Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Polish racuchy with apples...

This is something that reminds me hugely about my childhood - my Nana makes them, my Dad makes them :) I'm pretty sure that each and every family in Poland has their own version of this little treat. You can make them on their own, yeast version, with no filling at all. I like mine with a slice of apple inside (of course pealed and cored). Apple get nice and soft and gives it sweetness. The below version is an easier one - instead of yeast, baking powder is used. So... what are you waiting for? To the kitchen!



"Racuchy is a traditional Polish dish from the same family of foods as the crêpe and similar to American pancakes. Racuchy is made from some flour,milkeggssugar and a pinch of salt. Racuchy are made with yeast or, in other versions, baking powder or baking soda is used. Rauchy are pan fried in oil. In Poland racuchy are usually eaten as dinnersnack or supper." - by wikipedia.org

How to make it...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Braised steak stew... with dumplings...

This is one of those dishes that's best enjoyed during cold, rainy, windy Autumn or Winter days. It doesn't call for many ingredients - just few simple ones which you actually might have at hand at home. Of course the beef is a main performer here and for that I recommend you to go to a trusted butcher (please, if you can only afford it - and it's really not that expensive as you might think - buy your meat from the local butcher rather than a supermarket!). The recipe was also provided with an idea for herby, horseradish dumplings - but for those I had literally 1 ingredient at home... Had to improvise so a quick look through many of my cook books and... a recipe for simple dumplings and all ingredients at hand!
Below the original recipe from "The Irish Beef Book" by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness, but for my small family I used only third of the amount given for each ingredients.



How to make it...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Money for Jam by Oonagh Monahan (book review)...

"Money for Jam: The Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Small Food Business"
by Oonagh Monahan

Paperback (171 pages)

Chapters: Introducing the Opportunity; Starting Out; Navigating the Food Legislation Minefield; Ensuring Food Hygiene; Product Development, Routes to Market; Branding and a Marketing Plan; Labelling, Nutrition Claims and Allergens; Making and Managing Money; Training Requirements; Bread and Baking; Jams, Chutneys and Preserves; Duck Eggs; Ice Cream, Yogurt and Cheese; Value-added Meats; Smoked Meat, Cheese and Fish; Where To Now? Help is At Hand.


I won't be alone in saying that each and every person who bakes, cooks a little better than average, had a thought in their mind at some point, that maybe, just maybe they can sell, what they're doing so well. And here's a question that probably each and every of those people asked themselves (including myself!) "But where do I even start?!" So, if you happen to live in Ireland (as this book refers to laws and regulations specifically on The Green Isle) "Money for jam" would be a great point/place to start.

Besides formal regulations, information about registering your new food business, rules you would have to obey, they are also information about creating your product, your brand, about market research, marketing and everyday business dealings like finances, dealing with suppliers and your clients. Oonagh's language is clear and easy to understand, no complicated words that you might need a dictionary for, no definitions straight out of the marketing or law books. If you happen to be a complete novice you won't feel out of place and I think you'll actually believe in yourself more. You'll see that it's all not as scary as you might have thought and what's more - that it IS achievable! 

Putting aside all the rules, requirements, labelling, packaging etc. we're also shown how each food sector has its own specifics - like what you would need to start a bread baking business, which is completely different from keeping ducks for selling their eggs. How market for jams and chutneys is different from that for smoked meat or fish. There are case studies, cost comparisons and information as to where to look for suppliers, equipment and even your potential clients. At the very end of the book you'll find a complete list of of all the resources mentioned in the book, contact details and addresses for all the institutions connected with food industry and other companies in that field.

So if you're seriously thinking about starting your dream job - your own company (being it home based or a little bigger venture) producing food for sale - Oonagh's book is a great reference, a handbook that you'll get back to again and again.


About the author: Oonagh Monahan has over 14 years experience of the food industry, working with small producers in particular for over 10 years, helping them to start up and grow their businesses. She has worked with producers of every variety of food: everything from fudge, sausages and bread to beer and cream liquors. As one of her clients said, she is like a big sister – the person you turn to when you need advice, help and encouragement! - by oaktreepress.com


I received a free copy of this book to review from Oak Tree Press. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Buttermilk chocolate cake...

Someone told me recently that I really shouldn't call this cake a "chocolate cake" - as it has no chocolate, non whatsoever in or on it! Well, it is dark brown, it smells of chocolate and it definitely tastes chocolaty so... I'm sorry, but I will call it exactly that - a chocolate cake (because, to be honest with you, I can't find any other name for it... Can you?). This recipe is quite easy, it's one of those where you make everything in a one bowl, just adding things to it as you go. It definitely saves you some washing up afterwards! :) It keeps well for few days - but I doubt if it will "survive" that long...




How to make it...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Vanilla & blackberry cupcakes...

Who doesn't like a little treat with their cup of tea or coffee? Well...? I strongly believe that such person doesn't exist ;) I often make cupcakes/muffins at home for many reasons: a.) they are quick and easy to make with my 2 little sous chefs, b.) they fit perfectly into my lunch box c.) if you add fruit or use wholemeal flour etc. you can have that feeling that you're eating "healthy". There are many more reasons why you should bake in general - you know exactly what has gotten into it, the end product won't get much fresher than that and you're making exactly what you like and will enjoy eating :) Back to today's recipe - what to do with a box full of freshly picked blackberries...? Apart from a delicious cobbler that is! Bake! They're not very "watery" fruit so won't give away much liquid during baking (which can easily ruin your whole bake...) and their quite strong taste won't get "lost" either (even if you're using only little of them). Vanilla goes well with all kind of fruits, but I think it's particularly nice with the sharper ones like blackberries.




How to make it...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brown butter and raisins pumpkin bread...

What is an ultimate sign of Autumn? Yes - a pumpkin. What is the most comforting food this time of the year? Yes - a pumpkin cake/bread with a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa in the other hand!
It was my first time ever baking using pumpkin puree - well, second as I already made a pumpkin bread 4 days ago and it was a TOTAL disaster. I then found a different recipe, changed it ever so slightly and here's a result - moist but still with a light texture, nutty and a little sweet pumpkin bread. It was very easy and relatively quick to make - my 2 little sous chefs were helping me all the way :) and the smaller sous chef (2 years old) loves the cake! She couldn't get enough of it! When she saw me having a slice she run towards me shouting "cake, cake!" with her mouth wide open! :D This recipe is definitely a keeper and something I will make often for sure - changing raisins for something else like candied fruit, chocolate chips etc.
If you have some nice recipes using pumpkin puree please do let me know! I'm always on a "look out" for new ideas - especially that I'm a "pumpkin puree virgin" ;)




How to make it...

Monday, October 07, 2013

Apple, peach and blackberry cobbler... recipe by Rick Stein

With plenty of apples and blackberries in the house  cake was in order. My first thought were crumble - as it is favourite with my two little helpers but... How many crumbles can one eat before one gets bored of them.... Just by a pure coincidence, while flipping through a magazine I stumbled across something called cobbler. I've heard about them many times, but never really gave them much notice. Well, now was the time! :) Went "on-line" immediately and started looking for a good, reliable recipe and who's better to trust (not only when making something for the very first time) by one and only Rick Stein! And voila! I just knew I can't go wrong with his recipe! The result is just fantastic. A topping which is something between a sponge cake and a bound cake. Very light, not dense at all (which I was afraid of) and a nice, thin kind of crust on the top. So - my fruit choice (and I sauteed the apples in cider and sugar to make them softer) and Rick's recipe for cobbler resulted in a dish that I can't get enough of! And if you add some vanilla custard on the side AND a cup of coffee! Recipe for a success! :)



"Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, consisting of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit, or pie crust before being baked. Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. The origin of the name cobbler is uncertain, although it may be related to the now archaic word cobeler, meaning "wooden bowl"." - by wikipedia.org



How to make it...