There are millions of things to love about Christmas... Carols that are sang on the streets, the radiant beams of lights and garlands in a windows, the scent of spruce, orange and cinnamon that fill the air at home... a snow balls that when shaken are releasing familiar sounds of Christmas songs ... It's also a season of magical kindness and caring which spread around like an epidemics...
It is also a tradition that is passed through generations, which I’m drawing on a piece of kitchen notepad... perhaps one day I will pass it onto my children... One of these traditions is waiting for the one and only special dinner and a careful preparation of various delicacies, which is an integral part of the festive season in Poland. Our mothers and grandmothers spent long days on preparing the best home recipes, which they handed down to us carefully. I remember when, as a child a few days before Christmas Eve, I watched my mother bustling around the kitchen stirring, kneading and mixing something... I remember myself peeking into the oven through a little glass window and waiting for the cake to raise... I also remember how I helped to chop the onion for the pickled herrings... brrrr... I probably cried for Poland at the time... :)
Every year in our family home, a typical Christmas Eve dinner included a traditional herrings in sour cream. A few days before Christmas Eve, me and my mother marinated tones of herrings in vinegar and then at dinner they were served in aromatic sour cream sauce and accompanied by jacket potatoes. And this year, me and Yarek won’t miss them in our house too... However, we love to experiment a little, so apart from our traditional herrings we will have a little herring roulades with red pesto.
Traditional herring in sour cream
6 salted herring fillets ala Matias
2 medium onions
400g sour cream (18%)
Freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
3 grains allspice
A few days earlier, rinse the herring fillets thoroughly with water and prepare a vinegar marinade.
For this you need: 2 medium onions, 100ml of vinegar (10%), 400ml of water, 8 grains of allspice, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sugar.
Pour vinegar into a saucepan with water, season with allspice and bay leaves. Add the sugar, salt and pepper (at your discretion). Bring to a boil and cook about 5 minutes. Let it cool for 30 minutes. In the second pot, put sliced onion and blanch them with boiling water and allow to cool. Fill previously preserved jars with a layer of herring fillets cut in chunks and a layer of onion slices. When the jar is full, pour the cooled marinade together with allspice and bay leaves. Seal the jars and set aside in a cool place. Thus prepared herring may be stored for months.
When the Christmas Eve comes, so marinated herring pull out into a bowl, add freshly sliced onions (the amount at your discretion). Mix sour cream with sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can add a few drops of lemon juice. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. In our family home, we always added a little bay leaf and a few grains of allspice to this creamy mixture to give an extra flavour. Pour the prepared sour cream to the bowl with herrings. And you're done! Serve with jacket potatoes or bread.
Experimental herring roulades in red pesto.
6 slices of salted herring
2 cups olive oil 'Extra Virgin'
A small handful of basil leaves
40g parmesan cheese
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
150g of sun dried tomatoes
A few tablespoons of olive oil 'Extra Virgin'
A touch of balsamic vinegar
Toss all ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until a paste.
If you have more time, you can also use a mortar. Add a little more olive oil if the pesto is too dry. Transfer to a jar and let stand for some time until flavours are combined beautifully.
Rinse the herring fillets thoroughly under water and dry with paper towels. Cut each fillet lengthwise into halfs in order to obtain two long thin slices. Cover each piece of herring with red pesto generously and roll into a little roulades securing with wooden toothpick. Thus prepared roulades can be now composed tightly in jars previously preserved. Pour olive oil. It is important to thoroughly cover all the herring with oil to prevent rotting. Then gently shake jar to get rid of the air bubbles and twist tightly. Thus prepared herring roulades may be stored in a cool place for months and months. It taste best after a few days when all the flavourings mix together.
Oh happy days!!! Enjoy!
Daria & Yarek