More Duck

Duck With Sour Cherries

After apples (see It’s Only A Bird!) one of the most popular ways of serving roast duck in Poland is with sour cherries.

Sour cherries & sweet cherries  are related but in Polish they have have completely different names

Prunus cerasus  are wiśnie  –  sour cherries also known as morello cherries  &  Prunus avium are czereśnie –  sweet cherries.

Prunus cerasus originated in the Iranian plateau & Eastern Europe.

Annual crop production figures for sour cherries in 2012  show:

1  – Turkey with over 187,000 tonnes

2  – Russia with over 183,000 tonnes &

3 –  Poland with over 175,000 tonnes

So the figure for Poland is high when you think of the size of the top two countries, especially when figures for the whole of the United States of America are only  around  38,000tonnes.

For this recipe fresh sour cherries would have to be cooked with some sugar but  here in England rather than fresh sour cherries you have to use bottled ones.

Previously I used to be able to buy bottled sour cherries produced by Krakus or PEK but recently went out shopping for these I could not find any shops that stocked them.

In one of the Polish shops I found some from the company EDMAL and I also found some in Lidl.

Both are good though personally  I preferred the taste of the EDMAL ones.

The Lidl ones are pitted whearas the EDMAL ones still have the stones in – you can remove the stones if you want or just warn people that the stones are still in.

Cherry Stoner

There is more liquid in the EDMAL jar as this is sold as a kompot.

Kompot is a non-alcoholic sweet beverage, that may be served hot or cold.

It is made by cooking fruit such as apples, rhubarb, gooseberries, or sour cherries in a large volume of water, together with sugar or raisins. Sometimes spices such cinnamon are added for additional flavour, especially in winter when kompot is usually served hot.

For this recipe you need to strain more liquid off from the kompot which you  can save and drink later.

A jar is easily enough for  4 people and could serve 6.

The sour cherries are cooked separately from the duck in this recipe.

 

 

Rather than using whole duck,  I use duck breasts, 1 per person, as this makes it easier for me especially when there are more than two people for dinner.

I am giving instructions for 2 different coatings for the duck here –  the rest of the instructions are the same.

Ingredients

Duck breasts – 1 per person

Jar of sour cherries.

Italian herbs or  ground allspice

Salt & pepper

Method

Rub the duck breasts with Italian herbs, ground black pepper and salt and leave for at least an hour.

or

Rub the duck breasts with allspice and salt and leave for at least an hour

Duck breast with Italian herbs, salt and pepper.

 

 

Duck breast with allspice and salt.

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Allspice  is very popular in Polish cooking. It is the dried berry of the plant Pimenta diocia

Allspice in Polish is ziele angielskie  which translates as  herb English because it came to Poland from English traders who brought it from the West Indies in the 16th century.  I do not know why it is called herb (which indicates the  green part of a plant) as the word more often used for spice in Polish is zioła (indicating dried berries or roots etc).

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Put a baking tray in the oven for around 10 minutes to heat up.

Heat a heavy based frying pan (I use a cast iron pan) until it is very hot –  you do not need any added oil or fat.

Place the duck breasts in the pan skin side down and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Put the duck onto the heated baking tray.

Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.

You can serve the duck breast as whole pieces or slice them up.

Whilst the duck is in the oven, put the strained cherries with some of the juice into a pan and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for around 5 minutes – do not let them boil dry – add extra juice if necessary.

Serve the cooked duck with the cherries, adding some of the juices as well as the fruit.

Duck with sour cherries served on Carnation (1982 -1998) by Royal Doulton

 

 

 

 

It’s Only A Bird!

I was in Poland during a time of economic difficulties when there were food shortages & rationing. It was in the summer holiday period,

In order to alleviate the meat shortage in the main tourist areas, hotels & restaurants had been all allocated a different Meatless Day each week.

Now in Poland when you say meat – most people think pork!

I had not really been affected by this as most of my time had been spent with relatives and much of it in the countryside but I did make one visit to Warsaw and went with my cousin to a small but posh restaurant.

The maître d’  came up to me and this was the conversation:

“My dear lady, I am afraid you have come to us on a meatless day”

“Please do not worry,  what do you have on the menu?”

“There is roast duck”

“Is duck not meat?”

“It’s only a bird!”

On that day I had the best roast duck with apples I have ever eaten!

I have spent some time recreating this dish. The duck I had in Warsaw had been roasted stuffed with apples  – here I have been using duck breast fillets as this fits in better with the meals I make.

I have tried using eating apples & cooking apples and they have both turned out very well. The recipe with cooking apples is nearer to the original Polish roast but as they were both delicious I am including them both.

For these recipes I have used Gressingham duck breasts.

Gressingham duck was first breed in Lancashire, England in the 1980s near a village of that name.  It is cross between the small flavourful wild Mallard and the larger Pekin duck.  It gives a succulent duck with more breast meat, less fat and a rich, gamey  flavour.

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Production is now by Gressingham Foods Ltd in East Anglia.

I have used the same method for preparing and cooking the duck breasts, allowing 1 breast per person.  The difference between the 2 recipes is the type of apple used.

Duck with Bramley Apples

Ingredients

1 Duck breast per person

2 to 3 Bramley apples

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of sugar

Italian Herbs

Salt & Pepper

Method

Rub the duck breasts with Italian herbs, ground black pepper and salt and leave for at least 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Peel and core the Bramley and cut into quarters or eighths depending on the size of the apples.

In a saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter, add the apples and cook then for around 5 minutes – you want them to to be softened but not a purée.  Keep them warm in the pan whilst you do the duck breasts.

 

 

Heat a heavy based frying pan (I use a cast iron pan) until it is very hot- you do not need any added oil or fat.

Place the duck breasts in the pan skin side down and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Put the apples onto a baking tray and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over them.

Put the duck breast on top of the apples with the skin side up.

Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.

 

Duck with Eating Apples

Ingredients

1 Duck breasts per person

2 to 3 eating apples such as Pink Lady or Jazz

1 tablespoon of butter

Italian Herbs

Salt & Pepper

Method

Rub the duck breasts with Italian herbs, ground black pepper and salt and leave for at least 1 hour.

Pre- heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Leave the skins on the eating apples.

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Core the apples and cut them into thick slices.

In a saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter,add the apples and cook then for around 5 minutes – you want them to to be softened but not a purée.  Keep them warm in the pan whilst you do the duck breasts.

Heat a heavy based frying pan (I use a cast iron pan) until it is very hot- you do not need any added oil or fat.

Place the duck breasts in the pan skin side down and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Put the apples onto a baking tray.

 

Put the duck breast on top of the apples with the skin side up.

Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krystyna’s Plum Cake

I have very fond memories of the first time I tasted this cake, it was a very warm, late summer’s day in the land of a thousand lakes in North East Poland – the Mazurian Lakes.

 

 

My cousin Krystyna went outside and came back in with one basket of eggs she had collected and another of ripe plums from one of the trees outside.  We set to and made this cake to her recipe, calling in the other cousins to eat it as soon as it was cool enough!

The contrasts between the texture of the cake and cooked plums and also the sweetness of the cake and the slight tartness of the plums make this a cake to remember.

The use of oil means this is a relevantly modern recipe & it is so easy to make.

The original recipe was made using metric cups but I have converted it to weights as I am happier using these.

I make this using Victoria Plums.

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Ingredients

350 – 400g of plums  –  small plums are best

4 eggs

170g granulated sugar

200g self raising flour

60ml sunflower oil

Icing sugar – to dust

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 1800C

Take a roasting tin around 22cm by 31 cm and use one piece of greaseproof paper to line the 2 long sides and the base.

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Cut the plums into quarters and take out the stones.

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Whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy.

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Add the oil and the flour and lightly beat everything together to make a thick batter.

Pour the batter into the roasting tin.

Place the cut plums, skin side down in rows on the batter until the top is full – they will start to sink – do not worry.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar when it has cooled slightly.

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Cut into squares to serve.

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Tea plates are Counterpoint (1973 – 1987) by  Royal Doulton.

Note

If you have any cake left, it is better not to cover it with too airtight a cover as it will go soggy.

 

 

Rhubarb Cake

Rheum rhabarbarum is the Latin name for rhubarb   –  in Polish  it is rabarbar.

It is a plant that has its origins in China, Mongolia & Siberia – its roots survive the cold!

Rhubarb roots have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

The plant arrived in Europe via Venice in the 14th century  having been brought  from China  along the Silk Road.

The leaves are poisonous  to humans as they contain large quantities of oxalic acid and other toxins.

The stems however can be eaten safely, although they do contain a little oxalic acid but their tartness is due mainly  to malic acid which is also found in sour green apples.

Rhubarb stems were first eaten in England in the 17th century.

In 1820 the rhubarb plant was taken over to the USA.

I live in West Yorkshire –  just outside what is called the Rhubarb Triangle  of Wakefield, Leeds & Morley   – where rhubarb is grown in forcing sheds (in darkness) on a commercial scale.

I have rhubarb growing in my garden.

I have used the rhubarb to make rhubarb crumble but over the last few years I have been trying to find recipes for a rhubarb cake 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.

Some recipes used the raw stalks in a cake – I found that none of these were to my liking.

I tried using my best Polish apple cake recipe with stewed rhubarb  instead of apple but found that it just did not come out very well.  The cake was  too soggy and raw in places because of the amount of liquid in the stewed rhubarb.

Finally after more trial and error – I came up with a recipe which I am happy to make for people and to share.

Preparing The Rhubarb

This I have found to be the most important part to making a successful rhubarb cake.

You need to prepare the rhubarb the day before you want to make cake.

I tend to make a large amount and if I do not use it all I freeze the rest.

You need around 8 large stalks if not more.

Trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks and then chop the stalk  into pieces around 7cm in length.

Put the pieces into an oven proof dish and add granulated sugar – try not to use large amounts – it is better slightly tart.

Put the covered dish into a low oven –  GM 2 for around an hour or so – you want it soft but not totally disintegrated.

Allow this to cool.

 

 

Now comes the part I found to be the most important – I strain the cooked rhubarb from the juice & syrup.

Put the rhubarb into a colander over a bowl and leave this for several hours or even overnight.

 

The juice and sugar syrup can  be used to flavour yoghurt, diluted with water to make  a drink or even added to pork in a slow cook recipe.

Now by just using this strained rhubarb  I have found that a cake adapted from my apple cake comes out very well.  I have used half the quantity from my apple cake recipe as the base and then used a drier crumble type mixture – called kruszonka in Polish – for the top.

Cake Ingredients

Base

150g self raising flour

100g butter or block margarine

40g caster sugar

1 egg yolk and 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or water.

Topping

120g plain flour

90g butter or block margarine

60g icing sugar.

Method

You have to use a loose bottom or spring-form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.

I use a loose bottomed anodised aluminium cake tin which is 22cm in diameter and 8cm deep.

Grease the tin well.

First make the cake base by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs then stir in the sugar.

Add the yolk and lemon juice and bring the ingredients together to form a soft dough – do not handle the dough too much. Leave the dough in a cool place for about half an hour so it is easier to handle.

Pre heat the oven to GM 4 – 180ºC.

Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs and then stir in the sugar.

Press the dough into the base of the tin.

 

Cover the base with the strained rhubarb.

Evenly sprinkle all the topping over the rhubarb.

Bake in the oven for around 1 hour to 1 hour & 10 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Use a long metal spatula to ease the cake from the side of the tin then place the cake on to the top of a  tin can and slide the side down.

If you find the cake is not sweet enough – you can sprinkle the pieces  with icing sugar – I rarely due – I like the fruit to be tart.

 

Tea plates are Counterpoint by Royal Doulton 1973 – 1987

Do not put the cake into an airtight plastic box as it will get soggy – better to cover it with a mesh cover.

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Polish Apple Cake – Jabłecznik

Apple trees (Genus –  Malus) originated in Central Asia and then spread to Northern Europe.  In the 17th century they were taken to North America.

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Apple Blossom Buds

Worldwide, measured in tonnes, China is the top apple producer, the United States of America coming second.

Poland is the largest apple producer in Europe.

In Poland in the countryside and even in the towns most houses have at least one fruit tree in the garden – often more – with apple, plum and cherry  being the favourites.

 

In my garden there are two Bramley apple trees.

Jabłko is the Polish for apple –  jabłecznik is an apple cake.

Some people use the word szarlotka – but my mother used that word for apple crumble.

Apple cake is made with tart cooking apples – Antonówki are very popular in Poland –  these are similar to Bramley apples and the apple filling is kept slightly tart so that the sweetness in the cake gives a lovely contrast.

I think there are as many variations of this cake as cooks in Poland.

This is my mother’s version which I think this is the very best.

Apple Filling – Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 Bramley Apples
  • Granulated Sugar to taste – keep it slightly tart
  • A little water
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Method

  • Make the apple filling first, even the day beforehand as it needs to be cold before you use it.
  • Peel and core the apples and cut them into thick slices.
  • Stew the apples gently with some sugar and very little water. You can make this in a saucepan on the stove or place the apples and sugar in a dish in the oven.
  • Do not add a lot of sugar at the beginning as it does not want to be too sweet, you can adjust the sweetness at the end.
  • Do not make it too much of a purée, cook so that you have some soft apples but with some harder less cooked chunks as well.
  • Leave the mixture to cool and then add the ground cinnamon.  The mixture should look quite brown.

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Note

When I have lots of apples, I cook a large amount and portion this up and keep them in the freezer – better to leave out the cinnamon if freezing and add this fresh when making the cake.

Cake – Ingredients

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or water

    Method

  • You need a round tin with a loose base or a spring form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.  I always use an anodised aluminium tin, 22cm in diameter and 8 cm deep, which does not rust.
  • Grease the tin well.
  • Rub the butter into the flour to make fine crumbs and add the sugar.

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  • Add the egg yolk and the lemon juice to and mix together to make a soft “dough” (try not to add more flour),  handle it as little as possible.
  • Leave it to chill for about ½ an hour as this makes it easier to handle.
  • Pre heat the oven to GM5 – 190oC.
  • Take slightly more than half the dough and press it into the cake tin.

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  • Spoon the apple mixture on top of this.
  • The rest of the dough will go on top of the apple mixture.
  • I use a rolling pin to make a circle that is smaller than the tin diameter and then place this on top.
  • Do not worry if the dough falls apart, just place it on with the breaks nearly touching.

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Topping – Ingredients

  • 1 egg white and caster sugar
  • Slightly beat the egg white with a fork and brush this over the top of the dough.  You will not need it all.

 

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  • Liberally sprinkle caster sugar over the egg white.
  • Bake for around 50 minutes until the top is a golden brown.
  • I tend to check the cake at 40 minutes and will cover the top with greaseproof if it starts to brown but is not yet cooked through.
  • Leave to cool before getting the cake out of the tin.
  • I use a tin can and put the cake tin on this and slide the side of the cake tin down.
  • Do not put the cake in a air-tight covered container as the apples absorb moisture and you loose the crispness of the cake.
  • I hardly ever have any left anyway as I seem to get visitors as soon as they know I am baking this cake.

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Tea plates are Stardust by Colclough from the 1950s or early 1960s.

NoteI updated this in March 2020 – I altered the amount of apples in the filling.

Carrot and Apple Salad

When cooking was more seasonal, this was a very popular salad in the late summer and autumn after the apple harvest.

Nowadays with better storage methods, this is a salad you can make all year round.

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Serving Dish is Royal Doulton, Carnation 1982 – 1998

The following will make enough for 2 people as a side dish  – use the ratio of 2 to 3 carrots to 1 small or medium eating apple if you want to make more.

Organic carrots may have the edge here for taste but regular ones will still be good.

Use sweet and tasty eating apples such as: Jazz, Pink Lady or Cox’s orange pippins.

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Ingredients

2 carrots

1 eating apple

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

Juice of half a lemon

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Method

Peel the carrots and grate them using a coarse grater into a bowl.

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Cut the apple into quarters and remove the seed case.

Hold the apple by the skin and grate the flesh,

also using the coarse grater,  into the bowl.

Discard the apple skin.

Sprinkle the mixture with the sugar and add the lemon juice.

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Mix everything together, place into a serving dish and serve.

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Note

If you do not have any apples then just carrots with the sugar and lemon juice are also good.