Friday, December 6, 2013

Asian Fusion Pierogi

Beef and Cabbage pierogi are pretty standard among Polish cuisine. I have never been a huge fan however.
Then a few years ago I found a great Korean BBQ restaurant, where the combination of meat and cabbage was shown to me in a different light. I fell in love and I wanted to see if I could bring the fusion to Polish cooking. I decided to take the flavours of the Gyoza and put them inside a pierogi.

1 lb ground beef
1 cup of grated cabbage
1 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of fish sauce
1/2 cup of rice vinegar
2 tbsp of chopped green onion
1/2 tsp chile flakes
1 tbsp of grated ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp honey

Pierogi dough

Brown the ground beef, pour off fat, and bled dry to make the meat very fine.
Add all of the seasoning ingredients.
Let the liquid simmer out

Roll out the pierogi dough very fine.
Add 2 tsp of filling and seal tight. Make sure there are no holes in the dough and that the edges are sealed tight. add to boiling salted water and boil till they float on the top.

Fry or bake the cokked pierogi to get a nice crisp, or serve boiled.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butter Chicken

The other night, my partner and I decided to use up the jar of what we believed to be butter chicken sauce in our pantry. Wanted to give it that extra kick, I decided to look up some recipes for something I could marinate the chicken in during the baking process to give it that little extra kick. I got some great advice on making some garam and tandoori masala and baking the chicken in a paste of that. Once I was done, I went to the pantry to grab the sauce, and wouldn't you know it, it wasn't Butter Chicken. On one of our grocery trips we had accidentally picked up a bottle of Mango Curry sauce instead. While I am sure it is wonderful, I had prepared everything with the idea of making butter chicken. I jumped online and scrolled through a bunch of recipes, until I put together something that I could enjoy. Here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Spice Mix
2 tbsp Garam Masala (spice mix containing cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger)
1 small can of tomato paste (1 tbsp for spice mix, rest of can for sauce)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chile powder
1 tsp cayenne Pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp Molasses

2 chicken breast

1 cup of whipping cream
1 cup of plain yoghurt or sour cream
2 tbsp butter
1/2 onion puréed
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix together the spice mix ingredients, using only 1 tbsp of the tomato paste and conserving the rest for the sauce. You should have a moist spice mixture/rub. Use some of the spice mix to rub onto the chicken breasts.

Bake chicken breast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, 10 minutes on each side. Make sure chicken is fully cooked, then cut into cubes about 1/2 square inch.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the onion. Fry for a few minutes until cooked. Add remaining ingredients and the spice mix, including remaining tomato paste. Let simmer and add more of less of the same spices from the spice mix depending on how strong you like the flavour. The longer you let it simmer, the spicier the sauce will get. If it evaporates too much, you can add more whipping cream, or use milk or water. Don't boil as you might curdle the cream.

Add the chicken cubes and allow to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.

Serve with jasmine or basmati rice.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I decided to give this a try to see how it would work out. It was a complete success and so I am writing down the recipe to keep for future reference.

4 Large sweet potatoes
2 Cups grated parmesan cheese
Potato Flour or Potato Starch
1 egg
1/2 Tbsp Butter or margarine
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Boil the sweet potatoes until soft.

Strain out the water and using a potato press, puree the sweet potatoes*.
* sweet potatoes absorb more of the water than potatoes do. Before mashing the potatoes, squeeze the press gently to squeeze out the excess water, then mash the potatoes into a bowl.

Add the egg, butter, salt and pepper to the potatoes. Also add about half the quantity of potatoes of flour, and mix.

The overall dough should be light, and still slightly sticky but not too much so.

roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut and mould into appropriate sized shapes. Some recipes also recommend putting the dough in a piping bag and sniping off pieces of dough as it comes out of the bag.

Add the gnocchi to salted boiling water and boil until they start to float.

Serve warms with butter and salt, or sauce of some kind.

Sauce recommendations: The sauce from the previous recipe (the goulash stew creation), Alfredo sauce, or Mushroom sauce.

Tips: Do not add too much flour since the result will be too heavy. If you are worried, boil a small amount of dough to see how it tastes before deciding whether to add more flour.

If you run out of potato flour, you can add normal flour. Too much normal flour however will weigh down the gnocchi.

If you are feeling experimental, you can try different cheeses. One option is to substitute the parmesan with cottage cheese (drained) and add nutmeg and cinnamon then serve with butter and sugar.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Happens When You Want to Make Goulash, Stroganoff, and Stew?

You get creative! Or maybe that's just me.

I took some ground beef and cooked it with garlic and onion. I melted some butter, added a tablespoon of flour and added beefstock, tomato sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, salt, honey, tossed in the minced meat and some noodles, and voila!

So far the result is delish! Must keep.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bigos - Polish Hunter’s Stew

This is a very traditional Polish dish. It used to be prepared by hunters when they would go on long hunting trips. It would start out with just the basic base and as they caught meat, they would toss in various pieces of meat. It is one of those dishes that keeps well and seems to get better every time it is reheated. It is a little unusual, or rather exotic, for North American taste buds, but still quite good.

1 Jar of Sauerkraut
Cabbage, sliced and diced (optional)
Olive oil
1 small can of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, diced very fine
Whole peppercorns
1 bouillon cube (your choice of chicken, vegetable, or beef. I prefer beef in this case)
Mushrooms (optional)
Garlic, crushed (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Sugar (to taste)
Vinegar (to taste)


These are very much to taste.  The fun thing about this dish is that you can really add in any cut of meat, or even type of meat that you want. It is a good idea to fry up the meat, and or bake it, or boil it, before you add it to the base, to counteract the strong acidity of the sauerkraut.  I will use a standard batch of ingredients for the purpose of this recipe, but feel free to experiment a little and have fun! This is also a great recipe to make when you have to use up cuts of different cuts of meat from the freezer and fridge.

1 hunk of bacon; cubed and baked or fried till crispy
1 lb of sirloin, eye of round, or beef roast, cubed and rubbed with salt and pepper.
1 string of Kielbasa sausage (if you like spicy sausage you can also try chorizo or Kabanos. Or all of the above)

1.       Drain the sauerkraut and rinse with cold water. Add to a large pot and cover with water.
2.       Bring to a boil, then strain out the water again. Repeat twice more, straining out the two batches of water, and then keeping the third.
3.       Lower heat to a simmer, add bay leaves, bouillon cube, and peppercorns. Sauté the onions and add to the pot. If adding mushrooms, sauté with the onions.
4.       If you prefer a dish that is less acidic overall, you can fry up some plain cabbage over a low heat and add to the pot with the sauerkraut.
5.       Let simmer.
6.       Fry up the bacon and sausage until crispy, and add to pot. Keep simmering.
7.       Brown the beef, and add water to skillet. Let simmer in the water for at least an hour, maybe two, until the meat is cooked through and at desired tenderness.  Pour the meat and the water into the pot.
8.       Let the whole mixture simmer together for at least half an hour. The sauerkraut should be soft and cooked.
9.        Add the can of tomato paste. Add the salt, and pepper to taste. If it tastes a little too acidic, add some sugar. If you want it more acidic, add some vinegar. This part of the recipe is really about personal preference.
10.   Once everything is seasoned to taste, remove the bay leaves and serve. Watch out for the peppercorns!

Serving Tip: It is usually a good idea to serve this stew with some bread to help mop up the bowl and sauce

Ania's Infamous Stew

This is one of my favourite meals to make. Not only is it comfort food for a chilly day, it also impresses guests, and still lets me get work done. It is easy to change around depending on what you have lying around the house.  This recipe started out as one of my mother’s. It is a variation on one of my favourite childhood meals that I used to call “dokładka” which means seconds in Polish. My mother sent me the original recipe during my first year of University, and I made it using a dorm room hotplate, and a small convection toaster oven. Over the years, I added a variety of small changes which eventually resulted in this amazingly versatile dish. After all this time, it still remains a favourite.

Stewing Beef:
1 ½ -2 lbs Beef, cubed*
Garlic (crushed)
Cayenne Pepper
Olive oil

2 Bay Leaves
Whole pepper kernels
Chicken Bouillon cube
1 leek
1 yellow onion
2 large carrots
3 medium to large potatoes**
1 cup of corn
1 cup of peas
1 package favourite gravy sauce
Marsala Wine
Cayenne Pepper


Stewing Pot
Frying pan
Very Large heat resistant bowl or second pot

Time: 3-4 hours

* My favourite cut of meat to use for this is eye of round, because I love it when the meat just falls apart. You can also use steak cut, stew cubes, loin, really any cuts of beef you have lying around the house. If you have a freezer, this is a great way to use up any frozen pieces of meat before they go bad. Different cuts of meat will require different lengths of stewing depending on how delicate or tough you like it.
** There are some small variations you can make to change up this meal. You can leave out the potatoes, and serve the stew over rice for a more filling meal. You can also add a sweeter Latin or South Pacific flair to this dish by using sweet potato instead of plain potatoes.  The very brave can try adding yucca, although I would recommend adding it an hour before serving, to make sure it is cooked all the way through.

How to:

1.       Make sure the meat is cut into cubes between 1-2 inches square.
2.       Rub the meat with salt, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and crushed garlic. (If you want to really saturate the meat with flavour, let it sit in the marinade for an hour to a day. Otherwise, you can proceed immediately)
3.       Heat olive oil in a frying pan until the oil is hot but not burnt. If you add a drop of water it should sizzle.  Right before you add the beef, lower the heat to medium. Add the cubes and stir consistently at first to avoid them sticking to the pan and burning. The meat should quickly coat with oil and brown nicely.
4.       Brown the outside of the meat completely. 
5.       Add a cup or two of water to the skillet.
6.       While it is simmering, add whole leeks and carrots to a pot, along with bouillon cube, bay leaves, pepper kernels, and fill with water. Take a large onion, peel it and cut it in half. For an added flavour, grill the middle side of the onion directly on the burner until it has a light brown colour. Add the onion to the vegetable broth mix. Add paprika and cayenne pepper to taste.
7.       Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, then lower to medium heat and allow it to simmer for one hour. Keep an eye on the meat mix to make sure the water does evaporate. The meat should always be covered in simmering water. Stir the meat occasionally to keep from burning. The more water you can add to the skillet, the less often you will have to stir it and refill it.
8.       After an hour, strain the vegetable broth into a large bowl. You can discard the leeks and bay leaves (some people like to keep the leeks; I find them to be too mushy after boiling. All of the nutrients are now in the broth) as well as the pepper kernels. Add the package of gravy to the bowl of broth and mix together.
9.       Pour the broth-gravy mix back into the pot. Add the meat with the simmering water. Cut up and add the cooked carrots.  If there is any space left in the pot, add more water and let the whole mixture simmer for another hour. Stir occasionally.
10.   About half an hour before serving, peel and cube the potatoes and add directly to the stew. Add also the peas, corn, and any other vegetables you might be interest in adding. If you prefer a thicker stew, add an extra gravy packet and either a tablespoon of flour, or a teaspoon of corn starch.
11.    Once the potatoes are fully cooked, add Marsala wine. One shot of wine is usually sufficient.
12.   Serve and Enjoy!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Apple Faux Samosas

I love the taste of baked apple. I was looking for something to make as a side with a molasses maple apple cider pork tenderloin.
I immediately thought of apples and I tried to think of something new to make. This is what I came up with.

Apple Samosas:

2 Apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 Cup of Raisins
1 1/2 Cups of Fireball whiskey
1 Clove crushed garlic
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp Chile flakes
1/2 cup Molasses
 4 or 5 Strips of Bacon, baked and crumbled

You can use puff pastry for dough.

Toss the raisins in a pot and add molasses, garlic, vinegar and whiskey.
Reconstitute the raisins by simmering them in the whiskey. Stir often since the mix will become a toffee quickly.
Add the raisins to the cubed apples, along with the chile flakes, and the bacon.

Roll out the dough and cut into squares. Add a tsp of fillings and fold into triangles. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 Degrees. If you would like a nicer brown colour, you can use an egg wash.

You can also fry the samosas.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Little Polish Girl's recipe for Pho

I absolutely love various types of Asian foods, including soups. Pho and Udon in particular. When I realized that I was spending most lunch times eating at the Viet-Thai restaurant across from my work, I decided it was time to learn how to make my own Pho broth.

I looked up various recipes and then through a process of trial and error, I made up my recipe.

The traditional Pho as far as I understand is made on a beef broth base. I usually use chicken broth since I tend to have some around and I use it a lot.

1 Pot full of chicken or beef broth
4 or 5 Thick slices of Daikon raddish
1 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Rice vinager (do not use sweet rice wine vinager)

Spice Mix:
4 Star Anise
1/2 Cinnamon Stick
5 Whole cloves
Three leaves thai basil
1 Small cube of fresh ginger
2 Cloves of Garlic

Set the pot of broth to simmer. Put the spice mix in a tea diffuser or wrap in a cheesecloth, and add to the broth. Add in all the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for at least an hour. Make sure to add water to replace what boils out. If you want a stronger flavour, you can add a bit more sugar, soy, and fish sauce. The spice flavour needs time to diffuse across the broth.

Boil some pho noodles and serve with some sliced chicken, thin beef slices, or shrimp, green onions, bean sprouts, and Sriracha sauce.


Update: A friend of mine recommended adding a tablespoon of peanut butter to the broth while it simmers. I tried it and the result was delicious. If you like peanuts, this is a winning combination.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Perfect Meringue

I've heard a lot of people complain that their meringue never works out. Usually the complaint is that they are too runny.

Here is a basic recipe and some tips, that have never steered me wrong. When you have the right stiffness of meringue  you can have a lot of fun with them, even making mushrooms.

4 Egg Whites
1 Cup of Sugar
1 tsp White Vinegar
1 tsp of Vanilla

In a large bowl beat the eggs with an egg beater at the high setting until white and frothy. Add the sugar slowly while continuing to beat. Once you have the mixture fairly stiff, add the vanilla and the vinegar  Keep beating until the eggs are so stiff that you can safely tip the bowl upside down.

Bake between at 225 degrees Farenheit for about 1 hour, until fully dried.

If you want to make gooeyer meringue, you can add half a cup of corn syrup. This is especially true for when you make certain types of meringue cake.

Now for tips:

1. Using room temperature eggs will double the yield of your meringue.  It can also help to make sure your bowl is not cold.

2. When you separate out the egg whites, make sure there is no trace of egg yolk. Even a bit of yolk will keep your whites from stiffening.

3. Make sure none of your equipment is greasy. Like yolks, grease will keep the yolks from stiffening.

4. Some recipes call for creme de tartre instead of vinegar, but I have found vinegar to provide consistent results. 

Made these mushrooms when my egg beater broke and beat the whole thing by hand with a fork.
The pain was worth it!