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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wigilia – Polish Christmas Eve

Wigilia means  vigil  and in Poland this word is used for the meal that is eaten on the evening(vigil) before Christmas Day  – so that is the evening  meal on Christmas Eve.

In Poland Christmas is celebrated from Wigilia and parties and visiting relatives and family happens from then on. It seems very strange to the Poles to have all the Christmas parties before Christmas which is still Advent.

This Christmas Eve meal is very important to people and most  will try to go to family to share this meal.

It is a meal that has many traditions, many more than Christmas Day itself.

It is a meal which is filled with memories, many from childhood, and you will find that every family has developed its own traditions. Many years ago when I spoke with my cousins in Poland – my mother’s family – I discovered that the meal they had at Wigilia though based on the same principles was very different that the one we had at home.

Advent

Advent is the time leading up to Christmas is observed from the 4th Sunday before Christmas (this will be from the 27th November to the 3 December) so that there will be 4 Sundays in Advent.  It is a time of reflection, prayer and preparation.

24th December is the last day of Advent  and used to be a day of  Fasting & Abstinence.

  • no meat was eaten on that day (abstinence) and
  • there was only 1 main/large meal (fasting).

Many people, myself included, keep to this custom.

The Christmas days are called Gody – days of Harmony and Goodwill.

The official end of the Christmas celebrations in church is the 2nd of February the feast of Candlemas or The Presentation of Christ in The Temple  when  karniwal – carnival starts in the lead up to Lent.

 Traditions Around The Wigilia Meal

12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles

Meat is not served.

Some people have 3 soups, 3 fish dishes, 3 vegetable dishes and 3 cakes or dried fruit dishes.

The meal starts after the first star is seen in the sky as a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem used by the 3 Kings to find the Infant Jesus. (This is much later than the usual main meal of the day in Poland).

The food should be from: the fields, the orchard, the garden, the forest and from water.

I try to use only foods that would be found in winter in Poland such as seasonal vegetables &  preserved foods which have been dried, bottled, fermented, smoked etc.

You should try to taste every dish to ensure that there will be nothing lacking in the house & harvest in the coming year.

The main dish is the fish – and in olden times some people had up to 12 fish dishes and counted these as ONE!

Fish  is the symbol of harmony, freedom and liberation – from the Greek  ICHTHYS – for fish & the initials of  Jesus Christ Son of God and Redeemer

The table should be covered  with a white table cloth over straw or hay to remind us of the manger. (People in towns often have a token bunch of hay).

Sheaves of wheat are placed in the 4 corners of the room.

An extra place is always set so that there will be a place for Jesus as the stranger who may knock at the door. The Poles think that on this night no one should be hungry or alone. (The Poles are very hospitable and I think there will always be a place no matter what time of year.)

Opłatek

At the start of the meal is the sharing of opłatek which was  originally bread but now is a wafer (like the communion host) and is a  symbol of forgiveness, unity and love.

Each person has a piece and shares it with everyone else offering each other best wishes for the coming year.

People often send a piece of  opłatek to family and friends who live far away.

 

Dishes for Wigilia

The following is a short list of some of the dishes that are often served at Wigilia:

Some of these recipes I have already covered & the links have been inserted  – others will be appearing throughout the coming year.

 

 

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree tradition came from Germany in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century into the towns and into richer villages in the 1920s and took over from an earlier Polish Tradition of hanging from the ceiling just the tip of a spruce/fir tree (tip side down) decorated with apples, nuts which were either wrapped in silver or gold paper or painted and ribbons. Old Polish  village houses are made of wood so it is easy to attach the tree tip to the ceiling.

Doorways and walls were often decorated with separate boughs of the remainder of the tree.

People in small apartments and in towns or with limited funds often still just decorate a branch of a fir tree.

This custom originated in pre-Christian times and texts dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries referred to this use of the tree as a pagan rite. Unable to halt the growing trend, the church then reinterpreted the tree to be the Tree of Knowledge – the tree of good and evil.

The tree is put up on Christmas Eve (or maybe a day or 2 before) – the whole family helps – though the candles or lights are not usually lit until Wigilia.

 

Decorations for the Christmas Tree

Apples symbolise health and beauty.

Nuts wrapped in Silver or Gold guarantee prosperity and vitality.

When I was young we tied wrapped sweets and chocolates on the tree.

Bombki – Glass baubles – in the past these were often blown eggs decorated with glitter. There are also many straw decorations – angels or stars.

Glass baubles originated in Germany in the 19th century  but they were soon being made in Poland with their large glass blowing industry.  Many are made in small family run workshops, some making around 150,000 per day! Some now specialise in individual and unusual designs.

 

Bom
Mama’s Old Nut Shaped Baubles

Candles  in clip on holders with real candles – though now more likely to be artificial lights.

My mother’s candle holders

 

Candles and baubles guard the house from malevolent deeds.

Paper chains guarantee love within the family.

The star on the top of the tree helps guide back home absent family and friends.

Bells symbolise good news.

Angels are the guardians of the house.

Presents

If there are presents they are placed under the tree and opened at the end of the meal.

It used to be that presents were given on  December 6th, St Nicholas Day and Christmas Eve was more about the meal and carols and Church.

Nowadays likely to get presents on both days. In some parts of Poland these gifts are said to be from  aniołek – little angel.

Before the Second World War the presents were small tokens such as mandarin oranges (a luxury – as they were imported), chocolate, and an item of new clothes or a small toy.

Pasterka  – The Shepherds’ Mass – Midnight Mass

After the meal people  go to Mass in memory of the long wait for the Messiah and the Shepherds coming to pay homage to the Infant Jesus.

Kolędy – Carols are sung from midnight mass till the 2nd  of February in Church.

Carols are rich and varied with examples from many different centuries with ones originating from church music, to many with music from the Royal Court such as the Polonaise and to folk & dance music.

The oldest carol in the Polish Language is Bogurodzica (Mother of God) and has been  known from the beginning of the 13th Century.

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