Ogórkowa – Gherkin soup

Four years of blogging today!

I can hardly believe it!  I posted my first post four years ago today. The time has gone so quickly and there is still much more to do.

This will be post number 208 – so averaging at 1 per week.

Today it just has to be a very Polish recipe.

Ogórkowa gherkin soup is a classic Polish soup.

It is sour and as I have written before, this is a taste much loved by the Poles!

It can be made in the winter from stored ingredients but it is also very refreshing on a summer’s day.

The most traditional soup is made from brine fermented gherkins but you can use pickled gherkins.

 

Ingredients

  • 250g gherkins
  • 125ml  gherkin liquid
  • 1.5 litres of soup greens/vegetable stock (can be from cubes or powder)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled – boiled or steamed
  • 125ml of soured cream
  • Chopped dill to serve

Method

If you have some potatoes boiled already this is a very quick soup to make.

  • Add the gherkin liquid to the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  • Rough chop the gherkins.
  • Drop the gherkins into the liquid and simmer for around 20 -25 minutes.
  • Chop the boiled potatoes into rough cubes.
  • Add the potatoes, stir and simmer for around 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the soured cream and chopped dill.

 

Using brine fermented gherkins

 

 

Served in Royal Doulton, Burgundy soup plates, 1959 – 1981.

Using pickled dill gherkins

 

Served in Royal Doulton, Tapestry soup plates, 1966 – 1988.

Pierogi with Duck

I have recently returned from a super, short holiday in Gdańsk during which I tried out many old favourites and several new dishes.

I tried pierogi in several restaurants, choicing some unusual fillings and have been inspired to make them with some new fillings.

I did find that some of the meaty ones were too big – I use a 7cm diameter cutter, which for me gives a better filling to pasta ratio. and have been inspired to make some with some new fillings.

I had several delicious meals in a restaurant in the Old Town called Gvarathe name is based on the Polish word gwara which means dialect (Polish does not have the letter v !). This restaurant serves Polish cuisine – often with a modern take and it has given me much inspiration for some new recipes.

One of the dishes there was pierogi with  duck in the filling.

On the way back to the airport the taxi driver told me that his wife would be cooking duck with red cabbage for Easter Sunday – this set me thinking!

Because I had several ducks in the freezer, I roasted these and took off all the meat – however in the future I would just buy duck breasts or legs and roast or poach them.

3 Duck Fillings

Cooked duck meat – roasted or poached  – is used in these recipes – amouts are not critical.

Fillings must be left to go cold before using.

Duck & Apple

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 4 eating apples – Braeburn or Coxes are good

Method

  • Core the apples and place them in a oven proof dish
  • Cook them in a medium oven until the flesh is soft
  • Scope out all the apple flesh
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat
  • Combine the duck and apple flesh together.

 

Serve with melted butter – here on Royal Worcester – Evesham from 1961 onwards.

 

 

Duck, Red Cabbage & Cranberries

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 300g red cabbage
  • 50g of dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

Rather than boiling, steaming or slow cooking the red cabbage, I used a sort of stir-fry & braising method which worked really well.

  • Put the cranberries in a dish a cover them with some boiling water and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Shred the cabbage.
  • In a deep frying/ saucepan heat some water and add the butter.
  • Stir in the cabbage and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  • Cover the pan – a glass lid is good so you can see what is happening – you need to check and stir occasionally.
  • Simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries & water, stir and on put the lid back on.
  • Simmer for around 10  to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check on the water so it does not dry out.
  • If the cabbage has not cooked enough – adjust the water and cook for a bit longer.
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Use a mini-chopper or stick blender to shred the cabbage mixture.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the duck and cabbage & cranberry mixture together.

Serve with melted butter – here on La prune by  Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Duck & Sauerkraut

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • Around half a large jar of sauerkraut
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  • Put the sauerkraut with the liquid from the tin or jar into a pan and cover with boiling water.
  • Simmer 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.
  • 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).
  • Chop the sauerkraut finely with a sharp knife.
  • Chop the onion finely  and fry it gently in the butter until it is soft and golden – leave it to cool.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the cabbage mixture, the fried onion and the chopped sauerkraut.
  • Add some pepper to taste.

Fried pierogi

All the butter coated pierogi that are not eaten can be fried up later – equally delicious!

 

I have written much previously about pierogi  – but have included the instructions for the dough again below.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk

Method

  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.

 

  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cut the dough into quarters.
  • On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • 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.
  • I cut them out using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 into the dish
  • 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 to prevent them sticking.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.

 

 

 

 

Pea Soup with Dutch Connections

I have written about Polish pea soup which is usually made with yellow split peas.

My mother could not always get yellow split peas and sometimes used Marrow fat peas.

My Dutch friend in The Netherlands often talks about Dutch pea soup which is made using Marrow fat peas or green split peas.

The Dutch soup tends to be made as a much thicker soup and pork, such as a chop or pigs’ trotters, is often used and also as smoked bacon or ham; potatoes are often added as well.

I have made my soup more on the Polish thinner side and used a chunk of smoked  Polish bacon. – You can use smoked gammon or smoked bacon – use it in large pieces – cut it up after it has been cooked in the soup.

Version 1 – Using Marrow Fat Peas

 

 

 

Ingredients

250g Marrow fat peas

2 large onions chopped

400g piece of smoked Polish bacon (boczek in Polish, which means side)

8 peppercorns

2-3 allspice grains

1 Bay leaf

2 litres of vegetable stock (can be from a cube or powder – I often use Marigold powder).

 

 

 

Method

Put the marrow fat peas into a large bowl with around 800ml of boiling water poured over them  and leave overnight.

Some instructions say to add bicarbonate of soda to the peas – I prefer not to.

The following morning, drain and rinse the rehydrated peas.

I have started using my large slow cooker to make soups – you can also use a large stock pot and once brought to the boil, leave it to simmer on the stove or in a low oven.

Place all the ingredients into the pot and switch on and leave to cook for 4 – 5 hours until the peas have cooked to a soft pulp.

You might want to add some boiling water and stir the soup if it has become too thick.

Remove the piece of bacon and chop or shred the meat, then put it all back into the soup, stir and heat for a few minutes before serving.

You can use the cooked meat on for example in sandwiches and only put part of it back into the soup.

 

 

 

 

Served here with scalded rye bread on tea plates by Taylor and Kent of Longton.

 

Version 2 – Using Green Split Peas

As version 1, but use 300-350g of green split peas.

The split peas do not have to be soaked overnight, just use then as they are.

So this is much quicker to make as there is no overnight soaking.

 

 

You can add some chopped chives or the green part of spring onions before serving.

 

 

Variations

  • Add one or more  root vegetables such as:
  • 1 or 2 carrots – chopped,
  • around a quarter of a celeriac,
  • 1 or 2 parsnips – chopped
  • 1 large potato – peeled and chopped
  • Use smoked gammon, ham or smoked bacon
  • Add a pork chop
  • Use pigs’ trotters

Note

I have found that these soups freeze very well – portionned up into tubs for future use.

 

 

Kajmak

Kajmak (or kaimak in my older books) is a speciality make from cream or milk cooked with sugar and then butter is added. It is very sweet and dense,  pliable at first and hardening over time.

It is similar to a creamy type of fudge and it can also be made from tinned condensed milk which has been boiled and so is very like dolce de leche.

In my American-Polish cookery book it is called Turkish Fudge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is used in a variety of cakes including mazurek.

 

Mazurek with kajmak

Kajmak originated in Turkey and appeared in Poland in the 18th century in the reign of Stanisław II Augustus (1764–95).   Sugar was a luxury commodity then and this was originally just popular with the Polish nobility.

Kajmak

Ingredients

1/2 litre of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

400g of granulated sugar.

50g of butter

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Put the milk and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently stirring most of the time to stop the mixture from catching and burning on the base.

Continue cooking and stirring until the volume has reduced to about half of the original and the mixture is thick – rather like jam in the spoon test.

Take the pan from the heat and add the butter and stir till it is incorporated.

Add the drops of vanilla essence and stir them in.

Use the kajmak straight away or pour into a glass bowl that you can heat over a water bath when you want to use it later.

 

 

 

 

Alternatively you can also pour it into a flat dish and cut it up as cubes or fingers of sweets later.

Kajmak is flavoured with a little bit of vanilla but can also have the following additions: caramel, chocolate or coffee

Caramel

In a frying pan heat 20g of granulated sugar until it just starts to turn light brown, then add 6 tablespoons of water and boil gently until you have a caramel syrup.

 

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter.

Salted caramel is very popular in England at the moment and you can add a teaspoon of cooking or table salt to the caramel kajmak.

Then once it is poured out you can sprinkle coarse ground or sea salt on the top.

 

 

Here the kajmak was poured into a rectangular dish.

Chocolate

50g of cocoa mixed with around 6 tablespoons of water

or

80g of melted dark chocolate

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter and reduce the liquid until the kajmak is the correct consistency.

 

 

Coffee

100 to 125 mls of strong coffee made from 20g of ground coffee.

 

 

Brew the coffee in a cup or jug, leave for around 10 minutes and then strain the liquid from the grounds.

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter and reduce the liquid until the kajmak is the correct consistency.

Quick Kajmak

In a recipe book I bought recently there is a recipe for kajmak using  krówki which are classic Polish sweets (krówka mleczna = milky cow) described as creamy fudge.

The recipe used 500g of the sweets which would have been two packets – I just used one packet to test them out.

Ingredients

250g of krówki

120ml of milk

1 tablespoon of butter.

Method

Unwrap the krówki and place them with the milk in a small saucepan.

Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sweets dissolve.

Add the butter and let it melt.

 

Use whilst it is warm.

Note

This worked very well & one packet could be enough – I must admit I prefer the original version but this is easier & quicker.

 

More Pork & Prunes

This recipe is in an old Polish style  –  po staropolsku  with its use of prunes and honey. I love the flavour of the meat with this sweetness added to it.

See also Pork & Prunes recipe 2

Pork & Prunes 3

This is a dish could be served on special occasions such as Christmas Day.

This recipe needs a large piece of pork loin which will have some of the prunes placed in cuts on the top.

I usually use prunes with the stones still in however in January 2017 there were no prunes with stones on the market in Leeds. The lady on the stall said this was because of a very poor harvest – so I have used these stoned prunes to try out the recipe for the photographs & this post.

Ingredients

1.5kg – 2kg boneless pork loin in one piece – skinless if possible (I used a joint with skin on this time – I think skinless is defiantly  better)

 

200g prunes

100ml of  sherry or vermouth

350ml of chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

bouquet garni made from flat leaf parsley, bay leaf and thyme

1 tablespoon of plain flour

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

salt & ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of honey

Method

You will need a roasting tin with a lid.

Pour the stock into a pan and bring it to the boil and then add the prunes and cover these with a lid.  Let them simmer gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Allow the prunes to cool so you can handle them and take out the stones.

Take 8-10 of the prunes and put them in a dish and pour the sherry over them and leave them for at least 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C.

Take the pork and in what will be the top make 8 to 10 deep cuts with a sharp knife.  Into each pocket place one of the prunes that has been soaked in the wine.

(If your joint has the skin on it then cut under the skin and put the prunes between the skin and the meat).

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Keep the sherry liquid as you will need it later.

Coat the joint with the flour, salt and pepper.

In a frying pan, melt the butter, add the oil and on a high heat, brown all the sides of the joint or if the joint is too large for the pan use the roasting pan on top of the stove to fry it in.

Put the meat and the frying juices into the roasting tin.

Add 6 tablespoons of the stock and cover the dish with the lid and put the dish in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.

Take the dish out of the oven , add the rest of the prunes and the stock, put the lid back on and cook in the oven for another 40-50 minutes until the meat is tender.

Take out the meat and put it on a warm serving dish cover it with foil and a tea towel and leave it to rest in a warm place whilst you finish the sauce.

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Take the bouquet garni out of the dish and add the sherry liquid and honey  to the prunes and bring this to the boil.  Then simmer it gently and use a balloon whisk to blend the sauce together and break up any large pieces of prunes.

Pour the sauce into a gravy boat or jug and serve with the meat.

Slice up the meat.

 

 

Served here on Carnation by Royal Doulton, 1982 – 1998

Prune Sauce

I had some of the prune sauce left over  and I had decided to cook some duck breasts.

I thought why not heat up the prune sauce and serve it with the duck, which is what I did – it was delicious  together.

So I thought  “Why not try to create a prune sauce which can be cooked separately for serving with roast or pan fried meats such as pork, duck or game“.

So I did and here is the recipe.

Ingredients

150g prunes – pitted are easiest for this

250ml hot boiling water

250ml chicken stock – can be from cube or concentrate

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

3 tablespoon of honey

50 ml sherry or vermouth

1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper

Method

Place the prunes in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them and leave them to soak for at least an hour.

If using prunes with stones remove these now.

In a saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and heat gently stirring with a wooden spoon to make a roux.

Slowly add the stock and bring this to the boil, stirring constantly so that you do not get any lumps.

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Add the prunes and the liquid they were soaked in, the  bay leaf and ground black pepper.

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Simmer gently until the prunes are soft.

Add the sherry and the honey and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf.

Use a balloon whisk to blend the sauce together and break up any large pieces of prunes.

 

 

Pour the sauce into a gravy boat or jug and serve hot with your meat.

Note

If possible, depending on how you have cooked the meat , add any meat juices to the sauce, stirring well.

 

 

 

 

Pork & Prunes

This recipe is in an old Polish style  –  po staropolsku  with its use of prunes and caraway seeds.

I  prefer to use prunes with the stones in and  I usually buy then from a Nut & Dried Fruit stall in Leeds Kirkgate Market. However in January 2017 there were no prunes with stones on the market. The lady on the stall said this was because of a very poor harvest – so I  used stoned prunes to try out this recipe for the photographs for this post.

This recipe uses a method of cooking which is called duszone – that translates from Polish as suffocated but also when used in cooking as braised  however I think suffocated is much more evocative.

You will need a roasting tin with a lid.

A joint of pork  is first sealed by browning it on all sides and then it is placed in a roasting dish with a little liquid and then a lid is placed over the contents and the dish is cooked in an oven.  Meat cooked this way is very succulent.

Ingredients

800g boneless pork loin joint

Note  You can always scale up this recipe for a larger piece of pork.

100g prunes

2 onions – finely chopped

1 tablespoon of plain flour

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

salt & ground black pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Method

At least an hour before you want to cook the pork, put the prunes in a small bowl and pour boiling water over the prunes to cover them.

Leave them to plump up and then remove the stones from the prunes. (I left mine for 4 hours).

Retain the liquid from the soaking as this will be needed.

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Coat the joint with the flour, salt and pepper.

In a frying pan, melt the butter, add the oil and on a high heat, brown all the sides of the joint.

Put the meat and the frying juices into the roasting tin.

Put the prunes and onions around the pork and add the liquid from the soaking of the prunes, put on the lid and place the dish into the oven.

About 1 ¼ hours should be enough for this weight.

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Take out the pork and place it on a warm serving dish, cover with foil,  and leave in a warm place whilst you finish the prunes.

Stir the caraway seeds into the onion and prune mixture and heat this up on the top of the stove to thicken for 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Cut the pork into thick slices and place them on a platter or serving dish and put the prune & onion mixture around them.

Serve with boiled potatoes.

 

 

Here served on a bone china platter, Josephine Yellow

by Wedgwood, 1941 – 1964

 

Po staropolsku – in an Old Polish Style

In many recipe books and often on menus in restaurants you can see dishes described as po staropolsku which means in an Old Polish Style.

What exactly does that mean?

I have found this a hard question to answer as there two sides to its meaning, one is about hospitality and the other is the ingredients.

Hospitality

When restaurants use  po staropolsku they are trying to evoke connections to noblemen & democracy with the chivalry & hospitality that was found in the manor houses in Poland, particularly from the 16th to the 18th century.  They are trying to make you think of the quality of the food and the surroundings.

The Poles are thought to be a very hospitable nation and a very famous saying in Poland is  – “Gość w dom, Bóg w dom”  which means  when you have a guest in your house, you have God in your house, meaning treat your guests to the very best.

The chef & writer, the late Maciej Kuroń (1960 – 2008) in his book Kuchnia Polska (Polish Cookery)has a new saying –

“Lepiej gościa zabić, niż nie nakarmić “which means – it is better to kill a guest rather than not feed them well.

I noted this quote many months ago – today when I tried to find the reference in the book, which is a large tome of over 900 pages, I could not find it – when I do in the future I will come back and add  it here.

Some of my reference cookery books.

Ingredients

Many old recipes can be classed as po staropolsku – especially if they contain:

  • Honey
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Caraway
  • Herbs such as marjoram, thyme & juniper
  • Dried fruits – especially prunes
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Grains such as buckwheat
  • Game & birds

Dishes included various soups & especially Sour Soups (I will write about these in the future), honey cakes, pierogi, gołąbki, bigos and dishes with meat & dried fruits.

Pork and Prunes

Some of my favourite dishes in the old Polish style combine pork with prunes, often with honey.  I love the flavour of the meat with all this sweetness added to it.

I am going to write up 3 different recipes  – the first in this post – the others to follow shortly.

The best pork to use is a boneless joint of pork loin which has also had the skin removed, but if you cannot get this then leg of pork is good as well.

When roasting pork allow 50 minutes per kilo, plus 25 minutes at Gas mark 5 – 1900C.

Note  You can always scale up this recipe for a larger piece of pork.

I have found that the best prunes are lovely plump ones from Agen in France but the ones that are more dried are also good, you just have to soak them for longer before you can take out the stones.

You can of course use ready stoned prunes – I just prefer the ones with stones in  – though they are increasingly harder to find – I can get them from a Nut & Dried Fruit stall in Leeds Kirkgate Market.

However in January 2017 there were no prunes with stones on the market. The lady on the stall said this was because of a very poor harvest – so I have had to use stoned prunes to try out the recipes for the photographs & this post.

Pork and Prunes 1

Ingredients

800g boneless pork loin joint

100g prunes

1 tablespoon of honey

Coarse salt

At least an hour before you want to roast the pork, put the prunes in a small bowl and pour boiling water over the prunes to cover them.

Leave them to plump up and then remove the stones from the prunes.

Retain the liquid from the soaking as this will be needed.

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 – 1900C.

Place the pork in a roasting tin and rub some coarse salt onto the fat on the top.

Put the prunes under and around the pork with the water from the soaking & extra to cover the bottom of the roasting tin and place in the oven.

Roast the pork – about 1 ¼ hours should be enough for this weight, baste the meat with the liquid from the prunes and juices a couple of times, adding extra water if needed.

When the meat is ready, take out of the oven, cover with foil and then a tea towel and leave it to rest.

Add the honey to the prunes and juices, stir these together over some heat in the roasting pan, you may need to add some more water.

Slice the pork and place on a serving dish and place the prune mixture around the pork to serve.

Here served on a Royal Doulton Plate – Carnation 1982-1998.