Sunday, 11 November 2012

When I was a child, I never liked a soups with bits. The so - called bits were usually vegetables floating in a pot - overcooked,  with no colour and as soft as worms... At least this is how I imagined them! yuk... most of the time, my mother had to carefully drain my portion of soup before I even considered to touch the bowl... she even used to call me a French little dog :) Funny tho, I don't like the soup bits today either! However, they don't get thrown away nowadays. In fact, when it comes to food in our house, nothing is thrown away. The scale of hunger in the world and the problem of food waste in the western countries have taught us a certain respect for food. But this is not what I wanted to discuss here...
I'm talking about the fact that almost all our meals are planned so that, if we've got any leftovers from dinner or lunch, they can be reused in other combinations. The remains of these unplanned meals are often used the next day, or they land in the freezer waiting for a better time and idea ;)
Let's get back to the soup bits. They are not a problem for me any more. With the miraculous invention of a blender, all bits, instead of unnecessarily land in the trash, turn my soup into a lovely cream. So, there is no need for any thickening ingredients, such as flour or creams and milk. Most importantly, the blending process allows for a short cooking of vegetables so that all of the nutrients remain in the soup. The Polish cuisine creamy soups emerged relatively recently. Thanks God! As soups really have a special place in our daily menu. But if there's no mood for one of those watery borscht or chicken broth, light, creamy and beautifully coloured vegetable soup will give your autumnal dinner a completely new dimension. Such is today's soup. Creamy, with purple cauliflower and red cabbage with white sausage.

Purple Soup

small purple cauliflower
half a small red cabbage
2 small potatoes
1 small red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1.5 liters vegetable stock / homemade broth
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 white sausages

Chop the onion and fry it in olive oil in a pan, add the crushed garlic cloves, cauliflower florets, shredded cabbage and peeled and cut potatoes. Stir genlty, add a tablespoon of cumin and cook for a few minutes. Pour vegetable broth or chicken broth and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Blend all the ingredients to obtain purée. Warm up a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cut the sausage into little slices and fry briefly until golden brown. Garnish the soup  with your favourite spices or a yogurt. Serve with slices of white sausage.

*** Vegetarians can skip the sausage option with the soup because it tastes great without it. Taste equally great with garlic croutons, or a thick slice of fresh bread.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I don't know about you but in London as soon as the Halloween emotions fall, the city gets into this magical pre-Christmas, festive mood. The stores here are already selling Christmas delicacies, shopping malls are already competing who's gonna assemble larger and more colorful Christmas tree and the busiest shopping street in London is flashing with its beautiful hanging lanterns... hmmm ... many of you would ask if it's not too early yet for all this Christmas business? :) But what the hell, I like the festive mood, I like when it's cold outside and my nose is frosting in the air, when the house smells of oranges and cinnamon... Recently, I even found myself singing quietly the Christmas song that was played in the shop... lallalala
I also like Christmas food all year round. One of those unique recipe that you can eat just when fancy it, I want to share with you here.... it's a lovely combination of aromatic and moist, Polish mushroom and cabbage filling wrapped in a crispy South American empanada pastry. It tastes delicious with a cup of hot red borscht. It can be a great cold addition to your everyday lunch box, or simply a great nibble with a pint of lager :)

Empanada with Polish Christmas stuffing of mushrooms and cabbage
The filling inspired by this recipe and the pastry recipe comes from the "1000 recipes" book by Victoria Bllashford-Snell

For the pastry:
450g plain flour
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
85g butter, diced
2 eggs, beaten, plus extra one for glazing
4-6 tablespoons of hot water

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with 1/2 tsp salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the beaten eggs with 4-6 tablespoons of water and combine to form a dough. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in a refrigerator.

Mushroom and cabbage filling:
500g mushrooms
1/3 kg of sauerkraut
1 medium onion
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying

Put sauerkraut into the pot, cover with cold water and cook for minimum 1 hour, until the cabbage is tender. Strain through a sieve and squeeze out the water properly. Finely chop. Peel the onions and mushrooms and chop finely. Heat an oil in a frying pan. Fry onions together mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste (at your discretion). Simmer until mushrooms are tender and their juice evaporates. Throw in the chopped cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary, and cook together for a few minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3 millimeters. Cut out 24 rounds with a pastry cutter (I've used a large diameter glass). Put two teaspoons of filling on 12 rounds and cover with another ones. Pinch the ends of the rounds with your fingertips ;) You can also make the pattern around the edges with a fork. Brush with egg yolk. Bake empanadas on a baking sheet, for about 20-30 minutes, until golden. Enjoy!

Delicioso! :)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Hi, are you cold after a long walk and a muse at a cemetery?
I am...Although, I've lived far away from homeland for several years, every year, traditionally, I go to the cemetery nearby to put a candle on a group grave, or ideally on a grave that's been long long forgotten and neglected. There is lots of beautiful cemeteries in London. Those on which celebrities are buried, those with Egyptian alleys and the local, smaller, more anonymous... and those I like the most... They're full of family histories and where gravestones often reflect the lives of their owners. The narrow lanes between the tombstones, century-old trees and their branches displacing gravestones from the ground and benches where you can rest for a while. I was enchanted as usual by the most beautiful grave of a little girl and the old man, whose dog is still standing at his feet.

I light a candle in the cemetery chapel for those who have gone, I have a moment for reflection... I remember!
It's freezing and I'm coming back home to enjoy a bowl of hot potato and leek soup with mustard toasts. There is nothing better to warm the soul ;) I warm my homemade broth and throw a few potatoes and leeks. I'm warming up the oven to bake few thin slices of bacon and baguettes. Then just to quickly blend my soup and... I'm warming up in this cold afternoon of All Saints...

Potato and Leek Soup with mustard toasts
(Inspired by BBC Good Food)

50g butter
10 rashers streaky bacon , chopped
5 large leeks sliced
2 large potatoes, cubed
1.2l vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
300ml milk
handful chopped parsley

For toasts:
1 long thin baguette
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the bacon and fry it until it is just starting to colour. Add the leeks and potatoes, then stir well until they are glistening.
Add the stock and bay leaves, season and bring to the boil. Partly cover and simmer for 15 mins, until everything is cooked. Fish out the bay leaves, then purée the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Return to the pan and stir in the milk. Reheat gently and season to taste. Add more stock or water if the soup seems too thick (this will depend on the size of your potatoes). Sprinkle with parsley to serve.
Make the toasts: heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Cut the baguette into thin diagonal slices. Mix the oil and mustard together, then brush over both sides of the bread. Spread them on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 mins. Serve with the soup for dipping. They can be baked earlier in the day and served cold or warmed through in the oven.

Have a lovely and calm evening!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

It's been some time since we baked a bread last time. Either, it was related to the lack of culinary inspiration or maybe it was purely because I killed our sourdough twice... or maybe both... hmmm 

Thanks to Zorra, who again this year announced the World Bread Day, we thought that it's just about time to catch up with our baking. I have to say that I've been missing my own, crispy, homemade loaf of bread for a breakfast...So, today is 16th October - official World Bread Day and we'd like to invite you to join us in this huge worldwide home bakery to share a slice of virtual bread... and even if many of you do not blog, you can still share your thoughts and experiences here.

This year, we wanted to share with you a great recipe of Jim Lahey for this Cheese Bread with dried tomatoes and olives. 
However, to our surprise, something strange happened to our loaf... it looked lovely when we took it out of the oven, but when we cut it, each slice was like a rock and the smell was rather offensive reminding of intensive fresh yeast mixture... yukk.... Even our thorough loaf autopsy did not bring any reasonable explanation for the stony consistency of our bread. It was late in the evening, I was unbearably tired but we couldn't let go... we are not of those who easily give up... So we found those one-hour rolls that actually saved our day :)

One Hour Bake Rolls
(based on the recipe from

Ingredients for about 16 rolls
240 ml of warm milk
115ml water
1 teaspoon of honey
55g of butter
1 egg
400g of wheat flour
160g whole wheat flour
7g dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt

milk for brushing
to sprinkle: oregano, herbes de provence

Put yeast into a bowl, add half of the warm milk, stir thoroughly and leave for 10 minutes. For the small pot, pour the milk, add the water, honey and butter, heat until butter is dissolved, leave it to cool.
Put the flour into a large bowl, add the yeast mixture and milk with butter. Add salt, break the egg and combine all ingredients. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, it should be flexible and sticky. Divide the dough into 16 parts, form a medium size balls and arrange them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Let it raise for 30-35 minutes in a warm place. After this time the grease the rolls with milk and sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees. Cool down on a wire rack.

Have a lovely evening!

World Bread Day 2012 - 7th edition! Bake loaf of bread on October 16 and blog about it!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Everyone has their favorite vegetable or fruit. I have both. And by “both” I mean tomato. Well, some say it is a vegetable, and others that it is a fruit. It's hard to believe but in the seventeenth century it was considered as a poison and was grown only for ornamental purposes. But soon (to my endless happiness) the medicinal properties and flavour of the tomatoes have been discovered. It didn't take long for the tomato to become a king of the international cuisine. Thanks to Queen Bona, who has introduced the 'golden apple' to the Polish market. I love them so much that I recently couldn't resist to smuggle a few kilogrammes of Majorcan tomatoes to UK... nice souvenir, isn't it?

Did you know that tomatoes ....

· Are a source of carotene, vitamins C, K, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid and biotin. Tomatoes are also richest in potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese.
· Are rich in lycopene, which gives them their beautiful red colour and makes them a great antioxidants with powerful anti-cancer effect.

Tomato, thanks to its vitamin C, helps to maintain beautiful skin. Vitamin E, on the other hand protects against the formation of wrinkles and premature aging. Apparently, tomato juice mask applied to the skin of face and hands, lighten up blemishes and soothe acne. Potassium actively neutralizes harmful excess of salt in our diet that may cause increased blood pressure, water retention and muscle spasms. It also improves brain function by improving its oxygenation. Among the vitamins important for us is a vitamin A, which is beneficial to the optic nerves by strengthening them. It may be beneficial in people overdosing computing ;) The high content of folic acid in tomatoes can help future mothers, and those under greater stress as it is known to have a mood's soothing properties.

Not forgetting the male part of the population...
Some clever dudes from Harvard have proved that eating 10 pieces of pizza with tomato sauce per week or other food containing tomatoes, reduced a risk of prostate cancer by 45%. Italians, on the other hand have discovered that 7 servings of tomatoes a week will protect men against colon and stomach cancer. Moreover,  Finns have recently published results of 12 years of research on the role of tomato's lycopene in reducing the number of strokes, which not only prevents the formation of blood clots in the arteries but also inhibits the inflammatory response.

A few tomato facts:
· The best sources of lycopene are tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, tomato juice.
· The digestion of lycopene increases when tomatoes are processed with the addition of fat, preferably olive oil.
· Organically grown tomatoes contain three times as much lycopene as tomatoes from conventional crops.
· The best tomatoes are the ones with washed out colour and glossy skin. They contain more beta-carotene and lycopene.
· You should avoid tomato and cucumber salad as the enzyme found in cucumbers destroys vitamin C contained in tomatoes.
· Fresh tomatoes are excellent, however processed tomatoes (canned, sauce, puree, ketchup) retain most of their nutritional value. Furthermore, they contained more lycopene than a fresh fruit. In addition, often added oil, increases the digestion of lycopene. More evidence based publications about tomatoes' medicinal properties can be found here and here and there ...

I have tried out a various tomato juices but this one I have “composed” by myself, simply out of laziness... :) All the recipes on Internet and in food magazines recommend to cook tomatoes or tomato puree mixture with water before actual drinking. But who would want to cook the juice and then wait for it to cool down when what we want is to drink it right now!? So, in accordance to the principle 'need is the mother of invention' I want to share with you my latest tomato juice recipe. And because we don't own a shaker, for this purpose I have successfully adopted an empty jar of (already eaten) marmalade. Tomato puree together with fresh celery stick is full of flavour, and with just a small pinch of cayenne pepper is just right and slightly spicy and most of all, it is cheaper than the one bought in a supermarket. I've tried lots of different tomato purees and the best so far are those produced by Turkish and Hungarian manufactures, as they don't contain any salt, but are purely made of 100% tomatoes. Unfortunately, I got disappointed when I read the labels on the Polish branded tomato pastes - most of them contain only 20% of tomatoes, some percent of citric acid plus salt and other substances which names I can not even decrypt. I will not give the name of the manufacturer but somehow I feel a bit sad when looking for my favorite Polish products in the UK, I end up with foreign products in my basket.

Tomato juice

3 teaspoons of tomato puree
1 sprig of celery
250 ml mineral water
2 cubes of ice
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place two ice cube in a jar, add tomato paste and seasoning as desired. Grate your celery stick on finely and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Close the jar thoroughly and have fun while shaking, rounding, twisting... like a real bartender :) Shake the jar several times to mix all ingredients. Open the jar and serve your juice with a sprig of celery.

Voila! Quick and tasty juice!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Hey People,

Do you like Cranberries? We do.... We've got a 1 kg of cranberries to preserve. Any ideas? Juice or sauce? That's the question... Or maybe something else?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Good Morning World!
It's Monday morning, 8:30 GMT...
It's beautiful autumn here in London, a bit cloudy sky, thermometer shows 13 degrees... it seems like we might need an umbrella later on...It was going to be a long and thorough post about our fishy passion but instead it'll be super extra quick recipe for our favourite fishy sandwich spread which was once given to me by an old family friend, who was a great fan of fishing... ;)

Quick sardine sandwich spread

250g semi-fat fromage cheese

1 tin of smoked sardines in olive oil
1/2 small onion
2 eggs
salt and pepper
fresh baguette

Chop the onion finely. Mash the cheese with a fork in a bowl, add the sardines with oil from a can (oil adds moisture). Chop boiled eggs finely or grate on a coarse grater and mix with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Mash everything thoroughly with a fork. Spread the mixture on a crispy slice of baguette and enjoy!

... and something to soothe the Monday morning mood... :)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

If you've ever been to Krakow, then you know where to go for the best ever roasted baguettes with mushrooms, melted cheese, ketchup and chive. For those who don't know, this is called ‘zapiekanka’. Located in the very heart of Kazimierz, in the middle of a grocery market square in Plac Nowy, right next to popular pubs and clubs such as Singer or Alchemia. As long as I can remember, this place always had a vibrant social life from the morning to the late night. Decadent bars and clubs where we used to stay to very late night or even very early mornings were always full of local people and international guests. We, people of Krakow enjoyed this absolutely scrumptious food prepared personally by Endzior – owner himself. There was nothing as good as a night out with a pack of friends, couple (or more) of beers in a pub and a crunchy zapiekanka with salami, or chicken. Even though, most of what they sell are roasted baguettes with different toppings (pol. zapiekanka), and burgers, there was a never-ending queue every night. 

But who has not been to UK before, then you do not know that the English have their own brilliant cheesy toast. Although, you can’t buy it ‘take away’ on the street, nor I haven't come across it in any of those decent British pub, it is in the minds of the Welsh, especially those who were poor over the past centuries, who often couldn't afford the cheapest piece of meat. So, for the average Welshman, the toast dripping with melted cheddar cheese was like a feast of roast rabbit. I do not know why, today, instead of 'rabbit' they tend to call it 'rarebit'. I personally prefer the original one. 

A genuine 'Welsh Rabbit' is a thick slice of bread, covered with a creamy mixture of cheddar cheese (or Gloucester cheese or Cheshire cheese) and egg, mustard and stout. Then grilled and eaten straight from the oven.

Although, there are hundreds ways of preparing welsh rabbit, we still hold on to this one, just basic, simply delicious!

4 large slices of bread 
200g cheddar or Leicester cheese 
1 egg 
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
½ tsp of mustard 
30 ml stout 
A little bit of butter 

Preheat the grill to medium-high, and toast the bread on both sides. Beat the yolks into the bowl together with grated cheese, add all other ingredients and seasoning and mix them thoroughly. If you find your mixture too dry you can add one more egg. Then spoon the mixture on to the toast and cook until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately as hot as you can stand.

*** Nice article about the pleasures of cheese is here, I recommend it. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

This year, autumn visited British Island as early as mid-August. However, only in a last few days it could be seen in its full glory... we can feel it in the air that passes through a thin slits in the window frames... 
I love to get stuck in my comfy sofa and watch the tips of the yellowing trees through the window, and the sky seems a bit grumpy today too... 

... with the autumnal laziness in my head, I’m trying to sort out the current and outstanding issues, and getting ready to open a new chapter of my life...
In a kitchen, the hot soup with golden chanterelles is quietly simmering in a small pan... hot, with delicious double cream will soothe the autumn mood... 

Chanterelle soup with fennel and sun-dried tomatoes 

1 large carrot 
1 parsley 
2 small celery sticks 
½ fennel bulb 
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic 
25ml olive oil 
250g golden chanterelle mushroom 
few sun-dried tomatoes 
1 L mushroom broth 
200 ml of double cream 
salt and pepper 

Chop all your vegetables and garlic finely. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry all the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Add the washed and dried chanterelles and fry them for a few more minutes. Pour mushroom broth, add tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, season them with salt and pepper and pour a double cream into the pan. Serve your soup in a bowls and sprinkle with some fennel. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Last weekend passed under the sign of fish ... and it's not because Jarek is a zodiacal fish... hehehe 
Fried fish, steamed one too... and cooked ... but how? Well, here's the surprice... has anyone ever heard of cooking fish without using heat? Apparently, whole South America cooks the fish without using electricity or fire... It has been one of South America's best-kept secret for centuries, but it is becoming a popular appetizer and will be gaining popularity as the century progresses... we're talking about Ceviche ("seh-BEE-chay").
The dispute over the origin of ceviche is between Peru and Ecuador, but both countries have an amazing variety of fish and seafood, which may prove that it comes from the ancient civilizations of the Incas in Peru and Ecuador. Each Latin American country has given Seviche / ceviche its own touch by adding your typical kitchen spices, ingredients and decorations. In Peru, it is served with slices of cold sweet potatoes or corn on the cob. In Ecuador, it is served with popcorn, nuts and corn in a large crystal bowl so that guests can treat themselves with toothpicks. In Mexico, Ceviche is served with raw onion rings and served on tosted tortillas.
But what it really is ceviche? Depending on the region of South America, the primary ingredient is always raw fish or raw seafood, sliced ​​into small, bite-sized pieces, marinated in citrus juice, usually lemons and limes together with salt and chilli pepper flakes. According to an old tradition, the Incas have marinated their fish in citrus juice, salt and chilli pepper, in later times, the Spanish conquerors have added lime to the marinade. The citric acid in the juice changes the texture of fish, and more specifically, change the structure of the proteins contained in the fish, which means that the fish becomes firm and opaque, as it happens during the heat treatment. And at the same time, leaving the 'raw' taste. However, citric acid does not kill bacteria, such as high temperatures during baking or cooking, so it is important to choose the freshest fish and seafood possible.
Ceviche is easy to make and can be prepared for a light lunch or as a great snack for dinner. Looks beautiful on glass platters and cups.
Ceviche variations are countless... We used a marinade recipe from Gordon Ramsay. Gordon, however, used salmon only and we used sea bass too. That's the best marinated fish I've ever eaten so far. So try it yourself and you won't be dissapointed. And I'm sure, fish lovers will be in heaven with this dish. :)

Salmon and Sea Bass Ceviche 

1 unwaxed lime
1 unwaxed lemon
4 spring onions
1 red chilli
3 tbsp sesame oil
6 tbsp olive oil 
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 bunch coriander
1 tsp caster sugar
250g salmon fillet, cut into thin slices
250g fillet of sea bass, cut into thin slices
salad leaves, to decorate

Prepare the marinade:
To make the marinade, grate the lime and lemon zest into a bowl. Squeeze the lime and lemon juice into the same bowl as the zest. Remove the tough outer skins of the spring onions, chop finely and add to the bowl.
Roll the chilli between your hands to loosen the seeds. Cut off the top and slice the chilli in half length-wise, scrape out and discard the seeds. Slice length-wise into fine strips, chop finely and add to the bowl. Add the sesame oil, olive oil and soy sauce and mix thoroughly.
Take a handful of coriander leaves and chop finely. Add to the bowl and stir. Add a good grind of pepper, pinch of salt and the sugar, stir and that's it, the marinade's ready.
Sliceyour salmon and sea bass as soon as it comes out of the fridge or, even better, leave it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you slice it. Slice the fish fillet across, aiming for no thicker than 5mm. Then, place the slices of fish in the marinade for an hour, into the refrigerator.
If you're not eating for a while, put your fish separately in the fridge - just remember to remove it about half an hour before eating so that it has time to get back up to room temperature so that you can appreciate the full flavour of the fish. A few minutes before eating, decorate fish lettuce leaves, watercress, basil, as desired.
You can also take a strip of fish and dip it into the marinade as you go as the fish is 'cooking' in a marinade immediately. Serve it with your favourite Pinot Grigio :) and enjoy! 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Knock Knock ...
Is anyone there?
Hello hello... we’re here... We’re back after few months of absence... Even though we’ve disappeared, many of you stayed and still could find some inspirations here and we’ve even got a new readers and followers too. Welcome Guys!! So we're back with new ideas and fresh minds.

So today, great summer idea to use fish and seafood, which I once again tried to smuggle into Yarek’s plate... He always says to me: "How can you eat the sea vermins and why don’t we just eat the land ones too?” Joker!
But I don’t give up so easily so today I managed to stuff my chowder with fair amount of spices and vegetables so it's tolerable for him. The effect was amazing, full of flavours and even Yarek managed to get a seconds... well, I had to eat his vermins, read seafood ;) 

Fish and Seafood Chowder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp of sweet peppers paste
600g finely chopped tomatoes
200ml white wine
300ml fish broth (I used fish cubes)
1 large salmon fillet, cut into 2cm chunks
1 fillet of sea bass, cut into 2cm chunks
1 fillet of sea bream, cut into 2cm chunks
6 tiger prawns
A few mussels (we used a large handful)
A handful of coriander
3 strips orange zest
Salt and pepper
A few slices of bread

Heat the oil in a wide, deep frying pan. Add the onion and cook over a gentle heat for 5 mins until softened. Stir through the garlic, chilli and fennel and cook a couple of mins more. Add the pepper paste and tomatoes. Turn up the heat and cook for 10-15 mins, stirring until the tomatoes are pulpy. Pour over the wine and cook for 10 mins more until most of it has boiled away.

Add the fish stock and orange zest and heat until gently simmering. Nestle the fish chunks into the liquid and cook for 5 mins. Add the mussels and prawns and cook for 5 mins more until the fish is cooked through and the mussels have opened (discard any that haven't). Sprinkle the coriander over the stew and serve with the garlic toasts while sitting in a garden or balcony and not forgetting about your favourite glass of vino ;)


Monday, 23 January 2012

It's a pity it's only 2 o'clock in the afternoon... As we'de like to have a glass of delicious cider like this...
Watch this...

cranberry mulled cider from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

Have a lovely afternoon to everyone!!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Polish culinary blogs and forums argue about the origin of this delicious onion cakes. Well, I don’t think this a proper translation for Cebularze. However, it seems to be ok, so you know what I’m thinking about.  Some say that they come from Lublin (eastern part of Poland), others that they are from Zamosc (further down the eastern part of Poland), and others that they come from Podlasie (north-eastern part of the country)... I was just trying to track the history of these scrumptious onion cakes and found a legend...
A legend says that they the first onion cakes were baked by Jews. Their origins date back to the time of the King of Poland, Kaziemierz the Great. Apparently, they were baked for the king by his mistress, Esterka....
In the nineteenth century, from a typical homemade appetiser, the onion cakes became the pearl of Jewish bakery in the Old Town in Lublin and Wieniawa (the towns in Poland). People say that before the WWII, onion cakes were like a big tortillas riddled in the middle. Probably riddled with knife and sprinkled with the onions. In this place the tortilla was very thin and crispy, and the rims were puffy. Apparently, it was mouth watering to have one of those tortillas, freshly baked and hot, and with thin layer of butter spread.
Cebularze were baked before the war in Kazimierz, Piaski, Szczebrzeszyn. Today, dozens of bakery bakes them in the region.
Original recipe contains  specific type of plain flour (I don’t think this is available abroad, and can’t even find the proper translation), yeast, milk, egg, salt and sugar, and butter well. And the shape of the cake is very important. The ones from Podlasie are more like little bake rolls stuffed with lightly fried onions. And sour cream is added, they are cut with a glass, and the onions are fried together with salt, pepper and marjoram.

We used the most traditional recipe possible, found here.  However, because we didn’t have any poppy seeds at home and we’re not really a fans of it, we used a few other ingredients that composed in beautifully. So, our version of ‘cebularze’, includes ...

250g of wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
A large bunch of spring onions
2 tablespoons of oil
3 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper

Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a little hole and pour some warm milk (room temperature), pour the sugar and yeasts. Gently stir it. Sprinkle lightly with flour and leave for 15 minutes - until yeast starts to work. In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan. Once cooled, pour the butter and salt into the bowl. Beat the egg lightly. Leave a little to grease the dough and pour the rest into the flour. Gradually pour the milk and stir. Knead the dough with your hands for few minutes until elastic. Put the kneaded dough into a bowl greased with oil, cover and leave in a warm place to rise. The dough should double in volume. We took about 1.5 hours in a warm place (near boiler).
In the meantime, chop the spring onions. Fry the onion in small amount of oil along with the squeezed garlic and chilli flakes. When the onion has softened add salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to cool.
Divide the risen dough into 6 equal parts. Form a ball and with your hands flatten them (lie a pizza dough). Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Smear each cakes’ rims with the remaining egg. Stuff the middle with fired onions and garlic. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.

These savoury onion cakes are great  with a lager while watching your favourite film...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A few days ago, I found myself preparing an Italian pasta with sardines and baked bread crumbs for a dinner, and somehow I discovered the taste of childhood, the taste I haven't been able to revive for years. When I was a child, my Grandma often made for us a homemade pasta with fried breadcrumbs... it may sound strange, but this poor in ingredients dish brings a lot of great moments and warm memories and a smile on my face to this day... It reminds me of homemade pasta noodles laid in Grandma's living room on large sheets of paper to dry... oh, happy days... it was our little 'comfort food', which we used to eat only at Grandma's and she only did it best... Not without reason, many Internet sources and literature defines comfort food as this, prepared according to traditional recipes that may have a sentimental and nostalgic appeal. While successive nutritionists argue and chase in inventing more and healthier food combinations that do not necessarily make us happier, most of us returns to the traditional, typically associated with home warmth and close to us people, meals. This is what make people feel they belong. Macaroni cheese, chocolate pudding, and grilled sausage are maybe not the best for our coronary arteries. And it’s no secret that we consume 'comfort food' during periods of increased stress or negative emotions. But recently I came across a very interesting article in the journal of 'Psychological Science', in which the study of D. Troisi and Shira Gabriel proved that so-called 'comfort food' combats feelings of loneliness. The authors wondered whether the 'comfort food' can make people think about their loved ones and can contribute to their well-being. The results, indeed confirmed it. In one experiment, participants had to write for six minutes about the fight with someone close, to induce a sense of loneliness, while the other control groups had emotionally neutral writing assignment. In each group, most participants wrote about the experience of eating 'comfort food', while others wrote about eating the newly invented dishes. In the next stage of research, each group had to answer several questions to determine their level of loneliness. Participants in the experiment who wrote about the fight with a close person showed high levels of loneliness. But those who generally feel safe in their relationships, as measured before the start of the experiment, was saved from loneliness by writing about food. 

The study author, Jordan Troisi says ... “We have found that comfort foods are foods which are consistently associated with those close to us,” says Troisi. “Thinking about or consuming these foods later then serves as a reminder of those close others.”
In his essays, most of the participants wrote about the experience of eating with family and friends. The authors concluded that the food described as a 'comfort food' can serve as a great and simple way to alleviate feelings of loneliness. In another experiment of the same authors, eating chicken soup by participants, caused intense thoughts about the relationships, but only if the chicken soup was considered by them as 'comfort food'. 

We do not feel lonely tonight, however lack of sun and a storm outside made us crave for something relaxing, rich in calories, and above all tasty... Thus, using the variety of the British 'comfort food', we gave an old cauliflower gratin a little contemporary twist by adding a little bit of garlic and sweet potatoes. Simple, fast, delicious and perfect for long winter evenings with someone close. 

Cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes gratin with cheddar and garlic sauce. 

Ingredients for two portions:
1 cauliflower 
1 broccoli 
2 sweet potatoes 
200g half fat cream 'fraiche' 
100g extra mature 'cheddar' 
Salt and pepper 
2 large cloves of garlic 

Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Mix the crème fraîche, cheese, salt and pepper and toss with the vegetables. In a separate pot boil sweet potatoes until soft. Then cut the potatoes in slices and pile them in a heatproof dish. We used two deep heat-resistant plates. Pile the veggies with sauce on top of potatoes and top with handful more cheese. Grill until golden in 180 degrees. Serve hot. 

Enjoy your meal with someone very close! 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Here it is! It came in last night of December and it will stay with us until the last night of December 2012... Usually, I don’t like to look back and break down the situation and moments to the ‘first particles’... certainly not out loud... instead, I prefer to thank for what had happened or not happened, thank God... for the fact that I still have those I love around, and for the fact that those unfavourable have already gone... whew... for the fact that what was to be achieved, became such... 

And here, I must return to a cake that supposed to appear on the blog a few months ago and somehow it never happened. Either the computer crashed while I was writing the post and then the vein has disappeared and then my memory failed miserably... etc etc. Today, it’s a perfect time to close 2011 with this Polish Style Brownie with Apples from my dear friend, Danusia. I have written once here about distance baking. This time, however I’m the only one who’s baking, and my friends is a chef. On Skype. She  indicates the ingredients, how to mix, what to beat and stir... in the meantime, we’re gossiping, sharing another cup of tea... I look into the oven and and I still can’t believe – it’s baked! Compared to my previous Brownie, which was rather of liquid texture, this came out perfectly, thanks to Danusia! It's a pity, we can't share a piece of this delicious cake in real with a lovely cup of hot tea...

Thank you Dear! For being here, not only during baking, and for your support... not just in cooking! 

Polish Style Brownie with Apples 

1.5 cups of plain flour 
1 cup oil 
1 cup sugar 
3 - 4 medium apples (I used a Bramley apples) 
½ teaspoon cinnamon 
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon of baking soda 
2 tablespoons of cocoa 
Corn Flour + Butter 

Separate the yolk from white. Mix the egg yolks with sugar until light in the mixer. In the meantime, mix the flour with soda. Add the egg yolks and continue to stir. Then gradually add the oil, alternating with flour. 
Then, beat the egg whites until stiff and add to the yolks and sugar, stirring constantly. Now, add cocoa mixed with cinnamon. When the mass is smooth, add peeled and cut into small cubes apples. Then smear the baking tray with butter and sprinkle with flour and pour the mixture into the tray. Put the tray into the oven preheated to 60 degrees oven. Then after a few minutes, raise the temperature to 120 degrees so that the dough rise with the temperature, and after another 15 minutes at 170 degrees. At this temperature, bake for about 60 minutes. 

As for the New Year's Wish? Hmm... this year without the special one... maybe the only one - a tiny one... Happiness! Whatever it means... 

We wish you all Happy 2012! 
Daria and Yarek

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