Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rhubarb & White Chocolate Tart

Here comes a sad confession: I don't generally like rhubarb that much. It's not that it tastes bad to me or anything, but it feels like for a lot of people the start of rhubarb season is just as avidly awaited as the asparagus one. (My spring/summer list goes like so: asparagus, new potatoes, peas, raspberries. Yes, that means I don't really care about strawberries either. Or at least, I never want to make anything with strawberries. Eating them raw, that's fine.)

Rhubarb & White Chocolate Tart

It's not really my style to blog in the vein of "well, I, hated it, but..." so you may already have surmised that this rhubarb pie, laced with whiskey and mellowed by white chocolate (who knew white chocolate could have a function?), was... very nice. Good, even. I suspect partly because it was made with home-grown rhubarb - incidentally, I wish my favorite plants worked on the principle of "pick some to make it grow more" - and partly that I have some sort of mental defect by which stuff automatically tastes better with a lattice crust, especially if I've made it myself. What? It's fun! (Although looking at the picture below for extended periods of time makes me kind of dizzy.)

Rhubarb & White Chocolate Tart

The recipe comes from Bon Appétit, and since I didn't change a thing (although next time I'll probably halve the amount of chocolate), I'll just link you to it instead of transcribing. Do serve it warm like the recipe says - the leftovers were OK at room temperature, but the warm one was divine.

Recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Leftover Tuesday: Roast Chicken Sandwich

AKA the dear lord, it's too hot to cook! edition. (Seriously, the thermometer on my balcony, which hasn't got any sun so far today, is showing 29.5°C. My personal comfort zone kind of ends around 20°, which I realize is totally wussy, but still. Make it stop!) This month, Leftover Tuesday is hosted by Pam of Project Foodie, so head over there later in the week for a round-up of inventively repurposed dishes. You know, something that isn't a sandwich.

Chicken Sandwich

It's a wonderful sandwich though, partly because the fabulous breakfast rolls that I already used for a Caesar salad are still perfectly edible - I toasted them lightly to hide the hint of staleness, and partly because fried onions, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and herbs are all very very fine things indeed. Not to mention the actual leftover I used: grilled chicken (bought, not home-made - it was too hot to cook yesterday, too).

P.S. for more interesting use of leftovers here in quarkland, check out the chocolate pastries from this weekend.

Roast Chicken Sandwich with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Onions & Goat Cheese
heavily influenced by Bon Appétit

Really, the title is pretty much the recipe. OK, somewhat more elaborately: chop 3 sun-dried tomatoes (per serving). Cut half an onion (per serving) into fairly thick rings and fry in a bit of oil - I used the oil from the jar of tomatoes - until nicely browned. Mix together a few tablespoons of goat cheese with some chopped herbs - I used basil - and spread it over toasted/grilled breakfast roll halves. Cut thin(ish) slices of roasted chicken; wash a small bunch of arugula. Sprinkle half of the onions and tomatoes on the bottom half of the roll, top with chicken slices, arugula, and the rest of the tomatoes and onions, plonk top half of the roll on top. Eat. Consider doing this lying down on the cool tile floor downstairs.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Waiter, Someone Stuffed Eggs in My Tomato!

Egg, Goat Cheese & Bacon-Stuffed Tomato

I've missed a couple of editions of the huge "Waiter, There's Something In..." event, and to be quite frank, I almost let this one go by, too, out of sheer lack of attentiveness. On Friday, I finally noticed Jeanne of Cook Sister had chosen stuffed vegetables for this month's theme. In the end I had to scramble a bit to find something I wanted to try out, and stumbled upon this recipe at Epicurious.

Egg, Goat Cheese & Bacon-Stuffed Tomato

I know, right? It was just a bit fiddly for me, so I decided to fiddle some more. For one thing, my eggs were large; my tomatoes weren't. Out went the romaine pesto (although in retrospect it would probably have worked very well there), in came separation of yolks and whites. One of the whites I mixed with goat cheese, parmesan, and crumbled bacon (I thought pancetta might be too flimsy, and besides I had some bacon I needed to dispose of). Then I just spooned a bit of the white mixture into the carved-out tomatoes, carefully poured a yolk into each, and topped with some more cheese paste. Sprinkle with some extra parmesan and into the oven.

Egg, Goat Cheese & Bacon-Stuffed Tomato

The amount of cheese mixture given would probably fill three or four tomatoes of this size - I mixed in the extra white and another whole egg and made a frittata.

Egg, Goat Cheese & Bacon-Stuffed Tomatoes
inspired by Gourmet Sept 2006, serves 2

2 eggs
2 large tomatoes
80 g soft goat cheese
30 g + 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
4 rashers bacon
1 tbsp chopped basil
salt & pepper

Fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels. When cooled a bit, crumble into largeish pieces.

Separate the eggs, discarding one of the whites (or putting it aside for something else) and gently sliding each yolk into a bowl of cold water. Take the remaining white and whisk it with goat cheese and pepper until well blended. Stir in parmesan, basil and bacon, check taste to see if it needs salt.

Cut the top off each tomato and remove pulp & seeds with a spoon. Spoon some of the cheese mixture into each tomato "bowl," leaving room for the yolk in the middle, then carefully pour the yolks in and top with more of the cheesy stuff, trying not to break the yolks while you do so. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and bake at 200°C (400°F) for about 15 minutes.

Egg, Goat Cheese & Bacon-Stuffed Tomato

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hay, Hay, It's Caesar Salad Day!

Caesar Salad

I've been meaning to make salad-filled rolls for a while now, because I like baking but have a hard time incorporating the bread into actual meals - I wind up eating sandwiches way more than what's good for me, and not even interesting sandwiches - cheese and cucumber is about as good as it gets. (You really don't want to know about the quality of the cheese I use for this, either.)

Caesar Salad

Of course, carved-out roll innards are just begging to be made into croutons, and when Katie of Other People's Food chose Caesar Salad as the theme for this month's HHDD, my choice was made for me. Now, I've made Caesar salad the original way, with raw egg and without anchovies, and quite frankly I don't see what the fuss is about. (Read: I probably just bungled something, but that was vile.) So I was quite happy to find a version using mayo instead.

Caesar Salad

Normally I'd fill the bread bowls with something a bit more substantial and creamy than this, maybe a mushroom or chicken salad (in which case, make/buy your buns in a bigger size...) which is why, upon consideration, I decided to toss in some crispy bacon with the romaine and croutons. OK, really it was because I wanted to fry the croutons in bacon fat, but once I had acquire said fat, what was I supposed to do, throw away the lovely by-product? I don't think so. I liked the dressing a lot and made a double batch of it to have some leftovers for the weekend. You'll have to go by feel as to amounts of lettuce and dressing anyway, depending on the size of the bread you're filling.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad-Filled Bread Rolls
Caesar dressing adapted from Bon Appétit, Feb 2002, serves 2

2 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
a few drops Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely minced
50 ml good olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp grated parmesan

2 breakfast rolls, about 120 g each (and a third one for extra croutons)
a few leaves romaine lettuce
3 rashers bacon
some shaved parmesan

In a blender, whizz together the first six ingredients until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while keeping the motor running. Add salt, pepper and grated parmesan.

Cut off a "cap" from two of the breakfast rolls and carve out the innards from the bottom, leaving about 1 cm of the edges. Try to get the middle of the rolls out in as large chunks as possible so you can cut it into croutons, otherwise just slice off the crust of the third roll and cut it into scant-cm cubes. If you have time to leave the bread cubes to dry for a while, that's all the better.

Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels but don't discard the fat from the pan - fry the bread cubes in it until they're nice and crisp.

Crumble the bacon in a bowl and toss with the shredded romaine. Blend in an appropriate amount of dressing, toss in the croutons and parmesan shavings, and divide into bread bowls. Top with the caps.

Recipe after the jump!

Breakfast Rolls

Breakfast Roll

It's been a while since I posted about bread. It's not that I've stopped baking, but mostly I've been doing repeats of stuff that's already appeared here. This, then, is a roll recipe I found over on Anne's Food. I played around with it a bit, replacing 150 g of the plain flour with whole grain and increasing the size of the rolls themselves so I got 16 instead of 24, but really it's the same recipe. And like Anne said, I should think it's pretty much foolproof.

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tryffelitäytteiset chiliperunaleivokset (Chocolate-Filled "Potato" Pastries)

Scroll down for the English version!

Ehdinpä juuri ja juuri saada aikaiseksi ihan onnistuneenkin vastauksen Ylimmulin emännöimään reilun kaupan ruokahaasteeseen. Alkuviikon chilikakun jämät saivat odotella keittiössä pari päivää kuivumista sillä aikaa kun mietin murusille käyttötarkoitusta. Perunaleivoksethan (tai siis ainakin yksi versio) tehdään kuivakakunmurusista, joten ei muuta kuin menoksi. Resepti on aika lailla hatusta tempaistu - paransin reiluus-astetta pyöräyttämällä reilusta suklaasta ja kermatilkasta tryffeleitä jonka ympärille tämä kakunmuru-voi-sokeri-hilloihanuus sitten muovattiin. Ai että oli sottaista puuhaa! Muuten kyllä ihan kivaa...


Yleensähän tällaiset leivokset kostutetaan rommitilkalla, itse ajattelin kakkupohjan tuovan hommaan ihan riittävästi ytyä chilipoltollaan. Koska mitään vastaavaa ei ole meillä ennen tuunattu, taikinan kosteusasteen päättäminenkin meni vähän arvailuksi - melko tahmea muttei vetinen oli oma töherrökseni, ja ihan hyvin se oli yön ja päivän aikana vetäytynyt. Kakunpuolikkaasta tuli niin sanotusti ihan reilu satsi, sen verran tujua kamaa nämä ovat ettei yhtä pingispallon kokoista leivosta enempää tee kerralla mieli, vaikka hyvää onkin. Onneksi kuulemma vain paranevat ajan myötä.


Niin, ja se peruna-nimike? Suoraan sanottuna en viitsinyt lähteä näitä sen pahemmin muotoilemaan. Perunat kun eivät kuitenkaan ole tummanruskeita. Ainakaan jos niitä tahtoo syödä. Nih.

In English: Fair Trade produce was the theme for this month's Finnish food challenge, and I have to say this time my entry is a bit convoluted: I took the leftovers of the failed chili chocolate cake (my original idea for the challenge) and used it to make a bastardized version of a fairly well-known Finnish treat: potato pastries.


Now, there are at least two desserts known as "perunaleivos" in Finland: one contains actual potatoes; the other one is made out of dried-up sponge (or similar) cake. That one gets called "potato pastry" because it's supposed to get rolled into a vaguely potato-like shape. Needless to say, I didn't bother to do that. Moistened with jam, butter and, traditionally, rum or cognac (I skipped this, figuring the chili in the cake would be quite interesting enough), this is a fine way to get rid of dry cakes, and, for the stressed-out hostesses out there, actually needs a day or two in the fridge to really shine. The traditional version doesn't contain the chocolate truffle center, but I wanted to add more fair trade chocolate to the thing. Scroll past the Finnish recipe to get the English version!


Tryffelitäytteiset chiliperunaleivokset
noin 16 kpl

puolikas reilu chilikakku (5 dl kakkumuruja)
1 dl korppujauhoja
100 g voita
1 dl tomusokeria
3 rkl (reilun kaupan) kaakaojauhetta
4 rkl vadelmahilloa
(konjakkia tai mehua kostutukseen)

100 g (reliun kaupan) tummaa suklaata
½ dl vispikermaa
(tilkka konjakkia)

suklaaströsseliä (pieni purkki riitti noin puoleen satsiin)

Hienonna suklaa oikein hienoksi murskaksi. Kiehauta vispikerma kattilassa ja kaada suklaarouheen päälle. Anna seistä hetki ja sekoita tasaiseksi suklaasulaksi. Anna jähmettyä jääkaapissa puolisen tuntia ja vatkaa sitten kovaksi (lisää tässä vaiheessa loraus konjakkia). Siirrä tryffelitahna takaisin jääkaappiin.

Hienonna kakku ja korppujauhot monitoimikoneessa oikein hienoksi muruksi.

Vatkaa voi, sokeri, hillo ja kaakaojauhe ilmavaksi tahnaksi. Lisää kakkumurut voitahnaan ja lorauta mehua/konjakkia kunnes taikina on kosteahko muttei ihan velliä. Itselläni meni pari ruokalusikallista mehua, olisi ehkä voinut olla vähän enemmän. Jos lipsahtaa liikaa nestettä, anna taikinan vetäytyä hetki.

Pyörittele suklaatahnasta pieniä, reilun teelusikallisen kokoisia palleroita. Muovaile murutaikinasta reilun sentin paksuinen "kuori" tryffelipallojen ympärille ja pyörittele suklaaströsselissä. Anna seistä jääkaapissa vähintään yön yli ennen tarjoilua.

Lisäys: ovat muuten 100x parempia jos malttaa antaa seistä tunnin huoneenlämmössä ennen syömistä...

Chocolate-Filled "Potato" Pastries
makes about 16 smallish pastries (they're very rich!)

half a fair trade chocolate cake (500 ml/2 cups cake crumbs)
100 ml breadcrumbs
100 g butter
100 ml icing sugar
3 tbsp (fair trade) cocoa powder
4 tbsp raspberry jam
(cognac, rum, or juice for softening)

100 g (fair trade) dark chocolate
50 ml thick cream
(splosh of cognac)

chocolate sprinkles for decoration

Grate or chop the chocolate finely. Heat the cream in a small pan and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute or so, then stir to dissolve the chocolate. Let cool in the fridge for about half an hour, until slightly thickened. Whip like you would a ganache (splosh in the cognac at this point, too, if using), then put back in the fridge.

Whizz the cake- and cookie crumbs in a blender.

Beat together butter, cocoa powder, jam and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the crumb mix and then enough juice (with a splosh of rum or cognac if you wish) to get a fairly moist but not runny "batter" - if it's too wet, just let it stand for a while to let the crumbs suck up the excess moisture.

Roll out small rounds of the chocolate truffle mix, then surround each truffle with a half-inch-thick layer of the cake batter. (Both of these steps are very very messy!) Roll in the chocolate sprinkles to coat completely - you'll need more of those than you think - and let rest in the fridge overnight (or longer) before serving.

Addendum: do let them come back to room temperature before eating to let the flavors emerge properly.

Recipe after the jump!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Asparagus with Browned Butter and Scallions

I've actually made this dish twice this month without managing to get a decent picture - and it's a beautiful one on the plate! The recipe comes from Tina Nordström, a popular Swedish TV chef, or rather from the homepage of the channel that airs her show here. (Swedish speakers ahoy, you can find lots of interesting stuff on FST's Mat & Fritid pages.)

Asparagus with Browned Butter and Scallions

Stir-frying until just al dente is my new favorite method of preparing asparagus. Not to blow my own horn overmuch, but they always wind up beautifully crunchy. And the browned butter, spiced with soy sauce, herbs and onions, is a stroke of genius and would probably go well with chicken or white fish fillets as well.

Asparagus with Browned Butter and Scallions

Asparagus with Browned Butter and Scallions
adapted from Tinas mat, serves 3-4

500 g asparagus
100 ml grated parmesan (the first time around I made parmesan shavings as per the original instructions, but that was a pain, although very pretty)
small bunch of tarragon, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped (the recipe called for shallots, and indeed that was good, too)
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp butter
salt & pepper

Trim the ends of the asparagus spears by snapping them off.

Cook the butter in a small pan until just slightly browned. Mix with soy sauce, onions and herbs; set aside.

Fry the asparagus in a bit of oil (really, half a teaspoon was plenty in a non-stick pan) until just al dente - mine took about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then the sauce, and finally the grated/shaved parmesan.

Recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reilusti epäonnistunut kakku & upea sitruunajäde (Failed Fair Trade Cake + Lemon Ice Cream)

Tästä chilisuklaakakusta piti tulla rahkalan ruokahaastepostaus, mutta innostuin muokkailemaan sikavarmaa reseptiä liian monella reilulla tuotteella ja kakun koostumus on niin mureneva ettei sitä oikein voi suositella. (Epäilisin syypääksi suklaata, koska se oli ainoa aines jota alkuperäiskakussa ei ollut.) Kakunloput odottelevat nyt keittiönpöydällä kuivumista, sillä muruille keksin jo muuta käyttöä. Pitää vain toivoa että ehdin siitäkin rustata postia ennen perjantai-iltaa... Itse maussa ei siis ole vikaa, ja alempana annan myös sen alkuperäisreseptin joka on pari-kolme kertaa onnistuneesti tullut tehtyä.

Chili Chocolate Cake & Lemon Ice Cream

Sen sijaan kyytipojaksi väsätty sitruunajäätelö, joka on ennemmin luomu kuin reilu (vaikkei sitäkään ihan täysin), oli ihan tajuttoman onnistunut väkerrys, varsinkin sitruunoja joskus poikasena sellaisenaan mutustaneelle ruokailijalle...

In English: This cake was going to be my entry for this month's Finnish food challenge, the theme of which was fair trade products. However, it's kind of... crumbly. As in, very. I think the chocolate is to blame, because I've made this cake minus the chocolate more than once and always had great success - chili and chocolate is just one of those perfect combinations. But now I have cake crumbs drying out all over the kitchen counter, because I have a Fabulous Idea - I'm just not sure I'll have the tie to implement it before the deadline on Friday.

The lemon ice cream I winged to go with turned out fabulous though. You'll find the recipes for both after the cut - just leave off the chocolate to get the foolproof recipe.

2 dl jogurttia
120 g voita, sulatettuna
(100 g tummaa reilun kaupan suklaata) - tämän jättäisin pois
2,5 dl (reilun kaupan) ruokosokeria - urtekramin sitä hienointa
2 dl jauhoja
6 rkl (reilun kaupan) kaakaojauhetta
2 tl chilijauhetta
1 tl kanelia
½ tl ruokasoodaa
1 (luomu)kananmuna
100 ml hasselpähkinöitä paahdettuina ja hienonnettuina

Sulata suklaa voisulassa jos ehdottomasti haluat toistaa omat mokani. Sekoita voisula ja jogurtti. Vatkaa kananmuna kevyesti ja sekoita jogurttiin.

Sekoita keskenaan kuivat ainekset: jauhot, sokeri, kaakaojauhe, kaneli, chili ja sooda. Sekoita jogurttiseoes varovasti jauhoihin; kääntele joukkoon hasselpähkinärouhe.

Kaada irtoreunaiseen kakkuvuokaan ja paista 175ssä asteessa noin 30 min.


3 (luomu)kananmunankeltuaista
2 dl (luomu)vispikermaa
1 dl kevytmaitoa (voi korvata kermalla)
90 g sokeria
2 pienehköä luomusitruunaa

Raasta sitruunoista kuori ja sekoita kerman ja maidon kanssa kattilassa. Kuumenna melkein-kiehuvaksi, ota liedeltä, ja anna seistä parisenkymmentä minuuttia.

Vatkaa sokeri ja keltuaiset vaaleaksi vaahdoksi. Kaada kermaseos hitaasti munasokerin joukkoon (vatkaten!). Kaada seos takaisin kattilaan ja kuumenna keskilämmöllä, koko ajan sekoittaen, kunnes seos sakenee, kymmenisen minuuttia. (Itse teen tätä aika korkealla lämmöllä eikä ongelmia ole ollut, mutta kukin tehköön niin varovaisesti kuin viitsii.) Anna jäähtyä huonenlämpöiseksi ja pistä jääkaappiin vähintään tunniksi.

Purista sitruunoista mehu ja sekoita se jäätelöseokseen. Jäädytä jäätelökoneen ohjeiden mukaan.

Chili Chocolate Cake
200 ml yogurt
120 g butter, melted
(100 g dark fair trade chocolate) - I'd skip this
250 ml (fair trade) sugar
200 ml flour
6 tbsp (fair trade) cocoa powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
1 (organic) egg
100 ml hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Melt the chocolate in the melted butter if you must, but as I said, I suspect this to be the bad guy texture-wise. Mix butter and yogurt; lightly whip the egg and mix that in too.

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili and baking soda. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and finally blend in the chopped hazelnuts.

Pour into a cake tin with removable sides and bake at 175°C for about half an hour. Cool before serving.

Lemon Ice Cream

3 (organic) egg yolks
200 ml (organic) whipping cream
100 ml milk (or cream)
90 g sugar
2 smallish organic lemons

Zest the lemons and mix with the cream and milk. Bring to an almost-boil and take off the stove. Let stand for about twenty minutes.

Whip the sugar and egg yolks white and fluffy. Slowly pour the cream into the whipped eggs (while whipping to prevent the scrambled egg thing). Return the mixture to the stove and heat on medium-high while stirring continuously until the custard thickens, about ten minutes. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for an hour.

Squeeze the juice from the lemons and mix into the custard, freeze according to the instructions of your ice cream maker.

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Black Radish Omelet

When I'm eating alone and don't happen to have any leftovers to finish (admittedly, this happens rarely) I usually go for an omelet. It's fast, easy, you can vary the ingredients indefinitely, and it tastes great plonked on whatever bread you have around. This time, I used sourdough rye crispbread with nettles - bought, not made, although I may have to copy this some day.

Black Radish Omelet

The recipe comes from Fuchsia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, which I got just this week - this was the first thing I tried, but certainly not the last! (Note to self: find fermented black beans somewhere.) Of course, the book called for daikon radish, which I didn't have, so instead I went for black radish which tastes very similar to me. (At least my dictionary tells me it's black radish, however there's not actually anything black about the ones you get here - I was going to say Finnish but, um, these were from Italy - and the small thin ones are fairly mild.)

Black Radish Omelet
adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, serves 2

about 150 g young black radish (one smallish radish)
½: tsp salt
3 sprigs spring onions
1 tbsp groundnut oil
3 eggs
salt & pepper

Slice the radish thinly, then cut the slices into strips. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for half an hour. Whip the eggs lightly and season with salt and pepper. Slice the spring onions thinly and mix into the eggs.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized nonstick pan. Squeeze out as much liquid from the radishes as you can (I know I read somewhere about drying shredded potatoes in a ricer for hash, that'd probably go well here, too) and stir fry in the pan for a few minutes. Pour in the eggs and fry on medium-low for a few minutes. When the omelet's solidified and taken some color at the bottom, flip it over and fry on the other side for a minute or so. Sprinkle with more pepper and chopped cilantro.

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomato & Herb Tarts

Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomato & Herb Tarts

Operation Empty Freezer continues! These parmesan pastry crusts had lived there for so long I don't even remember anything about the recipe. Ooops. Since the goat cheese-disliking contingent of the household is away for the long weekend, I filled them with a mix of Dijon mustard, grated parmesan, soft goat cheese and fresh herbs (oregano and tarragon, and a few leaves of basil) and topped with cherry tomatoes brushed with a bit of olive oil.

Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomato & Herb Tart

Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at about 175°C/350°F for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and crinkly and the cheese gets a bit of color. And don't try to eat them while hot. No-one likes boiling cherry tomato explosions in their mouth. Ahem.

Recipe after the jump!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eurovision Salad

At first, this was going to be just blue potatoes and yellow beets, but then I realized that serving a dish in the colors of the Ark*-nemesis (oh, how I crack myself up sometimes) tonight of all nights (Eurovision song contest!** In Helsinki!), never mind tomorrow (Hockey World Championship final! Although it looks like we're playing Canada and not Sweden) would not be politic, so I wound up adding hard-boiled eggs, red bell pepper and scallions, so you can make up the flag of whomever you wind up supporting.

Blue Potato, Yellow Beet (& Normal-Colored Vegetable) Salad

Except Ireland. I knew I'd forgotten something! Well, you could add carrots.

I wish I'd taken a picture before mixing in the dressing - it was like an explosion of bright, happy colors, whereas afterwards... well, you can see. I've decided that the gooey look is a representation of the general musical quality of tonight's entries. (It's a good dressing though. Don't skip it.)

Blue Potato, Yellow Beet (& Normal-Colored Vegetable) Salad

Happy watching, everyone! I know I'm going to be hiding behind a pillow from embarrassment at least 25% of the time (and howling with laughter for another quarter), but that's kind of the point, right?

*note to non-Europeans: this is a Eurovision reference.
**although actually, Ark is one of my favorite entries. Not the favorite though.

Blue Potato, Yellow Beet (& Normal-Colored Vegetable) Salad
3 medium Blue Kongo potatoes
2 medium yellow beets, roasted
small bunch of scallions
2 bell peppers, grilled, peeled, and cut into slices
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
3 eggs, hard-boiled
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100 ml crème fraîche
100 ml mayonnaise
juice of half a lemon

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain & cool. Cut potatoes and beets into chunks and chop the scallions.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Chop the whites and set aside. Mash the yolks with a fork, mix with the mustard, then blend with crème fraîche and mayo. Mix in the lemon juice and finally the capers.

Inm a big bowl, mix together potatoes, beets, peppers, scallions and egg whites. Fold in the dressing. The taste improves if you let it stand (in the fridge) for a few hours before serving.

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Beet, Goat Cheese & Nettle Tart

This was going to be a glowing explosion of colors, with yellow beets nestling with their pink-and-white striped siblings, and nettle-speckled goat cheese peeking out from underneath. Alas, the candy-striped beets turned out to be... not. I rather want my money back on those.

Beet, Goat Cheese & Nettle Tart

So instead this is just a sunny repeat of the last post, in pie form: leftover wilted nettles mixed with soft goat cheese under a layer or two of beets, sprinkled with the last of the mint dressing. All contained in a shell of store-bought pastry dough (low fat & partly whole grained - don't do it! or at least, if you have a good recipe for a dough of this kind, let me know!) and baked at 200°C for about half an hour.

Beet, Goat Cheese & Nettle Tart

Goat cheese works really well with beets, so with a decent crust, this would have been a keeper. If you try this at home, I'd also consider reserving some of the mint vinaigrette to sprinkle on after it comes out of the oven, mostly for aesthetic reasons.

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Roasted Beet "Flowers" with Nettles and Mint Vinaigrette

Earlier this week I headed over to one of the larger grocery/deli places in town (Stockan Herkku, for those of you playing in Helsinki). With no planned meals in mind, I went a little overboard in the fresh produce aisle and came away with a motley assortment of interesting things: a nice-sized rosemary plant to plonk on the balcony once we're past the frost scares for good, blue kongo potatoes, cinnamon basil (proved to be Quite Nice on top of some salmon), and yellow and candy-striped beets. (What can I say? We all go a little crazy sometimes.)

Beet & Nettle Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

In the checkout line, I noticed the customer before me buying some nettle bread. It was too late to go back for some without causing severe irritation in my fellow shoppers, but it did remind me that our stamp-sized garden, besides patches of wood anemones and a few straggling tulips, also has some nettles pushing up amidst all the moss. Now, the Swedish food blogs I follow have been fairly bursting with wild greens lately (for whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be a Thing for Finnish foodies), and while botany is not my thing, I do feel confident in my ability to not poison myself with nettles.

Beet & Nettle Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Then, of course, I was completely stumped as to what to do with all these vegetables, until an Internet Friend, who shall go nameless, told me: Wilted Nettle Salad With Roasted Beets And Mint Vinaigrette. You should all have Internet Friends as great as mine, yeah? That is just sheer genius, right there. Unfortunately, I totally wimped out with the nettles at the last minute and mixed them with some ricotta instead. (In retrospect, I think they were better this way.) The presentation is totally stolen from Alanna's beet carpaccio, which I must try out sometime.

Beet & Nettle Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Now if I could figure out what to do with the blue potatoes. I understand they taste like... potatoes, which is bound to be something of a let-down, so it has to be good. I haven't made the microwave potato chips yet...

Roasted Beet Flowers with Nettles and Mint Vinaigrette
serves 2

2 medium beets
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups young nettle leaves
125 ml (or so) ricotta cheese
salt & pepper

1 bunch mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp fennel, ground
salt & pepper

The method for roasting the beets apes that of Alanna: wash the beets thoroughly, pat dry, then rub skins with some olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil and roast at 190°C (375°F) for about an hour. Let cool a bit, then rub between your hands to remove the skin. (It's pretty silly to keep the oven turned on for an hour for two beets, so I did a whole bunch at once. Look for more beety things later on in the week, I guess.) Slice thinly.

Wilt the nettles in a bit of simmering water, drain. Chop them finely and season with salt and pepper, then mix with the ricotta. (I should have squeezed the nettles to dry them out a bit more.)

Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Arrange the beet slices prettily on plates, sprinkle with dressing (you'll probably have some over), and spoon the nettle mixture in the middle.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Asparagus, Bacon & Poached Egg Salad

This salad was part of our May Day brunch, which was luckily very small - this was the only dish to be prepared on the spot. As a light lunch, it works marvelously on its own (although I'd accompany it with either croutons or garlic-and-oil-rubbed toast) and you certainly don't want to be fussing about trying to prepare other things while frying the asparagus and poaching the eggs.

Asparagus, Bacon & Poached Egg Salad

Maybe it's just that my poaching skills still leave something to be desired, though - it always feels like such a stressful procedure. In the end I wound up taking pictures before drizzling on the dressing, so if you could imagine this whole shebang with flecks of herb-oily goodness I would be most obliged.

Asparagus, Bacon & Poached Egg Salad

Asparagus, Bacon & Poached Egg Salad
based on this recipe at Finfood, serves 4

500 g (1 lb) asparagus, trimmed
170 g (6 oz) bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
a few cups mixed greens
4 eggs
2 tbsp vinegar

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
a big bunch of basil, finely chopped
a big bunch of thyme, finely chopped
salt & pepper

Start off by mixing the ingredients for the dressing or you'll be in trouble later on (not that I'd ever, etc).

Fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels. Reserve some of the fat from the bacon and fry the asparagus in it until (barely) soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a simmer, and add the vinegar to it.

Mix together salad greens, bacon and asparagus, add most of the dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide onto plates.

Crack the eggs and pour into individual cups/glasses. Carefully slide the eggs into the water and let cook for about two minutes (the yolks will still be fairly runny), then remove eggs with a slotted spoon (making sure they're properly drained) and place on top of salads. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing.

Recipe after the jump!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Apologies for the lack of updates lately - the Quark team has been feeling a bit under the weather, from writer to co-cook to computer. Not quite in a curl up and die way, more on the lines of putter around listlessly, emptying freezer of various casseroles instead of cooking; discover a wonderful new brand of caramel-flavored mints and rave about it for days. (Or, in the case of the computer, take fifty-three seconds to switch between one window and the next; develop love affair with hourglass cursor; make crunchy noises at random intervals.)

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I do have a salad from last week to post about later if the pictures turned out even halfway decent, but meanwhile, here are some lemon poppyseed muffins I made last night. They're based on Elise's recipe, but since I only had super-thick Turkish yogurt I added some lemon juice to thin it out as well as decreasing the sugar and using partly white poppy seeds (for the prosaic reason that I ran out of regular ones). They were fabulous fifteen minutes after coming out of the oven, and pretty damn good for breakfast today.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

This type of muffin is another one of my late-teen US discoveries. I remember the best ones being somehow crunchier than this; next time I think I'll add some rolled oats or something to change the texture a bit. And I could do with even less sugar for a breakfast treat - morning is the only time of day when I don't have a sweet tooth.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
makes 12 largish muffins or about 15 regular ones

700 ml (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
3 tbsp poppy seeds (I used about half black, half white)
zest of one lemon

130 g (about 4½ oz) lightly salted butter, softened
200 ml (scant 7 fl oz) sugar
2 eggs
300 ml (10 fl oz) thick yogurt (or a bit more regular yogurt, drained)
50 ml (about 3 tbsp) lemon juice

200 ml (scant 7 fl oz) icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together flour, baking powder, soda and poppy seeds in a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated. Blend in the lemon zest.

In a third bowl (sorry! use a measuring cup or something), mix together lemon juice and yogurt.

Add the dry ingredients and yogurt to the egg-butter fluff in alternating batches, stirring until just barely dissolved. Spoon into a muffin tin and bake at 200°C (390°F) for 20-25 minutes.

Stir together icing sugar and lemon and brush over the still-warm muffins. Eat warm.

Recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May Day: Raspberry Doughnuts & Mead

vadelmamunkit & sima / hallonmunkar & mjöd

Raspberry Doughnuts & Mead

There are two kinds of fried sweet goods traditional for May Day over here, doughnuts and May Day fritters (tippaleivät/struvor), which Americans at least would recognize as funnel cakes. The fritters are really more authentic, but as I don't have an army to feed and happen to prefer doughnuts, the choice had to be made.


This was my first time making jam-filled doughnuts, so some research had to be done into how to accomplish this miracle of haute cuisine. In the end, it turned out to be surprisingly simple.


As for the mead, every year I astound myself by managing to not blow up bottles or wind up with a flat sugar syrup instead of this wonderfully refreshing fizzy delight. I wouldn't call this foolproof, because I've seen the former happen (my mother is still traumatized fifteen years after the fact). I do believe the recipe comes from the side of the bag of brown sugar, except I use more lemons.

Raspberry Doughnuts & Mead

Raspberry Doughnuts
makes about 35 smallish doughnuts

2 eggs
150 ml sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cardamom
500 ml lukewarm milk
50 g fresh yeast
150 g butter, softened
~1½ l flour

raspberry jam

1-1½ l oil for frying

Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and blend with the egg mixture. Blend salt and cardamom with about half of the flour and stir into the liquids. Work in the softened butter, then add the rest of the flour, a little at a time until you have a soft, springy dough. (You may need a bit more flour than specified, but try to use as little as you can as this will make the doughnuts softer.) Cover and let rise for about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.

Divide the dough in two, roll out to a thickness of about a cm (scant ½-inch), and cut out circles with a cookie cutter or glass. Flatten these a bit, dot a teaspoon or so of jam onto half of the dough rounds, then top each with another round and pinch the edges of the two rounds together firmly. With a cookie cutter (or glass), trim off the edges so you have a neat, round jelly-filled disc. Repeat with the other dough-half and then the scraps. Cover with a towel and let rise while you heat the oil.

Fry in hot oil for about a minute and a half on each side, until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels, then toss in a plastic bag with some caster sugar to coat.

The jam inside these is VERY HOT. Let them cool properly before trying to eat.

250 g soft brown sugar
250 g caster sugar
2 large organic lemons
4 l water
1 ml fresh or dry yeast

Dissolve the sugars by bringing them to a boil mixed with about a liter of the water. Add the rest of the water to the sugar mixture together with the juice and peel from the lemons (large strips are easier to deal with later on). Wait for the liquid to cool to lukewarm, then sprinkle on the yeast and stir. Let stand at room temperature for about 24 hours, stirring occasionally, then pour (strained through cheesecloth) into clean bottles with tight-fitting caps. Before closing the bottles, drop a few raisins in each and sprinkle on about a tsp of sugar. Let stand at room temperature for about 3 days or in the fridge for 5 (safer). Serve cold.

Recipe after the jump!