June 29, 2011

Rhubarb, walnut and chia muffins - A guest post for Scullery Made Tea

The humble muffin. So versatile, so faithful and so so comforting. When Cherie from Scullery Made Tea suggested we'd do a recipe swap on our blogs I knew I could rely on muffins to deliver a recipe that people across the blogosphere would love. This recipe is not only trustworthy, it is also simple to adapt to seasons - try apples, pears or berries instead of rhubarb or substitute walnuts with your favourite nut. Chia seeds add another dimension of healthiness to these muffins, but you could also use flaxseed meal or wheat germ, if you prefer.

Needless to say home-baked muffins also make a perfect weekend breakfast treat that makes the weekend mornings feel just a little bit more special. If you are highly organised, you can prep most of this recipe ready the night before and then all you need to do the following morning is to mix everything together and bang the muffin tray into the oven. Simple, yet it makes you feel like you are on top of things ;-)

Rhubarb, walnut and chia muffins
(Makes 12 big muffins)
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast’)

220g raw caster sugar or rapadura sugar
50 ml olive oil
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 large, free-range egg
250ml buttermilk (or 250ml milk + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice)
175 g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm dice
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
300g white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
30g chia seeds


2 tablespoons rapadura sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 200C and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Mix the sugar, olive oil, vanilla, egg and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl.

3. Stir in the rhubarb and the walnuts.

4.  Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and chia seeds in a small bowl.

5. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the rest of the batter and fold everything together quickly until just blended.

6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and sprinkle each muffin with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

7. Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.

This recipe was first published in Beyond the Scullery.

June 27, 2011

Guest Post by Cherie Hausler from Scullery Made Tea

Hi friends!

I'm very excited to feature the first ever guest post here in Scandi Foodie! 

I met the wonderful Cherie Hausler from Scullery Made Tea at the Barossa farmer's market a couple of weeks ago. Cherie's teas and delicious home-made treats immediately caught my attention, and I was keen to find out more about her business and life in Barossa. 

I'm so happy to share Cherie's story and recipe for Wild home-cured olives with you. For further information about her business, and more of her delicious recipes, please visit her website at Scullery Made.

Thank you, Cherie!

I’ve caught myself writing my blog specifically for my Mum sometimes. Of course I love her dearly, but it’s more the fact that most of the time I imagine she’s the only one reading it. Actually if I was to be brutally honest with myself I’d have to admit my Mum doesn’t actually read every post either. Long and short of it is, that when Maria from Scandi Foodie sent me a super lovely email asking to guest blog for her I was initially just rapt to know my readership had managed to reach beyond my immediate relatives. Happy days.

So to recipe swaps… I was all geared up to do a chocolate self saucing pudding with spelt flour and rapadura sugar, coconut butter and raw cacao, you know, the kind of good-for-you-deliciousness Maria and I share a common leaning towards, but out on our little hill my husband and I woke up to a very sunny Barossa Sunday that had other plans in store. The road to great olives is paved with good intentions it would seem.

Every morning we walk past a disheveled gang of wild olive trees on our ritual start to the day, and have been eagerly watching the branches groaning under a bounty that is surely to be a season best, according to local ‘farmtalk’ - watching and waiting for the fruit’s colour change to yell ‘pick me!’ And today was that day; the very same that I had planned to dedicate to raw cacao pudding making. Our mantra of living according to the seasons and wildcrafting whenever possible, had my pudding coming in a clear second best to an entire year’s supply of organic, handpicked, homecured olives though. Plus, I figured olive hunting would be more indicative of life in our part of the world for those of you who haven’t yet managed some ‘local’ time in the Barossa. Olives in, pudding out. It seemed the only fair thing to do. So we threw on our backpacks and announced out intentions to our border collie, Stella, the-wildcrafting-extraordinaire, and the afternoon went something along these lines… 

PS. If you’re an olive fan, don’t ever let anyone put you off curing your own olives, they are absolutely worth the effort and with such a bumper crop this year you should easily find fresh olives at a Farmer’s Market if you don’t happen to have a gathering of wild olive trees within reach.

Wild Homecured Olives

Organic black olives
Rock salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Clean, decent sized bucket

1. Pick over the olives to pull out any leaves that may have jumped in to your bucket during harvesting and then fill up the bucket with fresh water. Larger olives can be pricked with a fork to speed up the curing process, but wild olives tend to be teensy so we didn’t bother with this step.  

2. Leave the olives to soak in the water for 3 days and then drain, refilling the bucket with a salty brine solution of 1 cup of rock salt per 2 litres of water. Leave in the brine for another 3 days and then drain again before returning to fresh water for the next 3 days. Repeat this process, alternating between the salt brine and fresh water for approximately a month, or until the olives have lost their bitterness.

3. Once the olives have cured to your taste, pack into sterilized jars and cover with extra virgin olive oil before sealing. Stored in a cool, dark place, the sealed olives will keep for at least 6 months. 

You can add orange zest or lemon, fresh thyme or rosemary, or perhaps some roasted garlic, but in our experience it’s always better to add any extras to your serving bowl of olives rather than during the jarring process. This helps enormously with avoiding the ultimate disappointment of proudly cracking open a jar of olives only to find our unwelcome friend ‘mould’ has come to visit. 

All photos by Cherie Hausler.

June 26, 2011

Four-flour bread - The only bread recipe you'll ever need

Making bread is undeniably the most satisfying form of baking. When our oven was broken, I was forced to source shop-bought bread and realised it was challenging to find a loaf that would only have natural ingredients in it. What ever happened to bread made only with flour, salt, sugar, yeast and oil? Most of the bread at the supermarket have an ingredient list longer than your arm! Fortunately there are good organic bread available, but there is nothing like home-made bread straight from the oven.

What makes this recipe so good is that it's made with real, natural ingredients - it's satisfying, hearty and full of goodness. I love using spelt flour in both savoury and sweet baking and it is perfect in this loaf too. I've also used rye and lupin flour, but if you can't find lupin, try using soy or chickpea/besan flour instead. My home smells like freshly baked bread - now what could be better than that?

Four-flour bread
(Recipe adapted from Ross Dobson's Wholefood kitchen)

500g organic white spelt flour
50g organic whole spelt flour
50g organic rye flour
50g organic lupin flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
30g rolled oats
80g brown sugar + 1 teaspoon
2 teaspoons dry yeast
60 ml olive oil

1. Place the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Stir in the oats and sugar and set aside.

2. Put the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Stir to mix, then add 125 ml warm water in to the bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes. By this time the mixture should be frothy and bubbly. 

3. Add the yeast mixture, along with 375 ml warm water and olive oil into the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until slightly risen.

4. Preheat the oven to 220C and grease a medium sized loaf tin. 

5. Once risen, turn the dough on to a floured surface. Knead the dough (incorporating more spelt flour into the mixture as needed) for about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 balls and place the balls into the prepared loaf. Cover the tin and set aside for 30 minutes or until risen. 

6. Brush the risen loaf lightly with water. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 180C and continue to bake for a further 25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting. Serve fresh and warm. 

June 24, 2011

Menu for the Midsummer celebrations

Happy juhannus!

Today people all over Scandinavia are celebrating Midsummer (juhannus, as we call it in Finnish). It is the time for the 'nightless nights', when sun hardly sets and everyone is out and about celebrating summer with friends and family. Most Finns would in fact be heading over to their summer cottages to enjoy sauna, swimming in the lake and eating plenty of summer food.

For me, of course, it is winter here in Sydney, but I like to try and keep connected to my motherland by having my own little celebrations for these special occasions. So with no further ado, here is my Midsummer menu for this weekend. Hope you enjoy it and wish you all a happy juhannus where ever you are!





June 22, 2011

Winter flavours - Cauliflower and fennel soup

Winter is a wonderful thing. I just love this time of the year, especially when we get those clear, brisk days when there is not a single cloud in the sky, but a cool wind reminding us that it really is winter. On days like this there is nothing better than wrapping cold hands around a warm cup of tea or a big bowl of soup and there are plenty of earthy vegetables in season for us to enjoy. 

This cauliflower and fennel soup is thick and velvety, just the way I like my soups. The aniseed flavour of fennel pairs lovely with the cauliflower and I've kept the seasoning simple to bring out the flavours of the vegetables. There is nothing fiddly about this soup -  just add all ingredients in a giant French oven and let simmer until tender. Then blend into a smooth soup and enjoy with crusty bread.  Perfect! 

Cauliflower and fennel soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 litre vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
(pinch of salt) 

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or French oven. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary and sauté for a few minutes.

2. Add in the cauliflower florets, fennel and vegetable stock and bring to boil. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all vegetables are fully tender. 

3. Purée the soup with in a blender and season with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt if needed.

June 20, 2011

Finnish apple tart with vanilla sauce

I have no precise reason why, during the almost two years of blogging, I still haven't shared a recipe for this classic Finnish apple tart. This is one of my mum's favourites and needless to say I grew up with her version of this treat. I have opted for a few healthy amendments on the original recipe, and used whole spelt flour (instead of plain white), raw caster sugar and rapadura sugar and olive oil instead of butter. 

The outcome is a wholesome and tasty dessert that brings back many wonderful memories from my childhood. The smell, the flavour and the taste took me right back in to my home town, and into mum's kitchen. Savoured with the traditional Finnish vanilla sauce, similar to a vanilla custard, this is a real treat on a beautiful winter's day.

Finnish apple tart with vanilla sauce

2 large, free-range eggs
100g raw caster sugar
120g whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75ml milk
50ml olive oil
2 apples, cut in half and thinly sliced
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons rapadura sugar

Vanilla sauce

1 large, free-range egg yolk
200ml milk
2 teaspoons raw, natural vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon potato starch
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a round 26 cm pie dish.

2. Beat the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Combine the flour and the baking powder in a bowl. Sift the flour into the egg mixture and fold to combine.

4. Fold in the milk and the oil and pour the dough into the pie dish.

5. Arrange the apple slices on top of the dough and sprinkle with ground cinnamon and rapadura sugar. 

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

7. For the vanilla sauce, whisk the egg yolk in a small saucepan. Whisk in all other ingredients and place the saucepan on the heat. Whisking continuously on a low heat, let the sauce heat up until thickened. Serve the sauce with the apple tart.

June 18, 2011

Seasonal Recipe Guide - Autumn and Winter

Hi all,

I wanted to make another 'round-up' post, this time focusing on seasonal recipes. Being such a large continent, Australia has many different climates and thus some produce can be in season all year round. The interesting and also somewhat confusing fact is that some of the produce follows the same seasons as the northern hemisphere and some are the complete opposite.

Here are some of my favourite seasonal recipes for autumn and winter. Seasonal eating is the best kind and here in Australia it is a necessity as most fruit and vegetables are domestically produced. Eating seasonal produce is, however, not only economical but also a tastier option. Opt for local produce as well, if you can.

I love autumn and winter for the simple reason that the cooler months call for warm comfort food. This doesn't have to mean heavy meals, however, as soups and healthy salads can be just as comforting and satisfying. In desserts I adore the citrus flavours and there is no better time to enjoy them than in winter. Hope you can find something you like amongst the recipes below! There will be more seasonal recipe guides in the future and no doubt one for spring and summer as well.

1. Roasted chestnuts with lentils and goat cheese
2. Roasted brussels sprout and walnut salad
3. Roasted quince and wheat berry
4. Red cabbage and apple salad with mandarin dressing
5. Savoy cabbage rolls with golden chanterelle and brown rice filling
6. Orange flavoured roasted pumpkin with lentils
7. Pan fried pumpkin with pepitas and grated eggs
8. Beetroot orzotto
9. Roasted cauliflower with lentils
10. Celeriac remoulade

1. Roasted capsicum soup and Finnish scones
2. Leek, broccoli and pea soup
3. Rustic tomato soup
4. Wild mushroom soup
5. Creamy roasted chestnut and quinoa soup

1. Potato and rutabaga tarts
2. Chestnut cakes
3. Quince and ginger crumble with vanilla sauce
4. Quince, pear and apple cake
5. Chestnut and apple crumble
6. Pumpkin, almond and mandarin cookies
7. Layered Meyer lemon yoghurt dessert
8. Citrus ricotta pancakes with mint sugar and vanilla balsamic
9. Lemon custard tart
10. Oven baked fruit with Finnish buttermilk cheese

June 17, 2011

Pear macaroon slice - it's a celebration!

It's been 5 long weeks, but today I finally got my oven back! Needless to say there are now a few reasons to celebrate (in no particular order) 1) oven is fixed (hurrah!) 2) my fiancé (still not used to saying that) turned 30 earlier this week and 3) well, as you already know, we are now officially planning a wedding!

As you can imagine, I was feeling a little traumatised after the whole oven fiasco and righteously felt somewhat paranoid whether or not the oven could be fixed. After the oven repairs man had left and ensured me that the oven would now work, I felt confident to take the risk and start baking again.

This pear macaroon slice is definitely a celebration treat for us. I've used much more sugar than normally (although raw sugar, but nevertheless this is rather sweet), but I did opt for using extra virgin coconut oil and whole spelt flour to balance the richness. This is a brittle little thing, but all worth the effort. If pear is not in season where you are, any other seasonal fruit (berries, apples, quinces, even plums) will be just perfect.

Happy weekend all!

Pear macaroon slice

4 ripe pears, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

100g extra-virgin coconut oil (not liquid)
1 cup raw sugar
2 large, free-range eggs, separated
  1 cup whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Start by making the filling. Place the pears, spices and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to boil. Add one tablespoon of water if necessary, but be sure that as the pears soften, a lot of liquid will come out. Simmer the pears for 10-15 minutes or until they are completely soft. Drain and mash into a chunky purée using a fork. Use the left-over liquid to make a spicy warm drink, if you like.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a baking tin (18cm x 28cm) and line it with baking paper.

3. Place the coconut oil and half of the sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating well after each yolk. Mix the baking powder into the flour and sift the mixture into the dough. Using your hands, knead the dough - very lightly - together. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

4. Place the egg whites into a clean bowl and beat into a soft peak. Add the rest of the sugar little by little and beat until the mixture is glossy and thick. 

5. Using your fingers, press the chilled dough evenly onto the base of the tin. Top the base with the pear filling and spread the meringue on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly brown. Leave to cool before cutting into squares.

June 15, 2011

Celeriac remoulade

Firstly, thank you all for your sweet comments and wishes, I am overwhelmed by your thoughts!

We finally managed to get a late night flight back to Sydney after our original flight had been cancelled because of the volcanic ash. It feels good to be back home and back in my kitchen. With only a few hours of sleep last night I didn't feel like spending too much time cooking, but I was so inspired by the produce and everything we tasted during our trip that I had to make something quick and tasty.

This recipe is exactly that. It is a much lighter version of the classic French celeriac remoulade, which uses heavy cream and mayonnaise for the creamy texture. I've used natural pot-set yoghurt instead and the result is just as delicious. This makes a wonderful seasonal side dish and is so quick and easy to make.

 Celeriac remoulade
(serves 2-4)

1 cup natural, pot-set yoghurt (low-fat)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 small clove of garlic, grated 
2 tablespoons good olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons caper berries
2 medium sized celeriacs, grated

1. Start by draining the yoghurt for at least half an hour by placing the yoghurt in a sieve lined with muslin. Discard the whey or save it for a later use.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the drained yoghurt, grated lemon zest and juice, grated garlic and olive oil. Season the mixture with a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in the caper berries.

3. Add the grated celeriac and mix everything to coat. You can place the dish in the refrigerator for half an hour to intensify the flavours. Serve as a side dish to fish or meat.

June 14, 2011

Greetings from South Australia - Part 2

As promised, here are some more photos from our trip to South Australia. We really enjoyed the diverse scenery, the wildlife and the culture, and we’ve been so lucky with the weather too – the crispy winter days have been just perfect! It’s been so nice just to warm up by the fire sipping a hot cup of tea or a big bowl of soup after a cold day outside.

In just a few days we’ve seen the famous wine regions, the iconic Australian countryside, the rolling hills and the beautiful coast lining the Southern Ocean.  We’ve visited numerous small country towns, all with a fascinating history and such a unique atmosphere. It’s been a perfect setting to relax and get away from Sydney’s hustle and bustle.

It’s been an unforgettable trip for all the above reasons made even more special by a proposal by my partner of five and a half years. Yes, we are getting married! The wedding will be held in a year’s time. This will give us and our family and friends enough time to prepare and join us on our special day.

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts on Twitter, I can really feel the love and I cannot thank you enough for your wishes!

June 12, 2011

Greetings from South Australia - Part 1

 Hello from South Australia!
We have really enjoyed our trip so far and have fully embraced the South Australian produce – the olives, olive oils, wines, cheeses and the seasonal fruit and vegetables have all been superior quality. It’s been so interesting to see the sort of community spirit that prevails around the small country towns and our visit to the famous Barossa Valley farmer’s markets was truly a wonderful experience. Despite the cool winter weather, the atmosphere at the markets was warm and welcoming and the locals and visitors alike clearly knew their local produce was well worth the trip to the weekly markets.

South Australia is famous for its wines and we found the most atmospheric and characteristic wineries tucked in the small towns. Everywhere you go you see endless rows of vineyards – all at this time of the year quite unattractively lifeless, however. I find it incredibly fascinating to meet so many people who are passionate about their produce and want to keep the artisan traditions alive.  I am more than happy to support these small stall holders and businesses.

Personally I have also enjoyed visiting the numerous antique shops scattered around the country towns. I have always been passionate about vintage items and I find it extremely fascinating to browse these shops and buy curiosities I couldn’t find in Sydney. It is also always such a pleasure to get to talk to the shop owners, especially those who have been in the business for decades. Their knowledge is just so admirable and they always have such interesting stories to share. Needless to say I am bringing back a lot of items I’ve sourced from the country towns we’ve visited so far.

We will continue our trip tomorrow, but I wanted to share some of the scenery and things we’ve experienced so far.  More photos to follow when we are back in Sydney!