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.

 

Poles Love Meat

Years ago one of my colleagues had a book about Eastern European cookery in which it stated that at one time the  Poles were the biggest meat eaters in Europe.

I have tried to find this publication for this reference but to no avail.

I looked up figures for meat consumption in Europe per capita and figures for the early 21st century have Luxenbourg, Spain & Austria in the top three.

Surprisingly for a nation of supposed meat lovers,  a common surnames  is Jarosz and Jaroszewicz and other variations on this which comes from the word jarosz  which means vegetarian. We had several family friends with this surname.

If you hear the word meat in Poland, then think pork, that is the nation’s favourite, be it fresh pork or changed into the wide variety of sausages and smoked meats.  I think  pork will always take top place in a meal at a Polish special occasion.

In communist times,  I  visited my mother’s sister who had a small farm and  kept pigs and made her own sausages, smoking them in a special smoking unit which was in the attic of the house; they were delicious.

 

 

On a more recent trip to other relatives in a large town, I learnt that they had put in a special order for smoked sausages and meats from a lady in a nearby village when they knew I was coming and these were far superior to what was available from the shops.

In the past, cattle were mainly kept for milk, cream, butter and cheese and any beef recipes would be for dishes that require  long slow cooking.  In recent times dishes are appearing in restaurants and magazines which feature cuts such as sirloin steak.

Sheep were mainly kept for wool and in the mountain regions in the South of Poland for their milk for making cheese.

There are many recipes for wild boar, venison, rabbit or hare in regional cookery.

Goose, duck and chicken are often eaten – of course a village chicken is always preferred if possible.

This post is an introduction to th  meat dishes that I will be posting in the future  – although I have  posted a few already

Bigos

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Quick bigos

 

Gołąbki – Cabbage rolls

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Klops – Mama’s meatloaf

 

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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.

Karnawał – Carnival

The official end of the Christmas & Epiphany season is February 2nd which is 40 days(inclusive) after Christmas and is the feast of the Presentation of Christ in The Temple also known as Candlemas Day.  In Poland it is called Święto Matki Boskiej Gromnicznej – The feast of Our Lady of the Thunder Candles (as the blessed candles are used during thunder storms)

February 2nd is the start of karnawał  – carnival and the festivities leading up to the beginning of Lent which starts on Ash Wednesday.

During karnawał there is lots of dressing up in costumes such as beggars, chimney sweeps, goats, bears, horses or storks and going from farm to farm or house to house and there the revellers would be given food and drink.

The date of Ash Wednesday varies as it is based on the date for Easter which is calculated according to the Paschal full moon.

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

Ash Wednesday is six and a half weeks before Easter – calculated as 40 days but the Sundays are not included so it is in fact 46 days before Easter Sunday.

Therefore the earliest date for Ash Wednesday is the 4th of February and the latest date is the 10th of March.

In a year when Ash Wednesday is very early – I am sure that  karnawał  festivities would begin a little early!

After Christmas with all the wonderful food it seems like only a few days and it is time to prepare for Lent. All the rich food is used up before Lent, especially on the last day before Ash Wednesday.

In England it is Shrove Tuesday, in France Mardi Gras(Fat Tuesday), in Poland tłusty wtorek (Fat Tuesday) and in some parts of Poland there is also tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday) and then the last Tuesday can also be be called ostatki (last remnants).

In Poland chrusty and pączki (doughnuts) are made (pancakes are eaten throughout the year and do not feature here.)

My mother always made chrusty, doughnuts we got from other Polish ladies in the neighbourhood.

I was in Kraków once on tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday) and bought some doughnuts  – I found that these were very special ones made for that day made with rose petal jam.  I am afraid I did not like these – I am used to Polish plum jam or raspberry jam in Polish doughnuts and found theses too perfumed for me. (I have recently seen many English recipes made with rose petal jam – so maybe it is an acquired taste)   

Chrusty

Chrusty are deep fat fried, sugar dusted pastries.

These must be my favourite pastries which my mother would only make once or twice a year before Lent began.

When I was little before I started to help, I could never understand how she made these amazing shapes.

The name chrusty means “dry twigs” which may describe their appearance but not their taste!

You could call them ribbon shaped and in some parts of Poland they are called faworki from the French word  faveur which means  favour as in the coloured ribbons given by ladies to Medieval knights.

My aunty in The United States told me that nowadays they are popular there for weddings and other big parties not just during carnival and that Americans call them Angel wings.

I remember that my mother always fried these in vegetable oil.  During my research I have realised that originally they were fried in lard, and the books say that this makes them very tasty!

They taste best a few minutes after cooking, straight from the pan, when still slightly warm and dusted with icing sugar.  So being in the kitchen when they are being made is the best place to be!

Ingredients

300g plain flour

100g self-raising flour

50g butter

50g caster sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of rum (or vodka and 2 drops of vanilla essence)

2 – 3 tablespoon of soured cream to mix (use double cream if not available)

Sunflower oil to deep fat fry

Icing sugar to dust

Method

Mix the flours together and rub in the butter to make fine crumbs and then mix in the sugar.

Mix together the eggs, yolks and alcohol together. Make the decision on how much cream to use or not as you start to mix later.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid.

Mix the liquid with the dry ingredients to make a  soft dough.  You can use a knife at first and then your hands.

If the dough needs some extra liquid then add the soured cream bit by bit.

Take about a third of the dough and roll it out on a floured board as thinly as possible.

Using a sharp knife cut strips which are strips 3 to 4 cm wide and about 15cm long, you can cut the short edges diagonally.

In each one cut a slit down the middle long ways and pull the short edge through to make a twist.

Repeat with the rest of the dough, try to use as much as possible in the first cutting but you can mix and re-roll the off-cuts.

Try not to add too much extra flour when re-rolling.

You can brush of excess flour with a pastry brush.

In a pan or fryer heat up the oil and deep fat fry the chrusty, about 2 or 3 at a time till they are golden.  They will rise to the top as they cook, turn them over using bamboo or wooden tongs.

Remove from the hot oil, using the frying basket or bamboo/wooden tongs.

Place onto kitchen roll and dust with icing sugar.

If you have any left put them in an airtight container when they are completely cold and add extra icing sugar when you serve them.