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!

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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.

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 😉 )