Spaghetti with creamy salmon sauce

Right now in Finland we enjoy a truly lovely, sunny weekend, with temperatures going up to 27C in Helsinki! Such weather is not very common here and it makes me appreciate cloudless sky more and more the longer I live here. As much as  the sun awakens my inner resources of energy, it makes me a bit lazy when it comes to cooking. The summer days definitely require light and quick dishes,  made without the necessity of  tedious standing by a burning hot cooker. I made this dish for the first time as a way to clean our fridge from some leftovers, yet the sauce came out so tasty and easy to do that I repeat it from time to time, particularly during hot, lazy days. I prefer to use cold smoked salmon or gravlax, as the fish flavour is more intense, yet any leftover salmon will do, let it be hot smoked one or even oven baked one. It’s a lovely summer lunch dish, to be made in no time. The amounts given below are enough for 2 people.

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INGREDIENTS

spaghetti

250ml crème fraiche

a bunch of dill, finely chopped

5-6 slices of cold smoked salmon, sliced to small pieces

3 tbsp small capers

freshly ground black pepper – quite much

salt and lemon juice to taste

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1. Cook the proper amount of spaghetti for 2 people. In the meantime, slowly heat up crème fraiche.

2. Add dill, capers, pepper and lemon juice and simmer for a minute or two.

3. Add the salmon and immediately take the sauce away from the heat. Season with salt.

Finnish delicacy – leipäjuusto with cloudberries

Today I’d like to tell you a bit about two very typical Finnish products – leipäjuusto and cloudberries that can be married into a really fast and delicious dessert. Leipäjuusto is a kind of fresh cheese made of cow’s milk, or traditionally from cow’s beestings. Direct translation of the name means bread cheese and I guess the name comes from it’s looks – dark brown spots that appear after the cheese is baked. Or maybe from the simple, yet  unusual fact that it is put into stoves just like bread is. The texture is very firm, a bit rubbery, maybe somewhat reminiscent to halloumi in this sence, yet totally different. Because of it’s texture it is also sometimes called squeaky cheese as it makes really funny noises when you eat it warm. I love it’s texture and the sound it makes, it’s simply a part of the fun when eating this dessert, but I know many people, particularly foreigners might be a bit discouraged by it. The cheese is very mild in taste, milky with a hint of sweetness and it can be used in desserts but also appears often in salads.

Cloudberries are another very typical Finnish ingredient. I know, I know, I should put here a picture of a real fruit not just jam, but you see… I somehow never really went to pick them up 😉 It’s a tricky business (or so I keep telling myself 😉 ). The fruit might look a tiny bit like a yellow raspberry, but unfortunately it doesn’t grow like one. The raspberries grow on a tall bush, and they are lots, making it easy to pick them up. Cloudberries, are more like wild strawberry bushes and sadly one plant forms only one berry! What a job to fill in a basket with them! Even worse, they grow sparse, only in separated places (known to the avid cloudberry foragers, not lame couch potatoes like me 😉 ) and preferentially in wetlands among hordes of mosquitos. Phew… does it sound like a good excuse? 😉 Anyway, they are really delicious and both the leipäjuusto and cloudberries are a must try when you’re visiting Finland.

INGREDIENTS:

leipäjuusto

muscovado sugar

double cream

cloudberry jam

Cut the cheese into small pieces, sprinkle muscovado sugar on top of them. Pour double cream, not too much, it shouldn’t cover cheese. Put to oven under grill and heat up till the sugar is caramelised. Serve with cloudberry jam.

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

Easy peasy strawberry dessert

I guess you all know the food mood change kind of thingy. You shop thinking of what would please your palate the most for several next days, come back happily home with a bunch of goodies and next day you realize that you actually would prefer to eat something else. Well…. that’s what happened last week to my cannelloni plan… Was supposed to stuff them with a mixture of ricotta, rucola, capers and smoked fish and ended up having creamy spaghetti containing those things but yeah…. ricotta was still left out in my fridge. Nothing particularly worrying in that, just that the “best before” date was approaching quite fast. I “foodgawkered” for desserts with ricotta and found this amazingly fast and simple recipe from Lucullian delights. The original called for classic dark chocolate and mint combo, I decided to try out also less orthodox version – basil, white chocolate and strawberries mixture. Mr. No Onion Please and I had quite different opinion on the dessert variations – he loved the mint version, I went fully for basil option, each of us munching  happily upon our own bowls, not having to share with the other one 😉 And who said that disagreements ruin relationships? 😉

INGREDIENTS:

250g ricotta
200ml fresh cream
3tbsp sugar
fresh strawberries, sliced

shredded mint leaves
dark chocolate, grated

OR

shredded basil leaves
white chocolate, grated

1.  Press the ricotta through a finely meshed sieve into a bowl and stir very well.
2. Whip the cream with sugar until it is stiff and delicately fold in ricotta.
3. Mix with strawberries and preferred chocolate-herb combo