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.

Krokiety Kartoflane – Potato Croquettes

This is another way my mother had of using boiled potatoes – I do not remember her boiling the potatoes especially for these – she would make them with leftover boiled potatoes. (Not that she did not know how many to potatoes to cook for a meal – she would often cook more so she had some for a different use the next day.)

I have given approximate weights below – once you have made them you will know what to expect  – I do not think my mother ever weighed out the quantities – just went by eye and consistency.

Ingredients

This will make around 12 croquettes

  • 500g of starchy potatoes – such as King Edward or Maris Piper
  • 20g of melted butter
  • 1  beaten egg
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil such as sunflower for shallow frying

Method

  • Mash the boiled,cold potatoes so that they are smooth and without lumps.
  • Add the slightly cooled, melted butter and the beaten egg and mix together.
  • Add the flour and mix to a soft dough – not too much flour  as a soft dough gives a more fluffy croquette.
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Boiled Potatoes
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Preparing the Breadcrumbs

Divide the dough into 4 manageable pieces and roll out into a long sausage shape and divide them into 3. You are aiming for equal sizes of around 3cm deep and 4cm wide by 10cm long.

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Shaped and Coated Croquettes

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Shallow Frying
Shallow Frying

Shallow fry the croquettes in hot vegetable oil in a frying pan, turning them over so that both sides are golden and crispy.

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Potato Croquettes – A Variation

The above is how my mother made these croquettes, whilst looking through my Polish cookery books I came across the following variation also which I tried out & I liked these as well.

Method – as above – but instead of just melted butter, fry till golden, half a finely chopped onion in 20 -30g of butter.

Leave this to cool before adding it to the potato mixture.

à la Polonaise

Polish Style

I was well into my 20s before I realised that there was a special French culinary phrase to describe, what to me, was just the regular topping that my mother and aunties put onto certain cooked vegetables.

Within my family I had never been served cauliflower, Brussels sprouts  or whole green beans without a lovely crispy buttery breadcrumb mixture.

I have not discovered when this term was first used in France but some sources think it might have come into use in the early part of the 19th century when many Polish political émigrés came to France and in particular Paris.

Method for the Vegetables

Cook your cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or whole green bean in whatever way you like best.

You can if you wish cook the cauliflower whole – this can have quite a good effect when served.

I like to steam the vegetables as I find I can get them just right – cooked – but still with a bit of bite this way.

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Steamed Brussels Sprouts

Place the cooked (and drained if necessary) vegetables in a serving dish.

Pour the buttery topping over the vegetables.

You will get a buttery crunchy taste which is a contrast to the vegetables.

Method for the  à la Polonaise topping

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Butter & Breadcrumbs
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Preparing the Breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The topping is made by melting in a saucepan 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of butter.

(If you use unsalted butter then add a pinch or two of salt)

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Melting the Butter

 

 

 

 

 

Add to this around 2 tablespoonfuls of dried breadcrumbs and keep on the heat and stir for a few minutes.

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Preparing the Breadcrumbs
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Butter & Breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the buttery mix over the vegetables.

Cauliflower à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Carnation produced from 1982 to 1998.

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Brussels Sprouts à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Roundelay produced from 1970 to 1997.

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Royal Doulton – Roundelay

Whole green beans à la Polonaise

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Added Note

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Some cookery books say that chopped hard boiled eggs and chopped flat leaf parsley are added to the topping.

Personally I have not found this to be usually so, although chopped hard boiled eggs are added to many salads and to certain soups in Poland and chopped flat leafed parsley is very often used as a garnish.

Breadcrumbs – Bułka tarta

Breadcrumbs are needed for many recipes in Polish cookery and especially in the topping à la Polonaise.

So I always make sure I have some in my store cupboard.

Bułka tarta is usually translated as breadcrumbs  –  they are the  dried and then ground or grated crumbs from white rolls (bułka is a bread roll) or white (wheat) bread.

Bread in Poland is normally made from rye flour or a mixture of rye and wheat flour.  White bread and rolls were viewed as a luxury in days gone by.

I usually make my own breadcrumbs as in the past the ones you could buy in England were often dyed orange and I did not like them at all.

Nowadays there are many Polish shops and Polish bakeries that sell these dried breadcrumbs.

I have used them and they are good.

If you want to buy them then

Bułka tarta

is what you are looking for – usually sold in 500g bags.

I still make my own as they are a good use of any type of white bread you have left over and the crumbs keep for ages in an airtight box.

Making Breadcrumbs

You need white (wheat) bread – either slices from a loaf or bread rolls – cut in half.

Put your oven on its lowest setting – on mine this is GM1

You can put the slices of bread directly on the oven shelves or you can use a silicone mesh sheet which is good as the moisture which come off the bread does not condense under the bread and it is easier to remove the dried bread from the oven when it is ready.

Leave the bread in the oven for an hour or more – it wants to be a golden brown.

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Lightly Dried Bread – It can be a darker brown if desired

Put the dried bread on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to crush it.

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I store my breadcrumbs in an airtight plastic box – I use  Sistema™ boxes which are made in New Zealand.

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Kopytka – Polish Potato Dumplings

My mother called these grube kluski  – fat noodles but on my recent visits to Poland I have had these under the name kopytka, this means little hooves, which I think describes their oval shape very well.

They are very much like  Italian gnocci made with potatoes rather than semolina. (The Italian word comes from either nocchio – a knot in wood or nocca – a knuckle). I think the usual size of gnocci is smaller than the kopytka.

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These were often made with boiled potatoes which had been left over from another meal. I do not remember my mother boiling potatoes especially to make these as the potatoes have to be boiled and then left to go cold. I always hoped that she would peel lots of potatoes so that there would be some left to make these, as I just loved to eat them.

We had them served with either melted butter or skwarki (crisp, fried, small squares of bacon). Recently in Poland I was served these with a creamy mushroom sauce*.

I  often boil potatoes the day before to make these as the potatoes need to be cold. The exact amounts are not critical but you must use starchy potatoes. When you have made these once you will have a good idea of the amounts involved and I am certain that my mother never weighed out the ingredients, just judged this by eye and consistency.

Ingredients

600g of starchy potatoes – such as King Edward or Maris Piper

1 egg  & 1 egg yolk

200g of plain flour

salt

Method

Peel the potatoes cut them up into pieces and boil them in salted water.

Drain the potatoes and then mash them so that there are no lumps. I have a ricer which is very good for this. Leave the potatoes to cool.

Use a large bowl and put the cold potatoes into the bowl.

Lightly beat the egg and the yolk together and add this to the potatoes.

Add a little salt.

Weigh out the flour to give an idea of how much is needed; this will depend on the type of potato and the size of the eggs. Add the flour and mix first with a wooden spoon and then by hand, you might not need all the flour or you may need more. Mix until you have a soft dough.

Divide the dough into quarters and using a floured board shape the dough and roll it with you hands until you have a long sausage about 3cm in diameter. If the dough sticks to the board then you need to add more flour.

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into pieces, make the first cut at a diagonal and make the thickness about 1 to 1.5cm. You will get a sort of oval shape.

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Repeat this with the rest of the dough.

Fill a large pan with water, add some salt and bring this to the boil.

When the water is boiling, add the dumplings one by one, do not over fill the pan or they will stick together. I tend to do this in 4 batches.

As they cook they will float to the surface, give them about another minute and then remove them with a slotted  or a perforated spoon and put them in a colander. I have a colander sitting in an empty pan by the side of the large pan in which I am boiling the dumplings.

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I find that the maximum from putting  them into the water to taking them out will be 3 minutes, if you cook these too long they will start to fall apart.

Serve as suggested above with melted butter, bacon bits or with a sauce.

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Cooked Kopytka Waiting for Butter,      Bacon or Sauce

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*See my earlier post

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls  – with Mushroom Sauce

For  mushroom sauce recipes.

Kartoflane Placki – Polish Potato Pancakes

Placki (the plural of placek) are any sort of flat cakes usually round in shape – baked or fried – sweet or savoury.

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  • These fried potato pancakes are so wonderful and although they take a bit of time to prepare it is worth it.
  • I tend to make these in the winter months as they are best made with older starchy potatoes.
  • They are best eaten straight from the frying pan – more a family dish than fine dining.
  • They should be thin and slightly crispy at the edges.
  • My father said he used to have them for breakfast in Poland.
  • My mother served them with fried eggs and bacon; one of my aunties serves them with curd cheese and chopped spring onions or with sour cream, in some parts of Poland they are eaten with sugar or jam!
  • I think this recipe crossed the Atlantic and is one of the origins of Hash Browns –  but I prefer these!
  • In Poland a  large breakfast size plate pancake topped with gulasz  – goulash  is known as – placek po węgiersku –  Hungarian pancake.

Ingredients

  • 4 large starchy potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper
  • 1 medium or large onion
  • 1 egg or just the egg yolk
  • Plain flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • *
  • Oil for frying

Method

  • Peel the potatoes then grate them using the fine size of the grater into a large bowl, this is the part that takes time – I have tried using the coarse grate but they are not as good.
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Grating the potatoes

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  • Leave to stand for a few minutes and the water from the potatoes will rise to the surface. If the potatoes are very watery pour of some of the water. The easiest way is to tip up the bowl slightly over the sink and hold down the potatoes with the palm of your hand.
  • Peel the onion and also fine grate it and add to the potatoes. This is the part that would often result in the grating of my knuckles  as I tried to use every last bit of onion – I now often use some form of electrical mini-chopper to get a pulp of onion.
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Onion Pulp
  • Add the egg, salt & pepper.
  • Add enough plain flour so that the mixture is thick.

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  • Heat some oil in a frying pan, a thick cast iron one is ideal, place large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the hot oil and flatten them out with the spoon or spatula. A pan should be able to hold 3 or 4. Fry till golden on both sides.
  • They should be thin and  slightly crispy at the edges.

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  • Do not have the pan too hot or they will burn on the outside and be raw in the centre.
  • Do not have the pan too cool or they will end up too greasy and not crispy.

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  • Serve immediately or keep them warm in the oven on a low heat whilst you make more.

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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.

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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.

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Steam the Potatoes and Carrots

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Boil or steam the whole green beans.

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

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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.

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Variation 1

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

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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.