This Balkan side dish is one of my absolute favourites. I’m not a fan of mashed potato but this is so much more than that. A mixture of potato, kidney and cannellini beans and pancetta this is simply truly delicious! Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and goes well with meat, sausages, fish and salad.
Check out the recipe below…
600g maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
240g (1 tin) of cannellini beans
240g (1 tin) of red kidney beans
250g diced panetta
150ml sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (it should take about 20 minutes)
Meanwhile fry the pancetta until crispy
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan
Add the butter and sour cream and mash until smooth
Add the beans and pancetta into the potato and stir
Poland and most of Eastern Europe tend to opt for grain dishes, such as kasha, to accompany most meals. However, Poland does use some potato and these potato cakes are really easy to make. The small discs are tasty, crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Here’s my recipe…
450g mashable potatoes
1 small white onion
45ml sour cream
25g plain flour
Boil the potatoes until cooked, strain and adding half the butter, mash until smooth
Fry the chopped onion in the remaining butter until soft and add the sour cream
Blend the onion mix if you want a fine texture, if you prefer a bit more crunch add straight to the potato
Mix well and add two egg yolks to the potato mixture
Add the flour to the potato mixture
When everything is well combined form small balls then fold flat onto a well-oiled baking tray
Beat the remaining whole egg and glaze the cakes
Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the cakes
Cook on 180°C for 30 minutes or until golden brown
Kotletki are Russian fast food but unlike that of the Western world, they are delicious and healthy. They can be bought from the supermarket or when out and about and in need of a quick, hot snack. But most people would make these at home. So I gave it a go and I was impressed. Lovely chunky burgers, with great texture and taste.
1 grated potato
1 grated white onion
300g minced pork
300g minced beef
100g white breadcrumbs
30ml rapeseed oil
100ml smetana (sour cream)
To serve with buckwheat:
Cook as instructed and add gently-fried slithers of white onion
Add mince, potato and onion in a bowl and mix thoroughly
Make into small balls and pat flat into burgers
Place in breadcrumbs and thoroughly coat
Heat oil and butter in frying pan
Fry burgers in pan on each side for 2 to 3 minutes
Then put lid on pan and continue cooking on a low heat for 10 minutes
This Russian lamb one-pot recipe is a personal family favourite. It’s great to serve in individual dishes so you don’t have to worry about dishing it up. It’s very easy too. Simply a case of putting it together and cooking on a low heat.
Ingredients (serves 4)
600g roughly-diced potatoes
1 large white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 aubergine, sliced
1 mild red chilli, chopped and deseeded
800g boneless, diced lamb
3 tbsp parsley
3 tbsp coriander
4 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
75 ml tomato puree
1 litre beef stock
3 tomatoes, sliced
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius
Lightly grease individual casserole dishes with rapeseed oil
Put onion, potatoes, lamb, chilli garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, parlsey in casserole dishes
Heat butter in pan
When melted add in tomato puree and stir
Add in beef stock and heat until simmering
Put slices of aubergine on top of each casserole dish
Pour tomato/beef stock mixture over casserole dishes
Place dishes in oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes
Baste aubergine etc. on a regular basis with any left over tomato/beef stock mixture
20 minutes before the end of cooking, remove dishes from oven, top with slices of tomato
Remove from oven and serve with slices of fresh bread
Once again we were off on another, if slightly more whirlwind, trip to Eastern Europe. This time the destination was Berlin, and the aim was a combination of site-seeing and the consumption of Glühwein, Schnitzel and Strudel.
We spent most of the first afternoon, and if I’m honest, evening, wandering around aimlessly. I’d like to claim that this was intentional, but it had more to do with a rubbish map and bad street signs. However we did manage to consume more Glühwein than a person probably should, and, albeit in the dark, got to see the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag. In fact, I personally think this added significant ambience because at night the lighting makes both seem even more dramatic.
Monday was the only full day we had, so we had to make the most of it. The day started, as most do, with breakfast. We ended up in the fanciest tray service café I have ever been in; it had its own candelabra. It looked ideal! With the below freezing temperatures wewanted some sort of warm potato and sausage-based breakfast and this café had plenty of both. Except, upon ordering we were told that there weren’t any hot potatoes, despite a mound of them being on fairly prominent view. Having argued the point and lost due to linguistic inability, we conceded defeat and ordered sausage and cold potato salad, not ideal, but surprisingly nice.
This family recipe combines flavours from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Europe. Variations of the recipe are popular in Romania, Bulgaria and in the East Adriatic region. It can be made as a starter, or as I did, for as a hearty main course. It is ideal for using up all your leftover vegetables. It’s the ultimate in one pot cooking; serve it with some crusty bread and hey presto – a delicious meal!
Stews are big in Romania and all over Eastern Europe. One pot dishes, over time, provided a hearty sustenance for first, peasants in the fields and later, workers in the factories. These dishes are always packed full of flavour from in season produce and, traditionally, home-grown herbs. Served with a side portion of rice or dark rye bread, traditional meals are not only easy but can also be a really cheap way of feeding your 5,000 (family and/or friends). I cooked this for my family and it proved to be every bit delicious as I had anticipated.
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 mild onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
1.5kg / 3 1/2 lb chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks etc. as chicken on the bone is best for flavour)
3 potatoes, diced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1/2 small celeriac cut into chunks
120 ml dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh rosemary, marjoram to garnish
Rye bread and/or white rice to serve
Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole
Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until soft
Add the red peppers
Place the chicken pieces in a casserole and brown gently on all sides
After about 15 minutes, add the tomato puree, potatoes, herbs, carrots, celeriac, white wine and season to taste
Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 50 minutes
Add the sliced courgettes 5 minutes before the end of cooking
Season to taste
Garnish with herbs and serve with a portion of white rice or dark rye bread
I love food. I love eating. However, I am also prone toward being rather lazy, and as a poor graduate have to make the most from the little I can afford. As a result, I am all for one pot dishes and am particularly fond of my slow cooker. However, if you do not have a slow cooker, this recipe is still for you as it can be cooked either on the hob or in the oven, which ever you desire!
Goulash is by one of the more familiar dishes from Eastern Europe. Made with sweet paprika, it is typical of many traditional Hungarian dishes. It would normally be cooked in an iron cast pot on top of a fire, but living in a studio flat in London makes this is somewhat impossible. Instead, I opt for cooking either in my casserole dish for at least three hours at 150 °C, or alternatively, in my slow cooker for between four and five hours on high. However, as I said, you could cook this on the hob, but with three jobs, I prefer to not have to keep too much of an eye on things!
You can just chuck everything into the pot and go but I try to make it a little more authentic. Onion, for example, is one ingredient which never quite has the same effect having been put in raw to the slow cooker.
First, prepare the ingredients which can be placed into either the casserole dish or slow cooker. Peel a carrot and parsnip and place into the dish. Leave them whole as they are just for flavour, not for eating. Peel and cut a large white potato into cubes and place this in the dish too. Add a bay leaf (two if they are small) and some parsley tied together so it can be easily removed (if you do not have string, use some foil).
Dice a large white onion and cook in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Traditionally, goose fat should be used, but I find this can make the sauce too greasy. Cook the onion until it is translucent (not brown!), add in the chopped garlic for one minute, and then add half the paprika. Pour the onion, garlic and paprika into the pot with the carrot etc.
Sprinkle the stewing beef chunks with a little corn flour (though plain flour can also be used) and place into a frying pan over a medium heat. Do not brown this too much, just a little, to seal in the juices. Sprinkle on the rest of the paprika and cook for a further minute and then add this into the pot.
Add two teaspoons of caraway seeds into the frying pan and heat gently for two minutes. Put these into the pot and then rinse out the frying pan with a little of the beef stock. I add this and the remaining stock into the pot.
Cut two medium sized tomatoes and two sweet peppers into chunks and place these into the pot with two or three teaspoons of tomato puree.
Cover and heat either in the oven, in your slow cooker, or on top of a hob.
The stock may need topping up if a lot evapourates/is absorbed.
I serve this with gnocchi and a sprinkle of parsley in a nice large bowl.
Ingredients to feed 2 very hungry people:
500g stewing beef chunks
500 ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 large white onion
1 large white potato
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers
2-3 tsp tomato puree
4 tsp sweet paprika
2tsp caraway seeds
2 handfuls of parsley
Gnocchi to serve
3 hours on low heat on hob
4 hours 150 °C oven (although, the longer the better!)
4-6 hours on high in slow cooker (again, the longer the better!)
Hard work? Well, I will not lie, any form of cooking requires effort and drive but here is the washing up I was left with – hardly a mountain!
And to prove you do not need a mansion in order to cook for yourself, this is my small kitchen in my studio flat. If I can do it, so can you!
I popped into Waitrose yesterday in order to stock up my rather bare cupboards and while I was gleefully gliding past the alcohol aisle with a basket full of goodies on my arm, something caught my eye. Waitrose, or at least my Waitrose (though I would imagine this is a nationwide decision) are discontinuing their contract to stock Luksusowa Vodka. The 700 ml bottle of triple distilled vodka, blended with artesian well water and winner of four gold medals is on offer for just £12.99.
Most people, have at some point, probably during their youth, had an unfortunate encounter with vodka. I hold my hands up to this rather foolish moment, where one too many double vodka and cokes got the better of me. Since then, and no doubt like many others, I had not touched vodka, until during my second year at university, during a particularly stressful time, my very good friend, Victoria, took me to Bar Polski (formerly Na Zdrowie). I had been there previously, but had never indulged in the vodka, fearful and reminiscent of my first encounter. However, that night out changed everything. Finally, I learned vodka could be enjoyed, if drunk responsibly. This is the key, do as the Russians do, drink vodka, neat if you desire, but make sure you are snacking constantly. (Note, I am not recommending drinking during times of crises, but rather, turning to your friends for support, my discovery of the beauty of vodka was simply an added bonus in my case!) Since that fateful night at Bar Polski, I have been able to enjoy many a vodka (although some should be avoided, I would personally not recommend a cherry vodka, but then what is gold for one can appear as nothing more than a mere spec of dust to another).
Many people will say that vodka has no taste. However, I do not believe this is the case. Many have quite a powerful, harsh taste and kickback. Yet, others can have little character at all. Luksusowa, the Polish word for luxury, had a distinct taste which is a result of its potato base. Many vodkas are distilled from corn, or rye, but Luksusowa is made from a selective potato crop in Poland, grown exclusively in the Baltic coast region of North Poland. The result is a smooth texture and rich taste.
I have never tried Luksusowa before but I found it particularly smooth and pleasing to the palette neat. However, if you would rather water it down, my preference would be to mix one part vodka to one part dry vermouth, add a dash of orange bitters, shake with ice and serve with an olive, and lemon or orange twist. Hey presto, you have yourself a Vodka Rockefeller! A rather ironic name, for a name of a cocktail of which the basis is the favourite tipple of the former USSR! However, if you want to keep it exclusively East European, try a Berlin Wall. Mix 3 parts Luksusowa with 1 part schnapps and 1/2 part of black sambuca. Shake with ice, strain and garnish with fresh blackberries.
Vodka has been produced for over 600 hundred years. The origin of its production is often disputed and many claim it has its roots in Russia. However, it is commonly believed to have been a Polish invention. During the 16th and 17th Centuries, vodka was not only used as a bartering tool, but also for medicinal properties, particularly when mixed with herbs. During the 18th Century, Polish exportation of vodka to Russia began on a mass scale.
Luksusowa also offer two flavoured vodkas: Citron and Wild Berry.
Luksusowa Potato Vodka, 40% alcohol, is currently on clearance offer at Waitrose for just £12.99. Buy it now before they run out!