Janusz Korczak is considered one of the great humanitarians of the last century. As a pediatrician and director of an orphanage in Warsaw, Korczak took in children deemed unwanted and untrainable. He wrote about his pedagogy for special children in several books, including “How to Love a Child” and “The Child’s Right to Respect.”
Korczak also authored several children’s books including the classics “King Matt the First” and “Kaytek the Wizard,” which was just re-released in English in 2012, commemorating the 70th anniversary of his death. “Kaytek the Wizard” (1933) has been called an early-day Harry Potter, with themes of the adolescent’s awakening to his power as an individual, a desire to strike out on one’s own away from judgmental adults, and the individual’s responsibility to use his gifts for good. Kaytek’s magic soon wreaks havoc on Warsaw and draws attention from the League of Nations. He flees the city, meets a girl, and together they fight a battle against evil. Kaytek returns to Warsaw more noble and able to control his childish impulses.
The sad fate of Janusz Korczak and the orphans he cared for has also been the subject of several books. In 1942, Korczak’s orphanage was moved to the ghetto, and the children were subsequently targeted for extermination at the Treblinka concentration camp. Rather than accept sanctuary, Korczak accompanied the children to Treblinka, where he and his staff faced the same doom at the hands of the Nazis.
Polska kielbasa is one of the most common Polish sausages in the United States. The following grilled cheese recipe puts a magical spin on the traditional favorites.
KIELBASA GRILLED CHEESE
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 16-ounce bag shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley and dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces skinless kielbasa, sliced diagonally 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
8 slices marble rye bread (or regular rye)
8 slices cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (seeds removed for less heat)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whisk the sugar and vinegar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves, then whisk in two tablespoons vegetable oil. Add the coleslaw mix and herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss.
Heat the remaining one tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook until browned on both sides, two minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Spread the mustard on the bread, then sandwich with half of the cheese, the kielbasa, jalapeno and the remaining cheese.
Wipe out the skillet; add 1/2 tablespoon butter and melt over medium heat. Add two sandwiches and press another large skillet on top. Cook, pressing gently, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese melts, four to five minutes per side, adding another 1/2 tablespoon butter to the skillet when you flip. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Serve with the coleslaw. Awesome flavor.