tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: berries

After dinner Pavlovas

by tableofcolors

Today has been a baking day since the rainy, wet weather did not entice me to go outside. Our road and driveway had turned into a literal skating rink and the kids did go boot-skating and came in very wet. Yesterday when I went on a little stroll for fresh air I had to be extra careful to not fall. The three kilometer little loop went fine but just as I was taking the shortcut to the door across the yard, I stepped on a patch of ice hidden under the snow. Down I went. No broken bones, perhaps a little bruise on my knee. Nothing serious. The picture of the branches below is from a week ago. So quickly the landscape changes.

2013-12-08 14.13.37-2And since the weather was dreary, we baked. We baked gingerbread, and made gingerbread trees, caramel sauce and made these dainty little pavlovas. Holiday dinners are usually so filling. The traditional Finnish dinner that we have on Christmas Eve is no different. It includes a salted ham that is baked on the hearth overnight and casseroles made from root vegetables. I had been flipping through a Pirkka magazine the previous week and found this recipe that served as my inspiration. The servings are intended to just give a little sweet flavor to end the meal since Christmas coffee with its abundance of treats is served later in the evening.

mini pavlovaMeringues

makes about 18  (6 cm/2.5 inch meringues)

4 egg whites

2 dl/0.8 c sugar

Beat your egg whites until a light foam and start adding the sugar in little by little. Continue beating until it is firm enough that it will not fall out of the bowl if you turn it upside down. By the time all of the sugar is added, it will be quite glossy.

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Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag and and make little nests by starting in the center and working your way around creating a round shape. Finish by adding one extra layer on the outer edge to create the nest.

2013-12-16 12.23.50Bake in a preheated oven at 125 C/250 F for about one hour. Allow to cool. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container. Sprinkle the bottom of the container with cornstarch to absorb any moisture.

Filling

Equal parts of whipped cream and marscapone cheese, quark or Greek yoghurt (about 2 dl/1 c of each will probably be sufficient)

Sugar

Red currants, cranberries or lingonberries

First whip the cream. Add in the the desired choice or marscapone cheese, quark or yoghurt. The slight sourness of the cheese, yoghurt or quark gives a nice contrast to the otherwise very sweet dessert. I used a quark flavored with rum and added lingonberries to the filling as well as a garnish. Add sugar to taste and spoon about two heaping tablespoons of filling in each nest. Garnish with a salted caramel sauce. Serve immediately.

little toesNow these little toes are all tucked in for the night, I might just start elfing around a bit. And as our four almost five year-old told me today, “Elves are magical creatures”. I would like to think so too.

2013-12-15 11.29.11-2

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My kitchen is filled with anticipation

by tableofcolors

December and snow has arrived. That means that there is a sense of waiting and electricity in the air. The little people are waiting for the right moment to bake gingerbread, to sew their teachers’ little gifts, hang up the stockings, make pinwheel prune tarts, and open their advent calendars each morning. This past Sunday we lit the first advent candle. Christmas is coming.
2013-12-01 11.01.09-2
Along with the first advent, the kitchen is filled with Christmas music. “Hoosianna” is traditionally sung during the first advent in Finland in both churches and schools. Below is a recording from the Tampere State Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcglATPatgU
I’m not so keen on the shopping frenzy that starts in December and so we did ours in November before the crowds arrived. Now there are only little things to find and those excursions can be quite relaxing since there is no long list in hand and perhaps there might be a minute to stop in a coffee shop. There is a silence outside as so many of the birds have flown south and ones that remained will start their concert again in the spring. This peace I would like to achieve in the kitchen as well; one of everyday tasks sprinkled with little special projects such as these gingerbread trees.
gingerbread trees2
In my kitchen is the cutest mushroom made by my daughter and it brings a little holiday color.
fly agaric 2
Now that winter has arrived it is time to start using all of those berries that we picked last summer. One evening we had french toast with a strawberry sauce. The key to the strawberry sauce is to make the sauce first using a good quality berry juice and potato starch (cornstarch may be used as well) and right when the sauce has been removed from the heat the slightly thawed or frozen berries are added. They will slowly thaw out in the hot sauce while keeping their shape and vitamins.
french toast 3
French Toast

French toast is a great way to use up day old bread. We happened to have some slightly dried out bread on hand and a freezer full of berries which became in turn the inspiration for supper of French toast and berry sauce.

half loaf of sliced light bread (a whole grain variety may be used)
5 dl/2 c milk
2 eggs
1 generous tbsp brown sugar
dash of salt
cinnamon
butter or oil for frying

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon together. Heat the frying pan or griddle and use a little oil or butter according to your preference. Dip the slices of bread in the milk mixture and allow to soak for a bit. Fry on the hot pan so that both sides are a nice brown color.

Berry sauce

This recipe works with any berries that you may have on hand. If using a more tart berry just increase the amount of sugar.

1 liter/4 c good quality berry juice
sugar to taste
5 dl/2 c frozen or fresh berries
4 tbsp potato starch
1.5 dl/generous 1/2 c water

Bring the juice to boil, adding sugar if needed. Dissolve the potato starch (or corn starch, follow amounts on package) into the water. Whisking constantly, add the potato starch water mixture to the boiling juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from the heat as soon as it bubbles once. Add the berries and set aside for a few minutes allowing the berries to thaw out. A sprinkle of sugar will prevent a “skin” from forming on the surface.

Serve with the French toast or just on its own.

This snowman is not in my kitchen but I could not resist, so cute it is.
2013-12-01 11.43.15-2This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen Series from Fig Jam Lime Cordial.

In my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts a series every month called “In My Kitchen”. I thought I would participate this month and give you a little peek into my kitchen. Since it is October, it really is the end of the berry season. Lingonberries are the last of the berries, bright red and tart. My husband picked close to fifty liters of the little round berries this year.
lingonberry
Some of them we freeze. We collected empty milk cartons, washed them and dried them and reused them for freezing the berries. The cartons fit neatly in a row and are easy to stack in a chest freezer.
freezing lingonberries
The berries that are not frozen end up in juice. It was the perfect thing to do when the weather was rainy.
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In my kitchen can by found my favorite appliance. It was my graduation gift when I graduated with my Master’s and so it has some sentimental value as well. It is in use nearly everyday. In addition to being a trusty workhorse it is a design classic that never goes out of style. In my opinion.
kitchen aid
In my kitchen I have plenty of fingerprints.
tart crust
Of these little monkeys.
beautiful eyes
little monkeys
As I bake and cook, I can see the living room room from the kitchen since it is an open area, the heart of the house.
tart berries
In my kitchen is a collection of recipes. The following is from my Mother-in-law and it was my husband’s favorite as a child and as he grew up. It is called Pyhäpiirakka. Pyhä in Finnish means holy or in this case sabbath and piirakka could be translated as tart or pie. So this tart could be called “Sunday tart”. Possibly meant to be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon with coffee or tea.

Pyhäpiirakka

Crust:
300 g/10.5 oz softened butter
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
2 eggs
3 dl/1.3 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c whole wheat flour
dash salt

lingonberries, blueberries or berry of choice.

Filling:
6 dl/2.6 c kermaviili(sour milk product) or Greek yoghurt
3 eggs
1.5 dl/0.6 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Place the softened butter and sugar in your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment. Whip until light and fluffy. You may alternatively use an electric hand mixer. Add in one egg at a time, beating vigorously. Fold in the flours and salt. Scrape the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flouring your hands, pat the batter evenly. Sprinkle the berries over the crust.

Using a whisk, mix the ingredient for the filling just until it is smooth and pour over the berries. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 C/390 F. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

scenic fall2

From my kitchen I am able to observe the passing of seasons of the birch forest across the road.

Lingonberry tart

Queen’s Tart

by tableofcolors

bellasberries2

The inspiration for this post came from a fellow blogger in Sweden and her tart that she made using blackberries. And my little two year-old Isabella and her love for berries was certainly an inspiration as well. My husband snapped these shots of her enjoying her berries at the cabin this summer.

bellas berries3

It’s a favorite past time of the children in the summer to take a long piece of Timothy-grass and slide raspberries and blueberries on it. After their little excursion they might enjoy them while sitting on the porch. I think the most important part of it is that they are their very own berries. Fresh berries always at their prime. But sadly blueberry season is coming to a close, even though I spotted quite a few on a walk yesterday evening. The recipe below can be easily made with frozen berries.

In Finland, when raspberries and blueberries are mixed and served together for example in jam it is called “Queen’s jam”. And so this tart that originally was a plum tart and has been made using blackberries has been now transformed into Queen’s tart.

afternoonh

Queen’s Tart (from the blog Leya, slightly altered)

Gluten-free version

This tart works great with fine grain gluten-free flour. I made a double batch of the recipe below and made a gluten-free version with 1/3 of the batter and regular with the rest. It turned out great and the difference in flavor was very minimal. When baking with gluten-free flour it is helpful to lower the oven temperature a little since the baked goods tend to get color a little faster.

Blueberries and raspberries so that the bottom of the tart pan is covered with two layers of berries.
1 and 1/2 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp sugar
(1 tbsp potato or corn starch)
1 dl/0.4 c flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking powder
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dl/0.8 c whipped cream

Butter your tart pan. If using frozen berries mix with potato or corn starch and 4 teaspoons of sugar.

berries

Whip the eggs with the 1.5 dl/0.6 cups of sugar until a light foam. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Whip your cream and fold it into the batter. Pour the batter over the berries and bake in the oven at 200 C/390 F for about 20 minutes. The original recipe called for a bake time of about 45 minutes but this is probably due to shape and depth of the tart pan. I used a wide (22 cm/8 and 1/2 inch) and shallow pan. Enjoy with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

queens tart

The World’s Best Pancake

by tableofcolors

In Finland I have come across many recipes that are titled “Maailman Paras Pannukakku” or the “The World’s Best Pancake” and in this case it refers to an oven-raised pancake. I have been searching over the course of the last six months for an oven-raised pancake recipe that could become my “World’s Best Pancake” recipe. I finally found it. And it works perfect with berries.
berries
As I mentioned in a previous post we have quite a few containers left of last year’s berries in the freezer. Last year was also a very good year for the berries and this past Saturday, my husband and his friend and some of the kids spent a few hours in picking. They came back with over 100 liters (over 26 gallons) of blueberries. After cleaning the berries, comes my part in the berry project. (I get the easy part) I place the berries in containers or bags and put them in the freezer.
cleaning berries

This Oven-raised pancake recipe has a little cardamom in it which gives it a wonderful flavor. It also has a mix of barley flour and all-purpose flour. I have also in the absence of barley flour made it with either all wheat or substituted a bit of the barley flour with rye flour. The exact amounts can be found in parantheses below.

Worlds’ Best Oven-Raised Pancake (recipe is a slight variation of the Mylly Paras recipe and the original can be found here.)

1 l/4.2 c milk
4 eggs
3 dl/1.3 c all-purpose flour
2 dl/0.8 c barley flour
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (I usually put closer to 1 tbsp)
(1 tsp vanilla)
20 g/0.7 oz butter

(For the pancake with rye: 4 dl/1.7 c all-purpose flour and 1 dl/0.4 c rye flour)

Heat your oven to 200 C/390 F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet with sides. The one I use is 40×32 cm/15.7×12.6 inches. Cut the butter into little pieces and drop them on the parchment paper. Place the baking sheet with the parchment paper into the warming oven for a few minutes so that the butter has melted and remove.

Mix all of ingredients together and allow to rest while the oven heats up. Pour the batter on the parchment-paper lined sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Enjoy with lots of berries and possibly a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
pancake
berries2Previous posts that use berries: Blueberry cheesecake , Mustikkakukko or a Finnish Deep-dish blueberry pie with rye crust , Strawberry Fruit Salad with Lemon and Ginger, smoothies

A Moment in time

by tableofcolors

I often think that time just slips by a little too fast. The summer flowers bloom and then they wither away. This sunflower was a Mother’s day gift. It had a tall thin stem, and to tell you the truth I was a little concerned how it was going to make it. As the air got warmer we planted it outside. The stem became thick and strong and the yellow flower turned its face to the sun. It’s so fun for both the little gift-giver and receiver to run outside and check on its progress. There are more flowers coming.
sunflower
The kids grow so fast and even our little baby is curious of the world around him. It seems like this past month just sailed by a little too quick. I’ve often thought that the little snapshots that are taken enforce the memories that are in our hearts.
hugo 4 weeks
hugo 4 weeks 3
This past week, a long-time friend came to visit. We have spent countless hours having sleep-overs, creating a secret club with our friends, giggling over our first crushes, going to camp together, and learning about life and growing-up together. We have some snap shots from those times in our albums. We have wide smiles on our narrow child-like faces. We rarely have a chance to meet since we live on different continents, but when we meet up again it feels like we just pick up from where we last left off.

When there is a special occasion, a cake is certainly in order! This cake recipe I received from another long-time friend. It is called the Pätkiskakku since it uses Pätkis, which is a chocolate mint truffle. You may substitute a local mint truffle from your area if the Pätkis truffles are not available. The cake is originally meant to be covered in a chocolate frosting, but I fine-tuned it a bit. Since we have an abundance of berries, I split it and filled it with berries and cream and frosted it with whipping cream. Our little berry-picker arrived just in time and was wondering how he could use his freshly picked blueberries. I suggested that he might decorate the cake, to which he happily obliged.
decorating

Pätkiskakku
5 dl/2.1 c flour
3 dl/1.3 c sugar
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar ( I used vanilla extract)
dash of salt
150 g/5.3 oz butter, melted
2 dl/0.85 c plain yoghurt
4 Pätkis mint truffle bars or 12 mint truffles roughly chopped
3 eggs

Butter a 22-23/9 inch cake pan. I floured it with wheat bran to give the cake a nice texture. Mix the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and mint truffles together. I used a microwave for this. Add the plain yoghurt and eggs into the melted butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix. Bake for 40 minutes at 175C/350F. Remove from oven when a inserted toothpick comes out clean.
patkis

Allow to slightly cool and remove from cake pan. Allow to cool completely. I leveled the top of the cake just a bit so that it would lie a little flatter. Whip 3.5 dl/1.5 cups of heavy cream and add sugar to taste. Fill cake with berries and cream leaving 1/3 of the cream for the top. Before frosting with the cream, I spooned a little milk on the top layer to give the cake a little added moisture. This step is optional. Garnish with berries. patkiscake
This would be a splendid cake for a birthday as well…Happy birthday to my Äiti, my brother and Gramma! July is a birthday month in our family!

flowers

Brita Torte

by tableofcolors

This torte symbolizes summer to me. It is so easy, needs no fancy decorations and the flavors can be easily adjusted according to what berries are in season. Summer has arrived in full force and it is hard to believe that just a few short months ago we were skating and skiing on the lake. Now the water is so warm that it feels fairly warm to me too. I don’t swim in cold water unlike one of my daughters who went swimming with her friends on May 5, only three days after the ice had left! The lake that is across the street from us is quite shallow and it fortunately warms up quite quickly if the weather permits.

This morning as I traipsed outside in my nightgown(after checking that the neighbors were not out yet) to get the newspaper, I noticed that the clover was in flower.
clover
It is the magic of early summer, every few days there is something new in bloom. Last week the flowers of the blueberries were in bloom, now it is the apple blossoms, clover and lingonberry. It was a year ago that I started this blog and it has been a wonderful adventure! Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it!

I made this Brita Torte with fresh strawberries, later in the summer blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and fresh peaches can be used.
brita torte
The recipe is from the book, Hyvää Ruokahalua! Kotikokin Parhaat Leivontaohjeet. And I believe that this cake is of Swedish origin.

Brita Torte

4 egg yolks
1.5 dl/0.6 c sugar
2 dl/0.8 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk
50 g/1.8 oz butter, melted

On top:
4 egg whites
2 dl/0.8 c sugar
(sliced almonds, optional)

Filling:
5 dl/little over 2 cups heavy whipping cream
or alternatively 3 dl/1.3 cups heavy whipping cream and 500g/18 oz quark or Greek yoghurt
500 g/18 oz fresh strawberries
sugar to taste

Melt the butter and set aside. Whip the egg yolks and sugar into a pale yellow foam. Fold in the melted butter and milk. Add the dry ingredients last. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that has been greased. Set aside for the time being while the second layer is being whipped.

Whip the egg whites into a soft foam. Add the sugar while beating until a glossy and fairly firm foam has formed. Spread meringue onto the egg yolk batter. Bake in the oven at 150 C/300F for about 40-45 minutes or until the meringue is a very light brown.
brita
Allow the cake to cool completely. Cut the cake into fourths. Whip the the cream and if preferred fold in the quark or Greek yoghurt and berries. Add sugar according to taste. Assemble the cake by simply alternating with the cake and filling. Enjoy immediately or during the same day. The next day the cake will still have great flavor but the meringue will have lost its crispiness.
brita torte 2

(Alternatively this recipe can be made into two lined and greased cake pans for a round cake.)