Thursday, 4 June 2009

Soy, tomato and bell pepper filling for crepes and cannelloni

As a vegetarian person I like the use of soy - vegetarians need their proteines too. This filling goes as well for crêpes as cannelloni. If you want to make the tomato flavour stronger, add more passata (=tomato puree).

Ingredients (x 4-5 crêpes):
140 g grinded tofu (soy)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 small tomatoes
½ bell pepper
1 egg
100 g ricotta
80 g tomato puree
70 g cheese
a few tablespoons Béchamel sauce
olive oil

Fry the minced onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the grinded soy. Add a cup of water. Keep the heat pretty high. Cut the bell pepper into small pieces and add it into the pan. Pour in the tomato puree. Cut the tomatoes into slices and add them on the pan too. Add salt and pepper and let it cook until it becomes pretty condensed. Knead the filling with an egg, cheese cu into small pieces, ricotta and some tablespoons of Béchamel. Fill your crêpes or cannelloni with this filling.

Here are the crêpes I made this time. After I had filled them I still let them heat up in the microwave. I like to serve them with some plain salad.

Béchamel sauce in the microwave

I found out about a quick and less nerve-breaking way to prepare besciamella than the traditional way! That is, al microonde! I recommend it to everybody, for the next time you make lasagne or what ever. For me the end result was without lumps.

250 ml milk
20 g butter
20 g flour

Let the butter melt in a small container in the microwave for 30 seconds, in 800 watts. Mix the flour into it and cook it in the microwave for 20 seconds more. Then pour the milk on it and cook in the microwave for a minute. Take it out. If you find any lumps with a fork, try to destroy them. Add nutmeg and salt, mix and cook for another minute. Mix once again and cook it for another 30 seconds. Use in the cooking you need it in.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Risotto of spinach, leek and peas

Here's a recipe for a very green risotto. It tastes fresh and in winter it reminds me of summer, even if using frozen spinach and peas! I created this recipe once when these three vegetables were the only ones I had at home and I had to improvise. Good that I did.

Ingredients (x2):
200 g risotto rice
500 ml vegetarian broth
1 onion
200 g frozen spinach
100 g peas
1 small leek
3 tablespoons ricotta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
soft cheese (In Italy I'd use Fontina, in Finland Koskenlaskija, not sure what the equivalent is over here!)

Chop the onion into fine pieces. Chop the leek first into circles and then cut them in 4. Pour these two vegetables on a frying pan with olive oil and fry them for 5-7 minutes. Put a bouillon cube into 500 ml of water in a pan and let it dissolve on the cooker.

Put the rice and the butter into the saucepan. Put them on the cooker and keep them in medium heat, mixing continuously. When the rice has got a golden and more transparent colour, add the spinach and a part of the broth. Mix all the time so that the rice doesn't get stuck in the bottom. Check the indications in the package for the cooking time of the rice. Add more broth little by little. Add salt, pepper and less than a teaspoon of nutmeg. At halfway of the cooking time add the peas and the leek you have previously chopped.

By the end of the cooking time, add ricotta. Cut the soft cheese into pieces that you will set on the food when serving. Cut the parsley leaves smaller and add it on the portions.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Penne with tomato and aubergine sauce

Feel the need to break away from the usual (at least for me the most usual) tomato sauce? Introducing just one additional ingredient, such as aubergine (for you on the other side of the ocean; eggplant) is a nice variation. With this pasta sauce your meal will surely feel filling and satisfying. Penne and pipe rigate are the best shapes of pasta for this one.

Ingredients (x2):
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes
1 dl tomato sauce
½ aubergine
2 tablespoons white vinegar or better yet, apple vinegar
about ½ dl milk
parmesan or grana padano

Peel the tomatoes and remove their seeds. Grind the garlic and onion. Fry them on a frying pan with three tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the half aubergine into cubes. Place them as well on the frying pan and keep the heat still pretty hot. Pour ready tomato sauce on the pan and then cut your tomatoes into pieces and add them into the mix. At this point, add salt and pepper according to your preference. Add the vinegar also. Lower the heat by half and cook it for 4-5 minutes. Then start adding milk little by little. The colour of the sauce will get lighter and the taste will get a softer and more delicate feeling to it, but don't make the sauce look almost orange by adding too much milk. Cook the pasta in salted water and when al dente, pour the water off. Put the pasta in the frying pan and let it be together with the sauce for a while. Chop some parsley that you'll serve it with and grate the cheese. You can serve it either now or if you want, put it on a heat-resistant dish and top it with grated parmesan or grana and let it be in the oven heated to 200 c for a while. Add parsley right before serving.

Cakies with a warm chocolate heart

These little chocolate cakes in cake cups are great for giving your friends a good vibe when they come and visit you. Ideal with a hot drink like hot chocolate or espresso. What is special about them is that the inside is soft and really melts in the mouth. Also, there will be some strips of liquidy chocolate here and there. The minus is that you must do something else while they freeze up in the freezer for 3 hours before entering the oven.

Ingredients (7 cake cups):
100 g milk chocolate or dark chocolate
80 g butter
80 g sugar
20 g flour
3 eggs
1 pinch cinnamon
(icing sugar)

Mix the sugar and eggs in a bowl. Add the flour and dust it with a little cinnamon. Melt together in a pan the chocolate and the butter. Add the chocolate-butter into the dough you first were preparing. Mix until you obtain a pretty uniform colour. Butter the cake cups and sprinkle them with flour. Pour the mixture into the cake cups. Put the cake cups into the freezer for at least 3 hours. 3 hours passed, heat up your oven to 210 c, take the cake cups out of the freezer and put them directly into the oven. Bake them for 17 minutes. You can optionally decorate them with icing sugar when they're ready.

Fusilli with zucchini and tomato sauce

I make this dish quite often. It won't fail and it is not complicated. Celery (the white cube kind) and basil make this dish perfect, but you don't have to run to the shop if you don't have them at home right now. Dried basil is also acceptable. Just as well as fusilli, you can use almost any type of short pasta (from my experience I'd say that conchiglie and orecchiete are pretty good for it).

Ingredients x2:
175 g fusilli or other short pasta
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
a small zucchina
3 tomatoes
70 g white celery
2 tablespoons olive oil

Grind the garlic and chop the onion and celery finely. Fry them all on a frying pan with olive oil. Once they have got a bit of colour, add the zucchina that you previously have cut into a few centimeters' long sticks. Peel the tomatoes and remove their seeds. Cut the tomatoes into pieces and add them into the pan. Fry the vegetables on a rather hot heat for some three minutes, then lower the heat. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. As last ingredient add the basil and let the sauce still rest a few minutes on the cooker on low heat. Cook the pasta in lightly salted water and when 'al dente', remove the water. Set the pasta on plates and add the sauce. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Banana and strawberries with white chocolate dressing

This is a perfect dessert for a summer evening. A delicious way to eat fruit, and if you are trying to cut down on your chocolate intake, this may be of help since the chocolate is only in the dressing!

Ingredients x4:
400 g strawberries
2 bananas
150 g white chocolate
a little cup of milk

Peel the bananas and remove the green part of the strawberries. Cut the bananas into pieces. Put the fruit into cups. Melt the white chocolate in a pan with just a little milk.

Once the chocolate and milk have formed a sauce, pour it immediately on the fruit.

Serve right away!

Karelian pastries

These are pastries very popular in Finland. This recipe is for those with the most common filling, the one with rice (other types of fillings for them include potato or carrot). Karelian pastries are part of the food tradition of the Eastern Finnish region Karelia that Finland ceded to the Soviet Union in WW2. Karelian refugees spread the tradition of their cuisine, including this pastry, to the rest of Finland in the post-war period. Besides Finland it is eaten also in Northern Russia. They are usually served with egg butter.

Ingredients (20 pastries):

Rye crust
3 dl water
1 teaspoon salt
2 dl wheat flour
around 4 dl rye flour (you're lucky if you find it outside Finland)

Rice porridge filling
1 l milk
3 dl porridge rice
2 dl water
2 teaspoons salt
optionally, a pat of butter

Egg butter (which you apply on the ready pastries)
3-4 eggs


Prepare the rice filling first: Boil water, add salt and the porridge rice. Add the milk and cook for an hour on rather low heat. In case the rice you use requires less time, add less milk respectively.

Then, prepare the dough: First mix water, salt and wheat flour. Then add into them the rye flour. The dough can remain pretty humid, as long as you can work with it.

Cut pieces of the dough and start rolling them out. In Finland we use a special kind of rolling pin for this (pictured above), doing a circular motion with it. You can however even do with a normal roll, as long as the crust for each separate pastry will be around 2-3mm thin and of a round or oval shape. Place a tablespoonful of rice porridge on each of the flat crusts. Once you've done that, start closing the pastries with the edges of the crust, using your index and thumb of both hands on respective sides of the pastry. This will give the pastries their final shape.

Bake the pastries in an oven heated to 210 c for around 15 minutes. Once you have taken them out of the oven, apply some milk on them with a brush. It is good to let them rest for a few minutes before eating.

(The crust of my pastries got thicker in the oven because we didn't find plain rye flour here in Holland, only a "bread mix" with a lot of yeast. Better than nothing, but yeast really does not belong to karjalanpiirakat.)

Prepare the egg butter: Cook the eggs for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and add a couple of tablespoons of butter on them. Crush it all together with a fork. Add the egg butter on the pastries.


We had a pretty Finnish night, since all the evening I had been feeling psyched about that I was going to make karjalanpiirakat, and as I made them and as we ate them, we watched Pasila with English subtitles (a cartoon for adults about a police station and all the great personalities around it)

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Balsamico apples

This is the first entry to start my cooking blog.
I will introduce you balsamico apples with ice cream, a very enjoyable yet easy-to-make dessert.

Ingredients x4:
½ dl sugar
½ dl aceto balsamico
3 apples
vanilla ice cream

Mix the sugar and the balsamico vinegar together in a pan. Let them boil for one minute (remember to mix). Slice the apples into pieces about one cm of width. Cook the apple slices in the balsamico, mixing all the time, for 2-4 minutes, until they have got soft.

Let them cool down a bit and serve them with vanilla ice cream.