Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Any regular reader of Nami-Nami has noticed the respectable number of beetroot recipes on this blog. My friend Alanna of A Veggie Venture blog even calls me "Beet Princess" (she reserved the title of Beet Queen to herself, and indeed, her list of beetroot recipes is pretty impressive, too :)
Here's my latest discovery among beetroot recipes. I was browsing Sam and Sam Clark's latest book, MORO EAST, and this Persian dish caught my eye. Borani is a general term for yogurt-based vegetable "salads" and dips in Persian cuisine. We really enjoyed this, eating it with simple oven-baked potato wedges on our sunny patio. It'd work well on a meze/mezze board with some toasted flatbread, or alongside some grilled or fried fish, oven-roasted lamb or even grilled chicken. It's extremely versatile, as you can imagine.
I will surely be making this borani chogondar again over the summer (I loved the colour!!!), perhaps alongside the spinach version (borani esfanaaj) and the aubergine/eggplant version (borani bademjan).
Make it at least a few hours in advance, so the flavours can develop.
Serves 6 to 8
Based on Sam & Sam Clark's recipe, with some modifications
500 g young beets
400 g thick/strained Greek/Turkish/Persian yoghurt
1 large garlic clove (crush to a paste with a generous pinch of salt)
a pinch of sugar
a small bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a splash of wine vinegar or lemon juice, to taste
100 g feta cheese, crumbled
a small handful of walnuts, chopped
a sprinkling of nigella seeds (also known as black Kalonji onion seeds)
a few dill fronds
Scrub the beets, but don't peel them. Place into a boiling water and simmer for 1-1,5 hours, until cooked. Drain and cool and peel, then cut into chunks and place into a food processor.
(Note that you can also roast the beets, or, in a hurry, use boiled un-vinegared beets).
Process the beets, then add the yogurt, crushed garlic and a pinch of sugar, process again until smooth.
Add the chopped dill, then season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar/lemon juice.
Transfer onto a serving bowl, cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge for a few hours so the flavours can mingle.
When ready to serve, garnish with crumbled feta, chopped walnuts and some dill fronds. Sprinkle black nigella seeds on top.
See other beetroot borani recipes:
Smoke and Umami
The Salty Pear
Liz Z (Liz uses mint to flavour her borani)
Sunday, May 27, 2012
I did a bit of catering on Saturday for a group of friends*, and this smoked salmon and cream cheese paté/spread on crispy rye bread buttons was one of the dishes I brought along. It disappeared very quickly and I wish I had made a double batch - it's an excellent nibble indeed - savoury (smoked salmon), creamy (cream cheese), crispy (rye bread buttons), fresh (cucumber slices). I also think the contrasting colours look very pretty.
Although I love this spread on crispy rye bread buttons, it works also beautifully with sliced (and toasted) ciabatta or baguette, of course. Here's a photo from last June:
Cream cheese and smoked salmon paté
Makes about a cup
100 g good-quality cold smoked salmon
150 g cream cheese, at room temperature
a small bunch of dill
lemon juice, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cucumber or lemon slices
fresh dill or chives
finely grated lemon zest
Chop the smoked salmon into small chunks, place into the food processor together with the cream cheese. Add some lemon juice for seasoning and the dill. Process until smooth.
Taste for seasoning - add more lemon juice and season with pepper.
If you're serving this with crispy rye bread buttons, then you need some sliced rye bread (I like a very dark bread here and used "Fazeri must leib"). Cut out small squares or circles and toast them in a preheated 200 C/400 F oven for about 6-7 minutes, until crispy. Cool, then spoon the cream cheese and smoked salmon paté on top and garnish before serving.
You can make the paté up to a day in advance, but don't spread it on toasted rye bread until up to an hour before serving, or you lose the crispiness.
* The other two dishes were tiny spicy chorizo profiteroles and an Estonian crumb cake, cut into tiny slices.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Want something super-delicious, rather elegant and extremely simple for your next festive spread? Here's an excellent idea I got from my friend Annika. Annika is Estonian, but she works and lives in Sweden. She introduced me to this very popular Swedish and Finnish "sauce" that's traditionally served alongside smoked or grilled trout or salmon at a party she hosted at her Tallinn holiday flat at the end of last year.
Since then I've served this on several occasions and always to a great success. You need a good-quality smoked trout or salmon to start with - I've used a whole hot-smoked trout*, that we "carve" at the table, but you can also serve it alongside portion-sized pieces of smoked fish. Although salted trout or salmon roe is nowhere as prohibitively expensive as "proper" caviar, it's still very festive and elegant and makes people feel that they're really being pampered :)
If you're based in Tallinn or nearby, then I whole-heartedly recommend the whole hot-smoked trout from Pepe Kala OÜ. You'll find their stall at Tammsaare tee 89 during the week, or come and meet them at Viimsi Taluturg (Viimsi farmers' market) on Saturday mornings from 10 am till 2 pm. They also have excellent lightly salted trout roe.
Creamy caviar dressing
200-250 g thick sour cream or creme fraiche
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion (shallot is fine)
150 g lightly salted trout or salmon roe (or slightly less, depending on your budget and taste)
2-3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together, spoon into a nice bowl and serve alongside the whole smoked fish.
Ok, how easy and effortless was that? :)
Here's another excellent Swedish dressing recipe that goes well with smoked salmon: Dill and Mustard Sauce
What's your super-easy and quick entertainment dish? Feel free to leave a link to the recipe in the comments!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Originally posted in May 2011, but I'm bumping this up again, as the local asparagus season has began.
Isn't it pretty? This lovely topless tart can be served either warm (perhaps with a green side salad) or cold (cut into thin slices to accompany drinks). It's a simple tart - a puff pastry base (I made a quick rough puff pastry myself) is covered with a layer of grated cheese, followed by an egg and cream mixture, and finally topped with lightly cooked asparagus spears. You could certainly mix the cheese in to the egg and cream mixture, but I loved the visual effect of using a separate cheese layer.
The basic idea is from the UK-based food writer and photographer Alastair Hendy via the always-inspirational Delicious Days, but I omitted the potato layer.
Asparagus and cheese tart
Serves 8 to 10
500 g puff pastry (store-bought or home-made rough puff pastry)
24 medium-sized fresh green asparagus spears
150 g Gouda or Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
3 large eggs
200 ml fresh cream (whipping, heavy or double)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Snap off the hard and woody lower end of the asparagus spears (these can be used to make stock, for instance). Cook the asparagus spears in a simmering and lightly salted water for about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse quickly under cold water and drain again. Put aside.
Line a rectangular pie dish (approximately 25x35 cm) with a parchment paper. Roll out a puff pastry so it'd cover the base and come up the sides a little. Prick with a fork here and there.
Scatter the grated cheese over the base.
Whisk the eggs with cream, season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Pour carefully over the cheese.
Place asparagus spears on top.
Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for about 30 minutes, until the tart is nicely golden on top and the puff pastry is cooked.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Rhubarb season, which seems to have last for a few weeks now in England and in parts of the US, has just began in Estonia (remember, my homeland is at about 58.5 latitude, so quite far up north). During the last week or two, I've already baked two batches of my very favourite rhubarb muffins, cooked a batch of rhubarb kissel (kind of fruit soup), and devoured this spiced rhubarb sheet cake with my family. You'll find all Nami-Nami's rhubarb recipes in this post. Next up? Probably this rhubarb curd from my friend Alanna, and then perhaps Rachel's rhubarb and plum crisp from David's blog? We'll see.
If you do have a good rhubarb recipe suggestion, please share it in the comments!
Today's cake recipe has been another rhubarb favourite for years, and it's also much loved by the readers of my Estonian Nami-Nami site - about 48 people have commented the cake recipe, most of them saying how much they love it :)
Remember - as long as you're using nice and young rhubarb stalks (preferably red-skinned!), there's no need to peel the rhubarb first.
The idea is from a Finnish Ruokala site (Antin raparperipiiras), but over the years I've modified it considerably to suit my taste, so am happily claiming this as Nami-Nami's rhubarb cake recipe :)
Delicious rhubarb cake with sour cream topping
(Hõrk rabarbrikook hapukoorega)
100 g butter, at room temperature
85 g caster sugar (100 ml)
50 g sour cream
180 g all-purpose flour (300 ml)
1 tsp baking powder
250 g sour cream (20% dairy fat)
4 Tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
4 to 5 rhubarb stalks, cut into 5-8 mm slices
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
Cream the butter with sugar. Stir in the sour cream and egg, then fold in the flour that's been mixed with baking powder. Stir until combined - the pastry should be soft, but not watery. Using your hands, spread the pastry onto the base and sides of a 24 cm (9-to-10-inch) loose-bottomed springform tin.
For the filling, combine all the ingredients. Pour onto the pastry base.
Scatter rhubarb on top, sprinkle with some demerara sugar.
Bake in the middle of a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is set.Cool in the tin, then carefully remove the tin and transfer the cake onto a serving plate.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Are you familiar with the British pub classic, Welsh Rarebit? It's a slice of toasted bread topped with a melted cheese, mustard and beer concoction. Excellent, if rich, comfort food. Those three flavourings are all present in this soft yeast bread that's been a favourite for years - I even included a recipe in my first cookbook. It's soft and tender, with plenty of gutsy flavours going on. It's obviously not a bread that you'd toast and slather with jam, but with some extra cheese or a slice of good country ham - oh yes!
See also Felicity Cloake's post How to cook perfect Welsh rarebit in the Guardian to give you some insights into the dish that inspired this bread.
Beer, mustard and cheese bread
Makes 2 loaves
500 ml dark beer (ale, porter, stout - all work; 2 cups)
50 g fresh yeast or 2 envelopes fast-action instant yeast
3-4 Tbsp light syrup (golden syrup or corn syrup is fine; about 80 g)
2 tsp fine salt
150 g hard cheese, coarsely grated (Cheddar's good, or any Estonian cheese :))
600-650 g all-purpose flour*
1-2 tsp English mustard powder (I use Colmans)
100 ml vegetable oil or 75 g butter, melted and cooled
Use a large mixing bowl. If using fresh yeast, then crumble it into lukewarm (37C) beer and stir until dissolved. Add the syrup, then fold in the grated cheese and about half of the flour. Add the salt, mustard powder and knead in the rest of the flour. Finally add the oil/melted butter.
(If you're using the fast-action instant yeast, then simply mix all the dry ingredients, then add the beer, syrup, cheese and mix, finally adding the oil/butter).
* A note on the amount of flour. I've successfully made this with 600 g flour, which is about 1 litres or about 4 heaped cups. You may need a little more - you're aiming for a soft, dropping consistency.
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, place the mixing bowl into a warm and draught-free location and let the dough raise until doubled in size. This will take about an hour.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured worktop. Lightly knead the dough and divide into two equal parts. Form into oblong loaves and transfer into buttered or lined baking tins. (I've used 22 cm/2 litre bread tins to make high loaves and 30 cm/3 litre bread tins to make smaller loaves).
Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 175 C/350 F oven for about 45 minutes, until well risen and golden brown on top.
Alternatively, you can free-form the loaves and bake them on a baking sheet, as above.
More unusual takes on Welsh Rarebit:
Welsh rarebit lamb nachos @ Endless Simmer
Cheddar, beer and mustard pull-apart bread @ Smitten Kitchen (an idea not so dissimilar to this)
Welsh rarebit souffle @ Amuse Bouche
Monday, May 14, 2012
In the ideal world, of course, I would use freshly picked and cleaned proper crab meat to make this open sandwich. However, good-quality crab meat (actually, any crab meat) is hard to come by here in Estonia. Instead I have to settle for imitation crab, or surimi.
Here's a quick and simple topping for a slice of toast or soft roll that I quite happen to like.
Imitation Snow Crab Sandwich
120 g packet snow crab (surimi; make sure you use the best one around with highest surimi percentage)
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 soft rolls, halved or 4 slices of toast
Break up the snow crab sticks. Place into a bowl, fold in mayonnaise. Season with lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt.
Serve on a halved soft roll or on a slice of toast, garnish with fresh dill and season with black pepper (and perhaps some finely grated lemon zest).
More surimi recipes:
Open-faced surimi and egg salad sandwich @ What's Cookin, Chicago
Surimi Maki @ Inspired Bites
Imitation Crab Salad @ Karen Cooks
Russian Style Crab Salad @ Natasha's Kitchen
Thursday, May 10, 2012
(This recipe was originally posted in December 2006. Fully updated in May 2012).
Here's a recipe for a soup that must have frequently featured in one disguise or another in every single canteen and many households across the former Soviet empire: solyanka (see also this informative article about Russian soups). A hearty soup originally from Russia and Ukraine that can be just as humble or elegant as you want. If you're a flashy Slav, you use seven types of meat (incl. kidneys) and throw in a handful of black olives, a slice of lemon and a generous pinch of capers. If you're a more modest Estonian, you stick to sweating onions and a choice of sausages. You can add cabbage or other vegetables, make a vegetarian, fishy or meaty solyanka.
Whatever you do, you must use salted/brined cucumbers (aka pickles), which give the soup its characteristic salty-sour note.
Solyanka, Estonian style
(Seljanka eesti moodi)
3 large onions (about 400 grams in total)
4 Tbsp oil
100 ml boiling water
100 grams of concentrated tomato puree
1 litre beef stock (use boiling water and 2 beef stock cubes, if necessary)
3 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
3 salted cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
300-400 grams of cooked lean meat products (choose a mixture of Frankfurters, Polish kabanos or Krakow sausages, sliced cooked beef, mild chorizo sausages etc - 2-3 different types)
sour cream or smetana or thick plain yogurt
Quarter the onions and slice thinly crosswise.
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan, add onions and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add peppercorns and bay leaves alongside 100 ml of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes, until onions have softened.
Add tomato puree and stir until combined.
Add the hot stockm sliced cucumbers, and chopped meat products.
Bring slowly to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for about10 minutes, so the flavours can develop.
Taste for seasoning - you can add some lemon juice to sharpen the soup.Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some rye bread.
More solyanka recipes:
Salmon and wild mushroom solyanka @ Nami-Nami
Frau T's solyanka @ Urban Foodie
Solyanka @ Eastern Europan Food (About.com)
Russian meat solyanka @ Food.com
Solyanka @ Pavel Chuchuva (in Melbourne)
Simple Solyanka @ Windows to Russia
Saturday, May 05, 2012
The wild garlic season has began here in Estonia. For almost a fortnight I see people foraging for the pungent wild leaves in a nearby forest, and I've been picking a small brown paper bag full of leaves twice myself. The other day I was browsing on Pinterest for lovely wild garlic ideas, and came across this lovely recipe for wild garlic hummus on Shaheen's blog Allotment2Kitchen.
I used my regular hummus recipe and simply added a generous handful of wild garlic leaves. The result was a vibrant green dip/spread, that had a wonderful garlicky element, but its Lebanese/Israeli heritage was still there.
Note that wild garlic is also known as ramson (Allium ursinum). It's closely related to wild leeks or ramps (Allium tricoccum). Very generally speaking, the first is common in Europe and the latter in North America. You can easily substitute one for the other in this (and other Nami-Nami's wild garlic recipes).
Wild Garlic Hummus
400 g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 handful fresh wild garlic leaves, rinsed
couple of spoonfuls of water
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain the chickpeas and place to the food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until you've got a smooth paste (or slightly coarse, if that's how you prefer your houmous). Taste for seasoning - if you wish, add some more lemon juice or salt.
Excellent with toasted pita bread, or on a slice of toast, or spread on crispy crostini or as a dipping sauce with some crudités. We enjoyed ours with some Georgian bread, pictured.
More Wild Garlic recipes:
Wild Garlic Pesto with Almonds @ Nami-Nami
Wild Garlic Pesto with Pinenuts @ Nami-Nami
Wild Garlic Tzatziki @ Nami-Nami
Mashed Potatoes with Wild Garlic @ Nami-Nami
Wild Garlic Butter @ Nami-Nami
Ramson-Almond-Pesto @ Küchenlatein
Creamy Wild Garlic Soup @ Cinnamon and Thyme
Wild garlic, courgette and mint soup by Angela Hartnett
More hummus recipes:
Harissa-spiked hummus @ Nami-Nami
Beetroot Hummus @ Nami-Nami
Hommus with pomegranate syrup and tahini @ Anissa Helou
Basil hummus @ Simply Recipes
Hummus en fuego @ 101 Cookbooks
Roasted jalapeno and lime hummus @ The Kitchn
Beet Hummus @ Chocolate & Zucchini
Friday, May 04, 2012
I admit that this is basically a re-posting - recipe was already featured on Nami-Nami back in 2007 - but it's been a while and I've tweaked the recipe during those years. Hope you'll forgive me :) I liked the original version quite a bit, but think this modified one is even better. Curiously, I've halved the amount of coconut. If you let it cool completely before tucking in - preferably overnight - it's still immensely coconut-flavoured, yet delicately letting the rhubarb shine as well. Double the coconut - and it's all too sweet and just not right..
So here you go, Rhubarb and Coconut Tart, version 2012.
180 g all-purpose flour (300 ml)
2 Tbsp caster sugar
a pinch of salt
100 g cold butter, cubed
300 g rhubarb, chopped into 1-2 cm chunks
75 g butter, softened
170 g caster sugar (200 ml)
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
250 g plain yogurt or sour cream
100 g unsweetened shredded coconut
Start with the crust. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and pinch until crumbly. Add the egg, combine the pastry quickly. Wrap into a clingfilm and place into the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Butter a 24 cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, making the circle about 34 cm in diametre, then line the bottom and the sides of the cake tin with the rolled-out pastry.
Blind bake at 200 C/400 F for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.
Meanwhile, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add the yoghurt/sour cream, eggs, and coconut.
Cut the rhubarb into chunks.
Take the pre-baked tart shell out of the oven, spread rhubarb on top.
Spoon the coconut topping over the rhubarb, smoothing out the top.
Return to the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until the tart is lovely golden brown.
Cool (a little or completely) and cut into slices to serve.