26 August 2013


No, they are not actual pigeons :) Gołąbki, or "pigeons" in English, are a very traditional Polish dish, which consists of cabbage leaves (I bet you didn't see that one coming) stuffed with rice, mince, mushrooms and herbs and spices. They can be served with a lovely, zesty tomato sauce or a wild forest mushroom sauce - both options are amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy to make.

  • 500g of beef or beef/pork mince
  • 250g of rice (500g boiled)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 white mushrooms, chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 medium or one large white cabbage
  • 1 glass of stock (can be beef, chicken or vegetable)
  • Salt and pepper (you can substitute salt with Vegeta, if you have any)
  • Oil for frying

  1. First of all, you’ll need to prepare the cabbage leaves. A fresh white cabbage is quite tough and if you tried to separate the leaves they would break, so what you need to do is cut out the core of the cabbage with a sharp knife (without slicing the cabbage itself), then place it in a large pot of water (so that it’s fully covered) and boil it until the leaves become soft and start peeling off. You may find that a couple of layers of leaves will come off and the ones underneath are still tough – in that case just take the soft ones off and put the rest of the cabbage back into the boiling water. Repeat until you get through to the really small leaves, which will be of no use. You’re only interested in ones that are large enough to wrap them into a parcel (so probably no smaller than ca. 15cm in diameter). Be careful not to burn yourself when peeling the leaves off!
  2. Once you’ve got all of your leaves separated, you’ll need to trim the big thick vein in the middle of each leaf. All you need to do is to take a knife and scrape off the large bulge in the middle of the leaf, so that it’s the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. This way it will be easier to fold the leaf.
  3. Now on to the stuffing: Gloss the onions with the mushrooms in a frying pan with a bit of oil. Add the mince and brown it.
  4. Boil the rice according to instructions in salty water.
  5. Mix the rice with the mince and fresh parsley. Season the mixture to taste with salt (or vegeta) and pepper. You can actually taste it, because all the ingredients should be thoroughly cooked, so it’s safe to eat.
  6. Wrap the stuffing in the cabbage leaf (a bit like a burrito) and pile the parcels up in an oven-proof dish. Pour some stock over the parcels and cover the dish with a lid.
  7. Place the parcels in an oven and cook at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Tomato Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 3 tbsp of unsalted or slightly salted butter
  • 1l of stock (vegetable or pork would be best)
  • 5 tbsp of tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Prepare the roux by melting the butter in a pan and mixing in the flour. Fry until golden brown.
  2. Transfer the roux into a saucepan and add in the stock. Mix until you get a nice, thick sauce base.
  3. Mix in the tomato puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Mushroom Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 3 tbsp of unsalted or slightly salted butter
  • 0.5l of stock (vegetable or pork would be best)
  • A pack of dried wild forest mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Place the mushrooms in a pot with about 0.5l of hot water and leave it overnight to let the mushrooms plump up and give off some of their flavours. By the next day the water should be dark brown.
  2. Bring the water and the mushrooms to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Fish the mushrooms out (keep the water) and let them cool. Then chop them up very finely and return them back to the water.
  3. Prepare the roux by melting the butter in a pan and mixing in the flour. Fry until golden brown.
  4. Transfer the roux into a saucepan and add in the stock. Mix until you get a nice, thick sauce base.
  5. Mix in the mushrooms with the mushroom-infused water. Mix until you get a nice, uniform mushroom sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the “pigeons” with either sauce. Both the “pigeons” and the sauces are also perfectly freezable, so if you end up cooking a huge batch, just split up some portions into Tupperware boxes and chuck them in the freezer for later.

19 August 2013

Haggis, Potato and Apple Tart

The tart is really lovely on its own and it's possibly the first recipe I ever used that I thought didn't need adjusting or changing any proportions at all. The only addition I made was a little bit of tangy gravy sauce to make it a bit more moist. It will go really well with some greens as well, like broccoli.

I found this recipe in a cook book I picked up for £2 in a charity shop – by far the best cook book I've ever had, if you can get your hands on it get it now.

  • 450g of potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • about 1/2 of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 400g of ready-made puff pastry
  • 300g of haggis
  • 2 cooking apples - peeled, cored and sliced
  • egg wash (1 egg and a splash of milk, beaten together with a fork)

 1. You will need a rather large tart dish - mine was a bit too small (23cm diameter, 4cm deep), which meant I had leftovers, which meant I had to make an apple strudel... Ah well. ;)
2. Roll out the puff pastry. You will need two discs - one about 25 cm in diameter and one slightly larger. Line the dish with the larger disc. Trim away any uneven edges, but leave a bit of a rim, so that you can fold it in later.
 3. Mix the potatoes with garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of the dish (sorry, forgot to photograph that stage).

Then take the haggis out of its packaging. It will have the texture of sticky play-dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin until it matches the size of your dish and place it on top of the potatoes.
 4. Layer the apples on top of the haggis.
 5. As a final layer, place the remaining half of the potatoes on top of the apples...
6. ...and finally cover the whole tart with the other disc of pastry. Fold the edges together using some egg wash as glue and make a few small cuts in the surface of the pastry to let the steam escape. Brush the whole surface thinly with egg wash.

I also used some pastry off-cuts to make flowers and leaves.
7. Place in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes.

As you can see, my oven insists on burning one side of everything. I think that damn thing hates me.

For the sauce

I cheated here a little bit. I only needed a little bit of sauce, so rather than cooking beef stock from scratch I used gravy granules to make about a cup of beef gravy, and then spiced it up with a good splash of Lea and Perrins Sauce and about a teaspoon of finely ground black pepper. The sourness of Lea and Perrins corresponds really well with the apples, and the pepper matched the spiciness of haggis.

As I said, the tart dish I used was too small, so I ended up with a bit of apples left over. I also bought a big pack of puff pastry, which meant I had that leftover as well. I figured it would have been an absolute abomination not to use it to make a quick and simple apple strudel. :) Have a look here.

Apple Strudel

I had some apples and puff pastry left over from one of my other recipes and I simply couldn't not make this. I think there may be a law which states you need to make an apple strudel if you have apples and puff pastry.

  • about 150g of ready-made puff pastry
  • 1 cooking apple, quartered and thinly sliced (although I had less than that left over, probably around half to ¾ of an apple, and it worked just as well)
  • 3 tbsp of raisins
  • 1 tbsp of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of sugar (any type of sugar will do, but I used 1tbsp of white sugar and 1tbsp of brown)
  • Icing sugar (for dusting)
  • Egg-wash (1 egg plus a small splash of milk, beaten with a fork)

  1. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and flour together. Add the apples and raisins until they are evenly coated.
  2. Roll out the pastry until you get a large, thin square. Spread out the apples and raisins evenly all over the pastry, leaving only about an inch or so of a rim around the edges.
  3. Start rolling up the pastry from one edge until you've rolled the whole thing up and reached the opposite edge. Use a bit of egg-wash to glue that edge up.
  4. Using some more egg-wash, pinch and seal up the sides of the roulade.
  5. Place the apple strudel on an oven tray lined with parchment paper and spread a bit egg-wash all over its surface.
  6. Place in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes.
  7. Once it’s golden brown, take it out of the oven and dust with icing sugar.

Serve hot with a bit of custard, cream or ice-cream if you have any, or just on its own. Enjoy! :)

5 August 2013

Pork Meatballs with Sesame Seeds and Sweet Chilli Stir-Fry.

This one here is a bit of a cheat recipe to be honest, as it calls for a lot of ready ingredients. But it’s a nice, simple alternative to the usual chicken-and-vegetable stir-fry I tend to make so often out of sheer laziness. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a culinary cheat every now and then ;) In fact without them Jamie Oliver would be out of a job tomorrow.


  • 500g pork mince (I bought pork chops and minced them at home - that way you can be sure of the quality)
  • 3 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Dark soy sauce, about 3 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds (about 5-6 tbsp)
  • sunflower oil (for frying)
  • a pack of stir fry vegetable mix of your liking
  • about 300g of egg noodles
  • sweet chilli sauce

  1. Gloss the onions on low heat in a little bit of oil and let them cool down to room temperature. Mix them together with the mince, garlic, egg, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce and 1 tbsp of sesame seeds.
  2. Once it's all mixed together quite well, form about 20-ish meatballs. Place the remaining sesame seeds on a plate and roll the meatballs around to coat them.
  3. Fry the meatballs in a pan with a bit of oil on high heat for a couple of minutes just to brown them on the outside, then turn the heat down to medium and fry them for about 15 minutes, turning regularly.
  4. Now onto the rest - you can use the same frying pan, just take the meatballs off it and top up the oil a bit if needed, remembering to keep the meatballs warm. Place the stir fry mix in the pan and add the remaining 2 tbsp of soy sauce, plus a good dollop of the sweet chilli sauce, according to your liking. I added about 100g, give or take. If youe have any leftover sesame seeds, chuck them in there as well. Fry for about 5 minutes or until your stir fry vegetables soften a bit.
  5. Mix in the noodles and fry for another 2-3 minutes. And that's your stir-fry done! All you need to do now is serve it with the meatballs and enjoy! :)

N.B. I found that there were slightly too many meatballs for me, so I simply froze the leftover ones for next time.