Sunday, 18 July 2010


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Sunday, 18 October 2009

That's Gobble not Google

So I bought turkey cutlets for the first time a few days ago, wanting to incorporate other meat choices into our diet (as I’ve learned recently – I need meat in my diet lest I go through life in a haze). Now that they’re in the fridge, I have to figure out what the heck I am going to do with them, and have resolved today IS going to be the day. Having never actually (I admit) cooked turkey in my life, I’ve decided that google is probably my best bet, considering all my cookbooks are still somewhere on the Atlantic. So big surprise, when I type “turkey cutlets recipes” in google and I get a variety of options such as turkey escalope, turkey Milanese, turkey parmigiana, and turkey schnitzel. Thanks google, food network, and various others. I couldn't have thought to bread cutlets myself. I’m Polish. Breaded cutlets are one of our 4 basic food groups. The others are potatoes, pickled vegetables and vodka. I don’t need an excuse to douse something in eggs, milk and breadcrumbs, or instructions for that matter. I was hoping for something a little more original.

Oooookaaay. Let’s try this again: I google “flavors that go well with turkey” and pray that I won’t get a dozen recipes for cranberry sauce. Then it occurs to me, that I’ve never ever had turkey in my house, since I moved out of my parents'. Why is that…which brings up a deeper question: do we really ever eat turkey except for thanksgiving, in sandwiches or as a healthy substitute for other meat? I’ve never had to make thanksgiving dinner, so I have never made a turkey. I’ve never made a turkey sandwich, because I have never had thanksgiving leftovers in the house, nor do I buy turkey deli meat. And lastly, I’ve never used ground turkey or turkey as a substitute, instead of ground beef or pork, because prior to getting married, I maybe bought ground meat twice in space of 5 years. Turkey is like BEYOND new territory, a potentially ground breaking new ingredient in my kitchen, this is a monumental moment in the history of Citygirl Cuisine. Maybe it’s the same for you.

Considering all the facts in evidence, I figure that I could easily make a substitute recipe that is NOT based on making a breaded cutlet. Substituting turkey for chicken is probably the safest bet. So I decide to make a version of Greek Souvlaki, because well I’ve always wanted to try making it and now’s a good as any. So I take out my spice rack, and look through all the spices I’ve smuggled across the border, and am shocked to find out that I have neither dried thyme nor oregano. How is that possible- I seem to have clear memories of them in my pantry before I moved. I am in such disbelief that I go through all of the spices individually, three times, before I am satisfactorily convinced that I am not just hallucinating. Then I remember, I’m not the one who packed the kitchen.

So I guess we’re not having Turkey Souvlaki tonight. Great. Back to square one. What do I have in the kitchen? I drum my nails on the countertop. Well, I do have this Herbes de Provence mix, which 007 threw into our shopping cart on Friday night at Real. What else do I have around? There is that ¼ bottle of semi-dry white in fridge from 007’s birthday, that’s begging to be used. It calls to me every time I open up the fridge. “Use me. Uuuuse meee.” (At least it’s not calling “Drink me” – that would be a real problem.) I root further. There’s that large tomato that’s getting overripe, and I’ve been worrying about. Hmmm. What else? root. root. root. There are these pistachios my mother-in-law sent us in a care package, which I’ve dying to use in something really worthwhile. I think I can do something with this. What am i saying?! I CAN do something with this. I’ve had a breakthrough: Turkey Sauté with Herbes de Provence and Pistachios. And let me tell you, it tastes damn good over a wild rice pilaf and with Quick Cucumber Salad. I’ll get back to blogging about the birthday tomorrow. For now, I’m relishing the sight of 007 licking his plate after dinner.

Turkey Sauté with Herbes de Provence and Pistachios



2-3 medium sized turkey cutlets cubed (I’m sure this would be equally good with chicken or pork)
2-3 generous tbsp Herbes de Provence mix ( if you can’t get your hands on this, you can make your own, using 3 tbsp dried marjoram, 3 tbsp dried thyme, 3 tbsp dried savory, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp dried sage and ½ tsp fennel seeds)
½ cup olive oil
1 cup dry or semi-dry white wine
½ cup of water
½ a chicken bouillon cube
½ a mushroom bouillon cube (if you can’t get your hands on this use a beef bouillon)
1 large ripe tomato seeded and diced
¼ cup chopped chives
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 handful pistachios pitted and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

How to:

Combine oil, ½ a cup of wine and Herbes de Provence mix in a bowl and mix together. Place cubes of turkey in the marinade and marinate for at least ½ an hour.

In the meantime get the rest of your ingredients ready. Place a small-medium heavy bottom saucepan on the range and turn on to medium heat. Once saucepan is hot, stir turkey in the marinade one last time, making sure the meat is well coated with the herbs. Using tongs, place in saucepan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato and stir cook for 1-2 minutes and add chives.

In a kettle boil ½ cup of water (or more and make some tea) and split evenly among two glasses. Add ½ chicken and mushroom bouillon cubes to each glass, respectively, and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining ½ cup of wine and bouillons to the saucepan and stir. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook until reduced by ¾ (about 10 minutes). Add pistachios, stir and cook for 1 minute. Serve on top of wild rice pilaf.

Quick Cucumber Salad for two


2 regular cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, peeled and cubed (1cm)
2 -3 tbsps Balkan style natural yogurt or 18% sweet cream-not liquid (you can use sour cream if you have to, but it will change the taste)
A healthy bunch of fresh dill chopped

How to:

Place cucumbers in a bowl with yogurt and dill. Stir well, serve. I keep fresh dill in an air tight container in the freezer, like my mom does. Dill doesn’t wilt in cold like many other herbs. It keeps for a long time and defrosts almost instantly. <3

Friday, 16 October 2009

And now, a little something for me.

Day 2: the epilogue

I have to admit, sometimes when I’m having a party, even when it’s for someone specific and thematically linked, I often take it as an opportunity to try things which have peaked my interest. This is exactly what happened when I stumbled upon chocolate dipped Florentines on David Lebovitz’s blog. As nuts don’t come cheap in this country, I figured I could justify such a splurge for a party, especially one in which I already needed sliced almonds. I would just “over buy” a little. I’m not going to post to recipe here; you can find it on the link above. I will only post pictures for your enjoyment. Chocolate dipped or not, these are delicious. I suggest you try both. <3

Ps. if you do make these, really make sure they are done of the bottom. Take them out of the oven, let them cool for a little while, because they will not be solid when you take them out, lift the off the parchment paper and check that the bottoms are brown right into the centre. You can always pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes without harming them. They should not be moist & sticky once they cool.

These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others.

So earlier this week, to my horror, I thought I had developed a minor peanut allergy. But I seem to have been wrong, as the hives are back, and I didn’t go near peanut butter today. You see, I had made these delicious peanut butter ice-cream sandwiches for my husband’s birthday, and eating leftovers was the only thing linking the two incidents, other than sitting on my couch, in the evening, and typing at the computer. But now they are back, and I have not been near a peanut butter ice-cream sandwich today. So the only logical conclusion is that I’m clearly allergic to typing on my computer, while sitting on my couch, in the evening. So I’ve moved to the arm chair. They seem to be going away. All of which brings me to:

Tuesday, Day 2

Ice-Cream Sandwiches

A little rational behind the emerging birthday menu: Poland is the land of whipped cream, pastries and ice cream. Really. On every corner there is a pastry shop or bakery filled with Pącki (Polish donuts) filled with plum and strawberry preserves or pastry cream; cakes, napoleons, Viennese pastries, and basically anything else that will add inches to your waist and cellulite to your thighs. Buyer beware!

Now, married life, obviously, affords you the opportunity to spend even more time than before with your significant other. This in turn leads to the discovery of truths about one another that, you had not been aware of previously. One such thing I have recently discovered, thanks to the hoards of pastry shops, is that my husband, known from now on as Agent 007 (as he wants to be neither pictured or mentioned by name in the blog), would be content on living on two things and two things alone: whipped cream and ice-cream. He is in fact able to eat these things at any time of day, multiple times per day. Furthermore, he fully prepared to discuss the nutritional merits of these substances at length. “What’s 300 calories? Really?” I’d say, 300 calories is about 1/6 of my daily recommended intake.

I’m not going to lie, I was vaguely aware of this “problem” in our previous life (I did order a gelato cart for the wedding reception cocktail hour, after all), but I was never aware of its far reaching consequences. A typical outing with 007 includes at least one request for something with whipped cream or ice cream, sometimes both. I’m not a 90kilo man. I need boundaries. But birthdays and holidays are the free calorie free zone, as far as I’m concerned. So, in celebration of his birthday, I decided to celebrate 007 with the three things he loves most (surprisingly not babes, car-chases and guns): football (European style), whipped cream and ice cream . Although, the football part didn’t pan out because the weather sucked, the other two things went without a hitch.

007 happens to also be addicted to a particular kind of ice-cream bar call Miś Pando Classic, roughly translated Panda Bear Classic (basically chocolate dipped vanilla ice-cream, in the shape of a teddy bear, on a stick). I’m not going to lie, I googled my ass off trying to find a supplier that would send me a case for his birthday, but alas this is not America. So, I contented myself with yesterday’s Semifreddo (007 also loves the Viennese ice-cream cakes with the flully ice-cream and chocolate layers.) and the closest I was willing to attempt to an ice-cream bar - le ice-cream sandwich. For this particular occasion I made two types: PBJ & Snickerdoodle Ice-cream Sandwiches.

The great thing about these is that you can wrap them in parchment paper and keep them in your freezer for up to a week. Both recipes keep really well; I stored them in airtight containers until Friday night, when I assembled them at about midnight. The most annoying part, aside from the ice-cream melting too fast, was wrapping the assembled cookie sandwiches in parchment paper and getting it to stay. Though it totally a worked, it’s a week later, and these babies are still like new. For purposes of serving, my freezer has drawers, so I filled up the bottom drawer, and passed around introductory sandwiches to guest, telling them to help themselves to more.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice-Cream Sandwiches

I adapted this recipe from a Paula Dean recipe I found on the Food Network website, while googling for ice-cream sandwich ideas. Neither 007 nor I, are huge peanut butter eaters, especially b/c peanut butter in Poland is expensive, as are nuts in general. But I chose this recipe because many of the guests were from Canada and the States, so catering to the international crowd, I thought they could all use a taste from home. All in all I liked these cookies; they came out moist and chewy, like a good peanut butter cookie should. But I found that I made them far too small to be good vessels for the ice-cream, assembly was a hellish mess. I also found that they got too hard in the freezer and we’re just not as delicious when frozen. I would definitely recommend this as a good basic peanut butter cookie recipe, but I would try a different cookie for the ice-cream sandwich next time - something more moist and crumbly. I had to make two batches because, despite being small, the recipe yielded only enough to make 15 sandwiches.


1 cup unsweetened natural peanut butter
1 cups sugar (this is plenty; I would even say if you’re using processed peanut butter, it will be too much. My cookies came out having the perfect flavor)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of sugar for assembly.

How to:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls 1,5 inch balls (I'm correcting for my size problems here). Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, (check after 10, it will depend on your oven, but mine were done) remove from the oven.

Cool slightly before removing from pan.



Good Quality Strawberry Ice-cream
Strawberry preserves

The Paula Dean recipe actually called for you to make your own ice-cream. But as my kitchen is essentially gadget free right now, I don’t even own my own hand held mixer, (I had two in Canada, which i donated to St. Vincent de Paul under 007's advisement, who said we’d just buy one when we got here, only to discover they are about 5 times more expensive here. Apparently, the spy expense account does not cover household appliances. Stealthy gadgets - Yes. Mixers - No.) I opted for option B: buy good ice-cream.

How to:

FYI this was a mess. Really. No matter how fast I worked, I had ice-cream everywhere, on the table, on my hands, in my hair. It was like a kindergarten craft project. My cookies were just too small. I found the easiest way to make these was ten at a time. Otherwise the ice-cream melted too quickly. I cut out parchment paper in advance to the approximate right size and labeled the back PBJ. I set out matching sets of cookies, laying them side by side, using a small teaspoon I added about ½ of a teaspoon of strawberry preserves (mine had whole strawberries in them, which was a mistake considering the size of my cookie) on the left hand cookie. Then, having placed the preserves on each left hand cookie, I took the ice-cream out of the freezer, and using a melon-baller, scooped ice-cream onto the right hand cookie, smushed the two together, wrapped the cookie sandwich, threw it in the freezer, and prayed they wouldn't look like a disgusting mess come saturday. I repeated this processed for all ten, then put the ice-cream back in the freezer and did 10 snickerdoodles in the mean time.

Snickerdoodle Ice-Cream Sandwiches

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, this Snickerdoodle recipe! I can’t get over it. It’s a week later and we’re still eating leftovers from the freezer and they are just as to die for as they were a week ago - we're not getting sick of them. I took it from the Browneyed Baker, and it makes the most beautiful melt in your mouth cookies. It’s honestly a perfect recipe. These are possibly the best cookies that have ever come out of my oven. They were so good, I kept hoping I would break a few more. The best part is that they make most delicious ice-cream sandwiches. Somehow when these baby’s are frozen, they are still moist and chewy. I can't say it enough - To die for. Drop whatever you're doing right now and make these cookies. They will change your life.


2¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

How to:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, until just blended. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat. Place on chilled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. These really spread, so make sure that you give them enough space. Also make sure your parchement paper is flat, because the slightest dent will give you a misshapen cookie.

Chill the dough and cookie sheets between batches. I even put ready cookie sheets, back in the freezer just until the moment the oven was free. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Make sure you do this, or they will fall apart. Store cookies in an airtight container.



Good quality Vanilla ice-cream

How to:

This, luckily, was much simpler than the PBJ ice-cream sandwiches. Again, I cut parchment paper to size and labeled the back before starting. I found that the best way to do this was to just take a knife and spread the ice-cream on the cookie, like jam, and then place another on top, wrap it and throw it in the freezer. I found that scooping and smushing didn’t work, because the snickerdoodles were too delicate and this caused them to break.

Out of both options, this is definitely the superior ice-cream sandwich.<3

Thursday, 15 October 2009


It’s official: I have not only become my oven’s master, I’ve managed to pull an inordinate amount of pastries, I’ve never made before, basically, out of my ass. All in less than a week. There is nothing quite like a party at my place. So yes, all this to say, that my husband’s birthday was a success, that my elaborate plan worked, and my husband did not faint. Although, he did think I was going to have a heart attack several times, when he asked if he could come into the kitchen (how was he to know, I was in the midst of assembling the napoleon). He’s decided that whatever house we move into next will need iron doors to the kitchen, like the iron curtain, for parties.

This is, of course, the other reason why I did not blog last week. I thought I would be able to do the play by play, but I really didn’t have time. Between making hundreds of bite-sized sweets, cakes and other things, I managed to go through 56 eggs, go grocery shopping practically every day, borrow a mixer (thank God!) from a friend, wipe out in front of my building while carrying 16 eggs, double my embarrassment as my glasses flew across the side walk and 2 construction workers came to my rescue, had them joke that I’d be making one less cake, did more dishes than i thought humanly possibly, had a run in with my extremely pleasant and completely non-confrontational 40 year-old neighbor, after which I had to restrain myself from keying her car, and, of course, hosted a party. All in all a good week, but no time for blogging.

So here we are. I’m going to post most of the recipes in separate posts, for readability purposes. And I will post them split up the way that I did them, to give you an idea of what the organization was like. I will tell you honestly, that I could have done all of this only in week nights. So, this is doable for any person who’s up for a challenge, but doesn’t work from home. I did most of this stuff in the evening, as during the day I found myself busy with other responsibilities. I conjecture to say, that due to all the setting, chilling and resting, the sheer amount of baking, and the fact that my oven, despite its capacity, does not bake evenly if you put multiple racks in one on top of another, it would have been hard for me to do this my normal party execution. I would not have been able to do this over a Friday evening and a Saturday. The picture suffices to give you an idea.

Monday, Day 1:

Chocolate-Amaretto Semifreddo

I have to say this recipe was really good. FYI The chocolate crème anglaise that this recipe calls for took way longer than 1 hour to set. I was a little panicked about it, to be honest, when in hour 3 it looked exactly like it did in hour 0. So I left it overnight, and it was perfect (thank God!) in the morning. In reality, I made this recipe over two days, day 1: chocolate crème anglaise; morning day 2: semifreddo. This recipe has been adapted from And for the record, those are not firecrackers on the semifreddo, they're polish sparklers. Those are the small size.

Chocolate Crème Anglaise


3 cups whole milk
½ cups whipping cream
½ cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
8 oz/230 grams bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla

How to:

Combine the milk, cream, and sugar in a medium heavy bottom pot over medium heat stirring often, until mixture begins to steam and bubble around edges of pan. You will actually see bubbles forming around the edges and there should be visible steam rising from the mixture. Remove from heat.

Put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture to temper, then pour egg mixture back into pan, whisking continuously to blend. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon over medium-low heat until the custard thickens noticeably, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Pour through a fine strainer set over a bowl. Set the bowl of custard in a larger bowl of ice and water for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture cools. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap pressed against surface of custard. This is important; not doing this will cause a film to form on top of the custard. Chill overnight.

Chocolate Amaretto Semifreddo


1/3 cup amaretto
2 1/2 cups chilled Chocolate Crème Anglaise
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup raw slivered almonds, toasted
¾ cup roasted hazelnuts
Semisweet chocolate shavings

How to:

Stir amaretto into crème anglaise. In a chilled bowl, beat whipping cream until medium peaks form (they should hold their shape, but not be stiff). Gently fold in about a third of crème anglaise mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining crème anglaise until blended. It’s really important that you fold the crème anglaise into the whipped cream; it will not deflate that way.

I almost always roast nuts in a frying pan, rather than in the oven. I find that it’s much more hassle free, but if you prefer the traditional oven method, by all means, use your oven. In a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, place almonds and hazelnuts, stirring occasionally. Heat until they are golden in colour. You don’t need any oil, the natural oils in the nuts with grease the pan organically.

Line a 9- by 5-in. loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on all sides. Gently fold chopped chocolate, almonds, and hazelnuts into crème anglaise mixture. Spoon into pan and cover with overhanging plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 7 1/2 hours and up to 1 week.

To shave the chocolate chill a block of bitter-sweet chocolate, and then on a cutting board take a sharp chopping knife and ride down the edges. If you want to use other softer chocolate, I recommend doing curls, which are easily achieved by taking a potato peeler and peeling curls off the chocolate. I did this in advance, and stored the chocolate in an airtight container in my fridge until I needed it.

To serve, invert dessert over a platter and remove pan and plastic wrap. Let stand at least 15 minutes at room temperature to soften. I found that freezing it for so long, made it incredibly hard, and the requisite 15 minutes what really not enough. I froze mine for 5 days, I really would be curious to see the difference if I had frozen if for less time. Smooth top and sides with a warm knife if needed. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

Also, you’ll notice that you will have a bunch of the chocolate crème anglaise left. Don’t worry – it’s delicious. I served it to my husband as a pudding, and he pretty much licked the tupperware container clean, when we ran out. <3

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


It’s October 14th and it’s snowing. And not like a few little flakes here and there. No - full on snow storm grade snowing, since before I woke up this morning. This is depressing. Almost as depressing as the fact that my winter clothes are somewhere on the Atlantic between North America and Europe. So, I’m stuck in the house until the snow decides to magically go away, just as magically as it decided to appear. Good time to catch up on blogging.

I apologize; I have not been blogging in the past two weeks. I was away visiting my husband’s family in the Kujawy-Pomerania Province for the first week (news on how the second week went to follow), which is in the central northern part of Poland, home of the richest farm land in Poland. Recently, in the news, there was a story that someone in this region was paid something like 8 times the average price of the most expensive land in Europe (Luxemburg). I only know this because my husband kept telling me this story over and over while we were taking the train and then the bus to Inowrocław. (It turned out later, that my husband’s uncle knows the guy who owned the land, and that a bidding war led to the huge price tag)

Inowrocław is known mostly for its sanatoriums. People come there from all over for
rehabilitation or to just breathe in some clean air and relax. The gardens around the sanatorium, which is located in the middle of town, are breath takingly gorgeous and conjure up thoughts of perfect wedding photo locations. There are actually tons of places like that in Poland. For example, there’s a park like that down the street from our place. It’s ridiculous. And on the other side of the street if you keep walking you get to private garden lots, where people plant vegetables and fruit trees, in the middle of the city. One minute you're in the centre of Krakow, a 10 minute walk from Wawel castle, the next minute you’re in old country farmland with little children running around and Babcias tending their gardens: amazing.

After a day with the family that lives in town, we went to visit the family in Łowiczek, where my
father-in- law grew up. It was like the cold weather had known we were coming when we got there. I spent the whole time freezing, in several sweaters at a time. Łowiczek is small and quaint, just a bunch a farms, 2 tiny convenience stores side-by-side and a gorgeous 17th century wooden church (the parish was established in the 1300s). Facts like this make me acutely aware of how young Canada is as a country. It’s crazy to think that the church in this town is older than an entire country!

Among the highlights of my visit was that one of my husband’s cousins is baker and has his own bakery Not only did we get to see the bakery, and the production of what I would say was wellover a thousand bagels (obwarzanki), we ate out faces off with the cookies, pączki (polish donuts), drożdżowki (pastries), and bread. I have to say that the best cookie I’ve ever had in my life was from this bakery, two simple classic Polish crumb sugar cookies with jam in the centre. They were so fluffy and moist, I can’t even describe it. They were so good that I was horrified when we got sent home with an entire box, so I made sure that my husband ate the majority of it. Better his pants stop fitting than mine, mine are way more expensive to replace. (not to mention that the perfect fat pants clearly do not exist)

Part of the beauty of being in the country is, I think, appreciating the simplicity of food. Really good food doesn’t need to be complicated to taste incredible. In the city, for example, I am weary of every tomato that I buy. I really don’t like raw tomatoes. But in the country, when the tomatoes are naturally grown in real soil, they are amazing. I could almost eat them like apples, if the concept of that didn’t make me nauseous. But they are so good, that I would consider it. Simple country food is the best. It just is. Partially because the ingredients are so fresh, and partially due to the necessity of making quick uncomplicated things, because of the multitude of responsibilities to take care of.

This characteristic gets thrown on to other things as well. Any new person is not just there to visit; they’re there to help make this whole process easier. So, on day 1, I got thrown into the brunt of things, as is surely only right in these kinds of situations. It was declared that I make lunch. There’s no beating around the bush either, just plain and simple “Citygirl, you will make lunch.” Lunch wasn’t my choice either, so really it went more like this: “Citygirl will make ‘kluski z serem’ for lunch.” I’m not going to lie, I started to panic slightly.

Kluski z serem is what I would roughly call polish mac ’n cheese. The thing is that in the moment of the declaration, I didn’t actually know what it exactly entailed. You see, growing up in Newfoundland I often heard about this mystery dish from my mother. The only thing I knew about it really was that the recipe called for pressed cottage cheese, which was impossible to get in Newfoundland, back then. So, suffice it to say I had never eaten kluski z serem, let alone seen it. To add to my confusion, there is also another dish called kluski z mlekem (the names are deceivingly similar), which translates roughly to noodles with milk. For some reason, we also only ever talked about this dish in my house, and I’ve never eaten it. As a result, over the years, I’ve gotten the two mixed together in my head. And so whenever I think about either of them, it conjures up the image of some sort of disgusting soup like substance, with cottage cheese floating around with noodles and milk (eww.).

So here I am the supposed Polish wife, come from Canada, on her first visit to the new family, and I have to make a dish I had never made in my life. A dish so basic that every Polish woman knows how to make it, and even some Polish men. A dish so straightforward, most Polish 10 year-olds have mastered it. A dish that might make me gag on the simple sight of it, and I will have to cook it, eat it and pretend to like it. OMG, I’m freaking out a little bit. And by a little, I mean a LOT. At this point my husband’s uncle seemed to have noticed the visible fear in my eyes, and said “You do know HOW to make kluski z serem, don’t you?” Of course, not wanting to look like a complete idiot, I started babbling (which really helped with the not looking like an idiot part, let me tell you.) “well… I mean I know what it is… but I’ve never made it, because in Newfoundland there was no pressed cottage cheese…(trailing off in explanations)” Luckily, my husband’s family is sweet and non judgmental.

So basically, I learned this: Kluski z serem is simple food at its best. I made it with no cook book, just a list of the four ingredients involved and a little guidance from my husband and my husband’s uncle. All in all, it definitely turned out ok, and in fact was delish. I’ve been craving it every day since. (I can’t say as much for the kluski z mlekem thing - that still freaks me out). So I’m going to share the recipe with you, because this is a very simple amazing dish that is guaranteed to pick you up on a cold day like today. If I had the ingredients in my fridge, I’d be making it right now.

Kluski z Serem
Ingredients: (these are all eyeballed amounts, if you think it needs more or less, add more or less)
  • 1kg package thin short egg noodles ( you can really use any pasta you want, but this type of egg noodle is fantastic b/c it cooks really quickly.)
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped into bits .5cm by .5cm
  • 2 large rings of kiełbasa (polish sausage) sliced into 1cm slices and then quartered (I prefer dark polish sausage)
  • 1 package pressed cottage cheese crumbled
  • Salt to taste

How to:

In a frying pan fry bacon until half way to crispy, then add sausage and fry until well done.* At the same time boil water for noodles, cook noodles Strain, noodles, add in cheese , bacon and sausage, mix until well combined. (Make sure that you add the noodles when they are hot.)

Return the mixture to the pot or frying pan for a minute or so, stirring constantly to melt the cheese a little. Alternatively you can add the cheese into the bacon and sausage and fry it up a little before adding the noodles. (This isn’t necessary, but my husband maintains that it tastes the best this way) Serve immediately. Keep it rustic, just put the frying pan, or pot directly on the table and have everyone serve themselves

* I also think adding caramelized onions would be delish
Good Luck! <3

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Baby, can we keep a chicken on the balcony? it'll only be for a week.

I’m starting to make my husband nervous. I guess I forgot to mention that he’s not a fan of drawing attention to himself on occasions like birthdays. Let’s just say he’s afraid because he knows what I’m capable of. That said, I would never ever dream of organizing a party for him, like one I would organize for myself. Because, I’m a ham (and also because I love pink and anything that glitters). Anyway, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my masterplan as secret as possible when you’re sharing a one bedroom apartment with the person. So basically, this means me giving my husband the side-eye every time he approaches my computer and asks me what I’m doing. Today he states: for four days now you’ve been at your computer, all I hear is typing and you won’t tell me what’s going on – I’m nervous about what’s going to happen. (And I’m all like, you will NOT break me!)

A propos husband’s birthday: I feel like I’m embarking on an endeavor of a life time. I am very excited. A little insight into the mind at hand: Birthday = Celebrating my husband = PARTY = inviting people over = making food = FEEDING (obviously!). I having been perfecting the menu over the last few days (like I said already), and I rarely say this, or feel this, but I feel like I might be biting off more than I can chew. Noticing myself think like is highly disconcerting. I mean this is coming from the mind of someone who regularly decides to embark on large amounts untested recipes before a shindig. Actually, come to think of it, this person often has parties just so that she can test out large amounts of untested recipes that she has somehow thematically linked together. Call me crazy, but I’ve never made anything twice for party hosted at my place. If I do repeat a recipe for dinner hosted at my place, it’s never with guests who have already tasted it. I repeat by request only.

I may remind some of you (and inform others) that several years ago, before cupcakes we’re in, I hosted a cupcake tasting at my apartment where I made close to 10 varieties of cupcakes, equaling about 200 cupcakes never having used any of the recipes, let alone making a proper cupcake not from a box (for shame!). During the process there were only two disasters 1) I forgot to mix in two ingredients, because I was delirious at 11:00pm from baking for 15hours, and consequently had to scrap a batch of cupcakes; and 2) a whole tray of lemon meringue cupcakes fell to the ground half an hour before guest arrived – which was upsetting, but clearly not a baking related issue. I have some weird sort of blind faith when it comes to my cooking/baking ability.

Anyway… as far as I can tell my master plan requires me to make about 5 liters, yes, liters of one particular type of filling. My earliest calculations, estimate that I may need close to 50 eggs. Thank God produce is dirt cheap in this country. 10 eggs will cost you no more than 2.6zs, at the current exchange rate that’s like 1$. I can afford 5 bucks for eggs. If I we’re in Canada I think I’d want to cry right now, just looking at the budget. Thankfully, due to the over-abundance of time I have on my hands, I have decided to spread prep time over the span of a week. Every day, I will be making something that is related to this party. This is a luxury, as I’m used to doing the same amount of work in one evening and 1 working day (when I used to have a day job). This is why I always host my parties on Saturdays. It gives me the entire time from when I get home on Friday to when guest arrive. Evening and morning is baking, afternoon is assembly, cleaning and getting ready. I also do large amounts of decorating (if required) during the week before the party. This plan usually works out, but requires me having a tight schedule, where a shower, getting ready and a nap are included. It’s a well oiled machine, baby.

Anyway, stay tuned. I will be posting all the recipes once I’m done, as the menu itself is a secret, and on the off-chance my husband actually reads my blog, I can’t tell you what this extravaganza will be looking like in advance. All I can say is that I’m pushing myself to the limit. It will be amazezazing.

And as for the cupcake recipes, for those of you who have asked, I’ll be posting some of those too, once the rest of my stuff sails across the ocean. <3