Posts in the category "Cooking".

Have my cake and eat it too

With a cherry on top. And bottom. And middle.

Made this for my sister’s birthday (shh, don’t tell her, she doesn’t know about this yet). Very yummy and so easy (if you don’t count searching for the correct cherries)! But, I don’t understand why every time there has to be something I don’t realize on my own — until it’s too late: The cherry can warned that there could be some stones left. When I was adding the cherries I thought, “should I really mix these in whole like this?” and I figured yes because the recipe didn’t instruct to mash them with a fork or anything. Just my luck, there were some stones left. Next time — and there will definitely be a next time — I’ll mash the cherries a bit and try to remove any unpleasant surprises.

250 g butter, softened
2 decilitres sugar
3 eggs
3 decilitres flour
1 decilitres potato starch flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar*
100 g white chocolate
about 350 g canned sour cherries, drained (the jar I bought was 680 g, of which there were 350 g of cherries, rest was syrup); not the disgusting unnaturally red candied cherries (maraschino?)!

Whip butter and sugar until fluffy.
Mix in eggs one at a time (mix well after each egg).
Mix dry ingredients and then add them into the batter.

Put 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl and stir in chocolate (either melted or chopped finely).
Stir cherries into the rest of the batter.

Grease and flour a cake tin (I used a spray for the first time and it worked wonderfully, I didn’t use flour). Put a layer of the cherry batter into the tin, add the white chocolate batter next, and then the rest of the cherry batter. (I actually used two small 1.2-litre tins.)
Bake in 150 degrees Celsius for about an hour.

* Apparently vanilla sugar is not so common outside of certain European countries. You can replace this with vanilla extract: suggests 1/2-1 tsp of extract per 1 cup of sugar. There’s less than a cup of sugar used here so 1/2 tsp should do. If in doubt, leave it out. :)

(Found the recipe here [in Finnish].)


Aaand, another year closer to the crisis age.

Had the family over for coffee and pecan pie muffins. I was going to bake them for work, too, but ran out of brown sugar and butter to make enough. The new batch I made looks too rugged anyway (darn sticky sugar; doesn’t behave nicely in paper liners or buttered pan). I’ll just skip the servings this year; there’s been enough to eat as it is.

Woe is me, I suppose I’ll have to freeze them for myself and the accidental visitor I may sometimes get.

Pecan Pie Muffin

Birthday cupcake. The candles didn't fit.

Tricolour braided bread

Braided bread

Get Ur Freak Bread On

I saw this recipe some time ago and the bread looked so odd that I knew I’d have to try it. (I like odd recipes.)

In truth, I’m not much of a bread-baker: I tried making a beetroot baguette a long time ago and it fell flat — literally. I ended up making buns (or oven-baked pancakes) since I couldn’t mould the dough at all. Too little flour, I know, but I followed the recipe! I got sick and tired of the dough too early but it seemed a hopeless endeavour at the time.

This time I was determined to get it right because I had planned to make the bread as a gift. I was even more determined after I forgot to buy a Plan B gift…

Here are the colourful ingredients (you can try and read the original recipe through Google Translate but I’ll fill in the gaps):

Basic dough
0.5 litres milk
50 g yeast
½ tablespoon salt
2 dl rolled oats (0.8-0.9 cups)
1.2 litres (wheat) flour
50 g butter

Yellow dough
1/3 of the basic dough
2 dl grated carrots
1 teaspoon turmeric
about 1½ decilitres additional flour (0.6 cups)

Red dough
1/3 of the basic dough
2 dl grated beetroot (I suppose you should use cooked or pickled; I put the same amount in beetroot purée which they sell here (they’re not baby food!). This is why I also used puréed carrot.)
about 1½ decilitres additional flour

Green dough
1/3 of the basic dough
2 dl grated zucchini (no green purée available, so I grated about half a zucchini)
1-2 tablespoons green pesto
about 1½ decilitres additional flour

Dissolve the yeast in warm milk (I decided to do this with dry yeast even though you’re supposed to mix it with flour first; no harm done, it seems). Add salt, rolled oats and the flour for the basic dough (1.2 litres was a bit too much for me so I had some left over (well under half a decilitre in any case); I just didn’t manage to mix it all in). Mix in butter.

Remember to buy the zucchini before starting making all this. I didn’t, and after I’d finished making the yellow and red dough I had to run to the store. (I don’t use or really even like zucchini so my eyes had probably skipped it when I was checking the recipe for ingredients to buy.)

Divide the dough in three parts and add “the food colourings” (each part in a separate bowl, of course): turmeric and carrot, beetroot, and zucchini and pesto. Mix in “a required amount” of flour, whatever that is. I ended up using about 2.5 decilitres for the parts with purée and 1.5-2 dl for the green part. That made the dough “manageable”, not too sticky or soft. This was my second time making bread (first one was a disaster, as mentioned) so I don’t know what’s enough or what the dough should look like. I just did what felt right. (Boy, did I wish I’d watched Mum bake bread…)

Allow them to rise. Usually double the size is recommended, I think, which takes maybe an hour, hour and a half (depending on the temperature). I went shopping for 3 hours at this point because I was on a schedule (preparations took longer than I’d expected, with the extra trip to the store and all).

Knead the dough a bit (I think you’re supposed to do this although the recipe doesn’t say), and make two braided bread loaves. Use flour on the table if the dough is sticky. Once they’re braided and on the baking sheet, it’s best to let them rest again (says Mum). I was in a hurry so I let them sit only for 15 minutes while the oven was warming up. Maybe the 3-hour break helped here because they rose quite a bit even in such a short time.

Bake them in 200°C for 40 minutes. I stuffed both loaves on the same sheet and they ended up being pretty snug but I didn’t have time to bake them for 40+40 minutes! It wasn’t a complete disaster though: they didn’t go overboard and they only fused together a little bit.

The pesto section was really yummy (I put a little more than instructed…)! The carrot and beetroot didn’t taste very much which is why I’ll have to try making this the “right” way, i.e. using fresh carrots and beetroot. I wasn’t too thrilled about getting myself and my lovely kitchen covered in pink spots (grating a beetroot does that) so I decided to use the purée. I think pickled beetroot could be quite nice. I was also thinking of adding tarragon to the carrot part since it goes well with carrot.

Baked bread

Baked bread

Yum! The gift was a success.

I think after this I’ll give the baguettes a second chance. Now I know what a bread dough is supposed to look and feel like.

Experimental kitchen

Mum often makes this chicken dish with blue cheese and peaches (and then something on the side, e.g. French fries). I thought, what would it taste like if I “lunchified” it. One of my favourite types of lunch is casserole (easy oven dish and makes many portions), and I’d just found a good recipe for macaroni casserole. Now I thought I could try it with the chicken dish ingredients. My sister looked at me funny when I told her that idea.

It doesn’t hurt to try, does it? What’s the worst thing that could happen? I go one day without lunch, no biggie. :D

The ingredients in this experiment:
300 grams chicken (cut into strips)
200 grams pasta (I had yummy oat pasta)
about 70 grams blue cheese, crumbled
canned peaches, drained and cubed (I used three halves which was about 150 grams. I could’ve used all four but I wanted one to eat plain…)

3-4 dl milk
2 eggs

Cook pasta according to instructions (maybe more on the al dente side since it’ll cook further in the oven). While it’s cooking, heat some oil in a pan and cook the chicken. I put some marjoram in the oil first; just wanted to see what that does.
Once the chicken is cooked, add some spices (I put white pepper and salt – I don’t know what would be “correct”).
Mix chicken and cooked pasta in a deep oven pan. Add crumbled cheese and peach cubes. Mix.

Whisk 2 eggs in 3 dl of milk, and pour into the pan. It should almost cover the top of the mixture. I found 3 dl to be too little so I poured more milk in, but the 2 eggs may not be able to solidify all that liquid. We’ll see! (I don’t like the taste of eggs so I didn’t want to use too many of them.)

Some people like to put cheese on top but I didn’t put any because there already was blue cheese.

Cook in 200°C. After 30 minutes, check if the bottom of the mixture has browned at all. If not, switch oven to heat from below only, and cook until the bottom of the mixture has got some nice colour (which isn’t white) — about 15-25 minutes.

Macaroni casserole

Chicken, blue cheese, and peach dish a la Minna

The blue cheese didn’t taste very strong but other than that, it wasn’t too bad. :) The 2 eggs were enough, but I’d be tempted to season the egg-milk mixture somehow. The first time I tried the original recipe (in Finnish), I used melty cheese and dry onion soup mix in addition to the original ingredients (suggested in the comments), and I really liked the strong seasoning. This time the eggs were a bit too obvious.

The combination of chicken and peach was quite nice. I suppose pineapple would be a more common fruit with chicken but I’ve never liked it much.

Green goodness

What did you eat this weekend?

Apparently, all I ate was a bowl of appetizer soup…

Pea soup

Pea soup and a blob of wrong ingredient

I didn’t know it was filed under appetizers! I ate it with good appetite, though, and a slice of bread.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 0.7 litres of water (about 3 cups (US))
  • Something to make vegetable stock out of that scant 3 cups of water. The original recipe calls for 1 portion of vegetable Fond “du Chef” from Knorr — I used that since we have those in the store but I’m sure anything to season the water would work. The product itself suggests using one portion for 0.5 dl liquid so this needed to be slightly more diluted than usual.
  • 600 grams of frozen peas (I bet fresh would do, but you’d have to cook for less time I think)
  • 2.5 decilitre of Crème fraiche (garlic and herb flavour)
  • 1-2 teaspoons wasabi paste

Boil water and the vegetable stock ingredient of your choice. Add peas and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft. Purée with a stick mixer.
Mix in fraiche and wasabi paste. Bring to boil and you’re done! If you’re feeling fancy, you could add croutons. I had some bread instead.

Actually, I didn’t use fraiche since I didn’t know what I was looking for. I looked for the stuff (“Creme Bonjour Cuisine”) in the cheese section because I’ve used their cream cheese in cooking before. And since I didn’t find the “Cuisine” part nor the “garlic and herb” part, I picked up a package of plain garlic cream cheese. I didn’t realise I was supposed to look in the cream/milk section… Anyway, I’m sure there are puréed soup recipes with cream cheese, so I don’t think it was such a bad mistake. (Once again I reminded myself to check the unknown ingredients before heading for the store. I could live without another spinach macaroni casserole fiasco.) It didn’t ruin the soup and I’m happy with that.

Next time — which there will be, I’m sure — I’ll use the correct ingredient. And probably add a bit more wasabi. Don’t know if the cream cheese made it milder but 2 teaspoons wasn’t strong enough in my opinion. Fresh peas are so sweet.

(The original recipe, in Finnish. There’s a comment, “this can’t be good.” I personally think it was…)

Ugly duckling from the kitchen

What will become of this mess, I wonder.

Tomato soup goo

Tomato soup goo

A yummy spice cake!

This was my 2nd time making this. The first time I made the error of using a silicone cake pan. The batter is so heavy (or there’s so much of it) that the pan lopsided — and I also had to bake it for 1.5 times longer! (I hate the silicone pan…) This time I’d bought brand new pans (two small ones because I thought they were cute) so I’m hoping the result is better.

I made the Pioneer Woman variation of the cake where she decided to mix in a cup of raisins. I love raisins!

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter (or shortening/crisco as in the original); by the way, who measures butter in spoonfuls? I put around 57 grams (used a butter converter so I hope that was somewhat correct)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cans (10.75 oz. each, or roughly 2 x 300 g) condensed tomato soup; the cans I’ve found are a bit under 300 g even though they are Campbell’s just like in the original recipe. Apparently, everything is bigger in America…
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoons ground cloves

First you mix the soup and soda in a bowl, at which point it’ll become quite foamy (be sure to use a big enough bowl). Set it aside.
Next, cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. I used my favourite kitchen gadget, a poor man’s Kitchenaid. (Sorry, I forgot to take an action photo so here it’s all alone without the bowl and paddle which I washed already!)

Electric mixer

My deliciously red mixer

Next you mix in the tomato goo (with the sugar and butter, into the mixer bowl). And then the flour and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). If you want, add a cup of raisins. I used whatever nice-looking raisins I found at the store. They didn’t have any golden ones, just plain black sultanas.

Put the batter in a greased pan (I used two 1.2 litre pans, which turned out to be a bit too small because the batter spilled over from the centre), even out the surface, and cook in 350°F (around 175°C) for 45–55 minutes.

Tomato soup cake

The finished cake; still ugly (because of the cook) but I assure you it tastes great!

It stuck to the pan a bit (always does! I can never cook a cake properly.) so I have to be more patient with the other one…

I didn’t make any icing (don’t really care for icing) but if you’re feeling like it, check out the Tasty Kitchen or Pioneer Woman recipe.

Italian meatball soup

This weekend I cooked some Italian meatball soup — a recipe I found in “the Essential Soup Cookbook” (an Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook I bought from Australia, where else).

First you should make the meatballs because they need to sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. I realised this after I’d got everything ready and was already starting to make the soup. I blame the layout of the recipe… (the meatball recipe was at the end of the whole soup recipe)

You get 500 grams (a little over a pound) of minced beef. I used 10% minced beef which turned out to be a little too lean. (Or, maybe I cooked it for too long because the pasta water was so slow to boil.) You mix it with 2 teaspoons of fresh oregano. I used dried; I don’t want to buy a whole oregano plant for just 2 teaspoons! Next time I’m going to season the meat better because it was a bit too bland. I’ll add salt at least and probably some pepper. The recipe said to make meatballs the size of a level tablespoon. I used our tablespoon size which is 15ml (resulted in 31 meatballs) but afterwards I read the Australian one is 20ml so maybe I made them too small. Need to correct that one the next time, too. You put the meatballs on a tray, cover, and put in the fridge for half an hour.

While you wait, you should get the soup ready. Chop 2 brown onions (300g/0.7lb) and 2kg (4.4lb) tomatoes. I cut the tomatoes in 8 pieces and it turned out to be a good size (not too big, which I was a little afraid of). The recipe called for 3 garlic cloves quartered but the garlic I had was so small I couldn’t imagine it quartered so I cut it in half — and used about 5 cloves. Four red Thai chillies (whatever they are), seeded and chopped finely, was also on the ingredients list but I left them out because I don’t have any experience with chillies and didn’t know what kind we had at the store. I used some sort of chilli spice mix instead.

To make the soup, you heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and garlic until onion softens. Then you add the tomato pieces, 3 cups of vegetable stock (I made it with cubes), chilli (although I didn’t add the spice mix just yet), and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes (uncovered, stirring occasionally). The soup got frothy and the tomato a bit mushy.

Then you blend it. I used a stick mixer (love it) and decided to skip the step where you push the soup through a sieve or a food mill. Too messy and I don’t need my soup to be “velvety smooth.” The mixer made it smooth enough (what an amazing gadget it is!).

At this point I threw some of the chilli mix in and also some sugar since tomatoes are supposed to love sugar. I kept tasting the soup and it kept being quite bland so I added more chilli until I could taste it, and the sugar did make the tomatoes a little tastier (they weren’t as ripe as I would’ve liked). Have I ever mentioned I’m bad at seasoning? Well, I am.

Next you put the pan back on the stove, bring the soup to a boil, and add the meatballs. Let it simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. I know meatballs can be cooked in water but still it looked a bit like magic when they actually turned brown and cooked through in the bubbling soup.

While the meatballs are cooking, you boil the pasta. I should’ve put the pasta to boil before the meatballs because it took ages for the water to start boiling — and it was a 9-minute pasta. In any case, you cook 250g (0.6lb) of some sort of short pasta (fusilli was mentioned in the recipe with farfalle and penne as alternatives; I used cute curly tube pasta. Wikipedia lets me know it was “cellentani”). I put salt in the water even though it wasn’t mentioned in the recipe.

When the meatballs are cooked, you stir in the cooked pasta (drain it first) and some basil. Again, the recipe called for fresh stuff: 8 basil leaves shredded. My basil plant was looking sad on the countertop and I hadn’t bought more so I used dried stuff again. My cupboards are full of dried herbs and spices so I might as well use them…

Once it’s all nicely mixed, the soup’s ready to eat!

Italian meatball soup


In my opinion the soup definitely needs more seasoning than what was listed in the recipe. Or maybe the vegetable stock they used is so flavourful that it’s enough — my stock from cubes surely wasn’t. Also, the meatballs need more spice than just the oregano (again, maybe the fresh stuff would make a difference) and as I mentioned, next time I’m going to try some less lean meat (17% instead of 10%). Nevertheless, it’s was a nice soup (pasta and meatballs, how novel!) and I’ll be eating it again. Not just because I have 4 litres of it in the freezer.



  • 500g minced beef
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano (I used dried)

The meatballs could probably use some salt and pepper unless the fresh oregano is the magic ingredient that makes all the difference…


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions (300g), chopped coarsely
  • 3 cloves garlic (or more, in my case), quartered
  • 2 kg tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 3 cups (750 ml) vegetable stock
  • 4 red Thai chillies, seeded, chopped finely (I used a chilli spice mix)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, shredded finely (I used dried)

I would season it more, though, unless the stock is crazy good and strong. (Using the right chilli and fresh basil could help, too. I don’t know.)

  • 250g short pasta (fusilli, penne, farfalle…)

Basil is sad