Tag Archives: Less than £2 a head

Karjalanpiirakka – Finnish rye pastries with swiss chard rice filling

20 Dec

Continuing on this Nordic theme for no apparent reason whatsoever, here we  present to you karjalanpiirakka. Or Karelian pies, if you don’t speak Finnish. I don’t profess to speak Finnish, but I have accrued a somewhat surprisingly large Finnish vocabulary in foodstuffs.

These little pastries are often part of a picnic spread or table of breads and snacks. We’re not going to lie here. It’s heavy on the old carbohydrates. But it still isn’t too stodgy – unless you want to follow the traditional recipe which uses a lot more butter in the pastry, in the rice and then dips the whole buggers in butter-water then tops it with a mixture of munavoi – which is a mixture of equal parts egg and butter. Butter.

We served this as a starter with beetroot carpaccio, and it’s likely that we’ll make a bunch for Christmas, chucking a few in the freezer to pull out for when guests come around and we’re too bloated from the previous day’s excess to actually cook anything else.

This rye pastry, though, is quite versatile. We’ve used it as a base for pies, it has a really lovely flavour and texture when rolled out very thin. We used it in a broccoli, cheddar and dill pie which worked really rather brilliantly.

Thin rye pastry (makes enough for about 14 pastries and a small pie)

  • 50g white flour
  • 200g rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g butter chopped
  • 125g fromage frais
  • 85ml water (add more accordingly)

Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the butter, fromage frais and water. Knead, leaving some chunks of butter in the dough, wrap with cling film and  let rest in the fridge for a little while (this can be left for up to 2 nights in the fridge and still be good, according to our experience).

Remove from fridge and roll out. There will be butter pieces still in this, but laminate the dough – so continuously fold over, then roll out, fold over and roll out until the flattened pastry is even in consistency.

Roll to about 2mm thickness, or as thin as you can get it.

Filling (enough to fill about 14 pastries – or half the above pastry mix as above)

  • 1C pudding rice
  • 1C milk
  • 1C water
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 leaves (not ends of stalks) Swiss chard
  • salt to taste

Cook as though making rice pudding. Once the rice is soft and the liquid as been absorbed, add the chopped Swiss chard and stir through.

Dill yoghurt
  • 60ml yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP chopped dill
  • 2 tsp chopped chives
  • salt to taste

Just mix. That’s it.

Assembly

Use a small saucer or cup (ours was about 8cm in diameter) to cut circles of pastry. In the centre of each circle dob about 2.5 TBSP of rice mix.

To fold the sides in, start at the edge of the circle furthest from you. Using both hands pinch the pastry around the rice mix, fitting tightly.

Cook in the oven at 200C for about 15 minutes, it should be obvious when it’s cooked.

Serve as a snack, as a starter with beetroot carpaccio or salad (one pie per person suffices in our experience) or – if you want to go really Nordic – some munavoi.

Estimated cost:

Musical accompaniment: Spiritualized, Songs from A&E

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Beetroot carpaccio

18 Dec

So vegetarian Christmas, eh? Little bit lame, little bit not-so-special, little bit ‘where’s the nut roast’? No, say we. No. Man Woman refuses to eat nut roast, we will not partake in tofurky and we will not be scaling down to pasta.

The ceremony of making ham over hours and stuffing turkeys, actually I’m quite jealous of all that. So this year, our first Christmas staying put in the U of K, we’ve decided to go all out, and go traditional. But not traditional at all, you know. Still, however, in the tradition of tradition in a way. Point is, there is some traditional ingredients and concepts, but an absence of animal parts and their sad vegetarian imitations.

We decided to test the limits of this concept at a recent dinner party (I say dinner ‘party’ but our tiny flat allows us to squeeze just two other people in). At an earlier ‘party’ we’d drunkenly vowed to prepare our guests a Nordic/Finnish feast. There being about 14 actual vegetarian recipes (which are not baked goods) in the now fashionable Finnish repetoire, we realised it’d have to be Finnish in spirit, if not quite yet in reality.

So, thought we, let’s break this down to its elements. Finns like beetroot. Finns like dill. Finns like preserving things in salt.  Beetroot and dill carpaccio was the only logical evolution of these three facts.

This dish, which was served as a part of a starter (recipe soon to follow), would be great as part of a Christmas feast or as a side to creamy or heavy dishes as it’s nice and sharp. Northern European ‘tapas’ anyone? While this time of year up in this hemisphere can mean loads of heavy foods and root vegetables with which Man Woman are still largely unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to, this is a nice way to introduce some seasonal rooty freshness. But also, for our friends back in summertime, this totally works for hot weather too. You can tell it’s Christmas ’cause everybody wins.

So this carpaccio was kinda in homage to the Nordic habit of gravalax and also looked a whole lot like smoked reindeer meat while being notably less gamey. Bonus!

Beetroot carpaccio with horseradish and dill (serves 4 as side)

  • 1/2 large beetroot
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP grated horseradish (we used one from a jar – use less if using fresh horseradish)
  • 4 tsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Slice the beetroot as finely as possible. If you can manage to get a full cross-section, congrats, you’ve been keeping your knives well and you deserve a gold star. Otherwise, shavings (think ham!) are fine too.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and adjust to taste. It should be very acidic.

Lay the beetroot in a shallow dish and cover with the lemon mix. It may be almost like a paste, but so long as you smear and toss it through all the beetroot it’ll be fine.

Chill in the fridge for at least ten minutes.

Estimated cost: £1.20

Musical accompaniment: She and Him, Christmas Album

Tomato and red onion tarte tatin

1 Aug

I promise we have made this prettier than these pictures, but I’ve not uploaded the pics to the computer and it’s been ages since posting, so just look at the above pictures, imagine a 30-40 per cent visual improvement and you’re there.

French cuisine is really not often very amenable to the absence of meat, over-fed livers and the like, but we’re determined to defy French conservatism. Like vegetarian Jacobins or something equally historically significant.

As you’ll see from the pictures, we’ve made this both with shallots and red onions. It really, really doesn’t matter. Roma/plum tomatoes, normal vine tomatoes – whatever. Choose what looks best in the fresh veg aisle.

Pastry

  • 60g white flour
  • 30g mature cheddar cheese or parmesan
  • 30g butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 15g self-raising flour

Filling

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 -1 TBSP sugar
  • 5 shallots or 2 red onions, sliced into thick rings
  • 2 sliced garlic cloves
  • 5 or so tomatoes halved (whatever fills your pan)
  • 1 – 2 tomatoes cut into thick slices (to sit on top of other fillings)

If you’re good you can make the pastry while the filing is cooking, but you will need some pretty impressive powers of multi-tasking to do so very effectively.

So, melt butter and sugar in a pan of around 20cm diameter. Then add balsamic vinegar, garlic and place the cut tomatoes and onions/shallots face down. Squeeze in as many as possible and keep the plate on low heat. Maybe even chuck a few extra wedges in here and there. Throw another tablespoon of balsamic (or more) over the stuff and sprinkle with salt.

While this is going, mix together pastry ingredients. Then wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for about an hour. (You could do this before the cooking, actually)

Move the pan into an oven in low heat. I like to cover the tomato/onion mix with a lid or foil because it’s really best not to let it dry out. Cook for about 20mins – half an hour.

When the onions are softened and tomatoes cooked through and similarly soft, you can take the pan out of the oven and hopefully by this time the pastry has rested in the fridge.

Carefully place the pastry over the tomato mix, checking first that it’s still quite liquidy. It should be a sticky kind of liquid – not as thick as honey, but on its way. Try to tuck the pastry into the pan, but it might just end up ‘rustic’.

Put back in the oven at around 180C for about 20 minutes. Take out when pastry is hard.

Let cool for a couple of mintues then tip over, placing a plate inside or over the pan and quickly flipping.

Best served with a green or rocket salad.

Estimated cost: £6

Musical accompaniment: Anna Calvi

Summer spaghetti: Broad beans, spinach and mint

12 Jul

Man Woman will not dwell on the presence or absence of the English summer. It does not, in fact, weigh on our minds at all. No, rather it will often be midday before Man or Woman might even remark, ‘Oh look, dear, it happens to be a miserable shit of a day once again. Ever so glad we migrated.’

For us, as non-natives, part of the goodness of eating seasonally is actually discovering what is in fact seasonal. Broad beans, we understand, are summery even if the skies under which they grow are bleak and seemingly devoid of any sunlight. Moving on, this recipe was the first time we used them and it is pretty good. All can be made while the pasta is boiling and happily exists without the cheese if you want to go dairy-free.

A note here, this recipe quantaties are totally subjective. This amount will get you a nice balance of pasta to veg, but tweak to your tastes.

Broad bean, spinach, mint & hazelnut spaghetti

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 C fresh broad beans (or peas, edame – any fresh green pod-borne things etc)
  • 1 C spinach, chopped
  • 6 or so leaves of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 TBSP hazelnuts (pistachio, pine nuts or even walnuts could also work well)
  • 100g soft goats cheese or feta (optional)
  • Butter/olive oil for frying shallots

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and chuck the spaghetti in. (Really do use wholewheat – it so much tastier).

In a small pan, heat a little butter or olive oil and throw in the shallots and nuts. After a minute or two, add the broadbeans and keep stirring as the spaghetti cooks.

Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, return the spaghetti to the large pot and throw in chopped spinach. Let it wilt a little in the still-hot pot and then mix in the beans, shallots and nuts.

Throw in mint and then serve. Top with goats cheese if you like, and either way drizzle with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Estimated cost: £2.20 without cheese, £4 with cheese

Musical accompaniment: Something classical. We really should start paying more attention to this.

Sesame rice balls (ongiri)

13 Jun

Ongiri for dinner

Ongiri for lunch

Leftover sushi bits are hard things to deal with, freshness being kinda the critical element of sushi and all Japanese wonders. After a sushi dinner party, Man Woman had an abundance of cooked rice and would-be nori roll fillings still hanging about and decided, when all other options fall flat, make balls.

This is inspired by the rice balls from the macrobiotic restaurant in Sydney Iku, which nourished Woman during many long and impoverishing journeys through Glebe markets. As a leftover recipe we used what we had leftover – a bit of carrot, some errant aspargus spears, etcetera. Use whatever you have to hand, but I’d try to keep the rice:non-rice ratio faily similar to this, because too much non-mushable veg (sweet potato and the like would be an exception) would stop this from binding.

I also have on good authority that kneading of this mix is crucial to ensure it holds.

Rice balls (ongiri). Makes 8 – 10 – serves 2 to 4 people

  • 1 C sushi rice uncooked
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/3 C tofu (ideally a flavoured one – smoked or some such)
  • 1/4 C asparagus
  • 1/3 C carrot
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp mirin (sweet cooking wine – optional)
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1.25 C water – for cooking the rice
  • Sesame seeds – for rolling

Chop vegetables up quite small (see below pic as a guide) and mix with cooked rice. Add ginger, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil and mirin – if using. If you, perchance, have any left over picked ginger knocking about in the fridge, chuck that in promptly.

With wet hands, mix the rice and veg, pressing down as though kneading dough.

Keep a bowl of water next to you and pour out about half a cup of sesame seeds onto a plate.

Make balls by scooping a palmful of rice mix into your wet hands (the repetition of wet hands is a purposeful emphasis – without repeatedly dipping your hands into water or the like, the sushi rice will stick to you, not itself and you will never, ever create rice balls). Firmly shape into a ball for about a minute, if not a bit longer. Roll in sesame seeds, coating entirely, and set aside.

I put my rice balls in the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking, but it’s not necessary.

Ongiri in process

Fry or bake?

You can shallow fry these in about 1cm of vegetable oil, turning as the seeds in the oil golden. This creates a nice chewy crust which contrasts nicely with the soft rice inside – it is, however, frying and thus bad for you and doesn’t have that  clean feeling of not frying.

For baking, pre-heat the oven to 190C. Brush the balls lightly in sesame or veggie oil. Bake for about half an hour or until the crust gets coloured – these won’t get as dark as the fried balls, but the crust does get that chewy texture. You don’t have the oil weighing you down after the meal as the fried ones do and the chance of burning yourself with an errant, angry sesame seed flying out of a hot pan of oil are markedly lessened. Bake, I reckon.

Either way serve with salad. I also made a quick lemon, black bean and ginger sauce to go with it (just mix these ingredients and adjust to taste).

Estimated cost: £2.50

Musical accompaniment: Lia Ices

Pulla (Finnish cinnamon scroll bread)

12 Jun

Apparently Nordic cuisine is totally a big thing now. How uncool and mean does Woman now feel for her past, unreceptive attitude to some of the Finnish fare that Man has previously touted as delicious.  Bring on the pickled herring and shrimp paste in a tube! It’s all cool now.

One thing that has always been wholeheartedly loved (and feared – despite the fact that this is less sugary and buttery than other versions, this is NOT healthy food) is pulla – pron. bull-la. The pillowy soft bread and lemony cardamon swirled up in a frenzy of cinnamon sugar – it’s just very good.

This recipe is a combination of Man’s mum’s traditional recipe and a cookbook one. We’ve added egg in this incarnation, but you can make it without and happily substitute vegan dairy alternatives – although I wouldn’t tell Finland you did that.

Pulla/korvapuusti/sweet Finnish cinnamon bread (makes 18 small scrolls and one plaited loaf)

  • 30g fresh yeast (or 15g dried active yeast)
  • AT LEAST 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 80g sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 500g flour
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Touch of salt
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling
  • Sugar for sprinkling
  • Melted butter for the above sprinkling

If using dried yeast, slightly warm the milk and then add to yeast. Let sit for a couple of minutes until a little frothy. Melt the butter over low heat.

Mix all the dried ingredients (except the salt), then add butter, milk and egg and knead. Once combined, add a pinch of salt, then knead for a further 5 minutes.

Put the dough in a greased bowl or tray, cover with a clean cloth and set aside – wait for it to double in size.

Once doubled, knock the dough back. This is now when you get to shaping. You can do mino-scrolls, large scrolls, a plaited log or just a bread loaf. We decided to do those first three.

The easiest way to make mini scrolls is to roll out a long sausage of dough. With a rolling pin, flatten it ’til it’s about 1cm thick. Brush this with melted butter and dust with cinnamon and sugar. Dust generously. Really. Then roll into a firm scroll and cut cross sections about 3cm thick.

To make bigger rolls, do the same but with a narrower, thicker piece of dough.

To make the plaited loaf you need 3 thick ‘sausages’ of dough. Begin at one end by squeezing the ends together. Then plait. It’s easier just to do trial and error. You don’t have to really brush this with sugar and cinnamon, but go for it if you want to.

Now leave whatever you’ve rolled or plaited again to rise until doubled.

Pre-heat the oven to about 220C. Once the bread has doubled, perhaps brush with an egg wash or just milk or butter. Bake for about 30 minutes. This’ll vary according to what you’ve made/your oven/etc so do check on it. You want a golden crush, but no browning.

Eat as soon as possible. These also freeze rather well – this recipe makes a ridiculous amount.

Estimated cost: £2.50

Musical accompaniment: Tune-Yards

Mango Mint Rum Granita

17 May

Man Woman believes that this summer is going to be a Good Summer. Just like the summer four years ago which the Brits keep referring to – and which we missed. In anticipation of this Good Summer, Man Woman have been road-testing some quick wins in the refreshing goodness department. This taste of summer iteration one is a libation to the sun gods which we expect they will appreciate.

Plus, dead easy.

Mango Mint Rum Granita

  • 3 C mango puree
  • 1 TBSP mint leaves finely sliced
  • 30ml white rum
  • 30ml lime juice
  • 15ml lemon juice

Mix all of the above. Adjust rum and citrus juices to taste. We feel this doesn’t need any sweetening.

Put into as large a dish/plastic container as you can fit in your freezer. After 30 minutes, run a fork through the mix – the mix should be partly frozen at this point. Do again a couple more times until the mix is an icy granita awaiting consumption.

If you leave it too long and it freezes hard, just leave it out for as long as it returns to the appropriate level of slushiness.

Estimated cost: £2

Musical accompaniment: Paul Kelly, Roll on Summer, Roll On

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