Thursday, November 30, 2006

Georgian cheese bread: Hatchapuri/Khachapuri

Hatchapuri / Hatšapuri
Photo from April 2008

I - finally - made some hatchapuri. Hatchapuri, for those of you who don't know it, is a famous Georgian cheesebread. Somehow - not sure where I got the guts to do that! - I ended up wholeheartedly defending Georgian cuisine in general and hatchapuri recipe in particular over at Kuidaore during my very early blogging days. Il Forno's Alberto wrote about hatchapuri (or khachapuri, as he spells it) already in early 2004. More recently, my fellow Edinburgh blogger (until I moved back home, that is) Melissa so eloquently wrote about it on The Traveler's Lunchbox. There's a recipe in the latest Nigella book, as well as Darra Goldstein's almost scholarly book The Georgian Feast. This very cheesebread is positively 'in' at the moment. However, as both of these books of mine are still in sort of transit from Edinburgh to Tallinn and I won't get my hands on them until Christmas, then I had to look elsewhere for a suitable recipe. The simple recipe below is adapted from an Estonian food enthusiast who writes under the name of Volks Vaagen, who has got it from a Georgian lady called Natalya.

Now, before we proceed, remember that just like there are loads of different pizzas, there is a huge range of hatchapuri breads out there. The type and name of your cheesebread depends on where in Georgia you're trying to bake and/or eat it. There's Imeruli hatchapuri (flat, round bread, using imeruli cheese), Acharuli/Adjaruli hatchapuri (a suluguni cheese bread 'boat' topped with raw egg and then cooked; sometimes also referred to as Georgian pizza), Achma hatchapuri (a very rich and layered cheesebread) , Megruli hatchapuri (has cheese both inside and outside the bread), Svanuri hatchapuri (also known as chvishtar), Rachuli hatchapuri, Phenovani/Penovani hatchapuri (with a flaky pastry, formed as a triangle), Ossuri hatchapuri (filled with cheese and mashed potatoes), Guruli hatchapuri (thick and crunchy, with lots of cheese, formed as a log).
I'm pretty sure the list is not exhaustive (I'll report back when I compile a definitive list of various hatchapuris:)

You should really use imeruli/emeruli cheese or suluguni cheese for this recipe, although brynza cheese would work, too, as it is similarly salty. I used suluguni here. Suluguni is a whole milk cheese from Georgia (as in the Caucasus, and not in the US, obviously) , which can be grilled (I'm thinking of using suluguni instead of halloumi in the recipe for roasted red peppers with cumin-scented halloumi). Luckily, there's a considerable Abkhasian Georgian community in Estonia, and they've set up a small suluguni cheese factory in Kehra near Tallinn. It's not readily available in supermarkets, but you can easily buy that at local markets here. If you live in the US or UK, then try the Russian stores. Or see what alternatives Melissa and Alberto recommend.

I'm pretty sure it would be a fantastic accompaniment to Chakhohbili, the Georgian chicken stew with loads of herbs and wine. There's garlic in the cheese filling of this hatchapuri, which gave a real extra kick to the flavour. Feel free to leave it out, if you prefer a milder taste sensation.

Georgian cheese bread Hatchapuri
Yields 6 generous wedges.

For the dough:
250 grams sour cream
150 grams butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, slightly whisked
350 g plain flour (or a bit more, if necessary) (about 600 ml)
a pinch of salt
0.25 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar

For the cheese filling:
200 grams suluguni cheese, coarsely grated
1 egg, whisked
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)

Mix sour cream and melted butter. Add salt, baking soda and sugar, whisk in the egg and add flour in installments. Knead slightly, until you've got a soft & pliable dough. Divide into two, roll each into a large circle (25 cm or so).
Grate the cheese, mix with egg, sour cream and chopped garlic.
Place one dough circle on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread the cheese filling on top, leaving about 1 cm from the edges clean. Cover with the other dough circle, press the edges firmly together.
Brush with egg or sour cream, pierce with a fork here and there. Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes, until hatchapuri is lovely golden brown colour.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some onion recipes at Nami-nami

I'm a great fan of onions, so I was sad to realise that I missed the one-off Onion Day organised by Zorra of 1 x umrühren bitte. I was away in Denmark when she announced the event, hence the delay. However, until I write another proper blog-post, I leave you with two of my favourite onion recipes from the recipe archives:

In January 2006 I wrote about Nigella Lawson's upside down red onion pie, which I had spiked up with some crumbled Irish Cashel blue cheese. A wonderful, heartwarming and successful recipe, like pretty much everything I've tried from the books of the Domestic Goddess.

In March I posted a recipe for stuffed red onions with feta cheese and wild mushrooms, a simplified version of Paul Gayler's recipe for Greek stuffed onions in a feta cheese custard (I skipped the custard bit and changed the stuffing a little).

And soon I'll write about my Danish hostmum's bacon and onion quiche that I became to love while spending almost a year in the little town of Svendborg. Here's a sneak preview:

UPDATE 30.11.2006: Zorra was kind enough to include me in the Onion Day round-up. Read here for a full report - there are 40 onion recipes!

Friday, November 24, 2006

SHF#25, for adults only: dark chocolate & matcha truffles

Indeed. Although most kids I've met love chocolate and anything with chocolate, then I doubt if they'd like these. The bitterness of powdered matcha tea would probably be too 'adult' for their tender tastebuds. But then, these are so lovely that I'm not sure I'd want to share them with any kids in the first place:)

These decadently dark and devilishly bitter truffles are my contribution for the latest edition of Sugar High Friday, hosted by wonderful Johanna of the Passionate Cook. She's chosen truffles as a theme. I wanted to use some of the matcha powder my dear Edinburgh friend Ryoko had given me, and inspired by the Mont Fuji cake I enjoyed in Paris in May, I decided to make dark chocolate and matcha ganache truffles, rolled in matcha powder. When you put one of those truffles into your mouth, then first the somewhat bitter, powdery matcha melts onto your tongue, giving way to a sweet and creamy chocolate. Deliciously adult delight indeed.

Dark chocolate & matcha truffles
Adapted from Epicurious

100 ml double cream (I used 38%)
1 Tbsp good-quality butter (slightly salted is fine), chopped
2 tsp matcha powder, plus a lot more for rolling the truffles
100 grams dark chocolate (I used 72% chocolate from the Estonian company, Kalev)

First make the ganache. Heat the cream and butter until almost boiling. Take a spoonful or two of the mixture and stir into the matcha powder. Return this green paste into the hot cream, whisking vigorously, until combined. Remove from the heat.
Add chopped chocolate, and stir until it melts.
Cover and leave to cool in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Take teaspoonfuls of the set ganache and form into round-ish shapes. Leave to cool in the fridge again for an hour.
Roll in matcha powder, place into small paper cups and keep in a cool place until serving.

These truffles keep up to a week, if kept in the fridge.

UPDATE 29.11.2006: Here is Johanna's round-up - check out all the mouthwatering truffles!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A vacation alert: Denmark

My adorable new Moomin mug, a present from Emma & Michael who stayed with us last week. Tänan väga!

Although I've only just got back from Edinburgh, I'm already on my way again. I'm leaving my newly-found domestic bliss tomorrow for five days, in order to attend a 3-day workshop in Roskilde, dine with Zarah Maria in Copenhagen and visit my host parents in Svendborg. Denmark, here I come! I spent a wonderful year in Denmark as an exchange student at the tender age of 18. Despite the geographical proximity (map), I haven't been back, unless you count the frequent stopovers at Kastrup airport. I almost went to Copenhagen in early 1998, but sadly ended up having an emergy appendicitis at a hospital instead. Bugger!

There's an ever-increasing backlog of blog posts that I've yet to publish. Here's a sneak preview of what to expect from Nami-nami in the near future:

- my entry for the Sugar High Friday #25
- a recipe for Georgian cheesebread hatchapuri
- a recipe for hundred tiny mushroom pierogis (mentioned here)
- a recipe for my Danish hostmum's ('mor Kirsten') delicious bacon and onion quiche
- two more apple cakes (yes, I know!) - one with a light sponge topping, the other with a toffee and cranberry twist
- one more wedding report - the last one for 2006 (or not, dear EE & MO?)
- two reports from fine restaurants in Tallinn
- a post on making pomegranate molasses
- another post on turning fragrant quinces into delicious membrillo
- a recipe for Chinese lemon chicken

... and that's just the non-complete list of backlog posts. A lot more to come, so please stay tuned. Meanwhile, I'm off. I've got some shopping and packing to do :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cooking for kids: Salmon fishcakes with green peas

Just a child-friendly recipe for a change. I made these while staying with Dianne & Peter and their children Maarja-Liis (8 yrs) and Maarek (12 months) in Edinburgh just before leaving. These were especially popular with the wee boy, though the adults (including me) ate them just as happily.

The recipe is adapted from a recipe in BBC Good Food 'Fresh family food' supplement, November 2006. I don't like canned salmon, and didn't want to use tartar sauce, so replaced them with fresh salmon and cream, respectively.

Salmon Fishcakes with Green Peas
(Lõhekotletid hernestega)
Serves 4

400 grams of potatoes, boiled and mashed (or use leftover mash)
400 grams of salmon filet
100 grams frozen green peas, defrosted
a generous handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp cream
salt and pepper

4 Tbsp semolina or plain flour (I prefer the former), for forming the cakes

4 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil, for frying the cakes

Put the fish filets into a glass bowl and microwave for 4 minutes at 600W, turning them around after 2 minutes, until cooked. (Alternatively, poach in little water). Mash with a fork.
Mash the boiled potatoes in a big bowl. Add the cooked fish, peas, chopped mint and cream, season with salt and pepper, and mix until combined.
Form the mixture into small fishcakes, dip these into semolina or flour. Shallow-fry in hot oil for 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
Serve with a fresh green salad and a slice of lemon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I think you're beautiful: autumnal cabbage salad

On Monday night K. and I took my Edinburgh friends Emma and Michael, and my cousin Ingrid for a meal in Olde Hansa, a fabulously cosy and atmospheric Medieval restaurant right in the centre of Tallinn's Old Town. The meal isn't really the right word - it was more of a feast. You see, Olde Hansa aims to imitate a rich Hanseatic merchant's house, so the portions are huge, generously seasoned and substantial; just as importantly, their light cinnamon, dark herbal and dark honey beers extremely drinkable. By the end of the meal we were absolutely stuffed, unable even to think about the dessert menu*. As Emma & Michael popped over to Helsinki for a night yesterday, K. and I wanted a light and simple dinner, to counteract the indulgent medieval feast from the night before.

Salads are handy for moments like that, so I made a salad from organic red cabbage, crisp and fresh, that I had bought from a small organic food store on Sunday. Red cabbage is such a visually beautiful vegetable, and went well with sweet and juicy pineapple and crumbly cottage cheese. The resulting salad was tasty, light and healthy, and oh-so-pretty - a perfect partner to crusty rye bread.
A keeper.

Red cabbage salad with cottage cheese and pineapple chunks
(Punase kapsa, ananassi ja kodujuustu salat)
Serves 2-3 as a light meal or more as a side dish

one small red cabbage, thinly sliced
200 grams cottage cheese
one small can of pineapple chunks in pineapple juice, drained (but keep the juice)
lots of chopped fresh parsley
Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cabbage into thin slices (I guess a kitchen Mandolin would speed up this process).
Mix the cabbage, drained pineapple chunks and cottage cheese in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, mix in chopped parsley.
Moisten with some pineapple juice, if necessary (if your cottage cheese is moist, this might not be needed).

* I didn't even buy a packet of their spicy sugared almonds on the way out - that's how full I was!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I show you mine, you show me yours: my new apron

Here's my new apron - a goodbye-present from my Edinburgh colleagues Margaret, Lindsay, David & Paddy. Cheers!

What's your apron like?

UPDATE 25.6.2007: Check out Kalyn's apron post on Blogher. and Ilva's Show Us Your Apron one-off event (deadline 15.7.2007).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Choux pastry roll with smoked chicken

My parents finally came over for the housewarming visit on Wednesday, or soolaleivale (salt & bread), as it's known in Estonian. They brought us some rye bread, salt and a fancy marzipan tart. We treated them to a choux pastry roll with smoked chicken (a chicken version of the choux pastry roll with smoked fish that I wrote about last week) and chocolate and cherry cake (the cherry version of Nigella's chocolate and orange marmalade cake I wrote about exactly a year ago). As Wednesday is a weekday night, it wasn't a long sit-down meal. That'll come later. But I think my parents approved, both of my new home as well as the food:)

The good thing about this roll is that it can be made night before and kept wrapped in foil in the fridge.

Choux pastry roll with smoked chicken
Serves 6

For the choux pastry follow the recipe and instructions here.

2 smoked chicken breast fillets, finely diced
100 grams soured cream/creme fraiche/thick plain yogurt
100 grams good-quality mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder or paste of your choice
lots of chopped fresh parsley

Mix all ingredients, spread on the choux pastry sheet and roll up from the long end.
Leave in the fridge for at least half an hour, so the flavours could develop.
Serve with salad leaves.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Three girls and a a lot of whisky

Just few days before I left Edinburgh, my friends Oxana and Galina took me to The Vaults, the members' rooms of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith, Edinburgh. I hadn't managed to go there during my seven years in town, but had been curious since I read Melissa's post on whisky tasting notes. Luckily, Oxana was a member and offered to take me there and sample some of the current society bottlings. During the few enjoyable and merry hours we spent in the grand surroundings, we tried quite a few whiskies, as you can see from the picture*. Four Scotch, one Japanese whisky.

Society bottlings, if you're interested, are single malt and cask strength (that means very strong!), and come with curious tasting notes. Here's how the Society describes them:

The Society exists to celebrate variations from the norm, so members can enjoy the individual characteristics each cask has to offer in terms of distillery, age, finish etc. Once the Society has bought single casks from the range of distilleries, the respected Tasting Panel is responsible for quality control and takes the decision as to which casks should be bottled and when. From there, the Panel writes the Society's lyrical and often humourous (even controversial) Tasting Notes.

Below are the 'official' tasting notes for the whiskies we tasted that night. We had real fun trying to smell and taste the 'fruity toffee', 'white wine vinegar, matches and glue', 'peat dragon', 'sultana loaf', 'carpentry shavings, barbecue sauce and bacon fat' etc in our chosen whiskies. I wish I could be a fly on the wall where the honourable Tasting Panel meets and comes up with those descriptions!

As I said, we tasted four Scottish and one Japanese whisky that night. Four of them were wonderful, all in their distinct ways. Only one I couldn't drink, however much I diluted the whisky. Some things, it seems, are best left to the original masters...

Strawberry bon-bons sprinkled with white pepper
Cask No. 22.22
"Being a ‘Classic’ we don’t see that much of ‘The Edinburgh Malt’, from Pencaitland; this example is surprisingly big and complex for a Lowland – a first-rate aperitif. Full gold in colour (from a refill hogshead) this has a fine mature nose, with vanilla and fruity toffee (strawberry bon-bons: toffee centre, fruity coating, powdered sugar dusting), traces of mint and very faint hessian. The unreduced flavour is hot and peppery, with toffee notes. These elements come through on the nose with water, but with bubble-gum and moss. Now the flavour is soft and full; sweet and fudge-like, but with chilli-pepper, and a medium to long finish."
Age: 18 Years % Alc: 53.5% Proof°: 93.6 Date Distilled: October 1987 Outturn: 178 bottles

Cigar boxes and flying saucers
Cask No. 9.38
"James Grant built this Rothes distillery in 1840 and today it is one of the best selling malts in the world. A golden syrup colour from a refill butt, the unreduced nose has strawberries, cigar boxes, wine gums and flying saucers (sherbet wrapped in edible polystyrene). The taste neat is thick and weighty with melted chocolate and creamy toffee. It lasts well with a dry, woody finish. With water the nose, though still sweet, has white wine vinegar, matches and glue, while the flavour is sweet and salty with some soap on a cereal background."
Age: 17 Years % Alc: 54.9% Proof°: 96 Date Distilled: April 1988 Outturn: 552 bottles

Nettle chocolate
Cask No. 48.9
"Situated in the Haughs of Cromdale, this distillery takes its water from the Cromdale Burn. Unreduced, the nose has unusual notes of smoked sausage, paprika and pepper gradually becoming toffee, vanilla, malt, mint, grass and sherbet. The taste is chocolaty and sugary with sweet sherbet lemons and the sourness of cranberries. Reduced, the nose is dominated by nettle, followed by grass, hay, mulch and notes of wet leaves on a tree. This is a cooling, refreshing beginners’ whisky – ideal for lying in the garden with a slab of mint chocolate on a summer’s evening!"
Age: 18 Years % Alc: 50.1% Proof°: 87.6 Date Distilled: March 1988 Outturn: 298 bottles

Old but still bright
Cask No. 58.11
"This sample, from the oldest distillery in Speyside, is mahogany in colour from a sherry hogshead. The oak has left its mark – polished furniture, tea, spice – yet it remains bright! The neat nose has sweetness (honey, toffee, caramel, candy floss, brown sugar) balanced by fruit (orange, pears, prunes, raisins, dates and sultana loaf) with a sniff of smoke and some rum notes. The palate is dry, sweet and spicy with pepper, burnt sugar, marmalade and cola. With water, the nose finds a tingle of tar which eventually turns to buttery toffee, while the palate remains sweet and fruity. An outstanding dram."
Age: 33 Years % Alc: 51.4% Proof°: 89.9 Date Distilled: April 1973 Outturn: 352 bottles

From Madeira to the Caribbean
Cask No. 116.9
"This northern Japanese distillery continues to employ coal-fired stills. This sample is ginger gold from a refill hoggie. The nose, with its Muscovado sugar, treacle and rum, orange, plum and toffee in wax paper, evokes Caribbean trade winds and bronzed, oiled bodies basking in the sun. Diluted, it has vanilla, barley sugar, candied Angelica and papaya with exotic floral scents reminiscent of a Funchal market. The taste has both briny notes and peat smoke, which are beautifully balanced by a headier atmosphere of vanilla and orange peel. Water sweetens it and draws out the peat dragon at the same time. This is an outstanding whisky."
Age: 18 Years % Alc: 55.2% Proof°: 96.6 Date Distilled: April 1987 Outturn: 229 bottles

* Before you jump into conclusions about my drinking habits, then we ordered five different whiskies and split each of them between three glasses:)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Take three ingredients: red peppers, salty halloumi cubes and a pinch of cumin

Peppers with halloumi / Halloumi-täidisega paprikad

That's the whole recipe. Just three ingredients (plus some olive oil), ca 20 minutes and you've got an unusual and flavoursome dish on your plate. I've already blogged about the wonderful mint-infused and very salty white cheese, halloumi, that hails from Cyprus. I first wrote about Paul Hollywood's Cypriot mint and halloumi bread, and more recently about fried halloumi slices with chilli oil a la Nigella Lawson. Few days ago I came across a tempting recipe at the Finnish Herkkutori website (click on the last recipe link), that stuffed raw red peppers with fried halloumi cubes and served them alongside bean stew. I'm not too fond of raw bell peppers, so I decided to roast them first, and serve them with halloumi as a meal on its own.

A wonderful dish - if you like halloumi cheese, then do give it a go!

Red peppers with cumin-scented halloumi cubes
(Hallumi-juustuga täidetud paprikad)
Serves 4

4 small red bell peppers, halved and deseeded
250 grams halloumi cheese, rinsed, drained and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of cumin seeds

Roast the red peppers in 220˚C oven for about 20 minutes, until they soften.
About 5 minutes before the peppers are ready, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add cheese cubes and cumin and fry, turning cheese cubes to brown evenly, for about 5 minutes.
Arrange the peppers on a plate, fill with fried halloumi cubes.
Serve with some rocket salad.

A beautiful combination of salty and squidgy halloumi cheese, soft and sweet pepper and bitter salad leaves.

UPDATE 16.11.2006: Andrew of Spittoon Extra tried this recipe, too. Check out his post. Mia Maailm was also inspired, and made a similar dish using green peppers and mozzarella, but her post is in Estonian :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Copycat: Stevi's Dreamy Carrot Soup, with adaptations

It's been snowing for a few days in a row now, and I'm getting slightly worried for my first visitors from Edinburgh, Emma & Michael, who will arrive this Sunday. I don't think they are really aware how cold it is here in Estonia compared to Scotland. In any case, I've already warned them to pack their woolen socks, winter hats and thermal underwear, and have been thinking of comforting and heart-warming dishes to prepare while they're here..

Emma is a vegetarian, so when I saw Stevi's recipe for a dreamy carrot soup, I quickly realised this could be served one day, maybe after a brisk walk in the blizzard one afternoon (evening walks would obviously be followed by a few leisurely hours and lots of cold Estonian beer in sauna). I made this soup for lunch on Monday, and it's indeed dreamy, with a lovely sweet taste which is emphasised by the addition of orange juice. I adapted the recipe a little to include some swede/turnip, as I didn't have enough carrots in the house and I had bought an organic swede from the market just a few days ago.

A dreamy carrot and swede soup
Adapted from Stevi over at Bread and Butter
Serves 2-3

2 Tbsp butter
3 large carrots, scrubbed clean and chopped
1 medium swede/turnip, peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock (I used 4 tsp of Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon and a litre of water)
zest and juice of 1 orange
sea salt and black pepper

Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the onions and fry gently for 5 minutes.
Add chopped carrots and swede, stir and add the boiling hot vegetable stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Purée the vegetables in a blender (keep the stock!), return to the saucepan.
Just before serving, season to taste and reheat the soup gently. Stir in the orange juice and garnish the soup with grated orange zest.
Serve with a crunchy bread.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Copycat: Johanna's Roasted Pumpkin Quiche with Blue Cheese

Just before the annual pumpkinfest, Halloween, Johanna posted a recipe for pumpkin quiche with blue cheese and thyme that looked absolutely delicious. So beautifully orange-fleshed and creamy-textured that I simply had to give this quiche a go. I did. So should you. Everybody liked it, and I will certainly pick up another wedge of pumpkin soon.

The only departure from Johanna's recipe was that I used my own shortcrust pastry instead of shop-bought, consisting of 250 ml plain flour, 90 grams butter, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of dried French herbs and 3 Tbsp of cold water. We sadly don't have butternut squash readily available in Estonia, which explains why my quiche looks like a pale cousin of Johanna's deep orange-yellow quiche. Oh, and I didn't have fresh thyme, but thought the dry herbs in the crust kind of compensate for this. It certainly tasted delicious.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Abundance of apples, and another apple cake

My mum has a big garden. The garden has several apple trees that seem to be especially 'fertile' this year. My maternal grandma has also a big garden, with yet more apple-laden trees. While doing my 'I've just moved back home' rounds, I've been sent away with bags and bags full of apples each time. Juicy, crisp, delicious, fresh, ripe, organic, home-grown apples...

So I've been baking apple cakes. To be more precise, I've baked four apple cakes since last Saturday alone. No more, no less..

In anticipation of visiting my parents on Sunday, I baked my Canadian apple cake last Saturday, using coconut milk instead of regular and adding some coconut flakes into the crumbly crust. It was a pretty large cake and smelled divinely. However, K. had invited three friends (a couple and their 5-year old daughter) over that night to help us eat some little bites of delight, preceded by some delicious coq-au-vin he had prepared. In a moment of madness, obviously, I asked our guests if they'd like to try some apple cake. A short while later, there were just three meagre pieces left, barely enough to go alongside our breakfast coffee on Sunday. We had to take a shop-bought cake along to my parents that night:)

[I took a break from baking apple cakes on Sunday. Instead I baked a zillion tiny wild mushroom pierogis to take along to a birthday party on Monday night. I'll blog about these soon.]

On Monday I baked my simple apple cake, which was gone by Tuesday lunch time. Couple of slices were eaten by my dad's cousin who's helping to redecorate our house, and another slice went to another cousin of my dad, who popped by to give me a lift to city centre.

On Tuesday evening, I tried my luck with tarte tatin, rather successfully, may I add. The recipe can be improved upon, but it certainly looked and tasted the part. I'm ashamed to admit that K. and I ate this on our own - half for dinner on Tuesday, half for breakfast on Wednesday.

And on Wednesday I tried another new apple cake recipe, using curd cheese and grated apples. Again, my dad's cousin helped us with a couple of slices last night, we had a few slices for breakfast today (one for me, three for K, who enjoyed his with home-made cloudberry jam), and there should be plenty left for after-dinner treat tonight. Here's the recipe. The cake is different because it uses grated apples, which give a very moist and light texture to the cake. I liked it sprinkled with icing sugar, but please feel free to serve it with a dollop of cloudberry jam instead;)

Curd cheese cake with grated apples
Yields 10
Source: Õunaraamat (100 rooga)

500 grams curd cheese or ricotta
200 grams sour cream or creme fraiche
15o ml semolina
100 ml caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
4 medium eggs, separated
4-5 tart apples, quartered, cored & coarsely grated (unless shop-bought, then no need to peel)

Mix the dry ingredients (semolina, baking powder, sugar, vanilla sugar and cinnamon).
Mix curd cheese and sour cream (or ricotta and creme fraiche), fold in the dry ingredients.
Add egg yolks and grated apples.
Finally, gently fold in egg whites that you've whipped until soft peaks form.
Pour the batter into a greased spring form (mine was 26 cm in diametre).
Bake in the middle of the oven at 200˚C for 40-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top.
Let it cool slightly before serving.

Now. It's only Thursday today. I wonder how many more apple cakes can (should?) I bake before the week is up?

UPDATE 21.11.2006:
SpitoonExtra's Andrew made this cake and seemed to like it, if you believe his Food Diary. He had "2 Bloody large slices" on Sunday apparently:)

UPDATE 1.12.2006:
Milwaukee-based Yulinka made this cake for her Thanksgiving table.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Choux pastry roll with smoked fish, in two different ways

Here's a simple choux pastry roll that would make a lovely dinner as well as suit a more festive occasion. I've made it few times as a light meal recently, but I can just as well imagine serving this alongside coffee when my friends will finally come and visit my new home, or as a starter with some salad. Here I've used the choux pastry roll as a carrier for various smoked fish, but feel free to stuff it with coronation chicken, egg mayo & watercress, tuna salad, chopped mushrooms or any other flavoursome and moist (sandwich) filling..

Choux pastry roll with smoked fish (or any other stuffing you like)
(Keedutainarull suitsukalaga)
Feeds 8

Choux pastry:
100 grams butter
150 ml plain flour
500 ml milk
0.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 medium eggs

Stuffing A (above photo):
200 grams hot smoked fish fillet, cut into small pieces (I used South Atlantic bream, Seriolella porosa, but mackerel, cod or any other oily fish would be fine)
150-200 ml thick sour cream or creme fraiche
100 ml chopped herbs (dill, parsley, chives)

Stuffing B:
200 grams cream cheese (natural or flavoured)
100 grams smoked salmon, chopped finely
a generous handful of shopped dill
1 bell pepper, diced finely

Start by making the choux pastry. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a slow heat, add flour and stir until combined. Add milk in 2-3 installments, stirring until combined after each addition. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave to cool.
When cooled, mix in the salt and baking powder, then mix in the eggs one by one, beating vigorously after each addition (I use my electric mixer to do that, but it's not essential).
Pour into a lined Swiss roll tin (20 x 30 cm) and bake at 225˚C for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
Flip the baked choux pastry onto another piece of parchment paper, let it cool. Peel off the 'baked' parchment paper.

Choose your stuffing and mix the stuffing ingredients together. Spread over the pastry.

Roll the pastry into a roll, starting from the wider end. Keep wrapped in the parchment paper and let the flavours develop in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

To serve, cut into 1.5 - 2 cm slices.

Here's one I made earlier, using cream cheese, cold smoked salmon, green peppers and dill as a filling. This was actually the first dish I cooked to K. back in July, and I must have passed some test or another, as I'm now cooking happily in his kitchen:)