Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bread, onion & cabbage bake

Cabbage again. This is my typical veg for Autumn-Winter time, and apart from being filling, tasty and comforting it is also on the cheaper side.

I cooked this dish according to a recipe from my new favourite cookbook (well, didn't follow the exact quantities). This is something that my Polish soul fell in love with immediately, but I also came across Italian inspired recipe for soup using very similar ingredients. 

I prepared two versions, one vegan for myself and other with some extra bacon - for my hard working partner. This however is meat free version and you can adjust it accordingly to your preferences.

Swaps? Use kale or Swiss chard instead of a cabbage.

Extras by Hugh? A sharp cheese such as mature Cheddar or Gruyere sprinkled on each layer of bread would be nice addition and make this more filling.

Extras by me? Add fried bacon cubes to the cabbage or sprinkle the dish with bacon on a plate.

Serves 2-4

8 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium cabbage, quartered, core removed, cabbage shredded into about 1cm slices 
half French baguette, robust, good quality, stale (or sourdough bread) cut into about 2cm cubes
400mlhot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onion in 4 tbsp olive oil on a low heat for about 15 minutes. Then add garlic, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Boil a bog pan of water, add some salt and the cabbage, cook for about 4 minutes, then drain and leave it to steam for a while. 

Place diced bread in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Layer the ingredients in an ovenproof dish starting with onion, then bread and cabbage. The number of layers depends on how deep your dish is, I only managed to get two layers of each ingredient. Make sure you top it up with layer of bread. Add little salt and pepper between each layer. pour the hot stock over the dish making sure the bread cubes on the top soak some of it. Cover with kitchen foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for further 15 minutes or until golden on the top and stock has nearly evaporated. Remove from the oven and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes, then divide into portions and serve.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Red cabbage with black pudding, apples & hazelnuts

Recent recipe, so sorry I am late again with English version, two more to come that should have been done ages ago and every so often I wonder if I should stop writing this blog. :/


This is a recipe from some ancient "Good Food" magazine and today I am not even entirely sure if this is exactly how I should have made it. I also wasn't too sure if it looked good enough to photograph it. As much as I love the ingredients and these all seemed like a perfect harmony to me, when I plated this dish I thought to myself: what a mess. I took photographs, we sat and ate our dinner, really enjoyed it and after couple hours I went back to my computer to see the photographs and decided I was too harsh at first. Considering this is a cabbage dish and they never look in as fantastic as some Michelin starred and styled ones (well not in my kitchen anyway!) this is actually quite attractive looking one. It is surly great Autumnal dish whether you like the way it looks or not, you should try it.  

Serves 2-4

1 small red cabbage, core removed, cabbage shredded not too finely
2 small sharp apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
4 bacon rashers (I used smoked streaky)
4 slices of black pudding
handful of hazelnuts
pinch of brown sugar
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1 tbsp of butter 
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
1 level tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp of honey
freshly ground pepper

In a large pan heat the oil and add shredded cabbage with little salt, stir fry for about 5 minutes and then add 3-5 tbsp of water, stir, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered so I doesn't cool down too much.

Prepare the dressing. Whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, some salt and pepper in a bowl, then set aside.

Dry roast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until slightly browned and then set aside on a chopping board. Chop roughly and leave them to use later.

In the same pan fry bacon witout adding any extra fat until browned and crispy. Move the bacon on the side of the pan (or just spoon it out, I didn't want to use another dish), and in the bacon fat fry black pudding slices - British black pudding needs about 2-3 minutes each side.

Meanwhile in another pan melt the butter, add apples and sprinkle with sugar. Fry until slightly browned, caramelised on the edges (about 5 minutes).

Place warm cabbage into the bowl with the dressing and mix. Adjust the seasoning - add some salt and pepper if required. Divide between warm plates, sprinkle with bacon, add caramelised apples and top with slices of black pudding. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. 
You can serve it as a starter or like us add some potatoes roasted in duck fat and eat it as a main course. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Steak tartare

This is something that I remember from my childhood, very popular party dish when I was a kid, for adults quite often served with a shot of very cold vodka. Couldn't quite grasp why people would eat raw meat, but once I got older I actually started to enjoy it. I think it was at least eight years since last time I ate it and then suddenly I had cravings for this dish last week.

Many Polish cooks would just mince fillet of beef. For me this is a crime. It is quite pricey, and by mincing it you destroy it's delicate texture. You may as well get cheap cut of lean beef and mince it, why do it to expensive fillet? Honestly I don't get it. So chop it finely, yet to the stage when you can still feel some texture under your teeth. Secondly, traditionally in Poland people would use onion, for me onion has too strong flavour and can overpower the flavour of beef. I use more subtle shallots. I would normally use diced pickled mushrooms but these are difficult to get hold of where I live, so I skipped them. I added cornichons and capers. I would advise to not to use strong flavoured oil, but something with a delicate flavour, mild olive oil or rapeseed oil. To enhance the beef flavour it is good to add some anchovies, and my last word: I never use mustard - I think it kills the meat flavour.  

So this is my take on this traditional dish.

Serves 2 

about 300g fillet of beef
1 small shallot (I used French variety, if British you need two)
2 medium cornichons (gherkins)
2 tbsp of salted capers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small egg yolks (you can use quail eggs) 
4 anchovies (tinned or from a jar)
freshly ground black pepper

Slice beef fillet into about 3mm slices and then chop into small dice. You can go again with a knife over the chopped meat, but do it roughly. Add minced anchovies (mince it with a side of a knife or a fork), some pepper and mix, adjust the saltiness by adding some salt according to your taste, but remember this dish will get more salty when you mix it with capers.

Peel the shallot and dice finely. Dice the gherkins and rinse the capers thoroughly under a running water then drain and chop roughly.

Place cooking ring on a plate and place one layer of meat then one layer of gherkins or caper or shallots, then again layer of meat and layer of next ingredient. Finish off with a layer of meat and make a little well in the centre. Gently place egg yolk in the well and sprinkle with some pepper and salt (optionally). Make sure you save some gherkins, shallots and caper for the finishing touch.

Using oil make three lines across the plate and place some gherkins, shallots and capers in each line. Remove the ring and serve immediately with good bread and optionally with a shot of good quality very cold vodka.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My favourite sandwiches

This is one of them and there will be some more coming up some time in the future.

I like bacon & avocado sandwich, but Hugh came up with an idea of putting cheddar and mayo into this duo. I skipped mayo and added vintage cheddar to bacon and avocado and guess what? This is my new favourite sandwich. I used my everyday bread that I shared my recipe for some time ago, but this time made with white and wholewheat flour (and as usual rye starter).

2 slices of bread, slightly toasted
½ avocado, flesh scooped out and sliced or mashed
2 bacon rashers (I used back and unsmoked bacon), grilled in the oven or fried
2 slices of mature (or vintage) cheddar

I don't have to give you a method, do I? ;)

Have a lovely Sunday!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Where to eat? Stein's Fish & Chips, Padstow

If you want to try probably the best fish & chips to take away prepared according to the recipes of well known and respected chef and at affordable prices this is a place for you. Fish is at it's freshest, selection is impressive and I like the fact you can either go for fried or grilled one. Tartare sauce was to die for, batter extremely crispy, real proper chips and garnish of lemon wedge and parsley just added this extra touch, as well as nicely presented box and wooden curterly. For me the best takeaway fish & chips I have ever had. Highly recommended! 

Stein's Fish & Chips 
South Quay
PL28 8BL

Opening times:

12 noon - 3pm
5pm - 9pm
12 noon - 2.30pm
5pm - 9pm

Fish and chips prices between £7.85 - £12.25, sauces and extras £0.35-2.00

Fish & chips with a view

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tasty Cornwall

Cornwall is a great place for food lovers. There are few Michelin starred restaurants in Cornwall and Devon but apart from those duchy is full of fantastic food producers, slightly cheaper restaurants run by celebrity chefs such as "Fifteen" (Jamie Oliver) or "The Seafood Restaurant" (Rick Stein), but traditional pubs serve good food as well - we managed to have a decent fish & chips and beef & ale pie in rather cheap spots. Tomorrow I will write a separate post about the best fish & chips in Cornwall.

Fish & chips with a view - pub The Port William in Trebarwith Strand
I would say the best Cornish Pasties we even had were those made by Pengenna Pasties (they have four spots in Cornwall) - pastry was exceptionally good, even I am not a big fan of pastry and the traditional filling with beef, potatoes, swede and onions very tasty and perfectly seasoned (peppery). We also bought 3 different ones to take away and all of the were equally good. Selection is nice, they even offer vegan ones.

Cornish Pastry, Tintagel
Cornwall is famous for pasties as well as clotted cream, fudge or ice cream (I recommend ice cream at Eden Project!) and in every tea room you are able to try thir famous Cornish cream - selection of tea with scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves. This is an absolute must try when you are in this region.

                                  Tasty and refreshing smoothie in tropical rain forrest at Eden Project
The only tea grown in United Kingdom is produced on the estate in Cornwall and it is called Tregothnan, if you are not keen to travel there you may as weel buy it at Eden Project. This tea is mainly producet to be exportet abroad so it makes it rare and valued in UK. At Eden Oroject I have spotted probably the most beautiful tin design! Local sardines in these great tins cought my eye, as well as duck rillettes. This was extremely good,made with duck, cranberries and Grand Marier and when I came back home and waslooking for some information about the producer Cornish Charcuterie I have found really enthusiastic review by Rick Stein saying how great this product is. Also in their gift shop there is a selection of famous  Cornish Sea Salts.

Tinned sardines and rillettes

Eden Project treats
Festivals, festivals... There are many food and drink festivals in Cornwall, I had a chance to go to Cornwall Food & Drink Festival  in Truro. To be honest it wasn't as impressive as my local one yet still there was a good selection of products.
top: cider, Cornish Yarg, saffron cake, bottom: Cornish Sea Salts, selection of cheese and bread

top: sausages, raw chocolate pies, fresh crabs, bottom: preserves, vegetable stand, Bramley apples and cider

I have done some shopping on the festival and decided to head to south coast to find a nice spot for a picnic. We were quite hungry, found a remote spot with lovely view and had improvised picnic. We had: fantastic wild venison salami (from Deli Farm Charcuterie), rosemary focaccia, ciabatta rolls, smoked goats' cheese Tesyn, traditional saffron cake with dried fruits, local ales (from a brewery called Penpont), and very tasty raw chocolate pie with pink Himalayan salt (from Raw Choc Pie). On the festival there was a nice selection of locally produced cheeses, probably themost famoous ones are Davidstow Cheddar, Cornish Yarg, or my favourite  Cornish Blue. We also bought Cornish Blue & fig pâté.- one of the best things I have ever tried. There is also very tasty pear and walnut version of this pâté

post-festival improvised picnic 
Probably the most popular and well known brewery in Cornwall is  St. Austell Brewery and we have tried their ales in every pub we went to. Town is not interesting ate all, but the brewr is worth visiting. There are guided tour, beer tasting and pint of beer of your selection in their pub after the tour is included in a ticket price.  You can shop in their gift shop and eat something in their pub. Menu is not impressive, but I was pleasantly surprise to see Cornwall's smoked hog's pudding - traditional thick sausage that can cotain an offal. It was tasty, but not as good as black pudding or Scottish haggis. 

brewery tour
Hog's pudding and ale

I can't think of anything else I should tell you about amazing Cornish food produce. I obviously know there are many, many more to discover and I will definately go back one day to this tasty part if United Kingdom to search more inspiring food and drink.

beef & ale pie in one of the pubs and famous Cornish cream tea: scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Beautiful Cornwall

Some memories from our holiday in Cornwall in September. Hope you enjoy it. We absolutely love this part of UK.

top: Land's End, bottom: Cape Cornwall 

top: Padstow, bottom: Harlyn Bay

St. Agnes  coastal route



Eden Project

Eden Project - Tim Shaw's sculptures 

The Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre


Top lef, clockwise: Bodmin Moor, St Michael's Mount, Charlestown, Port Isaac

I hope you enjoyed my photographs. Please come back tomorrow, as I will be telling you about all good things to eat and drink in Cornwall.