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.

May 7, 2011

Passion (for) fruit

Passion fruit, also known as Granadilla or Maracujá, depending on country of its origin, gives such a wonderful touch to desserts and drinks! As many of the exotic fruit kinds, passion fruit at the Swedish food stores is always available, unfortunately, quality of the fruit that has crossed oceans before it got here, varies. I was lucky and got some really wonderful passion fruits - in size of a small lemon, full of juice and flavor. 
Now that my "dessert period" is at its end (I make and believe this statement regularly - every Monday :)) I want to share a recipe on passion fruit pie. Once again, I found it amusing to experiment and didn't follow any recipe which means that there are things that you can make better in case you'll find it interesting enough to test and try. It is a no-bake dessert, well, if we don't consider the digestive crust visiting oven for 10 minutes. 

Passion fruit pie

You need:
for the crust:
digestives (I used approx. 2 digestives per portion, made 5 portions)
butter, melted (40-50 g for about 10 digestives)
1 tsp ginger (optional)

for the filling:
1 can coconut milk (400 ml) or a coconut cream (I reduced the watery part of the coconut milk to a half which turned out as a smart move)
4 gelatine sheets (I used Dr. Oetker gelatine sheets that recommend using 3 sheets per 2 dl fluid)
3 Tbsp sugar
3 small or 2 big passion fruits 

heavy cream (36% fat) to serve with and 1 passion fruit for decorating

1. Crush the digestives - the best way to do this is to use a food processor. Mix the crushed digestives with melted butter (and ginger). Press the mixture into the pie pan or individual pie molds. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Cool down completely.
2. Place the gelatine sheets in a bowl with cold water for 5 - 10 minutes.
3. For the filling, put the coconut milk (reduce the water first) in a pan. Add sugar and the spoon out the passion fruits. Heat up until it almost boils. Remove from the heat. Squeeze out water from the gelatine sheets and dissolve them one by one in the warm mixture. Let cool  for a while and pour on the prepared crust. Place in the fridge over night or for at least 4 hours. 
4. Serve with a table spoon of cream and some more passion fruit.

To make it better: Sieve the coconut-passion fruit mixture before using it to get a rid of the fruit seeds. You can add some lime zest to the mixture as well. I added lime juice but it made the mixture a little too watery.

May 2, 2011

Rhubarb&raspberry mini cakes

A lovely rhubarb pound cake recipe that I've adapted from a gifted Swedish food blogger Linnéa Seidel. In her recipe on rhubarb squares, she chose to marry rhubarb with strawberries. And I agree with Linnéa who says that rhubarb can just as well shake it up with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or the very special cloudberries.
What I like about this recipe is the mix of spices used to marinade the fruit. Imagine cardamom, ginger and cinnamon together with honey. Sounds like Christmas but it works perfectly well with the sour rhubarb. Try and see! As usual, I cut down on sugar a bit in my recipe and as it turns out, I could have gone for even less sugar in the cake.

Rhubarb&raspberry mini cakes

Ingredients: (6 mini cakes)
1- 2 stalks rhubarb
150 g raspberries /fresh or frozen/
3 Tbsp honey /or golden syrup/
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon

100 g butter
2 dl granulated sugar
0,5 dl golden syrup
2 eggs
3 dl flour
1 tsp vanilla sugar
0,5 tsp salt

Preparation: Marinade the fruit first. Cut the rhubarb into 3 cm pieces and put it in a bowl together with raspeberries. Combine with honey (or golden syrup) and spices.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and flour a standard pie mold or 6 individual mini molds.
1. Let the eggs rest at a room temperature for about 30 minutes before you start.
2. Melt the butter in a pan, add sugar and the golden syrup. Let the sugar dissolve a little. Let cool to a room temperature before you beat in eggs.
3. Beat in the eggs, one by one.
4. Mix the flour with salt and vanilla sugar and combine it in the butter-egg mixture. You'll get a smooth and rather thick mixture.
5. Fill the mini molds to a half and divide the fruit mixture on the top of each. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the cakes are golden on the sides.

April 15, 2011

Let's spring :)

This picture is not taken in December in Slovakia, this is April in Umeå! :) Despite the snow in the background we are having a really nice spring weather. After 6 years of living in Sweden I admit, I have become Swedish in my way of appreciating nature, day light, sun. It is only possible during a few moths of the year so if you hesitate and wait for too long, you might miss it!
My friend Sara agreed to join me for a picknick today. We took a bike ride along the river and found a perfect spot to relax and eat our lunch at.
The sun joined us for a while. Not until the coffee got really cold really fast we realized how cold and windy it had become. Never mind! The day outside was totally worth it. Even though I came home completely exhausted from cycling against the wind up the hill, I wanna do it again really soon. Sunday's weather forecast looks pretty promising....:)

Enjoy your spring (and stay outside until winter)!

April 9, 2011

Express feel good dessert

Fresh figs! Very exotic. Very challenging. And a perfect picture object. I don't think that these figs would win a beauty or taste contest worldwide, but they definitely won today in my kitchen :) My philosophy of a perfect one-minute dessert comes right here:

You'll need: Mediterranean style yoghurt / Turkish, Greek etc., fresh figs, maple syrup. Done!

April 6, 2011

Go green!

I've got to thank avocados that gone bad for today's lunch..Have you tried a green pea soup before? Think about it..:)
It's easy and so versatile! All you need is green peas and some imagination. Mix in a blender and enjoy..:) My suggestion for a green pea soup pleases all your senses:

 Green pea soup with shrimp

Ingredients: (makes as many servings as desired)
frozen or fresh green peas
soft cheese
salt, sugar
chilli (optional)
lemon juice
dried tarragon (or other kinds of herbs)

1. Cook the peas in the water with a little bit of salt and sugar. No need to overcook, remove from the heat when it starts boiling.
2. In a blender, mix the peas with some of the water they cooked in together with the soft cheese and chilli until smooth.
3. Season with salt and add some lemon juice.
4. Serve with shrimp and more lemon juice.

Have a green day!! :)

A Thank you cake

Hate saying goodbye so I choose to say thank you instead :) Today I had my last lecture with a very small but very nice group of 4 students. We had so much fun together, at least I hope they also had fun and that they learned. 
Last week I tried a lovely sour cream pound cake recipe. Even though I searched for a new inspiration this week, I turned to the one I already tried in the end. To make it new, I went for blueberries and lemon this time. My lovely mum picked some most wonderful blueberries last summer for me. Just look at the size of those! No wonder I'm always having a hard time deciding how to use them. I usually take a spoonful or two with a bowl of yoghurt or oatmeal in the morning but that's about it. I tend not to "waste" them to baking but today they were totally worth the "waste"! Who wouldn't like a moist, lemony cake with the precious blueberries? I think I can tell that the cake was appreciated! :)

Blueberry&lemon sour cream pound cake

100 g butter softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 dl sour cream
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 1 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) + 1 tablespoon plain flour

1. Store the eggs, sour cream and butter at the room temperature for about 30 minutes before you start.
2. Set oven to 175 degrees. Grease and flour a high rectangular cake mold.
3. You can soften the butter a little by using a microwave oven.
4. Beat the butter and add sugar, beat again until fluffy and smooth.
5. Beat in eggs, one by one. Mix in the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
6. Mix in the mixture of flour, baking soda and baking powder alternately with the sour cream.
7. Put the frozen or fresh blueberries in a bowl together with the tablespoon of flour. Toss the bowl so that the blueberries are evenly floured. This procedure is to prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
8. Gently mix the blueberries into the dough. Transfer into the cake mold and bake for about 45-50 minutes.

I wish I had baked the cake a little bit longer, but I was in a hurry and when the cake was just done, it had to get out from the oven..Next time it'll be just perfect! :)

April 1, 2011

Muffins with toffee topping for sweet addicts

I know exactly how these muffins with toffee topping happened to me. Some time ago I discovered a wondeful thing at our local food store. Toffee muffins. They were so extraordinary delicious that I've been thinking ever since how to make them at home. Especially after they vanished from the market completely.
The result is not an exact copy of those from the food store, but they are very dreamy :))
And now I can officially call myself a sweet addict-again. I'll be enjoying this status for a few more days before cutting down on sugar.
The recipe is a combination of two. I decided to make the muffins of a sour cream pound cake dough which turned out really great. As for the toffee sauce, I found the most wonderful Nigella-recipe.

Sour cream pound cake muffins with Nigellas sticky toffee topping

Inspiration: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/sticky-toffee-muffins-1916
90 g butter
(almost) 1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 dl sour cream
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of vanilla bean extract or 1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Toffee sauce:
60 g butter
75 g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125 ml double cream

1. Let the sour cream, eggs, and butter at a room temperature for about 30 minutes.
2. Set oven to 180 degrees.
3. Beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy for about 10 minutes.
4. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla/vanilla sugar.
5. Beat in eggs into the butter-sugar mixture, one at a time.
6. Alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream until well combined.
7. Fill the muffin cups with the mixture to 2/3 and bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely. 
8. Meanwhile, put the butter, muscovado sugar, golden syrup and cream in a pan over a low heat. 
9. Stir to combine, then increase the heat and simmer for 10 mins until thickened.
10. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. 
For serving, drizzle the muffins with the toffee sauce or groop a hole in each muffin to fill it with the toffee sauce..

March 27, 2011

Lovely individual lime pies

We had a family gathering today. Preparing dinner for 6 people went just fine once I made my mind up about what to make. When the table was set, I had totally forgotten to photograph but I think I made a nice meal and everyone seemed to like it. We had roasted chicken breasts, fresh fettuccine with salvia and lemon-lime dressing, sallad, fried sugar peas and cold avocado-lime-sour cream sauce. Yummie :)
For dessert I made these tiny lime pies. I just love individual desserts when I can slip cutting and measuring so that each portion looks the same..You have certainly heard of a Key Lime Pie dessert. One of my absolute favorites! I have made it before but this was the first time I sieved the filling to get a rid of the lime zest. I couldn't make a better decision! The filling came out so smooth in both texture and flavor. Highly recommended!

Individual lime pies

Ingredients: (makes about 16 small sized pies)
about 180 g Digestives
100 g butter
1 tea spoon dried ginger
small aluminium cups
1 can sweetened condensed milk
juice and zest of 3 limes
3 egg yolks
(whipping cream and lime+zest for decorating)

1. Set the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Mix the crushed Digestives and the ginger spice with the melted butter. Line the aluminium cups with the mixture, just like when making a pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Mix the sweetened condesed milk with the juice and zest of 3 limes. Add the egg yolks and mix until it comes together.
4. Let the mixture drag the lime flavor for about 30 to 60 minutes. Seive and toss the lime zest.
5. Fill the prebaked crusts with the lime filling and baked for about 15 to 20 minutes. The baking time depends on the size of the pies.
6. Let cool completely, preferably in the fridge.
7. Before serving, remove the aluminium cups carefully. Serve with a whipping cream flavored with lime zest.