Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ham, leek and kidney bean salad

Singi-oasalat / Ham, leek and kidney bean salad

If you have ever visited Estonia, then you know we're fond of various chopped salads with mayonnaise and sour cream dressing. We're pretty proud of our potato salad, which requires hours of dedicated chopping and dicing and tends to be on many a birthday table.

I've offered you some recipes here on Nami-Nami that fit the category - potato and cucumber salad, potato and beet salad, for instance. This ham, leek and kidney bean salad fills into the same category of salads, though because of the ease of preparing the salad, I tend to think of this more like a midweek salad than buffet table table.

Serve with some good rye or crusty bread on the side.

Ham, leek and kidney bean salad
Serves four to six

 Singi-oasalat / Ham, leek and kidney bean salad

300 g cooked ham
ca 400 g canned red kidney beans (drained weight)
1 medium-sized leek, white and pale green part only
handful of fresh parsley

100 g good-quality mayonnaise
100-150 g sour cream or plain yoghurt
freshly ground black pepper or "lemon pepper"
sea salt, if needed

Cut the ham into neat small pieces - I like them about the same size as the beans. Cut the leek in half lengthwise, rinse and cut into 3-4 mm slices. Chop parsley.

Mix the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, fold in the salad ingredients.

Serve at once or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

  Singi-oasalat / Ham, leek and kidney bean salad

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rose cake

Sefiiritort / Rose cake
Made this rose cake - my first ever - for our daughter's fourth birthday party last Saturday. I had come across these rose cakes on Pinterest on several occasion (see here or here) and really wanted to make one myself. I found piping the roses surprisingly easy and will happily undertake the process again.

A simple sponge cake (using 4 eggs), layered with lingonberry and apple jam as well as lemon-flavoured curd cheese cream, and topped with cranberry zefir (basically a type of Italian meringue; 3 egg whites and 300 g sugar is enough to frost the 26 cm cake).

Monday, January 28, 2013

3 things to do in Tel Aviv and 3 things to do in Jerusalem

Katrina (born in Tallinn) of The Gastronomical Me blog (written in London) dropped me an e-mail few days ago. I quote:

I'm flying to Israel tomorrow, for a week, will stay in Tel Aviv and Jeruselem and the Deadsea. I know you went there during summer through that social group. I've read a bit on your site already but if you were to pick say 3 places that surprised you the most, perhaps the places you don't think people are likely to discover just by wondering around, what would you recommend?

I had the pleasure of visiting Israel last June in the honorable company of David Lebovitz and Ms Marmite Lover as well as two lovely young American food writers. I haven't managed to blog nearly as much about the trip as I would have wanted, but here's my TOP 3 recommendations for both places. I have met Katrina on a couple of occasions, and think I have a vague idea of what would interest her - hope I'm not too wide off the mark, Katrina :D


1) Drinks and nibbles at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel. Wonderful views across the city during sunset, excellent modern Israeli food. We had nibbles there on the first night in town, just getting to know each other and our wonderful hosts Adi and Joanna (hi there!) and our packed itinerary.

View from the rooftop of Mamilla hotel, Jerusalem, Israel

Focaccia with roasted vegetables @ Mamilla rooftop café, Jerusalem, Israel
(More Mamilla photos here)

2) A tour of the Mahane-Yehuda Market is a must - and I've actually managed to blog about that.

Mahane-Yehuda market, Jerusalem, Israel
(More Mahane-Yehuda photos here)

I also think Katrina would enjoy a quick khatchapuri at the Georgian café Hatchapuria (5 HaShikma St, just outside the market). Here's their lovely Adjarian cheese khatchapuri with soft egg:

Adjari khatchapuri @ Mahane-Yehuda market, Jerusalem, Israel

3) Hummus and falafels, mint tea, cardamom-spiced coffee, mutabbaq - all on Via Dolorosa. We popped into a hummusia somewhere between the seventh and eighth station. Excellent first hummus indeed! We then followed up the stairs and just on the right at the end of the last station, stopped for mutabbaq, the super sweet Arab filo pastry, mint tea and cardamom coffee.

First hummusia stop, Jerusalem. Photo by David Garb

Mint tea and cardamom coffe. Jerusalem (Photo by David Garb)
Both photos by David Garb, one of the photographers on our tour


1) Haj Kahil is an Arab/Palestine restaurant in Jaffa, and the lunch we enjoyed there was probably one of the tastiest and most memorable during the trip full of really excellent food. The mezze table alone was ten points out of ten, a wonderful selection of fresh and delicious vegetable dishes.

Arab lunch @ Haj Kahil, Jaffa, Israel

Here's the waiter with the main course - just before our "argument" whether I should have a huge portion as I was eating for two (pregnant with bebe number three, remember :)) - his view; or whether I should only have a small portion of that beautiful 8-hour-lamb, as there was a good-sized baby taking up all that free space in my belly already - my idea:
Arab lunch @ Haj Kahil (Photo by Noa Magger)
David Lebovitz has written a beautiful post about that restaurant and I would definitely go back for a meal or two when in Israel again. This is my Number 1 recommendation for Israel!

2) Eyal Shani's The Salon only opens twice a week (Wednesday and Thursday), 8 Ma'avar Yabok, Nakhalat Yitzhak, Givataim, telephone 052-7035888. Apparently it's hard to secure a table and it's pretty pricey, and definitely not a place if you want a quiet place to enjoy a meal. But I trust Katrina would enjoy the rowdy and positively crazy atmosphere of the place. The food was delicious as well, of course :)
Salon (chef Eyal Shani), Tel Aviv, Israel
Eyal Shani in action.

3) A leisurely breakfast at Manta Ray at Alma Beach. The food was good, but I have especially fond memories of having breakfast at the relaxing seaside café - the vibe and the atmosphere were great.  
Breakfast @ Manta Ray, Israel

Remember - there six recommendations are posted here with a specific food-loving girl in mind - might not be the same places I'd suggest to a retired couple or a young family with three small kids :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Scottish food: Cock-a-Leekie soup

Originally posted in February 2007; fully updated in January 2013. Cock-a-leekie soup / Kana-porrusupp

Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the January 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed. Recipe and styling by Nami-Nami. The tablecloth is Estonian national tartan - the blue, black and white representing the Estonian flag, the red and golden representing Scotland's Rampant Lion. 

Tomorrow the friends of Scotland and all things Scottish across the world celebrate Robert Burns' birth anniversary, hosting or attending a Burns Supper. And any self-respecting Burns Supper begins with a proper Scottish soup - either Scotch Broth or Cock-a-Leekie. As the latter is a) considerably cheaper and b) considerably easier, and something that I've cooked over and over again. Amazingly, so few ingredients (a chicken, some leeks and some juicy prunes) can result in such a flavoursome soup.

Here's the recipe for a lovely and flavoursome cock-a-leekie. It started off as a recipe from Sue Lawrence's Scots Cooking: The Best Traditional and Contemporary Recipes (excellent book, by the way!), but I've tweaked both the amounts and the instructions, including the cooking method, considerably.

(Cock-a-leekie supp ehk šotlaste kana-porrusupp)
Serves 10 as a starter or 4 to 6 as a main course. 

1 chicken (1.5 kg)
3-4 large leeks (1 kg)
20 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
about 2 litres water
20 juicy prunes, stoned and sliced
fresh parsley, chopped

Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash them well, then cut off the green parts. Chop these roughly and add to the pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the water - it should just cover the chicken. Season lightly with salt.
Bring slowly into the boil, skim off any scum that appears at the surface. Then cover and simmer for about 1.5-2 hours, until the chicken is cooked. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
Take out the chicken and remove the leeks, either with a slotted spoon or by draining the soup through a colander. Discard the cooked leeks. Remove the chicken flesh from the bones and chop into smaller pieces.
Chop the white part of the leeks, add to the pan with the prunes and chicken and bring to the boil again. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the leeks are just done.
Season with plenty of salt and pepper and serve with chopped parsley on top.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crunchy carrot salad with salted peanuts

Krõmpsuv porgandisalat soolapähklitega / Crunchy carrot and salted peanut salad

What's your best time-saving tip in the kitchen?

Here's one of mine. Lately I've developed the habit of peeling a big batch - about a kilogram/two pounds or so - of carrots at once. Using my food processor, I grate half of them finely, to be used in soups and various raw salads, meat-based pasta sauces, as well as carrot cakes or muffins. The other half I cut into thick julienne or thin batons or shred coarsely, using either the food processor or my trusty Benriner mandoline. These will end up in stir-fries or in cooked salads. The prepared carrots are simply waiting in the fridge, packed air-tight, of course, to be used as needed. We definitely eat more carrots because of this simple pre-planning, and this can only be a good thing, no?

Here's a lovely warm carrot salad using the bigger carrot pieces.

Krõmpsuv porgandisalat soolapähklitega / Crunchy carrot and salted peanut salad
The combination of carrots and salted peanuts is from Nigella Lawson's book Forever Summer. The trick of giving the carrots a quick microwave oven treatment is from Harumi Kurihara's lovely book Harumi's Japanese CookingHarumi, also known as the Martha Stewart or Delia Smith of Japan (depending whether you're in the US or UK), uses this microwaving method to soften the vegetables in her carrot and tuna salad recipe.

If you haven't got a microwave oven or prefer not using it, then simply stir-fry the carrots quickly in some of the groundnut or olive oil to warm and soften them slightly. Or make this a raw salad instead, though then I would grate the carrots finely and chop the peanuts first.

Crunchy carrots with peanuts
(Krõmpsuv porgandisalat soolapähklitega)
Serves 4

 Krõmpsuv porgandisalat soolapähklitega / Crunchy carrot and salted peanut salad

400-450 g carrots
100 g roasted and salted peanuts
2 Tbsp groundnut or olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
a few drops of sesame oil
fresh (Italian/flat-leaf) parsley, finely chopped

Peel the carrots and cut into 5 mm julienne-sticks or shred coarsely (I used my food processor for that). Place into a microwave-safe glass bowl and blast them in the microwave for 90 seconds to slightly soften and warm them.

Take the bowl out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and sesame oil as well as lemon juice, then sprinkle parsley on top. Toss the carrots gently to combine with these ingredients.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

More carrot salad recipes:
Warm Gingered Carrot Salad with Feta Cheese @ Nami-Nami
Moroccan Carrot Salad @ Nami-Nami
Carrots with African spices @ Nami-Nami
Carrots with African spices @ A Veggie Venture
Apricot-glazed carrots with ginger and curry @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy shredded carrot salad @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Orange Blossom Carrot Salad @ Simply Recipes
Classic Carrot Salad @ Simply Recipes
Beautiful carrot and peanut salad @ Trembom
Caribbean carrot salad @ The Leftover Queen
Peanuts and carrots @ Nami-Nami (same recipe, posted back in 2006)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pan-Seared Oat-Crusted Salmon or Trout

Oat-crusted salmon / Kaerahelbepaneeringus lõhefilee
Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the January 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine. The tablecloth is Estonian national tartan - the blue, black and white representing the Estonian flag, the red and gold representing Scotland's Rampant Lion.

Burns Supper is nigh and it's a great opportunity to cook some Scottish recipes again. Here's a salmon with a crispy mustard and oat crust that's easy to make and yet festive enough for a good Burns Supper (if you're not serving haggis, that is). The Scots tend to cook herring this way, but sadly it's almost impossible to get fresh herring over here. Salty herring - whole or filleted - in brine is widely available, but fresh, no.

Luckily this method works brilliantly with other oily fish as well, especially salmon and trout. You can use filet from the tail-end (it's easier to cook), or use butterfly steaks, like I did.

Oat crusted fish 
(Kaerahelbepaneeringus kala)

one salmon or trout butterfly steak or filet per person
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sharp Dijon mustard (or Põltsamaa, if you're in Estonia)
quick-cooking oats or coarse oatmeal
oil, for frying

Season the fish with salt and pepper, then smear lightly with some mustard (use too much mustard and your oats won't stick to the fish while you're frying). Dip the fish into oats. If you're using the skin-on fish filet, then just the flesh side, obviously.

Heat the frying pan until hot over moderately high heat, then drizzle with oil. Add the fish and fry until crispy and golden brown on both sides (my butterfly steak needed about 3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other).

Serve with a sautéed spinach (on the photo) or kale or some mushy peas.

If you want  some dressing to go with it, then I recommend flavouring some creme fraiche with mustard, salt, pepper and finely chopped chives.

PS I've tagged the recipe as gluten-free, but you must use certified gluten-free oats and mustard then.

Other Scottish recipes suitable for Burns Supper:

Red onion and whisky marmalade
Mini haggis tarts
Tattie scones

Cock-a-leekie or chicken and leek soup with prunes

Main course:
Oat crusted fish

Cranachan or raspberries, cream and tipsy oats
Scottish lemon cake
Chocolate raspberry brownie

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A healthy start to your day: buttered apple oatmeal porridge

Breakfast and caramelized apple oatmeal porridge / Hommikusöök, sh kaerahelbepuder praetud õuntega
Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the January 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine; plate, mug and bowls by Estonian ceramic artist Marion Isabelle Varik of BlueDesign.

How many of you included "have a proper and healthy breakfast every day" among your New Year resolutions?

I did. In the morning chaos of getting three kids out of bed and dressed and ready, I often end up having breakfast consisting of just a cup of coffee and perhaps a tiny piece of leftover cake or a small tub of yoghurt. Yet that's never enough, and I feel sluggish and peckish by mid-morning already. I know a hot cereal (especially oatmeal) would be the best choice, but I don't really want the basic oatmeal porridge first thing in the morning.

I need to pimp up my porridge, so to say.

There's a great Scottish company, Stoats, that began serving freshly cooked oatmeal porridge at the music festivals and farmer's markets back in 2004, and became a huge success. One of the items on their menu both at the Edinburgh Farmers' Market and at their Meadows porridge bar was Cranachan porridge, or oatmeal served with raspberries, cream and toasted oats. I LOVED that one (there's a recipe on their website!), and this opened my eyes to the possibilities of different and delicious oatmeal. Here's a different "pimped up" porridge, served with buttered spiced apples - just as lovely and delicious.

Oatmeal porridge with buttered apples
(Kaerahelbepuder praetud õuntega)
Serves 3-4

250 ml water (1 cup)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
250 ml old-fashioned rolled oats (1 cup)
1-2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring into a simmer. Simmer gently over moderately low heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until cooked.

Buttered apples:
2 large crisp apples (Granny Smith, Antonovka)
2 Tbsp butter
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Peel and core the apples, cut into thin wedges. Heat butter on a small frying pan, add apples and sauté gently for a few minutes. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg and continue frying for another 5-6 minutes over a low heat, until apples are nicely soft, but not mushy! Drizzle lemon juice on top, heat through.

Spoon the buttered apples over the oatmeal and serve immediately.

Need more oatmeal inspiration? Check out these recipes:
Oatmeal with peanut butter @ Nami-Nami
Oatmeal with banana and maple syrup @ Nami-Nami
Oatmeal with grated apple @ 80 Breakfasts
Savoury oatmeal with Parmesan cheese @  80 Breakfasts
Steel-cut oats with Muscovado glazed bacon @ 80 Breakfasts
Christmas oatmeal @ 80 Breakfasts
Oatmeal basics @ Kitchen Parade
Peanut butter oatmeal @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Brown sugar roasted fig oatmeal @ Joy the Baker
Whipped banana oatmeal @ Kath Eats Real Food
English porridge and Vanilla bean oatmeal @ Amateur Gourmet
Heavenly oat bran porridge @ Lottie and Doof via The Kitchn
Slow-cooker spiced porridge @ The Kitchn
Chai porridge oats with rhubarb @ Not Quite Nigella

Monday, January 07, 2013

Canapés with mustard-lemon-dill butter and beets

Canapés with mustard-lemon-dill butter and beets / Tilli-sinepikanapeed peediga

Here's one of the appetizers from our New Year's Eve menu -  a tangy mustard-lemon-dill butter on a slice of dark rye bread, garnished with my old favourite, beetroot. A very Scandinavian flavour combination, it's a great all-year appetizer that packs a lot of character (read: not the ideal accompaniment to your glass of fine champagne, but would go well with some more rustic beverages). The recipe is adapted from the British food magazine's BBC Good Food, more specifically their 2004 Vegetarian Christmas supplement. I made it quite a few times back in Edinburgh, but forgot all about it once I moved back home. But somebody left a comment on my Estonian site after making this canapé - and loving it - and I immediately new it'll be on our festive buffét table soon.

Rye bread canapés with mustard-dill butter and shredded beets
12 to 24, depending on the size of the appetizers

Lemon, mustard and dill butter:
100 g butter, softened
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
salt to taste

To serve and garnish:
6 slices of dark rye bread
100 grams of cooked beets, shredded or julienned

Make the compound butter - mix butter, dill, mustard and lemon zest until combined, season to taste with some salt, if necessary.

Cut each bread slice into small triangles or squares or rounds. Spread with compound butter.

Garnish with shredded or julienned cooked beets and some dill fronds, if you like.

Serve immediately or cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year's Eve 2012 @ Nami-Nami

The last meal 2012 / Aastavahetuse peo menüü

We hosted a big New Year's Eve party at our home on December 31st. We were 16 adults and 6 kids in total, so we decided against a proper sit-down meal and went for the buffét instead (known as "Swedish table" or "Rootsi laud" in Estonian). And although many Estonians would be eating pork and sauerkraut and roasted potatoes - our typical Christmas fare - on New Year's Eve as well, we never do and go for a much lighter and rather different dishes. Here's what we were having for the last meal of 2012 (I've provided links to English-language recipes available on Nami-Nami, where appropriate).

Rye bread canapés with mustard and lemon butter, dill and shredded beets: Canapés with mustard-lemon-dill butter and beets / Tilli-sinepikanapeed peediga

Crostini with Brie and lingonberry jam:
Crostini with Brie and lingonberry jam / Krõbesaiad valgehallitusjuustu ja pohlamoosiga

Red onion "boats" with smetana and salmon roe (which I also served on the last day of 2007):
Sibulapaadid smetana hapukoore ja lõhemarjaga

Soft and sweet dried dates with tangy goat cheese:
Datlid kitsejuustuga / Dates with goat's cheese

Smooth and silky chicken liver paté:
Smooth chicken liver pate / Hõrk kanamaksapasteet kohvik Mooni ainetel

Three layered salads - one with beets, peas, cheese and eggs; one with canned tuna, eggs, regular and cottage cheese; one with surimi, cheese and eggs:
 3 layered salads / Kolm kihilist salatit

Here's the close-up of the beet and cheese and egg and pea salad (you'll find the recipe here; I seem to have served it for the last meal of 2008 as well):
 Layered beet salad with cheese, eggs and peas / Kihiline peedi-herne-muna-juustusalat

Swedish shrimp salad (recipe available here):
 Räksallad / Shrimp salad / Krevetisalat

Fresh sauerkraut salad:
 Hapukapsasalat / Sauerkraut salad

We also had fruit on the table, namely grapes and tangerines. Here's our oldest child peeling tangerines that she was kindly offering to all the guests later:  Nora on New Year's Eve

A very traditional Estonian cake, curd cheese sheet cake with lots of raisins (I needed some raisin syrup to make the chicken liver paté above, so decided to use the cooked raisins in this cake as opposed to wasting them):
 Kohupiima-plaadikook / Estonian curd cheese cake

Mocca cheesecake with chocolate coffee beans: Kohvi-toorjuustukook / Coffee cheesecake

And here's the star of the night - our croquembouche 2012: Croquembouche 2012

Wishing all the readers of Nami-Nami a happy and successful New Year, full of delicious and satisfying meals!

New Year's Eve 2011
New Year's Eve 2007