Makowiec – Roasted Poppy Seed Cake

I came across this recipe recently using roasted poppy seeds which give a slightly nutty flavour to the cake.

The cake part is the same as a previous poppy seed cake – makowiec 4 -and uses the simple all in one method using soft tub margarine.

Here roasted poppy seeds are used and lemon rind is not, nor is there a lemon glaze.

Roasting Poppy Seeds

100g of poppy seeds are used in this recipe.

Poppy seeds

Use a small frying pan without any oil or butter.

Add the poppy seeds to the pan and heat gently for around 5 minutes, stirring the seeds with a wooden spatulas and do not let them burn.

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Pour some milk into a jug or bowl and tip the roasted poppy seeds into the milk.

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When the poppy seeds have cooled, tip then into a sieve and let them drain away until they are dry.  You can press them with a spoon to speed up the process.

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The seeds need to be as dry as possible – you could do this part  several hours earlier or the night before.

This cake is a 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.

Ingredients

100g poppy seeds – roasted

175g soft tub margarine for baking

225g self-raising flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

3 tablespoon milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)

Method

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.

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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  mix them well in.

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

Leave to cool on a cooling rack and then take the cake out of the tin.

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Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Tea Plates  – Silver Rose by Duchess

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Wigilia – Polish Christmas Eve

Wigilia means  vigil  and in Poland this word is used for the meal that is eaten on the evening(vigil) before Christmas Day  – so that is the evening  meal on Christmas Eve.

In Poland Christmas is celebrated from Wigilia 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 which is still Advent.

This Christmas Eve meal is very important to people and most  will try to go to family to share this meal.

It is a meal that has many traditions, many more than Christmas Day itself.

It is a meal which is filled with memories, many from childhood, and you will find that every family has developed its own traditions. Many years ago when I spoke with my cousins in Poland – my mother’s family – I discovered that the meal they had at Wigilia though based on the same principles was very different that the one we had at home.

Advent

Advent is the time leading up to Christmas is observed from the 4th Sunday before Christmas (this will be from the 27th November to the 3 December) so that there will be 4 Sundays in Advent.  It is a time of reflection, prayer and preparation.

24th December is the last day of Advent  and used to be a day of  Fasting & Abstinence.

  • no meat was eaten on that day (abstinence) and
  • there was only 1 main/large meal (fasting).

Many people, myself included, keep to this custom.

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

The official end of the Christmas celebrations in church is the 2nd of February the feast of Candlemas or The Presentation of Christ in The Temple  when  karniwal – carnival starts in the lead up to Lent.

 Traditions Around The Wigilia Meal

12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles

Meat is not served.

Some people have 3 soups, 3 fish dishes, 3 vegetable dishes and 3 cakes or dried fruit dishes.

The meal starts after the first star is seen in the sky as a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem used by the 3 Kings to find the Infant Jesus. (This is much later than the usual main meal of the day in Poland).

The food should be from: the fields, the orchard, the garden, the forest and from water.

I try to use only foods that would be found in winter in Poland such as seasonal vegetables &  preserved foods which have been dried, bottled, fermented, smoked etc.

You should try to taste every dish to ensure that there will be nothing lacking in the house & harvest in the coming year.

The main dish is the fish – and in olden times some people had up to 12 fish dishes and counted these as ONE!

Fish  is the symbol of harmony, freedom and liberation – from the Greek  ICHTHYS – for fish & the initials of  Jesus Christ Son of God and Redeemer

The table should be covered  with a white table cloth over straw or hay to remind us of the manger. (People in towns often have a token bunch of hay).

Sheaves of wheat are placed in the 4 corners of the room.

An extra place is always set so that there will be a place for Jesus as the stranger who may knock at the door. The Poles think that on this night no one should be hungry or alone. (The Poles are very hospitable and I think there will always be a place no matter what time of year.)

Opłatek

At the start of the meal is the sharing of opłatek which was  originally bread but now is a wafer (like the communion host) and is a  symbol of forgiveness, unity and love.

Each person has a piece and shares it with everyone else offering each other best wishes for the coming year.

People often send a piece of  opłatek to family and friends who live far away.

 

Dishes for Wigilia

The following is a short list of some of the dishes that are often served at Wigilia:

Some of these recipes I have already covered & the links have been inserted  – others will be appearing throughout the coming year.

 

 

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree tradition came from Germany in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century into the towns and into richer villages in the 1920s and took over from an earlier Polish Tradition of hanging from the ceiling just the tip of a spruce/fir tree (tip side down) decorated with apples, nuts which were either wrapped in silver or gold paper or painted and ribbons. Old Polish  village houses are made of wood so it is easy to attach the tree tip to the ceiling.

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

People in small apartments and in towns or with limited funds often still just decorate a branch of a fir tree.

This custom originated in pre-Christian times and texts dating back to the 15th and 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 tree is put up on Christmas Eve (or maybe a day or 2 before) – the whole family helps – though the candles or lights are not usually lit until Wigilia.

 

Decorations for the Christmas Tree

Apples symbolise health and beauty.

Nuts wrapped in Silver or Gold guarantee prosperity and vitality.

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

Bombki – Glass baubles – in the past these were often blown eggs decorated with glitter. There are also many straw decorations – angels or stars.

Glass baubles originated in Germany in the 19th century  but they were soon being made in Poland with their large glass blowing industry.  Many are made in small family run workshops, some making around 150,000 per day! Some now specialise in individual and unusual designs.

 

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Mama’s Old Nut Shaped Baubles

Candles  in clip on holders with real candles – though now more likely to be artificial lights.

My mother’s candle holders

 

Candles and baubles guard the house from malevolent deeds.

Paper chains guarantee love within the family.

The star on the top of the tree helps guide back home absent family and friends.

Bells symbolise good news.

Angels are the guardians of the house.

Presents

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

It used to be that presents were given on  December 6th, St Nicholas Day and Christmas Eve was more about the meal and carols and Church.

Nowadays likely to get presents on both days. In some parts of Poland these gifts are said to be from  aniołek – little angel.

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

Pasterka  – The Shepherds’ Mass – Midnight Mass

After the meal people  go to Mass in memory of the long wait for the Messiah and the Shepherds coming to pay homage to the Infant Jesus.

Kolędy – Carols are sung from midnight mass till the 2nd  of February in Church.

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 and to folk & dance music.

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

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Sauerkraut Salads

When cooking was much more seasonal this salad was extremely popular in winter when many other vegetables were unavailable.

Using bottled sauerkraut you can make this salad all year around.  You can also buy vacuum packed sauerkraut in many Polish shops.

Preparing the sauerkraut

There are two ways of preparing the sauerkraut. It all depends on the actual sauerkraut which varies with the home-made or vacuum packed  being milder usually than the bottled &  how sour you like it to be.

Sour is indeed a well loved taste in Poland and sour is a description you can apply to many Polish dishes. There will be more posts on this on the future.

These salads could be considered sweet & sour.

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For all the following salads I have used roughly 200g of sauerkraut which is easily enough as a side-dish for two people.

I think all the following salads benefit from being made a few hours ahead and left to allow the flavours to interact and mellow.

Preparation Method 1

Just take some of the sauerkraut and sieve of some of the liquor.

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Sieve off some of the liquor

Preparation Method 2

Put the sauerkraut into a jug or bowl and add some water to rinse off the liquor.

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Use Water to Rinse the Sauerkraut

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Rinse off the Water

My personal preference is to use method 1 with the sauerkraut just drained and not rinsed.

Sauerkraut & Apple Salad

Ingredients

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

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Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Grate the apple, skin and flesh using a coarse grater and add this to the sauerkraut. Mix the two together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Serving Dish by J & G Meakin – Topic – designed by Alan Rogers in 1967

In the restaurant in the Polish Centre in Leeds they serve a wonderful sauerkraut and carrot salad – secret recipe of course! – the following is the nearest I can get to it.

Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad 1

Ingredients

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

1 carrot

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

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Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Peel and grate the carrot using a coarse grater.

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Grate the apple, skin and flesh, using a coarse grate.

Add the grated carrot and the apple  to the sauerkraut.

Mix them all together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Mid 20th Century Pyrex Dish

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Serving Dish is Carnation by Royal Doulton 1982 to 1998

 

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Meat Loaf  and Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad

 

Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad 2

Ingredients (as salad 1 but less carrot)

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

Half a carrot

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Peel and grate the carrot using a coarse grater.

Grate the apple, skin and flesh, using a coarse grate.

Add the grated carrot and the apple  to the sauerkraut.

Mix them all together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Tip

Once you have opened a jar of sauerkraut if you are not going to make something else with it in the next day or so you can portion it up and freeze it for later use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Cabbage

A few years ago on one of my  visits to The Netherlands to stay with my Dutch friend, we had a super meal which included a delicious dish of red cabbage that had been cooked with apples.

I thought then that I did not remember my mother ever cooking red cabbage. When I came home I found recipes in both my Polish and English cookery books and tried out many of these.

The following recipe has been refined and altered and this one  with lots of apples and spices is the one  I now use all the time.

As it takes a long time to cook in a low oven or in a slow cooker, I tend to make a lot at once. It freezes and reheats well, so once made I divide it into small portions to freeze.

I think it goes well with roast pork loin and I usually make some before Christmas and serve it with roast pork loin during the holiday period.

Tip 1

Have a lemon ready after handling the chopped red cabbage as you will find your hands become stained blue/purple. Lemon juice will clear the stains away.  Another reason to make this dish in advance.

Tip 2 – Also Excellent as a Salad

I have discovered that this dish is also delicious when it is cold!   I now also serve this with cold meats and Polish style sausage.

Ingredients

1 head of red cabbage

3 or 4 large cooking apples

1 onion – chopped fine

1 or 2 garlic cloves – chopped fine

6 tablespoons of soft brown sugar

1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon

¼ level teaspoon of ground cloves

Salt & ground black pepper

3 tablespoons of cider or wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of water

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Method

Pre heat the oven to GM 2 or get your slow cooker ready..

You need a large oven-proof dish with a lid to make this.  I either use a very large oval enamel dish or I have now started to use a slow cooker.

I mix the ingredients in a large bowl first  and then put them in the cooking dish.

Mix together the sugar, spices, salt and pepper, vinegar and water.

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Remove the core from the cabbage head and cut the cabbage into fine shreds and add these to the spice mixture.

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Peel, core  and then coarse grate the apples and then add these to the cabbage mixture. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

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Put the mixture into the cooking dish (or slow cooker) and put in the oven (or switch on the slow cooker).

 

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It should take about  3-4 hours  – it may take longer in the slow cooker.

 

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Red Cabbage Ready to Serve
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Serving Dish is Cadiz by Meakin from the 1970s

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Miodownik – Piernik – Honey Spice Cake

Miód is the Polish word for honey and so Miodownik is a Honey Cake which usually contains spices. Pierna is an old Polish word for spices and so Piernik is also a Honey Spice Cake.

Some sources say the name is from pieprz – pepper or piorun – thunderbolt or devil – because of its spiciness.

These cakes have been known in Poland since the 12th century and the  spices would have come from Turkey (originally brought back by the crusaders) or India.

Honey was the original sweetener, long before sugar and there are many traditional recipes that use honey not only in cakes, but also in meat dishes.

When you travel in Poland you will find many village ladies selling their own honey, the taste varies greatly depending on where the bees have found their flowers and the honey from a forest region is dark and very flavoursome.

Piernik  can vary  from a soft dense cake to a drier but soft biscuit.

The Polish town of  Toruń is famous for its piernik and  Chopin was very found of this.

Pierniki(plural) coated with chocolate are called Katarzynki –  which means Katherine’s cakes – named after Katarzyna the daughter of one of the bakers.

Similar cakes are found throughout Europe including the French pain d’éspices, the Dutch peperkoek and the German lebkuchen.

Miodownik  and piernik are often translated as  Gingerbread but ginger is a spice rarely used in Polish cookery.

The main spices used are cinnamon and cloves with the addition according to different recipes of cardamon, black pepper, caraway, nutmeg, dried orange and/or lemon peel and then in later recipes allspice which is from the New World.

My older recipe book gives the proportions for mixing spices and there is one with black pepper which I intend to try out in the future.

Whilst looking through some of my more recent cookery books it would appear that it in Poland you can buy ready mixed spices for piernik so I would presume you can get these in Polish shops in England. I will try these out in the future as well.

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I use the mixed spice mixture which is sold by Marks & Spencer which contains: dried orange peel, cassia (a variety of cinnamon), ginger, nutmeg, pimento (allspice) and caraway. I think it is the dried orange peel which makes it much nicer than other mixtures I have used.

Some recipes make a cake mixture and then leave it in a cool place for up to several weeks before baking it. I have tried one of these out many years ago and it was very good – I intend to try this again for a post in the early winter of next year.

Piernik in Poland is associated with the Christmas season and would be made for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day, it would also be made for Święty MikołajDecember 6thSt Nicholas Day. This a day for present giving in Poland to children and I would always get a piernik shaped and decorated to look like the bishop that was St Nicholas.

Mama’s Miodownik

This is of my mother’s recipes and it uses sunflower oil which is a more recent addition to recipes in Polish cookery. It is a dense cake which is lovely and moist and improves with keeping.

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Miodownik on Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979

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Ingredients

450g Clear honey

250g Icing sugar

4 Eggs separated

250ml Tepid water

4 Teaspoons cocoa

250ml Sunflower oil

450g Plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 Teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1 Teaspoon mixed spice (M&S is the best)

100g mixed peel

Method

You can use a 25cm square tin or a 31cm x21cm rectangular tray tin.

Grease and line the tin.

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 160º C.

In a large bowl, mix the honey and the icing sugar.

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Add the water, cocoa, egg yolks, oil and then the mixed peel.

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In a separate bowl mix the plain flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and the mixed spice.

Add the dry mixture to the honey mixture and mix together to make a batter.

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Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and fold these into the honey batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

 

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Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around  1hour 30minutes.

Take care as this has a tendency to burn  at the top, you might need to cover it after about 1 hour with a piece of greaseproof paper of aluminium foil.

Test to make sure it is cooked through with a fine cake tester.

Leave to cool in the tin.

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 Store in an airtight container or cover in aluminium foil

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Miodownik on Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979

Addendum

I recently made this for Wigilia (Christmas Eve) around 3 weeks beforehand – it was lovely and moist by then.

 

 

Klops – Mama’s Meatloaf

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This recipe has evolved from two of my mother’s recipes. One was for  klops –  Polish meatloaf and the other was for the meat stuffing that she used in her roast chicken.

The meatloaf would have been made in Poland with minced pork but often in England my mother used minced beef as it was more available. To this was added grated onion, bread moistened with milk, a beaten egg, salt & pepper; this was shaped into an oval shape and covered with dried breadcrumbs and baked in the oven.

In many of the Polish recipes the meatloaf is baked in a loaf tin or a shallow roasting tray.  I however like the open baked version as I love the crunchy breadcrumbs on the outside.

The meat stuffing for chicken was originally made with minced pork, (if this was not available my mother used English style sausage meat) grated onion, bread moistened with milk, a beaten egg and salt & pepper and dried breadcrumbs were added to firm it up and this was used to stuff the chicken.

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Meatloaf – Waiting to go into the oven

As there was usually some left my mother would shape this, put dried breadcrumbs on top and bake this in the oven with the chicken. We always wanted to eat some of this and even liked the extra bit better that the actual stuffing because of its crispy coat.   She started to make more of it so that we could all have some at dinner. My nephew and nieces called this Grandma’s meat.

This extra stuffing has also evolved, the grated raw onion has been replaced by chopped fried onion ( though you can use both )  and now I use a mixture of  minced pork and English style sausage meat.

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Frying a Chopped Onion

Luxury or Premium sausage meat is the best to use but often shops only have this available at Christmas, when it is in stock I buy quite a lot and freeze it for several occasions. Sometimes it is sold in 1kilogramme packs, I usually cut these into two or four and re-wrap.

When I cannot get the luxury sausage meat I buy good quality pork sausages and remove the skins.

Now when I have visitors for a roast chicken they always want to make certain that I will be doing a meatloaf as well, some say this is what they most look forward to eating on Christmas Day!

Ingredients

None of the amounts given are exact; they are only for a guide.

500g of luxury sausage meat

500g of lean minced pork

2 medium onions finely chopped and fried till golden brown

1 large egg beaten with salt & pepper

1 slice of white bread – left for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk.

2 teaspoons of Italian herbs or similar

Dried breadcrumbs

Method

Pre heat the oven to GM  5 – 190oC

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Bread Soaking up some Milk

Lightly grease a thick baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl mix everything together except the dried breadcrumbs. Use your hands to get everything thoroughly mixed in.

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Waiting To Be Mixed
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Well Mixed Ingredients

Add some dried breadcrumbs to firm up the mix as necessary.

Dried Breadcrumbs

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Shape your mixture on to the baking sheet making it into an oval shape rather like a bloomer loaf of bread – make it as high as you can.

Cover the loaf with lots of dried breadcrumbs and place into the oven. It will take about 1hour 30minutes maybe longer – it needs to be done to a golden to very golden colour and the breadcrumbs will be crispy.

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Cooked Meatloaf
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Waiting to be sliced

 

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Cut into thick slices to serve, any left can be eaten cold with a salad.

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Sliced Meatloaf

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Cold Meatloaf with Carrot & Sauerkraut Salad

Note

If you have any left over and cannot eat it the next day or so – then it freezes very well – I wrap slices first in aluminium foil and then in a plastic freezer bag.

 

 

 

 

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.