Friday, March 21, 2014

Coconut wreath

It is just a month or so and we will be busy coloring eggs, baking cookies and cooking/baking large hams to eat with friends and family while getting soaked in water, or perfume, on Easter Monday.
With Easter knocking on the door, I was thinking to try Easter wreath varieties well in advance, so I can experiment, and others have time to experiment as well.
This recipe is almost a nobrainer, destined to be a success due to the "pulla" (cardamom bread) dough, flavorful brown sugar and coconut. OK, waistline damage alert for today, but sigh...

1/2 portion pulla dough

~4 tbsp coconut flour (finely grated coconut)
~4 tbsp brown sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon zest
25 g butter (quarter stick), melted

1 egg and 1-2 tbsp water, for the egg wash

Prepare the dough, let it rest as it is given in the dough recipe.
Preheat the oven to 225 C or 430F.
Roll out the dough to about 30 cm x 60 cm long.
Spread a thin layer of melted butter on the dough, sprinkle with the coconut and the brown sugar evenly, so that the coconut and sugar soaks in the butter. This will make sure your filling is not going to fall out when you cut the slices. Grate the lemon zest evenly on top of the filling and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
Roll it up along the longer edge evenly, pull towards the ends if needed while rolling. Cut ~2 cm thick slices, not thicker though or it will grow out of hands.
Pull them towards the sides, one to the left, the other to the right, laying them evenly on top of each other.


This is how it looked at the end, and this is how I actually planned to bake it. To my biggest disappointment however, my large tray wasn't clean, and laziness kicked in, ending in making a round wreath by curling up my braid on the smaller tray.
You should just place it on a baking tray (need a larger one)
Brush the top with the egg wash all over the sides and the top, and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar (or for an even more sophisticated look with pearl sugar).
This is how mine actually ended up, looking not so bad either, but next time I'm gonna make the straight version, too.
The taste was delicious, with the brown sugar and coconut taste blended with the cardamom.., and it will definitely be one of the family's favorite filling.
Bake in the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 18-2ö minutes. Let is cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting it in slices and serving.

Happy baking and Easter preparations :).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cream cheese - cranberry muffin

Muffins are new to the Hungarian/Finnish culinary scene.
Some of them are horrible, and I mist say to me is till a mystery how can people eat those full of butter frosting monsters one can encounter basically everywhere here.
There are a few exceptions, though, especially the home made ones. Our first success was a triple chocolate, recipe lost, but desperately looking for it..
To soothe the pain meanwhile, faith sent us  cranberry muffins made by a friend, and they were so good that they were gone in no time, so I obviously begged for the recipe.
I made slight changes to it, khhhhmmm... of course. The main reason is that the amount of sugar looked faaar to big for my European stomach. Second, because I had some shredded coconut I didn't know what to do with, so I had to make a good use for it in these muffins..
For me the cranberry is somehow associated with Xmas, but I had no kitchen back then, so here you go, cranberry dessert that's going to fill our NEXT Xmas table, but meanwhile our pockets on these beatiful and cool spring days :)

Ingredients (makes 24 normal size, 48 mini muffins)
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups)
1 1 /2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat flour would work great, too, if not better)
1 1 /2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut (original recipe called for chopped cashew nuts, to be tried next)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 24 baking  cups in a tray and lightly spray them with oil.
Mix butter with sugar, mix in the cream cheese, and at the end mix in the eggs, one by one, mixing each well in before adding the next one.
Mix flour with salt and baking powder, lightly mix in the dry ingredients in the butter-cram cheese mixture. Don't overmix, just to have it kinda evened.
Fold in the fresh or frozen cranberries and coconut.
Scoop batter in the baking cups. I had some mini cups, so I got about 36 of them 3/4th full of batter.
Bake for 20/25 minutes. Let them cool a tiny bit, at least 5 minutes, than remove them to a serving plate.
They are a yummi and healthy-ish snack/dessert for the kids for school, or for you to enjoy.
Bon appetite!

Obs. Minimuffins need to be baked at 380F, and for shorter, like 15-18 min time. I managed to overbake them, slightly, so leave them lighter in color for a tiny bit more moist texture.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oladuski - Russian pankaces

It was time for a Sunday lunch, or brunch, and I was out of ideas. The fridge wasn't too loaded either, so I was kinda almost desperate enough to leave and by some burgers when my friend posted a pancake picture on FB.
We love pancakes of all sorts, and this looked so simple that I barely finished reading the post when the batter was already mixed. I adopted the recipe from Chilly and vanilla. I wanted to make some changes only for practical reasons, to get easier to measure quantities and to add some sparkling water and be able to reduce the baking soda, as I'm not big fun of its taste..

The only problem I had was the size of the portion, well.. in our case it was far from being enough for the family, so I had to make it triple..

Ingredients (makes ~25 small pancakes)
500 ml, 2 cups kefir
50 ml, almost 1/4 cup  sparkling water (just throw a generous dash of sparkling water in) 
1 egg
150 g, 1 cup flour
40 g sugar, 1/4 cup
1 flat tsp baking soda (I added about half a tsp)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup oil, I prefer sunflower oil for frying

condensed milk mixed with honey
fruits with or without whipped cream
some salty topping like caviar, salmon, cheese etc. that foes well with a sweet pancake

Mix the kefir, egg, and sugar, add flour, and let it rest for 15 minutes. It is easier to work with the batter if the flour had time to soak in some liquid, but if you are in a hurry just skip it and continue with the next step.
Add the sparkling water, mix the lemon juice with the baking soda, the acid will make the soda bubble, and add it to the batter. Stir well and start baking..
Preheat a pan with 2 tsp oil. Reduce heat to medium, add a tbsp of batter and bake for ~3 minutes.
I added 3 portions at a time in my pan. The batter will flatten forming a small pancake of ~8cm (3-3.5 ").
Check the bottom, when nice golden brown use a flat spatula to turn it upside down. You have to be very fast, the batter is still soft. Fry the other side for ~2-3 minutes, and remove the pancakes to a plate covered with kitchen paper.
Clean the pan every now and then and add some additional oil.
Serve with sweet or sour topping, your choice.
It goes better with some sweet topping, but I actually made a mix of sour cream and grated cheese, added a dash of olive oil mixed with Cayenne pepper, mixed lightly, and served the pancakes with a tbsp of the sour cream-cheese-Cayenne pepper-oil mix.
Bon appetite!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Creamy beetroot soup ala Baltic style

The flu decided to mess with me, and kept me in not so good mood for some days. With the sun shining is not so bad, but my energy level is halved, to say the least.
I baked fresh bread and promised accompanying fresh salad with it for dinner for the family, but maybe because of my flu-ish mood I wanted something warm, something liquid. I think European soups are the best food on Earth for whatever occasion, but especially for somebody sick..
Why European in particular? Because the "soups" here in US are so thick, they remind me of the Hungarian főzelék, which is of course great, it just has nothing to do with soups :).
I bought some, much more than needed, beetroot at the local Sprouts because the organic beetroot bunch was sold for a steal, $3 for 2 bunches, each with 3 tennis ball size beetroot.
I made a huuge amount of soup, but here I share with you the recipe for just a decent sized 4-5 person family.
With Easter coming, it is a food to keep in mind, it is a delicious way to use up all those hard boiled eggs you have left over or your hubby brought home from locsolás :).

2 tennis ball size beetroot
1 similar size potato, preferably the type meant for mashed potatoes
salt, pepper
1 small onion
500 ml, half quart natural, unflavored yogurt, I used Bulgarian yogurt
2-3 tbsp oil, use olive oil if you prefer
water, about 1 litre, 1 quart
lemon to taste


yogurt or sour cream to serve. If you wanna get fancy, and add to the taste, mix some finely grated horseradish in the yogurt/sour cream

hard boiled eggs, at least 1 egg/person
It can be also served with hot boiled or baked potato wedges
rye bread, or white bread, fresh or toasted, whichever you prefer

Peel the potato and the beetroot.
In a medium, about 3 litres, 3 quarts, pot add the oil, chop the onion finely, and over medium heat fry the onions.

Toss in the beetroot and the potato, let it simmer shortly in the hot oil, and add the water, just enough to have the content of the pot, eg. the beetroot and the potato covered. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Let it simmer on medium heat under a lid, for about 20 minutes, until the potato is soft, and the beetroot is "crunchy"- soft.

Let it cool a little, and in a food processor blend until smooth, at least as smooth as possible..
If you prefer smother taste, choose a less sour yogurt instead of the Bulgarian yogurt. we are a sour-tooth family, I can never add enough vinegar or lemon, so we love the sourness of both the yogurt, and even some extra lemon juice.
Mix in the yogurt, adjust sourness with additional yogurt or and lemon. Serve with the sour cream/yogurt and the hard boiled eggs.
The most wonderful thing about this soup is that can be served hot or cold.
If you choose to serve cold, adds to the harmony of the taste if you serve with hot, fresh boiled eggs (or hot boiled/baked potato wedges), but don't stress about it, they are good cold as well.