Strawberry tart -Mansikkatorttu

ImageWhat do we Finns love in summer -berries. Our forests and fields are full of berries. Wild forest blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, lingonberries, cloudberries…planted blackcurrants, redcurrants, strawberries, raspberries..All these amazing treats just a hand pick away. My little daughter tasted blueberries for the first time and loved them, who wouldn’t. Wild blueberries are so tasty, drastically different from bush blueberries as I have noted before.

I will continue to add raw food delights to my blog. I know, you must think I have lost my mind being so excited about  raw food. I want to highlight that I am interested in ”raakaruoka” not ”elävä ravinto” as we distinguish those two in Finnish. In English I don’t know whether there is such a clear distinction between ”raw food” which is uncooked food and delights made of mainly nuts etc. to replace flour, eggs, dairy and so on, whereas ”living raw food” is more about growing your own stuff and eating sprouts and all sort of greenies, I am not into that 🙂 I love good food so much so for me something that does not taste good even though being healthy is useless!

The recipe below is a fantastic alternative for strawberry cake. It is gluten, egg and dairy free so perfectly suitable for people with these allergies (of course nut allergic cannot eat this!!). This recipe is also from the book called ”Raw food delights”. Even my carnivore Aussie man loves these kind of raw food treats and that is a win!

Base:

7 dl (700ml) almonds

5 tbs honey

3 tbs vegetable oil

Filling:

3 pureed bananas

1/2 litre of strawberries

Topping:

5 dl (500ml) cashew cream (see the recipe in this post )

Decoration:

1/2 litre of strawberries

1. Crush almonds in a blender.

2. Add honey, oil and salt. Blend more.

3. Press half of the mixture in a cake tin or on the plate.

4. Pour half of the banana puree on top and half of the sliced strawberries on the top of them.

5. Add the half of the rest of the base mix on the top of banana puree and strawberries.

6. Add the rest of the banana puree and sliced strawberries.

7. Pour and press the rest of the base mix on top.

8. Pour cashew cream on top and decorate with strawberries.

Enjoy on a beautiful summer day!!!

Kalamata Olive Focaccia

WP_000111We had a house warming BBQ last weekend to celebrate our new home. It was rather crazy as this point almost everyone has a kid or two so it was probably the same number of adults and kids, some newborns some toddlers. The funniest thing was that in the middle of the BBQ cooking it started suddenly rain rather heavily. As a result some of the meat burnt and some was uncooked -well bad luck! I made so many things for this BBQ  party and I will post the recipes here one after another. I baked home made focaccia, prepared some couscous salad, feta butternut squash salad and French strawberry tart. All of the recipes will be available soon. The first one I wanted to share with you was this home made focaccia. It was really tasty and in fact the first focaccia I have ever made. It turned out to be very tasty though.

4dl water (400ml)

50g fresh yeast or 1 pack of dry yeast (you need 1 1/2 pack of English dry yeast as it is only 7g per pack)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

7.5dl plain flour (750ml)

4 tbs olive oil

Topping:

handful of kalamata olived (pitted) chopped

4 tbs olive oil

rock salt

fresh thyme chopped

1. Heat up the water (37 celsius degrees if fresh yeast, 40 celsius degrees if dry yeast). Mix sugar and salt and a bit flour (approximately tablespoon).

2. Add half of the flour and olive oil. Mix well and add rest of the flour. The dough is supposed to be quite runny. Cover the bowl and let it rise for half an hour.

3. Oil the baking dish 20cm x 30cm. Pour the dough into the baking dish and rise half an hour. Drizzle olive oil on top.

4. After the dough has risen add the kalamata olives and rock salt.

5. Cook in the oven in 225 celsius degrees for 25-30min.

Catherine Berwick’s Parsnip and maple syrup cake

I am currently living in a land of ale and fish&chips. Everything that is served has to go with the beer. Sometimes I have been wondering what is the common denominator when a Finn marries an Aussie and lives in England. Well, easy, it has to be the beer. In other words, a good beer. Finns like Aussies are proud of their own beers, the labels no-one else has even heard about and still they call them the real beer. In England I think their love of pints is something the same. A pint or two is always welcome.

This is only an introduction to the quote that came up when I served this heavenly parsnip cake. It is evidently very important that a cake goes with the beer.

One of our friends had a birthday last weekend. I wanted to surprise him so I decided to bake a cake, but I had a big dilemma ahead of me. What to serve so that it would go with a beer? I thought through the recipes in my mind..no chocolate based, that wouldn’t go well, neither a cheesecake -too much dairy product…then I remembered this wonderful cake that won the competition in Good Food magazine last year. Fantastic. I tried it as it was said to be ”the new carrot cake”. I ran to the store early in the morning to get the ingredients and voila the cake was ready in two hours. It was time to serve it for the demanding audience..half of them Aussie men requiring something that goes with a beer, half of them women who are very into good food. I was a bit nervous.  When our friends had eaten their first pieces of cake and were running to get another ones, I realised the cake was a success. Boys absolutely loved it. The legendary comment was ”this is not too sweet and it goes so well with the beer”! Great! So, if you fancy a cake recipe that would go even with a beer whilst you’re having your summer picnic in the park this is it! Try it. The parsnip cake is a brilliant invention, it has a carrot cake texture, but it is not that sweet. It is moist and mouthwatering. Bake it and enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 175g butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour (or flour mixed with baking powder)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 250g parsnips , peeled and grated
  • 1 medium apple peeled, cored and grated
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
  • zest and juice 1 small orange
  • icing sugar , to serve

FOR THE FILLING

  • 250g tub mascarpone
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line the base of the 20cm cake dish with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into this mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice. Bake for 45-55 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.
  2. Cool the cake. Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

ROCKY ROAD –BROWNIES

I have been terribly lazy to add any new recipes. I felt embarrassed to check out my own blog and notice that my last recipe was added in February! Then I looked at my site stats and I realised that you all have been anyway reading my blog all that time probably hoping to get some new delicious recipes!

Well, I have a good excuse (at least I keep on telling that to myself). I have a new job that has taken most of my time lately and second of all I just got married so all the wedding arrangements have taken that other part of my time. Anyway enough of excuses. All I can say is that I guarantee and I promise that I will add more recipes and be more active.

The UK is great, London is great. I feel like I see the whole city with the new eyes as I have a fantastic job that I am excited about. The down side of it is that I have less time to cook, in fact less to do experimental cooking. After a long working day one does not want to try out something new that may not please the taste nerves.

I had the most perfect hen’s night. It was a total surprise. I landed in Helsinki airport, I was supposed to have a quiet BBQ party with a few of my closest friends. At least I thought so until we arrived to her place and we opened the door. There they were, all my best and closest friends together. The table was full of the most tempting looking salads and cakes, and all this was made for me. I was touched. I could tell you all the smallest details about this amazing night, but I guess you would get bored of it in the end. It was a traditional Finnish hen’s night with bridal saunas, spells, beer etc. I feel so thankful that my dearest friends devoted two full days only for me….as  I finally relised if not before that I WAS GETTING MARRIED!

Well, Päivi, one of my dearest friends, my cake master friend was resposible for the sweet side of the dishes for my hen’s night dinner. Here I want to share her Rocky Road Brownie recipe with you. It was mouthwatering! They were the best brownies I have ever eaten and I am saying this as a person who does not even like brownies. They were superb!

BASE:

3 dl            flour

2 tl             baking powder

2 tl            salt

2 dl            coco powder

3,5 dl            caster sugar

2 dl            brown sugar (farin)

2 dl            white chocolate crushed

2 dl            melted butter (200 g)

4            eggs

1 dl            coffee

FILLING:

2 dl           dark chocolate crushed

2 dl            marshmallows (small pieces)

(2 dl            walnuts crushed)

1. Whisk butter, eggs and coffee. Add all the dry ingredients.

2. Pour this base on a baking dish or tray and bake it in 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes or a little bit longer.

3. Mix all the filling ingredients together and pour the filling on the top of the base after taking it out from the oven.

4. Bake the brownies for additional 5-7 minutes so that chocolate melts and the marshmallows turn to brown.

5. Serve either warm with vanilla ice cream or cold with some coffee.

ENJOY!

Päivi’s Brilliant Whisky Cheesecake

I could name my dear friend Päivi as the cheesecake chef of all. Like one of my chocolate cheesecake recipes, I also owe this whisky cheesecake recipe to Päivi. Last August Päivi and her husband invited me and my Aussieman for an amazing three course dinner. As a dessert she served this breathtaking cheesecake. I asked the recipe immediately, but for some reason I forgot to add it on my site.

My Aussieman loved this cake. He adores all the cheesecakes, but what could be better from man’s point of view than a cheesecake combined with some tasty whisky. I baked this cake for our party last autumn and guests ate it all..nothing was left (even though I secretly hoped I could have eaten some for brekkie).

I know that in Finland there have been wondering cheesecake recipes made of Bailey’s liqueur. By chance, a few days later after I tasted this delicous whisky cake for the first time my mum called and said that their family friends served them heavenly Bailey’s cheesecake the other day. I told her to wait a moment and I promised to bake the whisky cheesecake she wouldn’t ever forget. I baked it next time I visited Finland. My mum absolutely loved this cake and so did my dad (who is not that big fan of sweet desserts). The secret and weapon of this whisky cheesecake is that it is not actually very sweet. The taste of the cake is so unbelievably smooth and balanced. This cake suits also for people who do not like whisky as the flavour of whisky is very nicely combined with some cream cheese.

Base:

150 g crushed cookies (Digestive,McVitie’s)

50 g melted butter

Filling:

2 egg yolk
¾ dl whisky
1 tl vanilla sugar
100 g caster sugar
250 g cream cheese
5 leaves gelatine
1 dl hot coffee
2,5 dl whipped cream
2 egg whites
50 g sugar

Crush the biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Shape the base for the cake by using the cake tin with the removable edges. Soak the leaves of gelatin in the cold water (according to the packet’s instructions) and dissolve them into the coffee. Mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, whisky and sugars together. Add the gelatin-coffee mixture and whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Whisk the  two egg whites and 50g of sugar together until the mixture is foamy. Add the foam into the cream cheese mixture.  Pour the filling on the top of the base. Leave it to sit in the fridge for 4-5 hours or overnight. (I found 5 hours enough). If the guests come in the evening the cake is good to make in the morning.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee or by itself!

Banana Pecan Nut Muffins

We moved to London four months ago. It is a long time, but I have been too busy with all kinds of things and I have neglected my cooking blog which I feel so sorry about. Now the life has settled down a bit and I finally have time to start adding the recipes I have tested here. Nice.

I posted vanilla rasberry muffin recipe a long time ago. Here in England people seem to love all kinds of muffins, sweet and savoury. They also love so called ”breakfast loaf”  for breakfast. It is a small loaf shaped muffin and tastes heavenly. My favourite one over here is Costa Coffee’s Banana Pecan Breakfast Loaf. It is almost like a muffin, but not that buttery and sweet. I wanted to cook that kind of breakfast loaf, but I couldn’t find a recipe that looked good or worked. I tried one recipe, but I wasn’t happy with it at all. As I find the basic ingredients for my rasberry muffins so good I varied that recipe and created my own banana breakfast muffins. Below you can find the ingredients. They were super tasty!

6 large muffins

110 g butter

130 g white sugar (it is 1 1/2 dl= 2/3 cup)

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

210 g flour (it is 3 1/2 dl= 1 /2 cup)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 jar (150-200g) Danone vanilla yoghurt

3 extremely ripe bananas

100g pecan nuts (crushed)

Preheat the oven 180 C degrees. Butter the muffin molds. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in the large bowl. In the other bowl, whisk butter and sugar until white and cream. Add the eggs one in time. Whisk well all the time. Add dry ingredients  into creamy butter-sugar-egg mixture. Mix well, do not whisk. Finish by adding vanilla extract and Danone yoghurt.  Mash the bananas with the fork and add this mash to the dough as well as the pecan nuts. Decorate the muffins with few pecan nuts. Bake them as long as they become beautiful and browny.

Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake

Last time when I visited one of my friends (who is also an excellent cook), she served frozen chocolate cheesecake. I couldn’t resist that cake, after every bite I just wanted to take another one and another one. In Finland this cake is also known as Nina Lincoln’s Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake. It is an amazing invention. Chocolate cheesecakes are sometimes too heavy. Whereas this one whilst being frozen is totally the opposite. It almost feels like eating creamy chocolate ice cream on the top of the biscuit base. This recipe is quite an easy one, although the baking takes some time. The cake has to sit in the freezeer at least 4 hours before serving. In fact, if one wants to make sure that the cake has been nicely freezed before melting it again for serving, one should keep it in the freezer over night. This is my summer version of chocolate cheesecake. On a hot day one can hardly imagine anything so delicious as a cold chocolate cheesecake. It replaces ice cream any time. Give it a try! It is yummy!

Base:

9 Hobnob or Digestive biscuits

35 g butter

Cheescake filling:

200g dark chocolate

200g cream cheese

150g caster sugar (approximately 1 1/2 dl)

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 eggs

2 1/2 dl cream

1. Make the base at first. Crush the biscuits, melt the butter and combine them to make a nice biscuit base.

2. Melt the chocolate. Mix the cream cheese, add 100g of sugar and vanilla sugar.

3. Take the yolks and add then into the cream cheese mixture. Add the melted chocolate into this mixture.

4. Whisk the egg whites so that they turn into a nice fluffy foam. Whisk the rest of the sugar (50g) into this egg white foam. Add the egg white sugar mixture into the cream cheese chocolate mixture.

5. Whip the cream and add that into the mixture.

6. Pour the filling on the top of the biscuit base and place it in the freezer over night.

Serve the cake after it has melted for a while. Half an hour gives enough time so that the cake stays cold but becomes soft.

Original American Cookies

My sister is in New York at the moment. Yes, in the Big Apple New York. Everything is evidently big in there -skyscrapers, meals, even muffins…I also heard that the freezers bear so many different Ben and Jerry ice creams that one has problems to decide which one to choose every time. On the top of the fact that I am missing my sister I also feel jealous not to be able to enjoy world famous Magnolia Bakery’s cup cakes with her in Manhattan. I can only imagine how woderful it must be to finish your working day with a colourful cup cake in one hand and a huge cup of Starbuck coffee in the other.

My sister is a big fan of American chocolate cookies. The following recipe  is the recipe she once gave to me and ask me to make. I tested these crunchy cookies and they are magical. How could they not be..buttery chocolate cookies are hard to spoil! Make big cookies, it is my tip. The bigger the cookie is the better it is!

5 1/2 dl white flour

1 tsp bicarbonate/baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 dl white flour

1 1/2 sugar

1 1/2 brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla sugar

1. Mix the flour, salt and soda. Cut the chocolate into small cubes.

2. Melt the butter and add the sugar in it. Add the eggs into this mixture and vanilla extract too.

3. Combine the flour mixture sith the butter mixture. In the end add all the chocolate cubes.

4. Make round big cookies. Bake them in the oven of 180-190 degrees for 10 minutes. If the cookies are extremely  big American like, it will take a bit longer to bake them.

Crispy Oatbiscuits

All around the world people are using oat in cooking and baking. It is an exceptionally healthy grain even though it is the fattiest grain of all. It contains considerably bigger amount of good vegetable oil than any other type of grain. Oat is also suitable for people who suffer form gluten allergy (celiac disease) common in Northern Europe.

In Finland almost every grandmother knows how to make crunchy oatbiscuits for their grandchildren and those biscuits are considered very Finnish and also a significant part of ”wartime kitchen”. Unfortunately I have to shoot down this former claim although the latter one is quite true. It seems like in every country they have their own version of oatbiscuits that are part of so called ”traditional kitchen”. I realized this with my dear Aussie man when ANZAC day arrived.  It is celebrated every year on the 25th of April. It is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zeland. The name ANZAC comes from the Australian and New Zeland Army Corps. On the ANZAC day people are remembering this army that fought in Gallipoli in Turkey during the World War I. Both Australia and NZ lost massive amount of soldiers albeit UK and France lost even more.

How oatbiscuits and ANZAC day belong together then? On ANZAC day in addition that Aussies want to dress themselves in green and gold they also bake oatbiscuits -funny tradition, but it has a story behind it. Traditionally it is thought that the wives sent oatbiscuits to soldiers abroad back in Gallipoli times. Why oatbiscuits? Because the oaty ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. Smart women and tasty biscuits! Finally those certain kind of oatbiscuits were called ANZAC biscuits and served every year on ANZAC day in April!

Here I want to share my Finnish modified recipe of oatbiscuits. It is my favourite one and you can also make the biscuits even tastier by adding  some chewy date mousse topping on them. With all respect to Australian version of oatbiscuits, below you can also find a recipe for ANZAC biscuits. One of the most important ingredient for them is golden syrup.

FINNISH CRISPY OATBISCUITS

9 big biscuits

1 1/2 dl rolled oats

1 1/2 dl white flour

2 tl baking powder

100g melted butter

3 tbs honey

1 dl cream (milk goes as well)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter, honey and cream.

2. Form biscuits on the baking tray.

3. Bake them for 10-15 minutes in 225 degrees.

DATE TOPPING

1 dl dates (seedless)

1/2 dl almonds

water

1. Soak the dates and almons together in a small amount of water for a few hours and smooth them in the end. Add the topping for biscuits and cook them in the oven. This date topping tastes like caramel sauce.

ANZAC BISCUITS

125 g flour

150g caster sugar

1 dl coconut flakes

1 dl rolled oats

100g butter

1 tbs golden syrup

1/2 baking soda

2 tbs boiling water

1. Mix the flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve baking soda in the butter-syrup mixture and add it with the flour mixture in a bowl. Mix well. Form biscuits on a baking tray.

2. Bake them in the oven of 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

ENJOY!

Mousse au Chocolat

This creamy and absolutely mouthwatering recipe is from the time of my exchange student year in France. French people just happen to know what is delicious and delicate. I think it is due to a fact that they don’t think about calories or low fat products. The flavour seems to be everything to them. Occasionally I thought that French people, particularly men, seemed to boast how much they have eaten at Christmas time and how big their belly has become. It meant that their cooking has been a succes and that they are not bungling amateurs in the kitchen!

I also learnt that the delicious sauce made of light cream doesn’t exist..or if it does, it can’t be good. If I try to put their attitude to words it would be: ”Low fat is cheating”. Be that as it may I learnt a lot of French kitchen during my time in there. In Finland how one advertises a good recipe is dependent on how healthy and low fat it is. You have to think that lentils in tomato sauce with wholegrain pasta is good -of course it must be good for god sake, it is healthy. The pleasure of eating is secondary in this northern country or at least it looks like it if you build up your image of Finnish eating habbits according to the recipes in the magazines and our cooking books. Whereas in France a good recipe is a delicious recipe. I have found the same attitude and appreciation of cooking in many other countries – in Australia too. Maybe it is stemming from the European immigrants -Greek, British, Italian- and their appreciation of kitchen that they brought in the middle of Pacific Ocean.

It has been a new experience for me that my dear Aussie man thinks that the bigger his belly is the happier he is. The belly tells that the food served at home is tasty and irresistable. This is exactly the same attitude I found in France. I wish Finns would discover and adopt that attitude one day too and give up their Winter War frame of mind that admires simple and modest eating and living habbits. Maybe this is wishful thinking but I can start to put it into practice by serving this fantastic but simple chocolate mousse recipe for all my guests.

When I tasted this mousse for the first time I was wondering what is in it -I should have guessed that nothing tastes so creamy as full cream beated with chocolate. This is an excellent and handy recipe because it doesn’t include any eggs. This full cream chocolate mousse doesn’t try to get its fluffiness from beated eggs, but cream makes it soft and pleasant. Try it. One can definitely apply the saying: KISS -”keep it simple stupid” – to this recipe.

Preparation: 20min, Cooking 6min, In the fridge 2 hours. In total 2 1/2 hours.

For 4-6 persons

200g chocolate

2 1/2 dl cream

1. Melt the chocolate.

2. Mix the cream (non-whipped) and the melted chocolate together.

3. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

4. Take the mixture out from the fridge and whip it with the electric mixer. It will turn into a beautiful mousse.

5. Serve it and enjoy its smooth and flavoursome taste!

I however have to admit that as much as I admired and enjoyed French kitchen during my exchange year: full cream, butter and amazing treats -yes, lovely -but a paradox of skinny beautiful French women stayed as a mystery for me!