Dec 31, 2009

happy new year!

i've been checking the pioneer woman's blog a lot lately and at her suggestion i decided to try leannen's little egg & bacon tarts. stopped at the store on my way to the shack from work but forgot, naturally, to buy mushrooms and didn't have that many eggs at the shack, but i went ahead anyway.

did remember to buy some puff pastry, it's sold in perfect amount to yield 12 tarts that i could bake in my muffin tin. this is one of those recipes that you could easily not follow to a tee, i had most of the ingredients but went about in my way. started by crisping 4 slices of bacon, then grated some gruyere and julienned (or something to that effect) one spanish pepper







then halved some cherry tomatoes and diced one ball of mozzarella







leannen's recipe calls for cutting out circles of the puff pastry, i decided that mine would look "rustic" and cut my pastry into squares. as i didn't have too many eggs, i used only four, added 1 dl of cooking cream, mixed all that and divided the mixture equally between the cups







loaded half of the cups with pepper and bacon







topped with the gruyere and black pepper







finished with 1 tsp of cream cheese







the other half got the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and dried basil (fresh basil won't survive home from the shop, it's way too cold for that, -15C)







and the blob of cream cheese







they looked like this after 25 mins in 200 C oven








couldn't decide which one i liked better, ended up eating 2 of each... one of each and a nice green salad would make a great lunch







i've been thinking of making a new year's resolution. but, if i end up making one and tell you guys about it, i might actually have to keep it. on the other hand, and either way, you'd know what i've been cooking and baking, hence being able to know if i've kept my resolution or not. hmm, this matter requires a lot more thinking, will let you know what i decide. or not

oh, i know! i will renew my last year's resolution of not to buy any clothes in finland. it's quite reasonable and i really don't need that many clothes as i don't wear my own at work. also, i will finally take the heap of old clothes i've decided to donate to the salvation army.

it's only 9 pm but some of the neighbours (no that there are many at the shack) are already sending off their fireworks. the poor dog is trembling, shivering and panting with fear. he wouldn't even eat his dinner a bit earlier and that's saying a lot!

have a good one folks!

ps. certain someone has been in the studio recording, he would appreciate if you visited www.myspace/campkein.com (i'll make him pay me for this)

Dec 29, 2009

trout

i have been eating so much... will post pics of our xmas dinner at the shack later. made a quick visit to the cottage over the weekend. here is how mom and dad fish in the wintertime, brr! my fingers were frozen for just taking some pics...







most of the time they get something for all their hard work, like a nice size trout that i prepared for luch today. browned the flesh side first on medium high heat with a tiny amount of butter on the pan (you don't really need it as trout is a fatty fish, but butter makes everything so much better). then lowered the temp and cooked the fish skin side down for another 10 mins. took the fish out, added grated peel of ½ lemon, black pepper (to taste) and 1 generous tbsp of creme fraiche to pan to make some sauce to go with the fish, you might need to thin out the sauce with some water (or lemon juice)







cooked some rice and added 3 tbsp of minced parsley, juice of ½ lemon, 1 tbsp of sesame oil and 1 cup of broccoli







since i was running a bit late, i had to take my lunch to work... the sauce was great, i could have eaten more of it, however, the fish would have been equally tasty with no sauce at all. the rice dish would have been nice on its own, broccoli and sesame oil are so good together. fortunately i have some more for tomorrow



Dec 23, 2009

winter, mac&meat, xmas "tree"





snow, snow... there's finally plenty of it, and more to come. the pic above was taken yesterday morning at the shack. certain someone called this morning to tell that there is 30 cm of snow on this strech of road and that he might not be able to go to work, how sad (he's not!)

looks like there are still some apples hanging on in the tree...







this apple might be past its prime







i made indian style chicken for sunday lunch, but silly me forgot to take pics. i managed to shoot the amount of spices i was using but suddenly i had two pots cooking away needing this and that at the same time and my fingers were kinda sticky and my poor camera has suffered a lot already... is that good enough for an excuse?

the other day at the store i suddenly felt the urge to have mac & meat, that would be meat and macaroni casserole for those of you not in the know. very easy to make, mix 4 cups of cooked pasta with 1 cup of browned mince (i used beef), put into an oven dish, season with chile powder (if you like it) and black pepper (and salt if you like), pour in a mixture of 2 eggs and 2½ cups of milk and top with grated cheese (optional) and bake in 220 C oven for 30 mins. next time i might try and make this with tuna







fresh out of oven, i do like the crunchy top







this is another cranberry vanilla coffeecake in the baking, looking pretty, 9th attemp. cranberries seem to have something against me, let's just say that this wasn't the last attempt... i will win this fight, no matter how long it takes!







our xmas tree at the shack, except that it's actually not a tree but...







something i picked up at the garden section at the store. it looks the part, there won't be needles all over until midsummer, needs no watering and it can be used as a plant support in the garden when summer comes. i'm so proud of myself!






did some knitting despite the wrist. won't show you more 'cause this might end up wrapped and under the xmas tree with someone's name on it



Dec 17, 2009

it was a sad day

this was my ever-so-favourite coffee mug...







it fell, it broke, i'm sad, i can't part with the broken pieces. i got it from the gift shop on top of the empire state building when i was in nyc with my older niece in -07, snif. i so need to go and get a new one. how do i now drink my coffee? from this?







hmm, maybe from this one?







or this, eventhough it's starting to get little faded with age







or maybe this one?






or the 2 other ones at the cottage with yellow taxicabs on them? it's not that the other cups won't do, the pink one was perfect. i will miss it

Dec 15, 2009

how shall i put it?

let's call this a fish week, shall we? what can i do, i still had some fish left from my trip to cottage... namely cold smoked salmon. i do enjoy it as it is, dipped in soya sauce, but i felt that a proper dish was in order.

i did something that i'm dead set against and bought not one but two 500 gr bags of frozen potato-onion mix. yes, these frozen mixes are quite handy and quick if you have to feed a herd in a hurry, but that so doesn't apply to me. i'll call it "checking" the enemy, see what i'm up against. let me tell you, it's very hard to go back to chopping your veggies... i will keep on doing it, right after my wrist is better...

this dish was super easy and i guess you could substitute the salmon with almost any other fish or meat, or leave it out and mix curry paste to the cream that goes in later on. i started by pouring down the first 500 gr of frozen potato-onion mix onto oven dish. if you want to be a good girl, you might spread butter or oil on the dish, i wasn't ('cause i forgot) but it didn't matter in the end







i had approx 300 gr of cold smoked salmon that i sliced thinly and spread out evenly on the first layer of potatoes







plenty of crushed black pepper on the salmon, no salt as there is some in the fish







i spread the other 500 gr of potato on the fish, poured in 4 dl 5% cooking cream, put it in 200 C oven for an hour, here's what came out







had to do some quality control, this will make nice lunch tomorrow








i was already rather #!?#"&%! about the cranberry vanilla coffeecake that i baked at the cottage last week, it still wasn't quite right. also, as it was very cold (-14 C) i took the opportunity to defrost the freezer as i could take whatever was in it out to the balcony. the cranberries, and let me tell you there are plenty of them, were laughing at me as i was going thru the stuff i have in the freezer. i had to bake another cranberry vanilla coffeecake, i so needed to get it right. just once, then i can just not never make it again...

i ran across the street to get butter and eggs, thawed some cranberries, made the topping and started to fix the cake pan... (you remember, the cranberries are out to get me) i have not a one single cake pan at my apartment! how bad is that?! i had been very good up until that point, had everyhting mis-en-place ready and i was not certainly going to let the cranberries have this round! fortunately i found 2 jumbo size muffin tins and i figured that those had to work, as this was an emergency.

tried to eyeball the batter so that there would be enough on the bottom and some left for top as well. almost got it, one got a lot of topping instead of any cake batter on top. spread the batter slightly up on edges so the berry juices wouldn't run







divided the cranberry-sugar mixture evenly and topped that with some more cake batter







this time i had the sense to wet my fingers so i was able to spread the batter on the berries without making a mess







topping crumbs (i'm seriously thinking of omitting this topping, however, it's better you don't know how bad it is...)







after all the cranberry vanilla coffeecake disasters, i was very happy to take these out of the oven. i had to adjust the temperature and time a bit, baked them at slightly lower temp and shorter time than the recipe calls for







i got 11 beautiful mini cakes, this poor thing broke in half (i wish you could have been there to taste it warm, aah)







now i have a problem, what to do with these beautiful cakes... might have to take them to work to be disposed of







oh, today i called the hospital where i was supposed to have the surgery on my wrist, they didn't have my name on the list, great. they did tell me that i might be on the list in another hospital, so i called there... where they told me that yes, i'm sort of on their list and have been for 3 weeks but that unfortunately no doctor has read my file and that has to be done before i get to their actual list. complicated? i thought so. the nurse tried to patch up and say maybe someone will read my file this week and then they can send their whatever papers to me. my patience is being tried and i ain't enjoying it.

ps. i still need to make another cake, in a proper cake pan...

Dec 14, 2009

not done with fish yet...

i have another soup (what a surprise!) for you, this time with fish. the nets were doing their thing at the cottage and dad pulled out a big burbot along with the pikes. you know burbot, the ugly fish, that hasn't got scales but skin? the ugly bugger was frozen at the cottage.

basic fish soup ingredients: fennel, shallots, potatoes (i used 4 for this soup), dill and some leek that didn't make it to this picture







i started by adding water to barely cover the pieces, in went whole peppercorns and little salt, this was simmered for 10 mins after which i got the fish out and strained the stock







fennel, leek and shallots finely chopped. i gave them a minute alone to wilt on the kettle before adding the potatoes and pouring in the strained stock







veggies were left simmering for 15 mins, meanwhile i deboned the fish and returned the pieces back to kettle for the last 5 mins







after the potatoes were done, i turned the stove off, added 1 dl of cooking cream, some dill and left the kettle on the hot stove for 5 more mins, very nice with rye bread







somehow, while i was away, the mailman had brought a package to me. after i discovered the pioneer woman and knew of her cookbook, i knew i had to have it







i had thought of making every single recipe of a cookbook even before i saw julia/julie, but had not managed to decide which one (they're all so thick...) perhaps it was amount of cooking and inevitably making something that would be tossed because (confession time) i do have my culinary inadequancies (liver comes to mind first, followed very quickly by kidneys). anyways, i was showing this book of cakes to certain someone and half jokingly saying that i would bake every cake on this book in 2010. he looks at me and asks "are trying to make me fat? do you realize you'd be baking a cake almost every fourth day? who's going to eat them all?" i answered i was going to sell them cheap to the neighbours, but he does have a point, that's a lot of cakes...







this one seemed like it has very simple asian recipes, maybe i'll cook all in this book...







i've made jim lahey's no-knead bread a few times, i first heard about it on the martha show. the no-knead bread really is easy to make and requires very little hands on work on the dough, however, you need to plan ahead as the first rise takes up to 24 hrs. i got his book to try the variations of no-knead, and i think i really should start baking more bread if i'm ever going become any good at it







hope you all are keeping warm, my thermometer's showing -14 C right now, brr!