Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Coming soon!

I have decided to fight my demons again, so I needed to do some extra shopping with CSN Stores that have online stores where you can find everything from lights to furniture to cookware. This is where I am going to get my new kitchen gadget from and will let you know how I got on with my next culinary demon...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Salmon fishcakes

- I am glad it is Friday today. I am going to get some take away and spend evening on the sofa doing nothing. Have you got any plans?
- We will open a cold lager, have a dinner and just relax. I am glad it is Friday too.
- What are you having for a dinner?
- Salmon fishcakes, chips and salad.
- From a local fish & chips?
- No. Homemade.
- ???
- Its is Friday, I bought some fresh fish on the market and I am going to make a fishcakes and real, homemade chips. We did not have it for ages...
- I cannot believe you can be bothered on Friday night.
- Yes, I can...

Serves 2-3

500-600g salmon fillets, skin on
bay leaf
half lemon
few whole black peppercorns
whole allspice
200g potatoes, preferably waxy ones (I used Maris Piper - these are perfect for chips as well)
3 spring onions, chopped
fresh 2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
red chilli, deseeded and chopped


white bread crumbs (preferably homemade ones, but Japanese panko would be ideal)
some plain white flour
2 eggs, beaten
sunflower oil for deep frying

Place the salmon in a pan with the bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice and lemon. Pour over enough water to cover the fish, bring to the boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer and leave to poach for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then leave the fish in the poaching liquid until cooled down slightly.

Cook the potatoes in salty water until tender then mash with a potatoes press/masher until smooth.

Drain the salmon, discard pepper corns, all spice and bay leaf, remove the skin and flake into large pieces with a fork, then mix it with potatoes, ginger, chilli and spring onion and season with salt and pepper.

Using your hands (optionally you can use a culinary ring) to shape a fishcakes. Dust with flour, then dip in the beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper and press in the bread crumbs all over, shaking the excess.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until very hot. Fry fishcakes for 5 minutes each side until golden. Remove from a pan and set aside on a paper kitchen towel to remove the excess of fat.

I served it with:

Homemade chips
- the secret of perfect chips is using a good potatoes, floury one such as Maris Piper or King Edward. Heat the oil, preferably sunflower to 190C, then lower the chips into the oil and fry until the chips are soft - the knife should go in easily. Shake the basket a couple of times to ensure even cooking. Lift out of the basket and drain the chips on whilst heating the oil to 200C. The cooking process can be halted at this stage until you favourite godliness is achieved.

- I used a watercress with Thai style dressing: lime juice, toasted sesame oil and some honey.

Lime wedges and sweet chilli sauce, cold lager and dinner is ready!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Roast polenta with pesto & vegetables

My first “polenta experience” was not very promising. Few years back we went skiing to Italy and we were hoping for a culinary journey as well as some exciting sliding down the slopes. Unfortunately the food in our hotel was dreadful and the only decent food we managed to eat was in the small restaurants and bars on the Dolomites’ slopes.

One night they have served a polenta in our hotel. It was pale; it looked like poo and did not encourage me to taste this dish. But I thought to myself “do not judge the book by its cover” and I gave it a go. When I swallowed a spoonful I thought I will never eat it again.

Later on I was tempted several times by lovely magazine pictures of polenta cut into the blocks, and then fried and served with meat stews. I decided to cook it at home to see if I really hate it so much. Surprisingly it was very tasty, even before frying, but when I left it to set and cut into pieces which I have fried and served with beef stew, I have fallen in love with this product.

On one of the Polish culinary blogs I have found a new (to me) lovely way to prepare the polenta. Similar to topping a pizza base, but instead of dough girl used the polenta. My recipe is completely different as I did not have all of the ingredients such as tomato pesto or mozzarella, but I have done something so delicious that I am going to experiment with different toppings in the future. I used what I had in the fridge and cupboards that day. Use you imagination and top it with whatever you fancy.

Serves 2

120g polenta
2 handfuls of spinach
small piece of cheese (I used local Jervaulx Blue)
2 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp olive oil
small courgette
large tomato
few basil leaves
balsamic syrup for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Prepare the polenta accordingly to producer’s instructions. Transfer it onto a tray lined with a baking paper and shape into a circle making sure it is levelled.

Prepare you pesto by putting spinach, garlic, cheese, some freshly ground pepper and 2 tbsp of olive oil into a food processor. Mix until smooth and set aside.

Using a veg peeler cut courgette into a strips lengthwise. Fry in a non stick pan with tbsp olive oil until al-dente.

Spread the pesto over a polenta, top with courgette strips and tomato divided into eight pieces.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. I used grill for last 3 minutes.

Transfer onto a plate, garnish with fresh basil and balsamic syrup.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Bobotie & yellow rice

That day I was really hungry and wanted some meat, something new, that would surprise me. I remembered a nice picture of beef dish from South Africa, have found it on the internet and checked a list of the ingredients. I had all of them at home so I decided to go ahead with my first bobotie!

I could not find South African chutney in my local delicatessen so I used Indian mango chutney, which I think was not too bad with bobotie. Actually I think it went together very smoothly. Also when discussing the recipe on Good Food I have received a message from girl called Karen (cheers!), who use to live in South Africa. She has send me a yellow rice recipe which was a perfect accompaniment for my bobotie. Like she said "It is a bit rich but what the hell". I tell you: it is great and if you are making a bobotie you must go for it too. I have changed the method slightly though.

After I had my bobotie, which was so delicious that I am going to make it again I read that in South Africa they serve it with thing called blatjang - kind of a fruit relish that is made from apricots, onions, sugar, vinegar and spices and combines a variety of taste - sweet, hot, fruity, and tangy. I will definitely make it next time when cooking bobotie and this lovely yellow rice.


Serves 3

500g minced beef, preferably low fat
stale white bread roll
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp butter or ghee
approx. 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
tsp ground cumin
tsp sweet paprika
tsp curry powder
tbsp red wine vinegar
tbsp Worcestershire sauce
tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp dried apricots, cut into thin strips
2 eggs
approx. 150 ml milk

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Soak the bread roll in the milk, then squeeze excess of milk, make sure you save all the milk, and set the bread roll aside. Add the eggs into the milk, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside for later.

Fry the garlic and ginger in a pan with the butter for 2 minutes. Next add the beef, stir well, crushing the mince into fine grains until it changes colour to brown.

Next add Worcestershire sauce, bread roll, vinegar, tomato puree, raisins, apricots, cumin, paprika, curry, some salt and pepper and stir well.

Place the meat into an ovenproof dish and pour the egg and milk mixture over the meat. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is set and golden.

Remove from the oven, set aside for few minutes and cut into servings. Serve with chutney and yellow rice.

Yellow rice

750 ml boiling water
250ml rice
30g butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 stick cinnamon
125ml seedless raisins

Fry the rice with turmeric in a pan with butter until all grains are covered in fat. Next add sugar, salt, cinnamon and water and keep over a heat until it reaches boiling point, then cover and boil until the rice is cooked nearly dry. Add the raisins to rice and stir lightly with a fork and finalise cooking over low heat until dry. Watch out for burn.

All there is left to say is: Smaaklike ete! *

* bon appetite!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Banana bread

I like Sophie Dahl. She is pleasant to look at and even if her BBC2 series was not brilliant I have to say I was still watching it because she was there. Never mind the cooking skills that shown her being behind some other celebrity chefs. Never mind the recipes that where not surprising or refreshing. I simply like her.

Do you wonder why? As most women I was always concerned about my weight and way I look. She helped me realised that skinny does not mean pretty and there are normal women that can be a part of the fashion industry. And take great pictures like this one. I was blown away by this picture and after few years still think this is an iconic fashion photo.

Even she is skinnier today I still like to look at her. Perhaps her series was not the best one I have seen and her cooking skills showed that cooking is not the best of her abilities. However I was still watching it with a pleasure. Having some toasted banana bread with butter, relaxing and thinking at the same time: screw skinny! Screw this pressure to fit in small sizes! Enjoy eating. Enjoy life.

Makes 23x13x7cm loaf tin

4 very ripe bananas, peeled
150g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
75g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g all purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease the loaf tin with some butter and dust with homemade fine bread crumbs or flour.

Mash the bananas with a fork and add sugar, egg, butter and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix the flour with baking soda and cinnamon. Add the flour, mix only until everything is combined - use the fork or spoon rather using a mixer. The batter should not be perfectly smooth - do not over mix it. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 60minutes. Remove from the oven, leave it to cool slightly for few minutes, remove from the tin and leave it to cool down on a rack.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Caramelised red onion

All my life I was a proper city girl. Never had any family or friends living in the countryside so I have never made a physical contact with some animals, in particular farm ones.

I have made my first physical contact with goats one day when… working with my company. When I first started I was a part-timer doing small jobs – printing postage, paying in, and once I was asked to go and take the picture of the barn for conversion that we had for sale.

So I went into a middle of the field, trying not to cave in too much in my high heels (did not have wellies in the car that day and the ground was quite soft) and I was trying to take the best shot possible. Suddenly I realised one of the goats was chewing my trousers and the other was trying to scar me by stamping aggressively.

I was trying to scar the one that enjoyed my trousers but she seemed to have more fun. I was chased by both until I got into the car and came back to the office in my trousers with goats’ saliva on.

So I do not trust goats anymore but I love goats’ cheese. And there is something really tasty that goes very well with goats’ cheese and other cheese. It is homemade caramelised onion. It is tastier when matured for 4-6 weeks so do not be tempted to open the jar earlier as you may be disappointed.

I am not quite sure how many 190ml jar I had from the ingredients below, but at least 5. I am just about to finish the last one and will have to make some more – I will double the quantities this time.

Recipe is a pure improvisation.

1kg red onion
approx. 50g butter (I used ghee)
approx. 150ml red wine vinegar
approx. 100ml dry red wine
approx. 300g dark muscovado
to handfuls of dried cranberries
half tsp chilli powder
pinch of salt

Peel, half and slice the onions and add to the heavy bottom pan with melted butter. Fry over a low heat for about 15 minutes – it should be soft but not browned.

Next add the sugar, stir gently and fry for about 10 minutes. Next add the remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Most of the liquids should evaporate, so you can turn the heat up for last few minutes, but be careful and do not burn the whole thing.

Also you can add some herbs such as thyme, but I prefer plain onion and adding some fresh herbs just before serving.

Place hot onions in sterilised jars, close and place up side down a big pan lined with kitchen towel. Fill with the hot water till about half of the jars height and boil (not rapidly) for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, set aside to cool down and store in a dark, cool place.

I think these should keep at least 1 year, but in my house do not last more than 3 months. I also use it for sausage or beef sandwiches.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Courgette & pepper tart Tatin

I use to roll a lot. On one of the Polish internet culinary forums I was asked if I want to talk about it. It looked like a serious issue - spinach and salmon roulade, meringue and lemon roulade, tortilla and grilled tune bites, rolled and stuffed chicken breast, cinnamon swirls... Possibly many more but I do not remember everything at the moment.

So when I saw this recipe from a booklet from "La Cucina Italia" I knew I had to make it. Even if I have lost my temper when... rolling the topping I would still recommend it because it is truly delicious and looks great.

I love tart Tatin and realise that the original is made with apples. However I call the up side down tarts Tatin whether they are sweet or savoury.

Serves 4

375g ready rolled puff pasty
5 bell peppers (various colours)
3-4 small courgettes
handful of parmesan
150g mozzarella
tbsp olive oil
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Place the peppers on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast until skin is nearly black. Remove from the oven, place in a plastic bag and leave for about 10 minutes. It will help with removing the skin. When cooled down slightly peel the peppers and cut into about 2cm stripes.

Using a veg peeler cut the courgettes lengthwise. If the slices are too thin use an ordinary knife. These should be not too thin and not too thick - you should be able to roll them. Sprinkle slices with salt and leave for about 20 minutes. Next wash under cold running water and dry on a kitchen roll or towel.

Line tart Tatin dish (or a frying pan that you can place in the hot oven, I used 25cm pan) with a baking paper and sprinkle with parmesan. Roll the peppers into the courgette slices and place tightly into the dish. Tear up the mozzarella into a pieces and place a small piece into a centre of each rolled pepper. Sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper.

Cover with puff pastry and press the edges into a bottom of the dish. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Place in the 220 C oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Cover with piece of kitchen foil if it becomes too brown during the baking.

Remove from the oven, leave it to rest for few minutes, cover with a bog plate and turn up side down. Cut and serve.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Moroccan style lamb chops

Few days ago we had a sentimental journey back to Morocco, where we spent some time last September and we certainly will not forget this paradise of aromas and various flavours. I wanted to introduce lamb to my Mum, because she has never tried it - it is not popular in Poland and difficult to get hold of. Also, I needed this journey back to Moroccan vibe because the last few weeks in Yorkshire were quite cold and wet (we even had hailstorm yesterday!). So I grabbed a cup of spicy tea and flicked through our last holidays photographs, while this spicy lamb was in the oven.

You can use any cut of lamb, but preferably with some fat - it will keep the meat moist and tasty.

Serves 3

6 lamb chops
2-3 tbsp ras-el-hanout - Moroccan spice mix
2 tbsp sunflower oil (or other neutral)
2 onions, peeled and roughly diced
3 galic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 handfuls of dried apricots
handful of raisins or sultanas
handful of flaked almonds
few saffron strands, soaked in tsp of cold water
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sweet paprika
approx 200ml vegetable stock
tbsp honey
handful of fresh mint
juice of half lemon

Sprinkle the meat with ras-el-hanout, cover with kitchen foil and leave in a fridge overnight.

Next day fry the lamb chops on the high heat in a pan with oil until browned and place in casserole dish. In the same pan fry the onions and garlic, do not brown. Add to the meat.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and keep over a heat for minute or two, then add to the meat.

Next add the stock and de glaze for a minute, scrapping anything that was left in the pan. Next add to the casserole dish.

Add apricots, sultanas, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cayenne, saffron, turmeric and honey. Cover and bake in the oven preheated to 150 C for two hours.

I served it with couscous mixed with lemon juice and chopped mint.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Very nice day!

I would love to share some good thoughts and news with you even if you will not be able to understand a single word from my... first interview! A popular Polish culinary on-line magazine called “Ugotuj.to” (which means "Cook it!") invited me to their cycle called “Blog of the Week” that presents Polish food blogs. They have published some of my pictures and short interview. If you have some Polish speaking friends please ask them if I have battled a decent campaign to defend British cuisine. To find out more click here.

Also, I am going to spend some time with my Mum who is comming for few days and I am taking some time off work. So, take care and see you soon! It is a very good day indeed!