Celeriac with Prune Sauce

I have just tried another recipe  from my new Polish cookbook. It is for cooked celeriac – I adapted it slightly to make it – it is truly delicious.

Ingredients

1 large (or 2 small ) celeriac

150g pitted prunes

75g raisins or sultanas

125ml soured cream

2 -3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish sauce

Juice of 1 or 2 lemons

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Cook the celeriac – I find steaming the best option – leave it to cool and then peel away the outer layer and cut the flesh into cubes. ( You can do this some time beforehand.)

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Cover the raisins with boiling water and leave to soak.

Cover the prunes with boiling water and simmer them gently for around 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Add the soured cream, horseradish sauce, raisins and lemon juice to the prunes and mix together.

 

Add salt & pepper to taste.

 

 

Mix the cubed celeriac with the prune sauce place the mixture in an oven proof dish and cook for at least 30 minutes.

 

This goes well with hot roast meats such as chicken and especially pork.  (I have used the prune & pork combination in other recipes.)

Variations

I think this sauce would go well with other vegetables such as kohlrabi or white turnip.

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

Today,  4 July 2016, is the first Anniversary of my blog!

What an interesting year it has been for me with all the reading & research, cooking & photographing  and the writing.

I do hope you are all enjoying reading my posts & God willing this is the start of another interesting year.

This will be my 58th post &  I am going to  write about  a  very popular vegetable in Poland.

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

The word seler in Polish is used for both celeriac and celery and in fact celeriac is a just a variety of celery (Apium graveolens).

Celeriac is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey where it is called selinon.

Now for a little plant biology – in English the stems of the plant are known as celery and they  are long with leaves at the top.

Whereas in the variety known as celeriac – it is the hypocotyl – the swollen enlarged stem above the root and below the leaves  – which is eaten. The leaves come off the top of this swollen stem. (Celeriac is often classed as a root vegetable but it is not the root.)

Celeriac has not been around in the shops in England for that long and last week I bought one in Marks & Spencer’s and it had a label on it saying “NEW“.

Years ago when I looked at my Polish cookery book and it talked about grating seler – celery I used to think oh, how very odd – I wonder how that comes out – I now realise  that they  were referring to grating celeriac.

In Poland you are much more likely to be served celeriac than celery  and it is a very popular vegetable which can be eaten both raw and cooked and is used in a variety of salads.

I have been trying out some salads both with raw & cooked celeriac including some old favourites.  Celeriac has a delicate flavour and easily picks up the flavours of the other ingredients.

Dressings for the salads include mayonnaise, soured cream, natural thick yoghurt & my favourite grated horseradish (I use a bought sauce.)

I have given details of the dressing I have used in the following recipes but they are easily interchangeable.

Salads Using Raw Celeriac

For the following recipes you will need to peel the celeriac – use a peeler if you can as using a knife can take too much off. You then need to grate the celeriac.

Lemon juice is needed to prevent the grated celeriac discolouring.

Simple Celeriac Salad

Ingredients

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together, I tend to use equal amounts.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac with Raisins & Walnuts Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx 1/2 a cup

Chopped walnuts – approx 1/2 a cup

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together – equal amounts – and then add 1 to 2 large tablespoonfuls of horseradish sauce.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the raisins & the chopped walnuts

peanuts

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac & Orange Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx  1/3 of  a cup

2 oranges

Thick yoghurt

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Squeeze the juice from 1 orange & pour this over the raisins.

Leave this for a couple of hours so that the raisins plump up.

Make the dressing by mixing equal amounts of yoghurt and soured cream together and then add 1 or 2 large tablespoons of horseradish sauce.

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Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Peel & then chop the other orange and mix this with the soaked raisins.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Salads Using Cooked Celeriac

You can cook the celeriac by boiling it in water but I have found that it is much easier to steam it.

If there is still any soil on the celeriac then wash this away with water first.

If your celeriac is large you might want to cut it in half and just use half & use the other half for something else.

Steam the celeriac – it will need at least 20 minutes.

You can use a cake tester to see if it is cooked.

Leave it to cool – I leave mine in the steaming pan with the lid on.

When it is cold peel away the outer “skin”

Chop the celeriac into rough cubes or chunks.

These cooked cubes are then the basis of many different salads.

You can use the cooked celeriac in many salads instead of boiled potatoes as in the classic  Polish Potato Salad with peas & carrots in mayonnaise.

The potatoes in the above salad can be replaced with celeriac.

Celeriac & Gherkin Salad

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

1 chopped gherkin

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Mayonnaise

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped gherkin and onion.

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Add a couple of large tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix it all together.

Celeriac Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped

Large handful of raisins or sultanas

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Thick yoghurt

Horseradish sauce.

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped onion.

Add the raisins (or sultanas)

Add  the chopped hard boiled eggs.

Mix a dressing using 2 to 3 tablespoons of thick plain yoghurt  and 1 or 2 tablespoons of horseradish sauces and mix the other ingredients.

Leave this for around half and hour so that the flavours can mingle.

 

NOTE

If you hard boil very fresh eggs they are very difficult to peel -it is easier to use older eggs.

Celery, Peanut & Sultana Salad

This recipe is one I got for one of my sisters many years ago and although this is not a traditional Polish salad it has become one of my trusty recipes as it is so easy and as it is best  to make it sometime ahead there is no last minute stress when making it.

Ingredients

4 long celery stalks

Around 1/3 cup of salted peanuts

Around 1/3 cup of sultanas

Mayonnaise

Method

Chop the celery into fine slices.

Mix with the peanut and sultanas.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

peanuts

Leave for at least  half an hour before serving – I usually make this several hours beforehand.

Now for a little science to explain why the dressing taste so sweet  and is more runny than when it started.

Osmosis is the movement of water across a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high water concentration to an area of low water concentration to try to equalise the concentrations on both sides.

Cells in the plant ingredients have semi-permeable membrane.

The salt on the peanuts causes water to leave the celery and go into the mayonnaise, this water then enters the sultanas causing them to plump up.

The above is true when you mix many salads but especially here with the salt on the peanuts and the dried fruit.

Buraki – Buraczki – Beetroots – Beets

Beetroot is a very popular vegetable in Poland and is served both hot and cold and is the main ingredients of barszcz (The classic Polish beetroot soup).

Now this may just my imagination but the beetroot in Poland just tastes so much better than the ones I have had in England, maybe it is the variety that is grown there or the soil.   I think you have to use home-grown or organic beetroot to get as good a taste.

In the following recipes I have used vacuum packed boiled beetroots – boiling or roasting raw beetroot should give a better flavour but when you only want to make a small amount or you have little time this will work as well especially if you adjust the flavour with lemon juice or a little sugar.

A popular variant is something called botwinka  – this is very young beetroot – sold in bunches (rather like radishes) and consists of the small “bulb” and the  young  green leaves, which are all used.  As I have not seen this for sale in England I will not be including any recipes – but if you are ever in a position to try this (often in the form of a soup) you will taste something very delicious.

Ćwikła is the most typical Polish accompaniment to roasted and smoked meats and sausage. This salad or relish is made from grated cooked beetroot which is mixed with grated horseradish – chrzan.

The first recorded recipe for ćwikła comes from the writings of Mikołaj Rej  (1505 – 1569)  who is known as the “Father of Polish Literature”.  He was the first person to write exclusively in Polish.

He was born 59 years before Shakespeare (1564 – 1616).

Ćwikła

Ingredients

2 or 3 boiled beetroots

Horseradish sauce

Soured Cream

Extra lemon juice – optional

Method

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Grate the beetroots using a fine or medium grater and put this into a bowl.

In the past I always used a fine grater but now I prefer to use my medium grater.

 

 

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Medium Grated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fine Grated

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a large dollop or two of horseradish sauce.

Below are two kinds, one with soured cream and one without. I like the one with soured cream more.

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A few years ago I thought it would be a good idea to grow my own horseradish – that was a mistake! It starts to take over with the roots spreading underground. However the dark leaves are very attractive and the air does smell of horseradish when you walk up to it.  You just need to be able to contain it.

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Mix the grated beetroot and horseradish sauce together.

Add soured cream – if using the sauce with this in already you might not need as much.

You can add lemon juice as well.

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Carnation  Serving Dish by Royal Doulton

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Beetroot & Apple Salad

Ingredients

2 or 3 boiled beetroots

1 eating apple  with a good flavour such as Jazz, Braeburn or Pink Lady.

Juice of  half  or a whole lemon

Sugar – optional

Method

Grate the beetroots using a medium grater.

 

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Peel and core the apple and grate this using a medium grater.

Mix the two together.

Add lemon juice to taste.

You can add some extra sugar to taste.

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NOTE

This tastes much better if it is left so all the ingredients mingle together for a few hours.

I make this in the morning if I want it for the evening or I make it the night before for lunch time the next day.

Creamed Beetroot

This is a delicious way of serving beetroot warm with a roast dinner.

Ingredients

3 or 4 boiled beetroots

Large tablespoon of butter

1 or 2 tablespoons of flour

Juice of a lemon & some extra water

3- 4  tablespoons of soured cream

Salt & pepper to taste

A little sugar to taste – optional

Method

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Grate the beetroots using a medium grater and put them into a saucepan with the lemon juice and a little water.

Put a lid on the saucepan and gently simmer the beetroot – taking care not to let it dry out or burn.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the flour – let it colour slightly.

Add 2 tablespoons of soured cream and a little water and combine this well.

Add this mixture to the simmering beetroots, once again combining well.

Let this simmer for 5 to 10 minutes – keep checking, and stirring and adding  more soured cream, lemon juice or water if it looks like it is going to dry out.

Add salt & pepper and a little sugar to taste.

 

Serving dish is Topic designed by  Alan Rogers in 1967 for J & G Meakin.

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.

 

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Twigs For Sale in the Old Square in Kraków

 

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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.

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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

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See Babka

 

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

 

 

 

Food for sale for Easter in Kraków.

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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