Saturday, 28 February 2009

Russian cranberry kvas

Polish: żurawina
Mari: турнявӧчыж
Hungarian: tőzegáfonya
Inupiaq: qunmun asriaq
Lithuanian: Spanguolė
Ukrainian: журавлина
Karelian: karpalo
Vepsian: garbol
Estonian: jõhvikas
Frisian: feanbei

My today's hero is cranberry. This red small round fruit is actually even called a superfruit due to its nutrient content and antioxidant qualities. Three huge northern countries use this fruit in an interesting way. Canada and USA have their cranberry sauce, muffins, compotes, jellies, cakes and wine, while Russians... well I think I discovered only a low percent of Russian cranberry recipes, besides cranberry kissel all of them are exotic and worth trying, just imagine: cranberry-vegetables-fish cold soup, differrent vegetable salads with cranberries, fish or chicken baked with cranberies, cranberry-wheat drink, patties with cranberry filling, cranberry pancakes, cranberry meringue, cranberry infusion and so on... I will surely try some of them, especially because I adore cranberries but I usually only eat dried cranberries as a snack or buy cranberry ice cream, and because my first meeting with Russian cranberry recipes was successful. I made cranberry kvas (квас клюквенный).

1 kg (fresh, not dried!) cranberries
500 gr sugar
40 gr yeast
5 l water

Wash berries carefully, set in a saucepan and pour boiling water over them. Boil until berries break up. Separate friots from the water. Take 1 cup of cranberry water and mix with yeast to dissolve it. Add sugar and a cup with dissolved yeast to the rest of cranberry water. Set aside for several days until bubbles appear.

After that, pour kvas into bottles and store in a cool place few days before drinking.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Swiss mirabelle tarte

Polish: mirabelka
Spanish: ciruela amarilla
Persian: آلو قطره‌طلا
Portuguese: mirabela
Austrian German: Kriecherl
Romanian: corcoduş
Swedish: mirabelle
Russian: мирабель

Mirabelle is the oldest kind of plums. My father makes a delicious mirabelle syrup which we drink later during cold winter dark evenings, and my mum prepares wonderful mirabelle jam, sweet and sour.

It is not a season to buy mirabelles now, you will have to wait until next late summer, but if you like these yellow small plums, don't forget to try Swiss mirabelle tarte, Mirabellenwähe!

150 gr flour
50 gr ground almonds (almond flour) + 3 tablespoons (separately)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
80 gr butter
1 kg mirabellen (weight with seeds)
50 ml milk
150 gr cream cheese
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar + 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
icing sugar to sprinkle

1. Sieve flour, add ground almonds, sugar, salt and cold butter. Knead fast while adding 5 tablespoons water. Leave in the fridge for 1/2 hour (or more, can be left overnight) and after that, fill the tarte mold with the dough.

2. Throw the seeds from mirabelles away. Spread 3 tablespoons of ground almonds over the dough (which is already in the mold) and put mirabelles on it.

3. Mix milk, cream cheese, eggs and both kinds of sugar together. pour over mirabelles. Bake about 50 minutes in 180 C oven (or until the top is golden)

some Polish traditional sweets

Dear food lovers!
The blog is 1 year old. I abandoned it for some time but now I am back and ready to share recipes and pictures again. Thank you for the comments and for asking to continue the blog. I'll try to do my best :) Especially about Polish cooking.

I had 5 culinary opportunities left (opportunities to bake something special and celicious, of course): All Saints Day & Polish Independence Day, my birthday, Christmas, New Year and carneval (mardi gras or "thick thursday", tłusty czwartek", as it is called here in Poland... I was gathering recipes and pics I made in the meantime and will show you some of them.

1st November is when you find more people at the cementary than at the street, at least here in Warsaw. People bring tons of candles and flowers, clean tombstones, prey, have a walk. It is a kind of magic time and I like to spend that day at Powązki Cementary to visit Polish soldiers, actors and writers. I always bring home cementary sweets: round hard dry buns with a hole inside, bound like a chaplet with a twine, called obwarzanki and hard white and red stripped candies called pańska skórka. Pańska skórka is a regional candy from Warsaw, sold especially in November, but lately also anytime at the old town square, and its recipe is top secret. Obwarzanki can be bought even in supermarkts, but only the crispy thin variety; the obwarzanki that look like tiny buns are available only during the Independence Day and at the cementery.
Here you can see obwarzanki (thick version), prażynki (those big crispies) and szyszki (puffed rice balls with caramel, called "cones")

even if homemade puff rice szyszki look and taste so differrent because of higher content of caramel or chocolate:

If you have some obwarzanki (maybe from Polish or Russian markt) and wanna eat them in an old Polish way, just soak them for 1 hour in sweet red wine (eventually in milk). When they are soft, fry them in butter. Sprinkle with icing sugar and eat warm.

Take a look at some regional delicacies from the beautiful city Poznań. I was there with my brother in November and of course we brought home Rogale Świętomarcińskie (St.Martin croissants). 11 November, together with Polish independence Day, is also St.Martin Day. In ancient pagan tradition that day's tradition was to offer ox or an ox-horn-shaped bun. Catholic church adopted this tradition by joining it with St.Martin and the bun's shape was just a symbol of St.Martin's horse's shoe. The filling is made by a special white sort of poppy and differrent dried fruits. Here it is, together with delicious crunchy "tube" cakes (rury) and a special, "fried" cheese -serek smażony- another Wielkopolska and Silesian tradition: curd cheese fried with caraway.

And than... end of December came. Like all food lovers, I was using this great opportunity to bake kilograms of delicious cakes, cookies, gibgerbreads and all this kind of stuff. Take a look at my Christmas ginger cookies :)

The last thursday of carnaval (the last thursday before Ash Wednesday) is called tłusty czwartek (fat thursday). This day you HAVE to eat pączki, Polish donuts, and a kind of long sweet fried pieces of thin dough, called faworki or chrust (literally, brushwood).

The same dough can be formed into roses and baked. Roses are called róże karnawalowe. Believe me or not but shape determines the taste (in noodles or fried dough... really!)

Queues to buy those delicacies are soooooo long! It is great to make them at home but both are quite complicated to prepare. The best pączki in Warsaw are from Blikle, but my mum makes great ones, too. But this year we had no time to prepare them for thursday, but there still is the last chance to eat them on Ostatki (Mardi Gras, the last day before Ash Wednesday, which is in Poland a day of fasting and you should eat only 1 full meal, but without meat, eggs or dairy products). Ostatki are tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed so that we manage to fry my mum's pączki and you will get the most wonderful recipe in the world :) Until now, take a look at Blikle donuts.