Polish Apple cake (Szarlotka)

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a 15/01/2017

So my friends and I all had a Polish theme night this week hence the random Polish recipes. This recipe in particular, is probably my favourite of all the dishes that were on offer. It is a bit like a cross between a biscuit and a cake with a lovely layer of spiced apple running through the middle of delicately sweetened crispy, biscuity, cakey yumminess.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • half alemon
  • 6 large Bramley or granny smithapples (depending on how sharp you like it)
  • 4 Tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

For the dough:

  • 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tspbaking powder
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolk, plus 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from the half a lemon, above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line a 20 x 29cm baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. For the filling, zest the lemon half and leave aside for the dough. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, then squeeze over the juice of the lemon to stop the fruit turning brown. Put the apples in a large pan and add the sugar, 200ml water and cinnamon. Cook for 5 mins, then remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid (you’ll need this later).
  3. To make the dough, put the flour and baking powder in a food processor or into a large bowl and pulse or stir to combine. Add the butter and mix again until the mixture is sandy. Add the sugar, egg yolks and egg, yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix into a dough. Tip it out onto a floured surface. Bring it together with your hands and roll it into a ball.
  4. Split the dough in half, wrap one half in cling film and freeze for 1 hr. Roll out the other dough half so that it is big enough to fill the bottom of the lined tray. With the palm of your hand, push the dough about halfway up the sides of the tray until the whole base is covered. Prick the dough with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 mins until it is golden and lightly springy to the touch.
  5. Spoon over the apple filling, with about half the cooking liquid then set aside.
  6. Remove the dough from the freezer and coarsely grate, as you would a block of cheese. Sprinkle the grated dough over the apples and bake for 40-45 mins until it is golden and the topping has cooked through. Leave to cool completely, dust with icing sugar then cut into squares.

Pierogi – Polish Dumplings

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pp 14/01/2017

Pierogi are a Polish dumpling that can be filled with a variety of things from mushroom and saurkraut, ground meat or potato and cheese to sweet versions such as cream cheese and cherries or prunes.

They are very simple to make but are quite time consuming. They are quite therapeutic to make though so set aside an afternoon, drag a friend in to help and knock up a batch of fluffy, delicious dumplings to enjoy.

I don’t claim that these are the most authentic version out there but they sure are tasty.

Makes approx 50

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups plain flour, plus more for rolling and dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 cup room temperature water

For the Potato Filling:

  • 1 large baking potato, diced into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ½ tsp salt and a few grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • Small handful chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream

Instructions:

To Make the Dough:

  1. On a clean work surface, place all of the flour into a pile. Stir in salt then make a well in the centre of the flour. Crack the egg into the centre along with the sour cream. With a fork, start stirring the eggs and sour cream into the flour pulling the edges toward the centre. Then gradually add the water a little at a time as you continue to stir with a fork. You may not use all of the water so check texture and slowly incorporate another half cup of water. The texture should be soft and only just sticky to the touch.
  2. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough ball and surrounding counter and with a scraper or a palette knife, scrape the dough from the counter over onto floured surface and continue this process adding flour as needed until you have a soft, pliable easy-to-handle dough that does not stick to the rolling pin.
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough mass out to 1/16th inch thin.
  4. As you roll, keep flouring the counter under the dough so when it is completely rolled out, none of the dough mass sticks to your counter.
  5. Using a 3 inch round pastry cutter, dip the cutter in flour if needed then cut out the circles as close to each other as possible. After filling this batch, gather up the scraps and roll back out and cut more circles. Finally roll up the last of the scraps and cut one last time. The dough is soft enough to get rolled out three times but no more. Also try to keep the dough covered with a slightly damp cloth to keep the dough from drying out.
  6. The final count should be approximately 50 circles.

To Make the Potato Filling:

  1. Boil potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender, then drain and place back into the pan. Mash the potato then remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook 3-5 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and add to the mashed potatoes along with the parsley, spring onions and sour cream. If not filling right away, refrigerate until needed.

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To Fill, Prepare and Cook the Pierogi:

  1. Place 1 tsp of the filling in the centre of a circle of dough that you have cut with the cutter spreading it out into the shape of an oval. Have a small cup of water close by and with a pastry brush, lightly wet the outside of the circle half way around. Then lift the dough circle in your hand and pull the edge of the dry side to the edge of the wet side together in the centre and pinch tight. Then work from the centre out and pinch the rest closed, poking any filling back in as you go. Set the finished pierogi on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  2. Place a medium to large pot of water on to boil as you finish the remaining pierogi. Have a large sauté pan on a burner with the melted butter on medium low.
  3. Once you have made as many as you plan on making, place about ten at a time into the boiling water (checking to make sure that they haven’t stuck to the bottom of the pot) and boil until they float (about 2-3 minutes). Then cook for an additional minute and remove with a strainer. Immediately add to pan with melted butter. All you are doing with this step is coating them in butter so they don’t stick to each other. Toss in the pan of butter for about 30 seconds and remove to a platter. Repeat for all of the pierogi you intend to cook.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and add onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes until slightly browned. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan over medium heat, melt butter and add cooked pierogi. Cook flipping occasionally until browned on both sides, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Serve pierogi with sour cream and sautéed onions.

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Baked Blue Cheese & Beetroot

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picoss 02/01/2017

This recipe is a take on a dish I had at a Basque tapas bar. The dish was called Baked Picos which google translate would have you believe is baked penis. So why wouldn’t I order it? Okay, I asked the waitress what it was. And she had me at melted cheese. A little pan of oozing, bubbly blue cheese covering bright purple beetroot sprinkled with crunchy, toasted nuts and seeds was presented to me alongside a basket of fresh sourdough chunks to dip in. I was in heaven. Something so simple but so satisfying. Here is my version which is pretty close to the original.

If you don’t like blue cheese, try goats cheese or garlic and herb roule as alternatives.

Ingredients:

  • 1 beetroot
  • 100g whipped blue cheese (I used St Agur)
  • 25g hazelnuts
  • 25g mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, sunflower, linseed and sesame)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel the beetroot and cut in half if it is particularly large. Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and cut into chunks.
  2. While the beetroot is baking, add the hazelnuts to a tray and roast for 5 minutes. If the hazelnuts have skins on, rub them between a tea towel to remove the skin.
  3. Roast the seed mix for 5 minutes or until you begin to hear them popping. Set the nuts and seeds aside.
  4. Arrange the beetroot pieces in a small ovenproof dish along with any juice that has collected in the foil. Dollop the blue cheese in, around and over the beetroot and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes so the cheese and beetroot mingle to become a vibrant pink, creamy bubbling good thing.
  5. Sprinkle the toasted nuts and seeds over the top and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve with fresh crusty bread.

picos