Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bigos-a taste of Poland. Hearty cabbage stew, ideal for upcomming winter.

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Bigos is a very traditional dish in polish cuisine. It’s served during christmas, on parties or eaten as an everyday meal. It’s meant to be as a main course. You can eat it with mashed potato, however I think it’s the best served simply with a slice or two of old fashioned sour dough bread. It might seem difficult to make it- but trust me, it’s not. It’s pretty easy actually, it just takes a long time to cook, so take it into consideration when making it.

You could eat bigos the same day you made it, although the old rule is that it’s gets better with everytime you heat it up.. and apparantly it’s said to be at it’s absolute the best on the third day.

So, let’s make bigos.

Cooking time: 3-4 hours

Serves  8-10 ( you can freeze it if you don’t eat it all)

Ingredients:

About 2-2,5 kilo of shredded white cabbage

1 kilo of sauerkraut  (sour cabbage, german style) natural.

400-500g of pork neck – roughly diced

300-400g of pork belly – roughly diced

200-300g of good sausage (polish would be the best, zywiecka sausage, jalowcowa or z pod kija sausage)

2 onions- diced

3 bayleafs

5 juniper berries

4 allspice berries

50g of tomato puree

3-4 tbsp of red wine vinegar

Salt,sugar,pepper

1-2 tbsp of paprika powder

2 cloves of garlic

20g of dried porcini mushrooms (soaked in hot water for 20-30 min then chopped roughly) keep the water too.

300-400 g of dried prunes- soaked in water and chopped – keep the water.

So, use a very big pot. In the beginning it’ll seem like an insane amount of cabbage, but slowly over time, it’ll sink down a bit and whilt.

I’m using a 5-6 l pot for this. Season your meat with salt, pepper and paprika. Add minced garlic and fry the meat off until it’s golden. Then add your onion and continue to fry for 2-3 min more. Add your fresh shredded cabbage, your sauerkraut ( that you’ve squeezed the water out of and roughly chopped) , add your bayleafs, juniper, allspice, prunes with the water and mushrooms with the water. Mix well, so it’s all combined and covered in the fat that meat oozed. Add about 200-300ml of water (although the cabbage will ooze more water) and let it cook. Stir every 15 min or so. After 3 hrs taste and season with salt,pepper, vinegar, sugar and add the tomato puree. Mix in very well. At this point your meat should be very tender, cabbage should be soft and cooked and all the flavours should blend. Cook for about 30-60 min more after adding the tomato puree, so the raw flavours is cooked out. Check the seasoning at the end, then it’s ready. You can eat it as it is, but I think it’s better the next day, served with some bread. You can freeze in bags, and have a quick dinner ready whenever you need it. It looks weird- I know, but it’s simply delicious. You need to try it! Enjoy 😉

Three speedy lunch ideas- why not get creative?

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I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like lunch, and I don’t want to. However nowadays people seem to forget it.. with their busy lifestyle, short breaks at work they just settle for something awful.

Lunch time shouldn’t be just a part of our day when we buy ourselves something like a greasy burger or eat a muesli bar. It should be celebrated with delicious food,that will give us energy for the rest of the day. So, here are my three lunch ideas, which are healthy, delicious and done in minutes. Now you won’t have any excuse to not eat lunch 😉

 

My first lunch idea is a classic combination of a bagel, smoked salmon and cream cheese. It’s simply to die for. All I did is toasted off my bagel in the oven, and mixed the cream cheese with fresh dill, black pepper, some capars and zest of half a lemon. You could also add fresh chives or parsley for more of a herbal taste. I smeared it onto the warm bagel, put slices of salmon on top and added a twist of black pepper and some lemon. Simple, ready in 5 minutes.. and it hits all the right buttons.

 

 

My second lunch idea is very easy, it can even be done a day in advance. It’s a fresh baguette with lamb’s lettuce and home made tuna salad. I mix canned tuna ( in olive oil) with a table spoon of mayo and a tbsp of ricotta cheese. I add fresh dill, capars, salt,pepper, and chopped gurkins for the acidity. I spread it generously over the baguette. Simply delicious. If you want to, you could take the salad to work in a container and only assemble your sandwich at work, so it stays crispy.

 

 

My third lunch idea can be done from last night’s dinner. It’s a tortilla wrap with grilled chicken, peppers, sour cream , barbecue sauce and cherry tomatoes.

Just use chicken from your dinner, you can use breast or thighs- you can also simply grill a chicken fillet.

Put some meat in the middle of your warmed up tortilla, add slithers of pepper ( I like to use yellow) some sliced cherry tomatoes, a tbsp of sour cream and a tbp of barbecue sauce. Wrap it tightly, eat as it is, or cut in half. So easy, yet so tasty- you should really give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

Hope my ideas inspired you to get inventive with your lunch, enjoy!

Good old fashioned apple pie ..who can resist it?

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There’s something about an old fashioned apple pie that melts everyone’s heart. It fills your home with smell of cinammon and apples, sugar and butter.. It’s simply amazing when done right. Here is how I make my apple pie, this is how my grandmother made it, so I don’t see any reason to try and improve it 😉

Ingredients:

For the filling:

20cm baking form

5 apples- I used elstar

1 tsp of cinammon

1/2 tsp of nutmeg

2 tbsp of sugar

1 tbsp of lemon juice

For the pastry/dough:

2 egg s( 1 for egg wash- brushing the top of your pie).

100g of butter

About 200g of flour

About 100-150g of sugar

1tsp of baking powder

Pinch of salt

Arouund 100-150ml of milk ( you might need less or more, it all depends on your flour,the weather and all sorts of different things).

First, prepare your apples, I don’t peel them, because I’m lazy and I think they hold up their shape better. I just cut them into slices and put them in the bowl with cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, lemon juice and a tbsp of flour ( it’ll help absorb any juices the apples will ooze while baking, and it’ll prevent your pie from having a soggy crust), and mix well until all the apples are covered with spices and flour.

Set the apples aside while you make your pastry. Just tip the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter ( cold ) the egg and a bit of the milk. Start pressing the ingredients together, rub the butter into the flour, then squash the mixture in your hands so the ingredients combine well. The pastry musn’t be too soft, so if you added too much milk and you feel like you added too much milk-just add more flour until it comes together into a ball. When the dough is ready, Wrap it in cling film and rest in the freezer for 15-20 min.

Pre-heat your oven to 160-170C , put your pastry on a flouered surface and cut 1/4 of it off, leave it aside. Roll the rest of the dough out evenly, and put in a greased baking form. (you can also take pieces of dough and press them into your tin, on the bottom and then on the sides, just make sure you don’t leave any holes).

Once your tin is covered in pastry, tip the apples in, press them down well. Take the remaining part of the dough, roll it out and cut into strips, overlap them on the pie, creating checkers pattern. Brush the beaten egg over the top of your pie, and bake for about an hour.

After it’s done,let it cool down in the tin completely. Then you can cut it and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy 😉

 

Beef Beergingon! a fun twist on a timeless classic.

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Beef Beergingon.. 😉 ( a twist on a classic boeuf bourgingon)

You’re probably reading the title thinking-“what is she saying? It’s beef bourgingon not beergingon- she misspelled it!!” and you would be right.. however I do mean BEERgingon 😉 it’s my twist on a famous, french classic.

I came up with it a few days ago, and I really do think it’s ingenious.. how didn’t anyone think of it before? Well, a few days ago I decided to make a beef stew. I had all the ingredients for beef bourgingon, or so I thought. I had the beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots, bacon, celery etc.. and then I realised I have no red wine. It was late, raining,I didn’t feel like going out..so I decided to replace it with something I did have in my fridge- beer. Later I was trying to think of a way to call this stew to put it on my blog.. and I thought of ”beef beergingon”.. I googled it, it seems noone has said it before, so I’m claiming it! 😉

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, it’s really delicious! Here are the ingredients:

1,2 kilo of stewing beef- chuck steak is fine,something with a bit of fat on it,so it doesn’t dry out.Use any cut of stewing beef you like though. – in big dice- roughly 2x2cm

2 large carrots: roughly sliced

2 stalks of celery, roughly sliced

2 leeks roughly chopped

2 onions- roughly chopped

400ml of beer. I used white, blond beer- but you can use whichever type you like the most.

2 tsp of tomato puree

1 l of good, strong beef stock

2 bayleafs

Salt, pepper, paprika powder, sugar to taste

2 tsp of provencale herbs

3 cloves of garlic- crushed

2-3 tbsp of flour

200g of bacon cut into lardons

250g of button mushrooms cut in quarters

Now, the instructions are pretty straightforward. You season your beef with salt,pepper,paprika and toss it in flour. Then you brown it until very dark, carmelised brown colour.

When your beef is all browned (I do it in batches) set it aside, fry your mushrooms and onions on the same pan as you did your beef. After 2-3 min when they’re browned, set aside and fry off your bacon until golden and deglaze the pan with some water, trying to get rid of all the carmelised bits from the bottom. There’s a lot of flavour in them- don’t throw them out, just add it to your beef.

Now, use a big crock pot or a casserole dish, put your carrots, leeks and celery in there. Put your beef, mushrooms and onions in the pot as well. Add pepper, tomato puree, bacon, garlic, provencale herbs, bayleafs , beer and the beef stock. Bring it up to a boil and simmer for 2 hrs with the lid on, checking every 10-15 min if there’s enough liquid and stirring. After 2 hrs let it cook for 30 more min with the lid off,  so the sauce can reduce.  At the end check the sauce for seasoning.

I like to serve it with mashed potato, but you can serve ith with anything you like. I recommend bread, as it needs something to absorb the sauce.

It’s simple, delicious and full of earthy flavours. You can make it a day in advance and have an amazing dinner ready waiting for you in the fridge.

I hope you like my little spin on this classic. I know it might not look like much, but it’s packed with all the flavours of carmelised beef,vegetables,herbs,bacon,mushrooms and beef. It’s simply delicious.

Enjoy!

A good old chocolate cake

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Everyone loves a chocolate cake. I know I do. This is a very simple one, that comes out well every single time. You can have it plain, or frost it. It’s good either way! 😉

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. First- preheat your oven to 180C. For the cake, place all of the cake ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, or electric whisk, beat the mixture until smooth and well combined.
  2. Add the boiling water to the mixture, a little at a time, until smooth. (The cake mixture will now be very liquid.)
  3. bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely, still in the tin before icing.

For the chocolate buttercream icing:

Use 100g of soft butter, beat it with a mixer until fluffy. Start adding powdered sugar (about 400g bit by bit) and let it combine with the butter. At the end add about 200g of dark chocolate (room temperature) and mix it through. That’s your buttercream icing.

Now, I like to cut my cake in half, to ice it between the layers- you don’t have to. You can just ice around it. If you decide to cut it in half- let it cool completely first and be careful, it’s very moist. You can decorate your cake with some chocolate shards or sprinkles, or just grate some chocolate over it.

Enjoy! 😉

 

Seven vegetable minestrone

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It’s autumn where I live.. it’s cold, rainy, windy and all I feel like is to sit tucked in a blanket with a big bowl of hot soup. Something rich, filling, yet vibrant and full of flavour . So I decided to make minestrone soup. It’s really simple, quick and it delivers on every single level.

Ingredients:

2 stalks of celery – sliced/diced

2 onions- diced

1 large carrot- diced

1 courgette- diced roughly

400g of pumpkin – diced

4 tomatoes- diced ( no need to peel or deseed)

1 leek

2 l of vegetable or chicken stock (or more if you want more soup).

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of mixed italian herbs

1 bay leaf

Salt,pepper,sugar to taste

2 tsp of tomato puree

2 tsp of paprika powder

200g of pancetta (or smoked bacon)

150g of small pasta (like macaroni)

Now, it’s a very easy soup to make. Just use a big pot, and start off by frying onions, garlic and pancetta(or bacon). Once the bacon has oozed some fat and it’s browned add all of the vegetables (except courgette and pumpkin, you will add them at the end). So add your tomatoes,leek, celery and carrot. Sweat them off for a minute or two. Then add the tomato puree, mixed herbs, bay leaf, and add all of your stock. Let it come to a boil and cook it until the celery and carrots are soft (about 10 min). after 10 min season to taste with salt,pepper,sugar, paprika powder and add the pasta, courgette and pumpkin. They will only take about 10 min to cook and by then the pasta will be done too. The pasta will thicken the soup up, so there is no need to use flour.

I like to serve the soup with some parmezan crisps.. which I make by grating sme parmezan (about a table spoon per crisp) putting it in a flat circle on a cold pan and heating it up slowly, allowing the cheese to melt and then brown and crisp up. When the edges are deep golden- flip it ever so carefully and let the other side colour too. That’s it. Enjoy your soup ! 😉

 

kfc style chicken strips

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Everyone likes a fastfood every now and then. They’re not too good for us (unfortunately). That’s why I try to come up with healthier, home made versions, that can satisfy that fast food craving, without giving you a worry over your health 😉

This time I tried to tackle the ever-famous, elusive kfc chicken. It’s delicious, but I’m pretty sure it’s full of  1000 types of preservants, loads of salt, and you can never be 100 % sure about how fresh it is or what’s the source of the chicken. So, here’s my version of it. It went down very well in my household, I’m sure you can make it too 😉 it’s not that difficult, and it’s only fraction of the price you’d pay in KFC.

Those amounts make for about 14-16 chicken strips.

What you’ll need is:

2 large chicken breasts ( prefferably free range, bio chicken)

About 150g of flour

Salt to taste

Black pepper

1 tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp of onion powder

1 tsp of sugar

1 tsp of paprika powder.

1 egg

1 tsp of hot mustard

A deep frying pan

1l of sunflower oil.

Now, this is very straightforward, just cut your chicken into thin, long strips, mix the flour with all the dry spices and put it in one bowl, put the raw egg into another bowl,add the mustard and whisk. Throw all your chicken into the egg first and coat it well, then pop the whole thing into the flour, and toss until the flour absorbs the egg and coats the chicken. Then put the chicken one by one in the hot oil. Fry until the pieces are golden brown. Serve with home-made garlic dip or bbq sauce. Easy, quick and delicious 😉 enjoy!