Bigos is Poland’s final wintertime stew. Traditionally, it was made in forest clearings the place hunters would drop their sport into the pot so as to add to the pickled fruit and sauerkraut. In Pan Tadeusz, Adam Mickiewicz’s epic poem, he writes of bigos: “Within the pots warmed the bigos; mere phrases can not inform of its wondrous style, color and marvellous odor”.

Fragrant bigos is mega-meaty and solely its rainbow colors, crimson peppers, yellow carrots, jet-black prunes, pink bacon, match its advanced flavours.

Serves 6

600ml/2½ cups beef or hen inventory

50g/1¾oz dried porcini​

knob of butter

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced into half moons

2 yellow (or orange) carrots, peeled and sliced into cash

1 crimson pepper, deseeded and diced

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, flippantly crushed

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

2 tablespoons candy paprika

1 teaspoon sharena sol (see beneath)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

½ white cabbage, shredded

1 apple, peeled and minimize into matchsticks (or grated if simpler)

250g/8¾oz sauerkraut, drained

1 x 400g/14ouncescan plum tomatoes

Four slices of smoked bacon, minimize into bite-sized items

1 recent bay leaf

100g/3½oz dried prunes, roughly chopped

300g/10½oz smoked kabanos Polish sausage, chopped into bite-sized items

salt and freshly floor black pepper

In a medium pan, boil the inventory, take away from the warmth and add the porcini. Go away to rehydrate for at the least 15 minutes.

Warmth the butter and oil (which is able to cease the butter burning) in a big flameproof casserole, add the onion, carrots and pepper and sauté till the onion is translucent. In a bowl, combine collectively the caraway, marjoram, paprika, sharena sol and brown sugar, then stir in.

Add the shredded cabbage, apple, sauerkraut, plum tomatoes (damaged aside a bit earlier than including), bacon, bay leaf and the inventory with porcini. Boil then simmer with the lid on, on the bottom warmth attainable, for two hours. Regulate the seasoning, including salt and pepper to style, then add the prunes and sausage, improve the warmth barely and simmer once more, with the lid on, for 10 minutes.

Serve with respectable beer, chilly vodka and Polish rye bread. That is all of the extra scrumptious reheated the following day.

Sharena Sol

This can be a vibrant salt combine and it’s a staple in Bulgarian kitchens. As its title suggests, it’s salt pounded with spices, sometimes paprika, and presumably fenugreek and cumin, and it’s sprinkled on bread, fish, hen and eggs.

20g/¾oz cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (also called kasuri methi)

50g/1¾oz flaky sea salt

1 tablespoon smoked bittersweet paprika (or your most popular paprika)

Bash collectively the toasted cumin seeds and fenugreek leaves in a pestle and mortar. As soon as the cumin is flippantly crushed, add the salt and paprika to the combination. Bash a number of extra instances till the ocean salt is roughly crushed, however not too wonderful. Retailer in an hermetic container.


Once I first recreated this Bulgarian zelnik at house my husband, James, and I stood on the kitchen counter consuming it heat, mid-afternoon. He stated, “this can be a excellent afternoon pie, it might simply take the place of a three o’clock tea-time cake.” It was within the afternoon I ate it in Bulgaria too, with the women of Malko Tarnovo, therefore the title.

Serves 4

5 tablespoons rapeseed oil

5 shallots, thinly sliced into rings

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

200g/7oz rainbow chard (or kale), washed, leaves torn to shreds and stalks minimize into matchsticks

200g/7oz spinach, washed 

leaves of two massive sprigs of mint

good handful of lovage (non-compulsory, if in season)

1 massive egg, flippantly crushed, plus an additional egg, crushed, to glaze

300g/10½oz white feta-style sheep’s cheese, crumbled

40g/three tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

270g/9½oz filo pastry

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

salt and freshly floor black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/fuel mark 4. Warmth three tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a big saucepan and prepare dinner the shallots gently with a pinch of salt till translucent, then add the nutmeg and a beneficiant few grinds of black pepper and stir collectively, take away to a big mixing bowl and put aside.

In the identical pan, add the remaining oil and chard stems, cooking them for two minutes. Take away to the blending bowl then, cooking in batches, gently wilt all of the greens (in the event that they’re not dry they may spit), together with the mint and lovage, if utilizing. As soon as cooled, if the greens have launched water, squeeze this out.

Switch to the blending bowl and go away to chill utterly earlier than including the egg and cheese. Combine and put aside. Grease a spherical 20–23cm/8–9in spherical tin with a few of the melted butter, and minimize the filo sheets into rounds to suit the form of the tin (10–12 sheets in whole). Lay 2 filo rounds within the base of the tin, brushing every with melted butter.

Sprinkle some caraway seeds over, then add a layer of the greens and cheese and repeat these layers, every time brushing the filo with melted butter. Finish with a prime layer of two filo rounds, brushed with loads of butter, slightly crushed egg and with a sprinkling of caraway.

Bake for round 35 minutes, till golden. Go away the pie to chill within the tin for 10 minutes earlier than slicing into it. Serve with a pot of afternoon tea.


One freezing morning in January, I wandered right into a tiny fish café in Karaköy, Istanbul. There, I met cousins Muhareen and Muhsin, a chef and waiter, respectively, from the Black Sea metropolis of Ardahan, close to the Georgian border. They left their house metropolis over a decade in the past to serve the bankers round Bankalar Caddesi – Istanbul’s reply to Wall Avenue and the monetary centre of the Ottoman Empire – what they know finest: fish.

Their café is so in style, and the turnover so quick, that no ice is used for the little fish counter within the window. Because it was winter, my soup got here with scorpion fish, however for this recipe any agency white-fleshed fish will do. Monkfish works effectively. Most of the banks have now relocated from right here however this balik corbasi (fish soup) stays the very best fish soup I’ve ever eaten. It is rather hearty and is someplace between a stew and a soup. Served with heat white crusty bread it makes for a good lunch.

Serves 2

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

250g/8¾oz celeriac, peeled and diced

500ml/beneficiant 2 cups fish inventory

grated zest of ½ lemon

handful of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

250g/8¾oz monkfish, chopped into bite-sized items


To serve

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

white pepper (non-compulsory)

lemon wedges

Warmth the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for a few minutes till softened. Add the carrots and celeriac and proceed cooking for an additional Eight minutes.

Pour within the fish inventory and convey to a boil. Flip the warmth down and simmer with the lid on for round 20 minutes, or till the greens are agency however practically cooked by means of. Then add the lemon zest, cherry tomatoes and chunks of fish and prepare dinner till the fish is cooked by means of.

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