In a the second in a short break from the regular series, countryphile James Waller-Davies tries his hand at some European recipes using ingredients which can be purchased here in Lincolnshire.
The height of summer is not usually the time to go in search of comfort foods.
The hot weather invites us towards tastes that are more exotic, refreshing and spicy. But with August temperatures currently on a par with March, perhaps some comfort food carbs are needed.
Comfort foods the world over share the same warming, soothing, satisfying characteristics. They feed the soul as well as the body. They are what your mother cooked for you and what you cook for your children. What could be better for a bad day than a creamy fish pie, a macaroni cheese, or a homemade rice pudding?
Comfort foods all seem to share the same soft texture. My personal theory is that a good comfort food is one you can eat without teeth. We get weaned onto them as infants and they’ll be the last thing we eat at the other toothless end of our lives.
Kopytka, a Polish potato dumpling, similar to Italian gnocchi, certainly fits the comfort food criteria. These soft and fluffy potato mouthfuls are quick and simple to make and melt away in the mouth. You can add a variety of toppings, from mushrooms, pork lardons, crispy onions, or a grating of cheese. For an autumnal seasonal twist, you can swap some of the potato with smashed pumpkin and a scraping of nutmeg.
Traditionally, kopytka is a meal in itself, but it also makes a great side dish to go with grilled meats or sausages.
RECIPE: Kopytka (Polish potato dumplings)
500g cold mashed potatoes
250g plain flour
1 large egg
300g sliced mushrooms
Combine the mashed potatoes, flour and egg in a bowl with a good seasoning of salt and pepper.
Flour a board and knead the mixture to ensure all the flour is combined and then roll into long sausages, about an inch thick. Cut pieces at an angle, about
an inch long.
Drop the kopytka into a pan of salted boiling water for a few minutes. When they float, they are done. You may wish to do this in batches. Set to one side.
To complete the dish, fry off the mushrooms and set aside. Then fry the kopytka in butter until golden on each side. Add back the mushrooms and toss in some extra butter.