Courgette Fritters

The first post on this blog was on 4 July 2015 – just over 2 years ago.

Now this will be my 100th post!

Although courgette fritters are not from an old Polish recipe they do have some similarity  to Polish potato pancakes and to carrot pancakes.

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

Courgettes belong to cucurbitaceae family as do cucumbers which are very well loved in Poland – so I am sure this recipe would be very popular there too.

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 used for courgettes.

The amounts in the ingredients are all approximate.

Ingredients

2 to 3 courgettes

1 egg

2 tablespoons of soured cream, double cream, crème fraise or yoghurt cheese

2 tablespoons of plain flour

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Salt

Sunflower oil for frying.

Method

Grate the courgettes using a coarse grater.

Sprinkle the courgettes with salt.

Place the salted courgettes onto a clean tea towel and place this in a colander for around 30 minutes.

Wrap the tea towel up and squeeze out the liquid from the courgettes.

Note

The green stains on the tea towel will come out in a hot wash but  do not use fabric softener for tea towels used for this and similar purposes.

 

 

 

Place the dried grated courgettes in a bowl and add the grated lemon rind.

 

 

 

Add the beaten egg and the soured cream (double cream, crème fraise or yoghurt cheese) and mix together.

Add the flour and mix thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and use large tablespoonfuls of the mixture to make the fritters.

Fry them on both sides until they are golden brown.

 

Keep them on a heat proof plate  in a low heat oven whilst you make the rest.

 

 

You can place a sheet of kitchen roll on top of the first layer to stop them sticking.

Serve them with grilled meats and salad.

Option

A chopped red chilli or two and also a chopped garlic clove can be added to the mixture.

 

 

 

Carrot Pancakes

Daucus carota – the carrot – was cultivated from wild carrots in the countries we now know as Afghanistan & Iran and are mentioned there in the 10th century and by the 12th century they were mentioned in Europe.

These tap roots were originally white, yellow or purple in colour.

The orange colour that we recognise today was breed by growers in Europe in the 17th century especially in the Netherlands.  It is thought that this was in honour of Prince William of Orange-Nassau (Willem van Oranje) who had an orange stripe on his flag. Nowadays orange is thought of as the national colour for the Netherlands.

These pancakes made with carrots in Polish are called racuszki z marchwi.

They are small round pancakes like American pancakes or dropped scones and are served with sugar or sweetened soured cream.

Ingredients

450g carrots, peeled and finely grated

140g twaróg/cream cheese or yoghurt cheese

2 eggs separated

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1/2  teaspoon of baking powder

Sunflower oil for frying

To Serve

Caster sugar or soured cream sweetened with icing sugar.

Method

Whisk the whites until they are stiff.

In a small dish mix the baking powder with the flour.

In a large bowl mix together well the finely grated carrots, the cream (or yoghurt) cheese and the egg yolks.

Add the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff egg whites.

Heat some sunflower oil in a cast iron frying pan or griddle.

Use 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake, cook on one side and then turn them over and cook on the other side.

Sprinkle with caster sugar or with a dollop of sweetened soured cream.

 

 

Served here on Wedgwood – Hathaway Rose – 1959 -1987.

Note

I have also tried them with maple syrup poured on them & these were also delicious.

IMG_20160729_161009545

 

Racuszki – A Kind of Pancake

A racuch – according  to my dictionary is  a kind of pancake.

Racuszki or racuchy are plural words for them- used much more as you never have just one!  They are small thick pancakes similar to dropped scones, Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes.

In my old Polish recipe book, the recipe uses soured milk, but as I do not have this, I use my own thick yoghurt instead.

Racuszki

1 egg

250ml yoghurt

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

large pinch salt.

Method

In a large bowl mix the flour, pinch of salt, the egg and some of the yoghurt, mix it with a wooden spoon. I found my new one with a hole in it which I bought in The Netherlands very good for this.

DSC03217 DSC03216

Keep adding the yoghurt (and some water if needed) and mix till you get a batter which is thick and then beat it more till it is smooth and glossy.

Then add the bicarbonate of soda and give this a final mix.

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

IMG_20160810_081605547_HDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160810_081601717_HDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are traditionally served warm with jam or thick fruit syrup – caster sugar also goes well.

IMG_20160810_081731104_HDR
With Sour Cherry Jam

Yoghurt Cheese Pancakes

I have recently been to The Netherlands to stay with my friend and was looking at the local newspaper and saw a recipe for pancakes using qwark  (I can manage enough Dutch words to  figure out some recipes – especially if there is  a photograph!)

I thought they sounded very much like racuszki, so I jotted the recipe down and when I came home I adapted it slightly by using self raising flour, adding a little vanilla essence and used my own yoghurt cheese instead of qwark.

In the original recipe they served them warm with yoghurt & honey, I also tried them with melted butter & sugar, and with maple syrup – from the large bottle I got from my friend who lives in Canada.

 

 

They were super and ones I had left could be easily reheated and were still soft and not rubbery – I will be using this recipe lots from now on.

Ingredients

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar

250g yoghurt cheese

200ml milk (you might not need it all)

125g self raising flour

Pinch salt

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff – I tend to do this first so you can use the beaters for the rest of the recipe – without having to wash them to remove the grease.

In a large bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, yoghurt cheese, flour, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and around half the milk.

Keep adding more milk and mix well until you have a thick batter – like double cream.

With a metal spoon fold in the stiff egg whites.

IMG_20160801_170033150

IMG_20160801_170051228

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

 

Ciocia* Pola’s Apple Racuszki 

*Aunty

Many years ago I went to stay with my one of mother’s sisters (Apolonia) who lived in the area called mazury – the Masurian Lake District in North East Poland.

With apples from the garden she made  racuszki – using a thick yeast risen batter and roughly chopped apples – a cross between a pancake and a fritter. They were delicious.

I have made them here many times using her recipe. Whilst researching and checking other  variations I saw that several recipes used grated apples – these came out stodgy  with little taste of the apple – you need to keep the pieces fairly large.

Ingredients

125 ml of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

25g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon

10g  fresh yeast or 5g  dried yeast

25g  butter

1 egg

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

2 Bramley apples

Icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon  sugar to dust.

Method

Warm half the milk and add a teaspoon of caster sugar and the yeast and mix it all together and leave it to froth up.

DSC03220

Melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the egg with the sugar until it is thick and creamy.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Use a wooden spoon (one with a hole works really well) and beat in the yeast mixture, the egg & sugar mixture and then the melted butter.

DSC03221 DSC03223

Slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing until the mixture has the consistency of double cream.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave this to rise.

Peel, core and quarter the apples and cut them into small chunks or slices cut in half.

DSC03227

 

 

 

 

 

Add the apples to the risen batter and mix them well in to coat them.

DSC03228

 

 

 

 

 

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place large tablespoons of apple and batter onto the pan and cook them so that they are golden brown on both sides.

 

Remove them from the pan and dust them with icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon sugar.

DSC03240 DSC03241

 

DSC03242

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat them whilst they are hot & as they say in Poland – Smacznego! (may they be delicious!)

Pisanki – Polish Easter Eggs

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, which is the 21st of March. So the earliest date for Easter is the 22nd of March and the latest date is the 25th of April.

In English the word Easter comes from the name of the pagan goddess of dawn or spring – Eastre or Eostre and her festival was in spring time and hence this old word has stuck.

In Polish the name is Wielkanoc – which translates as Great Night – as it is the night of The Resurrection.

Eggs at Easter were originally a pagan tradition as symbols of fertility, rebirth and the revival of nature and heralded in the start of spring.

The tradition was absorbed by Christianity and the egg is now the symbol of the tomb and as the chick hatches from the egg with life so it symbolises the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Pisanki are the decorated eggs you find in Poland. The word comes from the Polish verb pisać which nowadays means to write,  however in old Polish it also meant to paint.

There are many different ways of decorating eggs and each of these has its own specific name  –  one method uses beeswax and dyes are used to give wax resist patterns – another scratches away the dye to revel the original shell colour.

In Kraków there is the Museum of Ethnography, founded in 1902, which has  superb displays of intricate and beautiful pisanki through the ages – well worth a visit.

Below are photographs of an egg which was decorated using the beeswax and dye method – onion skins in this case.  It belongs to the Director of  the Leeds Polish Saturday School and was one of many made two years ago with instructions from a visiting tutor at a workshop session for the teachers and pupils at the school.

 

 

I make very simple coloured eggs by hard boiling eggs with onion skins.

Boiling eggs with brown onion skins dyes the egg shells a rich brown colour.

 

Boiling eggs with red onion skins dyes the egg shells a dark red-brown colour.

 

 

You can buy sheets of coloured paper dyes which give a range of colours   – safe edible dyes of course – I have tried these in the past but now just use onions as they are always in my vegetable basket.

Tip

When hard boiling eggs use eggs that are at least three days old as very fresh eggs are hard to peel.

These hard boiled eggs form part of the basket of food which is taken to church on the Saturday before Easter to be blessed see Palm Sunday & Holy Saturday.

The blessed eggs are peeled and cut into quarters to be shared at the Easter Breakfast with all the people present.

 

 

Other non- blessed hard boiled eggs are used in a game of tapping  eggs together to see which one cracks first.

A wooden imitation of these lovely decorated eggs is now a very popular item for sale throughout the year in Poland.  It is a something that many tourists buy to take home.

 

Picture45

Pisanki for sale in Kraków

Picture48

 

 

My Wooden Pisanki

 

 

Wooden Eggs belonging to my friend in Leeds

 

In these the wooden eggs have been painted and carved to expose the pale wood imitating the method of scratching with a fine tool the paint or dye and exposing the egg shell colour of real eggs

Easter Greetings

The photographs are taken from recent Easter cards from Poland.

Wesołych Świąt

IMG_20160307_122736836

 

Happy Holy (Holiday) Day

 

IMG_20160307_122818233

Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych

Happy Holy (Holiday) Day at Easter

Wesołego Alleluja

Happy Alleluia

 

Because of the egg theme you may also hear

Smacznego jajka 

May the eggs be delicious.

 

 

IMG_20160307_122641469

PS

After posting the above I received an Easter card from Poland with the following stamp.

IMG_20160331_155207810

 

 

 

 

Palm Sunday & Holy Saturday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter and marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Palms are blessed in church on this day to commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

Of course palm trees do not grow in Poland and so other plants are substituted. Often pussy willow  is used as the catkins are usually out around this time. My mother always called pussy willow – palma – the Polish for palm.

 

Picture12

 

Twigs For Sale in the Old Square in Kraków

 

Picture11

Palms are also made from  dried grasses and corn which are often dyed to make them colourful or from coloured paper which is rolled and the edges cut to make a fringe.

IMG_20160317_084252377_HDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160317_085832182

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160317_084304081

In many villages the farmers would make huge palms for the procession completing with each other to see who had the biggest and best.

The Main Square in  Kraków – Decorated with Large Palms

 

 

It is still Lent in Holy Week so the food eaten is simple and often meat, butter and egg free. Most baking and cooking done now is to make food to eat at Easter.

As well as going to church services it is a time for houses to undergo a massive clean-up especially inside.

Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent – the day before Easter.

This is the only day in the Catholic year on which Mass is not celebrated.

In Poland there is the tradition on this day to have the food for Easter blessed.

This has its roots in the early medieval church in the 12th Century and the food would have originally  been just bread and eggs.

In times past in villages the priest would have gone around to people’s houses and blessed the food there. Nowadays people bring a basket of food to the church and the food is blessed with Holy Water and is then taken home and not eaten till the Easter Sunday Breakfast.

Once blessed this basket is called święconka meaning  that which has been blessed

The basket is lined with a cloth – often white linen and sometimes embroidered.  A white linen cloth is used to cover the basket. These cloths represent the white shroud in which Jesus was wrapped.

What goes into the basket depends on several factors but hard boiled eggs and bread are usually present. Everything in the basket has a symbolic meaning.

Eggs –  Christ’s Resurrection – a symbol of life.

Bread – Christ as the Bread of Heaven.

Salt –  Preservation & Purification & Zest for Life

Horseradish – The Harsh & Bitter sacrifice of Christ.

Cooked Meat & Sausage – Joy & Abundance of God’s mercy.

Babka – The risen  dough  – this represents the Risen Christ.

Shaped Lamb (butter/cake/bread) – Christ – The Lamb of God -(see Lamb Bread)

Cheese – Moderation.

Butter – End of Lent.

Getting a basket ready to take to Church

IMG_20160317_091427426 IMG_20160317_091412273

IMG_20160314_121021117

IMG_20160314_121012463

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160209_170105296

IMG_20160302_063114078

 

 

 

IMG_20160314_121030337

 

 

 

IMG_20160301_080227533

 

 

 

Picture33 Picture23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Babka

 

IMG_20160314_121136387

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160314_121150500

 

 

 

 

 

People coming & going to church in Kraków with baskets of food.

 

 

 

Food for sale for Easter in Kraków.

Picture17

Picture22

The special meal at Easter in Poland is the Easter Breakfast –  although it is a lot later than a normal breakfast being usually around 11am

This meal is a cold buffet and includes the food that was blessed in church on Easter Saturday.

The hard boiled eggs are cut up into quarters or eighths and they are shared between everyone present  at the start of the meal.

POSTSCRIPT

Since posting I received the following photographs from my friend in Leeds who is The Director of the Polish Saturday School.

Sugar Lambs to go in the basket for blessing.

 

Salt Dough Lambs – made for the Easter Fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20151107_162341255(1)
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

IMG_20150817_175613101
Butter & Breadcrumbs
IMG_20150917_100045291
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)

IMG_20151103_130608867
Melting the Butter

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_20150917_100045291
Preparing the Breadcrumbs
IMG_20151107_162253272
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.

IMG_20150817_180508527

IMG_20150817_180458373

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

IMG_20151107_162502658

IMG_20151107_162635204

IMG_20151107_162553021

IMG_20151107_161529233
Royal Doulton – Roundelay

Whole green beans à la Polonaise

IMG_20151103_131204846

IMG_20151103_131159481

Added Note

IMG_20150902_161945936

IMG_20150902_161243414

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.

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.