Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweetberry Honeysuckle or Blue-berry Honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea)

Manhattan cheesecake

Do you recognise those oblong blueberry lookalikes? These are the ripe berries of Lonicera caerula or sweet honeysuckle aka blue-berry honeysuckle (depending on your country of residence, you may know them as le chèvrefeuille bleu, haskap berries (whose flavour is considered to be superior to other blue honeysuckles), honeyberry, marjasinikuusama, blåbärstry, Жимолость съедобная, Blaue Heckenkirsche/Blaue Doppelbeere or something else; söödav kuslapuu/sinine kuslapuu in Estonian). In general the honeysuckle berries are somewhat bitter and mildly poisonous, and it's just the fragrant flowers that are used for making cordial, sorbet etc, for instance (just look at all those posts on FoodBlogSearch). However, the berries of blue-berry or sweet honeysuckle are edible and that's what we've got growing in our garden:

Söödav kuslapuu

Being one of the first berries to ripen in our Northern climate (just after rhubarb and before strawberries), the blue-berry honeysuckle is a useful source of vitamins and excellent berry flavour. As it's only a second year our honeysuckle bush carries any berries, there are not really enough for making jam or juice or ice cream. I served them on Midsummer eve, piling them on top of my all-time favourite cheesecake, throwing in a handful of wild strawberries as well (also from our own garden, of course).

Manhattan cheesecake

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baking with whole-grain flours: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies / Šokolaadiküpsised

One of my recent cookbook acquisitions is Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Wheat Flours. Kim Boyce is a former pastry chef, who has been experimenting with using much more whole-grain flours instead of refined white flours/wheat flours. The book is divided into 13 chapters, each focusing on one grain/ingredient - whole-wheat flour, amaranth flour, barley flour, buckwheat flour, corn flour, kamut flour, multigrain flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, rye flour, spelt flour, teff flour, as well as a chapter on jams and compotes. Plenty of good stuff in there to keep me busy baking over the summer!

The first recipe I tried was for chocolate chip cookies. Way too sweet for my Estonian tastebuds (as most American cake recipes out there), but delicious enough for me to give it another go just a few days later. I've changed the quantities into metric, and used only about 2/5th of the amount of white sugar in Kim's recipe. This had no effect to the flavour - these were still very sweet and delicious cookies. My cookies were much smaller - one heaped Tbsp of cookie dough yields one large cookie. If you want to follow Kim Boyle's advice, take three Tbsp of dough per cookie :)

These stay nice and crisp for about three days in a air-tight cookie jar.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Šokolaadiküpsised täisterajahust)
Yields about 30 cookies

Wet mixture:
225 g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm cubes
150 g dark brown sugar (dark muscovado)
100 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Dry mixture:
420 g whole-wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 tsp finely ground sea salt

200 g dark chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate (I used Callebaut)

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.

Place butter and sugar into the mixing bowl fitted with the beater blade or paddle attachment. Mix until just combined.
Add eggs, one at the time, mixing until each egg is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract.
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix and then stir quickly into the egg-butter-sugar mixture.
Finally, add all the chocolate and stir until combined.
Take tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough and place heaps on the baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between the heaps of dough, as it spreads during baking. (I baked about 8 cookies at a time, 4 baking sheets in total).
Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are nicely golden brown on top.
Take out of the oven, let cool for a minute, then carefully transfer the cookies to a metal rack to cool completely (they'll crisp up during the cooling process).

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Pimm's Time!

What's your favourite way of enjoying Pimm's?

Making Pimm's Cup

Last Thursday Estonians celebrated summer solstice - Jaanipäev - and we had 4 consecutive days off. Being a stay-at-home mum, I'm always at home, but it was wonderful to have our family's busy bee K. stay at home for 4 days in a row. We had friends over on Thursday night (dry, but sadly too windy for lighting a bonfire outside, so we stayed indoors), went to the Tallinn Zoo on Friday, had a wonderful meal at our friends' place on Saturday and hosted various visitors (all grandparents of our kids, plus some more) on Sunday. In addition we managed to do quite a lot of cooking, make three different types of jam for spreading over pancakes during the winter, and spend quite a few hours gardening - and taking pictures of our beautiful garden. I just wish that all summer weekends be four days long!

Peony / Pojeng

On Saturday night, when packing our family up for visiting nearby friends, we also grabbed a bottle of Pimm's No 1 from our drinks cabinet and stocked up on various mixers at a nearby store. I fell in love with that British summertime classic when living in Scotland for seven years, and I've got many fond memories associated with that drink. For those of you unfamiliar with Pimm's, it's a gin-based liqueur that was first produced in 1823 by - yes, you guessed already - a certain Mr Pimm. James Pimm was a farmer's son from Kent, who was the proprietor of an oyster bar in the City of London. He sold a cocktail containing gin tonic, quinine and an assortment of herbs to aid digestion. The drink became very popular, and Mr Pimm's began selling it ready-mixed.

There have been other versions of Pimm's over the years, based on vodka and brandy and others. Currently only two varieties are made Pimm's No 1 (gin-based) and Pimm's Winter Cup, which is a version of the brandy-based Pimm's No 3 (with added orange peel and spices; apparently excellent with warmed apple cider).

Pimm's Cup
Pimm's No 1, Appletiser, ice cubes, slice of lemon and some borage flowers.

The traditional way of enjoying Pimm's is to mix one part of Pimm's No 1 to three parts of mixer, serve it with ice cubes and a slice of fruit (lemon, orange, strawberry), slightly bruised mint leaves and some borage flowers (a slice of cucumber works as well). Ginger beer and good English lemonade are popular mixers, but both are hard to find over here (and I doubt that anyone will start importing my favourite Fentimans sodas and drinks any time in the near future). We tried four different Pimm's Cups with our friends - with Ginger Ale (Schweppes), Bitter Lemon (Schweppes), Appletiser, San Pellegrino Limonata. Although the lemonade Pimm's are popular - and all four were definitely quaffable and very much so - then K. and I loved the versions with Ginger Ale and Appletiser most - the latter being the more dry option of the two.

Making Pimm's Cup

We've been mixing Pimm's Cup over the weekend (don't worry, I've been only sipping a little), and another favourite is a generous slug of Pimm's No 1 mixed with San Pellegrino's red orangeade (Arancia Rossa), garnished with a slice of orange. If we continue on this pace, then I must humbly ask my Scottish friends Emma & Michael to bring us another bottle of Pimm's No 1 in July (and Pimm's Winter Cup!), as, sadly, Pimm's isn't available in Estonia :(

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This summer's favourite fish dish - grilled salmon in balsamic marinade

Grilled salmon in balsamic marinade / Grillitud lõhe palsamiäädikamarinaadis

This is my favourite fish dish this summer (and spring). I've made it on several occasions already and will make another one today for our Midsummer Night party tomorrow night. The idea is so simple and yet so brilliant - you bake/grill/roast the fish fillet (both salmon and trout are fine), then pour the marinade over hot fish, and stuck it in the fridge to marinate and cool. Then, when the guests arrive, you simply take the fish out of the fridge and serve. You can even prepare the fish on the previous night, so there's no need to switch on the oven in the middle of a hot summer day.

The recipe is slightly adapted from a Finnish women's magazine Anna (autumn/winter 2010 issue; Balsamicolohi) - yet another excellent recipe idea I've found while browsing those magazine issues at the beauty salon :) I've stuck with the original flavour combination - balsamic vinegar, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and chives, but feel free to come up with your own favourite marinade.

Grilled salmon in balsamic marinade
(Grillitud lõhe palsamiäädikamarinaadis)
Serves 6 to 8


800 g salmon or trout fillet, skin on
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for brushing

Balsamic marinade:
4 Tbsp nice balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil (from the sun-dried tomato jar, preferably)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
3-4 Tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (preserved in oil)
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Take a suitably sized oven tray* and brush it slightly with oil. Place the fish on the tray, season with sea salt and black pepper. Bake in the middle of 225 C oven until done (it'll take about 15-20 minutes, at the most, depending on the thickness of the fish.)
Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and drizzle on a hot fish fillet.
Mix the sun-dried tomatoes, capers and chives, spread evenly over the fish.
Place into a fridge for at least 2 hours to marinate.

* I love using my Iittala Teema rectangular tray for this (sized 16x37 cm) - I cook the salmon on that tray, and then use it for serving later on as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And so the rhubarb season ends ... with a very popular Estonian classic

Rabarbrikook biskviitkattega

Although rhubarb will thrive for another few months, my annual Spring-time romance with rhubarb is coming to an end. I've made more muffins and cakes than I care to count, and local strawberries have just hit the markets, so bye-bye to Rheum rhaponticum and hello to Fragaria family :)

To end the rhubarb season, I'll share a very popular Estonian cake recipe with you. I've baked no less than three batches of this during the last two months (including one last night), and I've been doing that for umpteen years. Before that I either ate my mum's (or bought from a Tartu University café - I've got fond memories of long leisurely mornings, sitting at the uni café, drinking copious amounts of tea and eating this cake). If there is one rhubarb cake that every Estonian knows - and probably likes - then that's the one.

Note that it works also very well with gooseberries and even apples later during the year.

Rhubarb (flowering)
Did you know that rhubarb has such lovely-looking seeds?

Estonian rhubarb cake
Biskviitkattega rabarbrikook
About 16 pieces

Rhubarb Cake / Biskviitkattega rabarbrikook

Sweet pastry (pâte sablée):
150 g butter, at room temperature
100 g caster sugar
1 large egg
250 g all-purpose flour
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 tsp baking powder

400 g rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
85-175 g caster sugar (100-200 ml)

Sponge topping:
4 large eggs
4 Tbsp caster sugar
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

First make the sweet tart pastry. Cream the butter with sugar in a mixing bowl, then and the egg. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then tip into the mixing bowl and stir until combined. Using your hands, press into a medium-sized baking tray (mine is 24x32 cm) and place into a fridge for about 30 minutes. (I must admit I sometimes skip this part to no ill effects).
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
Take the rested pastry out of the fridge and pop into the pre-heated oven. Bake the pastry for about 10-15 minutes, until it looks dry and is slightly golden.
Reduce the oven heat slightly.
Meanwhile, wash and dry the rhubarb stalks (I never peel young local rhubarb), then cut into short 1 cm (just under half an inch) lenghts. Mix with sugar, scatter over the partially baked base.
Break the eggs into a clean mixing bowl, add the sugar and mix until very thick and pale and foamy. Gently sift the flour into the mixing bowl, then very gently fold it into the egg and sugar mixture.
Spoon over the rhubarb layer.
Bake at the 175 C/380 F for about 35-40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and fully cooked.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Smoked Salmon Frittata

Smoked salmon frittata / Suitsulõheomlett

Ever since we've been keeping our own chicken that give us a regular supply of beautiful eggs, we've been eating many more omelettes and frittatas. They're cheap, filling, tasty and quick to make. Here's one from last week, based on Sue Lawrence's recipe in A Cook's Tour of Scotland: from Barra to Brora in 120 recipes. I always keep a packet of smoked salmon in the fridge, just in case, so dishes like this can be whipped up without a trip to the nearest supermarket.

Eggs from our chicken / Meie kanade imeilusad munad

Note that 'smoked salmon' in English recipes usually ask for cold-smoked salmon, whereas in Estonia you would have to specify whether you mean cold-smoked salmon (külmsuitsulõhe) or hot-smoked salmon (kuumsuitsulõhe) - both are widely available and used. (Either one would work in this recipe, and of course, you can use good-quality smoked trout instead).

Works as a substantial weekend breakfast as well as a filling lunch or dinner, especially with some dressed salad leaves.

Smoked salmon frittata
Serves 2 to 3

Smoked salmon frittata / Suitsulõheomlett

6 large free-range/organic eggs
200 ml creme fraiche or double cream
2 tsp grated horseradish (from a jar)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
a small handful of chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter
100 g thinly sliced smoked salmon
juice of half a lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beat the eggs, cream and horseradish until combined, season with salt and pepper.
Lightly sauté the onion in butter over a medium heat until just softened, then add the chives and sauté for a minute or two more.
Now tip in the egg mixture. Leave for a few minutes, then push in from the sides with a wooden spatula. Cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes or until almost set.
Place smoked salmon slices on top, then place under a preheated hot grill ("salamander") for a couple of minutes, until the eggs are just set.
Squeeze some lemon juice on top, sprinkle with more chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Six years of Nami-Nami food blog

NAMI-NAMI banner blue small

Yep, it's exactly six years since my first post here. Back then I was a carefree PhD student living in Edinburgh, Scotland, cooking in a rented under-equipped kitchen and taking pictures with the tiniest of digital cameras. Now I'm back home in Estonia, and a lot has changed. Amongst other things, I'm a happy mum of two gorgeous kids:

Kids / Lapsed

owner of a handy vegetable patch and tomato greenhouse:

Tomatid "Terma"

keeper of four lovely chicks:

Chicken Run 2011

and author of one beautiful cookbook:

Nami-Nami kokaraamat (nami-nami cookbook)

and hopefully also a good partner to my lovely K - I wouldn't be still blogging if it weren't for his support and enthusiasm and good appetite :)

I have enjoyed those six years of foodblogging immensely - especially the encouragement from fellow readers and meeting of other foodbloggers - both in Estonia and abroad. I hope you've been enjoying reading Nami-Nami and will be coming back for more..

Previous blog anniversary posts:
2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon pull-apart bread / Rebitav kaneelisai e. kaneelilõõts

Is there a self-respecting food blogger out there who has not yet tried Joy the Baker's fabulous cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread? Not here in Estonia, I suspect - this cinnamon bread has popped up on pretty much every Estonian blog on my reading list :) I've made it thrice myself, and love it. I've used three different dough recipes - my cinnamon roll recipe, my korvapuusti dough recipe and finally slightly adapted version of Joy's recipe. The last one was the winner for this particular one :) I've simplified the process considerably, however. I'm quite experienced in making and comfortable with using sweet yeast dough and I would say the complicated dough-making process involving several steps described by Joy isn't simply justified. It's a simple pastry, the fabulousness of it is in the way it's shaped, and not in the way the dough is made.

Special thanks to Jaanika (blogging @ Maitse asi) who came up with an excellent Estonian name for this type of bread!

It's best on the day it's made (and probably won't last much longer anyway), but you can wrap it in a clingfilm and keep it for up to two days at the room temperature.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Makes 1 loaf

Cinnamon pull-apart bread / Rebitav kaneelisai e. kaneelilõõts

360 g plain flour (600 ml)
4 Tbsp caster sugar
1 packet of instant dry yeast (11-12 g)*
0.5 tsp salt
125 g (125 ml or half a cup) milk
50 g butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

200 g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
50 g butter, melted

* Note that I've used instant yeast that can be simply mixed with dry ingredients. If you're using active dry yeast, you need to activate and proof it first. 

In your mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt.
Break the eggs into a small bowl. Heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan until the butter has melted. Cool a little, then whisk in the eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir and knean, until combined and the dough breaks loose from the sides of the bowl. (If it's too dry, add a spoonful of milk; if too sticky, add a spoonful of flour).
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise until doubled in side in a warm draught-free room. (Or, if you prefer, let rise for about an hour at the room temperature, then transfer into your fridge overnight. Then you can quickly and easily bake warm cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread for breakfast).
Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling in a small bowl. Melt the butter (you can brown it a little, if you prefer the flavour).
Take a loaf tin (mine was 22x12x7 cm), butter it generously or line with a parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the yeast dough into a rectangle about 30x50 cm. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly on top.
Cut vertically into six even strips. Gently lift them on top of each other, then cut into six square towers again.
Place these, side down, into the loaf tin. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Cinnamon pull-apart bread / Kaneelilõõts

Bake in a preheated 200 C/400 F oven for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden brown on top (just golden brown isn't enough - the bread will be still slightly under-baked inside then).
Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the tin and serve, letting everybody pull a slice of delicious cinnamon bread :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Recipe request: buckwheat and beef liver

A Flickr user emailed me this morning, saying that he/she saw this picture and that he/she would love to make it. Instead of translating and typing in the recipe for him/her, I'm blogging about it. It was a delicious dish, and although not necessarily a summer dish, it's definitely lovely and worth making during the colder times. (Incidentally, I had buckwheat for dinner last night, served with a creamy meatball sauce).

Intrigued by buckwheat? There are plenty of buckwheat recipes here @ Nami-Nami. Note that buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, so it's a suitable and tasty grain alternative to all those who need to avoid gluten.

Buckwheat with beef liver
(Tatrahautis veisemaksaga)
Serves four
Slightly adapted version of Kaie Mei's recipe in Oma Maitse (January 2010)

Buckwheat and beef liver / Maksa-tatrahautis

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, scraped and chopped finely
oil for frying
250 g buckwheat kasha, rinsed and drained
500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
300 g beef liver
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
fresh herbs
sour cream

First, you may need to toast the buckwheat. The buckwheat we usually use in Estonia is pre-roasted and darkish brown ('kasha', see photo on top), so this can be skip this stage. If you're using the "light" buckwheat groats, then roast them on a dry hot skillet for about 5-6 minutes, until it's nicely toasty and aromatic.

Heat oil on a deep frying pan, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the carrots and fry for a few more minutes.
Add the buckwheat groats, stir-fry for a minute.
Add the stock, season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until buckwheat is cooked.
Meanwhile, cut the beef liver into small dice. Season and sear quickly on a hot frying pan for about 4-5 minutes, until browned all over. Add the cooked liver to the buckwheat and sauté for a few more minutes, until the buckwheat and liver and tender.
Serve, sprinkled with herbs and a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watermelon lassi

Watermelon lassie / Arbuusikokteil

Just like that, and ever so suddenly, the summer is here. We've just had almost a fortnight of very high temperatures (about 30 C/85 F) and constant sunshine (almost 24/7 - us being rather high up North :)). It's hard to believe that just a few months ago the summer seemed soooo far away. Last winter was long, cold and harsh and unwilling to ever end. After still complaining about the amount of snow in early April, I felt ashamed about complaining about the heat of last summer (temperatures hovering around 30 C aren't exactly my cup of tea - and last summer was especially difficult for me as I was expecting our second baby). And yet I was already ready to complain about the heat last weekend :)

Luckily, the temperatures dropped a little last night, and we finally got some long-awaited rain this morning (I've got a vegetable garden as well, remember, so occasional moderate rain is very much needed and welcomed). But should the heat wave return, then here's one of the easy summer smoothies that helped me stay cool and sane a year ago :)

Watermelon lassi
Serves 1

150 g watermelon (weight after cleaning)
100 g plain yogurt
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint

Cut the watermelon into chunks and blend until smooth. Stir in the yogurt, sugar and lemon juice.
Pour into cold classes, sprinkle some mint on top and serve at once.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

PaperChef June 2011: Rye bread toasts with chocolate, strawberries and lime

Strawberry and chcoolate on rye bread toast

It's time for a Paper Chef, a food blogging event with pedigree (launched by Owen back in 2004, now co-hosted with Ilva and Mike. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only participated twice before - #8 (spinach, olives, Cheddar cheese, potatoes/cream) and #15 (limes, beetroots, pears and aphrodisiac of your choice)), but with Ilva asking us all so nicely to participate, I couldn't say no :)

The ingredients this month - bread, berries, chocolate and lime. I won't dwell on the difference between bread ('leib') and white bread ('sai') in Estonian - suffice to say that even after living in an Anglophone country for seven years, I automatically thought of our dark Estonian rye bread when I spotted 'bread' in that list of ingredients. Only later did it occur to me that I could have gone the 'white bread' (aka 'wheat bread') route, perhaps with summer pudding with lime-macerated berries and white chocolate and mascarpone mousse? Mmmm...

The rules of Paper Chef do not say that you must restrict yourself to those four ingredients alone. However, I immediately remembered a little neat idea I had seen on the Finnish site a while ago - warm rye bread toasts with melted chocolate and sliced strawberries. I added some grated lime zest for, well, extra zest - and using just the four ingredients that were required - and loved the result! I can easily see serving this at one of the many patio parties or summer grill events that are about to follow.

A word of warning, however. While it's a dessert sure to please all the young ones, it's no S'Mores that you grab between your hands and eat without staining a thing (well, couple of cookie crumbs on the floor, perhaps). Our daughter Nora approached her warm rye bread with chocolate and strawberries with gusto, but in the process she managed to smear melted chocolate all over her :)

Nora Adeele & chocolate

Rye bread toasts with chocolate, strawberries and lime zest
(Röstitud koorikleib šokolaadi ja maasikatega)

You can use any type of rye bread here - those flat rye breads, halved horizontally ('koorikleib') are ideal, or then thickly sliced naturally leavened rye bread. I used a recently introduced new product at the Estonian market - saib (sai+leib, get it?!) - tastes and looks like white bread, but it's made with 100% rye flour.

Strawberry and chcoolate on rye bread toast

sliced rye bread
dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Callebaut bittersweet chocolate couverture chips)
lime zest, thinly grated

Toast the bread until slightly golden and aromatic. Immediately top with chopped chocolate and strawberries, leave for a few minutes, until the chocolate melts.
Grate some lime zest over the strawberries.
Serve at once.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Strawberry and Almond Cake

Strawberry and Almond Cake / Maasika-mandlikook
Picture taken in July 2008

Do you use strawberries for anything else but various _cold and uncooked_ desserts and puddings? 

I realised that I _almost_ never cook strawberries, especially sun-ripened local ones. They're just too luscious and delicious as they are, and I usually run out of them before I manage to start thinking about including them in a cake (and in any case, my repeated attempts to include strawberries in a clafoutis have ended with a disaster). However, there is one baked strawberry cake that I've been making again and again over the years. The recipe is from an old issue of BBC Good Food, bylined by their previous editor Orlando Murrin. I've simplified the recipe a little over the years, and it's been on my early summer table at least one every year. It's delicious both warm or cold (I love it warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream).

I think I'll be baking one later tonight :Pc

Almond and Strawberry Cake
Serves eight

175 g ground almonds
175 g unsalted butter, softened
175 g caster sugar
175 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, whisked
400 g strawberries
icing sugar/confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a loose-bottomed 24 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper and butter the sides.
Mix almonds, butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and eggs in a food processor just until the ingredients are evenly combined.
Spread half the mixture over the base of the tin in a smooth layer. Lay the sliced strawberries on top. Spread the remaining cake mixture over the strawberries.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until slightly risen and dark golden brown when cooked.
Cool in the tin slightly, then loosen the edges with a knife and remove from the tin.
Transfer onto a serving plate and dust with icing sugar.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Rhubarb and rye bread soup

Rhubarb and rye bread soup / Rabarbri-leivasupp

Couple of years ago, when I blogged about Estonian rye bread soup, the idea of a 'sweet' bread soup seemed very unusual to most of my (non-Estonian) readers. But trust me - the rye bread soup is cheap (usually using stale rye bread) and cheerful, and very tasty. Here's a seasonal version of the soup, using pale pink rhubarb stalks. Whereas the rye bread soup isn't particularly sugary-sweet anyway, this late spring/early summer version is even lighter and with a slight and welcome tang.

Rhubarb and rye bread soup
(Leivasupp rabarbriga)
Serves six to eight

Rye bread soup with rhubarb / Leivasupp rabarbriga

400 g rhubarb, cleaned
200 g rye bread
1 litre water
100 g caster sugar
a cinnamon stick
some vanilla extract

To serve:
sour cream or yoghurt (optional)

Break the rye bread into chunks, place into a pan with 1 litre of cold water. Leave to soften for a few hours.
Bring slowly into the boil.
Cut the rhubarb into thick slices, add to the pan with sugar and cinnamon stick. Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread and rhubarb are soft and mushy.
Season with vanilla.
Cool before serving.