Half French?- Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 1

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie translates as half or semi French pastry.

Now this does not really mean anything to me!

I am going to start this post with a little introduction to two similarly named pastries frequently used in Polish cooking.

  • Ciasto francuskie  – translates as French pastry
  • Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie  – translates as half or semi French pastry.

They are both buttery, unsweetened pastry.

French pastry is puff pastry.

Now I do not intend to write about puff pastry as it is something I am really not inclined to make as it is so time consuming and you can buy ready made version both chilled and frozen which are okay.

Maybe in several years when short of topics I might give it a go!

I am going to write about ciasto pȯłfrancuskie. I  have seen this described as rough puff pastry  – but it  is not – rough puff is slightly easier and quicker than puff pastry  but once again I am not going to write about this.

I have seen many different recipes for this half-French pastry and they fall into three broad categories:

  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – śmietanowe – dough  made with some soured cream.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – serowe – dough made with twaróg – curd cheese.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – drożdźowe – dough made with yeast.

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie 1 – with soured cream

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 yolks
  • 4 tablespoons of soured cream

Method

This dough should be left for around 12 hours in a cool place before using therefore I usually make this in the evening for the next morning.

  • Put the flour into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and with a knife chop it up roughly.
  • Then with your finger tips rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  • Beat the egg and yolks together.
  • Stir in the egg and some of the soured cream.
  • Bring the dough together, adding as much soured cream as is needed to bring the dough together.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and leave covered in the bowl in a cool place for around 12 hours.
  • *** After 12 Hours ***
  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220ºC
  • Grease several baking sheets.
  • Divide the dough into 4 and work with each quarter at a time, leaving the rest in a cool place .
  • Roll the dough out thinly
  • The dough is cut into shapes and a teaspoon of filling added and the pastry sealed as appropriate.

Traditional shapes

  • Squares filled and folded into triangles and sealed
  • Triangles filled and rolled up and formed into crescents
  • Circles filled and folded over into semi-circles and sealed.

I found that the circles using a 7cm cutter were the easiest to handle and gave the best filling to to pastry ratio and am sticking to this size and shape.

 

Filling ideas

  • Jam – I found this often escapes from the pastry – lots of care  is needed.
  • Poppy Seed Mix  – * see below
  • Mincemeat – This English fruit mix would be recognised in Poland as bakalie -Balkan mix.

 

 

  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes till golden brown
  • Dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.

 

 

Poppy Seed Filling

I make this amount of  poppy seed filling and then divide it into 4 or 5 small batches and freeze them for later use.

Ingredients

  • 200g poppy seeds
  • 500ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 120 ml runny honey & 1 tablespoon
  • 25g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • optional 1 teaspoon of  rum

Method

  • Put the poppy seeds and milk into a saucepan and simmer then together for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop any sticking or burning. The aim is to cook the seeds and adsorb as much of the milk as possible. You need to watch this carefully and keep adjusting the heat to stop the mixture burning.
  • Using a fine sieve, strain the poppy seeds from the liquid – leave this for a while to remove as much liquid as possible.
  • The poppy seeds need to be crushed, I use a hand held blender for about 5 minutes which I find is the easiest way but you can use a pestle and mortar or a mincer.
  • Once crushed, place the poppy seeds back into a saucepan and add the ground almonds, the vanilla essence and the 120ml of honey and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the butter to the mixture and simmer gently for about 5 minutes and then leave this mixture to cool completely and then add the rum.
  • Whisk the 1 tablespoon of honey with the egg yolk until this is thick and creamy and then add this to the mixture.
  • Optional – add a teaspoon of rum.

 

Courgettes – 3 Ways

Courgettes in Polish are cukini – so here is another vegetable that owes its name in Polish to Italian  – zucchini.

Courgettes belong to the cucurbitaceae family as do cucumbers which are very well loved in Poland

I have read that courgettes did not become popular in Poland until the 1970s although the larger marrow and pumpkins were often cooked and many recipes for these can be adapted for courgettes.

 

Here are 3 ways of cooking courgettes  – they all go well with grilled or roast meats such as pork or chicken.

Floured Courgettes

This is a very simple Polish way of cooking courgettes.

Ingredients

2 courgettes – sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons of plain flour

Salt & Pepper

Sunflower oil & Butter for frying

Method

Slice the courgettes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Put the plain flour in a dish and toss the slices of courgettes in the flour.

 

 

Fry them gently  on both sides in a mixture of sunflower oil and butter.

Place the cooked ones on some kitchen roll in a warm oven whilst you do the next batch.

 

Breaded Courgettes

Sliced rounds of courgette are coated with dried breadcrumbs – this recipe reminds me of vegetables served à la Polonaise.

Ingredients

2 Courgettes

2 beaten eggs

Plain flour

Dried Breadcrumbs

Salt & Pepper

Sunflower oil for frying

Method

Slice the courgettes and place them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and pepper and leave them for 15 minutes.

 

 

Dry the courgettes with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

 

 

Toss the courgettes in flour.

Dip them into the beaten egg.

Coat them with dried breadcrumbs.

 

 

Fry the slices, on both sides,  in hot sunflower oil.

 

Note

If you have any left, they are good with dips such as mayonnaise or salsa.

Buttery & Lemony Courgettes

I cannot remember where I got this recipe from but it is a method I have used for years.

Ingredients

2 courgettes – sliced

1 lemon – fine grated rind & juice

2- 3 tablespoons of butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Use a small saucepan or high sided frying pan

Put the lemon rind and juice into the pan.

Sprinkle salt & pepper on the courgette slices.

Add the courgette slices and heat gently for a few minutes and use the lid to keep in the liquid.

Add the butter and continue cooking gently.

 

 

 

Continue cooking until the slices are tender throughout and the lemon juice and butter have reduced to a buttery lemon coating.

 

Served in a dish by Alfred Meakin – Jayne – from the 1950s.

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.