Polish Mixed Vegetable Salad

Before the days of shops that sell fresh and frozen produce all year round from all over the world, this salad could be made in the autumn and winter using bottled or tinned vegetables.

This salad is made using mainly cooked chopped vegetables and the aim is to make it colourful and to balance the colours and size of the ingredients.

The main three colours are white, green and orange.

IMG_20150826_184257660
Salad in a Royal Doulton Dish – Carnation – 1982 to 1998

White

The white is achieved from: potatoes, celeriac or  white beans such as haricot or cannellini  or even tinned baked beans with the sauce rinsed off.

Green

The green is achieved from peas , whole green beans or gherkins. I use frozen peas or whole green beans.

Orange

The orange is achieved from carrots or bottled paprika.

The following salad was made from potatoes, carrots and whole green beans which were cooked before assembling.

IMG_20150826_153017563
Steam the Potatoes and Carrots

IMG_20150826_153001188

Boil or steam the whole green beans.

Once the vegetables have cooled then chop them into small pieces.

IMG_20150826_154347559IMG_20150826_155112059

IMG_20150826_155125333

Mix the vegetables together with several tablespoonfuls of mayonnaise – original or light – just enough to lightly coat the vegetables.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_20150826_184307974

Variation 1

Add 2 hard boiled eggs which have been chopped to the salad.

IMG_20150902_161945936

IMG_20150826_184529924
Mixed Vegetable Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs

Variation 2

Use Celeriac instead of potato.

Peel the celeriac then cut it up into large pieces and steam these – chop the cooked celeriac into smaller pieces when it has cooked and cooled.

Polish Potato Salads

Potato salad is very popular in Poland especially as it can be made nearly all year round.

This can be served with cold meats and Polish style sausages as well as with hot dishes such as roast pork or chicken.

I like to make potato salad using starchy potatoes as I love the soft fluffy texture.

My favourite starchy potatoes are King Edward and Maris Piper.

The King Edward variety was introduced in the  United Kingdom in 1902 and was named after King Edward VII as this was his coronation year.

The Maris Piper variety was released in 1966  and was named after  Maris Lane in Trumpington on the outskirts of  Cambridge which at that time was the home of the Plant Breeding Institute.

Classic Potato Salad

IMG_20150806_194024472

Ingredients

Starchy Potatoes – from 3 large potatoes upwards

1/2 – 1 onion – chopped fine

Mayonnaise – I like to use Hellmans – original or light

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Peel the potatoes and cut any large potatoes into quarters and then boil or steam them to cook them.

Strain the cooked potatoes in a colander and leave them to cool slightly.

Rough chop the cooked potatoes using a knife or a spoon – you do not want the pieces to be too uniform in size.

Add the chopped onion to the potatoes and then several tablespoonfuls of mayonnaise and mix together.

I like to use potatoes that are still slightly warm as I find the mayonnaise coats them better.

However you can use cold potatoes – maybe some you have left from another meal – the salad will still be good.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Leave to cool completely before serving.

IMG_20150806_194007779
Simple Classic Potato Salad

Variations on the Classic Salad

Potato Salad with Gherkins

IMG_20150806_183403685

Chop 2 or 3 gherkins and add these to the Potato Salad.

IMG_20150807_110645717
Chopped Gherkins

 

IMG_20150807_112124051
Potato Salad with Gherkins

Potato Salad with Gherkins and Boiled Eggs

Chop 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs and add these to the potato salad with the gherkins.

IMG_20150828_124410565
Chopped Hard Boiled Eggs
IMG_20150807_114425535
Potato Salad with Gherkins and Hard Boiled Eggs

Potato Salad with Peas

Cook some frozen peas and add these to the classic potato salad

IMG_20150806_192627173
Cooked Peas
IMG_20150806_194015128
Potato Salad with Peas

Poles Adopt The Potato and Make it Their Own!

IMG_20150910_122328634

There are so many recipes and uses for the potato in Poland you would think that this was the country it originated in.

IMG_20150910_122355675

There are dozens upon dozens of recipes for potatoes, as part of a meal where it is very recognisable as potato such as when boiled or mashed, as a pancake or as a dumpling, or cold in a salad, or hot in Polish potato soup. As well as that potato starch is used as a thickener in savoury and sweet dishes and to make cakes and pastries. Potatoes have also been used to make  wódkavodka and often  samogonka -home brew vodka.

The potato plant originated in the Andes mountains of South America and was cultivated by the Incas. The part we eat is the tuber, which stores starches and sugars, of the plant Solanum tuberosum.  It is related to the deadly nightshade and the tomato (also from South America)

The Spanish Conquistadors came into contact  with the potato in around 1537 and it came across the Atlantic to Europe in around 1570.

King Jan III Sobieski grew potatoes on his estates in the 17th century – from tubers he sent back after the Battle of Vienna which was in 1683.

In the 18th century around 1760 – King August III – had potatoes on his estates and it became a fashionable vegetable.

Potatoes became part of the diet alongside kasza – porridge/groats/grits – made from buckwheat, barley or millet.

There are two words for potato in Polish – kartofel  and  ziemniak

Kartofel  is from the German word kartoffel – this was the word my parents used.  This German word itself comes from the Italian word tartufuli which means truffle like, whereas the Italian word for potato is patata.

Ziemniak  comes from the word ziemia which means earth or ground – so ziemniak means something which is from the earth – this word seems to be more popular nowadays.

The potato is well suited to grow in cold  waterlogged and often frozen  soil – which is often the case in Poland.

Care must be taken when storing potatoes so they do not  get frozen or the starches change to sugars and the potatoes will quickly go rotten.  I remember my father saying that that they stored potatoes in pits in the ground in their barn.

In post World War 2, Poland has became one of the top three potato producers in the world.

Look out for many future posts with potato recipes – below is a preview of some of the photographs

IMG_20150811_165238337

IMG_20150902_132223352

IMG_20150806_194007779

IMG_20150907_170224421IMG_20150811_171511857

Ogórki – Gherkins

IMG_20150807_110414045

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.

IMG_20150806_183403685

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.

IMG_20150806_183411786

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.

IMG_20150807_110423969(1)
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.

IMG_20150902_161728804

IMG_20150902_161720963

Tomato Salad

IMG_20150910_124432805_HDR

IMG_20150910_124500132

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.

IMG_20150910_124432805_HDR
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

IMG_20150808_173117488(1)
Chives & Spring Onions

IMG_20150828_124157431

IMG_20150730_174515396
Tomato Salad with Onions
IMG_20150730_174511139
Tomato Salad with Chives
IMG_20150730_174526959
Salads for Breakfast
IMG_20150731_062705601
Tomato Salad, Curd Cheese & Rye Bread – Typical Breakfast Fare

Cabbage Salad

Fresh cabbage features in many salads in Poland, the following much loved version can be made throughout the year.

In English the word coleslaw is used for a cabbage salad – this word is from the Dutch koolsla –  kool – cabbage,  sla – salad.

IMG_20150719_092859028

Ingredients

IMG_20150719_075848353

IMG_20150826_153305083
I like to use Light or Original

1 or 2 carrots

Hard white cabbage – around a quarter or half a medium one

1 eating apple – red skinned is nice for colour

1 onion – I like to use a red one for colour

Mayonnaise

Lemon juice – optional

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

I always start by grating the carrot using a large grater and then cut the cabbage into fine strands so that I have equal quantities of orange and white.  Put these into a large mixing bowl.

IMG_20150719_075813054

I find that 1 carrot is often enough for the amount I need. In the photo below 2 carrots were used to make a larger amount of salad.

IMG_20150719_081639225_HDR

Chop the onion into small pieces and add this to the bowl.

Grate the apple including the skin and add this to the bowl.

Add several tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix well to coat the mixture.

You might want to add a little lemon juice to make the mayonnaise a little thinner.

Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cold smoked Polish style meats or sausage or with a hot roast or casserole as a good contrast.

IMG_20150719_092914473

Smetana – Soured Cream – A Classic Polish Salad Dressing

Smetana – Soured Cream – must be one of the most used salad dressings in Poland.

Soured cream is used  just on its own and sometimes if it is thick or because they like it that way people will add lemon juice to make it more runny.

I am going to write about the three classic salads which will have soured cream on them.

Mizeria

Legend has it that this salad was beloved by Queen Bona, the Italian princess, who married King Zygmunt 1 in the early part of the 16th Century.

She is famous for bringing her chefs and a variety of vegetables to Poland  and many vegetables names in Polish have Italian roots.

The word mizeria comes from the Latin meaning misery.  It is said that this salad made the Queen homesick for Italy.  I can understand the cucumber – not sure about the soured cream – but that is the story.

It certainly is a delicious cooling salad for a hot day.

I was talking with one of my Polish friends earlier last week and I said that I was going to write about mizeria and she said “Oh there were 20 people for dinner yesterday and I made a huge bowl of mizeria – it was delicious and it  was all eaten!”

It is the salad that everyone loves to make in the summer and it is so easy.

Ingredients

Just – Cucumber, Soured Cream and a little salt.

Option extras

Lemon juice added to the soured cream.

Some people add little bit of icing sugar.

Dill or chives as a garnish.

Take a cucumber and peel off the skin. If the skin is thin then sometimes I do not peel it all off,  just stripes so that you have a nice pattern later of dark and pale green.

Cut the cucumber into thin slices and put them into a bowl

IMG_20150826_152124939

IMG_20150826_152058186

Lightly salt the cucumber.

IMG_20150826_153257903

Add several spoonfuls of soured cream to the cucumber and mix them together, you want to coat most of the slices.

Sprinkle with a garnish of chopped dill or chives if desired and serve.

This is delicious with Polish style smoked meats and sausage and also with  hot roast meats as a lovely contrast.

IMG_20150804_135839012
Mizeria Garnished with Dill
Dill
Dill

IMG_20150804_135831841

IMG_20150826_184651144
Mizeria Garnished with Chives

IMG_20150826_184656690

note

This is best made with  young fresh cucumbers in summer.  However now that you can get greenhouse grown cucumbers all year round I sometimes find that they are a bit old and woody,  if this is the case I would remove the seed area – this is best done by cutting the cucumber lengthwise in two and removing the seeds by pulling a teaspoon down the seedy middle. Then you can slice the cucumber as before.

Some cooks salt the sliced cucumber and leave this for about half an hour and then discard the liquid before adding the soured cream.   I do not usually do this unless I am making it for serving at a much later time.

Radish Salad

Ingredients

Radish and Soured Cream.

Chives or Spring onions to garnish.

Prepare the radishes by removing the hairy roots and stalks.

Thinly slice the radishes.

IMG_20150808_173026142

Put the radish slices in a bowl and add several tablespoons of soured cream (thinned with lemon juice it desired).

Garnish with chives or the green part of spring onions, finely chopped.

IMG_20150828_124157431

IMG_20150808_173518034

IMG_20150808_173528200

I love the way the radish skin colour seeps into the soured cream after a while and makes it pale pink.

Lettuce Salad

This is the most simple salad you can make – just use lettuce leaves pulled off from the head of lettuce, wash and dry them using a tea towel or a salad spinner  and add several tablespoons of soured cream (thinned with lemon juice it desired) and mix them together.

Garnish with a few chives if you have them and serve.

IMG_20150808_173032852

IMG_20150808_174131180

IMG_20150808_174138916