Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Cabbage & mushroom pasties

Few weeks ago I have received an invitation to join a competition for Best Cabbage Recipe and I thought I will just ignore it. The prize is very tempting, but at that time I did not feel like cooking a cabbage dish at all.

Last week I had this light bulb moment when I saw Polish sauerkraut in Tesco, something that I do not eat very often. I love the taste of it; however it is not widely available where I live. I had this overwhelming feeling that I have to buy it and cook it as soon as possible. Also we had an appetite for traditional Polish beetroot soup (clear version, not with chunky vegetables, like this one), and we had this homemade sour vegetable juice in the fridge which is a perfect addition to beetroot soup and it makes it more interesting.

Therefore I have made those lovely pasties (not the nipples covers though!) filled with mix of green cabbage, sauerkraut and wild mushrooms. Something very Polish, very exciting and easy to turn into a version for meat lovers by adding some fried, cubed, smoked bacon (pancetta is perfect). You can have it as a snack, or perhaps a starter, traditionally it is served with clear hot soups such as beetroot soup or clear broth. We had lots of them for a dinner; we love them so much, we did not need anything else but a cup of hot beetroot soup.

I did not want to accept the competition invitation first, but then realised that who would cook cabbage better than Polish girl?

Hope you enjoy it! If you would like to vote for this or other recipes, please click HERE.

Makes 10-15

For the dough:

250g strong white bread flour
150g rye flour
7g dry yeast
about 250ml lukewarm milk (or more/less, depends on flour)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp melted butter

For the filling:

about 300g sauerkraut, drained and roughly chopped (you can buy it in any Central or Eastern Europe delicatessen)
1/2 small white cabbage, chopped
handful of dried wild mushrooms, soaked, drained and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp tomato pure
freshly ground black pepper
few drops of lemon juice (or more to your taste)
pinch of sugar
2 bay leaves
few whole all spice

To finish off:

1 egg, beaten
some black onion seeds
some fennel seeds

First prepare the filling: boil the cabbage and the sauerkraut separately in salted water, with some allspice and bay leaves, until soft. Drain and mix together in one pan.

Fry the onion and mushrooms in a pan in the mixture of butter and oil until soft. Next add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the cabbage, add the tomato pure and mix well. Season with the salt, pepper, some sugar and lemon juice accordingly to your taste.

I prepared the filling day ahead and reheated it 2-3 times, so all the excess of moisture evaporated and the flavours matured.

Next prepare the dough. I used bread machine. Put all of the ingredients in the bread machine and use “dough” programme. If using your hands mix all the wet ingredients and add to the mixed dry ingredients and start to mix the dough and knead it for about 10 minutes, until firm and elastic. Then place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave it in warm place until doubled in size.

When dough is ready, punch all the air out and roll on lightly floured surface, until about 2mm thick. Then cut the squares (length of the edge about 15cm), and place some filling on one half of each, making sure you have some dough left on the edges to seal. Brush the edges with little water. Cover with time remaining half, overlapping the half with filling. Press the edges tightly. To make the edges look nice use the top of the knife blade and press it to the edges lightly.

Place the pasties on a baking tray lined with some baking paper, cover with clean kitchen towel and leave them for about 1.5 hour. They will rest and puff slightly.

Heat the oven to 180 C. Brush the pasties with beaten egg, sprinkle half with onion seeds and rest with the fennel seeds (it helps to digest the cabbage). Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Serve hot or cold. These are suitable to reheat in a microwave.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Low fat onion bhajis

Thanks to Healthy Supplies I have received few days ago the following ingredients that I am in love with:

Chickpea Flour, Organic (Infinity Foods) 500g
TRS Turmeric Powder (Haldi) 100g
Chilli Powder 100g (TRS)
TRS Ginger Powder 100g
Spelt Flour, Organic 500g (Infinity Foods)
Spelt Flakes 500g
Agave Concentrate Syrup, Organic 250ml (Biona)
Clearspring Mikawa Mirin 150ml
Hemp Oil - Organic, 260ml (Granovita)
Spaghetti, Wholegrain Spelt 500g (Biona)
Organic Rye Grain 500g (Infinity Foods)
Sun-Dried Tomatoes 250g, Organic (Infinity Foods)

Parcel arrived safely and very quickly, the selection of goods on their website is definitely worth recommending. Especially they have a recipe section too.

Having chickpea flour handy and all those lovely fragrant spices I decided to cook onion bhajis. I love the taste of this snack, however the amount of fat needed to cook it concerns me and I did not want the whole house smell of oil. I had them once from a take away and there were repeating on me for two days. Never again! I thought I could bake the bhajis and this is what I found when searching for a low fat recipe.

These are very tasty, smell gorgeous, but do not make your house smell with oil and are low in fat. Perfect!

Makes 6-8

500g white onions, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp of vegetable oil
half tsp chilli powder
half tsp turmeric
half tsp ground ginger
tsp ground cumin
tsp ground coriander
half tsp salt
100g chickpea (gram) flour
about 50ml water
tbsp tomato pure

Fry the onions in a pan with 2 tbsp of oil with pinch of salt, over a low heat until soft but not browned.

Next add turmeric, ginger, chilli and half tsp of both cumin and coriander and mix well, fry for another minute or so.

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a large baking tray with some baking paper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil.

Mix chickpea flower with half tsp of cumin and coriander, salt and add the onions. Mix well until onions are covered in flour.

Mix water with tomato pure and add to the onion mixture. Mix well again and spoon onto the baking tray in 6-8 batches.

Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, then drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil and bake for further 10 minutes.

Remove from the tray and place onto paper kitchen towel to remove the excess of fat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fermented vegetable juice

Since I saw snowdrops and other bulbs very gently trying to stick out of the soil last week, I was hoping that the weather will pick up. Perhaps I did not expect proper warm Spring soon but I hoped that at least I will not see more snow this winter.

To prepare myself for the Spring I have made fermented vegetables juice. In Central and Eastern Europe fermented vegetables are very common, everyday diet ingredients. In Poland we eat sauerkraut (fermented white cabbage), gherkins in brine, or fermented beetroot juice. Our diet contains a natural lactic acid that is good for your body and it comes from those fermented vegetables or naturally fermented milk products. Also quite popular is kvas (RUS) or kwas (PL) also called a bread drink.

Vegetable juices processed by natural way of lactic acid fermentation contain high amount of beneficial substances such as vitamins, mineral compounds, dietary fibre and anticancer compounds. When I suffered from anaemia few years ago it was not the medication but fermented beets juice made by my Mum that helped me stand back on my feet. It not only is very healthy but tastes great and chilled is perfect drink on a hot day or just something nice to have your dinner with. My mates who live outside Poland said that such naturally fermented juices are available in wholefood stores, but they can be extremely expensive.

So I had this juice ready and how was the weather? Unfortunately we had snow this morning. It is dull, cold and wet. I couldn't even have my Saturday morning ritual and watch BBC Saturday Kitchen due as I was told by Sky TV customer service - extreme weather conditions, how they call 1 inch of snow and temperature at around 0C.

Never mind. At least I have my juice.

Makes about 1.2l

5 medium beetroots, peeled and sliced
half pf large celeriac, peeled and sliced
quarter of medium white cabbage, shredded
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly crushed
piece of fresh ginger, about 1 inch, peeled and halved
2 level tsp of salt
about 1.2l lukewarm boiled water

Place all the ingredients except from water and salt in large, glass jar or clay jug. I place it in few layers of each vegetable and top it up with garlic and ginger. Next add slated water, enough to cover vegetables. If the vegetables float to the top and remain exposed to air, they are likely to develop mould.

Cover with piece of paper kitchen towel or cheesecloth, secure with elastic band and leave in warm, dark place for about 4 days. Sometimes grey foam can develop on the top, but do not worry - just remove it and drain the juice, saving the vegetables for later.

You can use these vegetables to make a second round. Just cover them again with salted water and leave it in the same way, but for little bit longer (about 6-7 days). The second round will give you little less intensive flavour but it still be tasty.

Store it in a fridge, covered because the smell is quite strong. You can add it to beetroot soup to enhance it's flavour, however you not allowed to boil it, because it will turn soup cloudy and brownish. One glass a day should improve your digestion and health.

Na zdrowie! Good health!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

World Cat Day. My cats and mini studio kit manual.

For me a home without a cat is not a happy home. And today it is their day. Therefore I decided to show you how I take photographs of food for my blog with a very close assistance of my two cats - Buka (big brownish one) and Mimi (black one). As you probably know North Yorkshire is not spoiling me with a lots of lovely day light during most time of the year so I had to buy mini studio kit to keep my blog updated on a regular basis. And this is my mini studio kit manual:

1. Prepare spacious flat space to have your kit stable and ready. Perhaps a floor if you do not have a table big enough, or the cable is too short.
2. Assemble the studio and place the lamps on both sides.
3. Go to the kitchen and add some beef stew to a bowl.
4. Set the bowl aside as the beef stew is steamy, go back to the studio to switch on the lamps and check if they are in a good position.
5. Run Buka out of the studio.
6. Take the background out of the studio and go back to the kitchen to get one of these sticky rolls for cleaning the clothes.
7. Clean the white background, make sure all of those long, colourful hair is gone.
8. Go back to assemble the background.
9. Run Mimi out of the studio.
10. Assemble the background.
11. Go back to the stew.
12. Come back to the studio with the bowl of stew.
13. Amend the studio, because Mimi was mopping on it.
14. Run Buka away from the stew.
15. Place the stew in the studio.
16. Run Buka away from you, because is in display frame.
17. Run Mimi away from the lamp because she covers all light.
18. Put the upset lamp up.
19. Turn on and off the lamp to find out that is not working.
20. One halogen is broken so make sure you have got enough light from other working lamp .
21. Take a photo.
22. Place the stew back into the pan, because it has gone cold already and reheat it.
23. Eat the stew accompanied by cats of which one is back in the studio and the other one it trying to get in.

Monday, 14 February 2011

First anniversary. Spicy tomato soup with coconut milk

Today I wonder if I published my first post year ago subconsciously to avoid Valentines Day theme? This is not my day and not because I am not in love I simply think that nice gestures, flowers and romantic dinners count all year round not once a year. I think the same about food - I try to cook tasty, good looking food all year round, not only for some special events. I hope I have proofed this during last 12 months.

Year ago I was still hesitating, but today I am sure it is worth having my own space in the Internet where I can share with you a part of my life that is important for me. There are many things that make me happy: every new fan, every comment, visitor, e-mail criticising or saying thank you for making this space friendly and welcoming, where somebody can forget everyday problems for a little while. Blogging itself makes me happy. It would not be so beneficial if there was nobody to read. Therefore for all of this I just want to say: thank you. And welcome you with another hot, tasty soup.

I started with this tomato soup with cheddar dumlings year ago, because I love it. Tomato soups are one of my favourites because it give a huge amount of different twists. I think this is a dish that I should serve for an anniversary lunch with my readers. This time with oriental twist - spicy, aromatic and ideal for winter time.

Serves 4

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp groundnut oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
about 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded (or with seeds for extra hot flavour) and finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
2x400ml tinned chopped tomatoes
about 800ml vegetable stock
about 150ml coconut milk

In a pan fry the shallots in the oil over a medium heat, until soften. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and fry for about one minute. Next add all the spices, except the salt and fry for about 30 seconds. Add all the tomatoes, stock, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Next remove from the heat and liquidise with hand blender until smooth. Add 3/4 of coconut milk to the mug, add some hot soup, mix well and add to the pan, again mix well. Season with salt if needed.

Serve with some coconut milk on the top. It is really tasty with some fresh coriander on the top, but this time local delicatessen run out of it. If I want to make it more filling I add some cooked basmati rice or egg noodles. Sometimes I drink it from a mug when having a naan bread.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Smoked salmon & leek risotto

Don't you think it seems like ages since last time I posted risotto on this blog? I have checked - last time I did it in September. Would you believe? We obviously had risotto since then, many, many times. I simply did not have a chance to take some photos, and believe me or not I have a good excuse. Every time I cook risotto I cannot wait to eat it, my hands are shaking, how do I suppose to focus on making a good photo?

If you are, like me, risotto maniacs or perhaps you just want to learn to how to cook this dish I believe today's should be a good one for you. It is a classic flavour combination and in my opinion is dead easy to make. A good winter risotto while I am waiting for all those lovely season vegetables like peas or asparagus.

I have improvised, if you want you can add the salmon to the risotto just before resting it, I prefer uncooked smoked fish on the top. Bon appetite!

Serves 2-4

about. 25 g butter
1 leek, white and light green part, cut lengthwise and sliced
about 200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice ie. carnaroli)
about 150 ml dry white wine
zest and juice of one lemon
about 1l vegetable stock
about 250g smoked salmon
few tbsp chopped fresh dill
freshly ground black pepper

Keep the stock hot all the time.

In a separate pan heat half of the butter, add the leek and fry very slowly 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 lemon zest, juice and wine and keep stirring until alcohol will evaporate.

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. 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. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter, stir well and allow to rest for about one minute. At this stage you can add salmon, but I preferred it on the top. Finish it up with smoked salmon and chopped dill. Serve immediately, risotto cannot be reheated.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Prosciutto, pear & rocket rolls

In Poland traditionally this time of a year many people make doughnuts and deep fried sweet pastry to celebrate the carnival. I simply don't feel like standing over a pan with hot fat and frying those sweets, even if I love to eat them. So there will be no sweets today, but a snack that makes lovely starter and finger food.

I found recipe ages ago in "Good Food" magazine, however later on I came across similar or the same recipe in other magazines and cookery books.

Makes 8

2 ripe but firm pears, cored and quartered vertically
juice of half lemon
2 handfuls of rocket
8 slices of Italian prosciutto
about 4 tbsp shaved parmesan or grana padano
freshly ground black pepper
balsamic syrup (optional)

Arrange a few leaves of rocket on each prosciutto slice. Add cheese shavings, quarters of pear tossed in lemon juice and sprinkled with pepper. Roll it and you can secure it with toothpicks.

Optionally you can drizzle them with some balsamic syrup.