Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leib: Resto & Aed (Tallinn restaurant review)

I'll be doing a series of photo reviews of various restaurants here and there. 

Photo: Liina Vahter

Leib: resto ja aed (this translates as Bread: restaurant and garden) is probably one of the most atmospheric and stylish outdoor dining areas in Tallinn right now. We've had an exceptionally lovely summer with long, warm, light nights, and not much rain - and I've had the pleasure of spending few evenings at this place. The photos here are taken in late July, when my dear friends Emma & Michael were visiting from Edinburgh and I was keen to show that summers in Estonia can be so much nicer and warmer and drier than they were ever in Scotland :D

Leib was opened earlier this summer, when a group of young food and wine enthusiasts took over the former Scottish Club. There are two guys behind the restaurant - Kristjan Peäske (one of the best sommeliers in Estonia) and Janno Lepik (has worked in London's Babylon and Rhodes WI), and their mission is to serve simple food that's made from best and freshest ingredients and doesn't cost a fortune.

They've done well. The food is excellent and indeed, not over-priced. The service is extremely friendly and confident, the atmosphere really enjoyable. I'm worried a lot of the charm is based on their excellent outdoor seating area, but I do hope the place is just as charming when they move indoors for the cooler months.

Rabbit fritters with red wine mayonnaise:
Leib- Resto & Aed: frititud jäneseliha punaveinimajoneesiga

The bread:
Leib- Resto & Aed: leivavalik + või

Puff pastry tart with rocket/arugula and ricotta cheese:
Leib- Resto & Aed: punasibulapirukas ricotta ja rukolaga

Fish of the day: pan-fried European perch with sautéed vegetables:
Leib- Resto & Aed: praetud ahven maitsvate köögiviljadega

Pan-fried free-range chicken breast (may sound simple, but finding a free-range chicken in Estonia is quite a feat!):
Leib- Resto & Aed: praetud (free-range) kanarind

Strawberry soup with ice cream:
Leib- Resto & Aed: maasikasupp jäätisega

Crème brûlée with rye bread crumbs:
Leib- Resto & Aed: brüleekreem rukkileivakoorikuga

Caramel kissel with blackcurrants and oats:
Leib- Resto & Aed: karamellikissell mustade sõstarde ning kaerahelvestega

On a previous visit I enjoyed a cold clear tomato broth with herbs and curd cheese pudding with crispy rhubarb sauce, grilled lamb's liver. Definitely worth a visit, whether it's just the food or a glass of wine with something light alongisde. You'll find Leib's contact details here.

Eesti lugejatele: Nami-Nami foorumis on Leib: resto ja aed teema siin, nende Facebooki fännilehe leiate siit.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wax beans in garlic butter


Wax beans (aka yellow string beans) are thriving in our garden this year, and we've been eating lots of them lately. Here's one of my favourite ways of preparing them - which also happens to be one of the easiest recipes ever :)

Using savory is by no means compulsory - the beans are lovely with just garlic butter. However, the flavour of savory complements the beans really well - note that in German, the herb is called Bohnenkraut or 'bean herb' :)

Wax beans in garlic butter

wax beans
some fresh (summer) savory leaves

Trim the beans, then blanch in salted water for 5-7 minutes, until al dente. Drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, peel the garlic clove(s), cut the garlic into thin slices or chop coarsely.
Melt the butter on a frying pan, add the garlic and sauté for a minute over moderate heat.
Add the drained beans, fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until the beans are soft and seasoned with garlic butter.
Sprinkle with savory leaves and serve.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The best ever marinated olives (aceitunas aliñadas)

Marinated olives / Marineeritud oliivid

Well, I don't actually know if that title holds true, but when I made these olives recently, then my dear K stated that these are better than anything he's ever had before (read: shop-bought marinated olives). I loved them, too.

I had few friends over for a tapas night recently, and wanted to serve aceitunas aliñadas. I browsed tens of recipes for Spanish-style marinated olives, and finally came up with this version. I had run out of sherry vinegar, so used a mixture of Spanish red wine vinegar and some dry sherry instead, but feel free to use sherry vinegar instead. As far as the olives are concerned, try to find Spanish ones that are unstoned - these have much more flavour compared to the stoned olives. I used Spanish hojiblanca olives, but arbequina, sevillano, manzanilla (f. ex. Campo Real), arauco would all work well, too.

These last for a week in a fridge, if not longer.

PS If you've got a favourite marinated olives recipe, I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to leave a link to your recipe in the comments section.

Marinated olives, Spanish style
(Marineeritud oliivid)
Serves four to six as part of a tapas table

about 200-250 g olives (in brine, drained weight)
1 Tbsp Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (or red wine viner + 1 Tbsp sherry)
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar
1 thyme sprig, leaves only
1 rosemary sprig, leaves only
0.5 tsp dried red chilly flakes
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

Place the drained olives into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
Leave to macerate for at least couple of hours before serving.

Our mushrooms

Viimsi seenemikud

Last year we were picking morels (and turned them into a spectacular morel tatin), this time it's pennybuns :)

Which mushrooms are you picking from your own garden? ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Marinated pork tenderloin

Marinated pork filet / Marineeritud seafilee

In principle, this recipe is very similar to my favourite fish dish of this summer, grilled salmon in balsamic and chive marinade and Nigella's grilled steaks with lemon and thyme. You first cook a simply seasoned piece of meat or fish till done to your taste, and _then_ marinate it. Slice and serve. Perfect for hot summer days (when you don't want to switch on your oven) or some casual weeknight entertaining (when you're too busy to prepare the dish after a long day's work).

Again, the recipe is adapted from the Swedish Lantliv Mat och Vin - one of our recent favourite food magazines out there (the others being French Regal and Finnish Glorian Ruoka ja Viini). I used white port instead of white wine, and I bet it would work with Marsala or Madeira just as well (if you prefer using wine, take 200 ml wine and 100 ml water).

Marinated pork tenderloin
(Marineeritud seafilee)
Serves four to six (or more as part of a buffét)

Marinated pork loin / Marineeritud seafilee

1 pork tenderloin (about 500 g)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

100 ml white port
200 ml water
0.5 Tbsp salt
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the butter on a frying pan over a moderately high heat, add the pork fillet and fry until golden brown on all sides. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Season generously with salt and pepper, leave to cool a little.
Place all the ingredients for the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring into a boil, simmer for a few minutes.
Place the meat into a suitably sized container, pour over the marinade. Cover and place into a fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, until the flavours develop.
To serve, take the meat out of the marinade, and cut it into thin slices.

Beautiful, oh-so-easy and you can use your preferred herbs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saltimbocca (Italian veal chop with sage and Parma ham)


We had this classic Italian dish a fortnight or so ago on our patio. The sun was still high up, late in the evening. There was a warm summer breeze. The grasshoppers were exceptionally noisy that night - one could have easily mistaken them for cicadas. The warmth, the food, the sounds - all made us feel like we're somewhere very nice and very far away :)

This famous Italian dish, Saltimbocca, originates in Rome and translates as "jump in the mouth/leap in the mouth". There are many chicken and turkey saltimbocca recipes in cookbooks and Internet, but the original version is always made with veal. I used fresh sage from my own garden, and garnished the dish with some picture-perfect fresh woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa) from our flowerbed.

(Itaalia vasikalõigud salvei ja singiga)
Serves 4


4 veal cutlets or escalopes (about 150 g each)
4 thin slices of Prosciutto
4 to 8 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil and butter for frying
about 250 ml (1 cup) dry (Italian) white wine

Place veal slices between two pieces of clingfilm and roll or pat until about 4-5 mm thick. (This is not necessary if your meat pieces are thin already). Remove the clingfilm, season generously with black pepper.
Place 1-2 sage leaves on top of each meat piece. Top with a slice of Parma ham, and secure it with a toothpick (I do it out of a habit, but Cooks Illustrated suggests you can forget the toothpick, as searing the cutlets Prosciutto-side down first helps the ham stick).
Heat about a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat.
Place the cutlets to the frying pan, ham-side down. Fry until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook on the other side until light golden brown.
Pour the wine onto the pan and cook until reduced by half. Season.
Serve with potato mash or creamy polenta.

TIP OF THE DAY: If you've run out of white wine, you can use a mix of dry sherry or Marsala and water. Works just as well :)


Friday, August 05, 2011

Summer crostini with feta cheese and strawberries

Strawberry and feta crostini / Feta-maasikaampsud

Here's a truly summery crostini from one of my favourite food magazines, Swedish Lantliv Mat & Vin. I'm really sorry I got the magazine issue and came across the recipe just last week, as the Estonian strawberry season has come to an end. I can just imagine how lovely it would have tasted with just-picked sun-kissed strawberries as opposed to those much less pleasant imported ones. Still, these were wonderful and come highly recommended.

Crostini with feta cheese and strawberries
(Krõbesaiad maasika ja fetaga)

Strawberry and feta cheese crostini / Maasika-fetaampsud

sourdough bread (ciabatta, baguette)
extra virgin olive oil
feta cheese
fresh basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Slice the bread thinly, halve the slices, if necessary. Brush or drizzle with a little bit of oil and toast in a pre-heated 220C/450F oven until golden and crisp.
Slice the cheese, divide the cheese slices on hot bread.
Garnish with sliced strawberries and basil leave, grind some black pepper on top.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Meatless Monday: Swiss chard, ricotta and tomato bake

Ricotta & chard gratin / Ricotta-lehtpeedivorm

I'm officially a fan (perhaps even an afficionado) of Swiss chard now. It took a while. Yes, I've been dutifully buying plastic boxes of those pretty baby salad leaves that are available in most supermarkets' vegetable aisles here in Estonia, but that's not what Swiss chard is about. Last year I took a leap and grew several varieties (silverbeet, rhubarb chard, rainbow chard) on my vegetable patch, but didn't do much with them. I tried to sauté them once or twice, but wasn't so keen on the flavour (I was pregnant at the time, so perhaps my tastebuds were just off?). However, I did decide to give the leafy version of one of my favourite vegetables another go this year.

I'm happy I did.

Lehtpeet / Mangold / Swiss chard

I don't know if it's the fact that my chard has been freshly picked (Elise suggests that this makes all the difference), or whether my tastebuds are working properly now, but I love the vegetable this year. I mean, look at that colour!!!

The recipe below is adapted from the British Olive magazine (June 2011), and I've made it three times already. There are so many things to like about this particular dish. It tastes delicious. It uses an heretil underused vegetable. It's two meals in one - you get a warm oven bake to serve on the first day, and it cuts into neat tiny squares when cold, so you can serve it as a tasty nibble. And there's no need to separate the stalks/ribs from the leaves, which is unusual for swiss chard (granted, I've picked the leaves when they're about the size of my hand and stalks the thickness of my fingers.)

If you don't like - or you cannot get hold of - Swiss chard, then don't despair. Good grown-up spinach leaves work just as well (blanch them first, then rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly before sautéing). 

Swiss chard and ricotta bake
(Lehtpeedi ja ricotta ahjuvorm)
Serves six to many*

Ricotta and chard bake / Ricotta ja lehtpeedi vorm

400 to 450 g (a little under 1 lb) Swiss chard
1 Tbsp butter
1 to 2 garlic gloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
250 g ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
100 g grated cheese
2-3 ripe tomatoes or a handful of cherry or small plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220 C/450 F.
Rinse the chard, drain thoroughly and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Chop the leaves and stalks coarsly (see photo above).
Heat butter on a large frying pan, add the chard and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the chard is wilted and tender.
Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Season generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Drain any excess liquid, if necessary. The chard mixture should be on the dry side.
Mix ricotta and eggs until combined, then stir in the cheese. Season, then fold in the sautéed chard mixture.
Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart oven dish.
Cut tomatoes into half or slice them thickly. Scatter on top of the ricotta-chard-egg mixture, then drizzle with some olive oil.
Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the dish is set and golden brown on top.

* Serve hot with a green salad or cold, cut into small pieces.

Ricotta & chard gratin / Ricotta-lehtpeedivorm

Here are some more Swiss chard recipes from some of my favourite foodbloggers:
Simply Recipes (Elise)
A Veggie Venture (Alanna)
Kalyn's Kitchen (Kalyn)
Smitten Kitchen (Deb)
David Lebovitz (David)
Farmgirl Fare (Susan)