Gulasz

The word gulasz comes from the Hungarian gulyás and is the word for a casserole or stew.

In Hungary the meat would most likely have been beef but in Poland it is either pork or beef.

When beef is used it is usually called węgierski  – Hungarian style.

As stewing steak used to be more readily available in England than casserole pork my mother made this with beef.

I make this with either beef or pork, both are delicious as the slow cooking and tomato purée give an intense rich flavour.

Classic Gulasz

Ingredients

500g stewing beef or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

250ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of plain flour

salt & ground black pepper

oil for frying

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic.

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Mix the tomato purée and the paprika into the stock.

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Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper.

Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper
Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed.

 

Place the meat into a casserole dish.

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy.

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Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper.

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid.

 

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Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ hours  to  4 ½ hours but often I find it needs  longer.

Classic Beef Gulasz

 

Serve with potatoes, hefty style pasta or boiled rice as well as salads such as:

If served on top of a large, breakfast plate sized potato pancake this is known as a

węgierski placek  – Hungarian pancake.

Tip

Make this a day ahead of when you need it, cook the dish for at least 3 hours and leave it to cool.

The next day cook it again for at least 1 hour, you might have to add a little water or stock but not too much, the sauce should be thick not watery.

Using a slow cooker

Nowadays I often make gulasz using a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I made a gulasz using pork shoulder and cooked it in the slow cooker for 8 hours.

 

 

 

Pork gulasz served in a dish by J & G Meakin Studio Pottery

Unknown Design Name

Luxury Style Gulasz 

All houses in Poland have cellars and even people living in block of flats have a cellar area of their own; if you ever get the chance to look in these you will find that they are filled with: jams, preserves, bottled fruit and vegetables, sauerkraut and salted gherkins.

Bottled sweet red peppers in brine are often found amongst these jars.  The addition of the peppers from one of these jars to the gulasz makes it even better.

Of course if like me you do not have the home-made variety you can buy these from most delicatessens or supermarkets now.

One Of My Two Cellars

 

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You can use fresh red peppers and I use these when they are plentiful, either will make a delicious gulasz but I think I like ones with the bottled peppers best.

The recipe is a variation on the classic gulasz but you have to use less stock or you will end up with it being too watery due the water content of the peppers – especially the fresh ones.

Ingredients

500g stewing beef  or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of tomato purée

150ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

Jar of bottled red peppers or 3 to 4 fresh red peppers

2 -3 tablespoons of soured cream

2 tablespoons of plain flour

Salt & ground black pepper

Oil for frying

Paprika to dust on the top

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic

Mix the tomato purée and the paprika in the stock

If using the bottled peppers cut them into long strips and then cut these into halves

 

If using the fresh peppers, cut them into long strips, de-seed them and cut these into halves

Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed

Place the meat into a casserole dish

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy

Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper

Add the peppers to the dish and mix the contents together

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid

 

Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ to 4 hours but often I find it needs longer.

 

 

 

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When you are ready to serve the gulasz, mix in one to two tablespoons of soured cream and then put the other tablespoon of soured cream on top in the centre and dust some extra paprika on this.

 

 

Serve as for the classic style gulasz.

Here served in a dish by J & G Meakin – Topic from 1967

 

 

 

 

 

Biszkopt – Sponge Cake using Potato Flour

Biszkopt is a fat free sponge cake which means it does not have any butter, margarine or oil in it – just eggs, sugar & flour.

This recipe in my Polish cookery book is described as oszczędna which means economical and compared with many of the recipes which use 4 or more eggs it is.

I used this recipe to make  a cake which is very popular in Poland  –  rolada  which is a  roulade or roll.

I was really pleased with this  recipe & think I  will continue to use this the most.

Ingredients

40g potato flour

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder.

2 eggs separated

65g icing sugar plus 1 tablespoon of icing sugar & extra for dusting.

2 tablespoons of boiling water

Also you need a tin 23 x 32cms & 3 sheets of greaseproof paper

Fillings

Jam

Lemon Curd – This is very English but I am sure it would be loved in Poland –

Marks & Spencer’s Sicilian lemon curd is superb!

 

Butter Cream filling of your choice – I used coffee & rum here.

Method

Pre-heat oven to GM 4 – 180°C

There are lots of steps in this recipe &  after several trials, I have given the steps in the order I found worked the best.

Grease and line a  23 x 32cms baking tin – you can also grease the paper on the upper side – I have found this does make it easier to remove the cake.

Mix together the potato flour, plain flour and the baking powder.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff then add in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and whisk again.

Whisk the egg yolks until they are pale then add the 2 tablespoons of boiling water and whisk again, add the icing sugar and whisk till the mixture is  pale and creamy.

Gently fold in the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff whites.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan & bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lightly dust with icing sugar then turn this out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper also dusted with icing sugar.

 

Place another piece of greaseproof on top of this and roll up the cake (starting with a short side) with the paper.

Leave this to cool.

Unroll the cake and spread with jam, lemon curd or a butter cream filling of your choice & then roll up the cake again.

Dust the cake  with icing sugar.

Rolada with lemon curd

 

 

Blue edged plates 1930s Allertons Ltd

Sandwich plate H&K Tunstall

Rolada with jam

 

Coffee & Rum Butter Cream

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

100g icing sugar

120g of butter

2 tablespoons of strong coffee

2 tablespoons of rum

Method

Make some strong coffee using 20g of ground coffee and boiling water and then strain it and leave to cool.

(You can of course use  instant coffee – my mother used Camp coffee years ago & it is still available)

 

 

Beat the egg yolks, butter & icing together

Add the coffee & rum and mix well in.

You can add a little more icing sugar  if you think the mixture is too soft.

 

 

Sandwich plate H&K Tunstall

Biszkopt -Sponge Cake

Biszkopt is a fat free sponge cake which means it does not have any butter, margarine or oil in it – just eggs, sugar & flour.

The word originates from the old Italian biscotto & Medieval Latin bis coctus – which  means twice baked – though why I do not understand as this sponge is only baked once!

The English word biscuit also has this origin.

This sponge is used to make tort – layer cake 0r gateaux – however as these are usually such large cakes – I have used it for another popular cake in Poland – rolada – which is a  roulade  – often called a Swiss roll  – though I have not been able to find the reason for this  Swiss connection.

Rolada

Ingredients

4 eggs – separated

4 tablespoons of granulated sugar

4 tablespoons of plain flour

Icing sugar to dust

You will need 3 sheets of greaseproof paper

Fillings

Jam

Butter Cream Icing

Lemon Curd – this is very English – but would be loved in Poland – Marks & Spencer’s Sicilian lemon curd is superb!

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Grease and line a  23 x 32cms baking tin – you can also grease the paper on the upper side – I have found this does make it easier to remove the cake.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.

Whisk together the egg yolks & sugar until they are pale and fluffy.

Fold in the flour.

Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan & bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lightly dust with icing sugar then turn this out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper also dusted with icing sugar.

 

 

 

Place another piece of greaseproof on top of this and roll up the cake (starting with a short side) with the paper.

Leave this to cool.

Unroll the cake and spread with jam, lemon curd or a butter cream filling of your choice & then roll up the cake again.

Dust the cake  with icing sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

A Polish Christmas

A Polish Christmas

To understand a Polish Christmas one has to know about its historical and cultural background as these have shaped what we have today.

Poles love festivals and traditions and there seem to me to be more celebrations in Poland than in England with every possible Saint’s day or other opportunity  for a gathering, with eating and drinking, taken.

Polish Recipe Books For Christmas

History & Background

In the first centuries AD, around the river Warta, between the river Odra (Oder)  and the river Wisła (Vistula) was the cradle of Poland.  (The Wisła runs from the Carpathian Mountains to the Baltic Sea.) This region was immense forest land but many areas along the rivers had been cleared. In the east of Poland there are still the remains of the primeval forest at Białowierza (White Tower), this is a National Park were bison and wild boar roam.

By the 5th century the “Amber Road” was the trade route from the Baltic in the North to the Mediterranean in the South.

In the 6th & 7th centuries, many different Slav tribes arrived there, and as by now more of the land had been cleared, they settled.

The People of the Fields

By the mid 10th century  the Polanie tribe became dominant – these were the people of the fields – pole means fields in Polish.

Agriculture in General

Compared to England the summers are warmer and the winters much colder, a drier cold  than in England, often up to -300 C, with lots of snow.

The fertile plains of Poland have made it an agricultural country and the people are close to the land and understand about the seasons and food production. Even now in towns people have vegetable gardens & allotments.

Main crops are wheat, rye, buckwheat, potatoes and cabbage.

Dill is a favourite herb, also flat leaf parsley and caraway.

Pork is the most popular meat.

Poultry and eggs are used extensively

Butter, milk, soured milk, smetana (soured cream), twaróg (curd cheese) feature in many recipes.

In the south in the Tatra Mountains they make smoked cheeses from sheep’s milk.

In the  16th century southern Poland was 40C warmer than it is today and grapes for wine were grown.

Food from the Forest

Mushrooms, fruits and berries are even today collected from forests, eaten, preserved or even sold at the roadside.

Fish are caught in rivers and lakes, fish farms are becoming popular.

Dried mushrooms provide a lot of flavour in the winter diet.

Food Preservation for the Winter

  • Drying
  • Fermentation with Brine
  • Bottling
  • Smoking
  • Marinating
  • Jams – using sugar

Christianity in Poland

In 966 Duke Mieszko the First, Poland’s first recorded leader converted to Christianity.

By the 13th & 14th centuries  Roman Catholicism was the main religion in Poland.

In the late 14th century the marriage of the Polish Queen Jadwiga to the Duke of Lithuania was on the promise of his and his people’s conversion to Christianity and the formation of a new enlarged Poland.

In the 16th century the Reformation did come to Poland and did have followers but it mostly died out following arguments between different factions & the Catholic counter reformation.

After the middle of the 17th century the main religion was again Roman Catholicism and is still so today.

Poland was more tolerant of different religions than many of its neighbours and by the early 20th century  it had more Jewish people that any other country in Europe.

Advent

St Andrew’s Day –  30 November  is celebrated in Poland, and the eve  on  29 November has many superstitions and traditions to do with foretelling the future especially with regards to future husbands.

The nearest Sunday to 30 November is the start of Advent, this can be from 27 November to  3 December so there are always 4  Sundays before Christmas day.

Advent is a time of reflection, prayer and preparation.

In the past Advent was like Lent; a time of doing without.

In Poland Christmas is celebrated from the evening of 24 December – Wigilia (the vigil) and parties and visiting relatives and family happens from then on.

It seems very strange to the Poles to have all the Christmas parties before Christmas when is still Advent.

The Christmas days are called Gody – days of Harmony and Goodwill

6 December –  St Nicholas Day

Older pictures show Swięty Mikołaj (St Nicholas) in his bishop’s robes, newer ones tend to be more like the English Santa.

Presents were to be found on the doorstep or hidden in the house or under the pillow.

Pierniki – spiced honey cakes are  given to children, often in the shape of the bishop.

He returns again on Christmas Eve after the evening meal.

It used to be that presents were given on just one of these days, usually  6 December and Christmas Eve was more about the meal and carols and Church.

Nowadays  you are likely to get presents on both days.

Before the Second World War the presents were small tokens such as mandarin oranges (a luxury – as they were imported), chocolates, and an item of new clothes or a small toy.

Christmas Tree

The old Polish Tradition was to hang from the ceiling just the tip of a spruce/fir tree (tip side down) decorated with apples and nuts which were either wrapped in silver or gold paper or painted and ribbons. Old Polish Village houses are made of wood – so it was easy to attach the tree tip.

Doorways and walls were often decorated with separate boughs of the remainder of the tree.

This custom originated in pre-Christian times and texts dating back to the 15th & 16th centuries referred to this use of the tree as a pagan rite. Unable to halt the growing trend, the church then reinterpreted the tree to be the Tree of Knowledge – the tree of good and evil.

The tradition of using the whole tree came from Germany in the late 18th century and early 19th century first into the towns and then into richer villages and by the 1920s this had taken over.

In small flats and in towns, and with small funds, people often still just decorate a branch of a fir tree.

Decorations for the tree

Apples symbolise health & beauty, strength & vitality and paradise

Nuts wrapped in Silver or Gold guarantee prosperity & vitality.

When I was young we tied wrapped sweets & chocolates on the tree.

The Tree is put up on Christmas Eve (though nowadays maybe a day or 2 before) the whole family helps.

Decorated with glass baubles – in the past these were often blown eggs decorated with glitter. There are also many straw decorations – angels and stars.

Many of the old ornaments look like the apples and nuts of before.

Some of my mother’s old nut baubles with a few newer ones

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Nowadays Polish Glass Factories make 2,500 glass baubles a day,  some of them very elaborate and expensive.

Paper chains guarantee love within the family.

Candles and baubles guard the house from malevolent deeds.

The star on the top of the tree helps guide back absent family and friend

Bells symbolise good news

Angels are the guardians of the house.

Clip on candles holders with real candles though nowadays artificial lights are more likely to be used.

Photograph’s of  my mother’s clip in candle holders.

Pierniki – spiced honey cakes with white icing were used in some areas.

Polish Cribs – szopka

Cribs are varied in Poland, mostly wooden and carved, often with the shepherds dressed in traditional Polish highland costume.

Every year In Krakow in the Grand Square (Rynek Glówny) there is a competition held on the morning of the first Thursday of December, of Christmas cribs.

Image result for szopka competition

The above  image is from  the  website    Poland.pl/tourism/traditions-and-holidays/

Model makers come carrying their cribs and they are judged. The winners are kept in the Museum of Ethnography – the rest are sold.

I saw an exhibition of past winners  when they were on tour in England in 2011 at The Lowry in Salford.

This competition began in 1937. It was intended to bring back to life a tradition which had died shortly after the First World War, that of the Crib Theatre and these cribs are portable theatres for traditional puppet Nativity plays.

These ornate cribs are very colourful and richly decorated. They are covered in coloured foils, and are inspired by the architecture of Krakow eg Wawel Cathedral and the unequal spires of The Church of the Virgin Mary  – Mariatski

They can be from 15 cm high up to 2 metres high and some have clockwork mechanisms or lights.

In the past the Christmas cribs were mostly the works of Krakow masons in their idle weeks of the Polish rainy late autumn.

Nowadays it is a pastime of many Krakow dwellers of all walks of life. And the city boasts several dynasties of Christmas crib makers where two or three generations construct brand-new cribs every year.

Christmas cards

In the past these were always postcards but now folded cards are coming in to vogue.

Copies of old cards from Zakopane from the 1930s – bought in the Folk Museum there.

Cards are only sent to family and friends that will not been seen over Christmas.

In Communist times cards depicted, branches of fir trees and baubles, nowadays many religious cards are sent.

Often when Poles send cards to family abroad they include a piece opłatek. This was originally bread but now a paper thin wafer with an impression of the Nativity scene is used and is a symbol of forgiveness, unity and love.

 

The opłatek usually has the corner nipped off to show that this is being  shared. My aunty in America always does this.

Wigilia – The Christmas Vigil

I wrote a whole post about this topic last year.

Wigilia – Polish Christmas Eve

This is a very Important Meal – Poles want to be with their family on this evening.
This Christmas Eve supper became a fixed tradition in Poland in the 18th century.

It is a completely unique experience with an ordinary evening meal transformed into a celebration of family love and solidarity and it is also so strange that in a country of meat lovers this meatless meal is so important and loved.
The days before the meal were a time to thoroughly clean the house.

The day used to be a day Fasting & Abstinence as the last day of Advent – no meat on that day (abstinence) and only 1 main/large meal (fasting)

There are usually  12 dishes for the 12 apostles though some areas have an odd number of dishes either 7, 9 or 11.

I only make dishes which would have been available through food preservation in the winter or are seasonal.

Presents

If there are presents they are placed under the tree and opened at the end of the meal.

In some areas of the West of Poland– presents today come from Gwiazdor – Starman

In the South West of Poland from an angel or baby Jesus.

In Communist times to try and remove the religious idea – many tried to favour Gwiazdor often portrayed in red robes with gold star or even to introduce the Russian Grandfather Frost on January 1st – unsuccessfully.

However Gwiazdor had links with St Nicholas (Swięty Mikołaj) as he often carries a star in front of St Nicholas.

Carols

The oldest hymn/carol in the Polish Language is Bogurodzica (Mother of God) and is known from the beginning of the 13th Century.

Carols are rich and varied with examples from many different centuries with ones originating from:

  • church music
  • to many with music from the Royal Court such as the Polonaise
  • to lively folk & dance music &
  • quiet lullabies.

Many carols feature shepherds as the Poles from the countryside felt an empathy with them.

Bóg się Rodzi – a Polonaise( Polonez )– words from the 18th Century.

Przebieżeli do Betlejem – music from the 16th Century.

Carols are sung from midnight mass till 2nd February in Church.

Carollers went from the second day of the Holiday – 26 December until 6 January – carrying:

  • a star,
  • a crib,
  • a stork – the New Year – new life
  • a baby goat – fertility
  • a bear – hostile forces of Nature

In some areas Carollers went from Christmas Eve – after their own meal.

They are welcome visitors however if your house is left out then this is seen as a sign of bad luck.

Food for Christmas Day

Many would say that this meal is just like a very special Sunday Dinner.

There are not as many must have dishes on Christmas Day

As with all Polish dinners there is soup to start and this would be most likely rosol – clear chicken consommé with small pasta pieces (the original chicken noodle soup)

There will be lots of MEAT with  Pork Dishes mainly such as:

  • Roast Pork Loin with Prunes
  • Roast Pork Loin with Cloves
  • Roast Ham
  • Duck with Apples
  • Roast Goose
  • Roast Chicken stuffed with minced pork
  • Veal stuffed and rolled
  • Cold Polish smoked sausages and meats
  • Home-made pate from liver and/ or rabbit or hare
  • And nowadays maybe even Roast Turkey – an imported idea or
  • Stuffed rolada (roulade) of turkey breast
  • There could also be Bigos a stew made from sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, tomato purée and assorted sausages and meat.

Cakes

  • Piernik
  • Keks – a light fruit cake/loaf
  • Tort – rich layer cake often made from hazel nuts.

Nowadays there will also there will be chocolates & these Polish dried plums with chocolate continue the tradition of dried fruits at Christmas time – I love them!

My China & Tableware  – A New Tradition

Classic white china would be the norm for Christmas but over the last couple of years I have started to use china with poppies* and other red flowers at Christmas time  as well as china with autumn and winter foliage from my collection of china.

*Although not a Christmas flower – these poppies are a remembrance to the Battle at Monte Cassino in May 1944 & the military song – Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino – Red poppies on Monte Cassino.   As my father fought there, these are very special for me.

New Year’s Eve – Sylwestra

31 December is the feast of Saint Sylwester (Sylvester) and this is the name of the festival in Polish.

In the towns & cities the evening is often celebrated with a dance – no special traditional dishes – more of the Christmas Day type food.

Sleigh rides from house to house, with food at each, were popular in times gone by on the eve and on New Year’s Day.

The 3 Kings – 6 January  – Epiphany

xmas-1

During the Christmas period the priest would visit all the homes of his parishioners and say prayers, bless the house and get an offering. He would also bless some chalk or blessed chalk would be obtained at the Mass on  6  January. This chalk is used on 6  January to write over the door frame in the house –

For example for next year – 2017

20+ K + M + B + 17

For the  year and Kasper, Melchior and Baltazar  – the traditional names of the kings.

To bless all who enter or leave in the coming year.

The end of the Christmas period

In the church –  2 February – Candlemas day – 40 days after Christmas – is the official end of Christmas and then karnawał starts – the festive time before Lent.

Karnawał – Carnival

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulpety – Polish Meatballs

The Polish word pulpety comes from the Italian word polpette & that word come from  polpa meaning pulp.

The word polpette has been used in Italy  since the 15th century – though of course meatballs in many forms are to been found in most cultures & countries  and are a way of using every last piece of carcass.

Pulpety in Poland are made from meat or fish – I am just going to cover meat in this post.

Meat pulpety can be made from fresh meat or from cooked meat.  I prefer the fresh meat ones and if I have any  roast meat leftovers I am more likely  to use them up in other ways such as in  Pierogi – Polish Filled Pasta  fillings.

Fresh meat pulpety are very similar to  kotlety mielone.

The difference being that pulpety are very small and they are boiled/simmered not fried.

They are often used as an  accompaniment for soup – with around 4 to 6 being added to a serving of  soup. (There will be much more on the  topic of soup in the future.)

Pulpety can be simmered in water or stock  – I always uses stock – either chicken or vegetable.

Meat pulpety

Ingredients

400g of minced beef or pork or a mixture of the two

1 onion

1 slice of white bread or bread roll, left for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk just the wet slightly squeezed bread.

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

Dried breadcrumbs – see Breadcrumbs – Bułka tarta

Salt & pepper

Some flour for your hands for shaping.

Stock / bullion – chicken or vegetable – can be from a stock cube.

Method

Grate the onion on a fine grated or use an electric mini-chopper.

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In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together except for the dried breadcrumbs, it is best to do this using both hands, making sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

 

Add enough dried breadcrumbs so that it is a firm mixture.

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Put some flour in a dish for your hands to make it easier to shape the pulpety.

Pinch off small bits of the meat mixture and roll the piece between your hands to make small round balls and place these onto a floured board or tray whilst you make them all.

You can leave these to chill in a cool place or in the fridge if you have time.

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In a large pan heat up some stock and drop the pulpety into the boiling liquid and then let them simmer for around 5 minutes.

 

 

Remove them from the liquid with a slotted spoon.

 

 

Polish style would be to have around 5 pulpety in a bowl of soup –  but  often I do these for a light lunch and have a large bowl of soup with lots of pulpety per serving.

In the photograph below, they were served in a tomato soup.

 

 

Served In A Sauce

The varieties here are endless – make one of your favourite sauces for example mushroom or tomato and drop the cooked pulpety into the sauce and let them simmer.

You can then serve them with potatoes, pasta, rice or to be very Polish – buckwheat.