Friday, April 26, 2013

Polish Salads - Vibrant and Bold

The weather is starting to warm up and we are eating lighter.  Peter is not a big fan of salads, but he’ll eat just about anything with bold flavors.  These two Polish salads are refreshing, the flavors are bright and both pair really well with almost any meat or fish.  And what makes them unique is the combination of ingredients that are traditionally found in Polish cuisine.  Specifically, the use of dill, flavoring sour cream with a bit of sugar and salt,  using sour cream over salad vegetables, etc. 

Apple, Carrot, & Horseradish Salad
Serves 4

2 semi-sweet apples (such as Gala), cored & shredded
6 medium carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2/3 cup sour cream
½ tablespoon sugar, more or less to taste
1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) salt, to taste
Parsley (or dill) for garnish

Combine the carrot, apples and horseradish, sugar and salt.  Taste and add sugar or salt to taste.  Gently mix in the sour cream.  Chill thoroughly ,  add color by garnishing with any green leaves such as parsley.   Goes well with pork loin or baked fish. 

Polish Summer Salad
Serves 6

2 heads butter lettuce
8 to 10 medium radishes, sliced
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 cup sour cream
Sugar and salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Wash the lettuce and separate the leaves.  Combine with radishes and cucumber slices.  Season the sour cream with sugar and salt and pour over the vegetables.  Sprinkle dill over top.  Serve immediately.  ( Note, if you wait too long before serving, the cucumbers will start giving up liquid).

Friday, April 12, 2013

After Easter - Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup


Easter has passed.  All the left overs are gone and the freezer is kind of empty.  Here in Northern Virginia, spring has clearly sprung! The daffodils have already been out for a while, the cherry, plum and pear trees are in full blossom. And our magnolia is showing off its’ brilliant hues of pink-to-purple, while a mama and papa robin are hanging around trying to find a place to build their nest.

Peter asked Laura what foods she first thought of when thinking about spring, and her first reaction was “peas and sorrel.”  That was a great thought because we had just discovered that our one and only sorrel plant (now two years old) had survived the winter beautifully and is actually ready for the first harvest.  So Laura dove into her collection of Polish cookbooks and realized that Pea and Sorrel Soup is a quite popular part of Polish cuisine.  So she put several recipes out next to the out a big pot and created her own Polish-style, Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup which we’re having for lunch today.  The peas give it color and body while the sorrel is bright and fresh with just a hint of lemon.  The soup will be perfect served just warm, with a crusty French baguette & sweet butter, a glass of wine, and a nap to follow.  Life is good!    Smacznego!

Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup

Serves 4-6

2  tablespoons butter
2  large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
2  cups peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup sorrel leaves
4 tablespoons flour
2/3  cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons softened butter (additional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
 salt and pepper to taste

In a 4-quart sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat until melted.  Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the stems from the sorrel and chop.

Add chicken broth, peas and sorrel to the sauce pan and bring mixture to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Using an immersion blender or stand alone blender, puree the pea and sorrel mixture until most of the mixture is smooth.

Return mixture to saucepan and reheat. Mix the flour with sour cream and add to the broth.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Mix the egg yolk with the remaining butter and add to soup.

Add the lemon juice a little at a time until you can taste a light lemony note on your tongue.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Heat through but do not boil.