Sunday, 17 February 2013

Pig Under the Duvet


Of course, I mean pork, not the whole pig :-) the name for the dish was somehow inspired by the names of dishes I used to find really fascinating as a kid. A lot of dishes served covered with some variety of white sauce, often a cream or cheese based sauces tend to be called ".... under the duvet" or "... under the cover". Funny, isn't it?
I remember how gripping I used to find cookbooks, or my mum's recipe scrapbook as a child. Not that I wouldn't read other books, I did. I was quite a bookworm, and actually that hasn't changed.
There was certainly something intriguing about the dish names I found there, sadly most of the dishes rarely lived up to the expectations :-)
The names still don't cease to amuse me - when I see all the "the royal style" dishes - meats (mostly game), fish, pates, and even soups. There were also the 'luxurious', 'exquisite' or 'gourment' dishes - raging from meats, through salads, bakes, to cakes and  desserts - who wouldn't want to try those
There were many dishes "with a surprise" - which to me sounded promising, until I found out that the surprise was hard-boiled egg, cheese, mushrooms or  some vegetables. Come on, what sort of surprise is that? :-)
My favourite one of the lot is the so-called "Nothing Soup", which actually isn't a soup but a kind of creamy dessert.  Ah well, bearing in mind that my early childhood fell in the martial law period, I supposed people were trying to use fancy-sounding names to colour-up the grey reality. Maybe.

My dish doesn't really need any sugarcoating, it tastes delicious even if you call it exactly what it is - namely, pork with mushrooms and cream and cheese sauce.

Ingredients:

4 pork chops
salt, pepper
paprika
turmeric
plain all purpose flour
oil for frying

Sauce:
200g mushrooms
a clove of garlic
a pot of cream
200g grated strong cheese

Beat the chops with a mallet, sprinkle spices on both sides and toss each chop in flour. Heat the oil on a frying pan and fry the chops until golden brown on both sides. Place the chops on a baking tray.


Peel and chop the mushrooms and garlic, season and fry them. Put mushrooms on each chop and put them into the oven (180C).


In the meantime, combine the cream with grated cheese in a bowl, add salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric. Pour the sauce onto the chops and bake for a bit longer, until the top is golden and crispy. It's ready to serve, and truly delicious!




Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day Shortbread Biscuits

I wasn't going to make anything special for Valentines, as day was going to be rather on a hectic side, but the craving for shortbread come all of the sudden and I couldn't get rid of it! ;-) I was very pleasantly surprised to find out how easy they are to prepare. All in all, I ended up making a small batch for the evening during my lunch break :-)

Ingredients: 

150 g soft butter
55 g caster sugar
180 g plain, all purpose flour
Use an electric whisk to cream butter and sugar. When the mixture is smooth, spoon in the flour and knead the dough until all ingredients combine. Gently roll the dough on a floured surface -don't press the rolling pin hard, as the dough is very brittle. When it's about 1 cm thick cut out the shapes and prickle them with a fork. You may need to use a fish-slice to transfer the biscuits onto a baking tray.

 
 Bake in 160C for about 15-20 mins., until they start getting golden-brown. That really is all there is to do! They are FAB-U-LOUS! ;-)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Fat Thursday

It's definitely one of the best days in a year - diets are completely out of the question and it's actually required to eat doughnuts and other goodies. With time, this has lead to various competition, like eating as many doughnuts as you can - to time limits etc., which may not necessarily be the best idea. However, the concept of enjoying sweeties for a day is certainly down my street!

Apart from doughnuts, snot her traditional treat are faworki, aka 'brushwood' or Angel Wings, as they are brittle and apparently resemble wooden twigs that were used to heat houses. Popular in Poland, Lithuania and Germany, they are traditionally eaten during the Carnival, on Fat Thursday and on Mardi Grass, the Tuesday preceding the Ash Wednesday. The name comes from the medieval period when women would give a ribbon "favour" to their favourite knight. 

They're neither as difficult, nor time-consuming to prepare as they may seem, but they do disappear from the plates nearly as soon as they are placed on them.

You need:
500 gram of plain, all purpose flour
2 spoons of icing sugar
3-4 spoons of sour cream
1 large spoon of alcohol (e..g vodka)
5 yokes
1 spoon of soft, creamy butter
1 kilo of lard for frying
icing sugar, to sprinkle on faworki when they are ready

Mix flour, icing sugar, cream, alcohol and make a dough. When the ingredients have blended add the yokes and knead the dough again. If it is too stiff add the butter to loosen it a bit. Place the dough on the table and beat it well with a rolling pin until it is smooth and shiny and there are air bubbles inside (you can see them when you cut the dough). Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Cut of small portion and roll them with the rolling pin as thin as possible. Then cut them into long stripes, about 3 centimetres wide.
Make an incision lengthwise, in the middle, so as you can pull one end through it, in order to give the pastry a bow-like shape.
                         
  When all faworkis are ready heat the lard in a frying pan and fry them on both sides until they're golden.
Serve sprinkled with icing sugar. Eat up quickly, before teh others clean the plate! ;-)

The same dough can be used for making carnival roses - instead of cutting long stripes of the pastry , cut 3 different sized circles, and make small incisions around (they'll turn up during frying and create petals). Place the circles on top of each other (make sure that they stick well, otherwise they may fall apart while frying). Fry the roses in small groups, ina  large amount of lard, gently turn them upside-down so as both sides are gold, then carefully take them off the pan. Sprinkle the roses with icing sugar and place a bit of jam on top, in the middle of each rose.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dumpling Soup

Soups are quite a big thing in Poland and many families will still have their lunch or dinner of two dishes - a soup followed by the main meal. Nowadays, perhaps less and less so with people spending most of the time chasing their own tails (sorry, pursuing their careers :-), but I guess many would agree with me that soups definitely are one of the best parts of our cuisine.
There are soups for each season - lighter for spring and summer (we even have fruity ones) and heavier, more substantial for autumn and winter. This soup is pretty filling so it may well be served as the main meal.

Ingredients: 

Soup:
4 chicken thighs
3-4 carrots
2-3 parsley roots
4-5 potatoes
0.5 celery root
1 clove of garlic
3 bay leaves
5-6 allspice grains
1 stock cube
1 tbsp mixed dry vegetables
salt and pepper

Place the chicken thighs in a large pan and cover with water, bring to boil. Add the stock cube, dry veg mixture, garlic clove, bay leaves, allspice, celery  peeled and diced potatoes and reduce the heat. Grate carrots and parsley on the largest holes of the grater and stir into the soup.

Dumplings:
0.5 cup of plain, all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
water

In a bowl mix flour and salt and add enough water to make a smooth dough. If it's too dry add more water, if too sticky, add more flour. When the dough is soft and smooth, break off bits and roll them in your fingers to make small balls. They need to be really small, as they'll swell during cooking.
 Add the dumplings, salt and pepper to the soup and simmer for about an hour. When it cools it can be stored in a fridge, and truth be told, it's best the day after or even a few days later, when all flavours mix properly. If it thickens too much in the fridge, you may add a bit of water when re-heating. Really worth a try.