May 1, 2010

Happy May Day!

hope you're not too hung-over...i'm not, didn't even have a beer last night.

what i have been doing is procrastinating, big time. one of these days (or more probably, nights) i will upload manchester pictures to share them with you. there is some food, as well...for now, though, i'll leave you with these

Apr 27, 2010

hepatica & zucchini pancakes

i had always thought that hepatica nobilis (sinivuokko) and anemone nemorosa (valkovuokko) are kinda same plant with different color flowers. i have, once again, educated myself a bit more and found out that it's not the case. to make this simple (for me, that is) they do belong to the same family ranunculaceae but are different genus. (pay attention to this, there will be a test, not!)

anyways, there are plenty of hepatica at the shack and they always look like this

one evening i noticed one of the neighbours kneeling under a fir tree...did i think it was strange? no, as i knew they deal with elves anyway (they do! at least they used to. they have/had a small business making clay elves. i tried to find them on-line, no luck)

the next day i happened to walk by that particular fir tree and noticed these! completely different color...honestly, i didn't use any fancy editing options on the photo. there are plenty of the blue variety around, only this bunch chose to be purple

on sunday evening i found myself on wednesday chef's blog and saw the zucchini pancakes she had made. had to try them yesterday.

now, the recipe on her blog certainly gives nice pancakes, but when have i followed a recipe like it is don't be shocked that i didn't do it this time either. i did use zucchini that i dealt with my mandolin (no broken fingernails nor sliced fingertips this time)

i did drain the zucchini and squeezed out a lot of moisture

and have a very dirty kitchen towel to prove it! i did add half a bulb of fennel and white parts of a leek (that happened to be in the fridge, left-over from the soup). i mandolined the fennel and minced the leek with a knife

crumbled one 200 gr package of feta

i did kinda followed the recipe with rest of the ingredients, except for salt as the feta is so salty. but frying the pancakes on a pan...nope, oven is so much easier. i smeared an oven pan with olive oil, divided the batter into 12 lumps and placed them on the oven pan, patted them down a bit and baked in 200C oven (with fan on) for 30 mins, flipping the pancakes after 15 mins

feel free to compare the pictures of wednesday chef's pancakes to mine...i confess, hers look a lot fluffier, but mine did taste great

i made these last night and now that i've had them cold for lunch...they might actually be a tad bit better time i will have to try the yogurt sauce as well

yesterday was a big day for certain someone, he finally got his new toy. not the one he originally bought, but one of the same kind...more pictures after it is waxed and polished

Apr 26, 2010

back to soups...

i have decided many times that i really need to start making more use of what there is in the freezer... yesterday i fished out some, yep, fish, namely burbot (you all know the ugly bugger by now, right?). i had brought some from cottage few weeks back and thought it was time to make a soup out of it.

raw fish rarely makes a nice picture, but here is one anyway

bought a bulb of fennel out of a whim, thinking that if they use fennel in bouillabaisse it goes with fish. amazing logic, don't you think... anyways, ended up using only half of the bulb, along with the very green parts of a leek and 3 big potatoes, and cream (the good stuff)

started by poaching the fish until opaque but not cooked thru in 5 dl of water with some peppercorns in it, for approx 5 mins. then took the fish out, strained the cooking liquid (which we from now will call fish stock), cleaned the pot and...

...sauteed the leeks in butter for a few minutes before...

...adding chopped fennel and potatoes, the fish stock...

...and 1 tsp of maldon salt. yes, i do use salt, with fish. well, some fish...

after the veggies had cooked approx 15 mins, i added the burbot which i had de-boned while veggies were cooking, cooked further for 5 mins...

...before adding 1 dl of cream and 1 tbsp of minced dill from the freezer

piping hot on a plate

sometimes i wonder if should be in contact with sharp objects at all...or maybe i'm used to dull knifes and when i get my hands on a really sharp one (like my new one), this happens...i don't even know how this happens, can you imagine how hard it would be to cut a thin slice of your fingernail...

Apr 25, 2010

few pastas, cake & mystery plant

so far i've managed to go thru the pics from manchester (close to 500...) but not sort and edit them for posting. they will appear, one day.

on thursday, after getting home from taking my bro to pick up their car from the airport and getting rid of the cast, i was very hungry and decided to try to duplicate a lemon-cream chicken pasta that i had on the ferry from stockholm to helsinki. the shop across the street at my apt didn't have the kind of chicken i was hoping for so the dish ended up being very different. i also got fresh pasta (which i never do) to go along with the sauce. obviously, you need a lemon...

the shop did have parmesan cheese, though, good cheese always helps...

in an ideal case i would have browned chicken filees, then removed them from pan and made the sauce in the pan. this time i lightly browned the chicken strips, added the cream and the juice of one lemon and let cook for 10 mins. i would have used some of the peel as well but couldn't locate my grater... at the end i added 2 tsp of sugar to balance the tartness of lemon (honey would have done the trick as well). meanwhile, i had cooked the pasta which i added with the parmesan to the pan and mixed well.

served it to myself with some arugula. it was even better reheated (as usual, i made way too much just of it) later at the shack

this would be the start of another pasta dish. i had just arrived at the shack and we were both quite hungry. there was something i call survival food (easy to make, keeps for ever, but isn't something to be eaten on a regulatr basis) in the pantry, namely a pasta parmesan in one of those bags that you just need to add water and cook for a few minutes. there was some ham in the fridge so i chopped it fine and added to the pasta mix. the knife is my souvenir from manchester to myself...

the dish wasn't that appealing but removed the hunger, for a while

yesterday we had been invited to one of the neighbour's for dinner, so for lunch i made something easy and ligther as i knew dinner would be lamb. i started with one whole wheat baguette cut in half, one side got mayo, the other red pesto

then some lettuce, mozzarella and serrano ham

then some fresh basil, sliced tomato and ground black pepper

close the lid and bite on...

i wanted to bring something for dinner and saw that as an opportunity to tackle my arch-enemy, cranberry vanilla coffeecake, i made one and a half batch. this particular cake has caused me more grief than any other cake and i've decided that i will bake it as many times as it takes to perfect the recipe (luckily there is plenty of cranberries in the freezer, still...). i have also figured out that the "finely chopped" cranberries need to be drained a bit to get rid off of some of the juices...

also, spreading the dough is rather particular. you miss a spot around the edge and all juices run to the bottom of pan... not good

adding the crumble

baked beautifully...

well, one of the two cakes was perfect and i wish i would have taken pics at neighbour's of it. the cake that remained with us wasn't perfect...see the top layer is much thicker than the really should be the other way around. not that it affects the taste in any way, it would just look so much nicer!

yesterday, after coming back from walking the dog, we noticed something weird looking pushing up from the ground...

on closer inspection it was the rhubarb. never have i seen it being this strange color (or maybe i haven't paid attention to it...)

this is how the wrist looks now. the scar isn't that bad and will definitely be smaller and not as noticeable as the one on the other side of my wrist

ps. i just noticed that deb from smitten kitchen has baked the cranberry vanilla coffeecake...if you check her pics of the cake you'll see that the american cranberries aren't at all like ours...i'm certain the reason my cakes don't turn up as even as deb's did is in the cranberries. at least that's my defence and i stick to it!