Wednesday 20 August 2014

Grandma's sorrel and yoghurt soup

Whenever I eat sorrel now it reminds me of this lovely day, a couple of years ago, when my grans were still alive. It was just ordinary summer's day then, mooching about, cooking, sunbathing... yet it will always live on in my memory as something extraordinary and special, a reminder that all things pass and to cherish the moments we have with our loved ones. This sorrel soup is different to the cold one I made that day
Once you've got hold of the sorrel, either by foraging or by buying some in an online shop like this one, the soup is very simple to make. It tastes just like the one my Babcia Ziuta used to make, yet the recipe comes not from her but from this lady's grandma
That's the lady who sold us the sorrel at the market. We always wash the sorrel thoroughly first. Fry it in a large knob of butter until it wilts. Allow it to cool for about 20min, then blend. The old method is to push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon, but blending is much easier, so I suggest to do that. Put it in the biggest pan you can find and fill half-way with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for half an hour. Near the end of the cooking time, we season the soup with salt and pepper and thicken with plain flour, stirring all the time. Bring it back to the boil for 5min, allowing the flour to do it's job.
Before adding the yoghurt, we allow the soup to cool down a little bit again, for about 20-30min. The lady's grandma would have used thick cream rather than yoghurt I expect but the lady uses yoghurt and it works very well. Not to mention being healthier. So you do it like this: put the yoghurt you intend to use in a large cup and add a tablespoon of soup, stir it in. Add another tablespoon and stir it in. Repeat about 5 times. Finally, pour the whole thing into the soup and stir vigorously. Heat the soup a little before serving. Hard boiled eggs inside each bowl are a necessary addition, the potatoes with dill are optional but highly desirable


1 large bag of sorrel
50g butter
3 tablespoons flour
150ml greek yoghurt
Salt and white pepper
Hard boiled eggs

Sunday 10 August 2014

A big, fat Polish salad with wild girolle mushrooms

Intense weather. August in Poland is hot, close and stormy.  I kind of like it. Intensity is a bit underrated in the UK I feel. The UK is all about cool, while Poland is a land of extremes. Perhaps the weather is more important in the formation of national attitudes than we realize. In this intense heat it's difficult to eat warm food, so I made a big, fat salad for dinner yesterday, making use of the local "girolle" mushrooms and adding crunchy goat's cheese croutons. I should have poached an egg and put that on top, but I didn't think of it at the time. It was delicious none the less and an unusual way to eat these wild mushrooms that start popping up around now
The base is a mixture of salad leaves with fresh dill - Warsaw style. The croutons are simply Polish bread, grilled on both sides with a hard goat's cheese grated over one of them. The girolles are fried with plenty of garlic, salt and white pepper. The vinaigrette is flaxeed oil/olive oil mixed with some lemon juice, cider apple vinegar, salt and white pepper again. White pepper gives a salad a distinct East European flavour