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 for the future

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

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.