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Frozen beauty

Today is cold. It's very cold.

This morning the temperature was -27ºC and I had to walk to the center to go to the dentist.
I was freezing! Even my nose hair froze and it wasn't very pleasant.

I know that in Finland it can reach even lower temperatures, but please remember that I'm Italian! ;___;
My body is just not cut for such harsh cold. In Milano, my hometown, it rarely snows and even more rarely the temperature drops below 0ºC.

That's why Finnish winter is so difficult for me. Even I've been living in Finland for few years now, I'm yet to get used to the freezing cold. Under my winter jacket I put many layers of clothes, with the result that I look exactly like the Michelin man >.<

But I have to admit that Winter has a such special beauty, that I've never seen in Italy. When the nature is covered with snow and the pale sun shines from behind the clouds, this place looks like a white paradise.

During my walk I took some photos :)
















Elections egg miniboats

Last Sunday there was President elections here in Finland, a very important day indeed! So I wanted to make something small but special as appetizer to celebrate the occasion.

Unfortunately this brilliant idea came suddenly, I didn't have anything planned and not much food at my disposal. So I decided to go for eggs and whatever was left in the fridge.... so zucchini and cheese :D
So here's my little egg elections boats:


I couldn't publish this before 'cause I got my wisdom tooth removed and I was in pain for a couple of days. It was a pain to eat these days, it took me 15 minutes to finish a yogurt cup ;___;

Anyways, here's the recipe!

Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 3 eggs
  • small chunk of zucchini
  • about 100 g processed cheese (any cheese that melts well is fine)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt & pepper
Directions:
Boil the eggs and let them cool down.
Meanwhile chop zucchini, cheese, onion and garlic finely. Saute them in a oiled pan until the zucchini is properly cooked. Add salt & pepper up to taste. Let the veggies cool down as well.
Peel the eggs, cut them in half horizontally and carefully remove the yolks. Put the yolks in a bowl with the veggie-cheese mix and stir well.
Fill the eggs with the mixture and add a Finnish flag as decoration :P

Meatballs italian style

Ahhh italian meatballs are soooo yummy! :)


Even though the Americans (and not only them) think that in Italy we always eat meatballs with spaghetti, that's a lie! :D
Usually our "polpette" are a second course, they're fried or cooked in the pan and served with mashed potatoes or salad. They're also quite easy to make.

Lady and the Tramp eat meatballs with spaghetti

Ingredients (3-4 persons):
  • 400 g minced meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion
  • 1 dl milk
  • 1/2 dl bread crumbs
  • finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbs scrapped parmesan cheese
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1/2 ts black pepper

Directions:
Chop onion and parsley finely. In a bowl mix milk and bread crumbs, then let it rest for a couple of minutes so the crumbs become swollen.
Then add the meat, egg, onion, milk, parsley and the parmesan. Mix well. Finally add salt & pepper, always mixing.
Shape the paste in small meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.
Fry them in a hot pan greased with a bit of oil. Be sure that they cook evenly all around.
Serve with salad or mashed potatoes.

Double fat-free berriesyogurt mix

Usually I eat a cup of fat-free yogurt as afternoon snack, but I noticed that in the fridge there were 2 big cartons of yogurt already opened and they were both half empty. So I decided to finish them and create the following yummy mix :P


Ingredients:

  • fat-free white yogurt
  • fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • blueberries
Directions:
Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Mix. Ta-daaaaaaaaa! :D

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare

The whole world knows that Italians love pasta. We could eat pasta almost every day! It's our second biggest love, after "la mamma" (pizza comes third :D)
In South Italy pasta has a strong and spicy taste with seafood. In the sauce they use plenty of clams, mussels, shrimps, squids etc. Of course they come with the good company of tomatoes, garlic and chili!
The following is an easy but tasty pasta ai frutti di mare recipe. Frutti di mare means "fruits of the sea" :)


For this dish you can use either fresh or frozen clams. I bought from Lidl a handy pack of frozen seashell food that was really good.

Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 200 g spaghetti
  • 300 g mixed seashell food (clams, mussels, shrimps, squid)
  • 400 g tomato sauce or peeled tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • chili
  • bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • oregano
  • salt & pepper
Directions:
In a large deep sided pan, heat some oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute it for few minutes. Increase the heat to medium/high, then add the seafood. Pour the tomato sauce (or peeled tomatoes), chili, oregano and parsley.
Teste the sauce. Add more salt & pepper if needed.
In the meanwhile, drop spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, place it in a large bowl and mix it with the sauce.

Cocktail Salad

It's a VERY simple, easy to made and fast salad. At least here, the ingredients are cheap, so it's not a complicated recipe at all, but it may serve as inspiration to do something simple and fast.

Ingredients:
  • 150 gr ready to eat shrimps (I took cooked one, let them cool and peeled them xD)
  • a handful of iceberg salad or any other salad you like, chopped in slices
  • half avocado, chopped or in slices
  • 2 spoons chopped smoked salmon
  • 2 spoons very finely chopped sweet onions
  • 2 spoons chopped ananas (optional, I left this out because I'm allergic to ananas

So this is basically the situation: you just mix the above ingredients together, or dispose them decoratively on the plate.. and add the sauce!

Ah... the sauce.. you can use all kind of sauces you prefer. For this, I used cocktail sauce with yogurt.

Ingredients of the sauce:

  • 2 spoons of ketchup
  • 2 spoons of yogurt
  • 1 spoon of oil
  • 3 spoons of lowfat milk
  • a bit of salt if you think it isn't salty enough

Just emulsionate everything well togheter, and voilà.. Ready to eat. :)


Snow White's Applepie II

Yeah.. Snow White has a big apple tree and she hasn't got enough creativity to do something else with her apples than to cook them.. :P
Well, so, after pie 1, here follows pie 2!
Its variation is more 'caky', but still very yummy...


Recipe:
  • 3 big apples
  • 2 tbsp lemonjuice
  • 40 g smashed almonds
  • 200 g soft butter
  • 200 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g white flour
  • 1 Sp baking powder
Indications:
Cut an apple in slices, as decorative purpose to put on the top of the cake. Chop in tinier pieces the rest of the apples, put lemonjuice all over, and set aside.
Mix the butter, sugar and the almonds together. Add the eggyolks. Beat the eggwhites until stiff and add to the mixture. Then little by little, beating softly, add the flour and the baking powder. Now you can add the apple chopped in thinly pieces. Put this into the mold, decorate the top with sliced apples in the beginning.
It's ready to be baked in the preheated oven at 180º for 45 minutes.
Remember, if it's getting golden in the top, but it's not yet done, put foiled paper over to avoid the cake to get burnt. :)

As a result, you should enjoy a piece of cake with a cup of tea or coffee! But please do not invite the evil queen... xD

Speedy chicken wok

This is not a real "recipe" since it's so easy to make that it doesn't need much explanation. Yesterday evening I cooked this fast chicken wok and it tasted really good :)


Instead of the popular Findus frozen wok veggies I tried a cheaper finnish brand, which was a wise decision! It was much better than Findus, because in the Findus package vegetable are cut in big chunks and taste too sweet (there are huge broccoli pieces that I really don't like).

Ingredients:
  • 400 g of chicken
  • 1 bag of frozen wok veggies (450 g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Directions:
Fry the chopped garlic and onion in oil in a large wok pan. Add the chicken, let it cook and add salt and pepper. When the meat is almost cooked add the frozen veggies and cook at high heat for about 8 minutes or until the veggies are hot. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve right away.

Yogurt cup low fat pie

Yesterday was my bf's birthday. Since last November we have both changed our diets and we try to eat healthier, which means we have to avoid fat foods... so I had to think of a low fat cake to bake to celebrate his birthday.

I remembered a nice simple recipe of a yogurt pie that uses seed oil instead of butter and a small amount of sugar as well. And if you use a fat-free yogurt is even lighter! That was perfect!

Since he loves blueberries I decided to use fat-free blueberry & raspberry yogurt and to add whole blueberries as well. And here's the yummy pie:


For this recipe you don't need to use a scale, instead you use the yogurt cup to measure the ingredients :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of fat-free yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of seed oil
  • 1 envelope of yeast
  • a small envelope of vanilline
Directions:
First of all pour the yogurt in a container, wash and dry the cup. In a bowl mix the eggs and the sugar. Then add the cup of oil and then the yogurt always mixing well.
Finally incorporate the flour, vanilline and yeast. Stir until the mixture is even.
If the paste is too thick add a drop of milk. Grease the pie plate with some butter and pour the paste. At this point you can add fruit or chocolate or other yummy stuff of your thoice on top of it :)
Bake in preheated oven at 180º for about 40 minutes.

Spicy tagliatelle in mushroom sauce

Last evening I prepared for dinner pasta with one of my favorite ingredients: MUSHROOMS!
I used dried mushrooms (porcino type) since I got them as present from Italy, but also other mushrooms like champignons and frozen ones work as well.


In the sauce I added some peperoncino, which is basicly Italian chili. They can be very hot, like the ones I have, so I tend not to use it too much since I don't like much spicy food.


For pasta I chose tagliatelle, a type of flat pasta, that is original from Emilia-Romagna region and its name comes from the italian verb "tagliare"= to cut. Tagliatelle are ideal with thick sauces, for example made with meat, in fact the classic is the Bolognese sauce (ragú).

Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 200 g tagliatelle pasta
  • 100 g mushrooms
  • 250 ml cooking cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • peperoncino or other chili
  • parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese
Before cooking (for dried mushrooms):
Wash the mushrooms under cold water to clean them of the dirt. Put them in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them be for about 20 minutes (or follow the package directions). After that, don't throw away the water you used! Instead, filter it carefully so it can be added to the sauce for extra flavor.

Directions:
Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
Finely chop garlic, peperoncino and parsley and saute them in a saucepan with oil over medium heat.
Add mushrooms and let them cook for some minutes. Then pour the filtered water we saved and adjust the taste with salt & pepper.
Add the cream, stir, and let the sauce cook for few minutes at low heat.
When water boils, add pasta and cook until al dente. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve with parmesan cheese.

Mediterranean pollock

Everybody knows that fish is healthy and we should eat it at least 2 times per week. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer a variety of healthy benefits: they help to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

When I lived in Italy I used to eat lots of fish, but here sadly there's not a big selection and often the prices are so steep like for example salmon, shrimps and clams.

But due to my new "healthier" style of eating I try to cook fish often, and also my man, who never really liked fish before, now he loves it! :)

Let's start with an easy but tasty pollock recipe.



In the recipe I use whole peeled tomatoes in tomato juice, which are a common ingredient in Italian cuisine. But normal tomato sauce works as well.

Ingredients:
  • 400 g frozen pollock fillets
  • 400 g peeled tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • chopped olives
  • flour
  • oregano
  • salt & pepper

Directions:
Defrost the pollock at room temperature for some hours before cooking (follow the instructions on the package).
Pour the peeled tomatoes in a bowl, squeeze them with a fork. Add salt, pepper and olives and mix well.
Chop the garlic in big pieces and the onion in slim rings. Fry them with a bit of oil in a warm pan until they get some color. Roll the fish pieces gently in the flour on each side and lay them in the pan. Add salt, pepper and oregano. Flip the fish after some minutes so both sides cook properly.
Pour the tomato sauce in the pan. Let it cook at medium flame for 2-5 minutes.
Serve with boiled potatoes and cottage cheese.

Snow White's Applepie

So this is my first post here -it's Sugarcat writing! ;)

First of all, happy 2012 to Wondy and all readers... ehm.. is someone else reading, too?
Well, if not, then it's time to do so! :D

I'll start sugary! With an apple pie! With Snow White's Applepie... well honestly, it's just a typical normal applepie as you can find in Switzerland (called Öpfelflade) or Germany (Apfelfladen) and Italy, and Spain and so on.. please stop me before I start to write down all countries of Europe. XD
Anyway, let's call it nonetheless 'Snow White's'... it sounds fairytailish, and it's pretty good now since I'm becoming addicted to the tv-series 'Once upon a time' (watch it! xD).


Where to start? Pics! So if you follow the recipe, you will get something like this:


Here comes "Snow White's Applepie Recipe" (just change the amounts for bigger or tinier portion):

- 1 roll puff pastry (I had one already rolled out, how cool am I? xDDD)
- 2 apples (please, no cursed ones!)
- 250 gr yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 l milk
- 80 gr sugar (or more, if you have a stronger sugar teeth)
- 2 tiny spoons of flour
- optional: 50 gr grated almonds
- another optional: a bit of cinnamon
- preheat the oven to 200º

So you roll out the pastry on your mold, peel and chop the apples and positions them on the pastry.


Mix all the other ingredients together and pour it over the apples.

You can decorate the top with the remaining of the puff pastry if you wish. Put it in the oven, for like 40 mins. It depends, as always, on the oven. Make sure, it doesn't get burned on the top.
Tip: If you see, the filling is still liquid and it's getting the brown colour, put some foil paper over the pie: like this it won't get burned. :)

Finally, find 7 nice dwarfes or a Prince Charming (<3) and start with the yummy eating... but beware of the evil queen!!

Viva La Befana!

While in many Countries today is just a normal holiday, in Italy Epiphany is a very special day, particularly for children.


The legend says that during the night of January 5th an old ugly woman called Befana comes riding a broom to put chocolates and candies in the socks that the children left for her. However bad kids recieve only coal (usually candies that look like coal :P).
We also say: "L'Epifania tutte le feste porta via", the Epiphany takes away all the holidays. Because after January 6th adults go back to work and the children to school, and all the Christmas decorations are put back in the closet until next year.



Italian poem:

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!
....
The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!

Christmas yummies

Christmas is already gone but not yet forgotten, especially since I took few nice photos to remember it.

I spent a traditional Finnish Christmas at my man's mom's house, with his sister and her boyfriend. Now, Finnish people celebrate this festivity quite differently than us Italians.
Basicly the most important day is the Xmas Eve. On the 24th morning we ate rice porridge for breakfast, as it's traditionally done for Christmas (even more traditional is to eat it with cinnamon dust on top), then we went to the local cemetery to light the candles in the snow.

In the afternoon we took a relaxing sauna with beer and ate some of the many chocolates that were laying in every corner of the house.

Around 3 pm there's the CHRISTMAS MEAL. While Italians always eat in precision order appetizers, first courses, second courses etc, Finnish people don't.
All the available food is placed on the table, which tends to look quite amazing and a bit cluttered :P

The main food is what they call "Joulukinkku", a huge 7 kg ham cooked in the oven overnight and served cold (I would prefer it warm, but hey...). To accompany the ham, they serve a variety of casseroles (carrot, liver etc.), salmons, salads, mayonnaise salads, ham in gelatin (lihahyytelö) and so on.

As for desserts, there're the traditional gingerbread cookies "Piparit" and the Christmas tarts I posted a little while ago served with "Glögi", aka mulled wine combined with spices and served warm.

Pretty Christmas decorations

Glögi

Rice porridge

Dinner table


Karelian pies

Casseroles

Karelian stew

New Year's cheeseburgers

To celebrate the end of the year and the start of the new one, we made something we love really much: cheezburgers!
My boyfriend cooked the burgers while I sliced the veggies. Of course we enjoyed the meal with a bottle of good finnish beer :)


Making delicious cheeseburgers is pretty easy.

Ingredients for the burgers:
  • 400 g minced meat
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium size onion
  • salt & pepper

Ingredients for the filling:
  • whole-wheat hamburger buns
  • ring sliced onions
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sliced sour cucumbers (pickles)
  • salad
  • hamburger dressing sauce
  • cheddar cheese slices

Burgers directions:
Chop the onion finely. In a large bowl mix together onion, meat and eggs. Add salt and pepper while mixing it until is evenly incorporated. Form into equal patties. Warm up a frying pan greased with a little bit of butter or oil. Cook the burgers on both sides.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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