Monday, September 15, 2014

Swiss Chard Gratin with Cheese

LehtPeet 05

Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAll photos by Juta Kübarsepp for the September 2014 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden"), an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012. 

There's this wonderful cauliflower cheese recipe that I make pretty regularly, as it's super easy, quick, tasty and flavoursome. It's also gluten-free and low-carb, and I always have some cheese and mustard and cream in the fridge. Early this summer I realised that exactly the same cheese-cream-mustard topping works spectacularly well with Swiss chard stems and leaves. I grow around three or four varieties of Swiss chard in my garden, and they thrive well, so I've got a steady supply of those nutritious leafy greens.

This dish looks especially pretty when you use bright and colourful Swiss chard (also known as mangold, silverbeet, rainbow chard). Here's the selection from my garden:

Swiss chard. Lehtpeet ehk mangold.

Swiss chard with cheese and cream
(Juustu-lehtpeedivorm)
Serves 4

 LehtPeet 04

a good bunch of Swiss chard (about 400-450 grams)
200 ml double cream
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
150 g cheese, shredded
salt and black pepper

Separate the ribs/stems from the greens. Cut the ribs into 5 cm/2 inch pieces. Blanch the ribs in lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until they soften. Then add the leaves, and cook for another minute. Drain thoroughly.

Mix the cream and mustard, fold in most of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add the Swiss chard stems and leaves.

Transfer the mixture into a buttered oven dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the middle of a preheated 200 C/400 F oven for about 30 minutes, until the gratin is lovely golden and crisp on top.

Serve and enjoy.

Swiss chard. Lehtpeet ehk mangold.

More Swiss chard gratin recipes:
Swiss chard gratin by Alanna @ A Veggie Venture
Baked Swiss chard stems with olive oil and Parmesan by Kalyn @ Kalyn's Kitchen
Swiss chard gratin with vegan bechamel by Clotilde @ Chocolate and Zucchini
Swiss chard gratin @ Whole Foods
Swiss chard gratin by Phoebe @ Feed Me Phoebe
Swiss chard au gratin @ Rachel Ray
Alice Waters' Swiss chard gratin @ Serious Eats

Friday, September 12, 2014

Whipped semolina pudding with apples and black aronia berries

Aroonia-õunamannavaht & arooniasmuuti / Black aronia smoothie and black aronia and apple pudding
Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAbove photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the October 2012 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden", an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012). 

Back in July 2013, The Wall Street Journal touted the slightly astringent and tart black aronia as possibly the next superberry. While WSJ listed it alongside other health-giving berries, Fox News wrote more directly: Aronia: The North American super berry with cancer-fighting properties., calling aronia the "King Kong of antioxidant berries" (other than that, it's actually a pretty good and informative article). In a word - it's a great berry that's very good to you!

Black aronia berry has been popular here in Estonia for decades - it makes a beautiful hedge plant, especially in the autumn:

Black aronia / Must aroonia

See what I mean? The aronia plant has most beautiful dark red leaves in the autumn!

Usually the berries are used to make cordial, though they can be used in so many other ways. I often throw a handful of berries into my smoothie, and I've provided links to various recipes below. Here's a simple autumnal pudding, using apples, aronia berries and cream of wheat/semolina.

Black aronia and apple whipped semolina pudding
(Aroonia-õunavaht)
Serves 4 to 6

1 l (4 cups) water
500 ml (2 cups) of cleaned black aronia berries and apple chunks
100 g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
200 ml semolina/cream of wheat (wholewheat or spelt semolina is fine, too)

Put the aronia berries and chopped apples into a saucepan, pour over the water. Bring into a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the aronia berries have softened.

Take a bowl (or another saucepan) and cover with a sieve. Pour the cooked apples and black aronias - and their boiling liquid - onto the sieve and using the back of a wooden spoon, press as much of the fruit through the sieve. Season the mixture with sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring into a boil.

Pour semolina quickly into the boiling mixture, stirring vigorously to avoid any lumps. Then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until semolina - and the pudding - thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for about half an hour. Whisk until fluffy and light - this is best done with an electric mixer.

Serve with milk.

More recipes using black aronia berries aka chokeberries:
Black aronia muffins @ Nami-Nami
Black aronia and kefir smoothie @ Nami-Nami
Aronia jam @ Blooms 'n' Food
6 recipes @ Deep Roots
Aronia jam @ Sto kolorow kuchni (recipe in Polish)
Black aronia soda @ ferdakost
Vispipuuro omenasta ja marja-aroniasta by Riikka @ (recipe in Finnish)
Vispipuuro marja-aroniasta @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
Vispipuuro marja-aroniasta ja mustaherukasta by MariMaalla @ Lily (recipe in Finnish)
Aroniaglögi @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
Aronia-omenakisselli @ Omenaminttu (recipe in Finnish)
Aronia and rye foam by Malitsu @ Mämmi

(From the recipe archives: this post was originally posted in September 2013)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Quark and pumpkin pudding cake

Kõrvitsa-kohupiimavorm. Pumpkin and curd cheese.

Recipe by Pille @ Nami-NamiAbove photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the October 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed ("Home and Garden", an Estonian monthly magazine. I've been their food writer since October 2012). 

Pumpkin or winter squash dessert, anyone?

There's a popular old-school dessert here in Estonia, called kohupiimavorm. It consists of curd cheese (also known as quark), sugar, (whisked) eggs, and some add-ons, usually raisins or pieces of fruit. It's not really a cake (too soft), nor a soufflé (no custard base), so after some research I've decided to translate it as pudding cake :) Pudding cake is a cake you need to eat with a spoon, and it's rather difficult to cut it into neat shapes when still warm.

Here's a version using that autumn staple, winter squash or pumpkin. For once, this is a recipe that's very versatile - if you cannot find curd cheese (try looking for 'tvorog' at your nearest Polish/Russian/international shop), you could use drier ricotta or even farmer's cheese. As for pumpkin, any yellow-fleshed winter squash would work. I like using butternut squash here, as this gives the dessert a lovely dark orange hue. Considering the amount of flour in the recipe, you could easily make this wheat-free or gluten-free by using different types of (gluten-free) flours.

You could eat it as it is, or with a dollop of thick yoghurt or sour cream on the side. It's lovely with a kissel or fruit soup (this cranberry kissel would work brilliantly here). I actually prefer this pumpkin version to the traditional version, as it's softer and moister.

Oh, and if you were wondering what those cookies on the top right corner of the photo were, you'll be pleased to know these contain pumpkin/squash as well. You'll find the recipe for those wonderful pumpkin cookies here.

Curd cheese and pumpkin pudding cake 
(Kõrvitsa-kohupiimavorm)
Serves 6

800 g butternut squash or pumpkin (cleaned weight)
100 g caster sugar
500 g curd cheese
4 large eggs, separated
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
100 g dried cranberries (craisins) or seedless raisins
a pinch of salt
butter
breadcrumbs

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Peel the pumpkin, cut into large wedges. Remove the soft core and seeds, and cut the flesh into large cubes. Weigh the pumpkin cubes - you need about 800 g (just under 2 pounds). Place the cubes into a large saucepan, add a cup of water and simmer over a low heat until pumpkin is tender. Drain thoroughly, then place into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Add lemon juice and grated zest, curd cheese, flour, (c)raisins.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yorks with sugar until creamy, add to the rest of the ingredients. Finally, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks forms. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Butter a large (round) oven dish - about ∅ 26-30 cm is excellent -  and sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs. Spoon the pumpkin and curd cheese mixture into the dish, smooth the top.

Bake in the pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for about 40 minutes, until it's lovely golden brown, and just a wee bit wobbly in the middle.

Let cool either completely or serve at room temperature.

(From the recipe archives: this post was originally posted in October 2013)

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