Wild Honey and RyeModern Polish Recipes

In this refreshing approach to Polish cuisine, food writer and blogger Ren Behan takes us on a journey to discover the new tastes of her beloved culinary heritage. The food of Eastern Europe, long misunderstood in the West, is changing—the focus is swinging away from heavy dumplings and stews towards lighter, healthier, fresh and seasonal recipes, served in contemporary ways. In this beautiful collection of recipes, Ren brings us the very best of the Polish kitchen, inspired both by the food of her childhood and by the new wave of flavors to be found in the trendy restaurants, cafes and farmers markets of modern Poland.
       Alternative grains, such as rye, spelt, buckwheat and millet make an appearance in risottos, as do fresh fruit preserves and pickles, infused honeys, seasonal and raw salads, light broths, delicious cakes and flavored liqueurs. No book on Polish food would be complete without pierogi, the classic dumplings, and of course they are here, with other substantial dishes such as meatballs, goulash and cutlets, as you might expect, but you will also see them in a new light—filled with strawberries and served with honey and pistachios. Pink sauerkraut adorns vegan pastry rolls, ribs are slowly-braised with honey and vodka, a fresh cucumber salad with sour cream and dill sets off a homely dish of meatballs, and Polish charcuterie sits atop the darkest rye bread.
        An evocative and inspiring collection of recipes, which truly celebrates all the good things the food of Poland has to offer, and which will leave your mouth watering.

• Challenge your preconceptions and fall in love with the healthy Polish kitchen
• Classic Polish cooking updated for contemporary tastes
• 100 modern recipes featuring fresh, seasonal, healthy home cooking

Ren Behan is an acclaimed food writer of Polish descent, who is inspired by both her heritage and the fast changing food landscape in Poland. Her writing and recipes are an exciting fusion of traditional and modern Eastern European cuisine. An ex-lawyer who swapped the courtroom for the kitchen, Ren is now a mother of three and writes for a number of prominent online publications such as JamieOliver.com, GreatBritishChefs.com and her own highly popular blog RenBehan.com. Her Polish recipes have been featured in leading mainstream food magazines, and she has been a judge at The Guild of Food Writers Awards. Whenever time allows, Ren runs pop-up events that showcase the delicious flavors of Polish food. This is her debut cook book.

“Food writer and former criminal lawyer Behan debuts a refreshingly contemporary Polish cookbook, packed with appealing recipes that embrace modern and global influences. Dishes such as fruit souffle omelet, venison with roasted pumpkin and thyme puree, and plum and poppy seed cake are enhanced by a tidy layout and stylish color photographs. Suitable for cooks of all skill levels, the recipes include a number of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free choices. There’s also an entire chapter dedicated to flavored vodkas. VERDICT A treasury of traditional and modern Polish home cooking that will intrigue and challenge home cooks.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“In the hands of creative chef Behan, traditional Polish cooking enters the twenty-first century. Contemporary emphases on freshness and lightness have made her rethink the sort of old fashioned version of Polish food that she grew up with as an émigré in England. And she does not hesitate to incorporate decidedly non–Eastern European ingredients. Before she has set down even five recipes, she calls for avocado to top slices of Polish rye bread. Star anise perfumes lightly honeyed boiled carrots. Behan goes cross-cultural in her version of a Reuben sandwich, substituting Polish sausage for the expected corned beef. Peasant bigos, a sauerkraut stew, earns Italian accents from pancetta and tomatoes. But she leaves her classic version of cabbage rolls basically untouched. Detailed instructions yield a wealth of homemade flavored vodkas, featuring plums, quince, cherries, and even salted caramel. With color photographs, this will inspire updates and adaptations to traditional Polish cooking.” —Booklist

“Behan, British-born writer and blogger (My Polish Kitchen), dismisses traditional perceptions of Polish cuisine in this splendid homage to her culinary heritage, providing a fresh look at Polish city markets, ‘where a contemporary food scene is thriving.’ Behan makes classic Polish fare accessible with simple, authentic recipes for pierogis, borscht, and bigos (hunters stew); however, most of the recipes are for up-to-date fare. She highlights modern street food, such as vegan pastry rolls with sauerkraut and mushrooms, and trendy vodka cocktails. Breakfasts include homemade rye bread, soft white cheese (twarog), and various infused honeys. Salads feature dill, cucumber, beets, and cabbage slaws. Sweet and savory pierogi variations abound, and showstopper mains spotlight venison with roasted pumpkin thyme purée and duck breasts with plum, honey, and red wine sauce. Classic stuffed cabbage (golabki) becomes barley-stuffed parcels in creamy mushroom sauce. There are plenty of vegetable sides and meals served with ancient grains popular with vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free home cooks. Stories of favorite family dishes, celebratory feasts, and regional food festivals along with vibrant photos bring the hearty comfort food to life. Behan’s culinary portrait illuminates the timeless appeal of Poland’s evolving, cosmopolitan cuisine.” —Publishers Weekly

 “Ren Behan’s Wild Honey and Rye transforms the treasured foods of her Polish forbears into fresher, lighter recipes. While there are still hearty dishes in the mix, Behan’s emphasis is on adaptations of classic Polish fare to reflect modern eating habits and recipes inspired by Poland’s vibrant restaurant scene. Clearly written and enhanced with many personal anecdotes, the book starts with an excellent introduction of common Polish ingredients and flavors. As befits the title, the leadoff recipe is for a honey and rye loaf, followed by sections covering many zippy kinds of salads, soups, noodle dishes, meats, fish, and street foods. Each recipe title is in English and Polish, and a folk-art floral motif anchors the pages. Polish cuisine gives star status to the cabbage, the pierogi (there are seven sweet and savory variations of this crowd pleaser), root vegetables, and comforting soups for long, cold winters, but Behan has many unexpected recipes. There’s her twist on Steak Tartare, redolent with homemade lovage oil, millet kaszotto, and Venison with Roasted Pumpkin and Thyme Puree. The Polish sweet tooth appears in many recipes via fruit and honey. In the chapter entitled “High Tea,” Behan describes the cakes and other treats that many Poles enjoy as their daily afternoon snack. Potent potables often feature later in the day, and home brewers will enjoy the fascinating chapter on fruit liqueurs and vodkas flavored with everything from quince to salted caramel. Underscoring the lightened-up Polish fare, the layout is sleek, airy, and shot through with the author’s scintillating photographs of Warsaw markets and street scenes. Recipe photographer Yuki Sugiura gets a special nod for capturing artful images of stodgy foods that are tricky to shoot, like bowls of stew and plain loaf cakes. Wild Honey and Rye is a colorful, informative tour of Polish food by an author who has deep roots in Poland and is proud to share her cultural inheritance.”—ForeWord Magazine