Goddess of Cake


A Good Friday with Citrus
April 5, 2010, 21:13
Filed under: Cooking, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

My childhood school was a Walldorf – school, for thirteen years. So ask me any question about the Finnish school system, and I won’t be able to answer you. But I learned how to make pretty sheep out of carded wool and pipecleaner, how to work with copper, how to flutter backwards and left in the eurythmics class, when there is a Minor cadence in the music, and several little poems to say thanks for the food, in the beginning or at end of the day.  And yes, since there are many superstitions regarding Walldorf – education, we did learn our maths, biology and physics according to the state curriculum, along the other approaches to life.

Maybe the most valuable lesson of a Walldorf – school is that most likely you end up spending most of your thirteen years there with the same classmates, and most likely the same teachers too. A Walldorf – school is a community, and in like any community the people don’t always get along with each other well at all, and don’t like each other either. But somehow, when you rub onto each other for thirteen years, finally the worst edges are gone and maybe you have learned something about the human nature as well. And still, after years I finished school  when I meet some of my old classmates, I feel an instant familiarity with them, stronger than with any of my other friends.

This Good Friday I spent comfortably with one of my old classmates and her partner. We are such old friends, hold no surprises for each other.  My friend always cooks by the recipe; I always cook by the feel. She keeps a beautiful, colourful, neat and clean house, and the story of her life is artistically arranged in photo books.  My house is chaotic and mostly outright dirty, and I can’t even recall what I did a year ago, let alone have a photo book about it. We have always been different like that, and I guess we will always remain with our ways.  But it is amazing to have a friend that stayed in your life since you were seven years old.

Easter Food

Being secular people, we made Easter food already on Good Friday. In our families there are no strong traditions of what savoury foods to make on Easter,  so we somehow ended up cooking citrus – themed food, which does have a feeling of Easter to it, maybe because the yellow colour of lemons. Anyway we made an intensely lemony risotto, a salad with a tangy tahini dressing and citrus – infused fruit salad as dessert.

Lemon – Tofu Risotto

This risotto is from the cookbook Tofukeittokirja (a Finnish cookbook on tofu), slightly modified.

400 g firm tofu

The Marinade

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp apple vinegar

2 tbsp honey

a pinch of allspice

1 tsp salt

The Risotto

3 dl arborio rice

8 dl vegetable stock

1 onion

1 lemon, juiced

grated zest of ½ lemon

2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp oil

50 g vegetable margarine

salt to taste

a pinch of turmeric

almonds and fresh mint for decorating

Mix the ingredients for the marinade, cut the tofu into small squares and mix in, let it marinate for a while in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Chop the onion and heat up the oil and margarine in a cooking pot.  Throw in the onion and turn it for a minute or so. Add the rice, and let it sauté until it’s translucent. Remember to keep stirring! Next add the lemon juice and zest. Add vegetable stock little by little, stirring so that the rice is submerged all the time. Let simmer, stirring and adding the stock, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Fry the tofu quickly on a pan, and add it to the risotto, along with a bit of turmeric for a nice yellow colour. Using a cup as mold plate the risotto and decorate with almonds and fresh mint.

Tahini Salad Dressing

1 dl lime juice

1/2 dl light tahini

1 garlic clove

a pinch of salt

Blend everything with a hand held blender. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some water, but I think it dilutes the taste unnecessary. Our salad contained thinly sliced kohlrabi, green apple, mung bean sprouts, oven roasted cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries.

Lemongrass – marinated fruit salad

This is vaguely the recipe I used as an inspiration for the fruit salad and lemongrass syrup. The result was delicious, though when cooking the marinade it smelled strangely of Indian incense. Here are also good instructions on how to segment citrus fruit. Segmenting citrus is definitely worth the bother!

1/2 cantaloupe melon

1/2 pineapple

1 pink grape fruit

1 orange

1 pear

1 dl mint shavings

The Marinade

2 dl citrus juice, from the segmenting + lime juice

1 vanilla pod

2 stalks of lemon grass

1 dl honey

Zest of 1 lime

Segment the citrus, and catch the extra juices in a bowl. Make the syrup: cut the lemon grass stalks to 3 cm long pieces, scrape the vanilla pod and grate the lime zest. Add all the ingredients to a cooking pot, bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes.

Cut up all the fruit, and add the strained marinade and the finely chopped mint. Let marinate for an hour or so.

This is what you say in a Walldorf – school, to bless the meal:

Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth …. Dear Sun
By you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give…..

Bon Appetit for everyone!

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A Guerilla Gardener’s Dinner

This is a light dinner I made for my cousin Vappu and my friend Aino who were coming over for sauna some time ago. Some of the ingredients came from this gorgeous guerilla garden project that I’ve been doing with the environmental organisation Dodo. Our garden is on a piece of unused land, between new and old railroad tracks, only a couple of kilometres from the city center of Helsinki. We have made two big containers for the soil out of recycled wood and used old coffee bean bags and car tyres to grow veggies in. So far our piece of reclaimed land has not been disturbed guerilla gardening

by any authorities and the veggies are growing beautifully. A week and a half ago there was a lot of lettuce, dill, mint, mangold and the first big zucchini ready to be harvested! I used the dill for a potato salad, the mangold and mint for mangold leaf rolls and made a nice lemony marinade for my half of the zucchini. There is some more information on our project in Globaali Piknik (in Finnish though).

Potato Salad with Dill and Radishes

2 litres new potatoes

7 radishes

1/2 dl capers

1 dl green peas

1 apple

a handful of fresh dill

The Dressing

1 dl olive oil

2 tbsp white balsamico vinegar

2 tbsp mustard

salt, sugar and black pepper

First I scrubbed the potatoes and cooked them in lightly salted water about ten minutes, until they were done. With new potatoes you should really use them fresh from the ground, because then you can actully scrub off all the peels, which didn’t happen now since my potatoes had been standing too long in the fridge. Then I allowed the potatoes to cool, chopped the other ingredients and made the dressing by whisking the oil, vinegar, mustard and spices together. Then I chopped the potatoes and assembled the salad. With potato salad it’s quite important to let it wait for a while before serving. I think potato salad is always good, but I this combination with salty capers, crunchy radishes and sweet apple is definetely my favourite at the moment.

potato salad1

Mangold Leaf Rolls

3,5 dl whole spelt kernels

2 dl tomato paste

1 dl olive oil

1 red onion

a handful of mint

salt

about 12 mangold leaves

Mangold or chard is spinach – like vegetable, with big leaves ideal for making rolls.This time I used in the filling wholemangold spelt kernels, but actually risotto spelt or any other “sticky” grain would be better, since it is easier to assemble the rolls if the filling sticks together.

First I soaked the spelt kernels a few hours, and then cooked them in water about an hour, until they were done. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, the onion and the mint finely chopped and blended the filling well.

flatten with knifeThe mangold leaves I prepared by cutting off the extra stem and flattening the rest of it with the edge of big knife, beacuse then it is easier to bend the leaf.

Then I placed about a tablespoon of the filling at the other end of the leaf, folded over the sides and rolled a nice tight roll of it. The ready rolls I put on an oven plate and drizzled them with olive oil. I baked them in the oven in 200 °C about 20 minutes, until they were brownish.

mangold rolls2

Marinated Zucchini with Lemon

Half a zucchini (or one smaller one)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, juice and zest

salt

1 tsp brown sugar

I cut the zucchini first into half moon shaped pieces, then I fried it quickly on a really hot frying pan in a generous amount of oil, until it was a bit speckled with brown. Then I squeezed the lemon and grated the zest, and mixed it with a bit of salt and sugar, and poured it together with the zucchini pieces. Then I let it cool down for about an hour before serving. The idea with this dish is that it should be extremely tangy, so use enough lemon!

marinated zucchini



Whole Oat Risotto with Lemon and Cashew Nuts
April 17, 2009, 22:48
Filed under: Cooking | Tags: , , , ,

I usually don’t eat much rice, since the environmental impacts of rice are almost as bad as those of meat. Luckily there are many delicious substitutes for rice available. One that I use quite a lot is whole oat kernels. At least in Finland they are locally grown and can be obtained in organic stores. The thing with oat is that it becomes porridge very easy, so it is important to start cooking them in cold water, and preferably use too little water in the beginning, instead of too much. I usually start cooking them with about 50% more water than oats, and then add water little by little when the oats have absorbed it.

This time I decided to try to make some kind of a risotto out of them.

Lemon Risotto with Whole Oats (2 portions)

2 dl whole oats

3 dl water to start with

1 tsp salt

Half a lemon’s grated zest

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 dl oat cream

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 dl cashew nuts

I added the oats and cold water into a cooking pot, and let it boil until the water was absorbed. Then I added 1 dl of water and let the oats simmer on low heat until they were done. This took about 30 minutes, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on the oats, because the time might vary a bit, as well as the amount of water. Also they should remain a little bit chewy, since it is so easy to overcook them. When the rest of the water had absorbed, I added the oat cream, olive oil, and lemon juice, and let the pan stay on the cooking stove on low heat still for a while. Then I added the rest of the spices. The cashw nuts I roasted lightly on a pan and sprinkled on top.

whole-oat-risotto2

There is sometimes a slight bitterness in the taste of whole oats. I think combining them with lemon was a good idea, because the tang of the lemon covers this bitterness. Also cashew nuts were nice in this dish, since their sweetness complemented the sourness of the lemon  very well.



April Fool’s Day Savoury Muffins with Sun Dried Tomatoes
April 4, 2009, 14:52
Filed under: Baking, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

What would be a better way to celebrate April Fool’s Day than to eat something that would appear sweet but actually is savoury?

sun-dried-tomato-muffins-copy1

Savoury Muffins with Sun Dried Tomatoes and a Lemon Topping

16 big ones

3,5 dl whole wheat flour

2 dl wheat flour

120 g vegetable margarine

4 dl oat cream

200 g sun dried tomatoes preserved in oil

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp salt

Lemon Topping

1,5 dl soy yogurt that has been drained a couple of hours in a colander, lined with a coffee filter

50 g vegetable margarine

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tl salt

I melted the margarine in a pan, and left it to cool for a while. Then I mixed the dry ingredients, and chopped the sun dried tomato small and added it to the mixture. Then I added the oat cream and the margarine, and divided the dough into muffin forms.  Then I baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes in 200 Celsius, until the muffins were nicely brown.

I made the topping by mixing the soy yogurt together with the vegetable margarine and the other ingredients, using a hand held mixer.

I brought some of these to the name giving party of my friend’s son Markus. The guests were quite confused, but all the muffins got eaten…