Culinary Anthropologist

Secret Kitchen menu, 19th March 2011

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thinking of Eastern Europe

Apple Pies
Blini with smoked mackerel, beetroot and horseradish

Romanian hors d’oeuvres:
Aubergines, mushrooms, peppers, pickles, salamis, cucumbers, cheese

Hungarian pörkölt with galuska and sour cream

Polish doughnuts with rose petal and rosehip jam

Romanian sour cherry liqueur

About tonight’s menu

Our friends in Poland, Richard and Marżena, introduced us to Apple Pies. Usually they’re just Żubrówka vodka and apple juice – tonight’s have some extra ingredients. 

In Romania no feast starts without a glass of ţuică (plum brandy) and an initial spread of lots of different hors d’oeuvres, much like meze in Greece or Turkey.  In fact, some of tonight’s dishes, although Romanian, are descended from Turkish originals.  The pickles, though, are particularly Romanian.  Gogoşari are like red peppers but rounder and fatter – these were made in Romania by a friend.  Gogonele are green cherry tomatoes lacto-fermented in brine.  These are last year’s crop from our garden here.

Pörkölt is very much like I’d imagined goulash.  But time in Hungary taught us that goulash (gulyás) is very different, being made with beef, no peppers, and lots of broth – more like a soup than a stew.  The galuska are a cross between dumplings and pasta and always small and irregular. They are found all over Central and Eastern Europe.

Dessert was inspired by our visit to Cukiernia Samanta – a fantastic bakery in Zakopane, Poland where they make literally millions of doughnuts, especially in time for Fat Thursday (at the start of Lent) when all of Poland goes doughnut crazy.  The jam inside is a mix of Romanian rose petal jam and my own rosehip jelly.

And finally, vişinata is my all time favourite home made liqueur.  We learnt how to make it from friends in Romania and have survived off gifts from Romanian friends until last year we finally planted our own sour cherry tree in the garden.

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