Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oven-baked salmon with beetroot

I've been asked to come up with various Christmas menu options - but by the readers of my Estonian site as well as some university friends. One of the menus is fish-centered, so for the last week I've tried to come up with a suitably festive main course. Although various white fish (pike-perch aka zander, Northern pike etc) are more traditional here in Estonia, then fresh Norwegian salmon is easily and universally available across the country. Therefore I've decided to use a red fish at the centre of my fish menu. Inspiration for this comes from a Finnish Ruokamaailma magazine, but I've tweaked it sufficiently to consider the recipe my own. I served it last night to a group of friends who came over for some food and board games, and it was very well received :)

So, for Christmas 2008 the Beetroot Princess suggests:

Oven-baked salmon with beetroot
(Ahjulõhe peediga pühadelauale)

Serves 6

1 kg salmon filet, trimmed
2 tsp salt
0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
about 3-4 small cooked beets (either boiled or roasted)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Carefully remove all pin-bones from the salmon filet. (I like to cut off the thin side of the salmon filet and use that for another dish - perhaps soup - on the following day. I think the thick part of the filet looks much more festive, plus you it's easier to cook the fish uniformly).

Cut the fish filet into thick portions (this helps to serve the fish nicely later), but leave the skin intact. Place in an oiled oven dish. Season with salt and pepper and scatter lots of chopped dill on top.

Peel the beets and cut into thin slices. Using a small shot glass, cut the slices into uniformly sized small rounds. Layer these like fish scales on top of the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil.

If you like dill, then you can scatter more dill on top at this stage.

Cover the oven dish with a piece of foil and bake in a pre-heated 200 C / 400 F oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish and desired level of pinkness.

Serve with steamed couscous or boiled potatoes.

This recipe was also included in my second cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stir-fried Cherry Tomatoes with Basil

This must be one of the quickest - and most colourful - side dishes I've made in a while. Having spent all day at yet another cookery course today, testing several sweet Christmas tarts and fancy cakes, I needed something savoury and easy tonight. I went for one of my stand-bys - battered and pan-fried white fish (I used a pangasius filet, which I dipped into a mixture of egg-flour-milk), and chose this colourful recipe I spotted in a Finnish magazine yesterday. It was a success - quick, different, slightly tangy, slightly sweet, and very beautiful.

Stir-fried Cherry Tomatoes with Basil
(Vokitud kirsstomatid basiilikuga)
Adapted from Suomen Kuvalehti Gourmet 4/2008
Serves 4

4 Tbsp (olive) oil
500 g cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
handful of fresh parsley
20 large fresh basil leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp caster sugar
coarsely ground black pepper

Rinse the tomatoes and dry thoroughly. Chop the garlic, parsley and basil finely, place into a small bowl.
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot. Add cherry tomatoes, season with salt, sugar and pepper. Reduce the heat and stir-fry the tomatoes for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.
Sprinkle the garlic and herb mixture on top, give the tomatoes another stir and serve at once.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coffee Cake

When I first started reading English-language cookbooks I was baffled by coffee cake recipes that had no coffee inside. You see, in Estonia we bake and eat lots of cakes (I've baked a cake to go with coffee each day this week), but they're not called "kohvikook" or "coffee cake". They're called just cakes, and we enjoy them with coffee. Meanwhile, I've been baking a coffee cake - that is, a cake that contains coffee crumbs - for over a decade now. And here's a recipe - originally from a Finnish food magazine in early 1990s, and I've made it over and over again. There's something about eating a coffee cake while drinking coffee, you see.

Note that I use simple ground coffee in the cake, not the instant kind. K. originally thought there were poppy seeds in the cake :P

Coffee Cake Recipe

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 ml / 1 cup / 225 g caster sugar
3 eggs
500 ml / 2 cups all-purpose/plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 heaped Tbsp ground coffee
2 tsp vanilla sugar
50 ml / 3-4 Tbsp milk

For the frosting:
4 Tbsp cold coffee or coffee liqueur
appr. 200 g icing sugar

For decoration:
coffee bean shaped chocolate

Cream butter and sugar until pale, then whisk in eggs, one at a time.
Measure dry ingredients into a bowl, mix thoroughly and then stir into the butter and egg mixture alongside with milk. The resulting batter is quite thick, but still spoonable.
Spoon the batter into a buttered small oven tray (f.ex. 30x30 cm). Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 175 C oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake is cooked (test for doneness with a small wooden cocktail stick).
Let cool.
Mix the coffee and icing sugar into a glossy frosting and drizzle over the cake. Decorate with chocolate 'coffee beans'.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creamy Fish Soup

I just realised that I've been posting nothing but dessert recipes in November. That's no good, is it? Hence this creamy-cheesy fish soup recipe today. A similar recipe has appeared in several Finnish food magazines and at least one local magazine. With a few tweaks here and there, I ended up with this lovely, creamy fish soup. Feel free to experiment with differently seasoned cream cheese. I used trout, as it's lighter, but salmon would work well, too..

A lovely weeknight dinner, and it should appeal to small picky eaters, too.

Creamy Fish Soup
(Juustune forellisupp)
Serves 4

1.5 litres fish stock
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
200 g tub cheese spread (something like this), I imagine)
170 g tub flavoured cream cheese (I used tomato & pesto)
300 g fish filet, cubed (salmon, trout)

To serve:
fresh dill, chopped
black pepper, coarsely ground

Bring the fish stock* to the boil. Add potato cubes and simmer, until tender (10-15 minutes).
Meanwhile, cut the fish into large cubes, taking care to remove any pin-bones.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the melted cheese spread and cream cheese, spoonful at the time.
Put the saucepan back onto the heat, add the cubed fish. Simmer on a low heat for a couple of minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with chopped dill and grind some black pepper on top.

* If using home-made fish stock, then good for you. If you're using good-quality fish bouillon cubes, then take just 1 cube for 1.5 litres of water - the fish and cheese give plenty of flavour -and saltiness - themselves and you don't want the soup to be too salty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lingonberries, cookies and cream

I've started making somewhat Christmassy desserts already - I know, I know - but we've got no Thanksgiving to look forward to, you see :)

Layered crumbled cookies (I used oat cookies, but gingersnaps or gingerbread cookies would work, too), softly whipped cream (perhaps with some vanilla), lingonberry jam..

That's all. And that's delicious...

Kihiline pohladessert

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Roasted figs with thyme, cinnamon and honey

If my previous roasted figs dessert was more of a looker than a taster, then this one is the exact opposite. It looks much humbler, but it tasted absolutely delicious. I guess a syrupy honey-cinnamon sauce on top of roasted figs isn't so unique itself, but just a sprinkling of semi-dried thyme lifted this dessert to another level, so to speak..

Sorry, I simply cannot recall where the original recipe idea is from, but I modified it slightly anyway, so I'm not too bothered :)

Roasted Figs with Thyme, Cinnamon and Honey
(Röstitud viigimarjad mee, tüümiani ja kaneeliga)
Serves 6

3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp butter
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
12 ripe figs
1 tsp dried thyme

Place honey, butter and cinnamon into a small saucepan. Heat, until everything's smooth and combined.
Cut the figs into quarters, leaving the base intact. Place them into a small oven-proof dish. Spoon the honey mixture on top.
Roast in a pre-heated 200°C/400 F oven for about 15 minutes, until the figs are cooked.
Sprinkle the figs with dried thyme and leave in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Serve, drizzling the figs with the honey sauce..

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin and Apple Crumble Recipe

My pumpkin and apple supplies don't seem to end any time soon, so I'm still trying out various recipes and cooking numerous dishes using those two autumn ingredients.

Here's a lovely autumn dessert. The idea for the filling is from an Estonian food magazine, but the crumble topping is my old favourite. We ate this with some soft vanilla ice cream, but custard or whipped cream or even crème fraîche would work well, too.

Pumpkin and Apple Crumble

2 Tbsp butter
100 ml caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon*
100 ml seedless raisins (I prefer light ones)
500 g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into small cubes (weight after peeling)
500 g tart apples, cut into sixth or eight (weight after cleaning)

Crumble topping:
100 ml plain flour
200 ml old-fashioned rolled oats
100 ml brown (demerara) sugar
100 g cold butter

* Feel free to use mixed spice (in the UK) or pumpkin pie mix (in the US) instead.

Note that a cup is 240 ml, so 100 ml is just about half a cup minus 1 heaped Tbsp, and 200 ml is about one cup minus 2 heaped Tbsp.

Mix butter, sugar, cinnamon, raisins and cubed apples and pumpkin. Heat, stirring regularly, on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until pumpkin cubes are softened.

Mix flour, oats and brown sugar in a bowl, then add the cold butter and cut with a knife until you've got a rough-textured crumble.

Spread the apple-pumpkin mix into a buttered oven-proof dish, sprinkle with crumble topping.

Bake in a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for about 30 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden brown and crispy.

Cool a little, then serve with your favourite crumble accompaniment (ice cream, whipped cream, custard, crème fraîche).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Roasted Figs with Candied Ginger

No recipe, just a simple dessert idea. Halved figs are sprinkled with sugar and topped with couple of Buderim candied ginger nibbles. Roasted in the 200 C/400 F oven for 15 minutes, just to warm through, then drizzled with lemon juice and garnished with lemon zest.

Perhaps not the best fig dessert ever, but it's quick and easy, and I love the picture :)

(Röstitud viigimarjad suhkrustatud ingveriga)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Goat Cheese Mousse with Cloudberry Compote

Looking for that little something after your main course, but don't feel like baking or making an elaborate dessert? Well, then this simple goat cheese mousse is for you :) It's served from small dessert glasses or espresso cups, and the combination of tangy goat cheese mousse and sweet Nordic berries is a winner.

The original recipe from a Finnish food magazine MAKU makes a compote out of cloudberries. I must confess that I cheated and simply took another glass of home-made cloudberry compote from the larder and used that.

If you cannot get fresh cloudberries (or don't have any cloudberry compote in your fridge), you've got two options:
A) use a cloudberry jam (like the one from IKEA), and dilute it with some cloudberry liqueur (Lapponia from Finland makes a good one)
B) use a berry with similar characteristics - I'd probably go for raspberries, which are slightly softer, but have a lovely sweet-sharp flavour that would complement the goat cheese mousse nicely.

Goat Cheese Mousse with Cloudberry Compote
(Õhuline kitsejuustuvaht murakamoosiga)
Serves 6

Goat cheese mousse:
2 gelatine leaves
150 g soft and creamy goat cheese (f. ex. Chavroux)
75 ml (5 Tbsp) caster sugar
150 ml plain yoghurt
1 egg white
50 ml (3,5 Tbsp) milk

Cloudberry compote:
100 g fresh or frozen cloudberries
30 ml (2 Tbsp) caster sugar
1-2 tsp cloudberry liqueur

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
Mix the goat cheese with 3-4 Tbsp of sugar, then add the yoghurt and stir until combined.
Whisk the egg white in a separate bowl until light and airy. Add the rest of the sugar and continue whisking, until you've got a fluffy and glossy meringue foam.
Heat the milk in a small bowl. Drain the soaked gelatine leaves and squeeze slightly, then mix with the hot milk, until dissolved.
Now pour the gelatine mixture into the goat cheese and yoghurt mixture, stirring continuously.
Finally fold gently in the whisked egg white mixture (add about 1/3 first, stirring, to soften the mixture, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg white).
Pour the mixture into small ramekins, espresso cups or dessert glasses. Cover and place in a fridge for at least 2 hours to set.

To make the cloudberry compote, place the sugar and berries in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, then simmer for 5 minutes, until berries are softened. Remove from the heat and cool to the room temperature. The add the cloudberry liqueur.

To serve, top each portion of goat cheese mousse with a generous dollop of cloudberry liqueur.