POLISH FOOD COOKING ADVENTURE IN VIDEOS & PICS-SERIES 1 of 10 RECIPES

About Polish food

Traditional Polish fare is a blend of Slavic influences, while it also shares roots with French and Italian cuisines. At the turn of the second millennium, root vegetables, wild mushrooms and coarse breads formed Poland’s basic food staples, but, over time, a variety of European influences began to appear.

When Italian Princess Bona Sforza became the Queen of Poland in 1518, she brought along her Italian court staff, who soon introduced ingredients previously unknown to the Polish, including tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, cauliflower and chives. Today, the Polish word (wloszczyna) for standard soup greens, including parsley root, celeriac, cabbage and leek, translates to “Italian stuff”.

Poland’s relentless cold climate means soups play a key role in Polish meals. Barszcz, a bright red fermented beetroot soup, is often served with beans for festive occasions, as is Żurek, a soup made of sour rye flour and boiled meat. A hearty hunter’s stew, bigos is the national dish of Poland, made from a combination of cabbage, mushrooms and various meats. Traditionally, the rich and dense stew is made from pork or Polish sausage, cooked over several days to intensify, but it can also contain venison or duck.

Polish cuisine is also renowned for its distinctive dumplings, especially pierogi, dough filled with minced meat, brined cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes, onions or cottage cheese. Meanwhile, popular desserts include pastries and cakes, commonly made from yeast dough; including Polish doughnuts, paczki, stuffed with jam, chocolate or even liqueur.

But one of Poland’s most famous specialties is clear vodka, traditionally enjoyed neat, without ice or mixers. One of the most distinctive varieties is Żubrowka, known as bison grass vodka, where each bottle contains a blade of grass from Poland’s Białowieża Forest.

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1…Krakow-style cheesecake (sernik Krakowski)

This Polish cheesecake is recognisable by the lattice pattern layered over the sweet cheese and sultana filling, which is created using a reserved portion of the pastry base.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 400 g soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar (see note)
  • 600 g plain flour
  • 1 egg, plus 1 extra, beaten, for brushing

Filling

  • 1.5 kg Polish-style cottage cheese
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 150 g sour cream
  • 1 orange, rind finely grated
  • 150 g sultanas
  • 5 eggs, plus 5 egg yolks
  • 100 g plain flour

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 1 hour

To make the pastry, using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, cream together the butter and sugar. Sift in the flour and combine until a dough forms. Remove two-thirds of dough from bowl and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until 7 mm thick. Use to line base of a 30 cm round springform tin (or 2 x 22 cm round springform tins). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, to make dough for lattice, add the egg to remaining dough in bowl. Combine well and shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Use a fork to prick pastry base all over. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until light golden. Remove from oven and cool.

Roll out the lattice pastry on a lightly floured work surface until about 5mm thick. Cut into strips, carefully place on a tray and refrigerate until needed.

To make the filling, combine the cheese and half the sugar in a bowl. Add the sour cream, orange rind and sultanas and combine well. Beat together the eggs, egg yolks and remaining sugar and fold into the mixture. Fold in the flour. Spoon into prepared pastry case and arrange lattice strips over the top. Brush pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 30–40 minutes, or until golden and set.

 

Note
• To make the pastry, you could use half caster and half vanilla sugar, if you like.

2…Potato pancakes with mushroom sauce (placki ziemniaczane z sosem grzybowym)

Mushroom picking is a popular Polish activity, and there are places across Australia where you can go to harvest your own fresh mushrooms. Autumn is the best time to pick mushrooms and to cook this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 500 g large kipfler potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • olive oil and butter, for pan-frying
  • sour cream and chopped parsley, to serve

Mushroom sauce

  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 500 g slippery jack or pine mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 125 ml (½ cup) chicken or vegetable stock (see Note)
  • 125 ml (½ cup) thickened cream

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Peel the potatoes and onion. Using medium–size holes, grate into a bowl. Add the egg and flour, season with salt and pepper and combine well.

Heat a little oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When bubbling, cook large spoonfuls of potato mixture for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in oven.

To make the mushroom sauce, heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 6–8 minutes, or until soft and light golden. Add the mushroom and cook for about 2–3 minutes. Scatter over the flour and stir for a few seconds before stirring in the stock. Season to taste, then simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cream and stir until heated through. Serve the hot potato pancakes topped with mushroom sauce, sour cream and parsley.

Note
• Homemade stock is best for this recipe.

3…Duck with apples and cranberries (kaczka z jablkami i borowkami)

Duck is a favourite meat in Polish cuisine, and serving it with apple and cranberries is a traditional combination. If you have time and want to ensure you get the skin as crisp as possible, season the duck inside and out with salt, pepper and dried marjoram and leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight before roasting.

Ingredients

  • 1 young duck about 1.8 kg)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2–3 tsp dried marjoram
  • 3 granny smith apples (see Note)
  • 1 small orange, rind grated
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 100 g fresh, frozen or dried cranberries (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tbsp chopped toasted walnuts, briefly soaked in 2 tsp Krupnik (Polish honey vodka)
  • 1 tbsp Krupnik (see Note) (optional)
  • 2 tsp fresh marjoram leaves

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Rinse the duck with water and pat dry. Make a small slit at base of each breast and push drumsticks into slits.

Lightly prick duck all over to help release some of the fat. Remove the parson’s nose, since this contains oil glands that can affect the taste of the dish. Season duck inside and out with the salt, pepper and a little of the dried marjoram (see note).

Slice 1 apple and place in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, orange rind and 1 tsp dried of marjoram, and toss to combine. Stuff into duck cavity. Tie legs together to seal opening, then place on a rack set in a roasting pan. Combine the olive oil and honey and brush all over duck skin.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Remove duck from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Bake the duck for 20–25 minutes, or until skin is starting to brown. Reduce temperature to 180°C and bake for another 1½ hours. Every 20–30 minutes, baste duck with juices from base of pan.

Remove duck from oven, cover loosely with foil and rest in a warm place for 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core the remaining 2 apples and cut into wedges. Heat a large frying pan over medium- high heat. Add apples and toss for 1–2 minutes, then add the sugar. Season to taste. Toss for 5–6 minutes, or until golden and caramelised. Add remaining dried marjoram and the butter and toss well. Add the cranberries, dried apricots, walnuts, Krupnik, if using, and fresh marjoram. Toss to combine.

Cut the duck into pieces and serve with caramelised apples and cranberries.

Note
• You could also use half red apples and half green apples, if you like.
• If you use dried cranberries, be sure to soak them first.
• If you can’t find Krupnik, use any vodka.

4…Cold beetroot soup (chlodnik)

Vibrantly coloured chlodnik is a popular summer dish in Poland. The warm version of beetroot soup is called barszcz.

Ingredients

  • 300 g (3 medium) beetroot, trimmed
  • 100 g (1 medium) brushed potato
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small French shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 250 g natural yoghurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced, or to taste
  • salt and white pepper, to season
  • 60 g crème fraîche
  • 1½ tbsp very finely chopped chives
  • 1–2 cm piece fresh horseradish (see Note)

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Using gloves, peel and chop the beetroot and place in a saucepan. Peel and chop the potatoes and add to pan. Add the stock. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat, cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Place the beetroot mixture in a blender. Add the cucumber, French shallot and yoghurt. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of crème frâiche and chives, then finely grate over a little fresh horseradish.

Note
• If you can’t find fresh horseradish, use Eksal or Krakus brands of preserved horseradish, which are available in the international or kosher section of your supermarket, or at any Polish or Russian deli. Blend the preserved horseradish with the beetroot and potato.

5…Warm sauerkraut with sausage and bacon (bigos)

Traditionally, Polish bigos is served with rye bread and Zubrowka (bison grass vodka). This warm dish can also be served with young mashed or steamed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sauerkraut, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup pork or duck fat
  • 250 g pork neck, cubed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 200 g sausage ends, chopped
  • 60 g smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 250–500 ml (1–2 cups) beef stock
  • 60 ml red wine
  • ½ savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 2 dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 8 prunes, pitted and chopped
  • chopped parsley, to serve

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Place the sauerkraut in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, then drain.

Heat a little of the pork fat in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook the pork neck and onion, seasoning, until browned. Add the bay leaves, sausage, bacon, mushroom, allspice, salt and a good amount of black pepper, and combine well. Add the sauerkraut and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, for 30 minutes.

Melt the remaining pork fat in a saucepan, add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes, to cook the flour. Add a little bit of the beef stock and stir until smooth, then add the remaining stock and combine well. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into the sauerkraut mixture. Add the wine and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the savoy cabbage in another saucepan. Add the porcini, garlic and water. Cook over medium–low heat for 15 minutes, or until wilted. Remove from the heat.

When the sauerkraut mixture has been cooking for 30 minutes, add the wilted savoy cabbage and prunes, cover with the lid slightly open, reduce heat to as low as possible, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. Top with chopped parsley and eat immediately, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Bigos gets better as it is reheated, so on the third day it should be at its best.

6…Polish pate (pasztet)

Pasztet is a festive Polish dish often served at special occasions like Christmas. Unlike other spreadable pates, this full flavoured and sophisticated pasztet resembles a terrine and should be served in slices.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500 g gravy beef, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 500 g pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 300 g boneless pork belly, rind removed, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 20 g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4–5 whole allspice
  • 200 g chicken livers, cleaned
  • 1 white bread roll
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram, or to taste
  • Maggie soup seasoning, to taste
  • 2–3 tsp sea salt
  • ¼­ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • bread, gherkins and horseradish sauce, to serve

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Soaking time 20 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Chilling time overnight

Place a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the beef and cook for 3–4 minutes until evenly browned. Remove the beef and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon oil and the pork shoulder and cook for 3–4 minutes until evenly browned. Return the browned beef to the stockpot with the pork belly, onions, celery, mushrooms, bay leaf and allspice.

Add 1.75 litres (7 cups) cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for
1 ½–­2 hours or until the pork and beef are almost falling apart. Remove the stockpot from the heat.

In a separate saucepan, blanch the chicken livers in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain. Add the livers and bread roll to the braised meat mixture. Allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then drain (discard liquid). Using a mincer, pass the mixture through the finest setting twice.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease two 21 cm x 9 cm loaf tins.

In a bowl, combine the braised meat mixture with the eggs, marjoram, Maggie soup seasoning, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well to combine. Spoon into the greased loaf tins and bake for 45 minutes until firm and the top is golden. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

To serve, cut into slices and serve with bread, gherkins and horseradish sauce.

Photography by Alan Benson

7…Young spring cabbage with dill and bacon

As spring progresses and the earth blooms, fresher tastes start coming into play in Polish cooking. Side dishes begin to require young vegetables – this is especially true of the cabbage, which has a completely different flavour later on in the year. Young cabbage has a sweet taste that can be replicated through the use of another sweet cabbage such as the oblong Napa cabbage at other times of the year.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) streaky (lean) bacon, cut into fine strips
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 leafy young cabbages or Napa cabbages, shredded
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 bunches dill, finely chopped
  • 3–4 tbsp tomato paste (purée)
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • salt and white pepper, to taste

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) and fry the bacon strips over a medium heat until crispy. Add the onions and continue to fry for a further 4–5 minutes.

Add the shredded cabbage and water and stir together. Season and cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, three-quarters of the chopped dill, tomato paste and the sugar. Continue to fry, stirring every couple of minutes, for a further 10 minutes with the lid removed. Try a bit and season again to taste.

Just before serving add the reserved dill. This dish works well as an accompaniment to chicken, or can be eaten on its own with crusty bread

Recipes and images from Polska: New Polish Cooking by Zuza Zak (Hardie Grant Books, $45, hbk).

8…Crispy-baked pierogi stuffed with pork and pine nuts

Crispy pierogi are not a common dumpling, but they are a great alternative to uszka with clear red borscht and also work well with zurek. You should eat these on the side of soups, so that they retain their crunchy consistency. Baked pierogi require a slightly different dough, similar to that of the famous Russian kulebiak, which is just one massive ornately decorated dumpling

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 350 g (12 oz/scant 3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 150 g (5 oz/1⅔ sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) ice-cold water
  • beaten egg yolk, to glaze

For the filling

  • 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) pork
  • 50 g (1¾ oz/½ cup) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 egg
  • salt and white pepper, to taste

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Resting time 30 minutes

Tip the flour into a bowl and add the butter and oil. Work into the flour using your hands for a few minutes, then add the ice-cold water, a little at a time. Start kneading until it comes together into a smooth ball. Knead for a further 3–4 minutes then place in a plastic food bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas 6) and lightly grease a baking tray.

To make the filling, combine the pork mince, pine nuts, egg and seasoning together in a bowl, using your hands.

Roll out your dough as thinly as possible on a floured surface.

Use the pierogi method below, filling them with the pork and pine nut mixture.

Place the pierogi on the baking tray and brush with a beaten egg yolk to glaze. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

How to
Folding Polish dumplings
Dumplings are incredibly simple to make and very much part of Polish heritage, all you need is a little confidence in the art of folding and preparing the dough, to make these little wonders. Once mastered, dumplings can be made in minimal time and truly are little flavour bombs you can fill with whatever mixture your heart desires!

Recipes and images from Polska: New Polish Cooking by Zuza Zak (Hardie Grant Books, $45, hbk).

9…Polish onion-filled ‘bagels’ (bialy)

Created in the Polish city of Bialystock (hence the name), this small, chewy round roll is often compared to a bagel. Rather than a hole in the centre, an indent is made and filled with cooked onions and poppyseeds, and the dough is baked rather than boiled.

Ingredients

  • ½ x 7 g yeast sachet
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400 g (2⅔ cups) bread flour (’00’) or strong plain flour, plus extra, to dust
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to brush
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Cooling time 15 minutes
Resting time 3 hours 5 minutes

Dissolve yeast in 60 ml warm water in a bowl. Stir in sugar and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 5 minutes or until mixture bubbles. Combine flour and 2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Make a well in centre, add yeast mixture and 185 ml water, then stir to form a dough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.

Punch down dough on a lightly floured work surface, divide into 8 equal portions and shape into 10 cm rounds. Transfer to 2 oven trays lined with baking paper. Cover with tea towels and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 220°C. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook onions, stirring, for 8 minutes or until golden. Season with salt and stir through poppyseeds.

Using your thumb, make a deep indent in centre of each dough round and fill with onion mixture. Brush with extra oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Photography Chris Chen

As seen in Feast magazine, March 2014, Issue 29.

10…Rice cakes with pickled beetroot

While this combination of shredded celeriac, prosciutto and fresh herbs is a more refined take on the traditional version of Polish rice cakes – typically paired with grated or mashed potato – the resulting rendition is every bit as satisfying. Pickled beetroot is also popular in Poland and is characteristically served alongside heavier fare to provide taste and textural contrast, as well as a flush of colour.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml (½ cup) milk
  • 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
  • 200 g (3 cups) cooked white rice (made from 1½ cups uncooked rice), cooled
  • vegetable oil, to shallow-fry
  • 300 g (about ½) celeriac, peeled, thinly shredded
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 120 g (½ cup) sour cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill leaves
  • 12 slices (180 g) prosciutto

Pickled baby beetroot

  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 55 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp whole mixed peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 bunches (1 kg) baby beetroot, trimmed, peeled

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

DRINK Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier, Bavaria, Germany (500 ml, $5)

To make pickled baby beetroot, place vinegar, 125 ml water, sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries and ½ tsp salt in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add beetroot, increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover surface with a cartouche (see Note) and simmer for 45 minutes or until beetroot is tender. Cool beetroot in cooking liquid.

Place eggs and milk in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Sift in flour, whisking to combine, then add rice, mixing until well combined.

Fill a large, non-stick frying pan with 3 cm oil and place over medium heat. Working in batches, add ¼-cup portions of batter to pan and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining batter to make 12 rice cakes.

Combine celeriac, lemon juice and parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Combine sour cream and dill in another bowl and set aside. Top rice cakes with sour cream mixture, celeriac mixture and prosciutto slices. Serve with pickled baby beetroot.

Note
• This is a paper lid that is placed directly on the surface of food during cooking to slow down the reduction of moisture. To make your own, take a square sheet of baking paper slightly larger than the pan you intend to use. Fold in half on the diagonal, then repeat to make a small triangle. Unfold paper and gently place over pan, with centre crease marking lined up over the centre of your pan. Using scissors, trim overlapping edges of paper to create a circle that fits snugly into your pan.

Photography by Chris Chen. Drinks suggestions by Dan Coward.

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