Friday, October 31, 2008

WTISIM: Pumpkin and Ginger Teabread

It's been a while since I took part at the Waiter there is something in my ... blog event, organised by Andrew, Johanna and Jeanne. This month's event is hosted by Jeanne, who has chosen the Cucurbitacae family as a theme, or if you want a more poetic title, For the Love of Gourd. I've been featuring quite a few pumpkin recipes recently on my blog - pumpkin and flowering quince jam, pumpkin and ginger jam, pumpkin and nutmeg soup, to name just the last three. But I wanted something more mainstream this time, so I baked a pumpkin and ginger loaf, or a teabread.

This pumpkin loaf is somewhat different, as it uses grated raw pumpkin instead of cooked pumpkin purée. It's a slightly modifying recipe from BBC Good Food (November 2002). When I baked it few weeks ago, I had run out of those delicious Buderim ginger nibbles that you can buy at Lakeland stores in the UK. If I had had them at the time, I would have certainly thrown in a generous handful of them, for sure..

Pumpkin Loaf with Ginger
(Sügisene kõrvitsakeeks ingveriga)
Serves 10

175 g butter, melted
140 g runny honey
1 large egg
250 g raw butternut squash or pumpkin, coarsely grated
100 g light muscovado sugar
350 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp demerara sugar

Mix melted butter, honey, whisked egg and grated pumpkin in a blow. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground ginger.
Spoon the batter (it's quite heavy) into a buttered and lined loaf tin, sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake in the middle of 180 C/350 F oven for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and nicely risen.
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a metal rack.

Slice and serve with butter. Mmmm...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another pumpkin jam, this time with flowering quinces

My loyal readers may remember that photo collage of flowering quinces from last summer, when I made flowering quince extract and flowering-quince and apple jam. Well, I made several other jams using flowering quinces from my mum's backyard this autumn. One of our favourite ones was this pumpkin jam (yep, just as nice as this ginger and pumpkin jam) . It's a lovely thick jam - flowering quinces are very high in pectin, with a beautiful yellow colour (well, it's mostly pumpkin after all), with a nice acidity lended by the flowering quinces. Another excellent jam to be spread on your breakfast or afternoon toast or English muffin.

NB! Note that flowering quince (Chaenomeles Lindl) and quince (Cydonia oblonga) are related, but NOT the same fruit (quite confusingly, all quinces flower, but that's another topic altogether).

Cleaning flowering-quinces for jam-making can be quite a pain. The fruit are hard and small. The best result is to find a comfortable place to sit on, put on your favourite album or switch on your favourite TV channel. Place three bowls in front of you - one filled with washed floweringquinces, one smaller bowl for piths and seeds, and one for cleaned flowering quince slices. Take a small, sharp knife (a vegetable peeling knife works well), and work away :)

Pumpkin Jam with Flowering Quinces

1 kg pumpkin flesh, cut into small cubes
1 kg flowering quinces, deseeded and cut into quarters
500 ml (2 cups) of water
1 kg caster sugar

Place the pumpkin and flowering quinces into a large saucepan. Add water. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes, skimming any froth that appears on the surface. Stir every now and then.
Add sugar and bring to the boil again. Remove from the heat and cool.
Bring everything to the boil again and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the pumpkin is soft and the jam has thickened.
Distribute into hot sterilised jars and close. Keep in a cool place.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recipe for Mozzarella Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are a handy supper dish, but many of the 'traditional' versions (i.e. filled with minced meat and rice) are too heavy for me. Recently I've tried couple of lighter versions, and this one was well received at a recent dinner with friends. The recipe is adapted from an old issue of British Tesco Recipe Magazine (March 2003, I believe). The dish contains very few ingredients, but had surprisingly plenty of flavour, so I'll definitely try this again.

PS Sorry for the small hiatus - I was participating at a workshop in Finland, spending most of the last week in Tampere and Helsinki. It wasn't all work, however, as my dear K. joined me for the weekend of special shopping and delicious eating in Helsinki.

Mozzarella-stuffed Peppers
(Mozzarellaga täidetud paprikad)
Serves 3 as a main course or 6 as a starter

3 bell peppers (a red, yellow and orange one, perhaps?)
1 Tbsp olive oil
150 g fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
8-12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
half of a red onion, thinly sliced
a generous handful of fresh basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Halve the peppers, remove the seeds. Brush the pepper halves with oil, both inside and out, and place snugly next to each other in an oven dish.
Divide mozzarella cubes, halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, onion slices and half of the basil leaves between the pepper halves.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in the middle of a 180 C/350 F for 30-40 minutes, until mozzarella has melted.
Sprinkle the rest of basil leaves on top, drizzle with some more olive oil and serve with a crusty bread.

Other stuffed peppers recipes @ Nami-Nami:
Red peppers with cumin-scented halloumi cubes
Pointed red peppers stuffed with spinach & mushrooms

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oven-baked potato wedges with caraway seeds

I love caraway seeds, that's not a secret. There have been roasted beets with caraway seeds, shaken cucumber salad with caraway seeds, creamy beetroot soup with horseradish and caraway seeds, caraway-infused sauerkraut braised in beer, easy cheese crisps with caraway seeds - to name just a few. And one of my old favourites that has recently enjoyed a comeback, is a 'recipe' for oven-baked chips with caraway seeds.

So here's what you need to do.

Take your favourite roasting potato (I use a variety, Laura, which has a thin pink skin and dark yellow flesh - Estonians like their potatoes to be yellow, not white inside), scrub very clean and cut lengthwise into wedges (four is plenty). Place into an oven tray, preferably large enough to snugly fit the potatoes in one layer. Drizzle generously with oil (and give them a good stir, so they'd be covered with oil), season with sea salt and caraway seeds.

Bake for 35-45 minutes (the timing really depends on the size and variety of your chosen potato) at 200 C/400 F, until the potato wedges are soft inside and crisp & brown outside and a lovely smell of caraway seeds has filled your kitchen. Sprinkle with some extra sea salt, if necessary.

Serve as a side dish with some meat, or simply dip them into some nice sour cream. Mmmmmm....

Ahjukartulid köömnetega

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ginger and Pumpkin Jam Recipe

Have you had pumpkin jam before? You should, believe me. When I had a huge pumpkin to dissect and prepare few weeks ago, then pumpkin jam was one of the items on my to-try-list. And as we've already eaten most of the jam I made, I'm going to make some more tomorrow.

The jam has a beautiful bright yellow colour, and lovely ginger kick. We love it. We had this on pancakes this morning, but it's also great spread of a slice of toast, or served as a condiment with some grilled meat (especially if you go heavy-handed with ginger).

Ginger and Pumpkin Jam

1 kg chopped up pumpkin flesh
50 to 70 g peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 lemon
200 ml (a scant cup) of water
500 g jam sugar (with added pectin)

Wash the lemon, pat dry and grate the zest. Remove the white pith and discard. Cut the lemon flesh into smaller pieces.
Place pumpkin, water, lemon flesh and grated ginger into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook on a low heat, covered, until the pumpkin flesh is softened. Remove the lid for the last 5 to 10 minutes, so the extra moisture could evaporate.
Smash the pumpkin flesh with a wooden spoon until broken (or press through a fine sieve, if you want a very smooth jam).
Add the jam sugar and grated lemon zest, and cook for another 10 minutes.
Spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars and close immediately.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quail Eggs with Dukkah

Have you heard of dukkah before? I had, but hadn't actually eaten any until this June, when in Bloomington, US, I had a chance to try a lovely pistachio dukkah made by Cindy Bradley, a local food blogger. Basically, it's an Egyptian dry mixture of chopped nuts (mainly hazelnuts), seeds (coriander, cumin, sesame) and possibly some other spices. It's a popular street food, where fresh wheat bread is dipped first into olive oil and then into the dukkah-mixture. But it can also be sprinkled on salads to give some crunch (say, instead of toasted pinenuts). Apparently it can be used for breading fish and meat when cooking. Quite a few bloggers have already featured dukkah on their blogs - Heidi adds black peppercorns for some heat, Jaden adds chilli pepper for an extra kick, Rosa combines almonds and hazelnuts, and my dear friend Ximena cheats a little :)

The recipe below is very lightly adapted from the British food magazine Olive (January 2007), and makes a small bowl of very simple dukkah. Feel free to play around with spices.

Quail Eggs with Dukkah
(Vutimunad dukkah-seguga)
Serves six to eight

24 quail eggs

50 grams hazelnuts
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
25 grams white sesame seeds

To serve:
Maldon sea salt flakes

First you need to blanch the hazelnuts*. Put them on a dry frying pan and roast for 3-4 minutes over a moderate heat, until they're aromatic and slightly browned. Then place on a clean kitchen towel and rub with the towel, until the brown skins come loose. Chop the nuts as rather finely (best done with a knife, as there's a danger of processing the nuts into a paste, when using a food processor).
Place coriander seeds, sesame seeds and cumin seeds on a dry frying pan and toast also for 2-3 minutes, until the seeds start to brown and smell fragrant. Cool, then mix with the toasted and chopped nuts.
Tip into a serving bowl and put aside.
Cook the quail eggs in simmering water for 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water for a few minutes.
Serve with the dukkah and Maldon sea salt flakes. Each person peels their own eggs, then dips them into salt flakes and the dukkah mixture.

* If you can get blanched hazelnuts (I can't here in Estonia), then simply toast them for a few minutes and then chop finely.

Other recipes using QUAIL EGGS at Nami-Nami:
Small "mushrooms" of quail eggs and cherry tomatoes
Rye bread canapés with wild mushroom 'Caviar' and soft-boiled quail eggs
Soft-boiled quail eggs with dill and lightly salted whitefish roe
Spicy fried quail eggs

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baked apples with crispy rye bread and lingonberries

Some desserts are so simple, that it's hard to call them recipes and it's difficult to decide whether to blog about them or not. But then you did seem to like my oven-baked toffee apples a lot, and that hardly qualifies as a difficult dish. So here's another one for you. The only difficult part can be sourcing the rye bread crumbs - but you can always take couple of slices of stale rye bread (caraway seeds and all), and blitz them into fine crumbs in your food processor. As for lingonberries - I bet cranberries, which are far more easily available, would work just as well.

Baked Apples with Rye Bread and Lingonberries
Serves 4

For rye bread mixture:
200 ml (a scant cup) of fine and dry rye bread crumbs
50 g butter, melted
4 Tbsp caster sugar

For the fruit mixture:

4-5 cooking apples, (peeled and), cored and sliced
200 ml (a scant cup) lingonberries

For serving:
vanilla custard or ice cream or whipped cream

Butter a small oven dish (ca 24x30 cm)
Mix the melted butter, rye bread crumbs and sugar.
Layer the apple slices in the oven dish, scatter lingonberries on top.
Sprinkle generously with the rye bread mixture.
Bake at a preheated 200 C / 400 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until apples are softened.
Serve with vanilla custard, ice cream or whipped cream.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Silky pumpkin soup with nutmeg

Kõrvitsapüreesupp röstsibulakõrsikutega / Butternut squash soup with roast onion grissini
Photo by Juta Kübarsepp, for the October issue of Kodu & Aed, 2012

As somebody aptly commented on my Flickr photo page, it's that time of the year :) When heading to the market these days, you'll see piles of beautifully bright orange pumpkins and winter squashes everywhere. I got one from my mum just over a week ago, and we enjoyed a number of different pumpkin dishes during the week. I made a pumpkin and ginger loaf, two types of pumpkin jam (one with ginger, one with flowering-quinces).

And this soup. There are two things with this soup that make it different from other pumpkin soups I've tried so far. Firstly, it's fat-free, making it perfect for those who are preparing for the Christmas or Thanksgiving feasts laying ahead of us (and if you're omit the cream drizzle, it's vegan, too). Secondly, it uses nutmeg as a seasoning - giving the soup a lovely and different twist.

Fat-free Pumpkin Soup with Nutmeg
(Kõrvitsasupp muskaadiga)
Serves 4

500 ml vegetable stock (2 cups)
800 grams cubed yellow pumpkin or winter squash (cleaned weight; just under 2 lbs)
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
0.5 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt, if necessary
freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
4 Tbsp double cream (optional)

Bring the vegetable stock into boil.
Add the pumpkin, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Blend the soup into a fine purée (I used a handheld immersion blender).
Reheat the soup, season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Divide the soup into heated bowls, drizzle some cream on top and serve with crusty bread.

Other pumpkin/winter squash recipes @ Nami-nami:
Pickled pumpkin (Estonian Christmas recipe)
Pumpkin Risotto & Arancini Balls
Old-fashioned Pumpkin Soup with Semolina
Pumpkin Soup with Thyme
Johanna's Roasted Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Quiche

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rugelach, rugelach, rugelach

Few weeks ago a friend of mine from Toronto, Melissa, came to visit me. Melissa and I both did our postgraduate degrees in Edinburgh in year 2000, after which she left first to her native South Africa and then moved to Toronto to do her doctorate. She had promised to visit me on several occasions since she left Scotland, and we even managed to meet up at a conference in London at one point. Now, finally, she - and her beautiful 9-month old daughter Natali - came to Estonia for a brief, 8-day visit.

And this gave me an opportunity to try some Jewish recipes I had been wanting to try for a while. You see, Melissa is Jewish, who keeps kosher. And she's vegetarian. In this Land of Pork Chops Served with Cheese Sauce, it was easiest for us to eat at home. And one night, I baked us a batch of Rugelach. Rugelach - when said with a low, husky voice, and repeatedly, sounds sweet and funny (at least little Natali seemed to think so!), like something out a fairy tale, so I was thrilled to be finally making them.

And they sure were moreish - sweet, flakey, fragrant, and very, very tasty. I adapted a recipe from Clarissa Hyman's book The Jewish Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Around the World. Note these are not parve/pareve or 'neutral', as they contain cream cheese, so don't serve them after a meat meal, if you're trying to keep kosher.

Hazelnut Rugelach
Makes 32 small pastries

For the pastry:
200 g butter, softened
200 g full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 tsp caster sugar
200 g all-purpose/plain flour, sifted
a pinch of salt

For the filling:
100 g finely ground hazelnuts or walnuts
50 g soft brown sugar
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon

For brushing:
25 g butter, melted

For glazing:
1 egg white, beaten with a little water

Cream the warm butter and cream cheese until well blender. Beat in the sugar, then stir in the flour and salt. Mix until the dough begins to hold together, press into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill overnight in the fridge.

Combine the ground nuts, brown sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Divide the dough ball into two and return the other half into the fridge. Roll out the pastry on a slightly floured surface into a thin circle about 25 cm /10 inches in diametre. Using a sharp knife or a pizza-wheel, cut into 16 equal wedges.

Brush the surface of the wedges with melted butter, then sprinkle half of the nut and cocoa mixture on top, spreading evenly as you go. Using your hand or a rolling pin, press the filling tightly down into the dough (there seems to be a lot of filling, but it'll make the pastries only nicer!).

Carefully roll up each wedge tightly, starting from the wider, outside end. You'll end up with 16 mini croissants. Brush with egg white wash.

Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and bake at the middle of a preheated 180 C/350 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

Repeat with the second half of the pastry - even straight away or on the following day.