That's right. Not, Blue Plate Special. But, my "Special Blue Plate". If you look at your own kitchen experience you will probably agree there are some implements that you keep coming back to, time after time. Tried and true, trusty and tireless helpers. For us, one such item we want to single out for special praise is our blue plastic plate. For sure there are other tools in the kitchen that we wouldn't be without, but that old blue plate is a singular performer for certain tasks. Every time we take it from the cupboard for a task we smile with warm affection and remember the years of service this humble little battle scarred plate has given. You can see the surface in the photo has been marred with years' worth of cut marks. It's a handy light plate what to put the steak to rest, then cut into pieces for serving. Or cutting anything small when we don't want to call that big old cutting board into duty. (Also, we keep an eye on how many things we use since your's truly is not only the cook, but the dish washer too. The fewer the better.) It is also a good and ready platform for mise en place. As you might get from the photo above, Asian style is currently in vogue in our kitchen. And, if you know from stir fry, you need a bunch of things prepped and ready to go. That blue plate is just the ticket. But, the function for which this little plate seems destined is the flipping of the frittata. You know how when you make a frittata and it needs to be flipped? Well, our plate fits perfectly into the 10" fry pan and never misses when we flip it to the other side. See this entry for specifics on flipping the frittata. Meanwhile let's just close and reiterate how we flip for our Special Blue Plate.
Our beloved David D. Wronski (aka "The Polish
Prince") definitively writes . . .
We all know about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras and eating
Donuts and Pancakes; they represent all the good things you have to [should]
give up for Lent.
In the Polish Catholic tradition there's another day. Tłusty
Czwartek ... Fat Thursday. That is the day, the Thursday before the beginning
of Lent, when Poles polish off mass quantities the Donut of Donuts: Pączki.
As you already know from the previous writing on the subject, Pączki ("poonch-kee") are Polish style jelly Donuts
available the year around from any self respecting Polish bakery. Be advised,
though, Pączki are to jelly Donuts what Ferraris are to Ford Pintos. Or, pink
Champagne is to Cold Duck. We do not exaggerate!
FYI, there are two styles. The version with the jelly in the
dough wrapping before deep frying (rare); and, the kind with the jelly added in
after the dough is deep fried (usual). Being a decent Polish lad at heart (of
Polish descent) my life has being in part a search for the perfect jelly donut.
The Polonia Bakery in Passaic, New Jersey arguably has the very finest this boy
has ever had. They make the first type (jelly fried-in) and are the nicest
folks. Here is a link to an excellent review in Edible New Jersey magazine.
Below are my on site photos (date: February 4, 2016) from Piast
in Garfield, New Jersey where we also shop. They had Marmalade, Rose jelly, and
Bavarian Cream. Rather too little filling for my taste. And, it was quite a go
around getting a bead on what exactly was "Marmalade". They sell jars
of a Marmalade, so I figure they just took the name from there. Turns out it's mixed fruit jam.
Afterward we went to Polonia and got some more, filled with
prune butter/lekvar (in Polish it's "Povidla", pronounced
"Povidwa"). As I said, Polonia is the definitive version. Jelly
fried-in, orange zest flecked thin glaze icing. Light, flavorful, delectable.
And, let's just touch on the subject of the amount of jelly.
This pertains to the style with the jelly squirted/slipped in after it's a
donut. You want those babies to be a little heavy with the filling. Jelly in
every bite is the action standard. When I worked in my Polish Uncle's bakery on
Friday's preparing for the big Saturday sales day, my last job after having
worked 12 or so hours overnight was to fill the Pączki. That was probably what
got me through the night, the anticipation of being left alone to fill those
little treats at my very own sole discretion. And, fill them I did. Heavy hand
on the jelly dispensing machine. Like the one shown below.
Also, freshness is key. Best to get your Pączki (that's
plural, singular is Pączek) as close as possible to having been made.(Not you — having been made — but, thePączki, silly ) Not to belabor the
"having been made" double entendre, but close to having been made with
jelly Donuts is the same as the other meaning: make that, in the morning. There
seems to be a 4 hour or so window of opportunity. After that they start to
become contenders for a game of hockey.
Getting back . . . But there is a single day, little known,
the zenith day for Pączki. It comes just before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of
Lent, officially celebrated on Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Fat Tuesday
(Mardi Gras). On Pączki Day, to meet demand, the number of Pączki made for sale
jumps 10X . I suggest you call ahead and place an order. Recommended varieties:
apricot and raspberry jam, rose (the flower) jam, and Bavarian cream. But, do
not leave without mass quantities filled with Powidła (prune butter)---the ne
plus ultra (pronounced "po-veed-wa".) [A diagonal mark across the
letter L, written as "ł" in the Polish language, is pronounced
"wa". And, just so you are thoroughly aware of the upside down nature
of the Polish mind — one of which I happen to have . . . so I can comment . . .
— the letter W is pronounced as an English "V". Go figure.]
If you want to get in on the festivities, do check with your
local Polish baker to find out on what day they will be honoring that fabulous
fabled fried fritter; probably Fat Thursday [It took me several years to get it
straight about which day was Pączki Day. I would typically saunter in on Fat
Tuesday and receive a wilting look from the lovely sales girl at the bakery. In
fact, I dearly remember Pączki Day from my youth; but it wasn't until my
wizzoned adult years that I finally figured out on what day it fell and its
significance. Thank you, Google. Thank you, Internet. Thank you jelly. Thank
you, Alanis Morissette---Thank U.]
For a truly beatific experience, while you are buying your
Pączki, also ask for chruściki ("krus-chee-kee"), another traditional
favorite at this time of year. Chruściki---when they are made right---are as
light and tender as angels' wings. In fact, translated, chruściki means
"angel wings." As my mother
would say, "Be an angel, pass the chruściki." But watch out for all
that powdered sugar; it's a real game changer if you are wearing your favorite
black slacks or that little black dress. They can be little devils plenty if
you don't partake with precision and perspicacity. [I honor the letter
"P", for Pączki; get it? Really, get some.]
Additionally... I have also suggested that Voodoo Doughnuts
be ready for the action. When in Portland, look them up. Find out for yourself
what they are talking about when they say "the magic is in the hole."