Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Picks of the Month

To wrap up this January, my first month as a blogger :), I would like to share with you all links to some posts or recipes from other food blogs that I have found especially interesting during these past few weeks.

1. Firstly apple scones by Anne from Anne's Food
I've never been too enthusiastic about scones, but these apple scones are something else! Easy to bake and really, really delicious, they totally converted me to a pro-scone person. :)

2. Heidi from 101 Cookbooks posted this wonderful recipe for olive oil crackers. They are fun to make and taste almost too good!

3. Peppermint panna cotta with raspberries and ginger tuille by Kate/Kajal from Aapplemint
Everything about this dessert looks really appetizing. I am yet to try the panna cotta recipe, but the ginger tuilles are very good indeed!

4. Rosa over at Rosa's Yummy Yums posted a very intriguing recipe for Basel bread that I would have liked to try immediately after reading her blog entry. Unfortunately the recipe calls for sourdough and I have not yet had the opportunity to make any. But some day, some day... :)

5. Last but not least Clotilde from my favorite blog Chocolate & Zucchini wrote about a conference on molecular gastronomy she attended. Very interesting stuff!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Snowy Mountain

Unbelievable how time flies, isn't it? It feels like Christmas was yesterday and now we are only a few days away from February! We should be entering the coldest part of the year here, but this far the winter has been really mild with temperatures mostly above 0 Centigrade and hardly any snow at all. Even though winter might not traditionally be an ice cream season here thinking of snow made me come up with this simple but tasty dessert that combines mascarpone cheese and ice cream.

Snowy Mountain

This recipe is per person.

2 large scoops vanilla ice cream
2-3 heaping tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
dried mint for decoration (optional)

1. In a small bowl mix the mascarpone cheese and Amaretto together with a spoon.
2. Pour the mixture on top of the ice cream.
3. Recorate with some dried mint.
4. Yum-yum!! :-)

Friday, 25 January 2008

Orange Cookies

Weekend, lovely weekend! Time to relax and regroup, time to read, watch TV ( Australian Open Tennis Championships finals, yay!!), and try out some lovely recipes. :)

Today's recipe is, however, an old one I have used numerous times. It is easy and very basic and you can variate it in many ways. I have used this recipe to bake date cookies and coconut cookies (If you try these, use 1/2 to 1 dl finely chopped dates or coconut flakes respectively and only 2 desilitres of wheat flour), but the other day I found this lovely Danish orange marmalade at my corner store and simply had to use it to make orange cookies!

Orange Cookies

1 egg
100 g unsalted butter
0,5 dl granulated sugar
3 dl wheat flour
0,5 dl potato flour
3 heaping tablespoons orange marmalade
0,5 teaspoon vanillin sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 175 C.
2. Cream the unsalted butter and sugar together in a bowl.
3. Beat in the egg.
4. Mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the dough.
5. Add the orange marmalade and mix again.
6. Prepare a baking sheet. (I always use greaseproof paper when baking cookies.)
7. Take about a tablespoon of dough at a time and mould it into little flattened balls between your palms.
8. Set the balls onto the prepared baking sheet.

9. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Don't bake too long or you'll get stones instead of cookies! :) These cookies are rather pale even when ready.
10. Let cool.
11. Enjoy as such or with some orange marmalade!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Sour Milk Cake

There is a very special "new" addition among the cook books in my kitchen. "New" because the book has actually already reached the ripe old age of 75 years! It is a copy of the Finnish cook book classic "Kotiruoka" that my grandmother used most of her life. The book later belonged to my mother and some weeks ago I asked my father whether I could borrow the book. He happily gave it to me.

"Kotiruoka" literally means home food. It is a collection of basic recipes from which generations of Finns have learned how to cook and bake. The first edition was printed in 1908. My copy is 13th edition, printed in 1933. And the book, updated many times over the years of course, is still in print. The 68th edition came out in 2005!
My book is all battered in use, some pages are loose, and the spine stays together with the help of lots of tape, but all the recipes are there, almost 400 pages of them, usually 2 recipes a page. The language is old fashioned. There is no mention of baking temperatures or times and sugar, cream and butter are used quite a lot! I simply love the book! It is on the one hand an interesting peek into the kitchens of generations past, on the other a still very useful collection of recipes.
Sour milk cake is something that my grandmother baked often when I was little. Here is my updated version based on a recipe I found in "Kotiruoka". The original recipe is actually for a buttermilk cake. If you don't find any sour milk -or buttermilk, plain yoghurt or creame fraiche can be used just as well.

Sour Milk Cake

1,5 dl sour milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 dl granulated sugar
1 dl Amaretto syrup
1 smashed banana (1-1,5 dl)
1 dl melted butter
3 dl wheat flour

1. Melt the butter.
2. Smash the banana with a fork.
3. Mix all ingredients in the order they are mentioned above.
4. Pour the batter into a well buttered cake mould.
5. Bake in 180 C for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes.
7. Remove the cake from the mould.
8. Enjoy!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Florence Fennel And Clementine Salad

It's raining in Helsinki. No snow in sight, not even a flake. And this should be the land of Santa Claus! This not so wintry winter somehow made me think of last summer and all the lovely salads I ate during my summer holidays. One ingredient that made its way into my salads more often than not was florence fennel (foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum). This wonderful plant with an interesting shape and nicely anis-like taste is a great addition to any green salad, but in the middle of all this January grayness a more colourful version is maybe in order. Fennel-dee-dee!

Florence Fennel And Clementine Salad

Serves 2

1 small florence fennel
1 medium-sized yellow onion
some watergress sprigs
1/2 clementine
4 large and 8 small red basil leaves
2 hard boiled eggs
some lemon juice

1. Slice the fennel and onion into thin slices.
2. Sprinkle the fennel slices with some lemon juice in order to prevent them from darkening.
3. Peel and half the clementine. You will only need one half of the fruit, so, save the other half for later or pop it into your mouth now! :) Section the half you are going to use for the salad. Cut each section into three parts.
4. Half the eggs length-wise. Then half the halves also length-wise.
5. Arrange the ingredients nicely onto two plates.
6. Serve with some olive oil-lemon dressing.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Puff Pastry Bundles

It all started in Paris from the divine clafoutis aux cherises served as part of the breakfast buffet in Hotel Eiffel Kennedy in the 16th arrondissement. It was, unbelievable but true, the first time I ever tasted French style cherry pie, and it was love at first bite!

Some days later back home in Finland I googled the net for clafoutis recipes. What I found was not only more cherry pie recipes I could ever hope for, but a whole new world of -food blogs! That was last June. Since then I’ve become an avid follower of a number of food blogs and finally, after some gentle pressure by a couple of my friends (Hi there! You know who you are! :) ) I decided to try blogging myself. So, here goes…

Let’s start, not with clafoutis, though, but with one of my favorite desserts: puff pastry bundles. These are really easy to make, especially if you buy your puff pastry frozen, and even easier, if the pastry comes in ready-made sheets.

Puff Pastry Bundles

2 20 cm x 20 cm sheets of puff pastry
1 small (Golden Delicious) apple or ½ of a larger one
handful of raisins
3 tablespoons liquid vegetable oil product or butter
3 tablespoons oat flakes
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried mint
some slighty beaten egg for brushing

  1. Preheat the oven to 225˚ C.
  2. Mix the vegetable oil product (or butter), oat flakes, sugar, lemon juice and spices with a spoon in a small bowl.
  3. Slice the apple into thin slices.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with greaseproofed paper and place the puff pastry squares onto it.
  5. Divide the oat flakes mixture, apple slices and raisins between the two pastry squares.
  6. Moisten the edges of the pastry squares with water in order to make them stick together better.
  7. Turn the corners of the squares towards the middle and pinch them together tightly with your fingers.
  8. Brush the bundles with slightly beaten egg.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes (or until beautifully golden)

Serve the bundles on their own or with some vanilla ice cream. One bundle makes small treats for four or one big treat for someone with a very achy sweet tooth!