Thursday, October 29, 2009

Estonian Milk Soup with Pasta Shapes

Pasta and milk soup / Makaroni-piimasupp

This week is school holidays in Estonia, and my 10-year-old nephew stayed with us for a few days. We went for walks, swimming at the local swimming pool, did some homework together, he spent hours entertaining our little daughter. Of course, we also cooked and ate food together (nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas and other food with high kid appeal). Our last meal together was lunch on Wednesday and I offered to cook him something special. His request: makaroni-piimasupp or pasta and milk soup. I was baffled - I hadn't had that humble soup for almost two decades and I didn't think today's kids eat it. I was proven wrong :)

Furthermore, I had no intentions to blog about this particular milk soup and didn't focus too much on getting a good picture. But then somebody saw the picture in Flickr and asked for the recipe, so here you go after all...

Although the soup has some sugar in it, it's more of a "savoury" soup, served as a meal on its own, preferably with some ham sandwiches on the side.

Estonian Milk Soup with Pasta Shapes
Serves 4

500 ml water (2 cups)
1 tsp salt
100 g short pasta (1 cup)
750 ml full-fat milk (3 cups)
a generous pinch of sugar
1 Tbsp butter

Bring water to the vigorous boil, add salt and pasta shapes. Reduce heat to simmering, then boil for 5-7 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
Pour in the milk, give it all a stir and boil for another few minutes, until pasta is fully cooked.
Season with a pinch of sugar and some more salt, if you wish. Stir in the butter and serve.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Elderflower curd recipe

Elderflower curd on home-made white bread.

Anyone else 'out there' who likes to smear some lemon curd on toast or spoon some of the yellow goodness over their breakfast yogurt?? I've made more batches of lemon curd over the last few months than I care to remember, all because K. LOVES it. He can eat some straight from the jar (his excuse is that he doesn't want to waste any yogurt or bread!). He also loves elderflower cordial, so I thought to combine these two and make elderflower curd for this weekend. I used my regular lemon curd recipe, just substituting lemon juice with undiluted elderflower cordial, and as the latter is sweetened, I reduced the amount of sugar by one third.

We loved the creamy and floral-scented result. So much so that there's not much left for the weekend. I better whip up another batch soon.

If it's lemon curd you're after, check out Meeta's extensive post about making lemon curd or Ilva's rosemary twist on the classic.

Elderflower Curd
Serves 4 to 6

3 large eggs
100 g caster sugar
100 ml elderflower cordial/syrup
100 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Put the bowl in a pan of boiling water or a bain-marie and stir until it has thickened.

You need a small saucepan and a medium-sized bowl that fits over the saucepan.
Pour about 2-3 cm / an inch of water into the saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until combined, then whisk in the elderflower cordial.
Place the bowl over the pan of boiling waterand cook, stirring regularly with a small whisk, until the mixture thickens. (DO NOT BOIL, or the curd, well curdles :)) This may take about 7-10 minutes (you can test for doneness with a wooden spoon - if the curd coats the back of the spoon, it's ready).
Remove from the heat and let it cool a little (to about 62-63 C). Then add the cubed butter and stir, until the butter has blended with the rest of the ingredients.
Pour into a small jar or a bowl, and cool before serving.

Leedrisiirupit müüakse mahepoodides ja pealinnas ka nt NOP-poes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lingonberry cheesecake

If you're stuck for lingonberry recipe ideas, then let me suggest you this creamy lingonberry cheesecake. A friend of mine came over for a coffee about a fortnight ago, bringing me a large tub of lingonberries she had picked herself. Although I've got some good stand-by lingonberry cake recipes (some of them here on the blog: lingonberry and chocolate cake, Swedish lingonberry cake), I wanted to try something new and different. Using my regular cheesecake filling, I came up with this lingonberry cheesecake recipe.

As all cheesecakes, this is best made a day before you want to serve it, so it is completely cool and set.

Lingonberry cheesecake
Serves 6 to 8

100 g butter, softened
85 g caster sugar (100 ml)
1 large egg
175 g plain flour (300 ml)
0.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

450 g full-fat cream cheese (1 pound)
85 g caster sugar (100 ml)
2 large eggs
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of half a lime

100 g lingonberries (about 1 cup)

First, prepare the pastry. Cream butter and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients, then mix into the butter mixture together with egg. Press the pastry onto the base and sides of a buttered 26 cm springform tin. Put into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling: Mix all ingredients - if you wish, you can use an electric mixer for that (though stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon does the job as well, as long as the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature). Pour into the pastry base.

Scatter the lingonberries on top.

Bake in a pre-heated 180 C /350 F oven for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is almost set and the cake is light golden brown on top.

Let cool completely before trasnferring onto the serving plate.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Japanese dinner party

Back in mid-July we had a small Japanese dinner party at our place, attended by some of our Estonian friends and an American couple residing in Tallinn, nine adults in total.

We had a mix of Japanese dishes - no sushi, however - and everybody seemed to like the food. Somehow I never got around to sharing the photos from that night until now. I do not intend to blog about each and every dish on the table that night - I am no expert in Japanese cooking, and there are many bloggers out there who'd have much more authentic recipes to share - but if there's a particular dish that interests you, let me know in the comments.

Japanese dinner party / Jaapani pidusöök

We tried to have five different colours on the table - black/purple, white, red/orange, yellow and green; as well as five cooking methods (boiling, grilling, deep-frying, steaming and raw); and five flavours (sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter). Below is a "photo reportage" of the dishes we served and enjoyed that night.

A selection of Japanese crackers, sent over from Tokyo by my friend Ryoko.

Spanish mackerel sashimi with dried miso from Nobu Matsuhisa & Mark Edwards' book NOBU WEST:

Nasu dengaku or grilled aubergine/eggplant slices with miso paste and sesame seeds. I used a mix of hacho-miso and shiro-miso, and this dish was one of my favourites! It's impossible to get thin Japanese aubergines/eggplants here in Estonia, so I used a regular purple aubergine. (If I can get hold of seeds for the Japanese aubergines, I might try growing them in my new greenhouse next year :))

I couldn't get frozen edamame pods any more, only shelled ones. So instead of serving steamed edamame pods, I boiled some soy beans, drained them and dressed them with some ume plum vinegar, soy sauce and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds:

Chicken and leek yakitori skewers, a popular and well-known Japanese dish:

Another Japanese classic, tempura. We battered and deep-fried fresh chantarelles, sugarsnap pea pods and calamari rings:

Pieces of salmon marinating in teriyaki sauce. Home-made, of course!

The curiosity dessert :) I wanted to make something with matcha, the green tea powder. Matcha ice cream would have been an obvious choice, but I already had some home-made cherry ice cream sitting in the freezer. Instead I made matcha jelly, served with red azuki bean paste, from Harumi Kurihara's "Harumi's Japanese Cooking". It was definitely, umm, interesting. Not bad, but the taste and texture were really unusual, and best served in very small portions to the Estonian (and American) palate. Massimo, the 11-month old son of our American guests, really enjoyed the bitter-sweet concoction, however.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time for soup: lentil and coconut soup

Proper autumn has come somewhat suddenly this year. I've got vague memories of enjoying the warm autumn sun and a cup of coffee on our newly installed patio only recently. But that's all history now - the winds are really chilly and strong, there's hardly been a day without rain during the last week or so. We've turned on the heating indoors and I'm wrapping our daughter into several layers whenever we're going outdoors. It's been already snowing in the south of Estonia, and we've had night frosts as well. Winter's soon here...

Which means it's a perfect time for filling and chunky soups that heat both your heart and your body. Here's something I made for dinner just few days ago.

Lentil and Coconut Soup
(Läätsesupp kookospiimaga)
Serves 4

2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp turmeric
200 g red lentils ("Egyptian lentils"), rinsed and drained
500 ml (half a litre or two cups) hot vegetable stock
400 g can crushed tomatoes
250 ml (one cup) coconut milk
fresh coriander/cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan, add ginger, onion and garlic and fry on a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Do not burn!
Add turmeric, hot stock, tomatoes and rinsed lentils. Give it a stir, bring into a boil. Then reduce heat, cover the saucepan partially with a lid, and simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft.
Stir in the coconut milk, heat through.
To serve, divide into soup bowl and garnish with a coriander leaf.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Roasted Peaches with Basil Butter

I've briefly mentioned this dish before on Nami-Nami, but as I only now have a decent photo of the dish, I'm writing about it again. Hope you don't mind :)

I got the recipe from Shauna's blog back in the summer of 2005, just months into my food blogging. The original recipe is from The New York Times. I made it couple of times back then, and have been making it again and again. Roasting peaches makes them much sweeter and softer - a blessing when you can only buy long-haul fruit that have been picked way too early. The good thing, you see, is that you can successfully make this dish with slightly underripe fruit as well..

Roasted Peaches with Basil Butter
(Küpsetatud virsikud basiilikuvõiga)

fresh basil leaves
brown sugar

Halve the peaches and remove the stone (you may wish to hollow out the centre to fit the filling better, but I must admit I've never bothered with it). Place the peaches on an oven dish, cut-side up. Tear some basil leaves into smaller pieces and place onto the "holes", alongside with a generous pinch of brown sugar, and a small piece of butter (say, half a tsp per peach half). Dust with cinnamon.

Bake in the middle of a preheated 200 C / 400 F oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the peaches are soft and the topping slightly caramelised.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of softly whipped cream.