Prawns in garlic butter sauce

Yesterday I read in the news, that we are enjoying righ now the most beautiful summer for the last 23 years! That was quite a shock for me. True, the summer is really lovely this year, with few occasional showers and temperature often in it’s mid 20s, but still for me it’s a kind of “average” summer, the one I was used to enjoy as a kid in Poland. Though the weather is definitely better in my homecountry, I much prefere the summer time here in Finland. I really adore how much it is able to transform throughout the year. While in the winter time it looks as if everything has frozen and died for good, now the land is thriving with vibrant green colour, spotted with blue lakes all around. Summer means for me lot’s of dishes with seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood. This lovely, fast, slightly changed recipe comes from Bajaderka. I’ve made a small mistake and was close to burn the garlic, fortunately nothing really happened apart from the colour change 😉 I’ve figured out I’ll fry the garlic first and once it is ready I’ll fish it out and throw the prawns in. Unfortunately the butter started to foam and I couldn’t do that, I just quickly threw the prawns in. Phew. No more modifications, next time I’ll follow the recipe straight 😀

INGREDIENTS

25 large prawns
3 tbsp good quality virgin olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp chilli flakes
6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
50 ml white wine
2 tbsp provencal herbs
salt and pepper
lemon juice

1. Wash and clean your prawns. Rub them with a bit of salt.

2. Heat up oil and butter on the pan. Add pepper flakes and garlic, fry for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the prawns, saute for 2 minutes. Add the wine and provencal herbs, turn the prawns on the other side and saute for 1-2  minutes more.

4. Remove the prawns from the pan. Heat up the sauce till it boils. Season with pepper, salt and lemon juice. Serve with baguette.

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Scallops on a bed of passion fruit hollandese and wilted ginger spinach

Once in a while, when we want to enjoy ourselves, yet not go out, we decide to have a slow Friday evening, with a bit more fancy food. We open a bottle of wine and start to prepare a three course dinner, that usually lasts for several hours. Mr No Onion Please is responsible for the main course, as for him the proper main dish consists of a good quality steak 😉 I focus on appetizer and dessert. This is a starter from one of such evenings. I found the recipe in a fantastic book of Gary Rhodes – 365/One year. One book. One simple recipe for every day. It takes a while to prepare, but is really worth it. It was the first time I’ve used passion fruit in combination with seafood and I must say it’s absolutely fabulous, particularly now, in the summer time!

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PASSION FRUIT HOLLANDAISE

175g butter
3 egg yolks
juice of 1 small lemon
salt
pinch of pepper
3 passion fruits

Melt the butter. Place the egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender and while at maximum speed slowly add the melted butter, continuing to blend until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Halve the passion fruits, scooping the seeds into a sieve over a bowl. with the back of the spoon press and scrape all of the juices and pulp from the seeds. Add the juice to the hollandaise along with spoonful of the seeds. Put the sauce to one side and keep warm.

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WILTED GINGER SPINACH

200g young spinach, trimmed
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
(2 shallots finelly chopped)

Fry the ginger (and shallots) in a bit of butter. Throw in the spinach and saute till wilted.

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SCALLOPS

12 scallops
butter

Fry the scallops on a smoking hot pan for 2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for further 1 to 1,5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Flammkuchen and Luxembourg trip

I guess you already know we love to travel. I wish I would also love to write about it and share the amazing places we’ve been with you, but I’m kind of lazy, and since I’m making thousands of pictures on holidays (yes you read that correct, I go into THOUSANDS and it annoys even me a lot 😉 ) it’s pretty difficult to choose what I would actually like to show you in a tiny space of a blog post.  Fortunately, that’s not always the case. At the end of  June we went for a long weekend to visit our friends in Luxembourg. Short trip + lot’s of time spend on chatting = few photos 😉 Yes, finally manageable enough for me to finally write a post 😉 Luxembourg welcomed us with rain. Fortunately, we were unlucky with the weather just for a single day and enjoyed hot sunny days for the rest of our trip. I must say I was quite surprised how tiny yet international is the City of Luxembourg. It has only 80 000 of citizens yet it bursts with energy.

Somehow, I had an image of Luxembourg as a country that looks just like Netherlands, and I have never even thought that we will see charming villages hidden in the valleys surrounded by forests. I was really enchanted with tiny old towns full of cafeterias and craft shops – that’s the thing I really miss in Finland. And another reason to visit Luxembourg are lovely vineyards  spreading along picturesque Mosel river scenery, a true lifelong memory for me. I must say I’m really positively surprised how much this petite land has to offer! Sadly, I guess at the same time, it is the least traveled country among Benelux area.

Luxembourg is a really tiny country. I guess it’s a bit difficult to talk about the traditional cuisine there as all the German, French and Belgian culinary influences pretty much mingle together. Thanks to our trip, I have fallen in love with a traditional dish from this region – the Flammkuchen, a kind of  crispy peasant pizza that is topped with fresh cheese or cream instead of tomato sauce (it is also called tarte flambee on the French side). The traditional Flammkuchen is made with onion and bacon cubes, but since I have Mr. No Onion Please at home, I made a bit more modern and lighter version of it. From the amounts given below, you’ll get 2 Flammkuchen. The recipe  for dough comes from  Linda Collister’s and Anthony Blake’s “The bread book” and I found it on CinCin forum. The dough is absolutely fantastic! Comes out crispy and it’s so easy to work with – a must try!

INGREDIENTS

455 g flour (about 12% protein content)
1,5 tsp salt
15 g fresh yeasts
1 tbsp olive oil
280 ml luke warm water

200g creme fraiche
4-5 tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
2 handfuls of rocket
10-12 slices of dried ham

1. Dissolve the yeasts in luke warm water and leave them aside for 5-10 min.

2. Combine flour, salt, yeasts and oil and knead a ball of dough. Let it rest under cover for 1,5-2h until it doubles it’s volume.

3. Hit the dough with the fist to release the air and divide it in half. Roll the dough very! thinly (I additionally stretch it in the air, to make it super thin), you should get 2 pieces roughly of the size of your baking tray.

4. Spread the creme on top, leaving some free space on the sides. Put tomato slices on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 275C till golden brown (remember to preheat not only the oven but also the tray you’ll put the Flammkuchen on!)

5. Spread rocket and dried ham on top. Serve with well chilled white wine 🙂

ENJOY!

Pimp up your porridge I – the youth serum

I thought of making a short series of fast and tasty breakfasts that are packed with nutrients. You see, Finland is THE country when it comes to porridge love. No, I can’t tell any statistics here, but I bet that puuro, as it is called here, is actually the most commonly eaten breakfast in this part of the world. And yes, it’s very healthy and yes, it is hated by many as they were forced to eat it as kids.  But believe me, you just need to spice it up with some seasonal additions to actually like or WHOA, even love it (and add even more nutritional value to your meal). In many countries porridge is simply called oatmeal, and as the name says it’s made of oats. Here though, an addition of rye is very common, that’s why I’ll be talking always about porridge on my blog. No matter if you just eat oats, or just rye or combination of those two or any other grains, porridge is one of the superfoods to bring you health and wellbeing.

To pimp up your porridge you really don’t need much, a handful of seasonal fruits plus a complementing spice is already plentiful. Here I combined cherries with cinnamon – those two fit so well together! Do you know that cherries are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and can even assist in regulating the blood pressure, not to say how darn tasty they actually are. Cherries have hit the list of so called superfoods and they are so valuable that a glass of cherry juice is said to be equivalent of 23 fruit portions! So, eat cherries and make your momma proud 😉

You thought I would stop there? Ah, life with me isn’t that easy 😉 To boost the antioxidant levels even more, I added several spoons of Goji berries. Have you heard of those yet? They are the new craze among the superfoods fans. I’m quite sceptical to call them wonder berries, yet  no one can deny they are tasty and full of “youth chemistry” we are so much for in this porridge. Oh, and did I already mention that even cinnamon is  plentiful in antioxidants and antimicrobial agents? Yes, search no more for the youth serum, just pimp up your regular porridge 😉

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INGREDIENTS

rye and oat porridge

milk

2 handfuls of cherries, halved and pitted

4 tbsp goji berries

1 tbsp cinnamon

1-2 tbsp demerara sugar

pinch of salt

***

Prepare your porridge on milk (a portion for 2), add cinnamon, salt and sugar and slowly simmer till ready. Just before taking it off the heat, throw Goji berries and cherries in.

Racuchy – Polish mini pancakes with fruits

I adore slow weekend  mornings. Not that we have so many of those, actually we sleep through most of them 😉 You see, we are not really morning people. I wish we were though, but of course there are some positive sides of our laziness. We can skip breakfast and go straight for lunch, or actually brunch for that matter 😉 Pancakes are perfect on such occasions, they are warm, filling and extremely fast to prepare. Actually true Polish pancake is nearly as thin as crepes, but we  also have  something similar to “American style” pancakes that we call racuchy. They are much smaller, as they are made from just a dollop of dough and they often contain fruit pieces and are sprinkled with icing sugar (I adored those with apple slices as a child). They are also most commonly containing yeasts, but who would have patience in the morning to wait  for the dough to raise 😉 This time I used baking soda and frozen raspberries, but of course you can put fruit of your own choice or eat them plain.

INGREDIENTS:

0,5 l buttermilk

350g flour

2 eggs

50g icing sugar

1 tsp baking soda

200g frozen raspberries

frying oil

Mix buttermilk, flour, eggs and sugar to blend. Whisk in baking soda and fruits at the end. Fry until golden brown. The recipe makes around 30 mini pancakes. Serve with whipped cream and jam or sprinkle with icing sugar.

Recipe comes from blog Moje Wypieki

 

Beetroot pickles

Traditionally, late summer and autumn were the times of harvest, when one struggled to preserve nature goods for cold winter months. Today, living our lives in a complete rush, most of us don’t feel like using their precious free time  to make preserves. Surely, it’s so easy to get pickles on your plate, you just go to the shop, pick them up from the shelf and voila! That’s so easy and so cheap that nowadays few people bother  making pickles themselves. I wanted finally to try how difficult can it be to make your own preserves. And you know what? It is actually ridiculously easy and the best part is that with this recipe you don’t need to bother with pasteurisation!

INGREDIENTS

2 kg of beetroots

2dl sugar
2dl 10% vinegar
3-4dl  water
heaped tbsp salt
1dl oil
3-4 bay leaves
15-20 allspice grains
several grains of black pepper
whole garlic divided into cloves, peeled

1. Wash the beetroots and put them to boiling water. Boil until they will be soft but tender. Cool down, peel the skin.

2. In the meanwhile prepare the solution. Combine rest of the ingredients and heat up till they start to boil. Take off the heat.

3. Cut the beetroots into matchsticks (kitchen robot is very useful in this task). Throw them into the solution and heat up till everything boils once again.

4. Transfer hot beetroots to sterilized jars, press them a bit and add some of the solution to cover them in liquid if necessary. Leave around 1cm of free space in the jar,  close the cap tightly and flip jars upside down. Once they cooled down flip them back and store. You can eat the preserves already 1-2 weeks later, but they will easily keep for months in some cooler place.

 

Recipe from Samanta (from Polish food forum CinCin)

Bell pepper tart tatin

I’ve just realised that for a long time I wasn’t blogging about any vegetarian dish. Time to make it up 😉 This weekend we had utilised over 5 kg of peppers – most of them were roasted and pureed to be used later on in an amazing pepper and garlic soup (I’ll post it some other time) and several of them finished in a delicious red bell pepper tart tatin. I served it together with a cream containing goat cheese, what wonderfully lifted up peppers’ sweetness. The tart is perfect for an appetizer or simply as a vegetarian main dish. Definitely, it is not a guilt-free dish as puff pastry is quite greasy and there’s still some carmel there, but if it makes you feel better about it, imagine that each pepper contains double the amount of vitamin C of what is there in one orange 😉 So in a way that’s a great healthy snack for the rainy and gloomy autumn 😉

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 red bell peppers

30g butter

pinch of salt

3 tbsp sugar

puff pastry sheet

 

fresh goat cheese

creme frache

basil, salt, pepper

1. Cut the peppers into pieces. Melt the butter in the pan and throw in the pepper pieces. Add pinch of salt. Fry till they begin to soften.

2. Push the peppers onto the sides of the pan and add to the middle 3 tbsp of sugar, wait for a while till the sugar starts to carmelise and mix it well with the peppers. Fry still for a while till peppers are getting brownish carmel coating.

3. Transfer pepper pieces and remaining carmel onto 25cm greased tart pan. Arrange them with the skin facing the bottom. Let them cool down a bit.

4. Roll the puff pastry sheet 2-3mm thick. Lay it on the top of peppers, push it down and tuck in the edges all round the inside of the pan.

5. Bake in 225C till the pastry will get a nice golden brown colour.

6. Take it away from the oven. Let it cool for 3-4min and flip it onto the plate.

7. Serve with a dip made from soft fresh goat cheese and creme frache (1:1 ratio) seasoned with salt, pepper and finely chopped basil leaves.

Make jam when life gives you flowers :)

Oh, what a great weekend 🙂 We had a really nice relaxing time – some shopping, some cooking, a bit of hanging around and a really neat day trip with friends (maybe I’ll post some pictures later on). But, the most important part of the weekend was that finally, the rose bushes next to our flat started to blossom! And that means that the time has come to make a jam from rose petals! Yup, I’m not crazy, you can make a kind of jam from flowers. It is actually he taste of my childhood. My grandma uses it mixed together with plum marmalade to stuff doughnuts. The rose petal jam doesn’t have any particular taste, it is sugary with tiny bit tart aftertaste, but it’s totally not about it. Everything comes to it’s amazing smell! It is used to perfume whatever you mix it with and it is fantastic! I collect petals from Rosa Rugosa, that is a very common shrub in Europe. When collecting the petals you need to remember not to pick them in the vicinity of any road. The preserves are really easy to make and there is so much sugar that you don’t even need to bother with pasteurization.

Ingredients:

rose petals

sugar

1. Collect the petals. You’ll need quite much of those. The above tiny jar of jam was made from a salad bowl full of petals.

2. Spread the petals on the table covered with newspapers and let all inhabitants escape 😉

3. Now the most tiresome task – grab scissors and cut away all the white parts of petals. They are really bitter and need to be removed.

4. Put the petals eg to your measuring flask and squeeze them very tight there with your hand, look at the volume that they take in the dish, now that’s the volume of sugar you’re gonna add

5. Blend the petals together with sugar. If it is too watery, then add a bit more sugar. Transfer to clean jar.

Salep and tahini-pekmez bread spread

Today I’ll have a bit different post for you. I wanted to show you a typical beverage and sweet treat for breakfast straight from Turkey (oh yeah I know, I’ve promised to write a bit more about Turkish food after my travel to Istanbul and well, better now than never 😉 ). There will be two recipes here as well as a very short description of three commonly used products. Hope you’ll find it interesting 🙂

I have already once mentioned salep in my post about Turkish sweets, where it was used as a thickening agent in chewy ice creams. This property is widely used in many desserts and comes from the starch. Salep is a powder obtained from ground orchid roots and is used as a flavoring and thickening agent also in beverages and ice cream. As orchid roots have pretty suggestive shape they have been from centuries used as aphrodisiacs and infertility curatives. In fact it is thought that the name itself originated from Arabic expression that means “fox testicles”. The most common usage of salep is in a mildly flavoured winter beverage and the recipe for it you can find below.

As salep is so much liked and widely used in Turkey the population of wild orchids declined what resulted in a ban to export the powder out of the country. That’s why you may buy original salep only once you’re in Turkey, otherwise only the synthetic versions are available elsewhere. Once you get a grip on salep here is a really easy method how to prepare your morning drink.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tsp salep powder

500ml milk

sugar to taste

cinnamon

To prepare the beverage simply mix the salep powder in half a glass of milk till dissolved. Heat the rest of the milk till it’s boiling and slowly add the dissolved salep. Decrease the heat, add sugar and slowly boil till it starts to thicken. Once you pour it to the cup, sprinkle it generously with cinnamon.

Pekmez is a kind of molasses obtained from condensing grape juice together with some coagulant agents. It’s been said to have more nutritional value than honey and apart from being a great source of energy it is rich in organic acids, calcium, potassium, iron and group B vitamins. It is also known to have some curative effects on anaemia and enhances bone development. Pekmez is often mixed together with tahini to form a delicious spread for breakfast. I guess nowadays everyone knows what tahini is. This sesame paste is available in every bigger supermarket and every health shop has it as well. Why? Well apart from the same nutritional values that pekmez has, tahini is additionally known to boost the rate of metabolism, enhance immune system and help to maintain healthy skin and muscle tone. And so mixing those two products makes a real nutritious bomb for breakfast. Both of those ingredients you may easily buy from your nearby middle-eastern shop. It’s really worth a try as it definitely is an original no-guilt sweet bread spread.

To prepare the spread you need to mix tahini and pekmez in 1:1 ratio (eg 1 tbsp tahini and 1 tbsp pekmez). However, the amounts are really flexible, you may want to increase the ratio of pekmez in your mixture if you want the spread to be sweeter or if you have pretty watery tahini paste.

Vappu

The first of May (Vappu) is a widely celebrated fest in Finland. Apart from being the Labour Day it is also students’ day, doughnut day but most of all drinking day ;). The streets are really colourful with people wearing ylioppilaslakki – graduation hats as well as students wearing their traditional overalls. The balloon sellers are on every corner and atmosphere is soaked with joy and anxiety for the most frolic night of the year.

It all begins on Vappu’s Eve with traditional student’s parade and washing the statue of Havis Amanda (in every city the celebrations look a bit different). The statue wears the ylioppilaslakki through the day and in the late afternoon everyone gathers to watch as students wash it off with the water from old firemen’s car hoes and then polish the statue with brushes and brooms. When Amanda is all shiny confetti and balloons are thrown to the air and that’s the time when one should head in search of a good place where to hook up for all-night partying.

The 1st of May starts pretty quietly as majority of people try to recover from hangover and prepare for picnic. By noon most of the green spots in the city centre are already taken over by families munching their lunch. The most popular place in Helsinki to set your blanket is Kaivopuisto park that overlooks the sea. It’s always full of people, colourful and noisy as tipsy students cheer every time the sun reappears from behind the clouds.

This year the weather was really bad. Fortunately it wasn’t raining but the wind was extremely strong and it was so cold that we basically just ate the food really fast and escaped to one of the warm, cosy pubs to continue the celebrations ;). One of the very fast to prepare nibbles that I nearly always make on such occasions are pieces of puff pastry with various fillings. The one below is our all-time favourite. You just assemble the things together and throw to the oven, bake in 200C till golden brown. No fuss at all and so easy to prepare after a tiring night 😉

INGREDIENTS

puff pastry cut into squares

firm pears, sliced

mature goat cheese, sliced

pine nuts

rose pepper

BTW as this time the weather wasn’t really good, the pictures from Vappu celebrations are from last year (anyway it always looks the same 😉 )