Lovely Liver!

For many people  – liver is love it or loath it.

I think certainly for me and most Poles it is love it!

The Polish for liver is wątroba – which means “waste maker” – as the liver is the organ in the body where substances are broken down.

In Poland the most sought after livers  are calves liver & rabbit liver.

My aunty in Białystok- cooked some rabbit liver for me when I  was there last – I thought it was utterly delicious  –  but as far as I am aware it is not readily available to buy in England.

I  see calves liver for sale more and more here in England and I  buy this whenever I can.

My mother always cooked pigs’ liver, never ox liver.

I usually cook lambs liver if I cannot get calves liver.

I think liver is best lightly cooked, even slightly pinky,  it becomes hard and tough if over cooked.

There is a restaurant in Krakow called Dom Polonii ( House of the Poles) just off  Rynek Główny (Main Square) it serves very traditional dishes.

Rynek Główny (Main Square)

 

I like to eat there very much and can never make up my mind which dish I want the most. Their fried liver is super and I will have that at least once when I visit Kraków.

Liver is the main ingredient of  pâtés and similar dishes which are very popular in Poland –  I will look at these in future posts.

Cooking Liver

These recipes are all  variations on a simple theme.

I use calves or lamb’s liver for these recipes .

Preparing the liver

Depending on how it has been prepared by the butcher,  you might have to remove some veins or membranes.

Slice the liver into thin equal sized slices.

Dip each piece into a mixture of plain flour and ground black pepper.

 Simple Style Liver

Lightly pan fry the liver slices in a mixture of butter & sunflower oil on both sides.

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

Add around 150 ml of chicken or vegetable stock (can be from a cube, concentrate or powder) … depends on the size of your pan.

Put the lid on the pan (a glass lid is good for this) and simmer gently for 2 -3  minutes.  (The time will depend on the thickness of the slices)

 

 

 

 

Liver with Soured Cream

Follow the instructions for the simple style but only cook for 1 -2 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of soured cream and mix well.

Return to the heat  and allow to simmer for  1 -2 minutes.

Liver with Onions 1

In my old Polish cookery book  (my bible in many respects) this simple recipe (without the herbs) is called  …. po angielskiu  which means  …. English style!

Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinly slice 1 or 2 onions (I like lots of onions with the liver).

Fry the onions in butter & sunflower oil till golden.

In a separate pan lightly pan fry the liver slices in a mixture of butter & sunflower oil on both sides.

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

Add the onions to the fried liver and mix together and serve.

 

Liver with Onions 2

Thinly slice 1 or 2 onions (I like lots of onions with the liver).

In a pan, fry the onions in butter & sunflower oil till golden. (You can fry a little longer to slightly char or caramelise them if you like)

In a separate pan, lightly fry the liver slices in a mixture of butter & sunflower oil on both sides.

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

Add around 150 ml of chicken or vegetable stock (can be from a cube, concentrate or powder) … depends on the size of your pan.

Put the lid on the pan (a glass lid is good for this) and simmer gently for 2 -3  minutes.  (The time will depend on the thickness of the slices).

This will give a tasty sauce with the liver.

Place the fried onions on top and serve.

Liver with Mushrooms

Thinly slice mushrooms around 100g of button mushrooms

Fry them gently in a mixture of butter & sunflower oil.

Add the mushrooms to the fried liver as in the simple style above and mix together.

Add around 150 ml of chicken or vegetable stock (can be from a cube, concentrate or powder) … depends on the size of your pan.

Put the lid on the pan (a glass lid is good for this) and simmer gently for 2 -4  minutes.  (The time will depend on the thickness of the slices).

Liver with Mushrooms & Soured Cream

Follow the instructions for the Liver with Mushrooms but only cook for 1 -2 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of soured cream and mix well.

Heat up slowly and allow to simmer for  1 -2 minutes.

 

Served here on Royal Doulton – Carnation, 1982-1998

Serving suggestions

Sprinkle liberally  with chopped parsley.

All of the above go well with boiled potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, boiled rice, noodles or pasta such as tagliatelle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kotlety with Sauerkraut

Having made kotlety mielone (minced meat burgers ) with first fresh and then cooked cabbage,  I started to think of a variation which in a way is more Polish!

I decided to use sauerkraut and also some fresh mushrooms  – though dried ones might even be more Polish.

Ingredients

500g beef mince

Half a 900g jar of sauerkraut *

150g of mushrooms

1 onion – chopped fine

2 -3  tablespoons semolina

2 eggs

Butter & sunflower oil for frying

Dried breadcrumbs  

Salt  and pepper

* I often freeze the other half of the jar in a plastic tub for another time.

Method

Drain the sauerkraut and rinse with cold water.

Place the sauerkraut in a pan of water and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.

Drain the sauerkraut and leave to cool then dry  it with a tea towel.

Chop the sauerkraut into small pieces using a sharp knife.

Fry the chopped onion in a little hot oil and butter.

Chop the mushrooms into small pieces and add them to the onions and continue frying until the onions are lightly browned – leave the mixture to cool.

In a large bowl mix the minced meat,  the sauerkraut and onion and mushroom mixture until they are evenly mix.

Add the eggs and mix.

Add the semolina, salt and pepper and mix until you get a uniform mixture.

Try to make each one the same size, take a handful of the mixture and press it between your hands to make a flattened circle and then place this in the dried breadcrumbs and turn it over to cover both sides and edges.

Once coated place them on a tray dusted with breadcrumbs until you have used all the mixture up.

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

Shallow fry the kotlety in hot oil, depending on the frying pan size,  you can do 4 to 5 at a time, turning them over so that both sides are done.

Place them on a  metal tray  and put in the oven and keep adding to these as you keep frying the batches.

 

Served here with gherkins

20180422_200309

 

 

 

 

 

 

They were voted as delicious!

Note

Should you have any left,  you can reheat them in sauce made with chicken or vegetable stock.

 

Pierogi – Polish Filled Pasta

Pierogi  are  little semicircular parcels of pasta which are made with a multitude of fillings.

Even though I make these myself, it is the dish I always crave when I go to Poland.

There are several theories as to how pasta style dishes came into Poland.

The general word for pasta especially noodles is makaron , which certainly has its roots in Italian; and as Italian cooking has influenced Polish cooking  from the 16th century I used to think that was where the dishes originated. I find it amusing that ravioli  in Polish are called pierogi włoskie (Italian pierogi).

After doing some research it seems however that pierogi were around in Poland in the middle ages, they are mentioned in the 13th century and the name comes from an old Slav word for feast or festivity.

Many people believe that they came to Poland from the Far East through Siberia and Russia.

When I was in China in the 1990s, imagine my surprise when I was on several occasions offered dishes which were called Jiaoxi  (dumplings) and they were exactly the same shape and size as pierogi and cooked in the same way!

Whatever the origins, the Poles have made pierogi their own; there are lots of traditional fillings, both savoury and sweet, and several ways of serving them.

In a pierogi cookery book I bought in Poland there are around 40 traditional ones and more than 20 new style ones.  In a pierogi restaurant I went to in Kraków there were around 30 options on the menu.

IMG_20160608_071610426_HDR
Home-made  pierogi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierogi

Pierogi are made from a thinly rolled out dough using a circular cutter, about 7 cm in diameter, we used to use a medium sized wine glass.  A largish teaspoon of the filling is placed on the circle and this is then folded in half and the edges pinched together to seal them – this is done to give them a slightly crimped edge.

You learn from experience how much filling to put into the pierogi as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.

Pierogi Dough

Pierogi dough is made from flour, egg  and water and I have  seen many variations of the recipe.  The following is my mother’s and I think it is the best I have ever used and tasted.

She never used whole eggs, just the yolks and this gives a dough which is soft and not tough and can be easily rolled out.  The recipes which use whole eggs give a tougher dough which is much harder to roll out.

My mother originally used plain flour and added a tablespoon or two of fine semolina but now that strong flour or even pasta flour is readily available this is what I use the most.

Another point is that flour does vary and it is possible to add more flour to the dough as you are mixing it but you cannot add more liquid if it is too dry!

As you mix the ingredients in the first few minutes you should be able to tell if it will be too dry and you can add some more water initially but once it is all mixed together you cannot – if it goes wrong – just start again.

The quantities that I have given work well and but you should allow for extra flour if needed.

Ingredients

500g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina

300 ml water

1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive

½ teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

Method

In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and yolks.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Pour the liquid mixture into the well and then with your hands incorporate the flour into the liquid until you have a large ball of dough.

Turn this out into a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until it is a smooth ball.

You can then use the dough straight away, cutting it into 4 quarters and rolling out a quarter at a time on a floured surface until the dough is thin.  You can pull it out a bit at the beginning to give a more rectangular shape of even thickness.

You can cover the dough with a cloth and place it in the fridge till needed.

You can freeze the dough for a few days for later use, it is best to cut it into quarters and wrap these in cling film or plastic and place these in another bag or container.

Shaping The Pierogi

Rolled out the dough until it is thin and use a circular cutter, about 7cm in diameter, to make lots of circles.  You can re-roll the cuttings to make more circles until all the dough is used.

 

A largish teaspoon of the filling is placed on to the dough circle and this is then folded in half and the edges pinched using your thumb and first finger to seal them – giving them a slightly crimped edge.

This quality of dough will make about 70 to 80 pierogi – depends on how thinly  you roll the dough and the size of your cutter.

You can open freeze pierogi so sometimes  I make a batch and open freeze half of them – then store them in a plastic box.  They should be cooked from frozen just allowing a little extra time.

Pierogi Fillings

The quantities that I have given should be enough for the 500g batch of dough.  Many of the fillings once made can be frozen; I sometimes make the mixture and freeze it in 2 to 3 small batches for later use.

A good tip is not to make the filling too moist, as any liquid on the dough will prevent you getting a good seal.

Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed pierogi on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.

Cooking The Pierogi

To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.  Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 8 at a time (I only do 6 at a time if using frozen ones).  As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes, a bit more if they were frozen, and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.  Continue boiling batches in the same water.

 

Serving Suggestion

Traditionally savoury pierogi are served with melted butter, skwarki – crispy smoked bacon bits, small pieces of fried onion or melted butter and dried breadcrumbs (à la Polonaise).

IMG_20151103_130835326 IMG_20151103_130842472

 

 

 

 

If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large shallow dish and put the melted butter or skwarki or fried onions into the dish and keep the dish warm in a low oven.  As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish, mix them with the butter, skwarki or onions to prevent them sticking.  Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.

 

IMG_20160609_191133431

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160609_191157242IMG_20160609_191201231

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once your have had your meal and you have any left  (I leave some deliberately) then they are wonderful fried up later.  You need a hot frying pan and should be able to just use the butter etc that they are coated in, maybe adding a little extra oil if needed.  Fry them till the dough is golden and crispy.

IMG_20160610_055922677

Tipspread out the cooked and coated pierogi for later frying to prevent them sticking

IMG_20160609_195954503_HDR

 

Savoury Fillings

Below are some of my favourite fillings.

All the filling must be allowed to cooled before using them –  you can make these in advance – even the day before.

Sauerkraut & Mushroom

These is often served at Wigilia – the Christmas Eve meal

Ingredients

Approx 500g of sauerkraut (I used to get small jars but have not seen these lately – use part of a large jar – use the rest for something else)

20- 30g dried mushrooms.

1 onion

1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper to taste

 

Method

Put the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them with boiling water and leave them overnight.

Strain the mushrooms but keep the liquid and then chop the mushrooms into small pieces.

IMG_20160608_090730437

 

 

 

 

 

Strain the sauerkraut but keep the liquid and chop the sauerkraut into small pieces.

IMG_20160608_085355101

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put the sauerkraut with the liquid from the tin or jar into a pan and cover with boiling water.  Add some of  liquid from the soaked mushrooms and the bay leaf.  Boil the sauerkraut gently for about 30 minutes. Then uncover and boil off as much of the liquid as possible – without burning the sauerkraut.

Allow the boiled sauerkraut to cool and remove the bay leaf.  Strain it using a sieve and pressing it down with a spoon to get the mixture as dry as possible (If you want you can put the strained mixture into a clean dry cotton or linen teacloth, twist the ends together to squeeze it to get it really dry).

 

Whilst the sauerkraut is cooking heat the chopped mushrooms gently in a small pan with the rest of the liquor, stirring to prevent it burning but reducing as much of the possible.

Chop the onion finely and fry it till it is soft and golden and add this to the mushroom mixture and mix it well together.

Mix the sauerkraut, mushrooms and onions together and add some ground black pepper to taste; salt should not be necessary.

Note

If your sauerkraut is very sour, you can add a little sugar to the mixture or you can put  it into a sieve or colander and wash it for a few minutes in cold water.water before you start cooking it – you might want to add a little salt at the end if you use this method – taste and see)

Cheese 1

400g floury potatoes

1 onion

200g curd cheese/twaróg or yoghurt cheese

1 egg yolk

butter & oil to fry the onion

salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, strain and mash, then leave to cool.

Chop the onion finely and fry it till it is soft and golden, allow it to cool.

Mix together thoroughly, the potatoes, onions, cheese and egg yolk.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cheese 2

When my mother did not have any curd cheese, she used Lancashire cheese, as that was the cheese most readily available to her. Both versions taste good, the secret with this one is to grate the cheese as finely as possible and mix it in well.

Ingredients

400g floury potatoes

1 onion

200g white crumbly cheese such as Lancashire

1 egg yolk

butter & oil to fry the onion

salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, strain and mash, then leave to cool.

Chop the onion finely and fry it till it is soft and golden, allow it to cool.

Grate the cheese as finely as possible.

Mix together thoroughly, the potatoes, onions, cheese and egg yolk.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note

My mother would  boil extra potatoes on one day and save some to make these fillings the next.

In Poland you may see these savoury cheese ones on a menu  as Pierogi ruskie   – that is  Ruthanian pierogi – from the old word for the Ukraine

Pork

Ingredients

300g shoulder or spare rib pork

1 onion

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon of dried breadcrumbs

approx 250 ml of chicken stock – can be from stock cubes

butter & oil to fry the onion

salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pre heat the oven to GM 3 – 1600C

Put the pork into a small casserole dish and cover it with the stock and put on the lid.

Put the dish in the oven for at least 1 hour, depending on the meat you might need longer.

I cook the meat until it is tender and can be broken up with a fork and most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Allow the meat to cool. You can mince the meat but I find that if you cook it long enough you do not need to, you can just chop it with a sharp knife .

Chop the onion finely and fry it till it is soft and golden, allow it to cool.

Mix thoroughly together: the meat, onion, yolk and breadcrumbs and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken

You can cook a piece of breast chicken as for the pork filling, however neither my mother or myself ever did this; we used leftover roast chicken from a roast dinner.

Ingredients

300g of roast chicken

1 onion

1 egg yolk

1 slice of white bread

small amount of milk

butter & oil to fry the onion

salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Take the slice of bread and remove the crusts removed and leave this for half an hour in a bowl with a little milk – do not use the excess milk just the wet slightly squeezed bread.

Finely chop or mince the chicken.

Mix together the chicken, onion, egg yolk and bread to get a uniform mixture.

Sweet Fillings

The dough and method of making sweet pierogi is just the same as for the savoury ones.

Once boiled sweet pierogi are dredged with icing or caster sugar and are often served with soured cream.  They are best eaten straight away.

I must admit that when I was younger I did not really like sweet pierogi but now I think they are utterly delicious especially when with soured cream.

Sweet Cheese 1

Ingredients

200g curd cheese/twaróg or yoghurt cheese

40g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 drops of vanilla essence

tiny pinch of salt

Method

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.

Sweet Cheese 2

Ingredients

250g curd cheese/twaróg or yoghurt cheese

40g caster sugar

2-3 tablespoons of soured cream

tiny pinch of salt

Method

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.

Red Fruits

In the summer in Poland, when all the fruits of the forests and the garden  are ripe, that is when these pierogi are at their best.  However bottled fruit is available all year round and I often make my sweet pierogi with these.

The following fruits are traditionally used –

Morello Cherries

Blackberries

Whinberries (bilberries) these grew in Lancashire near my home and also could be bought in baskets imported from Poland.  (I think the larger American Blueberry is nowhere near as tasty.) When we went to pick these I know this always made my mother think of her childhood in Poland.

I tend to use half the amount of dough  when making these fruit ones as they do not freeze well with fruit.

Depending on the size of the fruit, you need about 3 or 4 per circle.

Do not add sugar to fresh fruit as this will make too much liquid and the pierogi will not seal.

If using bottled fruit you need to strain as much juice away as possible.

Drenched the cooked pierogi in icing sugar and serve with sour cream. The sugar contrasts with tartness of the fruit.

A Variation ….

Knedle – Dumplings – With Plums

To me these are sweet pierogi –  but I have been assured by my aunties in Poland – who made them for me on my last visit  – that because of their shape – round balls – these are always called knedle.

The dough is just the same as for pierogi and they are boiled in just the same way but will take a bit longer to cook depending on the size of the plums.

Serve them dusted with icing sugar and serve with soured cream.

Plum Filling

500g fresh plums – small ones are best for the round shape  & sugar – you will need about a half a teaspoon per plum.

Wash and dry the plums and remove the stalks.  If the plums are small then use whole ones and if they are large use a sharp knife to cut them in half and remove the stone.

Cut strips of dough more than twice the size of the plum or plum half.  Place the plum on one side and sprinkle with the  sugar.

Fold over the other part of the dough and seal the edges well with your fingers  – take care as the added sugar produces liquid – use excess dough to give a good seal then cut away the excess dough to give a more rounded shape.

Uszka

Uszka –  means ‘little ears’ and they  are much smaller  and a different shape than pierogi and are always savoury.

They are made from squares of dough, about 4cm square.  Half a teaspoon of filling is placed onto the square and then it is folded into a triangle and the edges sealed.  The two ends at the folded side of the triangle are brought together and then pinched together giving a shape which is slightly rounded triangle with a pointed part, looking like a little ear.

When you have rolled out the dough until it is thin you cut the dough into squares no more than 4cm square.  I used to use a sharp knife but have now found that using a pizza wheel to cut the dough is much easier.  There is little waste dough with each rolling but you can still use  all the scrapes to make one last batch.

The quality of dough will make about 150  and because of this I often only make half quantities – using 250g of flour, 150ml of water, 1 egg yolk and half a tablespoon of oil. (Except at Wigilia – the Christmas Eve meal, when I make the full amount)

The uszka are boiled in just the same way as pierogi, they are usually ready when they float to the surface.

The most traditional fillings are mushroom – see below – and Sauerkraut & Mushroom.

Uszka can be served just as pierogi with melted butter or they can be served floating in a clear soup such as rosol – clear chicken soup or in barszcz – beetroot soup

Traditionally  mushroom uszka are made for Wigila – the Christmas Eve meal either on their own with butter or  served floating in barszcz (clear beetroot soup).

Mushroom Filling

In Poland these will have been made with just dried mushrooms, here in England my mother made them with fresh mushrooms with the addition of dried mushrooms when she could get them.  I like them like this the best.

Ingredients

250g mushrooms – older open ones are better than button mushrooms.

20g dried mushrooms

1 onion

1 egg yolk

1 to 2 tablespoons of home-made dried breadcrumbs

butter to fry the mushrooms

salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pour a small amount of boiling water into the dried mushrooms and leave these overnight.

You can remove the stalks from the older fresh mushrooms as these tend to be ‘woody’ and then cut them into thin slices.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Fry the mushrooms and onions together in the butter.  It does depend on the mushrooms and the way they are fried as to how much liquid is produced, if you get a lot, then let them simmer gently to evaporate as much as possible or strain some of this excess off (you can use this liquor in soups or sauces).

Allow the mixture to cool.

Chop the reconstituted dried mushroom (again you can save the liquor for other recipes) and add these to the mixture.

The mixture then needs to be minced which used to take me a long time and much effort.  I now use a hand blender which works really well taking care not to liquidise it too much.

13 Feb 124

 

 

 

 

To the minced mixture add the egg yolk and then enough breadcrumbs to make a stiff filling.

Add salt and lots of ground black pepper.

Cut the dough into quarters

On a floured board roll out each piece until it is thin.

Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel cut the dough into 4cm squares (they can be smaller but they are harder to work).

Fold over each piece to form a triangle and pinch the edges together with your fingers.

Half a teaspoon of filling is placed onto the square and then it is folded into a triangle and the edges sealed.  The two ends at the folded side of the triangle are brought together and pinched together giving a shape which is slightly rounded triangle with a pointed part.

 

Dec 2008 007Dec 2008 011 Dec 2008 013 13 Feb 131Dec 2008 017Dec 2008 014 Dec 2008 016

 

Dec 2008 019 Dec 2008 021Dec 2008 018

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are cooked just as the pierogi in boiling water with the addition of salt and oil.

I serve them with melted butter.

 

uazka with butter Dec 2008 033

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are going to add them to soup do not coat them with butter  – 2 to 4 are added to each serving.

Our New Tradition

After the Wigilia meal on Christmas Eve we always leave some uszka for the Christmas Day  breakfast and we have fried eggs, grilled bacon with fried uszka – delicious!

 

 PS

This must be my longest post as there is so much to say – I have only touched on the fillings that you can use & you can always make up your own.

 

 

 

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls – with Mushrooms

I have tried this out as a just vegetable variation.

In my Polish cookbooks there are many variations without meat and they use mushrooms or other vegetables and grains,  but these tend to use just dried mushrooms and often rather than rice use buckwheat or pearl barley.  Whilst these grains are maybe more traditionally Polish in style I wanted to do a recipe which would initially be more appealing to the English taste.  Also   I wanted to use mainly fresh mushrooms.

Ingredients for the filling

150 to 200g of rice

400g of mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

Some butter to fry the mushrooms

5g of dried mushrooms (more if you desire)

A few tablespoons of boiling water

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

In a small bowl add the boiling water to the dried mushrooms , just enough to cover them, and leave overnight.

IMG_20150718_151854083
Stepped Dried Mushrooms and Chopped Fresh Mushrooms

Parboil the rice and leave to go cold. (You can use any already cooked rice you might have cooked already – it is not that critical  – it will just have a softer texture).

Finely Slice up the mushroom caps (You can chop them into smaller pieces) and fry them in the butter until they are soft. IMG_20150718_151816584_HDR

Making a Pulp of Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Dried Mushrooms

Using a knife make a pulp of the dried mushrooms or chop them into small pieces if they have not softened enough.

Add the mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were steeped to the frying mushrooms and continue cooking the mixture evaporating of most of the liquid or about 10 minutes.

Leave the mushrooms to cool.

In a large bowl mix the parboiled rice and mushroom mix, add salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_20150718_153612430
Mushroom & Rice Mixture

Prepare the cabbage leaves

You need a large white cabbage or a savoy cabbage or I have now started using sweetheart cabbage  – you might need 2 of these as they are not usually so large.

kapusta 3

Patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head.

I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan. With some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil too quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.

Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled – I think this method is the one I like best.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves. Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Fill the leaves with the rice & mushroom  mix and roll them up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

IMG_20150718_174133971 IMG_20150718_174128711 IMG_20150718_174225478 IMG_20150718_175505963 IMG_20150718_174715721_HDR

Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

If you have any extra cabbage leaves place these on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a vegetable stock  and pour this over the cabbage rolls.

Ingredients for Vegetable Stock

Vegetable stock  – I like to use the Swiss  Marigold Bouillon vegetable stock powder which is in a tub mixed with boiling water

1 tube of tomato purée

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both.

salt & pepper ( note there might be enough salt in the stock cube)

Mix up the stock powder in a jug with boiling water, add the tomato purée and then the rest of the ingredients. You need a large amount to cover the cabbage rolls.

Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with a lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

As mentioned earlier I make these a day beforehand and then put them back in the oven for an hour or so before serving.

They are a complete meal in themselves but you can give serve them with some bread to mop up all the liquid sauce.

ser18 ser16 ser22ser15

Note

Wigilia – Christmas Eve

I will be writing a post all about the special meal on this day later when all the dishes are meatless.

This recipe is one dish which can be served then.

 

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls -with Mushroom Sauce

Cabbage Rolls in the style of Dom Polonii in Kraków.

Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków

In Kraków, just off the main square (Rynek Główny), there is a building called Dom Polonii (The House of the Poles).  It is a medieval tenement building and hosts Chopin concerts in a lovely room with a grand piano on the first floor. I have enjoyed listening to many concerts there. On the ground floor there is a small restaurant.  On my trips to Kraków I have found that  I eat there the most as it is very reasonably priced and the food  is very much like home cooking.

They serve gołąbki there which are cooked without  tomatoes and then served with a creamy mushroom sauce.

IMG_20150718_224019030

The following is my recreation of this recipe.

First I made the gołąbki as in my previous post but without tomato purée in the cooking stock but adding some lemon juice as this prevents the leaves from falling apart too quickly.

I will give a quick re-cap of this recipe at the end of this post.

Then I made  a mushroom sauce and served the gołąbki with this poured on the top.

Mushroom Sauce

I looked through my Polish cookbooks and many of the mushroom sauces are made with just dried mushrooms.  These are delicious and have a strong flavour however it works out very expensive and are not available everywhere.

I am going to  give instructions for a sauce using fresh mushroom and just a small amount of dried mushroom.

I will give 2 versions of this mushroom sauce, the first using dried mushrooms, the second a mushroom stock cube.

The best dried mushrooms are Boletus edulis, in Poland they are called borowik or prawdzik, in Italy porcini.

IMG_20150704_130001024

IMG_20150704_130013474

kapusta 14
Knorr – mushroom stock cubes

In Poland there are now mushroom stock cubes which are very useful especially for making sauces.  Years ago I brought loads back to England, now you can find these in the many Polish food shops. The ones I use are made by Knorr and are shown on the photographs in this post.  These stock cubes contain a small amount of dried mushroom extract.

kapusta 10

The 2 sauces have the same starting points it is the addition of reconstituted mushrooms or stock cubes for the extra taste which is the difference.

Mushroom sauce 1 – using dried mushrooms

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

5g of  dried mushroom (around 3 slices)

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in

salt & pepper to taste

Method

You have to start this sauce the night before or in the morning for use in the evening.

Cover the dried mushrooms with 500ml of boiling water and leave to soak.

 

Preparing Dried Mushrooms
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water

 

 

 

 

 

The following day take out the reconstituted mushrooms and using a knife you can chop then up into tiny pieces or if the are soft enough you can  spread out the pulp on a chopping board.

Reconstituted Mushrooms
Reconstituted Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Add the dried mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were seeped.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

sau3

In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

sau5

Note

None of these amounts are exact – they are a rough guide depending on what you have – you can use more water, milk or soured cream and so on.

Mushroom sauce 2 – using a mushroom stock cube

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in.

note

I rarely have to add any more salt or pepper as the stock cube has enough seasoning in it.

Method 

Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water.

Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube
Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

If you can get the stock cubes then version 2 is the quickest.

Basic gołąbki recipe without tomatoes

Ingredients

1 large head of white cabbage or Savoy cabbage*

400g rice

500g of minced beef or pork

Chicken  stock – a cube or concentrate will do

salt & pepper

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both

juice of 1 or 2 lemons.

*As you need whole largish cabbage leaves I sometimes use 2 cabbages to get the bigger leaves. Recently I have started to use Sweetheart cabbage which has large leaves on the outside but you will most likely need 2 of these.

Instructions from my Polish cookbook
Instructions from my Polish cookbook “bible”

You need to parboil the rice in salted water so that it is about half way to being cooked and then strain the rice and let it go cold, but if you have some plain boiled rice left from another day you could use this, as this is not critical.

In a large bowl mix the rice and minced meat and add salt and pepper. The exact amounts do not matter. I like it to look about 50/50 white and pink but these can be made with much more rice to eke out the meat available.

Next comes the hardest part and patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head. I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan with some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil to quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.

Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves.

Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Place a small handful of the rice & meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

 

IMG_20150718_175505963IMG_20150718_174225478

IMG_20150718_174727954

Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

A tip I got from my late cousin, Krystyna,  is to use extra cabbage leaves on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a large amount of stock with hot water and lemon juice and add bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice.

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

I always think these taste better when made a day before hand and left for the liquid to seep in more and then reheated in the oven as required.

IMG_20150718_224006079
In the style of Dom Polonii

Sprinkling some chopped dill or flat leaf parsley on the top will be even better (Sadly I did not have any  on the day of this photograph).