Monday, 31 May 2010

Rhubarb, orange peel & ginger jam

Makes 6x 200ml jars

1.3kg rhubarb
750g sugar (granulated or preserving)
2 oranges
about 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger

Wash the rhubarb, dry and cut into about 1 inch pieces and place in the heavy bottom pan.

Peel the ginger, slice finely, cut into thin strips. Place in the pan together with the rhubarb.

Peel the oranges and cut the peel to thin strips, next place them in the pan. Squeeze the juice from both oranges into the pan, add the sugar and simmer over a low heat for about 60 minutes stirring gently. Most of the rhubarb pieces will disintegrate. This jam is quite runny.

Place hot jam into 6 x 200ml sterilised warmed jars, then place them upside down in an ovenproof dish and keep in the preheated oven (100C) for about 15 minutes.

Leave it to cool down in the open oven overnight and store in the dry, cool place.

It tastes good with homemade challah (chałka, plecionka in Polish), which I am going to show soon.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Beef & green vegetables stew (served with buckwheat)


Buckwheat certainly deserves attention, because is very tasty and healthy. It is widely used in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. In my home it always is a great company for stews, either with meat or vegetarian ones.

I served this stew with buckwheat that I dry roasted before boiling. You do not have to roast it before boiling – I did it because in Poland the most popular is buckwheat which was already roasted. It has a nice brown colour and it taste better.

It is good to fry the buckwheat in little vegetable oil (lard or goose fat should be fine to) and add stock or water, bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a minimum level just to keep it warm until the liquid is absorbed. Allow 2 parts of liquid to one part of buckwheat.

I hope you like it, if not you can always serve this stew with any other wheat or potatoes.

Beef stew

Quite often I do not use any fat to fry the meat before adding to stew, but place beef into a boiling stock. It saves some calories and time. You can obviously fry the meet if you wish and then add the stock.

Serves 3-4

400g stewing beef
2 onions, peeled and roughly sliced
garlic clove, peeled and roughly sliced
handful of dried wild mushrooms (porcini)
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of ale or stout (if you do not want to use alcohol at all use an extra cup of stock)
12 asparagus spears, wooden ends removed, each spear cut into half
cup of green beans (I used frozen cut beans)
half cup of peas (again I used frozen one)
tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
freshly ground black pepper

In a big pan boil the stock and add meat, onions and garlic. Cover and boil for few minutes. Next add beer, porcini mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 60 minutes or until the meat is tender.

For the last 10 minutes add bottom parts of asparagus, for last 5 minutes asparagus tops, peas and beans. Cover and simmer.

Meanwhile mix the corn starch with 3 tbsp of water and add to the pan, boil for further minute – it will thicken the sauce little bit.

Check if the frozen vegetables are cooked and serve.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Asparagus & cheese muffins

Inspired by "Dales Life" magazine, May-July issue.

Makes 12 muffins
(I have made 6 muffins and 4 mini bread loafs)

12 spears of asparagus, wooden ends removed, each spear cut into 3 pieces
400g self raising flour
200g mature Cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (Gruyere or feta cheese should be fine too)
125g butter, melted
Small bunch of fresh chives, snipped into pieces
150ml milk
100ml plain yoghurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard (or English one)
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for a minute, then drain and leave it under running cold water for a minute or two. Drain again and dry thoroughly.

In one bowl mix the flour, cheese cubes and asparagus, saving some tips for later.

In another mix the wet ingredients: butter, eggs, milk, yoghurt, chives, mustard with some salt and pepper.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir. Be careful not to over mix, stop when the all flour is gone – it means the mixture is combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly into a muffin form and push asparagus tip into a middle of each muffin.

Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Best eaten warm with some butter, but they also taste great cold, possibly with some smooth soup.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Torta/Tarta de Santiago (Light lemon & almond tart)

Makes 25cm round loose bottom tart dish (you can use round 25cm spring form)

250g ground almonds
180-200g caster sugar
4 eggs
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
icing sugar to dust
little unsalted butter to brush the dish

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Separate egg yolks from whites and using a hand mixer beat the whites with a pinch of salt – they should not be too stiff.

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks together with a sugar and lemon zest until pale.

Gently add the whites to beaten yolks and mix them using a spatula. Try not to overwork this, because it should stay fluffy. You want as little air to be released from the whites as possible.

Next gently mix the ground almonds into the eggs and pour into a buttered dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes. If the top is getting darker, cover with a piece of tin foil.

Let it cool down for about 15 minutes and dust with some icing sugar.

This cake does not rise at all, so do not worry if it is little bit flat.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Asparagus & goats cheese pizza

And this is what I call "the only right pizza in May". Asparagus seson! Woo-hoo!

Makes 4 small pizzas


450g strong whole wheat flour (you can use a white one)
level tsp dried yeast
level tsp salt
half tsp sugar
2-3 tbsp olive oil
250-300ml lukewarm water

I use bread machine to make the dough. I have placed all the ingredients in the machine and used “pizza” program (“dough” in those without extra “pizza” program). If not using the bread machine place all the ingredients in a big bowl and make the dough using your hands. Next leave the dough in a bowl, covered in draft free, warm place until it doubles in size.


4tbsp crème fraîche
2 garlic cloves
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg


12 asparagus spears, wooden ends removed
camembert style goats cheese (I used 100g of this one )
4 tbsp grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 250C together with a pizza stone. If you do not have a pizza stone, use a baking tray. I always preheat the stone for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Place the dough onto a floured surface, punch it to release the air and divide into 4 balls. Shape each one into a flatbread like shape. Leave it to rest for a while.

Meanwhile boil the asparagus for about 3 minutes, drain and leave it under cold running water for few minutes. Drain and dry.

Mix the crème fraîche with finely chopped garlic, pepper and nutmeg and spread over each pizza base, then sprinkle with a half of the parmesan.

Place 3 asparagus spears on the top of each one together with sliced goat cheese and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake until base is crispy and cheese on the top is golden.

It tastes good cold too, so you can take it for picnic or to work for lunch next day.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Kaiserschmarrn - Emperor's omlette

Makes 2

5 eggs
5 level tbsp plain flour
2 tsp sugar
2 big handfuls sultanas
dark rum – enough to cover the sultanas
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp icing sugar
pinch of salt

Soak the sultanas in the rum overnight.

Using a hand mixer beat the whites until not too stiff. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale, add flour and mix well. Add the sultanas together with rum (if there is any remaining) to the egg yolks and mix gently.

Next gently fold the egg whites into a mixture and make sure you not overwork it, because it should be light and fluffy.

Melt the butter in a pan then pour the egg mixture into the pan and fry it like an omelette over a low heat. After few minutes check with a spatula if the bottom is golden; if so, turn it upside down and fry on the other side for another minute.

Using a spatula tear the omelette into a pieces and fry until any remaining raw egg is gone.

Serve on the plate sprinkled with some icing sugar.

It also tastes good with fresh seasonal fruits or any fruit preserve.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Pork tenderloin & roasted rhubarb

Makes 2-3

400g pork tenderloin
100g pancetta rahers (or streaky becon)
2-3 rhubarb stalks
2-3 tbsp honey
pinch of ground ginger
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200 C.

Sprinkle the pork tenderloin with some pepper and salt (not too much - pancetta is salty) and wrap in pancetta. Place in a ovenproof dish and put into the oven.

Wash and dry the rhubarb and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal. Place the honey into a pan and warm through. Add rhubarb and ginger and toss until rhubarb is covered in honey. Set aside.

After 10 minutes of roasting the meat add the rhubarb together with the honey into the dish. Roast for further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, set aside and leave it to rest for few minutes. Slice and serve with rhubarb and juices from the roasting dish.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Rhubarb drink

Makes 1.5l

500g rhubarb
1.5l water
8 tbsp sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
4 whole cloves
zest and juice of one lemon
few springs of fresh mint

In a pan boil the water together with cloves and lemon zest, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Next add the rhubarb chopped in 1cm pieces and simmer over a low heat for abour 15 minutes.

Remove from a heat, stir the lemon juice into a pan and set aside. Refigerate overnight. Strain the rhubarb out using a sieve. I do it twice - second time using a cheese cloth.

Serve cold with some fresh mint and lime (ice cubes - optionally).

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Spring vegetable tagliatelle with lemon & chive sauce

Inspired by "Good Food" magazine, May 2010 issue.

Serves 2

250g tagliatelle
8-10 asparagus spears, wooden ends removed, spears halved
cup of peas (I used petit pois)
zest and juice of one lemon
tsp of Dijon mustard
4 tbsp olive oil
handful of fresh chives
few parmesan shavings
freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta, adding the vegetables - for last 5 minutes bottom parts of asparagus, for last 3 minutes asparagus heads and for last minute peas.

Meanwhile mix olive oil with lemon zest, juice and mustard and warm through until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and veg, adding 4 tbsp of the water to the sauce. Reheat the sauce, adding most of the chives (I cut them with scissors), add the pasta and veg to the sauce and toss everything together.

Divide between two plates or bowls and top each with some more chives and parmesan shavings. Sprinkle with some more pepper if required and serve immediately.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Rhubarb cake with cinnamon topping

For 25cm round spring form

For the topping

50g brown sugar
100g plain flour
60g melted unsalted butter
handful of almond flakes
15g cinnamon sugar (you can make your own by putting whole cinnamon into a jar of sugar and keep closed for few weeks, instead you can use half tsp of ground cinnamon)

Mix all the above and keep refrigerated.

For the rhubarb filling

600g rhubarb, peeled and sliced into 1cm pieces
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tbsp of potato starch (potato flour)
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Mix all the above.

For the base

140g plain flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
90g softened, unsalted buttr
80ml crème fraîche

In a bowl mix all dry ingredients and in a separate one all wet ingredients (eggs, crème fraîche and butter). Add wet mixture to the dry ones and mix using a hand mixer. Dough is quite sticky.

Spread some butter over a spring form and place the dough in it. Flatten it little bit by pressing down using your damp hands. Place the whole rhubarb mixture on it and finish with the topping.

Bake for 75 minutes in 170 C.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Asparagus & lemon risotto

Serves 2-4

about 30g butter
1 onion or shallot, peeled and finely chopped
bundle of asparagus (allow at least 4 asparagus per person) - trimmed and halved
approx. 1 litre vegetable stock (I always boil it using asparagus wooden ends)
200g risotto rice (such as arborio or carnaroli)
150ml dry white wine (if I don't have white, I use dry rose)
lemon and zest of one lemon (make sure you zest yellow part only, white one is bitter)
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese

Keep the stock hot all the time. In a separate pan heat half of the butter, add the onion and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring until softened. Then add rice and turn up the heat.

Fry the rice, stirring all the time. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and lemon juice and keep stirring for minute, until alcohol will evaporate. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add a ladle of hot stock and turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. After 5 minutes add the bottom parts of asparagus - they need to boil little bit longer than tops. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring – you will notice a creamy starch from the rice. This is why you have to allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15-20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. For the last 5 minutes add lemon zest and asparagus tops. Asparagus heads are more delicate than the bottom parts and do not require long time to cook.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter and 2 tbsp parmesan. Stir well and allow to rest for 2 minutes – this will make risotto really creamy and oozy. Serve immediately (as risotto cannot be reheated!) sprinkled with the remaining parmesan cheese on top.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Asparagus in puff pastry & poached egg yolk

Serves 2

bundle of asparagus (allow 5-6 per person)
10-12 strips of puff pastry, about 1 cm wide
2 fresh egg yolks
tbsp grated parmesan (optional)
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200 C and meanwhile prepare the asparagus, by removing wooden ends. Pre-boil trimmed asparagus in a pan with salted water for about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan, rinse for about minute under a cold water and let it dry. Keep the water hot all the time.

Sprinkle each puff pastry strip with parmesan if using and wrap each asparagus in pastry. You can also brush the pastry with egg white and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven until crispy and golden.

I like to dip them in a runny egg yolk, so I separate egg yolks from the whites and place each yolk in the small bowls. Gently pour them into boiling water (the same that you used for boiling the asparagus) and poach for about 30 seconds. Drain with slotted spoon and serve immediately.