Cheesecake at Christmas

In my family cheesecake is always served during Christmas. I remember the taste of my grandmother's cheesecake. Every ingredient for cheesecake was from her farm and she made delicious Christmas cheesecake. My mother and her sisters make this cake on Christmas but it is not the same. Every cheesecake has a little different taste than taste of my grandmother's cake. There is a problem with cheese because it is the main ingriedent. My grandmother made it with cheese (Quark),it was from fresh milk cows which she bred. It was the real cheese. Organic quark that tastes as grass, forest, soil, mountains, winds. I loved it. Now cheeses are different especially in foreign countries, but all my family make cheesecake at Christmas, so do I. This is a tradition, and keeping memory of my ancestors.
Below is my family recipe of Polish cheescake. I changed some ingredients for those who can't get any ingredients.

6 eggs;
1 glass of powder sugar
0,5 kg Quark or Ricotta Cheese
2 tbsp potatoes flour or corn flour
1 tbsp orange or lemon peel; grated
2 ts baking soda
150 gram butter;
1 1/2 ts vanilla extract
½ glass of raisin

1)Mash Quark very well.
2)Crack the eggs, separate yolks from egg whites.
3)Beat egg whites.
4)Melt butter and a little cool down.
5)Beat yolks with sugar. When mixture is white add carefully mash quark and mix very well.
6)Next add potates flour, butter, baking soda still blending well.
7)Add orange peel, vanilla extract and rasin, mix well.
8)Finally add eggs white and mix carefully with table spoon.
9)When dough is ready put in baking pan.
10) Put it into the oven at 180 Celsius degrees for around 50 minutes. Don't open the oven until the cheese cake is ready. Have a look inside through a glass after 40 minutes of baking and see if the cake is not too brown on its upper side. When ready take cheese cake out of the oven and set it aside to cool off. Serve cool.



What about the coconut chocolate muffin?

I guess there came the time for the chocolate muffins. Usually I strongly resist to this idea although these are my favourites. It is because of the bitterness that cocoa gets in baking. On the other hand melting the chocolate in bains-marie seems somewhat too laborious and clashes with the idea of muffins being quick baking. Anyway, the thing has happened in my last day of being jobless this week.

My prejudice against cocoa was completely ungrounded. It works really well. If only you addjust the fat content. This is my best muffin recipe as far as now. It gives the demanded texture, the muffin has the lightness of the sponge but doesn't need so long preparation process, its taste is not only the taste of the cocoa powder but actually reflects the taste of the real chocolate. It also results with the perfect bottom mushroom shape thanks to the small surprise stuffed in the middle.

Coconut chocolate muffins
for 8 large muffins

250 g flour
2 tsps cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
130 g icing sugar
25 g cocoa powder
200 ml buttermilk (I used peach flavoured - which is white in colour and has a very delicate taste)
50 g dessicated coconut
70 g vegetable oil
2 eggs
very good milk chocolate

1. Sift flour, raising agents, sugar and cocoa powder into one bowl.
2. Soak coconut in buttermilk for few minutes, add oil and lightly bitten eggs. Mix well.
3. Pour the liquid into dry ingredients.
4. Divide the butter into 8 oiled muffin moulds.
5. Place one piece of chocolate in the center if every muffin, as deep as you can. You can also use pralines filled up with some liquid stuffing as toffee:-)))
6. Bake in 185 Celsius degree for 20-25 minutes.

Originally I was going to introduce these muffins in the beginning of my cooking journey across the Pacific as I am now deeply involved in organisation of the international conference Aid for Tuvalu. But I come to the conclusion that sincerely this is my first muffin that I would recognise as a sophisticated one. I also realised that actually from a very long time this blog needs a tag for muffins. Moreover, an appealing idea came to my mind, the idea of a pure white muffin which, while admiring of the white chocolate aroma in baking goods, almost immediately was distracted by the image of a white chocolate muffin - with orange coloured threads. Imagine more.


Sushi restrictions

Dear readers, guess what I was told yesterday... I was told that my palms' pH is not like that of a man and thus the sushi prepared by a man tastes better. That is why I probably don't get the position of itamae despite the fact that none of the male applicants was really interested in getting the job. We all love food but hey, wait a minute, this is just the food even if some people made it their path in life. It is not a religion! I respect all the traditions the sushi is connected with but also... Finally I have learned how to use the chop sticks as I think it is necessary and I should know it. Who of my friends cooking professionally read the book on the Japanese culinary culture? Gosia only. Me, a European highlander, I love the seaweeds' taste, even in their dry shape. I admire these rice pearls, a little bit sticky but still firm, and the hopefully green and pleasantly fatty avocado, my favourite. What an astonihing beauty of the smoked salmon (yes, I prefer this!) or rare almost bloody tuna...

Do you remember Gosia's adventurous Polish style sushi?

And you say, you prefer a man... For God's sake let us do our job.

P.S. To all of you who have been told you don't know how to make this and that: rubbish.
For instance I am not afraid of the cheesecakes anymore. But - people can still hurt us. Take care.


My subjective guide on restaurants in Cracow - part 1

My Irish friends asked me to recommend Polish restaurant in Cracow. So I thought it is a good topic for series of posts in my blog. Cracow has many guides on restaurants. These posts will be my subjective guide on Polish restaurants in Cracow. I ate in every described place.

Part 1: Around Market Square

One time somebody asked me - “ What is a smell of Cracow?” The answer is easy – old Cracow smells of food.It is true. When you are on Market square in Cracow in summer afternoon you will be feeling like in restaurant room. You will find open air restaurants around you.Food smell wafts up every old town street every afternoon. Cracow has about thousand restaurants but where can you find good Polish food? In the old town there are many good restaurants - cheap and expensive ones but only a few of them serve traditional Polish food. We start our trip on Market Square. There are very expensive and tourist restaurants on Market square, this is a good place only for coffee time in open air restaurant during listening a bugle-call.

The most famous and the oldest restaurants Wierzynek and Hawełka are very expensive and with menu which is variation of traditional Polish food. If you persist with eating there I suggest those places for exclusive dinner in beautiful old interior.

My favourite place for a morning coffee or hot chocolate (the best chocolate in the world) is “Prowincja”. “Prowincja” is small and cute cafe on Bracka street. That is a place where students and famous people meet.

Close to Collegium Maius on Anna street there is “ Chimera” restaurant. “Chimera” has two branches on that street: the first is a salad- bar, the second is a restaurant.The salad- bar is big, old and very popular bar in Cracow. The salads are fresh and made with Polish vegetables and fruits but sometimes chefs use exotic ingredients. I ate there often and I always order different salads. There is a big selection of salads there. Chimera salad-bar is a good place for a quick lunch. The second “Chimera” is a restaurant which serves Old Polish Cuisine. It is expensive, but this restaurant is very good if you want to try real Old Polish food which was served in aristocratic families.
I recommend:roast duck with apples and Polish style rabbit with sour cream sauce. This restaurant serves east European wine, and Polish nalewki and wódki, of which my favourite are: wine - Tokaj, nalewki - “Piołunówka” ,Nalewka porzeczkowa and “Krupnik”. If in the menu you find dishes which you know or sound strangely non-polish it is still an Old Polish cuisine, because Polish cuisine is cosmopolitan. I will write about it soon.

The second place which serves Old Polish food is “U Babci Maliny” restaurant (Grandmother Malina). This restaurant has a few branches in Caracow and they serve Country Old Polish Cuisine. The first one is in the building of Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk). Beforehand it was typical cheap restaurant for students but it was very popular among Cracow citizens and the owners changed this place and they started to serve country food. Next, tourists who sought real polish foods found this place and this small cheap restaurant evolved into today’s form. Now the owners have 6 branches in Poland.
The restaurant in Polish Academy of Sciences on 17 Sławkowska street is self-service restaurant with good food and average prices. It is always quite full. If you wait and find free place, you can eat very good polish food. It tastes like my grandmothers food I recommend all soups, pierogi and kołduny. The second branch is on Szpitalna street opposite Słowacki theatre. This place has two floors. There is a self-service restaurant on ground floor and typical old restaurant underground where they serve a little expensive food of the same taste I ate there good pork and lamb.

My sentimental place where I ate dinner only twice is Jama Michalika on Florianska street. Jama Michalika now is a restaurant and a museum at the same time. That place have long and famous history. In nineteenth century this place was open as a cake shop where painters often met. Michalik expanded his own shop and next he changed the shop into a restaurant where artists were still meeting. The artist had a bigautonomy in Michlik restaurant and they started to decorate rooms and organized a cabaret. That cabaret was known in the whole country and now students are taught about it. The interior of the restaurant is a little dark like a cave (jama means cave or hole) but decor is fabulous and it comes from art nouveau (19th century), and we can see old pictures and puppets. Food in this restaurant is normal like in cheap restaurant, but prices aren’t low. Managers still think like during communism time. I recommend this place if you love history and you want to absorb the old magic atmosphere of Cracow.

... to be continue.


Similar Posts:

My subjective guide on restaurants in Cracow - part 2

My subjective guide on restaurants in Cracow - part 3 - My zone around Bagatela theatre.


Time of Hallowe'en

Time of Hallowe'en means for me dishes with pumpkin. Every year I prepare a few new recipes with pumpkins and during week before Hallowe'en my home menu consists of pumpkin.
This year my husband bought me pumpkin of 7 kg weight. It was small because last years my pumpkin was about 10 kg, but I made: soup, pumpkin with lamb, casserole with pork, salad, pickles, two kinds of jam, and muffins.

Muffins were my failure. They were flat and rubbery but the taste wasn't bad. I added too much grated pumpkins and this was the cause of my muffins failure.

The soup was simple: I added cuting pumpkin, potato, carrot, onion to consommé with chiken. Finally I added rice, pepper and salt. Perhaps it was difficult to find pumpkin flavour in my soup nevertheless it was very good.

Casserole with pork was a little more difficult. Mince of pork I fried with onion, black peppers, salt and sweet powder of red pepper. Next time I added cubes of pumpkin, carrot and continued frying. Finally I added green olives and rosted pine nuts. I put all mixture to a lined pot with slices of pumpkin, which I also used for covering the mixture. I baked it for 45 minutes in 180 C.

Pickles were very easy: I boiled for 15 minutes 1 kg cubes of pumpkin in 3 liter water with 1 spoon salt and 1 spoon sugar. Next I put cubes into jar, I added 10 ml. venigar to 1 glass water which I used to boil pumpkin and I added it and a few cloves into jar and I twisted it. When pickles cooled down, I pasteurized them.

One kind of jam is typical jam with pumpkin. 1 kg cubes of pumpkin bolied with 0,5 l. orange juice and 2 glasses of sugar. My innovation was adding 2 cm ginger root and a few spoons of juice with raspberries, I added them at the end.

Second kind of jam I made with grated 1 kg pumpkin and 0,5 kg apples. I added 2 glasses of sugar and left for half an hour. Next I simmered about 1 h. and I added 1 spoon of cinamon.
Now I have 5 jars with pumpkin jam on winter. The rest of jam I used for pancakes.

But my spectacular dish was pumpkin with lamb.

For 2 people

300 g. cubes of Lamb
500 g cubes of pumpkin
1 large choped onion
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp grated ginger root
2 tbsp choped leafs of mint
1 tbsp honey
pepper, salt
1 glass of water

Boil quickly water, ginger, mint, honey, salt and pepper – this is sauce. At the same time fry lamb on hot olive oil, and add sauce and pumpkin. Simmer about 45 min under cover, add a little water if required. Serve with potatos. Enjoy!

Similar Posts:

Pumpkin cookies

Thai pumpkin soup
Pumpkin soup


Weird vegetable - artichoke.

It was my first time when I prepared artichoke by myself. I always wanted to make artichoke, but I have had a problem with good quality artichoke or it was expensive. In Poland and also in Ireland artichoke isn't popular, even in restaurants. Last week I found beautiful artichokes in my favourite groceries and bought a few and prepared on Sunday lunch in very simple way – in Poland known as “Roman” dish.

For 1 person

2 artichokes
1 clove of garlic (chop)
few leaves mint
½ glas of water
½ glas of olive oil
salt, pepper

Cut off the artichoke stems of the leaves, snapping off the tough bottom leaves and discard it. Stuff with garlic and mint. Pour water and oil into the pot, put artichokes inside (head down), add salt and pepper. Boil for about 20 min, and serve.

I served it with noodles with olives oil and ham.

But my artichoke adventure didn't finish during lunch. After the lunch we went to botanic garden where I saw growing artichokes. In this way that day I saw the whole life of this weird vegetable, but I still ask – Who discovered this vegetable and why? It is strange for me because we eat hearts of artichoke bud, the rest is hard and not tasty. Who was so hungry?


Chocolate cookie

Almost every food fair has now a chocolate making show or a chocolate sculpture exhibition. We can watch the catwalk chocolate shows. If you tap the tag 'chocolate art' on google you will discover nearly 20 million of images. This art is so much time-consuming and temporary at the same time! My cookie was not the exception.
I won't tell the name of the manufacturer, I am just saying this cookie was cute. Yes, it was, my devotion to the art led me to the total experience of the work... There is a mountainous landscape in the background, beautiful obvious pines, real dairy cows and the cowherd with his flattened hat and nose. What a beautiful picture that makes a regular cookie an unusual one.
I loved the details but it didn't help this cookie to survive. That is why it is so important to catch these masterpieces on our cameras. Do you also have any chocolate art to share it? Please let mi know sending the photos to hilona@wp.pl. We will make a chocolate gallery!


Sweet potato

I am so sweet having this small violet leaves...
But I'll soon lose my innocence.
To become mature, hot and tasty sweet potato that has been through a lot.
And what do you say if I am lying like this in front of you completely knocked into a cocked hat?
I am afraid to check if the sweet potato goes well with the whipped cream. Certainly it brings out and strenghten the natural flavour of the fish flesh. Probably this is one of the reasons why it is so popular in the Pacific region. I will try to give you more more serious information if I have time.

See you later!


Concombres au beurre or a thing on culinary literature

If I remember well my first piece of the culinary literature was Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fanny Flag. I even prepared this dish although I didn’t know then that there is a separate variety of tomatoes and I used our own regular red tomatoes – scandalously immature. Somehow we were not poisoned and it was very tasty. That was so long ago. For the last year I keep noticing new books that can be classified as culinary literature. Of course the matters of table are not a new occurrence in literature, let us remind just the unparalleled gourmet Honoré Balzac himself. But was it very often in the past that cuisine made the plot or was the complete scenery? While reading Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran, A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi and even Mireille Guiliano in some way, our salivary glands are working constantly.

Julie and Julia. My Year of Cooking Dangerously is not the exception. I admire Julie Powell. Because even if I supposed that I should go through all the recipes from my Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery I have never dare to think it is possible (but it would be a topic for another blog, I guess?). I congratulate Julie something still inaccessible for many I-can’t-cook-persons : finding pleasure in the very ephemeral art of cooking.

It would make no sense if I didn’t try to make any of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Beef bourguignon seems to be an interesting dish but it didn’t captured me at once. But cucumbers served hot, mmm.... As I am not the lucky owner of Julia Child’s cookbook in the matters of French cuisine I rely on The Concise Larousse Gastronomique. And you know what? There is the recipe for Concombres étuvés au beurre.

Ultimate buttered cucumbers

(or a cucumber butter)

2 large cucumbers

50 g butter

parsley, chopped

1. Cut the cucumbers in segments. Blanch briefly in boiling water.

2. Place in a pan with 40 g of butter and a tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil quickly and then simmer for 30 minutes under cover.

3. When ready, adjust seasoning, add remaining butter, stir.

4. Lay out on the plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

It is supposed to goes perfectly with white meat or fish. Probably it is so. But I love them on their own. Well, with smoked cheese toast... The recipe does not say exactly what to do with much of liquid I obtained. I poured it off to the cup and put to the fridge, and guess what? When the mixture cooled down, the liquid find a place below whereas at the top you get a lightly celadon green and spicy cucumber butter!!!

If you wish to get more of it, simply use more butter while cooking the cucumbers (let’s say 100 g per 2 cucumbers) and when the dish is ready remove cucumbers, add further 100 g of butter adjust seasoning and leave to cool down.

Maybe I should try with this Complete Book of Cookery. Don’t you too think that the word ‘complete’ is scary?


Back to the oven

Yahoo!!! We have just moved back to our previous students' house flat!!! I have my amazing oven back again! We need to celebrate this with some crazy muffins!

First, of course cleaning and finding a place for all our belongings. I am terribly sorry for all my kitchen utensil that must be placed under the bed because there is no other space left (to be clear: there is the common kitchen with this MY oven outside of the room in the corridor). I dream that one day I will have a huge kitchen for all my jars, pots, pans, spoons and bowls.

Can you believe that the sunny air smells exactly the same as a year ago when I was moving to this place and began the story with this blog? My smell memory recalls all the mornings at the pastry board when I was kneading, cutting, mixing and photographing food. This feeling gives me hope for more. I recognise snow in the air and I know that pretty soon I am going to bake bread and gingerbreads will come even sooner than I expect. Mmm.

First, no ordinary muffins - Pizza muffins.

(for 7 large or more smaller muffins)

250 g flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 flat tsps salt
1 large egg
250 ml milk
3 Tbsps vegetable oil
1 small onion
120 g grated hard cheese (I used Gouda)
30 g ham (2 large slices) cut into small cubes
4 Tbsps tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano

1. Chop the onion and fry on the oil until transparent. Here you can warm up also the ham but it is not necessary. Cool a little.

2. Mix sieved flour, two thirds of cheese, ham (only if it was not fried), salt and baking powder in one bowl.

3. Combine tomato sauce with oregano in another bowl, than add milk, slightly beaten egg and onion with oil.

4. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mix quickly and portion the batter into an oiled muffin tin. Sprinkle every muffin with the remaining cheese.

5. Bake for 20 minutes in 180 degrees in preheated oven.

6. Serve at least warm, grilled if possible, with tomato sauce. You will be surprised with the gentle pizza flavour of these muffins!

YuMMMy. On that day I also made with my friend from ANZORA my banana & forest fruits yoghurt muffins. And I couldn't refrain anymore from baking a traditional Hawaiian wedding cake for my friend's birthday. So, we greeted much with my oven.


Figs with rich feeling

Hi everybody!! I'm back too. Apologies for my absence, but summer means buzy time for me.

This summer I made a discovery of “fig”. I know these fruits and sometimes I ate them but I never was delighted with taste of figs... until now. My summer guests brought me Polish culinary magazine “Kuchnia” ( kitchen). On the front cover there is a picture of a fig with pine nuts. I like pine nuts but I never ate them in that combination. I found recipe and made it.

For 4 people
8 figs
40 dag goat's cheese ( any one is good, I tried tihs recipe with a few kinds of goat's cheese )
10 dag pine nuts
olive oil and balsamic vinegar for taste

Every fig on top makes a cross cut. Gently part fig and put inside piece of goat's cheese.
Roast pine nuts . Sprinkle figs with pine nuts. Put fruits on baking tray covered with baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 8 minutes in 190 C.
Before serving sprinkle fruits with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Recipe is easy but taste is rich – perfection!!!



À la campagne!

I am of the generation born in the countryside that emigrated to the city. For higher education, better job opportunities, an easy access to theatres and cinemas, more comfortable life and generally to have much more of anything... blah blah blah.

Secretly I suppose that I am not the only one dreaming about weeding my sweet promising carrots, picking up my own butterhead lettuce and tender stroking maturing pumpkins. I really believe that one day my garden will be blooming. I can feel it through my skin. I love rubbing the soil between my fingers to smell the land. Anywhere in the countryside everything has its proper time. Nothing is going to happen too soon or too late. You live with the weather and not in spite of. Finally there is the place for a straw hat and some orange dungarees.

Did we fall down? Hand-picked plums were asking each other. No, I was there to help with meeting with their destination. That is to be sampled and captured in jars for the winter days.

These ones could be called hopes instead of grapes. Even if they taste sourly you do hope for the future fruits. Ours taste closely to wild blueberries. Surprisingly.

Nothing more to add. Calmness and beauty.

Man's best friend. Also part of the nature.

Forest treasure inextricably linked with the countryside.

These are the children. Feel responsible. Let them live in the sun. Do not bother with vanities.Watch them growing and be proud!!!

Grant us Lord the fruitful life.


Taste Festival in Krakow

Hi everybody! I am back! Sorry for the huge gap, those who know me know that I am currently managing the restaurant, not mine yet. Not yet.

Me and you dear readers, we have much to make up for the lost time because as you may suppose I was not starving during this time. What do I have to share are the memories of tastes, colourful photos and of course my good look;-), well, I meant mood...

Let' s start with few pictures from the late August's Taste Festival in Krakow. The event shows that we are hunger for our culinary heritage and we need much more space for the future festival. There were crowds in spite of the rain. I particularly liked the idea of cooking the vegetable soup to share it with all the guests. Yummy, yummy matter.

Try our delicious meats! Fresh from the mountains!

Maybe a wholemeal dumpling?
Or an apple from the Bona Sforza queen's dress? (Very notable person in Polish culinary history!)
I prefer doughnuts...

Even deers are waiting for the hot bigos, despite the weather.
Bread sculpture - stalls decorated ingeniously.

REMEMBER THAT: Polish doughnuts are the best in the world.
Polish oscypek, ewe's milk cheese - range of shapes.

Other photos can be found here.
See you next year?


Bread Holiday in Krakow

It was almost one month ago but that was a memorable experience which I wanted to share with you from the beginning but job kept me away from the computer successfully.

This Bread Holiday (Święto Chleba) takes place in Wolnica Square in Krakow's well known district Kazimierz. This year's edition was held on the 13-14th of June together with the Krakow's semifinal of the fifth Little-Poland Taste Festival (Małopolski Festiwal Smaku). This year Krakow is also celebrating the 750th anniversary of Krakow Bakers' Guild and 100th anniversary of the canonizataion of St Clement, bakers' patron saint.

Certainly this is a place where you can explore the Little Poland cuisine and the variety of regional products and meet the organic producers face to face.There was honey to try, great slimming breads, my favourite smoked cheese oscypek and the grain to grind your own flour!!!

Moreover Polish smoked sausages, hams in herbs, grilled shish and...

But the most of all breads, rolls, knots, Krakow's bagels, pretzels and much more.

Of course there is the competition - you can vote for your favourite breads, products and dishes. Another competition is for kids - shaping in the dough for Krakow bagels.

Regional pottery better than the ancient Greek one, beeswax candels and aboundance of pretzels.

Also you can hear the play of brass bands, regional folk bands and even a rap concert! (Some talks on the matter are also given - in Polish).

Wolnica Square itself is a perfect starting point for a day sightseeing. You can admire the sculpture Fountain of players by Bronislaw Chromy and visit the Ethnograpic Museum for its numerous exhibitions and a special events prepared for the Bread Holiday. Then you can treat yourself in diverse restaurants, take a long walk to discover the Jewish heritage across the district and end up in one of the vibrant cafes.

On the 29-30th of August the final of Little Poland Taste Festival is taking place here, I hope to see you there!!!

P.S. There was also very meaningful exhibition of the few appliances used by bakers over the time. That comes from the museum of bakery in Pleszew in the Great Poland region in the west of Poland. The museum founded by master baker Tomasz Vogt operates from 2006. Must-to-visit!!! And now the contest: what is the machine on the photo? What it was used for? Set of brochures about Little Poland for the lucky winner from any part of the world! Emails to: hilona at wp dot pl.


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