Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Christmas meal, 2013

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, dear friends and readers! We had the pleasure of cooking for and hosting our respective families on Christmas Eve (that's when we, Estonians, have the main Christmas meal and distribute gifts). I was in charge of the menu and cooking - and I thought it's a good idea to share the menu on my blog as well. I decided to have a rather light and minimalist first course. Here's what it looked like:


Good black Estonian bread, some white toast and a selection of cured fish. Starting from the left, there are spiced Baltic sprats that I wrote about in the previous post (see here), but this time served simply with sliced red onion:


Then there's salt-cured whitefish from my favourite fishmonger, PepeKala OÜ. Whitefish slices are to be eaten with buttered toast:

Finally, locally grown and jellied catfish (African sharptooth catfish, to be more precise, angersäga in Estonian, Clarias gariepinus in Latin). This one came out of the jar as well :)


For those who prefer meat, I did serve some cold-smoked turkey slices:

Serving a selection of cured fish for starters is a rather Nordic thing to do, but you'd find many more dishes on a traditional Estonian Christmas table (some rosolje salad or perhaps the layered vegetable salad). But we kept it rather minimalist this year and it worked for us.

The main course was much more traditional. There was pork - but not my usual Christmas roast,  the ever-delicious oven-baked pork shoulder with honey, mustard and rosemary. I did experiment with pork belly and fennel seeds - and rather successfully - the meat was extremely succulent and melt-in-your-mouth, and gobbled up quickly.


Here's a close-up of the pork:IMG_7810.jpg

The cabbage was my classic õllekapsas aka sauerkraut braised in beer (the beer was A le Coq's porter):


There were simple boiled potatoes, and a duo of roasted veggies - carrots and parsnips, lightly drizzled with maple syrup:


The duo of roasted vegetables was accompanied by a trio of black pudding:  IMG_7821.jpg

For condiments, there were two relishes from a small Estonian producer, Treppoja. Pumpkin and horseradish (the yellow one) and chilli and lingonberry (the red one): IMG_7818.jpg

Neither one was bad, but my mother-in-law's apple and lingonberry jam came out tops (I've got a recipe here, but she uses more lingonberries and less apples): IMG_7819.jpg

The star of the evening, as usual, was the dessert. I was planning to do the popular Danish Christmas dessert risalamande or fluffy rice pudding with almonds and a warm cherry compote. But then our little family went to Denmark for a small holiday in early December, and my dear Danish host-mum Kirsten served us a wonderful æbletrifli - a layered trifle of æblegrød, whipped cream and custard, as well as crunchy Italian almond cookies. It was simple, delicious and really festive, so that ended up finishing our Christmas feast of 2013.

 Danish apple trifle "æbletrifli". Taani kausitort õuntega.

We didn't drink much - some beers, and some small glasses of the Swedish Blossa glögg from 2012 and 2013, juice and water for the kids..

What did you do for Christmas?

See all Nami-Nami's Christmas recipe here.
Estonian World writes about Estonian Christmas traditions here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Estonian delicacies: spiced sprat sandwiches

The Baltic sprat (Sprattus sprattus balticus) is a subspecies of the European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), also known  as brisling or skipper. They are up to 12,5 cm long (about 5 inches), small, silvery and herring-like. The sprats are commonly marinated in a mixture of black pepper, allspice (aka Jamaican pepper), cloves, nutmeg, coriander seeds, bay leaves, salt and sugar etc. The result: spiced Baltic sprats aka vürtsikilud, a famous Estonian delicacy.

Vürtsikilud aka spiced Baltic sprats are used to make some delectable small sandwiches here in Estonia, known as kiluvõileivad (literally, sprat sandwiches). I knew they were popular, but didn't realise they're so popular. You see - I've been to four different Christmas parties during the last week, and kiluvõileivad were served at three of them. Each time these were the first to disappear off the table (yes, I did keep an eye of them to verify that). When I shared the realisation on Nami-Nami's Facebook page, then oven 300 people clicked on the LIKE-button to declare their love for kiluvõileivad :) 

These aren't necessarily a Christmas food, you can serve them throughout the year, but somehow I've  just noticed their particular popularity at this time of the year. You've actually seen them here on Nami-Nami before, they were part of our New Year's Eve party spread back in 2007 (see the blog post) - back then I garnished them with finely grated eggs. So I've been "guilty"of serving them during winter festivities as well :)

In any case, I thought it's a good idea to share the "recipe" with you, my dear readers. Although hard-core fans of kiluvõileivad probably filet and pickle their own fresh Baltic sprats, then you can buy rather decent prepared and canned/packed Baltic sprats in the supermarket. I use the Briis brand, made in a nearby Maardu town, so they're almost local :)

Do buy a packet or two next time you're in Estonia, ok! ;) Alternatively, you could try with Swedish "anchovies" (these are actually sprats or Baltic herrings), probably available at IKEA, but these are much sweeter in flavour.

Estonian spiced sprat sandwiches

sliced dark rye bread
butter, at room temperature
cleaned spiced sprats fillets
red onion and/or green onion tops, chopped
hard-boiled (quail) eggs

Remove the crusts of the bread and butter the bread slices. Cut into small rectangles, top with a cleaned spiced sprat fillet. 
Top with either sliced or grated hard-boiled (quail) egg, then sprinkle with chopped onions. 
Serve and enjoy.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday cooking: browned sautéed cabbage

Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for Nami-Nami

Christmas is just around the corner and I'm busy coordinating various festive dinners and other occasions. Good times, and I always feel a bit sad when all the feasts are finally over. Well, there will be another Christmas in just a year, of course :)

One of the staples on Estonian Christmas table is sauerkraut, and I've got a lovely version here on my blog, sauerkraut braised in dark beer. However, not all people have access to Estonian-style sauerkraut (fresh and unpasteurised, containing just cabbage and salt and perhaps some caraway seeds), or perhaps they cannot stomach the fermented version. Here's where this recipe comes to rescue - a fresh cabbage that's been sautéed and browned in butter, dark syrup and some stock. This has a slightly milder flavour compared to the traditional sauerkraut, but it's just as lovely as a side dish alongside the traditional pork roast that I always serve on Christmas eve. It also works brilliantly with oven-baked salmon or other fish, so it's quite versatile.

Here's the recipe. If you use vegetable broth, then the dish is also suitable for vegetarians. For a vegan version you'll need to choose vegetable stock and oil instead of butter. It's also suitable for a gluten-free diet, as long as you'll use proper vegetable or chicken broth.

Browned sautéed cabbage
(Pruunistatud kapsas)
Serves 6 to 8

1 head of white cabbage
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp dark (corn) syrup (I used this)
about a cup of hot vegetable or chicken broth
salt, to taste

Cut the cabbage into wedges, then into thin ribbons.
Heat butter in a large saucepan, add the cabbage, a sprinkling of salt and fry for a few minutes over a moderate heat. Add the dark syrup and the stock, give it a stir. Cover and simmer over a low heat for about an hour, until the cabbage is tender and nicely golden brown. Season to taste with salt.

Can be successfully re-heated, so feel free to make this in advance.


Thank you, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for featuring this recipe on BlogHer in January 2014.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday baking: Sliced Almond Christmas Cookies

French gingerbread / Christmas cookies / Piparkoogid / Viilupiparkoogid
From the recipe archives!

It's the time to bake various Christmas cookies again. While I'll certainly be making and baking and decorating a batch of these favourite Estonian piparkoogid ("pepper cakes"), then this year I have another recipe in mind as well. These sliced Christmas cookies with almonds found their way into my heart in the midst of the summer heatwave, as I was choosing and testing recipes for my Christmas cookbook. I had seen a recipe for "French gingebread cookies" in a Swedish food magazine that I liked, and that reminded me of Jules Destrooper's wonderful almond thins that I used to love. After some tweaking here and there (less sugar and less cloves, more almonds), I ended up with this great recipe.

I usually divide the dough into four equal portions and roll and wrap them individually. Then I bake one and place three in the freezer - I can then bake fresh and aromatic Christmas cookies whenever I feel like :)

Almond Gingerbread Cookies
Makes a lot - about 4 large sheets


250 g butter
200 g caster sugar
140 g light baking syrup (about 100 ml)
420 g plain flour (700 ml)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
0.5 Tbsp ground cloves
0.5 Tbsp baking soda
100 g sliced almonds

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and syrup, stir until combined. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and almonds in a bowl, then fold into the cool butter-sugar-syrup mixture. Stir until combined.
Divide the cookie dough into four equal parts, then form each one into a cylinder/sausage, about 4 cm in diameter. Wrap in clingfilm or baking paper and place into the fridge to rest. (Ideally for 24 hours).

To bake the cookies, cut each "sausage" into 3-4 mm (1/8th inch) slices, and place onto a parchment covered cookie sheet.
Bake in the middle of a preheated 200 C oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, let rest for a few minutes, then transfer onto a metal rack to cool completely.

French gingerbread / Christmas cookies / Piparkoogid / Viilupiparkoogid

This recipe was also included in my second cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sautéed Brussels sprouts with lemon, garlic and cheese

Sautéed Brussels sprouts with lemon, garlic and cheese / Praetud rooskapsad küüslaugu, sidruni ja juustuga

While I'm trying to decide what to do with the bag of lovely and fresh Brussels sprouts that I bought from my local Farmers Market, it's time to post the first ever Brussels sprout recipe here on Nami-Nami. This on-the-hob method of preparing Brussels sprouts has been tested in our kitchen few times already, and it's really quick and rather effortless. Although I have a feeling that the next batch of Brussels sprouts (called rooskapsas or "rose cabbage" in Estonian :)) will be roasted in the oven and seasoned with some crispy bacon, then it's good to have a pan-fry and vegetarian method in the recipe archives as well.

So here we go.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts with lemon, garlic and cheese
(Rooskapsad sidruni ja küüslauguga)
Serves 4 to 6

1 kg Brussels sprouts (about 2 pounds)
4 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
1 lemon, juiced and zested
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few Tbsp grated hard cheese (Parmesan or something similar)

Clean the sprouts - trim the root end and remove the floppy outer leaves, if necessary. Halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts, depending on their size.

Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the prepared sprouts and fry gently for 7-10 minutes, tossing every now and then, until they're soft and caramelised and lovely golden brown all round. Few minutes before reaching that stage add the chopped garlic to the pan as well.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice and zest. Heat for another 1-2 minutes, then taste again for seasoning.

Sprinkle with grated hard cheese, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My cookbook launch on November 11, 2013

Minu uus raamat!
Photo by Päivi Palts.

My third cookbook came out in early November (there will be a blog post about the book!), and last Monday there was a small launch party at the Rahva Raamat bookstore in Tallinn. My dear friend Ximena Maier (you'll surely know her food blog Lobstersquad) did the illustrations for the book again. It's as striking as the first one, don't you agree?

kaanedPicMonkey Collage

They certainly stand out on the bookshelves!

Back to the book launch party. Here's me and my lovely agent, Reelika Rahu, flipping through the pages of the book:
Photo by Andres Haabu

Me welcoming the people and talking briefly about the book. Take note that my stockings are matching the colour of my newest cookbook :)
Photo by Andres Haabu

Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013
Photo by Päivi Palts

Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013
Photo by Päivi Palts

This lovely lady, Maret, is a good friend of my mother-in-law. She's also a great fan of Nami-Nami recipes and loved the previous book (or so I'm told). The beetroot phali recipe in the Georgian chapter has caught her attention. Or is it the egg and walnut salad?
Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013
Photo by Päivi Palts

Time to sign the books! I was impressed how many people turned up and was signing the books for well over an hour!
Photo by Andres Haabu

Autogramme jagamas
Photo by Päivi Palts.

Raamatuid signeerimas.
Photo by Päivi Palts.

Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013
Photo by Päivi Palts

Karl Mattias
Photo by Päivi Palts

Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013
Photo by Päivi Palts

One of the Nami-Nami fans, my friend Eva Pettinen of the Flexus Pilates Studio:
Pille Petersoo ja Eva Pettinen
Photo by Päivi Palts

I don't know who this little sweet girl was, but she had a lovely name and she told me that she always uses Nami-Nami to look for recipe inspiration :)
Anna Lotta (?)

It was a cookbook, so obviously there was food at the launch party :) Suupisted!
Photo by Päivi Palts.

The purple dip is beetroot borani (recipe in the Persian chapter; also available here on the blog). On the front you'll see cheese and herb filled filo "cigars" (recipe in the Lebanese chapter). There's a bowl in the middle, filled with black pudding profiteroles (a recipe in my Christmas cookbook). Not pictured is a big plate with two different types of cookies from the Swedish chapter:
Valik suupisteid
Photo by Päivi Palts.

The filo rolls and the Swedish cookies were baked by my dear friend and a talented baker, American-born Heidi ParkHeidi also did the catering for my first cookbook launch party back in December 2010. I'm so lucky to have met her and call her my friend: Nami-Nami uue kokaraamatu esitlus 11.11.2013. Mina Heidiga.
Photo by Kristjan.

Ok, back to food. Marinated aubergine/eggplant slices, a recipe in the Italian chapter:
 Marineeritud pommuviilud
Photo by Päivi Palts.

A special thanks goes to Põltsamaa Felix, who provided the drinks - juice for the kids and their beautiful dessert wine Põltsamaa Kuldne 2005 for the grown-ups (again, they provided the drinks for the previous launch party as well). Here's my sweet daughter Nora (4 y 9 m) enjoying a glass of Põltsamaa's pear nectar (pirninektar) while chitchatting to her friend Taavi:
Põltsamaa pirninektar
Photo by Päivi Palts.

There was also the wonderful bottled mineral water from Georgia, Borjomi, which, of course, is the perfect drink to go with the recipes in the Georgian chapter:
Gruusia vesi ja Gruusia peatükk
Photo by Borjomi Estonia

And last, but not least, there was some wine, courtesy of Pernod Ricard Estonia. We drank Tamada Mukuzani from Georgia, and San Simone Perlae Naonis Millsesimato Prosecco DOC from Italy:
Photo by Reet Zimmer

A huge thank you to everybody who made it and a huge thank you to everybody who helped to organise the launch party.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oven roasted cabbage steaks recipe

Garlic-rubbed roasted cabbage steaks. Ahjus küpsetatud kapsaviilud.

Sometimes you come across a great and simple recipe that appeals to you instantly. These roasted cabbage "steaks" caught my attention at a food bloggers' Facebook chat few days ago, and I made the dish just hours after reading about it. I had made roasted cabbage slices with lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen before, several times, actually, so I knew I'd love roasted cabbage. This was very similar recipe, though the cabbage was cut into thick slices instead of wedges, and garlic was used to season the cabbage instead of lemon juice.

Cheap as chips, suits pretty much all known diets (Paleo, LCHF, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free), overall a great way to serve that humble cabbage to your family and friends.

Oven-roasted cabbage steaks
Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from Everyday Maven, originally Martha Stewart's recipe. Martha suggests you sprinkle a tablespoon of caraway or fennel seeds on top and I can see how that would work really well. Next time!

Garlic-rubbed roasted cabbage steaks. Ahjus küpsetatud kapsaviilud.

1 head of green cabbage, preferably organic
olive oil
a few garlic cloves, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.

Brush a baking sheet lightly with oil.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, then cut the cabbage from top to bottom (e.g. the root end) into 1-1,5 cm thick slices ("steaks"). Place onto the baking sheet.

Scatter about half of the garlic on top, season generously with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil.

Cabbage steaks. Küpsetatud kapsalõigud.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the "cabbage steaks" are golden brown on edges.

Carefully flip the cabbage slices over, scatter the rest of the garlic on top, season and drizzle with oil. Return the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until cabbage is cooked and golden brown around the edges.

Serve hot.

Garlic-rubbed roasted cabbage steaks. Ahjus küpsetatud kapsaviilud.

Got leftovers? Chop the cabbage and use in those dishes:
Finnish mince and cabbage gratin
Estonian cabbage and mince stew

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apple crumble, the perfect autumn dessert

Õunakrõbedikud kaneelise toorjuustuvahuga / Apple crisps with cinnamon cream cheese
Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAbove photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the November 2012 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden", an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012). 

As for the perfect autumn dessert, you cannot go wrong with a classic apple crumble. Surprisingly apple crumble - or crumbles in general - aren't particularly well-known in Estonia - we're more cake and pie and tart type of people, I guess. I love adding oats to my crumble topping - or any other porridge flakes (rolled spelt or rye flakes work brilliantly, for example). Oat addition makes the crumble somewhat healthier and the topping more crunchy. If you have some red-skinned crab apples - like the ones on the photo above - add those to the apple mixture for extra colour.

I served the crumble with a cinnamon and cream cheese whipped cream - a wonderfully aromatic addition to the crumble.

Apple crumble
Serves six

600 g tart apples (f. ex. Antonovka, Granny Smith)
25 g seedless raisins
25 g caster sugar
ground cinnamon

Crumb topping:
100 g all-purpose wheat flour
50 g porridge oats or rolled rye or spelt flakes
100 g cold butter
50 g demerara brown sugar

Peel* and core the apples, cut into smaller chunks or sectors. Place into a bowl, toss together with raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Transfer into a buttered 24 cm pie dish or 4-6 portion dishes/ramekins.

Combine the flour, rolled grains and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter in with two knifes or a pastry cutter or simply using your fingers. (Or simply put everything into the food processor and pulse until you've got pea-sized pieces). Spread the crumb topping over the apples.

Place in the pre-heated 200C/400F oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the apples are soft and the topping golden brown and crispy. Let cool for about 15-30 minutes before serving.

Serve with cinnamon-flavoured cream cheese, vanilla custard, vanilla ice cream or simple whipped cream.

* There's no need to peel organic apples from your own backyard or a reputable orchard.

More crumble recipes:
Rhubarb crumble @ Nami-Nami (gluten-free, if using certified gluten-free oats)
Raspberry and coconut crumble @ Nami-Nami
Pumpkin and apple crumble @ Nami-Nami
Apple cinnamon crumble @ Two Peas and Their Pod
Speculoos + Apple Crumble @ Dorie Greenspan
Butterless apple crumble @ Chocolate & Zucchini