Monday, 23 January 2017

Globecooking recipe : Makowiec, Poppyseed roll (Poland)

Everybody knows Swiss roll but makowiec is a Polish roll, stuffed with poppy seeds. Apparently, in Poland, if you eat poppy seeds on Christmas Eve, they are supposed to bring you wealth in the New Year, so hopefully they have the same effect in January ! The recipe (and the poppy seeds) came from my Polish-themed Kitchen Trotter box. I like it - I usually cut off a slice for breakfast - but the kids don't like the poppy seeds, for the texture more than the taste, I think.


ingredients :

for the dough :

80ml milk
25g dried yeast (see below)
70g sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
70g softened butter
250g flour
the zest of 1 orange (or I used 1tsp orange extract)

for the filling :

150g poppy seeds
50g butter
2 eggs
40g sugar
30g raisins (or I used a cranbery/goji berry/blueberry mixture) (optional)
30g walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp cointreau or amaretto liqueur (optional)

for the icing :

200g icing sugar
60ml water
4 drops of bitter almond extract

First of all, put the poppy seeds into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes then turn off the heat and leave to soak while you make the dough.

Heat the milk in a bowl until it is just warm (not hot) then add the yeast, along with one tablespoon each of the sugar and flour, and whisk vigorously until it forms a smooth mixture. Now, I had a huge moment of doubt when I saw that the recipe calls for 25g of dried yeast - I usually use one 5g sachet of dried yeast when making brioche so five sachets seemed like a huge amount. My gut feeling is that they meant 25g of fresh yeast, which corresponds to one sachet (usually 5 or 6g) of dried yeast. In the end, I decided to follow the recipe, expecting it all to go horribly wrong and overflow everywhere, but it didn't - I think using one sachet would have had the same effect though.

Whisk in two whole eggs vigorously.

Add the rest of the sugar, the vanilla extract (I have a vanilla grinder so I added a bit of that too but it never seems to add much flavour) and the orange zest (or orange extract).

Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour.

Chop the butter into pieces and add it to the dough, using your fingers to incorporate the butter and knead it into a stretchy ball of dough. Add a bit more flour if necessary but don't overdo it.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm room for half an hour. See? Even with all that yeast in there, mine didn't rise that much !

While the dough is resting, drain the poppy seeds. They are very small so use a piece of kitchen towel to line a sieve. Press out any excess water with a second piece of kitchen towel.

Put the poppy seeds into a bowl with the butter, nuts, sugar, alcohol (if using) and a whole egg. (Not the dried fruit yet though.) Feel free to have a clear out in your baking cupboards ! I used up a bag of jujube powder (which is a lot like powdered dates).

I also used up some sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts.

Get out your stick blender and give it all a quick whizz until it forms a fairly smooth paste. In a separate bowl, beat the white of the remaining egg (save the yolk for brushing on the pastry) until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the poppy seed mixture. Stir through the dried fruit.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle on a piece of baking parchment.

Spread over the poppy seed filling.

Use the baking parchment to roll it up into a fairly tight roll. This is quite fiddly because the dough remains very soft and quite sticky.

Brush with the egg yolk to give it a nice colour.

Leave to rest for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes. Keep a check on it for the last ten minutes and place a piece of foil on top if it's starting to go too brown. (As you can see, I didn't !)

Make a drizzle icing by adding the water, one spoonful at a time, to the icing sugar until you get the right consistency. You may not need all of the water. Drizzle copiously over the makowiec and leave to set.

I'm adding this to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it used up lots of odds and ends from my baking cupboard (dried fruit, sunflower seeds, jujube powder, orange extract, vanilla grinder, ...).

Madhouse diaries : Ice to see you !

Much to the Madhouse kids' dismay, we haven't had any snow here. It did snow hard one evening a couple of weeks ago but as the ground was wet, it didn't lay. This weekend, we decided to brave the subzero temperatures and go for a combined geocaching walk and trip to the sales (to keep everyone happy !). On the way, they were delighted to discover a patch of "snow".

It was actually just a thick layer of frost coating some blades of grass, but it did look pretty.

After an impromptu "snowball" fight and some quick warming up of fingers in hastily searched-for gloves, we were on our way again.

It was a cold day but there were lovely blue skies and the watery sun was doing its best to warm things up.

A brisk walk along by the canal was just what we needed to warm up a bit.

We had to stop and explore the "crashed spaceship" sculpture as always.

This is where I plan to place my first geocache.

I even found the perfect hiding place !

Juliette was very impressed by the "ice bank" in the canal. There were no polar bears though, just some brave ducks !

We headed over to one of the wharves. This building always looks ancient to me but I don't really know anything about it, apart from the fact that it belonged to a shipping company.

Just next to it, there is a decaying boat which has been there for years and, again, this always intrigues me. I realised that this would be another interesting place to hide a geocache - this plan is definitely starting to come together ! I had a quick look on google when I got home and discovered that this is the remains of the Sainte Denise-Louise, a fishing boat built in 1935 in Ostende, which participated in Operation Dynamo in 1940. A Luftwaffe bomb caused it to run aground but, despite the water having a depth of 4m, it stayed afloat because it landed on the roof of a submerged British ambulance. It managed to limp back to Dover and drop off its last load of soldiers escaping from the horrors in Dunkirk. After the war, it was used for fishing again, donated to a diving club, then bought by two friends who wanted to restore it to its former glory. It was then bought by Dunkirk council and is classed as a historic monument but it has been left here to rot, which is a crying shame.

Just behind here, there are a group of seismic vessels that have been docked here for a while now.

We headed over to the Halle Aux Sucres, an old sugar warehouse on the docks which has been transformed into a museum/research centre.

A new geocache had been hidden here a couple of weeks ago, which is what we were looking for.

Juliette discovered that you could lift each individual brick and starting dismantling the path ! (Not really - she did put them all back in exactly the same place !)

There were big cracks though so I'm sure it was just tucked into one of the joints and didn't require any demolition !

We looked for a while then admitted defeat.

The kids made a much more interesting discovery though - frozen puddles !

They had great fun jumping on them to crack the ice, prising out large chunks to throw in the sea or smash into a million pieces on the ground. Pierre even decided he wanted to carry his block of ice all around town with him for the rest of the afternoon - I had to convince him to jettison it before we headed into the shops !

We sadly had another "did not find" for our second and final geocache for the day, but the kids still had fun.

Looking at Pierre, full of beans and pulling a silly face, you'd never know he was sent home from school for being poorly on Thursday !

Country Kids

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Globecooking recipe : Pea Soup & Dough Boys (Newfoundland) #readcookeat

 Looking through the cupboard last night in search of ingredients to make soup, I came across a box of split peas. I already have a go-to recipe for split pea and bacon soup which is very tasty, but I fancied something a bit different. I had to chuckle when I turned to google and came across one of my own blogposts from back in 2014 when I read my first Sgt Windflower mystery, Beneath The Surface (click through to read my review), and did a roundup of Newfoundland food mentioned in the book.

p10 The pea soup came first. It was the traditional creamy Newfoundland split pea soup with tiny flecks of salt meat and a rather doughy looking dumpling in the middle.

I've never been convinced by dumplings, expecting something that is heavy, stodgy and totally bland, but in the interests of globecooking, I'll try anything once ! Well, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. If you want something that will fill you up without costing a fortune, this is definitely the way to go.

I looked up several recipes for Newfoundland Pea Soup and Dough Boys and ended up using these ones from Spark Recipes,, Rock Recipes and Feathering My Nest for inspiration.

Newfoundland  Pea Soup & Dough Boys

ingredients :

200g bacon lardons (or salt beef if you want to be more authentic and can get hold of it)
2 onions
2 cups split peas
2 carrots
2 potatoes
1 ham stock cube

for the dough boys :

1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
a big pinch of rock salt with rosemary
1/2 cup warm milk
1/8 cup melted butter

Start frying the bacon until it releases some fat then add the onions (I chose to chop them and leave them in - some of the recipes said to use a whole onion and remove it before serving but that sounded like a waste to me !)

You don't need to soak the split peas but, according to the on-pack instructions, they do need to be rinsed. Add them to the pot and cover with boiling water.

This instantly produced a lot of thick foam which rose to the surface - I'm not sure if it was the fat from the bacon or the starch from the peas or a combination of both ? Whatever it was, I skimmed it off and it didn't come back !

Dice the carrots and potatoes (I didn't bother peeling the potatoes) and add them to the pot.

Add more liquid (keep a close watch on it because it absorbs a lot of water during the cooking process) and leave to cook for about 20 minutes.

Time to start on the dough boys (dumplings). Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl. Some of the recipes used solid butter rubbed into the flour but I went for the simple version and melted it, along with the milk, in the microwave until warm.

Pour the milk/butter into the dry ingredients and quickly stir with a wooden spoon until it creates a sticky dough. Add extra flour if needed.

Turn down the heat on the soup and give it a final stir - with hindsight, I should have added more water at this point. Fling teaspoon-sized dollops of dough boy mix into the hot soup. You can move them around once they're immersed if you need extra space.

Put a lid on the pot and leave until the dough boys have puffed up (about 10-15 minutes).

They will rise to the surface and pretty much cover the entire surface of the pan.

Underneath, things didn't look so good. The soup had absorbed all the water and started to stick and burn to the bottom of the pan. Whatever you do, don't scrape off the stuck bits or you will spoil the taste of the soup with the bitter burnt bits.

I transferred the soup to a separate pan, leaving a layer on the original pan to avoid scraping up the burnt bits.

I added some hot water because it was very thick and gave it all a good stir.

You can serve the dough boys in the soup or on the side - apparently some people even like pouring molasses over them !

This is the ultimate stick-to-your-ribs winter warmer ! The dumplings soak up all the soup flavours and most of them ended up with bacon pieces stuck to them so they were delicious.

Adding to the #readcookeat linky over at Chez Maximka.