Friday, January 28, 2011

Almost a full English breakfast

Almost (full) English breakfast

Trying to think what to make for breakfast this Sunday? Here's what we had last weekend.. No tomatoes and mushrooms, and ciabatta instead of white sliced toast, but otherwise pretty close and rather nice..

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cranachan - a perfect dessert to finish a Burns' Supper


Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Scots - whether real or adopted or simply fans of all things Scottish - all around the world are celebrating the 252nd birth anniversary of their beloved Bard, Robert Burns tonight. A proper Burns Supper includes, of course, a Selkirk Grace (see above) and a haggis & neeps & tatties and an Address to a Haggis and a Toast to the Lassies and several other must-haves - and during my seven years in Edinburgh I had a pleasure of attending several Burns Suppers, some ticking all the right boxes. Lovely memories indeed...

Now, back in Estonia, I must settle for a slightly more low-profile celebration. I cannot get my favourite haggis here, and at this point of time (just 10 days after the birth of our second child), I'm in no shape to make my own :) I might make a cock-a-leekie soup for supper, and finish the meal with a lovely glass of cranachan (going easy on whisky this year, of course).

Cranachan is one of the most popular Scottish puds - and the ingredients - whisky, oats and raspberries - are all excellent in Scotland. You may have encountered this dessert under other names - Cream Crowdie (containing some soft cheese 'crowdie') or Tipsy Oats, for instance. Raspberries are an important component of Cranachan, suggesting that originally this dessert was served during the height of summer, when raspberries are in season. However, it's now served often during Hogmanay (the Scottish new year's celebrations) and during the Burns Supper (but then raspberries freeze rather nicely).

(Šoti viski-kaerahelbedessert)
Serves up to six


100 g medium ground or pinhead oatmeal (rolled oats, if these are easier to get hold of)
3 Tbsp Scotch whisky (I love a smokey whisky here)
400 ml whipping cream
100 g caster sugar (or less, to taste)

300-400 g raspberries

Put the oatmeal or oats on a heavy non-stick frying pan and toast slightly over a medium heat (stir regularly to avoid burning!)*. Take off the heat, drizzle the whisky over the oatmeal and stir to combine. Let stand and cool.
Whisk the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Stir in the whisky-infused oatmeal and divide between dessert glasses.
Top with plenty of raspberries.
Place into the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving, so the flavours could mingle and develop.
Then serve and enjoy!

* If you want a crunchier pudding, then toast some of the sugar alongside the oats - this gives you a more caramelised oat mixture.

Monday, January 17, 2011

And then we were four ...

Already home!
Just to let my dear blog readers to know that blogging has been - and will be - a bit erratic recently due to that little fellow on the picture. Our second child - a boy named Aksel - was born early on Saturday morning after a very quick delivery in a nearby birth clinic. We got home on Sunday already, and we're all doing great. However, little Aksel will be surely keeping me away from the laptop for a while, alongside with our soon-to-be-two-daughter Nora, who needs special attention and affection just now.

We're still cooking and taking pictures, of course, and blogging will resume in due course :) Hang on there!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Russian syrniki aka curd cheese patties

Curd  cheese patties / Sõrnikud

A little something from the Russian kitchen - fried thick curd cheese patties that are best enjoyed while still hot with a generous dollop of soured cream or a jam of your choice. You'll find curd cheese or quark cheese (tvorog, read more here) in Russian or Polish or German shops. Remember, the higher the fat content, the tastier the end result - or try farmer's cheese instead. Ricotta is too smooth and lean to work, in my opinion.

We love them for breakfast, but syrniki also make an excellent mid-day or mid-afternoon snack.

Serves 4

500 g curd cheese
2 egg yolks (or 1 egg, if you wish)
60 g plain flour (100 ml), or slightly more, if necessary
a generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp sugar (for sweet syrniki)

flour for breading
oil for frying

Combine curd cheese, egg yolks, salt and sugar, if using.
Sprinkle some flour on the work surface and on your hands. Form small patties from the curd cheese mixture (add a spoonful or two of flour, if the mixture is too loose), flatten them slightly. The curd cheese patties should be about 1 cm thick.
(You could put them into the fridge for about and hour - it helps them to stay in shape).
Heat some oil on a frying pan over moderate heat. Fry the syrniki on both sides for 3-5 minutes, until they're golden brown.

Serve when still warm.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baked apple pudding

Roasted apple pudding / Ahjuõunavaht

Another super-easy and lovely dessert idea (these days I seem to be drawn to uncomplicated and super-easy puddings. Must be the dark winter nights). Oven-baked apples - though not necessary exclusively a winter dessert - do make more sense during winter than during summer and autumn (the home-grown apples taste simply too good when in season that they're best enjoyed as they are).

However, here's a good way to a) use baked (plain) apples or to b) use up any leftover baked apples you've made. It's not even really a recipe, more like a serving idea...

I used plain baked apples...

Baked apple fluff
Serves 4

3 to 4 larger apples

200 ml whipping cream
1-2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract

Wash the apples and bake in a pre-heated 200 C / 400 F until soft. Cool completely, then grate coarsely.
Season the cream with sugar and whip until fluffy and soft peaks form. Season with vanilla and gently fold in the grated baked apples.
Serve in pretty dessert glasses.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Clementines in star anise and cinnamon syrup

Clementines in wine-cinnamon-star anise / Mandariinid veini-kaneeli-tähtaniisileemes

For the first post of 2011 I chose a dessert from our new year's eve table. For various good reasons we didn't host a big new year's eve party this year, and instead had a quiet (and still lovely) evening with good friends living nearby. We were 6 adults (including one Swede), 1 schoolgirl and our little daughter. We shared a feast of cold cuts, some American and Swedish lobsters and, a layered beetroot and salmon salad, and a bit of this and that - all delicious. I was asked to contribute something sweet. I didn't want to bake a cake - exhausted from all the Christmas baking, I guess - and then decided to bring two desserts instead. Both of them were inspired by a Swedish food magazine Lantliv Mat & Vin (4/2010) that K. had recently brought back from a business trip to Stockholm. One of dishes was poached pears in a vanilla and ginger syrup, the other was clementines macerated in a spiced white wine syrup. I didn't want to open another bottle of wine, and had an half-empty vermuth bottle on hand instead, so I adapted the Swedish recipe accordingly (drastically reducing the amount of sugar, to start with!).

I loved the result - slightly spiced, slightly sweet - and a very pleasent new way of serving the clementines/mandarines that are sold everywhere at the moment.

Clementines in star anise and cinnamon syrup
(Mandariinid jõuluses veinileemes)
Serves ten or more

20 to 30 small seedless mandarines or clementines

250 ml dry vermut (I used Filipeti)
500 ml water
200 g sugar
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

First, prepare the syryp. Measure the vermut and water to the saucepan, add star anise and cinnamon sticks. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the citrus fruit, removing all the white pith carefully (I had small Moroccan clementines - a bother to peel, but at least there was no pith to remove).
Place the mandarines/clementines into a heavy glass jar or bowl, fitting them tightly next to one another. Pour over the syrup (slightly cooled), so all the fruit would be covered.
Leave to macerate/season for a few hours.