Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baked pasta

So here goes, the promised pasta that has a higher fuss factor for those who just need it to feel that the time spent in kitchen was a time well spent :).
I was inspired by Lisa's baked manicotti, but as usually I couldn't stick with the recipe, didn't have all the ingredients and just had to mess around with it. So I ended up with baked cannelloni.

Baked cannelloni (üleküpsetatud cannelloni pasta):

1 can peeled chopped tomatoes or strained tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove garlic
a small bunch of fresh curly parsley
1 medium carrot
some dry oregano and thyme
black pepper

10 - 12 dry cannelloni shells
1 pack of creamed cheese (Philadelphia for example)
grated Parmesan (so that you'll have a generous handful)
a small bunch of fresh curly parsley
1 can of corn
2 eggs
salt and pepper

First prepare the sauce.
Peel and very thinly grate the carrot (or put it in the food processor).
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.
Cook the garlic and after about 5 minutes add the chopped tomatoes, grated carrot and the oregano and thyme.
While you're cooking the sauce also boil the pasta shells for about 4 minutes and then set them aside (rinse them with cold water after straining to stop cooking).
Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Stir in thinly chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Now prepare the pasta:

Heat the oven to 180 C.
In a bowl, combine the creamed cheese, corn and chopped parsley. Beat in the eggs and mix in about 2/3 of your parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon some of the filling into each cannelloni shell. Don't stuff them too tightly, I filled mine to about half of their capacity. Otherwise you'll end up with a dish that is kind of off balance in terms of the filling / pasta ratio.

Put 1/2 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oven tin or a lasagna tin.
Transfer stuffed manicotti to the dish, you'll probably have two rows.
Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta shells and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
Bake for 20 minutes.

It was my first baked and also my first pasta with a filling and I was very happy. My mongrel version will probably make any true Italian cuisine fan's stomach turn, but it worked very well for me as I'm still trying to avoid large quantities of onion and garlic. Also I was thinking that my version is probably a bit easier to eat compared to when it's just filled with cheese. But i promise to try the right version as well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Simplifying things

the image above is from here.

Here's another pasta that is embarrassingly simple to make. For those of you who don't get the high you look for in the kitchen without some proper hassle, I promise, the next pasta recipe is gonna come with a good dose of that (I've already made it, just a little behind with posting).
But give this one a chance, it just delicious. And I think it's quite appropriate as soon it'll be time to go chanterelle picking.

Simple Chanterelle Pasta:
(serves 4)

200-300 g sautéed chanterelles (or 500-600 g fresh ones, some salt and a good knob of good (80%) butter)
250 - 300 g (half a pack) of your favorite pasta
100 g sour cream
a generous handful of fresh dill
a generous knob of grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
freshly ground black pepper

I used sautéed and frozen chanterelles (my cleaning out the freezer project) that we had picked and my mom had sautéed last fall. But if you're using fresh ones you need to thoroughly clean them, chop them and then sauté them with butter and salt. They let out a considerable amount of water and they shrink at least by half.

Then chop the dill and grate the cheese.

Add the sour cream to the simmering chanterelles and mix.
Boil your favorite pasta for 7 minutes (or according to the directions on the label.
Add the dill and most of the cheese to the sauce.
Season with black pepper.
Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce.
Serve with some more cheese sprinkled on top and add some fresh halved cherry tomatoes if you wish.

This is the type of pasta that you can it a tub of and still want more. Really.
And it's not that heavy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rhubarb special

Nothing says 'It's almost summer' like rhubarb. Really, nothing. And it's a very common early summer 'fruit' in Estonia. Everyone who owns a patch of land, has a bunch of rhubarbs in the corner and those who don't, frequent the market.
So here's my 2 cents worth of rhubarb recipes. Two cakes and two more gooey desserts - a rhubarb custard and a jello dessert.

Rhubarb custard (or fruit soup) and rhubarb jello with a cheese-cake topping (Rabarberikissell ja rabarberitarretis juustukoogi kattega):Makes 4 jello desserts and a good jug of custard

2.5 l water
3 big stalks of rhubarb
1 stick of cinnamon
200 g sugar
1 25 g pack of gelatin
6 tbsp of potato starch (or use corn starch)
200 g of your favorite yoghurt ( I used arctic bramble (the yellow raspberry like berries)
200 g of vanilla sauce / custard / pudding
4 heaped tbsps of creamed cheese
2-3 marmalade candies for decorating

Peel and chop up the rhubarb.

Bring the water to a boil with the sugar and the cinnamon stick.
Add the rhubarb when the sugar is dissolved.
Let it boil for 2-3 minutes (depending whether you want to feel the chunks of rhubarb or you want it all soft).
Taste, if it's sour for your liking, add more sugar.
Remove from heat.
Now set aside 1.2 L of the stuff for the jello dessert.

Continue with the rhubarb custard.
Dissolve the potato starch with some cold water and stir it into the boiled rhubarbs. Make sure you por it in in a very thin drizzle, stirring at the same time. Put the pot back on heat until you see bubbles rising from the bottom. Remove from heat and pour into a big jug or a glass bowl.

These fruit-soups or thickened juices or custards are very common in Estonia. You can just enjoy a glass as a nice tasty drink or serve it as dessert with creamed cottage cheese or whipped cream. It's also nice to pour over your oatmeal in the morning.

Now on with the jello-desserts.

You have your 1.2 l of cooled rhubarb-compote.
Mix the gelatin in some cold water in a small pot or a sauce pan. Put the pan on the stove (medium heat) and heat until the mixture goes thin and transparent. Don't let it come to a boil.
Add the mixture to the rhubarb compote and stir.
Pour 1/4 of a mixture into a tall wine glass or a nice dessert bowl (preferably transparent). Cover with cling film and put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Before serving thoroughly mix the creamed cheese with the yoghurt. Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into each glass on top of the jello. Then spoon some vanilla sauce on top of that (it should stay in nice layers). Sprinkle with peaces of marmalade candy (or crushed digestive biscuits).

I loved it. It was my first time making rhubarb jello or any kind of jello and I'll definitely make them again.

Childhood rhubarb cake (Rabarberikook nagu lapsepõlves):

400 g of plain flour
4 eggs
200 g butter
202 g of sugar
2 tsp of baking powder
1 medium rhubarb stalk
some cinnamon powder
2 tbsp of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Peel and chop the rhubarb.
Melt the butter and sugar.
Mix the flour and baking powder.
Add the butter and sugar to the flour.

Mix in eggs, one at a time.

Pour the dough on a buttered oven-tin and cover with chunks of rhubarb.
Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the thinner edges turn golden brown.

I absolutely love this cake. It is dead-simple to make, yet I always want to eat the whole thing by myself.

Rhubarb cake #2 (my mom has now started making it, apparently this is the typical rhubarb cake in Estonia, my whole life I thought that the one above is) (Muretaignal rabarberikook):

for the crust:
1 store bought short-crust pie shell or 200-300g of shortcrust pastry
If you make your own you'll need:
200 g butter
200 g sugar
1 egg
400 g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder

for the middle layer:
1 medium rhubarb stalk
3 tbsp of brown sugar
some cinnamon powder

for the top layer:
2 eggs
3 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of flour
1 tsp of baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Mix the flour and sugar. Add the egg and small pieces of butter (at room temperature). Knead in. Add the baking powder. Knead again. Press the dough into a pie-tin, poke with a fork or cover with a piece of baking paper and some dry beans and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

In the mean time peel and chop the rhubarb and mix it with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Set aside.

Beat the eggs (at room temperature) with the sugar. Gently fold in the flour (through a sieve) and the baking powder.

Cover the crust with a layer of rhubarb and then top it off with the second dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes more.

This one is really nice as well. I think it would actually be even nicer if the top layer was pure meringue not a meringue like sponge.