Polish Village Meals

A few weeks ago, I was offered the chance to try and review some Polish cuisine. I’m heading to Warsaw next month and I must admit I’ve never tried Polish cuisine before. So when The Polish Village Bread got in touch with me asking me to try some of their food, I was excited to try something new which would prepare me for my upcoming trip.

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I got home from work one Friday and found a bulging bag of goodies on my doorstep and the amount stuffed into the bag was more than generous – I must admit I was pretty excited to find it as it meant I didn’t have to try and create dinner out of scraps in the fridge.

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I adore dumplings and in my goody bag I found three different types of pierogi: potato and soft cheese, sauerkraut, and pork and onion. Piregois are little plump dumplings, which are crimped into sun shapes. Dumplings are little heavenly packages which can be either sweet or sour. They’re so tasty and they don’t really deserve insulting ‘dump’ syllable at the start.

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I simply boiled them for a couple of minutes and then finished them off in a frying ban with some butter to give them a beautiful crisp shell. All the flavours were so good, but the pork and onion ended up being my favourite. I served up all the dumplings with a side salad of rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, which my mum and brother tucked into and thoroughly enjoyed.

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Next came the chicken escalopes, which were served with cheese and mushrooms on top, sort of like a chicken pizza. Now you can’t go wrong with melted cheese but this is a dish I’ve made a fair few times and is incredibly easy to make. If you want to try Polish cuisine that you can’t make yourself, I’d opt for the peirogi any day.

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The next day we feasted on a lunch of pancakes, or krokiety, as they’re called in Poland. They’re not pancakes as I know them, I’d describe them more like a croquette with a crunchy exterior. We sampled three different flavours which included, spinach and cheese,  mushrooms and cheese, and spicy chicken and mixed vegetable. The spinach and cheese was a firm favourite, and I’ll definitely be ordering myself a portion of these babies when I head to Warsaw. (I’m afraid to say I forgot to take a photo of these as I wolfed them down too quickly).

I also received a couple of portions of sauerkraut, which I’ve only had a handful of times. It was a bit too tart for me but my dad just tipped into into a bowl and ate the whole thing and was singing its praises for days afterwards.

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The only sweet thing in the bag was the fruit cake, which hardly lasted a couple of seconds in my house. It’s a polish fruit cake, so it’s not one of those dense cakes with dried fruit packed in – instead it’s more of a fluffy sponge with fruit on top. It was so light and heavenly, I’d definitely be ordering that again.

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If you’re interested in tasting some Polish cuisine for yourself, you can try the whole range here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Carrot Cake

I get my love of carrot cake from Scott and one of the reasons I adore it is because it’s so moist. This favourite bake of mine has been tweaked in various ways to make it a little healthier.

I’ve opted for wholegrain flour instead of white flour and instead of sugar I used naturally sweet mashed banana and pure maple syrup, and I’m using coconut oil to lock that moistness in.

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I refuse to have carrot cake without a cream cheese forsting and for this healthier verision I’m adding coconut milk and maple syrup. You’ll be amazed at the cloud-like forsting it makes.

You’ll need… 

For the cake:

  • 200ml coconut oil
  • 1 large rip banana (mashed)
  • 125ml maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g wholegrain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 275g grated carrots
  • 40g shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (chilled overnight)
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 1 lime (zest only)
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including time to cool)

Cook Time: 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 160°c and line a 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, banana, maple syrup and eggs until totally combined. Then mix in all the remaining cake ingredients and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour or until springy when pressed lightly. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minute before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Now to make the frosting… Scoop the thick white layer of the chilled coconut milk into a mixing bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Whisk with an electric mixer until it becomes thick and creamy (liked whipped cream).

Then add the cream cheese, lime zest and maple syrup and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes whilst you’re waiting for the cake to cool.

When the cake is cool spread the frosting over the top and then serve!

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Velvet Lattes at Palm Vaults

When I first spotted Palm Vaults over on Instagram, they jumped straight up to the top of my ‘places to visit’ list. It’s a picture-perfect independent coffee shop and although the place only opened recently, it’s already bustling. I look the mini pilgrimage to Hackney with my friend Serena to check out what the all the fuss is about.

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It’s a house plant heaven, with pink velvet seats, pink marble tables, with touches of gold – a barbie’s paradise. It’s a beacon of pink against the mundane Hackney highstreet, and as you step inside you’re thrown back to Miami in the 1970s. I thought I’d find it quite kitsch, but I completely love it.

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I opted for their most instagramed drink, the velvet latte, along with a side of avocado toast. It’s made with beetroot and if you love matcha, you’re going to relish this. They’re also known for their eclectic menu of smoothies and juices – which are incredibility refreshing.

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We were also tempted by their variety of cakes and naughty treats, and Serena went for their avocado chocolate cake, whereas I went for the salted caramel banana cake (after all, I couldn’t resist). Their cakes were SO good, plus the portions were huge! I’m gutted to say I wasn’t able to finish it all.

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Palm Vaults, 411 Mare St, London E8 1HY

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Healthy-ish Chocolate Torte with a Toasted Hazelnut Crust

This recipe is part taken from Angela Liddon’s, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, part my own invention. I’m a big fan of clean eating, but I won’t be becoming vegan or removing sugar from my diet any time soon.

I use a hazelnut crust and there’s no butter in this recipe – this is what I deem as the healthy bit. But there’s chocolate and sugar in it and life’s too short not to enjoy dessert.  The hazelnut crust is the perfect complement to the rich and creamy chocolate filling – you’ll have people going back for seconds despite their best intentions.

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You’ll need… 

For the crust:

  • 75g hazelnuts
  • 100ml coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 150g oats

For the filling:

  • 475ml skimmed milk
  • 150g sugar
  • 75g coco powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 egg
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Freeze Time: 4-6 hours, but preferably overnight

Firstly, we’ll need to make the hazelnut crust. Preheat your oven to 180°C and lightly grease a pie dish with coconut oil.

In a food processor, blitz the hazelnuts into a fine crumb. In a bowl  combine the hazelnuts, oil, maple syrup, and oats. The dough should stick together but it shouldn’t be super-sticky either. If it’s too dry try adding a bit of water.

Put the dough into the pie dish, and with your fingers spread it out starting from the middle, moving outward and update along the side of the pie dish.

Bake the crust, uncovered, for 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside on a rack for 15-20 minutes.

Now for the filing.. once you’re removed the crust from the oven combie a 1/4 of the milk, with the sugar, coco powder, corn flour, and the egg – stir this all together with a whisk.

Gently heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan until tiny bubbles start to form around the edge – do not boil the milk. Add sugar mixture to the hot milk with the chocolate and vanilla and cook over a medium heat until it’s thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and place in the freezer for a couple of hours.

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Healthy Banana Bread

Ever looked in the fruit bowl and seen overripe, spotty bananas? Then ever looked in your fridge and saw you had no eggs… That was the dilemma I was faced with earlier. Thankfully I had some egg whites leftover from the weekend – I guess I have my mum to thank for never letting me throw any food any. I dare you to leave the high-calorie, high-fat ingredients of the traditional banana bread behind and try this alternative.

My banana bread recipe uses 100% whole wheat flour, is naturally sweetened and has a light crumb – plus it hardly uses any equipment so there’s not a lot of washing up!

You’ll need… 

  • 2 eggs (or 2 egg whites)
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 large bananas
  • ¼ cup milk (I used skimmed cow’s milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 25g of vanilla protein power
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • Totally optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…

Preheat oven to 165 degrees and grease a load pan with some coconut oil.

If you’re using just egg whites whisk then until they are light and fluffy, and if you’re using normal eggs just beat them with a fork.

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Add the melted coconut oil and honey to the eggs and whisk.

Mash the bananas and also add them to the mix.

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Then add your milk, baking soda, vanilla protein power, salt and cinnamon, and stir.

Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon.

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Pour your batter into the loaf tin and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Bake for about an hour, or until  a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

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How do you like your banana bread? For some extra protein, I like to top it with peanut butter. If I’m feeling indulgent, a dollop or honey or a large slab of butter.