While for most people I know Saturdays are a time to kick back and smell the roses, that is not exactly true about me, since that is the time when I’m either catching up on my writing, food shopping, rehearsing with one of my music groups (I play bass in a bossa/jazz band and also in church in Manhattan) or just spending quality time with Renata. During the summer it’s the almost endless stream of concerts in the parks around town and also trying to find the time to fit in a few getaways.
Because of that, I hardly ever do any real cooking on Saturdays. Instead, I concentrate on making some easy but nevertheless tasty snacks that I learned how to make over the years. One of the favorites in our weekend rotation is zapiekanka, which is something like Poland’s response to pizza.
I first discovered Zapiekanka during a visit to a now-defunct Polish restaurant in New York’s East Village, It is a popular, easy to make snack made with mushrooms, shredded cheese and a liberal amount of ketchup over a halved baguette. During my recent visit to country itself, I had the opportunity to enjoy it as ‘nature intended,’ or walking down the street like we do with a slice of pizza stateside.
Zapiekanka is a staple in Poland: it is an inexpensive snack that was created during communism, when cheese, bread and mushrooms were easy to find. Today, it is available with different toppings and even with different ingredients. I recall once having a zapiekanka that had a bunch of veggies in lieu of cheese when we were in Renata’s native town of Chelm . However, the traditional recipe is still the most popular – fans say that the best zapiekanka can be had in Krakow’s former Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz at this store that used to operate as a kosher butcher shop. I was able to locate the place (it was just blocks away from our hotel) and I must admit they were right.
Zapiekanka is quite easy to prepare, and it is a delicious alternative to sandwiches or pizza that can be enjoyed any time of day.
Ingredients (for 2)
8 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
1 halved baguette (use both sides)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Ketchup to taste
Chopped scallions (optional)
1 tsp. butter
Melt the butter and sauté the chopped mushrooms until the liquid evaporates. Spread over halved baguette and top with scallions (optional) and cheese. Place in oven at 350 degrees and bake until cheese melts and bread is toasted. Remove from oven and serve