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December 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
Saturday was the Finnish Independence Day. We spent it in the kitchen – after a relaxing sauna bath – streaming a tv broadcast of the celebrations in Finland and making these Christmas yummies, among other things:
Here are my two Independence candles. (Traditionally, we display two candles in each window, or at least in one window, typically facing the street.) These windows face the back yard, but I wanted them where we could see them.
Happy 97th! Only three years to go for the big 100.
November 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration. October’s choice was Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, a vegetarian cookbook that was a gift to Mr. E.
We combined a salad with zucchini stuffed with a rice and pine nut mix. The salad consisted of cucumber and red onion with smashed garlic and ginger. The red onion came through a hint too strong, but otherwise the combination was very, very good.
As dessert, Mr. E made crostini, which is basically toast topped with a paste of garlic and pine nuts, plus grilled slices of pear and a sprinkling of mozzarella. The crust of the toast was a little challenging to get through, but otherwise they tasted marvelous. The zucchini and the salad are definitely keepers with nary a change!
I wanted the table to reflect the fall colors we see outside without being too bluntly in-your-face about it. The reds and purples in these Anthropologie plates coordinate better with my simple saintpaulia centerpiece than the brilliant maples outside; that’s why I added some gold, red and brown ribbons around the plant pot. There’s also green and peach ribbon to tie in with the plates, and turquoise in the dessert plates is also pulled from the dinner plate colors.
October 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Perhaps it was the cold temps, perhaps it was the fall flu season starting, but I’ve been functioning with less than a full battery pack for a while. On top of that, my laptop battery actually died. While the mechanical battery has been replaced, the human one is still putting at 42% efficiency. Hopefully the rest of the month will be better.
It’s taken me a long time to post September’s special dinner, but finally, here it is. For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration. This time we chose Tastes of Anglo-Saxon England by Mary Savelli.
The starter was a hot root vegetable and cucumber soup. Yes, boiled cucumber! We used our own heritage cukes, supermarket onions plus local turnip and carrots. The soup also had a little beer in the broth. The mix was unusual, and improved from adding a little sour cream. The main course was fish cakes with buttered beets – yum! – and a dollop of sour cream, which Mr. E added to the recipe. As dessert Mr. E made baked apples stuffed with a mixture of pears, peach, honey, breadcrumbs, butter and cinnamon. To make it really rich, we topped it with a splash of thick cream. Ahh!
I decided to keep the table bare so that all of that gorgeous wood would show to its benefit. Bamboo placemats are in no way Anglo-Saxon, but I’m no purist, and they go nicely with the wood colors. Simple glasses and white bowls won’t detract from the fancier plates. A fast and free wild flower / leaf bouquet topped a cork hotpad.
Apart from the soup, which tasted a little funny to our modern palates, the dinner was great. Especially the dessert!
September 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration.
This August, we picked a collection of recipes from Louhisaari Manor in Askainen, Finland. The recipes and remedies were written down in the late 1700s to mid-1800s and read like family knowledge: there’s no need to share measurements or detailed information because everyone already knows exactly what size your pots and pans are. Mr. E had therefore to improvise a bit.
Mr. E made a simple omelet with salt, pepper, and parsley as a starter. The “trick” was to whip the eggs into a light froth before adding the rest of the ingredients. For the main course, Mr. E wanted to try a smoked geese recipe, but we’re not equipped for smoking, nor did we have access to geese. Instead, he picked two small Cornish game hens and roasted them on the grille outdoors. The hens were served with a simple cucumber-tomato salad, which wasn’t called for in the recipe, but which we wanted to add anyway for extra veggies. The cucumbers came from our yard.
As dessert, Mr. E chose a flourless lemon cake. It’s made on an almond paste crust topped with cooked rice flavored with lemon and sugar. I’d rather call it a pie, I think. Whatever you call it, it tasted very good.
For the table, I picked our blue willow China because the pattern was popular in the 18th century, making it a perfect historical fit. I then chose coordinating dishes and textiles to go with the plates, and I think the combination looks really good, even if I say so myself. For an additional Finnish touch, I placed our Iittala annual bird 2012 as a minimalistic centerpiece.
It’s another keeper of a dinner! Mr. E said he’d like to try the lemon cake another time to tweak it even better. Well, I’m not one to say no to that! 🙂
September 8, 2014 § 2 Comments
For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration. July’s dinner actually came from two cookbooks, not one: Pam Hoenig’s The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook and Chocolate Ecstasy by Christine France.
As starter, we enjoyed a clam, corn and sausage chowder, made with fresh, local corn. Mr. E roasted the corn on the grill before cutting the kernels off to put in the chowder. I was pleasantly surprised at the resulting smoky flavor. The combination was delicious!
The chowder was followed by chicken with olives and artichokes. It was a paella or risotto-like dish with
calamari kalamata olives and chicken from a local farm. Unfortunately, the olives rather overwhelmed all other flavors, but I’d imagine it would be very yummy with regular canned olives.
For dessert, Mr. E made a sumptuous black and white chocolate mousse. Smooth, rich and refrigerator-chilled perfection. Ahh!
I used a combination of colorful and white dishes and a yellow-orange Marimekko poppy runner for a simple yet summery table. (And forgot the napkins. D’oh!)
This dinner was fantastic! We’ll have to try the chowder in the winter with frozen corn to see whether it’ll come out as delicious as with fresh corn. I hope so!
And now that I’ve finally posted July’s special dinner (hello there, procrastination), it’s time to do August…