Quick Bigos

Bigos is often called Poland’s national dish. It is Poland’s sweet and sour dish using sweet (fresh) cabbage and sour(fermented) cabbage (sauerkraut).

Quick Bigos

This is a smaller, quicker version than the traditional bigos recipe.

I often make it somewhere  in between the traditional recipe and this quick recipe as all the amount are very flexible.

If you can only get large jars of sauerkraut then you can put half the contents into a plastic bag or box and freeze it for later use.

Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Getting Ready to Cook Bigos

kapusta 3

Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Bigos

Ingredients

500g sauerkraut (1 small tin or jar or half a large jar)

300g fresh white cabbage – 1 small head or half a large head

100g of Frankfurters or Polish Ring

100g smoked bacon

1 large onion

100g tomato purée (1/2 tube)

20g plain flour

2 bay leaves

3 to 4 peppercorns

sugar or lemon juice to taste – optional

fat/oil to fry in

note – salt should not be needed as the sausage and bacon contain salt.

Finely chop the fresh cabbage into long strands and place in a large pan with the sauerkraut.

In a jug mix the tomato purée with some hot water and then add this to the pan. Add more boiling water to cover the cabbage mixture.

Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and then boil gently till the cabbage is becoming soft.

Slice up the various smoked sausages, chop the bacon into small squares and add to the cabbage mixture and boil gently till everything is soft.

Chop the onion into small pieces and fry till golden, add the flour and fry till the mixture is just about to burn and then add this mixture to the bigos.

Adjust the sourness to taste with sugar and or lemon juice.

Now you can either heat it all together gently over a low heat with a lid on the pan, stirring the mixture occasionally or put the mixture into a large oven proof dish (I use an enamelled dish) with a lid and put it in the oven at GM 4 – 180oC for about 2 hours.

Bigos tastes better if made one day, left overnight, and then reheated in a saucepan or in a dish in the oven.

Note

Bigos freezes well – I portion it up into manageable portions which will serve 2 or 3 – wrapping it in plastic bags within a plastic box to prevent the tomato staining the plastic.

Serving

Bigos is usually served with rye bread but I often serve it with boiled or mashed potatoes.

Bigos

Bigos is often called Poland’s national dish. It is served at every large gathering: christenings, weddings, funerals and every other excuse for getting together for food and drink. It is best made in advance by at least a day and then reheated. My father used to talk about using a horse and cart to take large wooden barrels of bigos to where there was going to be a celebration.

It is Poland’s sweet and sour dish using sweet (fresh) cabbage and sour (sauerkraut) cabbage. How sweet and sour you make it depends on taste, I always use roughly equal amounts of fresh and sour cabbage – a large white cabbage to a large tin or jar of sauerkraut. You can add sugar or some lemon juice to alter the sweet/sour balance.

This was a Hunter’s stew with all the meat and game that was available in the long hard winters going into the pot with the cabbage. A variety of mixed fresh and smoked meats and sausages are used, the amount can vary with how much meat you have.

Served with rye bread with or without butter and a glass of beer or vodka, it is delicious.

The mixture of cabbage and tomato in bigos is very Polish, as a little girl I thought that cooked cabbage was always orange to red rather that pale to dark green as my mother always used the two together in all her cabbage recipes.

Tomatoes were brought to Poland in the 16th century by the Italian chefs who came with the Italian Princess Bona Sforza who married the Polish King, Zygmunt the Old. The Polish word for tomato – pomidor, shows its Italian origin.

Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Dried Mushrooms
Dried Mushrooms

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Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans
Enamel Pans

I have many of these enamel pans they are good for slow cooking in the oven.

Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Serving up Bigos
Serving up Bigos

Traditional Bigos

There are lots of variations you can make to the following recipe and everyone seems to have their own version. I find the following proportions work out very well every time and the bigos is moist but not like a soup.

This makes a large amount which is good for a family gathering.

Often I make this in advance and then portion it up into 4 parts and then pack these into large plastic bags or tubs and freeze them – so I always have some on hand.  Note – the tomato stains the plastic tubs so I often put a bag inside a tub. I also then wrap the tub in another bag as the aroma is strong even when frozen and this stops it affecting other food in the freezer.

Ingredients

900g sauerkraut (1large tin or jar)

500g fresh white cabbage (1 large head)

200g to 400g Pork (shoulder or spare rib)

150 to 300g mixed smoked sausage such as kabanos, Polish ring or Frankfurters

150g smoked bacon

1 large onion

10g dried mushrooms

100g tomato purée (1/2 tube)

20g plain flour

2 bay leaves

3 to 4 peppercorns

sugar or lemon juice to taste –optional

fat/oil to fry in.

note – salt should not be needed as the sausage and bacon contain salt.

Put the sauerkraut in a large pan and add boiling water until it is covered and boil gently for 1 hour till it is soft. Take care not to let it boil dry and push the sauerkraut down occasionally so it stays under the water.

Finely chop the fresh cabbage into long strands and place in another large pan with the dried mushrooms, add water to cover the cabbage and boil till soft and as with the sauerkraut take care it does not boil dry.

Pre heat the oven to GM3– 150o C

Chop the pork into small cubes and fry till brown on all sides.

Chop the bacon into small squares.

Add 100g of the bacon and all the pork to the sauerkraut and boil gently till everything is soft.

Make crisp skwarki* with the rest of the bacon and add to the sauerkraut.

Chop the onion into small pieces and fry till golden, add the flour and fry till the mixture is just about to burn.

Add the cooked fresh cabbage with all the liquid and the fried onion mixture to the sauerkraut.

Slice up the various smoked sausage and add to the bigos.

Add the tomato purée, bay leaves and peppercorns.

You can add some sugar or lemon juice at this stage; this depends on how sour you like the bigos and often depends on the sauerkraut used. I rarely do either of these.

Now you can heat it all together gently over a low heat with a lid on the pan or put the mixture into a large oven proof dish; I use a large oval enamelled dish, and put it in the oven for about 3 hours.

Bigos tastes better if made one day, left overnight, and then reheated in the pan or in the dish in the oven.

*skwarki – small squares of bacon fried till the fat comes out and you are left with little crisp bits.

Poles Love to Eat Cabbage

Cabbage is a vegetable that plays a very large part in Polish cookery.  It can be eaten raw  in a variety of salads or cooked in many different ways.

Cabbages grow well in Poland and they can be stored for part of the winter so giving a supply for most of the year.

Veg Market - Copy

Cabbages For Sale in a Polish Market

Cabbages can also be preserved by allowing them to ferment using brine. This fermented cabbage is called sauerkraut in German which means sour cabbage.

My parents used to tell me about how their parents made barrels and barrels of fermented cabbage, shredding the cabbage finely, adding salt and packing it firmly into the barrels. This was standard work after harvesting cabbages and would provide a basic ingredient for many dishes throughout the coming year.

One of my aunties in Poland who lives in a block of flats makes her own sauerkraut in a bucket which stands on her balcony. She is not alone in this.

Street market in Krakow – Sauerkraut and Sausage
Sauerkraut and Sausage
Sauerkraut and Sausage

On a recent trip to Poland I bought a little book on cabbage cookery.  The title, translates as “Falling in Love with Cabbage”; I think most Poles do this at a very early age as cabbage features, fresh or sour, in so many meals.

Falling In Love With Cabbage

Falling In Love With Cabbage

In my next posts I am going to cover some classic Polish recipes for cabbage including bigos and gołąbki (cabbage rolls)- as seen on the book cover.

Bigos

Bigos

 

 

Polish Meals

Polish Meals

The following is a general description and of course times  will vary with people and circumstances.

The Polish day seems to start a lot earlier than in England with many people starting work at 7.30am and finishing by 3pm.

Schools often start at 8am and are finished by 2pm.

There are four meals in a Polish day.

1 śniadanie – breakfast

This is a hearty meal from about 5.30amto 7am to set you up for the day.

This will consist of: cured meats, Polish sausage, cheese, hard boiled or scrambled eggs, gherkins, cucumber and tomatoes with bread and rolls, all served with lots of tea. (Tea is quite weak served with slices of lemon or fruit syrup such as raspberry). There may also be some cake.

2 drugie śniadanie – second breakfast

This will be eaten at about 11am. It is a lighter meal than the first breakfast, though often with the same types of food – sometimes it will be just a sandwich – especially if eaten at work or school.

3 obiad – dinner – the main meal of the day

This is eaten between 1pm and 5pm with around 3pm being a very popular time.

This will consist of 2 or 3 courses:

  • Soup
  • Main
  • Dessert of fruit or cake – optional course

Soup is very popular in Poland from hot or cold soups, light consommé types to thick and hearty featuring throughout the year.

I heard a saying on one of my visits to Poland –

Polak bez zupy robi się smutny

This translates as –

A Pole without soup becomes sad.

I think this is very true.

4 kolacja – supper

This is the lightest meal of the day eaten between 7pm to 9pm. It can often be just a slice of cake.

Getting Ready For Dinner

Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Section of Tablecloths
Section of Tablecloths
Some of my Many Tablecloths
Some of my Many Tablecloths
Setting the Table for Dinner
Setting the Table for Dinner
Ready for Soup!
Ready for Soup!

 

Babeczka – Small Cake – Little Bun

Babka is the name of a cake in Polish – or rather it refers to its shape – the name means grandma or little old lady – the shape is round and dumpy.

It can be a yeast cake or a sponge type cake. I will go into detail about these later in the year.

A small  bun or fairy cake can be called a babeczka (babeczki is the plural).

I have also seen the word mufinka now in Poland!

Using my various poppy seed recipes I have tried out some variations to make some babeczki.

These I made with a yeast pastry & poppy seed filling for Wigilia – Christmas Eve – a couple of years ago – using a different yeast pastry to the one in the traditional poppy seed roll.

Babeczki with Poppy Seed filling. The photo is dark as it was taken in the evening whilst getting ready for the special meal.

I used a simple sponge mixture to make 2 other types of poppy seed buns.

I have used paper cases – I am not sure if these are available or used in Poland but they are so useful and make the buns very portable and easy to eat.

You can use a basic Victoria sponge mixture made using 2 eggs, butter or margarine, caster sugar and self-raising – the recipe method and amounts such as in the Be-Ro  recipe book will work well.

This mixture should make about 12 buns.

I use a method  which I will write about in more detail later in the year, in this  the eggs are weighed in their shells and each of the other ingredients is then that same weight.

Weighing eggs

Buns – 1 – Using dry roasted poppy seeds To the sponge mixture you add dry roasted poppy seeds. The dry roasting  gives them a more nutty flavour. Note – Lemon zest  is not used in this recipe.

Buns made with Dry Roasted Poppy Seeds

To dry roast poppy seeds It is best to make this first before mixing up the sponge cake.  Weigh out the required amount of poppy seeds  – in this case 40 – 50g for a 2 egg cake mixture.

In a small dry  frying pan (ie without any oil or butter) fry the seeds for 5 minutes – stirring them with a wooden spoon or spatula – being careful not to burn them.

Tip the hot seeds into a bowl containing some cold milk. Once cool, pour the mixture into a fine sieve to separate the seeds from the milk.

Leave the sieve over an empty bowl, press down on the seed a few times to  remove as much milk as possible.

Buns -2  – Using the traditional poppy seed filling

Making the filling  is time consuming but only a small amount is needed to make 12 buns. So what I do is to make in the full amount with 200g of poppy seeds as in an earlier post Poppy Seed Cakes and Yeast Cakes  in advance and then portion this up into 2 or 3 portions and freeze them.

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Poppy Seed Mixture

 

Put the bun cases into the bun tray.

Now the next it is a bit fiddly and you have to judge the quantities by eye.

The idea is to:

  • put a spoonful of cake mixture into each bun case
  • followed by a spoonful of poppy seed mixture
  • followed by a covering amount of cake mixture.

I have found it easier to do each step for all 12 buns at a time – that is :

  • cake mixture into all the cases
  • then the poppy seed filling
  • then final cake mixture.

Bake the buns in the usual way  – GM5 – 190°C  – for around 15 to 20 minutes.

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Dust with Icing Sugar once they have cooled and before serving

IMG_20150709_073855224 IMG_20150709_075018278 IMG_20150709_082101258 IMG_20150709_082114326 These have proved very popular!

Makowiec – Poppy Seed Cake 4

A Very Easy Method

Weighing the poppy seeds

This cake is a more modern version as soft tub margarine is used and it is an all-in-one method which is so easy to do with an electric hand whisk.

I use either Flora original or Stork for baking – both of these have given good results.

Cake Ingredients

175g soft tub margarine for baking

225g self-raising flower

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

175g caster sugar

Grated rind of 2 lemons

3 eggs

3 tablespoon milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)

100g poppy seeds

Lemon Glaze Ingredients

Juice of 2 lemons

175g caster sugar

Pre heat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 1800C.

Make this as a tray bake in a tin about 31×22 cm.

I have a selection of Mermaid Hard Anodised rectangular baking tins and they are superb.

Grease the tin and use one piece of greaseproof paper to line the base and the two long sides of the tin.

Place all the ingredients except the poppy seeds into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until they are well blended.

Add the poppy seeds and beat till they are well mixed in.

Put the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Leave to cool for about 5 minutes and release the cake from the tin and put on a cooling rack.

Mix the lemon juice and caster sugar to dissolve the sugar.

Prick the top in several places with a thin cake testing skewer.

Dribble the lemon glaze over the cake so the top in covered.

You can dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

Cake Stands in Glass and China

I just love cake stands.   They make the cakes look really special.

I started of with a few glass ones I got from my mother and now have at least seventeen.

Most are old, bought from charity shops and car boot sales.

I have also started buying china tiered ones.  These look better just placed around the dining room but I sometimes use them for small cakes, chocolates or fruit.

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A Selection of my Cake Stands

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This Cake Stand was one of my mother’s

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This Large Stand I bought in an antique shop in Poland. I managed to get it back in my Hand Luggage. It is very HEAVY.
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My most recent china purchase. Maybe a bit bright for cakes but lovely colours
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Another Bright Cake Stand

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An Egg Cup Holder. The egg cups were missing when I bought this.

Lead Crystal Cake Stand

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Etched Glass Cake Stand
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A Laura Ashley Cake Stand
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Pink Glass & China Cake Stands

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Cake Stands in my Cupboard

Babeczki for Wigilia - with Poppy Seed filling

Babeczki for Wigilia –  Christmas Eve –  with Poppy Seed filling on a Christmas Stand

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Two types of buns on a stand
Two types of buns on a stand