Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Move On Magnolia

It is my second last day of work today and after tomorrow my deed is done. I didn't want to go without remembering my lovely colleagues, so I was baking a storm last night. I have never been a fan of cupcakes, but they just look so pretty and they were fun to make too. The recipe for the Lemon and Cream Cupcakes is from the old baking book I have referred to earlier. I have made these in my teens for picnics and potlucks, but have forgotten the recipe since. It is the perfect cupcake recipe, since it is fluffy, creamy, moist and most of all very unhealthy. For the frosting I used a simple buttercream recipe, with blue food colouring. This is the first time making any frosting. I have made a sort of chocolate fondant for chocolate cakes, but never anything as buttery and sugary as this. When you see the recipe for the buttercream, don't panic. It is a lot of butter and icing sugar, but it looks so pretty.

Now I wish we had visited Magnolia Bakery in New York for the world famous cupcakes, that the Sex and the City ladies love too. We walked past one on Bleecker Street, but we had too many shopping bags and we were too hungry for actual food. They make gorgeous old fashioned cupcakes and baked goods. For a first timer I think I managed to create the look quite well.



LEMON AND CREAM CUPCAKES

150 g butter
150 ml caster sugar
2 eggs
250 ml white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated lemon peel of one lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
100 ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cream the butter and sugar together, with an electric whisk, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients, until smooth and soft. Add the lemon peel, lemon juice and double cream and mix. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

250 g butter
500 g icing sugar
4 tbsp double cream
food colouring (optional)

Soften the butter with an electric whisk. Gradually start adding the sieved icing sugar and whisk at the same time. When all the icing sugar has been added and the mixture is smooth, add the cream. If the mixture is too thick, add more cream. If it is too loose add more icing sugar. Add the food colouring in the end if wanted. Fill the piping bag and start decorating. If you don't have a piping bag, you can easily use a spatula and just frost it without any swirls.

I have not been baking in such a long time, that now I'm really getting into it again! I think I need to get myself some pie dishes and cake tins for my kitchen in Aberdeen and get going with it again. I would really like experiment with some marzipan and decorating with frosting.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cravings

I have been craving quiche all summer. Last summer in Paris I was eating quiches practically every day. Quiche Lorraines with plenty of cream and gruyère and ones with green asparagus and smoked salmon. By the end of the week the lady in the boulangerie on Rue Jean Pierre Timbaud knew me very well. I have always loved a good quiche.

I am spending my last day off before I finish working (does that make any sense?) by cleaning at home. The weather is untypically roasting for the end of August, so a heavy and creamy Quiche Lorraine would not do. I got out my oldest cook book, which is filled with traditional Finnish baking recipies. Without hesitation I decided to make Salmon, Egg and Smetana Pie. It isn't really a quiche since it does not include the classic cream, eggs and cheese mixture, it is more of an open pie. For me it makes no difference since some sort of pie is needed. Luckily I found a ready made rye shortcrust pastry from our freezer. It is the best thing that comes out of the frozen food aisle in Finland. Think of nice buttery and crispy crust, that is significantly healthier than the white flour equivalent. I am not saying that this is a health dish, but it could be worse.


This is a funny savoury pie recipe since it has no cheese in it. When I was younger I detested cheese in any form and that is probably why this specific dish became my favourite. The combination of the rye crust, smoked salmon, fresh leek, boiled eggs, dill and smetana or sour cream is just perfect. I think it is best eaten cold, but you can make your own judgement on this.


LOHIPIIRAKKA OR SMOKED SALMON, EGG AND SMETANA PIE

400 g of shortcrust pastry

For the filling:
200 g smoked salmon
3 boiled eggs
1 leek, washed and chopped
150 g smetana or sour cream
fresh dill, chopped
salt and black pepper

Wash the leek and chop it. Put a dash of water in a saucepan and put the leeks in it. Let the leeks soften for a few minutes. With a fork, gently mash the boiled eggs into smaller bits. Cut the smoked salmon into bits. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and season with dill, salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 225 °C. Press the pastry into a pie dish. With a fork make a few holes to the pastry and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes. Take the pie dish out of the oven a put in the filling. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown or dark brown in this case. 


There are more quiche and pie recipies to come. I have only started! The traditional Quiche Lorraine is next on the list, with a Greek style on the way and one with bacon, roasted peppers and caramelized onions. I just need to get that pie dish for my kitchen in Aberdeen...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Something Old, Something New...

After a long day of working (yes at my real job, but I am talking about the blog) with the new layout, it is finally ready! So here it is ladies and gentleman - Confessions of a Student Foodie 2.0. I am hoping the new layout is easier to use and more clear. I am quite pleased with it. This is a good start for a new school year.

There are going to be some improvements. The Aberdeen Farmers' Market is going to be held every Saturday, instead of just once a month. Excited! Also, the Boyfriend has found a good butcher's, which I can't wait to try. My dear Foodie Friend is moving back to Aberdeen and not only back to the city, but also in our neighbourhood. Calling for some cook-offs!I am planning on a trip to London and if my calendar permits I will go hopefully very soon. Also, the Family is visiting Scotland, which means there is going to be some dining in Edinburgh, getting to know the most famous bevvy in Scotland with a visit to a whisky distillery and some lovely scenery of course. 

Seven more days of work and it is au revoir to Helsinki and fit like Aberdeen!

Food Fight

The summer is coming to an end in a way that I have less than two weeks left of work and we are already in the middle of August. Here in Helsinki we can still feel the summer more than ever, with the endless sunshine and warm nights. My favourite food thing in August is rapujuhlat - Crayfish Party. This is an old tradition coming from Swedish royalty and aristocracy in the 1600s, but what really made crayfish fashionable in Europe was Napoleon. We still have this old tradition of getting together to piles of crayfish and schnapps.

Nowadays crayfish - especially if you want domestic - is quite a luxury and the price is in accordance. We got our Finnish crayfish from Stockmann's and they we're already cooked. It was the absolute perfect starter, served with white toast and dill butter, accompanied by some organic Cava.


Sunday was also a proud day for Helsinki and Finland. We are celebrating our second Ravintolapäivä. The idea of the Ravintolapäivä movement is that for one day anyone can start up their own pop up restaurant and advertise it on Facebook. The movement fights against stict legislation when it comes to opening up a business serving food. So for one day Helsinki citizens do not care about legislation and practice some civil disobedience in the form of cupcakes, burgers and cocktails. 

I did not eat in any of the pop up restaurants, but I saw quite a few of them. From my window I could see loads of people queuing into a courtyard in Töölöntori. I had picked up from my morning newspaper that some three quys - Italian, Spanish and Argentinian - were cooking up a storm there. At Töölönlahti someone was cooking some okonomiyaki that smelled gorgeous. What would have been the concept of my own pop up restaurant? Just to bring something exotic to Helsinki I would have gone for a pop up pub serving haggis, neeps and tatties and stovies with a nip of Speyside malt. Genious? Maybe not, but it would have been interesting...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Pizzatastic

Being absolutely exhausted last night, because of partying with the girls from work on Friday night. I was dying for some pizza, but couldn't be bothered making one and did not want to get a greasy take away pizza. So during the last hellish hour at work, I found a recipe for Pizza Bites from this wonderful blog Annie's Eats. It is a wonderfully easy recipe and just what you need when you're feeling a bit weak after a night of partying and no sleep. This recipe is not just for the days after partying, but would be a good, easy and cheap party food recipe.

I used my normal pizza dough recipe for these pizza bites. Filled with pepperoni and mozzarella, they are just salty and fatty enough. You could easily make this into a vegetarian recipe by replacing the pepperoni with some chopped portobello mushrooms fried with crushed garlic. For me the best bit of these wee bites is the Marinara Sauce. I could eat marinara sauce with practically anything. I've always made it to my own taste and don't know how authentic it is, but I love it!



PIZZA BITES

Pizza dough:
250 ml luke warm water
1 sachet dry yeast (11 g)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried oregano
approx. 700 ml white flour (or half and half white flour and durum flour)

Filling:
sliced pepperoni
mozzarella chopped into chunks

Topping:
grated parmesan cheese
olive oil
dried oregano or Italian herbs

Put the luke warm water in a large bowl and add the dry yeast, salt, sugar, dried oregano and olive oil. Give it a mix and gradually start adding the white flour. Once mixing with a wooden spoon becomes too hard, get your hand in and start knewding the dough. Once the dough is properly kneaded, nice and elastic let it stand while you get you fillings ready. Cut your pepperoni and mozzarella into chunks. Preheat the oven 225 °C. Lightly grease a pie pan or oven dish with olive oil. Start taking small bits of the dough and stretch them out a bit and put the fillings in the middle and pinch the sides together to cover the filling. Place seam side down on the dish. Fill the whole dish with these pizza bites. Lightly sprinkle olive oil on top of the bites and grate some parmesan cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pizza bites are golden brown. Sprinkle some oregano or Italian herbs on top and serve with marinara sauce.
 



MARINARA SAUCE

1 tin chopped tomatoes (200 g)
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper to taste

With a food processor or hand blender blend the ingredients together. Pour the sauce in a sauce pan and heat it up and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

I have started off my Sunday with lying on the sofa, drinking endless cups of tea and watching Martha Stewart (who is honestly quite dissapointing and annoying). I have three more weeks of work and Finnish summer left, until Scotland calls again. There are a few things I am still looking forward to in Finland. I am hoping to get to the Island one more time. Also, my Mum has reserved us a table from Gaijin, a North Asian fusion restaurant on Bulevardi. I have been dying to get there this summer!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Peruvian Pearch

Ok, I am a loser. But also, I have a full time job. Alot has happened since my last post and I just realised that we are already in August. Which means, that I will be back in Aberdeen in less than a month! Cannot wait to get back to my own kitchen!

You might guess, that I haven't been too active on the gastronomic side of my life. My meals have consisted mainly of boring foods and take aways. Going back to the week when the Boyfriend visited Helsinki and we went to the Island to enjoy a bit of seaside life. The boys got fairly into fishing and surprisingly to all of us, they actually caught a few pearches. I must brag a bit and tell everyone that I caught the first and biggest one, which ended up as the main ingredient of a Peruvian Ceviche. I have been craving some ceviche for ages, but you really need some fresh white fish for it. Well the best way is to catch it yourself.

This more modern version of the ceviche was actually created in the 1970s by a Peruvian-Japanese chef Dario Matsufuji. It has a much shorter marinating period than the more classic versions. Sounds a bit like Japanese influences? It also reminds me of the way how in Finland herring and baltic herring are traditionally prepared in vinegar. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it!


PERUVIAN CEVICHE

as many pearches you can catch, in fillets and then chopped into small bits (otherwise around 150-200g fillet of a white fish)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 fresh red chili, finely chopped
juices of 2-3 limes
1 tbsp sea salt
1 avocado, chopped

Chop the red onions and chili. Add to a bowl with the lime juice and salt. Chop the fish fillets into small bits and add to the bowl. Let the fish marinade for 10 minutes in the fridge. Chop the avocado and carefully add to the mixture. Serve with nachos or lettuce as a starter.

I know that I have been dreadful with cooking and writing my blog, but once I get back to my own kitchen... I love summer food back home - all the fresh fish, strawberries, blueberries, new potatoes, spring onions - it's just too good to be true! But I really can't wait to get my hands into some autumn food in Aberdeen.