Chleb – Bread

Today is the third anniversary of my blog – I started posting on 4 July 2015 and this will be my 155th post!

I am really enjoying the research, the cooking, the photography  and the writing and have many more recipes to share with you all.

Chleb – Bread

A wedding tradition in Poland is to greet the bride and groom on their arrival at the reception with bread & salt.

The bread is seen as a gift from God and is a wish that they never go hungry.

The salt is a seen as a gift from the earth and is a wish that they overcome the bitterness of life.

Rye

To be called bread in Poland the loaves or rolls must contain some rye.

Wheat loaves or rolls are called bułki or bułeczki but this is also the name  given to some cakes and buns – hence there is often some confusion!

Żyto is the Polish for rye.

Rye   – Secale cereale  is a grain and is used for bread and for making some of the best vodkas.

It grew  wild in Turkey and  since the Middle Ages it has been cultivate widely in    Central and Eastern Europe.

Rye grows well  in poor soil and in cold and harsh conditions.

Nowadays rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe and the top three rye producing countries are Germany,  Russia & Poland.

Poland consumes the most rye per person at 32.4 kg/capita (2009) followed by Nordic and Baltic countries. (From an article in Wikipedia).

Sour dough

This method of bread making uses the natural yeasts that are found on the grain and in the atmosphere.

I had never tried using a sour dough method before.  I have now tried it out twice –  even as a former science student  – it felt like MAGIC! – the results were wonderful!

This recipe is adapted from one in found in my American book – Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert & Maria Syrybel.

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It takes around 3 days to make 2 loaves.

I suppose I could halve the recipe but I am quite happy to cut and freeze any surplus and the bread keeps for several days and can always be toasted.

Whey

This recipe uses whey which I often have if I have made any twarog – curd cheese.

If I do not have any whey I make a mixture of around 2 parts yoghurt to 1 part water instead.

Method

Day 1

At around 5 pm mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water in a bowl.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours.

Day 2

Again at around 5 pm,  mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water and the mixture from the night before in a bowl and leave overnight or around 12 hours.

 

Day 3

In the morning

Ingredients

350g rye flour

350g (strong) plain flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds

450 – 500ml  of whey  or a mixture of 2 parts yoghurt & 1 part water

Plus the starter mix from the days before

Method

Combine all the ingredients together.

Aim for a “wet” mix – it is harder to handle but gives the best results.

Knead for around 5 minutes – longer if you can!

 

Shape the dough – cut  it in half and make 2 oval-shaped loaves and place them on greased baking trays or you can put them into tins – I used  a round – loose bottomed tin – 20cm in diameter in my second bake.

Leave to rise  for around 5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Place some water in a roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.

 

They take around 50 minutes to bake – I swap the two trays around after about 20 minutes.

 

Delicious with just butter – Well worth the wait!

 

Racuszki – A Kind of Pancake

A racuch – according  to my dictionary is  a kind of pancake.

Racuszki or racuchy are plural words for them- used much more as you never have just one!  They are small thick pancakes similar to dropped scones, Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes.

In my old Polish recipe book, the recipe uses soured milk, but as I do not have this, I use my own thick yoghurt instead.

Racuszki

1 egg

250ml yoghurt

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

large pinch salt.

Method

In a large bowl mix the flour, pinch of salt, the egg and some of the yoghurt, mix it with a wooden spoon. I found my new one with a hole in it which I bought in The Netherlands very good for this.

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Keep adding the yoghurt (and some water if needed) and mix till you get a batter which is thick and then beat it more till it is smooth and glossy.

Then add the bicarbonate of soda and give this a final mix.

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

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They are traditionally served warm with jam or thick fruit syrup – caster sugar also goes well.

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With Sour Cherry Jam

Yoghurt Cheese Pancakes

I have recently been to The Netherlands to stay with my friend and was looking at the local newspaper and saw a recipe for pancakes using qwark  (I can manage enough Dutch words to  figure out some recipes – especially if there is  a photograph!)

I thought they sounded very much like racuszki, so I jotted the recipe down and when I came home I adapted it slightly by using self raising flour, adding a little vanilla essence and used my own yoghurt cheese instead of qwark.

In the original recipe they served them warm with yoghurt & honey, I also tried them with melted butter & sugar, and with maple syrup – from the large bottle I got from my friend who lives in Canada.

 

 

They were super and ones I had left could be easily reheated and were still soft and not rubbery – I will be using this recipe lots from now on.

Ingredients

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar

250g yoghurt cheese

200ml milk (you might not need it all)

125g self raising flour

Pinch salt

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff – I tend to do this first so you can use the beaters for the rest of the recipe – without having to wash them to remove the grease.

In a large bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, yoghurt cheese, flour, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and around half the milk.

Keep adding more milk and mix well until you have a thick batter – like double cream.

With a metal spoon fold in the stiff egg whites.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

 

Ciocia* Pola’s Apple Racuszki 

*Aunty

Many years ago I went to stay with my one of mother’s sisters (Apolonia) who lived in the area called mazury – the Masurian Lake District in North East Poland.

With apples from the garden she made  racuszki – using a thick yeast risen batter and roughly chopped apples – a cross between a pancake and a fritter. They were delicious.

I have made them here many times using her recipe. Whilst researching and checking other  variations I saw that several recipes used grated apples – these came out stodgy  with little taste of the apple – you need to keep the pieces fairly large.

Ingredients

125 ml of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

25g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon

10g  fresh yeast or 5g  dried yeast

25g  butter

1 egg

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

2 Bramley apples

Icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon  sugar to dust.

Method

Warm half the milk and add a teaspoon of caster sugar and the yeast and mix it all together and leave it to froth up.

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Melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the egg with the sugar until it is thick and creamy.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Use a wooden spoon (one with a hole works really well) and beat in the yeast mixture, the egg & sugar mixture and then the melted butter.

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Slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing until the mixture has the consistency of double cream.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave this to rise.

Peel, core and quarter the apples and cut them into small chunks or slices cut in half.

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Add the apples to the risen batter and mix them well in to coat them.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place large tablespoons of apple and batter onto the pan and cook them so that they are golden brown on both sides.

 

Remove them from the pan and dust them with icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon sugar.

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Eat them whilst they are hot & as they say in Poland – Smacznego! (may they be delicious!)

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

Today,  4 July 2016, is the first Anniversary of my blog!

What an interesting year it has been for me with all the reading & research, cooking & photographing  and the writing.

I do hope you are all enjoying reading my posts & God willing this is the start of another interesting year.

This will be my 58th post &  I am going to  write about  a  very popular vegetable in Poland.

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

The word seler in Polish is used for both celeriac and celery and in fact celeriac is a just a variety of celery (Apium graveolens).

Celeriac is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey where it is called selinon.

Now for a little plant biology – in English the stems of the plant are known as celery and they  are long with leaves at the top.

Whereas in the variety known as celeriac – it is the hypocotyl – the swollen enlarged stem above the root and below the leaves  – which is eaten. The leaves come off the top of this swollen stem. (Celeriac is often classed as a root vegetable but it is not the root.)

Celeriac has not been around in the shops in England for that long and last week I bought one in Marks & Spencer’s and it had a label on it saying “NEW“.

Years ago when I looked at my Polish cookery book and it talked about grating seler – celery I used to think oh, how very odd – I wonder how that comes out – I now realise  that they  were referring to grating celeriac.

In Poland you are much more likely to be served celeriac than celery  and it is a very popular vegetable which can be eaten both raw and cooked and is used in a variety of salads.

I have been trying out some salads both with raw & cooked celeriac including some old favourites.  Celeriac has a delicate flavour and easily picks up the flavours of the other ingredients.

Dressings for the salads include mayonnaise, soured cream, natural thick yoghurt & my favourite grated horseradish (I use a bought sauce.)

I have given details of the dressing I have used in the following recipes but they are easily interchangeable.

Salads Using Raw Celeriac

For the following recipes you will need to peel the celeriac – use a peeler if you can as using a knife can take too much off. You then need to grate the celeriac.

Lemon juice is needed to prevent the grated celeriac discolouring.

Simple Celeriac Salad

Ingredients

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together, I tend to use equal amounts.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac with Raisins & Walnuts Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx 1/2 a cup

Chopped walnuts – approx 1/2 a cup

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together – equal amounts – and then add 1 to 2 large tablespoonfuls of horseradish sauce.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the raisins & the chopped walnuts

peanuts

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac & Orange Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx  1/3 of  a cup

2 oranges

Thick yoghurt

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Squeeze the juice from 1 orange & pour this over the raisins.

Leave this for a couple of hours so that the raisins plump up.

Make the dressing by mixing equal amounts of yoghurt and soured cream together and then add 1 or 2 large tablespoons of horseradish sauce.

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Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Peel & then chop the other orange and mix this with the soaked raisins.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Salads Using Cooked Celeriac

You can cook the celeriac by boiling it in water but I have found that it is much easier to steam it.

If there is still any soil on the celeriac then wash this away with water first.

If your celeriac is large you might want to cut it in half and just use half & use the other half for something else.

Steam the celeriac – it will need at least 20 minutes.

You can use a cake tester to see if it is cooked.

Leave it to cool – I leave mine in the steaming pan with the lid on.

When it is cold peel away the outer “skin”

Chop the celeriac into rough cubes or chunks.

These cooked cubes are then the basis of many different salads.

You can use the cooked celeriac in many salads instead of boiled potatoes as in the classic  Polish Potato Salad with peas & carrots in mayonnaise.

The potatoes in the above salad can be replaced with celeriac.

Celeriac & Gherkin Salad

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

1 chopped gherkin

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Mayonnaise

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped gherkin and onion.

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Add a couple of large tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix it all together.

Celeriac Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped

Large handful of raisins or sultanas

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Thick yoghurt

Horseradish sauce.

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped onion.

Add the raisins (or sultanas)

Add  the chopped hard boiled eggs.

Mix a dressing using 2 to 3 tablespoons of thick plain yoghurt  and 1 or 2 tablespoons of horseradish sauces and mix the other ingredients.

Leave this for around half and hour so that the flavours can mingle.

 

NOTE

If you hard boil very fresh eggs they are very difficult to peel -it is easier to use older eggs.

Celery, Peanut & Sultana Salad

This recipe is one I got for one of my sisters many years ago and although this is not a traditional Polish salad it has become one of my trusty recipes as it is so easy and as it is best  to make it sometime ahead there is no last minute stress when making it.

Ingredients

4 long celery stalks

Around 1/3 cup of salted peanuts

Around 1/3 cup of sultanas

Mayonnaise

Method

Chop the celery into fine slices.

Mix with the peanut and sultanas.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

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Leave for at least  half an hour before serving – I usually make this several hours beforehand.

Now for a little science to explain why the dressing taste so sweet  and is more runny than when it started.

Osmosis is the movement of water across a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high water concentration to an area of low water concentration to try to equalise the concentrations on both sides.

Cells in the plant ingredients have semi-permeable membrane.

The salt on the peanuts causes water to leave the celery and go into the mayonnaise, this water then enters the sultanas causing them to plump up.

The above is true when you mix many salads but especially here with the salt on the peanuts and the dried fruit.

Babka – Polish Cake – Using Potato Flour

Potato flour is used in many Polish recipes for a variety of cakes.

This recipe is for a babka (click here for earlier post) using a mixture of wheat flour and potato flour and is adapted from a recipe in my old Polish cookery book.

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Kuchnia Polska - Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery
Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen  – Polish Cookery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past potato flour was hard to find in England but now you should be able to find it in most Polish shops.

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Potato Flour

One of my Polish friends in England said she had tried using cornflour in baking when she could not get  potato flour but she did not think it gave as good results.

Recently in a repeated radio programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra I heard the late Marguerite Patten  say  that cooks in Victorian England  used potato flour in cake baking on a regular basis.

 Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g potato flour

200g butter or block margarine

4 eggs separated

200g icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 to 4 tablespoons of  soured cream or yoghurt – Full Fat-Greek style or home-made Yoghurt – click for earlier post)

(I have made this recipe with soured cream and then with my own yoghurt – both turned our super)

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Fine Grater – Microplane Graters are Super For Lemon Zest.

Microplane Professional Series

Method

Grease and flour a large babka tin.

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Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Mix the flours together with the baking powder and leave to one side.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the icing sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolks – one by one.

Then beat in the lemon zest and juice.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs white until they are stiff.

Fold the egg whites into the creamed mixture.

Gently fold the whites in the flour mixture.

Place the mixture into the prepared babka tin.

Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for around 30 – 40 minutes.

Check with a cake tester.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool a little.

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When cooled –  remove carefully from the tin – this is easiest when the cake is nearly cold.

Dust the cake with icing sugar or pour over it a runny icing glaze.

 

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Silver Rose – Duchess 1950s & 1960s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions for those who do not have a babka tin

At the moment (February 2016) Marks & Spencer are selling babka tins at a reasonable price – I bought one to add to my collection!

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Tin from Marks & Spencer

However if you do not want to go to the expensive but want to try out the cake I have made the cake using 2 types of loaf tins with good results

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First using a long narrow tin

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and secondly a 2lb loaf tin.

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You need to grease and line the tins or use loaf tin liners – I discovered these recently and think they are a boon. You can get them in 2 loaf sizes.  They are available in many stores but also you should also be able to find them in the cheaper discount stores.

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The cake takes 40 -45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at GM4 – 180°C

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Dust the top with icing sugar

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Colclough Longton Bone China ..... Around 1930s
Colclough Longton Bone China …..
Around 1930s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoghurt and Yoghurt Cheese

Soured Milk – 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 from this. However you cannot make soured milk from pasteurised milk (of course you can in a dairy where they will have the starters).

My mother had this on the go all the time, mainly to make the curd cheese which is used in lots of Polish recipes – savoury and sweet.

Yoghurt – 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 could say that yoghurt is soured milk’s cousin.

It is a relatively new dairy product for sale in Poland but is now very popular.

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

I go through phases of making yoghurt – it is easy to do – you just need a little bit of time and a supply of milk and some bought yoghurt as a starter.

Two Very Good Books

The Yoghurt Book Food of the Gods by Arto der Haroutunian – first published in 1983.

Mine is an old copy.  I think it might be out of print but there are second hand copies available for sale  eg on Amazon.

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Eat Well The YoChee Way by Nikki & David Goldbeck – 2001

This book is American & YoChee is the authors name for yoghurt cheese.

My Method For Making Yoghurt

  • I use a wide-necked vacuum flask, it holds about 750 ml (it must be wide necked or you will have difficulties cleaning it). I fill it with boiling water to sterilise it and heat it up. I leave this with the water in whilst the milk is cooling down – then I pour out the water and add the yoghurt mix.  I often make this at night and it is ready  in the morning. You can make it in the morning and it should be ready in the evening.

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  • Now that milk is pasteurised you need a yoghurt starter, Greek yoghurt is good, once you have made some of your own, you can then use that to start the next batch.
  • You need milk –  you can use whole milk or semi skimmed – you can use skimmed milk but I prefer the others.
  • I have a tall milk pan which is very useful as there is height for the milk to rise without spilling all over the cooker top.

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  • Bring the milk to the boil and then let it cool to 37 to 40 degrees o C, if you dip in a finger tip it must feel just lukewarm, no hotter than body temperature, and you should be able to keep your finger there for a count of 10 without it being too hot or you can use a cook’s thermometer.  This is important, too hot will kill the bacteria, too cold may not be warm enough for the bacteria to grow.
  • Mix a large tablespoon of yoghurt into the milk, about 1 tablespoon to 500ml of milk.
  • You then have to leave the mixture in a warm place to grow.
  • You can put the mixture in a clean, sterilized with boiling water, bowl and cover this with a cloth and leave it overnight  or about 12 hours. This is the easiest method in the summer or if you have a warm but not too hot spot in the house.
  • I empty the hot water from my vacuum flask and pour in the milk & yoghurt mixture,  put on the stopper and the lid and leave for around 10 hours.
  • I have used a thermostatically controlled yoghurt maker in the past and you put the mixture into little pots and left them.  I found this did not make much yoghurt in one go and there was a lot to clean out and sterilise. I started to use the vacuum flask method and have stayed with that but some of the new electric makers now have just one large pot and I think they may be easier to use.
  • Once it is made, pour it into a bowl or tub and refrigerate the yoghurt,  it tastes so much better and fresher that any bought ones.  I bought some plastic food storage tubs with lids specially for this.

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At this point you can start again and when you have loads you will start to think “maybe I will make some yoghurt cheese from this” and on it goes!

With the yoghurt, sometimes I eat it plain, or use it instead of milk with muesli or other cereals, dried fruits and nuts. Mostly though I add fruit to it, chopped fresh fruit sprinkled with a bit of icing sugar, stewed fruit or tinned fruit. I love it with stewed prunes! It is super with just a spoonful of runny honey.  Sometimes I use it as a salad dressing on its own or mixed with mayonnaise.

Making Yoghurt Cheese

Also known  as YoChee  and in the Middle East as labna  or labneh.

Traditional Method

The yoghurt cheese is made by putting  yoghurt into a muslin cloth and tying it up and letting the whey drain off from the curds. This will take many hours and is best done in a cool place.

Modern Straining Method

I bought a little device from Lakeland Plastics which is a modern version of the hanging muslin cloth. It is a plastic tub with a stainless steel fine mesh sieve which hangs in the box.  You then put on a plastic lid and then put the tub in the fridge.

I leave this to strain for at least 24 hours  – often up to 48 hours.

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Sometimes I buy a 1kg tub of Greek yoghurt to make the cheese if  I do not have any of my own – this is more than enough for the tub.

Yoghurt Cheese as it comes out of the pot.

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It is a soft, fresh tasting cheese.

I eat it uncooked either plain or with chopped onions, chives or garlic, with chopped dates and banana or jam and so on, the list is endless.

I use yoghurt cheese in Polish recipes instead of twaróg – Polish curd cheese  to make baked cheesecake or Polish style ravioli with either sweet curd cheese or savoury with potatoes, onions and curd cheese and much, much more.

I would use this home made cheese within a week as it does not of course have the shelf life of commercially, often vacuum packed, cheeses. 

This morning for breakfast I had some freshly made yoghurt cheese on toast with some morello cherry jam which my friend had made a couple of weeks ago from cherries growing on her allotment.

It was delicious!

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The cheese is wonderful with other slightly tart jams such as blackcurrant or damson.

By the Way – Whey is a useful by-product

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Tub of whey you can keep in the fridge.

The liquid whey that is in the bottom of the tub can be saved and used instead of water, milk or buttermilk in making scones and soda bread etc or you can add it to soups.