Thursday, 29 May 2008

Hazelnut rum balls

Chocolate-y rum balls made with cookie and cake crumbs are quite a classical favourite treat for me. I think I've tried almost every kind they sell in Estonia, I've chosen my favourites and over time I've eaten a ton. A big ton, not a small one. A ton of rum balls.

Although I've never succeeded in making the perfect rum ball at home, I've now succeeded in making quite a perfect variation of it. Hazelnuts have always seemed like good company for a decent rum ball and condensed milk is probably good company for anyone interested in the very quintessence of company.

Pardon for the blurry pictures. I had a bunch of wide-smiled compliment-throwing hungry friends over and they didn't like the idea of leaving any truffles alone.

Hazelnut rum balls

2 dl ground hazelnuts (if you have time - from about 200g hazelnuts, dry-roasted on a skillet and rubbed while warm in a cloth to remove peels)
1 dl cookie or cake crumbs
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp butter
1 dl sweet condensed milk
rum essence
dark chocolate and hazelnuts for decorating
  1. Mix ground hazelnuts, cookie crumbs and cocoa powder well.
  2. Melt butter and mix well with condensed milk. Add rum essence and vanilla, then pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very well.
  3. Place the mixture into the fridge for a half an hour, make small balls from it and then let them harden in the fridge again.
  4. Melt dark chocolate over a water bath, dip the balls into the chocolate and place them onto foil or parchment paper. Before they harden, decorate each ball with a hazelnut. Store in the fridge.
Although the taste differs according to the crumbs you use, the flavour of hazelnuts is still nicely obvious. Teasingly flirtatious with the rum flavour in the truffles, it really creates a good mild combination that goes together really well with chocolate.

The balls are best eaten when they've spent a day in the fridge. The taste is smoother, the texture is harder, the delight is grander.

The rum balls will also be taking part of this month's Waiter, there's something in my... event, themed Dried fruit and nuts which is hosted by Andrew of Spittoon Extra.

And in the Monthly Mingle event, hosted by Mansi of Fun and Food, themed Appetizers and Hors'Doeuvres.

I really have to make these rum balls when no guests will be coming around;)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Lemon truffles with a pepper-warm coating

Sneaky truffles, I'd say. In a sense that their lemon-y filling and pepper-warm coating together create an almost healthy feeling in your mouth. Lemon-y and warm. Just like a cuppa hot tea, only that actually you eat a handful of truffles!;)

Lemon and black pepper are another great combination magnifico that I strongly advise to try in all variations that come to mind!

Lemon truffles with a pepper-warm coating
(makes about 30)

200 g white chocolate
½ dl double cream
at least 1 tbsp lemon juice

160 g white chocolate
¼ - ½ tsp black pepper

  1. Chop the chocolate to little pieces.
  2. Heat the double cream to boiling point and pour it onto the chocolate ight away. Mix well, until the mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice. Place the mixture into the fridge for about a half an hour.
  3. Make little balls out of the mixture and then place them into teh fridge to harden for some more time.
  4. Melt te remaining chocolate over a waterbath and add pepper to it. Coat the truffles with this chocolate and let them harden on foil or on parchment paper. Store in the fridge.

White chocolate, that often feels so cloy, gains freshness and vividness from the lemon juice. If white chocolate were a lady of respectable age then in these truffles she'd certainly be young again...:) At first the pepper is a balancing flavour but in the end it leaves the mouth sighing warmly in the most pleasant way possible. Contrasts and novelty. Freshness and warmth.

One thing's for sure. Black pepper declares itself as a true dessert spice. I recommend to remember that;)

This entry also participates in the most gorgeous food blogging event of all, Sugar High Friday. This time the host is the wonderful Helen of Tartelette and the theme (again!) CITRUS.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Favourite ice tea smoothie

I'm quite a fan of tea. Not an expert, rather quite far from the worst expert ever there is. But I love my tea: sometimes with herbs or flowers we've picked ourselves, sometimes great quality black, usually green and always without sugar.

And I crave quite everything flavoured with tea (especially when it's this cake). This dessert however, breakfast or whatnot is as easy as it gets, but it's great when made with different teas. You know, something different each time!

Favourite ice tea smoothie
(serves 1)

2 dl yoghurt
1 dl strong tea (any kind), cooled
about 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp sugar
(ice cubes)
  1. Mix tea with yoghurt, adding as much sugar as you like. If desired, flavour with vanilla.
  2. Enjoy with a straw or with white moustache!;) Add ice cubes, if desired.
The smoothie is only as good as you make it;) Good tea equals good smoothie, subtly sweet, thin enough to drink smoothly through a straw. I guess it's a good variation of iced tea for those hot hot days that are yet to arrive..

But it's also a contribution to the Spring Tea Party event held by Erin of The Skinny Gourmet. Now I want to see what people come up with when thinking 'tea'!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Pineapple and lime curd with apricots

Warm weather magically disappeared with a 'puff', leaving behind rain and wind and bad mood.

Hey, khm, with no sun here the least I'm worth is a good long TROPICAL VACATION, right?

But with none coming around...I'm gonna have to do with some tropical curd instead, dreaming of ripe (preferrably peeled and sliced) pineapples falling right into my hands from up above while I myself am sunbathing in my new pretty blue bikinis. (Yes, that would totally fix my mood)


Pineapple and lime curd with dried apricots

5 dl pineapple juice
10 dried apricots
3 eggs
100 g butter
2 1/2 dl sugar
1/2 dl lime juice
  1. In a saucepan, combine pineapple juice and dried apricots. Boil vigorously without lid until the apricots are soft and the juice is reduced to about 1/2 dl, 20-30 minutes.
  2. Measure out 1/2 of reduced juice and dice the apricots into little pieces.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan, add sugar and slightly beaten eggs, whisk until combined. Then add reduced pineapple juice and lime juice. Whisk at moderate heat until the mixture thickens.
  4. Flavour with vanilla and add apricot pieces, making sure they do not stick to each other.
  5. Pour the curd into jars, close them and leave to cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge.

The curd has really got a nice pineapple flavour to it, with a huge hint to lime. The apricot pieces are soft and full of taste when stumbled upon with your teeth! It's gorgeous like the classical lemon curd, only better;)
Good with cookies, ice cream, between cakes, pancakes, good to dunk a spoon into to enjoy the sensation of a whole mouthful. Just good.

And this good curd will also take part in the brand new event Putting up hosted by Rosie of Rosie bakes a peace of cake and Pixie of You say tomato...I say tomato that is all about preserves!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Spring shoots!

In april and may, whenever I walk past a fir hedge, I can't help but instinctively reach my hand for some bright green fir shoots. Ah, I don't think I'm the only one doing that (and I mean doing that after the age of ten;)). They are, after all, so pleasantly sour and packed with vitamins.

Fir shoots are actually a funny subject. Because whenever I tell someone that one can use them in actual dishes, in addition to just nibbling on them from time to time while outside, people answer 'ohhh, hmmm, yeees, I've never actally thought about it'.

But fir shoots are really healthy as well, when not polluted by a nearby street. Syrup and tea made with them should work well when trying to get rid of cough and cold, but also tiredness and nervousness. They liven blood circulation and even have a slightly antibiotic effect!
(yes, now would be the right time to stop asking the question 'are you sure it's okay to eat them?')

Here's my first experiment with fir shoots:)

Fir shoot butter

Bright green fir shoots
Butter at room temperature
(sea)salt, pepper
  1. Rinse the fir shoots
  2. If you want a soft butter, throw the shoots into boiling water, boil for about 10 minutes, then chop into little pieces. Using fresh shoots will result in a crunchier, but brighter butter.
  3. Mix the chopped fir shoots with soft butter and flavour with salt and pepper.

It's great to eat the butter with a simple crunchy bread, but I can imagine it being wonderful with meat, vegetables or young potatoes..oh yes. A scrumptious sour fir-y taste, somehow homely.

Next I'd like to throw some fir shoots into casseroles and salads. I've also found recipes for flavoured oil, tea, syrup, chicken roast, marmalade and ice cream coctail using fir sprouts. If you're interested, I'm ready to translate or try them out:)
And if you've got ideas of your own...I'm one big ear!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Curd cheese mousse with blackcurrant sauce and kiwis

If there was one thing I'd eat for the rest of my life, it would be curd cheese. Or, well, curd cheese and rye bread. But still. I eat it in all kinds of combinations and for me it's mild flavour is so ordinary that I never use recipes. I just enjoy. Enjoy and ENJOY.

But from time to time a combination just nails it. Just like yesterday. And it makes me wanna share. Oh yes it does.

Although the sauce has quite a strong blackcurrant flavour on its own, it's lost a bit if the mousse has a strong cocoa flavour. Therefore, I suggest using a bit less cocoa powder.
Don't be bothered by the blackcurrant pieces in the jam - there actually an extra!

Curd cheese mousse with blackcurrant sauce and kiwis.
(serves 3-4)

400 g curd cheese
1 dl double cream
sugar (about 1/2 dl)
1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
blackcurrant-cream sauce (see below)
2-4 kiwis
  1. Mix curd cheese with sugar and vanilla.
  2. Beat double cream with an electric mixer until fluffy and add (or if you're lazy - just mix it in and beat the mousse a bit).
  3. Add cocoa powder to taste, mix well.
  4. Peel and slice kiwis.
  5. Serve the mousse with warm or cold sauce and kiwi slices. Add cookie pieces, if desired.

Blackcurrant-cream sauce

1/2 dl blackcurrant jam
1 dl double cream
cinnamon, if desired
  1. Take a small pot and heat the jam until it's liquified.
  2. Add double cream, mixing. If desired, add cinnamon.
  3. Boil the sauce for 5 minutes, then serve warm or cold (might get too thick when waits overnight - then just add liquid) .
The blackcurrant-kiwi-cocoa combination truly is a nice find I've been wanting to try for quite some time and it really worked out well! An upside-down version could also be nice - with kiwi sauce and fresh blackcurrants...(summer, summer, come sooner!)

The mild mousse is well complemented by the strong-flavoured, but slightly sour sauce and exotic kiwis. Adding cookie bits adds crispness, serving the dessert while the sauce is still warm and adding some cinnamon to the sauce makes it more interesting.

More curd cheese coming to you soon enough;)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Apples in uniform

What's in an apple? C-Vitamin? Seeds?

Sometimes when you just incidentally happen to eat a whole bowlful, there's also stomach ache in apples. Well...yeah.

But with these apples it's certain - no seeds, no ache (I solemnly swear..), enough C-Vitamin to keep you going and on top of all that there are...apples:)

The first time I tucked fruit into uniform was when I had leftover dough from a pie shell and - I tell you - it's the best way in the universe for using up that leftover dough you'd otherwise end up eating bit by bit, cursing yourself more and more and in the end - having less uniformed fruit to eat;)

Apples in uniform
(serves four)

4 small apples
about 170 g sweet patee brisee
3 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon

  1. Peel the apples and cut the bottom parts a bit flatter so they stand up better. Core them, but don't cut through the bottom.
  2. Divide the dough into four and roll each part into quite a thin circle; leave a bit of dough for decorating.
  3. Fill the apples (as much as you can) with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Place the apples onto the dough circles and then wrap them up. Make sure the dough is of the same thickness everywhere and that it's as smooth as possible - you get four nice balls.
  5. Make (2) leaves for each "apple" from the leftover dough and press them onto the "apples". Use a knife to make the leaf pattern.
  6. Bake the apples in a buttered oven dish at 175C for about 30 minutes until they look golden.
  7. Eat while still warm, serve with vanilla sauce or -ice cream.
How sad that I don't have a photo of the finished dessert! Cause the apples are just so nicely golden and round that they make you want to juggle, roll them in your hands or just eat up at once. Below the crisp surface there's a soft apple and the filling has turned into a sweet dark sauce, that complements the slightly more sour apple very well.

A bit of ice cream or vanilla sauce and this dessert should do the trick:)

Friday, 2 May 2008

Parsnip soup with smoked cheese and soy sauce

Call it spring stress, call it searching for my muse, call it a stupid gap, but here I am - back after two months without a single post about food. I am terribly sorry, for I must be to be polite, but fortunately (so you can cheer and forgive me right away) I can say that I've found the muse and have some great stuff to show you.

Only that...I have to make most of them again to make pictures. Silly silly me.

This soup stayed a dream for quite some time, until one day I got it all right and I literally went 'mmmmmmmm' till my bowl was empty. I couldn't believe it! There was actually competition to my all-time-favourite carrot soup with coriander and aniseed.

Keep the stock light and your heart open for the best experience.

Parsnip soup with smoked cheese
(serves 4)

300 g parsnip, diced
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 dl chicken broth
4 dl milk
100 g smoked cheese, diced
1 tbsp butter
salt, sugar
soy sauce
  1. Melt butter in a soup pot, add diced parsnip, onion and garlic, cover with lid and sautee about 10 minutes, until the onion is transparent.
  2. Add broth and boil for 30 minutes, until parsnip is tender.
  3. Puree the potful, then add the smoked cheese and puree until very smooth.
  4. Pour everything back to the pot, add milk, stirring and flavour with salt and a bit of sugar. Heat up.
  5. When serving, sprinkle with soy sauce.

The soup is full of taste. It has got this sweet flick to it, from the natural sweetness of the parsnip (which, much like the carrot, can cheer up any savoury dish) and also from the essential dash of sugar. The smoked cheese makes it creamier, gives it an attitude, intensifies the taste.

The soy sauce, as the final key to the taste combination, gives the soup the sparkle of life. I wanted to taste a bit with every mouthful, so I just added some more when I'd done with half of the soup. Don't mix it, enjoy it as a contrast, a treat. I'm not a fan of soy sauce, but I love it with red fish and I adore it on this soup.