I recently spent two weeks on a mission trip in Vienna, Austria working with students who are studying in a theologian degree program with TCMI International Institute. These students come from mostly Eastern European countries to spend some much needed rest time in the Vienna Woods while attending classes towards their degree. We, as short-term workers, are there to take care of their everyday needs such as meals, housekeeping and maintenance of the campus so they may concentrate on their studies.
This year we had 57 students from 11 different countries. One of my greatest joys is to meet these students and learn about their family and their ministries. They are always willing to share traditions and especially food dishes from their native homeland. As I sat at meals with the students, I made a point to ask them which of their country’s traditional dishes they would like me to spotlight on my food blog. It’s a blessing to see their faces light up when they talk about their favorite dish and reminisce about a family member who makes the best one.
So, for the next 11 days I will be spotlighting each of these countries and a traditional dish in honor of these students and their love for their homeland. I encourage you to try some of these dishes and if you like them, do further research on that particular country’s cuisine. You may find a new favorite recipe or two for your family!
Potato babka is a savory dish, popular especially in Belarus and Poland, where it is known as babka ziemniaczana. It is made from grated potatoes, eggs, onions, and pieces of smoked, boiled or fried bacon and (especially in Poland) sausage.
Here is a recipe for a traditional potato babka. It’s a very simple recipe but oh so delicious!
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2-4 strips of bacon, cut into lardons (small pieces)
- 1 onion, minced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy and golden. Drain on a paper towel.
- Drain most of the bacon grease off, leaving about 1 1/2 tablespoons and cook the onion, seasoned with salt, until tender and slightly golden.
- Meanwhile, peel and grate the potatoes on the finest grating surface of a box grater, or use a food processor.
- NOTE: If you’re using a food processor, be careful not to over process the potatoes, it should still have some texture to it, and not be slushy.
- Drain most of the liquid from the potatoes by setting it in a strainer. You don’t have to press all the juices out of it, just lightly drain.
- Add egg, sour cream, salt, pepper and the onions and bacon to the potatoes.
- Butter 4 (4 oz) ramekins or a casserole dish and fill each with the potato mixture.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes. If the potatoes are cooked through but not golden on top, you can lightly butter the top of the potatoes and broil for 2-4 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream and freshly minced herbs, such as green onions and dill.