Kopytka z serem- Cheesy Potato Dumplings

I wrote about kopytka – Polish potato dumplings a good while back.

Since then I have tried another version which uses cheese as well as potatoes.

Traditional recipes use twaróg – Polish curd cheese – I have found that crumbly, white, mild, English cheeses such as: Cheshire, Lancashire or Wensleydale are also good.

Whilst looking at many recipes, I saw that the proportions of boiled potatoes to cheese varied greatly.

I have gone for roughly equal weights of boiled starchy potatoes to cheese.

The exact amounts are not critical but you must use starchy potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper.

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Serve with either melted butter, à la Polonaise (buttered breadcrumbs) or skwarki (crisp, fried, small squares of bacon) or a hot sauce such as mushroom.

Ingredients

  • 300g of boiled starchy potatoes
  • 300g of twaróg (curd cheese) or white, crumbly cheese such as Lancashire
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 160 – 200g of plain flour
  • Salt
  • Oil to add to water for boiling

Method

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

Crumble the cheese and add it to the potatoes and mash them both together.

Add the yolks to the mixture.

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.

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.

Served on –

  • Royal Douton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998
  • J & G Meakin – Topic – around 1967
  • Wedgwood – Chelsea garden – early 21st century.

Here served as suggested above with  melted butter, with skwarki (crisp, fried, small squares of bacon) and a gulasz.

Zrazy – made with Minced Meat

These zrazy are like the ones made with braising beef in that the minced meat mixture surrounds various stuffings.

The minced meat mixture  is similar to kotlety mielone  &  pulpety – but  zrazy are cooked differently.

You take a large handful of minced meat mixture , place the stuffing on it and then close up the mixture so you have an oval shape with the stuffing on the inside.

Ingredients

500g minced beef

1 beaten egg

4 tablespoons of semolina

1 onion chopped and fried

Salt & pepper

plain flour for coating

Sunflower oil for frying

Stock

500ml of chicken stock

1 -2 bay leaves

3-4 Peppercorns

2-3 Allspice berries

Stuffing

Two stuffings often used are –

Pieces of bottled peppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticks of Gouda cheese or similar

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160°C

Mix the beef, fried onion, egg and semolina together.

Season with salt & pepper.

Divide the mixture into around 6 pieces

Flatten out each piece and place the stuffing in the centre.

Close up the mixture around the stuffing to make an oval shaped ball.

Dust the ball with plain flour.

 

Lightly seal these by browning then in hot oil.

 

Place the zrazy into an oven proof dish – one that has a lid – so they are not touching.

Pour in the stock – enough to have some at the bottom but do not cover the zrazy.

 

Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 -2 hours.

Sauce

You can thicken the stock that the zrazy are cooked in with cornflour or you can add other ingredients such as fried mushrooms and soured cream when you come to serve them.

 

 

 

Two shown here – cut through – one with cheese & one with peppers,  served with a mushroom and soured cream sauce.

Served on Royal Doulton  Carnation – 1982-1998

 

 

 

Salad With Leeks

The recipe for this salad with leeks  was given to me by one of my cousins in Białystok, Poland.

This salad goes well with cold meats & smoked Polish sausages, but with all its ingredients it can even be a little meal on its own.

Vegetable names in Polish

Leek in Polish is por & in Italian it is porro

Many vegetable names in Polish have origins in Italian, this is because when, the Italian Princess, who became Queen Bona of Poland on her marriage to King Zygmunt the Old, came to Poland in the 16th Century with her chefs she introduced many vegetables into the Polish diet – the most notable being the tomato . Because of this many of the Italian names or slight variations of them have become the names used in Polish.

There is also Włoszczyzna – which means Italian  stuff  – is it used in Polish cookery all the time – it translates as soup vegetables  and is mixture of: carrots, celeriac or celery leaves, leek or onion, parsnip or parsley root & parsley leaves & sometimes savoy cabbage which is used as the base for many soups and casseroles.  When written in a recipe every Polish cook will know what it is though some may have different versions of the mixture.

Although this is not an old Polish recipe it is certainly in the traditional Polish style with cooked vegetables and hard boiled eggs.

The chopped hard boiled eggs  to garnish is very much in the tradition of à la polonaise.

Cheese is used in this recipe and is the type that is called  ser zółty yellow cheese and is of the semi-hard type such as Edam, Gouda or Massdam from the Netherlands  which you can buy in England.

Gouda – The Last Thursday In August – 2013

The last Thursday in August is always the  last cheese market of the year in Gouda.

Red kidney beans and sweetcorn are also used in this recipe. Now my father would never eat sweetcorn – he considered it fit only for animal fodder – as this was what it would have been used for in his youth!

Ingredients

You can vary the quantities to what you have available – the ones below are for guidance.

2 leeks  – the white part finely chopped

1 tin of red kidney beans – drained

I small tin or half a large tin of sweetcorn – drained

“Yellow” cheese such as Edam, Gouda or Maasdam – chopped into small cubes

2 hard boiled eggs – very finely chopped or grated.

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise

2 teaspoons of ketchup or tomato purée

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

In a large bowl mix together the leeks, red kidney beans, sweetcorn & cheese.

In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise and ketchup or tomato purée.

 

Mix the  dressing with the vegetables combining it all well.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Place the salad into a serving bowl and sprinkle the chopped or grated hard boiled eggs  over the top.

The serving dish is Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982-1998.

 

 

 

 

Polish Cheese

The origins of cheese pre-dates recorded history but one of the earliest archaeological evidence of cheese production in 5,500 BC is from Kujawy in Poland.

Ser is the Polish word for cheese.

Unlike in France, Poland does not have dozens of varieties of cheese.

There are basically three types of cheese in Poland – white, yellow and smoked.

White cheese is made from curd cheese.

Twaróg is the name for curd cheese and is the most important cheese for cooking in Poland both for savoury and sweet dishes.

It is often known as ser wiejski  – village cheese.

This is the cheese that both sets of my grandparents would make on a very regular basis.

Twaróg

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Twaróg is made from soured milk and can be classified as a fresh acid-set cheese or as a fermented milk product. The soured milk is poured into muslin clothes and then hung up to separate the solid curds from the whey.  This results in the traditional wedge shape.

Rennet is not used in its production.

In German it is called Qwark, in Dutch it is called  Kwark and is similar to the French Fromage frais.

It is similar to yoghurt cheese which is made from strained yoghurt.

Science note

Soured milk and yoghurt are both produced by the action of bacteria in milk.

However it is mesophile (moderate temperature loving) bacteria which produce soured milk and thermophile(higher temperature loving)  bacteria which produce yoghurt. What that means is that soured milk is naturally prevalent in cooler climates than yoghurt.

Historical note

There is evidence of soured milk production in 10,000BC and yoghurt production in 6,000BC.

Twaróg  is used extensively in Polish cookery both savoury & sweet.

Recipes using Twaróg will feature in many of my future posts.

Yellow cheese is hard cheese and although there are several varieties they are very much like the Dutch cheeses such as Edam and Gouda.

Smoked cheese – the most famous is from the Tatra Mountains and it is made from sheep’s milk – it is called Oscypek.

This cheese has been made from the 15th Century.

The curds are pressed into wooden decorative shapes.

It has a protected trade name under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin.

Some scenes of the Tatra Mountains

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Zakopane is a much visited town in the Tatra mountains. Its name means dug in and it is in at the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains.

Wooden houses typical of Zakopane

House in Zakopane

My beautiful picture

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Oscypek – smoked cheese – from the Tatra Mountains – is often served grilled with cranberry or lingonberry jam.

Oscypek for sale in the streets of Zakopane

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Lady selling Smoked Cheese
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Smoked Cheese made with Sheep’s Milk
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Some cheeses are made with Goat’s Milk

Górale – Highlanders – Shepherds from the Tatra Mountains

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Folk Dancing
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Folk Dancing

World Cheese Production

Some Very surprising Statistics

If anyone had asked me about world cheese production before I started this post, I would have guessed that  the biggest producer in Europe was France or maybe The Netherlands.  I would have been very wrong!

Looking at the figures for 2011 & 2013 for World Cheese Production in metric tonnes I found that –

The top 6 in both these years are as follows:

  1. United States of America
  2. Germany
  3. France
  4. Italy
  5. Netherlands
  6. Poland.

Also the United Kingdom  does not feature in the top 10 at all.

Thinking about this,  I of course realised that here in The United Kingdom  many of the cheeses for sale are imported many from France and The Netherlands.

In recent years Polish cheeses are appearing not only in the many Polish shops in the United Kingdom but also in some of the regular supermarkets.