Kefir & Co

  • Naturally occurring microorganisms produce many fermented milk products.
  • This preservation of milk has been known to be used since around 10,000 BC.
  • Soured milk, kefir, and yoghurt are three such products.
  • They could be described as “cousins”.
  • Lactose, the sugar, in the milk is converted into lactic acid – this is what gives them the sour taste.

Soured Milk –  Kwaśne mleko  or Zsiadłe mleko –  is the fermented milk product that is found in Northern Europe, especially in Poland.  It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk  and these bacteria live happily in colder climates.

When we used to have farm milk at home my mother made soured milk all the time and then also made twaróg – Polish curd cheese,  which is used in lots of Polish recipes – savoury and sweet.

However you cannot make soured milk from pasteurised milk at home (of course it can be made in a dairy where they will have starters).

Yoghurt jogurt –  is the fermented milk product that is found in Southern Europe and the Middle East.  It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk and these bacteria live happily in warmer climates.

You can make yoghurt at home because you can use some bought yoghurt as a starter and some milk and then continue using your yoghurt as a starter and so on.

I have written how to make yoghurt in my post on Yoghurt & Yoghurt Cheese in 2015.

Kefir – is similar to yoghurt though usually it is not as thick.  A mixture of lactic acid producing bacteria, acetic acid producing bacteria and yeasts are involved in its formation.

I know you can get “grains” for making your own kefir although I have never tried.

I buy kefir from my local Polish shops and discovered recently that the large Tesco supermarket near me stocks it (In fact it is a Polish product!).

 

Recently I was given a recipe from an old Polish cookery book for a chocolate cake using kefir – I have tried this out – this and more kefir cake recipes will be posted soon.

 

 

 

Chłodnik – 4 – Cucumber

This chłodnik is a simple cool starter for a hot summer’s day.

 

Ingredients

  • Half  a cucumber
  • Spring onions – green parts or chives
  • 500ml of yoghurt
  • Handful of dill
  • Lemon juice and cold water
  • Salt & Pepper & Sugar to taste

Method

  • Part peel the cucumber length-ways to give stripes.
  • Chop the cucumber into small cubes.
  • Chop the spring onions or chives into small pieces.
  • Chop the dill into small pieces.
  • Thin down the yoghurt with lemon juice and water to suit.
  • Mix with the chopped cucumber.
  • Add dill and spring onions or chives.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Chill in the fridge for several hours.
  • Sprinkle with chopped chives to serve.

 

Served in Soup Dishes by Midwinter – Spanish Garden – 1966 – 1982.

Chłodnik – 3 – Beetroot & Cucumber

This chilled soup is a refreshing start to a meal in summer.

Beetroot concentrate is used in this easy version.

Ingredients

  • Half  a cucumber
  • Spring onion – green parts or chives
  • 500ml of yoghurt or 300ml soured cream & lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of beetroot concentrate
  • Handful of dill
  • Lemon juice and cold water
  • Salt & Pepper & Sugar to taste
  • *
  • Hard boiled eggs to serve – ½ egg per person

Method

  • Part peel the cucumber length-ways to give stripes.
  • Chop the cucumber into small cubes.
  • Chop the spring onions or chives into small pieces.
  • Chop the dill into small pieces.
  • Mix the yoghurt or soured cream & lemon juice with the beetroot concentrate.
  • Thin this down with lemon juice and water to suit.
  • Mix with the chopped cucumber.
  • Add dill and spring onions or chives.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Chill in the fridge for several hours.
  • *
  • Serve with quarters of hard boiled eggs and a sprinkle of chives.

 

 

Served in Tapestry  by Royal Doulton – 1966 – 1988

Pepper & Apple Salad

Here is a refreshing salad with a honey and yoghurt dressing for a sunny day.

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 2 eating apples such as Braeburn
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • *
  • 2 tablespoons of runny honey
  • 3 tablespoons of Greek style yoghurt
  • *
  • Flat-leaved parsley to garnish

Method

  • Cut the peppers and remove the stalk and seeds.
  • Cut the peppers into very thin strips.
  • Slice the onions finely.
  • Put the lemon juice into a bowl.
  • Core the apples and cut into small chunks.
  • Place the apples into the lemon juice.
  • Mix the peppers, onions and apples together.
  • Put the salad into a serving dish.
  • *
  • Mix the honey and yoghurt together.
  • Put this mixture on top of the salad.
  • Garnish with chopped flat-leaved parsley.

Orange Cake

This cake using sunflower oil and  yoghurt has a really good texture and reminds me of English Madeira cake, which was invented in the mid 19th Century taking its name from the Portuguese Madeira wine with which this cake was often served.

It started out in my hunt to make a cake using lemon balm – (melisa in Polish) which grows abundantly in my garden. Sadly none of the cakes I made captured its taste at all!

However I  adapted this recipe to make an orange cake and the result is delicious.

Short History of Oranges

Oranges originated in Ancient China and sweet oranges are recorded in Chinese literature in very early times.

They are thought to have been brought by Italian and Portuguese traders to the Mediterranean area in the 15th century.

The name is of  Middle Eastern origin:

  • Arabic – nāranj
  • Persian – narang
  • French – l’orange
  • Italian – arancia
  • Portuguese –  laranja
  • Spanish – naranja
  • Polish – pomarańcz
  • Whilst in Dutch it is – sinaasappel – meaning  Chinese apple.

Oranges in Poland were very expensive before World War 2 and my mother would tell me that at St Nicholas and Christmas time an orange or a tangerine would be a common gift.

Christopher Columbus took oranges to the Caribbean on his second voyage in 1493.

Later,  Spanish settlers introduced orange plants to North America,  first to Florida and then to California.

Figures from 2017 show Brazil as being the largest orange producer in the world with the United States of America coming second and  Florida produces 70% of that country’s oranges.

Ingredients

  • 85- 90ml of Greek yoghurt (full fat is best)
  • 2 large oranges – finely grated rind & juice (not all will be needed)
  • 125ml of orange juice
  • 180g of caster sugar
  • 320g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 170ml of sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.
  • Finely grate the rind of the oranges.
  • Squeeze the juice from the oranges (you will not need all of it).
  • Mix the yoghurt with 125ml of the  orange juice.
  • Prepare a 23cm loose bottom or spring  form tin with a cake liner.
  • In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, oil and orange rind.
  • Add the eggs and whisk again.
  • Lightly mix in the flour.
  • Mix in the lemon juice.
  • Mix in the yoghurt and orange juice mixture to give a thick batter.
  • Pour into the cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes and cover the top lightly if necessary).

Served on Duchess – Bramble Rose – tea-plates from the 1960s.

 

Summer Salads – Radish & Cucumber

The inspiration for these salads are from recipes in a new book I bought recently in Poland and from one my Polish friend  in Leeds bought for me.

 

 

History of the Radish

Radish, in Polish –  rzodkiew,  Latin name  –  Raphanus sativus,    is a root vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family and is thought to have originated in South East Asia.  It is mentioned in Greece in the 3rd century BC and in Europe in pre-Roman times.

It was one of the first European crops to be taken to the Americas.

Some of the recipes used czarna rzodkiew – which translates as black radish.  Now I had never heard of this, so looked it up and found it is called Black Spanish radish and sometimes called winter radish. It is mentioned in Europe in the 16th century and in England in the 19th century.

It has white flesh and a black skin and  can be round or long and it  is much larger  than the radishes I have seen.  So when the recipes used one or two black Spanish radishes, I used 1 or 2 bunches of radishes.

Cucumber & Radish Salad – Version 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 or 2 bunches of radishes
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chopped dill & flat leafed parsley

Method

  • Peel the cucumber or part peel lengthwise in stripes.
  • Cut the cucumber into thin slices  – you can cut these into halves.
  • Top and tail the radishes and then thinly slice them.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Add the oil and lemon juice and mix well.
  • Garnish with dill and flat leafed parsley.

 

 

 

Sweet Honey Dressing

A lovely sweet dressing made with honey is used on the following four salads.

Ingredients

  • 125ml soured cream
  • 1 tablespoon of runny honey
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method

Use a little whisk to combine the ingredients.

Cucumber & Radish Salad – Version 2

As version 1 with sweet honey dressing

Radish & Red Onion Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 bunches of radishes
  • 1 red onion
  • Sweet honey dressing

Method

  • Top and tail the radishes and then thinly slice them.
  • Slice and chop the onion into small squares.
  • Mix the radishes and onion together.
  • Pour the sweet honey dressing over them and mix.

 

 

Radish & Raisin Salad

Ingredients

  • 1-2 bunches of radishes
  • 80g raisins or sultanas
  • Sweet honey dressing

Method

  • Put the raisins into a small bowl and boiling water over them to cover.
  • Leave them until they are cold.
  • Use a sieve to drain away the water.
  • Use kitchen roll or a clean tea cloth to dry the raisins.
  • Top and tail the radishes and then thinly slice them.
  • Mix the radishes and raisins.
  • Pour the sweet honey dressing over them and mix.

Optional

Serve this on top of a bed of shredded lettuce.

 

 

 

Served here with liver & rice

Cucumber & Raisin Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 80g raisins or sultanas
  • Sweet honey dressing

Method

  • Put the raisins into a small bowl and boiling water over them to cover.
  • Leave them until they are cold.
  • Use a sieve to drain away the water.
  • Use kitchen roll or a clean tea cloth to dry the raisins.
  • Peel the cucumber or part peel lengthwise in stripes.
  • Cut the cucumber into thin slices  – you can cut these into halves.
  • Mix the cucumber and raisins.
  • Pour the sweet honey dressing over them and mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served here with liver & mushrooms and rice.

 

Radish & Apple Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 1 large apple – Braeburn is good
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
  • 2 pinches of salt

Method

  • Top and tail the radishes and then thinly slice them.
  • Cut larger slices into two
  • Put them into a bowl with the sugar and salt and leave these for around 10 minutes
  • Core the apple and cut into rough cubes
  • Place the apple into a bowl and our the lemon juice over them.
  • Mix the radishes and apple together
  • Mix in the yoghurt.

 

 

 

 

Placek with Almonds

I stayed in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) in 2018 and I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt which I adapted and this was posted as PlacekDerbyshire Inspired.

This is a variation I tried out using almonds.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter or block margarine
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence
  • 230g self raising flour
  • 50g of ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam
  • 50g of flaked almonds

Method

  • Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Place the flaked on a tray and pop them under the grill for a few minutes to toast them.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and almond essence
  • Mix together the flour, ground almonds and the baking powder.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar .
  • Add the yoghurt, egg and essence mixture and beat well.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.
  • Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.
  • Cover the top with the toasted almonds and quickly put it back in the oven.

 

 

  • Bake for around another 25 – 30 minutes.

 

 

  • Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.
  • Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

Served on teaplates by Wedgwood, Hathaway Rose  – 1959 -1987

 

 

 

Placek – Derbyshire Inspired

A few months ago I went on a craft week in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) and as always I was looking out for new recipes and ideas.

I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt.  Now in the past, every cake I have made with yoghurt in the ingredients was not a success with it either being straight to bird table or straight to bin!

Anyway, I tried this one out and was really pleased with the results.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt and I am sure low or no fat yoghurt would not do! – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

I have made a few alterations to the original recipe.

It is similar to a Polish placek (flat cake) and baked in a rectangular tray.

Ingredients

250g butter or block margarine

225g caster sugar

150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or the fine grated rind of 1 lemon

280g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Blackcurrant jam or sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam

50g of dessicated coconut

Method

Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180 C

Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla essence or lemon rind.

Mix together the flour and the baking powder.

Beat together the butter and sugar .

Add the yoghurt and egg mixture and beat well.

Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.

Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.

Drench the top with the coconut and quickly put it back in the oven.

Bake for around another 25 minutes.

 

 

 

Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.

Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

As a nod to Derbyshire, I used my Royal Crown Derby – Derby Posies – teaplates to serve.

They are marked  XXV which indicates 1972.

Variations

I think that the basic batter of this cake lends itself to quite a few variations – I intend to try some of these out in the coming months.

Soda Breads with Rye

These are two variations of a classic wheat flour soda bread recipe.

I think the slow rise breads you get with sourdough or bakers’ yeast are better but they take time to make.

These are a quick bake if you want some bread for lunch or supper.

I use a yoghurt & whey mix as I nearly always have these in when I make yoghurt cheese, but you can adapt by using a milk & water mix or buttermilk if you have it instead of the whey.

I add caraway as I love the taste but you can experiment with other flavours using fresh or dried chopped herbs.

Version 1

Ingredients

150g rye flour

250g plain flour

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

150ml yoghurt

200ml whey

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C

Flour a baking tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.

Mix the yoghurt and whey together in jug or bowl.

Add the yoghurt mixture to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

 

 

 

 

Use your floured hands to bring it all into a soft dough ball.

Place the ball onto the floured baking tray.

Using a sharp large knife cut a cross or star on the surface.

Bake for 5mins then turn the heat down to GM 6 – 200°C and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

The base should sound hollow when the bread is cooked .

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

 

 

Version 2

Ingredients

100g rye flour

250g wheat flour

50g rolled oats

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

150ml yoghurt

200ml whey

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C

Flour a baking tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.

Mix the yoghurt and whey together in jug or bowl.

Add the yoghurt mixture to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

Use your floured hands to bring it all into a soft dough ball.

Place the ball onto the floured baking tray.

Using a sharp large knife cut a cross or star on the surface.

Bake for 5mins then turn the heat down to GM 6 – 200°C and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

The base should sound hollow when the bread is cooked .

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

 

 

 

Note

Soda bread does tend to go stale quickly but is is still delicious toasted and served with butter.

 

 

Tea plates are Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.

 

Rye Bread

Having made a super sour dough rye bread   ,  I now thought I would have a go at one using baker’s yeast as this is a quicker option.

Only rye flour is used which does make it a harder to handle dough.

Ingredients

500ml yoghurt & water ( around 1:1 ) at hand heat

1.5 tablespoons of dried yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

100g rye flour

**********

650g rye flour

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds – plus extra for sprinkling on top

Method

Day 1

In a bowl mix the yoghurt and water , yeast , sugar and flour.

Leave for a while until it starts to bubble.

Mix the rest of the flour, salt and caraway seeds in a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon.

Aim for a “wet” mixture, adjusting with water or flour as necessary.

Cover this with a cling film or a cloth and leave overnight.

Day 2

This will make 2 loaves – either two round or oval loaves which you can place on greased baking sheets or you can use small baking tins – shallow ones rather than loaf tins work out best I think – I used a 16 x 27cm mermaid tin.

This dough is very hard to work with – I cut it into two and shape each piece without much kneading and try not to add much extra flour.

Cover and leave to rise – this may take several hours – you do not get much of a rise.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Brush the top of the loaf with hot water and sprinkle with caraway seeds. You can make 1 or 2 cuts on the top of the loaf.

Whilst experimenting with this recipe  I found  that if you make the loaf too thick then it can burn on the outside and still be uncooked in the centre.

I found that a flatter loaf and the one in the rectangular tray came out consistently better.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes – I swap the trays around after 20 -25 minutes.