Now this may just my imagination but beetroots in Poland just taste so much better and sweeter than the ones I have had in England, maybe it is the variety that is grown there or the soil. I think you have to use home-grown or organic beetroot to get as good a taste.
I like the clear, meat-free, Lenten barszcz made for Wigilia – Christmas Eve and have tried over the years many recipes using fresh beetroots, which I have boiled or roasted and also used ready cooked vacuum packed beetroot and adjusted the taste with lemon juice or a little sugar.
I have never been truly happy with the results which did not seem to have the sweetness and flavour or the soups I have had made for me.
Nowadays the way I make barszcz is my biggest cheat!
Many years ago I started to make my barszcz with beetroot concentrate as the base, with the addition of vegetable stock and some grated beetroot to make it look authentic and this proved very popular.
A few years ago I was recommended to try barszcz from a carton – and would you believe it – everyone said this was the best barszcz they had ever had!
I have used this ever since.
Served in Carnation by Royal Doulton 1982 – 1998
Uszka (mushroom filled Polish pasta) are often served in barszcz or a dollop of soured cream is added on serving.
Beetroot is a very popular vegetable in Poland and is served both hot and cold and is the main ingredients of barszcz (The classic Polish beetroot soup).
Now this may just my imagination but the beetroot in Poland just tastes so much better than the ones I have had in England, maybe it is the variety that is grown there or the soil. I think you have to use home-grown or organic beetroot to get as good a taste.
In the following recipes I have used vacuum packed boiled beetroots – boiling or roasting raw beetroot should give a better flavour but when you only want to make a small amount or you have little time this will work as well especially if you adjust the flavour with lemon juice or a little sugar.
A popular variant is something called botwinka – this is very young beetroot – sold in bunches (rather like radishes) and consists of the small “bulb” and the young green leaves, which are all used. As I have not seen this for sale in England I will not be including any recipes – but if you are ever in a position to try this (often in the form of a soup) you will taste something very delicious.
Ćwikła is the most typical Polish accompaniment to roasted and smoked meats and sausage. This salad or relish is made from grated cooked beetroot which is mixed with grated horseradish – chrzan.
The first recorded recipe for ćwikła comes from the writings of Mikołaj Rej (1505 – 1569) who is known as the “Father of Polish Literature”. He was the first person to write exclusively in Polish.
He was born 59 years before Shakespeare (1564 – 1616).
2 or 3 boiled beetroots
Extra lemon juice – optional
Grate the beetroots using a fine or medium grater and put this into a bowl.
In the past I always used a fine grater but now I prefer to use my medium grater.
Add a large dollop or two of horseradish sauce.
Below are two kinds, one with soured cream and one without. I like the one with soured cream more.
A few years ago I thought it would be a good idea to grow my own horseradish – that was a mistake! It starts to take over with the roots spreading underground. However the dark leaves are very attractive and the air does smell of horseradish when you walk up to it. You just need to be able to contain it.
Mix the grated beetroot and horseradish sauce together.
Add soured cream – if using the sauce with this in already you might not need as much.
You can add lemon juice as well.
Carnation Serving Dish by Royal Doulton
Beetroot & Apple Salad
2 or 3 boiled beetroots
1 eating apple with a good flavour such as Jazz, Braeburn or Pink Lady.
Juice of half or a whole lemon
Sugar – optional
Grate the beetroots using a medium grater.
Peel and core the apple and grate this using a medium grater.
Mix the two together.
Add lemon juice to taste.
You can add some extra sugar to taste.
This tastes much better if it is left so all the ingredients mingle together for a few hours.
I make this in the morning if I want it for the evening or I make it the night before for lunch time the next day.
This is a delicious way of serving beetroot warm with a roast dinner.
3 or 4 boiled beetroots
Large tablespoon of butter
1 or 2 tablespoons of flour
Juice of a lemon & some extra water
3- 4 tablespoons of soured cream
Salt & pepper to taste
A little sugar to taste – optional
Grate the beetroots using a medium grater and put them into a saucepan with the lemon juice and a little water.
Put a lid on the saucepan and gently simmer the beetroot – taking care not to let it dry out or burn.
Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the flour – let it colour slightly.
Add 2 tablespoons of soured cream and a little water and combine this well.
Add this mixture to the simmering beetroots, once again combining well.
Let this simmer for 5 to 10 minutes – keep checking, and stirring and adding more soured cream, lemon juice or water if it looks like it is going to dry out.
Add salt & pepper and a little sugar to taste.
Serving dish is Topic designed by Alan Rogers in 1967 for J & G Meakin.