Monday, May 26, 2008

Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

I love rhubarb. I've just checked my Flickr photostream and it seems that I've made no less than seven rhubarb cakes, six different rhubarb puddings, one type of jam and one drink during the last few weeks alone. But I was determined to try something savoury as well, so I combined this BBC Good Food recipe and this Delicious magazine recipe (they're remarkably similar, aren't they?), and made this Persian lamb stew.

Not sure this is my favourite new way of serving lamb, but it's definitely a nice and different recipe for using rhubarb. Frying of the herbs in butter is essential for the success of this recipe, as the flavour and aroma of fried parsley and mint is rather special, so no skipping of that part!

Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew
(Pärsia lambahautis rabarbriga)
Serves 4 to 5

75 g butter, divided
1 Tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
2 large onions, halved and sliced
750 g lamb, chopped into cubes (I used the leg)
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 litre vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
sugar or honey, to taste
20 g fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
400 g rhubarb, cut into 1 inch lengths

Melt 25 g of butter in a heavy-based saucepan on a low-moderate heat. Add onions and saute for 10 minutes, until golden and softened. Put the onion aside.
Increase the heat to high and add the oil. Add about half of the cubed lamb and brown all over (about 5 minutes). Put the browned meat aside and brown the rest of the lamb.
Return all the meat and the onions to the saucepan, add coriander. Add enough hot stock to cover. Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan and simmer on a low heat for about an hour.
Season with salt and pepper.
Melt 25 g of butter in a small saucepan, add the chopped fresh herbs and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the fried herbs to the meat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Melt the rest of the butter and add chopped rhubarb. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until rhubarb is soft, but not mushy. (If the rhubarb is very sour, add about a tablespoonful or two of sugar or honey). Stir the rhubarb into the stew.
Taste for seasoning and serve with rice or couscous.

Similar posts:
Persian lamb stew with rhubarb and mint by Ariana @ And Here We Are ...
Persian lamb with rhubarb and chelow @ Australian Gourmet Traveller
Persian rhubarb stew by Azita @ Turmeric and Saffron
Persian lamb and rhubarb stew by Dani @ The Kitchen Playground
Persian lamb and rhubarb stew by Laszlo @ Chef de Paprika

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pille goes to the USA

Photo by K. Not related to the blog post :)

I've been to the Americas before (Mexico in October 2005), but next Wednesday I'm flying over to the USA for the first time. I'll be in three different places, first at a conference in Bloomington, Indiana, then visiting the very lovely Alanna in St Louis, MO, and finally explore New York for a few days.

Here's the plan at the moment (post-conference, that is):

June 1st - food blog lunch with Christine and Alanna in Bloomingon, then drive to St Louis

June 2nd - a St Louis food blogger party @ Alanna's place

June 4th - arrive in New York

June 5th - food blogger potluck dinner in New York (very kindly organised by Danielle of Habeas Brulee)

June 8th - Sunday brunch with my friends Priit & Pirjo in East Village

June 9th - fly back to Tallinn

I'm hoping to visit moma, do some food & clothes shopping (thanks, David, for your food-shopping tips!), see a good stand-up comedy show (any ideas/volunteers?), and plenty more. But if there's any other Nami-nami readers out there who fancy a cup of coffee, or a cocktail a la Sex and the City, or a pastrami sandwich at Katz Delicatessen or perhaps a Krispy Creme doughnut or even breakfast at Tiffany's, let me know. I'm travelling alone this time, and whereas I can handle a cup of coffee in my own company and a good paper, then seeing a stand up comedy on my own wouldn't be as much fun :)

Oh, and where do I get the best bagels??

And are there any other New York must-haves that this foodblogger in her early 30s absolutely MUST see?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wild Garlic Butter Recipe

Wild garlic season is almost over, but I wanted to share another simple recipe for that wild plant. Need something zesty on your grilled steak? Want to lend garlicky flavour to your steamed spring vegetables? Fancy some toasted garlic (rye) bread?

Well, what about this wild garlic butter?

Wild Garlic Butter
Yields 150 g

150 g butter, at room temperature
30 g wild garlic (about 20 leaves)
grated zest of 1 lemon
a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt

Wash and dry the wild garlic leaves, then chop very finely. Mix with soft butter and grated lemon zest, until combined. Season with salt.
Keeps in the fridge for a few days (can be successfully frozen).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Finally, the asparagus is in season in Estonia

... few weeks later for me than for many foodbloggers in the UK, Germany, US and elsewhere. But it's been worth the wait.

My first batch of green asparagus spears - bought from the Uus-Kongo stall at the Tallinn Central Market - were turned into two excellent dishes tonight, both savoured with gusto.

First, roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese (or local Valio Forte cheese this time):

(Röstitud sparglid parmesaniga)

Secondly, Sam's excellent Asparagus on Asparagus:

('Spargel sparglis' ehk aurutatud sparglivarred sparglidipiga)

I'm ashamed I threw away all those snapped-off asparagus spears last year, and wish I had known about this excellent asparagus dip last year. Thank you, Sam!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Story of a Fermented Oat Flummery

Yesterday was the 100th birth anniversary of my maternal grandfather Ernst Johannes, known to his family and friends as Orika Ärni. A proud father of five, grandfather of 11. He died in 1981, when I was still just 6 years old, so I don't have many memories of him. I remember he was a big, quiet and stoic man, and know that he had worked hard in his farm all his life, mainly breeding pigs and milk cattle, as well as growing various grain crops (he had been lucky and wasn't deported to Siberia by the Soviets, but he did lose his large farm to the collectivisation, of course, leaving our family with just a fraction of the original farm). Although we spent at least a month every summer at our grandparents farm, and visited frequently, I cannot remember much of him. I have this image of him, sitting silently on the steps to one of the side-buildings of the house, just observing quietly what we, the kids, were doing. He wasn't the type of grandfather who'd play and chat with his grandchildren - I had my 'urban' grandfather for that :D - but I do remember forageing for wild mushrooms with him, even encountering a big brown bear on one occasion that we watched silently.

But there is one vivid food memory related to my grandfather that I wanted to share. During our annual month at the farm, my grandmother would regularly take a big saucepan, fill it with oatmeal and warm water, and leave it to ferment in a warm spot for a day or two. She'd then cook it on the huge stove in the corner of the old farm kitchen, stirring with a large wooden spoon, until it turned into a grey, gluey flummery ('kaerakile' or 'kaerakiisla' in Estonian). It was my grandfather's favourite dish, and there were always several bowls of cold flummery on the shelves in the large walk-in larder. It didn't look appetising - being a bland grey colour - and we avoided it at all cost, volunteering to pick berries from the orchard and eating these instead. But my granddad liked it, so my grandmother cooked it.

I spoke to my grandmother Senta (who celebrated her 88th birthday last week) yesterday, and she told me that she didn't like flummery to start with - actually found it pretty discusting, but gradually she grew fond of it:

Eks ta alguses oli üsna vastiku maitsega, aga pärast hakkas istuma :D

Well, I made the flummery yesterday to honour my grandfather Ärni. It definitely wasn't the most delicious dessert I've had, so I need to persist and learn to like this, just like my grandmother did. But it felt really good to eat my granddad's favourite dish on the day he would have turned 100.

Fermented Oat Flummery

250 g old-fashioned oats or oatmeal
1 l lukewarm water

Mix oats and water in a large bowl, cover with cling film or a kitchen towel and leave to ferment in a warm spot for 24-30 hours. It needs to smell slightly sour, but pleasant at the end.
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve. Cook the resulting whitish liquid on a moderate heat, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking, until it's thickened considerably and become gluey.
Season with salt and sugar.
Serve warm with a dollop of butter or cold with a spoonful of jam. Drink cold fresh milk alongside.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 2008 wild mushroom season has officially begun...

... with this beautiful yellow morel (Morchella esculenta) we managed to pick last Saturday.

Isn't she pretty?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rhubarb desserts: Coconut Creams with Poached Rhubarb Recipe

Since spotting the first crisp and sour local rhubarb spears at the market last about a week ago, I've made no less than three different rhubarb desserts already. All of them - let me tell you - worth sharing with you. So if you don't mind, I start with the first one.

The recipe is from BBC Good Food website, and the only change I've done is reducing the amount of sugar. Most British - and pretty much all American recipes - use more sugar than I'm accustomed to, so by reducing the sugar I've 'Estonified' the recipe :)

Coconut Creams with Poached Rhubarb
Serves 4

For the coconut creams:
2 gelatine leaves
400 ml creamy coconut milk
2 Tbsp sugar

For poached rhubarb:
300 g young rhubarb stalks, cut into 3 cm chunks*
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
2 Tbsp sugar

To make coconut creams, first soak gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, until softened.
Heat the coconut milk and sugar in a small saucepan until simmering, then remove from the heat. Squeeze softened gelatine leaves slightly, then stir into the coconut milk, until dissolved.
Let cool a little, then pour into four small 200 ml dessert ramekins or glasses.
When cool, cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge for about 4 hours or overnight to set.

To poach rhubarb, place rhubarb, sugar and split vanilla pod into a small saucepan. Spring slowly to a boil (you may want to add a tablespoonful or two of water, but young rhubarb should yield plenty of juice itself, so it's not absolutely necessary) and then simmer, covered, for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened, but not too mushy.

Leave to cool, then spoon over the coconut creams and serve.

* There's no need to 'peel' young rosy rhubarb stalks, and unpeeling means much 'rosier' desserts.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Delicious Red Onion and Orange Salad Recipe

Here's an unusual salad I served on my birthday party just over a week ago. I had got some really beautiful and juicy, easy-peel Sicilian blood oranges from the grocery store, and I wanted to include them as part of the savoury buffet table. Having bookmarked this savoury orange salad recipe a while ago, it seemed like an obvious recipe to try. With just the tiniest of changes (improvements, obviously:), I made this salad. Alongside Ximena's wonderful balsamic-glazed sausages, this salad was another dish I had to make more of in the middle of the party, as it disappeared from the table in no time.

The sweet oranges, fruity olive oil, sharp red onions, acidic red wine vinegar, fiercy pink peppercorns - it's definitely a combination to try. Lovely. I used sweet blood oranges, as these look much more dramatic, but ordinary yellow ones would be just fine obviously.

Red Onion and Blood Orange Salad
(Apelsinisalat punase sibulaga)
Adapted from Piltti
Serves 4 to 6

2 to 3 large and juicy blood oranges
1 small red onion, diced
1 tsp caster sugar
a dash of red wine vinegar
a dash of extra virgin olive oil (I used Borges Organic)
whole pink peppercorns (dry ones, not in brine!)

Peel the oranges and slice thinly. Place on a serving tray, overlapping each other slightly.
Sprinkle with finely chopped red onion, then drizzle with wine vinegar and olive oil.
Season with sugar and scatter some pink peppercorns on top.