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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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.

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.