Christmas Eve!!!

Rejoice that we are all together
For a day like this.
Two things keep us happy, warm
A Christmas hug from you my dear
And in return a Christmas Kiss.

Merry Christmas from the heart,
To ones I hope will never part.

Weosłych Świąt!!  Merry Christmas!!
Gosia and Ilona

Christmas time

Today is Christmas Eve.  It is very important and family day in Poland. Tonight every Polish family have a Christmas  Eve dinner. Now in thousands of Polish homes are prepared  festive meals and. We are waiting for the guests, the first star on sky and we will start Christmas time.

There is my Christmas Eve menu:

White herring
Carp in aspic
Salad with smoked fish and mushrooms
Pierogi ruskie (Russian dumpling)
Łazanki with mushrooms
Salmon in a sauce with dried fruit with potatoes
Celeriac salad
Salad with sauerkraut
Puding of sweet chestnuts
Yeast strudel with poppy seeds
Compote of dried fruits


Christmas Eve - Dish 7 - celeriac salad

Warsaw  centrum

I apologize for my absence. My laptop had a crash. So,  I go back to continue publishing the Polish    recipes for  Christmas Eve .

1 medium celeriac
1 apple
3 tbsp lemon juice
10 gram of walnuts
10 gram of raisin
1/2 cup of natural yogurt
2 tbsp of mayonnaise
salt, black pepper.

Clean,peel and grate celeriac and apple. Pour  a lemon juice on vegetables. Chop walnuts and add to vegetables. Add also raisin. Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and add to  vegetables. Mix the salad well and serve  immediately.


Christmas Eve - Dish 6 - mushroom soup

Las / Forest 

There are many types of soup which are served on Christmas Eve. Apart from fish soup, borscht is the most popular but mushroom soup is also well-known. In my family there are always two soups served on Christmas Eve - borscht and mushroom soup with dried wild mushrooms.

The smell of cooking mushrooms reminds me of Christmas in my Polish home and of my childhood. I love that smell and there are always Polish dried mushrooms in my kitchen even if I'm in a very distant place.

60 grams of dried mushrooms
2 carrots
1 onion
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp fresh cream
salt, black pepper
2 l. vegetable broth

łazanki (Polish pasta cut into squares) or other small pasta

Soak mushrooms overnight in 4 glasses of water. Cook mushrooms slowly until they are boiled. Strain mushrooms. Cut mushrooms into small pieces. Add mushroom broth to vegetable broth and boil. Clean and peel carrots, cut into thin slices and add to broth together with salt, and cook unlit carrots are soft. In the meantime cook pasta. Cut the onion into small pieces and fry on butter until gold. Add the onion and mushrooms to soup and cook 5 minutes. Next add pepper and fresh cream. Strain pasta, add to soup and serve.


Christmas Eve - Dish 5 - fish in aspic.

Poland, winter
If you don't like carp, the other option is fish in aspic.

for 10 portions

 300 grams of fish
1 carrot
1 parsley root
2 onions
1 bay leaf, black pepper, salt
5 tbsp of instant gelatin

Clean the fish very carefully. Clean and peel vegetables but don't cut.   Put vegetables into a pot with 2 litres of water, add salt, pepper and bay leaf and cook 25 minutes. Put the fish into the broth and cook slowly about 25 minutes. Cool down the fish and broth. Divide the fish into small pieces and put in small bowls. Cut carrots into slices and add to the fish. Cook two cups of broth and add  gelatin, mix well and add to the rest of the broth and mix. Pour the fish into the broth and put into the fridge overnight.


Christmas Eve - Dish 4 - carp in aspic.

winter sun

Carp is very popular and traditional fish on Christmas Eve in Poland. In Polish tradition we have  many recipes for this fish but the most popular is carp in aspic.

1 carp (about 2 kg)
1 carrot
1 parsley root
1 leek
2 onions
1 bay leaf, black pepper salt
5 tbsp of instant gelatin
1 tbsp of butter

Clean the fish  very carefully and cut into rings. Clean and peel vegetables, and cut into small pieces.  In a pot melt butter, add vegetables and fry 5 minutes. Pour vegetables into water, add salt, pepper and bay leaf and cook 15 minutes. Put rings of carp to the broth and cook slowly about 25 minutes. Cool down the fish and broth. Put the fish into a deep dish in which it will be served. Cook two cups of broth and add  gelatin, mix well and add to the rest of broth and mix. Pour the fish into the broth and put into the fridge overnight.


Christmas Eve - Dish 3 - salad with smoked fish and mushrooms.


1 smoked mackerel or other fish
150 gram of fresh white mushrooms
1 apple
1 small onion
3 large gherkins
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
salt black pepper

Clean the fish from skin and bones and divide into small pieces. Peel and grate the apple and sprinkle lemon juice over it. Cut the onion and gherkins into small cubes. Clean the mushrooms and cut into thin slices. Put all ingredients into a bowl, add oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Put the salad into the refrigerator for minimum 1 hour. Serve cold.


Christmas Eve - Dish 2 - white herring.

House in the mountain

Today let me present the second dish with herring - white herring. Herring is very popular in Poland and we have many dishes from this fish.

for 2 portions

2 large pieces of marinated herring
1 large apple
1/2 onion or 1 small onion
20 ml of fresh cream
1 tbsp of lemon juice.
salt, black pepper.

Cut the onion into very thin slices, put the onion into a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Peel the apple and grate it. Add the apple, fresh cream, salt and pepper to the onion and mix well. Put one piece of herring on a plate and put a layer ayr of the apple and onion salad on it. Serve immediately.



Christmas Eve - Dish 1 - red herrings.

winter view
Today is the first of December. Christmas will be in 24 days. So  let's start the countdown! In the next days I will publish recipes for traditional Polish dishes on Christmas Eve .
Let's start. Today my favourite Christmas Eve starter - red herring.

10 pieces of marinated herring
2 large onions
100 grams of cranberries or raisins
6 tbsp of tomato purée
3 tbsp of honey
1 tbps of oil
Cut the herring  into large squares.  Cut onions into cubes. Heat oil in the pan and add tomato purée. Mix gently and fry about two minutes and add onions. When onions are a little transparent, add cranberries and mix it well. Fry about 5 minutes and add honey. In a wide bowl put a layer of herring and on top put fried onions and cranberries. Cover the bowl with kitchen foil and put into the fridge for about 24 hours. This dish can be kept in the fridge even a week.



Irish restaurants lives

The Westin Dublin—Ballroom, Banking 

At the beginning of my stay in Ireland I met Dublin restaurants, but not as a customer. I was looking for a job. I needed a job immediately. So I decided not to wait for the reply to my emails or notification from the job centre. I started to walk from one restaurant to another and ask about a job. During two weeks I visited almost all the restaurants in the city centre. At that time I came across many types of cuisine and culinary tastes of the Irish people.
What surprised me most? There was a large number of Italian restaurants and big influences of Italian cuisine on the modern Irish cuisine.

The Italian Corner

When I read about Ireland, every guide talked about Irish or English cuisine as the most popular in Ireland, but it isn’t true. In every Irish Pub, in the menu, you can always find at least one Italian dish. Sometimes in the Pub menu there are just two or three Irish meals, the rest of the dishes are Italian. This regularity is not only in Dublin but also in provincial Pubs. If you want to eat a typical Irish meal in the Pub, you will order this dish which doesn’t seem too much Italian or you will order classic fish and chips.

There are many Italian restaurants in Dublin. Three years ago there was about one hundred. There are good places to try good cuisine and you can also find good Italian wine and coffee there. I have one close to my home. In addition, there is amazing espresso in Dublin. 


The second European cuisine very popular in Ireland is the Spanish one. The Irish love Spain and everything what is from Spain. They spend holidays in Spain, learn the Spanish language, like to enjoy with the Spaniards. Spanish restaurants are always full in the evening. I'm not surprised at this because Spanish restaurants employ the greatest Spanish chefs. 


Asian restaurants are the third most popular type of restaurants in Dublin. There are typical national restaurants. Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian restaurants are very popular but you can also find very exotic restaurants. Asian restaurants are often at a very high level and are open even in small towns.
The best Vietnamese restaurant I have ever been to is in a small village Ashford, outside Dublin.
The Irish love the spicy taste of Asian cuisine. Now during the crisis many restaurants are liquidated but they are still opening new Asian buffets and have lots of customers.

Oliver St John Gogarty, Bar & 

If you want to find a Polish restaurant in Dublin, you can visit just two bars in the city centre but very simple and very expensive dishes are served there.


Dublin Bay chowder with scampi

Dublin Bay I

In every good restaurant in Dublin you can find scampi or Dublin Bay Prawns in the menu. It is the same shellfish. Scampi look like a prawn but it is not. It is a slim, orange-pink lobster which grows up to 25 cm long, and is the most important commercial crustacean in Europe.
I tried scampi during my first dinner in a restaurant in Dublin. It was my second day in Ireland and we celebrated my arrival.
I ordered the strangest dish in the menu as a starter. It was Dublin bay chowder with scampi. I was very much surprised when in my soup I saw familiar to me ingredients and I asked the waiter which one were scampi. He pointed at pink prawns. At that time I thought that scampi is the Irish name for prawns. I'd probably be in this belief if I hadn't attended the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival. A lady explained to us that scampi are a type of lobster, and she was proud of Dublin cuisine. Scampi are served in hundreds of sophisticated ways but my favourite is Dublin bay chowder with scampi. 

Dublin Bay Prawns

Dublin Bay Chowder

For two

2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp each minced green onion, celery, fennel
1 tsp tomato puree
200 ml clam juice (or mild fish stock)
100 ml milk
½ cup medium shrimp (peeled, deveined, tail removed)
½ cup bay scallops
1 tsp each fresh chopped parsley, dill
pinch cayenne pepper
salt & white pepper to taste
1 Tbsp heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan melt butter. Add green onion, celery, fennel. Sweat until translucent. Add flour. Cook 4-5 minutes (do not allow to darken.) Add tomato puree.
Add clam juice. Bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer. Add seafood. Cook 1 minute.
Season with white pepper, cayenne and salt.
Add fresh herbs and heavy cream. Simmer 1 more minute.

Serve in warm soup plates with crusty, warm bread.



Whisky Chocolate Cake


The second popular alcoholic drink in Ireland is whisky. There are three main distillers of whisky in Ireland: Dublin's Powers, Cork's and Bushmills from County Antrim. There are also varieties of whisky: Paddy, Redbreast, Green Spot and Tullamore Dew. Those are not so well known except for Ireland.
I don't like whisky but I know some people who love this beverage and who know much about it. I saw a big collection of whisky from many Irish and British distilleries. The owner of this collection offered us one of the oldest vintages of Tyrconnell whisky. He also showed me how to taste whisky and told me about the flavour content in that glass. Tyrconnell has an oily and wooden flavour and excellent light whiskey called Millar's, named after an old Dublin tipple,, is produced from it.

Still house wide
After that meeting I know a little more about whisky but I don't like it too much. I drink whiskey only when I am offered this beverage. However, I have found many recipes with whisky. My favourite dish with this expensive drink is Whisky Chocolate Cake. You will see the recipe below.

½ kg dark chocolate
½ kg biscuits
2 eggs
100 gram of butter
6 tbsp. of castor sugar
8 tbsp of whisky
3 tbsp of double cream
100 gram of whole hazelnuts
200 gram of crushed hazelnuts
100 gram of glace cherries

Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan and fold in the egg mix.
Mix in the crushed hazelnuts and fold in half the whiskey. Line a greased cake baking dish with crushed biscuits. Pour the chocolate mixture into the dish. Place in refrigerator overnight. Mix remaining whisky with cream. Remove cake from refrigerator and pipe top with the cream. Decorate with whole hazelnuts and cherries and serve.


Mint sauce

Spring lamb in Connemara, Ireland

In Poland mint is used only as a remedy for stomach disorders or as addition to beverages or food decoration. In Ireland I discovered many other culinary uses of this herb. I often use mint sauce to lamb but I often experiment with mint and I add it to some Polish dishes.
There are around seven types of mint, three of which are more commonly used in cooking.
These are spearmint, peppermint and pannyroyal.

Spearmint is used for medicinal purposes and to stimulate appetite. This mint is used in sauces and jellies to flavour meat.

Peppermint has a high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste.

Pennyroyal was commonly used by the Greeks and Romans. The ancient Greeks often flavoured their wine with pennyroyal. A large number of recipes in Roman cookbooks of Apicius call for the use of pennyroyal, often along with such herbs as lovage, oregano and coriander. Although it was still commonly used for cooking in the Middle Ages, it gradually fell out of use as a culinary herb and is seldom used so today.


In Ireland mint is generally used to prepare mint sauce. Mint sauce can be made in many ways, but the basic recipe combines the flavour of mint with vinegar and sugar. The following mint sauce is classically used to accompany lamb or mutton.

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Dissolve sugar in water. Place mint leaves with water and blend until fairly fine. Pour into serving bowl. Add vinegar. Add more sugar or vinegar to taste. Will keep about 2 or 3 weeks in refrigerator.
Quick Roast Lamb With Mint Sauce




I love shellfish and since I moved to Ireland this love has grown deeper. There is a wide selection of fresh shellfish the whole year. In the north of Dublin I discovered a fishing port. This port is located on the Howth peninsula.
There are many shops with really fresh fish and shellfish. I often visit this place and do the shopping.
When I lived in Poland, I tried just a few kinds of shellfish. In Ireland I have come across more sea animals. Here for the first time I tried scallops, octopus, lobster and oysters.
Oysters now are my favourite type of shellfish. I like eating it raw. My Polish friends are disgusted by my liking but it is their problem. 

Oyster Farm #12 
I tried Irish Oysters for the first time during a trip to Galway. In Galway every year there is Oysters Festival and every restaurant and pub serves Oysters. Some restaurants prepare special menu with this shellfish as the main ingredient but Oysters are often served raw with lemon. So, for the first time I tried raw Oysters. That was a really strange experience to eat something that is still alive but I like challenges. 
I laughed to my friends that I went back to the times before the discovery of fire.
The Irish love Oysters and they have many sea farms with this shellfish. In September in the whole country there are many Oysters festivals. The main one is in Galway. That is great time and Oysters are the best then.
The Irish PR invented new Irish breakfast. It is a plate with raw Oysters, lemon and a glass of Guinness, but you can see this breakfast probably only on postcards.

Oysters and Guiness


Irish Ham

Irish ham has been the best culinary discovery in Ireland. I have always thought that Polish smoked meat is the best in the world but Irish ham is also very good. Ham sold in supermarkets is made by several big companies. I was surprised by the taste of Irish ham. Irish ham is pickled in brine, then smoked over peat or over juniper. This gives it a spicy, evergreen taste that is difficult to find in other types of ham. It is simply delicious. Ham is made in several types and each has a various taste by adding some spice but all are smoked and all taste very well. Irish ham is served cold with sandwiches or hot as the main dish for dinner.

During my trips around Ireland I often eat ham with cabbage for dinner. In all traditional Irish pubs there is always smoked ham and bacon on the dinner menu.
The Irish are avid smokers. In many country cottages ham was smoked on two beams over the fireplace. Smokehouses exist all over Ireland. The Irish seem to smoke anything that runs, swims or flies, from beef and pork to pheasant and chicken, and from salmon, haddock and eel to trout, cod and herring. Currently there are more than a dozen smokehouses in Ireland which smoke ham in a traditional way.
Baked and smoked ham is served during Christmas dinner in all Irish homes and that type of ham is the one that I like the most and I serve it not only at Christmas.

Christmas Ham

Irish Smoked Whole Ham on the Bone
10g Whole cloves
1 cup brown sugar -
1 tbsp Balsamic or cider vinegar
½ tsp mustard
Orange slices
Maraschino cherries

Heat the oven to 160° C. Place the ham, fat side up, on the rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer so the tip is in the thickest part of the ham and does not touch the bone or rest in fat. Bake 1¼ to 2¼ hours or until thermometer reads 60°C (13 to 17 minutes per half a kilo).

About 20 minutes before the ham is done, remove it from the oven. Pour drippings from the pan and remove any skin from the ham. Cut it into uniform diamond shapes on the fat surface of the ham. Insert a clove into each diamond. Stir brown sugar, vinegar and mustard together; then pat or brush onto the ham.

Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Cover the ham and let it stand for about 10 minutes or until the thermometer reads 70°C. Garnish with orange slices and cherries to serve hot with potatoes and salads.

Any leftovers can be used in sandwiches or salads and you can save the bone for making soup!.



Irish butter

Irish butter is the best one in the world. It tastes like my grandmas home-made butter. I have been in love with it since the first bite of bread with this butter. The best butter brand is the Kerrygold butter. I was surprised that such a big company offers such tasty and natural products. I have tried other types of butter made by other companies but I have always come back to the Kerrygold butter. It tastes fantastic when it is spread on a piece of bread. It adds a lot of complexity to each bite. It is available in salted and unsalted varieties. That extra flavour is the result of cows in Ireland having a rich grass diet .
Irish cows are very happy animals because grass is fresh the whole year and they spend their entire lives on the pasture.

Butter is made from cream. Cream from around 15 litres of milk goes into making just half a kilo of butter. Around a third of the worlds milk is changed into butter. Ireland is the fourteenth largest producer of butter in the world.
Butter contains vitamins A, D and calcium and, of course, is high calorie.
In the past in Ireland butter was packed into wooden churns and stored in peat bogs, where it would keep well for some length of time. Sometimes forgotten butter turned into creamy cheese, which was often discovered by archaeologists.

Muffin with Kerrygold 

Buttermilk is used extensively in traditional Irish cooking. I have found many recipes for traditional Irish food where butter or buttermilk is used . My favourite are apple tart and buttermilk pudding.

Buttermilk Pudding

100 gram of sugar
250 ml of cream
500 ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine
1 vanilla pod

Dissolve 1 cup of gelatine in 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Cut the vanilla pod in half. Place it in a pan with sugar and half of the cream. Heat but do not boil. Remove a pan from heat and stir in the gelatine blending well. Remove the vanilla pod, then whisk buttermilk into hot cream. Whip the remaining cream until stiff, then fold it into the hot mixture. Pour into a bowl and chill well.
Serve with a teaspoon of your favourite jam.

St Johns Bread and Wine - Buttermilk Pudding and Raspberries


The story continues... under the grill exactly

So the chicken died of curiosity. Be careful when you cross the road next time.
Grilled chicken with kumara and passionfruit dressing 
 I was too hungry to take a better picture.


Under the grill

The more I cook the less I write, sorry! You are welcome to pop in for a tea instead!

My favourite food magazine, New Zealand’s Cuisine, has a nice short interview column titled Under the grill. I liked the latest issues so much that I decide to answer the questions (almost the same every time) myself. I guess the answers don’t change much with time.

When did you first become interested in food?
There where few episodes in my teenage years smashed by overbearing parents and the lack of groceries – I grew up in a small village far away from everywhere. Then as a history student I got tired of non-illustrated books and began buying colourful magazines. Then I was trying to impress my boyfriend. Maybe the kiwifruit tarte helped him to make a decision of marriage? And with my first job in the kitchen I totally fell in love with cooking. 

What’s your first food memory?
When I was a child food was simple and not so diversified. I was raised in the countryside so I recall milk fresh from the milking, hot and fat, the incredible strawberry jam and bread with butter and sugar only, vanilla sugar and semolina porridge. These are the first. My menu has changed much and often from that time.

What is your ideal party menu?
I rarely cook the same thing twice. I prefer aboundance and a huge choice. I had twice prepared a  party consisted of 25 dishes. Usually I would serve few starters, one main and again the choice of desserts. For the starter a savoury muffin, for the main a simple pasta with a nice sauce and then I have time for several refined desserts! Last time I served pizza muffins, meaty pasta with courgette, vegetarian pasta with broadbean, New Zealand’s lemon snow, roasted peanuts brownie and rhubarb pie.  

Who would be your dream dinner guests?
There are many of them, alive, and they pay us visits every now and then. And for the deads, I guess my three favourite poets, Mieczysław Jastrun, Tadeusz Chudy and Władysław Broniewski. For another party I would certainly invite Gaius Julius Caesar and Octavian Augustus.

What’s your pick of food destinations?
Big eclectic cities like London. This is where I learn most and where cookbooks and resources are easily available. When I travel for food I want to experience it very intensivly. In a big city you can meet not only the region’s cuisine but all of the world. My dream is to visit Melbourne and Singapore.

What’s the worst food crime?
There are many I guess. I particularly hate serving hot dish on a cold plate, carelessly washed lettuce and serving meat reheated or kept for some time under the grill meat. I prefer it straight from the pan!

What is coming next in the food world?
Sharpening the division between fast food and good food. Food prices may drive us towards old methods and skills at homes but shops will be full of junk food. 

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To check what’s on the other side!

Answer yourself!


Irish Soda Bread

When I moved to Ireland, shopping for groceries was the first thing I did. I needed the basic ingredients for my kitchen. I bought tradition Irish bread and flour in a bakery. I wanted to make a home-made cake. After shopping, I baked an apple cake and I was very surprised when I saw the cake after baknig. The cake was huge and tasted a little too much of soda. I didnt know what had happened because that recipe is without soda. As it turned out, I had bought flour with the addition of soda. I was wondering why the Irish added soda to flour.
The answer was on a wrapping of traditional Irish bread. It was soda bread.
In the book of the history of Irish cuisine I read that Ireland didnt have a strong tradition of yeast bread making. The use of baking soda as a leavening agent is quick, effective and it produced a much more consistent result than yeast did.
The original soda bread contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. The dough should not be kneaded too much.
I have never liked soda bread because it tastes to me like salt cake.  However, Irish bread is different. It doesnt taste as normal bread and is heavy and dense. Soda bread is made using either wholemeal or white flour but you can often find bread with the mixture of both types of flour. In some recipes, buttermilk is replaced by yoghurt or even stout.

I am not enthusiastic about soda bread and I dont eat it every day but in a restaurant I always order soup and soda bread as a starter. Some restaurants bake their own bread and every one tastes different.
I ate the best bread in the north of Ireland.

Below there is a recipe for a traditional version of this bread.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread
1 ½ cups wholemeal flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 – 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 280 C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir together. Add buttermilk and mix with a large spoon (or with your hands, shaping your fingers into a “claw”) until the dough comes together. You might need two tablespoons more or less buttermilk depending on the weather. The dough should be moist, but not so sticky it is very hard to handle.
Shape into a round and place on baking sheet. Cut an X into the top with a sharp knife and bake for about 45 minutes, until dark golden. A toothpick will come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing.
This bread is best served soon after baking with Irish butter.

soda bread


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