Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Easiest Mango Lassi ever

Mango lassi

Open a 400 g can of East End's Alphonso mango pureé and a 400 ml tub of good organic plain yoghurt (unstrained). Mix until combined, season with ground cardamom, if you like. Pour into 4 glasses, garnish with mint and enjoy :P

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cauliflower cheese with mustard

Cauliflower cheese with mustard / Lillkapsas sinepi-juustukatte all

This is a delicious cauliflower cheese, but not like the one you know. Instead of a much more traditional Bechamel sauce and cheese topping, this one is covered with a mixture of uncooked double cream, grated cheese and gutsy mustard. Much easier to make, yet very flavoursome and delicious. We love it as a vegetarian main dish, but it'd also make a nice side dish to some good-quality British bangers (cauliflower cheese being such a classic British dish after all).

Cauliflower Cheese with Mustard
(Sinepine lillkapsa-juustuvorm)
Serves 4-5

Cauliflower cheese with mustard / Lillkapsas sinepi-juustukatte all

1 large head of cauliflower
salted water, for boiling

butter, for greasing

200 ml whipping cream or double cream
2 Tbsp grainy mustard (I like Maille's Moutarde à l'Ancienne)
150 g grated cheese (Cheddar, Havarti, Eesti juust - it's your call)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
some fresh herbs (I like dill here)

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Put the florets into lightly salted boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked. Drain thoroughly, then place into a lightly buttered medium-sized shallow oven dish.
Mix cream, mustard and most of the cheese in a bowl, season with salt, pepper and herbs. Spoon the cheese mixture over the cauliflower florets and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
Bake in a preheated 200 C / 400 F oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the topping is lovely golden.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Salmon and Mushroom Solyanka (a thick Russian soup)

Salmon and mushroom solyanka / Seene-lõheseljanka

If you look around Estonian foodblogs, then we all seem to feast on thick and filling Russian-style mushroom soups at the moment - Tuuli has been cooking up mushroom borscht and mushroom rassolnik, Aet has a mushroom solyanka simmering in her saucepan. We had friends over for dinner last night, and as I had got a large bowl of blanched and slightly salted wild mushrooms from K's mum yesterday morning, and made a Russian-style mushroom soup as well, but with addition of fish.

You'll get a best result if using various wild mushrooms. Gypsy mushrooms (Rozites caperatus; kitsemamplid), Russula-mushrooms, Lactarius-mushrooms - all would be perfect, but cultivated mushrooms would work as well (perhaps a mixture of white mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms for some texture?). I had mainly meaty Lactarius scrobiculatus mushrooms (võiseened/kollariisikad)*, with an odd Russula thrown in.

Check your mushroom guide for instructions (some mushrooms - like gypsy mushrooms and many Lactarius-mushrooms can be cooked fresh, some need to be blanched first.

* Note that Wiki considers this an inedible mushroom (well, "Western authors" do). It's much liked over here for its meaty texture and characteristic flavour. It does need to be thoroughly blanched and cooked first, however, and smaller mushrooms are preferred to larger ones.

Mushroom and Salmon Solyanka
Serves four to six

Mushroom and salmon solyanka / Lõhe-seeneseljanka

1 large onion, peeled and chopped
about 400 g fresh (wild) mushrooms - pre-blanched, if necessary
2 Tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
3 Tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
1 litre fish stock
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
300 g salmon filet, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 small pickled cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into slices
2 Tbsp capers
a small bunch of dill
black pepper
lemon juice, to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, cook for a minute or two.
Pour in the fish stock, bring to the boil. Add the potato cubes, then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
Add fish, capers, cucumber slices and most of the dill. Simmer for another few minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper (solyanka needs a slightly sour note!).
Sprinkle some extra dill on top, garnish with lemon slice or wedge and serve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Little apple croissants

Curd cheese and apple rolls / Puruvanakesed e. õuna-kohupiimaküpsetised

A little Estonian 'croissant' that I've been making for years now. The recipe yields 24 little rolls, and I usually make half a batch at a time, leaving half of the pastry in the fridge for the next day (or two). Then I get to eat warm delicious apple pastries twice :) Most Estonians would use the regular curd cheese for making these, but I've used ricotta cheese instead and it works just as well. It's the curd cheese/ricotta that makes these little 'croissants' lovely and soft, so these would be perfect when you need to bake something a day in advance (be it a picnic basket or your child's - or your own - lunch box).

Curd Cheese and Apple Rolls
Makes 24

150 g butter, melted
150 g sugar
250 g plain flour
a pinch of salt
250 g plain curd cheese or ricotta cheese

apples, cored and cut into slices

egg for brushing
sugar chrystals ('pearl sugar')

For the pastry, mix melted butter, sugar, curd cheese, flour and salt. Combine, cover and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes (and up to 48 hours) to rest.
Divide the pasty into two, roll each one into a ball and then into a flat circle, about 1/4 inch or 6 mm thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut the circle into 12 wedges/triangles.
Place an apple slice onto the wider end of each sector, roll up tightly.
Cover a baking sheet with a parchment paper, transfer the little apple rolls onto the baking sheet.
Brush with an egg (or egg wash, if you prefer), sprinkle some pearl sugar on top.
Bake in a preheated 200 C / 400 F oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastries are lovely golden.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our aubergine/eggplant bounty

Aubergines / Eggplants / Oma aia pommud / Oma aia baklažaanid

The eggplants/aubergines thrived in our greenhouse as well, as you can see :)

Now I need to think of the best way of using them - something that would allow their looks to shine as well. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bottomless Polenta Pie with Tomatoes

Polenta "pie" / Maisimannapirukas

Well, I'm not sure I can even call this a pie (hence the 'bottomless' in the title), but I cannot think of a better name either. The recipe is slightly adapted from a Finnish women's magazine Talo & Koti ('house and home', 5/2010), where it was kindly shared by a Finnish chef in France, Jormi Törmanen (can you pronounce that name? ;)). I loved it, but it's pretty mild on its own. I think it's best served as a side dish to some grilled meat or with a green rucola salad drizzled with a gutsy vinaigrette dressing.

I might try shaving some Parmesan cheese (or perhaps shredding some Mozzarella?) on top next time, but it's definitely lovely as it is as well.

Polenta Pie with Tomatoes
Serves six to eight

Polenta "pie" / Polentapirukas

1 litre of water
1 tsp salt
250 g quick-cook polenta
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil) + extra for brushing
couple of ripe tomatoes (not too soft)
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary or oregano or thyme, finely chopped
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan, season with salt. Add the polenta, all at once, whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps forming. Stir in the butter or oil and simmer on a low heat, stirring regularly, until the polenta is cooked (it's hard to give exact timings here, as different products behave differently - look at the cooking times described on the packet).
Butter or oil an oven gratin dish (about 24x34 cm), pour the cooked polenta into the dish.
Cut the tomatoes into thick slices, press onto the polenta. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in a pre-heated 250 C oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the polenta is lovely golden on top and tomatoes are ever so slightly charred on edges.

Polenta pie / Polentapirukas

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quail eggs with whitefish roe

Quail eggs with caviar / Vutimunad siiamarjaga

Quail eggs, again :) As I've said on several occasions before, I love quail eggs in all their disguises - dipped into Pimentón de la Vera or Egyptian dukkah seed mixture, as a component in a "mushroom canapé", as topping on an Estonian wild mushroom crostini, as a filling inside salmon kulebyaka, or as a garnish on top of Estonian seven-layer salad or smoked salmon and spinach salad. This particular nibble has been briefly mentioned before (see here), but I've made them again and took a much better photo this time :)

Here's the "recipe":

Cut the top off boiled quail eggs, spoon some whitefish (or other fish) roe on top and seat the quail eggs on a bed of finely chopped dill. Serve.

(Vutimunad siiamarjaga)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Swedish 'jam kisses' or thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies / Syltkyssar / Moosimusid
New photo, March 2011

We hosted a pretty crazy culinary tasting party at our house last Friday - surströmming tasting party. K's colleague had brought us a selection of fermented Baltic herring, an (in)famous Swedish 'delicacy' from 2009 and 2010, both fillets and whole fish. We served these with boiled 'almond potatoes', flatbread (tunnbröd) and condiments. I prepared a selection of savoury and sweet dishes to go alongside and after the challenging fish degustation. One of the dishes on the table was a plate full of piopular Swedish cookies 'syltkyssar' - literally, jam kisses (hope my Swedish is correct here :)). These are pale round shortbread cookies, usually filled with thick raspberry jam. I didn't have any raspberry jam at home, so I used a good blackberry conserve instead.

Thumbprint cookies syltkyssar
yields about 20-30 cookies, depending on the size

Jam kisses / Syltkyssar / Moosimusid

200 g unsalted butter, softened
100 ml icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
240 g plain flour/all-purpose flour (400 ml)
100 ml potato flour/potato starch
a pinch of salt

thick raspberry or blackberry jam

Cream the butter with sugar. Mix flour, salt and potato starch, sift into the butter mixture. Combine with a wooden spoon.
Using your hands, take small chunks of cookie dough and roll into small balls. Place on a cookie sheet and press a thumb print onto each cookie.
Place a tiny spoonful of jam into the indent.
Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are light golden.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Playing Russian roulette with Pimientos de Padrón or green Padrón chiles

Padron Roulette :)

I addition to all those lovely tomatoes, we've got a pretty good crop of Padrón peppers (Pimientos de Padrón) and various aubergines/eggplants from our greenhouse. Last weekend we met up with some friends and roasted some of the green chiles, then drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled sea salt flakes on top. It's a popular tapas-dish in Spain, and the added excitement is that while most of this green chillies are rather mild, then about one in ten is fiery hot (hence the nick-name "Russian roulette peppers").

When I first had these at Johanna's place couple of years ago, I didn't encounter a single hot one. Now we didn't have any mild ones - they were all oh-so-hot! Not such a roulette after all :D This can be explained by the timing - we visited Johanna in April (early in the season), and now ate our own crop in August (late in the season) - young and new Padrońs are generally mild, and 'old' ones hot.

Padrón Chillies are originally from Mexico, but are named after a town in Galicia, Spain, where they first started to cultivate these chillies in Europe.