Spinach soup

This soup is another one of those foods from my childhood that didn’t impress me back then. Most of my experience of it, however, was as a school lunch, and most children hated it. Now when I make it, I think it’s absolutely delicious! I think it’s important to use as nice beef stock as possible, as that brings a lot of flavour to this soup. Traditionally, the soup is served with hard boiled eggs.

500g fresh spinach
2 litres water
4 tsp salt
~~~~~
50g butter
3 tbsp plain flour
1 litre beef stock
1 1/2 dl cream
salt
black pepper
nutmeg

1. Wash the spinach leaves, and bring to boil in the water with the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked, then pour the water off and drain the spinach.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour to it and mix together.

3. Start adding the beef stock, little by little, mixing continuously, until it has all been used and mixed together.

4. Puree the drained spinach in a blender, and add into the stock. Stir until it has all been mixed in properly.

5. Add the cream, then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook for few minutes, and the soup is ready to be enjoyed!

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Jansson’s temptation

I have always though of this as Finnish food, however I have a feeling this food might also be served in other Scandinavian countries. This dish tends to be something children hate (I would guess it’s because of the anchovy being quite a pungent fish), however most people turn around at the beginning of their adulthood, and love this food. I, too, have followed this evolution path. Ingredients wise, you really don’t need much.  This is one of those foods that I make semi regularly, and if I’ve had too long a break my husband starts asking for it. Other variations of this is Salmon temptation, where you replace the anchovy with salmon, however I would really like to encourage you to try this with the anchovies if you’re not a hater of the fish. As the anchovies are salty, you don’t need to add any salt into this dish, however if you make this with salmon you would probably want to add some salt too.

8 medium to large potatoes
2 onions
1 jar of anchovy fillets (100g)
black and white pepper
5 dl cream
1 tbsp bread crumbs
50g butter

1. Peel and finely chop the onions, and fry in half the butter.

2. Peel the potatoes, and cut into this strips, like matches or French fries. Rinse with cold water, drain and dry.

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3. Butter an oven dish. At the bottom, place half of the potatoes. Season with pepper. Put the onions next, as a second layer. Next, put all the fish in as a third layer, then cover with the remaining potatoes. Pour all the oil from the fish tin over the potatoes, and add 3 dl of the cream, as well as some more pepper. Put pieces of butter on top, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.

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4. Bake in a preheated oven 200°C / 390°F (fan) for about 40 minutes. After this time, add the remaining cream, and bake for another 10 minutes. I love the crispy potatoes you will end with on top.

Carrot cake I

I have two recipes for carrot cake that I use. As both of them are nice, my dilemma was which one to post. I’ve decided that I will post one as I, and next time I’m making carrot cake I’ll make the other recipe as II.

200g carrots
2 eggs
1 1/2 dl caster sugar
1/2 dl chopped hazelnuts
2 1/2 dl self raising flour
1 dl oat bran
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 dl olive oil
1 dl buttermilk

1. Peel and finely grate the carrots.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until foamy, fluffy texture, then carefully add the dry ingredients.

4. Add the carrots and all the other remaining ingredients.

5. Pour the cake batter on a flat based cake tin (If you use a tin, you may want to butter it first. I use a silicon cake mold, which doesn’t require buttering). The batter will appear very runny at this stage, but will be nice and fluffy once cooked.

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6. Bake in the low part of a preheated oven 170°C / 340°F for about 50 minutes.

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Lasagne

 

This Italian dish is usually a foolproof way to keep everyone happy: from children to adults, continent to continent, carnivore to a vegetarian, everyone usually loves their version of this food. I’ve made my own lasagna sheets for this dish, but you can absolutely use shop bought, dried ones too. This won’t change anything in the steps, apart from the fact that you can skip the pasta making step. If you are making you own pasta, I would start by making it first, as you can then leave it to dry while preparing the other things. For a vegetarian version, just replace the mince beef in the Bolognaise sauce with vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, courgette / zucchini etc).

Pasta
300g pasta flour, 00 grade
3 eggs

1.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

2. Divide the dough into three pieces. Flatten the pieces with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the biggest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved (I went all the way to setting no 3). Next, using a knife, cut into sheets. Then, leave to dry while you prepare the rest.

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Bolognaise sauce
1 celery stick
1-2 carrots
1 medium onion
2-3 garlic cloves
handful of fresh basil leaves
handful of fresh parsley
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato purée
dried oregano
dried herbs de provence
olive oil
salt
black pepper
~~~~~
250g mince beef
salt
black pepper
paprika powder
ground allspice

1. In a blender, finely chop onion, garlic, carrot, celery and fresh herbs,  and a splash of  olive oil. Pour in a pan, and fry until soft.

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2. Blend the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, and add to the pan. Add dried herbs and season with salt and pepper. Depending on the thickness of the sauce you may want to add a little bit of water.

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3. Fry the mince beef in a separate pan, and mix together with the tomato sauce.

Béchamel sauce
25g butter
3/4 dl flour
7-8 dl milk
2 dl cheese, grated (mature cheddar is good, or you can use half cheddar / half mozzarella) + some on top
salt
black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a pan, then mix the flour with the butter.

2. 1 dl at a time, start mixing the milk in, stirring. If you can’t get rid of lumps, whisk may be useful. When you have mixed all the milk in, if you still have lumps you can run the sauce through a sieve, pushing the lumps through. Pour the mixture back in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.

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3. Mix the cheese into the sauce and stir until it’s melted.

Lasagne

1. Butter your owen dish. Layer the ingredients, starting with pasta sheets. Put a little bit of the Béchamel sauce over the bottom layer of pasta, then cover with the Bolognaise sauce. Then, Béchamel sauce again.

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2. Put another layer of pasta, Bolognaise sauce and Béchamel sauce. Cover with a layer of pasta and Béchamel, and sprinkle cheese on top. Always have the pasta and Béchamel  sauce as the last layer. Bake 180°C / 360°F (fan) for about 45-50 minutes.

Stuffed butternut squash

Butternut squash is said to have many health benefits, as well as being a versatile ingredient in cooking. On this recipe I oven roasted it with stuffing. It’s also excellent to be used in risottos. The main ingredient of my stuffing on this particular recipe is mince beef, however you could easily make this a vegetarian dish by replacing the beef with other vegetables, such as mushrooms, courgette etc, and could also add pulses.

250g mince beef
1 onion
salt
black pepper
white pepper
paprika
ground allspice
1 butternut squash
4 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
dried herbs de provence
olive oil

1. Fry the onions in vegetable oil in a pan, until starting to get translucent. Add the mince beef and mix with the onions. Add the spices, and fry until cooked. During the cooking process, keep braking into small pieces. Add the tomatoes, red pepper and herbs de provence.

2. Cut the butternut squash into half (lengthwise). Deseed, and brush with olive oil. Fill with the mince beef filling, and top with grated cheese.

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3. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F (fan), and cook for about 40 minutes.

Laskiaispulla (Shrove Tuesday bun)

I know Shrove Tuesday is usually called  Pancake Day. One of these years I’ll make pancakes on this day for my husband, however at the moment he’s still getting the Finnish version – buns filled with jam and whipped cream.

5 dl milk
2 saches of quick action dried yeast or 50g fresh yeast (I used dried)
1 egg, plus one more for brushing
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 dl caster sugar
1 tbsp coarsely ground cardamom
1 kg wheat flour (400g plain flour / 400g strong white bread flour / 200g self-raising flour)
200g butter, melted

1. Measure 900g of the flour in your mixing bowl. I use food processor for mixing the dough, but if you’re mixing by hand use a large wooden fork, as it’s important to get air in the dough mixture. Save the remaining flour until later. I have to confess I found the perfect mix of flours by accident. I have normally mixed plain and strong white flour half and half, but run out just a little bit, so had to finish with self raising, which turned out to be the best situation.

2. Heat the milk until lukewarm. Add the yeast, salt, sugar and cardamom, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add slightly beaten egg.

3. Pour the liquid mixture to the mixing bowl with the flour in, whilst mixing.

4. Knead for 5 minutes, then start pouring in, little by little, the melted butter. At this stage, it’s a good idea to add spoons of the remaining flour, to help the butter to be incorporated with the rest of the dough. Knead for another 5 minutes. During this time, if the dough keeps sticking to the bowl or is too soft, add some more flour until it doesn’t stick anymore.

5. Cover the bowl with cling film and a cloth,  and place the bowl in a sink with hot water in. Leave to rise for an hour.

6. I then knead the dough again in the food processor for 30 seconds (or alternatively, you can of course do this by hand too).

7. Make into balls. Cover the individual buns with cling film and a cloth, and let them rise for 30 minutes.

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8. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

9. Brush the buns with egg, then cook for about 10 minutes.

10. Once cooled, cut as many buns as you’re wanting to prepare as Laskiaispulla, half, so that you have bottom and top halves. Put some whipped cream on both halves. Add jam on the bottom half, the place the top half on top. The buns will be presented in this way, however when you eat them you probably want to eat each half separately.

 

Spaghetti with squid and chorizo

Even though the weather in the UK has gone really cold, this dish has transported me right to the Mediterranean climate. Making the pasta for the spaghetti couldn’t be easier, it takes less time than chopping all the other ingredients. I would suggest to start with the pasta, as it can then dry a little while you prepare everything else.

250g pasta flour 00 grade
2 eggs
~~~~~
3 medium squid tubes
3 chorizo sausages
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red or yellow pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
handful of parsley
1 courgette / zucchini
splash of olive oil
salt and black pepper
juice of 1 lemon

 

1.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

2. Divide the dough into two pieces. Flatten the pieces with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the biggest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. Next, using the spaghetti cutting roller part, cut the pasta sheet into spaghetti. Then, leave to dry while you prepare the rest.

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3. Prepare all the other ingredients. Heat olive oil in a pan, and fry the onions, squid and chorizo for few minutes, until cooked.

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4. Add the garlic, pepper and courgette. Fry for few minutes. At the same time, boil water with salt added, and put the spaghetti in. Boil for about three minutes, then drain.

5. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add the spaghetti, mixing everything together. Lastly stir in the parsley.

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