Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marbled Blackcurrant and Chocolate Mousse Cake

Not exactly a seasonal recipe, I must admit (it appeared on our Christmas table just over 5 months ago), but I got an email from a reader named Caroline on Monday, requesting the recipe. She'd love to make that for her husband's birthday, you see :) Considering I must translate the recipe anyway, I may just as well blog about it. It's a bit more difficult recipe than most of my other recipes, but IMHO it was totally worth the effort.

Hope your husband likes it, Caroline!

Marbled Blackcurrant and Chocolate Mousse Cake
(Uhke šokolaadi-mustsõstratort)
Adapted from the Finnish Pirkka-site.
18-20 slices

Chocolate sponge cake:
2 large eggs
75 ml caster sugar (5 Tbsp)
75 ml plain flour (5 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
0.5 tsp baking powder

To moisten the sponge cake:
100 ml (2/5th of a cup) undiluted blackcurrant juice or cordial

Blackcurrant Mousse:
3 gelatine leaves
220 g blackcurrants (thawed, if frozen)
75 ml (5 Tbsp) caster sugar
200 ml whipping cream
3 Tbsp undiluted blackcurrant juice or cordial

Chocolate Mousse:
2 gelatine leaves
150 g dark chocolate
200 ml whipping cream
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp cognac or brandy

To decorate:
chocolate-covered almonds or hazelnuts

Line the base of a Ø 25 cm/10-inch springform tin with a parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the cake tin.

Make chocolate sponge:
Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients, then sift and gently fold into the egg foam. Spoon the batter into the cake tin and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 175 C/350 F oven for about 15 minutes. Cool in the tin.
Leave the cooled cake in the cake tin and brush the sponge with the blackcurrant juice couple of times, until you've used up all the juice.
Make the mousse layers:
For both mousse layers, put the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water and soak for about 10 minutes.
Melt the dark chocolate. Cool.
Blend the blackcurrants and sugar into a pureé.
For both mousse layers, whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks form, then divide equally between the chocolate and the blackcurrant base (fold in 1/3 of the cream first, to soften the chocolate, then fold in rest of the cream).
Season the chocolate mousse with sugar and vanilla extract.
Take the soaked gelatine leaves out of the water and squeeze them gently to dry.
Heat 3 Tbsp of the blackcurrant juice, then stir in three of the lightly squeezed gelatine leaves. Pour the gelatine mixture into the blackcurrant mousse base.
Heat the 3 Tbsp of cognac, add two of the lightly squeezed gelatine leaves. Fold into the chocolate mousse.
Using a large spoon, add a spoonful of chocolate and a spoonful of blackcurrant mousse onto the cake base, creating a marbled/spotty look. Do not stir!
Smooth the top, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to set until the next morning.
Transfer carefully onto your cake stand and decorate with chocolate.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kourkouto aka Greek Zucchini Pie

Kourkouri - a Greek zucchini pie / Kreeka suvikõrvitsarull

There's a dish that made rounds in foodblogs last summer. The author of the original recipe was a Greek chef Dina Nikolaou. Her recipe was picked up and adapted by Peter of the Kalofagas, and the rest was history. I then spotted it on my dear friend's Alanna's blog, and earlier this year on Farida's blog. I bet there are many more :)

We had this for dinner tonight. I made some changes, leaving out the Kasseri cheese and upping the amount of feta cheese. I also added some dried oregano to the dish, a herb I always associate with my visits to Greece. Overall, this is an excellent supper dish - either with a light salad, as Peter recommends, or with flash-fried chicken strips, as we did. It's delicious both hot and cold, making it ideal for summer brunches and buffets.

Greek Courgette Pie Kourkouto

(Kreeka suvikõrvitsavorm)
Serves 6 to 8

Kourkouri - a Greek zucchini pie / Kreeka suvikõrvitsarull

100 ml olive oil
1 kg courgettes/zucchini (4-5 younger ones)
2 large onions
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
6 large eggs
250 g plain yogurt
150 g plain/all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
200 g feta cheese
a large handful of fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
1 slender green courgette
mild paprika powder

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.
Peel and chop the onions. Cut the courgettes/zucchini into small cubes.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add zucchini and onion cubes. Season with salt and oregano and heat over a moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs with yogurt until combined. Stir in baking powder and flour, then add feta cubes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked vegetables into the batter. Add parsley, and stir until combined.
Pour into a well-buttered or lined oven dish, sized 25x35 cm.
Slice the extra zucchini into 5-6 mm rounds, then place nicely on top of the dish. Sprinkle with paprika powder.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until cooked through and nicely golden on top.

Kourkouri - a Greek zucchini pie / Kreeka suvikõrvitsarull

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strawberries in Cointreau-syrup

Strawberries in Cointreau-syrup / Maasikad Cointreau-siirupis

Sometimes you get tired of eating just strawberries. Not often, of course, just sometimes. If that happens, then there are several ways to dress up those luscious berries. You can macerate them in hibiscus and vanilla syrup (something I've done twice this month already). You can pair them with some young Brie cheese and serve as canapés. You can make the much-loved British summer classic, Eton Mess. You can go all Nigella-esque and serve them with a good balsamic vinegar and some brown sugar. There are plenty of alternatives to just plain red berries.

Or you can cook up a simple basic syrup, spike it up with a citrus liqueur and drizzle over the berries. Like I've done here..

Strawberries in Cointreau Syrup
(Maasikad Cointreau-siirupis)
Serves 4 to 6

100 ml water (just under 1/2 cup)
85 g caster sugar (just under 1/2 cup)
4 Tbsp (6 cl) Cointreau orange liqueur*
300 g strawberries
little grated orange zest

Mix sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from the heat and cool for about 15 minutes. Stir in the Cointreau.
Rinse the strawberries, drain thoroughly. Hull the berries and cut into half or quarters, depending on the size. Place in a bowl, drizzle with the syrup and stir gently.
Place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. (Not longer, as the berries will become unpleasantly soggy).
Serve. (A dollop of whipped cream or softened mascarpone is optional).

* Cointreau is gluten-free, so this spiked dessert is also suitable for those with coeliac disease.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nami-Nami turns four and celebrates the anniversary with Kama Muffins Recipe

Kama muffins / Kamamuffinid kohupiimaga

Nami-Nami food blog turned four this week. That's been four great years of reading about and eating and enjoying and writing about delicious food, and four years of meeting numerous inspiring fellow food bloggers from all over the world. Just imagine - had I not come across Melissa's food blog in June 2005, I would not have started my own. And if I hadn't started my own food blog, then I wouldn't have met Johanna (in England & Scotland), Andrew (in England), Jeanne (in England), Ximena (in Spain and in Estonia), Dagmar (Estonia), Anne (in Estonia), Kristina (in Estonia), Alanna (in St Louis, USA), Paz (in New York), Antti (in Finland and in Estonia), Melissa (in Scotland), Keiko (in England), Chloe (in Greece), Nupur (in St Louis, USA), Zarah Maria (in Denmark), Amy (in England), Blake (in New York last summer and in Estonia just last week), Klary and many others in person over these four years. And that would have been a real pity. I mean it..

Thank you all for reading Nami-Nami over the last four years. And the celebratory recipe? Kama muffins with dried cranberries and curd cheese. You cannot get more Estonian than that :)

What's KAMA??? Read more here.
Kama Muffins
Kamamuffinid kohupiima ja jõhvikatega)
Makes 12

2 large eggs
100 g caster sugar
100 g butter, melted
60 g plain/all purpose flour (100 ml)
50 g kama flour (100 ml)
1 tsp baking powder
50 g dried cranberries (craisins; just under half a cup)
25 g roasted coarsely chopped hazenlnuts (3 Tbsp)
175 g curd cheese or ricotta

Whisk eggs and sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the cooled melted butter.
In a small bowl mix flour, kama and baking powder, then add to the egg mixture together with hazenlnuts, cranberries and ricotta/curd cheese. Stir gently, until ingredients come just together.
Spoon the batter into muffin cups.
Bake in a preheated 200 C/400 F oven for about 15-18 minutes, until the muffins are cooked through.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Creamy Vanilla and Rice Pudding with Rhubarb Compote

For a few weeks now, K's mum has supplied us with large bunches of rhubarb. In addition to several rhubarb cakes and tarts and pies, I've also experimented with different rhubarb desserts. Here's a recipe for a warm rice pudding served with rhubarb compote. It's best served warm, so make it in a weekend morning or as a pudding after a light weekday meal. The recipe is a very slight adaptation from the Australian Fresh Living magazine.

As always, choose the pinkest rhubarb stalks you can find, and don't peel them.

Creamy Vanilla and Rice Pudding with Rhubarb Compote
(Vanilli-riisipuding rabarbriga)
Serves 4

Rice pudding:
100 g short-grain pudding rice (known as 'porridge rice' here in Estonia)
500 ml (2 cups) milk
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

Rhubarb compote:
300 g pink rhubarb (3-4 stalks)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water to the boil, add the rice and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander.
Return the drained rice back to the saucepan, add milk, sugar and the vanilla bean. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer (without the lid!) for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft and creamy.

While the rice porridge is simmering, prepare the rhubarb compote. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 5 cm (2 inches) lengths . Place in a small saucepan, add the sugar and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until rhubarb has softened, but not mushy.

Remove the vanilla bean from the rice porridge, gently stir in the rhubarb compote for a striped effect. Serve warm.

More rice pudding recipes here @ Nami-Nami:
Danish Rice and Almond Pudding with Warm Cherry Compote
Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Rice Pudding

Similar recipes from my favourite food blogs:
Sweet Risotto with Rhubarb Compote @ SpittoonExtra
Strawberry Rice Pudding @ La Tartine Gourmande
Vanilla-Almond Rice Pudding @ SmittenKitchen

I haven't participated in any food blog events recently, so it's a pleasure to submit this to the Monthly Mingle # 33: Ravishing Rice, hosted by Nags and started by the lovely Meeta.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Macarons by Marcolini

Another box of sweets that K. brought back from Brussels on Wednesday. These were mini macaroons by Pierre Marcolini, a fine Belgian chocolatier that only makes 5 flavours. I loved these - especially the yellowish ones.

Pierre Marcolini
Rue des Minimes 1

Friday, June 05, 2009

Home-Made Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe

Home-made rhubarb ice cream / Kodune rabarbrijäätis

It's been raining non-stop for the last two days (or is it three now?), and the temperatures have dropped below 10 Celsius. That's quite sad, as the kids have all began their summer vacations and just last weekend the weather was hot, sunny and truly summery. Full of promise. That's when I made this rhubarb ice cream, to keep us cool in the heat. I really loved the creaminess that wasn't cloying, as the acidity of the rhubarb came through. Plus it had a rather nice colour, don't you think?

It's very easy to make, as you only need to whisk the egg yolks, and not turn them into a custard base. You don't even need an ice cream machine to make it, even though it's a lot easier if you have got one. (If you haven't got one, then read the instructions further down on how to make the no-churn version of this.)

Home-Made Rhubarb Ice Cream
Serves six to eight

Rhubarb ice cream / Rabarbrijäätis

300 g young rosy-pink rhubarb stalks
4 Tbsp water
85 g sugar
200 ml whipping cream (35%)
200 ml single/pouring cream (10%)
3 egg yolks
2 tsp icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cut the rhubarb into thin slices. Place in a small saucepan with water and sugar, bring into a boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has softened. Cool and blend into a purée. (Look at the pretty colour of the purée below!)
Whisk egg yolks with icing sugar until pale and frothy. Fold in the creams and cooled rhubarb purée.
Place into the fridge for 1-2 hours, to cool the mixture thoroughly.
Then churn in your ice cream machine according to the instructions. If necessary, place in a bowl with a lid into the freezer to harden.

Poached rhubarb - what a colour!!! / Keedetud rabarber

PS! If you haven't got an ice cream machine, then you can still make this ice cream. Use 300-400 ml of whipping cream instead of 200 ml of single and 200 ml of double cream. Whisk until soft peaks form, then fold into the whisked egg yolks together with the rhubarb purée. Place in a container, cover and freeze. (You may stir it couple of times during the next few hours, but it's not necessarily necessary). Take out of the freezer to soften about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ispahan, almost

K. was in Brussels for two days and brought me this Macaron Joy from Wittamer pastry shop. The rose cream, raspberries and lychee are all there, but the signature red rose leaf is missing.

Rather delicious, I must admit. I had this with a cup of freshly ground Has Bean's Guatemala COE La Perla y Anexos speciality coffee this morning..

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Spiced Rhubarb Cake Recipe

Rhubarb cake / Rabarberikook

I've baked probably about dozen rhubarb cakes and tarts over the last few weeks, and I still haven't had enough. Rhubarb is the first local "fruit" (I know it's actually a vegetable, but it classifies as fruit for the cooking purposes, a bit like quinoa counts as a grain, even if it is not) to arrive on the market stalls, and after a long winter season of mediocre imported fruit flown if from the other side of the world, it feels like a blessing. I'm proud to say that I managed to resist buying the imported pink forced rhubarb stalks that arrived about a fortnight earlier - and the sweeter the home-grown rhubarb tasted (if one can use that word in relation to rhubarb :))

Here's one simple tray bake recipe, made special by generous amounts of cinnamon and cardamom, and the lack of eggs. It's soft, tender and tasty. Choose the pinkest rhubarb you can find, and you're guaranteed one Pretty in Pink cake (note that I never peel my rhubarb stalks. Cannot see the point, unless they're very large and stringy, in which case it's better to avoid them anyway).

Serve with icing sugar or vanilla custard. Keeps fresh for a few days because of the buttermilk content.

Spiced Rhubarb Cake
(Kevadine rabarbri-plaadikook)

Rhubarb cake / Rabarbrikook

500 ml kefir or buttermilk (2 cups)
50 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
200 g sugar (1 cup)
300 g plain/all-purpose flour (2 cups)
100 ml potato starch/cornflour (just under 1/2 cup)
0.5 Tbsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 Tbsp freshly ground cardamom
0.5 Tbsp ground cinnamon

400 g rhubarb, sliced thickly
7 Tbsp muscovado sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F. Line and/or grease a baking tray (ca 25-30 x 34 cm)*.
Combine the kefir/buttermilk and melted butter.
Combine the flour, potato starch, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and cardamom. Fold in the buttermilk mixture.
Pour or spoon the batter into the baking tray, scatter rhubarb on top and sprinkle with sugar.
Place immediately into the oven (the baking soda starts reacting with the buttermilk as soon as they come into contact) and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top.

* I cooked mine in a baking tray sized 25x34 cm, but you could easily use a large tray. Reduce the baking time accordingly.

Other rhubarb cake recipes @ Nami-Nami:
Rhubarb Sponge Cake with Almonds
My favourite rhubarb muffins
Rhubarb and coconut tart
Gluten-free Rhubarb Crumble
Creamy Rhubarb Pie

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Warm Gingered Carrot Salad with Feta Cheese

Warm ginger and carrot salad with feta cheese / Ingveriporgandid fetajuustuga

Updated and revised, with a new photograph. Originally posted on November 24, 2005

We don't eat meat every day in our household. We're not vegetarians, but meatless days definitely outnumber the meaty ones. Here's a typical dish we would have as an evening meal - a large portion of sauteéd, yet still slightly crunchy carrots, seasoned with mustard seeds and lots of ginger and topped with feta cheese just before serving. Served with some crusty Italian or French bread, and you're set for a wholesome and light meal. It would also work well on a buffet table, as the carrot salad tastes nice when lukewarm.

See other vegetarian carrot recipes @ Nami-Nami:
Oil-marinated carrots with rosemary and orange
Alanna's carrots with African spices, my way
Kalyn's Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms with Thyme and Parsley
Alanna's Cumin Carrot Chips
Estonian grandmother's Carrot Ragout
Warm Moroccan Carrot Salad

Warm Ginger and Carrot Salad with Feta Cheese
(Soe porgandisalat fetaga)
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main meal

Warm gingered carrot salad with feta cheese / Soe ingveri-porgandisalat fetajuustuga

500 grams of organic carrots, thickly sliced
1 onion or 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp butter
100 ml /almost 1/2 cup/ water
2-3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley or basil or chives
100-150 grams crumbled for cubed eta cheese
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Peel the carrots and slice thickly. Peel and slice the onions finely.
Heat butter on a heavy frying pan over a medium heat, add mustard seeds and fry for a minute, until the mustard seeds start 'popping'.
Add carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat a little, add the onion slices and continue sautéeing for another 5 minutes, until onion starts to turn opaque.
Add the water and cook, until the water has evaporated and the carrots are al dente.
Season with ginger, salt and herbs, cook for another minute and then remove from the heat.
Transfer onto a warmed serving dish, scatter feta cheese on top and season with some freshly ground black pepper.

Warm gingered carrot salad with feta cheese / Soe ingveri-porgandisalat fetajuustuga

Monday, June 01, 2009

Picnic food: Soft Tortilla Wrap with Tuna and Chickpeas aka Garbanzo Beans

Tuna and chickpea wraps / Tortiljarullid tuunikala ja kikerhernestega

Summer. Finally here! Our little baby daughter turned 4 months on Satrúrday and we celebrated this with a picnic in park with a gorgeous seaview. There were a number of lovely dishes on offer - rhubarb muffins, two dishes from David Lebovitz (pain d'epices and cheesecake brownies), an excellent local Brie, and more. One of the items we had brought were these tortilla wraps with a curried tuna and chickpea mixture. I saw the filling idea on a Swedish recipe booklet many years ago, prescribing the use of one of the ready-made dip mixtures. As I had no access to that particular product, I had to come up with my own.

Despite of the curry powder, the filling  of these tortilla wraps is surprisingly mild. But chickpeas add a lovely bite to these, and the wraps are surprisingly filling, making them an excellent choice for either a leisurely picnic in a park or for a snack after a long and exhausting walk in the wild.

Soft Tortilla Wraps with Chickpeas and Tuna
(Tortiljarullid tuunikala ja kikerhernestega)
Makes 8

8 soft wheat tortillas (medium size)
400 g canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans
200 g canned tuna fish
150-200 g sour cream or creme fraiche
2-3 tsp curry powder
salt, to taste
fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Rinse the chickpeas and drain; drain and flake the canned tuna.
Crush the chickpeas with a fork, mix with flaked tuna and sour cream. Season with salt and plenty of curry powder, and fresh parsley.
Spread the mixture on wheat tortillas, leaving about an inch free on all sides. Either roll up or wrap into an envelope (tuck the sides in first, then roll up).
Wrap in clingfilm or pack into a picnic container and place into the refrigerator for about 12 hours to let the flavours mingle.