Żurek – Sour Rye Soup

Sour is a word to describe a lot of Polish food – it is a taste well-loved by Poles!

Often this sour comes from lactic acid which is made during fermentation by Lactobacillus bacteria to produce such foods as: gherkins, sauerkraut, sourdough, soured cream, soured milk and yoghurt.

Żurek is a soup made with sour rye (zakwas) as a base.

Water is added to rye flour or rye bread and it is allowed to ferment for a few day.  In olden times this soup was often made on the same day as rye bread was being made.

Nowadays you can buy  żurek starter or zakwas in the Polish supermarkets and this is what I use, (one day I will make my own) and it tastes very good.

My mother never made this soup and in fact I had not heard of it until my Polish cousin’s daughters worked in a Polish restaurant in London in the 1990s and I had some there.

It is often cooked with smoked bacon and Polish sausage – kiełbasa – and then served with quartered or chopped hard boiled eggs.

Some people serve this at the Easter breakfast using the sausage and hard-boiled eggs which have been blessed on Easter Saturday.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of Żurek concentrate
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 medium boiled potatoes (waxy type can be better but not essestial)
  • 2 medium boiled carrots.
  • 50 – 100g of smoked bacon
  • 100-150g of Polish sausage*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 peppercorns & 3-4 allspice grains
  • 4-5 tablespoons of soured cream(optional – but worth it)
  • Season as necessary but the bacon and sausage usually provide enough salt.

****

Hard boiled eggs to serve – at least one per person

*I used Torunska but you can use any sort  – even hot dog type sausages – a sausage called biały (white)(one that is boiled normally) is often used and this gives another name to the soup – biały barszcz – white barszcz (red barszcz being beetroot soup)

Method

  • Peel the carrots and parboil them whole.
  • Parboil the potatoes.
  • Once cooled, chop the carrots and potatoes.
  • Chop the onion roughtly.
  • Chop the bacon into little squares.
  • Chop the sausage into small pieces.
  • Use a large pan and add all the ingredients
  • Add water to cover the vegetables & half to three quarters fill the pan.
  • Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer for a couple of hours.

Chop the hard boiled eggs into long quarters or roughly chop them.

Pour the soup into dishes and place the quarters on top or scatter the chopped egg on top.

Żurek with just vegetables

In olden times when fasting & abstinence in Lent was much more strict, many people did not eat meat or eggs in Lent.

Many lived on a very meagre diet of meatless żurek with hardy any vegetables and there was often a ceremony of burying the żurek at the end of Lent.

This recipe is not as meagre as that, it is made with lots of vegetables and served with hard-boiled eggs or rye bread croutons.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of Żurek concentrate
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 leeks
  • 3 medium potatoes (waxy type can be better but not essential)
  • 2-3 medium carrots
  • 2 kohlrabi*
  • 1/2 a celeriac*
  • 1 white turnip*
  • 2 parsnips*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 peppercorns & 3-4 allspice grains
  • 125 – 250ml of soured cream
  • Flat-leaved parsley -small bunch chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon – optional

*Depends on what is available – try and have at least 2 of these root vegetables & adjust the amounts to suit what you can get.

I think the sweetness in the root vegetables counteracts some of the sourness of the sour rye, so I add lots of soured cream & sometimes some lemon juice.

Hard boiled eggs to serve – at least one per person or rye bread croutons.

Method

  • For all the root vegetables, peel as necessary – you can parboil or steam them if that makes them easier to prepare.
  • Chop the root vegetables into rough cubes.
  • Chop the onion into small pieces.
  • Add all the vegetables & onion to a large pan or stockpot of water.
  • Add the żurek concentrate.
  • Add the bay leaf, allspice and peppercorns.
  • Add some of the parsley
  • Add water to cover the vegetables & half to three quarters fill the pan.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer for around two hours until the vegetables are soft or place in a low oven for several hours.
  • Gently stir in the soured cream – whisk a little if it starts to go into lumps.
  • Season to taste.
  • Add some lemon juice to the required sourness!
  • Sprinkle in the rest of the parsley.

To serve – add the quartered or chopped hard-boiled eggs on top,  or the rye bread croutons.

 

Served in soup plates  – Glenwood by Crown Devon Fielding, Made in England.

These are the only 3 left from my Mama.

I think she must have had 8 or even 12, they are there in memories of my childhood with lots of people sitting around the table.

I have read that they were produced from 1939 -how my Mama aquired these I do not know!

Carrot Piernik

Piernik is a spiced honey-cake.

I would describe this cake as a “Pseudo-piernik” as  granulated sugar rather than honey is used.

My Polish friend in Leeds gave me this recipe and she got it from another Polish lady. The written copy could be described as being in “Ponglish” being written partly in English with additional notes in Polish!

The original recipe used cups which except for liquids I find hard to work with and  much prefer weights.

I tried out a few alterations & variations until I reached this final version which I feel is the easiest way to get consistent results.

I made it is two different tins: the longer tin gave a thinner cake which was  better for cutting in two and adding  a filling, the shorter tin gave a thicker cake which was  better with just a topping.

Ingredients

  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 225g coarse grated carrots
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (I use Marks & Spencer’s) or cinnamon

Method

  • Grease and line a 32cm x 22cm or a 27cm x 21cm tin.
  • Pre-heat oven to GM5 – 190°C
  • Mix well together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla essence &  orange rind (I use an electric whisk).
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, spices & salt and lightly mix this into the whisked mixture.
  • Mix in the grated carrots.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Depending on the tin size, bake for 25 – 35 minutes but keep an eye on it and cover with foil or greaseproof if it starts to burn.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

 

Finishing – several ways

  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Drizzle with a melted chocolate & butter mixture
  • Cut into two and sandwich together with powidła – Polish plum jam* or sour cherry jam – then dust with icing and drizzle with chocolate & butter topping
  • Top with orange butter icing

*Powidła is a lovely spread – often translated as jam but  is not really a jam.

It is made from fresh ripe plums which are heated and stirred for hours until the water is driven off and you get a thick paste.  The traditional version does not have any extra sugar added.

I bought some in my local Polish shop, I have seen it for sale in glass jars or in plastic tubs.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 50g of plain chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

  • Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan with some water in it.
  • Heat the water in the pan and stir the mixture to combine it together.
  • Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake.

 

 

Orange Butter Icing

Ingredients

  • 50g of butter
  • 2 tablespoon of orange juice
  • Grated rind of 1/2  a large orange
  • Around 250g of icing sugar

 

 

Method

  • Melt the butter with the juice and rind in a small saucepan.
  • Leave to cool slightly.
  • Mix in the icing sugar to get a thick spreadable icing.

 

 

Royal Albert – Primulette – tea set – from the 1950s

Green teapot – Café Culture by Maxwell Williams

Optional

Add 100g of sultanas to the mixture.

 

20190313_085148

Note

I have posted a previous carrot recipe which I have used to make small buns.

The ingredients are similar but in different proportions – soft dark brown sugar is used which is not usually available in Poland.

Włoszczyzna – Italian Stuff

When Italian diplomats who spent time in Poland in the 15th century wrote about Polish food, they complained that it was based mostly on meat and many said that – One Pole eats as much meat as 5 Italians.

Tomatoes and many other vegetables  were brought to Poland in the 16th century by the Italian chefs who came with the Italian Princess Bona Sforza who married the Polish King, Zygmunt the Old in 1518.  Many of the names of vegetables in Polish have Italian roots.

To this day, soup greens* are known as włoszczyzna  or “Italian stuff”.

Włoski is the Polish word for Italian.

Some writers say that vegetables other than cabbage and root vegetables were virtually unknown in Poland until  Princess Bona  introduced them, and her cooks helped to bring in the use  of vegetables in royal Polish cuisine;  however records show that the court of King Jagiello (who died in 1434) enjoyed a variety of vegetables including lettuce, beets, cabbage, turnip, carrots, peas and cauliflower.

*Soup Greens is a phrase found in American cookery writing – I have not really seen it in British writing.

Soup Greens are a vegetable stock basis for soups and other  vegetable or fish dishes.

(They are also the vegetables that are used in any casserole type dish).

In German they are known as  suppengrün and in French mirepoix.

The Classic Ingredients are:

Carrots

Leeks

Celeriac

Parsley root

if these are not availabe then use:

Onions

Celery leaves

Parsley stems and leaves

and also  – Bay leaves, Allspice grains, Peppercorns & Salt

Note

The ingredients for

Suppengrün  are carrots, celery, leek and for Mirepoix  are carrots, celery, onions

Often in Poland (and yesterday in my local Polish shop in England) you can buy a ready mixed packet of  the vegetables needed.

 

 

Method

Place all the ingredients in a large pan with water.

Bring to the boil and cover.

Simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Strain the vegetables from the liquid.

 

 

 

Note

If this is being made for a soup  that day,  then some of the vegetables such as the carrots might be sliced and added to the soup.

or

The liquid is kept in glass or plastic containers in the fridge for another time.

If you have no time or ingredients then a very good standby is

Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder.

 

 

 

Note

This post was written in preperation for the huge topic of Soup in Polish Cookery!

This has now been written – here is the link

Zupa -Soup

Rice Salads

For these salads you will need some cold cooked rice – I use long grained or Basmati rice  – but it can be whatever you like to use.

I rarely cook the rice specially – I am more likely to use what is left from a previous meal.

However for these I cooked some rice to see how much was needed.

I find the best dressing for these salads is one based on lemon juice with the addition of some runny honey if you want a little sweetness.

Rice, Peas & Sweetcorn Salad

 

 

 

 

20171108_094335

Ingredients

400g cold boiled rice

100g of cooked garden peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & ground back pepper

1 tablespoon of honey if desired

Method

In a large bowl mix the rice, peas and sweetcorn together.

Pour over the juice of the lemon and mix well.

If you are adding honey then warm about 1 tablespoon gently and mix that in.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rice, Peas,Sweetcorn & Peppers Salad

Ingredients

400g cold boiled rice

100g of cooked garden peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2 fresh red peppers or bottled ones

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & ground back pepper

1 tablespoon of honey if desired

 

Method

In a large bowl mix the rice, peas and sweetcorn together.

If using fresh peppers then remove the stalk and the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.

I often blanch the peppers by putting them in a dish with boiling water and letting them stand for about 10 minutes the drain and pat dry.

 

 

If using bottled peppers then drain them from the liquid and cut into small pieces.

Add the peppers to the salad mixture.

Pour over the juice of the lemon and mix well.

If you are adding honey then warm about 1 tablespoon gently and mix that in.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Inspired in Castor – Rice Salad with Leeks

Not long ago I spent a stitching week in Castor, Cambridgeshire, with a  group of super ladies.  I was responsible for some of the catering.  One evening there was a large amount of leftover cooked rice, peas & sweetcorn, so I decided to make this into a salad with other ingredients we had in the kitchen.

This turned out to be a delicious salad and it got a lot of approval & I will certainly be making this again.

Ingredients

400g cold cooked rice

100g Cooked peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn – drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 -2 Grated carrots

1 grated eating apple

1 -2 leeks

Green part of spring onions – chopped fine

Flat Leaf parsley – chopped fine

Salt & ground back pepper

Juice of 1 – 2 lemons.

Method

Chop the leeks as fine as you can into circles and then cut these into half and put them into a large dish.

Cover the leeks with boiling water and leave them to stand until the water is cool.

Strain the leeks, leave them to cool down completely and then dry them with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

 

 

Mix the rice, apple & vegetables together in a large dish.

Pour the lemon juice over the salad.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

This was served with a beef in beer gulasz (casserole) & the salad provided a good balance against the richness of the casserole.

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Vegetable Fritters

The Polish for these is kotlety z jarzyn  – cutlets from vegetables.

The word kotlety(plural) comes from the Italian word cotoletta(singular) for cutlet or chop.

These are made with boiled or steamed vegetables.

Root vegetables are good here as well as cooked cabbage – you can also add cooked pulses such as peas and beans –  I am writing a post just about bean fritters which will be posted soon.

The following vegetable are ones I often use: cabbage, carrots, celeriac, cauliflower, parsnip and potato.

The cooked vegetables need to be chopped fine, minced or mashed – whichever is more suitable or easiest.

 

For this post I cooked the vegetables especially but this is a good way to use up any leftover cooked vegetables.

Ingredients

Around 500g of cooked vegetables – chopped,mashed or minced as appropriate.

2 onions – chopped fine

Butter to fry the onions

1 egg (can add another egg yolk as well)

2 – 3 tablespoons of potato flour – depends on how moist or starchy the vegetables are.

Salt & pepper

Dried Breadcrumbs

Sunflower oil for frying

Extras – you can add chopped parsley, dill or chives or any other herbs you like.

Method

Chop fine, mash or mince the vegetables as appropriate.

Chop the onions and fry them gently in butter till golden and leave to cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix the vegetables and the onion together.

Add the egg and mix well.

Add enough potato flour to make the mixture fairly stiff.

Add salt and pepper.

Put dried breadcrumbs on a board or large plate.

Make largish balls of the mixture and flatten them onto the breadcrumbs, turn them over  and cover all the sides.

Fry them gently in hot sunflower oil.

You can keep them warm on a baking tray in the oven whilst making the rest.

Reheating

I like these reheated – Place them on a baking tray into a pre-heated hot oven GM6  200°C for around 15  minutes.

The combinations are endless – here are some ideas ….

Cauliflower & Spring Onions or Chives

As in the instructions above with the addition of chopped spring onion (the green part) or chives.

 

 

Carrot & Parsnip

 

Carrot, Potato & Peas

 

.

 

 

 

More Babeczki – More Buns

I saw a baking tin recently whilst shopping – by the American company Nordic ware  – as it was at a greatly discounted price, I could not resist buying it.

I have similar tins bought from both Lidl and from Marks & Spencer and used these in previous recipes.

This one is much thicker and heavier.

Babka refers to the shape of the cake and babeczki are smaller – they are buns.

Babka and Babeczki

I tried our various recipes using this new tin and found it was rather difficult to get the babeczki – the buns – out of the tin and many just ended up being fed to the birds.

Cake Seeking Bird

One of a pair of large wood pigeons that come into my garden – looking for cake!

20170415_180808

At last I found two recipes that work well with this tin!

Tip

I have found that you have to grease the tins very well – I use melted butter or margarine and then I dust with dried Breadcrumbs (or you can use flour).

20170415_072934

Carrot Spice Babeczki

These are based on a recipe for carrot cake which I use and has  dark brown sugar  as one of its ingredients – this is very popular in Britain  where sugars made from sugar cane are readily available. In Poland where sugar is made from sugar beet, white sugar is the norm in the shops.

Ingredients

225g self raising flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice ( I like the mixture from Marks & Spencer)

Grated rind of 1 orange

150g of soft dark brown sugar

150g of medium grated peeled carrots.

2 eggs

150ml of sunflower oil

2 tablespoons of milk

Method

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

20170415_071313

Place the flour and the mixed spice into a large bowl.

Add the sugar (sometimes I have found that this sugar has a few lumps in it  – I mix these into the flour with my finger tips to remove them.)

20170415_072908

Stir in the carrots and the orange rind.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg, oil and milk.

Mix well together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly blended.

20170415_073426

Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly, then, using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

Dust well with icing sugar.

Chocolate Babeczki

Here I have used the same recipe as for my Chocolate Babka with a slightly different recipe for the chocolate icing.

Evaporated milk is used for the cake and the icing – a very small tin – 170g is enough for both.

20170415_143657

Ingredients – cake

200g self raising flour

2250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

25g cocoa powder

200g butter or block margarine

2 eggs

75ml evaporated milk

75ml water

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method – cake

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

Pre-heat the oven oven to GM 4  – 180°C.

You need to use a large bowl for this cake mixture.

Rub the butter into the flour so that the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, sugar and cocoa powder.

Lightly beat the eggs and add the evaporated milk, the water and the drops of vanilla essence.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly to give a thick batter.

Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly then using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

You can then dust with icing sugar or add an icing.

Ingredients – icing

40g butter

2 level tablespoons of cocoa

2 tablespoons of evaporated milk

Around 180g icing sugar

Method – icing

Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cocoa, stirring continuously.

Remove from the heat and beat in the evaporated milk.

Beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is thick.

Pour the icing over the babeczki.

Kohlrabi Salads

Kohlrabi in Polish is kalarepa  –  it belongs to the cabbage family – the Brassicas  –  and has been cultivated from Brassica oleracea – the wild cabbage.

It is a swollen stem and spherical and its taste and texture is similar to cabbage heart and it  can be eaten both raw & cooked.

My auntie in Wembley used to grow kohlrabi  in the garden & on their allotment  but until recently I never saw it for sale in England whereas in Poland it is a common vegetable, it matures quickly, withstands the frost and can be stored for some time.

This kohlrabi I bought from the outdoor market in Leeds.

For all the salads below the raw kohlrabi has been peeled and then grated on a medium grater.

Here I have just used 1 kohlrabi per salad.

Simple Kohlrabi Salad

 

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998.

 

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

2 – 3 tablespoons of soured cream

Juice of half a lemon.

Method

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice.

Mix the grated kohlrabi  with the dressing.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple

1 kohlrabi

1 Red or Pink eating apple

2 -3 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt

1-2 tablespoons of apple juice

Method

Grated kohlrabi  is mixed with a chopped eating apple – use an apple with a red or pink skin for the lovely colour – here I used a Pink Lady which has a super taste.

Mix the natural Greek style full fat  yoghurt  and apple juice for the dressing.

20170407_172104

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served here in J & G Meakin – Topic by Alan Rogers, 1967.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple & Raisins

This is made as the salad above with addition of around 40g of raisins

Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

1 carrot

2-3 tablespoons of soured cream

juice of half a lemon

Method

Grate the carrot & the kohlrabi using a medium grater

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice

Mix everything together.

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998

The green part of spring onions or chives can be added to the carrots & apples

 

20170407_173514

 

Cooked kohlrabi in salads

You can steam the kohlrabi – steam several whole ones and peel them once they are cooked and cooled.

Use the steamed kohlrabi in place of steamed  Celeriac in salads.