Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: August 2019

 

I make freezer jams because they are easy to make, don’t need packaged pectin and last a long time in the freezer. The secret ingredient is lemon. Lemon has natural pectin in it, but it needs sugar to gel. I also use a natural sugar substitute because we try not to eat sugary foods and it works just fine in the jam.

Freezer Blueberry Jam

Ingredients

4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a large saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half, about 30 minutes. Using a potato masher crush the berries several times during the cooking process. Pour the jam into clean freezer jars. Cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the freezer. When ready to use a jar, place in the refrigerator overnight.

Strawberry Preserves

Preserves are cooked the same way jam is, however, the only difference is that the fruit in preserves is cut into chunks, whereas with jam, the fruit is crushed. The texture of preserves is not as stiff as jelly or jam. It is easy to spread and makes a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.

Ingredients

1 quart of strawberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 long strip of lemon zest

Directions

Fill 4-pint jars with boiling water and place the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you make the preserves.

Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in half and place the berries in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes or a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the heat. Empty pint jars and remove the lids from the water.

Fill the jars with the preserves and place the lids on the jars. Cool for a few hours at room temperature. Store the jars in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze them for future use.

Fig Jam

Makes about 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

1 lemon
1 orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 whole thyme sprigs
2 pounds ripe fresh figs, stemmed and quartered

Directions

Remove the strips of rind from the lemon and the orange using a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith. Combine the rind strips and the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan or large Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to medium; and cook 50 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. (If testing with a candy thermometer, it should read 220°F.) Discard the thyme and citrus strips.

Pour into refrigerator or freezer storage jars. Store in the refrigerator for several months or the freezer for up to six months.

Blackberry Jam

For 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

3 pounds ripe blackberries
2 cups sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot. The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove seeds before proceeding with the recipe. For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.
Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled
When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Easy Homemade Peach Jam

4 cups

Ingredients

4 cups (1 kg) fresh peaches, pureed
2 cups (400 grams) white sugar or sugar substitute (I use Lakanto Monk Fruit)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Using a sharp knife, peel the peaches and remove the pits. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. You can do this in batches.
Pour the peach puree in a large and deep pot and add the sugar and one tablespoon of the lemon juice. Bring to a light boil and cook for about 20-25 minutes stirring very frequently. The jam will be ready when it reaches 221 °F/105 °C or when it’s thick enough when dropped onto a cold plate. Add the rest of the lemon juice, stir, and remove the pot from the heat.

Transfer the hot jam into pasteurized jars, making sure not to fill them all the way to the rim. Using thick gloves or a towel, secure the lids, invert the jars upside-down, and let them cool. Refrigerate or freeze.


Historians divide Polish American immigration into three “waves”, the largest from 1870 to 1914, a second after World War II, and a third after Poland’s independence in 1989 when Poland was freed from Communist rule. Most Polish Americans are descended from the first wave, when millions of Poles fled Polish districts of Germany, Russia, and Austria. This group is often called the za chlebem (for bread) immigrants because most were peasants in Poland who did not own land and lacked basic needs. Substantial research and sociological works such as The Polish Peasant found that many Polish immigrants shared a common objective of someday owning land. U.S. Legislation cut Polish immigration from 1921 to World War II but opened up after World War II to include many displaced persons from the Holocaust.
Immigrants in all three waves were attracted by the high wages and ample job opportunities for unskilled manual labor in the United States and found jobs in American mining, meatpacking, construction, steelwork, and heavy industry—in many cases dominating these fields until the mid-20th century. Over 90% of Poles arrived and settled in communities with other Polish immigrants and the largest such community historically was in Chicago, Illinois.

Polish Museum in Chicago

The first emigrants from Poland were Silesians from the Prussian partition of Poland. They settled in Texas in 1854, creating an agricultural community that carried their native traditions, customs, and language. The land they chose was bare, unpopulated countryside where they created communities. The first home built by a Pole is the John Gawlik House, constructed in 1858. The building still stands and displays a high-pitched roof common in Eastern European architecture.

Władysław Kloski’s Inn (1890) was located at the southeast corner of Noble and Division streets in Chicago.

Poles also settled a farming community in Parisville, Michigan, in 1857. Historians debate whether the community was established earlier, and claims that the community originated in 1848 still exist. The community was started by five or six Polish families who came from Poland by ship in the 1850s and lived in Detroit, Michigan in 1855 before deciding to initiate a farming community in Parisville, where they created prosperous farms and raised cattle and horses. The lands were originally dark black swamps, and the settlers succeeded in draining the land for use as fruit orchards. As per the Swamplands Act of 1850, the lands were legally conferred to pioneering settlers who could make use of these territories. Individual Polish farmers and their families took advantage of this new law, and other immigrants settled disparate areas in interior Michigan independently. The Parisville community was surrounded by Native American Indians who continued to live in teepees during this time. The Poles and the Indians enjoyed good relations and historical anecdotes of gift-giving and resource sharing are documented. Polish farmers were dispersed throughout Michigan, and by 1903 roughly 50,000 Poles were said to live in Detroit.

Detroit Polish Grocery Store 1922

Polish cuisine is rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef, in addition to a wide range of vegetables, spices, and herbs. It is also characteristic in its use of various kinds of noodles as well as cereals and grains. In general, Polish cuisine is hearty and heavy in its use of butter, cream, eggs, and extensive seasoning. Among the well-known Polish national dishes are bigos [ˈbiɡɔs]; pierogi [pʲɛˈrɔɡʲi]; kiełbasa; pork loin kotlet schabowy breaded cutlet [ˈkɔtlɛt sxaˈbɔvɨ]; gołąbki cabbage roll [ɡɔˈwɔ̃pkʲi]; zrazy roulade [ˈzrazɨ]; sour cucumber soup (zupa ogórkowa) [ˈzupa ɔɡurˈkɔva]; mushroom soup, (zupa grzybowa) [ˈzupa ɡʐɨˈbɔva]; tomato soup (zupa pomidorowa) [ˈzupa pɔmidɔˈrɔva]; rosół meat broth [ˈrɔsuw]; żurek sour rye soup [ˈʐurɛk]; flaki tripe soup [ˈflakʲi]; and red beetroot barszcz [barʂt͡ʂ].

A traditional Polish dinner is composed of three courses, beginning with a soup like the popular rosół broth or tomato soup. The soups are followed by an appetizer such as herring (prepared in either cream, oil, or in aspic); or other cured meats and vegetable salads. The main course usually includes a serving of meat, such as roast, breaded pork cutlet, or chicken, with a surówka [suˈrufka], shredded root vegetables with lemon and sugar (carrots, celeriac, seared beetroot) or sauerkraut. The side dishes are usually boiled potatoes, rice or less commonly kasza. Meals often conclude with a dessert including makowiec, a poppy seed pastry, napoleonka cream pie or sernik cheesecake.

These authentic recipes make very generous servings, so for my family, I cut the recipes in half.

Kotlet Schabowy (Polish Pork Chops)

Ingredients

4-6 boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup flour
3 egg whites or 2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/3 vegetable cup oil, more if needed
4-6 pats of butter

Directions

Place pork chops between 2 sheets of heavy plastic on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet, turning occasionally, until ¼-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.


Pour flour onto a large plate. Whisk eggs in a wide, shallow bowl. Place breadcrumbs and marjoram in a separate shallow bowl.
Dredge chops with flour. Dip in the whisked egg. Coat with bread crumbs on both sides. Shake off excess coating. Place chops on a plate and refrigerate for an hour or until ready to cook.


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add breaded chops; cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Place in oven 300 degrees, on a heatproof platter with a pat of butter on top and place a sheet of foil on top while the rest of the dinner is prepared.

Polish Kapusta

Ingredients

16 oz bag sauerkraut
4 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
⅓ cup of water
2 tablespoons flour

Directions

Rinse the sauerkraut under running water. Squeeze out excess water and chop it.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter. Add onions and cook for approximately 5 minutes until they are golden brown. Add the mushrooms. Saute mushrooms and onion for 3 minutes. Add sauerkraut, sugar and bay leaf to the mushrooms; cook and stir for 10 minutes.

Blend the water into the flour. Mix with the sauerkraut mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves. Garnish with parsley and serve as a side dish.

Pierogies

Pierogies are filled dumplings that are served as a side dish.

Ingredients

1 box Classic Onion or your favorite variety of pierogies ( I used Mrs. T’s® Pierogies)
¼ cup butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh thyme leaves
Sour Cream

Directions

Place frozen pierogies on a plate in the refrigerator early in the day that they will be cooked.


Heat butter in a large skillet and sauté the pierogies on both sides over medium heat, about 8 minutes or until tender and golden brown.


Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Mix thyme and sour cream together and top the pierogies with sour cream before serving.

Polish Walnut Bread

Dough Ingredients
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few turns to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the butter cut into cubes and the egg, water, and cream. Mix until combined and the dough begins to stick together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 7 minutes. It should be smooth and soft.

Put the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.

While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling:

10 ounces walnuts
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the walnut filling:

Put the walnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground.

By hand or in a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in one egg, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the ground walnuts and mix until incorporated. Set aside.

To make the pastry:

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.

Spread the walnut filling evenly over the dough. From the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends to the sides to seal it. Pull the dough to a length of 25 inches and twist the roll into a circle. Place it on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it on the dough. Bake the walnut roll for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is a dark golden brown color and registers 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Let the walnut roll cool for 15 minutes and then slice it yo serve it warm. The pastry can also be reheated in a 350 degree F oven.

 


Whole Oven Roasted Broccoli With Cheese Sauce

For 2 servings

Ingredients

Roasted Broccoli
2 whole broccoli stalks
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the broccoli stalks and trim off the bottom of the stalks. Spray a baking dish with olive oil spray. Add the broccoli stalks. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
Roast until the stalks are fork-tender, 25-30 minutes. Pour cheese sauce over roasted broccoli and serve.

To make the cheese sauce
Combine the ingredients in a glass dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk. Heat again for 30 seconds more until all the cheese melts. Let sit a few minutes to thicken.

Sauteed Cabbage And Franks

For a heartier meal, add a side of mashed potatoes.

For 2 Servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
8 oz all-beef hot dogs, knockwurst or kielbasa, cut into 3-inch lengths
8 oz or ¼ head of green cabbage, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté until the onion is tender.
Add red wine vinegar to the pan and mix.
Add the hot dogs and saute for a minute or two.
Add remaining butter, cabbage, paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss to mix all the ingredients together and coat the cabbage with butter and seasonings.
Saute on low heat until cabbage is wilted and very tender.
Top with fresh parsley and crushed red pepper flakes before serving.



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