If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

27 January 2010

Egg Fried Rice

Uni, working out, doing laundry, must cook something easy... but what? Left over rice from Sunday dinner (will be posted later!) found in the fridge, always have eggs and tofu. Egg fried rice! I can't believe I've never made this before, it's so easy and so yummy. Googled it and think I used a recipe from the BBC food pages as a guideline and then just threw in what we got. In a way I'm a rubbish person to be writing a food blog, because I have trouble following recipes - most of the time I make something easy. Just chuck in stuff from the cupboards that -hopefully- goes well together.

Egg Fried Rice
Serves 2

Sunflower/ ripeseed oil
Left over rice
Frozen peas
2 garlic sticks - normal garlic is fine too
1/2 tin of beansprouts
100 g tofu
1 egg, mixed in a glass with some oil
Red chilli paste
Soy sauce

Heat the oil in a wok pan. Add rice, stir fry until hot. Add garlic, beansprouts, peas and tofu. Stir fry for a few minutes. Season with soy sauce, chilli and pepper. Push the rice to one side of the pan and add the egg. Let the egg set for 10 seconds, then use a chopstick to scramble it. Mix with rice. Enjoy!!

19 January 2010

An Out-of-body-cheese-experience

Roquefort and Port, originally uploaded by Sari&Andy.

This time we didn't have time to wander further than our local supermarket and it was a challenge to find a quality blue cheese there, but luckily we picked a gem ; cheese of the week is the Societe des Caves Roquefort from Southern France. It is one of the most famous of blue cheese, and has been said to be possibly the yummiest moldy substance in the world. I find it hard to say, as there are so many yummy moldy things around!

Our book of fine cheese tells us that the origins of Roquefort supposedly lie with a lovesick shepherd who abandoned his picnic basket of bread and curdled ewe's milk at the mouth of a cave in the Causses to follow his loved one. When the lad returned a few days later the milk had turned into a mighty moldy cheese indeed!

Roquefort is still made from sheep's milk and mature
d in the Cambalou caves below the village of Roquefort-sul-Souzon. "Roquefort" made anywhere else from anything else in any other method is an impostor! I am thinking making a pilgrimage to thoses caves must go on our to-do-list...

As any cheese, it is always best to take it out of the fridge well in advance and let the aromas develop and the texture soften. Roquefort is dense, buttery and white with green-blue veins of mould in it. The taste is wonderfully salty, sweet and tangy, and it just melts in your mouth.

We enjoyed some Taylor's Late Vintage Bottled Port and fig jam with it, and I almous left my body and went to heaven. It was that good!

A word about Port! It is a sweet fortified wine made from grapes grown in the upper Douro in Portugal. It can be purple, ruby or tawny, depending on how it's been aged. The Taylor's LBV that we had is a small bottle and was reasonably priced at Alko. It is not the traditional style LBV so it doesn't require decanting, and it keeps for weeks after opening.

The flavour is full of rich ripe fruit flavours like plums ans cherries, with something spicy from the oak maturation. It is very sweet and therefore balances the tangy saltiness of blue cheese. Also an excellent match to chocolate! Try it yourself!

18 January 2010

Zucchini with Mushroom and Spinach, served with Tabbouleh

Yesterday we wanted to try something with mushrooms and Andy had zucchini in mind, finding his inspiration on Cook almost anything blog. We are both quite busy again with work and studying and so the most time we have for cooking is on Sundays. This was a tasty light Sunday dinner but we are looking forward to cooking a proper English Sunday lunch with Yorkshire Puddings soon...

Zucchini with Mushroom and Spinach, served with Tabbouleh

Serves 4, or 2 hungry ones...

2 Zucchinis, cut in half with seeds removed

10 Cap mushrooms, wiped and chopped small
Balsamic vinegar
Good bunch of fresh spinach, washed and chopped thinly
Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil

Feta cheese, to taste
Parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Gently boil the zucchini until tender. Place in an oven proof dish.
Prepare the topping. Cook the onion and garlic in a pan with olive oil, add mushrooms.
Sautee until cooked, season with balsamic vinegar then add spinach, let it slig
htly wilt and finally add parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the zucchini with the mushroom mix and top with feta and/or parmesan.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the zucchini is throughly hot and the cheese is melted and golden.

Inspiration for Tabbouleh was found on Gordon Ramsay's Healthy cooking book, but I ended up pretty much doing it to the recipe on the Gogreen bulgur wheat box. A really good side dish and if there's any left, you can easily add tuna or tofu or something else to make it a filling salad on the next day.


Serves 4

1 1/2 dl Bulgur wheat

3 dl water
1 onion, chopped
250 g vine tomatos, chopped, with or without seeds
Bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped - we couldn't get any!! Buu huu.
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper

Cook bulgur wheat according to package instructions.
Chop the other ingredients and place in a bowl.
Add the bulgur once it's cooked. Season.
Easy peasy!

12 January 2010

Three times a brunch!

A lie in, slowly waking as the sun rises (10 am or so at the moment over here), making a cup of tea and maybe doing some excersice and then taking some time to fix a good meal to keep you going for the rest of the day. What's not to love?

First there is
the smoothie. So easy to make, so healthy. I just randomly pick stuff from the freezer - thanks to mum there are wild blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants in there. Then I add some liquid like juice (sugarfree cranberry, orange or apple is good) or milk, and some quark (light but high in protein) or natural yoghurt. In this one I also added some three-grain mix for extra fibres as well as some banana for a lovely smooth texture. Then I just blitz it all together until it's a good composition.

The Shakshuka a.k.a Shakshouka, shaqshuqa, chakchouka; is something we fell in love a couple of years ago in Thailand when we were staying at an Israeli guesthouse in Bangkok.

Quote from wikipedia tells us that it "is a North African dish consisting of poached or fried eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices (often including cumin, turmeric, and chillies), and usually served with pita bread.
The dish is now a staple in Israeli, Yemeni, Tunisian, Algerian, Somali and Moroccon cuisine.It is similar to the breakfast dish Huevos rancheros."

We make different versions according to what we have in our cupboards, this one had garlic, red onion, butter beans (left over from the previous night's dinner), chopped tomato, seasoning and three organic eggs from Lentävä lehmä at Hakaniemi food market.

All the ingredients are sauteed on a frying pan (oven proof) and then the eggs are broken in the middle. The pan is then placed in the oven(around 180 degrees celsius) until the eggs are cooked to your liking. We personally like 'em runny! We had some lovely 7-grain bread with it, but it's also great with pitta or othre kind of flatbread for dipping.

Last but not least there is the good old
Full English breakfast, but with a healthy twist. This is from the other day and I had two organic poached eggs, two slices of wholegrain toast, avocado, cottage cheese, grilled tomato and a tofu sausage. Served with green tea to make you think it's even healthier! Yum yum yum.

10 January 2010

Cheese, glorious cheese!

We have a problem with cheese. We love it, we love it too much. There have been times when it has been eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cheeseboards are nothing unusual in this household. And it really doesn't matter what cheese it is, blue, washed rind, goat's , cheap and plasticy, smoked or stinky, we'll have it. Even Cheeseaholics anonymous has come to mind...

But no, we will never ever in this world give up cheese, and why should we? Instead of munching down vasts amounts of any cheese, we have made a wow that we will visit Lentävä Lehmä in Hakaniemi food market, or another good cheese retailer, and try a new cheese once a week or so. We were inspired by the book "Fine cheese" by Leonie Glass, a recent Christmas present. There are so many cheeses we've never tried!

The idea is to try one or two cheeses, find out about them and in best case also find a matching wine.
So this week we already had a bottle of Sauvignon blanc, which we decided to find the cheeses to match. Obvious choice was to visit Lentävä lehmä (Flying cow) cheese shop in Hakaniemi food market. The lady behind the counter was very helpful once we described we we're looking for a goats cheese or brie for our wine. So here's what we got:

Crottin de Chavignol, Loire Valley, France
(On top in the picture)

As we were told by the nice cheese lady, this is the classic match for a Sauvignon blanc. It comes as a small cylinder without any wrapping, therefore we did not eat the rind of it. It is quite soft on the inside and has a strong aroma, similar to the "cat's piss" fragrance found in Sauvignon blanc. It is rich with 45% fat and has a strong nutty taste. The acidity in the wine cuts the fat well and balances the flavours.

Eco-Bio, Vall de Cati, Castellon, Spain
(At the bottom in the picture)

A much milder treat than the French one, this is a hard, white cheese in a thin grey-green mold casing. Deliciously salty and slightly acidic taste that went well with the wine. Reminded us a little bit of Tomme de chevre, but this is a lot saltier. It is made from organic goat's milk, which must be a good thing. A lovely little cheese indeed.

We enjoyed the cheeses with some dried figs and dates as well as some organic carrot crackers, also from Lentävä Lehmä. Already looking forward to our next cheese adventure!

Whole Roasted Bream with Lemon, Herbs and Fennel

On Saturday morning we took some shopping bags, hopped on the bus and headed to Hakaniemi Food Market .
It was very busy, as you would expect, since there aren't that many food markets in Helsinki, and so it is probably the best place to go to for all your top ingredients. The downstairs is dedicated to food and there you can for example find the fishmongers, butchers, delicatessens, cheese shops, bakeries, fruit and veg stalls and a fantastic soup kitchen. This place makes you wish you never had to shop at a super
market again. Upstairs you can find clothing, crafts and such. I especially like the Epäonnistunut tyttö (Failed girl) stall with quirky accesories.

So we had our minds set on preparing a whole fish for dinner but we we're open minded on the choice of the fish. Töölön Kala oy seemed to have the best choice on whole fish so we had a little chat with the jolly guys behind the counter and ended up catching a bream, scaled and gutted for us. The whole fish cost less than 5 euros so you can call it a bargain!

We also got a fantastic bread loaf from the bakery, some beans and fennel from the organic stall Satumarja, olives and artichoke from Maustekeidas and some cheese from the Lentävä Lehmä, but more about that later.

Olives, artichoke and bread for a starter

Whole Roasted Bream with Lemon, Herbs and Fennel, served with Butter Beans

We chose to use Bream for the dish because we hadn't used it before and also because it was very cheap at 7 euros per kilo. The taste of the fish was good but we did not realize that the fish is quite boney, with some y-shaped bones that are difficult to take off. Therefore we recommend some other fish for this recipe, such as rainbow trout or sea bass, if available.
Serves 2

Whole Bream or other suitable fish, ask your fishmonger to de-scale and gut the fish for you
Thyme, few sprigs
Cinnamon Basil, few sprigs
Zest and juice of one lemon
One clove of Garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of red chili paste
Fennel fronds
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, 5 tbsp

To stuff the fish
Half a fennel, sliced
Half a lemon, sliced

On the side
Butter beans, 400 g can

Zest and juice of half a lemon
One clove of garlic
Half a fresh red chili
Olive oil, 2 tbsp

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Wipe the fish, make five cuts on each side in the flesh. Place in an ovenproof dish.
Chop the herbs and mix all the other ingredients to make a paste. Rub the paste on the fish and stuff it with the lemon and fennel. Place in the middle of the hot oven and cook for around 20 minutes.

Drain and rinse the butter beans. Warm the oil in
a pan on medium heat. Cook chili and garlic from one to two minutes, without colouring the garlic. Add the beans, cook until hot. Add lemon juice and zest. Season to taste.
We also had some salad with romaine lettuce, fennel and sprout with our fish.

Wine Match
White-fleshed fish is quite mild , and when you serve it like this in herbs and a lot of lemon juice, an aromatic dry wine will complement it well. Sauvignon blanc is perfect with herbacious green aromas and acidity, that will match the flavours of the dish. Yet, it won't overpower the subtle taste of the fish.

Best examples of Sauvignon blanc come from Malborough in New Zealand and Sancerre in France. Those can be a bit pricey though so we chose another Loire valley Sau
vignon from Touraine, from Alko for under ten euros. It proved to be a delicious match with our fish!

08 January 2010

Spicy Shepardess Pie

Friday night, and time for some serious comfort food!
This is a veggie version of the British dish Shepherd's pie, which normally has minced lamb in it. I saw a recipe of the meaty version on Maku magazine's Kevät 2/09 issue and was inspired to make it, maybe for the first time actually. I made up this slighty spicy version, perfect for the -21 degrees weather we're having over here at the moment. For the vegetarians this is an excellent filling and protein rich meal.

Spicy Shepardess Pie

4-5 Portions

For the mash:
Around 6 potatos

4 dl Vegetarian Soy Mince
Veg stock
1 Onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Carrot, grated
~100 g Frozen Sweetcorn or Peas
Teaspoon of minced red chilli paste (Rajah)
Teaspoon of Paprika powder
Worcestershire Sauce to taste- LOTS in mine!
Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Boil the potatos in salted water until cooked.
Mash and add cream, season to taste.
Prepare the soy mince according to the package instructions.
Heat some olive oil on a frying pan, cook the onion for a minute, then add garlic.
Add soy mince and some water if needed to prevent the mix from sticking to the pan.
Add carrot and sweetcorn/ peas.
Season with chilli paste, paprika powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
Pour the soy mince mix on the bottom of a baking dish. Spread the mash on top.
Add lavish amount of parmesan cheese.
Place in the middle of the oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I have decided to find a drink match to all of my recipes and since this dish is really a pub classic I recommend you wash it down with some dry apple cider or a thirst- quenching lager. Since we don't really have the proper equilavant of a British pub here in Helsinki, this home version will do just fine!

Edit. I forgot the chilli paste earlier! Very important ingredient to make it spicy.

Gingery Broccoli and Spinach Soup with Pan-fried Tofu & Toasted Sunflower Seeds

First post of the blog! Finally!

We have been planning this blog for months, if not years, and here it is now.
You can expect to find a lot of vegetarian recipes as well as some fish dishes, as one of us doesn't eat meat at all.
I might also be a typical woman and have started another healthy life with the beginning of the year, so healthy, yet tasty food will most definately be displayed.

Our experience regarding cooking is that Andy is a professional chef of many years and Sari has been more in the serving food and eating lots of it-side of things.
We both like cooking at home and hopefully through this project we
both can try more new things and be inspired about home cooking a little more.
Sometimes when you work with food you can get bored with it. Believe it or not!

I (Sari) love taking photographs and am really looking forward to getting creative with the camera as well as my cooking. I have to admit the first photo didn't turn out great, but wait until we get some natural light in the apartment!

Ok, let's cut the crap and I'll get into my first recipe.

Gingery Broccoli and Spinach Soup
with Pan-fried Tofu & Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Serves 4

Half an onion
2 garlic cloves
5 dl vegetable stock
200 g fresh or frozen broccoli (I used frozen this time)
Good bunch of fresh spinach
teaspoon of ginger paste
cream (optional)

Tofu - I used Alpro soya herb flavored

Sunflower seeds

-Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan
-Sweat the onion in on medium heat until see-through
-Add garlic, cook for another minute or so, don't let it burn
-Add the stock, bring to boil
-Add broccoli, boil until tender
-Add Spinach and ginger, let spinach wilt and take off from heat
-Allow cool

-Heat a frying pan for the sunflower seeds
-Place the seeds in the pan and toast until light brown
-Add salt if desired

- Use the same pan for the tofu
- Wipe it clean, heat up some olive oil
- Squeeze excess liquid from the tofu and dice into desired size cubes
- Season with salt and pepper
- Pan-fry until golden brown

-Blitz the soup with a stick blender or in a mixer until smooth
-Bring to boil in a sauce pan, add cream if desired
-Serve the soup with the tofu and sunflower seeds sprinkled over