New book sheds light on old Polish flavours
As co-host of the Euro 2012 football championships, Poland has been in the spotlight in recent weeks.
The former Eastern Bloc country is also well-known for its cuisine and some of its most popular dishes - like herrings in sour cream and beef pierogi - are detailed in ‘Rose Petal Jam: Recipes & Stories From a Summer in Poland’.
The cookbook also serves as a memoir for co-author Beata Zatorska as she brings to life the sweet flavours and aromas that filled the house of her grandmother Jozefa, a professional chef, as she grew up in rural Poland.
“Nettles and mint hung drying in the attic alongside bunches of chamomile flowers and poppy-seed husks,” she writes.
“Yeasty doughnuts were laid out on every flat surface, stool and armchair, slowly puffing up under starched white tea towels.
“Though I was almost too small to hold a rolling pin, Jozefa let me roll out the pastry dough to make pierogi - the ravioli-like pasta that Poles are addicted to - and taught me cooking secrets told by her grandmother.”
You can get in on the secret, too, with these two tasty dishes from Beata’s book...
Beetroot-shoot soup (Botwinka)
>> Stalks and leaves of 6 beetroots
>> 2l (4 pints) meat stock or bouillon (beef or chicken)
>> 1 whole beetroot root
>> 1 clove garlic
>> 1 tsp salt
>> 1 tsp dry marjoram
>> 1 tsp lemon juice
>> 6 eggs, hard-boiled
>> 250ml (8fl oz) fresh single pouring cream
Wash the beetroot leaves and stalks then pat dry with a paper towel. Chop them into small pieces. The leaves will shrink when cooked, so you will need quite a few. Add the chopped beetroot stalks and leaves to the stock and simmer until soft - for about 15 minutes. Grind a clove of garlic with a teaspoon of salt on a wooden board then add to the soup with a teaspoon of dry marjoram and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Wash, peel and score the beetroot bulb with grooves. Add to the soup. Simmer for a further 10 minutes. Cut the hard-boiled eggs into halves or quarters, then season with salt and pepper. Leaving the whole beetroot in the pot, ladle the soup into individual bowls and place a good splash of fresh cream in each. Serve hot and garnish with the hard-boiled eggs.
Jozefa’s ‘daisy eggs’ (Jajka w skorupkach)
>> 3 fresh eggs (or as many as the family can eat)
>> 1 tablespoon dill, parsley and chives, finely chopped
>> Butter for frying
Hard-boil the eggs for five minutes, then run them under cold water for a moment so they are not too hot to handle. Using a sharp knife, cut the eggs (still in their shells) in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and whites, keeping the shells intact. Chop the egg roughly and mix with whatever herbs you have to hand - dill, parsley, chives. Add salt and pepper to season and replace the mixture in the egg shells. Fry face-down in a little butter for a few minutes until lightly brown. Arrange like daisy petals on a plate and serve with fresh bread for breakfast, lunch or a snack when studying.