Friday, 18 January 2013

We always have the same problem with pizza. It is always a dough. Following several different recipes and further modifications we eventually came out with something like this. This is the first ever pizza dough made in home oven which we really liked :D, it's crispy, not gluey, and not wet at the base.... Try it yourself.

Ingredients for the dough:

500 g of wheat flour
40g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup (plus a little bit more for the yeast) of warm water
handful of salt
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil


And here is a surprise! Culinary Impression's first moving picture  :)

Tomato paste:

Of course, plain tomato puree will do very well here, but we like more this version:

100 ml tomato puree
1 tablespoon of red pepper puree
1/2 teaspoon oregano
clove of garlic
2" piece of onion
pinch of salt and chilli

Garlic and onion crush with garlic press and mix it well with the remaining ingredients.

Enjoy your Freestyle Pizza Margherita!

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?

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