Monthly Archives: December 2015

Purple Surprise

Today we moved away from a planned meal to something that was as impromptu as one can get. Someone suggested fresh bread rolls and that ballooned to adding fried liver and cabbages to make a homemade burger. It went so well we had to share.

Purple Surprise
Lamb’s liver in red wine sauce – onions, salt, pepper, hot chilli powder
Red cabbage with apples, cinnamon, cloves, cider vinegar
Homemade bread rolls with spelt flour
Butter

IMG_20151229_171550The lamb came out moist and spicy. It was cut in small pieces before frying to fit neatly into the roll. The red cabbage had a strong wine flavour and was just the right side of salty. It was drained in a strainer over the pot so not to soak the sandwich. The rolls were made from a Trinidad recipe for Hops Bread but they are essentially a crusty bun. As soon as they came off the pan they were cut and buttered and filled with liver and cabbage.

The drink to go with this was a hot chocolate made with Van Houten cacao and our own blend of spices and coconut milk.

The success of this meal was the best surprise.

Christmas Wishes / Wesolych Swiat!

Christmas is fast approaching and it’s a special time in a family’s life. Our tight knit pack savours all preparations and traditions we carry with us from childhood or new traditions we started ourselves here in the UK.

IMG_20151209_125458It’s the season to give time and attention to each other, spend time crafting home decorations, putting up the Christmas tree – our case is hopeless as children insist on having a tree once we changed the calendar to December.

We are a mix of traditions and cultures: Polish, Trinidadian and British. We pick and choose the sweetest ones and make it ours. But the most important thing is that Christmas is about the excitement of having a couple of days together that are going to be slow and that we enjoy. Exploring presents amongst a sea of wrapping paper, lots of sofa hugs, indulging in the homemade treats we cooked together, taking a walk or simply snuggling under blankets to watch sun setting across the valley.IMG_20151224_102142

In early December, Big Son starts to pester me to make a list of food we’re going to cook for our big dinner on Christmas Eve – Wigilia. It’s a traditionally Polish night with nine, eleven, twelve or thirteen dishes for good luck. We’ve simplified it over the years, mastering the art of balance, to not overindulge our bodies with pierogis, mushroom soup or millets. In Poland just before the dinner, we traditionally share a blessed wafer bread and Christmas wishes. That’s the Polish part.

We start the dinner with British crackers and hats as we continue feasting on Polish delicacies of Wigilia. Pierogi is definitely the hit and the children every year are taking on a bigger part in preparing them with me. The fun, little spats, all the fuss of the day or two before Christmas.

The Trini part on Christmas Eve is the music, Parang, and the black cake which we order from a Tobago friend.

In my childhood in Poland, we used to get presents right after the Wigilia dinner. Here, our children wait for Santa to drop gifts at night, so on Christmas Day morning we can have the best kind of mess in our living room – full of wrapping paper, toy boxes, surprises, excitement and laughter.

The brunch on Christmas Day is the Trini style: ham with piccalilli and homemade hops rolls and leftovers from Wigilia, rounded up with the rich black cake.

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But the most important thing is that we spend that time together. Christmas is about giving each other love, time, attention and care. We love to catch up with the family, friends far away, watch the children playing with new toys, enjoy presents that were chosen thoughtfully with love or stretch the legs on a brisk walk.

It is quite tranquil and calm in England that day, while people are tucking in the Christmas Day lunch amongst their dear ones. I find it very special and soothing to have the paths, streets or parks to yourself. The true Christmas aura, even if we do not have snow here.

Merry Christmas and Wesolych Swiat!

Van Houten Cacao for sale!

Dutch Cocoa 100% available from Ftfoutlet on eBay

Van Houten Cocoa

I rediscovered an old classic cacao this year. Van Houten cacao was the one we used to make hot cocoas, desserts and cakes in my childhood. It was the 100% of pure goodness in times, when you can hardly find in shops a bar trying to mimic real chocolate – (my childhood was at the end of the communist era in Poland with shortages of nearly everything).

The Van Houten family traditionally made cocoa by a process they invented. Later, they invented the Dutching or Dutch method, where cocoa powder is treated with alkaline salts, making it darker and milder. This made it possible to create a chocolate or hot cocoa, by blending with milk or water easily.

It all makes Van Houten cacao perfect for patisseries, baking or making traditional cocoa drink. It is mild and creates a rich and velvety drink – our family’s favourite treat. I was fortunate to spot the old brand and now I’m sharing the good news with you.

I found it again in the French shop this year and we fell for its dark colour and richness. We decided to bring with us some of this goodness straight from France. We found Van Houten cacao to surpass in taste the chocolate or cacao available here in the UK.

Van Houten 100% Cocoa for Sale

Van Houten 100% Cocoa for Sale

It comes in boxes of 250g, no sugar added, with the traditional Van Houten logo. Just as I remembered it from my childhood. I’ve set up the FTF eBay shop and you can now buy it here.