Friday, July 17, 2015

Sautéed garlic scapes with tomatoes

Sautéed Garlic Scapes

Are you familiar with garlic scapes? I've actually mentioned them here on my blog, Nami-Nami, just over ten years ago (YES, NAMI-NAMI BLOG QUIETLY CELEBRATED ITS 10 BLOG ANNIVERSARY IN MID-JUNE) -  when I was still living in Edinburgh. I used to go to the fabulous Edinburgh Farmers Market every weekend, and it's there that I first encountered those spindly scapes, at the stall of Really Garlicky Company (I'm thrilled to see that they're still going strong, those Scottish garlic heroes). I threw those curly garlic tops into stir-fries back then, or chopped them and added to mash.

I grow some hardneck garlic in our beautiful garden these days as well, tucked between our strawberry plants to keep nasty bugs away. Sometimes - but only sometimes - I remember to snip the curly-spindly scapes off in the spring or early summer. This time I did, and made this lovely sauté with tomatoes and cheese. I found a recipe by William Woys Weaver over at Mother Earth News that sounded lovely. Mr Weaver topped his sautéed garlic scapes with cubed and fried halloumi cheese. Although the Cypriot halloumi-cheese is widely available in Estonia, I had none at home. However, as Mr Weaver mentioned that he got an idea for the dish in Slovenia - where local kajmak cheese* is way more popular than halloumi - and kajmak is similar to feta and bryndza cheese. Luckily I had bought some fresh bryndza cheese as well as Georgian suluguni cheese at the market on a previous day, so I used a mixture of these two instead.

A verdict - lovely and tasty and such a genius way for using up those spindly-curly scapes. One of my 5 aunties and one of my 13 cousins came over for dinner that night and the dish got their approval as well. At least none of us will ever waste any garlic scapes again :)

* A huge thanks to my friend Mann for helping me with the Slovenian cheese terms.

(Hautatud küüslauguvõrsed)
Serves 4

Sautéed Garlic Scapes

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
250 g garlic scapes
400 g fresh or canned chopped tomatoes
180 ml (about 3/4 cups) dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
about 100 g of cheese (crumbled brynza or feta or cubed and fried halloumi)

Trim the garlic scapes by snipping off the thin tip on top of the garlic buds - this would simply burn on your pan. Discard. Cut the rest of the scapes into 5 cm/2 inch pieces.

Heat oil on a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add sugar, then stir for a couple of minutes to melt and caramelise the sugar. Add the garlic scapes, cover and fry on a moderately high heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

Uncover, then add the tomatoes and wine. Cover the pan again, reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the garlic scapes have al dente or softened, depending on your preference.

Season to taste, fold in the parsley and scatter with cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Badrijani nigvzit - Georgian aubergine rolls with walnut filling

Badrijani is the Georgian rolled eggplant dish we've been missing our whole life, wrote Lucky Peach on its Facebook page yesterday. I don't really know about rolled eggplant/rolled aubergine dishes in particular, but as far as eggplant dishes in general go, Georgian rolled aubergines are pretty wonderful. They're pictured on the top left corner above.

My recipe is pretty minimalist, as far as the seasoning goes. I've served them as part of a bigger Georgian spread (see f. ex. here), where the famous Georgian spice blend khmeli-suneli was used in various dishes. That's why I like my badrijani nigvzit (badrijani = aubergine/eggplant, nigvzit = walnuts) seasoned just with herbs, onion and vinegar. But feel free to use garlic instead of onion and to add some ground coriander or cumin seeds - or a generous spoonful of khmeli-suneli - to the walnut mixture to make it more flavoursome. Even chilli powder could be added, if you're fond of spicy dishes.

This great appetizer is low-carb, LCHF (low carb, high fat), gluten-free, vegan, Paleo etc. For more Georgian recipes, see my Georgian Flickr album or browse my Georgian recipes here.

Badrijani nigvzit aka Georgian eggplant rolls with walnut paste
(Pähklitäidisega pommurullid e. badrižani)

Serves 6 as an appetizer

2 slender eggplants/aubergines
sea salt
olive oil

Walnut filling:
250 g walnuts
2 onions
fresh dill, cilantro/coriander and parsley, chopped
3-4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
pomegranate seeds

Cut the aubergines into long thin slices, lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and let stand in a colander for 20-30 minutes. Drain the liquid, pat the slices dry with kitchen paper.

You can cook the aubergine either by frying or by baking. To fry them, heat some oil on a frying pan and fry on moderate heat until golden on both sides. To bake them, place into a 220C/450F oven and bake for about 20 minutes,  turning once.

To make the walnut filling, spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast at 180C/350F for about 10 minutes, until they're aromatic and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.

If you dislike the taste of raw onion, fry the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent.

Place all the filling ingredients into the food processor and blend until coarse and combined. Transfer into a bowl and season to taste - the filling has to be just a wee bit vinegary.

Place a spoonful of the filling onto one end of the aubergine slice, then roll into a cigar (alternatively, spread a thin layer of the walnut paste over the whole length of the aubergine, then roll up).  Place onto a serving tray, and do the same with rest of the aubergine slices and the filling. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.

More aubergine/eggplant recipes on Nami-Nami:
Grilled aubergine with feta, golden raisins and mint
Armenian aubergine stew
Ottolenghi's roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt
Nasu dengaku (miso-glazed aubergine)
Aubergine curry with tomatoes, coriander and Nigella seeds
Sautéed aubergine (Melanzane al funghetto)
Israeli roasted aubergine and feta spread
Moussaka, deconstructed

More badrijani recipes on food blogs:
Karen @ Rambling Spoon
Gill @ Gill Stannard
kahviaddikti (recipe in Finnish)
Christina Nichol @ Lucky Peach

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A recipe for gluten-free hazelnut meringue roulade aka Budapestrulle (Budapestbakelse)

ROOTSI: Budapestrulle. Budapest hazelnut meringue roulade.

I am writing this post while sitting on a really comfortable bed in a brand new hotel in Helsinki, called Indigo Hotel. I'm in town for a long weekend to enjoy the Streat Helsinki street food festival. The press trip is organised and hosted by Visit Helsinki, and we have been taken very good care of. This morning Heather of Heather's Helsinki took us for a coffee and Budapest cake at Karl Fazer Café at Kluuvikatu 3. The cake in question was a Budapest slice.

It's a popular cake from Sweden, attributed to a pastry chef Ingvar Strid who was born in 1926 in Vetlanda. It's a hazelnut meringue roulade filled with whipped cream and peeled clementine slices. Delicious! The version popularised by Fazer in Finland is slightly different - the clementines/mandarine oranges are replaced with bananas and raspberries. Different - and sweeter - but still nice.

Here's my version of Budapestrulle - I make the classic Swedish version. The recipe below uses a popular and widely available Swedish product, Marsán snabb vaniljsås, but feel free to replace it with cornflour or potato starch or even all-purpose flour (in latter case it won't be gluten-free, of course).

Since 2013, May 1st has officially been the Budapestbakelsensdag in Sweden.

Budapest slice

Serves 8 to 10

4 large egg whites
100 g caster sugar
150 ml (about 90 g) vanilla custard powder
100 g toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

200 ml whipping cream
1 tsp caster sugar
300 g canned mandarine oranges/clementines, drained

50 g dark chocolate
some canned mangarine oranges/clementines

Heat the oven to 200 C. Grease and line a shallow Swiss roulade tin/baking tray with a parchment paper.

Using electric mizer, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not try. Add the sugar in 2-3 installments, continue whisking until the mix is shiny and white.

Combine the hazelnuts and vanilla custard powder, then gently fold into the meringue mixture. Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in the middle of pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the meringue is risen and slightly golden on edges.

Take out of the oven and cool completely. Then turn over onto a new piece of parchment paper and peel off the "baked" parchment paper.

For the filling, whisk the cream and sugar until thick and fluffy, then spread over the meringue. Put some mandarine slices aside for decoration, then scatter the rest over the cream. Roll up the roulade, starting with the long end, and using the paper underneath to help. Carefully lift onto a serving dish, leaving the "seam" underneath.

Melt the chocolate, drizzle over the meringue roulade. Garnish with mandarine orange slices. To serve, cut the cake into thick slices.

The photo above is by Juta Kübarsepp, taken for my cookbook "Nami-Nami. Maailma maitsed 1" (Varrak, 2013).

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

In praise of Georgian food

The Washington Post muses on March 3rd, 2015, whether the Georgian food might be the next big thing. It certainly deserves much more attention, if you ask me. There was this incident almost ten years ago, when Kuidaore's Joycelyn began her cookbook meme (memes were a big thing in the early days of food blogging) wondering whether she really needs a Georgian cookbook. I left a long comment insisting she does :)

I've been a fan of Georgian food as long as I remember. The food is so flavoursome and colourful, providing plenty of textures and variety. The picture here is from the chapter dedicated to the cuisine of Georgia in my third cookbook, "Nami-Nami. Maailma maitsed 1" that was published in October 2013 (see my blog post here).  Doesn't it look really appealing and appetising?

Supra. Gruusia pidusöök. Georgian feast.

There are 99 photos in my  Georgian album over on Flickr, most with links to the Estonian-language recipe. However, there are plenty of excellent Georgian recipes here on Nami-Nami as well for you to browse, helping you to get familiar with the "next big thing". Enjoy!

Georgian-style green beans with herbs and garlicky yogurt or mtsvane lobios borani (pictured at the bottom right, below) is a wonderful side dish (#glutenfree #lowcarb).

Gruusia _06

Beet salad with walnuts and garlic, pkhali, is a potent vegetable salad that brightens up any festive table (#glutenfree #Paleo):

GEORGIAN FEAST: beetroot pkhali/ beet mkhali GRUUSIA PIDU: peedi-phali

Cucumber and tomato salad with fresh cilantro/coriander is a delightfully different way to serve the summer favourites, tomatoes and cucumbers. Tomato and cucumber salad, Georgian style / Gruusia stiilis tomati-kurgisalat

Chicken in a cold walnut sauce, satsivi, is another winner from Georgia (pictured in the front, below). Georgian cuisine is rather unique in that they use walnuts a lot as a the main ingredient, not just to give some extra flavour or texture. Here the walnuts and mixed with spices and fried onions to form a wonderfully aromatic sauce. (#glutenfree #lowcarb #Paleo)

Gruusia _03

Creamy mushrooms with spices and herbs, is a great way to cook and serve those rather bland-tasting cultivated white mushrooms (#glutenfree #lowcarb):

Georgian mushrooms / Koores ja vürtsidega hautatud seened Gruusia moodi

Walnut and egg salad,  are here pictured on crispy toasts (#glutenfree #lowcarb):

Georgian egg salad / Gruusia munasalat

If you can get hold of the salty Suluguni cheese, then it's excellent when fried in butter:

GEORGIAN FEAST: fried suluguni cheese / GRUUSIA PIDU: praetud suluguni juust

Yet the most wonderful way of using the Georgian Suluguni cheese is to make a Georgian cheese pie, khatchapuri. There are lots of different versions about that Georgian cheese bread. I've got three recipes in my cookbook, but the recipe you find here on the blog is the simplest one, Imeretian khatchapuri.

Hatšapuri x 3

Chicken with herbs and tomatoes, chakhohbili (pictured at the centre, below), was the first Georgian recipe to appear here on Nami-Nami, and still finds its way to our table quite regularly (#glutenfree #lowcarb #Paleo)

Gruusia _02

So, which Georgian dishes have you eaten? Which one would you cook first from this selection here on Nami-Nami?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gâteau Marcel. A recipe for a delicious layered chocolate mousse cake (gluten-free)

Gâteau Marcel. Chocolate mousse cake. Šokolaadikook.

Happy Valentine's Day to all the lovely Nami-Nami readers out there!

Today's recipe is this gluten-free and fun cake from Denmark, where it's considered to be the French chocolate cake. The recipe is from Michel Michaud, a French chef. Well, Michel Michaud was born in France in 1946, but moved to Denmark in 1971, where he introduced the Danes to the culinary delights of French cuisine. Including this cake.

I never came across this cake when living in Denmark at the tender age of 18. I only came across the cake few weeks ago, when somebody mentioned in one Danish-language Facebook group that "oh, this [cake] is very similar to Gateau Marcel." Well, I had to check out what's behind that fancy name and turned out that it's a gluten-free cake that consists of only 4 ingredients (chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar), results in three dirty bowls and one decadent two-layer chocolate mousse cake.

Intrigued? So was I - and we loved this cake a lot!

Best made on a previous day.

Gâteau Marcel 
(Eestikeelne retsept)
Adapted from several Danish-language sources, but modfied
Serves 10

Gâteau Marcel. Chocolate mousse cake. Šokolaadikook.

200 g good-quality dark chocolate (chips/pellets or chopped)
200 g unsalted butter
200 g caster sugar
6 large eggs
a pinch of salt (optional)

To serve:
cacao powder (un-sweetened)
fresh raspberries or chocolate curls

Pre-heat the oven to 175 C/350 F.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir until combined, then cool a little.

Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Whisk egg yolks and about 2/3 of the sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. In another, very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then continue whisking and adding the sugar, until the egg white mixture is shiny and stiff.

(You've got 3 bowls now - one with melted chocolate and butter, one with egg yolks and sugar, one with egg whites and sugar).

Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in about a third of the meringue (aka egg white mixture) until combined, then very gently add the rest of the egg whites to the batter.

Grease a 24 cm/9 inch springform tin thoroughly with butter, sprinkle lightly with sugar or cocoa powder. Spoon up to a half of the batter into the tin, smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool a little - it'll collapse a little, which is perfectly normal.

Then spoon the rest of the chocolate batter on top of the cooled chocolate cake - this will become the chocolate mousse layer. Smooth the top, then place into a fridge for at least 4 hours or until the next day.

Before serving, remove the cake carefully from the tin and transfer onto a serving plate. Sprinkle generously with cocoa powder, then decorate with fresh or frozen raspberries or fancy chocolate curls.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cullen Skink, a Scottish smoked haddock and potato soup (gluten-free)


Few days ago the Scots - and friends of Scotland - celebrated yet another anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, hosting or attending a Burns Supper. Any self-respecting Burns Supper begins with a proper Scottish soup. I've shared a recipe for Cock-a-leekie before, other options are Scotch broth and Cullen Skink.  Now it's time to share my recipe for the smoked haddock and potato soup - think of it as a Scotch chowder :)

The soup is from the North-East of Scotland, from the fishing town of Cullen. Originally it's a comfort food, cheap and easy fare, and it's still popular in and around Cullen. Yet somehow that humble soup has tranformed into a fancy fare to be enjoyed at various festive Scottish occasions.

Scots know their smoked fish. Arbroath Smokie is a pair of salted haddocks, hot-smoked in a humid smoking chamber. Finnan Haddie, the traditional fish used for making Cullen Skink, is gutted and cleaned haddock that's been dry-salted and then smoked in a cool smoking chamber for 8-9 hours. If Finnan Haddie is hard to find where you live - that's probably most of the world apart from the British Isles - (and avoid the bright yellow dyed stuff, it discolours the soup), then any other nice smoked white fish would do. I used smoked cod, a user of my Estonian Nami-Nami site said that the soup worked well with smoked herring.

Cullen Skink
(Šoti suitsukalasupp)
Serves 6 as a starter, 3 as a main dish


500 g smoked haddock (ideally Finnan Haddie)
500 ml (2 cups) of water
butter for frying
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
2-4 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh chives, finely minced

Place the fish into a pan, add the bay leaf and cold water. Gently bring into a boil, then simmer for about a minute or two. Remove the fish from the pan, transfer onto a plate and leave to cool. Keep the fish stock!

In another pot melt the butter gently. Add onion and leek, cover and sauté gently for a about 10 minutes. Stir every now and then, do not brown! Season with salt and pepper. Add potato pieces to the onion and leek, give it a stir. Add 500 ml/2 cups of fish stock, bring into a boil and simmer until the potato is cooked.

At the same time remove the fish from the bones carefully, flake into smaller pieces (discard the fish skin and bones). Using a slotted spoon, take couple of spoonfuls of the potato-leek mixture from the soup and put aside. Discard the bay leaf. Add the milk, bring gently into a boil. Add about half of the smoked fish. Mash the remaining soup or pureé using the hand-held/immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a large spoonful or two of potato-leek-smoked fish mixture into the middle of each soup bowl, then ladle the liquid soup neatly into the bowls as well. Garnish with chives and serve.