Monday, November 29, 2010

Lavash crackers

Lavash cracker / Lavašikrõps

Lavash crackers are such an easy snack to make - all you need is a thin lavash bread and some toppings. Grated cheese is a popular choice, but various "sprinklers" work as well. I used a mix of seeds - and as you can see from the photo, also with tiny pieces of sun-dried tomatoes. I've stopped using the latter, as they burn easily and don't stick have as easily.

Lavash crackers
Serves a small crowd

thin lavash
sea salt flakes
white sesame seeds
nigella seeds
paprika powder

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the lavash, sprinkle with seeds, salt flakes and paprika powder. Using your kitchen scissors, cut the lavash into bite-sized pieces.
Place on a large baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven until the lavash pieces are crisp and golden on edges. Keep an eye on the crackers, as they can burn easily!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Meatloaf/Beetloaf / Peedi-hakklihavorm

Time for another beetroot recipe, don't you think?

Here's a nifty way to make your everyday meatloaf slightly more interesting, colourful and flavourful - by adding some grated cooked beetroot. The resulting "beetloaf" doesn't just have an amazing colour, but it's also lovely and moist. I like to serve this with a cold tartar-style sauce, and some mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf with beets
Serves six to eight

500 g mince (I used a mixture of 70% beef and 30% pork)
400 g cooked beetroot, grated
2 finely chopped onions
100 ml (6-7 Tbsp) dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg
some freshly grated nutmeg
salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing until you've got a uniform mince mixture.
Take a large loaf pan and brush it with melted butter or oil. Transfer the mince mixture into the loaf tin, smooth the top.
Bake in a pre-heated 200 C / 400 F oven until it's cooked through and lovely golden on top.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kurzeme stroganoff (Latvian pork stroganoff recipe)

Kurzeme strooganov (Mailis & Leena)

Latvians, our southern neighbours, celebrate the 92nd anniversary of an independent Latvian Republic today. I thought it's a great opportunity to blog about one of the best-know Latvian dishes (at least here in Estonia) - a pork stroganoff that gets its name from historical Courland region. While boeuf stroganoff is a dark beef stew, then Kurzeme stroganoff is pale (colour-wise, not taste-wise) and just as delicious, if not as sophisticated.

Excellent autumn and winter dish that's best served with fried or mashed potatoes.

Kurzeme stroganoff
(Kurzeme strooganov)
Serves 4 to 5

400-500 g pork, cut into this strips (stir-fry pieces are excellent)
1 large onion, chopped
50 g smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
1 pickled cucumber
1 Tbsp plain flour
a cup or a-cup-and-a-half of hot beef stock
100 g sour cream or creme fraiche
salt and black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

On a hot pan, fry the bacon until golden, then add the onion and pork and fry until the meat changes colour (remember, Kurzeme stroganoff is a light sauce, so there's no need to achieve a perfect Maillard reaction here and brown the meat all over).
Stir in the flour, cook for a minute or two, then add the hot stock. Simmer on moderate heat until the meat is cooked (the cooking time depends on the cut you use - pork loin cooks very quickly, obviously).
Cut the cucumber into thin strips, add to the sauce along with the sour cream. Simmer for another minute or two, then season to taste and serve.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Scandinavian Cookbook review and a recipe for Brunsviger

Here's a post that I've been mulling over for ages. I received the review copy of Trina Hahnemann's latest cookbook, The Scandinavian Cook Book – A Year in the Nordic Cuisine, early last summer (I'm talking 2009 here, folks!), and loved the book a lot. The choice of recipes was inspiring and the photography by Lars Ranek was utterly delicious! I've tried several of the recipes, but somehow never got around to writing up a review post. It's about time, as I really do think the book is worth buying if you're into Nordic/Scandinavian food.

But first, a little detour. Living in Estonia, we think we're rather different from our two southern Baltic neighbours, Latvians and Lithuanians. We tend to look more up north for inspiration and identification, you see. But when you look from a distance - say, the USA - there are many more similarities between Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians (yes, also in culinary sense) that we often give credit to. I guess it's the same when you try to make sense of the Scandinavian cooking when living in the centre of the culinary region (say, Stockholm :)). Differences between your own cuisine and that of your neighbours seem much bigger when you're in the midst of it, than they look from afar...

For me, living just on the outskirts of the region that's traditionally considered to be Scandinavia (that is, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland; Finland is usually not included on the list), there are many more similarities that there are differences between the various. I'm slightly biased, as I'm most familiar with Danish food, having spent a year studing there in early 1990s. But I have been to Norway and Sweden on many-many occasions, trying to sample local food, that I feel I'm at least somewhat authorised to generalise here :)

The cookbook follows the seasonal trend - furthermore, the recipes are given in monthly chapters. It has most of the recipes one would think of when thinking of Scandinavian dishes - Danish pastries, rye bread, several smørrebrød recipes, gravlax, cardamom buns and cinnamon rolls, Captain's Stew (I should blog about that as well, totally addictive!), Biff Lindström, couple of herring recipes, kransekage almond cakes, meatballs with lingonberry jam, rødgrød med fløde (the famous Danish tonguetwister), the Danish summer soup koldskål (similar to this one), Swedish crayfish feast, Västerbotten cheese tart, glögg, Swedish Lucia bread Lusekatter and Christmas ham, caramel potatoes, risalamande, to name just some of the 100 or so recipes included in the book. Granted, I would have wanted to see a recipe for Jansson's Temptation, syltkyssar, Toast Skagen, Tosca Cake or some other Scandinavian classics, but having just completed my first cookbook, I know one has to draw a limit somewhere..

So if you're looking into buying a cookbook with a lovely selection of Scandinavian recipes, then do buy this one.

Brunsviger is a lovely soft Danish pastry - basically a yeast-dough tray-bake with a caramel topping. Trina introduces the recipe like this:

"This soft, breadlike cake originated in Funen, Denmark. I think it deserves to become world famous. Sweet and tender and best the same day it is baked, it is traditionally eaten in the morning or with the afternoon coffee, but I also think it is perfect with a cup of tea. The only problem with this cake is that I can eat almost half of it all by myself."

You'll find the original recipe here (and in Danish here). Below is a very lightly adapted version that I've been successfully making on several occasions now.

(Taani pehme suhkrukook)
Adapted from The Scandinavian Cook Book
Serves 12 to 16

Brunsviger / Danish sugar cake / Taani pärmitaina-suhkrukook

40-50 g fresh yeast
250 ml milk, lukewarm
2 large eggs
500 g all-purpose/plain flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar
0.5 tsp salt
75 g unsalted butter, melted

Caramel sugar topping:
150 g soft brown sugar
150 g unsalted butter

POUR THE MILK INTO A BOWL, add the yeast, and stir with a wooden spoon until the yeast has dissolved. Add the eggs and mix well, then add the sifted flour, sugar, salt and finally, the melted butter.
Stir the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon (or simply use the dough hook on your KitchenAid) to make a dough. When the dough comes cleanly from the edge of the bowl, transfer to a floured counter and knead for about 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
LINE A 25 BY 35 CM BAKING DISH WITH PARCHMENT PAPER and press the dough evenly in the dish. Cover with a dish towel and let rise again for 15 minutes.
MAKE THE GLAZE. Melt the brown sugar and butter together in a pan over a moderately low heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth and the sugar is no longer crunchy. Do not let it boil.
PREHEAT THE OVEN to 200 C. Press your fingers down into the risen dough, making small indentations across the surface. Spread the glaze evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-2 cm border. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the sugar has melted, and is brown and sticky. Let the brunsviger cool a little before cutting into pieces and serving.

Other foodbloggers reviewing this book:
Anne's Food
Icelanding cooking, recipes and food
Gourmet Traveller
Wrightfood: recipes & culinary adventures from a Brit in Seattle

Monday, November 15, 2010

Smoked herring and rye bread canapés

Herring canapés / Suitsuheeringasuupisted

I'll be posting some Estonian recipes during this week, and there's a good reason for that. I got an email from a reader on the other side of the world (Down Under, actually) today, who is organising a surprise party to an Estonian friend this weekend. She'll be using various Estonian recipes I've posted here on Nami-Nami over the last five years, but I've promised to give her some more food tips and ideas, so she can choose.

Here's a smoked fish and rye bread appetizer that I made couple of months ago. While it is not exclusively Estonian (any Finnish or Swedish foodblogger could claim it to be 'theirs', I imagine), it certainly tasted very Estonian to me :)

I used smoked herring, but smoked mackerel would work as well.

Smoked herring canapés
makes about 12 canapés

6 slices dark rye bread (seeded is fine)
butter, for spreading
3-4 salad potatoes, boiled and peeled
2 smoked herring fillets
100 g thick sour cream (30%)
freshly ground black pepper
fresh chives or green onions, chopped

Butter the bread slices and cut into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on the sice of the bread.
Cut the potato into 5 mm slices, place onto bread slices.
Remove the skin from the fish fillets, cut the fish into 2 cm wide pieces. Place on potatoes.
Spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each canapé, then sprinkle some freshly ground pepper on top and garnish with a piece of chive or green onion.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dulce de Membrillo, 2010

Manchego con membrillo / Dulce de Membrillo / Quince paste / Küdooniamarmelaad

I made a large batch of the quince paste, Dulce de Membrillo, last week. I used the same same old recipe that I've used previously and really liked the result. Rather conveniently, one local speciality store had a 9-month old Manchego cheese on offer last week, so we got to sample plenty of Membrillo the way you're supposed to - a slice of salty and crumbly Manchego cheese with a slice of sweet and sticky Membrillo paste (aka Manchego con Membrillo).

Highly recommended.

Manchego con membrillo / Dulce de Membrillo / Quince paste / Küdooniamarmelaad

Eestikeelne küdooniamarmelaadi retsept on siin. Küdooniad ehk aivad on müügil suurematel turgudel (nt Tallinna Keskturg).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beetroot & blue cheese risotto

Beetroot and blue cheese risotto / Peedirisoto sinihallitusjuusturisoto
(This recipe was originally posted on January 30, 2007. I've updated the recipe considerably; the photo above is from October 2010).

I first served this kind of risotto at a dinner party in January 2007, right after the smoked salmon and dill tartlets. The inspiration for this dish back then came from Anne's beet risotto with garlic, fava beans and goat cheese and Angelika's beetroot risotto with orange and Gorgonzola (blog no longer available). As I had realised during a beetroot and cheese experiment, I knew I wanted to use a blue cheese in my beetroot risotto instead of goat's cheese. Furthermore, I was looking for a vegetarian risotto, so adding crispy bacon or other meaty garnish was out of the questions. I also wanted the recipe to have a slightly Nordic twist, however defined, so I ended up using a fabulous Finnish blue cheese, Aura.

As far as I can recall, the beetroot and blue cheese risotto was a hit with my guests back in 1997, and it has appeared on our table on several occasions since then. Here's how I've been making it recently. I LOVE how the piquancy of the blue cheese balances out the sweet earthiness of the beetroot. A truly excellent pairing indeed!

Beetroot & blue cheese risotto
(Peedi- ja sinihallitusjuusturisoto)
Serves 6

150 g raw uncooked beetroot
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion or 2 shallots
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300 g risoto rice (I used carnaroli)
100 ml dry white wine
1 litre hot vegetable stock
100 g blue cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh chopped parsley to garnish

Grate the beetroot coarsely.
Heat the vegetable stock in one saucepan, keep it simmering under a lid while you start making risotto.
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add onion and sauté gently for 5-6 minutes, until onion starts to turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or to. Make sure not to burn the onions!
Add the rice, stir until rice is glossy with butter. Add the grated beets, sauté for a minute.
Add the wine and stir over moderate heat until reduced by half.
Now start adding the vegetable stock, a ladleful or a few at a time. Keep stirring the rice gently to avoid sticking, or even worse, burning. Only add more stock when most of the previously added stock has been sucked up by the rice.
Risotto is ready, when the rice is cooked, but still al dente - this should take about 20 minutes.
Now stir in crumbled blue cheese, which flavours the risotto and makes it beautifully creamy. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with plenty of fresh parsley and serve.

UPDATE 14.2.2007: Check out these gorgeous beetroot risotto recipes over at Fiordizucca's blog (with feta cheese) and Bea's blog (with parmesan cheese).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Roasted cauliflower with bacon and garlic

Roasted cauliflower with bacon and garlic / Röstitud lillkapsas küüslaugu ja peekoniga

First of all, thank you all for your kind feedback about the upcoming Nami-Nami Cookbook! Your support means a lot to me...

I'm trying to blog more often this month, as the amount of dishes that I'd love to share with you is actually rather impressive - and now, that the cookbook is out of my hands, so to say, I may have more time. We'll see. I'll start with something rather easy, yet super-yummy that we had for dinner last night. It was exceptionally well received both our little daughter (she's 1 year and 9 months already, and a very good eater!) as well as her 74-year-old grandmother who was visiting. So this dish appeals potentially to a very wide age group :)

The recipe is from Jaden's Steamy Kitchen. I cannot even really say that I've adapted it in any particular way - apart from specifying the amount of bacon in the recipe (sold in 100-125 g packets around here) and changing the cooking times a little. I roast cauliflower quite often (usually just sprinkled with salt and drizzled with oil), and used the same timings and temperatures I'm used to (and these were both different from Jaden's).

Roasted cauliflower with bacon and garlic
(Röstitud lillkapsas peekoni ja küüslauguga)
Serves 4

1 large cauliflower, cut into rather small florets
6 cloves garlic, cut into thick slices
100-125 grams smoked bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C. On a large baking sheet, toss together the cauliflower florets, garlic slices and bacon bits. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until bacon is crisp and cauliflower is cooked and slightly golden brown here and there. Taste for seasoning, and serve at once.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Nami-Nami cookbook

Nami-Nami kokaraamat (nami-nami cookbook)

Some of you may have been wondering about the irregularity and lack of posts on Nami-nami over the last few months. Yes, I've finally returned back to work after a long maternity leave, and that's drastically reduced the time I have for cooking and taking photos and blogging.

But that's not the reason behind the small number of blog posts.

The reason is that gorgeous-looking cookbook above that's out later this month in Estonia. It's called "Nami-Nami kokaraamat" ("Nami-Nami cookbook" in English, but the book is published in Estonian, of course) and it has 218 beautiful recipes that could be grouped under the general title "food for casual entertaining". All recipes are illustrated by lovely photos taken by myself and my dear K, and all the chapters - and the gorgeous cover - are done by the extremely talented and wonderful Ximena Maier (yes, Lobstersquad's Ximena), whom I have the honour to call a dear friend.

The book is published by a major local publisher, Varrak, and there's a small introduction of the book in Estonian on their website here. I'm very excited - hope that you're as well :D

So, that's what's kept me so immensely busy over the last few months and weeks. All I have to do now is wait and see - the book's out on November 25th or so, and the official book launch event is on December 1st here in Tallinn. More details to follow!