Thursday, 26 July 2007

TGRWT#4: Cauliflower gratin that leaves the breath fresh. No kidding!

Another round of the event They Go Really Well Together has been announced and this time the host is Dennis of and the theme - mint an mustard. The event is about combining ingredients that have similar volatile aroma compounds and testing if they really do go together in real life.

While last round's strawberry and coriander combination seemed easy-peasy, my mind got quite stuck with this one. *** mint with *** mustard? Oh come on! But I managed to create a dish that I really liked and didn't sound like it originated from the Fear Factor TV show.
This dish can of course be prepared without peppermint - just drop cauliflower florets into boiling water without any additions. Or use broccoli instead of cauliflower. I must admit it was my attention at first, but due to the fact that there was no broccoli at the store where I went...well, cauliflower sounded nice and turned out to be successful in the dish.

I give you...

Peppermint flavoured cauliflower gratin with cheese and mustard

At least about 400 g cauliflower
100 g grated cheese
1/2 dl heavy cream
1 tbsp mild mustard
1 eggyolk
about 1 dl loosely packed dried peppermint leaves (or even better - use fresh ones, this is what I had at home)
white pepper

1. Fill a saucepan with over one litre of water and add dried peppermint leaves. Boil from some minutes.
2. Cut cauliflower into florets and add to water, also add some salt. Boil for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile mix the eggyolk with mustard, then add heavy cream and grated cheese. Season the sauce with salt and white pepper.
4. Drain the cauliflower florets and discard peppermint leaves (or if you want to have a stronger peppermint flavour - you can chop some of them and mix into the sauce). Mix the florets with the sauce.
5. Grease a baking dish and fill it with the cauliflower and gratin sauce mixture. Bake at 200C for about 20 minutes.

I didn't actually recognise peppermint when I tasted a floret after boiling them and was a bit disappointed. But when it was time to try the finished dish, the taste was there! First the comfortable (and quite rich!) taste of cauliflower gratin with cheese, then came the taste of mustard trying to overwhelm the one of cheese and finally the taste of peppermint - somehow melting into the mustard taste and leaving a quite fresh feeling into my mouth.

I do feel I used the right amount of peppermint - it calmly reminded itself in the dish, without shouting I'm here! Mustards are of course different, I used Finnish mild mustard and the amount seemed okay. I even got a good comment from my mother - something like 'quite good' which means more than the usual Estonian 'normal' and should - I guess - be taken as a compliment.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Brie cheese goes international

'Brie cheese visiting Estonia' is what I wanted to call this post. But I was so wrong. What you see here, is a true mixture of different cuisines - put together into one weird, but wonderful tasting dessert. Into one weird, but wonderful tasting quick dessert.

It's Brie cheese from France, Blackcurrant jam from my granny's garden here in Estonia and coconut flakes from...well, God only knows where.

Brie cheese fried with blackcurrant and coconut

A small Brie cheese (125 g)
Blackcurrant jam
Coconut flakes (not toasted)

1. Place the coconut flakes onto a saucer or into a small bowl
2. Slice the cheese into thin rounds
3. Spread some jam onto both sides of the rounds and then press them onto coconut flakes, so that they're well covered with them.
4. Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the cheese rounds until the coconut flakes have turned golden brown.

This dessert fits just great with some cold ice cream. The crispy edges of the cheese, the soft jam with its deep taste and the exoticness from coconut...I didn't know what to expect when I tried this idea, but was positively surprised.
Brie cheese has visited Estonia successfully:)

The reason why my post was so short this time is that I'm actually leaving for Norway in less than an hour. Don't forget to eat while I'm away for the next two weeks!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Sweet double bread pudding

Made of leftovers.
And delicious.

Somehow, unexpectedly (I egoistically like to think it was because of my birthday), too much bread found its way to our house. What's worse - it found its way to our fridge. Now, bread in the fridge is not a nice sight for me, so I figured that the best way to get rid of it is just to go ahead and eat all of it.

What would usually happen? White bread would turn into sweet bread pudding saiavorm (read more here) and rye bread would turn into sweet rye bread 'soup' - leivasupp (my classical). But today I rebelled a bit and made an experimental bread pudding - which is going to be a keeper! Curd cheese can be replaced with sour cream, cream cheese or yoghurt (although I would never ever replace it!), light cream or even milk can be used instead of double cream. do want double cream, you do.

Sweet rye bread and white bread pudding

150-200 g white bread
150-200 g rye bread
1 dl sweet apple puree/jam
2 eggs
2 dl double cream
1 dl curd cheese
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp - 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Dice white bread and rye bread.
2. Grease a loaf pan and lay white bread onto the bottom of it.
3. Cover the bread with apple puree and top with rye bread pieces.
4. Beat eggs with curd cheese and double cream until smooth, add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Then pour the mixture onto rye bread (Try to make sure that all of it gets soaked).
5. If you wish then sprinkle some sugar onto the pudding, then bake it at 180C for about 30 minutes.
6. Serve warm with cold milk (poured over it or on the side), with ice cream or with some kissel poured over it.

The bottom part is so soft and sweet enough to fill my appetite, I love the texture curd cheese gives to bread puddings (or anything, actually!). The top part is nicely brown and crunchy under one's tooth. Although it might seem that rye bread tends to burn dangerously during those 30 minutes in the oven, it's not like that - it just takes time for it to become crunchy and all. I wish I'd added a bit more cinnamon, 1/4 tsp is a bit too little for us who we are used to eating heaps of cinnamon on saiavorm.

What about next time? I said the recipe was a keeper! I'd really really like to add berries or fruit - I can feel the dessert calling for fresh blackcurrants picked from the garden or sour morellos. Or on another day - for bananas and blueberries.

Ahh, how I love our cuisine.

Monday, 2 July 2007

TGRWT#3 round-up: Strawberries and coriander


It's finally time for the round-up of the third round of the flavour pairing event They Go Really Well Together (Originally created by Martin from that was all about pairing strawberry and coriander.

Or should I say already?
It seems like I've been writing the round up for the whole night now. I'm kind of busy over here as I'm leaving for a training camp tomorrow morning (or should I say today?) and I haven't even finished packing! Luckily my mood couldn't be better than it is right now. Today was the most important day for all Estonians - the day of our song festival. Imagine over 26000 young people singing together as one, singing to their nation! It did get me crying there on the stage, seeing all the people standing up, holding hands.

But let's not get all that weepy now, we're here for some really good food and experimental dishes:)

This round brought together 14 participants. More than one half of them were skeptical at first, but chemistry has sure done it's job here! Although several had their unlucky attempts (including me!), they tried again and succeeded in creating a dish which made strawberry and coriander go really well together. Well, almost, it's a matter of taste anyway. But there was noone to claim that the combination had been inedible.

I'm really proud of all the participants, you've done a whole lot of work and what you've created is really interesting! It's been a pleasure reading all this, it's been a pleasure even in the middle of the night.
Let's dig in!

Johanna from Melbourne at Green Gourmet Giraffe got inspiration from her shampoo and conditioner bottles to prepare Berry Guacamole.

Although eating coriander was quite a challenge for her, she decided to try it. Again. Johanna substituted the usual tomato bits in her guacamole with strawberries and added fresh coriander. She suggests eating it with a simple toast with sauerkraut. Is there someone out there who wouldn't want to try this out (except for my parents, of course) ?

Johannas verdict:The guacamole was great – the sweet succulence of the strawberries contrast nicely with the creaminess of the avocado and the coriander adds an interesting flavour – but still seems a little soapy!


Martin of made foamy strawberries with coriander.

He added balsamico vinegar because it emphasizes the strawberry aroma and adds acid which he finds important. He warmed the foam up, well, because he could... I wish I had a whipper like he has!
Martin suggests that the reason why many people don't like the taste of coriander might just be because they've used too much of it in a dish. He advises to try it first in small amounts because the taste will come through well.

Martin's verdict:I was very satisfied and my wife liked it too! There’s a good balance between the strawberry and coriander aroma. Sugar rounds of the taste and the balsamic vinegar balances the sugar with it’s tangyness.


Helene from Germany at Neues aus der Küche (New from the kitchen) made a Strawberry and cilantro terrine.

After being disappointed at the combination of strawberry, cilantro and asparagus where cilantro appeared to be really soapy, he decided to just go for adding yoghurt and made a terrine using agar agar. Simple and wonderful, isn't it?

Helene's verdict: It went well, also the yoghurt flattened the dish. My family and I would vote for a simply strawberry salad with cilantro and perhaps a tiny bit of balsamico.


Amrite from Singapore at Le Petite Boulanger made a strawberry salsa.

Although she never would have thought the combination to work well, she gave it a try and liked it. A mixture of strawberries, corinader leaves, tomatoes, jalopeno peppers and onions was left to mingle overnight and was served on a bruschetta. Yum.

Amrite's verdict: The result was a fantastic salsa, which was surprisingly not sweet at all. It had a lovely savoury flavour to it, much like regular salsa, but the difference with this salsa was that it had a more delicate flavour. The coriander worked really well in it.


Sprenger Robert from Basel in Switzerland at lamiacucina made Strawberries with Campari and coriander filling.

His dessert uses coriander seeds, strawberries are filled with a smooth jelly. The original idea of strawberries with Campari filling is said to come from Ferran Adria himself, the chef of El Bulli. Don't you think it's really really really mouthwatering?

Robert's verdict: The resulting strawberries are a very tasty pre-dessert. The corinader seeds fit very well with the bitter Cmpari and the strawberry. May be, that the bitterness of the Campari did mask the strong taste of the coriander a little bit. Try it!


Klaus Dahlbeck from Germany at der Kompottsurfer prepared Roasted coriander ice parfait with marinated strawberries and green tea sauce.

He extended the combination to a triple pairing by adding green tea. This is even more experimental! He discovered that green tea should also be 'chemically ment to be' with strawberry and coriander.

Klaus's verdict: He was impressed by how well the flavours went together.


M from M's blog made Freeze filtered cold strawberry consomme.

He roasted all the ingredients, including strawberries and simmered them for one hour. To achieve a cristal clear consomme, he used the freeze filtering technique introduced by Ideas in Food. I'm very impressed by how much work went into this soup. Brilliant!

M's verdict:I didn't recognise the coriander seeds as such but I think that without the 'lemony' seeds the soup would have missed the 'sour' taste. I did like the taste of the soup - something for a warm summerday


Alexis and Giao from San Francisco at See Us Eat prepared Coriander custard with fresh strawberries.

They were worried that coriander might overpower the dish and decided to just infuse the custard with coriander seeds by heating them together with it. This fabulous dish definitely made me think of coriander creme brulee...with fresh strawberries of course!

Alexis's and Giao's verdict: This method proved effective in that the custard was subtle in coriander flavor, yet also unmistakable. True to the name of this event, coriander and strawberries really do go really well together.


Mari Gordon from the Netherlands at Mevrouw Cupcake made Strawberry Shortcakes with a Coriander Buttermilk Biscuit and Balsamic Cream.

She, although pretty ambivalent on the subject of molecular gastronomy, prepared a wonderful dessert containing both the leaves and seeds of coriander. A good idea for those who just cannot decide!

Mari's verdict: The result, however, was a curiously delicious adaptation of my favorite childhood dessert! The addition of coriander imparts the slightly sweetened biscuit with a savory fragrance. The dark balsamic syrup is pungent, spicy and sweet; but when added to the whipped cream, mellows, allowing the caramel and citrus flavor of the syrup to take center stage.


Jen from Sydney at Milk and Cookies prepared Avocados with Strawberry Salsa on Crispy Tortillas.

She just added coriander leaves to an existing strawberry salsa recipe. In fear, it's true, but she's more into molecular gastronomy now than she was before. Doesn't that prove something about the combination?

Jen's verdict: I could taste the strawberries with little hints of coriander here and there and combining the nutty flavour of the avocado somehow neutralised the flavours. I would say that if you did want to try the combination of strawberry and coriander but you’re a bit of a chicken, then this is a recipe you will be able to stomach.


Dennis from the Netherlands at Kookjegek made Strawberry and coriander smoothie and a Strawberry and coriander dessert.

As for the smoothie, he just mixed together strawberries, coriander, yoghurt, melon juice and some balsamico in a blender. Perfectly easy, isn't it? Balsamico was also used in his dessert for marinating strawberries that were later served with crème fraîche and coriander.

Dennis's verdict: He also thinks that balsamico is a good addition to the combination, coriander gave both his smoothie and dessert a nice after-taste.


Paula Schramm aka Jokerine from made Cilantro panna cotta with strawberry sauce.

She decided to go with the motto 'easy does it' and prepared panna cotta with a simple sauce, flavouring both of them with lemon. So nice that a woman in science has decided to join the event!

Paula's verdict: What I always liked about Panna Cotta was the soft creamy consistency. This is really brought out by the freshness of the lemon and cilantro. This recipe is definitely a keeper.


Stephanie from the USA at Cupcake, my love made Deep-fried strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce.

Now she is enthusiastic! For the strawberries, she made a deep-frying batter flavoured with cinnamon. But what is a strawberry without chocolate sauce? She ate her warm strawberries with a coriander-infused chocolate dipping sauce.

Stephanie's verdict: My Fried Strawberries with Coriander Chocolate Sauce will easily become a dessert that you will not be able to take your mind off of, so I apologize in advance :0) But you're gonna love it!!!!!!


My contribution was Coriander and coconut syrup over sunny strawberries.

I made a syrup using coriander leaves, strained it and mixed with coconut milk. We ate it mixed with fresh strawberries, we ate it with everything.

My verdict: The flavours of strawberries and the syrup 'complete each other. It might be a matter of taste, but I was positively surprised. Coconut had been like a missing link in the combination for me. I believe the syrup is a keeper. On strawberries or on anything.


Sarina Nicole from Trinidad over at TriniGourmet made a strawberry-coriander cake with coconut glaze.

This lovely cake contains strawberry jam and ground coriander seeds. Sarina was happy to try adding coriander instead of allspice, because its slightly citric quality would lend itself well to this kind of dessert . And it seems like it did! And well!

Sarina's verdict: ...boy do I think this was the most successful pairing to date!


Tara, the wonderful host of TGRWT#2 from Australia at Should you eat that? prepared Strawberry and coriander crumble.

The filling for this dessert is made of diced apple that is caramelized together with crushed coriander and mixed with a strawberry sauce flavoured with balsamico and dried coriander leaves. Ooh. And the topping has crushed coriander seeds in it as well. I don't believe Tara would use the word hate when talking about coriander now...

Tara's verdict: The crushed seeds gave a lovely nutty flavour and aroma to the crumble and in all I think they added a different layer of flavour. It was delicious!


Now keep your eyes open as the fourth round has already been announced! Dennis of asks us to pair mint and mustard. I'll definitely try to figure something out!
Haven't read about the previous rounds? They're right here!
TGRWT#1: garlic, coffee and chocolate
TGRWT#2: banana and parsley