Spiced Pears

I have two pear trees in the garden and this year I have had the best crop of pears ever,  both in number and size of pear.

As I do not have a place to store the fruit that is cool and dry enough,  I was looking for recipes to use the pears.

I tried this popular recipe from my great Polish standby recipe book but I found it too acidic.  I adjusted the recipe and used less vinegar and more sugar and this I find to be much better.

Ingredients

1.5 kg of hard pears such as Conference

300ml of water

300ml of cider or white wine vinegar

500g of granulated sugar

8 cloves

8 grains of allspice

Piece of cinnamon bark

Method

Clean and sterilise 2 large glass jars.

Peel and core the pears and cut into large pieces.

Put the water, sugar and spices into a large pan and gently bring to the boil making sure the sugar is all dissolved.

Add the pears and bring back to the boil,  then gently simmer until the pears are soft and translucent.

Using a slotted spoon remove the pears and divide them between the jars.

To the liquid remaining in the pan add the vinegar and bring to the boil.

Leave this on a gently boil for around 5 minutes and then leave to cool.

Use a funnel to pour the liquid over the pears.

When the jars are cold put on the lids.

Store in a cool dry place or in a fridge.

Serve with hot roasts or cold meats, smoked sausages and cheeses.

The pears can be chopped into small pieces and used in various salads.

The spiced liquid can be used in salad dressings or in marinades for meat.

Fruity Ribs

My Polish friend who lives in Leeds often goes back to Poland to visit relatives and to have a holiday.

This summer she brought me back a recipe book which covers  a year of meals (365 meals) divided into 4 sections – namely the 4 seasons.

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There are lots of lovely recipes in the book and I am sure I will be trying many of them.

Here are two I have tried already – adapted slightly to make life easier!

Recipe 1 (autumn)

1 or 2 racks of pork ribs

2 tablespoons of raisins or sultanas

120g of ready to eat prunes

120g of ready to eat apricots

3-4 tablespoons of plain flour

3 large onions – chopped

500ml dry red wine ( more might be needed or some extra water)

4 peppercorns

4 grains of allspice

4 cloves

1 teaspoon of  dried marjoram or Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 – 4  eating apples (best if quite tart – such as Granny Smiths)

Sunflower oil for frying

Method

Place the apricots & raisins in a bowl and cover them with hot water and leave for around 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 160°C.

Chop the ribs into 2 rib portions.

Put the flour onto a plate and then flour the ribs on both sides.

Fry the ribs lightly in hot oil on both sides.

Place the ribs in the bottom of a oven proof dish which has a lid.

Fry the onions until golden.

Slowly add some of the liquid from the soaked fruit and cook together mixing it well.

Add this to the ribs in the dish.

Add the peppercorns, allspice, cloves, marjoram and salt.

Pour the red wine over the rib mixture.

Place in the oven for around 45 minutes.

Cut the soaked apricots into strips and add these, the prunes and the raisins to the dish and give the mixture a stir.

Place back in the oven and cook for around 90 minutes to 2 hours until the meat is tender.

Check on the liquid level during this time and add wine or water if needed.

Remove the core from the apples and cut them into quarters (leave the skin on).

Place the apples, skin side down, on top of the ribs and place the lid back on.

Put the dish back in the oven for around 20 minutes.

When serving, place the cooked apples on top of the ribs and sauce.

Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.

 

 

Recipe 2 (spring)

Start this the evening before

Ingredients

1 or 2 racks of pork ribs

4 -5 tablespoons of runny honey

750 ml of apple juice (more might be needed)

Juice & finely grated rind of 1 lemon

100g of ready to eat prunes

3 -4  large tart apples (I used Bramleys)

3 cloves

Piece of cinnamon bark – around 10cm long

Method

Chop the ribs into 2 rib portions.

Coat both sides of the ribs with the honey and place them in a non-metal dish and sprinkle the lemon rind on the top.

Cover the dish and place it in a fridge overnight.

Next Day

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 160°C

Place the ribs into an oven proof dish which has a lid.

Add the cloves and cinnamon bark to the dish.

Peel, core and thickly slice the apples & sprinkle lemon juice on them.

Arrange the apples and prunes over the ribs.

Pour the apple juice over the contents.

Place the lid on top of the dish and put in the oven.

Cook for around 2 – 3 hours until the meat is tender.

You might have to add more apple juice when you check on the progress

 

Variation

Instead of ribs you might want to use slices of shoulder pork (750g  – 1kg) the method is just the same.

I tried this with recipe 2 – the one with the apple juice.

 

Served here with boiled new potatoes and brussel sprouts à la Polonaise.

Serving dishes  are Carnation by Royal Doulton, 1982 – 1998

 

 

 

More Celeriac Salads

My Polish friend who lives in Leeds, just came back from a visit to Poland and mentioned a celeriac salad with carrots and apples that she had enjoyed.

This started me thinking and I made this one and then I tried out a couple of other ones as well.

Ingredients -1

Half a celeriac – peeled

2 -3 carrots

3 apples

Lemon juice

2- 3 tablespoons of soured cream

salt & pepper

Optional

A little bit of sugar

Method – 1

Coarse grate the celeriac.

Peel and then coarse grate the carrots.

Coarse grate 2 of the apples.

Leave the skin on the other apples, remove the core  and chop it into small pieces.

In a bowl mix the celeriac, carrots and apple together.

Add the juice of a lemon and the soured cream and mix well.

Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

 

 

Note

I think this tastes best when made a few hours before serving.

Ingredients -2

Half a celeriac – peeled

2-3 hard pears (Conference are good)

3-4 tomatoes

1-2  tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper

A little bit of sugar

Method – 2

Coarse grate the celeriac.

Peel the pears and remove the core and chop them into small chunks.

Chop the tomatoes into small chunks.

Add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix.

Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

 

 

 

Ingredients -3

Half a celeriac – peeled

2-3 apples (Braeburn) are good

2-3  red peppers

1-2  tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper

A little bit of sugar

Method – 3

Coarse grate the celeriac.

Chop the red peppers into small squares.

Blanch them with boiling water and leave to cool.

Strain and the dry the peppers – with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.

Leave the skin on the apples, remove the core and chop them into small pieces.

Add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix.

Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

 

Three Celeriac Salads

 

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Served in Carnation by Royal Doulton dishes from 1982 – 1998.

 

Dried Fruits at Christmas

In Polish households fruits that have been dried from the summer often feature as one of the 12 dishes at the evening meal at Wigilia – Christmas Eve.

The main fruits that were dried were: apples, pears & plums.

The dishes are easy to make but you need to start the process 2 or 3 days before hand.

I use hot black tea to reconstitute the fruits & often using Earl Grey Tea to give it a little twist but you can use just hot boiled water.

Prunes

A good deal depends on the quality of the prunes and Agen prunes from France are the best.  You need to find good plump large prunes which still have the stones in them. However these last two years I have had difficulties find these and have had to used stoned prunes.

Ingredients

500g prunes

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

2 tablespoons of rum

Method

Place the prunes in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the prunes, if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the prunes are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the prunes overnight to plump up.

 

Put the prunes and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan and simmer gently for about 15 minutes then leave to cool.

Add the rum when the prunes are cold.

Pears

Ingredients

500g dried pears ( they come as half a pear)

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

Small piece of cinnamon stick

3-4 whole cloves or allspice seeds.

 

Method

Cut the pears in half.

Place the pears in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the pears, if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the pears are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the pears overnight to plump up.

Put the pears and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan, add a small cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves or 3-4 whole allspice seeds and simmer gently for about 15 minutes 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .  Take care not to cook for too long – you do not want a “mush”!

Remove the spices then leave to cool.

 

Dried Fruit Salad

My mother used to buy mixed dried fruits to make this & I have bought this in the past from the dried fruit & nut stall on Leeds Kirkstall Market.

When I enquired about this – the stall holder said that they had not had this mixture for many years! She did tell me that the mixture had consisted of dried – apples, apricots, peaches, pears & plums.

Some people make the dried fruit salad for Wigila (Christmas Eve) using 12 fruits ( another reminder of  the 12 apostles.)  So – raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries, cherries, figs and other dried berries would be used as well.

Ingredients

500g mixed dried fruits

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

Small piece of cinnamon stick

3-4 whole cloves or allspice seeds.

 

Method

Cut the larger fruits in half.

Place the fruits in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the fruits , if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the fruits are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the fruits overnight to plump up.

 

Put the fruits and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan, add a small cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves or 3-4 whole allspice seeds and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .  Take care not to cook for too long – you do not want a “mush”!

Remove the spices  then leave to cool.

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 Note

When I make any of these at other times of the year, I often serve them with soured cream or plain yoghurt or a mixture of the two.

 

Pork & Pears

This is a new recipe for me – it is from the South West of Poland, the area called Śląsk – Silesia in English.

Pyrus communis is the European pear.

Pears originated in the Caucasus and then spread to Asia and Ancient Persia and from there to Europe.

Pears have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

The Polish for pear is gruszka

Pears are more demanding than apples and so you will find that there are more pear orchards in Southern Poland where there is more sun and because of the fertile soil.

Conference is a a popular cultivated variety in England. It was cultivated by Thomas Francis Rivers and it won 1st prize in 1885 National British Pear Conference in London.

It is also popular and grown in Poland now where it is called Konferencja.

This is a good pear for this recipe as it need to be a hard pear that keeps its shape and does not disintegrate.

Version 1 Using Shoulder Pork

Ingredients

400g – 500g of shoulder pork – in slices.

4 -5 hard pears such as Conference

1 parsnip

1 carrot

1 onion

1 -2 tablespoons of plain flour.

300ml of vegetable or chicken stock (can be from powder or a cube)

4 -5 grains of  ziele angeliskie which is allspice

Salt

Sunflower oil for frying.

 

Allspice also called pimenta or Jamaican pepper is very popular in Polish cookery.

It is the dried unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, a tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America.

The name allspice was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

It used to be very popular in England and that is why in Poland it is called ziele angielskie which means English herb(Why herb rather than spice I do not know!) 

Until recently it seemed to have fallen out of favour in England though now it seems to be being used more and more.

In Poland it is used with meats as well as or instead of peppercorns and is used in cakes.

I have been able to obtain it a lot more readily in the past few years and am now using it a great deal especially in casseroles as I love the taste.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Peel & chop the parsnip and carrot into rough cubes.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Fry the all gently together and put them at the bottom of a the casserole dish.

Lightly dust the pork and fry gently in sunflower oil.

 

Add the pork on top of the vegetables.

Sprinkle with salt.

Pour in the stock & put on the lid.

Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour – then turn the oven down to GM3 – 160°C and cook for another 2 hours.

Peel the pears and cut then in half and remove core & pips.

Place the pears on top of the meat & cover with the lid.

Cook for around 20 – 30 minutes until the pears are tender.

You can make this in advance with just the vegetables and pork and then re-heat it at GM4 – 180°C – for around an hour and then add the pears.

Using Dried Pears

Dried pears are often used rather than fresh – drying fruit is a very popular method of fruit preservation in Poland & means that this recipe could be made in the winter when all the fresh fruit was no longer available.

Dried Pears are for sale in the fruit and nut stall In Kirkstall Market in Leeds.

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Cook the meat as before and after you have added the re-constituted pears cook the dish for another 30 – 35 minutes.

Version 2 Using Pork Loin with dried pears

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Fry some slices of pork loin on both sides in a mixture of oil and butter in a deep frying pan.

Add the reconstituted pears about 3 per piece of meat with some of the liquid.

Cover the pans with a tight fitting lid (good to have a glass one to see what is happening – as it is easy for this to burn because of the sugar in the pears & liquid) and simmer for 25 -30 minutes.

 

 

One of my books said these went very well with dumplings from Śląsk (Silesia in English) – these I will have to investigate for a later post next year.

 

 

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Cabbage & Orange Salad

Here is a salad made with one of Poland’s favourite vegetables – cabbage –  and is one I have been making for many, many years since it was given to me by one of my cousins (British born like me) who lives in Wembley.

However it is not a classic Polish salad because it contains oranges which would have been a luxury item in times gone by and certainly in communist times when nothing was imported that was not strictly necessary.

There are just 3 main ingredients & a couple of options for the dressing.

The amounts here are just a guide  – for example – I just usually add a handfull  of raisins – this time I weighed them.

Ingredients

Around half a small white cabbage

2 Oranges

80g Raisins

Dressing – mayonnaise or yoghurt  or a mixture of the two

A pinch of salt & pepper to taste.

Method

Peel the oranges, cut them into slices, separate the segments and then chop these into small pieces.

Finely shred the cabbage

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Mix the oranges, raisins & cabbage together.

Add the dressing (see below) and mix well together.

You can add salt and pepper here if desired – I find just a tiny amount is needed.

Served here in Royal Doulton, Carnation, 1982 – 1998

Dressing

  1. Mayonnaise – I use Hellmann’s – original or light
  2. Greek yoghurt
  3. Mayonnaise & Greek Yoghurt
  4. Any of the above with some extra orange juice.

I tend to make this salad a while before it is needed as with the magic of osmosis – raisins become plumped up with the juice from the oranges & the dressing becomes sweet from the sugars in the raisins.

This salad goes well with roast dinners, cold smoked meats and Polish style sausages.

 

 

 

 

More Pork & Prunes

This recipe is in an old Polish style  –  po staropolsku  with its use of prunes and honey. I love the flavour of the meat with this sweetness added to it.

See also Pork & Prunes recipe 2

Pork & Prunes 3

This is a dish could be served on special occasions such as Christmas Day.

This recipe needs a large piece of pork loin which will have some of the prunes placed in cuts on the top.

I usually use prunes with the stones still in however in January 2017 there were no prunes with stones on the market in Leeds. The lady on the stall said this was because of a very poor harvest – so I have used these stoned prunes to try out the recipe for the photographs & this post.

Ingredients

1.5kg – 2kg boneless pork loin in one piece – skinless if possible (I used a joint with skin on this time – I think skinless is defiantly  better)

 

200g prunes

100ml of  sherry or vermouth

350ml of chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

bouquet garni made from flat leaf parsley, bay leaf and thyme

1 tablespoon of plain flour

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

salt & ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of honey

Method

You will need a roasting tin with a lid.

Pour the stock into a pan and bring it to the boil and then add the prunes and cover these with a lid.  Let them simmer gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Allow the prunes to cool so you can handle them and take out the stones.

Take 8-10 of the prunes and put them in a dish and pour the sherry over them and leave them for at least 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C.

Take the pork and in what will be the top make 8 to 10 deep cuts with a sharp knife.  Into each pocket place one of the prunes that has been soaked in the wine.

(If your joint has the skin on it then cut under the skin and put the prunes between the skin and the meat).

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Keep the sherry liquid as you will need it later.

Coat the joint with the flour, salt and pepper.

In a frying pan, melt the butter, add the oil and on a high heat, brown all the sides of the joint or if the joint is too large for the pan use the roasting pan on top of the stove to fry it in.

Put the meat and the frying juices into the roasting tin.

Add 6 tablespoons of the stock and cover the dish with the lid and put the dish in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.

Take the dish out of the oven , add the rest of the prunes and the stock, put the lid back on and cook in the oven for another 40-50 minutes until the meat is tender.

Take out the meat and put it on a warm serving dish cover it with foil and a tea towel and leave it to rest in a warm place whilst you finish the sauce.

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Take the bouquet garni out of the dish and add the sherry liquid and honey  to the prunes and bring this to the boil.  Then simmer it gently and use a balloon whisk to blend the sauce together and break up any large pieces of prunes.

Pour the sauce into a gravy boat or jug and serve with the meat.

Slice up the meat.

 

 

Served here on Carnation by Royal Doulton, 1982 – 1998

Prune Sauce

I had some of the prune sauce left over  and I had decided to cook some duck breasts.

I thought why not heat up the prune sauce and serve it with the duck, which is what I did – it was delicious  together.

So I thought  “Why not try to create a prune sauce which can be cooked separately for serving with roast or pan fried meats such as pork, duck or game“.

So I did and here is the recipe.

Ingredients

150g prunes – pitted are easiest for this

250ml hot boiling water

250ml chicken stock – can be from cube or concentrate

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

3 tablespoon of honey

50 ml sherry or vermouth

1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper

Method

Place the prunes in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them and leave them to soak for at least an hour.

If using prunes with stones remove these now.

In a saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and heat gently stirring with a wooden spoon to make a roux.

Slowly add the stock and bring this to the boil, stirring constantly so that you do not get any lumps.

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Add the prunes and the liquid they were soaked in, the  bay leaf and ground black pepper.

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Simmer gently until the prunes are soft.

Add the sherry and the honey and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf.

Use a balloon whisk to blend the sauce together and break up any large pieces of prunes.

 

 

Pour the sauce into a gravy boat or jug and serve hot with your meat.

Note

If possible, depending on how you have cooked the meat , add any meat juices to the sauce, stirring well.