Sunday, April 30, 2006

Strawberries ricotta cakes

Here is a recipe for small strawberry cakes with a twist that I made a week or so ago. These are pretty unusual because they contain no flour (and are thus suitable for people on gluten-free diet), instead relying on milk curd or ricotta, ground almonds and strawberries to give the body, flavour and texture.

They're especially nice when still warm, and have 'the summer is almost here' written all over them. Baked in muffin tins, these are ideal for a spring buffet. If you want to serve them as a plated dessert, then you could drizzle some strawberry coulis on the plate and garnish with mint leaves.

Strawberry ricotta cakes
Yields 12
Adapted from
Sanitarium Health Food Company, Australia

400 grams ricotta or milk curd cheese
3 Tbsp caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp ground almonds
~ 200 grams strawberries, coarsely chopped

To sprinkle:
superfine caster sugar

To serve:
strawberries and whipped cream

Mix milk curd, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, lemon zest and strawberries in a bowl.
Line 12 muffin tins with paper cups, divide the curd cheese mixture between the tins.
Sprinkle with fine sugar and cinnamon.
Bake at 180°C for about 40 minutes, until the cakes have risen and are lovely golden colour.
Serve warm or slightly cooled*, decorating the cakes with strawberries and whipped cream.

* It is not advisable to put these cakes in the fridge, as the curd cheese becomes somewhat grainy.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Nigella, again: fried halloumi with chilli drizzle

Halloumi cheese is something I had never tried until a year ago or so. This white cheese originates in Cyprus, is made from a mixture of goat's and cow's milk, and is seasoned with chopped mint during preparation (you can see a picture here). It has a very unique, slightly squidgy texture, and is one of few cheeses that keeps its shape during heating process, making it ideal for grilling and frying.

Firstly - and mistakenly - I tried it as a sliced cheese on my bread, but found it too squeeky and rubbery, with no proper taste. I then tried it as saganaki, and liked it a bit more. My current favourite way with halloumi is to simply dry-fry it on a frying pan. Heating halloumi slices turns them deliciously soft inside with just a bit of squidge going on. They are wonderful on slices of baguette, for instance. If I want something spicier, I make this simple cheese dish - again by Nigella, this time from the December 2003 issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated. Very slightly modified, as I didn't have any fresh chilli in the house.

Pan-fried Halloumi with Chilli
(Praetud halloumi-viilud)
Serves 4 as a nibble, or 2 as a light meal

250 grams halloumi cheese, sliced not too thinly
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
half a lemon

Mix chilli flakes with oil.
Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat (no oil!). Fry halloumi slices for 2 minutes on each side, until the cheese has golden brown speckles all over them.
To serve, put cheese onto small plates, drizzle with chilli oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve with some salad and bread.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Birthday Cake

Kohvitort / Birthday cake
Photos updated in April 2010

I cannot remember whether I saw an idea for this cake somewhere, or whether it's something I made up myself in the spur of the moment. I'd like to think it's the latter. In any case, I've been making this for quite a few years now. It is one of those cakes that is so simple to throw together that it's almost ridiculous. Despite the effortlessness, it's tasty and rather elegant. Sometimes simple is simply the best.

I'm having it tonight:)

Mocca cake with toasted almonds
Serves 12-16

Coffee cake / Kohvitort

The sponge base:
6 free-range medium eggs
300 ml golden caster sugar
300 ml plain flour, sifted
2.5 tsp baking powder

For moistening the base:
150-200 ml coffee, sweetened ja cooled (season with booze, if you wish)

The mocca cream:
500 ml whipped cream
2 Tbsp good quality instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp caster sugar or to taste

For decorating:
almond flakes, toasted

Whisk the eggs with sugar until thick and pale - about 10 minutes. Fold in sifted flour and baking powder and mix gently until combined.
Pour the batter into a lined and buttered swiss roll tin and bake at 200˚C until golden brown and well risen - about 20 minutes.
Let the sponge cool on a metal rack, then cut into two layers.
To make the mocca cream, dilute the coffee granules in a couple of spoonfuls of cream. Add the rest of the cream and sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
Moisten the bottom sponge layer with some coffee, then spread just slightly less than half of the cream onto the cake. [I sometimes mix some curd cheese or fromage fraiche into this mixture, just to make it firmer and more substantial]
Cover with the other sponge layer, moisten again with some coffee and spread the rest of the cream to the top and onto the sides of the cake.
Sprinkle with toasted and cooled almond flakes.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mail order tsoureki: kaló páscha

I celebrated Easter last weekend with paskha, the typical festive dessert back home in Estonia. This weekend I helped a Greek friend in need to celebrate Orthodox Easter. On this occasion the Greeks eat a special sweet bread - tsoureki. I baked a rather nice one in Edinburgh last year, devoured in minutes by a bunch of Greek students, and consequently got a mail order request to make one again for this Easter. The large and beautifully aromatic tsoureki was flown to an undisclosed destination in mainland Europe. Thank you, C.D,. for acting as a courier on such a short notice!

The recipe is based on two Paul Hollywood's recipes - one from his book 100 Great Breads and another from UKTV Food. I keep having problems with Hollywood's recipes and I'm not sure they have been double-checked properly by the pastry chef himself. His recipe for mint & halloumi bread seemed also a bit awkward, though the bread I ended up baking was delicious. His two tsoureki recipes are even more confusing. The only constant seems to be the amount of flour (500 grams) - the amount and list of other ingredients vary rather wildly. Hollywood cannot really decide whether he wants 2 eggs in his tsoureki or none, whether to use 30 grams of dried yeast (!!!) or 15 grams of fresh (it should be other way around, surely!?). And adding 15 grams of salt to 500 grams of flour seems also a wee bit too generous. I want my guests to come back for more, so I've tweaked the recipes accordingly.

For example, I've omitted the raisins altogether, as according to my Greek sources there should be none in a tsoureki (raisins may be a Cypriot twist). I've reduced the amount of salt and butter. I didn't use the red eggs that are traditionally used to decorate tsoureki - although this is strictly necessary only if you eat the tsoureki on the Easter Sunday. This time I also managed to get hold of mastic and mechlebe - two new spices in my kitchen. Although I don't know how to describe them, they did give a very pleasant and unusual flavour to the end product. You should be able to find them from health food shops or shops specialising in Greek and Middle Eastern produce.

But definitely one beautiful sweet bread.

Greek Easter bread TSOUREKI
(Kreeka lihavõttesai "tsoureki")
Makes one large plaited loaf

500 grams strong white flour
75 grams golden caster sugar
50 grams softened butter
1 large orange, zested
0.5 tsp salt
a pinch of mechlebe (sour cherry pits - about 10), pounded finely
a pinch of gum mastic (ca 2 pieces), pounded finely
a generous pinch of ground cinnamon
1 egg
25 grams fresh yeast
150 ml lukewarm water
150 ml lukewarm milk

For brushing:
1 egg, beaten

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, orange zest, cinnamon, gum mastic and mechlepi and soft butter in a large bowl. Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients.
Mix the fresh yeast with a small amount of lukewarm water until combined, add to the dough.
Add the egg, lukewarm milk and water and mix everything together with your hands.
Dip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough doesn't stick to your hands anymore (you may have to add some more flour).
Put the kneaded dough back into the bowl, sprinkle with some flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Leave to rise for one hour in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size.
[Or, if you insist, leave to rise at room temperature, go for a cocktail with friends at Dragonfly @ Grassmarket and then for a meal at Hanam's, a new Kurdish & Middle Eastern restaurant @ Tollcross. Return 4 hours later and continue].
Knock the dough down and dip onto a slightly floured surface again and divide into three. Roll each dough piece into a long strip and plait the strips together. Lift onto a large baking sheet and leave to rise for an hour, until doubled in size again.
Brush with beaten egg and bake in the middle of 200˚C oven for 25-30 minutes, until tsoureki is nice and golden brown.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Party food: salmon canapés

I made these last night just to see if they're good enough to be served at a small party in my flat next Monday. They definitely are. Easy-peasy and very scrumptious. The rye flour makes the pastry cases a bit chewy, which is nicely balanced by the creaminess of the cheese. And the smoked salmon - a good quality organic one - gives a slightly decadent touch to the canapé. Furthermore, the combination of rye, dill and smoked salmon is beautifully reminiscent of home. Exactly what a Nordic girl needs to celebrate another year..

Salmon and cream cheese canapés
Adapted from Ruokamaailma
Makes 24

150 ml rye flour
150 ml plain wheat flour
100 ml cold water
1 Tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp salt

150 grams full-fat (Philly) cream cheese
100 grams organic cold smoked salmon, cut into 24 tiny slices
black pepper

fresh dill

Mix the flours, salt, olive oil and cold water into a thickish dough. Add some more flour, if the dough is too wet. Knead into a long 'sausage' on a slightly floured table. Cut into 24 small balls, flatten them and use them to line 24 non-stick mini muffin tins.*
Drop a scant teaspoonful of full fat cream cheese into each muffin tin, top with a small piece of smoked salmon.
Season with black pepper.
Bake in the middle of a 250˚C oven for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry cases are cooked and golden at edges. Let them cool slightly on a metal rest.
Garnish with a sprig of dill for the gravadlax effect.

* Perfectionists out there might prefer rolling out the dough thinly and cutting into uniform round disks. Also, if you're using non-stick muffin tins, then oil them slightly first.

Other great canapé recipes to try:
Potato shortcrust cases with haggis and whisky-onion gravy
Potato shortcrust cases with Cheddar cheese, garlicky spinach and olives
Cheesy spinach pies

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Comfort food at its best: Nigella's chocolate cherry cupcakes

This is just a miniature cherry version of Nigella's chocolate & orange marmelade cake I baked for my dear friend T's birthday back in November. Seeing this particular version over at Esurientes last weekend made me reach for my beloved How To Be A Domestic Goddess once again. Nigella surely knows how to feed a girl in need of some cheering up:)

The original recipe is available here, on Nigella's website, both with UK and US measurements. I used Bonne Maman Cherry Compote (80% cherries, sugar); the chocolate was Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa dark one. The cupcakes were really delicious and moist, with a clear cherry flavour. As I run out of chocolate (disastrous!!!), I replaced the chocolate frosting with mascarpone one, topped with a small Easter chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
Yields 12

For the cupcakes:
125 grams butter
100 grams dark chocolate
300 grams good quality cherry jam or compote
150 grams golden caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150 grams self-raising flour

For the frosting:
mascarpone cheese
icing sugar
some drained liquid from the cherry compote

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a low heat. When almost melted, add chocolate pieces. Leave to soften for a moment, then remove the saucepan from the hob and stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate has melted.
Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and beaten eggs, stirring with the wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, stir until combined.
Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins (either oil them or use muffin papers) and bake at 180˚C for about 25 minutes.
When cupcakes are cool, cover with frosting. For the mascarpone frosting, just cream the ingredients with a wooden spoon and smear on the cupcakes.
Decorate with small Easter chocolate eggs.

Other great recipes inspired by Nigella Lawson:
Pasta alla vodka
A cranberry upside-down cake
Upside down red onion pie
Chocolate & orange marmelade cake

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter, with pashka

Pascha / Paskha / Pasha
Paskha, 2011

When most Brits were busy buying chocolate eggs - apparently a mind-blowing 80 million chocolate eggs were to be eaten during Easter alone, then Estonians were having troubles buying chicken eggs. You see, whereas people prefer brown chicken eggs most of the time, then this week they wanted them white - so they could be painted bright and colourful for the Easter table. And white eggs were nowhere to be found.. If only the chicken knew and act accordingly!

Easter brunch / Kevadpühade brantš: Nami-Nami pasha
Paskha, 2009

In addition to colourful Easter eggs (the chicken, not the chocolate kind), another dish on Estonian tables this weekend is paskha - or "pasha" - the sweet curd cheese dessert originating in Russia. Here is my version, originally from the Finnish Pirkka-lehti, that I've adapted and tweaked a bit over the last few years. The main divergence from the original is the omission of the egg (and I can't see a difference in texture or taste), and replacing the almonds and raisins with pistachios and dried cranberries (or "craisins"). I know that orange-cranberry-pistachio work well together tastewise. But these three make the pashka so much more colourful, almost like it's been studded with ruby and emerald jewels! If you don't have access to curd cheese, then a mixture of ricotta and quark will work just as well.

Paskha, my way
(Imemaitsev lihavõttepasha)
Serves 8

Paskha, 2006

100 g of butter, softened
85 g golden caster sugar
400 gr curd cheese
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml blanched pistachios*, roughly chopped
100 g dried organic cranberries
100 g candied orange peel, chopped
200 ml whipping or double cream, whipped

For decoration:
cape gooseberries
blanched and finely chopped pistachios

Cream the soft butter with sugar until light and fluffy - best done with an electric mixer. Soften the curd cheese with a wooden spoon, then add to the butter and sugar mixture and combine.
Add the cranberries, pistachios, candied orange peel, vanilla and juiced lemon, mix to combine. Finally fold in the whipped cream.
There is a special mould for making paskha, but an ordinary colander (on the right) or coeur a la crème moulds (above) can be used as well - just line them with a moist cheesecloth/muslin beforehand. Pour the paskha mixture into the mould, cover with a suitably sized plate for an extra pressure and put onto a tray (to catch any liquid).
Put into a fridge for overnight.
To serve, flip the paskha onto a plate, remove the cheesecloth and decorate.
Serve and enjoy.

* To blanch pistachios, just cover them with boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and rub off the skins.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring is in the air: sprouting broccoli with hollandaise

This simple recipe is from Veg: The Greengrocer's Cookbook by Greg Wallace, the British God of Green Things. It was reprinted in the May 2006 issue of Olive, yet another British food magazine, published by BBC. The only change I made to the recipe was omitting the anchovies, as I have none in my kitchen, and being not a fan of the given fish, I didn't rush out to rectify the situation. By all means, feel free to scatter some chopped salty fillets on top.

Sprouting broccoli with hollandaise
(Spargelkapsavõrsed hollandi kastmega)
Serves 4

500 grams of sprouting broccoli, trimmed
salt, water

For the hollandaise sauce:
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
half a juiced lemon
125 grams butter, melted & slightly cooled
salt & black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the trimmed broccoli and boil for 4-5 minutes, until broccoli is al dente.
While sprouting broccoli are boiling, make the hollandaise. Whisk the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice together until combined and doubled in volume. Gradually pour in the melted butter, whisking all the time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Arrange the drained sprouting broccoli on warm plates and pour over the sauce (and anchovies, if you're into that kind of thing:)

And Happy Easter to everyone! I'll be posting about Estonian Easter dessert, pasha, later this week!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Kalyn's Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms Recipe

As promised in a recent Around-The-World meme, here is a dish I bookmarked from a fellow foodbloged. I first saw this great recipe at Kalyn's Kitchen, and then a slightly modified version over at A Veggie Venture.

Here is a slightly "Europeanised" recipe:) A very flavoursome and colourful side dish or a light meal on its own - definitely worth a try. As carrots play a star role in this dish, make sure to use good quality organic carrots.

Kalyn's Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms with Thyme and Parsley
(Ahjus küpsetatud šampinjonid ja porgandid)

400-500 grams organic carrots, cut into chunks
225 grams brown button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
a generous handful of chopped parsley

Lay carrot chunks onto a medium size oven dish in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season with thyme, salt and pepper. Mix to coat evenly.
Roast in a pre-heated 225˚C oven for 15-20 minutes, until carrots start to soften a little.
Add the mushrooms, drizzle with some more olive oil and roast for another 15 minutes, until carrots are just tender and mushrooms softened.
Season and serve with some crusty bread as a light veggie meal, or as a side dish.

Other great carrot recipes to try:
Gingered carrots with feta cheese
Moroccan carrot salad with cumin & garlic
Carrots with rosemary and orange

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trip down the memory lane: chicken liver pâté

Chicken liver pate / Kanamaksapasteet

Chicken liver featured pretty often in our kitchen when I was younger. One of my aunties worked in a chicken factory (abattoir?), and was able to smuggle us various cheap chicken bits and pieces during the food-poor and rationed last years of the Soviet era. Some of these chicken parts I hated, some I didn't mind, some I rather liked. Chicken necks will remain my pet hate until I die (my mum used them in soups); chicken wings haven't got enough meat on them, however juicy and flavoursome it is; chicken gizzards and chicken liver - in stews and patés, respectively - I find rather good.

Ever since I saw the recipe and pictures for paté ai fetatini over at Delicious Days few months ago, I've been longing to have some home-made chicken liver pâté again. The opportunity came when I spotted some chicken livers at Edinburgh Farmers' Market. I will try paté ai fetatini recipe soon, but first I had to try my Mum's version..

Chicken liver pâté

500 grams chicken liver, cleaned
100 grams butter, at room temperature
1 onion, finely chopped
finely crushed black pepper
2-3 Tbsp brandy or cognac
3-4 Tbsp chicken stock

Melt about 25 grams of butter on a frying pan, add the chopped onion and fry gently for 5-10 minutes, until the onion softens a little.
Add the chopped chicken liver and fry on medium heat, turning regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the liver is cooked & no longer pink inside, but is still on the soft side. Let it cool.
If you have an old-fashioned mincer, then mince the fried livers twice (gives a smoother paté). Alternatively, mince the fried livers and onions in a food processor, add soft butter, seasoning and brandy and process until smooth. If the mixture is too dry, then add a bit of chicken stock.

Keeps for a few days in the fridge, covered. To serve, either spread on toast or form into small balls with a warm teaspoon and roll in grated hard cheese - this is a popular way of serving any liver pâté back home.

Now - next time I must ask for some chicken gizzards then..

PS For a slightly fancier take on the chicken liver pâté you can also check out Becks&Posh's recipe for chicken liver crostini, or pictures of it over at Spittoon Extra.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dreaming about the summer with the help of a blueberry tart

Blueberry tart / Mustikapirukas
New photo: June 2009

I know blueberries are not in season yet, at least not here in Scotland, but the sun was shining rather brightly the other day and I realised I was desperate for the summer to arrive already. This is a wee bit too optimistic, I guess, as even the spring hasn't reached its prime yet. However, in the hope that cooking something strongly summer-influenced might just tempt the summer to arrive earlier, I baked a blueberry tart. And yes, for a moment - eating a slice of this cake, basking in the sun shining into my room - summer did definitely feel more like an achievable reality as opposed to just a dream..

I hadn't tried this particular recipe before, but it had got a positive comment on my Estonian recipe site, plus it seemed easy to make. I was very pleased with the result - the crust was beautifully crumbly and coarse, the filling creamy and light, with intense blueberry flavour and colour. Not much sugar, and the porridge oats add some healthy fibres. I was expecting to have a layered tricolore cake - a golden brown base, blue layer of blueberries and white creamy topping. But no - as you can see from the picture, the blueberries have all burst into the cream during baking, beautifully colouring the whole tart intensely blue(berry).

I will definitely be making this one again.

An intensely blueberry coloured and flavoured blueberry tart
(Mõnus mustikapirukas)
Recipe from Valio
Serves 8-10

The crust:
100 g butter, softened
75 ml sugar
1 medium egg
200 ml plain flour
100 ml porridge rye flakes or four cereal flakes or oats*
1 tsp baking powder

400-500 ml blueberries
(2 tsp potato or corn starch - if using frozen blueberries)
200 ml sour cream or cream fraiche
1 medium egg
75 ml sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter with sugar, add the egg and the dry ingredients (mix the baking powder into the flour first). Bring the ingredients together and press into the base and sides of a buttered 25 cm loose-bottomed baking tin (this can be a bit messy, but persevere).
Spread the blueberries on top (less the few handfuls that go straight into your mouth:) If using frozen berries, mix them with some potato or cornflour first.
Whisk the sour cream with sugar, egg and vanilla and pour on top of the berries.
Bake at 200˚C for about 30 minutes, until the filling has set and the cake is slightly golden on top.
Let it cool a bit, then take out of the tin and cut into slices.

* I do NOT mean these sugar-coated cornflake type of things. I mean various flaked cereals that are used to make breakfast porridge in the Nordic countries. I used 4-cereal flakes (50% rye, 30% oats, 10% barley, 10% wheat).

Friday, April 07, 2006

A bit of colour: stuffed peppers

This is based on a recipe I saw for stuffed chilli peppers (poblanos probably) in one of these extra recipe booklets that occasionally come with BBC Good Food magazine. This was a while ago - which issue exactly, I can't tell, as I've long given up hope finding the magazine again.. Coming from a country where using sweet Hungarian paprika is considered adventurous, I am not used to eating spicy food for my weekday dinners. I have therefore replaced poblanos with romanos. Whereas any red pepper would do, I prefer to use Romanos or those longish sweet pointed peppers in this recipe instead. These are thinner than 'normal' bell peppers/capsicums, and do not need blanching before being stuffed.

The amount of mushrooms and spinach is approximate and depends on how large are your peppers and how stuffed you like your stuffed peppers:)

A very easy, healthy and tasty recipe - feel free to use more chilli for an extra kick.

Pointed red peppers stuffed with spinach & mushrooms
(Täidetud paprikad seentega)
Serves 2

2 large pointed red peppers (Romano peppers)
olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
a pinch of chilli flakes
100-200 grams mushrooms, sliced
100-200 grams fresh spinach, washed, drained and roughly chopped
150-200 ml single cream

Cut an indention into the peppers and remove the seeds carefully.
Heat the olive oil, add the garlic and chilli flakes and fry gently for a minute or two.
Add the mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, until mushrooms get some colour.
Throw in the chopped spinach and heat until spinach wilts.
Stir in the cream.
Spoon the filling into the peppers.
Bake at 200˚C for 25-30 minutes, until the pepper is softened to your liking.
Serve with green salad and possibly also some crusty bread.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Almost like tzatziki: beetroot and feta salad

Beetroot tzatziki or rödbetstsatsiki is how Arla, the Swedish dairy magnate, calls this dish on its recipe site. It is a versatile beetroot and feta cheese salad that lends itself for many uses. The combination of the sweet beetroot and salty feta cheese is very refreshing, and it can be easily adapted to your taste by using various herbs and/or garlic. If you make it a bit drier, it would be great on toast or crostini. If you make it a bit moister, it will be lovely as a side salad with ham, salami, turkey or grilled meat, or as a dipping sauce for crudités. You could even use if as one of the layers for a sandwich cake. The choice is yours.

I think I prefer this beetroot salad to the more common beetroot, garlic & mayo salad we have back home - feta adds a lovely crumbly texture to it.

Beetroot and feta salad
Adapted from the rödbetstsatsiki recipe in Arla Köket 4/1998
Serves 4

100 grams beetroot, boiled
1 shallot, minced
100 grams feta cheese, crumbled
100 ml sour cream or Greek yogurt
black pepper
fresh dill, chopped
garlic, optional

Grate the beetroot coarsely, add the minced onion and crumbled feta cheese.
Mix with the yogurt or sour cream, season with salt and pepper.
Add lots of chopped dill and some garlic, if you wish.

Monday, April 03, 2006

MEME: Around The World

I've been tagged by Finnish Anna and Swedish Anne for the latest meme. As I failed to participate in quite a few memes I was tagged for in early January, I better participate this time!

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from food blogs to try:

This is a difficult one, as there are many delicious recipes that keep popping up all the time. I've bookmarked pretty much everything from Delicious Days, for example:) However, here are some of my recent finds:

This raspberry and pistachio cake @ Trembom looks utterly tempting.

These roasted chickpeas @ Anne's Food sound like a perfect party nibble.

For my next healthy & tasty meal, I'll be making roasted carrots & mushrooms @ Kalyn's Kitchen - I think they both look and sound yummy!

2. A food blog in your vicinity:

Melissa @ The Traveler's Lunchbox lives a walking distance from me, and before we both started blogging, we even lived in the same university halls of residence! That's pretty close, isn't it:)

Should I blog back home in Estonia, it would be a tie between the following two English-language blogs in Helsinki: Finnish siblings Antti & Anna @ Doughboy and American expat Elaine @ Axis of Ævil - both just a stone-throw or 20-minute flight/90-minute hydrojet trip/4-hour cruise trip away.

3. A food blog located far from you:

My geography is not very good, but I think Niki @ Esurientes down in Australia and J @ Kuidaore in Singapore are the two furthest foodblogs that I read regularly.

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (and where did you find it?)

I'm pretty new to the wonderful La Tartine Gourmande - I think I found her through a comment left on my blog, but then I can't be sure. I occasionally check the blogrolls of blogs I like to see if they've spotted anything new & interesting, or use Technorati to see if someone has linked to me. That is how I came across my latest great find: Bread and Butter. Chloe lives in Athens, and blogs in English. She used to study and live in Edinburgh for a while, and writes about fantastic Greek dishes, so I was very pleased to come across her blog.

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

I met couple of London-based foodbloggers in London recently, and it would be interesting to read their responses (Johanna, Jenni, Jeanne, Christina, Andrew). Plus anyone else (that's Bea, Melissa, Chloe, Kalyn, Valentina & Niki) mentioned in this post, of course!

Meeting the London foodies @ Anchor & Hope

Although most foodbloggers write about food - that's why we're called foodbloggers - the posts also give an insight into the person behind the delicious recipes and wonderful photography. I, for sure, feel that I "know" some of the foodbloggers whose writings I read more regularly and frequently, even if I've never met them. Nevertheless, sometimes it's nice to meet the "real" person behind the blog. Living in the same town as Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox has meant that I've been priviliged enough to meet her on more than one occasion. Last week in London I had a chance to meet some London-based foodbloggers as well. Andrew of Spittoon Extra had kindly organised a small* meet up at Anchor & Hope - a lovely gastro-pub close to Waterloo & Southwark stations. I was somewhat intimidated about meeting such a large group of London foodies who all knew each other from before, but they turned out to be a lovely and very friendly bunch of people who made me feel very welcome that night:)

Here we are (from left to right): me, Jenni of Pertelote (whose utterly delicious chickpea & tuna salad features on my buffet table regularly), Andrew (who very kindly organised the whole event), Christina of The Thorngrove Table (a new blog to me), Jeanne of somewhat naughtily named Cook Sister! (I've been talking to my South African friends, Jeanne:) and Johanna of The Passionate Cook (whom I've been looking forward to meet since I received her wonderful foodie parcel as part of the EBBP and who this time brought me a bottle of Austrian blackcurrant schnapps!).

Both Andrew and Christina have already written about the delicious offerings at the gastropub, so I won't go into too much detail here. The food was interesting and delicious (you don't often find hare, boar, giblets, lamb's tongue, duck confit etc on the same menu, do you), the atmosphere was very cosy and warm, and both the pub (where we met) and the restaurant (which doesn't take bookings, so turn up early) were very busy all Tuesday night. We drank wine - served in little tumblers - chosen by our resident wine buff Andrew (who blogs about wine over at his other blog, Spittoon), and chose a wide range of dishes from the menu that changes daily. I had roasted Italian greens and spring onions with goat curd toast - a lovely combination of textures and flavours, followed by a really delectable alcohol-infused panna cotta with roasted rhubarb. And of course we spoke about food - among other topics, that is:)

Thank you again Jenni, Jeanne, Christina, Johanna and Andrew for your warm welcome!

I liked the place well enough to actually go back on Saturday night for a quick meal before seeing Resurrection Blues at the Old Vic - a three-minute walk away. This time I had a pork and herb terrine with cornichons, whereas my friend opted for roasted beetroot and lamb tongue salad, with a side dish of potatoes. Most interesting, and we were both very pleased with the meal. No pictures, however, as we were seated at a shared table and I didn't want to scare the other two couples behind the table! (And no, we didn't mind sharing the table, as we were speaking our own little secret Estonian language:)

* Andrew insisted that it's going to be a small casual affair, just him, Jeanne, Johanna and me. However, when Keiko left a comment on my blog that she cannot make it (which was a pity, as I'm a great fan of her Nordljus blog), I knew Andrew was just being cheeky!

Anchor & Hope
36 The Cut
London SE1 8LP
Tel 020 7928 9898 (no bookings though!)