Biscotti my new love


I made those tasty biscottis on Monday and now they’re all gone. They were so nice and easy to put together. Longest part was the baking re-baking and re-re-baking, but really, it wasn’t hard. I got the recipe from Joy of Baking and adapted it only very little by using two types of nuts instead of only almonds. I did add hazelnuts too and didn’t use almond extract, but hazelnut liquor. I so loved them, especially when dipped into cold milk.

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Estonian style cheesecake

I haven’t really felt much like making sweet things lately, that fact is I haven’t fancied to eat them too much either. I think it is the little boy to be ‘blamed’ for. He seems to need more cheese and bread and tomato sauce to grow. However, I feel that my interest in sweet things is back on the rise and I am quite glad for that.
One day I wanted to make a rhubarb cake, a traditional short crust base, rhubarb and sponge topping. But it went so that rhubarb didn’t make it and was overtaken by some apple and raspberries. Which I must say was a surprisingly delicious replacement. What I got from baking that cake was a lovely sweet shortcrust pastry recipe that I need to keep for the future references. I also decided to use the same base for the curd cake or hereby Estonian-style cheesecake. Not really too sweet yet, but hey, I am only trying to do a come-back.

Estonian-style cheesecake with a GOOD sweet Shortcrust
Pastry:
100g butter
150g flour
50g golden caster sugar
1/2 of an egg
(1/2 tsp vanilla)

Filling:
3 medium eggs
100g golden caster sugar
750g quark (low fat curd cheese)
100g soured cream (also low fat)
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla

First make the pastry – measure the sugar and flour into the food processor and add cubed butter. (Oh and heat the oven to 190 degrees.) Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla. Pulse a bit more and the pastry should come together. Press the pastry on the base of a buttered tin (22cm loose base one is the best) and slightly up the sides too. Pop into the freezer for 5 min. Brick the pastry and bake for about 10 min.

Now make the filling – whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, add the quark and soured cream, mix in and sieve over the cornflour. Add the vanilla and mix smooth.

When the pastry is pre-baked lower the oven temperature to 150 degree. Boil a kettle and fill an oven proof dish with the water. Pour the filling into the pastry case. Bake for an hour, check if it still wobbles a lot in the middle bake a bit more. When it wobbles a bit, turn the oven off and leave the cake in. This should make the cracks (if they did appear) to disappear.

I forgot my cake in the oven for hours after that, but I figure it would be better to get it out in 30-60min.

I must say it is not a very sweet cake, but an addition of slightly sweetened whipped cream and some berries would round it up as a very satisfying dessert. Also a drizzle of butterscotch sauce goes so well with it.

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Seljanka soup for non meat eaters

I grew up in Estonia at the time when the smooth purée soups weren’t a commonplace in the cafes and eateries, probably I didn’t make it to the restaurants too often, but all there seemed to be if you wanted some soup was meat Seljanka. I even remember writing a recipe in my notebook in the cooking theory class, we only had few of them each year upto year nine, so it was one of these very few things we were thought to cook at school. Sadly, I can’t remember the cooking part of it, but teacher stressed several times that Seljanka is a Russian soup that must have 7 different meats in there. Probably this was the reason I hadn’t tried to make it myself for all this time, since I haven’t touched meat over 4 years. Also, I had a very wrong idea of it being extremely complicated to make – how wrong was I. Just after a small research I found easy-looking recipe for a fish Seljanka, in fact a lot of them, even purely vegetable and mushroom based soups. In the end I combined my recipe together of a number of different ones. And I promise to start making it every time I grave for it.

Fish Seljanka
2 tbsp of oil
10 cm of a leek
2 carrots
3 tbsp of tomato puree
1l of fish stock
1 bay leaf
5 pepper corns
1 potatoe
8 mini gherkins
10 black olives
1 tbsp of capers
400g of cod
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
soured cream or cream fraiche to serve
dill

Sauté the chpped leek and carrot in the oil for a few minutes, add the tomato pure, cook out for another few minute. Add the stock, bay leaf and pepper corns, boil until the carrot is starting to soften, add the chopped potatoe, gherkins, sliced olives and capers. Once the potatoe is right to the bite adjust the seasoning and add the fish chunks. Now it takes only a few minutes for the fish to cook, when cooked squueze in the lemon juice and give it a gentle stir not to break the fish up too much.
Serve with a spoonful of soured cream and a sprinkling of dill, black bread on the side. Never stir the soured cream in the whole pot of soup, it will look truely unappetizing, although some recipes suggest so. It should be everyones own choice stir it, neat eat it or keep it.

Enjoy!

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Savoury salmon and greens spelt pastry flan

Although this blog was established as a triumph to my love to desserts, it is time I marked down some savoury experiments as well. Lately I’ve been struggling to find recipes that I could prepare and therefore a lot of making up has taken place, however, I still do my research when it comes to pastry or ideas of how to use particular ingredients. It is so liberating to gather the ideas and then just bake without having to submit a full list of references or having to check correct citing…

Salmon and greens spelt pastry flan
Pastry:
150g spelt flour
75g butter
pinch of salt
3 tbsp cold water

Filling:
a leek
2 handfuls of kale
1 handful of spinach
1 tsp olive oil
75g smoked salmon
75g cheddar cheese
1 tsp corn flour
4 eggs
300ml milk
mixed peppercorns

For the pastry, measure the flour and add to the food processor, chop the cold butter into cubes and pulse the processor as long as the mixture resebles bread crumbs, it shouldn’t take long. Add 3 tbsp of cold water and pulse a bit more. Turn the pastry on the laid down cling film and through the film press the pastry into one block. Let it rest in the fridge until you make the filling (min.15 minutes)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Wash and chop the leeks and kale. Warm the oil on the pan and on a very low heat cook the kale and leeks, do not let brown, when softened add the spinach, let it quickly wilt and season with salt. Transfer the mixture on the plate and let it cool. Grate the cheese.

Meanwhile, take the pastry out from the fridge and open up the cling film, smoothing it flat underneath the pastry, lay another sheet of cling film on top of the pastry leaving enough surplus to roll the pastry out between to cling film sheets. This method of rolling saves you from pastry sticking on the rolling pin or the work surface and adding too much extra flour, it also helps when turning the pastry on the tin. Prick the pastry with a fork and bake it for 10 min.

Mix a teaspoon of corn flour to the greens and add salmon. Whisk the eggs and milk, season with salt and ground mixed peppercorns. Mix the cheese into greens.

Lower the oven to 160 degrees. Take the flan case out and trim the overhanging pastry edges to a smooth finish. Spoon the filling into the flan case and pour the egg-milk in. Press the sticking out bits of filling back into the egg-milk. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 15 min.

Eat!

We had it for lunch, will have some for dinner too, because it was rather tasty.

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Blackberry Cheesecake low in carbs

This low carb idea is not my own, so far I have tried it to delight my Atkins following friends, who were very unhappy without the dessert. I promised to think something and the Panna Cotta, Lemon Tart and Chocolate Mousse have been really quite good. Now I am baking a cheesecake, combined together from a lot of different recipes.

Blackberry Cheesecake (low carb)

Base:
150g almond meal
35g melted butter
1 Tbsp Splenda

Filling:
600g soft cheese (min 12% fat)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp whipping cream
75g blackberries
3 + 1 Tbsp Splenda

Bring the cheese and eggs to the room temperature!
Prepare the base (read from the Lime tart post!). Line a cake tin (I wrapped tin foil to the inside with edges over the tin sides and teared out a circle of grease proof to put in the base of the tin (apr. 20-22cm diameter.

Put the cheese, vanilla, cream and sweetener into a large bowl, whisk until smooth, add eggs one by one.
Blend the blackberries and sweetener until smooth.

Heat the oven to 160degrees and bake the almond base for about 8min. Put a pan with boiling water into the oven. Pour the filling on the base and gently drop 6 spoonfuls of blackberry mixture on the filling, they will sink, but take a spoon, handle down and swirl some marble pattern by (writing “S”-s) into the filling.

Send it to the oven, it is ready when the centre is still a bit wobbly, but the rest of the cake is firm. Mine is still in the oven (45min now), I should really take it out and let it cool+chill, but as it has to take a tram trip in 3 hours, I rather bake it slightly longer.

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Going low carb – Lime tart

I have been experimenting with a Lemon Tart recipe, that after 4 trials ended up as a Lime Tart instead. And the best is, it is low carb and very high taste.

Lime Tart
Base:
125g ground almonds
30g butter
1 Tbsp Splenda

Filling:
Rind and juice of 3 big limes
125ml double or whipping cream
2,5 Tbsp Splenda
3 eggs

Start with choosing a small baking tin, something round and less than 20cm diameter. Now, measure the butter and melt it in the sauce pan, you can add the almond meal to the same pan when you have removed it from the heat. Add the sweetener and mix it well.
Press the almond crumbs firmly to the base of a lined! baking tin, not leaving too much base crumbs to the corners, you should be able to press the crumbs few centimeters to the sides as well. Put it in the fridge, so that the base could firm.

For the filling grate the rind and squeeze the juice of the limes, add the eggs, sweetener and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Pour in the cream, but don’t whisk it too energetically, otherwise the tart will have a lot of bubbles on the surface.

Heat the oven to 170degrees and boil a pan of water to place it in the oven, it should prevent the tart splitting from the top.

When the base is firm, pour the filling into the tin by letting the filling run down on the spoon, so that the base wouldn’t get floating (trust me,you don’t want that!).

The tart is ready when it is mostly not wobbling any more, just slightly in the centre. Leave it cool on the worktop for about an hour or so and then send it to chill out in the fridge:)

Nice eaten with some mascarpone or ricotta and some blackberry coulis.

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Befriending Napoleon

I have heard stories of my great gran’s mind blowing Napoleon cake. Sadly I wasn’t given an opportunity to taste it, just the wrong timing. Her cake had had a delicious glossy filling between the flaky pastry layers and never any fruit in there. She obviously had made the pastry herself, having to start a day before with rolling and cooling and rolling again. In old age despite the demands for her Napoleon, she never made it any more saying something like “can’t do with all this rolling”. When I asked my mother, why she didn’t offer help, she couldn’t answer. And therefore I have to start from the very beginning of exploring the way to the perfect Napoleon.

I have no excuse apart from my inner feeling that strongly prohibits from making a puff pastry myself. Quite likely I would waste a lot of time, make a big mess and end up with some sticky no flake no puff dough. So I did buy the pastry.

For the creamy filling, I invested much more time in, investigation time mainly. Most of the Napoleon recipes I came across were made with a quite regular custard like filling including whole eggs, a lot of milk and flour, plus sugar and should not me boiled. I opened my French cookbook as I remembered seeing something like the glossy filling my mother was describing – Creme Patisserie or the pastry cream.

Napoleon
1 pack of puff pastry

Creme Patisserie:
6 egg yolks
125g sugar
560ml milk
30g corn flour
10g flour
1tsp vanilla extract with seeds
15g butter


Heat the oven to 200 degrees. If the pastry is pre-rolld divide into 4 rectangles and roll a bit more but only in one direction. The rectangles might look a bit uneven after rolling, trim them with a knife and put the strips on the side. Bake each sheet until slightly golden and puffed. Collect the strips and roll into a sheet, however big then, cook the scrap sheet a bit more crisp-brown and cool.

For the pastry cream, heat the milk and 1/2 of sugar until it starts to boil, but then remove it immediately. On the same time cream the egg yolks and the other 1/2 of sugar until pale and creamy. Sift the flours on the egg yolk-sugar mixture. Pour the hot milk a little at the time to the egg mixture, whisk until well-combined. Then pour it to a clean saucepan and heat to boil and boil for 2min. while stirring. Remove from the hob and add the butter, stir. Transfer Creme Patisserie to a bowl and cover with cling-film to prevent the skin forming on top.

I decided to add to my Napoleon some home-made plum & Cointreau jam which I blended smooth.

Assemble: Pastry layer in the bottom, cream layer, pastry (which I had to slightly press down as it was too puff up), jam, pastry, cream, pastry, cream and on the top crumble the scrap sheet that should flake easily as it is browner and more fragile. And then, leave it to the fridge for a good while, mine will probably get 9h if I manage to resist.

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