Tag: apple

European Comfort Food | Potato Pies


Potatoes epitomise the rural relationship with food throughout northern and central Europe, but rarely are they combined with anything more than cheese, eggs, fish, meat and milk, especially in pies, which tend to be a marriage with meat and their juices or with the mountain cheese. So why wouldn’t you make a potato pie with the fruits of the forest or the fruits of the orchard?

In Terchová in Slovakia the potato pie is a cake that combines the savoury with the sweet, with berries and nuts. In the Wallis in Switzerland the potato pie contains apples and pears as well as cheese. In Lancashire in England the potato pie is a variation of the traditional Irish mutton stew encased in pastry.


Terchovej Zemiakový Koláč
potato cake of Terchová

The Terchová region in Slovakia is reknown for its local produce. This potato cake makes use of indigenous ingredients, and the choice is personal. We have adapted a recipe from the 2003 book of old recipes by Cabadaj and Cross.


550 g flour 
400 g potatoes, boiled in skins
250 g blueberry / raspberry jamSlovakPotatoCake-lowres
150 g sugar
100 g almonds / walnuts, ground
100 g pork fat / sunflower oil
1 egg
30 g vanilla sugar
15 g yeast
Salt, large pinch
Butter, for greasing
Sugar, for finish
Water, for finish


Rub the potato and fat or oil into the flour. Beat the yeast into the egg, leave for 15 minutes, add to the mixture followed by the sugar and salt. Knead the dough, leave for an hour, degas, divide into two equal pieces. On a floured board roll each piece out to the size of a large round baking tin. Grease tin, place first piece of dough in the bottom, even out, and spread with jam. Sprinkle choice of ground nuts and vanilla sugar on top of jam, cover with the second piece of dough. Pierce surface of cake. Bake in a 180ºC oven for 45 minutes, until the cake is brown. Finish with water and a sprinkling of sugar. Leave to cool.


Zemiakový Koláč
potato pie

This traditional cheese and potato pie has gone through so many variations it now resembles the quiche of eastern France and western Germany or the borek of the Balkans, made with the relevant cheeses. Traditionally this pie was filled with bryndza, the mountain cheese, encased in a milkly yeast dough. For a softer filling cream was used instead of butter.


550 g flour
300 ml milk, warmed
45 g pork fat
20 g yeast
5 g salt
5 g sugar
Pork fat / lard, for dressing
600 g potatoes, cooked, skinned, mashed
400 g bryndza, crumbled
30-60 g sour cream (45 g butter)
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch


Dissolve yeast in the warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar, whisk. Add salt to the flour and rub in the pork fat (or lard). Pour in the milk and yeast mixture. Knead into a smooth dough, leave to rise for an hour. Combine the cheee and potatoes with the cream or butter and seasonings. Divide dough into two equal pieces, roll out on a floured surface into thin sheet to fit choice of baking tray. Greased tray, fold in the first sheet, cover with filling, top with remaining dough sheet. Melt a tablespoon of fat or lard and brush surface of dough. Pierce surface with fork. Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes.


apple, cheese, pear, potato pie

The 1830s were difficult for the people of the hidden Swiss valleys. Cholera swept across the land, confining people to their homes, where they relied on the stable foods of the land. Out of adversity a traditional dish emerged and survives today.


500 g puff pastry
400 g potatoes, boiled whole, peeled, sliced 
400 g raclette cheese, sliced
250 g Gala apples, sliced
250 g Bosc pears, sliced
150 g leeks, halved, sliced, braised in butter 
Egg for glaze
Nutmeg, grated


Preheat oven to 215°C.

Cover the base and sides of a cake tin with pastry.

Prick the base lightly with a fork. Layer evenly with apple followed by the potato, leeks and onions.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Lay cheese on top, then a pastry lid, press edges of pastry together, prick lightly with a fork in several places.

Brush with egg and bake for an hour.

The traditional Gommer Cholera contained equal amounts of apple, cabbage and potato, half the amount of cheese, and was baked using a plain pastry dough.


Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Hot Pastry Crust

Meat and potato pies are a traditional dish of northern England, especially the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the combination has always formed the basis for a hearty meal. Packed in a pastry it becomes portable.

These pies have never been a home-baked product, largely because they have always been ubiquitous in the cafe and chip shop culture of north-west England, Holland’s version being the most popular of the mass-produced brands.

Made with beef, potato and yeast extract in a shortcrust pastry, Holland’s meat and potato pies are also synonymous with sporting events.

Meat and potato pies, as they are known today, began as a workhouse product, are probably related to Irish mutton pies, and were hardly known as a recipe in cookbooks.


1 kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
750 g lamb, cut into 2 cubes
750 g onions, chopped
30 g black pepper, freshly ground
25 g salt


This is essentially an Irish stew recipe. The quantity is much more than you will need for the filling.

Arrange lamb in the bottom of a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones.

Stack potatoes on top of the lamb, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt.

Fill the pot with water, three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil.

Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours.

The result should be a thick meat and potato stew, with the onions completely melted.


450 g strong white flour
150 ml water
125 g lard
10 g pepper
10 g salt
5 g icing sugar


Bring the lard and water to the boil.

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add pepper and sugar.

Pour the hot liquid into a well in the centre of the flour, and using a sturdy wooden spoon quickly form into a soft dough.

Divide dough into eight equal pieces (approximately 90 g each), cut again – two thirds for the base, one third for the lid.

Push the dough into the bottom and sides of small deep pie tins, diameter 8 cms.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Pack the tins with the filling, roll the remaining dough out, place over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Pierce a hole in the centre of the lid.

Reduce oven temperature to 180°C, bake for 90 minutes.


Fish and Potato Pie

Always thought of as a fish pie rather than a potato pie, this traditional dish combined ingredients that have always come together. Baking the fish in a cheese sauce topped with mashed potato and grated cheese made this dish a meal instead of a snack.


1 kg assorted smoked and unsmoked fish fillets, 
fresh or frozen, cut into bite sized pieces
1 kg potatoes, cooked, riced
600 ml milk
200 g mature melting cheese, grated
40 g butter
40 g flour
25 g parsley, chopped
15 g black pepper, freshly ground


Make a light roux. Remove pan from heat, whisk milk a little at a time into the mixture. Back on the heat bring to the boil stirring constantly. Turn heat to low, stir in half the cheese.

Add parsley and pepper, allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Arrange fish in ovenproof dish, pour sauce over fish and finish with potato and remaining cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until crisp and golden, and piping hot in the middle.


Culinary Connections | Armenia Switzerland Turkey



The recipes for kalajosh by Vartanoosh Onigian and Rose Terzian in the 1973 book Adventures in Armenian Cooking by St. Gregory’s Armenian Apostolic Church of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, U.S.A. remain the default standards for this traditional dish in American-English.

In the years since the book went out of print and became available online, these versions have travelled through hyper-space onto recipe sites and personal blogs without acknowledgement to the original source.

This, sadly, has allowed those who sought and still seek to interpret the dish to get it wrong. When the people of St Gregory’s published their book they expected to sell it locally as a fundraiser. They did not expect it to become a best-seller, and that meant that the easier recipe, by Terzian, became more popular than the slightly complicated recipe by Onigian.

Terzian stated: ‘Saute meat and onion in a quarter of a cup of olive oil, add salt, pepper and garlic. Cook until tender. Add bread cubes, stirring lightly until browned. Spoon yogurt over meat when serving.’

It could not have been more simple, and with the ingredients easily available to north Americans the recipe by Terzian is now stuck in a default position.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Terzian recipe. But it does not explain the purpose of the dish or its place in the traditional cuisine of Armenia, whereas the recipe by Onigian contains hidden mysteries.

Lamb has always been a reliable source of protein for the peoples of eastern Anatolia and the trans-Caucasus. By combining the lamb with yoghurt, the Armenians were paying homage to one of their oldest culinary traditions. And by transforming their own sweet yoghurt (known as manzoon or macun) into a sauce to accompany the slow-cooked lamb they are acknowledging the role that traditional food plays in their culture, one of the oldest in the world.

Onigian suggests mixing manzoon or yoghurt with egg and water to make the sauce. Some cooks also add flour and use a thick home-made yoghurt (see recipe below).

Modern versions of kalajosh can be made with large pieces of lean lamb. Traditionally the lamb is cubed, in some recipes into small cubes that reduce further in size during cooking and resemble mince in the finished dish.

A meat stock instead of water is preferred to produce a richer flavour. Seasonings should be treated with respect. Too much salt will ruin this dish while black pepper and paprika will add an aromatic depth to contrast the sweetness of the manzoon sauce.

It is believed that kalajosh has a Persian origin. Armenians will probably argue that notion with you and insist that this rich traditional dish has nothing to do with the period when the Ottomans ruled the region, or with any other influence.

Professor Gürsoy, in his reflections on Armenian and Turkish culture, argues that both societies shared culinary traditions, and notes the historical influences of Arabia, Greece, Persia and Syria.

The professor refers to Adventures in Armenian Cooking as a common denominator between these cultures in north America. The book, the professor says, ‘includes information about Armenian food names, their ingredients and methods of cooking’.

‘Food … is a cultural category which defines societies, and common food is an important element which shows the interaction of the societies.

‘Armenians … from the population of the Ottoman Empire still carried on their food culture after migrating to the US.’

Professor Gürsoy identifies numerous dishes shared by the food cultures of the region. Not surprisingly, the professor asserts, there are many similarities between Anatolian, Turkish and Armenian dishes. Interestingly kalajosh is not one of them.

Here is the anomaly. Terzian’s recipe is very close to yogurtlu yahni, a Turkish dish (below) whereas Onigian’s recipe is faithful to Armenian traditions. Yet Terzian’s is regarded by Americans as genuinely Armenian, when it is clearly influenced by Turkish culture.


800 g lamb, boneless shoulder 
cut into small cubes less than 2 cm
600 ml meat stock
400 g onions, chopped small
100 g apricot, dried, sliced thin
45 ml olive oil
30 g paprika
10 g black pepper
Salt, large pinch

Gently warm the stock in a large pot.

Sauté a third of the cubed meat in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy-based frying pan.

When the fat and juices separate from the meat, pour contents of the pan into the stock pot, deglaze pan with a little of the stock.

Repeat with the remaining oil and meat.

Add onions to the stock pot. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and simmer for 60 minutes on a low heat.

Remove lid, simmer and reduce for a further 45 minutes.

500 g yoghurt, thick sweet
50 ml water, mineral
30 g semolina
1 egg

Beat egg into yoghurt, loosen with the water.

Pour into a saucepan and bring slowly to a low boil.

3 two-day old dry pideh breads, cut into small pieces.
Mint, fresh, cut into strips

Place bread in soup bowls, spoon hot yoghurt on top followed by the meat and onion mixture. Leave to soak into the bread. Finish with a little more of each. Garnish with mint and serve with rice.

Yogurtlu Yahni

1 kg lamb, cut into 4 cm cubes, salted
250 ml yoghurt
200 g onions, small, quartered
75 ml water
15 g butter
15 g vegetable oil
10 g herb (dill/mint/parsley), rough chopped 
10 g salt
Water, for diluting yoghurt

Sauté lamb in butter and oil in a large wide frying pan over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Pour a third of the water into the pan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Repeat every 15 minutes. Cook in total for 75 minutes, until the lamb in tender.

Stir the herbs into the meat.

Loosen yoghurt with a little water.

Put the meat in a large dish, the yoghurt in a jug and allow diners to help themselves. Serve with pide bread.


1 litre milk
250 ml double cream
80 g milk powder
60 ml manzoon/yoghurt

Bring milk to below boiling point in a large saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in milk powder and cream and cool to 45°C.

Preheat oven to 80°C.

Loosen the manzoon/yoghurt with a little of the warm milk.

Pour the warm milk into a large ovenproof bowl, stir in the manzoon/yoghurt.

Reduce oven heat to 45°C.

After four hours the new batch of manzoon/yoghurt should be thick and have a sour-sweet flavour.

Allow to cool, then refrigerate.


Popular in both Armenia and Turkey, this summer dish is featured in Adventures in Armenian Cooking as jajukh.

500 g cucumbers, peeled, cubed small
500 g manzoon/yoghurt
50 ml chilled water
4 garlic cloves, crushed and mashed
1 tsp dried mint/1 tbsp fresh mint (crushed/chopped)
Salt, large pinch

Beat yoghurt into a smooth consistency, loosen with water, add garlic and salt.

Mix cucumber into yoghurt, chill for two hours.

Serve with a garnish of fresh (or dried) mint.


Traditionally this yoghurt soup was made with wheat berries, which were pre-cooked.

It is also made with pre-cooked rice.

This is the semolina version.

250 g manzoon
125 ml water
100 g semolina
65 g onion, chopped
1 egg
10 g butter
10 g flour
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Salt, pinch

Whisk egg in a bowl, add flour and a third of the manzoon and the water.

Pour into a saucepan, add remaining manzoon, semolina and salt.

Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat the mixture until the semolina is cooked.

Add onions and butter, heat through, about three minutes.

Bircher Müesli

Named after Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, who proclaimed the restorative powers of raw fruit, berries, grain flakes, nuts and seeds as the first meal of the day, this breakfast dish is now a favourite throughout Europe, especially in Armenia where tangy manzoon complements the sour-sweet apples, berries and oranges.

200 g manzoon
200 g berries 
150 g apple cubes
100 ml dairy milk/soya milk
100 g grain flakes (barley, rye, spelt)
100 g orange segments
50 g honey
20 g almonds, chopped
20 g hazelnuts, chopped
20 g sunflower seeds

Blend half of the fruits with manzoon and milk, stir in flakes, nuts and seeds.

Pour honey on top, refrigerate overnight.

Serve with remaining fruits.