Lovely Liver!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rynek Główny (Main Square)

 

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

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

Cooking Liver

These recipes are all  variations on a simple theme.

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

Preparing the liver

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

Slice the liver into thin equal sized slices.

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

 Simple Style Liver

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

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Liver with Soured Cream

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

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

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

Liver with Onions 1

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

Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Fry the onions in butter & sunflower oil till golden.

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

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

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

 

Liver with Onions 2

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

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

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

Sprinkle on some Italian Herbs.

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

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

This will give a tasty sauce with the liver.

Place the fried onions on top and serve.

Liver with Mushrooms

Thinly slice mushrooms around 100g of button mushrooms

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

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

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

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

Liver with Mushrooms & Soured Cream

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

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

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

 

Served here on Royal Doulton – Carnation, 1982-1998

Serving suggestions

Sprinkle liberally  with chopped parsley.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zrazy – Meat Roll-ups

Zrazy (this word is plural) is a meat dish popular in Eastern Poland & Lithuania and can be traced back to the 16th & 17th century in the times  of the  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569 – 1795).

(I have seen zrazy  translated as Meat Roll-ups, Meat Olives or Collops)

Classic zrazy have a rolled shape and are made of thin slices of  beef,  beaten with a mallet, which are stuffed with a variety of ingredients including  mushrooms.

You need to use beef which is good for  braising and slow cooking  –  I used a thin cut of topside and this worked very well.

 

The stuffed meat is rolled and secured with thread or thin string, then lightly fried and placed in a casserole dish with stock and slow cooked at a low temperature.

 

 

Stock

For the stock,  I  use chicken or vegetable stock (this can be from a stock cube or powder)  and add bay leaves, whole peppercorns and sometimes whole allspice.

 

 

 

Prior to serving, the threads are removed.

 

 

Zrazy are eaten with the sauce in which they were cooked, though extra ingredients can be added to this such as  soured cream, mushrooms or tomato.

You can add some cornflour to thicken the sauce.

Po nelsońsku  –  in Lord Nelson’s style –  is when mushrooms and soured cream are added to the sauce. (I have not been able to discover why this name is used.)

 

 

Here served on Royal Doulton – Carnation – 1982 – 1998

Zrazy are often served with buckwheat or boiled potatoes, and beetroot or sauerkraut salad.

Classic Ingredients for the Stuffing

There is no end to the variety of fillings you can use, the following are two traditional ones.

The amounts you need will vary according to how many zrazy you are filling – these are a guide to proportions.

Onions & Rye bread

1/2 slice of rye bread – made into breadcrumbs

1 onion – chopped and fried in butter till golden

1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds

Salt & pepper

You can spread a little made up mustard onto the meat first.

 

 

 

 

Dried Mushrooms

20g dried mushrooms  – add around 250ml of boiling water and soak these overnight – chop into small pieces then simmer in the liquid.

1 onion – chopped and browned in butter till golden

Add the onion to the mushrooms and continue simmering till most of the liquid is gone.

 

Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Courgette Fritters

The first post on this blog was on 4 July 2015 – just over 2 years ago.

Now this will be my 100th post!

Although courgette fritters are not from an old Polish recipe they do have some similarity  to Polish potato pancakes and to carrot pancakes.

Courgette in Polish is cukini – so another vegetable that owes its name to Italian  – zucchini.

Courgettes belong to cucurbitaceae family as do cucumbers which are very well loved in Poland – so I am sure this recipe would be very popular there too.

I have read that courgettes did not become popular in Poland until the 1970s although the larger marrow and pumpkins were often cooked and many recipes for these can be used for courgettes.

The amounts in the ingredients are all approximate.

Ingredients

2 to 3 courgettes

1 egg

2 tablespoons of soured cream, double cream, crème fraise or yoghurt cheese

2 tablespoons of plain flour

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Salt

Sunflower oil for frying.

Method

Grate the courgettes using a coarse grater.

Sprinkle the courgettes with salt.

Place the salted courgettes onto a clean tea towel and place this in a colander for around 30 minutes.

Wrap the tea towel up and squeeze out the liquid from the courgettes.

Note

The green stains on the tea towel will come out in a hot wash but  do not use fabric softener for tea towels used for this and similar purposes.

 

 

 

Place the dried grated courgettes in a bowl and add the grated lemon rind.

 

 

 

Add the beaten egg and the soured cream (double cream, crème fraise or yoghurt cheese) and mix together.

Add the flour and mix thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and use large tablespoonfuls of the mixture to make the fritters.

Fry them on both sides until they are golden brown.

 

Keep them on a heat proof plate  in a low heat oven whilst you make the rest.

 

 

You can place a sheet of kitchen roll on top of the first layer to stop them sticking.

Serve them with grilled meats and salad.

Option

A chopped red chilli or two and also a chopped garlic clove can be added to the mixture.

 

 

 

Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche

There are 2 classic pastries, kruche and półkruche in Poland & the most difficult part is trying to get a good translation of the names.

Ciasto kruche

Ciasto is pastry and the word kruche means brittle, fragile or crumbly and ciasto kruche is often translated as shortcrust pastry – however it is quite different to British shortcrust pastry.

This pastry is used to make a Polish cake called Mazurek of which there are many version.

Ciasto półkruche

The pół part of the word półkruche means half or semi – but semi-shortcrust pastry does not really explain much!

This pastry is often used to make a Polish cake called placek future posts will describe how to make these.

Both of these pastries are much richer than shortcrust pastry.

Ciasto kruche

The 4 ingredients are plain flour, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt)

Use a flour which is low in gluten  – a cake flour not  a bread flour.

Butter give the best results but block  margarine can be used .  The pastry is fragile due to its high fat content.

Use egg yolks (raw or hard boiled ), because the protein in the whites reduces the fragility of the dough.

Using cooked egg yolks results in greater fragility.

Ratios

3 flour: 2 Butter: 1 Icing

or

2 flour: 1 butter: ½ – 1 Icing

Usually – 1 yolk per 100g flour

A pinch or two of salt.

Ciasto półkruche

Here flour, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt) are used but there can be other additions such as baking powder, egg whites and soured cream or milk, granulated sugar  or vanilla sugar .

The proportions of the main ingredients are different in that półkruche has a lower fat content.

Ratios

2 flour: 1 butter

or

3 flour: 1 Butter

Both kruche  and  półkruche are  baked in an oven heated  at GM5 – 190°C or GM6 – 200° C,  for 20 to 25 minutes.

Ciasto Kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks

Ingredients

340g plain flour

170g butter – chilled

100g icing sugar

3 egg yolks

pinch of salt.

Method

Add a pinch of salt to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Add the yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and avoid touching the dough with warm hands, as it increases its temperature and this leads to increased use of flour.

Once the dough has been kneaded, cool (about 20-30 minutes in the centre of the refrigerator) and then roll out to the desired shape and size.

Roll out the dough and shape it as required.

Note

As this dough is very crumbly – I often find I have to piece and press the dough into the cake tin.

 Ciasto Kruche 2 – with cooked egg yolks

I have seen recipes using hard boiled yolks and always thought “Strange! – having tried this out – I found that this is the best pastry ever! Delicious & crisp.

Ingredients

300g plain flour

200g butter – chilled

100g icing sugar

3 cooked egg yolks

pinch or two of salt.

There are 2 ways of cooking the egg yolks:

1 – Hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes, allow to cool and separated the cooked yolks from the whites (this give you cooked egg whites to add to salads or similar). Use a fork to break up the yolks into very small pieces.

 

 

2 – Separate the raw yolks from the whites, then place these in a colander and cook over hot water (this gives you raw egg whites to use in other recipes).

Method

Add a pinch of salt to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Add the broken up yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Ciasto półkruche -1

Ingredients

300g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

150g butter

100g icing sugar

1 egg & 2 yolks

1 – 2  tablespoons of soured cream

pinch of salt

Method

Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolks and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.

I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.

 

 

 

Ciasto półkruche -2

500g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

200g butter

150g icing sugar

2 eggs & 1 yolk

4 -5 tablespoons of soured cream

Method

Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolk and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.

I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.

 

 

 

 

Kohlrabi Salads

Kohlrabi in Polish is kalarepa  –  it belongs to the cabbage family – the Brassicas  –  and has been cultivated from Brassica oleracea – the wild cabbage.

It is a swollen stem and spherical and its taste and texture is similar to cabbage heart and it  can be eaten both raw & cooked.

My auntie in Wembley used to grow kohlrabi  in the garden & on their allotment  but until recently I never saw it for sale in England whereas in Poland it is a common vegetable, it matures quickly, withstands the frost and can be stored for some time.

This kohlrabi I bought from the outdoor market in Leeds.

For all the salads below the raw kohlrabi has been peeled and then grated on a medium grater.

Here I have just used 1 kohlrabi per salad.

Simple Kohlrabi Salad

 

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998.

 

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

2 – 3 tablespoons of soured cream

Juice of half a lemon.

Method

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice.

Mix the grated kohlrabi  with the dressing.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple

1 kohlrabi

1 Red or Pink eating apple

2 -3 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt

1-2 tablespoons of apple juice

Method

Grated kohlrabi  is mixed with a chopped eating apple – use an apple with a red or pink skin for the lovely colour – here I used a Pink Lady which has a super taste.

Mix the natural Greek style full fat  yoghurt  and apple juice for the dressing.

20170407_172104

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served here in J & G Meakin – Topic by Alan Rogers, 1967.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple & Raisins

This is made as the salad above with addition of around 40g of raisins

Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

1 carrot

2-3 tablespoons of soured cream

juice of half a lemon

Method

Grate the carrot & the kohlrabi using a medium grater

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice

Mix everything together.

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998

The green part of spring onions or chives can be added to the carrots & apples

 

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Cooked kohlrabi in salads

You can steam the kohlrabi – steam several whole ones and peel them once they are cooked and cooled.

Use the steamed kohlrabi in place of steamed  Celeriac in salads.

Carrot Pancakes

Daucus carota – the carrot – was cultivated from wild carrots in the countries we now know as Afghanistan & Iran and are mentioned there in the 10th century and by the 12th century they were mentioned in Europe.

These tap roots were originally white, yellow or purple in colour.

The orange colour that we recognise today was breed by growers in Europe in the 17th century especially in the Netherlands.  It is thought that this was in honour of Prince William of Orange-Nassau (Willem van Oranje) who had an orange stripe on his flag. Nowadays orange is thought of as the national colour for the Netherlands.

These pancakes made with carrots in Polish are called racuszki z marchwi.

They are small round pancakes like American pancakes or dropped scones and are served with sugar or sweetened soured cream.

Ingredients

450g carrots, peeled and finely grated

140g twaróg/cream cheese or yoghurt cheese

2 eggs separated

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1/2  teaspoon of baking powder

Sunflower oil for frying

To Serve

Caster sugar or soured cream sweetened with icing sugar.

Method

Whisk the whites until they are stiff.

In a small dish mix the baking powder with the flour.

In a large bowl mix together well the finely grated carrots, the cream (or yoghurt) cheese and the egg yolks.

Add the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff egg whites.

Heat some sunflower oil in a cast iron frying pan or griddle.

Use 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake, cook on one side and then turn them over and cook on the other side.

Sprinkle with caster sugar or with a dollop of sweetened soured cream.

 

 

Served here on Wedgwood – Hathaway Rose – 1959 -1987.

Note

I have also tried them with maple syrup poured on them & these were also delicious.

IMG_20160729_161009545

 

Gulasz

The word gulasz comes from the Hungarian gulyás and is the word for a casserole or stew.

In Hungary the meat would most likely have been beef but in Poland it is either pork or beef.

When beef is used it is usually called węgierski  – Hungarian style.

As stewing steak used to be more readily available in England than casserole pork my mother made this with beef.

I make this with either beef or pork, both are delicious as the slow cooking and tomato purée give an intense rich flavour.

Classic Gulasz

Ingredients

500g stewing beef or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

250ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of plain flour

salt & ground black pepper

oil for frying

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic.

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Mix the tomato purée and the paprika into the stock.

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Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper.

Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper
Beef Coated in Plain Flour, salt & pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed.

Place the meat into a casserole dish.

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy.

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Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper.

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid.

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Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ hours  to  4 ½ hours but often I find it needs  longer.

Classic Beef Gulasz

Serve with potatoes, hefty style pasta or boiled rice as well as salads such as:

If served on top of a large, breakfast plate sized potato pancake this is known as a

węgierski placek  – Hungarian pancake.

Tip

Make this a day ahead of when you need it, cook the dish for at least 3 hours and leave it to cool.

The next day cook it again for at least 1 hour, you might have to add a little water or stock but not too much, the sauce should be thick not watery.

Using a slow cooker

Nowadays I often make gulasz using a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I made a gulasz using pork shoulder and cooked it in the slow cooker for 8 hours.

 

Pork gulasz served in a dish by J & G Meakin Studio Pottery

Unknown Design Name

Luxury Style Gulasz 

All houses in Poland have cellars and even people living in block of flats have a cellar area of their own; if you ever get the chance to look in these you will find that they are filled with: jams, preserves, bottled fruit and vegetables, sauerkraut and salted gherkins.

Bottled sweet red peppers in brine are often found amongst these jars.  The addition of the peppers from one of these jars to the gulasz makes it even better.

Of course if like me you do not have the home-made variety you can buy these from most delicatessens or supermarkets now.

One Of My Two Cellars

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You can use fresh red peppers and I use these when they are plentiful, either will make a delicious gulasz but I think I like ones with the bottled peppers best.

The recipe is a variation on the classic gulasz but you have to use less stock or you will end up with it being too watery due the water content of the peppers – especially the fresh ones.

Ingredients

500g stewing beef  or shoulder or spare rib pork

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of tomato purée

150ml chicken stock – can be made from stock cubes

2 teaspoons of (sweet) paprika (not smoked)

1 bay leaf

Jar of bottled red peppers or 3 to 4 fresh red peppers

2 -3 tablespoons of soured cream

2 tablespoons of plain flour

Salt & ground black pepper

Oil for frying

Paprika to dust on the top

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 1600C

Roughly chop the onions and crush the garlic

Mix the tomato purée and the paprika in the stock

If using the bottled peppers cut them into long strips and then cut these into halves

If using the fresh peppers, cut them into long strips, de-seed them and cut these into halves

Cut the meat into cubes and coat the pieces in a mixture of flour, salt and ground pepper

In a frying pan heat the oil until it is hot and fry the meat until all the sides are sealed

Place the meat into a casserole dish

Fry the garlic and onions in the frying pan, adding some oil if necessary but trying not to use too much or the dish will be greasy

Add the onions to the meat then add the bay leaf and some more ground pepper

Add the peppers to the dish and mix the contents together

Pour the stock mixture into the casserole dish and put on the lid

Cook in the oven until the meat is tender, this could be about 3 ½ to 4 hours but often I find it needs longer.

 

 

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When you are ready to serve the gulasz, mix in one to two tablespoons of soured cream and then put the other tablespoon of soured cream on top in the centre and dust some extra paprika on this.

 

Serve as for the classic style gulasz.

Here served in a dish by J & G Meakin – Topic from 1967