A return to trying to blog straight after cooking and eating…
After a lovely weekend away relaxing at a spa for a friend’s hen do, I got home and got to thinking about dinner. I had most of the ingredients assembled but nipped out for squash and spinach. This veggie feast was another Good Food recipe, and pretty simple to prepare (although it did generate quite a lot of washing up, so lost some of its appeal for that).
First Mr M chopped the squash up into little cubes, then I sprinkled it with oil, cinnamon and crushed coriander seeds. After 35 minutes in the oven the squash was tender. Whilst it was cooking I sweated ginger and shallots until soft. Then I bashed some lemongrass, before chopping it finely and adding it to the pan with some garlic, to cook. Once these were all soft in went some red chilli,coriander leaf, turmeric, pineapple juice and water. This mix was cooked until reduced by a third.
A quarter of the squash and the chilli liquid were combined with a tin of coconut milk and then blitzed till smooth. The rest of the squash was then added with the spinach and some chopped water chestnuts. Ten minutes of simmering later it was ready to serve on rice with a coriander and cashew nut topping.
The flavours of this were sweet, coconutty and a little bit spicy. The chestnuts saved it from being too smushy bringing some welcome crunch. I enjoyed the light Thai flavours from the lemongrass, ginger, coconut, coriander and chilli. Not sure what teh spinach was doing except adding visual contrast, as its flavour got quite lost. I think if I made it again I would add more heat! Mr M liked it though so overall pretty pleased with my efforts, 8 out of 10 from him. Although I have to say the delectable chocolate banana cake I’m tucking into made by my lovely husband is a 9+ at least veggie food includes cake 🙂
So our exploration of Polish food has come to an end. Mr M has promised to blog about the Olivier salad he made on Wed, so I will stick to discussing Bigos. We served this with home made Rye bread, which was tasty, but very dense and a bit rustic looking.
Bigos is Poland’s national dish and is a delicious many meat stew. Ours had beef, venison, pork and garlic sausage. These were browned and then cooked with onions, a smidge of garlic, tomatoes, prunes, a whole jar of Sauerkraut and some stock. This is simmered for a few hours. Then cooled, cooked again to allow the flavours to infuse. Lovely. We vote 9 out of 10. A nice high to finish on.
Overall Polish month is lagging behind Indian which is still our joint fave. High hopes for Italian month, we have been spoilt for choice with an abundance of recipes and cookbooks to choose from. My recent week in Italy has inspired me, especially looking forward to lots of vegetables. And Dolce.
Another interpretation tonight instead of slavish recipe following.
Chicken breasts were seasoned and pan fried. The pan juices were then mixed with cream, dill and a dash of wine. Served with new potatoes, fried onions and bacon. For a wee bit of healthiness I added some carrots and broccoli. Mr M voted 7.5 out of 10. Best get back to the cook book when I get home.
Another cookbook recipe loosely followed today, omitting the wildness of the mushrooms and the roasting of the chicken.
We had purchased a whole chicken as this was only a few pence more than a couple of breasts. I separated off the breasts and kept them for tomorrow, whilst also removing every last scrap of meat for tonight.
The chicken bits were fried with a little salt and pepper and a chopped small onion. On top of this, some garlic, the mushrooms, the juice of a lemon and a good sized splash of white wine cooked for a while as i prepared the rest of the dish. Carrots, swede and a Parsnips made for the colourful accompanying root vegetable mash. When this was done, the chicken went back on the heat and the cream was added.
With some sauerkraut to serve, this was pretty easy and super tasty. It scored 8 out of 10.
Two pork dishes over two nights. One from the recipe book (The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe) largely accurately and the other more loosely based on a recipe.
The first, yesterday, was pork schnitzel. Pork steaks were battered with a rolling pin and coated with plain flour with some black pepper. They were then fried for 4 minutes per side.
Alongside, mashed potatoes boiled away and a sauce was prepared. Bacon, onions and mushrooms were fried and accompanied by soured cream, mushrooms, mustard and a splash of white wine.
Thrown together with some spinach and tomato, this was really good. The sauce was delicious and the pork was just right. The first mash potatoes for a long time also helped add up to 9.5 out of 10!
Today the pork (on buy one get one free) made a comeback. This time served with boiled potatoes tossed with butter and dill. Chopped pork pieces were fried and accompanied by more mushrooms and some sauerkraut. Simple, tasty and authentic: 7.5 out of 10.
We treated Ma and Pa Magpie to Polish takeaway for the first night of their stay (Pierogi, schnitzel, mushroom dumplings).
So with the in-laws up we decided to tackle a Polish classic, Pierogi. I opted for the fried version with a minced beef
stuffing lightly flavoured with nutmeg.
I hadn’t realised that the outside of the Pierogi was dough based I had always thought it was pastry. So after Mr M fried the mince is made the dough (flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter and warm milk). Ten minutes of kneading. An hour of proving and it was ready to roll.
Rolling proved harder than I thought, the dough was quite springy and kept pinging back. This meant that the first few rounds that I cut were slightly mis-shapen. Mr M and I got to filling them with the mince and soon they were topped with egg wash and ready for baking. 10 minutes in the oven and they were good to eat. They were very good to eat 9 out of 10.
A traditional Polish dish tonight and one that Mr M had eaten before in Poland. The name means little pigeons. The dish is pigeon free but tasty nonetheless. I think the name is meant to reflect the way the cabbage leaves wrapped around the meat stuffing are a similar size and shape to a pigeon breast.
The dish is essentially a cabbage leaf with a minced meat stuffing baked in a sour cream and tomato sauce. Sauce aside its a similar concept to the Greek Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) which are also delicious.
I blanched big savoy cabbage leaves for a few minutes and then set them aside. I cooked rice whilst frying the pork with onions. The pork was flavoured with coriander (fresh and ground), stock and seasoning. Pork and rice were combined to make the stuffing. A couple of heaped spoonfuls of mix went onto each leaf, which I then carefully rolled up and placed in a baking dish. Cream, lemon, a bay leaf and tomato puree were then heated in a pan, and then poured over the pigeons.
35 minutes of baking later and dinner was served. I really enjoyed the cabbage, tender meat and tangy sauce. Mr M thought it was very authentic and gave it 9 out of 10. Good times. We have guests tomorrow so Polish take away shall be had, but Saturday will see us attempt homemade Pierogi and possibly a pudding…
Phone seems to have eaten pictures, which is a shame as it was a cool meal visually, lots of colours, textural contrast and now there is no way to show how they looked like pigeons.
Another virtuous meal, or at least it might have been with a bit less butter!
The recipe called for carp or some sort of river fish, reflecting the greater proportion of freshwater fish in Polish cooking compared with the UK. A logical difference based on geography, as the Polish coastline is proportionally very small compared to that of our island. We, however, had some salmon and so that was what we used.
Into a good sized pan went a large amount of butter and a chopped onion. After this had softened for a short while, it was accompanied by celery, carrot and button mushrooms. On top of this we placed the skinned and sliced fillets of fish and some salt and pepper. As I hate fishbones, I had spent a good few minutes picking the all out by hand. Rather fiddly but definitely worth it.
The recipe dictated a simmer / braise of 25 to 30 minutes, but this would probably have been too much. In the end we gave it just under 20 an served with hunks of bread.
Simple but tasty, it worked well with the salmon and it was nice to have a few more mushrooms (not sure if I’ll feel the same after another couple of weeks though!) 8.5 out of 10.
After an extravagant meal of pancakes yesterday at a friend’s, Mr M and I were both ready for a simple meal. Today’s dinner did just that.
I chopped onions, celery and carrots and then fried in oil until soft. Parsnips, potatoes and pearl barley then went in. A litre of stock and some bay leaves went in then dinner simmered for an hour. Simples.
Served up with some bread, it was tasty and filling, but very low on wow factor. Mr M gave it 7 out of 10.
It feels like a long time since we had a proper roast so this was a nice change. The recipe called for quite a long period in the oven though, which I’m not sure was right.
To start, I took a good size loin of pork and cut down through the joint from one end to provide a pocket for the stuffing. The stuffing consisted of onions fried in butter, a whole apple cut into small chunks, some raisins and a ground clove. This was supposed to be combined with breadcrumbs but we had none and so I substituted plain flour instead.
After stuffing with the stuffing, the joint went into a large pan along with sour cream and apple juice (instead of the cider requested by the recipe) and popped into the oven. After a good while some peeled potatoes went in as well.
The apple juice turned the crackling rather black due to all the sugars and so I had to put the lid over the pan for the second half of the cooking period. This meant that it didn’t stay at its crispest.
Overall quite nice and we’ll flavoured but a bit dry and with substandard crackling. A score of 8 out of 10 reflected the faults which were probably more down to the chef than the cookbook, this is a recipe that would probably be better with practice (and possibly ignoring some of the instructions!)