Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A creamy Easter paskha with cooked egg yolks

Easter paskha No 3 / Lihavõttepasha nr 3

Some of my American readers may have noticed a recipe for paskha in the April 2010 issue of Saveur. Saveur describes paskha as "a rich, airy sweetened cheese that's traditionally served in Russian homes to break the meat- and dairy-free Lenten fast. ... Made with a Russian farmers' cheese called tvorog, as well as cream, egg yolks, butter, and sugar, the treat is flavoured with vanilla and studded with golden raisins. Then the pashka is pressed into a mold and chilled to set." Although it's not traditionally Estonian, it's pretty popular here.

I happen to love pashka, and have been making it for, well, ages :) I've shared one of my favourite pashka recipes before, but there are several ways of making this dessert. There are cooked versions and uncooked paskhas, paskhas containing raw eggs, cooked eggs or no eggs. Here's one (out of three!) I made last Spring - it's uncooked, contains cooked egg yolks - and is thus quite similar to the recipe printed in this month's Saveur.

Highly recommended. The Saveur article recommends using the Friendship brand farmers cheese instead of tvorog, if you can't get hold of the real thing.

Paskha with Egg Yolks
(Kohupiimapasha keedetud munarebudega)
Serves 8 to 10

75 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g caster sugar
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
500 g curd cheese
100 ml whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp candied orange peel
4 Tbsp chopped almonds

toasted almond slices and orange segments, to garnish

Cream the butter with about one third of the eggs. Press the egg yolks through the sieve and add to the butter. Add vanilla extract, the rest of the sugar, curd cheese, whipped cream, candied orange peel and chopped almonds.
Line a pashka tin or a large sieve with a wet cheesecloth square. Spoon the curd cheese mixture into the pashka mold and place the whole thing on top of another bowl or over the sink, allowing the liquid to drain (depending whether you want to catch the whey* or not).
Refrigerate in a cool place for at least 24 hours.
Turn onto a serving dish, remove the cheesecloth. Garnish with toasted almonds and orange segments.

* This can be used instead of milk or water when making yeast buns.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Estonian Curd Cheese Cookies

If Easter in some parts of the world is all about chocolate (no names named here :)), then in Estonia it's all about chicken eggs and curd cheese desserts. There's pashka, of course, on our Easter table - a delicious curd cheese pudding borrowed from our Eastern neighbour. But there will be other curd cheese desserts as well. Here's a recipe for some moreish curd cheese cookies that would be perfect for Easter table.

Finding curd cheese ("kohupiim" in Estonian) is not so difficult. If there's a Russian or Polish shop nearby, then ask for "tvorog/tvarog". In Finland, look out for "rahka". If you can't find curd cheese, then try substituting dry ricotta or farmer's cheese.

Estonian curd cheese cookies
(Mõnusad kohupiimaküpsised)
About 3 dozen cookies

200 g dry curd cheese
100 g butter
100 g sugar
300 g plain flour (about 2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt

Place all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and process until you've got fine crumbs. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and press into a dough, using your hands. Take batches of dough and roll into pieces about the size of your thumb (about 5 cm long, 1,5 cm wide). Place onto a lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with a back of a fork.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle poppy seeds, pearl sugar, caraway seeds - or whatever else you fancy - on top.
Bake in a pre-heated 200 C oven for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown.
Cool and serve.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Georgian recipes: walnut and egg salad

Georgian egg salad / Gruusia munasalat

In the early days of my foodblogging (we're talking about summer 2005 here), I ended up defending the joys of Georgian cuisine on Kuidaore's picture-perfect blog (note we're talking about this Georgia and not that Georgia here!). I'm still wondering where I got the courage from!! Still, we eat Georgian food with some regularity at home -simply because it's tasty and different, and I'll be sharing some Georgian recipes with you over the next few weeks. I've recently given two cookery classes focusing on this fascinating cuisine, and I do hope you enjoy the recipes as much we enjoyed the finished dishes!

There are already some Georgian recipes on Nami-Nami. I wrote about fried Suluguni cheese earlier this week, and there's a recipe for khatchapuri cheese bread and another for chakhohbili chicken and herb stew. Today I'm sharing a recipe for Georgian Egg Salad (azelila), seasoned with lots of fresh herbs and ground walnuts. It's creamy and flavoursome, and a great way to use up all those boiled eggs that you have over the Easter holidays! Walnuts are essential for this dish - as well to many other dishes characteristic to Georgian cuisine.

We served this on lightly toasted ciabatta-slices (see photo below) - not terribly authentic, but this salad is excellent on crostini, I think.

If you are interested in learning more about Georgian food, then I can highly recommend Darra Goldstein's excellent "The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia" (on Many of the recipes I'll be sharing are based on her book, though not exclusively. There is also a nice chapter on Georgian food in Nigella Lawson's "Feast: Food that Celebrates Life" (on

Georgian Egg Salad
(Gruusia munasalat)
Serves 4 to 6 (or more, if served as canapés)

Georgian egg salad / Gruusia munasalat

4 large eggs
4 Tbsp butter, softened
4 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts (pestle and mortar is best)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
2 Tbsp finely chopped spring onions (white parts only)
a pinch of salt

pomegranate seeds, to garnish

Hard-boil the eggs, then cool quickly under cold running water and peel. Put into a medium-sized bowl and "chop" until mushy with a fork. Using the fork, work in the softened butter - you want a reasonably creamy mixture.
Add the fresh herbs and finely chopped walnuts, stir until combines. Season with salt.
Place into a bowl and garnish with ruby pomegranate seeds.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Georgian recipes: fried Suluguni cheese

Fried Suluguni cheese / Praetud Suluguni juust

This recipe is mostly for my readers in countries where you can easily buy the Georgian Suluguni cheese. That pretty much means former USSR, as well as countries with sizeable number of Georgian or Russian migrants (look for "Russian shops" then). Although there are other cheeses that can be fried like this, they wouldn't taste the same, so I'm not even going to suggest any other alternatives.

If you are based in Tallinn, then please look for the cheese at Tallinn Central Market, where several vendors sell white cheese rounds, weighing about 1 kg/2 pounds each, at the main market hall. There are two main makers - the Kehra cheese being slightly saltier and the Vaida cheese slightly milder in flavour. It's recommended you buy the whole round - use half of it for for this recipe and the rest for making khatchapuri, the Georgian cheese bread.

Fried Suluguni cheese
(Praetud Suluguni juust)
Serves six to eight as nibble

500 g Suluguni cheese
2 Tbsp plain flour
butter, for frying
finely chopped fresh mint or tarragon

Cut the cheese into thick slices, dust with flour.
Heat butter on a heavy frying pan over a moderate heat. Fry the cheese slices on both sides, until golden brown.
Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve at once.

For a gluten-free alternative: omit the flour (you won't get as nice and crispy finish, but it'll taste as gorgeous).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Simple Goat's Cheese and Beet Soup

Beetroot and goat cheese soup / Peedi-kitsejuustusupp

Remember I promised to start a Beetroot Dish of the Month feature? Well, it's time for this month's beetroot recipe :) A very simple, yet delicious beetroot soup. The potato acts as a thickener, and the goat's cheese gives the soup a wonderful silkiness and smoothness.

As always, I LOVE the colour :)

Goat's Cheese and Beetroot Soup
Serves 4 to 6

500 g beetroot, peeled and cut into small chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled
1.5 litres vegetable bouillon
150 g goat's milk cream cheese (f.ex. Soignon), at room temperature
1 tsp dried herbs (I used Meira's Mediterranean herb mix)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the bouillon into boil, add the vegetables and cook for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Blend until smooth and creamy (f.ex. in a blender or food processor).
Return the puree into the saucepan and add the goat's cheese, spoonful by spoonful, as well as any seasoning. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread and garnished with fresh herbs.

Dashing Coconut and Beetroot Soup (January 2010)
Creamy Beetroot Soup with Horseradish (January 2008)
Beetroot Soup with Goat Cheese (November 2007)
Delicious Vegetarian Borscht (September 2007)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mascarpone and curd cheese cake

Curd cheese cake / Mõnus kohupiimakook mascarponega
Every now and then I get a recipe translation request from somebody somewhere, who has spotted a recipe either on my Flickr photostream or on my Estonian recipe site. Yesterday Liza P. wrote me, asking for a translation of this recipe. Having translated the recipe and ready to click on the "Send Mail" button, I thought I'll blog about it instead. Easter is around the corner and various curd cheese/cream cheese desserts are traditionally enjoyed here in Estonia, so it's actually a very suitable time to blog about this cake anyway.

The recipe is from our friend Heli, though I've tweaked it a bit. Note it uses a popular Estonian cake mixture (Juubeli tordipulber), but any yellow cake mix should do.

This is for you, Liza ;)

Mascarpone and curd cheese cake
(Mõnus kohupiimakook mascarponega)
20-30 pieces

Crumb mixture:
450 g packet of Juubeli cake mix (ordinary yellow cake)
100 ml plain flour (55 grams)
150 g cold butter

Mascarpone-curd cheese filling:

500 g curd cheese (NOT the creamy type)
250 g mascarpone cheese
6 medium eggs
100 ml sugar (85 grams)
2 Tbsp cornflour
200 ml whipping cream (35% fat content)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp candied orange peel/zest

Line a deep 25x35 cm cake tin with parchment paper.
For the crumb mix, mix everything with a knife or in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
Scatter 2/3 of the crumb mixture into the cake tin, press with your hand until flattened.
For the filling, mix all ingredients until combined. Gently pour over the crumb base.
Scatter the rest of the crumb mixture on top.
Bake in pre-heated 200 C oven, then turn the heat to 180 C. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cake is lovely golden brown on top. /The filling will be wobbly, but it sets when it cools down/
Cool completely, then transfer onto a serving tray and cut into squares.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scottish Lemon Cake

Scottish lemon sponge / Šoti sidrunikeeks

I've been busy testing recipes for two Georgian cookery classes taking place this week, hence the silence on the blog. I cannot yet blog about any of the Georgian dishes, so instead you'll get a recipe for this simple lemon cake. It's based on a recipe from a Scottish food writer, Claire MacDonald. It's a nice, lemony, moist and crumbly small cake that's perfect with a cup of tea on a cold afternoon. We still have LOTS of snow over here, so cakes like this are totally justified and even more, needed :)

You'll get a small cake that feeds five to six.

Scottish Lemon Sponge Cake
(Mahlane šoti sidrunikeeks)

120 g unsalted butter, softened
150 g caster sugar
150 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
5 Tbsp milk (75 ml)
grated zest of 1 lemon

Lemon syrup:
1.5-2 lemons, juiced
6 Tbsp confectioners sugar/icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
Sift flower, baking powder and salt into another bowl, mix with grated lemon zest.
Add the dry ingredients, milk and eggs to the butter mixture and stir thoroughly until combined.
Spoon the batter into a buttered loaf tin or bundt pan.
Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 180 C oven for about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then carefully lift the cake out of the tin and place on a large piece of foil.
Mix lemon juice with icing sugar and drizzle over the warm cake. Wrap into the foil and let cool completely before serving.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Caramelized Rye Bread Ice Cream (Condensed Milk Ice Cream)

Bread ice cream / Riivleivajäätis

Here's a super-simple ice cream with an Estonian twist. The caramelized rye bread lends a lovely slightly gritty texture (and I mean it in a wholly positive way) to the otherwise super-creamy ice cream, as well as a slightly earthy-tangy flavour.

The recipe works both with ice cream machine and without one - I've given instructions for both ways. Most importantly, there's no tricky custard-making bit, as the ice cream uses condensed milk as its base (that also means there's no danger of curdling :))

Here in Estonia, I simply buy a bag of ready-grated rye bread and caramelize it with some sugar. You can obviously use stale rye bread (preferably naturally leavened type), and grind it yourself. Or perhaps even try with those rye crisp breads (knäckerbröd) that are pretty universally available, smashing them into fine powder before proceeding.

K. isn't a great fan of ice cream, but he asked for this one after every single meal we had last weekend :)

Rye Bread Condensed Milk Ice Cream
Serves 8 to 10

Bread ice cream / Riivleivajäätis

400 g tin sweetened condensed milk
600 ml whipping cream* (35% fat content)
100 g grated rye bread
2 Tbsp caster sugar

First, fry the grated bread and some sugar on a dry hot pan for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until caramelized. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

If using an ice cream machine: pour the condensed milk and cream into a measuring jug and stir thoroughly. (* You can use half whipping/double cream and half single cream, when churning the ice cream in a machine). Pour into your ice cream maker and churn into ice cream according to the instructions. When almost done, fold in the cool caramelized rye bread, stir thoroughly. Pour the ice cream into freezer-proof container and place into the freezer for an hour or two before serving.

If you're not using an ice cream machine: whip the cream until soft peaks form. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk for another minute or two, until thoroughly combined. Fold in the caramelized rye bread mixture. Pour into freezer-proof container and place into the freezer for about 4-6 hours, until the mixture is frozen. As you're using whipped cream, there's no need to stir the ice cream during the freezing process.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Creamy Swede & Pearl Barley (Rutabaga/Yellow turnip)

Swede & pearl barley / Kaalika-kruubipuder

Here's a humble Estonian dish that makes a great - and unusual - side dish to some grilled meat (especially lamb or mutton, as well as pork, I think). However, I've usually served this as a simple and cheap vegetarian orzotto-style dish. It's a recipe I've adapted from an old Estonian cookbook and everybody has been positively surprised how tasty it is. Barley & Swede doesn't automatically sound as something extra delicious, but if you're looking into incorporating more grains and more (root) vegetables into your diet, then definitely try this.

And let me know what you thought of it :)

Creamy Swede & Pearl Barley
Serves 4

400-450 g swede, peeled and cubed
150 g pearl barley (about 200 ml)
250 ml water (a cup)
400 ml milk
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 tsp honey

Wash the pearl barley, rinse and place into a saucepan with the clean water and some salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the barley has softened a little.
Meanwhile, peel the swede and cut into nice small cubes. Add to the barley, simmer for a few minutes.
Pour over the hot milk, give everything a thorough stir. Cover with the lid and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until barley and swede are softened.
Stir in the butter, season with salt and honey.

I copy this from an earlier post on Nami-Nami:
Who would have thought that
a simple root vegetable, Brassica napus var. napobrassica can cause so much confusion? According to wikipedia,

- in Southern England and most Commonwealth countries, it is known as
swede or Swedish turnip
- in Northern England, Ireland and Cornwall, as well as Atlantic Canada it is called turnip
- in Scotland, it's called turnip or
neeps (and yes, it is served with haggis & tatties)
- in the United States, you'll know it as
rutabaga or yellow turnip

Friday, March 05, 2010

Avocado and Blue Cheese Dip Recipe

Blue cheese and avocado dip / Avokaado-sinihallitusjuustudipp

A super-quick last-minute dip idea that I make quite often. I love this one especially with nachos, though it also works well spread over crostini, especially those bite-sized onesd. However, I would only make it at the very last moment, as despite the addition of lime juice, this dip tends to turn from lovely green to not-so-lovely brown rather quickly.

Avocado and Blue Cheese Dip

Serves 4-6

75 grams blue cheese (I like Valio Aura)
4 Tbsp sour cream/creme fraiche/yogurt
2 ripe avocados
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh (flat-leaf) parsley
2 Tbsp lime juice
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Smash the blue cheese with a fork, mix with sour cream until combined.
Halve the avocados, remove the stones. Scoop out the avocado flesh and smash with a fork. Stir into the blue cheese mixture.
Add the chopped parsley, season with salt, pepper and lime juice.
Serve at once.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Colorful Quinoa Salad with Coriander and Lime

Quinoa salad / Värvikirev kinoasalat

I know, I know - it hasn't even been a fortnight since I posted a recipe for a colourful quinoa salad! But trust me, this one is quite different from the quinoa-with-lobster tails-and-avocado. Yes, the quinoa and the bright colours are still here, but today's salad is vegetarian (vegan, actually, as well as gluten-free and lactose-free), and tastes just as delicious, so it's also worth sharing.

This particular salad is based on a 2005 recipe from BBC Good Food. Although there aren't many components, the lime and coriander/cilantro leaves give this one plenty of flavour, so it all but a bland salad. Definitely worth trying, if you're looking for a ways to introduce the healthy quinoa to your table.

Colourful Quinoa Salad
(Värvikirev kinoasalat laimi ja koriandriga)
Serves 6

a cup of quinoa seeds (about 200 g)
2 cups of vegetable stock (500 ml)
2 roasted red peppers (from a jar is fine), sliced
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions/spring onions, sliced
one lime, juiced and zested
a handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped

Rinse the quinoa under cold running water, using a fine mesh sieve (this is an important step, as otherwise the quinoa can be bitter). Drain.
Place the quinoa and stock (or water and Marigold bouillon powder) in a saucepan. Season with salt, then bring to the boil and simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until quinoa is soft and the water has evaporated.
Stir in the oil and the lime juice. Place the quinoa into a large serving bowl. Let it cool a little, then, using your forks, stir until fluffy.
Fold in the rest of the ingredients, season and serve.