Saturday, 13 June 2009

Carrot muffins

These are absolutely delicious muffins with carrot. Alike with the carrot cake, but in muffin form. Common in Finland.

Ingredients (12 cake cups):
around 300 g carrot
4 dl wheat flour
3 dl sugar
2 tl baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 dl crushed almonds
100 g margarine
3 eggs

For the topping:
200 g unspiced unripened cheese (for example Philadephia)
1 dl icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix all the dry ingredients with each other. Peel and grate the carrots. Melt the margarine and then let it cool down a little. Mix the eggs, margarine and carrots together.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet dough and mix. Fill the cake cups quite full with the dough. Bake in 200 c for 20 minutes.

Mix the ingredients for the topping. Wait until the muffins have cooled down before you spread it on them. You may even add some more decorative things on them, like we did by adding extra pieces of carrot.

Vegetarian pyttipannu

Here's my vegetarian version of pyttipannu (Swedish: pyttipanna). It is a lot more unhealthy if prepared with sausage, like traditionally (but luckily I am vegetarian!) It is part of the Swedish and Finnish food tradition, and it used to be prepared of leftover ingredients, which isn't always the case nowadays. The name of this dish probably derives from "pytteliten" (=very small), which describes how all the ingredients are cut into small spieces.

Ingredients (x2):
4 middle-sized potatoes
250 ml water
½ vegetarian bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
150 g chopped onion
150 g soup vegetables
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch black pepper
½ dl chopped parsley

Served with:
2 eggs
2 tomatoes

Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes of 1 cm. Heat the vegetarian broth and add the bay leaf. Cook the potato cubes for 5 minutes so that they get a bit softer. Pour the broth off and let the potatoes emit steam. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the chopped onion into it. Add the soup vegetables and let them steam off the liquid. You can take the vegetables off the cooker when they have gained some colour. Spice them with salt. Keep them warm under the cover. Heat the rest of the olive oil on a frying pan and add the potato cubes on it. Keep the pan hot and keep on turning the cubes around.

When they have gained some colour on all sides, add them into the rest of vegetables. Dust some black pepper on the food. Add parsley and mix. Fry the eggs on the frying pan and slice the tomato and serve the pyttipannu with them.

(Here in the Netherlands the [not-frozen] soup vegetables included a lot of greenery, in Finland they have a pretty different makeout of vegetables. Don't care, as long as they are soup vegetables.)

Soup of three onions

This is a nice onion soup that differs from the traditional onion soup by having 3 key ingredients: yellow onion, shallot and leek. Worth a try next time you want to make onion soup! To be served with croutons, a good idea is to make them yourself the way I suggest here (they come out pretty luxurious!)

Ingredients (x2):
2 yellow onions
2 shallots
½ leek
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
½ l water
2/3 bouillon cube
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

(semi-)dried bread
1 tablespoon oil
1-2 cloves garlic
(1 teaspoon dried parsley)

+ grated cheese

Peel the onions, cut them in halves and then cut them into thin slices or pieces. Wash the leek and cut it into pieces.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions. Give them 5 minutes to gain some colour, but don't let them become brown.

Add the water, the 2/3 bouillon cube and the spices. Cook under cover on mild heat for half an hour.
Cut the bread into cubes. Grind the garlic and fry it on the pan with oil. Add the bread cubes on the pan let them become slightly brown in colour. Optionally add some parsley on them.

Serve the soup with the croutons and grated cheese.

(Sorry for taking the picture a bit too late!)

Feta-spinach pastry

Not sure how Finnish this is, but this kind of pastries (resembling the quiche en France) are very common in Finland, and this recipe is originally from a Finnish recipe magazine. Attention, it's very filling. I served it along with onion soup yesterday, and it was an excellent combination.

Ingredients (for a mould of 24x24cm):
3-4 layers puff pastry
1 big onion
2 tablespoons oil
150 g frozen spinach
200 g feta cheese
3 eggs
2 dl light cream or cream-milk
1/4 teaspoons black pepper
a pinch of nutmeg

Chop the onion and sauté it on a frying pan with olive oil. Melt the spinach and squeeze the excess liquid off it. Pour the liquid off the feta cubes.
Cover the mould with puff pastry. Spread the spinach, onion and feta cheese on the puff pastry.

Mix the eggs, cream and spices together. Pour this mix on the mould.
Bake the pastry in the lower part of the 200 c hot oven for about 45 minutes.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Spaghetti with zucchini and garlic

I actually find tagliatelle to be even more suitable for this, but this time I made it with spaghetti (integrali). You can prepare this dish in less than 20 minutes, so it's great for when you can't take a long time to cook. But no matter of situation it is a tasty, simple dish and heavenly for garlic lovers.

Ingredients (x2):
125 g tagliatelle or spaghetti
1 zucchina
3-4 cloves garlic
basil (fresh or dry)
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
15 g margarine

Put the pasta to boil. Grind the garlic. Grate the zucchina. Fry the garlic on a pan and when it has obtained some colour, pour the grated zucchina on the pan and fry it for max. 2 minutes at high heat. Add salt, black pepper and basil into the vegetables. Add the margarine. Blend the ready pasta with the sauce and serve with grated parmesan or parmesan flakes.

Cherry tomato pasta cooked au gratin

This dish is extremely easy to make (provided that you've got a grill function in your oven.) and has very simple ingredients. And it is very tasty because of the few but well-chosen ingredients that really get into their element first in the gratin oven and then in regular oven!

Ingredients (x4):
400 g short pasta
300-400 g cherry tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
bread crumbs
basil (fresh or dry)
grated parmesan
olive oil

Heat up the oven to 200 c using the grill function. Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Put olive oil on the bottom and sides of a baking pan and put the cherry tomatoes in it, so that they cover the surface of the baking pan. Dust on the tomatoes some salt, grinded garlic, basil in pieces, a somewhat abundant amount of parmesan and bread crumbs. At the end add olive oil on the pan the way that the food gets to gratinate properly. Start the oven and cook the pasta meanwhile. In 15 minutes the cherry tomatoes should be gratinated and the pasta ready. Once you have removed the water from the ready pasta, pour the pasta into the baking pan and mix it with the sauce. Put it still in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Finnish-style pulla-pear dessert

This is a soft tasting fruity dessert improvised by me. I think the ingredients really suit each other, so I wanted to share it with you.

Ingredients (x2):
1 pulla (=sweet bun) (the 'korvapuusti' kind is ideal for that they have cinnamon!)
300 g vanilla ice cream
2 dl milk
a big pear or two small pears

Cut the pear into small pieces. Put the pieces of pear into mugs and pour milk on them. Cut the pulla or korvapuusti into "flakes" and add it into the mugs. Add ice cream on them. Mix.

Veneto style risotto

Here's a recipe for a risotto that tastes like Veneto and that you pretty likely have the ingredients for already. Good and simple.

Ingredients (x2):
200 g risotto rice
a tablespoon butter or margarine
1 vegetarian or meat bouillon cube
500 ml water
1 onion
1/4 celery
1 carrot
2 small potatoes
black pepper
cooking cream (optional)
parmesan + parsley

Chop the onion and celery very fine. Cut the carrot into small pieces. Cut the potatoes into 2-3 mm thick slices. Put the onion, celery and carrot into a microwave-resistant container. Pour some olive oil on them and mix. Then put these vegetables into the microwave for a minute and half at 800 watts. Take it out, mix it and put it again into the microwave for 2 minutes.

Prepare the broth: let the bouillon cube dissolve in water in a pan. Give the rice a golden, transparent colour by frying it for a few minutes in a pan with butter. Add the microwaved vegetables and sliced potatoes into the rice. Add broth little by little and cook for the time indicated in the rice package.

Mix the risotto for most of the cooking time and add salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg in halfway of the cooking time. In the last few minutes of cooking time, add some cooking cream (less than a dl though) if you want to make your risotto more creamy. Serve with parsley and parmesan.

Pan di Stelle

I prepared last Saturday evening Pan di Stelle cookies. I have a fascination with them from my time in Italy and as I found a recipe for them, I immediately wanted to try it! Pan di Stelle is a cocoa tasting biscuit with white stars, available in Italian stores under the brand Mulino Bianco. Here's how I made them instead (and attempted to make the stars in my own way).

Ingredients (50 cookies):
500 g wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
50g cacao powder (sugarfree)
1 egg
160 g butter or margarine
370 g icing sugar
50 g milk (more if needed)
20 g grinded nuts
2 teaspoons baking powder
a bit of salt

Mix the icing sugar (leave 100 g for later use) and butter or margarine. Mix into the dough the grinded nuts and the yellow part of the egg (conserve the transparent part for later). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you have obtained the kind of dough that resembles to short crust pastry. Roll out the dough until it is quite thin (less than a cm). Cut biscuits out of it in the shape you like.

Take up the remained transparent part of the egg and 30 g icing sugar. Mix them together and brush the cookies with it. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 10-15 minutes.
Once they've been to the oven, cut a pattern out of baking paper (or something else) with holes in form of stars. Dust icing sugar on the biscuits through the pattern.