Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pearl Barley Soup (Kruubisupp) and an Estonian tradition

Estonian pearl barley soup "Kruubisupp"

Probably the most popular pearl barley soup in Switzerland is the Bündner Gerstensuppe. When I moved to Switzerland I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Swiss honour this lovely grain in their cooking as much as the Estonians do. Pearl barley is a favourite for many in Estonian cooking too. Some best Estonian home cooking recipes use pearl barley. Barley was used in the old days as a nutritious filling ingredient in soups and stews. It keeps the belly full and gives energy for a long time, a lot like oats do.

Talking about energy foods in today´s post, I allow myself to take a short diversion into comparative linguistics here, my other hobby horse.

In Estonia when a passer-by sees people working hard, be it physical work like cutting wood, working in the field, shoveling snow or in modern days even doing work of less difficult nature, it is customary to wish them "Jõudu!" (Strength!) or "Jõudu tööle!" (Vigour to your work!... or something like that). The idea is that the person passing or equally when joining in in the work he or she wishes strength to finish the work or that the work goes well to those already working. The other person usually would respond with "Jõudu vaja" or "Jõudu tarvis", both meaning "Strength is needed".

I tried to find an equivalent to this saying in other languages or cultures I know. Didn´t come across much.... The English would say perhaps "Good luck" or "Fingers crossed" or in German one could perhaps say "Ich wünsche Dir Kraft". The closest saying I have seen in practice has been in Holland where I have heard many many times people wishing each other "Succes!" with a task or an assignment in a business context.

Words and expressions  gain foot in a language because the action happens frequently or phenomenon they describe  is wide spread. My so far unsuccessful search for equivalent expressions in other languages clearly hints to the Estonians having work, work, work on their mind. Throughout the years, decades and centuries, Estonians have had to work hard either to survive the cold winters or to survive as a nation.

Not long now until holidays. I wish everyone has a chance to pause and enjoy some rest at the end of the year. The winter is coming in the north, so keep warm and strong with some pearl barley soup.

Pearl barley soup (Gerstensuppe in Switzerland or Kruubisupp in Estonia)

Ingredients (enough for 4 portions):
2 tbsp vegetable oil (eg. rape seed or sunflower oil)
150g carrots, cut into small cubes
150g celeriac, cut into small cubes
100g leek, cut thinly
150g potato, cut into small cubes
70g pearl barley
1.5l water or strong meat stock
1 teaspoon salt
crème fraîche
parsley, thinly chopped

smoked meat or bacon (optional)

In order to reduce the cooking time, soak the pearl barley in cold water for a few hours.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the vegetables and cook for a about 5 minutes.

Add the pearl barley onto the vegetables but do not mix.

Pour the water/stock into the pan, Season with salt if using water.

Cook at low heat for an hour until barley is soft. Season with pepper and additional salt if necessary.

Serve with crème fraîche and parsley.

For a meaty option, add some smoked meat, cut into cubes or stripes, during cooking or fry bacon cubes separately and serve on top with crème fraîche and parsley.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Eating dal bhat in Mustang, the country of Tashi, a young buddhist monk.

The only available road to Lo Manthang is this ancient mountain path

"Tashi Delek" is a documentary about a teenage monk Tashi in Mustang, the Forbidden Kingdom of Lo. Tashi Delek is a traditional way of greeting. The film is in the final stage of production and the small team of creators is looking for support at Kickstarter. The documentary is directed by an Estonian director Peeter Rebane, music by a Brazilian composer and solo guitarist Eduardo Agni.

I am extremely pleased to share an interview with the producer of the film, Priit Rebane. I hope that the culinary excursion will create appetite for you to see the documentary and support it. 

Priit, What is the typical food on the table of the people of Mustang?
Priit: Local people typically eat only one type of food, which is dal bhat, rice with lentil stew. If available, a little bit of cooked spinach or some other greens is added and sometimes you even get some marinated vegetables like carrot or radish. Occasionally the meal contains a scoop of cauliflower or potatoes in a curry sauce.  A bit of chili or pickle is usually available to spice it up if you wish since the lentil stew is usually quite mild.
It is customary to eat dal bhat two times a day. In the morning before going to work they eat a large portion and in the evening they eat the same food again. There is no significant lunch as such. And the same happens every day and every week. Very simple basic food. 
In the mountains people also drink tea with milk or yak butter. The latter is a  traditional Tibetan tea. It is made with greasy yak butter, savoury and really tastes like salty broth with tea. It was a bit unusual for us, but obviously a cup of such brew contains a lot of energy.

A beautifully arranged dal bhat, clearly displaying all the ingredients

It is my belief, that up in the high Himalayas this dish was traditionally made with  barley instead of rice. We had a chance to try such a version once. Barley or tsampa is a grain that grows high up in the mountains. Rice doesn´t. However, these days rice is clearly a lot cheaper, it is often imported from China.
Rice is grown down in the valleys. In the Kathmandu or Pokhara valleys there are rice fields and on the edges of the rice parcels lentil is grown. This  means that they grow everything they need  locally. Life in the villages is based on a self sufficient goods exchange economy without much money involved. If someone works for you, you pay him in foodstuff or owe him a day of labour.

A street view of a village at 4000m

So, people eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. Yaks, sheep or goats provide some milk, meat is rare. According to Buddhist tradition fish is generally not eaten and there isn´t much fish in the mountains anyway.
There are also Tibetan momos that remind you of large ravioli, usually made with a vegetarian filling. Sometimes a bit of  meat or even mushrooms could be added. The momos are very tasty.

What did the film crew eat when you were working there?
Priit: Normally we ate the same food as the people of Mustang.
Nowadays it is possible to have a slightly more diverse menu in the inns and guesthouses, but your best bet is local food - they know how to make this well.
A couple of times we did offer our local crew to try something else, but  their answer was that they prefer their dal bhat and they didn´t want anything else. 
So we got used to dal bhat and had it once or even twice a day. Tasty and nutritious food, not too heavy or spicy either.
Jamyang, one of the two monks in the film, having dal bhat at a local inn

We preferred to have some alternative foods for breakfast when possible. Usually we had thick barley porridge as our breakfast meal and it was really good, just like we know it in Estonia too. Once it was served as "a Do It Yourself kit " with barley flour in one bowl and a cup of hot water next to it.
Up to about 2800 meters it is possible to grow apples and in these lower villages apples were ripe in October. Fresh apples on the tsampa porridge tasted good.
Boiled or fried eggs in the morning was a luxury we as tourist could enjoy with our porridge and tea. 
Sea-buckthorn grows very well at 3000-4000 m altitude and we  had some fresh buckthorn juice which contains a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. If not available fresh, they had made syrup out of it and we mixed it with hot water.

Please describe the local way of cooking.
Priit: Guesthouses are typically inns along the  mountain path at about one day walking distance, like it used to be in medieval Europe. There is a big kitchen with a stove or fireplace. In some inns they have started to carry liquid gas tanks up on horseback and use that for cooking. It is not easy to find wood in the high mountains, almost nothing grows above 2500 m, no trees and almost no bushes. 
Local fields, where they exist at the bottom of a valley, are irrigated by glacial water streaming down from the snowy peaks. Due to global warming, there is less and less of this water today and many fields are now deserted as a result.

Kitchen of a guest house in Tsarang, Upper Mustang

The people of Mustang use dried yak manure to make a fire and cook food. They cant´t heat their houses since there is no wood to burn. Thus there are no ovens, just a fireplace on the earthen floor to cook food and boil water. Smoke goes out of the window or the door. In winter it can be very windy and freezing cold. Temperature drops below -20 degrees Celsius.
Living conditions are very limited and medieval, seems like going back in time 400-500 years. It really makes you appreciate more all the comforts that we have in the modern world and not take these for granted.

Priit, thanks a million for taking us on this wonderful culinary journey to Mustang, the Forbidden Kingdom of Lo. 

Picturesque and harsh landscapes at the outskirts of the city of Lo Manthang

Dear reader, I hope that you found this interview exiting and eye-opening.

You can see the official trailer of the documentary here.
The link to more information and the director explaining the story on how the project started is here:
Tashi Delek - Story of a young buddhist monk
Take a few minutes to enjoy the talent of Eduardo Agni, the Brazilian composer behind the music of the documentary, in these two examples of his previous work: RED and ANOTHER SILENCE 2. It is awesome.

The project needs support to be finished at the highest quality so that the story of Tashi Delek can be enjoyed by us who will most likely never visit the far away Mustang.
Please share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail and if you feel you want to be part of making the documentary happen and you feel this project is worth a contribution of 5, 10, 25, 50,... USD in return for various rewards like a free HD download of this documentary or HQ soundtrack, your contribution on Kickstarter will be most deeply appreciated. Thank you!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Roasted figs with goat´s cheese and thyme

Roasted Figs with Goat´s Cheese @ Lime Or Lemon

Compared to a few years ago figs are conquering the way more and more into my kitchen. Starting in August I look forward to the fig season that culminates in late September and October. It has been a generous crop this year.

Turkish figs

Just last weekend a colleague of mine kindly gave me jar of self-made fig chutney. Her fig tree has blessed them this year with abundance of figs. Now I am looking for a suitable occasion to untie the red ribbon of the jar with a self decorated label and try her spicy chutney.

I have confessed  earlier on the blog that the fresh figs used to look kinda scary to me. I think the bizarre scariness came from their unique softness that no other fruit really has. They possess certain seductive and addictive qualities, it seems. Dish after dish the love of figs has grown and by now I am a convinced fig worshipper. Figs are truely wonderful! 
They taste great both in sweet and savoury dishes.

I don’t have a fig tree, but was happy to grab some plump and syrupy figs of Turkish origin from a supermarket sale. I made a portion of fig jam, my first ever. 

Lime Or Lemon´s first fig jam
While cutting the figs for the jam, their succulent purple flesh was so appetizing that I left a few for a quick lunch or supper later on.
Roasted fresh figs with goat´s cheese:
100g goat´s cheese, cut into chunks 
6 fresh figs, cross cut on top
thyme (or rosemary)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Fit the bottom of a baking form with baking paper.

Place the figs into the baking form.

Divide the cheese between the figs and put a piece or two on each fruit.

Season with a little thyme and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in the oven until the cheese melts or takes on a golden crisp.

Crispy goat´s cheese and roasted fresh figs

Serve warm just like that or with some fresh olive bread.

More fig recipes:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Food From The Forest: Cep Mushroom Cream Soup

Lime or Lemon & Co mushroom picking in Estonia ... Oh look, there is more...and there...Look what I found ... Is it edible?
September is mushroom season in Estonia. One can call this season a nationwide mushroom marathon. If in other years true enthusiasts were into the mushroom picking sport, this year, being a super generous cep year in some places, even two of my friends who I have never seen go mushroom picking put on their rubber boots, grabbed a beaming pink bucket and set their steps on a forest path with us. The cool thing was that after an hour the buckets were full with more than usual ceps among the bounty.

Oh well, cleaning the mushrooms is less enjoyable than wondering around the forest finding something at every step ... but necessary
Everyone is posting pictures on Facebook of the mushrooms they have picked or selfies from trips to the forest. A popular TV morning show dedicated a week on mushroom recipes in the cooking section. Some shops have run out of vinegar for a short while as people are marinating the mushrooms for winter in vast quantities.
Job done, stretching the to the kitchen

Like every year some incidents of people getting lost in the forest or someone having a mushroom poisoning have made it to the news headlines. Fortunately most of the time people enjoy an energizing walk in the fresh air and the joy of a delicious meal of fresh mushrooms is well worth the effort.

Lime Or Lemon´s mushroom crew was happy to find more than usual ceps  (puravikud)
Cep mushrooms are known as a sort of the king or queen of the mushroom world for their luxurious taste and because they are rather rare to find. Cep mushrooms are known as 'porcini' in Italian. In Germany you'd be eating Steinpilze. The Latin name is Boletus edulis. In Estonia you can buy them on the farmers' market under the name of 'puravikud'  for 15-20 Euros a kilo or best of all you can go to the forest and pick some yourself.

Lime Or Lemon´s cep mushroom cream soup

Cep mushroom cream soup
Ingredients for 2 large portions or 4 small ones:
400g cep mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium potato (100g), cut into small (1cm/0.5in) cubes
0.75l vegetable or mushroom stock
1dl fresh cream (10-15% fat)
salt and pepper
1-2 gloves garlic, thinly chopped
1-2 tbsp rape or sunflower oil

100g chorizo, cut into small cubes

Place the chopped mushrooms with a tablespoonful of oil into a pan on medium heat and cook until the water comes out of the mushrooms. When most of the the water has evaporated take out a spoonful of chopped mushrooms for each portion you plan to serve.

Add the stock and the potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft.

Puree with a mixer until smooth. Add the cream and salt and pepper to taste.

Add texture to the cream soup with garlicky chopped ceps

 For a vegetarian version heat a spoonful of oil in a pan. Cook the chopped garlic and the chopped mushrooms for a few minutes. Serve on top of the soup to add a bit a texture.

For a slightly meaty version cook the chorizo cubes in a pan until the fat starts to melt, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve on the soup.

Spicy chorizo with garlic adding meaty flavour to the mushroom soup

More Food from the Forest:
Mushroom Schnitzel
Mushroom salad, chanterelle soup, mushroom burgers

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Eton mess

Eton mess, a traditional English dessert
Berries are health bombs. They hide a wealth of antioxydants, vitamins and lots of vitally important nutrients. People who like berries know what I am talking about. To people who are still wondering what to do with berries and how to eat them, I would like to recommend a simpler than simple delicious dessert that anyone can make in a few minutes. This dessert is Eton mess.

Pick a handful of currants, raspberries or strawberries if you are blessed with a garden of your own or go for a walk in a forest and bend your back to gather wild blueberries, some tangy lingonberries or wild strawberries or venture out to a farmers' market to fetch a box of any berries currently in season. If none of the above seems inviting, a supermarket would be the way out to mix together this dessert. Some of my friends use superlatives to describe this sweet decadent creamy enjoyment.
Berries, small health bombs
Strawberries are the traditional ingredient for the original dessert served at Eton college in England.
I had a chance to visit Harper Adams Univeristy, also in England and there I ate Eton mess with cooked mixed berries. If the English use other fruit than strawberries, so can we.

Ingredients per person:
a handful of berries
1 medium meringue (half a palm size)
100ml fresh cream (35% fat)
1 tsp sugar

Break the meringue into smaller pieces with a fork.
Beat the cream with sugar.

Arrange berries, meringue and cream in layers in each serving bowl or mix everything together in a bigger bowl and serve portions from there.

Enjoy with friends!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rhubarb crumble tart

Rhubarb season has passed its peak. The glossiness and juices start to disappear from the pinkish-crimson stalks. To celebrate the beginning of the summer that astronomically started yesterday I thought a cake with a suitably seasonal vegetable like rhubarb would crown the coffee table well.

In the UK crumble is a dessert where the baking form is filled with fruit or berries, topped with the crumble and baked in the oven. Pages of recipes for rhubarb crumble can be found.

In Estonia a crumble is traditionally a sort of tart, a cake with a dough at the bottom, fruit, berries or in this case rhubarb in the middle, topped with crumble and baked until crispy.

Ingredients for a baking form of 12 x 35 cm

100g butter
50g sugar
a pinch of salt
0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
125g flour

200g rhubarb, cleaned and cut

75g flour
4 tbsp sugar (brown or white)
a pinch of baking powder
a pinch of cinnamon
40g melted butter, cooled

Baking beans and a sheet of foil


For the dough whisk the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together until creamy and pale. Add the egg and whisk until combined, then sift in the flour and mix into a smooth dough quickly.
Form the dough into a ball and cover with clingfilm. Refrigerate for an hour or longer.

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Depending on the form you are using it may be necessary to butter the form before spreading the dough on it to avoid sticking.
After the dough is in place, make a few holes with a fork in the dough and cover it with the aluminium foil. Then place the baking beans on the foil and precook the base of the cake for 10-12 minutes.

In the meanwhile prepare the crumble.
Melt the butter.
In a bowl combine all dry ingredients.
Pour the slightly cooled melted butter on the flour mix and with a spoon or spatula mix the ingredients until a crumble forms.

Remove the beans and foil.
Arrange the rhubarb on the dough and the crumble on top of rhubarb.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sides start to brown and the crumble feels crisp.
Serve slightly cooled or cold with whipped or ice cream or some icing sugar on top.


You may also like Estonian apple crumble cake or Estonian classic rhubarb cake

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easy champignon (side)dish and a reflection on breakfast

If you have questions like "What to do with a box of small champignons?", "Any ideas for an easy side dish?", "What should I do with all the herbes de Provance I bought at Lafayette at my food adventure trip to Paris?" bouncing in your mind then read on...

Eat breakfast yourself, share lunch with a friend, and give your supper to your enemy - a common sense food mantra that has stood the test of time.

Anyone who travels a lot for work and does not have time to wonder around the place you are visiting looking for a nice corner café, they face the decision of taking breakfast at the hotel. The hotel breakfasts trigger a ton of emotions: "Too expensive", "I don´t eat that much as the buffet offers", "Oh, it takes too long when they fry the eggs and toast the toast", "Yum, look at all the choice", "Who eats all these cakes for breakfast?", "I´m going for full English breakfast", "This coffee is rubbish", "Do you serve haggis at breakfast?", "Don´t embarrass yourself asking for a cappucino after 10am", "Oh, this freshly made bread is delicious", "I am definitely having breakfast, it´s not every day I get the catalan pa amb tomàque", "Toast soldiers, old school", "A view to the Alps and what a choice of cheeses, paradise on earth", "Do they really have freshly pressed carrot juice here, incredible!", etc, etc.

In fact,  as breakfast is such an important element for a successful day, the ease of getting hold of breakfast and what the breakfast offers is an essential component in choosing the hotel.

In my food memory bank there is one from the richest choice breakfast buffets from Sobieski hotel years ago in the Polish capital Warsaw that now is a SAS Radisson hotel. Last year I had a chance to stay there again and the change of the name had not changed their focus from offering great breakfast to their customers. The large breakfast room  was packed with happy eaters.

In Barcelona, the right crusty toasted bread with fresh tomato is simply addictive like valerian for a cat.

In small hotels in the UK, if you are lucky, the traveller can enjoy a plate of freshly prepared full English breakfast, with bacon and eggs, mushrooms, tomato, beans, sausage and black pudding. I leave the English breakfast for the pleasures of travelling. I wonder who cooks a full English breakfast at home. I probably never will. Too many calories and quite a lot of effort with all those pots and pans. Oat porrige gets a thumbs up for home breakfast any time, especially in the northern latitudes.

The sauteed button mushrooms provide a nice alternative for bacon to pair with the eggs. At home having mushrooms for breakfast is probably less common. More often they figure at lunch or dinner, often as a replacement for meat or as a side dish. This brings us to today´s recipe. An easy to prepare way of

Sauteed champignons
Ingredients for 2 portions as side dish:
250g smaller size champignons, cleaned, halved or quartered
25g butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
sea salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp dry herbes de Provence

Heat the butter in a low pan.
Add the champignions and cook on one side for a couple of minutes before stirring to let them take on a brownish colour. Stir and cook for 2 more minutes. The champignons should become slightly moist.
Add lemon juice, let it evaporate.
Add herbes de Provance, the honey and stir.
Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Serve immediately.
If you need to serve later, I would let the champignons cook for longer and cook out the water. The mushrooms will let out some water and keep cooking without a lid to let the liquid evaporate.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wild Garlic and Broccoli Dip

Spring began this week. I noticed this at the market because the wild garlic had arrived. I also noticed that in a small supermarket where I and my colleagues sometimes buy soup for lunch a new spring selection included wild garlic soup.

Wild garlic is also known as ramsons but as I understand not many people know what ramsons is (are?). Let´s stick to wild garlic in English then. In Estonian as well as in German this green garlicky leaf is linked to bears and is called "karulauk" (Est.) and "Bärlauch" (Ger). In fact the question is why in English it is not relating to bears? The Latin name of wild garlic is "Allium ursinum" where "allium" is leek and "ursus" is a bear. In Finnish it is called "karhunlaukka", in Lithuanian it is "meškinis česnakas", in Polish "Czosnek niedźwiedzi ", all include a mention of a bear.

In Danish it is "ramsløg", in Swedish "ramslök", in Norwegian "ramslauk", all have a similar word root of "rams" as is found in the English ramsons.

So here is my personal etymological theory, the vikings from Scandinavia knew wild garlic and while they were ravaging on the island now known as Brittain around the 8-10th century somehow perhaps seasoned the game they caught with ramsons that they knew from back home.

In many other countries on the European continent the etymological linkage must have spread from German, Latin or Slavic languages where this forest herb is mentioned in relation to bears who after waking from the winter sleep are looking for the wild garlic bulbs in the forest. And bears in these countries are common forest inhabitants.

Enough of etymology, now back to food...

Wild Garlic and Broccoli Dip

1 broccoli head
a small bunch of wild garlic (ca. 20 leaves)
3 tbsp crème fraîche
1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Ciabatta or sliced bread, toasted
Extra virgin olive oil

Cut the broccoli into smaller pieces and steam for 5-10 minutes until soft. I recommend steaming to boiling to avoid that broccoli becomes too watery. Let it cool down or quickly cool it by dipping it into ice water and pat dry.
Place the broccoli, wild garlic, crème fraîche, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a food processor and crush the ingredients into a smooth spread like paste.
Taste and season as you and your fellow eaters please.

Instead of broccoli kohlrabi or cauliflower can be used as well.

Serve it with toasted slices of ciabatta or any bread.
Sprinkle a little olive oil on the bread and either spred the dip on the bread or just dip pieces of bread into the dip.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Traditional Estonian yellow pea soup

Pea soup is one of the traditional dishes that is eaten at Vastlapäev. Vastlapäev (Shrove Tuesday) is a moving day in the Estonian folk calendar and is the day before the seven week fasting starts. The time of this moving day follows the Christian calendar, however in practice, most Estonians are not giving this day any religious meaning but rather link it to the old folk traditions, predicting the success of the farming crops in the coming season, taking care of the farm animals and women used to go to the pub for a drink. By this time of the year most of the stored meat would have been finished and the last cuts like trotters, tail, ribs were used in cooking.

As the modern time celebration of this day is mostly done outside sledging and skiing and having fun in the snow, a bowl of hot hearty soup is something to look forward to to warm up the body, once back inside.

Traditional Estonian yellow pea soup
250g dry yellow peas

1.5l stock
1 dl pearl barley
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
250g smoked ribs, already cooked
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
parsley or chives, finely chopped

Soak the peas and barley in water separately in two bowls overnight.
If you have smoked raw ribs, cook stock the night before using the ribs.

Next day, heat the stock, add the rinsed peas, barley and bay leaf and cook at medium-low heat for about 60 minutes until almost soft.
Then add the carrot and ribs and cook until carrots are soft and the meat comes off the bone easily. Cut the meat into small pieces and add back to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with parsly or chives

More traditional Vastlapäev dishes:
Estonian bean soup for Vastlapäev

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Salcify pie

The winter vegetables still rule at the farmer´s market. Salcify, aka vegetable oyster or Schwarzwurzel in German, is one of them. The roots with pitch black skin, often covered with rests of soil, may seem rather frightening, if you have never cooked it before. Don´t let the dark and gloomy looks of sticks that resemble Harry Potter´s dark magic wands put you off from trying one of the most wonderful vegetables. Preparing salcify demands 20 minutes more work than carrots, but the tender taste and the feeling of experiencing something new is well worth the effort.
For anyone who would like to pimp up their menu, I can recommend salcify whole heartedly.

Salcify pie

115g cold butter, cut into small cubes
1dl rye flour
1dl whole wheat flour
1dl wheat flour
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp cold water

500g salcify, thoroughly washed
salt water for boiling
2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

10g butter
salt, pepper
the remaining egg white
50-75g parmesan, grated
parsley stems, finely chopped
(smoked) sea salt
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
parsley leaves, finely chopped

It is difficult to peel raw salcify. An easier way is to boil the thoroughly washed salcify and then peel the cooked roots like carrots, cutting out the dark eyes with a sharp vegetable knife.

Place all ingredients for the dough into a bowl and mix them together by hand or a mixer.
Keep the dough ball in the fridge until the rest of the preparation is done.

Bring water to boil, add salt and salcify and cook for 15 minutes.
Drain the boiling water.
Peel the salcify and keep the peeled roots in water with lemon juice or vinegar.
Cut the salcify diagonally into 5mm thick slices.
Heat the butter in a pan, cook the salcify slices in butter until they start to take on a light brown colour.

Heat the oven to 180C Celsius.
Fit a baking form with baking paper or butter it to avoid sticking.
Roll the dough to fit the form.
Stab the dough a few times with a knife.
Pre-bake the dough in the oven for 5 minutes.

Take the pre-baked dough out of the oven, spread the remaining egg white on the dough.
Spread half of the grated cheese on the bottom of the pie, then add the salcify and parsley stems.
Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the salcify. Smoked salt gives the pie a slight flavour note, but if not available, just plain sea salt will do fine.
Cover the salcify slices with the rest of the parmesan and scatter pumpkin seeds on top.

Bake for ca. 30 minutes until the cheese has taken on a nice colour.

Serve with green salad or a cup of tea.

If salcify is your thing, you may also like
Salcify cream soup

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chickpea and kidney soup

A new year is well on its way and half of January is already gone. According to the Estonian folk calendar January 14th was the day when winter´s back was broken. This meant that half the winter was over and half of the food supplies planned for the winter were supposed to be still in the pantries. Equally for the farm animals, half the feed should be still available.

Taking inventory of my supplies, I concluded that I was well covered with honey and self made jam until next season and dry ingredients and a few emergency cans of tuna would take me through February. It is the vegetables that I would need to rely on the farmers to still have in their storage and come to the market every Saturday to feed the hungry town crowd and save them from vitamin C deficit.

Even though there almost hasn´t been a proper winter yet, the warming soups have their place on the Lime Or Lemon blog in 2014 too.

Chickpea and kidney soup

Today we have something in the spirit of "If you decide to kill (ie. eat meat), dare to eat the whole animal". Kidneys fall into the Love or Hate category of the ingredients.
A few years ago, before the whole sustainability and bio mentality became more popular, the secondary cuts of meat were difficult to find in the latest cookbooks and restaurant menus. Recently I saw pig´s ears and blood risotto on a menu in a Lisbon restaurant and these days pages after pages of recipes of liver, kidneys, pig´s ears, tongue and other specialty meats are finding a come back in the food magazines.

Ingredients for 4 portions:
4tsp vegetable oil (eg. rape oil)
2 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
250g rabbit´s kidneys, rinsed and patted dry
1 carrot, chopped
3 stalks of Swiss chard (mangold), chopped
0.5 dl sherry
0.75l water
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can of 400g of chickpeas, rinsed in cold water
salt and black pepper
Dill, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions on medium heat until they turn soft and brownish. Remove the onions from the pan.
Fry the kidneys in the same oil for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and put aside.
Place the carrots and Swiss chard into the pan, cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry and let it evaporate.
Add the bay leaf.
Pour the water onto the vegetables and let simmer for 10 minutes until soft.
Add 2/3 of the chickpeas and cook for a few more minutes.
Remove the bay leaf.
Purée the vegetables into a smooth soup.
Season with salt and black pepper
Now add the remaining chickpeas and the kidneys to the soup.
Bring to boil.
Mix in the chopped fresh dill.
Taste and season to your taste and serve with the fried onions.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Onion Market: Zibelemärit in the Swiss capital

This was not the longest arrangement, a 2 m long one carried a lable "SOLD"

The last Monday in November is Zibelemärit (Onion market for the less eloquent in Swiss German) in Berne, the Swiss capital. This is a big event for the locals. We are even granted half a day public holiday and some schools let the children to mark and enjoy the event. The true fans of this day start off at four or five in the morning, the public transport starts an hour earlier than on other days. It is a good idea to come by public transport as many will be keeping themselves warm drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) or Punsch.

Stalls and people everywhere

The market really is about lots of stalls selling onion wreaths and garlic wreaths and all sorts of creative onion and garlic decorations. Funny enough, the market does not smell of onion at all. Occasionally the nose catches the inviting garlic bread aroma from some catering stalls.

Smiling onion ladies

There is lots of typical food to choose from on the onion market: onion pie, cheese pie, fondue, potato rösti, bratwurst, Lebkuchen. Specialties from other Kantons (Counties) can be bought as well.

Onion and cheese pies in all sizes

Speck from Kanton Glarus
If the Swiss food is not your favourite, burgers, hot dogs, roasted almonds, chinese fried specialties or even Dutch sweet poffertjes will not leave you hungry.
Roasted almonds and Lebkuchen
Even the Dutch are claiming a stand at the onion market

A portion of 5 poffertjes with sugar and butter go for 6 Francs
Over the years the market seems to have expanded and is now occupying most streets in the city center including the Parliament square.

Garlic, Onions and Lavender from Provence, France

A loooong salami that was
I mentioned that most of the children are free from school on this day. To fill their time adequately, they walk around throwing confetti at everyone and hitting the passers-by with plastic hammers. Confetti and hammers are probably the best sellers in the non-food segment items on this day. A day well spent.

Walking around the streets in the city center the scents and sensations of the brewing wine in huge kettles is inebriating the market visitors to the beat of the 80´s "Voyage, Voyage" or to Lenny Kravitz´s desire to get away and fly away. Listening to some of my non-Swiss friends they would join in with Lenny trying to escape the crowds and being hit on the head with a hammer.

The colourful confetti is cleaned fast in the evening and before the night falls the streets shine as a new pair of glasses.

A piece of cheese pie and that´s dinner sorted. If you´d like to learn a Swiss German word, try "Chäschueche", it means cheese pie.
Swiss chäschueche or cheese pie