Tag Archives: starter

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

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

Gazpacho

25 May

We’ve very hopefully created a new tag called ‘summer recipes’. I feel this could be tempting fate, but gazpacho kinda forces summer into your kitchen. You can’t fight it.

This recipe is adapted from the totally fabulous – but not very veggie friendly – the New Spanish Table.

Gazpacho

  • 5 tomatoes (3 cups)
  • 1 cucumber (about 150g – smallish)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2/3 C bread crumbs (or stale bread, cubed and soaked in water)
  • 3 large spring onions
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 ysp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Throw all the veg, breadcrumbs and spices into a blender and blitz for all you’re worth. Add vinegar to taste.

Finito!

Estimated cost: £2.30

Musical accompaniment: The Cave Singers

Deep fried camembert with quince paste

6 Apr

Alright. This is deep-fried cheese. Deep-fried cheese.

Man Woman has had such a dish once or twice in our restaurant-going lives, but we never deep fry (well, wanting not to waste/use too much oil, this was kinda a shallow fry) and the idea of deep-frying something as artery assaulting as camembert was, in frankness, embarassing to ourselves.

But a friend brought us some camembert from a trip to Paris (some might say under duress) and we thought, we’re going to deep fry that mother. We’re going to batter it and fry it and eat it. We used quince paste – membrillo or marmelada if you’re Spanish or Portuguese respectively – and this does require something jammy to go alongside. Iceberg lettuce underneath provided a very welcome freshness and a scattering of herbs lightened also.

This is excellent. This is scary good. I fear we might deep fry more camembert on special occassions. This was intended as a first course, but after it we could only stomach a small glassful of gazpacho – totally sans fats. Eat this. Make this. It’s good. It is pure decadence and indulgence. Fatty and bad for you, but the French seem to manage it without getting heart disease and early onset type 2 diabetes, so in moderation, go like the clappers.

Deep fried camembert

  • 165g camembert (2/3 of a 250g wheel) cut into 6 wedges
  • panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • plain flour
  • membrillo or mermelade – Iberian quince paste
  • iceberg lettuce
  • parsley
  • chives

Cut your camembert into wedges of your choice. On one plate mix up some cracked black pepper and flour, in a bowl alongside whisk an egg briefly, in a further plate fill with panko bread crumbs.

You’ll need to alternate hands so as to keep one dry and good for use in flour, and the other ‘wet’ for dipping into the egg mix.

So coat the wedge in flour, dredge in egg then coat in panko crumbs.

Do this for all your wedges, then repeat. Double-crumbing is necessary to provide a great thick crust and is pretty damn easy to do.

Heat vegetable oil in a small pan until it’s hot enough that a small piece of bread will bubble and colour quickly after you drop it in.

We shallow fried, so put the camembert wedges in batches in, cooking for about a minute on each side. Just important to watch it develop a golden brown colour and then flip or remove. Drain excess oil on a kitchen towel.

Serve on top of iceberg lettuce and scattered pieces of marmelada or some berry compote (our attempts at a yellow pepper jam failed miserably – not in season yet – so thus the cop out with the marmelada, which works very, very well).

Estimated cost: £3.00

Musical accompaniment: The Low Anthem

Gozleme with spinach & parlsey or cheesy sumac egg stuffing

17 Mar

To Woman’s insatiable upset, the caff near Finsbury Park which used to make fresh gozleme in the mornings alongside gelatinous Full Englishes, abruptly stopped selling the far more amazing gozleme some two years ago.

I remember the day clearly: a house guest and dear old friend of Man’s from Sydney (I’m looking at you, Peter Carey) had a list of London things to do, among them was a full English. ‘I know just the place’, said I smugly, imagining tucking into a  gozleme, drizzled in lemon juice and accompanied with some briny black olives as Man and Friend waded through gluggy tinned baked beans and anemic fried tomato. Oh, the hubris. Oh fate, tempted.

The caff, in the face of zero demand (excepting Man Woman’s occasional popping in for the £1.50 delights) had capitulated to a far more Anglo cuisine. A sad day it was, dear readers. Sad and bitter, as Woman refused to order any alternate dish and sat, seething, drinking instant coffee and seeing her angry face infinitely reflected on the two walls of facing mirrors.

And so, we started to make our own. It’s easy.

Gozleme dough (makes 4)

  • 1/2 C white flour
  • 1/2 C wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C water

Mix all ingredients. Give it a good knead. Like a ten minute knead. Knead it good.

Then let it rest for an hour, ideally. Divide into four balls and then roll the dough out into a rectangular shape. Roll as thin as possible – 2mm would be great.

Spread your filling in the centre of the dough. Not very thick – just enough to cover a section of about half the dough evenly. Then pull the edges over (see  above and below) in an envelope-style fold.

Brush the gozleme in olive oil or melted butter and fry on a hot pan for about 4 minutes a side, or until cooked through with nice black dots on it.

  •  

    The folded gozleme, ready for fryin’

Spinach and parsley stuffing (makes 2)

  • 1/2 C cooked or thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 C chopped parsley
  • 1 spring onion (or less red onion)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint

Mix together and do as above.

Sumac cheesy eggs stuffing (makes 2)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C grated cheese (we used cheddar, but a white cheese would be great)
  • 2 tsp chopped red onion
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix together. You’ll want your dough a little thicker for this one.

Estimated cost: £1.90

Musical accompaniment: Mulatu Astatke

Stuffed vine leaves with yoghurt tahini sauce

14 Mar

Woman is nearly becoming a woman of a certain age. That age being 30. Woah.

The day after she turned 29, she fashioned herself a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30. Generally, it’s a typical list: career goals, travel KPIs, 10km race targets, extreme sports commitments and, you know, learning to play the accordion. Among the orthodox hit list, are some exceptionally lame inclusions. One being the home made manufacture of stuffed vine leaves.

This recipe is modified from the totally brilliant From the Tables of Lebanon veggie cookbook. It’s such an un-photogenic (there are no photos) cook book, Man Woman love it. Everything we’ve cooked from it has been good. Lebanese!

Making your own stuffed vine leaves is not as time-consuming or difficult as Woman thought – otherwise she wouldn’t have put it off for so many years. It is, though, something you definitely want to make in bulk because once you start you get a whole production line thing happening.

Stuffed vine leaves (makes 18)

  • 1 packet of vine leaves in brine
  • 1 C short grain rice
  • 2/3 C tinned chopped tomato (or 1.5 tomatoes)
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP dried mint

Combine all ingredients bar the vine leaves in a bowl.

In the middle of each vine leaf (rinse before using), place a tablespoon sized log-shaped dollop. Roll over once, tuck the sides in and continue rolling.

When all are rolled, line an oiled heavy-bottomed pot with thin sices of potatoes. Stack vine leaves in layers, cover with 1.5 cups of water (and salt) and top with a heat-proof plate (like terracotta).

Bring to a boil, then simmer for a further 40 minutes.

Don’t discard the potatoes! They’re some kind of wonderful on their own, and I’m sure the Lebanese wouldn’t throw them away.

Yoghurt tahini sauce

  • 1.5 TBSP tahini
  • 2 TBSP yoghurt
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 TBSP water
  • salt

Mix water, tahini, salt and lemon juice first with a fork or whisk. When combined, add yoghurt and combine.

Estimated cost (with sauce): £2

Musical accompaniment: Noah and the Whale

Vegetarian satay sticks

11 Mar

Satay chicken, blah. It’s all about cauliflower. Cauliflower kicks the arse of chicken.

Peanut satay sauce*

  • 1/2 C peanut butter (get one without added sugar)
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 1/2 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Satay sticks (to make 4 satay sticks)

  • About 1/4 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets (but any veg you like, cauliflower is good in that it can hold onto sauces both in flavour and structure)

Heat a small amount of peanut or veg oil in a small pan. Throw in chopped shallots.

Add remaining ingredients, adding extra water, lemon juice, coconut or peanut butter according to taste.

Meanwhile, cook cauliflower florets in another pan in a bit of veg oil. Allow to blacken in parts. When cooked stick onto skewers.

Remove lime leaves from satay sauce and pour over cauliflower skewers.

* This makes enough for probably double the amount of skewers.

Estimated cost: £2

Musical accompaniment: The Cave Singers

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