Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Rosy rhubarb truffles

I'm excited. First it was coco-nutty prunes in white chocolate and the road towards salvation (read: knowing the perfect ways to make truffles from fruit and berries) started showing itself. I mean, there are actually a million possibilities.

Then rhubarbs came.

And then I realized how much I really love myself the concept.

Rosy rhubarb truffles

300 g rhubarb stalks (two bigger ones or three smaller ones)
2 dl sugar
2-3 tbsp rosewater
white chocolate
(chopped almonds or almond slices)
  1. Peel the rhubarb stalks (if the stalks are young, you can just cut them without peeling) and cut to bite-size pieces. Place the pieces into a saucepan and add the sugar and rosewater on top.
  2. Cover with lid and heat until syrup forms from the sugar and rhubarb juice. Boil at low heat until tender, but not broken (about ten minutes), occasionaly gently stirring or turning the pieces around.
  3. Let the rhubarb cool down in the syrup, preferrably let it soak overnight.
  4. Pat the pieces a bit dryer on paper towels and reserve the syrup for later use. Melt white chocolate over a waterbath and dip each piece into it (if you wish, also dip them into almond pieces after the chocolate), then place on foil for hardening. Keep in the fridge, but take out a bit before serving.

The rhubarbs are tender, with rosy cheeks and sweet white coats. The rose flavour is quite moderate and although the filling is sweet in itself, it really needs the extra sweetness from white chocolate, rhubarb being sour in its very essence. You could add more sugar or more rosewater if you want a more instense bite, I don't mind!:)

Last time I added almond bits to coat the chocolate and the sensation was even better with a crunchy addition, so I'd definitely do it next time too. The leftover syrup can be made into a very good drink by adding water.

Next I'm thinking pears poached in black tea with bitter chocolate and hazelnuts. And then from there...

This post will take part of the first round of the event Original Recipes, hosted by Lore of Culinarty.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Granny got twisted

Now, don't be afraid if you've never heard of mayo cookies before. They're perfectly alright, perfectly sweet and actually quite perfectly perfect.
(And if you're still afraid, consider the ingredients of mayonnaise for a second - they're actually all used in sweet cookies too, you see! yeaaah!)

My grandmother is an expert and no matter how many times I try, I'll never get them that right. Maybe that's why I decided to give her mayo cookies my own twist, adding white chocolate on top (the best of ideas - she'd be proud of me). The first time I made them, I accidentally made them according to her original quantities which resulted in the whole kitchen being filled with cookies. Oh, you know, grannies and their recipes...

The quantities are reduced here, you shouldn't be afraid of flooding your kitchen with cookies if you plan to make them. (not that that's a bad thing, it just came unexpectedly to me)

Mayonnaise cookies with white chocolate

100 g mayonnaise
100 g butter, at room temperature
4 dl flour
2 dl sugar
1 egg

White chocolate
  1. Mix butter well with sugar, until the mixture becomes fluffier.
  2. Whisk in mayonnaise and then the egg. Finally add the flour.
  3. Place the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Make small balls of the dough between your fingers, place them onto a buttered baking sheet and flatten with a fork.
  5. Bake at 190C until slightly golden at the edges, about 9 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Melt white chocolate over a waterbath and decorate the cookies with it. Spread it on top or make other decorations. Let them cool for the chocolate to harden.
I must admit it - the batter tastes funny. But that's okay, because the cookies end up being sweet in that good childhoody way. That's the best way to put it, actually, the flavour is difficult to describe. But they're utterly delicious and the white chocolate gives them another sweet kick, making the final result girly and - again - childhoody.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fennel bites with liver pâté

I sometimes have this habit of eating while I'm reading. Or rather, reading while I'm eating. Or, well, I don't know. I often spend my mornings like that when I don't have time for both eating slowly and devouring the morning newspaper, two things that make a morning complete (add morning workout and I'm in heaven).

But this one day I was deep in a book when my stomach called for lunch, so I just prepared some easy bites for myself to enjoy while reading on. Non-fat for fingertips, full-fat delight for that stomach of mine.

And those bites now totally want to visit a party with snacks.

Fennel bites with liver pâté
Fennel bulb
Liver pâté
Fennel greens, dill or chives for decorating
  1. Cut the fennel bulb in half and cut its layers into nice bite-size 'boats'.
  2. Top the fennel bites with liver pâté. Use a pastry bag for this or make a nice heap with a teaspoon.
  3. Place fennel greens, dill or chives on top for great taste and decoration.
It's amazing how the flavours suit together. The sweetness and freshness of the fennel is just what a bite of liver pâté needs in order to be reached for again and again. It balances the strong and rich pâté perfectly. That's why I was especially fond of the thick fennel slices - the pâté does want something fresh at its side (hence the usual company of cucumber).
I used dill on top of the bites and believe I'd enjoy it more than just fennel greens as it makes the flavour pattern wider.

Yep, I recommend.

This post will take part of the first round of the event Original Recipes, hosted by Lore of Culinarty.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Warm curd cheese toasts with feta cheese and smoked sausage

Curd cheese toasts (or rather 'kohupiimasaiad') are sweet (sorry if I'm confusing you, but usually they are) Estonian treats we usually make during wintertime when stale bread seems to be lying around everywhere and curd cheese just happens to be in the fridge. They're delicious for a dessert and delicious for breakfast the next morning. Check out Pille's recipe, for example, cause this will be the last time you hear about sweet curd cheese toasts from me today.

INSTEAD, our curd cheese toasts went un poco loco. That's what confused appetite does to a person, because I really craved something savoury.

You could try using ricotta instead of curd cheese here. Or even cream cheese for a richer treat. Though as long as I've got curd cheese, I wouldn't even look towards those two...

Warm curd cheese toasts with feta cheese and smoked sausage
(makes 6 toasts)

about 6 slices of bread

250 g curd cheese
1 egg
1/2 - 1 onion (according to your love for onions)
about 1/2 tsp dried herb mix of basil, oregano and marjoram (you could also use only one of them)
20 g smoked sausage of salami (I used deer sausage)
50 g feta
about 1 dl grated cheese
salt, pepper, sugar
  1. Dice the onion and sautee it in butter until it becomes transparent and slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Finely dice the sausage and also dice the feta.
  3. Mix the egg into the curd cheese, add the herb mix, sausage, feta and sauteed onion. Flavour with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar.
  4. Lay bread slices onto a greased baking sheet and spread the mixture onto them.
  5. Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, then add the grated cheese on top of the toasts and bake for 5 more minutes. Serve warm.
Nothing is overpowering the taste in those toasts, just like in good pizza. The bread is crisp, the filling warm and creamy. They're good just on they're own, with slices of fresh tomatoes on them or together with a fresh salad for a lunch-er lunch.

Weird how dishes as ordinary as kohupiimasaiad can sometimes surprise so much:/
Just the weirdness I love!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Appetising lettuce rolls with smoky red fish

All kinds of snack rolls are essentially cool. But as is the case with most dishes, there's something inside us screaming 'I WANT TO EAT SEASONAL'! And despite all the coolness factor in ham rolls with cheese filling, I don't quite feel like them now. Come on, it's not even raining. And the hold-your-skirt-or-you'll-go-home-without-it wind does not really count.

Even though I didn't know it before, I now know that lettuce can be rolled into a cool summery appetiser.

That's why they invented the phrase sex, drugs 'n' lettuce rolls, baby!

Lettuce rolls with smoky red fish

lettuce leaves
light grapes

about 200 g garlic flavoured cream cheese
1/2 dl diced tomatoes
1/2 dl pieces of smoked red fish
1 tbsp raisins
  1. Mix cream cheese with diced tomatoes, smoked fish and raisins.
  2. Spread the mixture onto lettuce leaves and make them into rolls. Place them into the fridge for a half an hour (I didn't do that, but it will make the filling stiffer).
  3. Cut the rolls into bite-sized pieces and top with a grape and a raisin.

They actually have this fresh feeling to them, which is unusual for this kind of appetisers. There's just about enough smoky fish flavour that is complemented by the sweetness of the raisins. The grapes are good on the rolls, but I'm wondering if olives would do an even better job. Next time, right?

Friday, 6 June 2008

Overdose of sweet from coconut honey

When I take home a can of coconut milk, it's almost always with the thought 'I have no idea where it's going to take me this time'. Sorry if I'm making it sound like an adventure story, but guessing where the canful will eventually end up is like guessing where Indiana Jones will find himself after climbing down a suspicious ladder.

Poor coconut milk found itself in a jar this time, stuck in there together with some sticky good honey and vanilla seeds.

Never seen Indiana Jones in a sweet situation like that after climbing down any ladder, that's for sure...

Coconut honey with vanilla

3 dl coconut milk
1 dl honey
half a vanilla pod
1 tbsp butter
  1. Measure coconut milk and honey into a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half and add.
  2. Boil the mixture without a lid over low heat until it turns thicker, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add butter.
  4. Pour the mixture into a jar, close it and leave to cool at room temperature. Store in the fridge.

So what does it taste like? Imagine the word pair 'coconut honey' melting on your tongue, sweet and gooey, girly from the touch of vanilla.

I had my first taste on a chocolate dessert with bilberries, but I imagine it being syrupy good on ice cream or just plain yoghurt. And I'd like to drizzle it onto a bowlful of fresh strawberries. How's that for adventurously good?

This recipe will also take part in the A Fruit A Month event hosted by Tasty Palettes, themed Coconut. Coconut's a fruit, my friends, a fruit:)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Coffee curd cheese with clove-scented bananas and almond praline

When concerning recipes, I often start my thought process from flavour combinations, as opposed to types of dishes or preparation methods. It gives the thought more free will and results in fantastic ideas more often (though some of them might be impossible to make or far too difficult for me...far too difficult to make them perfect)

Just as I stated, there's no escape from curd cheese on this blog and this time it's a tribute to the combination coffee-cloves-bananas-almonds. Actually the bananas are the X in this equation, successfully replaced by nectarines, peaches or apricots.

Curd cheese with coffee, clove-flavoured bananas and almond praline
(serves 3)

400 g curd cheese (smooth type, paste)
about 1 tsp coffee essence (can be substituted with instant coffee powder)
about 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 banana
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cloves
almond praline (e.g. this)
  1. Mix curd cheese to taste with instant coffee powder or coffee essence, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Combine sliced banana, sugar and ground cloves on a skillet. Heat until the sugar has turned into a light caramel around the banana slices. Occasionally stir and turn the slices around.
  3. Crush the almond praline to little pieces.
  4. Serve the curd cheese with warm banana slices and crushed praline.
The bananas turn really soft in the caramelizing process and adopt quite a strong clove flavour that goes together incredibly well with the coffee flavour of the curd cheese. There's basically everything one could want from a dessert - the creaminess of the curd cheese, the stickyness of the bananas and the crunch of the praline, plus three intense tastes that dissolve into one another.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Forest pesto

My affection towards fresh bright green fir shoots has not decreased since fir shoot butter. Just mixing them with butter was an easy task, but I needed something more.

I hope you're not so pesto-conservative as to throw me with rocks if I call my creation pesto. Forest pesto, because fir shoots are picked from the forest (the air is the cleanest there, so you should do that if you can) and also because hazelnuts are called 'forest nuts' in Estonian. Clever, huh?;)

Forest pesto

50 g bright green fir shoots
25 g hazelnuts
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp grated parmesan
about 4 tbsp olive oil
  1. Process the fir shoots, nuts and garlic together with a bit of oil in the food processor or with an immersion blender. The mixture should be quite smooth.
  2. Add cheese and enough olive oil to get a right consistency. Flavour with salt.
Use just as you would use basil pesto. On pasta, on bread...especially on bread and definitely with the addition of cream cheese and some slices of bursting red tomatoes.

The flavour is incredibly fresh.
Imagine standing in a fir forest. Take a deep deep breath. Good, isn't it? Now add a bit of a sour tone to it, the mildness of hazelnuts, the flavour of good parmesan, a bit sharpness from garlic and you're ready.
Then serve this feeling with bread, cream cheese and tomatoes.

If you have never tried fir shoots, I demand you to do so now! No excuses!