Friday, 30 May 2008

Polish spring nettle soup

Polish: pokrzywa
Kazakh: қалақай
Upper Sorbian: wulka kopřiwa
Ossetian: Пысыра
Arabic: القراص
Quechua: ithapallu
Greek: Τσουκνίδα
Armenian: եղիճ
Icelandic: netla
Estonian: kõrvenõges

I am a big fan of nettle, so I really egg on all the people to eat it, especially now, in the spring time. The nutritious value of nettle is countless and if you know how to prepare it, it will taste really great, especially for spinach-fans. But remember to collect only the young nettles, those before blooming, caose only they contain tons of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids. Some tips? Prepare nettle leaves just like spinach and eat with curd cheese or use as a filling to pierogi (dough recipe here and here) or vegetable pie or quiche; add nettle leaves to salads and vegetable fritters; combine chopped leaves with fresh cottage cheese and garlic or add the leaves to scrambled eggs or omlette; finally, cook netle soup! One of the variants you can find below!

see also: Russian nettle borscht

1 l. broth
1 cup nettle leaves
1 big onion
1 egg
(optionally: 1/2 cup cream)*

1. Boil 1 cup water, add nettle leaves and leave for 1 minute. Throw the water away (this will take the excessive sipcy taste away) and put the nettle leaves into cooking broth and cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes.

2. Dice onion and fry with a bit of oil until soft and golden.

3. Blend nettle leaves and pieces of fried onion with a bit of broth. Mix with the rest of the broth.

Serve with cooked chopped egg (about 1/2 - 1/3 egg pro person). You can also add cream to cooking broth or blend the cream with nettles and onion, or put a bit of cream on each plate before serving the soup*; you can also sprinkle your soup with copped almonds, pine nuts or bread chunks (fried with oil and garlic and diced)

And here is another lovely nettle soup which I made at my grandmother's place (beautiful eastern Polish countryside)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Polish elder pancakes

Polish: bez czarny
Upper Sorbian: hołdračk
Bosnian: zovha
Arabic: بيلسان
Occitan: saüc
Albanian: shtogu
Galician: bieito
Lithuanian: juoduogis šeivamedis
Quechua: yana rayan
Cornish: skawenn

When you smell black elder's blossoms during an evening walk, you know it's late spring. In Poland the blossoms are fried in a batter and eaten with powdered sugar; in north Germany a soup from the berries is very popular; in Romania you can even buy a kind of Fanta with elderbery taste, and in Hungary elderberry brandy; in central Europe it is quite common to prepare a thick syrup from the blossom and lemon juice; you drink it dissolved with water or add to flavour your tea. Blossoms are dried and prepared as an infusion, too. This spring I dried some panicles which I am gonna drink in the wintertime, I also made a syrup and pancakes from the elder. Today I am gonna share the recipes for the elder pancakes, in Polish: placki z kwiatow bzu.

1 cup flour & 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sparkling, carbonated water
1 small pack vanilla sugar
1 egg white
1/2 - 1 cup elder blossoms
(eventually: 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

1. "Crumble" the panicles of elder to separate blossoms from the stalks. Some people deep the whole panicles into the batter but the taste of the stalks can destroy the whole pancake... I mean, in my opinion my way of making pancakes is much better than the fritters-methode... But it's up to you... My advice is to use blossoms only. It takes some more time but it is worth it! When you choose ripe paniles, blossoms will divide easily from the stalks!

2. Sift the flour with baking powder. Add water, milk and vanilla sugar. Combine. Beat the egg white and add gently to the batter. Add elder blossoms, they should be all covered with the batter. Now you can add lemon juice, too.

3. Fry! Just like regular pancakes. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, with homemade marmalade, honey, butter, maple syrup, dandelion syrup, manjar (How to do this Latin American spread? You can learn it from my recipe for Peruvian suspiro), nutella... So many possibilities!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Polish spring dandelion syrup

Polish: mniszek
Ossetian: Къаппа-къуппа
Upper Sorbian: mlóč
Old Prussian: pėinė
Ukrainian: Кульбаба лікарськ
Estonian: võilill
Faroese: Vanlig várhagasólja
Basque: txuntxumela
Aymara: qhanapaku
Luxembourgian: Bettseechesch
Persian: قاصدک

(pic taken from wikipedia)

May is the only month here in Central Europe to collect dandelions. There are so many reasons to collect them! To decorate your living-room sunny-yellowish or to several culinary purposes: false capers from dandelion buds, salad from leaves, kind-of-honey, lemonade and marmalade from flowers, kind-of-coffee even... yes, from roasted roots... and even alcoholic drinks (liqueur or something like this, I am thegreatest dabbler of the world about alcohol). Anyway, we are in the middle of spring here now so if any of you have a meadow or a lea full of dandelion somewhere around, don't hesitate and dedicate oe morning (this is very important: collected in the morning and in the sun, dandelions will contain pollen and nectar!) to collect dandelion blossoms! You will need three days to prepare the dandelion syrup, called in Poland sometimes miodek majowy (may honey) but it is worth it!

500 dandelion blossoms :D
1 lemon
1 orange
1 kg sugar

1st day
- Collect dandelion blossoms, as already said, before noon. If you find yellow stains on your fingers it means, there are pollens in your dandelions and that means the syrup will be tasty and healthy :P At home, let the flowers rest for one hour on a white paper, so that all the tiny insects could leave their homes. Don't wash!

- Leave dandelions in 1 liter water, together with orange and lemon slices. You can peel the fruits or cut with their skins (if bio) and cook for about 15 minutes. Leave.

2nd day
- Drain the flowers very, very, very wel, using a drainer and a spoon. Add sugar and cook 1-2 hours on a medium heat.

3rd day
- Cook again, for about half an hour or until you receive your beloved thickness.

- Stir into glasses, close them and then... eat on a toast together with frish cheese or butter or take a spoon to sweeten your tea!

I hope that the recipe is clear. If not, leave your question in the "comments" field and I will answer quickly. There are some more ways to use dandelions in the kitchen; even if at the moment I have no good camara, I will tell and show you how to prepare some more flower food soon!