Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fat Thursday, Donut's day -> Tłusty czwartek...

In Poland, pączki are eaten on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent). Many Polish Americans celebrate Pączki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, which in Ireland is known as Pancake Tuesday). Traditionally, the reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because they were simply forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent. In Poland the most popular filling for doughnuts would be rose marmalade, but my all time favorite is... cherry jam :) or just plain doughnut with some sweet, sticky icing on top!

Some people will hold contests as to who will eat the biggest amount of doughnuts today... I've never eaten more than 5 on this day - which is still a big number for me! ;) 



"Fat Thursday (German Fetter Donnerstag, Schmotziger Donnerstag, or in areas where carnival is celebrated Weiberfastnacht, Polish Tłusty czwartek) is a traditional Polish and German feast marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the next opportunity to feast would not be until Easter. It is similar to, but should not be confused with, the French festival of Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"). Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating, when people meet in their homes or cafés with their friends and relatives and eat large quantities of sweets, cakes and other meals forbidden during Lent. Among the most popular all-national dishes served on that day are pączki or berliner, fist-sized donuts filled with rose marmalade and faworki, French dough fingers served with lots of powdered sugar." - by Wikipedia.org


Monday, February 24, 2014

Blini - Russian pancakes...

I wanted to made those little pancakes for ages! First I couldn't get buckwheat flour anywhere! But nowhere! Then, once I got it there was always something more important to make... isn't there always? ;) So, finally I decided - today or never! It turned out there not difficult to make but there's some "waiting time". But... once I made them, it turned out I completely forgot to buy smoked salmon - as that was the accompaniment I intended to have with it... 
Not giving up, I had a good look in my fridge and cupboard and that's what I came up with: gherkins & dill cream cheese on all, diced fresh tomato (flesh only), slices of radish and diced fresh cucumber or just slices of radish on others. All seasoned with fresh ground pepper. Good result! :) 
I highly encourage you to experiment with those little pancakes as blini's accompaniments have gone beyond the traditional caviar, smoked salmon, minced onion, chopped eggs, sour cream and a sip or two of vodka ;)



"Bliny, Russian блин blin, Belorussian бліны, bliny is a thin pancake. It is somewhat similar to a crêpe with the main difference being that yeast may be used in blini, but not in crêpes."


"Blini had a somewhat ritual significance for early Slavic peoples in pre-Christian times since they were a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or Maslenitsa). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day"

How to make it....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sweet potato masala...

What to do with a sweet potato that's looking so lonely in a cupboard...? Well, if you happen to have some Indian spices at hand, an onion and a little bit of yogurt you can (in a matter of half an hour top!) make a delicious side dish, or if you pop an egg sunny side up on top of it - a filling breakfast or a lunch :) 
Just don't over cook the potato - if it's too soft it won't "survive" the second part of cooking (with onion and yogurt) and you'll end up with a big mush....





How to make it...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Three marmalade tea loaf...

Yes, exactly 3 different marmalades! Because why limit yourselves to only one! :) Originally first plan/idea was to use only one marmalade - orange one - but as it turned out during baking process, I didn't have enough... but isn't it exactly then, in those moments in which we're "stuck" in the kitchen, that our best ever dishes are being created?! I simply loved this cake. It keeps moist for several days so you can make it ahead. Keep it in an airtight container wrapped in parchment paper.


The whole idea, an inspiration came from Irish tea brack which I made recently.



How to make it...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Baked polenta with tomatoes...

I was doing a kind of "inventory" in my kitchen cupboard and found a bag of polenta. What to do with that now...? As there was nothing planned for dinner I decided to make something using that beautiful, yellow thing sitting so long at the back of the shelf. I was really surprised by the texture - soft but holding the shape firmly. Also the taste of corn was there, but it wasn't overpowering (which I thought would be the case...). The dish turned out as a very nice, delicious and light meal. And it smelled sooo appetizing :) Are you using polenta in your kitchen? How would you cook/bake/fry it?


"Polenta is cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. The term is of Italian origin, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain (especially barley-meal). Before the introduction of corn from the New World in the 16th century, polenta was made with such starchy ingredients as farrochestnut flour, milletspelt or chickpeas." - by Wikipedia.org



How to make it...

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Irish tea bread / brack...

I love cakes, cakes with sultanas and mixed peel in them, cakes that aren't plain, cakes that have a little "kick" in them (some spices), cakes that aren't difficult to make and won't take hours sweating over them, cakes that I can enjoy with my coffee, cakes that I can easily pack into my lunch box, cakes that my two little Angels will eat.
The below - Irish tea cake/brack - ticks all above boxes! :) Hope you'll give it a go too!



Another great one from "The Nation's favourite food" by Neven Maguire.


How to make it...

Saturday, February 01, 2014

"The Nation's Favourite Food" by Neven Maguire... (book review)


"The Nation's Favourite Food"
by Neven Maguire

Hardback (256 pages)

Chapters: Introduction, Soups, Starters, Salads, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Fish, Eggs, Vegetarian, Takeaway my way, Pasta, Dinner party, Vegetable sides, Lunchbox, Kids' favourites, Desserts, Baking, Bread, Christmas, Basics. 



Although I've been living in Ireland for almost 8 years now, I haven't really cooked many dishes, which would be considered as typical Irish ones. "The Nation's favourite food" is a great compendium of everyday dishes that are made across Ireland (and probably abroad too, in homes with Irish roots/connections). Neven has gathered his top 100 recipes, which in his opinion are a real staple of Irish nation's cuisine. They are Neven's fool-proof recipes (and yes, I can confirm - FOOL PROOF!), tried and tested versions of the food, Ireland makes every day of the week. Each section contains 5 classics, so you have a choice and I'm sure you'll find something that you'll like.
Recipes are simple, very easy to follow and as I already mentioned -> really fool-proof, you can honestly feel that they were tried and tested time over time, again and again, until they were perfected. Doesn't matter if you're experienced cook or a novice in the kitchen, with Neven's recipes you'll always succeed!

In the introduction you read: "I hope this book will be splattered with sauce, will have notes in the margins, will have the pages folded down. In short, I hope it becomes your trusted friend in the kitchen that you turn to time after time." Well Neven, aside of those bend/folded pages (as I hate doing that to any book, not to mention a cook book!), my book is slowly starting to look just like that. And I'm proud of it :)


"The nation's favourite food" is a great cook book. Recipes aren't over complicated, you don't need any fancy and expensive ingredients. It's honest, day to day cooking and dishes which can be enjoyed by the whole family! There's also a chapter on dishes for those spacial occasions, like Christmas.

I also like the layout of the book itself. Each recipe is clearly "spread out" on the page. Recipes listed with accurate measurments, step by step instructions divided by separate paragraphs - so it's easy to have a quick look into the book, while cooking and see what's your next step. Pictures accompanying the recipes (which ARE actually of the food itself!) are bright, colourful and definitely make you hungry! ;)

In my opinion Neven's new cook book will be perfect idea for a present not only for that "new house wife", "newbies" in the kitchen, but also for people with Irish roots living abroad and people like me, who need a little bit more introduction to that traditional, everyday Irish cooking, as we weren't brought up surrounded by it. So if you're after honest, every day food, recipes you can relay on and dishes that won't break your bank - Neven's "The Nation's Favourite Food" IS definitely a cook book for you.


Some of the recipes I've already tried:































About the author:
From a very young age, one of Neven Maguire’s favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook. He began experimenting with ingredients in the home kitchen at the tender age of ten and his pastime soon became his passion. After studying catering in Fermanagh College in Enniskillen, Neven went on to train in some of the highest-profile restaurants in the world, including the Michelin starred Roscoff’s in Belfast, Grand Hotel in Berlin and Arzak in San Sebastian. He also worked with Léa Linster, the renowned Michelin starred chef from Luxembourg, whom he credits as a major influence.
In 2001, Neven took over MacNean Restaurant, turning a local establishment into a national phenomenon and in 2012 published the highly acclaimed MacNean Restaurant Cookbook. Neven presents the top-rated cookery show on RTÉ, Home Chef. He lives in Blacklion, Co. Cavan with his wife Amelda, and twins Connor and Lucia. - by Gill & Macmillian Books.
I received a free copy of this book to review from Neven Maguire himself. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.