Saturday, October 23, 2010

Simple coconut dhal with crispy onions

Coconut dhal with crispy onions / Kookospiima-dhal krõbedate sibulatega

It started snowing yesterday morning here in Tallinn & nearby. Most of the snow was gone by the evening, but then, late at night, there was thunderstorm, lightning and more snow!?!?! I never knew that snow and lightning can happen simultaneously - I've always associated the thunderstorms with summer - but here you go. In any case, it's a perfect weather for some warm spices and comforting food. Here's an Indian-inspired dish that's on your table within 30 minutes, and tastes really lovely. Don't skip the crispy onion and mustard seed topping - that what makes the dish so lovely. Adding coconut milk to a dhal is definitely rather unusual, but the result is delicious and creamy!

The dhal is vegan and gluten free.

Simple coconut dhal with crispy onions
(Kookospiima-dhal krõbe sibulakattega)
Serves 4
Adapted from BBC Olive, March 2005

Coconut dhal with crispy onions / Kookospiima-dhal krõbedate sibulatega

250 g red lentils (masoor dhal), rinsed
400 ml coconut milk
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
0.5 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
300 ml water
lemon juice

Crispy onion garnish:
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions
2 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped

Place lentils, coconut milk, onion, tomatoes, chilli flakes and turmeric into a saucepan. Add water, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are cooked. Taste for seasoning - you probably need to add some salt and lemon juice for it to be perfect.
Meanwhile, prepare the crispy onion topping. Peel the onions, halve and cut into thin slices. Heat the oil on a frying pan, add the onion and fry gently until golden and slightly crispy. Add the mustard seeds and coriander/cilantro and fry for another few minutes, until you've got a crispy and aromatic mixture.
Divide dhal into bowls, top with plenty of crispy onions and serve some flatbread on the side.

Friday, October 15, 2010

More apple cakes: Hollandse appeltaart aka Dutch Apple Tart

Dutch apple tart / Hollandi õunapirukas

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? If you have, then you surely remember this apple tart that was on offer everywhere - in pubs, in cafés. I definitely remember that, although I'm pretty sure it was called simply appeltaart and not Hollandse appeltaart there :) It's a delicious apple cake with a moist apple-raisin-cinnamon filling that's decorated with a criss-cross pattern of pastry strips. Pretty pretty, I'd say :)

Serve it with a generous dollop of whipped cream, or if you're feeling more glamorous, then some delicious home-made vanilla custard.

Dutch Apple Tart
(Hollandi õunapirukas)
Serves 8

300 g plain flour/all-purpose flour
200 g cold butter
125 g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly whisked

3 to 4 large cooking apples (Antonovka, Granny Smith)
100 g caster sugar
30 g currants (dark seedless raisins)
30 g golden seedless raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs

First, make the pastry. Whisk flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor, add cubed cold butter. Blitz until the mixture is moist and crumbly. Add most of the egg (leave some for brushing), blitz once again. Using your hands, press the pastry together into a flat disk. (Avoid overworking the pastry, as it'll become tough). Wrap into a clingfilm and put to the fridge to relax for about half an hour.

Make the filling. Peel and core the apples, cut into smaller chunks. Rinse and drain the raisins, add to the apple pieces alongside sugar and cinnamon.

Butter a 24 cm springform tin.

Roll 2/3 of the pastry into a about 30 cm circle, use this to line the base and sides of the cake tin. Sprinkle breadcrumbs onto the pastry base, top with apple and raisin mixture.

Roll out the rest of the pastry thinly (about 3 mm), then cut into 1.5 cm strips. Place the pastry strips across the filling, interlacing them. Brush the top with the leftover whisked egg.

Bake in the middle of a preheated 180 C/350 F oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown.

Cool a little, then transfer onto a serving plate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wonderful Pumpkin Cookies

Kõrvitsaküpsised. Pumpkin cookies.
Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAbove photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the October 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden", an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012). 

Considering the pumpkin feast that's approaching on the other side of the Atlantic, I decided to share a delicious pumpkin recipe :) The original recipe had much more sugar in it and used boiled pumpkin. I've recently used roasted pumpkin instead, and if anything, it's improvement on the flavour. Use whatever you prefer.

These were also a great hit with various kids (aged 1 year and 4 months to 39, by the way), so a truly family-friendly recipe.

Pumpkin Scones
Based on a recipe in Tesco Recipe Magazine (October 2003)
about 18 cookies

100 g butter, softened
150 g dark muscovado sugar
200 g steamed or roasted pumpkin, pureed
100 g small seedless raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
225 g plain/all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Fold in the pumpkin puree, raisins and vanilla extract, stirring thoroughly.
Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into another bowl, then stir into the wet ingredients until combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take dessertspoonfuls (ca 10 ml) of cookie dough and transfer them onto the baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between the heaps of dough, as the cookies spread when cooking.
(I always get 18 cookies :))
Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown.
Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a metal rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese a la Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan's macaroni and cheese / Reaganite makaronivorm

I cannot remember where exactly I got this recipe from (the Internet is a wide, wide world), but apparently that's the way Nancy Reagan would make mac'n'cheese for her hubby. Please, please don't read any politics into this choice of recipe :) - it appealed to me because of its simplicity. It's a good mac'n'cheese recipe for those moments when you're craving something simple and comforting, but haven't got many eggs in your fridge nor bacon nor cream.

As you can see from the picture below, then I've combined it with some Georgian creamy & herby mushrooms. They worked together like a dream.

What's your favourite macaroni & cheese recipe and do you eat it as it is or as a side dish?

Nancy Reagan's Macaroni & Cheese
(Reaganite makaroni-juustuvorm)

Nancy Reagan's macaroni and cheese / Reaganite makaronivorm

250 g small pasta (f.ex. elbow pasta)
water & salt, for boiling pasta
1 tsp butter
1 large egg
250 ml (one cup) of milk
1 tsp mustard powder/dry mustard
1 tsp finely ground sea salt
200-250 g grated cheese

Cook pasta al dente, drain (keep a spoonful of the cooking water for later). Stir in the butter and whisked egg, then transfer into a buttered round gratin dish.
Mix mustard powder, salt and a spoonful of hot pasta-cooking water, then stir in the milk and about 3/4 of the grated cheese. Pour over the pasta in the gratin dish. Toss a little, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake in a pre-heated 170 C/350 F oven for about 45 minutes, until the custard is set and cheese lovely golden.

Monday, October 04, 2010

American Apple Pie

American apple pie / Ameerika õunapirukas

This is a very American apple pie - very rich, very high, and also very delicious. I had seen them popping up in various American food blogs and finally tried out my own version last year. It's quite unlike any of the typical apple cakes and pies we see here in Estonia, and thus providing a nice change to me, my family and friends.

American Apple Pie
(Ameerika õunapirukas)

Making American apple pie / Ameerika õunapirukas (tainas)

300 g plain flour
1 Tbsp (demerara) sugar
1 tsp salt
200 g cold butter
4 Tbsp cold water

1 kg cooking apples (e.g. something not too sweet or too soft)
3 Tbsp plain flour
100 g caster sugar
0.25 tsp ground allspice
0.25 tsp ground nutmeg
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 Tbsp cognac or brandy

Egg wash:
1 egg + 2 tsp water, whisked

Start with the pastry. Put flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of the food processor, then add cold cubed butter and blitz until you've got fine crumbs. Add about 4 Tbsp cold water and process once again. (Avoid overworking your pastry, as it'll result in hard cake crust).
Divide into two, press into flat discs, and place into the fridge for at least half an hour.
Meanwhile peel and core the apples, cut into thin slices or wedges.
Take a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla and nutmeg. Add the brandy and stir gently.

Take the pastry discs out of the fridge and roll both of them into a circle (about 28 cm in diameter). Line a 24 cm fluted pie dish with the pastry. Top with apple slices, piling them high in the middle. Top with the other pastry disc, pressing the edges tightly together. (If you wish, you can decorate the top disc with pastry leaves and such like).

Brush with an egg wash. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 180 C oven for about 40 minutes, until the apples are soft and the pie is lovely golden brown.

Cool a little before serving.