Monday, December 19, 2011

Hunter

... sadly not S. Thompson but the '... or gatherer' type. Although ... there is strong liquor involved so perhaps there is a way for me to weave some light fear and loathing into this post.


sorry, had to be done, that is just too funny.

So as you see, I am not dead. I am not even starving myself or my family. I am just a very lazy foodblogger. *repents*

But I had to share this with you because it was a first for me. I've never made pate before and a friend of mine sent me a wild boar liver, so I, of course, decided that now was as good a time as any to try.



Under the scornful gaze of my husband ('why are you making this giant amount of pate, who will eat this?') I chopped said ginormous liver up, soaked it in milk for about two hours, while quickly nipping to the store to get some very fatty meat and a bottle of brandy. I never drink brandy so I spent quite some time staring at the bottles, hugging my large lump of bacon until I finally left with a bottle that claimed oak aging and when I unscrewed the cap at home, filled the kitchen with an odd, fruity, flowery scent

Oh well.
As for the recipe, I kind of did my usual 'shaken, not stirred' thing and just took bits and pieces from various recipes. I browned equal amounts of chopped, fatty pig's meat and wild boar liver with some chopped onion, then transferred the meat to a large pot and covered with home made chicken stock. I added salt, garlic, some bay leaves, black peppercorns, cumin seeds and ground coriander seeds, orange pepper, chopped carrots and about 100 g of soaked raisins.
I let it simmer for about an hour and a half (I had about a kg of both, if not more, so it was a large pot). Basically until it was all tender.
I then let it cool a bit (although not enough as I still nearly shorted my handheld blender thingie) and blitzed it, adding a generous glug of brandy and a about a 150 grams of butter (could have gone with more). I then let it cool and scooped it into grip-packets (you have to try taking a 'mini-grip' of pate to your friend's, their expression is priceless) and jars, stuffed some in the fridge, took some for friends (and as gifts to my kid's day-care teachers at the Christmas party) and dumped the rest in the freezer.

For those cold winter days when one just needs some pate.
You know.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yes, we are very healthy ...

... when we're not gorging on disgusting fast food. And we do, sometimes. We really do. Usually at 1 a.m on Friday nights for example, there's this kebab place in my hometown *drifts off into drooly dreams*.

But then we're very healthy again - you know low fat, high fiber, vitamins, folic acids and whatnot. And tasty too. Nom, yes. Snappy, zappy, flavorful.

So during one of those healthy impulses I found this recipe via this blog and pretty much followed it. I boiled my own lentils, didn't use canned ones and I was out of Puy so it was ordinary green ones. And I used fresh cilantro not parsley. I think my dressing was also a 'lazy man's version' of the suggested one, it contained honey, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, cumin (not ground), ground coriander, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and paprika powder. It had plenty of zing in that version.

And I topped it off with the uber-delicious local halloumi I get from my goat-herding (tee-hee) friend. I 'virgin' fried it - just some oil, no flour, no spices, no honey.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The lazy foodie strikes again - a KISS salad

My husband very rarely has any requests about food, the only thing he occasionally asks for is to make less food or not to make 'anything special' this week (for waistline purposes). So whenever he actually asks for something I get all excited (apart from when he moans about the overall lack of cake in our house on Sundays, then I skillfully ignore him).

I've mentioned that a friend has an organic goat-farm, right? Well, I buy goat cheese and halloumi from him, among other things, and S really loves that cheese. And one day he asked for a salad with the goat cheese: 'you know, with tomatoes and stuff'.


And instead of going all culinary maniac on him, I let the lazy foodie out to play and made him a Keep It Simple, Stupid type of a salad. You know, with tomatoes and stuff.

Also with goat cheese, Sicilian green olives, frillice lettuce, baby basil, onion, extraordinarily good Ladron de Guevara extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and salt, of course.

I was asked to KISS it again later that day and the entire 250 g chunk of cheese was gone by the evening.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Best restaurant of the summer

Yes ... I am aware that it is no longer summer. Sadly. But I've been lazy and cooked some stuff I've wanted to post, so this wonderful food has been kind of left behind.
There were a couple of nice new restaurants that opened their doors this summer in Tallinn, but Leib Resto & Aed (Leib Restaurand and Garden) seems to be the overall favorite, especially in the foodie / foodblogger community.
And I have no choice but to join the choir. I think it's all about the produce (now here's an original statement), theirs just seems so ... so ... fresh. And, although I have no evidence to back up my claims, I do think that this is one of those restaurants who make their own 'basics'. For example they have this finger-licking-good red wine mayonnaise and I swear they make it from scratch. They just have to.




So yes, long story short. I had grilled lamb liver with red wine mayo and almost had a 'special moment' right there at the table. It was unforgettable. S had salmon and loved it. He also made the wise choice as far as desserts go, picking the rye bread creme brulee whereas I went for the kindergarten classic - caramel pudding - and it was ... well, quite like it was in the kindergarten ... slimy and not too impressive. But the lamb liver, the liver, the liver *fade out*

Yes... good. Go there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beer ... now there's a temporary solution! (Homer Simpson)



It's been a while since I've roasted a whole chicken and I am fairly certain that I've never held one as big as the one my organic-farm-keeping-freerange-hapy-chiken-and-goat-keeping friend sent me. It was over 2.5 kg ( 5.5 lb) and all meat, almost no fat. Giant, strong legs, fed and bred on potato mash, as I've heard.
Anyway, yes, large chicken.
And of course I decided it was time to try something new, so I decided to stick it on a beer bottle, was unable to remove it's neck, so all in all I was lucky it fit in the oven.

Whole roasted chicken with dark beer and sage butter:


1 whole chicken
a large knob of butter (25 - 50 g)
a glug of vegetable oil (1-2 tbsp)
a generous bunch of fresh sage
salt and black pepper
a bottle of dark beer ( I used Latvian Zelta, because for some, very unpatriotic reason, that's what I had in my fridge)

Wash the chicken inside and out, pat dry, rub with salt and pepper (also inside and out).
Preheat the oven to 200 (400 F) C.
Pour the oil into a skillet placed over medium heat, add the butter and when it's melted the sage leaves. Lightly brown the sage leaves and set aside to cool a bit.
When the butter has cooled enough rub it and the sage leaves all over the chicken. If you feel like it, make small cuts into the skin and get some of the butter and the leaves under the skin.
Wash the beer bottle and remove the lables.
Pour out about 1/3 of the beer (don't drink it).
Set the beer bottle on an oven tray and the chicken upright on the bottle so it stands on it's feet and the bottle like on a tripod.
Cover with tinfoil and roast for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to about 180 C (375 F) and roast for an hour.
Pour the beer your saved before into the bottom of the oven tray (makes good sauce).
Remove the foil and turn on the top grill and the fan and let it roast for 10 more minutes. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken's thigh, it should be at around 70 C (165 F), if you don't have a meat thermometer, stab the chicken and see if the juices that run out are clear. If they are you should be good.

Let it rest for 2o minutes. Carve and serve.

Oh and ... would you have loved me less if I had used that other good Homer Simpson beer quote for the title, you know the 'I like my beer cold, my tv loud and my homosexuals flaming?' :D But since I'm fine with flaming or not, I thought it would be just wrong. Or was it because this is, after all, merely a food blog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spicy pickled carrots, from Texas, with love

I have a lovely new friend from Texas and she sent me a recipe for spicy, pickled carrots. A recipe of her aunts, but she assured me (or herself) that it's not an exclusive recipe of hers, or even if it is - 'in the nebulousness of Southern family relationships, she's not even actually biologically related to me'.

*laughs*

I told you she is lovely. So here it is, with some minor adjustments. She said they just cool and then refrigerate it, but I thought it should work as a preserve just as well (I'm having a bit of a manic episode in terms of preserves and pickles this year, I blame it on the increased storage space).



J's spicy, pickled carrots:

~ 200 ml water
~ 100-150 ml. vegetable oil
3 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of salt
4 tbsp of 30% vinegar
3-4 arbol chiles- cleaned (remove the seeds)
~ 15 medium sized carrots (sliced into medallions)
3-4 sliced onions
1tsp. oregano
1tsp. cumin
1tsp. basil
1tsp. black pepper
a jar (215 g) jalapenos

Bring water, oil, and vinegar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chiles, heat 5 minutes, add herbs. Heat 5 more minutes, then add carrots and onion. Cook 10 more minutes or to desired texture. Add jalapenos, simmer 5 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate if you want to eat them at once. I sterilized and heated glass jars and transferred the hot mixture into the jars. Sealed, placed under a blanket and dragged into my treasure trove (garage)the next day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, September 3, 2011

They're everywhere!



It's chanterelle season and it seems that this year has been a good one in terms of mushrooms. I haven't made it to the forest myself yet (the plan is to go tomorrow) but luckily the farmer's markets are well stocked in terms of chanterelles.
A friend of mine came over for dinner and since my kid decided to fall into the creek by our supermarket about an hour before he was to arrive (and we were on a scooter-bike! Can you imagine scootering your dripping, muddy, lollipop sucking kid through the park under the disapproving gazes of the little old ladies?) I needed something quick and easy(ish).

Good thing I follow such nice food blogs, a quick search landed me on Pille's Chantarelle Pie recipe and that's what I went for. I substituted the cheese in the crust for sour cream - creamed cheese combo. I don't know if because of that, or just because I may or may not somewhat suck at pie crusts (I will deny everything) it was a little chewy. Otherwise it was pure heaven. Sublimely tender. I had made some cheese-garlic-mayo salad the day before so I used that in the topping instead of just regular cheese, but other than that, followed the recipe to a T.
Since Pille's is in Estonian, here's the translation:

Crust:
100 g butter
50 g grated cheese (I used a big tbsp of cour cream and a big tbsp of creamed cheese)
2 dl flour
0.5 dl cold water

Filling:
400 g chanterelles
1 chopped onion
a knob of butter
2 dl fresh cream
3 eggs
100 g grated cheese (I used a cheese-garlic salad)
salt and pepper

Crumble the butter, cheese and flour, add the water bit by bit (you might not need everything), press the dough into a pie-tin, pierce with a fork and pre-bake for about 10 minutes at 200C.
Clean and chop the mushrooms, heat on a dry pan until the moisture has vaporized. Add the butter and onion, sautee until the onion is glassy. Pour the mixture onto the baked crust.
Whisk the eggs, cream and cheese, season with salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the mushrooms. Bake at 200C for about 20 minutes, until the pie is golden and the filling has set.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kimchi this


I saw this recipe to kimchi fried rice on someone's Facebook feed a while ago and couldn't get it out of my head.
Now, obviously, this being Estonia, it wasn't as easy as it would be somewhere else, you know a place where the population is more than 10 people and the ethnic diversity exceeds that of one skin color and two nationalities (yes, I'm exaggerating). You can't exactly go to your around the corner Korean grocery to get some kimchi here. So DIY time it was.
I used this recipe and chinsese cabbage to make kimchi. There is a local version of fermented cabbage in Estonia, but it's quite different - ordinary white cabbage and no spices, also I haven't really ever made it myself, so the three days of occasional bubble checking in the glass jar I used for my kimchi and the fact that it was on my kitchen floor was a source of constant excitement. To be totally honest, I was quite sure it would end up bad. I mean, it doesn't look exactly pretty.
But it's oh so good. Really, totally worth the wait and the mild repulsion the process might induce. Such an explosion of flavor.
I scrambled my eggs for the fried rice, just topping the bowl with a fried egg seemed odd. Otherwise I followed the recipe to a T and to rave reviews.
I'm definitely making it again and I now want to kimchi everything. I think I'm starting with carrots.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some things are better than others


More (and less) famous chefs always go on in length about how the quality and the freshness of the produce is what actually makes or breaks a dish. It would be almost embarrassing to add in my two cents to the Spiel if it weren't for the insane intensity that understanding always comes with. It's literally like a brick in the face. The difference is mind-boggling. And yet we seem to forget, some time passes and we remember that something freshly caught, killed, ripened was so good, but it fades. So in the winter we eat the odd, tasteless fruit sold under the label of tomatoes without gagging.
But I guess it's not surprising, human mind seems extraordinarily fickle when it comes to flavor, if you haven't seen it, watch Heston Blumenthal's Kitchen Chemistry, it's fascinating, I love the experiment he did in some Swiss lab on how quickly the brain got used to a flavor and literally stopped sending signals about it, so it felt like there was no flavor. The results were even more drastic with added sugar.
Anyhow, I digress. Yes, fresh stuff. Is extraordinary. You might remember me mentioning my dear husbands fishing hobby. Well he's getting good at it, one night he got a bunch of breams and perches and my dad smoked them in his barbecue. I think it took about 3 hours. Words fail me at describing how good that fish was. And how incomparable to the store bought smoked bream, for example. Each time that happens I start thinking that foodies perhaps need to set up a hunter / gatherer / cooker natural economic cycle. You know, barter deals all around, those who kill - share, those who grow - share, those who catch - share and those who cook share as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On sex and mushrooms


I love good food writing (surprise, surprise), but it's not as common as one would think. It's too easy to get drawn into the overly detailed geekery that makes most people's eyes gloss over or the Miss Goody-Two-Shoes I'm a Happy Homemaker style cuteness that probably would make you gag if it weren't you writing it.
So I was obviously quite pleased, when I found this article. It pointed to this recipe, and I had some chanterelles that needed to be cooked and we had just recently had the Estonian classic of a creamy sauce and I was looking for something different.

I was fresh out of safran, added two carrots (right in the beginning, when sauteeing the onions and the mushrooms) and I used a lovely invention I had just bought - orange pepper (basically, orange peel, ginger, black pepper and some other stuff). I'm not sure I'd go as far as equating it with sex, but it was pretty damn good, like extra helpings and following soup-coma good. Like delicious.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mango my Mango


I made ice cream again. I wanted to make something where I could somewhat limit the amount of sugar as mini-me is a fan of ice cream, just like his momma. But plain vanilla seemed boring, so I took a deeper look into my Hobbit-style stash of stuff and found a can of mango-pulp I recently bought.
Mango ice cream it is then.

Mango ice cream with a hint of cinnamon and fresh lavender (makes a quart):


600 ml of fresh cream (10%)
1 can of mango pulp
t tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
leaves off three stalks of fresh lavender
2 large eggs

It's pretty basic, make sure your ice cream maker is ready to go, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, add the sugar, whisk until smooth. Add the cream, whisk until combined. Add the mango, cinnamon, vanilla sugar and lavender, whisk until combined.

Transfer to the ice cream maker.

It's really, really lovely. Especially, if you, like me, can never leave an Indian restaurant without a mango lassi. A treat for that inner monkey screaming: 'feed me dessert, more, more', yet not too sweet. The seductive mango flavor is nicely enhanced by the cinnamon and the lavender. I love it. I really do. Even S, who is not as insane about ice cream as I am, said it's very good. And, I've learned that in boy language it means 'wow, this is incredible, please make more.'

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo


High on the hill was the lonely goatherd ... Something really good happened to me, it turned out I know a guy who has an organic farm with his wife, he sent me a small sample of what's available - halloumi, goat milk cheese, local moonshine, wild boar smoked sausage and a chunk of cabrito - young goat's meat.
Now, I've never had nor cooked goat so I did what every self respecting Internet addict does, I googled it, found this really funny article and was quite sure I was going with tacos until I stumbled on this recipe. It just demanded to be made. Demanded me to start the whole cooking process at 9 in the evening as I realized that it wanted to be refrigerated before eating. So I filled the house with delicious cooking smells and only turned the oven off at 1 a.m.
But it is delicious. If you haven't tried goat meat, do try, it is very lean, very tasty. And no weird 'furry flavor' at all.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Random observation of a lazy food blogger - fennel seeds.


I don't make burritos often, but every time I do, I'm surprised as to why that is. I mean they're delicious, super easy to make and everyone loves them. I have a friend who generally (at least according to his own statements) lives off beer, coffee and snus, and although he is generally quite appreciative of most of the stuff I serve him when he comes over, he was totally blissed out after eating it. I kid you not.
Well, part of it was of course, the fact that it's perfect beer food. The other thing was probably something I call the 'boy food' factor. I think there are no boys, who, from age 2 forward, do not thing that minced meat in a tomato sauce is not the bees knees (apart from the vegetarians and vegans obviously).
I also made quite an inspired choice of adding fennel seeds to my sauce, I think they really added a lot. Well and instead of plain let
tuce I used a new cabbage, baby carrot, fresh dill, oil and white vinegar salad.
Anyhow, yes. I'm still lazy, less lazy in terms of cooking, quite lazy in terms of blogging, but here it is.
A burrito.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer in Estonia - eating in Hiiumaa

This is vol. 2 of our attempt to eat ourselves around the country during S's vacation. There are two larger islands in Estonia, Saaremaa, where we went to last year and which was fully booked this time anyway, because of an opera festival, and then Hiiumaa. So this is where we went, via the beautiful manor of Vihula near Rakvere and the pretty, pretty beaches and blueberry forests of Noa-Rootsi.






The cakes of Muurivahe cafe and Kuursaal in Haapsalu.



Being an island that consist in a large part of juniper bushes and stony seasides fish and lamb are obvious culinary staples.
Plaice (flatfish) is super popular, even though all mainlanders are appallingly clumsy at eating it. We had panfried plaice in Pihla talu, it came with a cold, sour-cream based sauce and boiled new potatoes. The fish was small but oh so delicious. We ended up ordering a plateful of fish with no sides in the evening to go with our beers.



Smoked plaice and smoked garfish (my favorite) were also enjoyed.



There is a very aptly named restaurant called Lest ja Lammas in Kassari (a peninsula on Hiiumaa with lovely nature, a cool straw roofed church and a beach), where we went for a well earned lunch after almost perishing in the scary juniper jungle of Saaretirp
(a thin strand of land that goes about 2 km into the sea).


Mini-me got a lamb soup he refused to eat. And a cheesecake that was less cheese and more whipped cream with gelatin, but he devoured it before I had a chance to take a picture.


I had boiled new potatoes with lightly salted whitefish. It was delicious in terms of taste, but badly filleted.



S had pork neck and loved it. He and his mom also had smoked Baltic herring for starters.




All in all it seemed like a place that'd mostly cater to foreign tourists, it felt a little 'chainish' to me. In a nice straw roofed way.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer in Estonia - Parnu

Parnu is probably the most famous and loved resort-towns in Estonia. I usually avoid it like the plague, the last time I was here (for a hen night)
it seemed like the over tanned, screaming, neon colored and stupor-drunk equivalent of Jersey Shore. Despite all this we decided to come and celebrate our wedding anniversary here, give Parnu another chance. Last year we went to Paris. At least the both start with a P right? *laughs*
And - cue drumroll - it really wasn't that bad. The beach was not scary - elderly Finns rather than the Jersey Shore generation of locals. The water was nice, there is a cool exhibition on at the New Art Museum and we had good food! Not once either, but twice, or actually three times!

There are two relatively new eateries open in Parnu - Supelsaksad and Mahedik, this one's focussed on using organic and local produce in their dishes. The service was really good in both of them, very friendly, charming, helpful girls.


It took a LONG time to get our food in Supelsaksad, but luckily we weren't that hungry and it's a nice place to hang out in. I had a really good onion soup with toasted cheese.


S had a mozzarella and tomato salad with oven baked salmon. Nom.


In Mahedik they were kind of out of half of the things on the menu, but I guess that was to be expected as we arrived about 20 minutes before their official closing time, yet they still served us without complaint. I had the daily special - pan-fried baby lamb's liver with potato and leek mash.


The mash was good, the sauce was splendid, but the liver had spent too much time on the pan. S had freshly caught pike-fish and it was very good.


My dark chocolate and mint cake was absolutely inspired.


And just before leaving we went for pizza in Steffani's, it used to be the only place where anyone not from Parnu ever went to eat while there. Gladly it's still quite good as far as pizzas go, I didn't particularly like my mozzarella salad, I find it sinful to serve dried oregano and basil dead in the middle of the summer and there was too much of emphasis on Balsamico and not enough on olive oil.






Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Random observation of a lazy food blogger


I was planning to upload pictures from a (relatively) new restaurant we went to on the weekend, but just realized the food was so good that I only managed to take pictures of the starters, and had completely zoned out into food-related bliss by the time my grilled haddock arrived. So yeah, I need to go back *cough* *cough* to take more pictures of course *cough*.

So instead I looked through the few and far between food pics I've snapped and decided to post this under 'Random observation of the day'.

Chopped pine-apple vinaigrette is a perfect companion for a simple green-leaf and tuna salad. Honest to god. Olive oil, chopped pine apple, freshly ground black pepper and should you be so inclined a drop of good Balsamico.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More ice cream, my little sister's favorite

So, as I've probably complained before, the Ben & Jerry's selection over here is limited to say the least. And when I say limited, I mean limited. As in one store sells it and they have like 4-6 flavors. Which, I guess, is better than none, but still. Whinge, whinge.

My sister gave me an ice cream maker for Christmas a year ago and she also told me that her personal favorite is the Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream. So I finally got around to making it. It's spectacular, although (and maybe it's me) but it felt like the chunks of cinnamon roll's in the ice cream were a tad bit too hard as they froze. But I haven't tried the 'real' one, so I'm not sure if perhaps this is how it's supposed to be.

I followed the recipe I found on Daydreamer Desserts here

It's a bit of a hassle, but quite worth it.

There's the melting of caramel candies for the caramel streusel:




Slightly pre-baking chunks of cinnamon-rolls:


Making the streusel of the melted candies, almond flakes, cinnamon etc:


Covering the chunks of cinnamon roll with the streusel and roasting it, to then cool and freeze them while you prepare the ice-cream mix. And finally - voila, cinnamony goodness:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Good ethno-eats in London



I think I hadn't been to London for two years or maybe even a bit more, but we went this Valentine's Day. S had to work so I could gallery-hop, see friends and we even managed the most touristy of anything touristy to do - Madame Tusseauds.
We also managed to have two lovely, simple ethno dinners in Chiswick, the kind that are quite hard to find here in Tallinn.

First night we were hungry far too early and most of the places we were looking at were closed, so we settled for a kebab dinner in a very modest looking place, but they had their own tandoor in the corner and a guy who came out to make bread with careless splat-thump-splat sounds and the staff in general were believable enough. I had grilled veggies in my naan and S had lamb and chicken. The hummus with olives was great.






The next day we had some lovely Thai practically next door to the place we ate the night before. We started with some mixed meat skewers and prawns and veggies in filo pastry that came with three lovely sauces - sweet chilli, peanut and I can't remember what the third one was. I followed up with my favorite green papaya salad with prawns that was a bit too hot even for me. S had sweet prawns with veggies over rice.
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I also went to see my friends Xiaoyu and Matt and Xiaoyu's mother made a lovely dish of steamed rice, broccoli and a meat sauce of pork, soy sauce, mushrooms and to my great surprise - potatoes. I didn't even know potatoes were used in Chinese cuisine. They were SO good, slightly undercooked, absolutely yummy. Sadly I forgot to take pictures of that last one.