Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Ohio Shaker lemon pie: A whole lot of lemon and a little bit more

I'm warning you: this pie contains whole lemon slices.
If you're lemon-phobic, do leave now. If not, then this is what you've been waiting for for your whole life.

Who are the Shakers, by the way? They are a religious group, officially named the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. What's important to me, is that they created this pie, in order to not to waste a bit of lemons.
I first found it mentioned over at Ben bakes a cake.
(The pic's really lousy this time, I know)

Ohio Shaker lemon pie
(adapted from Epicurious)

300-400 g pâte brisée
2 lemons
4 dl sugar
4 big eggs
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Blanch the lemons for 30 seconds in a large saucepan of boiling water, then drain them and rinse under cold water.
  2. Cut off the ends of the lemons, discarding them and then cut the lemons cross-wise into paper-thin slices (I used an electrical slicer, but a lot of patience and a sharp knife can complete the mission, too). Remove the seeds.
  3. Put the lemon slices into a bowl, trying to collect all the juice that has flown out of them. Cover with sugar and let the mixture stand for one whole day, stirring after the 1st hour.
  4. Next day roll out half the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 22-24 cm pie plate, leaving an overhang.
  5. Remove the lemon slices from the liquid that has formed to the bowl and arrange them in the pie shell.
  6. Add the eggs and salt to the sugar, whisk until combined well and pour the mixture uver the lemon slices.
  7. Roll out the remaining dough so that it would also leave an overhang. Cover the pie with it and fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it.
  8. Cut slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake for 35 minutes in the middle of the oven at 220C.
  9. Reduce temperature to 175C and bake for 20-25 minutes more, or until the crust is golden.
  10. Let the pie cool and serve it at room temperature. I'd definitely say a heap of ice cream is a must!

A charming idea, if you asked me. By the time the cake is ready, it's filled with creamy lemon curd, although the lemon slices still remain...slices. If you're not the type who likes eating a cake with a fork and a have to put whole slices into your mouth. It's funny how they really are so delicious, pith and all. At the same time the cake still is a little bit more sour than the usual lemon curd, but in a baffling way.

Do add good vanilla ice cream to the servings! The crunchy crust and the sweet-cold ice cream create such contrasts with the intensively tasting filling that it's simply heavenly. Thin lemon slices slipping out from between the crusts are just waiting to be popped into your mouth!

What if I used limes instead of lemons? Now that would be incredible. A must-try, I guess.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

A healthy onion tart, three ways

A bag of onions makes me happier than a bag of candy.

Like...really. As I'd managed to somehow eat all our onions, I was happy as hell to eye a bunch of them when I went to the kitchen, looking for food. I knew exactly what I'd make - and it's not just that the recipe is called 'healthy onion tart' (it wouldn't be healthy if I ate half of it anyway).

I've made it several times and been really happy with it, although I've always been annoyed with the crazy salt amount the recipe calls for. How is it that cookbook authors sometimes really mess up? How is it that they sometimes manage to leave some parts of the recipes out? Or some ingredients? Don't they their work over again and again?
Whatever. But that's lame. Let's just stop whining and stuff our mouths full.

Healthy onion tart on an oat flake and carrot crust
(adapted from '100 pirukat', serves 8)

1 dl oat flakes
1 dl flour
1 dl grated carrots
100 g baking margarine (or butter) at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

3-4- onions
1 tbsp butter
2 dl milk
2 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
  1. Mix grated carrot, oat flakes and margarine.
  2. Mix flour with salt and baking powder, add to the mixture.
  3. Take a 24cm round baking pan and press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan (it's easier to do so when you've chilled the dough in the fridge for some time). Place the pan into the fridge for a half an hour.
  4. Meanwhile slice the onions and cook them with the butter until they're golden.
  5. Mix eggs with milk, add salt.
  6. Bake the crust in the middle of a preheated 200C oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Spread the onion slices onto the baked crust and pour the milk-egg mixture over them.
  8. Bake at 180C for 20 more minutes.

Feel free to add herbs to the onions (thyme, maybe? rosemary? sage? or oregano?) or cheese on top of the tart when it has been baking for some time already (I allow you to keep the name 'healthy' even when you add cheese;))
I'd definitely go for some green salad on the side for serving, be the tart warm or cold. I love to warm up the cold tart in the microwave, too. The onions are so mild, the crust is sweetly speckled from grated carrot. It's not very crisp - the crust - only the bottom and the sides are, the filling kind of melts into its upper layer.

Long long time ago - in the summer - I used the very same recipe for onion tartelettes.

I think I pre-baked the crust for some 5 minutes and added 1-2 tbsp of both onions and milk-egg mixture to each tartelette, also adding cheese in the middle of baking. They were marvellous snacks to eat with fingers! As this method used up all the crust dough, there was left-over filling and I baked it in bread slices that I placed in a muffin pan. For bread and onion tartelettes I added cheese right away.

Talking about 'marvellous'? These were perfect when eaten warm and definitely on a green salad! I don't think there's a need for a more accurate recipe. Just...look!

This post will also be taking part of the 11th WTSIM event Topless tarts, hosted by Jeanne from Cook sister. Fortunately being underage can't stop one from participating...:D

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

All the flavour of peanut butter in a flourless cookie

Crunchy, but soft on the inside. Crumbly and so so full of that creamy peanut butter flavour that you might just as well send around the jar and let everyone stick a spoon into it!

These cookies, adapted from Nicole at Baking Bites, are flourless. No flour - no problem. No problem whatsoever. If you honestly have never baked before or - honestly - have failed doing it every single time, then it's time to get your fingers dirty. You can lick them clean, afterwards, of course:)

I made the cookies for a friend who came for a visit. 'She'll be here in 15, I'll just quickly throw a batch of cookies into the oven' But...I did it faster.
According to what you like, you can add 2 dl of chocolate chips/chopped chocolate or some peanuts. Or you can add both.

Flourless peanut butter cookies
(adapted from Baking bites, makes about 20)

180 g peanut butter
1 3/4 dl sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or other vanillla flavouring)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
(optional: 2 dl chocolate chips, peanuts)

  1. Preheat oven to 175C.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it with butter.
  3. Beat together all ingredients until smooth (add chocolate chips or peanuts at the end of mixing)
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly with a moistened finger.
  5. Bake about 10-13 minutes until golden brown at the edges.
  6. Cool on the baking sheet for some minutes, then cool on a rack completely.

I'd recommend a shorter baking time for a chewier cookie, but that's already up to you. If you love peanut butter, you'll never get lonely with these cookies around. As my friend was a bit late...I didn't get either...
Check the clock! Have 15 minutes? You know what to do!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Roasted spiced sweet potatoes

Now, read these comments from Epicurious.

'This recipe converted me from a lifelong dislike for sweet potatoes'
'I really liked the sweet potatoes and I usually don't like sweet potatoes'
'This recipe converted my sweet-potato hating husband'
'My husband, who doesn't particularly like sweet potatoes, thought it was delicious'
'I don't really like sweet potatoes, so this recipe was a pleasant surprise'
'My husband who really doesn't care for sweet potatoes enjoyed them'

And now, analyze. Is there something similar to them, maybe?
You got it! And though I didn't need any converting, I really liked the dish.

Roasted spiced sweet potatoes
(adapted from Epicurious, serves 4-6)

1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes (less if you don't love the heat)
1 tsp salt
900 g sweet potatoes
3 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 220C
  2. Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano and red pepper flakes in a coffee grinder/spice grinder or with a mortar and a pestle. Mix with salt.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into wedges (depending on their shape, you may also first cut them into two, so that the wedges are not very long - that's what I did)
  4. Take a large roasting pan and add the potato wedges, spices and oil. Mix well.
  5. Roast in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the wedges over and roast for another 15-20 or until they're tender and slightly golden.
  6. Serve alongside meat or with a yoghurt/sour cream dip.

The wedges were quite spicy for someone like me - I don't usually eat the spicy stuff. So next time I'd certainly add less pepper flakes.
When I finished preparing the spice mix, air around me was thick with fennel aroma, but in the end, the dish wasn't that much about fennel, the herbs and spices cooperated well - making the end result very good indeed and not specifically pointing out any of the flavourers. Under the spicy not-very-crispy crust, the insides of the wedges were like sweet potato mash - so soft and tender.

I prepared a quick yoghurt sauce for eating with the wedges, but I imagine they'd be wonderful with some meat, too. Still, I'd prefer for snow to fall down before trying that version out...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Green coucous with celery root and pesto

I have eaten about 400 g of couscous in my life, so I'm obviously no expert. But I feel I've found my perfect way of having it (already? how dull it's gonna be later on!) - with a good splash of pesto and a good deal of onion and garlic. This time I also added celery root (which kind of just got into the way...) for an extra green dish. But probably just because my father would then only try a bite...did this subconsciously, of course. And who could blame the great ideas of subconsciousness?

Green couscous with celery root and pesto
(serves 2-3)

100 g couscous
1 dl water
oil, butter
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
about 100 g celery root
2 tbsp pesto
salt, sugar
(for serving: feta cheese, sliced cucumber/cucumber salad)
  1. Heat about a tablespoonful of butter on a skillet, add chopped onion, garlic and celery root. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook until onion becomes transparent and slightly light brown. Add salt and a bit of sugar to the skillet, mix well and cook for one more minute.
  2. While the vegetables cook, bring the water to a boil with a dash of oil. Also add salt, but consider the saltiness of your pesto and the fact you flavoured the vegetables too.
  3. Remove form heat, stir in couscous. Cover with a lid and let steep for some minutes.
  4. Return to heat for a few minutes, adding the pesto. Use a fork to stir and separate the grains.
  5. Mix in the contents of the skillet.
  6. Serve warm. I love adding feta cheese and cucumber slices.

Lately it has often happened that I've not eaten warm food for several days, so this was a true pleaser, considering the slow arrival of winter outside (the so-called snow can only be referred to as the Estonian word 'plöga').

The dish is fragrant and has a lovely green colour, tastes the way a comfort food should taste. The salty feta and mild-fresh cucumber make a perfect extra. Hey, wait, maybe it was the colour that drove my dad away? We have, after all, been living in a world without pesto, a world of potatoes and pork. I'm the villain, you see, trying to destroy everything.

An maybe I'll even succeed one day, but there is quite much green couscous to eat on the way.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Hazelnut cake with curd cheese and black tea cream : My layered cake dream just came true

I've kept my promise.

Who would have guessed? I made this yum curd cheese mousse with black tea in late August and promised to make a layered hazelnut cake with black tea egg-buttercream filling. And...well...I almost kept it. That's a start, right?:)

Maria Öhrn is a fabulous Swedish cookbook author. I browsed through her
'Tårtor' (or 'Tordid' in Estonian, I don't know if it's been translated to English) in a bookstore, said some kind words about it and ended up getting two of these books for my birthday.

Better 2 than none, right? Anyway, although the book contains only about 30 recipes, they are all so very different and most of them have this nice twist to them. I love twists. I could eat twists every day. For this layered cake I used Maria's recipe for hazelnut cake (originally paired with canned pears and Nutella!)

Hazelnut cake with curd cheese and black tea cream
(cake base recipe from Maria Öhrn's 'Tårtor' (Cakes))

200 g hazelnuts
1 dl potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 ml salt
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
2 dl sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 batch of curd cheese mousse with black tea
for decorating: black tea glazed apples and caramelized hazelnuts
  1. Grind hazelnuts well using a food processor or a coffee grinder
  2. Mix hazelnut flour with potato starch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a clean and dry bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  4. Beat the yolks slightly with sugar using a whisk, add dry ingredients and milk to the mixture
  5. Gradually add the egg white.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased 24 cm springform pan. Bake at 175C for about 45 minutes (it took me only about 35). Let the cake cool completely
  7. Cut the cake into two layers and spread the curd cheese mousse between them and on the top and the sides (Use quite much of it between the layers). Chill at least for a couple of hours before serving.
  8. If you wish, decorate with black tea glazed apples and caramelized hazelnuts, setting the apples in the center of the cake and the nuts along the sides. This can be done either before or after chilling the cake.

Black tea glazed apples

(adapted from Epicurious)

2 smaller apples
1 dl sugar
2 teabags of black tea
powdered sugar
  1. Combine sugar with 2 dl of water in a saucepan and add teabags.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile peel the apples, slice both into 8 wedges and cut out the cores.
  4. Remove teabags from the syrup and add apple wedges. Simmer at low heat for about 15 minutes.
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the apples onto a rack (used in the oven) set over a baking tray and drain them for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven's grill function. Then sprinkle the apple wedges with some powdered sugar and put both the rack and the baking tray into the oven (you need the tray so that the liquid that drips from the apples doesn't stick to the bottom of your oven). Grill for 3-5 minutes. Let cool.

Caramelized hazelnuts

1 1/2 dl hazelnuts
2 tbsp powdered sugar
a pinch of salt

  1. Use unpeeled nuts for a rustic effect or peel them. To do that, just roast them on a dry skillet for some time and then rub the peels of with the help of a kitchen towel.
  2. Combine all three ingredients on a pan over moderate heat.
  3. When sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and stir the nuts constantly until they are covered with caramelized sugar
  4. Pour the nuts onto a piece of foil in a single layer and cool.
My expectations were sky-high, because OF COURSE I'd tried bits and pieces of the cake when I cut it into 2 layers and it was, even at that moment, moist and rich in hazelnut flavour. I love that cookbook. In the end, it worked out really well for me, the flavours melted into each other and each bite was moist and had the sensational taste of 'I did it'. The flavours of black tea and hazelnut are both strong and I have a hunch there's something similar to them. I got the permission of making the cake again. Honoured, really, I'm honoured:D

I love how the decorations came out. The apples are really into tea, I'd say, and could make a great dessert by their own. Not peeling the hazelnuts was also a good choice, for this rustic appearance is perfect for an autumn-y cake. And if this cake doesn't say autumn then they're certainly is no autumn outside.

And I'd eat this cake every time somebody brings a store-bought obviously &#"@! vegetable fat cake with &#"@! vegetable fat cream to a family gathering. And I really don't care about good will if the cake is really lousy.
This cake isn't. Hah.