Monday, April 30, 2007

My first ever ... kedgeree

Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the March 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine.

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish that was a popular breakfast item during the Victorian era. It's a rice dish with smoked fish and soft boiled eggs, seasoned with curry and herbs. I had seen various kedgeree recipes during my years in Edinburgh, yet I hadn't had a chance to try, yet alone make it myself. The opportunity finally knocked at my door during Easter, as I had all those colourful Easter eggs needing to be used up.

I cannot really tell you the origin of this recipe any more. I wasn't sure I will be able to find smoked haddock here, so I decided to go with salmon - the post popular and common smoked fish in Estonia. I searched the web and my bookshelf and printed out several recipes for a smoked salmon kedgeree. Eventually, I did find smoked haddock after all, and after some further inspiration from Jamie's Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook (aitäh, Merilin, mulluse sünnipäevakingi eest!) I came up with a following recipe. Whereas kedgeree is usually made with pre-cooked rice, a bit like egg-fried rice, then I cooked it from scratch to be served straight away.

I enjoyed it, and I hope you'll do as well. It was a light and unusual brunch dish, and the pretty yellow colour made it especially suitable for a sunny spring day.. One day I will give the smoked salmon kedgeree a try, however, too..

My kedgeree
Serves 6-8

250 grams basmati rice
400 ml water or vegetable stock
200 grams hot smoked haddock, flaked (cleaned weight)
25 grams butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbsp mild Indian curry powder
half a lemon
salt and black pepper
fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
2-3 boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise

Rinse the rice in a running cold water, drain.
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder and fry gently for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and the boiling water/stock (all at once). Simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes, until rice is 'al dente'.
Add the flaked fish and lemon juice, heat through.
Season, sprinkle with chopped herbs.
Garnish with thinly sliced lemon and top with halved boiled eggs.

Sam and her Kedgeree (including a link to some further background information on this dish)
Mae and her beautiful Smoked Haddock Kedgeree
Freya & Paul and their Kedgeree a la Lindsay Bareham
Sher and her Salmon Kedgeree a la Nigella Lawson
Liz and her Smoked almon Kedgeree with Shrimps

Friday, April 27, 2007

Orange Oil Madeleines

It's customary in Estonia to treat your colleagues for something special on your birthday. In return you get lots of beautiful flowers, so it's actually a pretty fair deal :-) My birthday is on the same day as the birthday of one of my dear senior colleagues, who's well known at the Institute for her excellent culinary skills. I remember having met her about a decade ago, fresh out of university (me, that is), and falling in love with her eggplant-filled spicy pastries that were served at one of the informal meetings at the Institute (I was only loosely attached to the Institute back then). In any case, Klara and I share birthdays, our love for cooking, and even our specific research focus (national identities and multiculturalism). It made only sense to combine our skills and efforts for the small lunch-time gathering at the Institute then on Wednesday.

When negotianting the details, Klara told me that she'd be bringing her traditional onion pie (which was mouthwateringly delicious!), and I could bring something sweet to accompany a cup of coffee. I decided to make a batch of Chocolate Cherry Muffins, and something else that can be eaten without a cake fork. As I had - finally - acquired a silicone madeleine form in London, I wanted to make these dainty French pastries. They have been popping on many of my favourite foodblogs (just see my tags), and my first plan was to make matcha madeleines. But as I had bought a bottle of decadent-sounding orange oil in London, then K. suggested I'd do something with orange oil instead of matcha.

Oh - and my chocolate cherry muffins and orange oil madeleines were just as popular and equally quickly consumed as Klara's traditional onion pie. We're quite a team :-)

Orange Oil Madeleines
(Madeleines-koogikesed apelsiniõliga)
Adapted from here and here.
Makes ca 100 mini madeleines (a 5 ml)

4 medium eggs
150 grams sugar
a pinch of salt
150 grams plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp orange oil (I used Boyajian Pure Orange Oil)
50 ml butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 190 Celsius. Brush the pans with some melted butter.
Beat together the eggs, sugar and salt in an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until you've got a thick pale foam. Add the Orange Oil.
Mix flour and baking powder, sift twice and gently mix into the eggs.
Fold in the melted butter until well combined.
Using a small teaspoon, spoon the batter into the greased madeleine pans (NB! there is no need to re-grease the madeleine pan between each batch later), so they'd be about 3/4 full.
Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 7 minutes, until the madeleines have raised and their edges turn lightly golden brown.
Remove the madeleines from the pan as soon as they come out of the oven (flip the silicone form over a parchment paper and if necessary, push them gently out). Cool.
Madeleines are best on the day they're baked, but you can store them in an airtight container for a day.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Greek Easter Bread Tsoureki, 2007

Pretty, isn't it? It's the traditional Greek Easter bread tsoureki, using the little known spices mastic and mechlebe/mahlepi (you can see them both here) and usually garnished with red eggs*. I've made tsoureki before (twice, actually), to a great acclaim from a number of Greeks, and it has become a regular feature at my Easter table.

The recipe I've used on the previous occasions was an adapted from Paul Hollywood's book 100 Great Breads, and it (the adapted version, that is) worked just well. But as a kind friend had sent me a copy of Theodore Kyriakou's widely acclaimed book, The Real Greek at Home: Dishes from the Heart of the Greek Kitchen, then I decided to test another recipe for tsoureki instead this year. After all, Kyriakou is the Chef of the The Real Greek restaurant in London and hailed as the Greek chef and expert on the Hellenic cuisine in the UK. So his recipe should definitely please, no?

Well, it failed to do that. I should have got suspicious about the amount of spices. Whereas Hollywood used two pieces of mastic and a pinch of mahlepi per half a kilogram of flour, then Kyriakou used 3 pieces of mastic (that's fine), but a whopping 1.5 tsp of mahlepi - that's quite a difference from a pinch! This meant that these spices (plus the addition of star anise infusion) didn't just give a hint of musky spiciness to the bread, but utterly and totally hijacked the flavour, especially mahlepi. And whereas I love the subtle hint of mastic and mahlepi, then too much is simply too much. Also, Kyriakou's version asked for the inclusion of six whole eggs in the pastry, which may have explained the toughness of the resulting bread. Ok, I may have slightly over-kneaded the pastry, which explains why the bread looks a bit stretched on the photo above, but believe me, this was the least of the problems. It was just, blah, as some foodbloggers would say..

The moral of the story? Well, when something doesn't need fixing, then leave it alone. As simple as that.. Next year I'll try my old and trusted (that is, tested) recipe again :-)

The read egg on the photo was provided by the 5-year old Gretel. See here for more details.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my ... bread: seenekarask or a mushroom loaf

Andrew of SpittoonExtra is hosting this month's edition of Waiter there is something in my ..., and the theme is bread. In ideal circumstances, I would have wanted to make a proper Estonian leavened rye bread. However, as I only just returned from London on the wee hours of Monday morning, and was busy celebrating my birthday yesterday, I didn't have time to start the rye bread. Yet as I was still keen to make something local, I decided to adapt an old recipe for a simple local loaf bread, karask.

Karask is a type of bread in Estonia and Finland that doesn't use yeast nor require leavening; instead, baking powder or baking soda is used to raise the bread (so it is a bit like the Irish soda bread then). Usually karask is made with barley flour (mine uses plain wheat flour), and a popular local version uses curd cheese to flavour and moisten the bread (I've also got recipes using leftover potato mash to give bulk to the bread). I made mine with mushrooms - one of my favourite ingredients, as most of my loyal readers would know by now (just see here), and added a generous handful of fresh herbs..

The texture of the bread is quite heavy, so if you're into light and fluffy breads, then this karask is not for you. However, it will be perfect for those of you who like mushrooms (and there are many fungiphiles or mushroom lovers out there, believe me!) It's at its best when served warm, straight out of the oven, sliced thickly and buttered with a slightly salted butter. Yet it is also delicious cold on the following day, and would make a lovely picnic dish, as it cuts into neat cubes or slices when cold.


Seenekarask or Estonian quick mushroom bread
Serves 6

250 fresh mushrooms (I used a mixture of brown and white champignon mushrooms), quartered
1 large onion (ca 100 grams), finely chopped
1 Tbsp oil

150 grams plain flour
60 grams porridge oats
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
200 ml milk
100 grams butter, melted
5 grams flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

30 grams cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, add mushrooms and onions and fry on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms have browned a little and onions have began to soften. Remove from the heat and cool.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and herbs. Stir in the milk and melted butter.
Pour into a buttered (and/or lined) loat tin and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
Bake at 200 C for 35-40 minutes, until the loaf is cooked (due to high mushroom content, the loaf remains moist).
Slice and serve.
As I said, the loaf is at its best when still warm, but remains delicious and flavoursome until the next day.

Here are links to my previous Waiter there is something in my ... entries:
March 2007 (EASTER BASKET, hosted by Johanna): a selection of various Easter delights.
February 2007 (PIE, hosted by Jeanne): a great Russian puff pastry and fish pie, Salmon Kulebyaka.
January 2007 (STEW, hosted by Andrew): my version (in collaboration with Anthony Bourdain:) of the French classic Boeuf Bourguignon.

UPDATE 26.4.2007: Read Andrew's round-up of sweet and savoury bread recipes

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's that time of the year ...

Photo by K.

... again when I'm allowed to feel slightly spoilt and special. I can enjoy waking up to a lovingly made and slightly more festive breakfast and beautiful flowers on the table, I can interrupt my work without much guilt to read the emails, view the e-cards and take phonecalls wishing me well. I can entertain thoughts about a special dinner and a birthday cake I'm going to enjoy tonight, and start planning the menu for a family lunch on Saturday.

Life is good..

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back from London; Delicious Canelés; A Much Better Molten Chocolate Cake

I'm back from London. Arriving from truly summer-like London (sunny, 20 Celsius) to much colder and almost wintry Tallinn (rainy, ca 4 Celsius) last night was a bit of a shock, but as K. had baked a batch of canelés* to welcome me back home, I quickly warmed to the idea again :-)

I'll be back with a new post tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a photo of a molten chocolate cake/chocolate fondant pudding I had just before leaving for London, that was much better than the earlier attempt:

Same recipe, just shorter baking time (8 minutes) and darker chocolate (Lindt 82%). Yum...

* See here, or here or here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A vibrant cranberry juice; a vacation alert

Isn't it pretty? A refreshing cranberry drink, made from the cranberries we picked in October and kept in the freezer until now. Just cranberries (heated, pureed, strained), lots of boiled water and a spoonful of sugar.

I'm off to London for a ten days later today, so apologies if my blogging will be a bit erratic over the next week. I'm spending another delicious weekend with Johanna, will have a drink with London-based foodbloggers again, will be lunching here, and shopping there. It's my first time in the UK since moving back home, and although I won't be able to visit Scotland this time, I'm really excited.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dandelion Leaves, All Dressed Up (võilillelehesalat)

Remember my New Year's Resolutions? Well, one of the resolutions was to make rullepølse or the Danish cooked rolled pork belly. And I'm happy to tell you that as of Easter Sunday this can be ticked off, too. You can see a glimpse of the rullepølse below, and I'll blog about it soon. Meanwhile, let me tell you a little about what I served it with. As I used a rather fatty piece of pork to make my first ever rullepølse, I needed something sharp to cut through the grease :-)

My solution? A sharp salad of dandelion leaves.

On Saturday we did the annual egg-swapping/seeing-the-relatives trip. We paid a visit to K's mum, my Granny No 1 and my Granny No 2, followed by a joyous lunch at my parents' house together with my sister, nephews and my favourite auntie. At each place, we 1) ate eggs; 2) exchanged eggs; and 3) jarped some eggs. For example, Granny No 1 got one of my eggs, whereas I got one in return (egg number 6 on this post). It was also at the said grandmother's place that I picked up a small bunch of young dandelion leaves. Definitely worth trying - their taste is not so dissimilar to wild rocket leaves, and cost nothing at all..

Dandelion leaves (Taraxacum), as my newly acquired Estonian book on the use of wild garden plants in the kitchen said, are 3-4 times more nutritious than salad leaves. The ancient Greeks believed that dandelion aided digestion, stimulated appetite and increased sexual potency, and worked as a diuretic and as a tonic, among many other properties. The leaves are high on protein (2.4%), carbohydrates (7-8%) and vitamins C (30-70mg%) and E (7-8mg%) and betacarotene (7-8mg%). The fat content is insignificant (0.5-0.6%). Dandelion is cultivated in many countries, notably in France (Chez Pim wrote about pissenlit only recently), Spain and Portugal, but here in Estonia it is definitely considered a weed. A beautiful one, both when in bloom and after it (as on the above photo taken by K. last summer), but definitely a bothersome weed that usually ends up in the compost pile rather than on a plate.

The salad below was called 'dandelion salad, Italian style' in the book.

Dandelion Leaves, all dressed up
Serves 4
Adapted from Umbrohud tüliks ja tuluks, by Toivo Niiberg & Enn Lauringson (Maalehe Raamat, 2007)

young dandelion leaves*, washed and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a generous squeeze of lemon juice
some fresh tarragon leaves
Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything and serve. Goes well with something greasy.

* Soaking dandelion leaves in cold water for 30 minutes will get rid off the harshness of the leaves.

WHB: This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beetroot Easter Eggs (aka pickled red beet eggs)

Click here to view the photo on Flickr

This recipe started off as a copy of Alanna's perfect hard-boiled ruby eggs*. However, as I couldn't figure out how to get hold of beetroot juice, I decided to use finely grated boiled beetroot instead (yep, vacuum-packed ready-made stuff). And just before gently nestling the eggs in the beetroot mush, I decided to add a bit of caraway seeds and a clove of garlic as well. And a little dill. And just a tiny pinch of salt...

The resulting ruby eggs are utterly pretty, especially with this well-travelled Easter chick (whom you all surely remember from this photo taken in Edinburgh a year ago) keeping an eye on them. And the beet-caraway-garlic combination yields just enough flavour to the eggs to make them special and interesting.

Beetroot-dyed Easter Eggs

8-10 freshly boiled eggs**, peeled

500 g beetroot, boiled and finely grated (keep the juice!)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely crushed
2 tsp of caraway seeds, slightly crushed
1 tsp salt
a generous squeeze or two of lemon juice
dill, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients and put in a small bowl or plastic box with a lid. Push the peeled eggs gently in the beetroot mush, so they'd be covered. Put the lid on and place the bowl/box into the fridge for about 12 hours (or up to 24 hours. The eggs above were subjected to the 12-hour treatment).
Remove the eggs from the beetroot***, wipe clean with a moist kitchen paper. Cut in half lenghtwise and serve on a bed of chopped dill.

* See here for yet another pickled red beet eggs recipe.

** Experiments inspired by Harold McGee's McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture that took place in our kitchen on an early Saturday morning (while the owner of this blog was still fast asleep) revealed the best eggs to be the ones cooked in a barely simmering 80-85C water for 10 minutes :-)

*** Oh - and the leftover seasoned grated beetroot? Serve this in a small bowl as a salad, maybe with a tablespoonful or two of added mayonnaise stirred in..

Other beetroot dishes @ Nami-nami:
Beetroot & Blue Cheese Risotto (January 2007)
Beetroot & Garlic Salad (December 2005)
Beetroot & Goat's Cheese Sandwich (February 2006)
Beetroot Salad Full of Vitamins (March 2007)
Beetroot Tzatziki (April 2006)
Filo Tartlets with Beetroot & Cheese (August 2006)
Savoury Muffins with Beetroot and Blue Cheese (October 2006)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Egg Art, April 2007

I told you there'd be loads of eggs:

Easter Egg Art, originally uploaded by Pille, pictures by K.

Eggs decorated by (from top left; click on each link to see an individual image):
1. Our friend Peter, 31 years; 2. Gretel, 5 years, using a Russian egg wrapping paper; 3. Gretel, 5 years, using egg colours; 4. Pille, using onion skins (wrapped around the egg); 5. A chick and daffodils; 6. Pille, using onion skins (wrapped around the egg); 7. Pille's grandma, 86 years, using onion skins (thrown into the boiling water); 8. K, using saffron; 9. K, using hibiscus tea (also known as karkade/flor de jamaica).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Celeriac Salad, or time to use up those root vegetables

Here's a recipe for a French celeriac salad - you know, just in case you've got a wrinkly celeriac hiding somewhere in the bottom drawer of your fridge :) Now that the spring is nigh, there's no need to keep those winter stand-by staples either..

Makes a good side dish to grilled white fish. Don't overcook the celeriac - you want some trace of crunchiness in your salad. Oh - and 'celeriac' is known as 'celery root' in the Northern America.

Celeriac Salad
(Prantsuse sellerisalat)
Adapted from December 1998 issue of Kodukiri
Serves 4

300 grams celeriac/root celery
50 ml mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
black pepper
few celery or parsley sprigs to garnish

Peel the celeriac and slice thinly (4-5 mm) and then cut into thick julienne. Blanch in a slightly salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool.
Mix mayonnaise, mustard, season with garlic, salt and pepper. Blend the dressing with celeriac, garnish with a sprig of celery.

Other celeriac/celery root recipes to try:
Bea's Celeriac Soup
Betul's Stuffed Celeriac
Christine's Roasted Celeriac And D'Anjou Pear Soup
Clotilde's Celeriac and Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger
Elise's Celery Root Salad
Johanna's Celeriac Lasagne
Molly's Purée of Celery Root Soup
Stephen's Celeriac Remoulade

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Am I Molten or Not?

Last night I got a bad craving for chocolate. Although K. kindly offered to whip up and bake some chocolate souffle for me, I declined, as I remembered the number of dirty dishes in the kitchen after his last attempt. Instead I went to my bookmarks and printed out Food Migration's recipe for molten chocolate cake. I gave the recipe to K., together with Nigella's recipe for molten chocolate babycakes and asked him to choose between the two. He went for the first one, as the idea of using 350 grams of chocolate for 6 small cakes (as requested by Nigella's recipe) seemed a bit excessive on a weekday night.

Only then did we realise that we don't have any bitter chocolate left in the house, so we used Manjari 64% Madagascar Plantation ("Rich, dark chocolate with a raspberry finish") from Edinburgh-based Coco Chocolate instead (yet another chocolatey farewell present I had got back in October). As you can see from the picture below, we left the cake in the oven for a minute too long, so it's not as molten as it should be. But we will be trying this recipe again soon, with a darker chocolate. And then, on one beautiful day, we'll try Nigella's chocoholic's dream, too..

Molten Chocolate Cake
Source: Food Migration

170 grams bittersweet chocolate
150 grams butter
160 grams sugar
75 g plain flour
4 eggs

Butter and sugar (or maybe sprinkle with cocoa instead, as per David's suggestions?) the insides of six small ramekins or pudding molds. Place on baking tray.
Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan.
Beat eggs and sugar together. Add the melted chocolate and butter mixture. Continue to beat for another five minutes.
Add flour, beat for two more minutes.
Pour mixture into prepared ramekins.
Bake in a 180 C oven approximately 8-10 minutes - NO MORE.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. A good and slightly melted vanilla ice cream is a good accompaniment.

PS Shaun of Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow has tried Nigella's molten chocolate babycakes - check out his post.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cumin-scented Carrot Chips Recipe

Here I am singing praises to the Queen of Vegetables, Alanna, again. I have discovered great carrot recipes in old handwritten cookbooks (K's grandma's carrot ragout); in heavy printed tomes (Moroccan carrot salad with cumin and garlic, Jazar Bil Kamoun Wal Toum from Claudia Roden's enchanting Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon); in online cookbooks (gingered carrots with feta cheese from the Swedish Arla site; carrots with rosemary and orange from the Finnish Finfood site). Fellow bloggers have inspired many a carrot meals of mine. Of course, there are those ever-wonderful roasted carrots with mushrooms, courtesy of Kalyn. But when it really comes down to it, then Alanna rules. I've already praised her carrots with African spices, and now I've discovered her cumin-scented carrot fries (or 'carrot chips' for us, Europeans:) Alanna serves them alongside tender pork tenderloin, but believe me, these are fully satisfying on their own..

Alanna's cumin-scented carrot chips
(Ahjus röstitud porgandid vürtsköömnetega)
Source: Alanna Kellogg, Kitchen Parade,
Serves 2

500 grams carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1 tsp sea salt

Peel the carrots and cut into 5 cm chunks. Cut the chunks into 4 or 6 lengthwise, depending on the thickness.
Place in a small oven tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and cumin seeds. Stir.
Roast at 200C for 25-30 minutes, until the carrots are cooked and turned dark golden brown on the edges. Turn carrots occasionally, so they'd cook more evenly.
Serve as a side dish or a vegetable snack on its own with a yogurt or sour cream dip, perhaps.