August 27, 2007

Vacation highlights: a cookbook find

Today´s Swedish word: kokbok. Means cookbook

We were a bit unlucky with the weather when we went to Estonia this summer - it rained, rained, rained... for days! And then it held up for a couple of hours so we could take a walk and then it started pouring down again. But I don´t complain, after exploring the big cities Riga and Vilnius and after a bumpy bus ride between Pärnu and Haapsalu I was more than happy to lie on the bed and read in our little cottage at Roosta Pühkeküla.

Anyway, on the third day of rain we decided to go into Haapsalu for a little shopping and then we stopped by a promising-looking café right beside the old castle.
I was standing in line when I saw a fantastic cookbook lying on a table and picked it up just to look at the beautiful photos. I don´t know any Estonian so buying cookbooks is not to think of. But then I realised, that this cookbook is written in Estonian and English. Perfect! I bought a cappuccino, a pastry and a copy of the book on the spot and then spent the afternoon and evening reading. And reading. And reading. And getting inspired...
And learning lots of Estonian words!
This book is so, so nice. It is called Sapemaa Talu Köök, or The Kitchen of Sapemaa Talu. Sapemaa Talu is the summer home of the author Anni Arro, and the recipes are all "summer food" but highly versatile for the rest of the year as well. It is still on my bedside table now, I leaf through it almost every day to look at the pictures and drool over the recipes. The only downside is that almost every recipe uses garlic and I cannot use garlic because of A´s stomach but then again I am used to getting around those little cloves!

In the bowl beside the book is the result of my first recipe trial: broad beans cooked Estonian style as they are in the pods in heavily salted water. It appealed to me because de-podding broad beans is not my cup of tea and I love broad beans so I gave it a try. You should too, now while they are in season (at least here). Just put a large amount of broad beans in a big pot, cover with water and put in 3-4 tablespoons of coarse salt. Let them simmer for 30 minutes or a bit more until soft, drain and serve at once with a little sourcream. They were heaven! And it is good fun sitting around the table, picking and eating on a summer evening.

August 21, 2007

Another Pasta salad

Today´s Swedish word: matsäck. Means picnic.

Still many things going on in my life and not enough time for blogging, or cooking but I at least do it more often now than a month ago. I have been back to work for two weeks and it is OK considering I work part-time and hence have the possibility to enjoy the summer weather which of course showed up right on time for work to begin again.

This time of year we try to have a really quick dinner and then go out to the cottage or take the bikes and go for a swim after work. And sometimes we don´t even want to wait for dinner, but go immediately. This pasta salad was brought to the cottage last week in my beloved collapsible Tupperware bowl (you can even put it in the diswasher when it is flat like a pancake and it still gets clean!), paired with grilled chicken from the deli and the broad bean mash for dressing/dipping. Very good!

August 17, 2007

Vacation highlights: Double Coffee

Today´s Swedish word: dubbel. Means double.

When I am abroad I like to try new things and go to local restaurants, but nevertheless it is nice to have a reliable back-up, some place you know will always deliver. When you are just too hungry, or too tired, or if you have a cold and feel really sorry for yourself it is so soothing to just see a sign outside a building and say: "Oh, why not just go to..."

For many people it is McDonald´s and sometimes for me too, but on the road in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania we return to the chain Double Coffee again and again. Brekfast in Riga, and here it is lunch in Vilnius: a scrumptious potato pancake with cottage cheese and mushrooms and fresh veg. And dill, of course. Double Coffee is not very cheap, but not expensive either for us Swedes. They serve omelettes, breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, desserts and all kinds of coffee and drinks. Always fresh and nice and also with a local twist. The menu is not the same in all three countries (take that, McD!). And it is almost always open. Try it, should you be in the vicinity!

August 10, 2007

Broadbean mash

Today´s Swedish word: bondbönor. Means broad beans
For the elections 1994 my party produced a give-away notebook in very fashionable brown environmentally-friendly paper - it is so knobbly you can only write on one side of the sheets! Anyway, I used it as a recipe book and it is fun to leaf through it now and see what 20-year old me fancied to cook in the filthy corridor kitchen. Many of the recipes originated from my mother, such as frozen Daim cake (but I could never make that as I only had half a shelf in the freezer and it was always crammed with microwave pizzas), the pie recipe that came with her food processor and that we always make at home and of course Blå Jungfruns muffins which I still often make. Then there are things that I have had at parties - a special vanilla sauce, two pasta recipe from my dear friend Eva-Lotta who also lived at the corridor, stuffed lemons (?), "amateur jambalaya"... Oh yeah, this notebook is fun!

Last week I bought a bag of broad beans at the market and left them lying around for a while thinking about what to make. Maybe a potato salad? But then I remembered that I had a recipe jotted down in that old notebook - from where I don´t know and I have never tried it. Now was the time. I didn´t have 300 ml of broad beans at the time so I just improvised the quantities but it turned out very good! I have had it with pasta salad but it would also be good with hard-boiled eggs or as a spread for a sandwich.
Broad bean mash
300 ml boiled broad beans
100 ml mayonnaise
100 ml sourcream of some kind, I used turkish yoghurt
salt and pepper
a good handful of chopped fresh herbs: I used chives, basil, parsley from the balcony
Mash the cooked beans in a bowl and fold in the rest of the ingredients. Spice to taste. It keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.

August 02, 2007

Vacation highlights: Riga

Today´s Swedish word:gryta. Means stew, or casserole.

I came back this Sunday from a rather long stay in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Three small countries with a lot on offer! This time we mainly spent time in the capitals Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn but also in the adorable little seaside town Pärnu and the countryside in western Estonia where my mother-in-law comes from. Our first week was all sun, sun, sun and then it was rain rain rain almost all our time in Estonia. Luckily we already love this country so we wasn´t a bit put off!

I thought I would share some culinary and maybe other highlights of our trip. This is a stew I had at a traditional restaurant in Riga´s Old Town on our first night there. Sadly I didn´t take any notes but I remember it as a rather simple stew with quite a lot of tomato taste. It reminded me of my meat stew with peanut butter actually. The stew was served with whole barley and of course decorated with a lot of dill, the classic garnish in this part of the world. My man is a big dill-lover so he was in heaven for two weeks!