Monday 26 November 2012

Warm, Spicy, Autumn Vegetable Salad with Russian-Korean spices

It's a sad fact about love that the more you give, the more you stand to loose. It's no wonder so many people are afraid of taking that risk. It's a choice we're faced with many times in life. Every time we start a new relationship, reignite an old one or come to a crossroads with a partner, we need to make that decision - to jump or not to jump. You can always jump half-heartedly, of course, but this is the most stupid and dangerous of all the jumps, because the likelihood of success is minimal. Perhaps because I'm Slavic, or perhaps because the alternatives are not particularly appealing, my tendency has always been to throw caution to the wind and jump. Yet I can see now that as you get older, it becomes harder. You remember how much it hurt last time and hesitate, and that doubt and hesitation can be lethal. Luckily, in life we get more than one chance to get it right. The important thing is give yourself time and space, in order to learn and grow from each experience. And like Mr. Gandi said, to become the change you want to see in the world. You want to world to be braver, stronger and led by love instead of fear? Then that's what you have to aim for in your own life. I would also like the world to eat more food like this warm salad I made today with an onion squash (the thing that looks like a pumpkin down there), carrots and kale I bought in Broadway Market. This is the kind of food that is good for your body, supports local businesses and doesn't harm people, animals or the environment in any way. This is good karma food
The strange mix of spices you see up there are Russian "Korean" spices, normally used in this kind of carrot salad. I can make out crushed coriander seeds in there, and I can definitely smell cumin, so I would suggest you use those spices as an alternative. I roasted my carrots and squash at 200 degrees C for about half an hour with the spices, garlic salt and olive oil. I then added the kale and almonds, and roasted it all for a further 15min. Just before serving I squeezed a bit of lime on top and put some hot chilli sauce on the side, for dipping. The next day I had it cold with nutty bread and it was just as delicious


Onion squash
Flaked almonds 
Russian-Korean spices or crushed coriander seeds, ground coriander and ground cumin
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Black pepper

Sunday 18 November 2012

Uncle Kazik's Polish Pâté with Prunes

Usually, I go to Poland twice a year - for Christmas and during the Summer. Yet this year, my original homeland has been calling me back again and again. First, to see my grandma Ziuta before her death, then her funeral in March... Then it was the usual Summer trip, and now, my grandma Halinka is unwell and I needed to return. In 6 weeks, we are going to spend Christmas in Zakopane with my cousin and his family, then back to Warsaw. Perhaps I am more attached to this harsh, unstable land than I admit, even to myself. My aunt who has been staying with us laughs at how our life here on the plains of Eastern Europe is so typical of the area. It is funny, since our family is not a traditional one. Or perhaps this is precisely why we cling to the old ways... In our manic four days spent in Poland we have cooked bigos and made pâté. While I was grinding meat for the pâté yesterday it occured to me that despite everything going on in my life right now, in that particular moment, I felt happy. It is comforting to know know that whatever happens in life, happiness can still be found in performing a simple task that has been performed for hundreds, if not thousands of years. I hope that if you make this pâté, you too will find that soothing connection to something bigger

500g fatty bacon
500g chicken breast
500g pork
700g beef
500g pork liver (but can be any liver)
3 onions
large handful wild, dry mushrooms
5 bay leaves
2 tblsp majoram
1 tsp dried juniper berries
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
6 eggs
2 white, dry bread buns
2 handfuls pitted prunes
3 tsp nutmeg
2 tblsp fine (sea) salt or to taste
vegetable oil for frying
butter for greasing the baking trays
1 tblsp breadcrumbs
First, we cook the meat, which is best done a day ahead of the pate making. The meat needs 2 hours cooking time, then it needs time to cool. Fry the meat on both sides to seal it.  Put it in large pan and pour the frying oil over the top. We cook the meat (apart from the liver) in a pan half-full of water with the onions, bayleaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, majoram and dried mushrooms (these need to be soaked for 10min in boiling hot water first). Here, this kind of cooking is called suffocating the meat, because we do it covered and for a long period of time. Once the meat is falling off the bone (after about 1hr 45min) add the liver and cook for a further 10-15min. Finally, add the bread and allow to cool overnight. The next day, mince it all a couple of times, or until you get the consistency of pâté. Put it back in the pan with the remaining liquid - this will give the pâté moisture. Now, break in the eggs, roll up your sleeves and get dirty squishing the mixture between your hands until it's all completely smooth. Add the salt and nutmeg. Taste the mixture to see if you feel it needs anything more right now... then fill the pre-buttered and breadcrumbed baking trays, like so
 Bake these on 180 degrees Celsius for about 1 and a half hours, or until they look like this
You can eat this pâté with crusty bread, cranberry sauce and gherkins like I did, take it to parties or give it to people as a little gift. It may sound a bit weird, but I think giving someone something you made to eat is always a welcome present. Unless they're vegetarian perhaps. Although simple, pâté making is one hell of an effort, so it's nice to share the spoils and show it off

Sunday 11 November 2012

Black potato and golden beetroot salad with rainbow chard

...and a side-serving of heartbreak. I'm just kidding - on the side we had 2 delicious, unpasteurized, vegetarian cheeses from The Deli Downstairs: Ardrahan and Triclemore. That's not to say that I'm not heartbroken right now, but I'm not serving that up for lunch. For once in my life, I'm actually dealing with it incredibly well. Everything is much easier when you stop trying to get away from the suffering that is a natural part of life. You know that happiness is just around the corner and it will taste so much sweeter, once you've had a bite of bitter disappointment. It's a bit like this salad come to think of it - sweet beetroot offsetting the bitter chard
In preparation for this salad, you need to cook and cool both the potatoes and the beetroot. The beets we peel, the Shetland blacks we leave in their stylish little coats. For the dressing, we grate the horseradish root and mix in a jar with the lemon juice, mayo, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper. I used just an inch of horseradish, which made it pretty mild. Mix the potatoes, beets and leek with the dressing, and place on top of the chard. Eat with slices of cheese on the side, a glass of white wine and pleasant company


Golden beetroot, cooked, peeled and chopped
Shetland black potatoes, cooked and chopped (depending on size)
Leek, chopped
Rainbow chard
Lemon juice
Horseradish root
Garlic salt
Olive oil
Black pepper

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Norwegian Brown Cheese

This caramelly, brown, sweet-tangy goat's cheese won't be to everyone's taste, but I rather liked it on brown bread with butter
I imagine it's good toasted too, perhaps with some honey... and my friend Lana who brought it back from Norway said that they often eat it on waffles over there. It's weird, I won't pretend it isn't, but then I like weird things