Friday, 18 July 2008

Paris in May 2008

Time for the Paris post! :) I spent the last week of May in Paris with my Dad. It was a vacation, but a special one. We were there to watch the French Open Tennis Championships at Roland Garros. It was the second time for me, I was there also in 2007, and the first time for my Dad. It was also his first trip to Paris. We had a great time! Tennis was great! Paris was great! Weather not so :), but we did get 2-3 sunny days. Actually our first and last day there was really beautiful, most other days there were showers of rain. In addition to watching numerous tennis matches we also managed to see some sights: the Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame, the Triumphal Arc, the castle and gardens of Versailles and Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried.

And the breakfast buffee at the Hotel Eiffel Kennedy was just as good as last year and the service was as excellent! :)

1. Eiffel Tower
2. View from our hotelroom window
3. Sunny day in Versailles
4. Statue of Napoleon at Les Invalides
5. Napoleon's coat and hat at display in Les Invalides
6. A streetview (Pont de Bir-Hakem)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Salami Bread

I love visiting bookstores, especially the Academic Bookstore in downtown Helsinki. When visiting the AB I usually head first to the English new releases, then browse through the rest of the fiction section. I might then continue to the next floor for history or the uppermost floor for cook-, travel- and artbooks, but almost always I end my visit walking through the magazine section to see if there is any intresting interior decorating or food magazines that I would like to buy. And more often than not I leave the store with a glossy magazine -and very often also with a book or two in my bag! :) There are plenty of different food magazines in number of languages in addition of the local Finnish and Swedish available in most Helsinki bookstores and even kiosks, so often it is quite hard to choose which one to buy. Lately I've really liked Cuisine et Vins de France. Great recipes -and it is in French! :) Now, let me tell you, I am not fluent in French. I have studied French a little on my own and would love to be able to speak the language, but the truth is that even if I might be able to say a few simple lines in French, I more often than not would not understand more than one or two words of any response, if even that. The strange thing is I am quite capable of reading -and understanding- many recipes written in French! With the help of other languages that I know better than French my reading comprehention skills are much better than my command of the spoken language. It's a bit irritating, truth to be told. Well, I guess it is also a good reason to return to Paris again and again... :)

The June-July edition of CVF included an intriguing recipe for a mortadella and herbs bread that I wanted to try. It was the usual story, however! The recipe (obviously) called for some mortadella (I did not have any), some rocket (nope, did not have any of that either), pine seeds (neither did I have those), parmesan (no, no parmesan in my fridge) and persil (well... you guessed it already). There were so many of the required ingredients missing that this called for a pause. A moment was taken, the insides of the fridge and the cupboards were examined and a decicion was made. Mortadella and herbs bread it was not going to be, but maybe a Spanish salami bread with olives and pumpkin seeds and...well, the only green I had was some ice lettuce, so that had to do. And guess what? It worked out beautifully! The bread was absolutely delicious! :) If you want to try my weird and wonderful "what ever there is in the fridge will go into this bread" version of the original recipe, here it is:

Salami bread

Recipe modified by myself from the original recipe "Cake aux herbes à la mortadelle" published in June-July issue of Cuisine et Vins de France

180 g flour
50 g Spanish salami slices
70 g something green:) (I used ice lettuce)
50 g pitted black olives
3 eggs
55 g cheese (I used a combination of cottage cheese and Rahmlaib)
1 dl olive oil
1 dl milk
1 sachet (11 g) dry yeast
25 g pumpkin seeds
20 g butter for the mould
a pinch of nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
2. Cover a bread mould with two pieces of buttered baking paper. See the photo above.
3. Wash the salad and cut it with a sharp knife or with scissors into thin stripes. Cut the salami slices likewise.
Cut each olive into four. Cut the cheese into small pieces (well, not the cottage cheese, obviously :) that's fine as it is.)
4. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, cheese and olive oli. Add the eggs one by one. Then add the milk. When all these are mixed add the salami, lettuce, pumpkin seeds and olives. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well.
5. Pour the batter into the papered mould.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick pressed into the bread comes out clean.
7. Let cool before removing from the mould. You may also want to serve the bread from the mould as it will look quite nice that way.
8. Enjoy warm or cold.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Lemon Cake

I've been eating lots and lots of fruit and berries lately: nectarines, bananas, apricots, honey melons and strawberries of course. (Hmm, somehow that sounds much better than telling you that I'd been eating lots and lots of chocolate! :)) Actually I'm quite proud to say that fruit and berries have been my chocolate these past weeks.

I have also been baking quite a lot using both berries and different fruit as incredients. Yesterday I came across these really beautiful lemons and absolutely wanted to bake something using them. I googled various lemon cake/pie/tart recipes. Lemon shaker pie looked really interesting, but I did not want to wait overnight to be able to bake my cake. I also loved Lemony French Cake recipe posted by "have cake, will travel!", but in the end I decided to use my own recipe. Maybe you remember the Sunshine Cake? This is the somewhat larger lemon version:

Lemon Cake

4 eggs
2 dl brown cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanillin sugar
200 g unsalted butter
2 dl sliced almonds or almond flour
4 dl wheat flour
1-2 tablespoons crated lemon zest
1,5-2 lemons peeled & sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice or water
some breadcrumbs for the tin

1. Preheat the oven to 175 Centigrade.
2. In a mortar crush the almond slices into small crumbs. (You may also use a blender, or simply use almond flour.)
2. In a bowl beat the eggs until pale and frothy.
3. Add the sugars and continue beating.
4. Add the butter in little pieces and beat until dissolved into the egg-sugar mix.
5. Add the crushed almond slices, flour, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix.
6. Use a large cake tin with a central hole. Butter the tin and cover its insides with breadcrumbs.
7. Place thin, round slices of lemon all around that side of the tin that will be the outer side of the finished cake. The lemon slices will partly caramelize and partly form flowerlike decorative motives into the cake, plus they will add extra moisture and taste.
8. Pour the batter into the tin.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven in 175 C until a toothpick pressed into the cake comes out clean. (About 45 minutes.)

10. Let cool before removing from the tin.

Take notice that this cake is very lemony. :) I happen to like lemons. If you prefer a milder taste, use only 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and water instead of lemon juice. You may also consider leaving out the lemon slices. But if you, like I, like the taste of lemon, then this really is the cake to bake!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Nectarine Cobbler

I bought some lovely, juicy nectarines a few days ago in order to make some kind of pie using them. However, they tasted so delicious that I ended up eating them all as such. On Saturday I bought some more and this time I came up with this very easy and quick to make cobbler recipe. Feel free to use more sugar, if you want to.

Nectarine Cobbler

4 nectarines cut into small pieces
2 dl water
1 dl liquid margarine or butter (or you might also try using olive oil) + some for buttering the mould
0,5 dl granulated sugar
2 dl wheat flour
5 table spoons hazelnut flour
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
2. Mix all other ingredients but the nectarines in a bowl.
3. Pour the batter into a buttered pie mould or small baking dish.
4. Place the nectarine pieces on top.
5. Bake in the oven for about 55-60 minutes or until a knife pressed into the cobbler comes out clean.
6. Enjoy as such or with some vanilla sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.