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

 

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Tasting Estonia

In previous post I promised to show you some food goodies from Tallinn. Since we have spent only half a day there, there is not that much to blog about, but well 😉 here it is 😉 We had a dinner in Beer House restaurant. It prides itself as  the only micro-brewery restaurant in Estonia. They brew 7 sorts of beer and as you might have guessed, it was a difficult choice so… we bought a tasting set 😉 We liked the most Beer House Premium and Märzen Speziel. Medovar Honey was also really good, but I think it should be enjoyed by itself,  cause in combination with other beers it seems to be a tad too sweet. One can  see the brewery vats through the windows next to restaurant’s entrance.

Tallin takes pride in its Hanseatic history and many restaurants advertise their medieval dishes. Beer House is no different and not only it is stylized as a tavern but it also serves a wide variety of dishes that probably are similar to those from the past. For a beer snack we chose pig’s ears. Doesn’t it sound fun ;)? It is something really interesting to try, but for sure I won’t crave for it 😉 For main Mr No Onion Please opted for ribs, while I got sausage of game with potato and forest-mushroom pocket, beet and horse-radish terrine, mustard sauce and fresh сranberry sauce.

I guess the most common food souvenirs one brings from any country are sweets and alcohol. Well, we are no different. That’s usually the first things we think of bringing back with us as well. When it comes to Estonia, the staple food souvenirs are Kalev chocolates and marzipan and Vana Tallin liquor.

I’m not a great fan of Kalev milk chocolates, but I must admit, they really know how to make good white ones. Both me and Mr No Onion Please adore the white chocolate with dried blueberries and crisps. Mr No Onion Please is also a fan of white chocolate with strawberries and cookies, while I prefer the one with dried cranberries and coconut. When we went to Kalev store, I have spotted a new milk chocolate with almonds and gooseberries. Oh my, I love gooseberries, of course I had to buy it! It is a nice chocolate, though, to my disappointment it doesn’t contain dried gooseberry bits (or not at least visible ones). I would also like a tiny bit more of the gooseberry flavor in it, but in general I was pretty happy with the taste and will definitely buy it again.

Another “souvenir” that one just has to bring from Estonia is Vana Tallinn liquor. As much as I  can’t really handle the original liquor (too strong), I really adore its cream and coffee cream versions. There is a tiny bit of rum and vanilla flavor with some  delicate citrus aftertaste. Definitely one of the best cream liquors I’ve ever tasted. They are absolutely delicious! Since I got now a new bottle (my stock always replenishes so fast 😉 ) I’m planning to use it in  cheesecake, oh boy, can’t wait!

Kama chocolate

Now, something about Estonia’s national food product, that won’t be commonly found in a visitor’s bag – kama. It’s a mixture of roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flour. Historically, it has been used as a stomach-filling snack that could be quickly prepared by mixing it with lard. Nowadays, it is usually enjoyed  simply mixed with buttermilk and some berries. You can read more about it here and search for kama recipes on Nami-Nami blog. In fact, this ingredient is so popular, that Kalev has made a “chocolate”, using kama instead of cocoa. Actually, Kamatahvel is a fortunate outcome of Soviet times experiment. You see, during communism it was very difficult to get cocoa beans, so people started to search for alternatives. Of course kama could never substitute the real cocoa, but the outcome was not only interesting but also pretty tasty. It reminds me somewhat of a similar product invented in Poland during those times. Not only cocoa was a deficit  food product, it was also very difficult to get coffee. Similarly to kama, so called grain coffee was invented. It constituted of roasted barley, rye, sugar beets and chicory and despite it was barely reminiscent of real coffee, it remained popular not only through communism but also nowadays you can buy it as INKA grain coffee. Quite amazing what people can think of, when they are in need!

Though I bought kama just several days ago, I’ve already used 2/3 of the package (I guess it means another Tallinn trip quite soon 😉 ). Apart from mixing kama with my morning muesli, I’ve decided to try out a recipe for kama mascarpone truffles – kamakäkid. I have substituted raisins with dried cranberries, as I’m much more keen on those. Thank you Pille for the recipe, we have enjoyed it together with our friends a lot!

INGREDIENTS

250 grams of mascarpone
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped dried cranberries
3 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
3 heaped tbsp kama flour
a generous dash of Vana Tallinn cream liqueur (can be substituted with eg. Baileys)

Mix everything together, put into the fridge for a while. Form into small balls, roll in kama or cocoa powder and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Tallinn – a quick walk

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We’ve just came back from a day trip to Estonia. Though officially it was supposed to be a work trip, we’ve spend a great afternoon in lovely Tallinn. You see I hold the nationality of one of the very few countries in Europe that are still “privileged” to need a visa for short term visits to the USA. Since the embassy in Finland is basically closed down for renovation, I was told to go somewhere else… You can imagine I was really pissed off, cause it is not only really troublesome to actually get a visa (tons of documents), but still to be forced to travel abroad to get it was a tad too much for me. Anyway, I decided to make the best of it and took Mr No Onion Please with me for a relaxing  Sunday in Estonia. I must say we had a great day that reminded us of how charming Tallinn is. We  definitely have to make another trip there in the summer! Here is a short compilation of some old pictures from Tallinn’s old town and soon I’ll blog a bit more about the goodies I bought 😉

Thai style mussels

I have a little confession to make. I actually do have a favourite space in my fridge. Yup, you read it right, FAVOURITE SPACE in the FRIDGE. How weird that sounds? Anyway, it’s a drawer where I store all kinds of sauces and pastes that are used in South-East Asian cooking. You see, I have this great dream that one day I’ll go for a long cooking course, where I will finally learn true, ingenius way of oriental cooking and whenever  I look in that drawer I smile to myself imaginig the dream comes true. Since I adore that versatile cuisine, I read a about it and cook quite some dishes. I slowly start to understand the complex taste combinations and begin to figure out my own recipes. The more I learn  though, the more I want to learn from someone who has the skills of that cuisine “in their blood” 😉 Anyone interesting in borrowing me their grandmum 😉 ?

This recipe makes for a lunch for 2 or a starter for 4.

INGREDIENTS:

1kg mussels

2 mild chilli peppers, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
300ml coconut milk
1 lemon grass – smashed and cut into 3-4 pieces
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tbsp demerara sugar
salt

handful of chopped coriander

1. Clean the mussels. Discard the ones that do not close when you knock on them.
2. Saute chilli, garlic and ginger. Add half of the volume of coconut milk.
3. Add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce and red curry paste. Simmer for 3-4 min till the milk become very fragrant. Add the rest of the coconut milk and season to taste.
4. Add the mussels, mix well and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add coriander, stir and steam for additional half a minute.

Chocolate creme brulee for my Valentine

This post is for my Valentine, with whom I unfortunately can’t be today. Luckily for Mr. No Onion Please, I’m the kind of person who even if is forced to miss some fest, simply will celebrate it before. And so he enjoyed his Valentine’s treat yesterday. And believe me he enjoyed it a lot. Not only because it is so heavenly good. There is also another reason. I just got myself a kitchen torch and guess who was the first to run around with it  trying it out (also attempting to set  chicken drumsticks on fire). Ohioh, my big man has a small boy inside, who likes to take charge, and that’s why I love him so much 😉

The recipe comes from a book called “Pure Chocolate” and I found it on Not So Humble Pie blog.

INGREDIENTS

5 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar + some more for caramel topping
500ml cream
1/2 vanilla pod (or 1tsp of vanilla paste)
125g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), broken to pieces

1. Heat the oven to 150C. Assemble six shallow ceramic tarts in a roasting pan.
2. Stir the yolks with 2 tbsp of sugar, beware not to incorporate air into the mixture.
3. Heat up the cream with 2 tbsp sugar and vanilla. Once it begins to foam, remove from heat and fish out the vanilla bean. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream and discard the pod. Add the chocolate to the mixture and stir until completely melted and smooth. Coll it down slightly.
4. Slowly add small amounts of cream to the egg mixture. Mix well and repeat till you whisk in everything.
5. Pour the mixture between the tarts, tapping the roasting pan gently on the counter to settle the custard and remove any air bubbles. Pour hot water into your roasting pan so it comes up roughly as high as the custard.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake till they are set 20-35min (for my size of ramekins 25min was enough).
7. Take them out, once they are cooled down to room temperature, transfer to the fridge (I find it is best to keep them overnight before you eat them).
8. An hour before serving toss some sugar on the top of each creme brulee and carmelise it with kitchen torch. Cool it down in the fridge again before serving.

 

How to make decorative nuts:

1. Place a toothpick into each nut

2. Dry carmelise sugar, dip the nuts into it

3. Poke vertically placed cardboard with the other side of toothpicks and let the nuts dry, gravitation will force caramel down, forming decorative tail

Caramel panna cotta with tonka bean


Valentine’s Day’s approaching really fast. Myself, I’m not a great fan of this fest, but I believe that any occasion is a good excuse to make and eat desserts, don’t you think so? 😉 Since Valentine’s day is on Monday, I guess some of you are still searching for an easy, fast and yet sophisticated recipe to surprise your beloved ones. I believe I have one that  fulfills all those requirements! This lovely panna cotta is not only extremely easy to make but it also marries luscious caramel and vanilla with exotic tonka beans.

In the past, tonka beans were used to flavour tobacco for smoking pipes and nowadays they are often used in perfumes. They are rather a rarity when it comes to culinary use and are mostly featured in French and Italian dishes, however they slowly enter other cuisines . Unfortunately, they are forbidden in some countries (eg. in USA) as they contain coumarin and are toxic in high dosages. Tonka beans have lovely vanilla-almond flavor with a strong scent of rum (they are processed in it for 24h before drying). I got tonka beans as a generous gift from Bea from Bea w kuchni. Thank you once again Bea, it was such a delightful and tasty surprise!

The recipe comes from Master chef Australia  (by Adriano Zumbo). It makes 2 portions.

 

INGREDIENTS
60g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split seeds scraped
1/3 tonka bean, grated
250ml cream
1 gelatine  leaf (2g)

1. Dry caramelize the sugar with the tonka bean and vanilla seeds and bean in a saucepan until sugar has melted and mixture is caramel in colour.

2. Meanwhile, heat cream in a small saucepan and add warm cream to caramel to deglaze pan. Soak gelatine leaf in water until soft, squeeze out excess moisture. Stir gelatine into mixture and strain mixture through a sieve placed over a small bowl. Cool in an ice bath.

3. Once cooled to room temperature pour into glasses or moulds. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until set.

Beef tenderloin marinated in molasses with baked sweet potato puree

Today is Finnish Independence Day. In spite of being an expat, it is somewhat natural for me to celebrate 6th of December anyway, as it is a St. Nicholas day in Poland. As much as I would prefer to enjoy the Polish festivity (oh don’t blame me, we get presents on that day), it’s always uplifting to take part in independence merriment. This year, the national celebrations took place in the city of Kuopio and you can have a look at several photos from the army parade in my previous post.  We’ve also decided to have some fun at home with a bit more fancy dinner and so here it is – a succulent beef tenderloin marinated in molasses and ginger and served on baked sweet potato mash. YUM!!!

INGREDIENTS*

beef tenderloin
170 ml molasses
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp chili flakes
3-4 garlic cloves, grated
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp pepper

1. Mix everything well and marinade for 24h. Turn the meat around occasionally.
2. Heat the pan and seal the fillet all over until brown.
3. Place in the oven preheated to 125C and roast till inner temperature of the meat will reach 56C (for medium) or till your liking.
4. Wrap the meat tightly in aluminium foil and let it rest for 15min before you serve.

* The recipe for beef tenderloin comes from the book STEAK by Paul Gayler

INGREDIENTS

1,5kg sweet potatoes
1,5 tbsp of runny honey or golden sirup
1,5 tsp cinnamon
1/2-3/4 tsp ginger
1/2-3/4 tsp cardamom
1 egg
heaped tbsp butter

butter
bread crumbles – preferably from rye bread

1. Pierce the potatoes with a fork, grease with butter or olive oil, bake in 200C till soft and peal the skin.
2. Blend the sweet potatoes, spices, egg and butter.
3. Transfer the mixture to greased oven-proof dish. Sprinkle generously with bread crumbles and put thin slices of butter on top.
4. Bake for 30min in 180C.

Mulled white wine with raspberries

A much as I always loved Christmas, the nowadays commercialised version of it just gets on my nerves. Year by year, shops are decorated with Christmas stuff even earlier, pervasive commercials make you feel as if the nuclear war is coming and you just HAVE TO buy all the presents NOW, at least a month in advance (not to mention omnipresent, nerve-wracking “Laaaaast Christmas” song putting it’s final touch to spoil the mood). Yes, it is somehow uplifting to see all of this beautiful decorations, and yes,  it is nice to feel that soon you’ll get several days off your work, but for God’s sake why to start with all of it already in November? By early December I’m sooo fed up with all the “ho ho ho”, buy presents thingy, that I try to avoid shopping at the malls at all costs.  However, I do like Christmas time as such, the time of anticipation for something special to happen. Nowadays, it doesn’t have much of a religious meaning to me but it is all about the family gathering, slowing down the pace, going back to the basics.

The Christmas time has a scent, a beautiful smell of cinnamon, cardamom and orange peel. Making mulled wine is one of those great  Christmas traditions. In every country it is made differently and called differently, but the point is the same – to combine the wonderful  aroma of Christmas with a delicious soul-warming beverage. Glögi, as it is called here in Finland, is THE thing that makes me feel like Christmas time has come. There’s nothing better than a warm cup of glögi in the evening. We usually are fine with a non-alcoholic version of it that is extremely popular here, but once the temperatures dropped below -15C we decided it’s time to make it “real” and spice it up with some booze 😉 The recipe comes from a finnish magazine Kotivinkki and it’s absolutely addictive 😉

INGREDIENTS

400g frozen raspberries
1/2 dl sugar
5 dl apple juice
2 star anise
1 piece of cinnamon bark, broken in half
10 green cardamoms, crushed delicately

5 dl white wine

1. Add raspberries, sugar, juice and spices to a saucepan. Boil on a small heat for about 10 min.
2. Use a sieve to separate the spices and berries from the liquid.
3. Add the wine and heat it up (do not boil!).