Saturday, 25 September 2010

Pizzoccheri valtellinesi

I haven't updated in several months, but yes I'm still here! I was so surprised when I looked at my blog after a long break and spotted some new followers!
I had a really chaotic stage in life - depression, long work days, trying to decide for good whether to stay in the Netherlands or move back home, and then one day in July I finally decided to leave everything and get back to my old studies here in Turku, Finland. It was tough, but I'm happy with being back in my dear home country again and I really don't regret a second.

I just made pizzoccheri for dinner. That is a traditional potato-based dish from the region Valtellina in the Italian Alps. It is quite a beloved dish in Lombardia, often enjoyed in wintertime. It is quite heavy, but to make it lighter you can retain a bit of the cooking water and use a bit less of butter instead (or use olive oil). The pasta used in it should actually be made of bucketwheat. In Northern Italy they sell such ready pieces of bucketwheat pasta meant for this dish. I don't have any left and I didn't have time to make them by myself either, so I went looking at Stockmann's if they had any but I wasn't lucky, so I used more generic whole-wheat pasta instead.

Ingredients (x2):
150 g of pizzoccheri (or alternatively dark pasta)
70 g parmesan
130 g potatoes
1 clove of garlic
150 g soft cheese (Fontina is the one you can get anyhwere in Italy, in Finland I use Koskenlaskija, in the Netherlands I used Port-Salut... Something soft with some taste!)
25 g butter
100 g cabbage
black pepper

Cut the potatoes in cubes and the cabbage in slices. Put them into abundant slated water in a pan and add maximum heat. When the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook the ingredients altogether for 10 minutes. Then pour the water off them.
Put the butter into a pan with minced garlic, pepper, some salt and salvia. Let it melt.
Take a vase or pot that is oven-resistant. Set a layer of the vegetables on the bottom of the pot. Pour a small part of the melted butter on the ingredients. Add some pieces of soft cheese and parmesan. Repeat this scheme some 3-4 times.
It is a good idea to take the dish into the oven at 200'c for around 10-15 minutes, although not obligatory. I like the consistency and the taste the best when the dish has been baked in the oven!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Rice and vegetable wok

This comes nowhere near Finnish or Italian cuisine, but however enjoyes the reputation of my favourite food since some months already :) So I'm writing the recipe here both for you and me!

Ingredients (x4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 carrots
1 red onion
1 bell pepper
4 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of dried basil
some curry
100-150 grams basmati rice
half a package (or more) of feta cheese

Peel the carrot and cut it into rather thin sticks. Cut the red onion into small cubes. Throw some olive oil on the pan and fry the carrot and red onion for a couple of minutes. Then put the heat rather low while you are cutting other vegetables. Cut the bell pepper into sticks and the tomatoes into (big) cubes. Grind the garlic clove. Add these vegetables onto the pan. Add the oregano and basil too, and mix carefully. Make the heat hotter for some four minutes while mixing the vegetables. Then make the heat low and let the vegetables lie there for the time that you are cooking the rice (but remember to mix every now and then).

Cook the rice in a pan. When you will have poured the water off the tice, dust some curry on the rice and mix. Add more curry until the rice is yellow (but it doesn't need to be deep yellow - it depends on your taste).

Pour the rice on the pan and mix it with the vegetables. Add salt. Let the rice and the veggies accomodate each others' tastes by letting them lie there together on low heat for 10 minutes. Mix every now and then. If you think the wok is getting too dry, add a tiny bit of water.

Cut the feta cheese into cubes and add it into the dish right before serving. You can mix it into the wok or alternatively use it as a topping.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Mokkapalat, coffee brownies Finnish-style

These are the brownies that most Finns know ever since their mum made them (or at least those of my generation ;) : Mokkapalat! The bottom is very airy and the topping is wonderful containing real coffee.

Ingredients (quantities for a small oven):

-for the bottom:
3,3 dl wheat flour
3 eggs
2 dl sugar
1,3 dl milk
130 g butter or margarine
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1,3 teaspoon vanilla sugar

-for the topping:
2/3 package icing sugar
30 g butter or margarine
3-4 tablespoons coffee
1 tablespoon cacao powder
2 teaspoons vanilline sugar

Melt the butter meant for the bottom of the cake. Let it cool down for a while. Add the eggs and the sugar into a bowl and mix them with a mixer until they will have obtained a foamy composition. Take another bowl where you mix the rest of the dry ingredients together.

Take turns mixing gradually the milk and the dry ingredients to the egg-sugar foam. When you are done, mix the previously melted margarine into the foam.

Add baking paper on an oven plate and pour the foam on the oven plate evenly. Bake it on 200'c for around 15 minutes.

Melt the butter or margarine meant for the topping. Mix all the other ingredients together. At the end add the melted butter and mix. Spread the topping all over the cake, and don't be too slow or make pauses, because the topping is likely to become stiff soon.

If you like, decorate the cake with sprinkles.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Finnish-syle hamburgers with vegetarian steaks

This hamburger is inspired by Hesburger, which is Finland's biggest native fast food chain. They have got hamburgers with rye bread, and I remember them, but they don't yet have a rye bread vegetarian hamburger. I created one myself! They turned out so yummy, especially yummy for my Finnish taste. The vegetarian steaks I used I made with this recipe, but you can just as well buy ready made veggie steaks.

Ingredients (x2):
Two loaves of rye bread cut in two halves (in Finland for example Puikulat and Ruispalat work well)
2 veggie steaks
2 slices of cheese
1 tomato
a small part of a bell pepper
salad leaves
black pepper

spread butter on the breads. Add a slice of cheese on two of the bread halves. Put the breads into the oven along with the vegetarian steaks (since they need to be heated too). Remove the breads from the oven when the cheese will have melted. You may need to keep the steaks in the oven somewhat longer.

Place the breads that have a layer of cheese on separate plates. Stuff first some salad on these breads. Then add mayonnaise evenly on the whole bread. Take the heated steaks and cut them into halves. Place the two halves next to each other on the bread, looking like two consecutive full moons. Now it's time to add a bit of ketchup. Then, cut the tomatoes into slices and lay 2-3 slices of tomato on each bread. At the end add some bell pepper that you have cut into thin sticks. Dust a bit of pepper, salt and oregano over the creations before topping them with the top half of bread. You may desire to serve these hamburgers wrapped into paper in order to make eating easier and more enjoyable!

Vegetable steaks

Nothing keeps you from making vegetable balls instead of steaks with this recipe!

Ingredients (x3):
150 g potatoes
½ or 1 egg
40 g emmenthal cheese
½ bag of deep frozen vegetables including cauliflower, broccoli and carrot
bread crumbs
black pepper
olive oil

Cut the potatoes into pieces. Cook all the vegetables in a pan in salted water on heavy heat for some 10 minutes. When cooked, pour the water off and let the vegetables cool down and release stem for a while. After a few minutes mash the ingredients as if you were mashing potatoes, but don't mash them very fine. Add the cut cheese, the pepper, the salt and the nutmeg. Add the egg (keep in mind that the entire egg may not be necessary) and bread crumbs, until you get an easily manageable dough. Taste the dough to judge if you need to adjust more spices.

Spray some more bread crumbs on your cutting board. Form steaks out of the dough in your palms, dipping the steaks in bread crumbs. Pour olive oil on a frying pan and fry the steaks on rather high heat. Turn them around frequently and keep on frying them until they will have obtained a golden/brownish colour.

You can serve the steaks with for example potatoes or rice and a sauce (The sauce I used in the picture below was made by me ouf of butter, flour, milk, cheese, basil and lemon juice). If you don't mind it being more fast food kind, serving them with rice, mayo and ketchup is also a good idea.