Sunday roast with a new spring coat

I know this is not trendy. We are supposed to buy pieces with bone, cook them for hours and be content with our economical approach. However, I could not resist the special offer in the shop next to our home and bought some fillet of beef. I don't regret.

This was the perfect Sunday lunch with a salad made of green lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucmber, olives, spring onion, sweet peppers, feta and roasted almonds. The coating brought some heat and the herby zing.

Another plus in favour of this meal was the speed to prepare it. All in all it took less than an hour to make. Great advantage when the sun is shining and the garden waiting for being worked on.

Sunday roast with a spring coat

First cut the meat to a nice even piece, brown it well in pan with some butter and olive oil. Then put the meat to the oven (130 C).

While the fillet is in the oven, prepare the salad and the coating. Finely slice a couple of red chilles (quite mild) with a big bunch of coriander and mint. Mix with the grated lemon zest and the pressed juice of one lemon. Add salt and pepper and spread on a board.

When the meat is ready (55C inside) take it out of the oven and roll on the coating. Add all the coating on a piece of folio and wrap the meat inside. Leave for 15min.


Red wine onion jam put in a tart... can you think of anything better for an April lunch ?

 Well, add the gorgonzola type blue cheese and a lot of thyme...

Cooking is 1/3 creativity, 1/3 luck and 1/3 innovative stealing. It is not easy to come up with something totally new in the kitchen nowadays. Seems like most of the ideas have already been presented by someoe else. At least in our house, cooking is mostly a patchwork of ideas picked up in different places and put together to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

This tart definitely adds up to the level of eternal favourites "chez nous".  The main idea comes from Delicious-magazine (my favourite), the onion jam is slightly modified from the one from Rachel Allen and the pastry is the old Finnish favourite for pigs in a blanket. In the pastry I use the Finnish "rahka" which is a kind of quark but in a completely unsweetened form. If you can't find similar, you can try with Greek yoghurt or just buy ordinary readymade puff pastry.

Salty-sweet red onion pie

Make the jam and the pastry the day before - less time and work required during the morning before lunch.

Jam :
25g butter
6 red onions
150g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 dl balsamic vinegar
1,5 dl red wine (something quite sturdy)
a splash of Marsala (or sherry or something similar)
2 tbsp blackcurrant jam 

Slice the onions and cook them at a low heat with butter and sugar for about 30min. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it cook for 45min more. The jam is quite liquid still in the end but don't worry, it'll set once cold.
Put in to a jar and into the fridge to wait.

Pastry (or readymade puff pastry)  :
250g  rahka (quark)
250g soft butter
4 dl flour

Mix quickly to form a dough. Wrap with clingfilm and put to fridge until the next day (or at least for 30 minutes before using)

The next day

Roll the dough and put it to a pastry tin (diameter appr. 24 to 26 cm) Don't roll it too thin but leave at least to 5 mm. 

Spread the onion jam to the bottom. Cut pieces from the blue cheese and drop them evenly on the onion jam. Chop a lot of thyme and add on the top.

Mix 2 eggs, 4 egg yolks, 2 dl cream and 2 tbsp Dijon mustard and pour the mixture into the tin.

Scatter crushed hazelnuts on the top.

Bake in the oven (200 degrees celsius) for about 30min. Let it cool to room temperature and serve with green salad.


Going crazy at the magazine stall...

Or what do you say about this ?

Our weekend trip to EuroDisney in Paris ended with mum emptying the shelves in the airport magazine stall. Shouldn't be too difficult to find recipes to test with all these. :-)


Hazelnut chocolate meringues

Whenever I have some eggwhite leftovers, I seem to make meringues. This time I also had some hazelnut crush and when I hear "hazelnut" my brain immediately thinks of chocolate.

So, there was no way around it. This is what we had for dessert yesterday.

Valrhona is the preferred dark chocolate brand in our house. This time we opted for the fruity Manjari (64%) which was melted and spread on the meringues with a little silicon brush.

What chocolate brands do you find the best to use ?

Meringues are so easy to make and the variation possibilities are endless. Look here for the basic recipe and one of our latest taste experiments.


Beetroot and Apple Meet Feta

Early spring in Finland is the time of the year when vegetarians get seriously frustrated. There is not much local greens available and even the imported vegetables seem a bit, well, wintery.

I'm not a vegetarian, but when the sun gets brighter and the days get longer, I start getting these cravings for something fresh. This recipe has saved the day more than once.

Beetroot and apple meet feta

(as a starter for 4 adults - 2 hungry ones get a lunch if completed with bread... )

3-4 smallish beetroots
balsamic vinegar
1-2 Granny Smith -apples
pine nuts lightly toasted in a dry pan
feta cheese
Black pepper

Originally this recipe was made with raw beetroot but lately I've started to prefer the cooked ones as they have this nice sweetness in them that contrasts nicely with the acidity of the apples and the tartness of the cheese. So, cut  a cross on top of the beetroots. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and some salt on each. Wrap in folio and  cook in the oven (200 degrees) for about 30-45 minutes, until a knife enters the beetroot with practically no resistance.

Let the beetroots cool to room temperature and peel them.

Cut the apples and beetroots to pieces according to your taste. Rinse the feta and wash the rucola.

Build you salad on the plates by adding the ingredients as you like them. Add some black pepper.

If you want, you can still add some balsamic vinegar, but this is good without it as well. 


Warm salad for the cold spring

We still have snow on the ground... Spring is the time when the heavy stews and roasts give place to light salads and everything green, but in this cold weather we still need something that warms. Luckily the world is full of wonderful recipes for warm salads.

Also, we should eat more vegetables, for ecological reasons, for health reasons and also, for economical reasons. For some reason though, I seem to often lack inspiration and imagination. Most of our regular recipes have meat. This one doesn't  but it still gives you this hearty feeling of not being hungry soon. It also warms you up, both because it is eaten warm and because it has heat from the spices.

I think the original recipe has been taken from the Delicious -magazine, but this is probably no longer like the original. Evolution takes place in the kitchen.

Warm Aubergine - Halloumi Salad

2 aubergines (eggplants) in pieces
1 garlic with cloves separated but not peeled
1-2 tbsp Harissa-paste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of dried chickpeas soaked and boiled according to the package instructions
1 red oignon sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
(1 red chili if you really like the heat - we passed as children ate this also)
a package of halloumi sliced
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 rtbsp oil
rucola and coriander (cilantro)

Put the oven on to 190 degrees (C) Roll the garlic cloves in oil and put them to the oven for a while (15-20min). Mix the aubergine pieces with oil and harissa and add with the cloves. Leave into the oven for about 30min - until the aubergine is cooked and garlic soft and mushy. Mix in the chickpeas and put back to the oven for 10 minutes.

Once the aubergine is in the oven add some white wine vinegar on the oignon. Add some salt and pepper and leave aside.

Take the aubergines and garlic and put them into a serving bowl. Brown the halloumi slices on a pan with little oil. (With the chili if you use it). Add to the salad, you may want to cut them into bitesize pieces.

Mix the lemon zest and juice with the oignon. Add oil to your taste. Check for the seasoning. Mix with the salad.

Add rucola and coriander. Mix and serve.

The leftovers are great with pasta the day after (just add a bit of the pasta cooking water).


Angry Bird goes cakey

One of Toto's favourite toys is a little Angry Bird. It makes birdy lauhging sounds when the right button is pushed and that sound often tells where to find the little rascal. It was quite clear what his birthday cake should look like.

I don't actually know how well you know these characters - they are from this game by the Finnish company Rovio. In the game the bad little piggies have stolen the eggs from the birds, who as a result have gotten extremely angry and go after the piggies for vengeance. Sounds quite silly doesn't it ? But all the children seem to love both the game and the related merchandise.

I'm not artistically talented at all (remember my lemon tart), so it was my husband doing the decorations (again). Not bad I'd say. Even though I forgot to clean the rest of the icing sugar on the top...

Under the marzipan layer the cake had alternating layers of vanilla sponge cake, cacao sponge cake,  mascarpone cream and chocolate ganache cream. 300g of chocolate and 250g of mascarpone made sure that this is not a cake for those on a diet, but then... how often can you celebrate the 2 year birthday of your youngest son ?

Yep, you guessed right - the same argument is valid for every birthday and in our family we celebrate birthdays 5 times every year + once for the cat.


FictionFood - Tengo's Wok from 1Q84

"Where is she now, and what could she be doing ? Does she still belong to the Society of Witnesses ?"

I've spent a wonderful couple of weeks in the parallel reality called 1Q84. This Haruki Murakami's novel is inspiring in so many levels and not the least in the kitchen. Food has a crucial role in the story. What the characters eat reflect both the situation they're facing and their natural reactions to it.

In Book 2, Chapter 4 the reader is taken through Tengo's memories and self analysis while he gets his groceries and prepares his evening meal.

The trip down the memory lane starts in the supermarket.

"What reminded him of Aomame was buying edamame in the supermarket." 
(Aomame means green peas...)

While cooking, Tengo keeps pondering how big an impact did the meeting when 10 years old have in in his life and thoughts.

"Why has that skinnyt little ten-year-old girl stayed in my heart all these years ? She came over to me after class and squeezed my hand without saying a word. That was all."

The self analysis continues at the table, in front of a plate full of steaming wok, with a cold beer.

"Really, isn't that something! How many years will it take me to reach full maturity at this rate ?"

Between the philosophical lines Murakami gives us a recipe for a delicious wok. I just couldn't resist the temptation to replicate his recipe.

The smell was just intoxicating. The taste was something new to us. After the last bit we thought that we need to do this again. Delicious.

Tengo's Wok

Take a small bag of Edamame-beans and take them out of the pods. Rub some salt on them and drop them to boiling water. Let them bubble for a few minutes.

Mush some fresh ginger, slice a couple of celeri branches, and chop a packet of shiitake mushrooms. Chop some chinese parsley (we just had normal flatleaf...). Thaw the amount of frozen tiger prawns you want per each person.

Put a splash of sesame oil in the pan. Add the ginger and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Add the celeri and mushrooms and increase the heat. Add a bit of salt and pepper. When celeri looks cooked, add the tiger prawns. When they've blushed, add a small glass of sake and a couple of tablespoons soya sauce.

Plate with the edamame beans and parsley.

If you are really hungry, like the Husband, add udon noodles under your wok on the plate, but it is not really necessary.

Tengo had a beer, we drank a glass of water.


Bread in a Pot - A Blogisphere Classic

This bread recipe has been going around in the Finnish foodblogs for a while, but I guess it originates from outside Finland. What is interesting in this, is not so much the list of ingredients or the time it takes for the levain to form. The main interest is the method of baking the bread in an oven pot.

I've tried the pot cooking method also with a couple of other bread recipes and it works every time. There is something in heat of the pot and the humidity created by having the lid on that the bread dough seems to love. Please, go and try for yourself. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


Bread in a pot 

7 dl flour (wheat, spelt...)
2 tsp salt
0,5 tsp dried yeast
3,5 dl lukewarm water

Mix the dry ingredients together and pour in the water. Mix, cover with clingfilm and leave in room temperature for 12-18 hours.

Preheat the oven to 225 (celsius) and put an oven pot with a lid to warm inside.

Mix some flour into the bread dough and form a round bread. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it rest for 30min.

Once the oven (and the pot) are hot put the bread inside the pot and put it in the oven with the lid on. Let it bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and let the bread bake for 15 minutes more.
Take the bread out of the oven and out of the pot. Let it cool slightly (easier to cut) and enjoy with melting butter...


This is what I wanted for my birthday this year

Traditionally it should have been a cake with cream and candles (more than I care to count), but this year I opted for a lemon meringue tart. And not just any lemon tart. Over the years I've tried numerous recipes but have always returned to this one. My favourite, by far...

I hope you'll like it too :-)

As you can see, my birthday was close to Easter this year - thus the chocolate eggs in the decoration. I tested tempering the chocolate myself, but the conclusion was simply that more practice will be needed on that front. I'll probably come back to it at some later date.

Minna's favourite lemon tart

Base :
250g flour
40g (icing)sugar
175g cold butter in cubes
1 egg yolk
2-4 tbsp cold water

Filling :
3 dl water
1 dl sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp Maizena
3-4 egg yolks
20g butter

Meringues : all the spare eggwhites + 2 dl sugar

Rub the flour, sugar and butter into a sandy texture. Add the egg yolk and enough water to quickly form a pastry. Cover in clingfilm and put to the fridge for 15min.

Roll the pastry, fill the tart case (24cm diameter) and put back to fridge for 15min more. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Put the tart case into the oven for 10-15 minutes until it is slightly browned. Leave to cool.

Make the filling. Mix water, sugar, lemon and Maizena into a casserole. Put on a medium heat and stir all the time with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture thickens, let it still cook for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and quickly whisk in the egg yolks one by one then the butter in cubes. Leave to cool.

Increase the heat of the oven to 250. Spread the filling on the cooled tart base. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar until they form stiff peaks.  Use the piping bag or two spoons to spread the meringue on the tart. Put it to the oven and keep an eye on it for a few minutes, until the meringue is nicely browned.

Decorate the cooled lemon meringue tart as you wish and enjoy.


No, this is not a fashion blog

But I still wanted to tell you that spring might finally be arriving to Finland also...

There is still snow on the ground but soon it will melt on the roads. Then we can put on the wellies without fear of slipping and breaking a leg...


Salted liquorice meringues - anyone ?

Some time ago we made a cake with the boys.  You know, marzipan butterflies, glitter and all. To change from the normal cream and jam filling, we actually filled it with lemon curd chantilly and salted liquorice. So delicious.

To those who love the salted liquorice I mean. The taste for it seems to be somewhat Finnish. I don't think I know anyone non Finnish who enjoys the black sweets. At least the Husband seems to have some kind of a gagging reaction just by the sight of them.

Anyways, as we had both the egg whites and the salted liquorice leftovers, I decided to make some meringues with black spots.

Nothing is easier to make than meringues. I know, everybody thinks they are difficult, but really - it's just patience you need - and of course a clean bowl, whisk, sugar and eggwhites with no traces of yolk in them. Not being of the patient kind myself, I actually succeeded in making meringues only after I got the kitchen mixer. Now I can just forget it on for a while and do other things.

Minimeringues with salted liquorice

Put the egg whites (3 in this case) to the mixer bowl, install the whisk and put the machine on for a few minutes. You can add a couple of drops of lemon or lime juice if you want. Helps the whites to foam. Empty the dishwasher to keep you occupied.

Add sugar (2-3 dl) and put the machine on. Put the oven on (130 celsius - no fan) Fill the dishwasher with everything in the sink and lying around in the kitchen. Check on the kids (shout from the kitchen - not a good idea to leave the machine alone). When the egg whites have formed stiff peaks the meringue is ready.

You can mix the salted liquorice (Turkish pepper crush here) to the eggwhites now - or just sprinkle it on them before putting them to the oven. You decide.

Use a piping bag or two spoons to get the meringues in the form you want. Put them to the oven and leave for about 30min. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in to dry for the night.

Another blog...

Yep, one more blog to this blogisphere (is there such a word ? )

I already have another blog, but its all in Finnish. In order to keep my English on a somewhat usable level, I've decided to start translating at least some of the articles in Ja kaikkea muuta into English and might even write something just for you not willing to take a plunge into the English-Finnish dictionary. Feel free to comment on potential (probable) mistakes in the language and vocabulary. I might even take your corrections into account.

A word of warning to you now expecting recipes of  reindeer and blueberries. Although those ingredients do occasionally appear in our kitchen, we mainly cook familyfood of international reputation. Pizzas, lasagne, macaroni casserole, salads of different sorts are the regulars.

Yes, you guessed it. We have children. Three of them to be precise - all boys. In addition to me & sons, there is also the Husband (of French origin) and the Cat (non pedigree origin).

I'll most probably be rambling on other domains than kitchen also
, especially reading (fiction) - or anything in general that happens to catch my attention.

Welcome to "This (kitchen)life" - I hope you'll be many.