Thursday, August 30, 2012

Average Betty makes traditional Estonian barley bread

Remember my recent post about a quirky American foodblogger, Sara o'Donnell aka Average Betty, visiting Estonia? Well, she's now back home, and going through all the lovely recipes served at our party and mentioned in my post (or at least that's what I'd love to think :)). She has also posted her first Estonian recipe video on her very popular YouTube channel, where she makes and bakes the delicious and simple Estonian barley bread, odrajahukarask.
Here's the link to Average Betty's YouTube recipe video* - do check it out, it's very informative and entertaining at the same time.

Sara uses a recipe from Marika Blossfeldt's excellent book Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm. and the bread on Sara's photo (on the left) and on the video looks just perfect.

Here are links to some other blog posts written  by Sara about her trip to Estonia:
Estonian epicures and how to choose wine infographic (August 3)
My day with chef Dimitri Demjanov (August 20)
Traditional Estonian barley bread recipe  (August 29)
Leib: Estonian for Bread  (August 30)

* Note that while the soda bread/barley bread Average Betty is making is traditionally Estonian, the music at the beginning and at the end of the video is definitely not. Sara was here during the Old Town Festival, and wandering around our beautiful Town Hall Square while some Russian babushkas were on the stage, singing :)

Once you've tried Sara's/Marika's recipe for the traditional soda bread, remember that you'll find two more recipes for the Estonian barley bread/soda bread here on Nami-Nami.

Estonian soda bread/barley bread with kefir or cultured buttermilk: Estonian Soda Bread / Odrajahu-hapupiimakarask

Estonian barley bread with ricotta:


Feel free to browse all the Estonian recipes here on Nami-Nami.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beetroot pkhali, or Georgian beet salad with walnuts and herbs

GEORGIAN FEAST: beetroot pkhali/ beet mkhali GRUUSIA PIDU: peedi-phali

There have been no beetroot recipes on Nami-Nami recently. I wrote about the wonderful Persian dish, beetroot borani, back in May, but that's three months ago! Me thinks there's definitely time for another beet dish, or I'm in danger of losing my Beetroot Princess* title :)

A fortnight ago we hosted a Georgian feast in our backyard, and one of the many Georgian dishes I prepared was this simple and stunning-looking pkhali, made with beetroot. Pkhali is a Georgian vegetable dish that's something between a salad, dip or even spread, depending on the consistency you choose; the characteristic feature is the aromatic garlic-walnut-herb dressing. (You may have come across an alternative spelling, mkhali. That's the Russian name for this Caucasian salad.) The most popular are beetroot pkhali and spinach pkhali, but one can also use cabbage, eggplant/aubergine, red kidney beans or other vegetables. At any Georgian feast, you would usually find a selection of pkhakli-dishes to sample. I've provided a number of links at the end of the post, if you wish to explore further.

Ideally you'd roast your own beets for the best flavour, but I've used pre-cooked (organic) beets on couple of occasions and I doubt anyone noticed, really.

Charklis pkhali aka Georgian beet salad with walnuts and herbs
(Gruusia peedisalat kreeka pähklitega)
Serves about six or many more as part of a buffét table

GEORGIAN FEAST: beetroot pkhali / Beet mkhali / GRUUSIA PIDU: peedisalat phali / charklis phali  

500 g beets/beetroot

100 g walnuts
3 to 4 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
a handful of fresh parsley
a handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
0.5 tsp dried savoury
0.5 tsp ground coriander seeds
about a Tbsp of good-quality red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar

If you're using raw beets, then scrub them clean and wash thoroughly, wrap into a piece of foil and bake in a pre-heated 180C/350F oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until the beets are cooked. Cool, peel and grate finely.
If you're using boiled beets, then grate them finely and let drain on a sieve for a while, to get rid of any excess moisture (you can press the beets even drier with your hands or a wooden spoon).
At the same time place the walnuts, garlic cloves and a generous pinch of salt into a food processor and process into coarse paste. Add the coriander/cilantro leaves and parsley, process again for a short while.
(You can obviously use the good old pestle and mortar to make that walnut and garlic paste).
In a big bowl, mix the grated beets, walnut-garlic-herb paste and the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Be cautious with the vinegar - pkhali needs to be slightly acidic, but never vinegary, and the exact amount depends on the sweetness of your roasted or cooked beetroots.
Cover the bowl and transfer into the fridge or cold larder for 2-6 hours - this "waiting time" is necessary for the flavours to mingle and develop.
To serve**, form the pkhali into small balls (optional) and place onto your serving plate. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced red onion or chopped of spring onion/scallion.
Serve at room temperature.

* My friend Alanna of A Veggie Venture is the reigning Beet Queen, remember :)

** Alternatively, spread the pkhali evenly on a plate, then make a diamond pattern on the spread with the edge of your knife before garnishing (see Melissa's spinach pkhali link below as an example). Of course, you can also simply spoon the pkhali into a suitably sized bowl.

More pkhali recipes: 
Spinach pkhali @ The Traveler's Lunchbox
Spinach pkhali balls @ Jeanette's Healthy Living
Beetroot pkhali @ Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow
Beet pkhali  @ Stay for Tea
Spinach pkhali @ Delicious Georgian Recipes
Spinach Pkhali, Cabbage Pkhali, Beet Pkhali  @ Food Gather.com



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Courgette cake with lemon frosting (Lemon and Zucchini Cake)

Suvikõrvitsakeeks sidrunivõõbaga / Courgette cake with lemon glaze

I've been blogging for over 7 years now, and have been reading a number of foodblogs from regularly since then. You know who you are, JW, KD, AK, DL, EB, MK, CD, MW and so on. I still clearly remember an old Utah (?) joke Kalyn posted in her excellent blog six years ago, so I've dugged it up for you:

Do you know why people in Utah lock their car doors in the summer when they go into church? It's because if they don't, when they come out the car will be full of zucchini.
(Kalyn Denny, Garden Update #3, 4 June 2006)

Well, the courgette/zucchini grows just as well here in Estonia, and I'm having to come up with delicious ways of using the bounty on almost a daily basis. And there are only 2 zucchini plants in my vegetable garden this year!!!

Chocolate and Zucchini seems to be the most common and popular combination for a zucchini cake - take chocolate and zucchini cake and chocolate zucchini bread (Elise @ Simply Recipes), gluten-free chocolate chip zucchini brownies (Karina @ Gluten-free Goddess), double chocolate zucchini bread (Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker), chocolate zucchini cupcakes (Two Peas & Their Pod), for instance. The list goes on and on. But trust me, courgettes/zucchini and lemon are just as good mates. So here's another excellent cake and another lovely recipe helping you to use up that courgette/zucchini bounty.

Note that the American measuring cup is 240 ml - that will help you convert the recipe into "American", in case you haven't got kitchen scales.

Courgette cake with lemon frosting
(Suvikõrvitsakeeks sidrunivõõbaga)
Serves about 10

 Suvikõrvitsakeeks sidrunivõõbaga / Courgette cake with lemon glaze

200 g courgette/zucchini (about 400 ml coarsely grated)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
200 g all-purpose/plain flour (about 350 ml)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
125 g caster sugar (about 150 ml)
100 g oil (rapeseed, olive; about 150 ml)
3 to 4 Tbsp pinenuts (or chopped nuts of your choice)

Lemon frosting:
juice of 1 lemon
icing sugar/confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Grease and flour (you can use flour, semolina, polenta) an 8×4-inch loaf pan or 1,5 litre/quart Bundt tin; set aside.

Grate the zucchini/courgette coarsely, add the grated lemon zest.

Mix flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar and salt until combined.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale, thick and fluffy. Fold in the oil, then the dry ingredients. Finally add the grated courgette/zucchini, lemon zest and the pine nuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake in a pre-heated 180 C/350 F oven for about 45 minutes, until fully cooked (test the doneness with a wooden toothpick - it should remain clean after being pierced into the cake).

Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then turn upside down onto a serving plate. Cool completely, then remove the cake tin.

If you wish, you can glaze the cake with a lemon frosting. To make the frosting, simply add enough icing sugar into the lemon juice to get a desired consistency. Spoon the frosting over the cake and serve.

I've used blue borage flowers to decorate the cake.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Simple, yet decadent fish supper: pan-fried vendace

Praetud rääbised / Pan-fried whitefish and tomato salad

Vendace is a wonderful freshwater whitefish that you'll find all over the northern continental Europe. The Latin name is Coregonus albula, and although it looks quite similar to the Estonian "national fish" Baltic Herring (räim aka Clupea harengus membras) that belongs to the herring family, then vendace is actually part of the salmonidae family alongside salmon, char, trout, graylings and other freshwater whitefishes.You're most likely to come across vendace (also called European cisco) in the lakes of Finland, Sweden, Russia and Estonia, as well as some lakes in the UK, Poland and Northern Germany. When I say the lakes of Estonia, I mean Lake Peipus - and must sadly admit that vendace has been scarce in the local waters during the last years.

Imagine my excitement when I saw beautifully fresh vendace at the local farmer's market yesterday morning! I immediately bought some hot-smoked vendace for lunch, and almost a kilogram of fresh vendace for dinner. It's such a delicate and excellent fish that doesn't need much messing around. A quick bath in a seasoned rye flour, followed by frying in hot butter or oil - you'll find the "recipe" below. I served the fried vendace with a fresh tomato salad, and the meal was enjoyed by all, including the small kids.

A note on vendace roe. The dark orange-coloured vendace roe (rääbisemari/löjrom) is a true delicacy, and Kalix löjrom from  the Swedish Botnia Bay archipelago has even been granted a PDO (protected designation of origin) status by the European Union, just like Prosciutto ham from Tuscany or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. When the rather excellent roe of common/European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) cost 799 SEK (Swedish crowns) in a supermarket in Stockholm back in early June, then the vendace roe was almost double the price, 1490 SEK:


Sorry for the photo quality - it was a quick snap with my mobile phone.

Names in other languages: rääbis (Estonian), muikku (Finnish), ryapushka (Russian), löj (Swedish), corégone blanc/la petite marène (French), Kleine Maräne (German).

Pan-fried vendace

Praetud rääbised / Pan-fried whitefish

fresh vendace (calculate about 2-3 fish per person)
rye flour or oatmeal
salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh dill, finely chopped
oil and butter for frying

Season the flour with salt and pepper, then roll the fish in the flour until evenly covered. Heat some butter and oil (or just one or the other) in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the fish and fry for a few minutes on one side until dark golden brown, then carefully turn over and fry the other side for a few minutes again.

Garnish with a sprinkling of dill and serve with boiled new potatoes or potato mash, and perhaps a dollop of good home-made mayonnaise (be sure to click on the link if you haven't seen the cool Nami-Nami video recipe yet).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Estonian cookie cake (küpsisetort)

Kõige parem küpsisetort / Estonian cookie cake

Here's a true Estonian classic - a layered cookie cake. If you've been reading Nami-Nami blog, you may remember that an Estonian cookie cake was also featured at the festive spread we served for Average Betty few weeks ago. It's a popular cake on children's birthday parties and on September 1st (the day all Estonian kids go back to school).

I suspect these are the main reasons for its popularity:
* There are just a few ingredients.
* It's pretty cheap and affordable.
* It's yummy :)
* There are endless variations - you can use different flavoured cookies, different cream, different decorations.
* The cake takes about 10-15 minutes to assemble, and every kid can make it, even small ones.

The cookie cake above was made with the help of my 3,5 year old daughter - she did all the cookie-dipping and cookie-placing, I was left with spreading the sour cream between the layers. And she's made this cake before - here's a family portrait taken in January - few days before our son's first birthday and few weeks before our daughter's third birthday:

_MG_1726_1.jpg
Photo by Hele-Mai Alamaa (Pere & Kodu) as part for the cover story back in February. 

I make two main versions - one with halva and sour cream filling, the other with plain sour cream filling. That's right - plain, unflavoured sour cream - the cookies are sweet enough and there's absolutely no need to sweeten the cream that goes between the cookies. However, there are lots of people who add thinly sliced bananas between the layer, but I haven't tried that myself. I guess I like the classics remain classic :)

As far as the cookies go, you need rectangular unfilled cookies - either plain or chocolate-flavoured or any other flavour you like. The cookies shouldn't be more than 5-6 mm (1/4-inch) thick. In Estonia any flavour produced and distributed by Estonian Kalev or Latvian Selga would work, elsewhere you could try with Bahlsen Leibniz's Butter Biscuits, or LU's Le Petit Beurre biscuit cookies, for instance.

Sounds familiar? There's a similar, yet different popular cake in Germany, called Keller Kuchen (Cellar cake) or  Kalter Hund (Cold Dog), or radiokaka in Sweden, where butter cookies are layered with chocolate and coconut butter cream.

NB! Make this cake at least 4 hours earlier, preferably day before, so the sour cream has time to soften the cookies and make the cake more cakey. You can top the cake with chocolate glaze and decorate it just half an hour before serving.

Estonian cookie cake
(Kõige parem küpsisetort)
Serves 12 to 15

 Kõige mõnusam küpsisetort / Estonian cookie cake

4 packets of square/rectangular cookies (180 g/6 oz each)
100-200 ml milk or coffee for dipping the cookies
750 g thick sour cream (about 20% fat content)

Chocolate glaze:
100 g dark chocolate
50 g unsalted butter
4 Tbsp double cream

To decorate:
crispy pearl sugar
fresh berries
coconut flakes/shredded coconut

Dip 12 to 15 cookies into the milk or coffee and place onto a suitable cake tray (I usually use 3x5 cookies or 15 in total, depending on your cake tray, you may prefer 3x4 pattern, resulting in 12 servings).
Now spread about a third of the sour cream evenly on top of the cookies. Continue with 3 more cookie and 2 more sour cream layers, finishing with the cookie layer.
Cover the cake with a cling film and place into the fridge to soften.

To make the chocolate glaze, break the chocolate into pieces and place into a small saucepan with butter and fresh cream. Slowly heat on a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the glaze is smooth and glossy. Spoon over the cake, spreading it evenly all over the top. (If using shredded coconut or pearl sugar for garnish, do it now, so it sticks into the chocolate glaze). Place back into the fridge to harden.

To serve, cut the cake into neat squares (or rectangles, if your cookies weren't square), or smaller slices, if you prefer. Garnish with berries, if you wish (I used the wonderful green variety of blackcurrants, Vertti, that I was talking about in a recent post).

Here's exactly the same cake, using chocolate-flavoured cookies and garnished with crispy pearl sugar granules:
Cookie cake / Küpsisetort

Similar recipes in English-language foodblogs: 
Easy 7-layer cake  @ Steven and Chris
Kellerkuchen / Cellar cake  @ Light Recipes

Similar recipes in Estonian foodblogs:
Küpsisetort kohupiimakreemi ja banaaniga @ Sööme silmadega (Dagris)
Šokolaadine küpsisetort  @ Kiilike köögis (Anneli)
Kohupiimakreemiga küpsisetort  @ Siit nurgast ja sealt nurgast (Mari-Liis)
Vale-napoleoni kook  @ Kokkama Ragnega (Ragne)
Šokolaadi-toorjuustukook küpsistega @ Kokkama Ragnega (Ragne)
Hapukoorekreemiga küpsisetort @ Tassike.ee (Marju)
Küpsisetort  @ Magusad fotod (Marit)
Kohvimaitseline küpsisetort  @ Hea toit, parem elu! (Merit)
Küpsisetort @ Head asjad (Neve)
Halvaa-küpsisetort @ Maitse asi (Jaanika)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Coconut and Blueberry Cake

Kookoshelbe-mustikakook / Coconut blueberry cake

I'm on a blueberry mood just now. As I told in my previous post (baked blueberry cheesecake with a sour cream jelly topping, remember) we're having a very good year of blueberries and bilberries in Estonia just now, so the amount of blueberry dishes that are being cooked and baked in Nami-Nami kitchen just now is quite considerable (take note of these yeast rolls with blueberry, vanilla and curd cheese filling, for instance). And the season is not even over yet, although other lovely berries - tart lingonberries/cowberries, for instance, are ripening quickly.

This simple coconut and blueberry cake was featured on our table twice during last week alone. Simple, quick, tasty, and has already received positive feedback from my Estonian readers, so it comes with good recommendations. Because of its simplicity, I'd describe it as rather a midweek cake and not a fancy weekend affair.

Coconut and Blueberry Cake
(Kookoshelbe-mustikakook)
Serves 10
Adapted from the Swedish food magazine Allt om Mat.

Blueberry coconut cake / Mustika-kookoshelbekook

75 g butter, melted
2 large eggs
100 g caster sugar
100 g all-purpose/plain flour
100 g coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
half a lemon, juice and finely grated zest

Topping:
200 ml (about a cup) blueberries/bilberries
2 Tbsp (demerara) sugar

Butter and line the base of a 24 cm springform tin with parchment paper.
Mix the dry ingredients (flour, coconut flakes, baking powder, salt) in a medium bowl.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in your mixer until light, thick and fluffy. Gently stir in the melted butter and the dry ingredients, then season with lemon juice and zest.
Pour the batter into the cake tin. Scatter the blueberries on top, sprinkle with demerara sugar.
  Coconut blueberry cake / Mustikakook kookoshelvestega

Bake in the middle of a preheated 175 C/350 F oven for 30 minutes, until the cake is fully cooked and light golden on top.

Cool a little, then cut into slices and serve.

Blueberry coconut cake / Kookoshelbe-mustikakook

More blueberry/bilberry recipes:
Blueberry and sour cream tart
Baked blueberry cheesecake with sour cream jelly topping
Blueberry and lemon friands
French blueberry tart
Blueberry pancakes
Baked semolina pudding with custard and blueberries
Blueberry syrup
Blueberry jam

Friday, August 03, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake recipe

Blueberry cheesecake / Mustika-toorjuustukook

Need a rich and gorgeous-looking cake to serve with coffee or finish your next dinner party? I wholeheartedly recommend this chocolate-blueberry-sour cream cheesecake. There's a Digestive and dark chocolate base (graham crackers would work just as well), topped with blueberry and cream cheese layer. These two layers are baked in the oven. When the cheesecake is cooled, it's topped with a third layer, a sour cream jelly layer, which provides a stunning contrast in colour as well as a cooling flavour and texture contrast. Our family and friends were very pleased with the cake.

You can use both blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) or bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) for making this cake. The first are more common in the US, are larger and whitish inside, the latter are more common in Europe (Scottish blaeberries, French myrtilles, Estonian mustikad), are smaller and blackish-blue inside (see here for a very good comparison of the two). I used the latter - simply because it's the bilberry season just now, and it's a very good year for local bilberries (reflected also in the prices at the market.


Note that the anthocyanin content of fresh bilberries is almost 4 times higher than in blueberries, so if you can choose between the two, go for the smaller wild berries. 

The cheesecake keeps for a few days in the fridge.

Blueberry Cheesecake
(Mustika-toorjuustukook)
Adapted from Allt om Mat (a Swedish food magazine)
Serves 8 to 12

 Bilberry cheesecake / Blueberry cheesecake / Mustika-toorjuustukook

Cookie base:
200 g Digestives or graham crackers
50 g dark chocolate, chopped
75 g unsalted butter, melted

Cream cheese layer:
400 g cream cheese
200 g sour cream/creme fraiche
100 g caster sugar
250 g blueberries/bilberries
2 Tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

Sour cream jelly layer:
200 g sour cream
170 g caster sugar (200 ml)
3 gelatine leaves

Pre-heat the oven to  175 C/350 F.
Cover the base of a 24 cm/10'' springform tin with parchment paper.

Make the cookie base: Place Digestives and chopped dark chocolate into your food processor and process till fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter and process again till combined and moist. Press the cookie mixture onto the base of your prepared tin. Bake for about 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

Meanwhile, make the cheesecake layer. Use a kitchen tissue to wipe the bowl of your food processor clean. Place all the ingredients into the bowl and process till smooth and dark purple in colour. Spoon the cheesecake mixture onto the pre-baked cookie base, smoothing the top. Return to the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until it looks set (it'll set further when cooling).
Remove from the oven, let cool to the room temperature, then cover with kitchen foil or clingfilm and place into a fridge or a cold larder overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Couple of hours before serving, cover the the cheesecake with the sour cream jelly layer.  Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
Mix sour cream and sugar in a small saucepann and heat slowly on a low heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar has melted. The mixture should be about 60-70 C (140-158 F). Now squeeze the gelatine leaves dry, one at a time, and stir into the sour cream mixture until amalgamated.
Pour the sour cream mixture carefully on top of your cooled cheesecake and return to the fridge for an hour or two.

To serve, carefully transfer the cheesecake onto your serving tray. Decorate with more berries and serve, cutting into slices of your preferred size.

More blueberry/bilberry recipes:
Blueberry and sour cream tart
Blueberry and lemon friands
Simple coconut and blueberry cake
French blueberry tart
Blueberry pancakes
Baked semolina pudding with custard and blueberries
Blueberry syrup
Blueberry jam

More cheesecake recipes:
Nami-Nami's favourite cheesecake 
Raspberry cheesecake brownie
Rhubarb ripple cheesecake
Sea-buckthrorn and Amaretto cheesecake
Cold wild strawberry coulis with warm marzipan cheesecake
Baked rhubarb cheesecake
Baked lemon cheesecake
Chocolate cheesecake
Lingonberry cheesecake

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Watermelon and feta salad with roasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinegar

Feta and watermelon salad / Feta-arbuusisalat röstitud kõrvitsaseemnetega
August 2012

Watermelons are at their best just now - juicy and sweet, very flavoursome. Coincidentally, we've also had few rather warm days here in Estonia, with temperatures reaching 30 C. I imagine the watermelon vendors are doing a brisk business, and our family and friends are helping them rather nicely.

 Watermelon salad / Arbuusisalat
August 2010

I had some girlfriends over for an al fresco lunch at our patio on Tuesday, and they brought along a large watermelon. We ate half of it au naturel, but were too stuffed to finish the rest. I cubed it, and chucked the cubes into the fridge. Yesterday, my mum and two of my aunties came over for an al fresco lunch (yes, it's that time of the year - and as I do like entertaining, my extended family and friends are all very welcome), so I used those chilled watermelon cubes to
 a) make a simple watermelon juice (process the fruit until smooth, then press through a sieve and serve over ice cubes, diluted with some soda water, if too thick).
 b) make this watermelon salad.  It's an old favourite of mine that I've been making for years, and yes, the recipe was included in my first cookbook. The salty feta, juicy-fresh watermelon and nutty crispy pepitas - all drizzled with a piquant balsamic dressing - are simply wonderful together. 

More watermelon salad recipes:
Watermelon, feta and lime salad @ Nami-Nami 
Watermelon, feta and olive salad @ Nami-Nami
Watermelon Salad Thing  @ Lootie + Doof (very cool!)
Tomato and watermelon salad @ Steamy Kitchen
Kurgi-arbuusisalat mündi ja basiilikuga  @ Pisike ja Pisut Segi

 Watermelon salad / Arbuusisalat
August 2010

Watermelon and feta salad with roasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic dressing
(Feta-arbuusisalat röstitud kõrvitsaseemnetega)
Serves  8 

Balsamic dressing:
1 dl balsamic vinegar (a good supermarket brand is ok, nothing fancy)
85 g (100 ml, 7 Tbsp) caster sugar

Salad ingredients:
3-4 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (hulled, of course)
1 smaller watermelon
200 g feta cheese
handful of fresh mint and/or basil leaves

Start by making the dressing. Combine sugar and balsamico in a small saucepan and bring quickly into a boil. Let bubble on a high heat for a minute, then transfer the balsamic syrup into a small bowl or jug and let cool.
Toast the pumpkin seeds on a hot skillet until aromatic and toasty. Take care not to burn them!

Cut the feta cheese and watermelon flesh into cubes (re: the size - it's up to you). Transfer onto a serving plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with balsamic dressing and scatter pumpkin seeds and mint/basil leaves on top.

Serve immediately, and let everybody help themselves to more balsamic dressing, if they want.

HINT: if you're in a hurry, you can omit the balsamic syrup bit and simply drizzle the salad with a good aged balsamic vinegar or use one of those thickened balsamic syrups from a bottle. 

 Watermelon salad /Arbuusisalat
August 2010

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sunday pancakes with crushed berries

Black currant "Vertti" & yellow raspberry "Helkal" / Harilik vaarikas "Helkal" ja must sõstar "Vertti" (roheline vorm) / Rubus idaeus 'Helkal'

If you're thinking that those are tiny green gooseberries and our famous cloudberries, you're wrong. The green berries are actually blackcurrants* (Ribes nigrum) - yes, you read it correctly - and perfectly ripe ones at that. The green blackcurrant variety is called "VERTTI", and it was released by MTT Agrifood Research Finland in 1986. The berries have the typical pleasant blackcurrant flavour, but are sweeter, a bit milder and less sour - perfect for eating straight off the bush! (On the upside - the birds don't seem to want them, as they're having hard time spotting them in the first place. More berries for us!).

The yellow berries are simply golden raspberries or yellow raspberries, an albino variety of your regular red raspberry (Rubus idaeus). It's a local variety called "HELKAL", developed at the Polli Horticultural Research Centre in Southern Estonia during the last century and officially registered in 2004.

Once you've filled your stomach with the fresh berries au naturel, you can get a wee bit more adventurous and mash some of the berries with some sugar:

 Blackcurrant "Vertti" & yellow raspberries

And enjoy with your Sunday morning pancakes. Isn't it just a glorious and unusual colour? Blackcurrant "Vertti" & yellow raspberries

Enjoy! Bon appetit! Head isu! :)

* I came across this interesting bit of information about blackcurrants in the US. Fascinating!

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s, when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust (männi-koorepõletik, mida põhjustab roosteseen, mille vaheperemeheks on sõstrapõõsas), were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry. The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to jurisdiction of individual states in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn. As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.  However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine and New Hampshire. 
Since the American federal ban curtailed currant production nationally for nearly a century, the fruit remains largely unknown in the United States, and has yet to regain its previous popularity to levels enjoyed in Europe or New Zealand. Owing to its unique flavour and richness in polyphenols, dietary fibre and essential nutrients, awareness and popularity of blackcurrant is once again growing, with a number of consumer products entering the market. 

Source: Wikipedia