Thursday, 21 February 2008

A thought: Coca Cola 'sorbet'

I don't drink Coca Cola. The sugar almost hurts in my throat if I do so and I don't stand it.

After all, I'm well aware that there's more acid in Coke than in acid rains;)

And when I heard a lecture held by the head of Coca Cola Baltic in autumn (that was supposed to be about business, but in fact was p.u.b.l.i.c.i.t.y.), he said that 'all our products is healthy' and that he himself gave it even to his tiny daughter. Felt sorry for the girl. The worst lecture I've ever attended. Not trying to impress - really.

But, hehe, what's this health anyway, right?

I made Coca Cola 'sorbet'. It's rather just an idea - incredibly easy to execute, but definitely an interesting finish to some desserts or a way to enjoy the perhaps favourite taste - consuming less, but experiencing more. Can this even be called a recipe?
And I'm not playing hypocrite here - I liked it.

Coca Cola 'sorbet'

Process Coca Cola in an ice cream machine if you've got one. Or freeze it, processing it in a food processor/blender or with an immersion blender (have the drink in a suitable bowl for that) every 30-60 minutes until it has reached suitable consistency.

As a sorbet, Coca Cola doesn't seem so sweet and that's probably why I liked it that way. It's better to concentrate on the actual citrusy flavour. Good just by itself, but even better with some berries or poached fruit.


Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Hazelnut cookies with black pepper and a dash of rosewater

I am often skeptical about all sorts of cookies. I frown. I try to imagine them in my mouth. I assure myself they're not good for anything and then go and eat some yoghurt instead. But being a food blogger, there are a number of other food bloggers I'd believe even if they told me that salmon flavoured hot chocolate was a real treat. Or, maybe, let's just limit that to 'a dash of pepper exalts the flavor of hazelnuts like no other'.

Clotilde was so very right about that statement when altering a cookie recipe by Laurence Salomon. This was already my second batch! And I seldom make a second batch! Nevertheless these got overbaked a little - never pick up your phone when you know you have to take your cookies out of the oven in no time!

Hazelnut cookies with black pepper and rosewater
(Clotilde's adaption from Laurence Salomon's 'Fondre de plaisir')

100 g whole hazelnuts
200 g wheat flour
70 g oat flakes
120 g sugar
1 tsp baking soda
a good pinch salt
1/4 tsp (freshly ground) black pepper
130 g butter, chilled and finely diced
2 tbsp rose water (can be replaced with plain water)
  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet until fragrant. Rub them in a clean dishcloth while they're still warm to remove the husks and chop roughly after they've cooled down
  2. Combine the hazelnuts well with the rest of the dry ingredients, from flour to pepper, in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add the diced butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingers or a wire pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add the rose water and stir it in until the dough comes together just enough that you can gather it in two balls.
  5. Cover the bowl and set aside somewhere cool for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dough into balls a bit larger than walnuts, flatten them slightly, and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving them a little elbowroom to expand.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and set. Let stand for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transfering to a rack to cool completely.

The cookies are crumbly, they're moderately sweet, they're unique in their own way. The pepper completes the taste instead of fighting it and does create a nice warm feeling in the throat. Weird to say this, but it kind of warms up the taste too. Rosewater is recognisable but not striking.

In the end you'll get a small bowlful of hazelnut cookies. Not pepper cookies. Not rosewater cookies. Hazelnut cookies - crumbly and wonderful, with little surprises, perfect enjoyed together with cold milk.

And perfect for a cosy girls' night.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Rye bread pudding with berries

Leftover rye bread usually turns into leivasupp (literally 'rye bread soup') at our household, but this time I felt like making something else. And, I like the kitchen full of something elses. This particular something else here is a perfect opportunity to use up those summer berries stacked in the freezer.

Rye bread pudding with berries

200 g rye bread slices
2 dl apple juice
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
100 g cream cheese
4 dl (frozen) berries (I used morellos and bilberries)
1 tbsp sugar
  1. Soak the rye bread slices in the apple juice, stirring occasionally, for an hour.
  2. Beat the yolks together with the 4 tbsp sugar and cinnamon with an electric mixer. Add cream cheese and beat until incorporated well.
  3. Make sure there aren't any big pieces in the bread and apple juice mixture, then mix the two bowlfuls together.
  4. Grease a 24 cm pie pan and cover the bottom with berries, sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar on them, then pour the bread batter over them.
  5. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes, serve warm with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce.

The berries on the bottom turn into mild chunky jam, a succulent memory of summer. The rye bread pudding on top is moist in a good cream cheese-y way and the yolks sure have used their charm somewhere in there too.
As I mainly used fine rye bread this time, it's taste (and color!) was a bit lighter, but next time I'd like to go for darker bread with seeds. Oh yes. I've tried making rye bread pudding a few times before and always cursed myself for it afterwards, but this one here worked like a charm.

The dessert is great for eating while still warm, but it's good when cooled down to. You just need to have a cup of milk beside to keep you happy;)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Creamy broccoli soup with pesto oil and pumpkin seeds

I didn't even have the time to say 'broccoli is a supervegetable' to myself subconsciously while eating this soup on Saturday, because I was too busy enjoying.
Considering how super broccoli really is, that has to mean something.

Creamy broccoli soup with pesto oil and pumpkin seeds
(serves 4)

500 g broccoli
2 medium potatoes
chicken stock
100 g cream cheese
salt, white pepper, sugar

for serving:
basil pesto
olive oil
pumpkin seeds
  1. Cut off broccoli florets, chop broccoli stems and potatoes. Put the potatoes, broccoli stems and 1/2 of the florets into a saucepan, cover barely with chicken stock. Boil, covered with a lid, for 20 minutes.
  2. Puree the potful, add the cream cheese and flavour with salt, white pepper and a dash of sugar.
  3. Pour the soup back into the pot, add the remaining florets and heat for 5 additional minutes.
  4. Mix a bit of oil into the pesto. Serve the soup with pumpkin seeds and pesto oil drizzled on top.
The soup is very creamy indeed. If the florets are cut small, there's enough for almost every mouthful. They remain a bit crisp and are a good crunch together with the pumpkin seeds in the overall creamy-creamy soup. The potatoes give good body and the pesto attacks an otherwise mild soup with a strong taste, creating a great combination.

I suggest using light stock if you don't want overpower the delicate taste of the broccoli. The supervegetable needs its attention!:)

Friday, 8 February 2008

Domino cookie truffles: no messy business for Valentine's

Last year it was loaded-with-sugar-and-ready-to-kill pink marshmallows, this year I'm probably going to please my friends at school with these Domino cookie truffles on Valentine's Day. I just can't go empty-handed:)

Fazer's Domino cookies are a dream come true for many cookie lovers (not really for'm not that much of a chocolate lover...well I can pretend; but their taste does kick ass for sure). And the taste of Domino cookies in a truffle...I guess I'll have more friends on Thursday than I ever imagined:D

Domino truffles
(inspiration from Bakerella's Oreo truffles; makes about 50)

350 g Domino cookies (2 small boxes)
175 g cream cheese
about 200 g dark chocolate
  1. Crush the cookies into a fine powder in a food processor.
  2. Add the cream cheese and process until the mixture is very creamy.
  3. Place the mixture into the fridge to harden.
  4. Form balls (or other shapes) from the mixture and place them into the fridge to harden for some more time.
  5. Melt chocolate over a water bath, dip all truffles into the chocolate and place them onto a plate/cutting board covered with foil. Place into the fridge to harden.

No kidding, these cookies have the distinctive Domino cookie taste that will hit you as a wonderful surprise. They're chocolate-y, very creamy. Very creamy. Sweet enough and silky when melting on your tongue. Very creamy. The chocolate coating will remain slightly softer than on a usual chocolate truffle and stick loyally onto it.

...and there's one more great thing. THE GREATEST, if you ask me. Usually forming truffles is a messy business, chocolate sticking to fingers when warming up and stuff and stuff like that. I hate it (I mean - I don't hate licking my fingers clean all the time, that's great, but, everything else there is to it - I hate).

This truffle mixture ISN'T ANNOYINGLY STICKY.
I'm amazed.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Brown butter flavoured butter

Elegant, yet sinfully simple.
Er...just let me go and get myself a slice of bread!

Or, let's be serious. I'm a butter person. There's a reason why there's the word 'või' (butter') in the Estonian word 'võileib' (translates as 'sandwich', but literally means 'butter bread').

When I was little, I used to eat rye bread with a thick butter layer, taking tiny bites at a time. Then I got older and discovered the charm of cream cheese, but from time to time I still get a rye-bread-with-butter-now! craving or enjoy soft brown bread with a layer of butter and sprinkles of sea salt.
Last March Ideas in Food came out with the idea of brown butter flavoured butter. There's yet much to discover about the opportunities of using this ingredient, but -well- I do like a little treasure hunt. This one's a treasure for sure.

Brown butter flavoured butter
(Ideas in food)

Good quality butter
Sea salt
  1. Divide the amount of butter into two.
  2. Melt one part of the butter on a skillet and brown it until quite dark brown. Cool it (over an ice bath).
  3. Dice the remaining butter and add, whisking.
  4. Flavour with salt to taste.
The butter has a deep, an earthy taste of browned butter to it. Perfect for a festive table or just over bread for a weeknight dinner. I've only had the chance to eat it with brown bread and rye bread, but I imagine it complementing my broccoli with pistachio butter...