24 Aug 2014

Blueberry Lime Mini Bundts

Note to self: When blogging try not to edit your posts too long or you'll forget to post them and they go out-of-date. This post is just like that.

Every year in July I get blueberry madness (or maybe it's some primeval instinct). I go "hunting" in forests having my armour (hoodie, scarf and mosquito repellant) and gear (usually plastic buckets). Nowadays I live in a too-urban environment, so I can't just go ex tempore but have to plan my trips with some thought. During those times I could just have a moment's inspiration and go, even twice a day sometimes. My almost-sister-in-law calls it blueberry therapy and I'd guess that's what it is. There is just something calming about the forest, you squatting there amidst the wild blueberry bushes, blowing a lone mosquito from your hand or face every now and then. Then when your back has had enough, or you've had enough of mosquito bites, you say good-bye to those bushes still having plenty of berries to be picked, and head home. A few hours later you start thinking about the berries you left in the forest... there were still so many... maybe someone else will find them... and a moment later you notice how you've dressed again to those blueberry stained trousers and put your cap on.

If you get the same madness, here's something you could use your blueberries/bilberries on. (Though most of my blueberries will end up in the freezer to vitaminize my quark or viili during the long dark winter months.)

Blueberry Lime Mini Bundts

105 g plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
15 g potato starch
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
75 g butter, at room temperature
80 g granulated sugar
Zest of 1/2 lime
1 egg, at room temperature
1/8 tsp vanilla extract (a few drops if you don't have 1/4 tsp measuring spoon)
70 ml buttermilk
120 g wild blueberries

Mix 105 g all-purpose flour, potato starch and baking powder. Cream butter, sugar and lime zest. Add the egg in portions and whisk fervently. If the mixture curdles just keep on whisking. Add flour and buttermilk+vanilla extract in 2-3 batches. (Make sure the flour is incorporated well before adding the liquid). Avoid stirring too much as you might get hard cakes. Fold blueberries in the batter and divide to muffin or minicake pan. Bake in 175 C for 25-30 min.

See also the results of my blueberry madness from a year ago: Mustikkatyynyt and Pumpulinpehmeä mustikkajuustokakku and from two years ago: Blueberry Muffins and Jogurttileivokset (as you can notice, most are in Finnish).

23 Aug 2014

Tuna & Lentil Lasagne

Don't you just hate how lasagne breaks if you try to cut it immediately after baking? Of course you could wait til following day but who can resist eating it after all the preparing time and effort you've put into it.

I know cooking lasagne from scratch is quite laborious. But sometimes it's worth it if you've got time and energy. But, you could make it easier by cooking this easy soup with less water on previous day (make a double batch if you want to eat the soup too). Use 1/2-1 can water (instead of 1-2 cans) to make a lentil tomato sauce. (If you're doubling the ingredients, take half of the sauce to cool (for the lasagne) and dilute the rest with more water to make the soup.) Next day you'll only have to add tuna to the tomato lentil sauce, make the white sauce and compile everything.

I never put cheese in my lasagne, it just feels too much. The white sauce gratinates the dish quite nicely in my opinion. I created this recipe during my pescetarian days a couple years ago (nowadays I do eat meat but still not very often). You could also make this dish totally vegetarian by leaving the tuna out. If you don't like lentils, use two cans of tuna instead to make a delicious tuna lasagne.

Tuna & Lentil Lasagne (serves 4-6)

Tuna tomato sauce:
1-2 onions, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated
1-2 carrots, diced 
dried chili flakes
2 cans (800 g) chopped tomatoes
dried basil and oregano
1 tsp sugar (to reduce acidity)
100 g red lentils, washed and drained
1 can (185 g) tuna in tomato sauce

White sauce:
30 g butter
3 Tbsp wheat flour
600-700 ml (full-fat/semi-skimmed) milk
salt, nutmeg

12 lasagne sheets
(grated hard cheese)

Tomato sauce:
Heat some vegetable oil in a pot and saute onions, garlic and carrots. Add the chili flakes and saute a minute or two more (don't let them burn). Add tomato, herbs and sugar. Add 1/2-1 can water (use the emptied tomato can for measurement) to make a thin sauce (lentils will thicken it up later). Bring it to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer at least 10 minutes (the longer you cook, the better the taste gets). Add lentils and cook according to package's instructions (I cooked them for 5 minutes, they will continue cooking in the oven). Add the tuna. Season with salt.

White sauce:
My recommendation is to use a teflon coated pot and preheat the milk (I preheat in microwave oven). Melt the butter in medium heat. Add the flour and mix it to an even roux. Keep stirring it a minute or two in medium heat (don't let it brown, this isn't going to be brown but white sauce :D ). Take the pot away from heat and add appr. 100 ml hot milk and whisk until even. Add appr. half of remaining milk, whisk until even and put back to heat. Keep stirring while on medium/hot heat. When the sauce thickens, add more milk (up to 600 ml) and let it cook until the sauce thickens. Stir it constantly (it burns easily and can even boil over). If the sauce ends up too thick, add an extra 100 ml milk. Don't cook the sauce too long as eventually it will start to lose its thickness. Season with salt and grated nutmeg.

Heat the oven to 200 C. Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on an oven-proof dish (25 x 25 cm or  20x30 cm). Add 3-4 lasagna sheets (no need to precook them) depending on your dish. Add tomato sauce, then white sauce and then lasagna sheets again and continue until you've got 3-4 layers of lasagna sheets. The top layer should be white sauce. You can grate some hard cheese on top too. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes (if it starts to brown too much, reduce the heat to 175 C. Let the lasagne rest at least for 15 minutes after baking as its structure will improve.

17 Aug 2014

Back to business

I've been having an unintentional summer holiday. Well, only here (I've been working whole summer with electrophoresis and coagulation). I had lots of posts in progress at the beginning of July but then I went to London (I'm planning on making a travel post, please wait for it!) and then we had the warmest July I can remember. I lose my appetite (or rather my cooking urge) when it gets hot. Instead I just nibble on bread, fruit and yoghurt. And ice-cream, lots of it! And I've been busy with my dear friend's wedding preparations :)

I got also a souvenir from Netherlands, my favorite cookie: stroopwafel. The traditional way is to put it on top of your coffee (or tea) mug  and let it sit there a couple minutes so that the hot steam from the drink warms the waffle (and most importantly: the syrup in between). I like it very hot, so sometimes I heat it up on top of my toaster. I still have many ways I want to try these waffles, maybe hot with ice-cream sandwiched between two waffles. A match made in heaven :P

P.S. Lately I've been thinking about the name of my blog. Though it's apparent in my kitchen (who could ignore a corgi in the kitchen...) it's not very visible here that Foxtail participates eagerly. He loves to lick bowls and pans and clean the floor if something drops (he even licks off the flour, umph!).  So here's a summer-y shot of him bathing in the sun.

He had his 8-year birthday two weeks ago, so Happy Bday, Foxtail! He had a "meat patties & cream" cake, which he enjoyed very much.

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