Saturday, November 26, 2016

Coffee & Chocolate bars - "Masaliisa"

During the 80's, there was no party where this confection wasn't served. Or was there? This pastry is, Mokkapalat or Masaliisa, to my mind, the most iconic pastry of that decade. I forgot this for years and years, until my husband mentioned this once. Name "Mokkapalat" is more common with Finns, but In Pori area they call it "Masaliisa". Even I'm not from that area I found the name so amusing, I startet to use it instead of "Mokkapalat"

To me, the best part of the pastry is the frosting, and there never enough it. So why not put it in to two layers? I kind og a made cake using this bar, and this way I managed to get more frosting into my piece of bar. 

Coffee & Chocolate bars "Masaliisa"
For 4-6 person
For the cake
5 dl sugar
5 dl all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2 1/2 dl water
200 g butter
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1dl strong coffee (with milk)
2 eggs
For the frosting
50 g butter
500 g icing sugar
5 tbsp strong coffee
1-1½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix all dry ingredients together (sugar, flour and baking soda)Put butter, water and cocoa powder intoa a pan and bring to a boil. Combine the flour mixture and cocoa mixture. Addt 1 dl (milk) coffee, and let cool. When the dough has cool enough, stir in the eggs. Spread on cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. Then split the cake in half.

For the frosting, melt the butter in a saucepan and mix with other ingredients. Mix until smooth. If the mixture seems too stiff add a little e.g. milk, and if it seems too loose, you can add more powdered sugar. Keep the mixture warm for the frosting. Spread the frosting evenly over the both cake pieces. Lift the other part of the on cake over the other.
Sprinkle with nonpareil, and just Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Snail porridge

The savoury porridges have been so trendy already for a short while, and I found myself thinking of those when I planned the menu for our dinner party on Friday. First I planned to prepare mushroom porridge, but then suddenly Heston Blumenthal, my idol, came to my mind. The legendary Fat Duck’s snail porridge, was under discussion a lot when it was invented, I wanted to try that.

I found few almost similar but still different recipes when I was looking Heston Blumenthal Snail porridge recipe. I have heard that the book recipe is THE one, but because I couldn’t get that into my hands, I had to use one from internet. Or, I thought I do that. At the end, I combined some recipes and added my touch to the dish. I replaced the oats in the porridge with pearl barley and I was very happy about the result. At one day I’m going to try the porridge with oats as well, but I think my version was very nice. This dish was the 3rd course on my 5-course dinner, and the dish size was excellent.

Snail porridge
For 4 person
4-6 cooked snails per person
10 g Parma ham
1 small fennel bulb
400 ml chicken stock
40 g pearl barley
70g snail butter (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp sherry vinegar
3 tsp walnut oil

Finely shred the ham. Slice the fennel as thinly as possible and set aside. Heat the stock in a pan over a high heat and, once simmering, add the barley. Stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and beat in the snail butter. You may find you have to return the pan to the heat, in which case be careful: if it gets too hot, the butter will split, causing the porridge to become grainy. Season generously. Spoon the porridge on to the plates and top with ham. Toss the fennel with the vinegar and walnut oil, season, place on porridge, top with snails and serve.

Snail butter 
12 g whole garlic cloves, peeled
20 g button mushrooms
20 g shallots
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 g Dijon mustard
10 g ground almonds
2,5 g salt
50 g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
20 g Parma ham

Blanch and refresh the garlic in boiling water three to four times (this might seem excessive, but the garlic will be bitter and aggressive otherwise). Finely chop the mushrooms; peel and finely chop the shallots. Heat 25 g butter in a frying pan and sweat the mushrooms and shallots for five to 10 minutes, until softened. Tip into a food processor, along with the remaining ingredients, then purée until smooth. This will take a few minutes because you'll have to stop the machine intermittently, to scrape the sides. Once puréed, rub the mix through a fine-mesh sieve on to a sheet of cling film and roll into a cylinder. Store in the fridge (it also stores well in the freezer). Then simply cut off segments of butter as and when required.


For the wine, I thought of the region for a good pairing: Burgundy first! You can’t go wrong with a Chardonnay for buttery escargots. My favourite is Laroche Petit Chablis 2015.

My challenge was carrots, yes you read right, carrots. But they do not exists in the dish?? No, they don't, but they were my 2nd dish in a menu, and I wanted to serve same wine with them too. I chose Chardonnay form California because I needed more toasty to the flavour. The wine was Jekel Gravelstone Chardonnay 2014. It was nice, but nothing special. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Romantic Sunday Brunch

Sometimes, actually quite often, on Sunday morning we want to enjoy a homemade breakfast or brunch. My husband loves Eggs Benedict and especially Eggs Royale, and those particular dishes are very common in our table. This Sunday, I wanted to try something else, but something from eggs. I think the Eggs are crucial part of the breakfast or brunch. We end up to cook Eggs Cocotte, a classic French dish. I served it with a homemade sourdough bread which I made in the same morning, since nothing beats the oven-fresh bread.

For the dessert I prepared French toast from Finnish pulla with Rosemary Bilberry sauce. Wow, what a dish! I almost started to cry, it was so damn delicious!

For drinks, my Hubby made smoothie using fresh mango, blood grapefruit and mint leaves. Since the mango wasn’t ripe enough to be very sweet, he added a teaspoon of maple syrup. It made huge difference. The other thing which always make a difference for the brunch, is champagne. For us, champagne is must, as my motto says... No champagne, no brunch ;)

Sunday Brunch Menu

Eggs Cocotte,  Rye sourdough bread
French toast and Rosemary Bilberry sauce, 
fresh blueberries
Mango, Blood grapefruit & Mint Smoothie
Dom Pérignon Champagne Brut 2006


The recipes for the dishes you can find from the links below:

Eggs Cocotte

Brunch needs one egg dish, and our favourite is Eggs Benedict or Eggs Royale, but this recipe is something different. Fos last Sunday's brunch I made Eggs Cocotte, or Ouefs Cocotte in originally, for a change. This is easy but almost as good as Benedicts. Just put all ingredients in to a ramekins and cook. That's all you need to do.

This is more healthy dish than Benedicts since there is no butter involved, just cream is used. But many qualitites which I like in Benedicts, is still in this dish. Eggs with runny yolks, ham and spinach. As an extra, salty cheese gives a nice addition to this dish kind of replacing the feeling of Hollandaise sauce.

Size of this dish is quite small, so if you hungry or do not have anything else with this, I recommend to double the recipe.

Eggs Cocotte
For 2 person
2 large eggs
0,5 dl spinach (cooked/sauteed and cooled)
2-4 slices of prosciutto
30 g brie (or feta or chevre)
2 tbsp cream
Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Divide spinach, prosciutto and cheese among ramekins, season with black pepper. Crack in an egg and add a half of the cream to each ramekin.

Place bowls in a baking dish, and pour hot water into baking dish until it is halfway up the sides of the bowl. Transfer baking dish to oven, being careful not to let the water splash into the bowls. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until whites are set and the yolk is still soft.

Serve with slice of good quality bread.

Rye Sourdoug bread

I'm not much of a baker, but this bread I can make, and I have never ever manage to ruin it. It is the easiest, yet the most delicious, bread what I have baked. The basic version contains only all purpose flour, but my version has rye flour as well. But effect using the rye flour is, that the dough gets very loose. So you might need to add 0,5 dl all purpose flour extra.

After the bread has cooled just enought I can handle it, I enjoy a bit of it with butter. Nothing else, just a knob of butter on top of the warm bread... 

Rye Sourdough bread
1 bread
6 dl all purpose flour
1 dl rye flour
1/4 tsp active dry yest
 4 dl warm water
1-1,5 tsp salt

In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 12 to 18 hours. Add your cast iron pot, lid next to the pot, to the oven and preheat oven to 225 C degrees. After oven reaches the temperature, let it set 15 minutes.

Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pot and let cool before slicing into it and serving.

French toast with Rosemary Blueberry sauce

Bilberry is THE best berry which grows in Finland, to my mind. It is a real superfood. This time I used it as a sauce for my brunch dessert, French toast. I added some rosemary to the sauce, to give the nice earthiness flavor and some lemon zest to give a twist. The combination really worked.

As I mentioned that bilberry is superfood, I think that also French toast is superfood :D Maybe not in a similar way, but it is super good to my soul... And when I make it using Finnish pulla, it is even better.

Many of the french toast recipes contain cinnamon and sugar, but with pulla, sugar does not need to be added since the pulla is already sweet pastry. And instead of cinnamon, I prefer cardamom which, as well, is ingredient of the pulla.

French toast
For 2 person
4 slice of day old Finnish pulla or french bread (about 2-3 cm thick slices)
1 large egg
2 dl milk
butter for cooking

Beat and milk together in a bowl. Place the bread in the bowl and let the bread soak up the egg on one side for about 1 minute, then turn and let soak on other side. Let any excess egg mixture drip off into bowl. Heat frying pan or griddle.

Melt a small amount of butter in pan. Place french toast pieces in pan and fry until golden on first side. Flip and cook other side until golden and crispy.

Rosemary Blueberry sauce
100 g bilberries (or blueberries)
50 g sugar
1 sprig of rosemary
1/4 lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine blueberries, rosemary, sugar and water in a saucepan, bring it to boil. Cook approx. 10 minutes, until sauce has thickened some amount. Cool. Season with lemon juice and zest of lemon.

Mango Mint Smoothie

I don't fancy pure juices, not even it is so trendy nowadays. They are just not enough for me. And my tummy gets ill. The worst for my tummy is orange juice. But I like smoothies, and fruities.

This drink, is my favourite for lazy Sunday brunch, maybe because I love mango, and I love herbs. Combining them, can’t go wrong… Quite many herbs goes nice with mango. Or what you think? To get some acidity to the drink, I have used orange or lemon, and now I tried blood grapefruit. All of them are good, but the amount needs to be considered. Don’t put lemon as much as more sweet orange. But is this smoothie?

I call is a smoothie, but maybe it really is fruitie, since there are no milk products used. For me, name is not the important one, and you can call it either you want. But, do enjoy the taste!don't fancy pure juice, not even it is so trendy nowadays.

Mango Mint Smoothie
for 2 person
1 ripe mango
1 blood grapefruit
15-20 mint leaves
1 tsp maple syrap (optional)
1,5-2 dl ice

Add all ingredients to the blender. Blend well. Garnish with some mint and serve right away.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Roasted Vegetable Soup

When I was a kid, my first choice for the supper wasn't vegetable soup. I didn't hate it, but it really wasn't my favourite either. From very early ages, my mouth has required strong flavours and different textures. Which is everything else than vegetable soup can offer, -or at least I thought so. All I knew was lukewarm soup looked someone has eaten it already once...

Then something happened when I started to lose weight. I wanted to find dishes which were low calorie, preferable high protein, but definitely delicious. Have to honest, it was pretty easy :D With these specifications, I found pumpkin soup seasoned with Moroccan style. It was so good that I gave another change to the veggie soup. Using that recipe as a base I started to create different variations, and this one below, is the last one. It really doesn't have much common with the original version, but I think this is even better. Maybe the only thing common is vegetable stock.

For the texture I usually add e.g. roasted chickpeas, crispy bacon, roasted onion or whatever comes to my mind. This time the fridge was quite empty, so I didn't add anything, except cottage cheese for protein.

Roasted veggie soup
For 4 persons
500 g butternut squash
1 (large) onion
400 g carrot
200 g parsnip
1-2 potato
2 garlic clove
1 tbsp ras el hanout
2 tsp cumin
1 small dried chili (or to taste)
salt & black pepper
1½-2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 l hot vegetable stock

Heat oven to 225 °C. Peel all veggies. Cut onion into 8 wedges. Cut butternut squash, carrots, parsnip and potato into 2 cm chunks. Tip all the vegetables and the garlic into a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the ras el hanout, cumin, chili, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the oil and give everything a good stir. Roast for 40-45 min, turning the vegetables over halfway, until they’re tender and caramelized nicely.

Transfer the roasted veggies to a large saucepan, pour over the hot stock and simmer for 10 min. Purée the soup until smooth. Add vegetable stock if the soup is too thick.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese, a scattering of coriander. If you like the soup to be more spicy, add some chili oil on top of the soup as well.

With this soup, my preference is beer. Since the soup has sweetness and quite strong flavours in it, Stallhagen Delikat would be very nice choice.