Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pie, pie .. me oh, my

I've never made an American pie type of pie before. And, as I've proclaimed on many an occasion before, I don't really like cakes and pastry all that much and am not into making them usually.

But yesterday morning we woke up and suddenly both wanted blueberry-pie. It took us a while to figure out why. Here's why: we went to see Kar Wai Wong's "My Blueberry Nights" this week and the "ice-cream melting into the blueberry topping" was a standard gear-shift screen-shot he used through out the movie. Such susceptible creatures we are.

Here's the trailer for "My blueberry nights" on Youtube.

I couldn't find blueberries in the store, so I bought a frozen berry mix that had some blueberries in it and then some frozen cherries. The recipe is something I combined from 5 - 6 pie-recipes I found online.

My first ever berry-cream pie:

prebake one pie crust (I bought the short-crust pastry from a store)
1 pack of frozen berries
1 pack of frozen pitted cherries
1 pack of cream-cheese (180 g)
1 pack(250 g) of vanilla-pudding
1 pack of whipped cream (225 ml)
1 cup of sugar
4 tsp of corn or potato starch
juice from 1/2 lemon

Prebake the crust and let it cool. Combine half a pack of frozen berries with some water on a sauce pan and let it simmer. Mix sugar and corn-starch. After ~4 min. add the sugar+corn-starch mix to the pan. Stir constantly. When the mixture thickens add the lemon juice. Add the rest of the berries and cherries and let it cool.

Whip the double-cream. Mix the cream-cheese with the vanilla pudding and then fold in the whipped cream. Spread this mix onto the pie-crust, cover with the berry-mix and refrigerate for ~2 hours.

Invite friends. Watch a stupid movie. Feel good about your Sunday.

As for subliminal messages, take a look at this :-)

Sink your teeth in it ...

The regular weekend meet-craving again. I wanted meat, Siim wanted meat AND potatoes, we ended up with a classically Estonian and theoretically the most unhealthy combination - pork + mash.

Pancetta wrapped pork-chops with carrot and celery-root filling
serves 4

4 pork chops
2 medium carrots, cut into thin sticks
1/2 of a medium celery-root, cut into think sticks
creme fraiche
salt + pepper
5 - 6 medium potatoes, cubed
1 leek, sliced
sour cream

Toss carrots and celery-root with salt, pepper and thyme. Spread appr. half of the veggies on the bottom of a baking-tin and sprinkle with creme fraiche.
Lay out a slice of pancetta or raw-bacon, salt a pork-pork chop and place it on the slice of pancetta, salted-side down. Smear mustard on the top side of the pork-chop. Place some of the carrot / celery-root mix in the centre of the pork chop, splash some creme fraiche and fold up the chop. Fasten with toothpicks.
Place the folded pork-chops onto the tin (on the carrots-celery).
Cook in the oven until the pancetta is roasted-brown.

Cook the potatoes and the leek in some chicken stock. Add sour-cream. Mash with a food-processor.

Serve with tomatoes or pickles.

You win some, you lose some

I lost a bet recently - we wagered a dinner at a restaurant called House. It used to be called SushiHouse and it also used to be the best sushi place in Tallinn, now the quality seems to have evened out. Incidentally, the bet I lost was also about sushi (very embarassing indeed). For some reason I had remembered that you're only supposed to dip the rice end of the nigiris into the sauce, whereas it actually is only the fish end.

But it was a very enjoiable evening, the food was good, not mind-bogglingly, but pretty decent and the restaurant all in all has a very comfy and friendly atmosphere. Smokers probably love it as they're not ostracized to the freezing winds out on the sidewalk, but can chill-out in a nice, well-ventilated room equipped with puffy sofas on the top floor.

Two of us started with sushi and followed with a dish from the warm entree's - a grilled prawn choice with romesco sauce. It was nice, the sauce was a bit too spicy in some peoples opinion, but I quite liked it. At the same time, I feel that the mangetouts were the best part of that dish, a pretty pronounced fact in itself.

Salmon pave and beef tenderloin also made their appearance and it seemed that the tenderloin scored the highest.

The beautiful picture of the romesco prawns is by Liis.

Friday, January 11, 2008

So far ... the best

I've moaned about the quality of fish / seafood available in Estonia on plenty an occasion, but there are some restaurants that are really upping their game. Our office Christmas dinner (I don't know what's taken me so long to post this) took place in a restaurant called Kadriorg this year and I must say, that for me, this has been the best fish-meal in a restaurant in Estonia so far. Yes, better than Tigu.

I started with Frutti di mare alla Siciliana, which was far - far too big for an entree, but absolutely fantastic. Fragrant and spicy, the tomato sauce was so natural, not sadly bland (winter + tomatoes = always a struggle) or artificially ketchupy-tasting. And the seafood was cooked for just the right amount of time, saving the prawns from the horrid death of being overcooked into unidentifiable woody knobs.

And for the main course I had Orata al forno con gremolata (Baked seabream with gremolata sauce). My first encounter with seabream and I was very impressed.
Compliments to the chef Andrei Šmakov. Want to go back.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Another soup. Siim said it sounds like a curse word in Finnish, you've got to hand it to him for imagination :-) but it's actually from the south of France and I got inspired to try it from the Soup Bible.

However, it seems that the Soup Bible is a bit confused, as it suggests adding pesto, whereas the name of the soup comes from the sauce called pistou, and which, although quite similar to pesto in terms of ingredients, is lacking the pine-nuts, therefore is not actually pesto. But this I didn't know, when making the soup, and it tastes good no matter the pesto, actually all the better thanks to the pesto :)

Soup au Pistou with Camembert

diced courgette
diced potato
diced carrot
chopped shallot
can of crushed tomatoes
small pasta shapes (I'd say it's optional)
pesto (a lot, 5 tbsp)
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
cheese to serve

It's pretty straight-forward, as usually with soups. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the pesto and the sun-dried tomatoes at the end. The orginal recipe calls for Parmesan-shavings for serving, but I was out. I did however have some very nice Camembert, and what do you know, it went with the soup nicely.

During my little online-background check I also found a curious detail. Wolfgang Puck apparently has a pistou-soup recipe, in his "Spectacular Soups" series. And he uses leek and celery! But Pistou is a traditional summer soup. And the French, they have rules when it comes to food. You can meddle with all the ingredients as long as you don't reach your greedy little hands towards anything that can't be classified a summer-veggie. Like say, leek. Ha-ha!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

No comments

... really... I have to stop :)
this time smoked sea-bass made it's first appearance.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Red hot

And back to soups. One of my all-time favorite soups is tomato-basil. I keep making it and never seem to get tired. After all, tomato is the queen of veggies (or fruits, as the biologist have decided). This time I introduced some alterations, suitable for an increasingly cold winter weather.

Spicy tomato soup

can of chopped tomatoes
pack of premium tomato paste
one pot of fresh basil
cumin seeds
chunk (1 cm x 1 cm) fresh chopped ginger-root
chopped green onions
black pepper and sea-salt
some crushed egg noodles
2 tbsp Heinz ketchup

Too bad it's already all gone. I even licked the plate. Sighhh :)


Picasso had his blue phase, I seem to be having an undeniable sushi phase.

This time I tried some spicy salmon (cooked! something I used to consider a profanity) in addition to the regular salmon, shrimps, crab-meat and cream-cheese variety.

I wonder how long until it will actually be possible to get some other kinds of sushiable fish around here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A midnight snack

So here's my lates concoction, a little something we took to the NY house-party. It stood it's ground against the traditional potato-chips and tangerines and the barely-edible supermarket potato-salad :)

Sun-dried tomato turkey and cherry-tomato skewers
sun dried tomatoes
olive-oil (from the same jar)
paprika powder
cherry tomatoes and / or pickled mushrooms
fresh basil leaves

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, smother the turkey with them, oil and salt and leave for an hour. Fry until golden brown then cover and reduce heat until they're not red in the middle any more. Cut into nice chunks and arrange onto skewers with cherry-tomatoes and basil leaves.

Teryaki salmon and cantaloupe skewers

salmon steaks
brown sugar

Mix soy, mirin and sugar, smother the salmon and leave for 45 minutes. Fry the salmon with (add some sauce when turning the steaks). Carefully cut into chunks (follow the structure of the meat otherwise they'll fall apart). Peel and cut the cantaloupe and arrange on the skewers with either small pieces of leek or lime.

Happy New Year.