I entertained two nights in a row last weekend and although I hadn't planned so, the menu was the same both nights. On Sunday night I had the pleasure of hosting my former supervisor and now colleague Michael and his girlfriend Emma. And as Emma is a vegetarian, I had to come up with an autumnal Nordic vegetarian meal plan.
On Monday, I was supposed to cook a casual pasta supper for 2 friends before going salsa dancing. But on Monday afternoon I got a phone call from a Brussels-based dear friend of mine, Helen, who happened to be in Edinburgh for the night. Rather than trying to find a time for a quick coffee during the day, I invited Helen along that night, which meant that my plan of a casual pasta supper was out of the window. As a celiac, Helen has been on a strictly gluten-free diet since her childhood. Until we met in Edinburgh in 1998, I had never even heard of that condition. Since then I've baked flourless chocolate whisky roly-polys on several occasions and have became much more aware about special diets. Luckily, I still had all the ingredients from the previous night, so I just recreated all the dishes once again (no, I was not serving leftovers, there were none on either night).
Here's the menu - slightly Nordic, slightly late autumnal/wintry.
Starter: Mushroom salad cocktail
When the British hostesses served prawn cocktails in 1980s, the Estonian hostesses had to settle for the non-prawn versions. Various salad cocktails served in small glasses were very popular back home and I can still remember eating them as a kid. Flipping through various cookbooks from 1980s provide a range of recipes for salad cocktails, and here is one of them.
I returned from Estonia in August with a jar of mushrooms - rufous milkcaps - picked and pickled by my auntie Vaike. I layered these with some grated Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese (in terms of texture, this is closest to the type of cheese we eat back home), cubed English apples and topped with a dollop of sour cream seasoned with hot mustard and salt and sugar.
For the garnish, I used some dill and a tiny pickled milkcap. Isn't that tiny tiny mushroom just adorably cute?
Main course: garlicky and creamy potato gratin with various salads
The main course was a simple potato gratin: sliced peeled potatoes, onions, garlic, single cream, chopped chives.
This was baked (covered with a piece of foil) for almost an hour, then topped with grated cheese and grilled until golden brown. On Monday I served some grilled chicken mini fillets with the main dish (marinated in yogurt and Arabic Masala Mix brought by my friend Guro from Lebanon).
The potato gratin was accompanied by various 'raw salads':
Sliced organic cucumber, sprinkled with Maldon sea salt flakes, drained and mixed with chopped dill (both Sunday and Monday).
Grated raw carrots and apples, seasoned with sugar and garnished with parsley.
Boiled grated beetroot (vacuum packed, make sure it's not doused with vinegar by the producers!), seasoned with crushed garlic, salt and mayonnaise and garnished with chives. This was on the table on Sunday only and was the favourite with my guests that night:)
Dessert: banana and coffee concoction
Even the dessert was the same both nights. But you see, I was so pleased with it on Sunday, that I simply had to have it again on Monday. Just to make sure it really was tasty despite of being so deceptively easy and effortless to make.
I came across the recipe in a Estonian-language cookbook "100 puddings" (well, "100 magustoitu") and although I did change to ingredient amounts a little, it really didn't need to be improved at all..
Take some ripe bananas (1 medium sized banana per eater), mash with a fork. For 4 banananas, add about 100 ml strong coffee (season with some sugar).
Now layer the banana-coffee mixture with thick and creamy Greek yogurt (sprinkle each banana layer with some soft brown sugar). Garnish with some roasted almond slices. Serve at once.
Really really easy. And as one my guests on Monday said, this would make a delicious and show-off breakfast in bed (coffee, yogurt and a banana, anyone?) Just that you know..
Have a great weekend! Oh, and just in case you were wondering - the beautiful red maple leaves are from my trip to Göttingen in October.