Orange Cake

This cake using sunflower oil and  yoghurt has a really good texture and reminds me of English Madeira cake, which was invented in the mid 19th Century taking its name from the Portuguese Madeira wine with which this cake was often served.

It started out in my hunt to make a cake using lemon balm – (melisa in Polish) which grows abundantly in my garden. Sadly none of the cakes I made captured its taste at all!

However I  adapted this recipe to make an orange cake and the result is delicious.

Short History of Oranges

Oranges originated in Ancient China and sweet oranges are recorded in Chinese literature in very early times.

They are thought to have been brought by Italian and Portuguese traders to the Mediterranean area in the 15th century.

The name is of  Middle Eastern origin:

  • Arabic – nāranj
  • Persian – narang
  • French – l’orange
  • Italian – arancia
  • Portuguese –  laranja
  • Spanish – naranja
  • Polish – pomarańcz
  • Whilst in Dutch it is – sinaasappel – meaning  Chinese apple.

Oranges in Poland were very expensive before World War 2 and my mother would tell me that at St Nicholas and Christmas time an orange or a tangerine would be a common gift.

Christopher Columbus took oranges to the Caribbean on his second voyage in 1493.

Later,  Spanish settlers introduced orange plants to North America,  first to Florida and then to California.

Figures from 2017 show Brazil as being the largest orange producer in the world with the United States of America coming second and  Florida produces 70% of that country’s oranges.

Ingredients

  • 85- 90ml of Greek yoghurt (full fat is best)
  • 2 large oranges – finely grated rind & juice (not all will be needed)
  • 125ml of orange juice
  • 180g of caster sugar
  • 320g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 170ml of sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.
  • Finely grate the rind of the oranges.
  • Squeeze the juice from the oranges (you will not need all of it).
  • Mix the yoghurt with 125ml of the  orange juice.
  • Prepare a 23cm loose bottom or spring  form tin with a cake liner.
  • In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, oil and orange rind.
  • Add the eggs and whisk again.
  • Lightly mix in the flour.
  • Mix in the lemon juice.
  • Mix in the yoghurt and orange juice mixture to give a thick batter.
  • Pour into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes and cover the top lightly if necessary).

Served on Duchess – Bramble Rose – tea-plates from the 1960s.

 

Rhubarb & Date Cake

As I have rhubarb growing in the garden I am always on the lookout for recipes  for  rhubarb cakes and have tried many from English, American & Polish recipe books and magazines.

Some recipes just used 1 or 2 stalks of rhubarb – as I have lots of rhubarb – I wanted a recipe that used more.

I was talking with my old school friend who lives in Leeds and she told me her husband makes a lovely rhubarb cake with the rhubarb they have growing on their allotment.

So, I tried it out and it was indeed lovely!

 

 

Ingredients

  • 340g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 170g  butter
  • 230g caster sugar
  • 450g rhubarb, chopped into small cubes
  • 230g stoned dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml milk (either whole or semi skimmed)
  • Optional – extra sugar to sprinkle on top – (I would not bother with this next time)

 

 

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C
  • Line the base of a 26cm round spring-form or loose bottomed tin with baking paper. (You can use a 23cm tin)
  • Place the chopped rhubarb and dates into a bowl.
  • Place the flour and baking powder into another bowl.
  • Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour using your fingertips until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Stir the chopped rhubarb and dates into the mixture.
  • Combine the eggs and milk in a jug and beat a little.
  • Stir into the cake mix until well combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
  • If using, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar on the top of the cake.
  • Bake for approximately 1 – 1 & 1/4  hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean – best check on it after an hour and cover top if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack until the tin is cool enough to safely handle.
  • Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on the wire rack

Although the cake keeps well, I think it is best eaten when fresh as then the rhubarb taste is strong and the cake delicious.

Crown china tea plates – no pattern named.

Note

The rhubarb season is now over in my garden as it has just past July – next year I am going to try some variations on this cake eg – without the dates or with raisins etc.

Pork with Sour Plums

My holiday in Poland earlier this year has inspired many new recipes and posts.

This one was from a meal of slow cooked belly pork with caramelised sour plums and roast potatoes, which I had at the Gvara Restaurant.

 

I tried doing caramelised plums but did not have any success, as it was the sourness I liked, I did the plums a different way.

This works well with plums that are not quite ripe, I used small ones from the supermarket, the sort they say will ripen at home (I find they never do!).

Sour Plums

  • 4-5 per person depending on size.
  • Simmer whole with some water and a little sugar in a shallow wide pan with a lid till soft.
  • Keep taking off the lid and stirring and adjusting the heat etc.
  • You do not want a lot of liquid .
  • Aiming for cooked but still sour – add a little sugar at end if needed.

 

Roast Pork with Sour Plums

I roasted a joint of pork loin – I think that is much nicer than leg of pork.  You could just grill pork chops for this.

Serve the pork with the plums.

Served on Royal Doulton Tapestry 1966 – 1988.

 

Slightly Chinese Style Slow Cooked Belly Pork

 

Ingredients

  • Large piece of belly pork
  • 1 can of Jamaican fiery ginger beer – regular with sugar (NOT sweetener)
  • Sliced piece of peeled root ginger – around 8cm long (finger length)
  • 3- 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • Several long chilies, fresh or dried.
  • 3-4 grains allspice or cloves.
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 8 black peppercorns

Method

  • Place everything in a slow cooker and cook for at least 4 hours (often more)– till flesh is soft.
  • Remove from juices and cut into thick slices to serve. 

 

 

Served on Royal Doulton Tapestry 1966 – 1988.

Cranberry & Pear Sauce

This is very popular in Poland, especially in the wintertime, and is served with hot roasts or cold meats and smoked sausages.

I cannot find any reference to when and why these two fruits were put together but they do make a good combination.

It is more like a conserve or a salsa  –  it is not a pouring sauce.

Many years ago I got a recipe from my aunty in Białystok. However I did not get around to to making this until recently, mainly because the pears in my garden are ripe in September but fresh cranberries are not  in the shops in England until around December.

As I could not use my own pears and I  decided to make this with bought produce.

The following proportions are used,  2 parts cranberries to 1 part pears (once they are peeled & cored).

Hard pears, such as Conference pears are best and it is better if they are ripe as they provide sweetness.

I find that “bought” cranberry sauce is often much too sweet and sickly.

It is difficult to judge how much sugar to add, I have given the quatities I used, it is easier to add some later, hard to take any away!

Version 1

This will keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars.

Ingredients

600g Cranberries

300g Pears (once peeled and cored)

300g Granulated sugar

300ml of water

Method

Rinse the cranberries and drain and put them into a plastic bag, flatten the bag and place it into a freezer for 24 hours.

The next day, take the cranberries out of the bag and put them into a bowl and cover them with boiling water then leave them for 30 minutes and then strain them.

Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.

Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears, sugar and the water.

Bring to the boil, mixing often then simmer gently for around 30 minutes, still stirring often.

Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

Version 2

This will also keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars – it has a “fresher ” taste than version 1.

Ingredients

600g Cranberries

300g Pears (once peeled and cored)

70 -100g Granulated sugar

Method

Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.

Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears and 70g of the sugar and stir well.

Cover with a lid and heat gently for around 5 minutes.

Remove the lid and give the mixture a stir, continue doing this for around 15 minutes, when you check and stir you can test for sweetness and add up to another 30g of sugar.

Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

 

 

 

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.