Friday, 28 September 2012

Pork Chops

Pork chop in bread crumbs is one of the staples in Polish food. Looking similar to the Wiennerschnitzel, it is prepared from pork, either with or without the bone. The dish dates back to the 19th century and at some point it has become a symbolic Polish Sunday lunch, served with fried sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, sometimes fried as well. Rather on the heavy side, luckily the tastes, or more importantly the culinary trends, have changed and these days it tends to be served with cooked vegetables or salads.
As far as the preparation is concerned, it is one of my favourites - easy and quick to prepare, plus nothing much can go wrong with it.

You need:

Sliced pork chops
an egg
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper
garlic powder
a pinch of dried basil and oregano (these are not in the traditional recipe, but they add a nice touch)
2 tbsp oil
2 heaped tbsp butter

Beat the chops with a mallet until they're quite thin (about 0.5 cm) season, and sprinkle powder garlic, basil and oregano ion both sides. Crack an egg onto a large plate and whip it with a fork. Pour flour and bread crumbs onto another two plates. Toss each chop in flour, then egg and finally bread crumbs. Heat the oil and butter on the frying pan, fry the chops on each side until golden brown. I usually serve them with boiled potatoes, carrots or cauliflower.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Polish Style Apple Pie

Summer being over, it's time to look for a way to avoid succumbing to the autumnal blues. What can be better than baking a nice cake? :-)
I began the autumn baking season with a Polish style apple pie - szarlotka /pron: sharlotka/. Funnily enough, one of the most iconic Polish cakes, actually originates in France, and what's more, stewed apples is just one of the filling possibilities - it may be made with pears, peaches, apricots and other fruits. The Polish version, though, is invariably made of stewed apples, often with cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes raisins.
Just imagine - the wonderful blend of sweet pastry, stewed apple with a clove and a note of cinnamon... The version I present today is the most basic one. There are quite a few varieties of the cake, but in this case I do believe that less is indeed more! :-)

For the pastry you need:
3 cups of plain all purpose flour
4 eggs
250 g soft butter or margarine
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 pack vanilla sugar or vanilla and cinnamon sugar
icing sugar to dust on top

1 kilo tart, juicy apples
5tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a couple of cloves

Start off with the filling. Peel the apples and remove the insides, then cut them into cubes. Cover the bottom of a large pan with water, add the apples and put onto a low heat. Stir the apples from time to time, and be careful not to let them burn (they like to stick to the bottom if you're not careful, so you may be better off stewing them longer on a smaller flame). When the apple is reduced add caster sugar, cinnamon and cloves and keep stewing for another half hour. Leave to cool. 

Sieve flour into a large bowl, stir in baking soda, sugar and vanilla sugar. Crack in the eggs and add butter (cut into small chunks). Knead the ingredients until they combine. Put 1/3 of the pastry into the freezer and the rest into the fridge for half an hour. Grease the baking tray and cover it with breadcrumbs.

 Take the pastry out of the fridge and line it onto the tray, then prick it with a fork to make sure it raises evenly. Pour the cooled stewed apple onto the pastry. Take the other part of the pastry out of the freezer and grate it onto the stewed apple. Pre-heat the oven to 175C and bake the cake for about 45 minutes. If after that time the pastry is golden brown, it's ready to take out.
Leave the cake to cool and sieve icing sugar on top. The cake may be served either hot or cold, often is accompanied by a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Autumnal Food - Chanterelles

While pasta continues to dominate the food served on our dinner table, the multitude of ways it may be prepared is a real bliss. Today we opted for a simple mix of spinach pasta with chanterelles. I've always thought mushroom dishes were quite complex and time-consuming, but it was a very nice surprise to find out how wrong that assumption was. The dish I served tonight could have been ready in less than half an hour, have it been not for me making green pasta from scratch. I made green (spinach) pasta - the recipe has been posted in the post Pasta Frenzy Continues, but it may well be served with packet pasta to cut down on preparation time. As I mentioned, the sauce is both easy and quick to make, plus there's virtually nothing that could go wrong with it.

You need:

300 g chanterlles
a pot of cream
fresh basil leaves
fresh oregano leaves
fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 tbsp cooking oil
grated Parmesan

Rinse and chop chanterelles, peel and chop garlic. Heat the oil on the frying pan and brown chopped garlic, add chanterelles, basil, oregano and parsley, stir in cream and season to taste. Serve on pasta of your choice and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Delicious!