Thursday, March 19, 2020

IKRA - Russian eggplant caviar/Russian aubergine caviar

Someone was looking for a "soft aubergine/eggplant spread with tomatoes" and I knew exactly what they were talking about. There's a dish in Russia, our Eastern neighbour, which is called IKRA or fake caviar.

I got this recipe from Russian friend Galina back in Edinburgh sometimes around 2000. Still makes a regular appearance in our kitchen.  It's lovely on a slice of toast, or as a condiment or spread on a mezze-table.

Russian aubergine spread IKRA

1 large aubergine/eggplant
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley or dill

Prick the aubergine with a fork here and there, then place into a preheated 200C/400F oven and bake for about 60 minutes, until fully cooked and slightly charred on the outside. Flip over once or twice during baking.

Remove from the oven, let it cool. Then cul half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Place into a cutting board and chop finely. Place into a medium-sized bowl.

Peel the onion, cut into halve and then chop finely. '

Peel the tomatoes (make a small X-cut at the bottom, place into a boiling water for about 30 minutes, drain and peel). Dice the tomatoes finely.

Mince the garlic.

Mix the aubergine, onion, tomatoes and garlic in the bowl, add the oil and vinegar/lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover the bowl with a clingfilm and put the ikra into the fridge for a few hours, so the flavours can mingle and develop.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs just before serving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Onion Skins, Estonian style

This was originally posted in 2011. You'll find all my Easter recipes here

Easter eggs / Lihavõttemunad

We don't really 'do' chocolate eggs for Easter here in Estonia, but real, chicken eggs. Dyeing eggs for Easter is very popular, and using onion skins is probably the most popular method. Using onion peels gives you most beautiful dyed eggs, each one unique and special. Here are some photos of the process that I took few years ago.

Pille, onion skins

Here's what you need to do:

* Few weeks before Easter start collecting onion peels. Yellow ones are better than red onion skins, as they give a nice colour.

* You need white eggs for doing this (this gives the shops a chance to sell specially packaged white eggs for a much higher price before the festivities).

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Take an egg and neatly put few onion peels around it:

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Take a piece of mesh/muslin/kitchen foil or even an old nylon stocking and wrap it around the egg to keep the onion peels on place. I used foil here:

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Boil as usual. Cool, then unwrap and unpeel.

Here's the result - each egg is unique and gorgeous:

Easter eggs / Lihavõttemunad

Natasha describes a similar, though less complicated way of dyeing eggs with onion peels that's popular in Russia and Ukraine: Russian Easter Eggs. My 91-year old grandmother uses the same method - she says she's too old to "play around" with the onion peels too much :)

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Estonian layered curd cheese cake (kihiline kohupiimakook)

The photo is from January 2008 

We love our curd cheese cakes in Estonia - and you'll find at least five curd cheese cake recipes here on my blog. This particular one is one of the most common curd cheese cakes out there. It uses a shop-bough yellow cake mix ("Juubeli tordipulber" or "Jubileum cake mix"), making it super-quick to assemble, and many Estonian cooks would have a packed somewhere in the kitchen drawer, just in cake. I'm an avid baker, love baking from scratch, and I do, just in cake :)

I'm posting it here, as someone was looking for the English recipe and I realised I hadn't shared it yet.

It's lovely when enjoyed lukewarm, with a glass of cold milk, but it's also really nice when completely cooled and accompanied with a cup of coffee or tea or cacao.

Layered curd cheese cake

(Kihiline kohupiimakook)
Feeds 6 to 8

400 g creamy curd cheese
200 g sour cream (20% fat content is perfect)
4 eggs (L)
4 Tbsp caster sugar
1 yellow cake mix (450 g)
50 g butter
a handful of seedless raisins (optional)

Break the eggs into the mixing bowl, add sugar and whisk until thick, pale and frothy. Gently fold in the curd cheese and sour cream (and raisins, if using).

Butter a Ø 26 cm (10 inch) cake tin or springform tin.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the cake mix (still dry, in its powder form!) onto the base, then scatter small dots of butter on top.

Gently pour or spoon half of the wet mixture into the tin. Now scatter half of the remaining dry cake mix into the tin, cover with the rest of the wet mixture and then the rest of the dry cake mixture. Scatter the remaining butter on top.

Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 200 C oven for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and cooked through.

Let it cool before serving.