International Cuisine: Polish Dishes

We thoroughly enjoy trying different cuisines. I have yet to find one that I don’t like! It keeps food interesting, creates new ideas for flavor combinations, and expands the palates of my three sons. Last week, we spent time studying the country of Poland and whenever we focus on a country, we try to make at least one dish native to that area. This time we made two and both were delicious!

POTATOES BAKED with EGGS & CREAM (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter, melted
3 c. potatoes, diced & cooked
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream (I subbed some yogurt)
2 Tb. chives or spring onions, chopped (I was out of both so I used a little dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the eggs and sour cream and pour over potatoes. Top with chives or onions, cover and bake for 1 hour.

SAVOURY SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ c. green peppers, chopped
1 lg. apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
2 Tb. brown sugar
½ tsp. caraway or fennel seeds
3 red potatoes, cleaned & diced
1 ½ c. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb. smoke sausage (kielbasa), cut in 3-inch pieces

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Mix well. Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

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Off The Shelf: Irish Cookbooks

Margaret M. Johnson has put together several beautiful cookbooks, all with an Irish theme. Each cookbook is full of photographs of the Irish countryside along with mouthwatering pictures of the recipes. If you are at all interested in Ireland, or Irish food, these are a must-see from your local library.

The first of the three books is Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles and Fools: 80 Glorious Desserts. This book features recipes such as Bread and Butter Pudding, Queen of Puddings, Steel Cut Oat Pudding, Sticky Toffee Sponge Pudding, Rhubarb Tarte Tatin, Plum Tart with Oatmeal Crust, Blackberry-Almond Crumble Cake, Apple Fool, Lemon Syllabub, Lemon-Ginger Scones, and Christmas Pudding Ice-cream.

I tried the Pear and Ginger Crumble which I found to be quite delicious. The aromatic yet delicate pears went perfectly with the sharp bite of crystallized ginger and, topped with a crumbly topping,  made for a very “more-ish” dessert.

PEAR AND GINGER CRUMBLE
(Irish Puddings, Tart, Crumbles, and Fools)
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Filling:
3 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger chips
1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 c. quick cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal (I used regular, quick cooking oats)
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the pears and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar, crystallized ginger, and flour. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter, and stir with a fork until moist clumps form. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the pears are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream, if you like.

Serves 6-8.

The Irish Pub Cookbook gives recipes for the kind of heart-warming food you would find in a typical Irish Pub. Chapters include: Starters, Soups, Salads, Hot Pots Meat Pies & Savory Tarts, Meat & Potatoes, Seafood, and Sweets.

I found many of the recipes tempting; Salmon Cakes with Dill and Wine Sauce, Parsnip and Apple Soup, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Courgette Soup, Bibb, Bacon and Apple Salad, Ploughman’s Lunch, Guinness Beef Stew, Bacon and Cabbage, Irish Cream Cheesecake, and Irish Chocolate Cake.

I tried the Farmhouse Vegetable Soup which was delicious and down-to-earth with a distinct taste of parsnips.

FARMHOUSE VEGETABLE SOUP
(The Irish Pub Cookbook)
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4 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 leeks (white parts only), washed and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup half and half
3 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper

In a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and leeks, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Add the parsnips, potatoes, carrots and stock or broth, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (Or puree in the pot with an immersion blender.) Return the soup to the pot, whisk in the half-and-half, and season with parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through.

To serve, ladle the soup into shallow bowls.

Serves 4-6.

The New Irish Table: 70 Contemporary Recipes provides more of the same: beautiful photos, gorgeous food, and good recipes. The book is divided into Small Bites, Starters, Main Courses, Side Dishes, and Sweets. Scattered throughout each of these cookbooks are short explanations of various food items or recipes, helping to educate the reader on true Irish food. These books are a delight to look through and Johnson has done an admirable job of creating them.

Market Fresh: Slow Cooker Vegetables

This week, we will be sharing recipes for your slow cooker (aka crockpot). I don’t use my crockpots (yes, I have more than one – a 4 qt., 6 qt., and a little dipper) nearly enough. The house smells great and dinner is so simple when I take the time to put it in early in the day.

One lady took slow cooking to a whole new level in 2008 and has continued to provide recipes suitable for the crockpot ever since. Her family is gluten free which means that all of her recipes can be made gluten free. You can check out her site A Year of Slow Cooking for many, many recipes. I have adapted two of her recipes for vegetable side dishes for today’s edition of market fresh! There is also a Crock Pot Recipe Link Up over on Smockity Frocks today, so check out that site for another list of crockpot recipes.

SLOW COOKER LEMON BROCCOLI
(adapted from crockpot365)
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2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 c. slivered almonds 
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 Tb. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Use a 4 quart crockpot for best results. Wash and trim broccoli, and add to crockpot. Peel garlic, and add with salt and pepper. Add almonds. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over the top and add lemon zest. Toss with wooden spoons.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 4. This is finished when broccoli has reached desired tenderness.

SLOW COOKER SOUTHWEST SWEET POTATO & CORN MEDLEY
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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3 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
12 oz.  frozen corn (or 1 can, drained)
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving

This is a good recipe for a 3-4 quart crockpot. If you have a larger one, consider doubling for leftovers, or stay close by so the sweet potatoes don’t over cook and turn to mush.

Place sweet potato into the crock. Add diced onion, drained corn, and fresh cilantro. Sprinkle in the chili powder and salt. Squeeze the limes, and then toss all ingredients together.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 3-4. This is done when the potatoes have reached desired tenderness. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.

Market Fresh: Kale

Kale is one of those dark green leafy vegetables that boasts excellent nutrients. It is so good for you. My favorite way to have it is in soup but you could also steam it or saute it. I find that my family will eat kale the best when it is in a flavorful soup and since I’m always trying to find ways to increase our leafy green consumption, it works well!

SAUSAGE, SWEET POTATO & KALE SOUP

1 lb. ground sausage
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (may want to omit if using a spicy sausage)
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 c. sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 c. water
1 qt. chicken stock
1 bunch kale, washed and torn
1 can cannellini beans or white beans, drained and rinsed

Brown sausage. Add onion and saute until tender and almost translucent. Add salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic.  Add sweet potato, water, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale and cook until tender. Stir in beans and cook until thoroughly heated.

Market Fresh: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I wanted to give you a few vegetable side dishes. One green bean, one corn, and one sweet potato. Enjoy!

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GREEN BEANS & WALNUTS w/LEMON VINAIGRETTE
(Bon Appetit, November 2009)

1 lemon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 c. walnut oil or olive oil (I used Olive)
2 Tb. minced shallot
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
2/3 c. walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

Remove peel from lemon with vegetable peeler and cut into very fine strips. Cut lemon in half. Squeeze enough juice to measure 2 tablespoons; transfer to small bowl. Whisk in mustard, then oil and shallot. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook green beans in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain; pat dry.

Combine beans, walnuts, and lemon peel strands in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

They are delicious warm or at room temperature!

corn pudding

REAL CREAMED CORN PUDDING
(Bon Appetit, November 2009)

10 to 12 large ears of corn, shucked and grated (or 4 c. frozen corn, thawed – that’s what I used)
4 Tb. (1/2 stick) butter, divided
2 c. chopped onions (I used red)
1 c. chopped celery
2 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I used sour cream)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 2 Tb. butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and celery; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until tender but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Scrape mixture into bowl.

Whisk egg yolks in large bowl 2 minutes. Stir in corn, onion mixture, sour cream, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Whisk egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry; fold into corn batter in 2 additions.

Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in 10- to 12-cup cast-iron skillet or baking dish. Transfer to oven and heat until butter begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Brush butter over inside of skillet. Add pudding.

Bake pudding 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pudding until set and golden, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

This corn was amazing! I loved it!

swwpot

CATHERINE’S STREUSEL CRANBERRY SWEET POTATOES

(This recipe is adapted from my friend, Catherine, it’s become a yearly tradition)

3 – 3 1/2 lbs. fresh sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed (or you can use 1 – 49 oz. can)
1 bag fresh cranberries, washed, drained, and sorted
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl. In a 2.5 quart casserole dish, combine sweet potatoes and cranberries with half of the sugar mixture.

Combine the rest of the sugar mixture with the melted butter and put it on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

You can prepare this a day ahead- cover and refrigerate it before baking but you may want to wait to put the topping on until you are ready to put it in the oven.

This is sweet, tart, and perfect!

Market Fresh: Vegetable Side Dishes

Everyone needs more ideas for easy veggies to serve alongside the main course. Today I have two very simple ideas: Baked Garlic Butter Mushrooms and Roasted Cauliflower. Both dishes take very little effort and can be popped into the oven and forgotten about until they are ready. You will find both these dishes are hard to stop eating once you have taken the first bite.

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BAKED GARLIC BUTTER MUSHROOMS
(Heather)

1 pkg. mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & pepper

balsamic vinegar to serve

Clean the mushrooms and place on a baking tray. I like to remove the stems from the mushroom tops so the garlic butter can sit inside the cup. The stems can roast alongside the tops. Melt the butter and add the garlic. Gently pour butter over mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350F (or thereabouts if you have something else in the oven calling for a different temperature) for 30-40 minutes until mushrooms are tender and have a lovely, roasted appearance. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
(Heather)

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
canola oil
salt & pepper

Wash cauliflower and break into florets. Dry the cauliflower off with a paper towel or tea towel. Place cauliflower on baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to rub the cauliflower in the oil to evenly coat. Place the cauliflower in a 350F oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your florets. The edges of the florets should begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Market Fresh: Rutabagas

I feel as if the rutabaga is a neglected vegetable in the US. Countless people pass it on the market shelf and never stop to consider it a possibility for their kitchen.

Originally from northern Europe, a cross between the cabbage and turnip, the rutabaga was a common menu item until after the first World War. Having been resorted to when there was nothing else to eat, people grew tired of it and it lost its popularity. A shame, really, because nowadays it can add a pleasant change to our normal diets.

While living in Scotland, I had a greater opportunity to get to know the rutabaga. In the UK, it is known as “swede”, short for Swedish turnip. Its use is prevalent in soups and stews and when boiled and mashed is referred to as “neeps” to accompany the national dish of haggis.

If you have never tried rutabaga before, the following recipe is an excellent way to begin. Rutabaga, when mashed with potatoes, results in a sublime combination of slightly sweet, slightly tangy that is an excellent accompaniment to the Sunday roast.

MASHED RUTABAGAS AND POTATOES
(Heather)

1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped in 1/2-inch cubes
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
cream
salt & pepper

Carefully slice away the outside peel of the rutabaga and then chop the inside into 1/2-inch cubes.

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Peel and chop the potatoes and combine all the chopped vegetables into a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until all vegetables are tender. Drain. Add some cream (maybe 1/3 cup) and salt and pepper — or whatever you like to add to your mashed potatoes: butter, sour-cream, etc.

Serves 6.

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