Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recipe for a Latvian Beet and Bean Salad (Pupiņu un Biešu Salāti)

Läti peedi-oasalat. Latvian beet and kidney bean salad.  Pupiņi un Biešu Salāti. Rūjienas salāti.

A few years ago Saveur, the American food magazine, featured some Latvian recipes (Latvians, remember, are our Southern neighbours). Among them was a recipe for beet and bean salad, Pupiņu un Biešu Salāti, that caught my attention. I love beetroot, and cook and eat various beetroot salads quite frequently. Some of my favourite beet salad recipes have been featured here on Nami-Nami as well over the last 9+ years, like the Russian vinaigrette salad, beet and potato salad, layered vegetable salad with smoked salmon, to name just a few.

Given my love of beets and the simplicity of the salad, it was only the matter of time I made this salad. We loved it, a lot, although the salad is probably more Russian than Latvian in its origins (any Latvian readers wanna comment on this?). It has also proved to be highly popular with my Estonian readers (like the ones on Nami-Nami's Facebook page), and who knows, perhaps you'll be positively surprised as well :)

Just a handful of ingredients, but surprisingly lot of flavour. Gluten-free as well.

Latvian Beet and Bean Salad 
Adapted from Saveur.com
Serves six to eight

Läti peedi-oasalat. Latvian beet and kidney bean salad.  Pupiņi un Biešu Salāti. Rūjienas salāti.

200 g sour cream (20%)
100 g mayonnaise
400-500 g cooked beetroot*
2 cans of kidney beans (about 400 g/12 oz each), rinsed and drained
4 pickles, chopped
salt and pepper
fresh parsley or chives, finely chopped

* You can use boiled, steamed or roasted beet to make this salad. I use coarsely shredded boiled beetroot. 

In a large bowl, whisk the sour cream and mayonnaise until combined, then season with salt and pepper. Add the beet, beans and pickles, folding them into the sour cream and mayonnaise dressing. Season again, then transfer the salad into the serving dish and sprinkle with herbs.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Layered Vegetable Salad with Smoked Salmon

(From the Nami-Nami recipe archives.)

Layered smoked salmon salad / Suitsulõhega kasukas

"Kasukas" - "fur coat" - is a name for a layered vegetable salad that is very popular here in Estonia, especially during the cold and dark season. The salad has chopped cured herring as the bottom layer, topped with layers of grated or chopped beets, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables and "glued together" with thin layers of mayonnaise. The recipe - or rather an alternative way to serve the popular "rosolje" salad - came to Estonia from Russia in the second half of last century. In Russia "fur coat" aka "shuba" is still one of the most popular salads on the festive table (here's a lovely English-language blog post about the traditional "cured herring under fur coat"), and the un-layered "rosolli" is also a must on Finnish Christmas tables). Whereas I love beets, I dislike cured herring, so I tend to skip that salad on buffet tables. When making this at home, I'd usually make a double portion and divide the salad between two glass bowls - one with herring and the other without. Until I came across a version using smoked salmon in Natasha's Kitchen blog. That was about a year and a half ago, and since then I've made this salad over and over again and converted many kasukas-haters into kasukas-lovers.

Traditionally this salad is made and served in a big glass bowl that proudly shows off all the layers, and then it's spooned into serving plates (rather like a trifle). For a neater presentation, you may want to use individual glass bowls instead (see top photo). A note to my Estonian readers - I like making this with külmsuitsulõhe aka cold-smoked salmon (Pepe Kala makes a wonderful one!), rather than with kuumsuitsulõhe aka hot-smoked salmon.

Suitsulõhega kasukas

Layered Smoked Salmon and Vegetable Salad
(Suitsulõhega kasukas)
Serves about 6 to 8

Kasukas suitsulõhega

200 g smoked salmon
400 g potatoes
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
200 g cooked beetroot (roasted, steamed or boiled)
250 g carrots
about 300-400 g good-quality mayonnaise
2 eggs

Boil (unpeeled!) carrots and potatoes until soft, but not mushy. Drain, cool a little, then peel.
Hard-boil the eggs, then cool and peel.

To compose the salad:
1. Cut the salmon into small pieces and scatter evenly at the bottom of a 2-litre (approximately 2-quart) glass bowl.
2. Grate the potatoes coarsely, scatter over the salmon.
3. Scatter chopped onion over the potato layer.
4. Gently spread about half of the mayonnaise over the onion layer.
5. Grate the beetroot coarsely, scatter over the mayonnaise layer.
6. Grate the carrots coarsely, scatter over the beetroot layer.
7. Spread rest of the mayonnaise over the beetroot layer.
8. Finely grate the eggs, scatter over the mayonnaise layer.

NB! As the mayonnaise is seasoned already, there is no need to season any of the layers with salt and pepper!

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and put into the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to combine (and the beetroot colour to stain the other layers :)) The salad can be happily made on a previous day as well, as it keeps rather well.

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Holiday baking: Carrot cake cookies recipe

Carrot Cake Cookies. Porgandiküpsised.

Time to start preparing for the Christmas holidays and I offer you a lovely cookie recipe! Although we'll be mostly eating piparkoogid aka gingerbread cookies here in Estonia, these slightly chewy carrot cake cookies would do just as well.

For over two years now I've been contributing recipes for one of the biggest home and gardening magazines here in Estonia, Kodu ja Aed (that translates "Home and Garden"). Since spring we've been focusing on a specific vegetable both on the gardening pages and in the food section. Carrot happened to be the vegetable of the month in December. December, of course, being the Christmas month, so I was trying to think of recipes that would feel right at the Christmas table as well. I think these cookies fit the bill brilliantly. They are easy to make, go brilliantly with a glass of glögg or mulled wine, they're "healthy" as containing a vegetable (carrot is also providing both texture and flavour), and they are egg-free, making them also suitable for some special diets. Most of all, they have a pretty colour and they taste great. As an added bonus, the kids loved them - something to think about when you've got 3 small ones running around the house!

So when you're planning your next glögg party, think of adding these carrot cake cookies to the menu!

You'll find all of Nami-Nami's Christmas recipes here and a selection of cookie recipes here.

TIP! You could make these cookie more festive by adding a scant teaspoon of mixed spices, gingerbread spice or pumpkin pie spice - all of these would work.

TIP! If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge in advance, then simply grate the cold butter into your mixing bowl. Instant softened butter! 

Carrot cake cookies

200 g butter, at room temperature (7 oz)
150 g caster sugar (2/3 cups)
200 g carrots, finely shredded (2 medium carrots)
300 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
whole almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, either using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your standing mixer. Add the carrots, then the dry ingredients (flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder, salt). Mix the dough until combined, then take small chestnut-sized chunks of the dough and form into small balls.

Place the balls onto the baking sheet, flattening them with your palm. Press a whole almond onto each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.  Remove from the oven, leave for a few minutes before transferring the carrot cookies onto a metal rack to cool completely.

More carrot cookie recipes:
Carrot oatmeal cookies by Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks
Chocolate chip carrot cookies by Jeanine @ Love & Lemons
Gingered carrot cake cookies by Michelle @ Brown-Eyed Baker
Porgandiküpsised by Marit @ Magusad fotod (recipe in Estonian)
Porgandiküpsised by Kaare @ Koopatibi (recipe in Estonian)
Porkkanakeksit @ Kotiliesi (recipe in Finnish)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Estonian lamb soup with cabbage

Time for soup! Earlier this year I came across a recipe for Islandic lamb and cabbage soup in the blogosphere. Lovely soup and justifiably popular - and almost identical to the Estonian way of making lamb and cabbage soup. Not surprising, giving the fact that both Iceland and Estonia are "up North" and the range of vegetables traditionally available is pretty similar.

It's a simple and rustic soup, as many Estonian soups are. Hope it'll become as well and widely known as the Icelandic one ;)

Note that it's even better on the next day, so feel free to make it a day or two in advance.

Lamb soup with cabbage
(Kapsasupp lambalihaga)
Serves 6 or more as a main dish

500-750 g of lamb on the bone (shank, neck, ribs)
2 l (8 cups) water
salt and black pepper
1 medium head of cabbage
2 medium sized onions, chopped
a handful of pearl barley, soaked (optional)
3-4 carrots, sliced
5-6 potatoes, cut into chunks
fresh dill, finely chopped

Place the meat into a large saucepan, pour in enough cold water to cover. Bring into a rolling boil, let boil for a few minutes. Then drain the whole lot over a colander. Rinse the saucepan thoroughly, return to the hob.

Rinse the meat under a cold running water to remove any impurities. Return to the saucepan. Add 2 litres of water and bring slowly into a boil.

Add the peppercorns and a generous pinch of salt. Bring into a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for about 1,5-2 hours, until the meat is really tender and easily falls off the bones. (Skim off any fat or scum that appears at the top of the soup with a slotted spoon). Remove the meat from the soup, put aside.

Now add the onions and shredded cabbage into the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes (if using pearl barley, then add it alongside onions and cabbage). Add carrots and cook for 15 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer until carrots and potatoes are cooked.

While the vegetables are cooking, remove the meat from the bones and cut the lamb into small pieces. Return the meat into the broth and re-heat thoroughly. Season to taste, sprinkle with dill and serve.

Similar recipes:
Icelandic lamb soup @ TastyTrix
Icelandic lamb soup @ Diary of a Tomato
Irish lamb stew with a twist @ Simply Recipes
Scotch broth @ Milk and Mode
Lambalihasupp aedviljadega @ KÖÖK (recipe in Estonian)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Home-made granola recipe

Home-made granola. Kodune krõbe müsli.

This was originally posed in January 2009. I'm reposting this with new photos. 

I'm not sure why it took me so long to make my own granola to sprinkle on yogurt for breakfast, considering how incredibly easy it is! The recipe below is a mixture of various ideas, and it's pretty simple. I'm especially fond of the addition of malt extract* that I got from Moosewood granola recipe included in the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics - it adds a lovely, well, malted flavour to the end product. I've used a mixture of chopped apricots, seedless raisins and dried cranberries to 'buff up' my granola, but the choice of dried fruit is obviously yours.

What do you do? Make your own granola/müsli or buy from a shop? If you buy, then what's your favourite brand/type? Just curious :)

Home-Made Granola
(Kodune krõbe müsli)
Makes enough for 2 persons for a week

100 g old-fashioned rolled oats (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp dark muscovado sugar
5 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tbsp flax seeds/linseeds
1 tsp cinnamon

3 Tbsp neutral-flavoured oil
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp malt extract

To 'top up':
half a cup or so chopped dried apricots or prunes or dried cranberries or seedless raisins

Mix the oats, sugar, coconut flakes, linseed and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in molasses extract, oil and water, stir to combine.

Line a small baking tray with a parchment paper and spread the granola mixture on top.

Home-made granola. Kodune krõbe müsli.

Bake in a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until the granola is golden and very aromatic (it will crispen up after you take it out of the oven).

Take out of the oven and cool completely, then stir in the chopped dried fruit.

Home-made granola. Kodune krõbe müsli.

Keep in a closed jar and serve with your breakfast yogurt or milk.

* Moosewood recipe uses "barley malt syrup or unsulphured molasses", explaining that "Barley malt is a liquid made from fermented barley and often used in baking bread. We use it here for sweetness and moisture. If unavailable, any unsulphured molasses except blackstrap will work fine". I used a local product which is meant for brewing your own beer at home, but is also widely used for baking bread at home. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gravlax with sea-buckthorn berries

Sea-buckthorn is a popular autumn berry here in Estonia. I'm afraid it's not so widely known in the US where most of my blog readers are based. However, given that Doctor Oz has been touting sea-buckthorn as one of the superberries, this may change :) 

Sea-buckthorn berries have a pleasant, but very tart flavour. They can be used instead of lemons - and here sea-buckthorn juice is used as a replacement for lemon juice in curing some nice salmon. 

Use highest quality fresh fish to make this dish. 

Gravlax with sea-buckthorn
Serves four to six

500 g fresh salmon filet
2 Tbsp natural/unsweetened sea-buckthorn juice
2 Tbsp kosher salt or Maldon sea salt flakes
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp freshly ground black or white peppercorns
handful of sea-buckthorn berries

Remove any bones with pliers. Brush with sea-buckthorn juice. 
Combine salt, sugar and pepper, spread the curing mixture over the fish and rub it gently in. Cut the filet into two even chunks, place them together, flesh sides touching. 

Wrap the salmon tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours. 

Unwrap salmon, discarding the curing mixture (rinse quickly, if necessary, and pat thoroughly dry). 

Tp serve, place gravlax skin side down on a cutting board. Cut the gravlax into thin slices with a fileting-knife (a long, narrow-bladed knife), cutting against the grain, and slightly diagonally. 

Other sea-buckthorn recipes:
Mulled sea-buckthorn drink @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn jelly with kama mascarpone mousse @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn and Amaretto cheesecake @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn and apple tart @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn sorbet @ Nami-Nami
Cardamom panna-cotta with sea-buckthorn and apricot compote @ Nami-Nami
Sea-buckthorn juice @ Russian Season
Sea-buckthorn @ Real Epicurean
Gelbe grütze @ Küchenlatein
Coconut cream custard on sanddorn mirror @ Vegalicious Recipes
Sea buckthorn curd with raspberries @ Swedish Food
Sea-buckthorn cheesecake @ Bumpkin Mag
Sea-buckthorn mousse @ Andie's Veggies
Sea-buckthorn kissel with Greek yoghurt @ Suvi sur le vif

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    ApfelSTROHdel - a hot apple toddy with Austrian Stroh rum

    ApfelSTROHdel. ÕunaSTROHdel.

    I've been testing various recipes using the spiced Austrian rum, Stroh, and this autumn/winter drink was quite popular. The ApfelSTROHdel recipe is adapted from the Stroh's website (see here), and it's a witty play of words - think of the famous Viennese apple strudel or Apfelstrudel.  I've still got some Stroh left, I'll be making this again and again. The nights are getting darker and cooler here, and this is a nice recipe to have on a cold and rainy autumn night :)

    Serves 2

    400 ml apple juice (you can use apple cider or unfiltered apple juice)
    2 cinnamon sticks
    2 tsp dark brown sugar (or more, to taste)
    60 ml Stroh rum (I used Stroh 40)

    Heat the apple juice, cinnamon sticks and sugar gently in a small bowl, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil!
    Remove from the heat, let cool for a moment. Stir in the Stroh, pour into glasses and garnish with a thin apple slice (optional).

    Enjoy, preferably in front of a flickering fireplace.

    ApfelSTROHdel. ÕunaSTROHdel.

    Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post as such, but I have received remuneration for sharing this recipe with my Estonian readers on my Estonian-language site.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Swiss Chard Gratin with Cheese

    LehtPeet 05

    Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAll photos by Juta Kübarsepp for the September 2014 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden"), an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012. 

    There's this wonderful cauliflower cheese recipe that I make pretty regularly, as it's super easy, quick, tasty and flavoursome. It's also gluten-free and low-carb, and I always have some cheese and mustard and cream in the fridge. Early this summer I realised that exactly the same cheese-cream-mustard topping works spectacularly well with Swiss chard stems and leaves. I grow around three or four varieties of Swiss chard in my garden, and they thrive well, so I've got a steady supply of those nutritious leafy greens.

    This dish looks especially pretty when you use bright and colourful Swiss chard (also known as mangold, silverbeet, rainbow chard). Here's the selection from my garden:

    Swiss chard. Lehtpeet ehk mangold.

    Swiss chard with cheese and cream
    Serves 4

     LehtPeet 04

    a good bunch of Swiss chard (about 400-450 grams)
    200 ml double cream
    1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
    150 g cheese, shredded
    salt and black pepper

    Separate the ribs/stems from the greens. Cut the ribs into 5 cm/2 inch pieces. Blanch the ribs in lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until they soften. Then add the leaves, and cook for another minute. Drain thoroughly.

    Mix the cream and mustard, fold in most of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add the Swiss chard stems and leaves.

    Transfer the mixture into a buttered oven dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

    Bake in the middle of a preheated 200 C/400 F oven for about 30 minutes, until the gratin is lovely golden and crisp on top.

    Serve and enjoy.

    Swiss chard. Lehtpeet ehk mangold.

    More Swiss chard gratin recipes:
    Swiss chard gratin by Alanna @ A Veggie Venture
    Baked Swiss chard stems with olive oil and Parmesan by Kalyn @ Kalyn's Kitchen
    Swiss chard gratin with vegan bechamel by Clotilde @ Chocolate and Zucchini
    Swiss chard gratin @ Whole Foods
    Swiss chard gratin by Phoebe @ Feed Me Phoebe
    Swiss chard au gratin @ Rachel Ray
    Alice Waters' Swiss chard gratin @ Serious Eats

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Whipped semolina pudding with apples and black aronia berries

    Aroonia-õunamannavaht & arooniasmuuti / Black aronia smoothie and black aronia and apple pudding
    Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAbove photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the October 2012 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden", an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012). 

    Back in July 2013, The Wall Street Journal touted the slightly astringent and tart black aronia as possibly the next superberry. While WSJ listed it alongside other health-giving berries, Fox News wrote more directly: Aronia: The North American super berry with cancer-fighting properties., calling aronia the "King Kong of antioxidant berries" (other than that, it's actually a pretty good and informative article). In a word - it's a great berry that's very good to you!

    Black aronia berry has been popular here in Estonia for decades - it makes a beautiful hedge plant, especially in the autumn:

    Black aronia / Must aroonia

    See what I mean? The aronia plant has most beautiful dark red leaves in the autumn!

    Usually the berries are used to make cordial, though they can be used in so many other ways. I often throw a handful of berries into my smoothie, and I've provided links to various recipes below. Here's a simple autumnal pudding, using apples, aronia berries and cream of wheat/semolina.

    Black aronia and apple whipped semolina pudding
    Serves 4 to 6

    1 l (4 cups) water
    500 ml (2 cups) of cleaned black aronia berries and apple chunks
    100 g caster sugar
    a pinch of salt
    200 ml semolina/cream of wheat (wholewheat or spelt semolina is fine, too)

    Put the aronia berries and chopped apples into a saucepan, pour over the water. Bring into a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the aronia berries have softened.

    Take a bowl (or another saucepan) and cover with a sieve. Pour the cooked apples and black aronias - and their boiling liquid - onto the sieve and using the back of a wooden spoon, press as much of the fruit through the sieve. Season the mixture with sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring into a boil.

    Pour semolina quickly into the boiling mixture, stirring vigorously to avoid any lumps. Then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until semolina - and the pudding - thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for about half an hour. Whisk until fluffy and light - this is best done with an electric mixer.

    Serve with milk.

    More recipes using black aronia berries aka chokeberries:
    Black aronia muffins @ Nami-Nami
    Black aronia and kefir smoothie @ Nami-Nami
    Aronia jam @ Blooms 'n' Food
    6 recipes @ Deep Roots
    Aronia jam @ Sto kolorow kuchni (recipe in Polish)
    Black aronia soda @ ferdakost
    Vispipuuro omenasta ja marja-aroniasta by Riikka @ (recipe in Finnish)
    Vispipuuro marja-aroniasta @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
    Vispipuuro marja-aroniasta ja mustaherukasta by MariMaalla @ Lily (recipe in Finnish)
    Aroniaglögi @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
    Aronia-omenakisselli @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
    Aronia and rye foam by Malitsu @ Mämmi

    (From the recipe archives: this post was originally posted in September 2013)

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Quark and pumpkin pudding cake

    Kõrvitsa-kohupiimavorm. Pumpkin and curd cheese.

    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). 

    Pumpkin or winter squash dessert, anyone?

    There's a popular old-school dessert here in Estonia, called kohupiimavorm. It consists of curd cheese (also known as quark), sugar, (whisked) eggs, and some add-ons, usually raisins or pieces of fruit. It's not really a cake (too soft), nor a soufflé (no custard base), so after some research I've decided to translate it as pudding cake :) Pudding cake is a cake you need to eat with a spoon, and it's rather difficult to cut it into neat shapes when still warm.

    Here's a version using that autumn staple, winter squash or pumpkin. For once, this is a recipe that's very versatile - if you cannot find curd cheese (try looking for 'tvorog' at your nearest Polish/Russian/international shop), you could use drier ricotta or even farmer's cheese. As for pumpkin, any yellow-fleshed winter squash would work. I like using butternut squash here, as this gives the dessert a lovely dark orange hue. Considering the amount of flour in the recipe, you could easily make this wheat-free or gluten-free by using different types of (gluten-free) flours.

    You could eat it as it is, or with a dollop of thick yoghurt or sour cream on the side. It's lovely with a kissel or fruit soup (this cranberry kissel would work brilliantly here). I actually prefer this pumpkin version to the traditional version, as it's softer and moister.

    Oh, and if you were wondering what those cookies on the top right corner of the photo were, you'll be pleased to know these contain pumpkin/squash as well. You'll find the recipe for those wonderful pumpkin cookies here.

    Curd cheese and pumpkin pudding cake 
    Serves 6

    800 g butternut squash or pumpkin (cleaned weight)
    100 g caster sugar
    500 g curd cheese
    4 large eggs, separated
    1 lemon, juiced and zested
    2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    100 g dried cranberries (craisins) or seedless raisins
    a pinch of salt

    Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

    Peel the pumpkin, cut into large wedges. Remove the soft core and seeds, and cut the flesh into large cubes. Weigh the pumpkin cubes - you need about 800 g (just under 2 pounds). Place the cubes into a large saucepan, add a cup of water and simmer over a low heat until pumpkin is tender. Drain thoroughly, then place into a bowl and mash with a fork.

    Add lemon juice and grated zest, curd cheese, flour, (c)raisins.

    Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yorks with sugar until creamy, add to the rest of the ingredients. Finally, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks forms. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

    Butter a large (round) oven dish - about ∅ 26-30 cm is excellent -  and sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs. Spoon the pumpkin and curd cheese mixture into the dish, smooth the top.

    Bake in the pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for about 40 minutes, until it's lovely golden brown, and just a wee bit wobbly in the middle.

    Let cool either completely or serve at room temperature.

    (From the recipe archives: this post was originally posted in October 2013)

    Similar recipes:

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    Creamy chantarelle sauce recipe (aka creamy girolle sauce)

    My regular readers all know about my love for wild mushrooms. We had a long and hot and dry summer here in Estonia - not the time for forageing for wild mushrooms. However, the autumn rains have arrived, so soon I'll be heading to our regular mushroom forests to fill up the baskets (yes, the basket and my pink wellies are already in the boot of the car, waiting :))

    Until then, I have to do with the fresh chantarelle/girolle mushrooms that are widely available at this time of the year. They actually appeared at the market stalls in early June, but were gone for a short while because of the heatwave. I'm glad they're back, for sure!

    I make a popular Estonian dish - kukeseenekaste - quite regularly. It's a simple creamy chantarelle sauce that can be made either with fresh cream (then a spoonful of flour is often added for thickening) or sour cream. I prefer the latter these days, so the recipe is for that. While it's a typical dish in Estonia, it's not exclusively Estonian. The Finns make the same dish, calling it kantarellimuhennos. What is perhaps unique to Estonia is that we serve the chantarelle sauce as a dish on its own right - not as a delicious sauce alongside a steak or grilled elk or pan-fried fish or something along those lines. Kukeseenekaste is a perfectly satisfying meal on its own. (But then we're funny like that here in Estonia. We can also have a pile of _brilliant_ potatoes as the centrepiece of a meal - just read Alanna's overview about her trip to Estonia ;))

    Chantarelle sauce
    Serves 4 to 5

    400 g fresh chanterelle/girolle mushrooms
    1 Tbsp butter
    1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    200 g sour cream
    salt and pepper
    handful of chopped herbs (dill, parsley, spring onions)

    Carefully clean the mushrooms, then chop coarsely and set aside.
    Melt the butter on a large frying/skillet pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté gently for about 5-7 minutes, until just slightly golden.
    Increase heat and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, then fry for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the mushrooms have wilted.
    Add the sour cream, stir and just heat through.
    Fold in the herbs and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes.

    More chantarelle recipes:
    Chantarelle pesto
    Carrot and chantarelle quiche
    Chantarelle bruschetta
    Beef stroganoff with chantarelle mushrooms

    Saturday, August 02, 2014

    Simple, yet decadent fish supper: pan-fried vendace

    Praetud rääbised / Pan-fried whitefish and tomato salad

    This was originally posted in August 2012. I reposted this in late June, when the catching season for Lake Peipus vendace began and fresh and smoked vendace was again available, if pricey (going rate for a kilogram of smoked fish was about 20 Euros in June. But, oh so worth it). Now the Finnish vendace - slightly smaller, but just as delicious - has hit the market stalls, and we had pan-fried vendace for dinner tonight. Hence the reposting :)

    Vendace is a wonderful freshwater whitefish that you'll find all over the northern continental Europe. The Latin name is Coregonus albula, and although it looks quite similar to the Estonian "national fish" Baltic Herring (räim aka Clupea harengus membras) that belongs to the herring family, then vendace is actually part of the salmonidae family alongside salmon, char, trout, graylings and other freshwater whitefishes.You're most likely to come across vendace (also called European cisco) in the lakes of Finland, Sweden, Russia and Estonia, as well as some lakes in the UK, Poland and Northern Germany. When I say the lakes of Estonia, I mean Lake Peipus - and must sadly admit that vendace has been scarce in the local waters during the last years.

    Imagine my excitement when I saw beautifully fresh vendace at the local farmer's market yesterday morning! I immediately bought some hot-smoked vendace for lunch, and almost a kilogram of fresh vendace for dinner. It's such a delicate and excellent fish that doesn't need much messing around. A quick bath in a seasoned rye flour, followed by frying in hot butter or oil - you'll find the "recipe" below. I served the fried vendace with a fresh tomato salad, and the meal was enjoyed by all, including the small kids.

    A note on vendace roe. The dark orange-coloured vendace roe (rääbisemari/löjrom) is a true delicacy, and Kalix löjrom from  the Swedish Botnia Bay archipelago has even been granted a PDO (protected designation of origin) status by the European Union, just like Prosciutto ham from Tuscany or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. When the rather excellent roe of common/European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) cost 799 SEK (Swedish crowns) in a supermarket in Stockholm back in early June, then the vendace roe was almost double the price, 1490 SEK:

    Sorry for the photo quality - it was a quick snap with my mobile phone.

    Names in other languages: rääbis (Estonian), muikku (Finnish), ryapushka (Russian), löj (Swedish), corégone blanc/la petite marène (French), Kleine Maräne (German).

    Pan-fried vendace
    (Pannil praetud rääbised)

    Praetud rääbised / Pan-fried whitefish

    fresh vendace (calculate about 2-3 fish per person)
    rye flour or oatmeal
    freshly ground black pepper
    fresh dill, finely chopped
    oil and butter for frying

    Season the flour with salt and pepper, then roll the fish in the flour until evenly covered. Heat some butter and oil (or just one or the other) in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the fish and fry for a few minutes on one side until dark golden brown, then carefully turn over and fry the other side for a few minutes again.

    Garnish with a sprinkling of dill and serve with boiled new potatoes or potato mash, and perhaps a dollop of good home-made mayonnaise (be sure to click on the link if you haven't seen the cool Nami-Nami video recipe yet).

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Summer food: Estonian milk and vegetable soup

    Köögivilja-piimasupp. Kesäkeitto. Estonian milk and baby vegetable soupl

    It's mid-July, which here in Estonia means the peak of summer. We're having a beautiful summer here, with lots of sun and not much rain. It's the end of the wild strawberry season, it's the height of chantarelle mushroom season (but too early for most other wild mushrooms), and it's the start of the beautiful local vegetable harvest season. Here's a traditional milk soup that glorifies those early tiny vegetables that are still crisp and sweet. I bought the cauliflower and potatoes - simply because I don't grow these, but the carrots and snap peas were from our own little back yard.

    Although the soup is part of the Estonian traditional cuisine, it's not just Estonian. Our Northern neighbours, the Finns, eat a similar soup, called kesäkeitto or summer soup (I've provided links to several recipes at the end of the post). The Swedish name for the soup is snålsoppa or sommarsoppa.

    The soup is best served with some buttered dark rye bread. It's best on day one, though it reheats well. However, be careful not to burn the milk. There's nothing worse than burnt or simply overcooked milk soup, trust me :)

    Estonian milk and vegetable soup
    Serves four to six

    Piima-köögiviljasupp. Kesäkeitto. Estonian milk and vegetable soup.

    a handful of baby carrots
    1 small head of cauliflower or white cabbage
    a large handful of (sugarsnap) peas
    a large handful of new potatoes
    500 ml (2 cups) water
    1 tsp salt
    2 Tbsp butter
    1 litre (4 cups) full-fat milk
    fresh dill, finely chopped

    Scrub the carrots and potatoes clean, then cut the potatoes into small chunks and the carrots into slices about 3-4 mm thick (if you've got pretty slim carrots, then you can also halve or quarter them lengthwise instead, see the photos). Divide the cauliflower into small florets, or shred the cabbage into small thick slices. Pod the peas, if using regular green peas.

    Place carrots, potatoes and cauliflower/cabbage into a medium saucepan. Add water, season with salt and butter. Bring into a boil. Half-cover with the lid and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are almost cooked. Add the peas and cook for 5 more minutes.

    Now pour in the milk. Bring slowly into a boil, stirring gently. Remove from the heat, add the dill and season to taste. Serve and enjoy.

    Piima-köögiviljasupp. Kesäkeitto. Estonian milk and vegetable soup.

    Similar recipes:
    Finnish summer soup by Alanna @ Kitchen Parade
    Kesäkeitto by Wendy @ A Wee Bit of Cooking
    Summer soup (kesäkeitto) by Lakshmi @ Pure Vegetarian (no recipe, but, oh, the photos!)
    Finnish summer soup @ The Kitchn
    Summer Soup by Mia @ Cloudberry Quark
    Summer soup (snålsoppa) by Katarina @ Hovkonditorn: Passion for Food and Baking

    Sunday, July 06, 2014

    Festival food: Estonian Song and Dance Celebration 2014

    Laulupidu 1

    This is a very special weekend for Estonia - our 26th Song Celebration and 19th Dance Celebration takes place. You'll get all the necessary information on this website, I'll focus on food here ;)

    It's a huge festival - with about 100 000 people gathered at the Song Festival Square, among them over 20 000 singers! You can imagine the amount of food you need to feed all those people during the weekend :)

    Festival food isn't usually known for its gastronomic finesse and wonderful flavour, but the food I saw yesterday at the Tallinna Lauluväljak (Song Festival Square) was pretty interesting. Here's a short overview for you, should you head to the celebrations today.

    The main eating area is marked with the red circle on the map below. "Merevärav" marks the "sea entrance" on Pirita road, so in case you're hungry, you should head to the right after entering the Song Festival grounds:


    It's also where the EESTI TOIDU VÄLJAK aka Estonian Food Court is located. This consists of three large tents, marked by coloured signs. The Green sign marks the tent that represents the Estonian Food Industry Association.  The tent with a Blue sign hosts the local small producers, Estonian Horticultural Association and the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce. The Red signs marks the Estonian Chefs Association.

    Let start with the "Blue" tent (well, the tent is white, the sign is blue :)), hosting the small/artisanal/local producers. You could feast on "haugišašlõkk" (pike shashlik, type of white fish), "soolakurgid" or fresh salted cucumbers, or small goat cheese and rye crisp "burgers":


    Saaremaa is the biggest island in Estonia and they're increasingly becoming big players on the culinary scene as well. What about sandwich with elk fillets, a floral tea mixture (primrose, apple and meadowsweet), or smoked pork and rye sandwich?

    The "Green" tent hosted several big food producers, including Saaremaa Delifood that introduced their new "kohuke" (curd cheese bar, top right) with cloudberries and lemon as well as Semu with their really nice sea-buckthorn drinks.

    Finally, the "Red" tent, hosting the representatives of Estonian Chefs Association. There were three catering companies present, Tervise Catering, Event Catering and House Gourmet. Some of the festival food items were flatfish terrine with roasted vegetables (lestavorm röstköögiviljadega); pulled lamb with wild-garlic pearl barley (rebitud lammas karulaugu-odrakruubiga); hot smoked perch with tomato-cucumber salad (suitsuahven tomati-kurgisalatiga):


     Pike fishcakes with curd cheese and cucumber dressing (haugikoogid kohupiima-kurgikastmega, below left). You could also a buy a selection of six dishes for 6 Euros (below right):


    This being Estonia, black rye bread was served everywhere - either fresh (below right) or as garlic bread (below left; yes, that's what you'd get if you ask for garlic bread (küüslauguleib) in a pub in Estonia).


    There's food outside the Estonian Food Court as well. I spotted these happy people from soon-to-be-opened Inspiratsioon Catering, serving vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food:

    Inspiratsioon @ Tallinna Lauluväljak

    I didn't have a chance to look into the big "beer and food" area, where many food stalls were located, but overall I can say the food was pretty decent for a festival food :)

    What type of food did you have last time at a music festival?

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

    Recipe for torta della nonna, or Tuscan ricotta cake with pinenuts or almonds

    Case Vecchie, Sicily

    I am still in Sicily, still enjoying the hospitality of Anna Tasca Lanza’s cookery school in Case Vecchie, near Vallelunga. I’ve just got back from the most amazing garden party I’ve ever attended - just under 200 guests seated around a huge long table, set under an elegant makeshift canopy built in the middle of a vegetable patch :) 

    Who knows, we may have lingered at the table for another few hours, sipping one of the extremely “quaffable” wines from Tasca d’Almerita, if it weren’t for the thunder and rain that suddenly appeared. Not really out of nowhere - the skies were threatening with rain already yesterday - but apparently heavy showers are pretty much unusual in this part of Sicily in this part of the year. In any case, I use the thunderstorm as an excuse to retreat to my room for a short while and finish another blog post. Being in the company of all those bloggers mentioned yesterday - David, Rachel and Johanna - as well as some others I met today (Elizabeth, Elisia, Alec, Anissa, Linda) - has certainly been very inspiring :)

    Filippo and his ricotta.

    We arrived at Case Vecchie on Wednesday evening, just in time to have dinner overlooking Fabrizia’s (she’s the owner of the cooking school) gorgeous herb garden. On Thursday morning, just after the breakfast, we ventured out to visit a local shepherd, Filippo at Azienda Agricola Rivitera. We were shown his sheep - 400 in total, milked by hand twice a day, to produce about 800 litres of sheep’s milk during peak times (winter, usually). The milk is turned into wonderfully tasty and fresh ricotta and flavoursome picurinu sicilianu or pecorino siciliano right there, at the small dairy at the premises. We were privileged to watch Filippo making the cheese, and get to taste freshly made tuma and ricotta.

    Just before dinner at the courtyard of Case Vecchie (Instagram)

    Back at the Case Vecchie, the location for the Anna Tasca Lanza’s cooking school, we perused some of the wonderful products at the Natura in Tasca’s produce range. I chose to bake a cake from my latest cookbook, Torta della Nonna. It’s a typical cake from Tuscany, and while the pâtisseries would fill the cake with thick custard, then at homes the grandmothers (nonna stands for grandmother in Italian :)) would use ricotta cheese. I couldn’t resist the chance to bake this cake with sheep’s milk ricotta, as it’s supposed to be. Back at home in Estonia, I’ve made it with cow’s milk ricotta or goat’s milk ricotta. It’s still lovely, though much milder in flavour. 

    The Tuscan ricotta cake I baked at the Case Vecchie (Instagram)

    Torta della Nonna or Tuscan ricotta cake
    (Toscana ricotta-kook)

    Serves eight to ten

    100 g butter, at room temperature
    85 g caster sugar (100 ml/7 Tbsp)
    1 large egg
    180 g all-purpose flour (300 ml/1 cup + 3 heapedTbsp)
    0,5 tsp baking powder
    a pinch of salt

    500 g fresh ricotta 
    85 g caster sugar (100 ml/7 Tbsp)
    1 lemon, juiced and zested
    2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    3 large eggs
    75 g pinenuts or almonds

    Butter a 24 or 26 cm (9 or 10 inch) springform pan and/or line with a parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C/375 F. 

    First, prepare the pastry. Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon or a mixer fitted with the blade. Add the egg, then the dry ingredients (mix these first). Spoon the dough into the springform pan and using your hands, spread the dough at the bottom and halfway up the sides - the dough is pretty soft and sticky, so you’re almost pasting it to the bottom and sides. (You may be tempted to add more flour - go ahead, if you wish, but the cake base will be somewhat denser and harder then). 

    Place the springform pan into the fridge to wait, while you make the filling

    (You may use the same bowl you made the dough in). Mix the ricotta, sugar, the juice and finely grated rind of the lemon, flour and eggs in a bowl until combined. Stir in about two-thirds of the pine nuts or almonds. 

    Take the cake pan out of the fridge, pour in the ricotta filling. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts or almonds on top.

    Carefully transfer the pan to the pre-heated oven and bake in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes, until the cake is lovely golden brown on top. 

    Take out of the oven, and let it cool till room temperature before cutting into slices and serving. 

    Torta della Nonna and ricciarelli cookies. Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for Nami-Nami. 

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Recipe for ricciarelli, delicious gluten-free almond cookies from Siena, Tuscany

    TOSKAANA: torta della nonna & ricciarelli
    This photo was taken by Juta Kübarsepp for Nami-Nami, the rest are by me or my husband.  

    I’m writing this post in Sicily. I’m in a lovely company of David, Rachel and Johanna, enjoying the delicious hospitality of Anna Tasca Lanza Cookery School. La dolce vita, but more about all that in future posts. I do mention that some very nice cookies were baked here yesterday, which reminded me of a lovely Italian cookie recipe I’ve got in my latest cookbook. 

    San Gimignano: Agriturismo Montegonfoli

    Just over a year ago, in April 2013, I had a lovely holiday in Tuscany with my dear partner and our three small kids - the youngest was just under 6 months back then. We began our family holiday in Florence, then staying in various agriturismos near San Gimignano. On my birthday we took a day trip to Siena. Everybody said that we’d love Siena, but the truth is, we were not so impressed at all - San Gimignano, Volterra, Lucca, Certaldo and the old parts of Colle di Val d'Elsa had been more charming, more real. However, we did love the ricciarelli, the famous almond cookies from Siena. They are light and soft, yet chewy, just a wee bit resistant. If you love marzipan, then you’ll love these!

    Certaldo: Osteria del Vicario

    Ricciarelli are wonderful with a cup of strong coffee or tea, if you’re not a coffee drinker. In Toscana, they’re a festive food, baked and eaten especially during Christmas, and dipped into a glass of Vin Santo. 

    They’re gluten-free. 

    Ricciarelli cookies
    (Siena mandliküpsised)

    300 g ground almonds/almond meal
    280 g caster sugar
    100 g icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar 
    1 tsp baking powder
    a pinch of salt
    1 orange, finely zested
    2 egg whites 
    2 tsp almond extract (optional)

    For dusting:
    icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar

    Mix ground almonds, caster sugar, icing sugar, baking powder, salt and the finely grated orange zest in a bowl. 

    In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the almond mixture, folding gently to combine. You’ll have a rather sticky mixture. (Add the almond extract now, if using). 

    Using a teaspoon, take about 20 to 30 grams (about an ounce or so) of the mixture and form into oval/oblong patties, flattening them lightly between your palms. Place onto a cookie sheet, covered with parchment/baking paper, leaving some space between the cookies. They won’t spread a lot, but it’s better to be safe. 

    Once you’ve formed all the cookies and arranged them onto the cookie sheet, dust them generously with icing sugar. Leave to dry them out at the room temperature for 1-3 hours - the bigger the cookies, the more time they need to dry. 

    Bake in a pre-heated 150C oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cookies are just a little bit golden and hardened at the edges - you don’t want them golden brown, or they’ll be too crispy when they cool. You want your ricciarelli to remain soft and chewy inside!

    Cool completely. These will keep for a week in an airtight container.  


    More ricciarelli recipes:
    Divina Cucina
    Jul's Kitchen
    Lemons and Anchovies
    Cook's Hideout
    The Curious Baker

    Saturday, June 07, 2014

    Equal rhubarb cake

    I've got a new favourite to-go rhubarb cake recipe. Just because it's one that can be memorized in seconds. Actually you just need kitchen scales and the list of ingredients. No amounts, imagine :)

    Here's how it works. I call it equal rhubarb cake, because you need equal weighed amounts of all the main ingredients. I usually take four eggs, chicken or duck, to make this cake. 

    Rhubarb sheet cake

    butter, at room temperature*
    caster sugar 
    all-purpose flour
    rhubarb, thinly sliced 

    demerara sugar and cardamom

    Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper/baking paper (if the eggs are large, you can use a large baking sheet, say 35x40 cm, if the eggs are smaller, I tend to use 25x35 cm).  Put aside. 

    Put a bowl onto your kitchen scales, switch the scales on and break eggs into the bowl. Weigh the eggs - and remember the number. Put the eggs aside, take another bowl. 

    Now, remember the weight of eggs? Add the same amount of butter into the mixing bowl, then the same amount of sugar. Mix the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

    Now add the eggs, one at a time, and mixing thoroughly after each egg. Fold in the same amount of flour. 

    (So if your eggs weighted, say, 250 grams, you'll also need 250 g butter, 250 g sugar, 250 g flour and about 250 g rhubarb). 

    Now spread the dough mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread the rhubarb evenly across the cake, then sprinkle with demerara sugar and ground cardamom. 

    Now bake at 200 C/400 F for about 20 minutes, until cooked and nicely golden. Let cool a little, then cut into squares, dust with icing sugar and serve. 

    Keeps well for a day or two, covered.