Saturday, November 28, 2015

Beef Lindström (Lindströminpihvit)

I have already earlier expressed my feeling towards beetroots, -how much I love them. Fortunately, early this week my husband asked from me, could we have beetroot patties on Friday. Well, I didn't have to think twice. First of all I'm always ready for beets and secondly, there is nothing I wouldn't do for my hubby.

When beets are mixed with minced meat, we call it Lindströminpihvit. Originally this dish is from Sweden, but it is popular here in Finland as well. The dish in swedish it is Biff à la Lindström, in english it is Beef Lindström, but for us it is Lindströminpihvi. As promised to my husband on Monday, I made them yesterday with braised onions. And all that coldness and wind outside was out of mind when I had my first mouthful. This truly is real comfort food!

For 3-4 persons
400 g minced meat (pork and beef)
200 g beets grated
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp capers
1 large onion finely chopped
salt & nlack pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C.
Heat pan over a medium heat, and add grated beets, vinegar, salt and sugar. Cook 5 minutes or until beets are slightly softened. Set aside. Do same for the onions.
Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Make 6-8 patties and bake them in an oven 20-25 minutes.

Braised onion
2 onions
1 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tsp dark syrup
50 ml water

Peel and slice the onions. Heat canola oil in skillet over a medium heat. Add onions and cook few minutes until bit softened. Add syrup and water. Cook 10 minutes over a low to medium heat. Onions can caramelized some amount. But be careful not to bur them.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Veggie Curry inspired by Jamie Oliver

We have decided to have at least one vegetarian day per week. For this week, saturday was already 4th veggie day for me. I dreamed all week about this saturday night dinner. For some reason, I started to hunger Indian food. I'm not good at all with ethnic cuisines, except maybe Korean, but it doesn't matter. I managed to find good recipe from Jamie Oliver, and created my own version of it.

I used sweet potato, cauliflower and chickpeas for this dish and it was very good. I'm happy that the portion was so big, that we can eat this also today.

Sweet potato and cauliflower curry
For 6 persons
1 heaped teaspoon crushed almonds
1 large sweet potato cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cauliflower
1 onion peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic-crushed
One 3cm piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
½ bunch fresh coriander including stalks
½-1 fresh chilli
1 handful of curry leaves (or a tsp curry powder if not available)
100 g curry paste (bought or make your own)
250 g chickpeas cooked
1 lemon
4 tablespoons low fat natural yogurt (optional)

Toast almonds in a dry frying pan over a low-medium heat until golden, then set aside.
Scrub sweet potatoes and cut into 1 cm chunks. To make the cauliflower, chop the leaves off and cut the stalk into small pieces. Cut florets into even pieces.
Add olive oil to a large saucepan over a medium heat and then add the sweet potato. Fry for 5 minutes or until golden. Add curry leaves or powder to pan and stir for one minute, then add all the chopped vegetables (except cauliflower stalks), curry paste and the chopped coriander stalks. Fry for another 10 minutes or until onions are softened.
Add chickpeas and 600ml of boiling water and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 30 minutes). Add cauliflower stalks to the curry mix.

To serve curry: add lemon juice to curry, sprinkle with almonds and chopped coriander leaves and serve with yogurt over the rice.

This recipe is adapted from Save with Jamie and can be found at "Jamie Oliver’s Veggie Korma with Mock Cauliflower Pilau"

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beaujolais Nouveau meets Rustic onion tart

Yesterday it was that certain day of the year, -third Thursday of November. After work I went to buy bottle of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau, and after that it was time for cooking. Earlier we have eaten cold cuts and cheeses with BN, but this year I wanted something with onion. After long search I found very nice recipe of onion tart from the Food&Wine. And I made that! It was delicious, and went nice with the wine. I'm pretty sure, that this tart shall be done many times in my kitchen in a future as well.

For the tart, I made only ½ portion of the dough from original recipe, because I prefer thin crust and wanted onions to shine.

Rustic Onion Tart
For 4 persons
125 ml all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
45 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
35 ml ice cold water
50 g butter
1 kg sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic
6 thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the water over the flour and stir gently just until incorporated; gently press to form a dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and thyme and cook over moderately high heat, until softened, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, until the onions are golden, 20 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme, season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Set a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven or position a rack on the lowest rung and preheat the oven to 190° C. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 30 cm round and transfer to the baking sheet. Spread the onions on the round, leaving a 3 cm border. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling and brush the edge with the egg wash.

Bake the tart on the stone or on the bottom shelf for about 40 minutes, until the dough is richly browned on the bottom.
Transfer the tart to the top shelf and bake for about 5 minutes longer, until the top of the crust is browned. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Cut the warm tart into wedges and serve.

Original recipe: Food & Wine

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sushi or Kimbap? Which I made?

Sushi is very familiar to most of the people nowadays, and korean food starts to be. I have eaten sushi many times in Korea, but as many, I have eaten kimbap. And they are both so delicious there. Unfortunately I have never had a change to eat sushi, or anything, in Japan, but hopefully that will change soon. I like them both, and today I couldn't choose which I wanted more, so I made seaweed rolls inspired by both of them.

But what is difference between sushi and kimbap? They are both basically rolls of rice wrapped in a sheet of nori seaweed.

The only rule for kimbap seems to be that it be some kind of rice wrapped in seaweed. The rice is usually steamed medium grain white rice, but it can also contain other types of rice.The rice is usually flavored with salt and sesame oil. The one rule for sushi rolls is that the rice itself is flavored with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. The term sushi itself refers to this vinegar-flavored rice. If the rice is not flavored with that vinegar mix, it's not considered to be sushi even if it's wrapped up in nori.

I made sushi rice but I wrapped very kimbapy ingredients in seaweed. So I really can't tell you which one I had...

Seaweed Rolls
for 2 persons
Sushi rice
2 sheets of gim (=nori)
1 small carrot pickled
1 thin omelette
5 cm piece cucumber cut in stripes
wasabi to taste

Place a sheet of gim on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down. Evenly spread half of the sushi rice over top of it, leaving about 2-3 cm uncovered on upper side of the gim.
Place wasabi, pickled carrot, omelette stripesand cucumber in the center of the rice.
Roll the mat (along with gim and rice) over the fillings.


Sushi Rice
250 g sushi rice
330 ml water
30 ml rice wine vineger
35 g sugar
5 g salt

Rinse the rice in a strainer or colander until the water runs clear, 3-4 times. Combine with water in a pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove heat and let it stay 25-30 minutes. Do not open the lid.
In a small saucepan, combine the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool, then stir into the cooked rice slowly. Do not crush the rice but stir it very gently. Keep stirring and the rice will dry as it cools.
If you are not use rice immediately, let it stay in room temperature, covered with wet cloth.

Pickled carrots
1 small carrot
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tbsp sugar
½ salt

Peel carrot and cut it "julienne".
Mix all other ingredients together. Stir until sgar and salt are totally dissolved. Add carrot sticks and let them marinade at least an hour.

Thin omelette
2 small eggs

Crack eggs in a bowl and add salt. Beat it with fork.
Drizzle a few drops of oil on a heated pan. Wipe off the excess with a paper towel so only a thin sheen of oil remains. Turn down the heat to low and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Spread it into a large circle so it fills the pan.When the bottom of the egg is cooked, flip it over. Remove from the heat and let it cook slowly in the hot pan for about 5 minutes, with the ultimate goal of keeping the egg as yellow as possible, and not brown.
Cut it into 1 cm wide strips.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Baltic herrings with leak and mushrooms

Baltic herring is scandinavian fish. Usually eaten pickled, at least in my family and friend families. There are few other typical ways to make these wonderful fishes. One is oven baked, mainly with cream or tomato sause, and the other is pan fried. Third is warmed smoked, which is awesome dish, especially with finnish rye bread.

Today I made oven baked baltic herrings a bit different way. No cream, no tomato but much gentle flavor from leak and mushrooms.

Oven baked Baltic herrings
For 4-6 persons
750 g baltic herrings
1 bundle of dill chopped
200 g leak
250 mushrooms
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lemon juice
Salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C. 
Chop leak  and cut mushrooms in half or into quarters. Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Add leaks and mushrooms and cook until softened.  Season with salt and black pepper. Move leaks and mushrooms from skillet to ovenproof dish.
Put baltic herrings, skin side down on the cutting board. Sprinkle fillets salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the fillets with dill. Wrap the fillets into rolls and place them in an ovenproof dish on top of the leaks and mushrooms
Sprinkle lemon juice over the fillet rolls. Bake in the oven 30 minutes.

With this beer is the only choice for drink, if you want anything with alcohol. Non-alcoholic, and my preference, is cold Finnish mineral water.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Black Horror - Halloween dinner

I have a birthday very near Halloween, and that's why we have had couple of times Halloween themed birthday dinner party. This year I wanted to create black menu using black ingredients, and as less as possible food color. I think, I completed this quite well.

The other team for this party was "Black Horror", which is almost a joke for us nowadays. But from this I want give you more information.

Halloween 2015 
Black Lemon Drop Martini
Champagne Ayala Cuvée Perle d’Ayala Millésimé Brut 2006
Pfaff Pinot Blanc 2013
Ogier Côtes du Rhône La Promesse Rouge 2013
Cafe, licorice macarons

Black Lemon Drop Martini

Black themed dinner party required black aperitive, -of course! Black drinks in Finland is usually based on salty licorice booze (salmiakkikossu) or similar. But because my dessert had licorice already, I didn't want to use that for aperitive.

We all love lemon, and drinks with sour flavour. And this was the request I gave to my husband to create a cocktail. And this was the result! So I had anything else do with this drink, except the sugar-drimming. That was my effort to this fabulous cocktail.

Black Lemon Drop Martini
1 serving
4 cl black vodka (or vodka + black food color)
2 cl orange liqueur (Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.)
2 cl freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar or to taste
Ice cubes
Sugar and licorice sauce for dipping

To create a sugar-rimmed glass, dip the drinking surface of the glass to licorice sauce. Dip the edge of the glass into the sugar.
Mix the vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice; shake well.
Pour strained liquor into sugar-rimmed martini cocktail glass.

Hors d'oeuvres for Halloween Black menu

I searched some new ideas for my hors d'oeuvres and saw these amazing Foie Gras Lollipops. Immeadiately decision was made; these shall be in our Halloween table with champagne. In original recipe, the pops were red, but because of the balck theme, I used black food coloring.

The other appetizer wasn't that easy. Eventually I chose feta stuffed figs. Figs are usually quite dark, and I thought that I could roast them with Prosciutto very dark. Well, it didn't go as I planned, but taste was good.

Foie Gras Lollipops
For 8 person (16 pcs)
150 g semi-cooked foie gras
6 slices of dried (ginger)bread
200 g caster sugar
some water
black food colour

Dry in the oven the slices of dried bread. Once dried, cut into pieces and crushing in a blender to obtain a coarse breadcrumbs. Spread it on a plate. Reserve.
Cut the foie gras into large cubes. Shape the cubics into balls, rolling them between your palms. Stick a lollipop stick into each one. Refrigerate.
In a saucepan, pour the sugar and enough water to moisten all the sugar. Boil to form a light caramel. Add some food colour. Mix well to obtain a homogeneous sugar color. Dip the lollipops into a caramel. It is necessary that the bottom of the stick is also immersed in the caramel. Drain the excess caramel and gently lay it on the bread crumbs.
Cool so that the caramel hardens. It will achieve these lollipops shortly before serving, because the goal is to have a caramel crunchy to the bite.

Original recipe: Sucette de foie gras façon pomme d'amour

Prosciutto Wrapped Roasted Figs
4 persons
4 fig
4 tsp feta cheese
4 Prosciutto slice
Black sesame seed

Preheat the oven 225°C.
Quarter figs, cutting three-quarters of the way down. Stuff the figs with feta cheese. Roast in an oven 12 minutes, until softened and golden brown. Sprinkle some black sesame seed on top of figs.

For the drinks the perfect choise is champagne. This time it was excellent Champagne Ayala Cuvée Perle d’Ayala Millésimé Brut 2006.

Squid Ink Tortellini

I have eaten squid ink risotto few times in my life and I like the taste a lot. But I have never tried squid ink pasta before. And since the dinner included beluga lentils in main dish, which look bit like rice, I chose pasta with the squid ink. For the filling I wanted autumn season ingredients, and what could be better than beetroots. My this years autumn favourite vegetable.

For the sauce I made brown butter. Simple, elegant flavor and yet robust. The tortellini should be the start of the dish, and that's why the is no complex sauce to this.

Squid Ink pasta
Pasta dough
325 ml all-purpose flour or preferably Tipo ‘00’ flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp squid ink
1tsp salt
Cold water if needed
1 large beetroot
1 tbsp feta or ricotta cheese
salt & black pepper to taste

Start with the filling. Roast the beetroot in an oven 200 C 1 hour or until tender. Let it cool.
Grate finely and add cheese into the beets. Season. Set aside.

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add salt and crack the eggs and squid ink into it. Beat the eggs and ink with a fork until smooth. Mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Add water if needed. Knead the dough until silky and firm.
Wrap the dough into the plastic wrap and let it rest in a fridge, at least half an hour.
Roll, using pasta maker, for thin sheets and cut circles using a large cookie cutter. Scoop filling onto the center of the pasta and pinch the edges to seal. Pinch finally the corners together.
Boil in a salted water until al dente, approx. 1,5-2 minutes.

Serve with brown butter and deep-fried beets

For the wine our friends bring Pfaff Pinot Blanc 2013, and that went nicely with the dish.

Beef cheeks and beluga lentils

I have always wanted to cook the beef cheeks, and now I managed to put this desire in action. Because the theme was black food, I decided to serve cheeks with Beluga lentils, which I braised in red wine.

On top of the dish I fried black mushrooms (mustatorvisieni) and I have to say, that this gives comfort to your taste buds and relaxation for your mind. So good and perfect for autumn time. But I could easily eat this in winter time as well.

Beef cheeks
For 8 persons
1,5 kg of beef cheek
100 ml flour
3 tbsp canola oil
2 large carrots, roughly diced
2 large onions, roughly diced
1,5 l red wine
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bouquet garni
Salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Season cheeks with salt and pepper. Roll the pieces in the flour. Heat the canola oil in a casserole dish until very hot and brown the meat quickly and evenly. Set aside. Add the diced carrots and onions, cook until golden brown. Add the meats back to the pot, pour the red wine and bring to boil. Add the garlic and bouquet garni and season.
Place the lid and cook in the oven for about 2 1⁄2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Add a little water if there is too much evaporation.

Beluga lentils 
For 8 persons
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 onions
170 g (1 package) bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 g beluga lentils
2 bay leaves
300 ml red wine 
750 ml water
Salt & black pepper to taste

Peel the carrot and garlic cloves and chop finely with the onion and bacon.
Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the chopped vegetables and bacon. Cook them over a gentle heat until soft, which will take up to about 10 minutes. Tip the lentils into the pan and stir them around to get slicked with the oil, and then add the bay leaves. Pour in the red wine and the water, or enough water so that the lentils are just covered in liquid. Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender. Season.


This dish goes nicely with the red wine, and today's choise was Ogier Côtes du Rhône La Promesse Rouge 2013

Licorice black velvet cake

Idea for this cake came from Red Velvet Cake picture at the internet. I started to find out how I could make this cake, as Black Velvet cake. Finally, I have to admit, this cake had nothing to do with the Black Velvet cake. But it was soooooo good, - and rich! Small piece of this was totally enough.

Black color in desserts always brings salty licorice to my mind. And I because of that, the flavor of this cake was so easy take pick. Two of the fillings, white ones, are white chocolate, and one has licorice. But the cake itself tastes licorice and chocolate.

Black Velvet Cake
8 persons
600 ml cake flour, not self-rising
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp licorice powder
350 ml sugar
350 ml canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tbsp black food coloring
250 ml buttermilk 
2 tsp white vinegar

 In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa and licorice powder; set aside.
Combine the sugar and oil on medium speed until well combined. Add in room temp eggs one at a time. Add food coloring, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, and mix until fully combined.
Add vinegar to batter, and beat for a few seconds. Pour batter into two prepared 18-20 cm pans. Bake at 175 C for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool to room temperature. Cut the cakes in half.
Build the cake using cake ring, mold or cake pan.

White chocolate
135 g cream cheese
130 ml cream
120 g white chocolate
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2,5 gelatin leaves
65 g cream cheese
70 ml cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp licorice powder
50 ml ready-made licorice sauce
1,5 gelatin leaves
200 ml cream
150 g Licorice fudge (Hopea toffee)
50 ml hard salty licorice candies (turkinpippuri) crushed

Put gelatin leaves to cold water, into a two bowls (2,5+1,5).
Whip all cream (130ml + 70 ml) in a bowl.

For the white chocolate filling:
Melt the white chocolate. Mix cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar and white chocolate together, beat until smooth.
Heat a very small amount of water and mix 2,5 gelatin leaves to it for them to melt. Let it cool for a while. Pour the gelatin liquid into a cream cheese mix and stir until well combined.
Take 2/3 from the whipped cream and mix it gently to the mixture.
Pour 1/2 of the filling to first layer of the cake, put one layer on top of it and por the rest of the white chocolate filling. Put the 3rd cake layer on top of the filling.

For the licorice flling:
Mix cream cheese, sugar, licorice powder and licorce sauce together, beat until smooth.
Heat a very small amount of water and mix 1,5 gelatin leaves to it for them to melt. Let it cool for a while. Pour the gelatin liquid into a cream cheese mix and stir until well combined.
Take rest of  the whipped cream (1/3) and mix it gently to the mixture.
Pour the filling to the cake layer and put last layer on top of it. Refrigerate over night.

For the glazing:
Pour the cream into a pan, add licorice fudge and candies. Heat gently and stir until all licorice is melted. Let it simmer until the mixture turns syrapy (it creates a drop on bottom of the glass filled with cold water). Let it cool for a moment before pouring the glaze on top of the cake.
(My glaze was litlle bit too hot, because it didn't set nicely on top of the cake, but ran over the sides)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Finnish style cabbage casserole

White cabbage casserole is one of the Finnish traditional comfort food and home cooking dishes. Usually the rice and egg-milk-mixture is used for this dish, but actually I prefer barley and beef stock. This way the cabbage tastes more and the texture is more moist. People eat this with mashed lingonberries which are seasoned with sugar. But, again, I prefer without sugar. I like the acidiness of the berries with a bit sweet casserole. It is nice contrast.

So here is my version of the Finnish style cabbage casserole, here you go!

Cabbage casserole
4-6 persons
750 g white cabbage
400 g minced meat (mixed pork and beef)
1 dl pearl barley
1 onion
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried marjoram
Salt & old spice
approx. 500 ml beef stock
2 tbsp (dark) syrap

Peel the onion and chop it, shred the cabbage. Set aside. Boil 400 ml water, add barley and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes, until fully cooked.
Heat the skillet and cook the minced meat until nicely brown. Remove the meat from the skillet, add onion and cabbage to pan and cook until some browned. Season with soy sauce, marjoram.
In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, onion, minced meat and barley. Place the mixture in the casserole dish, pour the beef stock in. Drain the syrap on top of the mixture.
Bake, in lower part of the oven, 175-200 C an hour or so. If the surface gets too dark, cover with tin foil. 
Serve with mashed lingonberries.

Mashed lingonberries
200 ml lingonberries
2 tbsp sugar

Mash the berries and add sugar.