Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe for honey-soy glazed oven-baked quails

Honey and soy glazed quails / Mesine-sojane vutike

Every now and then I come across some young fresh quails, and cannot resist buying them. They're sold oven-ready here, so it's just the matter of seasoning the birds and popping into the oven for half an hour. A weekend night dinner that looks pretty elegant and is a little bit more exciting than your average roast chicken - is ready in less than an hour (and that includes the marinating time). Here's a lovely recipe I discovered a while ago from Jill Dupleix's excellent Simple Food. Jill uses honey to sweeten the glaze. Although it's lovely with honey, it's even lovelier with a good maple syrup, and that's what I've been using recently.

PS Our kids - both the one-year old and the three-year old - love this dish, especially the drumsticks!

NB For other Chinese recipes here on Nami-Nami, click here.

Honey-Soy Quails

(Mesine ja sojane vutt)
Serves 4

Honey and soy glazed quails / Mesine-sojane vutike

4 quails about 200-250 g each
2 Tbsp runny honey or 4 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Flavouring salt:
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 Tbsp sea salt flakes

To serve:
2 Tbsp sweet Thai chilli sauce

Rinse the birds, pat dry with a kitchen paper. Tuck the wing tips behind the back, tie the legs with a cotton string.
Combine honey/maple syrup and soy sauce in a large bowl. Add the quails and turn them in the marinade. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
Remove the quails from the marinade and place into an oven dish where they fit snugly. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning them once or twice, until the meat is cooked and the skin is crispy and golden.
Sprinkle some five-spice salt on top and serve with sweet chilli sauce.

For a side dish, Jill suggests some stir-fried spinach and mangetout/sugar snap peas and spring onions. Something green and quick and simple.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cauliflower with creamy bell pepper and pesto sauce

Cauliflower with creamy pepper and pesto sauce / Lillkapsas paprika-pestokastmega

I LOVE cauliflower and one of my favourite ways of eating it is simply boiled and dabbed with some melted butter. However, that only works with young cauliflowers in late summer. The older the cauliflower, the harsher the cruciferous flavour, and you'll need a gutsy and strong-flavoured sauce to dress the cauliflower. Here's a recent - and very excellent find.

You can serve it as a side dish (enough for four), or as a main dish with some crusty bread (enough for two)

Cauliflower with creamy pepper and pesto sauce
(Lillkapsas paprika-pestokastmega)
Adapted from the Swedish Arla site.

1 red bell pepper
1 large cauliflower (about 600 g)
1 to 2 Tbsp butter
200 ml double/thick cream
3 to 4 Tbsp basil pesto
salt, to taste

Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Blanch in a lightly salted water for 3-4 minutes, until al dente.
Meanwhile, deseed and chop the pepper. Heat some butter in a small frying pan, add the bell pepper and sauté gently until softened. Add the cream and pesto, stir until combined. Simmer for a few minutes, until lightly thickened, then season to taste with salt, if necessary.
Drain the cauliflower thoroughly. Place into a serving bowl, spoon the red bell pepper and pesto sauce on top.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cauliflower cheese with mustard
Cauliflower and mince gratin with cheese and dill
Cauliflower with crispy breadcrumbs
Roasted cauliflower
2 recipes: spicy cauliflower with tomatoes AND sautéed cauliflower with sage and boiled eggs

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Home-made fish fingers and mushy peas

Fish and mushy peas (chips are optional) / Kalapulgad ja tambitud herned

My kids love fish, both of them. Our precious daughter (3 years 1 month) loves fish a lot (including small whole ones, like sprats and Baltic herring in various forms) and she adores shellfish, including mussels and sea whelks (bulots) and such like. Our little boy (1 year 2 months) prefers fish fillet at this stage, but that's fine with me. Here's a little quick delicious dinner idea that is suitable both for the little eaters and the large ones. The secret? Dredging the fish pieces into (wholemeal and coarsely ground) rye flour. Of course, you could use oatmeal or plain wholewheat flour, but somehow the rye works especially well with oily fish like salmon.

I love serving this dish with mushy-minty peas, but simple mashed potato would be a good accompaniment as well.

Salmon fish fingers, served with green peas
(Kodused lõhefileepulgad)
Serves four

Fish and mushy peas (chips are optional) / Kalapulgad ja tambitud herned / Kodused lõhefileepulgad

about 500 g salmon filet
lemon pepper seasoning
freshly squeezed lemon juice
about 7 Tbsp rye flour (wholemeal is perfect)

oil and butter, for frying

Remove the skin from the fish filet and cut the fish into chunky fingers. Season generously with lemon pepper seasoning and a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
(* If you're using salt-free lemon pepper, then sprinkle some salt over the fish as well).
Dredge the fish fingers into rye flour.
Heat oil and butter on a frying pan. Brown the fish fingers on all sides and cook for a few minutes, until done.

Serve with mashed potatoes and/or mushy peas. To make the latter, simply heat some butter in a small saucepan. Add frozen peas, season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and mint, and heat through. Mash lightly and serve with the fish fingers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meatless Monday: Buckwheat with beets and dill

From the recipe archives - originally posted in December 2010, fully updated in March 2012.

Buckwheat and Beet / Tatrapuder peediga

It's time to up the number of buckwheat recipes on Nami-Nami - and I think this beautiful porridge kasha recipe fits the bill nicely. The inspiration for this recipe is from Rose Elliot's book Learning to Cook Vegetarian, and if you love buckwheat and you love beets, then you must try this! It's best served hot, but if you have any leftovers, then this is also an excellent lunch box dish.

A note about buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). It's a pseudograin, and not a member of the cultivated grasses (Graminaceae) to which most grain cereals belong. Buckwheat is closely related to sorrel and rhubarb. It's native to central Asia - buckwheat was domesticated in China or India some 1000 years ago - and was introduced to Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. It's hugely popular in Russia, where the buckwheat groats are toasted to make porridge kasha and the greyish flour is used to make blinis that are famously enjoyed with caviar or smoked salmon.

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 beetroot and dill
Serves six to eight

2 Tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 g buckwheat groats (about 300 ml)
750 ml boiling water (3 cups)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 g cooked beetroot, grated
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

sour cream or plain yogurt, to serve (omit for a vegan meal)

First, you need to toast the buckwheat. The buckwheat we usually use in Estonia is pre-roasted and dark brown, so this can be heated on a dry skillet for about 2-3 minutes. If you're using the "light" buckwheat groats, then roast them on a dry hot skillet for about 6-7 minutes, until it's nicely toasty and aromatic.
Heat the oil in a large high frying pan/sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
Add the toasted buckwheat and boiling water, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the water has absorbed and buckwheat is nice and soft (but not mushy!!!).
Fold in the grated beets and heat for another 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, stir in the dill and serve hot.

Lovely with a dollop of sour cream/yogurt and some grilled (Portobella) mushrooms.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My favourite fish salad, using smoked seabass

Smoked fish salad / Suitsukalasalat

There's a smoked fish salad that I've been making for years. Here's the routine. On a Saturday morning, the kids and I (and usually my K. as well) head to the local farmers market, Viimsi Taluturg.  There are several stalls selling excellent fish, and one of them, Pepe Kala, sells excellent hot-smoked seabass. It's my choice of fish for this salad, although other smoked specimens would work just as well.

We head home, unpack our lot. I'll open the paper-wrapped smoked seabass and start cleaning the fish. I must work quickly here, or otherwise our 3-year old daughter eats most of the fish and I'll have none left for making the salad (she loves fish!). I'll then mix the salad (recipe below, of course) and enjoy. Sometimes we eat it as it is, sometimes we put that on top some toasted rye bread (photo above), sometimes we use it as a filling for paper-thin crepes, sometimes we enjoy it with some just-out-of-the-oven jacket potatoes. It's versatile and it's delicious.

Will keep well in the fridge (covered, of course) for a few days.

Smoked Fish Salad
(Maitsev suitsukalasalat munaga)
Serves four

1 medium-sized smoked fish (hot-smoked seabass is good)
4 eggs
1 or 2 (red) onions
handful of fresh dill and chives
some mayonnaise and/or sour cream
freshly ground black pepper

Hard-boil the eggs, then cool under cold running water. Peel the eggs, and smash with a fork in bowl.
Peel the onion(s), chop finely.
Clean the smoked fish carefully, discard the skin and bones. Chop the fish into smaller pieces.
Finely chop the herbs.
Mix the eggs, onions, smoked fish and herbs in a bowl. Fold in just enough mayonnaise or sour cream (or indeed, both) to bind the ingredients.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Gingery oatcakes or oaty gingersnap cookies? You'll decide.

Ginger-oatcakes / Ingveri-kaerahelbeküpsised

In theory, a batch of cookies spiked with ground ginger would be most suitable for Christmas, no? I guess so. Somehow, however, I've baked two batches of these simple gingery oatcakes/oaty gingersnap cookies during this week alone, and wouldn't mind baking them again soon. I blame the long and exhausting frosty winter we're having here in Estonia - temperatures have been falling below -10 Celsius again this week. Some delicious cookies help to forget (at least for a brief moment) that all you really-really want by now is some sun and spring and birdsong and, well, end of winter..

Note that these cookies do not contain any eggs, so they're perfect if you're cooking for someone who's allergic to eggs.

Oatcakes spiked with ginger
Inspiration: Finnish Valio
Makes about 40 cookies

Ginger-oatcakes / Ingveri-kaerahelbeküpsised

125 g butter, at room temperature
100 g caster sugar
100 g (wholemeal) flour
100 g old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3 to 4 Tbsp double/heavy cream

Cream butter and sugar. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, then stir into the sugar and butter mixture. Finally add the cream and stir lightly until combined.
Form the cookie mixture into small balls (about a heaped teaspoonful each) and place them onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between the cookies, as they spread out during baking.
Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for about 8 minutes, until light golden brown on edges.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes, then transfer onto a metal rack to dry and go crisp.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Savoury chive and goat cheese cheesecake

Chive and goat cheese cake / Kitsejuustukook murulauguga

Another recipe request of a kind. A reader from Denmark, Nina, noticed this savoury cheesecake on Nami-Nami's 2010 Easter brunch table and has now written me already twice, begging for the recipe. After another cold and dark winter, I can finally sense some spring in the air (or at least, some imminent spring), and am therefor happy to share this unusual and delicious spring-time recipe. As for inspiration, the recipe was adapted from the French Regal magazine, one of the few food magazines that we subscribe.

Savoury chive and goat cheese cheesecake
Adapted from the French food magazine Regal (issue 16)
Serves 8 (fits a 20 cm springform tin)

Crumb base:
125 g graham crackers or water biscuits
60 g butter, melted

Cheese layer:
300 g soft/cream cheese
300 g soft/spreadable goat cheese (I used Soignon)
1 small garlic clove
200 ml single/pouring cream
4 gelatine leaves
a generous bunch of chives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

handful of chives

Process the crackers/biscuits into fine crumbs, then mix with melted butter until combined. Line a 20 cm springform tin with baking paper, then press the crumb mixture evenly onto the base. Refrigerate.
Make the cheese mixture. Finely mince the garlic, mix with soft cheese and goat cheese until combined. Fold in the chopped chives.
Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
Heat the cream, then add the soaked and squeezed gelatine leaves, one at a time. Stir the cream and gelatine mixture into the chive and cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carefully spoon the cheese mixture over the biscuit crumb base, smooth the top.
Place overnight into the fridge (about 12 hours, ideally).

To serve, remove the tin and transfer the cheesecake onto your serving tray. Snip the remaining chives into 2-3 cm/1 inch lengths, place in the middle of the cake.