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Porcini mushrooms risotto

In Italy we often make risotto with meat (sausages, minced meat etc.) but also with only veggies. Like for example risotto ai funghi porcini, made with porcini/penny bun mushrooms.
It's obviously an autumn dish, but since they sell those handy bags of dried mushrooms you can cook it even in summer! And it tastes soooooooooo good!


Making a good risotto is quite easy, but it's a slow process that requires time and attention. You cannot just simply go to watch TV and let the risotto cook alone, because that would come out a mess. Instead you have to keep stirring and stirring otherwise the rice sticks to the bottom of the pan and add broth little by little, having the patience to wait that the rice has absorbed all the liquid before adding more broth.


I often see in culinary magazines and websites risotto recipes which don't include any broth and they're cooked in 10 minutes... that's not a risotto! It's a normally cooked rice :D

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).

Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 200 g risotto rice
  • about 50 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (or meat cube, for a stronger taste)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 glass white wine (optional)
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese

Directions:
Boil the water and drop in it the bouillon cube.
In a pan heat some oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and saute until it gets a nice golden color. Add the rice and turn up the heat. Let it lightly fry, while keeping stirring it for few minutes (it will look slightly translucent).
If you want, add now the wine and keep stirring. The alcohol flavors will evaporate. Add the mushrooms.
Add enough broth that it covers all the rice and stir. When the rice has absorbed almost all the broth, add a ladle of broth. Keep adding ladlefuls of broth, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is cooked and has creamy texture. This takes about 20 minutes.
Check the taste, add salt and pepper up to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese and if you want also with freshly chopped parsley.

Fall in love with me!

You're in for someone? You want someone to fall for you? You seek for love?
Don't worry, this special dessert will make everbody fall in love with you, seriously. Just looking at the plate, will have a inmediately drool effect. XD



What I offer? A lovely composition of a fruit roulade and chocolate fudge brownie without nuts. :)

Ingredients for Fruit Roulade:
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 80 gr flour
  • a bit of salt
  • 2 spoons milk

Instructions:
Separate the egg yolks, add the sugar, salt and milk. Beat the egg whites, and add to the previous mixture. Then little by little, add the flour.
Cut baking paper in a square and put the mixture over the baking paper, then introduce into the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden in the oven at 220ºC. It most not get brown, it's a biscuit that is made really fast.
Take it out and let cool for 5 minutes.
In the meanwhile prepare the filling. This time I used 3 spoons of cream and a handful of berries (smashed everything together). Last time I used whipped cream with pieces of mango.
You can also use jam, or only whipped cream, or whatever you desire.
Afterwards simply roll out and let cool in the fridge for an hour. :)


And now let's go on with the fudgy nutless chocolate brownie.

Ingredients:
  • 350 g dark chocolate, broken in small pieces
  • 250 g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 180 g brown sugar
  • 120 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions:
Melt the chocolate with the butter. Beat the eggs with the sugar until fluffy. Then mix everything together. Afterwards add the flour and the baking powder. Continue to whisk until the mixture is soft.
Prepare a mold, and grease well, then add the mixture and put into the oven for 30-40 minutes at 170ºC.
This fudgy brownie will grow, and when you take it out it will get small again, so don't be entuthistic about it's size... but be about it's smell and taste, cause these are priceless!!
If you wish, you can also add a handful chopped nuts, but I prefered to leave it out. Instead, as fast as I took it out of the oven, I decorated the top with chocolate pieces (I used Toblerone pyramids). The chocolate will melt a bit and be really tast afterwards.
You can it this warm, but it's very tasty if you leave it be a few hours in the fridge, to cool down and become even more fudgy. :)


Just serve on a plate, decorated with fruits or whipped cream. Or serve just one of both recipes... Do as you wish but beware... the eater will fall in love with you. <3

Enjoy! :)


Orange slices with cinnamon and yogurt

I saw this recipe in a food magazine sometime ago. I thought it looked promising because it's light and easy to make, and also very healthy as it's full of vitamin C. So I decided to try it out. In the original recipe they use creamy yogurt, but I opted for a more dietetic fat-free yogurt.


Doesn't it look pretty? It was very fresh and tasty, altough I have to say that it would have been as good even without honey since the oranges are sweet enough. This recipe suits well as snack or dessert.


Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 1 or 2 oranges
  • 200 g white fat-free yogurt
  • 1 ts cinnamon
  • 1 tbs liquid honey

Directions:
Peel the oranges off all the white skin and cut them horizontally in thin slices.
Lay the slices on a serving plate, sprinkle them with cinnamon and pour yogurt and honey on top.

Homemade Marzipan Bits

So I saw this week a tiny bar of premade marzipan. Yay.... except that I don't like premade marzipan that much. I love almonds, and I love sweets, but not TOO sweety sweets. So, that marzipan bar, was interesting.
But I prefered to do some myself. So I did homemade marzipan. :) It's VERYYYY easy, and very simple. Just did this in 10 minutes when I arrived home, I left home, did many things, came back, and in other less than 10 minutes it was done, so it's a less than 20 minutes procedure. ;)


Ingredients:
200 gr ground almonds
200 gr granulated white sugar
1 egg white
handful of almonds

Instructions:
Just really mix everything well together. Just mix, mix and remix, and hear remix music of Madonna or Tori Amos or whatever, continue mixing for like 10 minutes until you get a tiny ball. Let it in the fridge for a few hours. After, you form them like you want. You can also add food color, add sprinkles, pieces of nuts... whatever.
I formed them into balls, and put inside a whole almond. Some I rolled over the sugar on the edges, some over cocoa powder, some over chocolate sprinkles...


Then put it in the oven for like 5-8 minutes on high temperature. If they start to get golden, take them out and let them cool. And then, eat.


Enjoy! *___*

Pasta bolognese done my way

One of the most delicious pasta dishes in the whole world is pasta bolognese, aka ragú.

The word "ragú" means a general sauce with meat that is served with various kind of foods, in Italy usually with pasta. Then the ragú can be of different types, so we have ragú bolognese, ragú napoletano etc. But in spoken language we don't really mind all these details, ragú and bolognese sauce mean the same thing.

Even there is a traditional bolognese sauce recipe, everyone does it their own way or how they learn from their mom. And so do I! :D
One good side is that in this sauce fit all kind of ingredients, even the leftovers you have in your fridge. The most important thing, is that the bolognese sauce includes meat and tomato sauce (even there are vegetarian versions around).

When I saw that in our fridge there was still half pack of light minced meat, 1 big champignon mushroom and 2 carrots I decided to make ragú.



Ingredients (2 persons):
  • 200 g ground beef light
  • 200 g pasta (I used Rigatone pasta)
  • 400 g tomato sauce
  • 1-2 big champignon mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese

Directions:
Wash and slice the mushrooms. Peel, wash and chop the carrots finely.
In a large pan heat some oil over medium heat. Add minced onion and garlic and saute for few minutes. When they turn golden add mushrooms, stir, and let it cook under a lid at low heat for few minutes. Add salt and pepper up to taste.
Turn the heat higher and add the meat. Mash it with a fork while mixing well, until the meat is almost totally brown. Add more salt.
Add tomato sauce and chopped carrots. Stir well. Let it cook slowly at low heat and half covered with a lid until the meat has absorbed the tomato sauce and the ragú is dense enough. Usually to me it takes about 2 hours.
In the meanwhile occasionally stir and add more salt and pepper up to taste.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Mix it with the bolognese sauce and serve with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tortilla de patata! or spanish tortilla recipe :D

Well, a salty typical spanish dish is the tortilla. Not the mexican tortilla, but spanish tortilla, which is easily made with eggs, onions and potatoes. There are many variations like spinach tortilla etc. But the original and true one, is with potatoes. And is very very yummy. It's also easy to do, if it wasn't because you have to turn it around, and it might be the only difficult point... it just needs practice, I suppose.


Ingredients:
5 medium potatoes
4 eggs
2 onions
olive oil
salt

Instructions:
Cut the potatoes and the onions in slices and tiny pieces, and fry them until golden, with a bit of salt.
In the meanwhile, eat the eggs, with a bit of salt, too. Just not to much. :)
Afterwards, pour the potatoes-onions into the beaten egg, and mix well (this is my favourite part.. although I don't like raw egg, I love eating bits of the potatoes poured into it.. *-* this is also the right time to check if the salt is the right amount).


Let it stay like this for a few minutes. And then prepare the pan. Put away the oil and leave it just with a little bit to avoid stickyness. The pout the whole mix into the pan and medium fire, for about 5 minutes. The under part should become golden.

And now comes the most difficult part: turn it around. xD for it must be golden also on the upper part. ;)
Just put a big plate over the pan. Create pressure and turn it around, and gently put the bottom part to the pan, without destroying its form. Do it slowly until you get more practice. :)


And then cook it another 3 minutes.. and it's done. Ready to eat. It's really simple, it sounds more difficult than it is, if you fear the weight of the pan, or the heat, just o tiny little portions in a little pan, to begin with. But spanish tortilla olé it's really worth it! :)
Serve it with a salad and enjoy.

Delicious homemade laskiaispulla (semla)

First of all I have to say that the most common and traditional pastry in Finland is called "pulla". Pullas are sold EVERYWHERE, and they are really lovely. It's basicly a cardamom-spiced wheat bun, which can have different shapes and filled with various types of jams, creams etc.

However, to celebrate Shrove tuesday, Finnish people eat a special type of pulla: laskiaispulla. A much yummier version filled with raspberry jam (or almond paste) and whipped cream. The top can be also covered with almond chips or pearl sugar.

Of course every shop sells laskiaispulla, but there's nothing better than homemade ones, like these:




If you want to make these delicious buns, here's what you need:

 (butter and salt are missing from the photo)

Ingredients for the dough (about 20 small pulla):
  • 5 dl milk
  • 50 g yeast
  • 1-2 ts salt
  • 2 dl sugar
  • 1 tbs cardamom seeds
  • 1 egg
  • about 15 dl flour
  • about 150 g butter
For the filling and topping:
  • 1 egg
  • raspberry jam (or strawberry jam, or almond paste)
  • whipped cream
  • almond chips or pearl sugar
Directions:
Melt yeast into lukewarm milk. Add salt, sugar, cardamom seeds and egg. Add then flour little by little mixing well. Melt the butter and pour it and keep mixing. Let the dough rest under a cover in a warm and draftless place.
After about half hour, or when the dough doubled its volume, drop it on the table and mold from it small round buns.

(yes this picture is quite blurry...)

Let the buns rest covered for about 15 minutes.
Beat the egg in a bowl with fork until yolk and white are well mixed and brush the buns, add pearl sugar or almond chips on top if you like.
Bake in 225°C pre-heated oven for about 5-10 minutes. When they're cooled down, slice them in two horizontally, make small holes in the bottom layers and fill them with some jam. Spray whipped cream all around the jam, and put their "hat" back on.



 They're ready to be enojoyed with a nice cup of coffee!

Warming fish soup

Before moving to Finland I didn't really like soups even if in Italy we have many good soups, like for example our famous minestrone.
But I just wasn't a fan of them, and when mom wanted to make soup for dinner I wasn't really excited about it.

Things changed drastically when I came here. The harsh Finnish winter did the magic trick and suddenly a warm soup was the best food during cold days :D

That's why I started to cook soups here in Finland, little by little, learning from my mistakes. Now I can say that I can make good soups (although my bf doesn't appreciate them since he doesn't like soups altogether!).

The following is recipe for a simple, colorful and tasty fish soup.


Since my bf doesn't eat it, there's always some leftovers. So I put the leftover soup in a container and in the fridge. The day after I reheated it for lunch and I must say that reheated soup tastes much better than just made (and also the photo looks prettier when the sun shines!).



Ingredients (2 persons):
  • about 300 g fish like salmon or alaskan pollock (can be frozen)
  • 5 dl water
  • 1 fish bouillon cube
  • 1 bag (200 g) of frozen veggie mix
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • chives
  • salt & black pepper

Directions:
Chop chives finely. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes in cubes.
Boil the water and drop in it the fish bouillon cube. Add potatoes and frozen veggies and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
Then add the fish pieces, tomato paste and chives. Mix well and add salt and pepper up to taste. Let the soup boil, then turn down the heat and cook until the fish is ready.
Serve with a slice of rye bread.

The Hunger Games "Cake"

So.... I've recently discovered a trailer of the upcoming film "The hunger games", and it was really cool, so I started reading the books, a light, but enjoyable, very enjoyable reading.
There was this part, where Katniss, the female protagonist, eats berries. This inspired me to create and dedicate to the book and the fans this cake.


Here comes the Hunger games Cake Recipe!

Ingredients for the cake:
150gr butter
120 gr sugar
3 eggs
2 spoons of berry-jam
200 gr flour
10 gr baking powder

Instructions:
Beat the butter until smooth, add the sugar. After beating, add the eggs, and the jam. Mix with the flour and the baking powder. Bake it in the oven starting 15 min on 140º, and another 20 on 160º, and last 5-10 min on 180º. It will come out spongy, like that. If you see it's getting brown, but not yet down, cover it with paper foil. :) Let it cool and cut it in half, horizontally.

Filling:
200ml heavy cream
4 spoons sugar
2 handful of berries, I took them of a frozen up package
2 spoons of water or lemon juice

Instructions:
Cook the frozen or fresh berries for 2 minutes with 3 spoons of water or lemon juice. Let them cool and pour the "water" over the first half cake. Then pour the berries over it.
Whip the heavy cream and mix the sugar. I used Vanilla-sugar so it tasted and smelled very good. Put the heavy cream over the berries and cover with the other half of the cake.

Topping:
100 gr dark chocolate
50ml heavy cream
other decorative elements like: whipped heavy cream, berries, etc

Instructions:
Melt the chocolate with the heavy cream. Let it cool a bit, it should start to get "harder", but don't let it get hard at all, just let it rest for half an hour. Afterwards, pour it over the cake.
Them you can decorate the cake, I for example took a bit of the whipped cream and some berries. :)

It's an easy cake, I would send it for Peeta if I could.
Hope you like it!



AHHH, by the way, this is just the cake once open:




Valentine's tasty heart pastries

Today is Valentine's Day! So I cooked something special, for someone special :)


In Finland, Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä, "Friend's Day" and it's not only a celebration of love but also, as the name says, of friendship. I like this aspect A LOT. It's common here to give presents to your friends on Valentine's Day, other than making a pie for your lover. So, if you are single but have many friends you can celebrate Valentine's anyway! :)

Since my bf likes salty treats more than sweets and I still had in the freezer a pack of puff-pastry (the same I used for the Christmas Tarts), I decided to make small salty snacks to enjoy during lunch break. They had to be heart shaped of course!



From 2 layers of puff-pastry I cut 8 small heart shaped pastries. With the leftover pastry and filling I made a sort of croissant (which is not in the photos because it was really ugly XD). So I didn't waste any of the ingredients.

Ingredients (2 persons):
  • ready made all-butter puff pastry
  • about 100 g finely sliced ham
  • about 100 g of creamy cheese, I used garlic flavored one
  • 1/4 red pepper cut in small cubes
  • black pepper
  • 1 egg

Directions:
Let the frozen puff-pastry warm up at room temperature. When it's soft enough carve heart shapes with a cutter, cookie shaper or knife.
Mix in a bowl the finely sliced ham, red pepper cubes and cheese. Add some black pepper up to taste.
Drop some mixture on top of the pastries, but don't over do it! Otherwise it will fall apart while cooking.
Beat the egg in a bowl with fork until yolk and white are well mixed and brush it lightly over the pastries' edges. Bake in 225°C pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they get a nice golden color.

Buon San Valentino!

Carnival, celebration of color and joy!

After Christmas, February is the most loved month by the Italian children because it's time for our Carnevale!


Carnival is a holiday celebrated in Catholic Countries which occurs immediately before Lent. It's a joyful festivity full of jokes, parades, colorful costumes, masks, games. The main part of it is of course the masquerade.
It's funny how the word Carnevale comes from the latin "carnem levare", which means "to remove the meat" because it was the last big meal before Lent.

The biggest and most famous Italian Carnival is the one in Venice. It's a gorgeous show of colorful and beautifully crafted masks and garments. But everyone, especially kids, want to dress up at Carnival because it's just so fun! It's tradition also to throw confetti and stelle filanti, and make pranks and jokes to others because, as we say: "A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale!" (= at Carnival every joke is allowed)

Carnival is related also to our "Commedia dell'arte", a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century. Each italian region had its own character:
- Arlecchino is an infidel servant from Bergamo and wears a colorful checkered suit.
- Colmbina is Arlecchino's partner.
- Balanzone is a serious and presumptious character from Bologna.
- Gianduja is originally from Torino. From his name come the names of the gianduia chocolate and the Gianduiotto.
- Pulcinella is maybe the most popular character, from Naples.
- Pantalone on is a famous Venice's character.

The other good side of Carnival is the yummy things you eat! :D
They're usually sweets, like for example...

chiacchiere

tortelli 
Buon Carnevale!

Pirates tart! YARR!

Yesterday was a really tough day. Luckily it's over.

I had to travel to another city by bus and walking when it was as cold as hell (-33ºC), and it wasn't fun, especially after a small eye surgery. And since there're no farmacies near home I had to walk to the center to buy medicines. My toes were absolutely freezing, they felt like ice cubes!!!

When I arrived home I was so happy to be in a warm place and at peace. A cup of coffee never tasted so delicious!

Since my eyelid has now a wonderful dark purple color and as my bf nicely said "like someone punched me in the eye", I feel pretty much like a pirate. And what do pirates always drink?


RUM!!! YARRR!!!!!
Oh noes, I dont like spirits!.. That's why the Runeberg's torte comes at perfect time! :P

Runeberg's torte (Finnish: Runebergintorttu; Swedish: Runebergstårta) is a Finnish pastry flavored with almonds and rum or arrack and it usually weighs about 100 grams. There is usually raspberry jam in a sugar ring on the tart.

The torte got its name from the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) who, according to legend, enjoyed the torte with punsch for every breakfast. Runeberg's tortes are typically eaten only in Finland and are generally available from the beginning of January to Runeberg's birthday on February 5.
Source: Wikipedia



The Runeberg's tart is not the easiest cake to make, and I'm not a good baker so I decided to buy mine from the nearby shop. Of course homemade ones taste much better!

If you want to make your very own Runeberg's tart, here's what you need:

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 1 egg
  • 25 ml sugar
  • 50 ml soft brown sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 50 ml cream
  • 200 ml flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • ½ tsp almond essence
Ingredients for moistening (syrup):
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 1-2 tbsp rum or punch
Ingredients for the topping:
  • raspberry jam
  • 50 ml sugar
  • icing sugar
  • water
  • dash of almond essence 
Directions:
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Beat the egg and sugars until fluffy, add almond essence (and liqueur), melted butter and whipped cream.

Mix together the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the batter.

Lightly butter eight small cylindrical moulds and spoon the batter into them. Place the moulds on a baking sheet and bake the cakes at 175-200 °C for 15-20 minutes or when a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the middle of them comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the sugar syrup and raspberry topping. Place the sugar, water and the alcohol of your choice into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil, so that the sugar melts and alcohol evaporates. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the raspberries and sugar into another small pan, bring to the boil and cook gently until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are broken (about 15 minutes). Stir every now and then. Set aside to cool. The topping should be rather thick, let it boil for a little longer if it is too thin.

Take the hot cakes out of the oven, prick them with a toothpick, and drizzle the warm sugar syrup on top of them. Use all of the syrup. Let the cakes absorb the syrup for half an hour or longer. When the cakes seem thoroughly moist, gently remove them from the moulds and flip them over.

Place a dollop of raspberry jam on top of each tart and let it set in refrigerator.

Meanwhile, prepare a very stiff sugar icing by mixing a dash or water with icing sugar. Flavour the icing with a dash of almond essence. Pipe the icing around the raspberry topping on top of cakes. Let the sugar icing set and serve the cakes with coffee or tea. Makes about 8 small cakes.

Simple Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake!!!! For a special event, like any boring sunday or a birthday, what is best is something yummy, and among the yummiest things I know, there is chocolate!


So here comes a very very simple chocolate cake recipe.
I promise that you and everyone, will want to repeat... ;)



Ingredients for the cake:
100 gr of dark chocolate
100 gr of butter
100 gr of sugar
90 gr of flour
3 eggs
16 gr of baking powder or 2 teaspoon

Instructions:
Melt the chocolate with the butter, add the sugar, flour, eggs and the baking powder. Put everything into a mold and into the oven for 45 min at 165ºC.
Once cooked, let it cool and prepare the coating.

For the coating:
100 gr dark chocolate
100 ml heavy cream
50 g butter

Instructions:
Heat the heavy cream and put the chopped chocolate inside, until it boils once, than add the butter. Let it cool a bit before putting it over the cake....
And tadaaa!!
Cake is ready to eat. If done for a birthday, blow the candle before eating. :)


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