Sunday, 30 March 2008

Daring Bakers' March Challenge: Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

I've joined the Daring Bakers! This month's challenge was hosted by Morven from Food Art and Random Thoughts and she chose Dorie Greenspan's perfect party cake recipe for us to bake. The recipe is published in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Even though I'm someone who likes challenges (also in other things than baking :)) I was a bit worried before I knew what the March challenge was, as some of the previous recipies chosen were rather difficult. So, when I realised we were to bake a layered cake, I was happily surprised. This was something I could do without too much trouble, and that was good, as I did not have days to dedicate for this project. My dance partner also had his birthday this month, so I got a good reason to bake a cake. It was going to be a birthday cake for Mr Dance Partner! :)

The original recipe is for a layered citron flavored cake with a buttercream and raspberry filling and a buttercream and coconut flake coating. We were given the choice of using other fillings and could also substitute the buttercream with whipped cream. I thought that citron flovoured buttercream with a citron flavoured cake would be a bit too much and opted for the whipped cream version. I used 5 dl:s whipping cream in this cake. My filling of choice was whipped cream and strawberry jam and I coated the cake with more whipped cream. This was a fun project, and the end-product tasted pret-ty good! :)

Here are some more pictures of the cake:

Picks of the Month March 08

Good heavens! Is it again time for Picks of the Month? The month of March is nearing its end and spring is (knock on wood ;)) finally approaching even in Helsinki. By looking at this picture taken from my French balcony downwards yesterday, you might have some doubt about the start of spring, but I am optimistic. :) Temperatures should climb up to about +10 C during the coming week...

This month I have especially liked these posts:

1. Rosa's pictures from the Salève. I've been to Geneva once and I love the mountains. I would love to go for a hike on the Salève!

2. Kajal's lovely photos of iced hibiscus tea really made me thirsty and thinking of warm summer evenings!

3. White on rice couple continued to inspire me with their wonderful recipes, and they finally revealed their faces in a very nice video!

4. Annemarie posted a lovely recipe for blood orange sorbet. And the recipe included the use of rosewater! I had just bought a bottle of rosewater some days before and was wondering what to do with it! I served my sorbet with some whipped cream. It was delicious! :)

5. Maybelles mom came up with a vegan version of my orange rice. I'm so happy little Maybelle liked the vegan orange rice!

I'm also very honoured that Anya from Godful Food awarded my blog with this award:
Thank you so much, Anya!

Now I still have to decide whom to pass this award forward to! It will be hard! There are so many wonderful blogs out there in the blogosphere!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Chicken Legs and Vegetables the Simplest Way Possible :)

If you have been reading my blog entries, you might have notices that the words simple and easy are mentioned quite often when I write about my favorite recipes. That is the way I like to cook. Even though sometimes it is fun to try complicated recipes, for everyday use simple and easy are, I believe, the way to go. Dividing my days between work, dance practise and tennis I do not have much time to dedicate for cooking during the weekdays, so when I do, I prefer to cook something that is easy to make. But, easy is not synonymous with bland or uninteresting. Little things can turn an ordinary dish into something special.

I'm sure most of you have a favorite recipe for chicken legs. This is mine, and it really should be called "chicken legs 101" :), as it really is one of my simple and easy recipes! Be aware of getting your fingertips yellow, though! ;)

Chicken Legs and Vegetables

Serves 3

2 small yellow onions
1 small shallot
1 carrot
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon clove powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
5 tablespoons sunflower oil
12 slices of bacon
6 chicken legs

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
2. Cut the shallot, carrot and yellow onions into medium and the cloves of garlic into small pieces.
3. Pour the sunflower oil into a soup plate. Add all the spices. Mix with a spoon.
4. Dip the chicken legs one by one into the spicy mixture. If you want, you may also let them marinate in it for a while, but that is not absolutely necessary.
5. Cut three good-sized squares from foil.
6. Wrap two slices of bacon around each chicken leg.
7. Put some yellow onion, shallot, garlic and carrot pieces in the middle of each foil square. Add two chicken legs per square. Close the foil rather tightly around the chicken legs and vegetables.
8. Cook in the oven in 200 degrees Centigrade for about 1 hour. Mmmm! Delicious!!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Case of the Red Grapefruit

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed some cookbooks from the library. Among them was "Dining with Sherlock Holmes -A Baker Street Cookbook" by Julia Carlson Rosenblatt and Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt.
In the book there are recipies for dishes mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books as well as recipes for dishes that might have been enjoyed by the inimitable Mr. Holmes and his devoted companion Dr. Watson. Browsing the book I found many interesting recipes. While Stake Tonga (made of raw beaf) was something I cared neitner to make nor taste Broiled Grapefruit with Ginger sounded both interesting and easy to make, and I just happened to have some lovely red grapefruit waiting in the fridge. So, without any mystery, this is the Case of the Red Grapefruit. :)

Red Grapefruit with Ginger

(Original recipe "Broiled Grapefruit with Gingner" from
"Dining with Sherlock Holmes -A Baker Street Cookbook" by Julia Carlson Rosenblatt and Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt, adapted a little by myself)

Serves 1 or 2 depending whether you serve 1 or 2 halves of grapefruit per person

1 red grapefruit
2 tablespoons brown cane sugar
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons runny (orange blossom) honey
some cocoa powder and dark chocolate for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Cut the grapefruit in half. Remove the seeds and with the help of a grapefruit spoon of a knife section the fruit, but do not remove the sections from their half.
3. In a small bowl or a cup combine the sugar and ginger powder.
4. Divide the sugar-ginger mixture between the two grapefruit halves by sprinkling it over the sectioned flesh of the fruit.
5. Add 1 teaspoon of honey over each half.
6. Lift the grapefruit halves into a baking pan, and put the pan in the 200 C oven for circa 5 minutes.
7. Let the grapefruit halves cool for a moment, so that you will not burn your fingers when moving them!
8. Serve decorated with some cocoa powder and pieces of dark chocolate.

Happy Easter everyone!
Or as we say here Hyvää Pääsiäistä!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

An Egg Is Just an Egg or Is It?

Easter is only some days away, and food stores and various supermarkets are bursting with all kinds of Easter candy: little chocolate bunnies, huge chocolate bunnies, middle-sized chocolate bunnies, and tinsel covered chocolate eggs in all sizes with plastic trinkets or toys inside. I'm sorry to say, but I think most of those eggs, bunnies or whatever are made of second-rate chocolate and really are not worth the money. I hardly ever buy any of those Easter "treats". But look at these beauties in the picture above! These I could eat as many as... well, actually I couldn't, because they are the real thing and one (okay two :)) are all you need to be blissfully, perfectly full of some of the best nougat there is!

They look so innocent and humble, don't they? Well, do not let their simple exterior fool you! These are Mignon eggs, produced by Fazer. Karl Fazer brought the idea for these eggs to Finland in 1896 from Germany, and Mignon eggs have been part of Easter in Finland ever since. During the reign of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who until 1917 was also the Grand Duke of Finland, mignon eggs were also given to the Tsar and his family during Easter time. Okay, enough of the history part, could not help myself, as I find the history behind the Mignons quite interesting, and I am, might as well admit it, a history buff! :) Actually I have an MA in history.:)

Back to the eggs, then. Although, talking about eggs and the imperial Russia, we could also spend some time talking about the other eggs... or are you all already at sleep? You are? O-kay then. Cho-co-la-te! CHO-CO-LA-TE! CHO-CO-LA-TE EGGS, ANYONE????? Sorry, did I wake you up?

Actually, as I already mentioned, the Mignons are filled with nougat. An ordinary hen's egg is emptied, and the shell is filled with nougat and sealed with a sugar "cork". The white ones a smaller and are sold most everywhere here already well before Easter. The brown ones are the same size as regular eggs and they are sold only at Fazer's Café during the Easter season.

Mingons are so good they make even my troll collection smile! :) These eggs are my ultimate Easter treat, what's yours?

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Orange Rice

Orange Rice, appelsiiniriisi in Finnish, is something my mother used to make for me when I was little, so it brings back nostalgic memories of family dinners on lazy Sunday afternoons, but it never really has lost its magic for me. It still is one of my favorite desserts. And it is sooo easy to make!

As my mother always made her appelsiiniriisi without any sugar I grew accustomed to the more sour version of this dessert. Feel free to add some sugar, though.

Orange Rice

2 dl whipping cream
4 dl white rice, cooked and cooled (preferably refridgerator cool)
3 juicy oranges
(some sugar)

1. Whip the cream until it is quite stiff.
2. Peel the oranges so that you also remove most of the skin from the backs of the sections.

3. Using a sharp knive cut the peeled oranges into small pieces. Remove any excess juice. Add the pieces of orange into the bowl containing the whipped cream.

4. Take the cooked rice from the refridgerator. Mesure 4 dl:s and add into the bowl. Add sugar if you are using any.
Mix properly with a spoon.

5. Enjoy!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Little Chocolate Puddings

It was my intention to post a lunch recipe today, a simple, sombre, very easy-to-make tofu lunch recipe to be exact, but... somehow I ended up spending yesterday afternoon browsing cookbooks with lots of recipes that use chocolate, and... then I just absolutely had to try one of those recipes... and... Yes, I know, Tiina and chocolate...more self-discipline might be good! ;)

Anyways, to let you all join in the chocolately fun, out it was with the lunch recipe and in it was with a recipe for extra lovely, super rich, wonderfully moist... ok, now I ran out of superlatives ;)... chocolate puddings!

The recipe I used is from a lovely book
"Maittavat suklaaherkut" by Parragon Books. It is one of the cheapest cookbooks I've ever bought and more than worth every one of those few euros it cost me!

The original recipe is for 6, but I halved the amount of every incredient, and as I used 2,5 dl ramekins, there was just the right amount of batter for 2 puddings.

Little Chocolate Puddings

These are the original amounts of ingredients, so if you are using 2,5 dl ramekins, you should end up with 4 puddings. If using smaller ca. 2 dl ramekins, you should get 6 puddings.

125 g soft (unsalted) butter
150 g brown sugar
3 eggs
a pinch of salt
25 g cocoa powder
125 g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
25 g dark chocolate
75 g white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
2. Cut the chocolate into small pieces.
3. Butter your ramekins slightly.
4. Using an electric mixer mix the butter and sugar properly.
5. Add the eggs into the sugar-butter mixture one by one. After each addition beat the mixture well (I mixed for 2,5 minutes after each egg.).
6. Using a spoon mix the salt, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a bowl. Add the pieces of chocolate and mix again.
7. Divide the batter between the ramekins.
8. Cut a square of foil for each ramekin and butter the squares. Use the buttered foil squares as lids for the ramekins. Try to make the lids as tight as possible by pressing their edges around the ramekins.
9. Boil some water in a pan.
10. Set the covered ramekins into a deep baking pan and add boiling water around them. The water should reach half way up the sides of the ramekins.
11. Bake in 180 C for 50 minutes or until a tooth pick pressed into a pudding comes out clean.
12. Take the puddings from the oven and let cool a little before removing them from the ramekins.
13. Serve warm, preferably with cold custard or ice cream.

If you are saving some of the puddings for the next day, let them stay in the ramekins and only remove them before serving. Rewarm the puddings in the microwave.

I served my puddings with...hmm, let's call it my hazelnut-chocolate custard from the freezer. ;) Actually it was something that later became the very first succesfull ice cream I've ever made!! :) :) :) I'll tell you more about that later, but the thing was that when my puddings were ready to be served, the ice cream that I hoped to serve with them was still more of a custard than an ice cream and I was too impatient to wait, so I just spooned some of the "ice-cream-in-progress" on top of my puddings!