Now that I've settled into my new house and life in Estonia, the entertaining season has truly began. After a succession of housewarming parties, we've moved on to dinner and cocktail parties. We had a dinner party in our house last Friday. There's a cocktail party this Thursday where I'll meet some more friends of K. For Sunday afternoon we've invited our respective families* over for a large Christmas meal, featuring the traditional Estonian festive fare. Next week there will be two more parties and so on, and so on. Lots of cooking, which is great, of course.
On Friday, we had K's friend Meelik and his US-born wife Siobhan over together with their two lovely bi-lingual children. The husband is an old friend and one-time colleague of K., the wife is a sociologist like me, so we were off to a good start. But as this is a foodblog, after all, then I'm supposed to talk about what we ate. K. had been to Israel with Meelik a few years ago, where they had obviously had humungous amounts of hummus. Hummus, the famous chickpea spread, is virtually unknown here in Estonia. When I enquired about any special dietary requirements before the dinner, they replied that they want hummus. It was supposed to be a joke, but then we decided to turn the joke into a reality, and served them some home-made hummus as a starter:) This was followed by another regional dish, a wonderful lemon & sesame chicken, served with rice and vegetables, prepared according to a recipe from a Israeli cookbook I found at home.
The dessert, however, was very Nordic. We served some squeaky cheese with cloudberries and mascarpone cream. I had seen the recipe on an Estonian blog, and as I hadn't had squeaky cheese for a while, decided to go with it. Plus we have a huge jar of preserved cloudberries in our fridge waiting to be proudly served (yes, home-made from cloudberries we picked ourselves).
The squeaky cheese I'm talking about is of course the Finnish squeaky cheese or leipäjuusto (literally, 'bread cheese'). It has become popular in Estonia during the recent years, and there are couple of local producers now. The milk is curdled and then either baked or grilled, which gives the cheese its traditional dark dots. And it really does squeak under your teeth - hence the English name.
[If you live in the US and would like to try this particular Finnish cheese, then try Carr Valley Cheese Company in La Valley, WI]
Baked squeaky cheese with cloudberries and mascarpone cream
(Grillitud leibjuust murakate ja toorjuustukreemiga)
300 grams squeaky cheese
200 grams mascarpone
2 Tbsp icing sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla sugar
half a lime, juice and zest
200 grams cloudberries (fresh, compote, jam - it's up to you)
lemon balm leaves to decorate
Cut the cheese into six large wedges and place on a lined baking tray. Bake at 200C for about 15 minutes, until the cheese softens.
Mix mascarpone, icing sugar, vanilla sugar, lime zest and juice until creamy.
Plate the baked cheese wedges with mascarpone cream and a spoonful of cloudberries.
Dust with icing sugar, garnish with lemon balm and serve.
Best eaten with a small dessert fork.
* There's a bit of an unequal exchange here. 'Our respective families' means K's mum and auntie from his side, and my parents, sister, her partner and 2 sons from my side. I'm keeping the dinner a secret from my aunties and cousins, as I couldn't possibly fit them all in the house, too:)