Lemon Icing – American Style

I used to work online for an organisation in America and I still correspond by e-mail with one of my old colleagues.

He sent me a recipe for a Lemon Cake which his maternal grandmother, Maude Hodge, used to make, saying that this was his favourite cake and she often made it for his birthday.

My nephew, who is now working in America, loves lemon cake – I made him two types when he was here on a visit over a year ago – see previous posts – Lemon Drizzle and Lemon Cream Roulade.

I am sure he will love this one and if he makes it – the recipe will have crossed the Atlantic and back!

The recipe is for an icing or topping, which is a “cousin” to Lemon Curd and Lemon Meringue Pie filling.

I made two cakes using 4 eggs using a butter sponge as in  – How Did My Sponge Become Sandy? You could also use a fat free sponge. (Use 21 or 22 cm diameter tins)

The original instructions said to cut each cake into two so that you had four layers – my cutting ability is not that good! (Also I liked the thick layer in the middle)

You spread the icing on the layers to sandwich them together and then cover the top and sides.

Ingredients

  • 440g of granulated sugar
  • 250ml of water
  • 3 lemons – juice and finely grated rind
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of butter

Method

  • In a saucepan mix the sugar, egg, cornflour and water together.
  • Add the lemon juice and rind.
  • Cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Place one of the cakes on a serving plate – one with a lip is best.
  • Spread the icing on the cake.
  • Put the other cake on top.
  • Cover the top and sides.

 

  • The cake is on a Walther  Glas crystal cake plate.
  • Served on Aynsley – Las Palmas tea plates,  from the 1960s.
  • Coffee cups & saucers by Colclough,  Ridgway Concord,  from the 1970s.

 

 

Buckwheat Pancakes – New Ideas 1

I have two posts already about buckwheat as a grain and buckwheat flour used in a variety of pancakes.

I have recently returned from a super, short holiday in Gdańsk and had several delicious breakfasts in a restaurant in the Old Town called Gvara- the name is based on the Polish word gwara which means dialect (Polish does not have the letter v !).

One of the breakfasts was buckwheat pancakes with a filling of chopped cucumber and smoked bacon, topped with a soft cooked egg and chives.

On my return I had to recreate this lovely dish.

Ingredients

  • Cooked buckwheat pancakes
  • Chopped cucumber and smoked bacon filling
  • Soft cooked egg – poached or lightly fried
  • Chopped chives or the green parts of spring onions.

The hardest part is getting getting all the parts cooked and warm at the same time.

Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 25g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml of milk (full or semi-skimmed)
  • 125ml of water
  • 25g of  melted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • Some extra milk might be needed.

Method

Make these in the same way as standard pancakes adding the melted butter after the batter has been standing for about an hour.

  • Beat the eggs and add then them first to the sifted flour.
  • Add the milk mixture to the egg and flour mix until you have a batter the consistency of pouring cream.
  • Mix the milk with the water
  • Add the milk mixture to the egg and flour mix until you have a batter the consistency of pouring cream.
  • Leave the batter to stand for at least 1 hour in which time it will thicken, then add a little more liquid.
  • Use a special thin pan which you use just for pancakes, mine has a base diameter of 20 cm and is made of steel, once seasoned, just wipe it clean between uses with kitchen roll – never scour it or use detergent.
  • Work out how much batter you need for a pancake and find a measure which will then give you a consistent amount – I use a small ladle which holds 45ml.
  • Have a dish of melted butter or margarine and sunflower oil for frying so you can add just enough and tip some back if needed.
  • Heat the pan – you want a high heat but not too much to burn the pancakes – you will find you have to keep adjusting the heat. (As I cook using gas this is easy to do).

IMG_20150705_172532980

 

  • Using the ladle pour the mixture into the pan.
  • Tilt the pan so that the mixture covers the surface completely and evenly.
  • Cook the pancakes on one side and turn then over – you can make them up one by one or stack then up with a piece of grease-proof paper in between them. You can do this and leave then for later use.

Filling

  • Cucumber
  • Smoked Bacon
  • Peel the cucumber and chop it into little cubes.
  • Cut the bacon into small squares and cook these in a frying pan – aiming for cooked but maybe not that crispy.
  • Whilst the bacon is still warm, mix it with the cucumber.

 

 

  • Place some of the mixture on the cooked pancake  in the centre and out to the sides – but not quite to the edge.
  • Fold in two of the opposite sides and then roll up the pancake from the long end to make a long parcel.
  • Top the pancake with a soft cooked egg – poached or lightly fried.
  • Sprinkle with chopped chives or the green parts of spring onions.

 

Served on Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 to 1988.

Gulasz Soup

This is a soup I often make when I have some gulasz left from a meal, in fact I often make extra so that there is some!

There should be about 3 chunks of meat per serving – though of course that depends on the size of the chunks.

This works well with either beef or pork gulasz.

Ingredients

  • 350g of already cooked gulasz made with beef or pork, peppers and tomato such as in earlier posts.
  • 1 tin of cannellini beans – drained.
  • 750ml of chicken stock – can be from a cube or concentrate.
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder.
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée.
  • 125ml of soured cream.
  • Salt & pepper to taste.
  • Flat-leaved parsley or chives to serve & an extra dollop of soured cream if desired.

Method

  • Put the gulasz into a large pan.
  • Add the drainned beans.
  • Mix the tomato purée with the stock and add this to the pan.
  • Add the chilli powder.
  • Bring to the boil, cover and let it simmer for around 15 minutes.
  • Season to taste.
  • Gently stir in the soured cream.
  • Sprinkle on chopped parsley or chives to serve.

Note

Butter beans or haricot beans should be good too.

 

 

Soup plates are Royal Doulton – Burgundy – 1959 to 1981.

Pierogi with Duck

I have recently returned from a super, short holiday in Gdańsk during which I tried out many old favourites and several new dishes.

I tried pierogi in several restaurants, choicing some unusual fillings and have been inspired to make them with some new fillings.

I did find that some of the meaty ones were too big – I use a 7cm diameter cutter, which for me gives a better filling to pasta ratio. and have been inspired to make some with some new fillings.

I had several delicious meals in a restaurant in the Old Town called Gvarathe name is based on the Polish word gwara which means dialect (Polish does not have the letter v !). This restaurant serves Polish cuisine – often with a modern take and it has given me much inspiration for some new recipes.

One of the dishes there was pierogi with  duck in the filling.

On the way back to the airport the taxi driver told me that his wife would be cooking duck with red cabbage for Easter Sunday – this set me thinking!

Because I had several ducks in the freezer, I roasted these and took off all the meat – however in the future I would just buy duck breasts or legs and roast or poach them.

3 Duck Fillings

Cooked duck meat – roasted or poached  – is used in these recipes – amouts are not critical.

Fillings must be left to go cold before using.

Duck & Apple

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 4 eating apples – Braeburn or Coxes are good

Method

  • Core the apples and place them in a oven proof dish
  • Cook them in a medium oven until the flesh is soft
  • Scope out all the apple flesh
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat
  • Combine the duck and apple flesh together.

 

Serve with melted butter – here on Royal Worcester – Evesham from 1961 onwards.

 

 

Duck, Red Cabbage & Cranberries

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 300g red cabbage
  • 50g of dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

Rather than boiling, steaming or slow cooking the red cabbage, I used a sort of stir-fry & braising method which worked really well.

  • Put the cranberries in a dish a cover them with some boiling water and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Shred the cabbage.
  • In a deep frying/ saucepan heat some water and add the butter.
  • Stir in the cabbage and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  • Cover the pan – a glass lid is good so you can see what is happening – you need to check and stir occasionally.
  • Simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries & water, stir and on put the lid back on.
  • Simmer for around 10  to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check on the water so it does not dry out.
  • If the cabbage has not cooked enough – adjust the water and cook for a bit longer.
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Use a mini-chopper or stick blender to shred the cabbage mixture.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the duck and cabbage & cranberry mixture together.

Serve with melted butter – here on La prune by  Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Duck & Sauerkraut

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • Around half a large jar of sauerkraut
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  • Put the sauerkraut with the liquid from the tin or jar into a pan and cover with boiling water.
  • Simmer the sauerkraut gently for about 30 minutes.
  • Then uncover and boil off as much of the liquid as possible – without burning the sauerkraut.
  • Allow the boiled sauerkraut to cool.
  • Strain it using a sieve and pressing it down with a spoon to get the mixture as dry as possible (If you want you can put the strained mixture into a clean dry cotton or linen teacloth, twist the ends together to squeeze it to get it really dry).
  • Chop the sauerkraut finely with a sharp knife.
  • Chop the onion finely  and fry it gently in the butter until it is soft and golden – leave it to cool.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the cabbage mixture, the fried onion and the chopped sauerkraut.
  • Add some pepper to taste.

Fried pierogi

All the butter coated pierogi that are not eaten can be fried up later – equally delicious!

 

I have written much previously about pierogi  – but have included the instructions for the dough again below.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

 

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cut the dough into quarters.
  • On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed pierogi on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • I cut them out using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 8 at a time (I only do 6 at a time if using frozen ones).
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes, a bit more if they were frozen, and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large shallow dish and put the melted butter into the dish
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish, mix them with the butter to prevent them sticking.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.

 

 

 

 

Rosół – Chicken Soup

This is my 200th post!

So it is fitting that this one is a Polish classic.

Rosół – Chicken Soup – must be the most well know of Polish soups and can be the basis for many others.

It is a clear soup which is known as a bouillonbulion in Polish. The word consommé which I thought was interchangeable with it, in fact denotes a clear soup which has been cleared with egg whites cooked in it.

Rosół is usually served with cooked pasta, often fine noodles and is the origin of chicken noodle soup.

In times gone by the chicken used would have been an old broiler – these are not as available here as much.  Nowadays for taste it pays to use the very best free range chicken you can get.

A whole chicken is simmered for around 2 hours with Wloszczyzna – Soup Greens.

I was talking with my Polish friend who likes in Leeds and she told me that the addition of  LubczykLovageLevisticum officinale leaves enhances the flavour.

I have this herb, which belongs to the celery & parsley family , growing in a pot in my garden but as it was still a bit early in the year when I made this, I have not been able to try this out – I must do so later!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 onion – halved (leave some dark skin on to add colour) or 2 leeks – trimmed
  • 3 whole peeled carrots
  • 2 whole peeled parsnips
  • Half a celeriac – peeled
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 2 -3 allspice grains
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Leaves & stalks of fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley and lovage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Chopped parsley to serve

Method

  • Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot and cover with boiling water.
  • Bring it all to the boil and put on the lid.
  • Either lower the heat to let it all simmer or put the pot  into an oven at around GM 2 – 150°C.
  • Leave to simmer for around 2 hours until the meat is tender.
  • Remove the chicken.
  • Strain the soup.
  • Leave the liquid to cool and then place in a cold place or fridge preferably overnight.
  • Remove as much fat as possible from the top of the liquid.

Note

The soup should have some oczka – little eyes on the top – these are the fat droplets –  tastes have changed somewhat and less fat is prefered by many now.

To Serve

Heat up the soup gently to boiling and simmer for a few minutes.

Pasta & Noodles

This is the classic way of serving.

Very small pasta shapes or larger pasta cut into small pieces or noodles are all cooked beforehand and a small amount is placed in the soup dish and hot rosół poured over them to serve.

 

 

Chopped flat-leaved parsley is added on serving.

Served in Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998

 

You can add some of the cooked carrots, sliced, to the soup and/or some of the cooked chicken meat, chopped.

Uszka (Polish filled pasta) can be added and the convention is to add three or five uszka to each soup serving.

 

Note

The cooked chicken can be used in many dishes which require cooked chicken such as in the filling for pierogi.

I find that the meat is really tasty and succulent and makes super sandwiches with some mayonnaise.

Note

Rosół  is often used as the base of many other soups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pea Purée

Pea purée is a very old Polish recipe and in its simplest version yellow split peas with cloves or allspice & bay leaves are cooked till soft and  mashed. Nowadays a blender is more often used – I use my stick blender.

Whilst doing research for this recipe I found that it is very much like the old English recipe for Pease Pudding – Remember the old Nursery rhyme – Pease Pudding Hot, Pease Pudding Cold! –  this would have had nutmeg, cinnamon or saffron added.

Version 1

Ingredients

400g yellow split peas

1 large onion – peeled and cut in half

2 – 3 allspice grains or 2 cloves

4 -6 peppercorns

1 -2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper to taste

 

 

Method

Place the split peas, onion, allspice or cloves and the bay leaves into a large saucepan.

Cover with boiling water so that there is about 2cm of water above the ingredients.

Simmer  gently until the peas are soft and mushy – stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning – add a little hot water if it looks like it is cooking away too quickly.

Remove the spices and the bay leaf.

Purée the pea mixture – I use a stick blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot – it goes very well with hot smoked sausages, bacon or ham hock.

Add skwarki (crispy bacon bits) or charred onion as a topping.

Version 2

Ingredients

400g yellow split peas

1 large onion

2 medium carrots

2 – 3 allspice grains or 2 cloves

4 -6 peppercorns

1 -2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Method

Peel the carrots.

Place the split peas, carrots, onion, allspice or cloves and the bay leaves into a large saucepan.

Cover with boiling water so that there is about 2cm of water above the ingredients.

Simmer  gently until the peas and are soft and mushy and the carrots are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. – add a little hot water if it looks like it is cooking away too quickly.

Remove the spices and the bay leaf.

Puree the pea mixture – I use a stick blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot – it goes very well with hot smoked sausages, bacon or ham hock.

Add skwarki (crispy bacon bits) or charred onion as a topping.

 

 

This tastes sweeter than version 1 because of the carrots.

Note

I used a slow cooker the second time I made this – it made it easieras it prevented burning or all the liquid cooking off to soon.

Leśny mech – Forest moss

 

A Polish Heritage Day was held in the Leeds Polish Centre on the first Saturday after 3rd May in 2017 & 2018.

The 3rd will take place on Saturday, 4 May 2019.

May 3rd  is Polish Constitution Day – a National Holiday in Poland to celebrate – Konstytucja 3 maja 1791.

This was the first  written constitution in Europe and the second in the World with the American constitution in 1789 being the first. It was very progressive for its time.

There was a hugh table with Polish cakes for sale – I contributed the iced poppy seed cake – makowiec on a glass stand in the middle of the photograph.

One of the ladies brought a cake I had never seen before which she told me was called Leśny mech – which means Forest Moss and it looked amazing as it was bright green!

Others certainly knew this cake and it very quickly disappeared!

I was amazed to find that the cake is made with spinach!

I have tried to find the origins of the cake as it is certainly not one my mother ever mentionned – all that I have found is that it is based on a Turkish cake – called  Ispanakli Kek (Spinach Cake).

Short History of Spinach

Spinacia oleracea is spinach & the plant originated in Persia (modern Iran), ispanakh in Persian &  ispanak in Turkish and szpinak in Polish.

Spinach was found in China by the early years of AD, where it is called Persian vegetable.

There are records of spinach in Spain by the 12th century.

Spinach came to England in the 14th century and was popular because it grew in the spring and helped to break the monotony of the Lenten diet.

Catherine de Medici who was from Florence in the 16th century married into the French royal family. She loved spinach  and the term which is used till this day – à la Florentine, which is used to signify a dish with spinach, was coined in her honour.

Leśny mech

Forest Moss – this cake with its amazing colours is meant to look like the forest floor with red berries growing.

I made this cake with 250g of  baby leaf spinach which gives a light green colour. I have read that if you use full leaf older spinach this gives a darker colour and has more flavour – I have not tried this yet.

I also know that you can use frozen spinach -400g of frozen – squeezed out and patted dry – but I have not tried this.

I used frozen raspberries for the berries – when it is later in the year I will use fresh raspberries or alpine strawberries from the garden or whinberries(bilberries) from the woods. Many people use pomegranate seeds when making this in the winter months.

Ingredients

  • 250g baby leaf spinach
  • 240g of  granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 185 ml sunflower oil (3/4 of  a 250ml cup)
  • 400g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Grease and line the bottom of a loose-bottomed (or spring formed) cake tin – 26cm in diameter.

  • Use a mini-chopper/blender to whizz up the spinach – most likely in batches to get it all done.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder together.
  • Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence into a large bowl and use an electric whisk to whisk them together for 4 to 6 minutes till it is pale and fluffy.
  • Gently stir in the spinach.
  • Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Bake on a lower shelf of the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

  • Lightly shave off any golden brown edges of the cake with a sharp knfe or fine grater.
  • Cut off the top third of the cake and crumble it by hand into a bowl.

Place the bottom piece of the cake onto the serving plate or cake stand.

Optional

A sweet poncz (sweet punch for moistening the cake) can be used on the bottom layer.  You can make one from 60ml of cold weak black tea, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 – 2 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix the ingredients together and use a pastry brush to spread it on the cake.

Now add a white filling!

Some recipes use whipped double cream, sweetened with icing sugar and set with gelatine. Other recipes make a filling with mascarpone.

I used my own yoghurt cheese – you can use cream cheese.

Filling Ingredients

Approximate amounts

  • 500g yoghurt cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence or fine grated rind of a lemon
  • optional – a couple of tablespoons of soured cream – depending on the cheese and how soft you want the filling

Method

Mix the ingredients together – adjusting the sweetness and consistency to taste.

Assembling the cake.

  • Place bottom layer on a plate or cake stand.
  • Brush on the poncz – optional
  • Spread on the white filling
  • Sprinkle the cake crumbs over the top of the cake to cover filling
  • scatter red berries over the top (do this later if not serving straight away)

To decorate – red colours – raspberries, whinberries (bilberries) alpine strawberries, pomegranate seeds

 

Making this cake gave me a chance to use the beautiful Lead Crystal Cake Stand, which was a present from my cousin in Lanchester. It was just right for this large cake.

Made by Nachtmann in Germany  – Tortenplatte (tort/gateau plate/ stand) – style name – Venus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates used are La Prune by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Cotton napkin with a design of rhubarb was bought from the Hepworth Gallery shop in Wakefield (Sadly – No longer in stock – as I wanted to buy some more!).