Polish Almond Tort Migdalowy Recipe

Almonds are popular throughout Eastern Europe, used in savoury and sweet dishes, particularly in Poland.  This rich cake is a wonderful afternoon tea treat.  Traditionally it should be made with three layers of sponge but it is realistically a lot easier to make just two layers.

Ingredients (serves 8)

75g ground almonds

225g soft butter

225g caster sugar

4 beaten eggs

150g self-raising flour

For the icing:

175g blanched almonds

9 tbsp fresh ground coffee brewed in 5 tbsp near-boiling water

150g caster sugar

90ml water

3 egg yolks

225g soft butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius

Lightly grease and line two 7-inch round cake tins

Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy

Gradually add the eggs

Fold in ground almonds and flour, best to do this with a metal spoon

Divide mixture between two tins

Bake for 25 minutes until risen, firm to touch

Cool on wire rack

For the icing:

Put the blanched almonds in a bowl, pour over enough boiling water to cover, leave until cool, drain and roast for 6 to 8 minutes in oven on baking sheet until lightly browned

Make the coffee

Gently heat sugar and 90ml water in a heavy-based pan until dissolved

Simmer for 3 minutes until temperature reaches 107 degrees Celsius on a sugar thermometer

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and pour over the syrup

Whisk until very thick

Cream the butter until soft and gradually beat egg mixture into it

Strain coffee and beat into the icing

Use icing to sandwich cakes together and ice top

Press almonds onto top to decorate

Serve!

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Struckli, Zagreb Airport

Baked Savoury Struckli
Baked Savoury Struckli

Struckli is a real comfort food for me but something one can really only enjoy when in Croatia or Slovenia.  Naturally, I am of the opinion that the best Struckli is made by Mira, my friend’s Grandmother on stormy summer nights in Kranjska Gora.  There is nothing better than eating some struckli, doused in some sugar, playing Slovene Rumi, or Tarock and watching the thunder and listening to the lightening.

However, last summer in Zagreb I enjoyed a hot, steamy dish of savoury struckli at a lovely slastičarna.  Unfortunately, on my trip to Zagreb this trip, I ran out of meals to eat any but I was lucky to stumble upon it at the airport!  I decided to make the most of the time waiting for the plane back to Gatwick and ordered a baked savoury struckli.  (Warning: Struckli takes 40 minutes to prepare/cook so if you are in a hurry for your plane, best not to order it just in case).

Struckli is often described as a boiled version of strudel but I do not think that really does it justice.

Štajerska (Baked Struckli) Ingredients

For the pastry

500g flour

1 egg

salt

1 tbsp oil

A little luke warm water

Ingredients for filling

225ml cream

375g cottage cheese

1 1/2 eggs

100g sugar

Handful of breadcrumbs (to thicken the filling)

Instructions

Make the filo pastry dough by combining the flour, egg, oil, salt and water

Allow the pastry to rest for 30 minutes

Prepare the filling by mashing cottage cheese, adding cream, egg yolks and breadcrumbs

Whisk the egg whites and sugar and fold carefully into the filling

Roll out and stretch the dough across across a board and roll out on floured cloth

Spread filling over dough, if the filling is too thin, add more breadcrumbs

Use the cloth to roll the struckli into a roulade

Lift struckli onto greased baking tray

Cook in oven on moderate heat (200 degrees Celsius) for 40 minutes

It may need to be covered half-way through cooking process

Good accompanying wines include Chardonnay, Renski Rizling, Sauvignon

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Hungarian Easter Meal: Part 2: Creamy Aubergine & Mushrooms

I made creamy aubergine and mushrooms to accompany the cooked Hungarian ham I served on Easter Monday.  I always feel I should like aubergine but somehow, no matter how many times I try them, or how they have been cooked, I find them unpleasant.  This is the first time I have found them edible.  Instead of the normal slime you would be served, they remain crunchy, and are particularly tasty.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings:

2 aubergines

115g unsalted butter

225g mushrooms, sliced

120ml beef stock

250ml double cream

4 tbsp fresh parsley

salt and freshly ground white pepper

Instructions:

Peel the aubergines and slice.

Sliced aubergine

Put the aubergine on a dish towel (or kitchen paper) and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Fold over the dish cloth to cover the aubergine and leave for 30 minutes.

Aubergine covered

Use the cloth to squeeze out the moisture from aubergine.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan.

Butter in pan

Cook the aubergines and mushrooms for 10 minutes.

Mushrooms & Aubergine

Pour in the beef stock and simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste before stirring in the cream.

Mushrooms, Aubergine & Cream

Reheat but do not allow to boil.

Add 3 tbsp of chopped parsley.

Mushrooms, Aubergine, Cream, Parsley

Spoon into warm serving dish and garnish.

Done!

Serve!

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