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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