Tomato Sauce – Summer

  • This is best made in the summer when you can get very ripe tomatoes.
  • Ones from the garden or the market, which are so full of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • ½ small onion
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml soured cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar – optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Skin the tomatoes using boiling water.
  • Chop the tomato up into small pieces.
  • Chop the onion into small pieces.
  • Simmer the tomatoes and onion in the vegetable stock until soft.
  • Add the lemon juice.
  • Season to taste.
  • Adjust sweetness with sugar to taste.
  • Stir in the soured cream and serve.

Sos myśliwski – Hunter’s Sauce

  • Sos  myśliwski  – this translates as Hunter’s sauce.
  • I can understand the name if wild mushrooms are used but otherwise I do not know why it gets this name.
  • Gherkins are used in the sauce and this addition verges on “magical”.
  • I had never made this before but will now be making it often as it is so delicious.

Ingredients 

  • 2 slices of smoked bacon – chopped
  • 100g of fresh mushrooms – sliced
  • 2 large gherkins – chopped into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour.
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • Large pinch of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of of ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of hot ground paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of made mustard.
  • 500ml of vegetable or chicken stock.

Method

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  • Fry the mushrooms, onions and garlic.
  • Add the bacon and fry together for a few minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir and cook for a few minutes.
  • To the stock add the tomato purée, allspice, both paprikas and mustard. 
  • Stir it all together.
  • Slowly add this to the fried ingredients and stir whilst it thickens. 
  • Add the bay leaves and gherkins.
  • Simmer for around 20 minutes till the ingredients soften.
  • Serve the sauce hot with roast meats.

Tomato Sauce – Winter

  • This is a quick and easy sauce that can be made at all times of the year.
  • In olden times this could have been made in the winter when fresh tomatoes were not available.
  • This sauce is served hot.

    Ingredients

  • 50g tomato purée
  • ½ small onion – chopped
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml soured cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar – optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Method

  • Simmer the onion in the vegetable stock until it is a pulp.
  • Blend with a stick blender.
  • Add the tomato purée, stir and simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Stir in the just of 1 lemon.
  • Adjust the sweetness with sugar.
  • Season to taste.
  • Stir in the soured cream just before serving.

Option

  • Add some paprika or mixed herbs to the sauce.

Hungarian Sauce

  • This sauce has its origins in gulasza much loved Polish dish of Hungarian origin.
  • This is good served with pan fried meats or kotlety-mielone – Polish large meatballs.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • 250-300ml of chicken stock (can be from a cube or concentrate)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato purée 
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 125ml of soured cream or thick yoghurt
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

Method

  • Chop the onion up into small pieces.
  • Cook gently in the butter – do not brown.
  • Cook until the onions are soft.
  • Mix together the stock, tomato purée, paprika and sugar.
  • Add the flour to the onions and cook gently whilst stirring.
  • Slowly add the stock mixture, stirring all the time.
  • Cook till the sauce is thick and uniform.
  • Add extra stock if it is too thick.
  • Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Season to taste.
  • Stir in the soured cream or yoghurt.
  • Mix well and serve.

Black Bean Soup

  • This is a soup I make regularly and I love the colour contrasts.
  • It is a vegetable soup with black beans.
  • Black beans are also called turtle beans and are a variety of the common bean.
  • You can make it slightly different every time by altering some of the vegetables.
  • I use tinned black beans, which is easier but you can always cook them from dried beans – just takes longer.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 sticks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 -3 carrots
  • 1 courgette 
  • 3 -4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin of black beans
  • 1½ litres of vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

  • Chop the celery into fine slices.
  • Chop the onion into small pieces
  • Chop the carrots into small cubes.
  • Place the tomatoes into boiling water to remove the skins.
  • Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.
  • Chop the courgette into small pieces. 
  • In a saucepan melt the butter and gently cook the celery and onion for a few minutes.
  • Add the carrots and tomatoes and the stock.
  • Add the paprika and chilli flakes.
  • Mix well together.
  • Bring the soup to the boil and them simmer with a lid on the pan for around 20 minutes. 
  • Drain the beans from the tin and add these to the soup.
  • Season to taste,
  • Simmer for another 15 – 20 minutes.

Gypsy Soup

Zupa cygańska is Gypsy soup and is so called  because it contains red peppers.  I think the smoky meats may also evoke the idea of camp fires.

Ingredients

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 2 red or orange peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 100g smoked bacon – chopped into small pieces
  • 200g of Polish sausage – sliced and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 grains of allspice
  • 3-4 peppercorns
  • a little sunflower oil for frying
  • Chopped flat-leaved parsley to serve

Method

  • Use boiling water to skin the tomatoes and leave to cool.
  • Chop the tomatoes into quarters.
  • De-seed the peppers.
  • Chop the peppers into small pieces.
  • Chop the onion into small pieces.
  • Fry the onion gently for a few minutes in a large frying pan.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes & peppers.
  • Fry gently for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the bacon & sausage and mix.
  • Cover the mixture with water and cover with a lid.
  • Cook gently for around 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the ingredients to a large saucepan.
  • Add the bay leaves, all-spice and peppercorns.
  • Add around 1.5 litres of water and bring to the boil.
  • Cover with a lid and simmer gently for around 30 minutes.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into large “cubes”.
  • Add the potatoes to the soup and cook gently until the potatoes are cooked.
  • Serve with chopped flat-leaved parsley.

Note

Do not let the potatoes disintegrate into a pulp.

 

 

Served in Royal Stafford – Blossom Time from the 1950s.

Note

If you do not have the fresh ingredients  you could use tinned tomatoes and bottled peppers.

Tomato Soup

There are many versions of tomato soup – some people just add tomato puree or a tin of tomatoes to rosół, (chicken bullion). For many this was standard practice on Monday with any that was left over from Sunday lunch and also in winter months in the past when fresh tomatoes were not so readily available.

I prefer to make a more refreshing fresh tomato soup.

Ripe tomatoes make the best soup – if you are lucky enough to have your own from the garden or allotment then these will be great or look out for ripe tomatoes on a market rather than the hard bullet ones often sold for salads.

Little note from the Metro newspaper

My mother always served boiled rice as the soup accompaniment.

Many years ago, well before Poland joined the European Union, when there were not as many Poles living in England, one of my English friends went for dinner at at a Polish lady’s house.  On telling me about the lovely food she said ” …. we had tomato soup with rice in it!” My instant reply without thinking was “but tomato soup always has rice in it”.   

Ingredients

  • 700g – 800g of ripe fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock – came be from a cube or powder
  • Salt & ground pepper to taste
  • A little granulated sugar – optional – might not be needed.
  • Boiled rice to serve

Method

 

  • Pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a bowl and leave to cool.
  • Skin the tomatoes.
  • Chop the tomatoes into quarter.
  • Chop the onion into fine pieces.
  • Place the tomatoes, onion and vegetable stock into a large saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and then put on the lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  • You want the tomatoes and onions to have cooked away into the liquid -no large pieces left.
  • Season to taste.

Although sour soups are popular in Poland – tomato soup does not want to be sour.  Depending on the tomatoes used, I sometimes add a little granulated sugar.

  • To serve place a handful of cooked boiled rice into each soup plate.

Served here in my mother’s Crown Devon – Fieldings – Glenwood soup plates – made in England – 1939.

Tomato & Gherkin Soup

Several years ago after a large family gathering I had some gherkin and tomato salad left and decided to use this to make a soup.

It was really delicious and I now often make this soup either from left over salad or create it from scratch.

It is one of those refreshing summer style soups with a touch of sourness as loved by the Poles.

Ingredients

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 gherkins
  • 1 onion
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock – I use Marigold powder
  • 60ml  of gherkin liquid.
  • Chopped chives
  • Chopped parsley
  • Ground black pepper to taste.

Method

  • Slice the tomatoes and cut the slices in two.
  • Chop the onion fine.
  • Slice the gherkins and cut the slices into two.
  • Put all the ingredients(apart from the ground pepper) into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then let this simmer for around 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning if needed.

 

Served in Royal Doulton, Burgundy soup plates, 1959 – 1981.

Ogórki – Gherkins

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Gherkins are cucumbers that have been fermented in brine or pickled with vinegar.

Botanically cucumbers are fruit although they are a vegetables from the culinary point of view.

In Polish the word ogórki means cucumbers.

Kiszone ogórki  means  fermented cucumbers –  either in brine or vinegar.

Letnie ogórki means summer cucumbers – which are  fresh salad cucumbers.

The Latin name for the cucumber is Cucumis sativus and it is a member of the gourd family and so related to pumpkins and melons.

It is thought the plant originated in India and then was taken to Greece and from there to northern Europe.

I have read that the making of pickles by fermenting in brine is over 4,000 years old.  This would preserve vegetables throughout the winter – well before the days of frozen food and supermarkets!

A quick look at the journey of the word  – Gherkin – according to several dictionary sources.

This is a word that started in Greece and travelled to England & America via Poland, Germany and The Netherlands.

Angourion – Medieval Greek for cucumber.

Ogórek – Polish for cucumber

Gurke – German for cucumber

Augurk – Dutch for a brined or pickled cucumber

Gherkin  – English for a brined or pickled cucumber

In Poland, July & August  are the main months for making gherkins at home and once when I was there at that time in my relatives’ houses every container seemed to have been put into use for a stage in their production.

Everyone has their own special recipe using brine and sometimes vinegar with the addition of garlic and herbs and spices – the most often used is the flower head of the dill plant – hence we get dill pickles.  Some methods are very quick taking just a few days others take longer.

The type of cucumber used is a different variety than the salad cumber it is shorter, fatter, often knobbier and has a lower water content.

I cannot at the moment give you a good recipe for making gherkins as I have rarely seen the right variety of cucumbers for sale in England – maybe now with more Polish shops I might see some next year and try out some recipes.

The bought gherkins I like are the Polish Krakus ones.

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Another type I like are ones you can buy in Lidl – these are made with sugar and vinegar and are sliced lengthways – they have only a slight vinegar taste and are sweet – I do not like the very vinegary kind.

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There are many uses of gherkins in Polish cookery – the most famous must be gherkin soup  – which I just love – but that recipe I will cover later once I start to write about soups.

Of course gherkins – form part of many salads.

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Gherkins Sliced Lengthways – a very simple salad

Gherkin and Tomato  Salad

Ingredients

3 or 4 Gherkins – cut into discs

4 or 5 Tomatoes- cut into half & then thinly sliced

1 small onion – finely chopped

Flat-leaved parsley  – finely chopped – to garnish

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

In a bowl mix  together the gherkins, tomatoes and onions.

Sprinkle with a little salt and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the gherkin jar (if none is available then use some lemon juice) and mix again.

Place into a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped flat leaved parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

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Tomato Salad

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The  tomato is botanically the fruit of Solanum lycopersicum, although from a culinary point of view it is a vegetable.

It belongs to the deadly nightshade family as does the potato.

The tomato plant originated in the Andes in South America and tomatl was the name  in the Nahuatl language give to it by the Aztec people, which then became tomate and then tomato in English.

The tomato was brought over to Europe by the Conquistadors in the late 15th Century.

The original fruits were yellow hence the Italian name pomodoro (pomo d’oro – apple of gold).

When the Italian princess, who became Queen Bona of Poland on her marriage to King Zygmunt the Old, came to Poland with her chefs in the 16th Century , the tomato was introduced to the Polish diet.

Tomato in Polish is pomidor – so you can see or rather hear its Italian root.

Home grown tomatoes are of course the best, however here in the North of England I have not had much success in growing them outdoors.

To get the best flavour from tomatoes it is best NOT to keep them in the refrigerator.

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Keep your tomatoes at room temperature

A simple tomato salad is served in Poland, always it seemed to me with the addition of onions, chives or the green part of spring onion.  For many it is standard fare for breakfast with cold meats or Polish curd cheese.

Ingredients

Tomatoes – thinly sliced into whole rounds if small or halved if large.

Half an onion – finely chopped  or

Chives or the green part of spring onions  – finely chopped

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Arrange the tomato slices on a plate

Squeeze a little lemon juice over them

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them

Garnish with onion or chives

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Chives & Spring Onions

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Tomato Salad with Onions

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Tomato Salad with Chives

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Salads for Breakfast

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Tomato Salad, Curd Cheese & Rye Bread – Typical Breakfast Fare