Toast news of Pope John Paul’s beatification with Borscht in the Polish manner


Pope John Paul II responds to the cheers people gathered in St. Louis Jan. 26, 1999, during his last trip to the United States. (CNS file photo)

The news so many of us have been praying for lo these last few years really sparked up the morning when Pope Benedict XVI made it official: Pope John Paul II will be beatified May 1.

There was rejoicing in our house where a prayer of intention for sainthood has been magnetically affixed to the refrigerator since shortly after April 2, 2005 when he exchanged earthly existence for heavenly rest.

The kitchen, I’ve found, is a great place to pray and sticking prayer lists up on the refrigerator door is a great reminder.

Well, yes, I am checking out my collection of Polish recipes, especially the ones concocted in his honor for such events as “Popefests” – the occasions when a lot of friends gathered to share his pilgrimages and World Youth Day events in front of the television set.

I have a strong feeling, another “Popefest” is on tap for May 1. And though I’m a bit personally downhearted at the timing – I was hoping for October, a better time for colleague Mary Stadnyk and me to make the trip, I’m still really looking forward to becoming a video pilgrim for the event.

Foodwise, the timing is terrific. As colleague Scott Alessi pointed out this morning, the  culinary rigors of Lent will be behind us. Leftovers from the splendid cuisine of Easter Week will add to the texture of the celebration!

Now, frozen pierogies are a freezer staple in our house where there is always a box or bag on hand for our nephews – Pat and Nick – who consume them with gusto whenever they visit.

Its’ possible brother Pete and I will have some for dinner this weekend in JP2’s honor.

But tonight, Pete will be left to his own devices at home while I head into New York City with scores of folks from the DOT to see choristers from Monsignor Donovan High School, Toms River, and Mater Dei Prep, New Monmouth join Christian recording artist John Angotti on stage in concert at Carnegie Hall.

Before the concert, the group will be stopping off at the famous Carnegie Deli for dinner and I plan to order a lovely bowl of borscht with some sour cream to celebrate this morning’s announcement.

Now it goes without saying that tonight’s borscht will have a decidedly Russian flavor and probably be a bit thinner than the thicker, Polish style version which I prefer. But I’ll make the best of it until I can whip up my version of the brew.

Borscht ala Polonaise

Ingredients: 1 stick butter; 5-6 large fresh beets and a can of canned, sliced beets with juice; 1 large, sweet onion, sliced; salt & pepper to taste; fresh dill; 1 pint sour cream; two quarts of beef stock (home made preferable but canned or boxed will suffice); cup mashed potatoes.

Directions: Pre-cook the beets by boiling or microwaving them. After cooling, peel them and slice into thin slices. Bring the beef stock to a boil and add the mashed potatoes to the pot (this will make for a thicker soup). Add the fresh beets and the canned beets with some of the liquid from the can to spice up the mix and the sliced onions. Cook for at least 45 minutes at medium heat. Serve with sour cream and sprigs of dill.

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