tablespoon radishes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peeled cucumber, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
A few drops of lemon juice

Smoked Mackerel

3 heaped tablespoons smoked mackerel (or sprats or sardines)
1 tablespoon good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped green onions

Hard Boiled Egg – Horseradish

3 heaped tablespoons chopped hardboiled egg (1 big or 2 small eggs)
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
1 teaspoon shredded horseradish
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped dill

Tomato - Bell Pepper

2 heaped tablespoons Polish style curd cheese (to buy in stores carrying Polish or Russian food), or cottage cheese**
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
½ teaspoon tomato concentrate
1 teaspoon finely chopped, fried onion
1 teaspoon red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 drops of Tabasco

Green Herbs

2 heaped tablespoons Polish style curd cheese (to buy in stores carrying Polish or Russian food), or cottage cheese**
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
1 tablespoon delicate mustard
1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped,
1 teaspoon fresh estragon, finely chopped
A few drops of lemon juice

Ham – Cucumber 

2 heaped tablespoons Polish style curd cheese, or cottage cheese*
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
1 tablespoon ham, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cucumbers (see page XX), finely chopped
1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
A pinch of powdered chili

Bryndza  - Chives

2 heaped tablespoons Polish style bryndza cheese
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt or cream
1 teaspoon finely chopped, fried onions
1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped

Lemon – Estragon Dressing (best for crayfish, ham and salmon)
1 heaped tablespoon, good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh estragon (you can use dill)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon crème fraiche épaisse
A pinch of sugar

In a bowl, mix all ingredients until dressing is homogenous. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
Green Polish – Style Dressing for Sandwiches (makes around 150 ml)

3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon shredded horseradish
1 egg yolk (hardboiled)
1 teaspoon mustard (preferably delicate)
1 tablespoon crème fraiche epaisse
1 tablespoon Polish style curd cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped (optional)
A few drops lemon juice
A pinch of sugar

In a bowl, reduce with a mixer all ingredients until dressing is homogenous. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.

Double Layered Polish – Style Spread Sandwiches (few ideas)

Cucumber-Radish Spread Sandwich with Hard Boiled Egg

Ingredients (in order of placement starting from a bottom):
1 medium slice of bread
2 tablespoons cucumber – radish spread
Few thin slices of fresh cucumber
1 hardboiled egg, finely chopped
1 tablespoon green herbs dressing
1 medium slice of bread
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
A few slices of radishes
1 coffee spoon scallions, chopped
A pinch of alfalfa sprouts for topping

Mackerel Sandwich with Tomato-Bell Pepper Spread

Ingredients (in order of placement starting from a bottom):
1 medium slice of bread (preferably whole rye)
2 tablespoons smoked mackerel spread 
1 tablespoon chopped red bell pepper
1 medium slice of bread (preferably whole rye)
2 tablespoons tomato – bell pepper spread
1 tablespoon chopped tomatoes
1-2 slices of smoked mackerel
1 teaspoon shallots
One or two pinches finely chopped chives

Crayfish Sandwich with Tomato – Bell Pepper Spread

Ingredients (in order of placement starting from a bottom):
1 medium slice of bread
50 g crayfish meat mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon-estragon sauce 
1 medium slices of bread
2 table spoon tomato-bell pepper spread
1 table spoon alfa alfa
1-2 scallions, chopped

* obiad – a main meal in traditional Polish culinary tradition – usually consisting of a soup, a second course (non-vegetarian and vegetarian dish)
**if you use cottage cheese, do not like yoghurt – it will be too liquid


Anonymous said...

Jejku te kanapki to prawdziwe dzieła sztuki. Żal jeść:)

Szalony Kucharz said...

And I was just on my way for a midnight jog...

My sandwiches don't look as pretty as yours. Or should I say: "canapés"? You should publish a photo of a poor-man's sandwich - a thick slice of two-days old bread, spreaded with lard - just to counterbalance the blinding beauty of your creations.

After I've given up mashed tvarog and cream for my everyday breakfasts (I still enjoy it once in a while), sandwiches are what I usually have in the morning. Greens, reds, ham & cheese: all the good stuff in one handy package.

LidKa said...

Ach, te wszystkie kanapki i pasty do nich, na bazie twarożku lub jajek - poezja po prostu... A na przykład tatar po polsku - oczywiście na kanapce to coś niezapomnianego. Rozmarzyłam się, myśląc o klasycznych, polskich, kanapkowych kolacjach.

Debbie said...

This is so exciting! My husband is polish and loves when I make polish foods, thanks.

asieja said...

uwielbiam kanapki.. tyle kolorów można schoac na kawałku chlebka. pysznie.

Karolina said...

I hate to say that, but f... the porrige I had this morning. I want your sandwiches! Aaaaaa!

Ania Włodarczyk vel Truskawka said...

Jej, Magdaleno, to jest piękne! Dzieło sztuki, nie kanapka!

Just My Delicious said...

Madzia, ja ich bym chyba dłuugo nie jadła, tylko podziwiała :)

Emily Malloy said...

These look absolutely delicious!!!!

Kait said...

All the sandwiches look absolutely amazing. You are a sandwich master. How do you make them look so perfect?

Needful Things said...

your sandwiches are like a work of art - so beautiful! thanks so much for sharing, really enjoyed your post.

Inspired2cook said...

Holy smokes! Your sandwiches look incredible!!!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a fantastic post. It is informative and beautiful at the same time. I really appreciate the work it took to put this together for us. I love your blog. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

AJ said...

Wonderful!! And just in time for all the summer picniks.


These are the fanciest sandwiches I've ever seen! WOW!

tasteofbeirut said...


I would never have guessed that you are a corporate lawyer! You are such a great artist; I look at your photos of your creations the way I would look at art in a gallery, marveling at the composition and creativity that you display each time.
Love these sandwiches especially the one with radishes.
I too prefer green olives with chili and garlic! Yum.

citronetvanille said...

Oh those are incredible sandwiches, more like the high-tech ones! oh they're gorgeous! You are making me hungry!

Magdalena said...

Dziękuję Wszystkim za ciepłe komenatrze oraz kolejną wizytę na blogu. Bardzo sie cieszę :)

LIDKO: no wprost setki możliwości, nie sposób wszystko wyliczyc. O tatarze też będzie post, dlatego o nim na razie nie wspominałam. Tak jak o smalcu i innych takich. Inaczej post musiałby mieć z dwie strony więcej, i kto by to czytał? I tak już był okropnie długi. A w lecie lubię na kolację zjeść prostą kanapeczkę z kopą warzyw i do tego micha sałaty. I już. Nie trzeba gotować, pilnować itp.

ANONIMIE i JUST MY: no trzeba, jeść, trzeba, inaczej się zmarnują. Zapewniam, że na co dzień aż tak się nie bawię. Za dużo roboty.

ASIEJO: Hej! No właśnie, nieograniczone możliwości pod względem kolorystycznym również.

ANIU: Dzięki! Ogólnie kanapki są przykładem fotogenicznego jedzenia, w przeciwieństwie do zup. A dodatek alfalafa i zieleniny jeszcze naturalnie podkręca ich naturalną fotogeniczność.

Magdalena said...

Hi there! Thanks you so much, my English speaking readers, for coming back to my blog about Polish food. I enjoyed a lot all your comments.

KUCHARZ: Usually my sandwiches do not look like these presented in my post, I assure you. Who would spend hours every day using rings? Only a maniac!
I do not believe that they are “canapés”. Canapés are smaller, I believe, for one bite. Am I wrong? My sandwiches were quite big, actually.
Greens, reds, ham & cheese this is what I usually put on my sandwiches (tvarog is not so easily accessible and I am too lazy to do it lately).

DEBBIE: thanks for visiting. What kind of Polish dishes did you cook? Thanks for sharing.

KAROLINA: I do not like porridge in the morning, especially with milk and sweet stuff. That’s why I had sandwiches every morning when I was a kid.

KAIT: thanks, too. I was using rings for professionals. But believe me, it was an exception!

GRAPEFRUIT: nice to see you here again. Yes, it was a lot of work. I did 6 different sandwiches actually, but I presented 3 of them. Otherwise the post would be too long.

MARY: Thanks for your warms words. I appreciate that you like what I wrote about those Polish sandwich habits. Have a good day!

APU: thanks. Unfortunately, my sandwiches would not survive on a picnic; they would change into big mess, I believe…

SPICY PERSPECTIVE: It is nice to read that Polish style sandwich may be fancy. Great !

TASTEOFBEIRUT: Yes, I am a corporate lawyer with all diplomas. Look, how bad reputation those lawyers have…: ) They cannot be artists! This one with radishes is my favorite, too. Thanks for all warm words.

CITRONETVANILLE: I assume that you like sandwiches, too. Nice to see you here again and take care!

EMILY, INSPIRED2COOK: Thanks a lot guys!

Kristen said...

Oh my gosh, those are the most gorgeous sandwiches ever!!! What a beautiful post.

Thanks for the comment on my blog, I do not know how I missed yours until now. I see so many new and interesting things to try!

Reeni said...

These are the most beautiful sandwiches I've ever seen! And a lot of thought and time is spent preparing them. The flavors are just amazing too! They make the sandwiches here in the U.S. look very sad.

Delishhh said...

Magdalena, in case i haven't told you my mother is originally Polish and she used to make me "kanpka" but not looking as good as yours. Your sandwiches look amazing. Have a great vacation!

Konsti said...

Cuda cudenka:) Brak slow patrzac na takie eleganckie pysznosci...
A tak w ogole, wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji imienin!

Kristi@Ja Cie Kocham said...

These are GORGEOUS sandwiches! These sure beat my every day peanut butter and jelly :) Your recipes are fabulous!!

lo said...

To są najpiękniejsze kanapki jakie widziałam. Nie wrócę już do takich klasycznych. Uwielbiam takie małe wypieszczone tartaletki, teraz będę robić takie kanapki. Pozazdrościłam Ci takich cudeniek.

lo said...

Wszystkie najlepszego i najpiękniejszego z okazji imienin.

Magdalena said...

Konsti: dziękuję za życzenia imieninowe i ciepłe słowa! Szkoda tylko, że są pracochłonne te kanapki..

Lo: no no, dziękuję za komplement. Czasem warto poszaleć nawet z najprostszymi i trywialnymi składnikami, nacieszyć oko, a potem żołądek. Dziękuję serdecznie za życzenia imieninowe. Miłego weekendu !

Magdalena said...

KRISTEN, thanks a lot for your nice comment. Your blog is nice too, this goat cheese looks absolutely incredible.

CINNAMON-GIRL: In general, usually Polish sandwiches looks sad, too. But it does not mean that they are not good! Have a nice weekend.

DELISHHH: I had not idea that your Mum was Polish! How interesting. Do you know a bit Polish language? My holiday will be quite long, actually at least few weeks. I am going to collect materials and share interesting extra information about my region. In particular, I will present some Jewish food from this part of Europe and remarks from the biggest Festival of Hewish Culture which takes place in Kraków every year.

KRISTI: Thanks for coming here again, Ja Cie Kocham !

Bea said...

Magdo, jestem pod absolutnym wrazeniem Twoich kanapek! I zdjec przy okazji :) Dawno juz chyba nie mialam tak wielkiej ochoty by 'porwac' cos z ekranu komputera ;)

A tak a propos 'canapé', to gdy mam kurs z niezbyt zaawansowanymi grupami, to zawsze trudno jest im uwierzyc, ze po francusku ta 'kanapka' pisze sie tak samo jak 'kanapa' :))

Bon dimanche!

Magdalena said...

BEO, mily komplement. Mam nadzieje, ze walczysz skutecznie z alergia. Pozdrawiam.

Szalony Kucharz said...

Well, Magda, proper canapés should be small as to fit one's pie-hole in one go, but I should inform you that my jaws are capable of taking very wide bites, ones that could put an anaconda to shame. Size doesn't really matter. ;o)

Tanantha@ I Just Love My Apron said...

I;ve never been to Poland and never had these but I gotta say I want them all! They look super delicious and sophisticated. Your photos are fantastic!

Magdalena said...

KUCHARZ: yes, the definition of "one bite" canapé is quite ambiguous having in mind that sizes of jaws may such a case, maybe those chefs giving cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, should define a proper size ... of canapés, not of the jaws...

Magdalena said...

TANATHA: Thanks a lot; All in all a local patriot at least I invite you to visit my region ...

Ewelina Majdak said...

Aleś ich naprodukowała!! Magda to najpiękniejsze kanapki jakie moje oczy widziały :)
Jeśli kiedyś będziesz miała za dużo to ja chętnie chętnie pokosztuję :)

fromBAtoParis said...

Wowww, Magdalena...What you do is great !!!

Magdalena said...

Hello Cristina; thanks for visiting my blog; I had a look at yours and your Parisian chronicle. Take care!

Gocha said...

What a great collection of spreads!! Love the photos and the whole blog. Tried to subscribe to the feed but unfortunately it only allows me to subscribe to comments :(

Magdalena said...

Hi Gocha; as regards this subscription option, it is a real pain in the ass (excuse my English) to activate this option for subscription of post. I activated my feed burner account, but the thing does not work properly. That is why one can receive comments only. I hope we will be able to work this problem out soon, because I received in last two weeks several subscription request. Thanks for visiting.

Magdalena said...

POLKO, dzieki! Dopiero teraz zauwazylam Twoj komentarz. Niepredko je zrobie bez okazji, za duzo roboty.

Shabs.. said...

Wow....i just stumbled upon ur blog and i shud say, ur photography is brilliant and are teh recipes....loved the presentation..

Magdalena said...

SHABS, thanks for visiting. I am glad you like what I present here.

buruuberii said...

No nie pierwsza to pisze, ale moze ostatnia? Niesamowite kanapokowe cuda Magda - niesamowite, Rzucialabym sie na ta z rzodkiweka!

Pozdrawiam cie cieplo :-)

Nouf said...

Can you please make a video on these sandwiches.
Thank you

Val said...

Hey there,
I loved your blog and especially your sandwiches. I own the only polish restaurant in New Zealand. I was thinking of putting open sandwiches on my new lunch menu. You've now convinced me it's the right thing to do. Polish food can be beautiful and tasty let's spread the word :)

Magdalena said...

Hello, Val, could you please give me a link to the website of your restaurant (if there is any). What type of Polish food do you serve there ? I am very curious....and I am curious how your tartines or Polish style sandwiches look like! Kind regards:)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...