In Poland we love bread. We don't prefer cornflakes but open sandwiches for breakfast. We eat the main meal (soup & meat dish) in the middle of the day, around 2 p.m. And then we eat light supper - some simple sandwiches. As a child - raised somewhere in the countryside around the end of the communist era - I remember bread slice with unsalted butter and coarse sugar to be a delicacy. With better economic conditions (capitalism...? I don't know, I didn't care then) I sampled marvellous strawberry jam. I could eat it every single day, just bread, butter and strawberry jam, again and again. As you taste more and more you may forget how good were these simple ideas with the freshest ingredients of the best quality. Now, when bread rather rarely resembles bread, we (in the cities) learnt to cover its vague taste with host of sophisticated combinations. Maybe that is why I forgot for a while that a good sandwich is not a bad sandwich. I was contemplating that while I was involved in the following event.
Last week we held in Krakow, southern Poland, the conference on 'Culture of New Zealand'. The event was organised by Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Research Assocciation (AZNORA) and its programme included lectures, displaying NZ's movies, photo exhibition and the visit to the ANZAC soldiers' graves at the Krakow Rakowicki Cementary. As a member of the assocciation I was responsible for the NZ's buffet. I have chosen some of the most unusual NZ's recipes, organised preparing the food and serving . At the opening of the exhibition we served Pavlova, shortbreads, green and golden Zespri kiwi and Matua Valley Shingle Peak Sauvignion Blanc.
For breaks between movies I proposed tartines - small open sandwiches which are very convenient food for an unofficial meetings, but also usually very elegant. They are perfect if you are going to treat a larger group of people because this is the food easy to share and guests can easily move around the table (and further), sample their favourite options and talk with the others. Tartines are easy to hold and to eat so you won't be afraid to approach them. Some plates and napkins are very useful. And, of course, some drinks to go with. Besides, tartines can be impressive at a relatively low cost. We usually made them with cold meats, cheese, spreads and vegetables.
The recipes I used were truly New Zealand's ideas. You really have to be down-under born to create it. These are the ideas of that kind you are thinking 'Oh God, it's not going to work' but when you risk to try you see it works pretty well ( I was no exeption).
The most adventurous for the participants of the conference were top three tartines:
I place Ham, cheese and beetroot outside of the competition because people's anxiety was probably caused by catholic Friday fasting, otherwise the case would be surprising as beetroot is one of our national vegetables.
If you would like to try carrot and tuna sandwich, prepare:
1 canned tuna, drained 1-2 Tbsps mayo 1 carrot juice of 1/2 lemon salt, pepper and sugar dill for garnishing baguette
1. Mix drained tuna with mayo and season with salt and pepper. 2. Grate carrot, season with lemon juice and sugar. 3. Cut the baguette in slant slices. 4. Spread tuna evenly, than form carrot into a long ridge and top with a dill twig.
The key to success were the ingredients first: a great fresh baguette, crispy on the outside and fluffy inside and overwhelmingly light. Then canned tuna - the best you can get means the most healthy meal, classic mayo, juicy grated carrot with a touch of lemon, good balance between spices and a fresh herb.
Then really NZ's idea of matching the aboves together.
And equally important: willing and competent hands of my friends.
Carrot & tuna tartines beautifully decorated by my sister-in-law, called 'Puff' (Ptysiek) in family circles.
I am not afraid to say that I am very proud of the final result. Our tartines practically immediately disappeared!! I am particularily happy that we brodened culinary horizons of our compatriots. And we did it far far away as New Zealand is one of the most distant countries for us (22 000 km, on the very opposite side of the globe).
All of those who helped: a big THANK YOU.
And the rest, remember this idea for your next meeting with friends or colleagues. As it comes to planning tartine schedule I would keep in mind and follow these two directions: diversity of the menu and harmony of the ingredients within one single tartine.
Bread is always fundamental. Currently my top simple open sandwich is a slice of some valuable bread, EVOO (extra vergin olive oil) and cottage cheese from the nearest market. I mean, the cheese comes from a village around 100 kms away, towards the mountains Tatras. Even salt is not necessary.
Italian cuisine gave us pizza, pasta, minestrone soup and the most famous dessert – Tiramisu.
Now every good chef must know how to prepare tiramisu, because many restaurants have this dessert in their menu.
Many people love it but they think it’s difficult to prepare. This isn’t true! In fact Tiramisu is not only for the keen cook. A good tiramisu is an extraordinarily tasty dessert that is perfect for almost any situation, from the family get-together through the romantic occasion and official dinner.
I always have mascarpone cheese and ladyfingers in my kitchen in case I need to prepare quickly my version of tiramisu for unexpected guests. I need one small bowl for every guest. First I whip the fresh cream 30% fat content, next I add the mascarpone cheese, sugar, amaretto and gently mix. I put into every bowl a layer of cream and a layer of ladyfingers dipped into strong coffee and repeat the process till the end of ingredients. Finally I put on top a thick layer of cream, sprinkle with cocoa powder and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I add sliced fruits on top.
So this is my quick recipe. Most Italian tiramisu recipes call for raw egg, which is potentially dangerous. Today the danger of salmonella is always present, and we prefer to cook the yolks bain-marie and to substitute whipped cream for the egg whites.
Tiramisu was invented in the 70’s of the 20th century in Treviso in the northern region of Veneto at a stone’s throw from Venice, but became really popular only in the early 90’s. And probably the base for this one was anothe Italian dessert - Zabaglione cream what is a classic sweet treat originally from Venice. Zabaglione cream and the mascarpone cheese were mixed and this is how we received tiramisu.
Basic ingredient of tiramisu is the mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone has very old origins and it appears that it was already produced in the 13th century in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, where took its name from mascherpa which is the local term for a sort of ricotta cheese. Mascarpone is more than a cheese: it is a concentrate of milk cream, with a fat content up to 75%, with a smooth, creamy and sweet texture. It was considered a winter product for its caloric content and especially because it is very delicate and didn’t keep for long in the hot temperatures before the advent of the refrigerator.
The next ingredient is the Savoiardi. These delicate cookies, also known as ladyfingers, were created at the court of the Savoy Dukes around the 1500’s in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, at the boundaries with France. Apparently they were created for a lavish reception organized in honor of a visit of the king of France. Later, thanks to the extraordinary success on this memorable banquet, these cookies were adopted officially by the Royal House of Piemonte. They were renamed Savoiardi from the name of the Savoy dynasty, and they became the most appreciated dessert of the house. Savoiardi are very light because they are prepared with a dough rich of whipped egg white. Very popular for the preparation of layer cakes, they are also served as a complement to custards, ice cream or fruit salad.
So there is perhaps an original recipe, since many regions of Italy have their own recipes. Each is considered an original. Which one is really that first oneis? I don’t know, but every version of tiramisu is marvellous. The cake is characterized by a delicate and intense taste.
4 eggs yolks 100 grams sugar 100 ml Marsala or Amaretto 450 grams Mascarpone cheese 200 grams fresh cream 1 cup espresso coffee 2 teaspoons sugar 40 pieces of ladyfingers cookies 2 tablespoons bitter cocoa powder
1) Prepare the coffee dip. Prepare one cup of strong espresso coffee, dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in the liquid. Let the coffee cool at room temperature. 2) Prepare the zabaglione filling Beat the egg yolks in a heat proof bowl or in the bowl of a double boiler, until they become fluffy. Beat in the sugar and the Marsala wine or different alcohol. Transfer the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until the cream thickens. The zabaglione will thicken just before boiling point, when small bubbles appear. With a rubber spatula, mash the mascarpone cheese in a bowl until creamy. Add the zabaglione into the mascarpone cheese, and beat to mix very well. Whip the fresh cream. Fold the whipped cream into the zabaglione– and - cheese cream, until mix gently smooth.
3) Cake Lightly soak ladyfingers in coffee, one at a time. Place them in one layer in a container of about 12 x 8 inches, approximately 2 inches deep, (30 x 20 cm), approximately 4 cm deep). Evenly distribute half of the zabaglione cream over the ladyfingers. Repeat the step with the second layer of ladyfingers, and top with the rest of the cream. Sprinkle with the cocoa powder and refrigerate for about 3 – 4 hours.