Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beetroot Princess's Delicious Beetroot Houmus

In early January I got an e-mail from one of the editors of Oma Maitse, the biggest-selling Estonian food magazine, asking me if they could visit me and write an article for their February issue about my food-centred life they've been following through my blog and Estonian-language site. I spoke with K, and considering that we were just about to re-launch the Estonian site, we thought a little extra publicity cannot be bad, so one Thursday afternoon the journalist Katrin Kurss and the photographer Ülle Viska popped by for a few hours chatting, eating and photoshooting with me and K. We served them a range of our favourite light dishes - eight in total - that were all pictured in the February issue, though they only had space for five of the recipes. The resulting article was called "Peediprintsessi moodsad palad" or "Beetroot Princess's Modern Bites" and the five-page spread was accompanied by a full-page photo of moi :)

The menu was following:
Molly's bouchons au thon (adapted over the last year, when I've made them on a monthly basis; recipe provided)
My small beetroot & blue cheese tartlets (recipe provided)
Beetroot houmus (recipe provided)
My kama and mascarpone 'truffles' (recipe provided)
K's beautiful cannéles (recipe provided)
My simple matcha tea loaf (served with K's mum's cloudberry compote - seen on the photo above)
My sea-buckthorn sorbet, using berries from my grandmother's garden
Piña Colada Espuma, just for that little bit of fun

Here's a recipe for the beetroot houmus. If you love beets, you'll adore this. If you like chickpeas and houmus, you'll love this. And if you fancy both, you'll be in seventh heaven. Excellent as a dip with vegetable sticks, or as a spread on some lightly toasted dark rye bread. And just look at that amazing colour!!

Beetroot Houmus
Serves 6-8 as a dip

2 to medium sized beets, cooked or roasted
a 400 g can of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
about 2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
0.5 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toast the cumin seeds on a dry pan for a few moments to release the aromas, then crush in a pestle and mortar.
Peel the beetroot and cut into smaller chunks.
Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
Puree the beets and chickpeas in a food processor (I used the grinder attachment of my KitchenAid Mixer).
Add minced garlic, cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If the mixture is too thick, then add some boiled water to lighten it. Taste for seasoning again and serve.

PS! The garlic flavour intensifies a lot when the houmus is allowed to stand for a while, so we wouldn't recommend more than these 1-2 cloves.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nigella Lawson's Cider and Mustard Pork Chops

I'm back and none of my bones are broken, although I've got some bruises here and there. It's not easy to slide those Alpine slopes when you're only on your second skiing holiday, you know :)

Today is the 90th anniversary of Estonian Republic, and I had planned to cook something special and Estonian to mark that special occasion. However, we're still a bit exhausted from all the travelling, and hence I decided to cook a very simple recipe from my most recent cookbook acquisition, Nigella Express. I got the book as a gift from a very special friend of mine, Roxy, who occasionally comments here on my blog, and I'm thrilled to bits, as I love my other three Nigella cookbooks (How to Be a Domestic Goddess, How to Eat, Feast). And the first recipe that caught my eye was Mustard Pork Chops (p. 11) - a French bistro classic, apparently. Here's a very slighty adapted version (Nigella used ready-made garlic oil) of an excellent, effortless, flavoursome and quick supper dish. K. was especially fond of the creamy cider-mustard sauce, so we'll probably have this one again soon.

We used Maille's A l'Ancienne mustard and the award-winning Ecusson Grand Cidre Pur Jus Doux cider.

Nigella Lawson's Cider and Mustard Pork Chops
(Sealihakotletid sinepi-siidrikastmes)
Serves 2

2 pork chops, approximately 450 g in total
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
125 ml cider
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
75 ml double cream

Bash the pork chops 'briefly but brutally' (Nigella's words) with a rolling pin between two sheets of clingfilm to flatten them.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan, add the bruised garlic clove and fry gently for 1-2 minutes to infuse the oil with garlic. Remove the garlic clove and discard.
Add the pork chops and cook them over a moderately high heat for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Try not to move the pork chops during frying, as this way you'll get a nice even crust. Season with salt, if you wish. Remove to a warmed plate, cover with foil to keep warm.
Pour the cider into the pan, still over the moderately high heat, to de-glaze the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the mustard, stir, then add the cream and cook for a few minutes.
Place the pork chops on plates and spoon the cider and mustard sauce over.

Nigella served her mustard pork chops with potato gnocchi, we had a simple side salad.

***** I'm submitting this to this month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge # 25 Nigella Lawson and hosted by Ani at FoodieChickie *****

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time for skiing

In less than an hour K. and I will be heading to the airport, fly to Salzburg and then drive to St Anton skiing resort (just like we did in Italy this time last year). I do hope to eat lots of Kaiserschmarrn pancakes and other Austrian delicacies that Johanna and Angelika have been telling us about. (The Kaiserschmarrn pancakes above were made by K. for a Sunday breakfast recently, and they were absolutely wonderful).

When I come back next weekend, I'll tell you all about the 5-page spread of a certain Beetroot Princess that appeared in the biggest-selling food magazine in Estonia, Oma Maitse, this month (and share a recipe for that gorgeous beetroot houmus below, of course), the redesign and relaunch of my Estonian recipe site, K's burgeoning career as a restaurant critic, my forthcoming (culinary) trips to Spain and the United States this Spring, and much more.

Stay tuned and hope to see you soon!

Armsad Eesti lugejad - kui kedagi Nami-nami blogi ja retseptikogu telgitagused huvitavad, siis soovitan soojalt lugeda veebruarikuu Oma Maitset, kus Katrin Kurss sellest kirjutab. Ja kindlasti külastage eestikeelset Nami-nami retseptikogu, mis asub nüüd uuel aadressil: Loodan väga, et te foorumis aktiivset kõiksugu kokandusega ja söömisega seotud teemadel sõna võtate!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tarte au Chocolat - the darkest chocolate cake ever

French chocolate cake / Prantsuse šokolaadikook
Photo updated in November 2010

If yesterday's salted butter caramel and milk chocolate mousse wasn't your cup of tea (maybe you're not into this salted butter caramel thing, or maybe you simply prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate), then here's another dessert to satisfy your chocolate cravings this week: Tarte au Chocolat. It's very, very dark and intensely chocolatey, with crazy amount of butter and sugar added (with just a spoonful of flour, so if you're eating gluten-free, you could easily substitute gluten-free flour here). I got the recipe from a Finnish recipe leaflet "Jälkiruokaklassikkoja Ranskasta" or "Classic desserts from France" - and it had got rave reviews on my Estonian site, so I decided to try it myself. I'm glad I did - it tasted absolutely wonderful. If yesterday's pud was juvenile, to use Luisa's words, then this is very, very adult indeed.

Tarte au Chocolat
(Tarte au Chocolat ehk prantsuse šokolaadikook)
Serves 10

200 g dark chocolate (I used 72%)
200 g butter
200 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter either in a microwave or in bain marie. Stir in sugar, let cool a little.
Using a wooden spoon, mix in eggs, one at a time.
Sift in the flour, stir until combined.
Pour the batter into a buttered 24 cm springform tin. Bake in the middle of a preheated 200C oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake is slightly crisp on the top, but still moist inside (see photo).
Take out of the oven and cool. Serve with whipped cream and season's berries.

More tasty chocolate cakes on Nami-nami:
Chewy Chocolate Walnut Brownies (January 2008)
David Lebovitz's Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake with Chocolate Glaze (December 2007)
Nigella Lawson's chocolate cherry cupcakes (April 2006)
Nigella Lawson's Store-cupboard Chocolate-Orange Marmalade Cake (November 2005)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Just in time for Valentine's Day: Salted Butter Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse

I discovered the wonders of salted butter caramel few years ago, when a kind reader sent me a box of Fran's Chocolates Smoked Salt Caramels. Since then, I've bookmarked pretty much every recipe with a salted butter caramel element I've come across. High on the current to-do list are David's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream (and I'll make sure to hunt down one of his delectable Chocolat Chaud au Caramel-Beurre-Salé when in Paris), Clotilde's Tarte Tatin with Salted Butter Caramel, to name just a few. Of course I bookmarked the recipe for Fanny's (well, Trish Deseine's) Caramel au beurre salé and milk chocolate mousse as soon as I saw it, and then bookmarked it again when it appeared on Luisa's blog.

I warn you, this is very sweet. But then the title says that already, so no surprises there. I loved dipping my spoon into it, and considering it was so easy to make, I will be making it again soon (though maybe in smaller portions, serving 8 or even 10?). The quantities and instructions below are very-very slightly modified.

Salted Butter Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse
(Piimašokolaadikreem soolase karamelliga)
Serves 6

125 ml (1/2 cup) caster sugar
3 Tbsp water
200 ml whipping cream (35%), at room temperature
2.5 Tbsp (35 grams) butter, at room temperature
a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes
200 grams milk chocolate*, broken into small chunks
3 large eggs, separated

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar (do not stir, as sugar will form lumps then.) Take off the heat and add butter. Stir, until combined, then add the warm cream. Season with salt.
Add the chocolate and stir gently, until chocolate melts smooth. Mix in the egg yolks.
Whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the rest.
Divide between 6 small ramekins or dessert cups and chill for at least 6 hours.

* I used Kalevi piimašokolaad (32% cocoa content).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Whipped Cream, Caramelized Bread

I'm in the mood for simple Estonian desserts lately. Take this one - you fry some grated sour rye bread in butter with sugar until crispy and caramelized, then fold into whipped cream and serve with jam. In the matter of minutes you've got an excellent quick pudding. And if grating bread seems like too much work, then you can just use ready-made rye bread crumbs available in the supermarket (that's what I do). The dessert is very similar to Shy Danish Country Girl pudding and not too dissimilar to the Scottish Cranachan pudding, but still distinctive enough to deserve a separate post.


Estonian Rye Bread Dessert with Whipped Cream
Serves 4

120 g dryish rye bread
1 Tbsp butter
100 ml sugar
0.25 tsp cinnamon
300 ml whipping cream + 2 Tbsp sugar

To serve:
some nice jam

Grate the bread and fry on the pan with butter and sugar until caramelised (do not burn!). Season with cinnamon and put aside to cool completely.
Whisk the cream with 2 Tbsp of sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the cooled crispy rye bread mixture.
Spoon into dessert glasses and top with some nice jam. It's best to use some jam with some sharpness - be it apple and flowering quince jam (on the photo) or apple and lingonberry jam or such like.

Eat at once to enjoy the caramelized gritty breadcrumbs or wait until later for the breadcrumbs to soften again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hõrgud vastlakuklid aka Lenten buns 2008, still perfect

May I introduce you to our Shrove Tuesday or Lenten buns 2008:

Same old recipe, same perfect shape, same excellent flavour, same pretty looks.

Eestikeelne vastlakuklite retsept siin.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Easy suppers: Tomato and Olive Chicken

BBC Good Food was my favourite food magazine during my first few years in Scotland. I must admit that these days I subscribe to Delicious and only buy Good Food occasionally, as I find the former visually more attractive and the recipes more intriguing. However, many of my favourite recipes are still from the BBC Good Food magazine. Take this Spanish-influenced tomato and olive chicken that was first published in the March 1999 issue and then again in February 2001 issue. I've made it many, many times over the last nine years, and the combination of tomato sauce and salty olives makes this a true winner. Not many ingredients, plenty of flavour and character, and on your table in 30 minutes. Got that?

Tomato and Olive Chicken
Serves 4

4 skinless chicken breasts (or mini fillets)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp concentrated tomato puree/paste
300 ml (just over a cup) of chicken stock/bouillon
a handful of black olives (I used dry-cured olives)
plain/all-purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a deep plate. Dust chicken fillets in the flour mixture, shake off any extra flour.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan/skillet over medium heat. Add chicken fillets* and fry them on both sides until brown - about 10 minutes in total. Remove the chicken fillets from the pan, keep warm.
Add garlic to the pan, fry for a minute.
Add tomato paste and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken pieces and olives. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken half way through. The dish is ready when the chicken is cooked and the sauce slightly thickened.
Taste, season with salt if necessary.
Serve with steamed rice and a green salad.

* For quicker cooking, you may want to use mini fillets, or then place the chicken fillets between two sheets of clingfilm and gently pound them with your hand to flatten them.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Estonian desserts: Bubert, or a light and fluffy egg and semolina pudding

So many of you liked the look of the cranberry fruit soup the other day, and here's a recipe for a dessert that is traditionally served with fruit soup like this - bubert. I don't know if bubert is unique to Estonia, but I certainly haven't seen it anywhere else (which isn't to say that it's unique, so if you know something similar, let me know*. It's a bit similar to floating islands, just that's everything is mixed up and then served with fruit soup:). For a pudding that's so local, however, it has a very exotic name - you see, no typical Estonian words start with 'b' nor 'd' or 'g' for that matter - these letters are reserved for recently borrowed words such as 'banaan', 'garaaž' and 'diivan'. How come a traditional grandmother pudding (i.e. a pudding that your granny would serve you) bear an exotic name like that, I do not know..

Bubert, a light and fluffy egg and semolina pudding
Serves 4 to 6

500 ml (2 cups) milk
2 Tbsp semolina/cream of wheat
3 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp sugar
vanilla extract or grated lemon zest, to taste

Bring the milk into boil.
Sprinkle in semolina, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until semolina has softened and expanded and the porridge thickened a little (it'll still be very runny).
Mix egg yolks and sugar into a paste, add a ladleful of hot porridge to temper, mix, and pour the egg yolk mixture into the porridge. Simmer on a very low heat until the porridge thickens, but do not let it boil! Season with vanilla or lemon zest.
Whisk the egg whites until semi-hard peaks form, then take the porridge off the heat, gently fold in the egg whites, until combined.
Place the saucepan back to the heat, heat gently through to cook the egg whites, and remove the pot from the heat as soon as the first bubbles appear.
Serve the light and fluffy pudding with a fruit coulis, redcurrant or cranberry fruit soup or stewed fruit.

* A reader called Mara Bradford just emailed me to say that buberts is also popular in Latvia. Anywhere else?