Thursday, May 28, 2009

One fish coming up

The situation on the Estonian fish and seafood market is slowly getting better. They've opened a special shop in Tallinn (although I haven't been there yet) and in regular supermarkets it is more and more often possible to by different kinds of fish and seafood not just trout and salmon and frozen shrimp.
Last week I was visiting my parents and my mom (or was it dad) bought some black pollock fillets. This is what they ended up as.

Sautéed black pollock with capers and sundried tomatoes (Päikesekuivatatud tomatite ja kapparitega praetud saida):
feeds 4 - 8 (depending on the fillet size and how hungry the eaters are)

4 black pollock fillets
1/2 small jar of marinated green capers
6-10 pieces of sundried tomato
oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes
couple of good glugs of white wine (appr. a glass)
knob of butter (2x2cm)
freshly ground salt and pepper
jasmine rice for serving

Brush the fish fillets with sundried tomato oil on both sides, also season with salt and pepper on both sides.

If you're using bigger capers, chop them up. Also chop up the sundried tomatoes.

Heat some sundried-tomato oil on a large pan (on medium heat but until the oil is almost smoking). Fry the fish fillets on both sides until golden (about 3 min on one side and 2 minutes on the other). Remove the fillets. Now add the capers and the sundried tomatoes to the pan and a couple of good glugs of white wine. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and swirl in the butter.

Pour the sauce over the fish, let it seep in and serve over rice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

So very berryliscious

I'm on a mission to empty my freezer and that leads to some interesting ideas in the kitchen. Usually I just go to the freezer, open it, stare for a while, then pace around the kitchen, then surf the web or leaf through some cook books and then decide that all the options are boring or I don't feel like making them. Then some more time passes and I get an idea that allows for some experimenting. Or at least an idea to make something I haven't made before or haven't made in the recent past.
So that's how this 'bursting with berries' yoghurt cake came about. It's based on the French yoghurt cake recipe.

A moist and tender yoghurt cake bursting with berries (Eriti paljude marjadega jogurtikook):

250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
125 ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
380 ml berry yoghurt
200 g blueberries (I used frozen)
400 g strawberries (I used frozen)

Preheat the oven to 180 C and cover a pie-tin with baking powder or if you're using silicone, brush with oil.
If you're using frozen berries, put them under hot running water for a second and then drain. This way you'll get rid of all the excess ice and they won't water down your cake too much.
Whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar and yoghurt.
In a separate bowl mix the rest of the dry ingredients.
Add the yoghurt-mixture to the dry ingredients and mix again (not too much). Then fold in the berries.

I was very happy with it. It ended up being ultra soft and moist, very tender. And as said before, bursting with berries. It made me feel as if the summer was here already. And apparently - as I noticed later when I observed S gobbling it down - it can also be eaten as different kind of dessert - in a bowl with some fresh cold milk.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Much Ado About Crepes

I read in a fellow foodie's blog (and for the life of me, I can't remember whose it was, I just spent 15 minutes browsing the suspects and nothing, so if it was you, please leave a comment and claim the honor :) about sundried tomato crepes and it stuck with me. So one evening when my Little Slavedriver was in a 'allow cooking mode' I decided to try making them.

Sundried tomato crepes with two fillings (chicken + cottage cheese and avocado + surimi) (Kana ja kodujustu või avokaado ja krabipulga täidisega päikesekuivatatud tomati pannkoogid):
serves 2 (1 of each for both)

For the chicken and cottage cheese filling:
some roast chicken or a baked chicken breast fillet (appr. 1 breast fillet)
~100 g of cottage cheese
a small handful of pitted black olives
a small handful of cherry tomatoes
freshly ground salt and pepper

Cut the chicken into nice chunks. Slice the olives and halve the cherry tomatoes. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper.

Set aside until you prepare the second filling and the pancakes.

For the avocado-surimi filling:

1 ripe avocado
some surimi (if it comes in sticks, use 2 sticks or 1/2 pack)
1 tbsp of sour cream

Cut. Mix.

For the crepes:
1 egg
~6 sundried tomatoes, thinly chopped
~glass of milk
~4 tbsp flour
a few grindings of Latplanta Everyday seasoning (can't check right now, but as I remember it has black peppercorns, caraway seeds and garlic in it, plus some other suff I can't remember)
oil for frying

Whisk the egg and milk, season. Then whisk in the flour (sorry about the approximate quantities, I forgot to make a mental note of how much of what I used). Season and add the sundried tomatoes. Mix. The dough should be relatively thin. Maybe like a thin drinking yoghurt (or oil). I used chopped sundried tomatoes, but after making them I thought that it would probably be easier to fry the crepes (especially turn them) if the tomatoes were blitzed in a food processor or a blender or if you used the sundried tomato paste). I'm blaming chunky tomatoes for the fact that my crepes were a bit on the thick side (can't blame my own lack of skill now, can I :).

Using a good (needs to still have a straight bottom :) pan, heat some oil on medium heat and pour a ladleful of dough on a pan. Needs to be thin, so the ladleful shouldn't cover the whole pan immediately, but you should need to twirl the pan a bit to make sure the dough covers the bottom. Flip (carefully (after the side facing you has dried).
Scoop about 2 large tablespoons of a salad per pancake, roll up or fold. Enjoy.
I found that both salads worked very well with the crepes, neither of them overtook the taste of the sundried tomatoes in the crepes nor did the taste overtake the flavors of the salads.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A bikini friendly chocolate cake

I've started inventing cakes. A big step for me. As I've said before, I used to not like to make desserts and cakes at all, because I felt that there was not enough room for creativity. That one has to stick with the recipe, otherwise the cake just won't rise, or be sticky enough or chewy enough or enough of something else you want it to be.
But, I guess it's all down to practice, make enough cakes and you'll grow a pair in terms of playing around with the recipes and inventing your own.
So here's a 'fake' chocolate cake that I came up with one day. It's a bikini friendly version of a chocolate loaf cake and it has a secret ingredient in it :). Don't hate me for it, and - No, I'm not obsessed with beetroot (or maybe just a little). And - Yes, I promise it doesn't taste like beetroot at all, it really tastes like a chocolate cake.

I based the recipe on the banana bread recipe.

Chocolate loaf-cake with beetroot (Shokolaadikook peediga):

175 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsps potato-starch (or corn starch)
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
125 g butter, melted
150-200 g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
1 average size boiled beetroot
50 g dark chocolate
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar

Boil the beetroot until tender (will take about an hour on medium/low heat).
Peel and cut up the beetroot and let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a lasagna tin with some baking-paper.
Melt the butter with the sugar and chocolate.
Blitz the beetroot, the sugar-butter-chocolate mass, the two eggs and the sour-cream in a blender or a food processor.

Combine and mix the remaining dry ingredients and add to the beetroot-butter-egg mixture. Mix until smooth.
Scrape the mixture into the loaf-tin and sprinkle with demerara sugar (if you want to).

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleanish.

It is super-smooth in texture (thanks to the potato starch and the beetroot) and very moist (thanks to the beetroot). And not odd or gross at all. Cross my heart :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Do the chick-dance

When I was a kid, there was this really popular dance, called the chick dance that one could do on ones own. It consisted of some bent arm flapping (like chicken wings) and twirling and stuff like that. Everybody loved it and everyone could do it. I might be wrong, but for some reason, I have a feeling that the accompanying song was in german. Unfortunately I can't remember the song or the artist.

And this, utterly random introduction, is meant to ease into a chicken recipe that I recently came up with :)

Chicken in carrot and ginger crust with tamarind sauce (Porgandi ja ingverikoorikus kana tamarindikastmega):
serves 2

2 chicken breast fillets
1 large carrot
1 2 cm x 2 cm knob of fresh ginger
1 egg
~2 tbsp of white bread crumbs
sunflower oil for cooking
freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
a good sticky pinch of tamarind (about 1 cm x 1cm)
1/2 l water
1 organic vegetable stock cube (or use home made vegetable stock if you have any)
2 tsp of potato-starch

Peel and process the carrot so that it's in tiny crumbs.
Peel and thinly chop the ginger.
Mix both with breadcrumbs, black pepper and salt in a small bowl.

Whisk the egg in another small bowl.
Flatten the chicken fillets with a meat-hammer.

Sprinkle a cutting board with the carrot-breadcrumb mixture (so that there's a thick layer).
Heat some oil on a pan, dip the chicken breast in the egg, then lay it on the crumb-covered cutting board (both sides). The fillet should be well covered with crumbs.
Fry on both sides (about 1-2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillet). You can cover the pan with a lid when you're frying the fillet on the other side if you're worried it won't cook through.

For the sauce bring the water to a boil, add the tamarind. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the larger tamarind lumps. Add the stock cube.
Dissolve the starch in ~2 tbsp-s of cold water and add it to the sauce. Remove from heat once the sauce has thickened.

Serve with rice or wilted bok choy or spinach.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The grilling season has begun

Spring is wonderful. I'm sure it is wonderful everywhere, but it is heavenly in Estonia, which most of the rest of the year (and I really mean most of it, like 7-9 months of it) is a windy, cold, rainy, slushy rock.
So as soon as the sun comes out everyone in Estonia tries to find someone who owns a patch of green grass and a grill or a barbecue. And a prolonged grilled meat / sausage-fest begins.

At first it seems that there are so many interesting pre-marinated options in the shops that there is absolutely no point in making your own.
But you get tired of the store bought 'too salty, too greasy and generally too taste enhanced' stuff in about 3 weeks.
But I'm not there yet :).
So my ideas for great grilled steaks will come later on.
But here is a recipe for a wonderful salad my mom invented to go with grilled meat or sausages.

A super juicy side-salad with pomelo:

1 pot of rucola
1 pot of fresh basil leaves
1/4 of a fresh pomelo
1 yellow or red bell pepper
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
juice of 1 lime

Tear up the rucola and the basil. Peel the pomelo and break it up into small chunks. Cut up the bell pepper. Toss everything with the soy sauce, chili sauce and lime juice.

It's lovely. The otherwise slightly bland pomelo adds so much juice to the salad that every forkful just bursts in your mouth.