Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wild Garlic Pesto Recipe

It's the brief season for wild garlic (aka ramsons or bear's garlic, Allium ursinum), and I'm excited. I only discovered wild garlic a year ago (see post here), and have been looking forward to them again.

There's a plentiful supply of wild garlic near our house, and early last week I picked some* to make some wild garlic recipes I had spotted elsewhere or 'created' myself. So far I've made the same cucumber and wild garlic salad mentioned last year; a delicious cold tzatziki sauce (wild garlic, cucumber, sour cream, salt); one cold sauce to accompany simple boiled potatoes (wild garlic, cornichons, kefir milk); and this delicious pesto recipe.

The idea behind the pesto is simple. If your usual Pesto Genovese is basil + garlic + parmesan cheese + pine nuts, then instead of basil and garlic I decided to use mild-tasting wild garlic instead. It was a very successful substitution indeed, and I'll be certainly making it again next year.

Have you tried wild garlic before? And what's your favourite use for this delicious wild food?

* Karulauk on Eestis III kategooria kaitsealune taim. Karulaugu korjamine isiklikuks kasutamiseks määral, mis ei ohusta liigi säilimist antud elupaigas, on lubatud; rangelt on keelatud looduslikust kasvukohast korjatud karulauguga kauplemine.

Wild Garlic Pesto
Makes 200 ml

100 g wild garlic, rinsed, drained and chopped
50 g toasted pine nuts
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
Maldon sea salt, to taste

Place chopped wild garlic and toasted pine nuts into a blender, add about 1/3 of the olive oil and puree until smooth. Stir in the rest of the oil and the grated cheese, season to taste with salt.

Serve with pasta (see above) or stir into your risotto. Keeps covered in the fridge for about a week.

* Toasting pine nuts: heat pinenuts of a hot dry frying pan for a few minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until the nuts are golden brown and aromatic. Cool before use.

WHB: This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Anh of Food Lover's Journey. Click on the logo below for more information about this foodblogging event started by Kalyn.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

'Egg mushrooms' for kids and adults alike

First of all, thank you for all your kind wishes on my birthday - you're too sweet!

And what a lovely birthday I had. On Thursday (the actual b-day), K. and I had a yet another fantastic meal at Stenhus in Tallinn. On Friday I had some 20 friends (incl. few kids) for a birthday party at our home, and today our families came for Sunday lunch. Friday's party was Spanish-themed, today I served a number of typical Estonian party snacks, and I'll tell you more about them in due course. But I wanted to share this happy and bright photo with you.

I suspect you all know about this particular party piece consisting of boiled eggs and halved scooped tomatoes? Yes? No? It's in a classic Estonian children's cookbook published in mid-1980s, so most 'kids' of my age are familiar with this.

But I knew it would be even better in mini format, so I tried this version. Instead of regular chicken eggs and medium-sized tomatoes, I chose quail eggs and cherry vine tomatoes. My nephews - and the rest of the family - loved popping them into their mouth, so I'll be making the mini version from now on.

Here's how (just in case you didn't know already).

Quail Egg and Cherry Tomato 'Amanita muscaria' Mushrooms
('Kärbseseened' lastelauale)

Boil some quail eggs (say 10) for 2 minutes, cool and peel them.
Halve 5 ripe cherry tomatoes, scoop out the seeds and let them drain on a kitchen paper for a few minutes.
Cut some fresh dill or parsley and scatter on a serving plate.
Now cut a very thin slice off the bottom of the quail eggs, and stand them on top of the finely chopped herbs.
Place half of a tomato on top of each quail egg.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt flakes or dot with mayonnaise for that Amanita muscaria* effect :)

* Amanita muscaria aka fly agaric mushrooms are of course poisonous and inedible, but they are some of the the prettiest mushrooms in the forests with their bright red caps and white flecked tops. Kids here learn early on to avoid these when forageing for wild mushrooms.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's this time of the year again ...

Usually I would have this cake today. But as we're not having a party until tomorrow and tonight we're having dinner in this favourite restaurant of ours, we gave the cake a miss today. K. made me these yummy pancakes for breakfast instead, which we enjoyed with a delicious wild strawberry jam sent over to me by his mum (she keeps a jar for every birthday, you see).

Wish you a lovely day, everyone...

PS It's my birthday today, not K's :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

David Lebovitz's Prune & Armagnac Ice Cream

David Lebovitz, everybody's favourite ice-cream (and chocolate sauerkraut cake) guru wrote about humble prunes in Los Angeles Times last week (you can follow the link here). We like prunes in our house - juicy Californian prunes make an excellent nibble - and are somewhat amused by the fact that Californian Prune producers had to rebrand prunes as 'dried plums' few years ago. David's Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream sounded very appealing, so this was the first recipe we tried. I didn't use Armagnac cognac, but an acceptable local favourite, a 9-year old Georgian Gremi Brandy (that's Georgia in the Caucasus mountains, and not in the Southeastern US).

A very, very likeable ice cream. No custard to make, just soak the prunes in cognac/brandy, blitz with sour cream, milk and some sugar and churn. How easy is that??

We've been eating ours plain until now, but I can see that it'd be an excellent accompanion to an intensely dark chocolate cake - perhaps Tarte au Chocolat? In any case, it's not too sweet (I deducted a spoonful of sugar from the original recipe), and it tastes somehow more grown-up (not sure if it's the brandy or the prunes). A keeper, for sure.


Other prune aka dried plum recipes at Nami-nami:
Dried Plum and Curd Cheese Dessert
Braised Red Cabbage with Prunes
A Simple Prune Cake

Other ice cream and sorbet recipes at Nami-nami:
Nigella Lawson's No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream
Sea-Buckthorn Sorbet
Orange 'Fanta' Sorbet
Gooseberry Sorbet
Heston Blumenthal's Jersey milk ice cream
Hibiscus & Strawberry Sorbet
A Quartet of Frozen Desserts: Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream, Coconut Sorbet, Watermelon Sorbet, Vanilla Ice Cream

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Estonian Recipes: Black Pudding Chips

Almost three years ago, just few months into my foodblogging thingy, I told you about a beautiful part of Estonia, Lahemaa, and a nice lunch I had with my mum, sister, nephews and a friend in a tavern in Altja. One of the dishes they served us were thin black pudding chips, and I had been thinking about making them ever since..

Not sure why it took me the better part of three years, but few weeks ago I finally picked up a suitable black pudding in the grocery store, and made them at home. Note that for black pudding chips, you need verikäkk - a thicker and denser cousin of verivorst, our typical Christmas fare.

In order to make the tasty black pudding chips above, remove the outer casing, and cut the pudding into thin slices (ca 3-5 mm is about right).

Place the slices on a baking sheet and place into a 100-110 C (225-240 F) oven for about 35-45 minutes, until the chips are dry-ish and crispy. Flip them over after about 20 minutes, so they'd cook evenly.

Serve with a cold sour cream sauce, seasoned with freshly grated horseradish or finely chopped garlic.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Some Brilliant Recipes from Other Food Blogs That I've Tried Lately

I do try quite a few recipes from fellow food bloggers, but disproportionally many of the recipes are from Molly. I've already written about her bouchons au thon (K. recently spotted them at his friend's birthday party as well) and her (chocolate and nut 'blocks'), to name just a few.

More recently we've devoured her vinegar-roasted shallots (above, and utterly brilliant! We simply ate these with buttered slice of rye bread), and tomato sauce with onions and butter (right). Note that both of these recipes have just four ingredients, yet generous amounts of flavour!

We brought back some artichokes from Spain, and last night I cleaned and cooked them, and then served with Molly's friend's Olaiya's Favourite Artichoke Dipping Sauce (reduced white wine, butter, parmesan cheese and lemon juice). Mmmmmm...

My dear friend Johanna is another constant source of inspiration. Few weeks ago we had a small gathering at our place with some of K's colleagues a.k.a. our Austrian skiing team. Obviously there had to be something Austrian at the table, and obviously I turned to Johanna's blog for inspiration. I decided to make Wiener Schnitzel, using veal fillet from a local butchery, and it made an excellent buffet table dish:

Also recently, and for the umpteenth time I made Alanna's spicy carrot side dish again - one of K's favourite ways with carrots.

I tried poaching eggs in a plastic wrap as Nicky suggested - quirky and easy-peasy - and comes handy when the Estonian asparagus season kicks off in a week or two..

Soon to come: all the must-try recipes from Ximena's Lobstersquad blog!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nigella Lawson's No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream

I looooooove Nigella. Apart from my pistachio macarons disaster, all the recipes I've tried from her books have worked like a charm. Be it Pasta alla Vodka, Store-cupboard Chocolate and Orange Cake, Cranberry Upside-down Cake, Upside-down Red Onion Supper Pie, Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes, Pan-fried Halloumi with Chilli Drizzle, Raw Beetroot Salad with Dill and Mustard Seeds, her Rum-Soaked Banana Bread, her cheeky Cheesy Feet, Rosemary Loaf Cake, or her Lemon and Parmesan Linguini - you name it, I love it. Her effortless and luscious style of cooking, and easy, yet decadent choice of recipes appeals as well. So when my friend Ruxandra recently offered to send me her extra copy of Nigella Express, of course I said yes.

Within a fortnight I had tried quite a number of recipes from the book. I've already shared her Cider and Mustard Pork Chops with you; I've also tried and enjoyed her recipes for Hokey Pokey, and Grilled Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Seeds. And then there was this beautiful, beautiful no-churn ice cream recipe. The fact that it's no-churn is neither here or there for me - I've got a Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment, so I'm ok with traditional churning ice creams. However, I'm also very keen on pomegranates and have been able to source some extremely sweet and juicy and delectable pomegranates at my local supermarket recently, so I was keen to try this. And Nigella - it was absolutely delicious again!

I've changed the quantitites to fit local conditions (cream is sold in 200 ml tubs here, as opposed to 240 ml tubs in the UK, so I've downsized that bit); also I used 35% whipping cream instead of 48% double cream suggested in the original recipe. And because my pomegranates were so sweet, I reduced the amount of sugar - you may want to stick with the original

Nigella Lawson's No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream
(Nigella granaatõunajäätis)
Serves 6-8

2 pomegranates
1 lime
150 g icing sugar/powdered sugar
400 ml whipping cream

Halve the pomegranates (reserve some pomegranate seeds for garnish) and the lime, juice them and strain the juices into a bowl. You'll need just under 200 ml of pomegranate juice*.
Add the icing sugar and whisk to dissolve.
Whisk in the whipping cream, and keep whisking until soft peaks form.
Spoon and smooth the ice cream into a rigid plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Place into a freezer for at least four hours or overnight.
To serve, let the ice cream soften for 5-10 minutes, then scoop into nice bowls (I used my Iittala glass bowls), scatter with pomegranate seeds and enjoy.

* You can use a good-quality pomegranate juice instead, but I doubt it'll be as tart-sweet as freshly squeezed juice.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back from Spain, plenty to blog about

Well, K. and I got back from our ten-day Spanish trip late last night. We've almost unpacked everything, and are in the middle of sorting out our photos (ca 900 of them!). There's lots to do at work at the moment, so it will be a few more days before I'm blogging properly again. But I'll leave you with a taste of what's to come :)

Click on the photo to enlarge!