Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fresh Raspberries and Kogiel Mogiel

Yesterday morning Peter woke up dreaming of raspberries – huge bowls of freshly picked, plump, perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious red berries. So we got on line and found a truck farm not too far from us that had pick-your-own raspberries available. Right after breakfast we jumped in the car and drove the 60 miles to the farm. It was a gorgeous day for a road trip.

After arriving, we were handed a cardboard flat with pint containers to capture the fruits of our labor. After 45 minutes or so, we had filled six containers and figured that we had enough.

 Right next door was a peach orchard so of course we had to stop and pick a peck of gorgeous peaches. There was a sign that said not to climb the trees, but the peaches were so big and heavy that the branches just presented themselves to us, offering to be lightened of their load. Now Laura has to figure out what to do with all that fruit, although I did make a good dent in the berries this morning for breakfast.

Unrelated to all this fruit, Peter was making homemade ice cream earlier for an upcoming dinner. As he was beating the eggs and sugar for the custard, he licked the spoon and immediately recalled a childhood delicacy called kogiel mogiel.  Sometimes called Kogel Mogel, this is a simple Polish concoction of raw egg yolks beaten with sugar. It was amazing that such a flavor could come back instantaneously - it was like a light went on in a dark room. Back in the day, whenever his mother would bake, she would make sure there were a couple of egg yolks available for mixing with sugar. Did you ever have kogiel mogiel as a child?

Let’s bring this delicacy back to life! Today you might be uncomfortable eating raw egg yolks, so here is a way to combine the fresh raspberries with the amazing taste of kogiel mogiel, but it’s baked just long enough to eliminate the bacteria.

• ½ cup sugar
• 3 egg yolks
• ½ cup fresh raspberries

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until very smooth and creamy – about 3 minutes with a hand mixer. Pour a little of the mixture into the bottom of several ramekins. Add some berries to each dish. Portion out the rest of the egg mixture into the ramekins.

Bake at 375 °F for five to ten minutes, or until the mixture starts to turn golden on top. This should bring the internal temperature to about 160 degrees, which is high enough to be safe. Remove the ramekins from the oven and cool, but serve warm.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Awesome Summer Grilling – Polish Style

It says August on our calendar and it’s probably hot and humid wherever you live - unless you’re “down under” in Australia or New Zealand.  You’ve worked hard all day and the last thing you want to do is prepare an involved dinner.  That sounds like us almost every night!  But luckily we love to do entire meals on the grill.  They’re quick and easy, healthy, delicious, don’t require heating up the ovens or stove and come with a little reward – minimal cleanup.

We like to take advantage of the farmer’s markets where most of the time we can get amazingly fragrant and tasteful fruits and vegetables.  Yesterday I bought some grapefruit-sized tomatoes that had been harvested just 24 hours earlier.  The samples we tasted were a deep crimson all the way through, so you know they were on the vine until perfectly ripe. 
Our menu for tonight’s supper will be grilled tomato, vegetable kabobs with dill and a piece of lean grilled kielbasa, kicked up with a spoonful of Ćwikła - the iconic beet ‘n horseradish garnish.

Shopping List - dinner for 4

1 can of sliced beets (not pickled)
1 jar of prepared horseradish (4 or 5 ounces, whatever is at the store

2 ripe tomatoes

1-2 pounds of fresh vegetables, include: zucchini, yellow squash, baby onions, mushrooms, young carrots – anything that looks good

1 bunch fresh dill

1½  pounds lean kielbasa, more or less according to hunger

Prep  (15 minutes):

1. For the Ćwikła, open a can of sliced beets (not the pickled variety), and rough-chop them, either by hand or your favorite chopping machine.  Add in about 4 ounces of ground prepared horseradish, but be sure to taste as you add the horseradish because it can clear your sinuses in a hurry!  Refrigerate.  Ćwikła is best made a day or so ahead of time so that the flavors can infuse, but never let that be an obstacle.

  2. Cut your tomatoes in half, brush lightly with oil, salt & pepper the flat tops.

3. Rinse the dill thoroughly, dry between paper towels and finely chop about 3 tablespoons - more if you love dill.

4. Cut your vegetables into 1-to-2 inch pieces, place in a bowl and season with a little oil, salt & pepper, and the dill and toss to thoroughly coat with the flavorings.  Reserve some of the dill for the last step.

5. Place the vegetables on skewers – the two-pronged kind are good because it’s easier to turn them without losing food into the fire.  If the veggie pieces are small, it may be smart to use a vegetable basket on the grill.

6. Cut the kielbasa into smaller pieces and score the casing in several places so that the hot fat can drip out.

Grilling  (10 minutes)
Heat your gas grill to high, and then turn the heat down to medium.  If you are using real charcoal, raise the cooking grid as high from the very hot coals as it will go.

Oil the cooking grids and put everything on at the same time.  Start the tomatoes flat side down to get your impressive sear marks.  Grilling time for everything will be about ten minutes, depending on the heat of your grill.  Be sure to turn everything frequently. Grill the kielbasa long enough to get most of the fat out.  We like our vegetables and kielbasa with a little char on them so that usually takes about 5 more minutes.
  Remove, sprinkle more fresh dill on the veggies and serve right away. Don’t forget to take the Ćwikła out of the fridge...stir and serve as a garnish for the kielbasa.