Tag Archives: summer

#28 Chocolate Cake from Black Forest

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It is Midsummer and time for celebration. The summer is at its best, it’s holiday time and midsummer!

I baked this fabulous cake to celebrate my hubby and the summer. The inspiration and the recipe come from my favourite magazine ELLE mat & vin.

I baked the cake bottom one day ahead of the b-day, and filled the cake just before serving it. It turned out fabulous but I need to work on the chocolate ganache for the topping.

Cake batter: 4 dl sugar, 5 dl flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 2 dl cacao, 1 tbsp salt, 3 eggs, 2,5 dl milk, 150 g melted butter, 1 dl espresso coffee

Filling: 3 dl cream and 1 dl cherry jam

Decoration: cherries and blackberries

Chocolate ganache: 200 g dark chocolate, 200 g butter, 1 dl confectioner’s sugar
Turn the oven on to 175 C. Grease two cake tins and dust them with cacao. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and let it cool. Beat the eggs and the milk. Turn in with the dry ingredients together with the butter and coffee.

Pour the batter in the cake tins and bake for about 30 min until done. Let cool and remove from the tins.

Whip the cream and mix in the cherry jam. Spread the mixture on the first cake layer.

Make the ganache. Place the butter and the chopped chocolate in a pan, and melt on medium heat. Add the sugar. Let the ganache cool and top the cake with it. Decorate with berries.

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Dessert, Recipes

#27 Tallin on the Plate and for Business

I will tell you about my trip to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, in this post. As always, eating well was one of the main attractions of the trip.

The beautiful Hanseatic town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is only 85 km from Helsinki. I had an opportunity to spend a long weekend there as I participated in a conference. It was different to visit the town on business as it has always been a leisure destination during the summer holidays and just before Christmas. When living in Helsinki it was ever so easy to take the ferry over, even for a day trip.

The town is growing and developing. Estonia is no longer the somewhat poor and old-fashioned neighboring Soviet state many of us remember from the early 90’s when the boarders opened as the country gained their independence. The city is full of life, growing and flourishing – and the Estonian are quite hip – great fashions and great places to visit.

It was stormy as we set off and the catamaran we’d booked was cancelled. Luckily there are several, three to be precise, shipping companies that traffic the route Helsinki-Tallinn, and we could easily purchase ticket to another ferry. The trip takes 1,5 – 3,5 h depending on the type of ferry you take.

The first lunch we had in town was at The Farm which serves traditional Estonian game-based dishes with French twist. The decor is French country-style. The late Thursday lunch was not too busy and the servants had plenty of time for everyone. The cold starters and desserts are prepared in a kitchen with an open view to the restaurant – the cooks and other personnel are behind a glass so that you can see them. They can naturally also see the customers. The food was delicious, I had smoked breast of duck and my companion wild boar. The duck was served in a steaming colander – and looked quite odd but had a wonderful perfume of smoke. The tastes were very delicate.

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Tallinn was busy that weekend and all of the restaurants we had listed were fully booked. Next time we will make bookings in advance. Our hotel receptionist recommended a close by restaurant, Magus Auk, also with French tones. This proved to be a good recommendation and had a menu degustation (tasting) with a mix of small dishes. Very tasty and new combinations. In the end we thought the four courses were too much.

The conference took place at the Sokos hotel Viru conference center which is very centrally located yet not in the old towns. The facilities were good and again the catering excellent. The coffees and snacks as well as the lunch were delicious and served smoothly and professionally. There was absolutely no queuing. The change from Thursday evening through Friday and the to Saturday transformed the town. There were of course tourists in the old town during the week but the amount doubled if not tripled. Also, the quests changed at the hotel as most business people had rushed home.

One always makes new acquaintances in conferences and I had the pleasure of meeting many Estonian  as well as other European professionals in language education and teacher training. The Estonians recommended several places for dinner or lunch and the last day, before boarding the ferry, we had a late meal at Kohvik Moon, a hipster restaurant in the trendy Kalasadama area. They serve a mix of Estonia and Russian food and flavours and have an interesting if not hilarious decor.

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There was also a lovely small cafe with exquisite cakes, Le Bonaparte on the street called Pikk.

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I can truly recommend Tallinn for gourmands and history interested tourists. It is also an excellent destination for well-being tourism too as they have excellent spas. The prices are very reasonable compared with those of Finland. I tried the services of Elemis Spa at the luxury hotel Telegraph. The spa is located in their new wing and it offers different treatments, saunas and small pools.

Shopping is one of the major attractions, wide selection and good prices. Much handicraft too. There was absolutely no time for the shops for me this time. My husband happily discovered the town on his own and was gladly surprised to bump into a group of old school mates. What a small world!

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Filed under Miscellaneous on travelling, Restaurants, Travel diary

#25 Salmon with Rhubarb and Lentil-Asparagus Risotto 

imageReading Etikettiklubi newsletter (by Alko, the Finnish alcohol monopoly) yesterday I stumbled over this recipe of salmon with rhubarb sauce and simply had to try it. I had my doubts but the combination of tastes is so delicious.

I changed the recipes a bit as I did not have everything required in the original recipe. The recipes are for two.

Sauce: 120 g Rhubarb, 2 dl water, grated zest of a lime, 1 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp Palm sugar and 1 tsp sambal olek.

Chop the rhubarb and cook with the water, sugar and lime for 5 min. Add the sambal olek.

Salmon: 400 g  salmon, salt and pepper.

Cut the salmon into butterflies and place on a rack. Sprinkle on some salt and bake in oven, in 175 C, for 15 min.

Asparagus-Lentil Risotto: 1,5 dl red lentils, salt, 4,5 dl water, 125 g green asparagus, 1/2 cup of chopped chives

Rinse the lentils. Cook for 6 minutes. Add the asparagus chopped into 2 cm long pieces. Cook for 4 minutes. Add the chives and the dish is ready.

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes

Comforting Pasta with Black Chantarelle

A dark November evening, Thursday of a busy week. Pitch dark at half past six. Do not feel like grocery shopping and rummage in the pantry. A half full jar of dried mushroom, from the neighbour. Some spaghetti in the pasta jar, a splash of red wine and some herbs. And Parmesan. Just right for a meal.

This recipe is for two:

1,5 dl dried mushroom, 2 dl water, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 dl red wine, salt and pepper, 2 tbsp chopped parsley and the same amount of rocket and grated Parmesan. 150 g pasta per person.

Soak the mushroom in water in a pan for half an hour or hour. Enjoy a good glass of wine and olives while the mushroom is soaking.

Put the heat on and add the tomato. Put the pasta water on and cook the mushrooms  on low heat while the pasta is cooking. Mix the two together, and add the rest of the ingredients while the pan is still on the stove.

Enjoy! And have a restful evening.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pitting Cherries

My endeavours to cook and bake with cherries continue. I was browsing for ideas at Martha Stuart marthastuart.com and found this wonderful, lifesaving tip for today. Just-on-time not just-in-case solution for me who do not own a cherry pitter!

“In case you do not have a cherry pitter, use a paper clip. Unbend the clip in the center. Insert the tip of one end into the stem end. Twist to loosen pit and pull to remove.”

I found this in the recipe for brown-sugar cherry cakes that I am just about to bake.

How simple and wonderful! Yet something I could never think of. Did you know this trick? 

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Filed under Cooking, Miscellaneous on travelling, cooking and life in general

Fresh as the Summer – Finnish Summer Soup

Light lunches are the best be it summer or fall. This is in case you do not want to snooze off  and take a nap after eating. Oh well,  sometimes you do want to and summer naps are oh so delightful. Believe it or not the summer weather has not allowed a nap outside under the apple trees.

imageThis summery vegetable soup is made with the seasons vegetables – usually tiny potatoes, carrots just a bit bigger than your fingers, peas and cauliflower.

 

For four portions you will need

6 small potatoes, 4 small carrots, 2 dl peas, half a small cauliflower, 0,3 dl water, 0,5 dl milk, salt, white pepper, 2 tbsp butter, chopped chives

Brush the veggies and cut them into small pieces (potato cubes, carrot buttons, chunks of cauliflower).

Boil the water and start with cooking the potatoes. Add the carrot and cauliflower after 5 minutes. Add the milk and the white pepper. Let come to boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped chives and peas. Cook until all the veggies are done. Add the butter and salt if needed.

Enjoy with rye bread.

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Filed under Lunch, Recipes

Summer and Sangria

1,5 dl diced melon, 1 dl blueberries, 1 nectarine and 1 pear, 1 dl Limoncello, 1 dl White wine and 2 dl rhubarb drink

Dice the fruit and put in a jug or a jar. Pour in the liquids. Let stay in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Mix in White wine or mineral water or lemonade according to taste. You might also leave out the alcohol altogether.

Happy Saturday everyone!   
   

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Filed under Drinks, Recipes

La Bella Toscana: the holiday has begun

Greetings from Tuscany! 

The holiday has begun and I’m visiting both familiar and new places in Tuscany. I’m sharing a few snapshots below and there will be stories and recipes to follow…

  

It is always good to take a picture so that you remember where you’ve parked the car.

   

One of the many (9?) towers of San Gimignano.

 

And a view from the tower – towards the southern gate. A lot of stairs but a much nicer climb than in the cupola of il Duomo in Florens.

  
Boboli gardens, a refreshing walk in hot and sunny Florens.

   
 

And the food then … So delicious and so much to choose between. I would like to try everything.

A presto!

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Filed under Miscellaneous on travelling, cooking and life in general, Travel diary

Almondy Rhubarb Crumble

The rhubarb is growing really fast, at least 10 cm a day. It Sunday and soon it’ll be dessert time.

This recipe isfor six portions:

Two stalks of rhubarb, 2 dl cup of sugar, 1/2 vanilla pod, juice of 1/2 lemon and grated zest of one lemon

and

1,5  dl oatmeal, 1,5 dl almond flour, 2 tsp cardamom and 50 butter

Chop the rhubarb and put into a small pan. Squeeze in the lemon juice, scrape the vanilla pod and put the seeds and the halved pod into the pan. Add the sugar. Bring to boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.


Melt the butter and grace six small oven pans. I use the same ones as for creme brûlée, mix together the oatmeal and almond flour. Pour in the melted butter. Mix well,

Put a full table-spoon of the rhubarb into each pan and top with the crumble dough.

Bake in 175 C for 20 minutes. Serve with ice cream or natural yoghurt.

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Farmers’ Mini-Market Raakatori

How delightful to have a farmers’ market called Raakatori  just a stone cast away from your front door! We were delighted to discover this tiny shop on our street. They opened in May  and now we have also discovered that they have had a net shop and other points of sale going for longer. They actually have twelve fetching points across southern Finland.

The shop carries local produce, organic vegetables, herbs, eggs and bread as well as organic tea, coffee, canned food, flour and grains, cosmetics, washing detergents and almost anything you can think of. Should they not have an item, they’ll happily order it for you. The selection of the shop is just a fraction of what is on offer online. All the producers are carefully selected.

Raakatori in Porvoo started as a location and fetching point for the net shop and this spring they started having doors open from Thursday to Saturday. They do of course deliver the goods to your door too and alternatively deliveries are made through the national mail service. There are several food circles who order from them and they help you find one near you in case you do not wish to place individual orders.

They are a family business lead by Joonas Pohjanlehto with a small group of close friends as co-owners. There are three generations living together in the same house where the shop is located and two taking care of the business. The youngest ones are also out and about .

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Maiju Pohjanlehto has the shop open on Thursdays and Fridays at 3 – 7 pm and on Saturdays 9 – 12 am.

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I was delighted to find my favourite tea, Yogi tea, in the shelves. A brand not all shops carry. This was the first time I saw Finnish kale on sale, a favourite since my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella a couple of years back, superfood and one of the trend veggies of the day. My own kale is not doing that well in the kitchen garden and now I know where to get my next bunch for my pizza, salad, caldo Callego or health drink. I’ll definitely have try the coconut water too.

My catch of the day was a bowlfull of lovely zucchini and yellow pear tomatoes that “taste just as delicious as Italian ones” as my husband put it. He is a man who wishes we could buy ripe veggies and fruit in the supermarkets. We often have to have the tomatoes and melons out in room temperature for a week before eating them. Now we know where to shop!
My catch will go to a salad and pizza Bianca.

You’ll find Raakatori at Sibeliuksenbulevardi 19, Porvoo and on the net and on Facebook. You’ll also find them tweeting on Twitter. The pages are in Finnish but  the pictures can certainly help you navigate and browse the selection.

 

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