Christmas and New Year, although just a scant week apart, seem to be different seasons altogether for our little family here in Estonia. Throughout December and until Christmas, we eat black pudding and sauerkraut and pork roasts - the traditional Christmas fare - a lot. We'll start eating Christmassy food early, weeks before Christmas. You see, you need to identify the best brand of black pudding (aka blood sausages) at the market each year, so you start sampling in mid-November already. Sauerkraut, on the other hand, is the seasonal vegetable at this time of the year, so we eat a lot of that as well. When the Christmas comes, we still eat the traditional Christmas fare and enjoy it.
And then, suddenly, I've had enough. For the New Year's Eve I want to hear nothing about the heavy winter stuff, and am serving various elegant and light canapés instead (and even if there is some black pudding on the table, it's hidden in puff pastry pinwheels or black pudding profiteroles).
Here's a little and light and elegant canapé I'm planning to serve this time*. Not so dissimilar to Toast Skagen or this Swedish shrimp salad, but being served on small crisp dark rye bread slices, it's a a great and festive mouthful. Oh, and once we are talking about rye bread appetizers - these smoked salmon mousse canapés are wonderful, too!
* And yes, of course we are hosting a big New Year's Eve bash this year as well. The logistics of getting three kids to a party at a friends' house is too much to bear just now, so we are being lazy and staying at home, asking dear friends to come over instead :))
Shrimp salad on rye bread
Makes about 16
250 grams cooked and peeled shrimps
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
100 g good-quality mayonnaise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice, to taste
8 slices of dark rye bread
If using frozen shrimps, defrost them and drain thoroughly (I prefer those in brine, which are more expensive but easier to use). If you wish, chop them coarsely. Mix with onion and dill, then add the mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Toast the rye bread slices, then cut into triangles or squares or small rounds. Spoon shrimp salad on top.
Garnish with some dill and serve.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Black pudding (aka blood sausages) with lingonberry jam are one of the staples on Estonian Christmas table and I like using these two elements in other dishes as well. Here's a small pastry that I've been baking for 5 years already. The initial idea isn't mine. Back in November 2008 I took part at a two-day cooking course ("Modern Christmas menu") at one of the vocational training schools here in Tallinn, and we had a brain-storming session with other participants trying to come up with new twists of old favourites. One of the other participants mentioned using black pudding and lingonberries for making small pastries - I cannot remember any longer, if she was talking about something she has made already or something that could be made, neither can I remember if she was talking about the idea in general or making puff pastry pinwheels in particular. In any case, I've been rolling puff pastry sheets with crumbled black pudding and lingonberry jam and some dried marjoram ever since (here's a photo evidence from November 2008, another one from December 2008 and here's one from October 2010).
So if you've got some black pudding and lingonberry jam left over after the Christmas feast, then you can use these two to make some delightful puff pastry pinwheels. And let your guests guess what's inside - most of them seem to think it's raisins ;)
Puff pastry pinwheels with black pudding and lingonberries
(Lehttainarullid verivorsti ja pohlamoosiga)
puff pastry - either regular or yeasted puff pastry
dried marjoram (oregano will do as well)
egg, whisked with some water
Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle about 3-4 mm thick.
Spread with a thin layer of lingonberry jam, then scatter the crumbled black pudding on top. Sprinkle with some dried marjoram.
Roll tightly, starting from the longer end, into a long "sausage". Cut into 2 cm lengths. Place into paper muffin cups and transfer onto a cooking sheet.
Brush with eggwash and bake in a pre-heated 225C/435F for 10-15 minutes, until the pinwheels are nicely golden brown.
Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
These were immensely popular with our kids as well. The photo is from December 2011, when our son, Aksel, was 11 months old. Look at those cheeks!
It's Saint Lucia's Day today, the festival of light, which is especially popular in Sweden. Trust me, it's pit dark outside by 4 pm, so we need any extra light we can get here up North, even if it's in the form of candles on top of a lingonberry branch wreath balanced precariously on some little girls head :)) It's common to eat saffron buns - lussekatter - on Lucia's Day - ideally, first thing in the morning with your breakfast coffee or tea, but these are also wonderful in the afternoon, of course.
Lussekatter or Lucia buns are usually shaped like S, but I've opted for the more simple roll and enriched the buns with marzipan filling and slivered almonds. kokblog has an excellent overview of the various lussekatter-shapes, check them out.
Saffron buns with marzipan and almonds
(Tõeliselt mõnusad safranisaiad)
Makes a lot!
500 ml lukewarm milk (2 cups)
a generous pinch of saffron threads*
50 g fresh yeast (or use 2 sachets of instant yeast)
0.5 tsp salt
150 g caster sugar
150 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g cream cheese, softened
1 kg of all-purpose flour
100 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g marzipan, grated
3 Tbsp brandy or cognac
a generous pinch of saffron threads
egg-wash made with 1 egg and 1 Tbsp water
50 g sliced almonds
Heat the milk, pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the saffron and let it infuse and cool for a while. The milk should be 37 C/98 F at the end.
Crumble the yeast into the milk. Add salt, sugar and most of the flour. Then knead in the soft butter and cream cheese and the rest of the flour. Knead until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl any longer. Cover and let rise until doubled in size - you need to do that in a warm and draught-free place.
(Meanwhile, cover the baking sheet with a parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 220 C/430 F).
Prepare the filling. Grate the marzipan coarsely. Mix saffron strands with the cognac and let infuse for 5-10 minutes. Melt butter in a small saucepan, add the marzipan and then the saffron-infused cognac. Heat gently, stirring, until combined. Remove from the heat.
Gently knead the yeast dough and divide into two. Roll both on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, about 5 mm (1/4''). Spread half of the marzipan mixture onto the dough and roll tightly, starting from the longer edge.
Repeat with the other dough.
Cut into 3-4 cm rolls (about 1,5 inches) and place onto a baking sheet. (If you wish, you can let them rise again for 20-30 minutes). Brush with the egg-wash and sprinkle with slivered almonds and pearl sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lovely golden brown. Let cool under a clean kitchen towel - this helps them stay soft.
* A note about using saffron. Saffron is water-soluble, not fat-soluble. I am surprised how many recipes ask you to simply add the saffron threads in with the rest of the ingredients (the oil or the flour), without infusing it with the liquid (NOT oil!) beforehand. You can extract so much more flavour and colour by the simple infusion process, and given the price of good-quality saffron, you can use much less of that precious spice and get much more out of it.
More recipes for lussekatter or Lucia buns:
A Cat in the Kitchen, 2006
Anne's Food, 2007
Joe Pastry, 2012
Eat Drink One Woman, 2009
Good. Food. Stories. 2009
Eat, Live, Run, 2012
pPod's Kitchen, 2010
One Perfect Bite, 2009
More recipes using saffron:
Saffron buns (lussekatter)
Roasted aubergines/eggplant with saffron yoghurt dressing by Ottolenghi
Saffron carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Golden saffron pancakes
Monday, December 10, 2012
A glass of warming sea-buckthorn drink. If you're unfamiliar with the name "sea-buckthorn", then it's also known as sandthorn, sallowthorn or seaberry, and tyrni in Finnish, Sanddorn in German (as well as Seedorn, Sandbeere, Weidendorn and so on), havtorn in Danish and Swedish, duindoorn in Dutch, Hippophae rhamnoides in Latin, argousier in French.
Are you a fan of Pinterest? I am. I hopped on the Pinterest-bandwagon quite late, but have grown to love it for the ease of identifying and saving various inspirational dishes. It's a great way to spot gorgeous drink and food ideas, and that's where I came across Sandy's sea-buckthorn punch. Sea-buckthorn, the wonderful superberry, has been featured quite often here on Nami-Nami (see below for numerous recipe links), and I try to use it quite regularly in my kitchen as well. This mulled hot drink using a mixture of sea-buckthorn juice, orange juice and black tea, was a great discovery.
Mulled sea-buckthorn drink
Adapted from Confiture de Vivre
Serves 6 to 8
1 litre of brewed tea (I used Early Grey)
500 ml (2 cups) sea-buckthorn juice
250 ml (1 cup) good-quality orange juice
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick/bark
5-6 Tbsp soft brown sugar
Optional (for the alcoholic version):
vodka and/or sea-buckthorn liqueur
Mix tea, sea-buckthorn and orange juice, spices and the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring into a gentre simmer, then leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes on a very low heat.
Remove from the heat, ladle into heatproof glasses and serve.
For an alcoholic version, add 2 cl of vodka and/or sea-buckthorn liqueur per glass.
More sea-buckthorn recipes:
Sea-buckthorn jelly with kama mascarpone mousse @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn and Amaretto cheesecake @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn and apple tart @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn sorbet @ Nami-Nami
Cardamom panna-cotta with sea-buckthorn and apricot compote @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn juice @ Russian Season
Sea-buckthorn @ Real Epicurean
Gelbe grütze @ Küchenlatein
Coconut cream custard on sanddorn mirror @ Vegalicious Recipes
Sea buckthorn curd with raspberries @ Swedish Food
Sea-buckthorn cheesecake @ Bumpkin Mag
Sea-buckthorn mousse @ Andie's Veggies
Sea-buckthorn kissel with Greek yoghurt @ Suvi sur le vif