June 20, 2011

Algarvian tomato soup with a Swedish twist

How's your summer? Over here it's going fast, too fast! Even the strawberry season is early this year, does it mean that we'll get early fall? Hope not!

Coming home from vacation is always a little special. You realize that you are back in your everyday-ness, which is not bad at all but you don't want let the vacation feeling go. Not yet :)
This tomato soup brings me back to Algarve, the southern part of Portugal. Amazing place, breathtaking beaches and landscape, nice people. In Algarve, they seem to know what good food is about. If you happen to spend your vacation there some time, don't expect anything pretentious. It's a simple&fresh concept. We didn't have anything that we haven't eaten before but speaking for myself, it's been the best (restaurant) food I've had - at most of the places. 
Algarvian cuisine is full of fresh ingredients. They don't bother making their own aioli for exemple, but they do bother using fresh vegetables for their vegetable sauces, soups and fish/meat dishes. One ingredient that is typical for this region is piri-piri, a sort of small chilli peppers. You get them anywhere in the world but I couldn't resist taking some home with me as a souvenir. 

In this soup I tried to combine the fresh tomatos with basil and piri-piri together with the Swedish "gravad lax" which stands for pickled raw salmon or dill-cured salmon. It worked! Feta cheese is not necessary, but it will please you :)

Algarvian tomato soup with a Swedish twist

7-8 tomatoes
1 onion 
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
organic vegetable stock
dried oregano 
fresh basil
(sea) salt
ground black pepper
granulated sugar
1-2 dried piri.piri
olive oil

feta cheese
"gravad lax"
fresh basil
bread or a pie crust

1. Boil enough water to pour over the tomatos.
2. Chop the onion and garlic.
3. Peel and chop the tomatos.
4. Use olive oil to roast the onion, garlic and tomatos. Add vegetable stock, season with salt, black pepper, crushed piri-piri and sugar. Let simmer for a while. Add basil and oregano.
5. When the tomatos are cooked through, puree the soup until semi-smooth or smooth - as you wish.
6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with salmon, feta and some basil. 

This feta-salmon-basil tart made a perfect company for the soup. And a filling, tasteful, vacation-like lunch for me :)

June 1, 2011

Wrap it up with "hummus"

Welcome June! I'm so happy you're here at last! The month of endless light and green. It's now it all happens and it's now people feel and act like they are actually alive :) I've been struggling with studies and work for the last few weeks but it's because of the coming summer that I seem to cope and be able to enjoy. And what's tortilla wraps to do with all this? Pretty much nothing, just that it's a perfect lunch alternative when you don't feel like or don't have the time to cook. Our summer food will be a lot like this: fresh and fast, though homemade. I've been making my own hummus for quite a while now and this one was so good that I must share it with you. It's actually not a real hummus because it's not made with the tahini paste but I still think it's more like hummus than anything else. Try and see. I make and eat loads of it! It's great also as a dip with carrot or cucumber sticks, bread or anything..And the "secret" ingredient? Just guess! Guessing greek yogurt? Bingo!

Homemade "hummus"

You need:
1 can chick-peas
3 TBsp thick greek yogurt
2 TBsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 sundried tomatoes (optional)

+ tortillas, tomatoes, rucola or any green sallad leaves, red onion

Put all the hummus iugredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Spread a nice layer of the hummus on the tortilla, decorate with sallad, tomatoes and red onion. Wrap it up and enjoy. That's all.

May 29, 2011

Rucola, avocado and pea soup

Another soup experiment. I just love green, creamy soups without using the actual cream. Avocado is creamy and silky, rucola is spicy, peas are sweet. Blend these together and you'll get a very special something. 
Rucola, avocado&pea soup

You'll need:

100 g rucola
1 avocado
50 g peas (frozen or fresh)
0,7 l organic vegetable stock
lime/lemon juice
chilli (optional)


1. Prepare the vegetable stock and cook the peas. I cooked the frozen peas in the stock until boiled. Let cool slightly.
2. Peel the avocado and remove the pitch. 
3. Place in a blender together with rucola, peas and stock. Blend until smooth.
4. Season with salt, lime juice and chilli and blend one more time.
5. Ready to serve.

Have a nice time everyone! I'll see you in june :)

Cookies that bring you up

Bad weather, neverending hours at the computer with my essay, tired and restless. So it was before I decided to go for cookies. Cinammon and ginger always bring me up :) And the recipe is a quickie!
I wish I could say that they are "chewy" too, but I'm not gonna lie to you. They are semi-soft, maybe a little chewy just after you take them out of the oven. I've been actually hunting for a recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies, I tried two so far and I was disappointed. I thought that making a good batch of cookies must be a piece of cake! I don't know what went wrong but my last two cookie batches were no good. This one turned out just nice, I promise! The lovely spice mix of cinammon, ginger and cardamom is probably nothing you are longing for when it's summer, but here, where I am it's only 7 degrees and raining..The taste of these cookies reminded me strongly of Christmas :)

Cinammon&ginger cookies for good mood :)

You'll need:

75 g butter 
1/3 cup packed light brown muscovado sugar 
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 tsp ginger
0,5 tsp cardamom
2 tsp cinammon
1,5 cup self raising flour


1. Set the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Melt the butter together with the sugar and the golden syrup on low heat.
3. Let the sugar dissolve in butter, stir in the spices and remove from heat.
4. Cool down. Stir in flour.
5. Roll balls out of the dough and place them on a baking sheet leaving a few centimeters between. Use a fork to flatten the cookie balls.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. And done!

May 24, 2011

Not just an ordinary muffin (cake)

Hello everyone! I thought I'd take a break from baking, but...Our holiday might be cancelled because of the vulcanic activity, which would just be typical. It's just wait and see how that goes this time. While sitting and working (not so) hard on my final exams, I thought, I might easily find some inner peace and bake! The only problem is that I haven't kept ordinary flour for baking purposes at home for a while. I thought it would help me resist my baking temptations. So wrong I was! Amazing how our creativity works when you give it a little push. I remembered that I had some wholegrain spelt flour left from the times when I was living a happy flour- and sugarless life :) I also remebered my mum's favorite cake recipe. I do realize this probably is not a "wow" kind of thing but if you are interested in a healthier way of baking, you must definitely try this recipe! The cake (or muffins) is soft, spongy, absolutely wonderful and the good news is that there's no bad news :)

Wholegrain spelt muffins with lemon yogurt icing

You need:
4 small eggs (or 3 big ones)
6 TBsp granulated sugar (or 3 TBsp granulated+3TBsp light brown muscovado sugar)
1 dl olive oil
2 TBsp cocoa powder
6 TBsp wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder

for the "icing":
greek yogurt + lemon curd + cinnamon = absolutely lovely!!!

1. Beat eggs and sugar. 2. Stir in olive oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon. 3. Stir in flour and baking powder. 4. Bake at 200 degrees for the first 5 minutes then turn down to 180 and bake for 10-15 minutes.
You can make muffins as I did or a cake, it's up to your preference. If you are using a baking mold, grease and flour the mold first. 
As for the icing, I've been using a greek yourt instead of everything lately and can't get enough of it :) You can make your own favorite icing, but I recommend this light, lemony one with the cinnamon spice. I promise you'll love it!

May 15, 2011

Vegetarian bbq

Vegetarian bbq variations are not completely hopeless. When I first started experimenting with barbecuing vegetables, it was not that good, but over the years, I've learned some tricks. My favo at the moment is grilled courgette (zucchini). The good news is that I don't have to use the actual grill everytime I want a smoky courgette on my plate. I frequently use a grill pan for grilling vegetables and tofu. Little effort gives sometimes great results. All you need is the grill pan and some marinade/grill oil. The rest is upon your own taste and imagination.

Grilled courgette&tofu with goat brie cheese

tofu natural
goat brie cheese
olive oil + grill oil or a favorite marinade

Slice the courgette and the tofu. Marinate tofu for a while and grill it in the grill pan for about 2 minutes on each side. Brush the courgette with the marinade (or olive/grill oil) and grill on each side. Place a slice of the goat brie on each courgette a minute before it's done, it will melt slightly. Make "sandwiches" with goat brie in the middle. Serve with sallad or what ever you prefer. 

What is your favorite bbq food?

May 11, 2011

Simply Jamie

Jamie, you know which one I mean :) When I see his enthusiasm for food and cooking, I realize that I sometimes think about how it would feel to be served a meal from Jamie. Fortunately, Jamie's cooking is very "down to earth", both when it comes to ingredients and methods. There are so many recipes by Jamie that I would like to try but after my obsessive dessert period, I'm more or less forced to get obsessed with salads. Sallads may sound boring to some people but the truth is that you never have to make the same sallad twice. Just pick and fuse seasonal vegetables - it works most of the times. I trusted Jamie with this one: radish and fennel are great mates! Fennel is absolutely not my favorite, in fact, I can't stand its strong licorice flavor - in most dishes. In this sallad, fennel behaved so that I didn't dislike it at all. So thank you Jamie, if you are reading this (of course you are :D): I Like, like, like!

Fennel, radish and asparagus salad

green asparagus
sea salt
lemon juice
(cottage cheese)

Jamie was feeling rather embarassed when giving this "recipe", it's ridiculously simple.. The green asparagus and the cottage cheese was my idea to make the salad more filling. Or, make the salad as a side dish to roasted salmon.
Slice the radish and fennel as thin as you can. Chop the asparagus. Dress the vegetables with lemon juice and season with sea salt.