Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Estonian meatballs aka hakk-kotletid aka kotletid aka hakklihakotletid

Estonian meatballs. Hakk-kotletid, täitsa tavalised.

Here's a posting I didn't think I'd be doing - after all, kodused kotletid are such a humble comfort food and they're not exactly the runner-up for the "Most Photogenic Food" title. Yet I've recently understood that there is something wee bit unique about the typical Estonian hakk-kotlet - namely, the main ingredient. Of course, that's minced meat, but majority of Estonians would use a mixture of beef and pork, 50:50 ratio. And while it's perfectly acceptable to go and buy a packet of one (say, beef) and a packet of another (pork), then more often than not we simply reach out and buy one of the mixes. I'm not talking about seasoned sausagemeat or some other minced meat mixes here, but about a 50:50 mix of pure minced beef and pure minced pork. Here's one by Atria (you can choose between 300 g and 500 g), but all Estonian meat producers have this product in their portfolio:

I hadn't really given this much thought, but at a recent press event a local meat and BBQ guru, Enn Tobreluts claimed that this type of minced meat product is pretty untypical outside the Baltic region, and indeed, I don't think I ever came across it while living in Scotland. Of course, there are plenty of Estonian cooks who make meatballs - flat or round - with just beef or just pork or even just lamb, but a mix of beef and pork is most popular for making this humble dish. We even have a special name for this type of minced meat mix - kodune hakkliha aka domestic minced meat :)

What's your choice of meat for making meatballs? Can you get "domestic minced meat" at your country of residence? I'd love to hear your comments!

Estonian meatballs  
(Lihtsad hakk-kotletid)
Serves 4 to 6

Estonian meatballs. Hakk-kotletid, täitsa tavalised.

100 ml (about 7 even Tbsp) dry breadcrumbs
200 ml liquid (water, single cream, milk, sour cream)
1 onion, finely chopped
500 g minced meat (preferably a mixture of pork and beef, see above)
1 egg
1 tsp fine salt
0,5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix breadcrumbs and the chosen liquid in a mixing bowl and let stand for about five minutes.

If you don't like the harshness of raw onion, then sauté it gently in a bit of oil until translucent.

Fold the (fried) onion, the meat, egg and seasoning into the breadcrumb mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Using wet or oily hands, form the mixture into meatballs or patties. Fry in hot oil or batter on both sides for a few minutes, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.

PS I LOVE cold meatball, halved, on my rye bread, so these are also perfect for a lunch box!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mascarpone and cottage cheese with raspberries

"Risifrutti" aka cottage cheese and mascarpone pudding with raspberries. Kodujuustudessert vaarikatega.

Trying to reduce the amount of carbohydrates, yet missing something sweet and luscious? Then try this low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free mascarpone and raspberry pudding - either for breakfast, for dessert or just a quick treat between meals.  It's not dairy-free, however - there's some creamy mascarpone cheese and full-fat cottage cheese in there!

I love the dairy products we get here in Estonia. You get excellent butter, kefir, buttermilk, yoghurt, curd cheese and cottage cheese over here - though the cottage cheese we ate daily in Israel back in 2012 (pictured on the left) was even better. The curds in the Israeli cottage cheese were larger, and much softer than here in Estonia - they really did melt in your mouth!  But apart from that, you cannot fault the Estonian dairy products. We use them a lot and in various delicious ways - just browse through the Estonian recipes on my blog to see all the cakes, desserts and pastries - and even savoury dishes - requiring curd cheese (tvorog/quark/rahka) or the farmers cheese/cottage cheese.

I adopted the recipe from Madbanditten, a popular Danish LCHF-blog. Jane (the blogger) added some sweetener into the dessert as well, which I didn't have nor missed at all - mascarpone is so rich and creamy that it fully satisfies your tastebuds without any added sweetener :)

Simple mascarpone and raspberry pudding
Serves 2

100 g full-fat cottage cheese (also known as farmer's cheese)
100 g mascarpone cheese
0.5 tsp vanilla extract or powder

To serve:

Combine cottage cheese and mascarpone in a bowl, add vanilla and mix again. Fold in some raspberries, serve at once or keep covered in the fridge until ready to eat.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Green beans with garlic


Do you tend to prefer fresh vegetables over frozen ones? I guess most people would say "Yes". However, out of season - which depending on your location could be from October till May, like here in Estonia - fresh vegetables aren't always the best choice. That's a message Jamie Oliver is advocating in his latest TV series, Save with Jamie - out of season fresh vegetables are often way past their best, whereas frozen vegetables are harvested at their best and frozen within hours. They're often fresher than the fresh, so to say. They're definitely cheaper as well, helping you to save the pennies!

So here I am, in the middle of Estonian winter, cooking with frozen-fresh green beans, inspired by Jamie. Jamie served these garlicky green beans alongside his secret steak and chips and creamy mushroom gravy (here's the original recipe), I serve these simply as a vegetarian main course or alongside some grilled meat.

#glutenfree #Paleo #LCHF #lowcarb

Green beans with garlic
Serves 4

400 g trimmed green beans (frozen)
olive oil
4 to 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
salt, to taste

Put the frozen green beans into a large frying pan. Add a generous lug of oil, and fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the beans defrost and any liquid has evaporated from the bans.

Add the garlic, turn down the heat and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until the beans are crispy and golden brown here and there.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chocolate Muffins Recipe

Nami-Nami chocolate muffins / Nami-Nami šokolaadimuffinid
Recipe repost. This was originally posted in February 2010.

I'm jumping on the Valentine's Day bandwagon here. I must admit it's not a holiday that we celebrate, really. Though Valentine's Day/Friends' Day has become increasingly popular amongst the younger generation here in Estonia, I was out of high school way before that trend began here. But it's a good excuse to bake some chocolate muffins and decorate them with heart-shaped sprinklers :)

When I started looking for a good chocolate muffin recipe, I realised that the choice was endless. Instead I took my excellent rhubarb muffin recipe, replaced the rhubarb with chopped dark chocolate and added some cocoa powder for extra colour and deeper chocolate flavour. The muffins have a very low fat content, as most of the butter has been replaced with yogurt/sour cream - resulting in moist muffins with a nice crumb. I loved them!

Chocolate Muffins
(Mõnusad šokolaadimuffinid)
Makes 12 smaller muffins

2 large free-range eggs
125 soft brown sugar
135 g plain flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
150 g plain yogurt or sour cream
50 g butter, melted
100 g coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Whisk eggs and sugar until light and frothy.
Sieve flour, cocoa, baking powder and vanilla sugar into a bowl, stir to combine.
Fold the dry ingredients, yogurt/sour cream and cooled melted butter into the egg and sugar mixture.
Finally add the chopped chocolate.
Spoon the batter into muffin tins that have been lined with paper cups. Sprinkle with heart-shaped sugar sprinklers*, if you feel like :)

Nami-Nami chocolate muffins / Nami-Nami šokolaadimuffinid

Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are cooked and have risen nicely.

* I used some from Finnish company MEIRA - I liked how the baked into the muffins. No need for a frosting to keep them in place :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chia, banana and coconut pudding recipe

Banana and chia coconut pudding. Banaani-kookosepuding chia-seemnetega.

It took me a while to like chia seeds. I was well aware of all the benefits of enjoying some chia seeds every now and then (if you're not, then check out this article over at Huffington Post), but they reminded me of frogspawn and I wasn't really interested. Yet somehow a packet of chia seeds did find a way into my kitchen cupboard recently and I've been adding a serving (2 Tbsp) here and there. And you know what - they still look like frogspawn when mixed with liquid and left to stand for a while - but they taste actually nice and I quite enjoy the texture now.

Today's recipe is for a simple banana, chia and coconut pudding. Many bloggers use almond milk (see a list of similar recipes at the end of this post), but I never have that at home, so I use coconut milk instead. Enjoy this for breakfast, dessert or a quick snack.

You'll need an immersion blender for making this pudding.

Banana, chia and coconut pudding
Serves 1

1 very ripe banana
100 ml coconut milk
2 Tbsp chia seeds
a dash of vanilla extract

Peel the banana, cut into chunks and place into a tall glass or jug. Add the coconut milk and blent until smooth.
Add the chia seeds, blend for a second, just to distribute the chia seeds evenly. Season to taste with vanilla.
Leave to stand for an hour, so the chia seeds can suck in some of the coconut milk.
Serve with a small spoon.

Banana and chia coconut pudding. Banaani-kookosepuding chia-seemnetega.

Similar recipes:
Three-ingredient banana chia pudding @ Run Eat Repeat
Banana chia pudding @ Healthy Living How To
Banana coconut chia seed pudding @ Slender Kitchen
Chia seed breakfast bowl @ Oh She Glows (Angela has great topping suggestsions as well!)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds

Rooskapsas, peekon ja mandel. Brussels sprouts, almonds and bacon.

Brussels sprouts, yes or no? 

I say yes, especially now, mid-winter. Cheap, cheerful and seasonal!

Here's a dish based on the lovely Nigel Slater's recipe that I found on BBC's website (see here), though I first read about it on this Estonian blog and on this Estonian blog). I still get a fresh batch of Brussels sprouts at my local farmers market almost every weekend, and my family seems to love them. The kids, I must admit, seem to prefer them raw, so I always put a couple aside for them.


Without further ado, here's the recipe. However, do check out this recipe on Nami-Nami, posted just a few months ago - sautéed Brussels sprouts with lemon - that's lovely, too!

Brussels sprouts with bacon and whole almonds
(Rooskapsad peekoni ja mandlitega)
Serves 4 to 6


1 kg Brussels sprouts
about 300 g smoked ham or bacon
2 Tbsp butter
150 g whole almonds

Trim the sprouts - cut the stem shorter, remove the ugly outer leaves. Halve the Brussels sprouts.

Cut the ham/bacon into 1 cm dice.

Melt the butter in a large heavy frying pan. Add the ham/bacon and fry over moderate heat, stirring regularly, until the meat is golden and starts to crisp. Add the prepared Brussels sprouts and sauté for 5-6 minutes more over medium high heat, until the cabbage is cooked and begins to brown on edges.

Throw in the almonds and fry for another 2 minutes, just to heat through.

Serve immediately, though I enjoyed nibbling on this dish much later as well.


Brussels sprouts recipes from other foodblogs:
Pisike ja pisut segi (recipe in Estonian) (recipe in Estonian)
Juustukuningad (recipe in Estonian)
101 Cookbooks
Simply Recipes
Two Peas and their Pod
Smitten Kitchen

Monday, February 03, 2014

Cauliflower rice

Praetud riivitud lillkapsas ehk lillkapsariis / Cauliflower rice
Originally posted in January 2013. Still immensely popular at our house!

Have you eaten "cauliflower rice" before? Have you prepared it yourself? What's your favourite cauliflower "rice" recipe?

Kalyn wrote back in 2010 that she realised she's late to the cauliflower rice party. Imagine being then three more years late to the "cauli rice" party!!! I had seen the blog posts here and there, but didn't get around to trying this way of cooking cauliflower until now. We all liked it, and our 2-year old son really-really liked it, so we'll be definitely making this again.

I love cauliflower a lot (see the list of other cauliflower dishes here at Nami-Nami at the end of this post), but I admit this way of preparing cauliflower changes the flavour quite a lot. If I hadn't cooked it myself and someone had offered me a spoonful, I wouldn't have suggested cauliflower at first - texture-wise, it reminded me more of egg fried rice and not grated and fried cauliflower. Perhaps this is the way of introducing cauliflower to those people (men? kids?) who tend to be suspicious of cruciferous vegetables? Perhaps?

Here's my version of cauliflower rice. It's low in carbohydrates, high in fibre, suits vegan, gluten-free and Paleo diets - so a rather universal dish. Cheap as well!

  Praetud riivitud lillkapsas ehk lillkapsariis / Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice
Serves 4 as a side dish, can be easily halved or doubled

Praetud riivitud lillkapsas ehk lillkapsariis / Cauliflower rice

1 large head of cauliflower (about 700 grams)
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3-4 Tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Rinse the cauliflower, drain. Shred finely, using the coarse side of your grater.
Heat the oil on a large frying pan over moderate heat.
Add the grated cauliflower, garlic and chilli flakes and fry the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Season generously, scatter the parsley on top and serve.

More cauliflower recipes @ Nami-Nami:
Cauliflower cheese with mustard
Cauliflower with creamy pepper and pesto sauce
Roasted cauliflower (over-baked cauliflower)
Roasted cauliflower with bacon and garlic
Spicy cauliflower with tomatoes and Cauliflower with egg and sage butter
Cauliflower with browned butter and breadcrumbs
Cauliflower with peas and cumin
Cauliflower mince and cheese with dill

Some other "cauliflower rice" recipes:
Cauliflower rice with celery and onion @ Elena's Pantry
Cauliflower Spanish rice @ A Veggie Venture
Cauliflower rice with fried onions and sumac @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Cilantro-lime cauliflower rice @ Big Red Kitchen
Paleo Dirty Rice @ Elena's Pantry
Cauliflower chicken fried "rice" @ Stephen Cooks