Saturday, 30 January 2010

Warming peasoup for cold winter days and Finnish pancake for dessert

This peasoup is a classic soup in Finland, usually eaten in wintertime. I remeber that I've eaten it since my early childhood, and we've always had some pancake after that for dessert. It's actually a quite simple meal, but very tasty. And it's eaten almost in every Finnish home, only the method of cooking varies a bit.
My version of the peasoup is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The pancake I made with soymilk, and I have to say that it was excellent. The time of cooking the soup is very long, so it's not a soup you can make from awhile impulse. You have to remeber to put the peas into the water the evening before. But otherwise it's a very simple soup. And remeber to serve it with Finnish Turunmaa mustard! Or some other mustard, it might be hard to find Turunmaa abroad :)
And I must tell you that if you wonder the amount of the soup (it's quite a lot) the reason is that we always make about this much and then we freeze it. Because it's quite effortful to make, and it's easy just to take it from the freezer and warm some if in a hurry. And you can put some of it into the fridge too, it tastes even better the next day!

for about 15 people

make this soup in a big 5 liter kettle
1 kg dried peas
3-4 liters water
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 big onions, chopped into tiny chunks
olive oil
marjoram 2 tbsp
plenty of back pepper
herbamare, according to your taste
fresh parsley, two handfuls, chopped
3 tbsp mustard, and for the serving also (you can add some more when you eat if it feels like it)

1. The evening before put the peas into the kettle, pour 3-4 litres of water (so that the peas float in there).

2. If the peas have absorded the water the next day, add some more. Bring the water to boil, lower the temperature and cook for 1- 1,5 hours, until you can see that the structure of the soup has changed and the peas are softened. While cooking check the soup occasionally, if the zests of the peas have come off and risen to the surface, use a large spoon and remove them.

3. Sauté the chopped onions in olive oil, add with the grated carrots. Mix well, add the spicesand herbs. Put enough salt to satisfy you. Let the soup boil over a low heat for half an hour or so, until it's thick enough.

4. Before serving decorate with soycream and peashoots.

Finnish pancake
about 16 serves

1 liter soymilk (or ordinary, if you prefer)
3 eggs
2 tbsp rape oil
about 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
5 dl plain wheat flour

1. Pour the milk into a big bowl. Add the eggs, oil and the other ingredients. Mix well with a whisk, put into the fridge for 30 minutes to swell.

2. Heat the oven into 200°C. Line a deep baking sheet with two parchment papers, cover the sides too.
3. Pour the dough into the baking sheet, bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until beautifully golden and a bit brown on top.

4. Cut into squares. Serve with self made (or store bought) jam and berries. We ate the pancake with the jam my mother made last autumn, from the berries we had picked up ourselves.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

My first "green" smoothie and toasts with dates & tahini

There has been a lot of talk about superfoods and raw food. I think it's very interesting and I'm eager to try - although it's difficult to start suddenly eating only raw food. But I think I'm going to try even some of it, because it's very good for your health. This morning I spent time in the internet looking for information about all kinds of superfoods etc. and found that these so called green smoothies are very important in rawfood ans superfood eaters nutrition. So I decided to make my first green smoothie (which isn't very green, because I used blueberries and blackcurrants and they coloured the smoothie).
I have to say that it really surprised me, I though that smoothie which includes salad and herbs tastes terrible, but this was actually so good that I could have drank the whole thing! So I'm definitely going to make these green smoothies again, maybe it could become a daily habit...

And the toasts I had to post beause I think it's a very delicious combination (it might sound funny). I really love it and with the smoothie these toasts make a lovely breakfast, light lunch or a little meal in the evening...It's all vegan, full of important vitamins and vegetable fats and everything else. After drinking it I feel very energetic and vibrant.

A nice thing about these smoothies is that you can combine all kinds of ingredients : different greens (herbs, salads), fruits and berries. Anything you want, just follow your taste!

Ingredients for the smoothie:
3 dl frozen blackberries
1 dl frozen blackcurrants
2 large handfus of fresh parsley
2 handfuls rucola
1 kiwi fruit
1 ripe banana

1. Put the all ingredients into a blender, chop the bananas and kiwi to smaller pieces and add enough water to make the mixture fluid.

2. Pout into glasses and decorate with fresh parsley.

Ingredients for one date & tahini toast:
1 wholewheat toast (I used Finnish Linkosuo Tuhatjyvä with omega-3 and omega-6)
tahini paste (I used urtekram)
3 dates, sliced into halves

1. Put the toast in a toaster, spread tahini over and then put about three sliced dates on top. Enjoy! (It's so lovely...)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Healthy linseed & pumkin seed bread rolls

I love self made bread. It tastes so different than the bread bought from a grocery store - I love the texture, I love the softness and the pure taste of it. And you can be sure that it's healthy without any additives and made from all the lovely ingredients. I love to mix different kind of flours and to add seeds. To these bread rolls ( in Finnish "sämpylät") I added linseed. It's very good for you stomach and has a lot of healthy vegetable fats. And as you can see from the ingredients I used only fibre rich flour. The soyflour I used is a very nice thing for the texture, it makes the dough softer and as you know soy lowers cholesterol and is fibre rich - these buns really are superfood!

And don't forget they taste magnificent! My mother said they melt in your mouth. These are good with margarine, bean paste (or hummus), tahini or anything you like. And these are very easy to make, so why won't you start baking immediately?

makes about 15
0,5 l water
25 g fresh yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
3 dl oatmeal
2 dl barley flour
3 dl soyflour
about 5 dl wholewheat flour
0,5 dl linseeds
1 dl olive oil
some more flour to help in baking
pumpkin seeds for decoration

1. Warm the water in a big bowl to your body temperature, add the yeast and let it melt. Mix well. Add the salt and honey, mix well.

2. Add oatmeal, barley flour, soyflour, wholewheat flour, linseeds and finally olive oil beating the dough in the bowl all the time. Add some more flour if necessary. Let the dough rise covered with a kitchen towel in a warm place for an hour.

3. Spread some flour over a table. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Deal the dough in two, knead well and deal the halfs into about six pieces. Knead the little pieces into balls with an even surface, put on a baking sheet. Let the bread rolls rise in a warm place covered with a kitchen towel for about 30 minutes.

4. Heat the oven into 225°C. Before putting into the oven, butter the rolls with water and put some pumpkin seeds on top.
5. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Lebanese spinach and potato pies

My mom bought me a wonderful Lebanese cookbook A Taste of Lebanon - Cooking today the Lebanese way. I certainly love it - all the best recipes you could imagine, and so much more. Pita bread, hommous, tabouli, baklava, burghul...Ahhh, so lovely. Today I decided to try these pretty pies with two different fillings, spinach and potato. It was quite easy and fun to do these (the only problem was that when you folded the pies it was hard to keep them closed). This recipe makes about thirteen quite big pies, but it makes more if you want the pies to be smaller. It's up to you. And I added to the pie dough some whole wheat flour to make it healthier - it worked perfectly.
I'm really looking forward to try the other Lebanese recipes from the cookbook. Our family enjoyed these with peppermint tea in the candlelight - it was excellent. These pies really taste like Lebanon - with the lovely, fresh flavours and spices. They can be very proud in Lebanon for creating so delectable treats like these pies. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did.
Ingredients for the Savory Pie Dough - Ajeen Fatayer:
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp sugar
1 yeast (50g)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups wheat flour

1. Place water and sugar in a big bowl. Add yeast, stirring gently. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
2.Add oil salt and egg. Fold in flour gradually. Knead until all flour leaves the edges of the bowl and dough is smooth. If necessary, add some more flour to make the dough adequate.

3. Cover with plastic sheet, then kitchen towel, let rest in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

Ingredients for the Spinach Pies - Fatayer bi Sabanikh:
280g spinach
1 onion, chopped into tiny chunks
1 dl lemon juice
1 dl olive oil
1 dl sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Wash and drain spinach well. Chop small an place in large bowl. Add onions, lemon juice, oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Toss well, set aside.

Ingredients for Potato Pies - Fatayer bi Batata:
8 potatoes (grated)
1 onion, chopped into tiny chunks
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Rinse shredded potatoes in cold water and squeeze out excess water. Place in large bowl. Add onions, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Mix well.

How to make the Potato and Spinach pies:
1. Divide the well risen dough into 2 sections. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a small plate.
2. Place a heaping tablespoon of the potato or spinach mixture in to the centre of the round.

3. Fold three sides of the dough over the filling to form a triangle. Make one at a time because the fillings, (and the spinach even more) will have a lot of juice. If necessary, squeeze out some of the juice before placing in the dough.
4. Secure triangle by pressing on the edges of the dough as you fold (must be sealed well around the edges). A tiny opening may be left in the centre. Of dough does not stick well in some places, put flour on fingertips to help seal.

5. Place the pies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes in 200°C oven until golden brown. Remove from the oven, brush with paprika spiced olive oil. Serve hot or cold, enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tarte aux amandes et au citron - Almond and lemon tart

We had a lot of guests at our house during the holidays, and this tart I decided to bake for the New Year's Day. I doubled the recipe because we had about fifteen people visiting. This is a classic French recipe, and I've always wanted to try it. Actually I added something to it, the turkish yogurt frosting. Somehow I'm in love with the turkish yogurt, I think it crowns the recipe and makes it perfect. And it worked very well, it gave a nice softness to this tart and made it look more beautiful. This tart was very refreshing, and perfect for those who love lemon. And for those who really don't love lemon it goes perfectly too. It's very good.

Ingredients for two tarts (one big, the other one a bit smaller)
For the crust:
400g wheat flour
200g soft butter
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt

For the filling:
5 lemons (you can add less if you don't like the strong lemon flavour)
160g soft butter
300g pulverized almonds
300g fine white sugar
8 eggs, separated

For the frosting:
grated zest of one lemon
5 dl turkish yogurt
juice of one lemon and the pulp also
5 dl powdered sugar

For the decoration carved zest of lemon

1. Pluck the ingredients of the dough with hands into big crumbs (in a bowl). Add about 3-6 tablespoons water, and knead until the dough froms a ball, which doesn't stick or crumble. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200°C. Grate the zests of the lemons for the filling (without the white part) and then squeeze the juice of the lemons. Melt the butter in the microwave.
2. Mix together in a big bowl pulverized almonds, sugar, grated zest of lemon, lemonjuice and butter. Add the egg yolks and beat briskly.

3. Beat the egg whites into a foam, add to the lemonmixture.

4. Take the dough away from the fridge, knead it and warm it with your hands, deal it to two. Line the buttered and floured baking moulds with the dough, press the dough so that it becomes an even surface. Stick the dough with a fork.

5. Pour the filling into the mould and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until beautifully golden. Try with a fork or a knife, if the dough doesn't stick the tart is ready.

6. Let the tart cool down. Prepare the frosting meanwhile.
7. Put the turkish yogurt into a big bowl, add the grated zest of lemon and then the other ingredients. Mix until smooth. Put on top of the cooled tarts. Decorate the tarts with carved pieces of lemon zest.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Chocolate cupcakes with turkish yogurt & chocolate frosting

I made these cupcakes for the New Year's Eve, and I have to say that they were absolutely gorgeus, very rich and so lovely chocolatey that they melted in your mouth! I used the same dough as before when I've made these, but the frosting was different, I had this idea to add some turkish yogurt to it and it really became good, it was so much better than before! And for the decorating I used both dark and white chocolate, so it looked even more prettier. This dough makes eighteen big cupcakes, and the frosting is enough just for them.

And this is my darling cat Diana, who admired the cupcakes for a long time.

For the dough:

250g dark chocolate (50-60% cocoa)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup soy milk

1/2 cup water

2 cups packed light brown sugar (muscovado)

1cup vegetable (olive) oil

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

100g butter, melted

4-5 dl powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g dark chocolate (50-60% cocoa)

about 4 dl turkish yogurt

For the decorating about 100g white and 100g dark chocolate

To make the cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350º F (180°C). Paper-line 18 big muffin cups.

2. Melt the chocolate in a metal dish attached to a pot with boiling water. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

3. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Combine soymilk and water in small glass measure. Beat brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl on high for 2 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate. Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with soymilk mixture.

4. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

5. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

6. Frost with turkish yogurt & chocolate frosting.

For the turkish yogurt & chocolate frosting:

1. Melt the chocolate the same way as before, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature.

2. Melt the butter in microwave, until it's liquid like. Mix the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, add the melted chocolate and butter, then add to the turkish yogurt, mix until smooth.

3. Put spoonfuls with a big spoons on top of the cupcakes, decorate with grated white and dark chocolate.