Friday, July 17, 2015

Sautéed garlic scapes with tomatoes

Sautéed Garlic Scapes

Are you familiar with garlic scapes? I've actually mentioned them here on my blog, Nami-Nami, just over ten years ago (YES, NAMI-NAMI BLOG QUIETLY CELEBRATED ITS 10 BLOG ANNIVERSARY IN MID-JUNE) -  when I was still living in Edinburgh. I used to go to the fabulous Edinburgh Farmers Market every weekend, and it's there that I first encountered those spindly scapes, at the stall of Really Garlicky Company (I'm thrilled to see that they're still going strong, those Scottish garlic heroes). I threw those curly garlic tops into stir-fries back then, or chopped them and added to mash.

I grow some hardneck garlic in our beautiful garden these days as well, tucked between our strawberry plants to keep nasty bugs away. Sometimes - but only sometimes - I remember to snip the curly-spindly scapes off in the spring or early summer. This time I did, and made this lovely sauté with tomatoes and cheese. I found a recipe by William Woys Weaver over at Mother Earth News that sounded lovely. Mr Weaver topped his sautéed garlic scapes with cubed and fried halloumi cheese. Although the Cypriot halloumi-cheese is widely available in Estonia, I had none at home. However, as Mr Weaver mentioned that he got an idea for the dish in Slovenia - where local kajmak cheese* is way more popular than halloumi - and kajmak is similar to feta and bryndza cheese. Luckily I had bought some fresh bryndza cheese as well as Georgian suluguni cheese at the market on a previous day, so I used a mixture of these two instead.

A verdict - lovely and tasty and such a genius way for using up those spindly-curly scapes. One of my 5 aunties and one of my 13 cousins came over for dinner that night and the dish got their approval as well. At least none of us will ever waste any garlic scapes again :)

* A huge thanks to my friend Mann for helping me with the Slovenian cheese terms.

(Hautatud küüslauguvõrsed)
Serves 4

Sautéed Garlic Scapes

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
250 g garlic scapes
400 g fresh or canned chopped tomatoes
180 ml (about 3/4 cups) dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
about 100 g of cheese (crumbled brynza or feta or cubed and fried halloumi)

Trim the garlic scapes by snipping off the thin tip on top of the garlic buds - this would simply burn on your pan. Discard. Cut the rest of the scapes into 5 cm/2 inch pieces.

Heat oil on a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add sugar, then stir for a couple of minutes to melt and caramelise the sugar. Add the garlic scapes, cover and fry on a moderately high heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

Uncover, then add the tomatoes and wine. Cover the pan again, reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the garlic scapes have al dente or softened, depending on your preference.

Season to taste, fold in the parsley and scatter with cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Badrijani nigvzit - Georgian aubergine rolls with walnut filling

Badrijani is the Georgian rolled eggplant dish we've been missing our whole life, wrote Lucky Peach on its Facebook page yesterday. I don't really know about rolled eggplant/rolled aubergine dishes in particular, but as far as eggplant dishes in general go, Georgian rolled aubergines are pretty wonderful. They're pictured on the top left corner above.

My recipe is pretty minimalist, as far as the seasoning goes. I've served them as part of a bigger Georgian spread (see f. ex. here), where the famous Georgian spice blend khmeli-suneli was used in various dishes. That's why I like my badrijani nigvzit (badrijani = aubergine/eggplant, nigvzit = walnuts) seasoned just with herbs, onion and vinegar. But feel free to use garlic instead of onion and to add some ground coriander or cumin seeds - or a generous spoonful of khmeli-suneli - to the walnut mixture to make it more flavoursome. Even chilli powder could be added, if you're fond of spicy dishes.

This great appetizer is low-carb, LCHF (low carb, high fat), gluten-free, vegan, Paleo etc. For more Georgian recipes, see my Georgian Flickr album or browse my Georgian recipes here.

Badrijani nigvzit aka Georgian eggplant rolls with walnut paste
(Pähklitäidisega pommurullid e. badrižani)

Serves 6 as an appetizer

2 slender eggplants/aubergines
sea salt
olive oil

Walnut filling:
250 g walnuts
2 onions
fresh dill, cilantro/coriander and parsley, chopped
3-4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
pomegranate seeds

Cut the aubergines into long thin slices, lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and let stand in a colander for 20-30 minutes. Drain the liquid, pat the slices dry with kitchen paper.

You can cook the aubergine either by frying or by baking. To fry them, heat some oil on a frying pan and fry on moderate heat until golden on both sides. To bake them, place into a 220C/450F oven and bake for about 20 minutes,  turning once.

To make the walnut filling, spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast at 180C/350F for about 10 minutes, until they're aromatic and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.

If you dislike the taste of raw onion, fry the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent.

Place all the filling ingredients into the food processor and blend until coarse and combined. Transfer into a bowl and season to taste - the filling has to be just a wee bit vinegary.

Place a spoonful of the filling onto one end of the aubergine slice, then roll into a cigar (alternatively, spread a thin layer of the walnut paste over the whole length of the aubergine, then roll up).  Place onto a serving tray, and do the same with rest of the aubergine slices and the filling. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.

More aubergine/eggplant recipes on Nami-Nami:
Grilled aubergine with feta, golden raisins and mint
Armenian aubergine stew
Ottolenghi's roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt
Nasu dengaku (miso-glazed aubergine)
Aubergine curry with tomatoes, coriander and Nigella seeds
Sautéed aubergine (Melanzane al funghetto)
Israeli roasted aubergine and feta spread
Moussaka, deconstructed

More badrijani recipes on food blogs:
Karen @ Rambling Spoon
Gill @ Gill Stannard
kahviaddikti (recipe in Finnish)
Christina Nichol @ Lucky Peach

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Onion Skins, Estonian style

This was originally posted in 2011. You'll find all my Easter recipes here

Easter eggs / Lihavõttemunad

We don't really 'do' chocolate eggs for Easter here in Estonia, but real, chicken eggs. Dyeing eggs for Easter is very popular, and using onion skins is probably the most popular method. Using onion peels gives you most beautiful dyed eggs, each one unique and special. Here are some photos of the process that I took few years ago.

Pille, onion skins

Here's what you need to do:

* Few weeks before Easter start collecting onion peels. Yellow ones are better than red onion skins, as they give a nice colour.

* You need white eggs for doing this (this gives the shops a chance to sell specially packaged white eggs for a much higher price before the festivities).

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Take an egg and neatly put few onion peels around it:

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Take a piece of mesh/muslin/kitchen foil or even an old nylon stocking and wrap it around the egg to keep the onion peels on place. I used foil here:

Dyeing Easter eggs

* Boil as usual. Cool, then unwrap and unpeel.

Here's the result - each egg is unique and gorgeous:

Easter eggs / Lihavõttemunad

Natasha describes a similar, though less complicated way of dyeing eggs with onion peels that's popular in Russia and Ukraine: Russian Easter Eggs. My 91-year old grandmother uses the same method - she says she's too old to "play around" with the onion peels too much :)