Saturday, 2 June 2012

Kurpie traditional food

Culinary adventures in SIERPC skansen. Food from KURPIE region.

1. CZERNINA - a wonderful, tasteful and healthy soup for brave people. Its main ingredient is duck blood. Besides, it contains dry fruits (mainly dried pears and prunes), veggies and soft yummy potato dumplings and chunks of meat. It was a countryside typical soup, often prepared when there was a candidate to marry your daughter and he wasn't good enough (that is when this soup was symbolically served, to dump the guy). Have a look. After trying grilled blood in Spain I became crazy about blood dishes. I'll post abouti t separately.

2. SMAŻONKA, a kind of meat-onion casserole

3. MY DINNER - CZERNINA; PSIWO (homemade juniper beer) and a slice of homemade bread with liver pâté (they also served bread with lard and pickled cucumber)


5. OTHER REGIONAL PRODUCTS: HOMEMADE CORDIALS, GRILL CAKES, wonderful dry SAUSAGES and FAFERNUCHY (honey, carrots and rye flour cakes)

Valencian food

I think it is time to finally publish some pictures of my travel to Valencia region, Spain. I won't enter into deails about the reasons of the travel and how was it cause here it is to talk about food. And the food was wonderful. At the beginning I was shy to take snapshots of all the tapas and other delicacies, but starting from sang en ceba I got the courage.

SANG EN CEBA. My other Polish colleagues didn't really want to try, even if we have a long and rich tradition of bloody dishes in Poland. It is totally tasty.

What he had at LOLO restaurant:
1. PERICANA (typical alcoyan dried peppers spread)
2. Small portions to satisfy the first hunger
3. ARROZ CON SEPIA Y ALCACHOFAS - they say that not only sepia but also artichokes give black colour
5. BOMBON (expresso with condensed milk)
6. Something digestive - aniseed cordial and cookies

Now a bunch of other tapas dinner.
1. A plate of cheeses and hams, fresh tomato puree and alioli sauce
2. BURGOS-type cheese with anchovy
3. DACSA - a bit spicy maize
4. grilled veggies
5. Octopus with potatoes, sprinkled with paprika, that was totally tasty!
6. I really don't even remember :(

Things I bought in local shops:
1. PLATANOS DE CANARIAS - they say that bananas from Canary islands are the best
2. CARDOS (edible thistles)
3. ALTRAMUCES (lupine beans)
4. ORCHATA DE CHUFAS (tigernut milk)
5. SOBRASADA (ham-meat-pepper-lard dark-orange spread)
6. MORCILLA (blood sausage, local variety with onion instead of rice)
7. some sausages and jamones for my workmates

Last dinner in Alicante
1&2. fishsoup
3. our last PAELLA

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Portuguese yolk-almond pudding

Portuguese: saudade
Galician: morriña
Bosnian: sevdah
Armenian: կարոտ
Arabic: وجد
Greek: λαχτάρα
Albanian: mall
Hebrew: ערגה
Finnish: kaiho

This time, for the first time, no Polish therm. I am sure there would be one and I have someting on the tip of my tongue but didn't find it yet. But as far as I know languages, there are several words which may mean something similar. Thus, saudade wouldn't be untranslatable. To pine for somebody that you miss deeply, to wish you could be there or have it again, that nostalgic yearning for something that may no longer exist, melancholic, fatalist overtone that the object of longing may never return is known for people in the whole universe, me included. It was so overwhelming, my saudade, that I had to prepare something Portuguese to relief myself. I chose something ancient, gluten-free and even quite healthy: toucinho do céu. The whole doçaria conventual is fascinating: yolks, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, not much more, and the list of the desserts is infinite. This sweet literally means "lard from heaven" and the fact is that in the past lard was added to this recipe. I was following this method. Recommendable. I'd add doce de gila/chila, it should be even tastier with this ingredient, but in Poland you can't. Not that I won't buy doce de gila anywhere, I'd do it on my own but I never found gila so far :( I should try with a differrent type of pumpkin. Next time.

10 egg yolks
250 gr sugar (I used muscovado)
150 ml water
125 gr almonds (I gave more, about 200 gr)
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon cederat (or lemon) zest
icing sugar

1. Boil sugar with water for a while to the point just before caramelizing (should be golden). Cool down a bit.

2. Peel, toast and grind almonds

3. Beat egg yolks, gradually add almond flour, cinnamon, fruit zest and sugar syrup.

4. Spread your mold / pyrex with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Pour the mass.

5. Bake in the oven. Mine took 45 minutes in 180C oven. Every oven is differrent so just observe your toucinho, it can't be raw inside. When ready, sprinkle with icing sugar. Boy, was it delicious. But saudade is not gone :(

ps. tocino de cielo is similar only by its name. This Spanish dessert contains no almonds nor gila. Just yolks and sugar. I'll make it some other longing day, for sure.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Romanian sunflower halva

Polish: słonecznik
Latin: Helianthus Annuus
Kurdish: gulberojk
Mongolian: аран цэцэг
Occitan: virasolelh
Ossetian: Æхсынæн
Upper Sorbian: słónčnica
Lower Sorbian: słyńca
Navajo: Ndíyíliitsoh
Azeri: adi günəbaxan

I wonder what is your sweetest culinary childhood memory. The sweetest memories of that kind should be things you rarely eat or can not eat anymore or can not find or the person who prepared you that dish is not there anymore. My childhood was full of milk puddings and differrent pancakes - you know, all the blini, oladi, yeast or soda, fried, baked or steamed cakes, sweet, sometimes fruity, mouthwatering. I also remember  well kogel-mogel and halva. Halva is and was very popular here in Poland. My theory is that it came here thanks to the tight relations with the East Poland had from medieval times, look at the ancient Polish recipes, they are full of herbs and species bought from Persia and Ottomans, look how is Poland called in Farsi and Turkish (and in Hungarian) and you'll know that the relatiosn were close. More than that, Turkish delight was manufactured in Polish houses til XIX century (we were caling it rachatłukum) and halva was popular here as well. When I say halva I think about the Arabic type, made from oleaginous seeds, not the Indian fruity one (which is by the way totally delicious and there is a plenty of creative ways to do it). Halva doesn't have to be from sesame and my childhoods almost forgotten taste is sunflower halva. It is hard to buy it today in Poland, but it is widely available in Bulgaria, Romania, Ucraine, Russia, all the eastern mate countries. I remember my Grandfather was buying me blocks of greeny oily sunflower and pumpkin seed halva and it was a special crunchy nutty delight. I know that it can also be made from poppy seed and I'll continue experimenting. Now, an original Romanian recipe for a homemade sunflower halvaHalva de floarea soarelui. Tastes heavenly and just like the old childhood memory. Ewa, remember, don't you do it too often! Not about your weight, but the taste that brings childhood memories back shouldn't be overdosen!

350 gr sunflower seeds (peeled)
100 ml water
300 gr sugar
optionally, nuts of your choice

1. Slightly toast sunflower seeds (just til they start smelling nice)

2. Process them to a paste in food processor (I used coffee grinder). Put aside, add a bit of sunflower oil if it is not oily - you should receive something similar in its consistency to tahina. Mine was a wee more dry but I found it ok. If you can, beat it a bit to make it smooth. I couldn't beat mine and didn't want to add too much oil to make it more "tahiny" so no worries.

3. Pour water and sugar into the pan, bring to boil and continue till it caramelizes (I hate termometres, but it should be about 125°C and golden colour)

4. Back to the bowl with your sunflower tahina. Gradually beat the syrup mixture into it and whisk all the time. When you reach a homogeneous paste, place it in a tin covered with baking paper. Put in the refrigerator overnight, cut while still cold and try not to devour all at once.

Gluten-free ideas - to be continued

Polish: bezglutenowy
English: gluten-free
Romanian: fără gluten
Portuguese: sem glúten
Turkish: glutensiz
Estonian: gluteenivaba
Hungarian: gluténmentes
Irish: saor ó ghlútan
Bahasa Indonesia: bebas gluten
Suahili: gluten-bure

I don't suffer from celiac disease, but I am a slightly depressive or maybe just melancolic girl, and several studies suggest that gluten may be a reason of depression. I like my melancholy but I don't like the depression, plus, I solidarise with my little niece, cause my sis decided to not give her gluten-containing food just to make her healthier. But the fact is that when you are hungry, you grab a slice of bread to fill the stomach and the point is to satisfy the hunger with something tasty and also healthy. And flour isn't too nutritive, obviously. What makes me totally laugh is the amount of crazy recipes for gluten-free breads and cakes, which requires fancy flours and weird artificial ingredients to put the final product in shape. I would never make a cake from a mix of brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch flour, tapioca starch flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch and xanthan or guar gum, or maybe just once to have a try. Of course starch is one of those to fill your stomach and if you exclude gluten from your diet just to be healthier, use the flour-starch-recipes only for rare special occasions, that is my suggestion. Otherwise, there are plenty of great ideas without the label "gluten-free" which always were gluten-free and delicious and nobody complained, but in this labeled and comercialised world people sometimes stop thinking. I know many traditional recipes for gluten-free sweets and cakes and would liek to prepare here a list just to help you to choose something. Cause I know people with celiac disease have less choice than I have. If it comes to bread, I easily excluded it from my repertoire, but let's talk about breakfasts some other time and concentate on sweets / desserts / baked goodies. Here is my list of ideas, some with recipes to follow, some recipes will be given later or go google them :)

1. CHEESECAKE - doesn't really have to have that cookies bottom. Take your favourite cheesecake recipe and forget about the bottom and don't add semolina to your cheese if a recipe requires (just add custard powder, but the one from potato or corn starch)
Example from my blog - here (forget about those tablespoons of flour, you don't really need them)
PASCHA - Eastern-European cheese delicacy, similar to cheesecake.

2. PAVLOVA / MERINGUES - gluten-free from their own nature. For my birthday I like to bake a meringue layered cake, three layers of big flat meringue and whipped cream (flavoured, usually with cocoa) between.
Recipe will be here soon.

3. POPPYSEED CAKE / tort makowy - a Polish classic, poppyseed layered cake, usually filled with white chocolate cream. Recipe can be found in the net or I'll post it soon.

4. WALNUT CAKE / tort orzechowy - another Polish classic, walnut layered cake, filled with nutty/buttery cream and sometimes with apple filling. To be posted soon.

5. BUCKWHEAT CAKE - made in Poland, Austria, Germany. Find it or I'll post it.

6. ICE CREAM. Thing of a big bowl in which you'd freeze layers of your favourite ice cream, cut it as a cake.

7. FLAN, pudding, custard, panna cotta, all these milky desserts pupular everywhere. Make it healthier and tastier by adding differrent nuts, fruits, chestnuts, cinnamon, lemon zest, anything of your choice. If you invite guests, make a big flan in a pie-like form to pretend it is a cake :)
Example from my blog - here
Spoon desserts: here, here, here, here, here, here and here 

8. Asian puddings and jellies (almond, grass and so on) with agar agar, "eastern" sisters of all the milky "western" puddings

9. HALVA / TURRON / BURFI - You can do it on your own at home. Think of a fancy shape and serve instead of a traditional cake.
Example from my blog - here.

10. BEAN BROWNIE - experiment with differrent kinds of beans and chocolates, almonds and differrent nuts, try it with chickpeas or lupin beans - be creative. By the way, this cake is delicious. Don't tell anyone it is gluten-free, they would never know. Recipes are in the net and will be posted here as well.

To be continued. But remember, you have a plenty of recipes to follow, so head up and don't worry!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Polish spring spread

Polish: twaróg
English: curd
Bulgarian: Извара
Icelandic: ystingur
Georgian: ხაჭო
Tamil: தயிர்
Lithuanian: varškė
Spanish: requesón
Tatar: eremçek
Hungarian: túró

Curd cheese summer spread. Delicious!