Saturday 15 October 2011

Herrings in prune sauce and the secret of happiness

I've been incredibly busy recently. I have so many projects going on outside of my full time job, that everyone keeps saying to me "you must be really tired". The truth is that I'm really not. I feel like I've stumbled upon a secret - the secret being, that doing what you truly love gives you energy rather than taking it away. I spent most of my twenties feeling tired, slightly bored and looking for distractions. Always the next party, the next holiday, the next boyfriend, and it all seemed great from the outside, but I was never happy, I never even knew the meaning of the word. Now, finally I am starting to understand... from what I gather, happiness is something that comes from deep within you, and it's a calm feeling, nothing to do with being hyper. Also, it needs time and space to develop, because to be truly happy you need to know that you are on the right path in life, and that comes from some serious soul searching. In the past year or so, everything has changed for me. As one of my best friends, Anna, said - I've been through a renaissance. Sometimes, a really horrible experience in your life (like my break-up a year and a half ago), can lead to an amazing rebirth. The thing is, so far, only people that really know me can see this shift, because on the outside nothing much has changed (apart from my buying a flat) - I guess that will happen as my plans come into fruition. I won't drag you through all my deepest dreams and desires right now, but one of them is to write a Polish/Russian cookbook. I am at the stage where I am trying, developing and revising all the recipes to go in it. I will blog about half the recipes I try out - it's a compromise between documenting the process and keeping new material for the book itself

1 packet Matijas herrings (in oil) - 250g
1-2 onions, finely sliced
Handful of prunes
3 tablespoons tomato puree
Teaspoon honey
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
So, what we've got here are bagels from the shop on Brick Lane, stuffed with a sweet herring filling. There are so many different types of herring dishes in Poland, that it will be difficult to choose which ones to include in my book. This is a version of "Sledz pomorski" - that's from the Kaszuby region in the north of Poland, by the Baltic sea. They usually use raisins, but I prefer prunes. Fry the onions in the oil, covered, for about 20min. Add the prunes (sliced in half), honey, salt and pepper. Fry for a further 5min, then add splash of water, or wine if you have some on hand. Meanwhile, chop the herring fillets and place in a bowl. When the sauce has cooled, cover the herrings with it, and chill in the fridge overnight. The brand of herrings us Poles always use are "Matijas" ones - the plainest possible, just in oil. Before they came along, and still in some places in Poland, you can get herrings straight from the barrel