18 Jun 2016

Pumpkin Pesto Zucchini Noodles

I've fallen in love... with zucchini noodles aka zoodles! They are crunchy yet seem very pasta-like, a perfect food for a summer day. I don't know exactly is this a side dish, a main dish or a salad, but it passes as any :)

Pesto made with pumpkin seeds is extra yummy!!! Mmmm, I started already wondering what a sesame pesto would taste like :P

We are just about to go for a morning stroll with Foxtail. I was a bit worried about him previously, as he drank quite much, so we even visited a vet, but everything was ok with the lab tests. Now he's drinking normally (I'm blaming the fertilizer he had been eating ever since they put it for bushes here in the neighbourhood). Happy weekend!

Pumpkin Pesto Zucchini Noodles

serves 3-4 as a side
2 small zucchini
250 g cherry tomatoes
For garnish: Basil leaves
Pumpkin seed pesto*
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3-4 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted (save some for garnishing)
3 Tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar, to taste
Salt, to taste
Start by halving the tomatoes and put them on a baking dish (cutting surface upwards), sprinkle some salt on them and bake them in a convection oven 200 C about 30 minutes until they've dried. Open the oven door every now and then to get rid of extra moisture.

Meanwhile, make the pesto: toast the pumpkin seeds on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning. Once lightly browned and "popping", set aside to cool. Blend seeds, basil leaves, oil, vinegar and salt in a food processor or similar until smooth. Add more salt if needed.
Prepare the "zoodles": I made my "spaghetti" with a julienne peeler (or you could use a spiralizer or just a vegetable peeler to make long wide strips like tagliatelle). Sprinkle them with some salt and then toss the pesto until evenly distributed. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, some basil leaves and the rest of the pumpkin seeds.

*Note: You can feel free to change the amounts in pesto, what suits your liking. I didn't stir all pesto in "zoodles", but served the rest separately to be added, if needed.

 Recipe adapted from Pure Delicious by Heather Christo, via Cookie+Kate

11 Jun 2016

Ravintola Kamome

Kahvila Suomi, jossa muuten en ikinä ehtinyt vierailemaan, on kokenut muodonmuutoksen ravintola Kamomeksi (jap. Lokki). Kahvila Suomi "esiintyi" Ruokala Lokkina samannimisessä japanilaisessa elokuvassa. Kahvila oli kovasti japanilaisten turistien käyntikohteena, varmaankin juuri tuosta elokuvasta johtuen ja toivottavasti edelleen myös ravintola "Lokkina".

Päätimme lähteä viettämään sinne erään takapäivystyslauantai-iltaa, koska tarvitsin jotain muuta ajateltavaa kuin puhelinsoiton odottelua. Ravintolassa oli yksi japanilainen seurue saapuessamme sinne ja pian saapumisemme jälkeen paikalle saapui vielä yksinäinen japanilainen mies. Tosin autioutta saattoi selittää, että kyseessä oli valmistujaislauantai. Ihan mahtava paikka! Kuulimme tarjoilijalta, että omistaja on japanilainen, ja että paikan muodonmuutoksessa auttoivat omistajan kaksi ystävää saksalaista ravintola-alan konkariystävää. Otimme japanilaishenkisiä annoksia, joiden maut olivat japanilaiseen tapaan taitenharkittuja, kaikki oli kauniisti aseteltu ihaniin astioihin ja kaikesta japanilaisuudestaan huolimatta ne istuivat hienosti myös suomalaisuuteen: pikkelöidyt vihannekset, marinoidut kalat jne. Suosittelen!

Osoite: Pursimiehenkatu 12, Helsinki.

Kerrankin muikkuja, joista tykkäsin (muikut nanbanzuke)

Heidän itse valmistamastaan puolukkamehusta tehty drinkki

Etikkaiset parsakolikot <3 ja nuo viljalta näyttävät "uuden sadon parsat" <3

Yksi aidoimmista Suomessa maistamistani matcha latteista

Saimme jälkiruoat vielä keittiön lahjana, sillä keksien viimeinen myyntipäivä olisi ollut seuraavana päivänä ravintolan ollessa kiinni.

Listalle jäi vielä paljon annoksia, joita haluan päästä maistamaan. Ensi kertaa odotellessa...

10 Jun 2016

わらびもち ・ Warabimochi

Warabimochi is a Japanese confection, sort of like soft but firm jelly, usually rolled in kinako (toasted, finely ground soy beans). It's a cool and refreshing dessert or snack, and perfect for a hot summer day. The taste of the warabimochi itself is quite bland but kinako dusted on them gives a nutty flavour. I was invited to a Japanese party held by my Japanese club teacher earlier this year and I made these (among other things) to bring with me.

Traditionally warabimochi has been made from bracken starch but nowadays, as bracken starch is rare and expensive, starch from sweet potatoes and tapioca, or even arrowroot starch are used. Real bracken starch is used only in rare upscale products. I read that only 70g of starch can be extracted from 10 kg of bracken roots if done manually (but I have no idea if the yield could be optimized using modern techniques). If original bracken starch is used, the resulting warabimochi are slightly brown (I've never tasted those, but I think I've seen them, and thought them weird, as the non-true warabimochi are original to me...). They may also change color and harden when kept in refrigerators (while the ones made from other starches have a clear texture and can be kept in fridge).


makes about 70 small pieces

50 g warabimochi-ko (I used a flour mix containing sweet potato and arrowroot starches)
250 ml water
30 g sugar

for dusting: about 15 g kinako (toasted soy bean powder, which tastes very different from the soy flour sold here, so I'm not sure if it can be substituted)

to serve with: kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup), optional

Dust some kinako through a sieve onto a big plate. Put warabimochi-ko in a microwave-safe bowl and add a little amount of water and stir until you get an even paste [I did it differently, as you can see from the pictures, but don't do as I did, but as I instruct ;) ]. Add the rest of the water and sugar and stir.

Heat the mixture up in a microwave, 2 minutes or so and stir even. Continue heating it on half power a minute at a time and stirring the dough every now and then until it gets transparent and thickens. Once it's ready, pour it out on a kinako dusted plate, dust more kinako on it and if needed flatten until desired thickness. Let cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces and coat the pieces all over in kinako.

P.S. I haven't a clue if warabimochi-ko or kinako can be found here in Finland (my best bet would be either Tokyokan in Helsinki or then those oriental grocery stores in Hakaniemi) but you could try this recipe which uses potato starch as a substitute.

5 Jun 2016

Gnocchi alla sorrentina

On Easter holiday we stayed in Sorrento for a couple days. The first evening was quite cold and we were tired and hungry after having traveled the whole day. We had some difficulties finding a place to eat: we didn't want to go a tourist-y place and some of the places were still closed as it was an early evening. After some wandering around the small alleys we found a family-run restaurant in some back-alley which seemed quite sympathetic so decided to go there. I chose gnocchi alla sorrentina; it felt very suitable for the situation as I wanted to eat some local food and also for the cold weather. The food was warming and delicious as expected but the dining room was so cold and we ended up feeling colder still... I had to wear my jacket while eating.

I had a hunch the dish would be quite easy to prepare, and when browsing through a Finnish food magazine caught my eye on this recipe by Luca Platania, an Italian living in Finland and the founder of Pizzarium. It was simple to prepare, the gnocchi were soft but chewy and the taste was very delicious. I want to make it soon again <3

Notes about the recipe:
1) I used De Cecco gnocchi which were delicious, but next time I want to try making them from scratch if I have time.
2) The gnocchi were in a 500 g package (as the recipe suggested 500-700 g); next time I would reduce the amount of tomato sauce if having only 500 g gnocchi). The amount of sauce might have been extravagant in this case also because I baked the dish in too deep a dish; a shallower one next time.

Gnocchi alla sorrentina

500-700 g gnocchi
50-70 g parmesan, grated
125 g mozzarella, cut to desired pieces or sliced
half a bunch of fresh basil 

Tomato sauce:
800 g canned whole tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
half a bunch of fresh basil

Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Add tomatoes with the juice, salt and half of the basil leaves. Let simmer for about half an hour without lid.

Meanwhile heat up oven to 250 C. Cook the gnocchi in ample, salted water until they rise to the surface (about 2 minutes). Drain them and pour into a gratin dish. Add most of the parmesan (save some for finishing the baked dish) and let the cheese coat them. Once the tomatoes have simmered enough, you can break them with a spatula (you could also blend them, but do it before adding the basil. Though, I remember reading that somehow the taste will be better if you break the tomatoes after the simmering so that the seeds will stay inside the tomatoes).

Pour the tomato sauce on the gnocchi, stir together and arrange the mozzarella pieces on top. Cook in oven for 15 minutes or until it's hot and mozzarella has melted. You could also prepare them in individual gratin ramekins, in which case the cooking time can probably be reduced.

Finish the dish with the rest of the basil leaves and grated parmesan.

4 Jun 2016

Cinnamon Bun Raw Porridge

You might remember my post on Cinnamon Bun Oatmeal from last spring? This time (to celebrate the hot summer in Finland... not) it's time for the raw version. During the summer I usually change my breakfast routines a bit as I can't eat warm porridge if the weather is warm (I can tolerate drinking hot coffee unless it's a heat wave. In which case I turn to my steady favourite: cold-brewed coffee (the recipe can be found here. It's in Finnish though, but I've adapted it from Pioneer Woman, so you could check that one out, if reading Finnish recipes isn't one of your specialities).

But now back to this porridge: I love the texture chia seeds give it, without them it would be pure puré (lol). You could leave also some of the buckwheat unblended and stir it in later to leave some crunch.

Happy weekend!

Cinnamon (Bun) Raw Porridge (serves 1)

50 ml buckwheat groats (this refers to the unsoaked volume; sprouting will almost double it)
50-100 ml water and 2 dates/half a banana
or 100 ml milk (I used oat milk) and 0,5-1 tsp maple syrup/any sweetener, or according to taste
1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
vanilla extract

peanut butter
cocoa powder
sunflower seeds, soaked

Wash and soak the buckwheat according to these instructions (you could sprout them too). N.B. The volume is different for unsoaked, soaked and sprouted groats. The volume I'm referring to here applies to unsoaked volume.

Drain the water from the soaked buckwheat. Blend it with water+date/banana or with milk with your "weapon of choice" (my Bamix isn't optimal but I'm managing with it). Add more water or milk, if needed (to make it more "blendable"). Process until combined and smooth. Now add in the chia seeds and the rest of the ingredients. Let it stand in fridge for the chia seeds to form into a jelly (at least 30 min), preferably a couple of hours (they will make the porridge more solid). Enjoy with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Or, you could make a variation by adding some optional ingredients (or substitute them for cinnamon, but then it's not cinnamon (bun) porridge).

3 Jun 2016

Spring Cabbage Salad with a Japanese Twist

Spring cabbage is so yummy! And I love all sorts of vinaigrettes: This time I made it with a Japanese twist.

Spring Cabbage Salad

1 small spring cabbage
1 carrot
10 cm leek
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette
1 small garlic clove, finely shredded
a piece of ginger, thumb-sized; finely shredded
1-2 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1-2 tsp wasabi
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3-4 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a salad bowl. Marinate the thinly sliced leek in it while you prepare the salad: slice cabbage thinly, shred carrot and toast sesame seeds. Add cabbage, carrot and half of the sesame seeds to vinaigrette mix, toss everything together. Check the saltiness and if needed, add either salt or soy sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the sesame seed on top.

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