This year we’re spending Christmas in Poland, so there are no big food preparations at home. Christmas cooking (or to be exact Christmas Eve cooking) always reminds me my Grandma Gina’s house, where we used to spend Christmas. Christmas Eve is for me time with the family, and time of cooking with the family. With my mum and grandma we used to spend nearly all day in the kitchen, whilst the guys cleaned the house, decorated the Christmas tree and did other things they would usually do on that day – checking constantly what was happening in the kitchen.
Polish Christmas Eve is the time of traditional recipes – grandma and mum always knew what to do and how. Instead of checking recipes books, I was asking them every minute how to make this or that. And if it came to measuring ingredients, you just needed to add as much as needed ;). I must say I was surprised when it came to preparing my first Christmas Eve by myself – but after all these years, you just know how to make everything. And that’s the reason why from all the Christmas preparations, one thing I remember most is Christmas Eve cooking, all the delicious dishes that appear on the table only once a year, and preparations in a good company! Plus the amount of veggie dishes that are served on Christmas Eve. On the blog, of course, all the ingredients are measured and detailed.
Sauerkraut with wild mushrooms always had its place at the table on Christmas Eve, also in disguise of pierogi with sauerkraut and wild mushrooms.
Today we had a small tasting session of Christmas Eve dishes with sauerkraut playing the key role. This recipe is the sauerkraut with porcini mushrooms, served in pastry baskets. I hope you’ll agree with me that this serving method converts this simple dish into an exquisite starter.
For sauerkraut with porcini mushrooms:
0.5 kg sauerkraut, cut
15g dried porcini mushrooms
a few prunes, stone out (optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 bay leaf
2 allspice berries
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry cups
1 sheet of rolled-out pastry
250g plain flour, sifted
150g butter, chilled, cut into pieces
4 tbsp cold water
Pinch of salt
To prepare the sauerkraut with mushrooms
Place the dried porcini and prunes in a bowl with water and soak overnight (or at least for 2 hours).
Take out the prunes and cut them into pieces.
In a large pan, heat the rapeseed oil and add onion. Fry until golden. Add the sauerkraut and sugar. Add the bay leaf and allspice berries. Stir and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
In the meantime, in a small saucepan cook the mushrooms in 2 cups of water in which they soaked previously. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Then cut them into narrow strips.
Add the mushrooms to the sauerkraut, together with the water in which you cooked them. Simmer the sauerkraut and mushrooms for further 10-20 minutes until the sauerkraft is soft.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. If needed, strain the excess of liquid.
Before serving remove the bay leaf and allspice berries.
To prepare the pastry baskets
Heat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.
To make the shortcrust pastry, mix together all the ingredients. You can add a bit more water if needed. Mix all the ingredients, first with a knife, and then with your hand, to make a smooth dough. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then roll it out to 0.5cm thick.
I used rolled-out shortcrust pastry on this occassion, which you just simply take out from the packaging.
Line the moulds on the muffin pan with the pastry, pressing the pastry into the moulds.
Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Before serving, place the sauerkraut in the pastry baskets.