Squid and chorizo salad

This wonderful salad is full of flavour and content. The dried chickpeas need to soaked for 8 hours so this dish will need some pre cooking planning, but apart from that is quite a simple food to make, with not a lot of actual cooking involved.

2dl dried chickpeas
400g squid
1 chorizo sausage (about 60g)
8 plum tomatoes
1 fresh small green chilli
2 cloves of garlic
1 spring onion
2 leaves of romaine heart lettuce
25g fresh parsley
juice of one lemon (or 2tbsp)
6 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Generously cover the chickpeas with cold water for 8 hours. After the soaking time, drain. Place in a pot, cover with fresh water and bring to boil. Simmer for 40 minutes.

2. Whilst the chickpeas are boiling, chop the ingredients for the salad base. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Deseed and finely chop the chilli, and also finely chop the garlic cloves, spring onion and parsley. Cut the romaine heart lettuce into thin strips. Mix together, and add the lemon juice and half of the olive oil. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Place in the fridge. Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain and let cool.

3. Cut the body pouch of the squids open, and score the inside into diamond shapes. Then cut the squid into bite size pieces.

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4. Heat the remaining half of the oil in a frying pan, and put the squid pieces in the scored size up. Fry for about 30 seconds, then turn over and fry for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this is two-three batches. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper, and set aside.

5. Chop the chorizo into small pieces. Fry in the pan for couple of minutes, then add the squid and fry for another minute.

6. Add the cooled chickpeas to the salad base, and mix together. Plate the salad, and add the squid and chorizo on top.

Mixed bean cassoulet

I’m not entirely sure what the true, authentic way of making bean cassoulet is, but the good thing with any this type of food is that you can easily make it your own. You can go from vegetarian version to a hearty, meaty one, or anything in between. This is what I went for this time, using my homemade chicken stock (click here for recipe), and I’m already looking forward to the next time, to make one perhaps with sausage. I would categorise this dish as hearty winter meal. I’ve never been a big bean lover, but this dish is a great introduction to tasty ways of cooking them, and my husband loves this dish. One thing that requires some organisation with this is soaking the dried beans beforehand, but otherwise the steps to making this food are pretty simple. I use a 10 bean mix of black eyed beans, black turtle beans, butter beans, haricot beans, lima beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, rose cocoa beans, alubia beans and mung beans.

500g dried mixed beans
2 medium sized carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can of chopped tomatoes
4 dl chicken stock
dash of vegetable oil

1. Place the beans in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 12 hours. After the soaking time, drain. Place in a pot, cover with fresh water. Bring to boil, and on high setting boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to simmer, and boil for 1 hour 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.

3. Place the oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in a casserole dish. Fry on the hob for about 5 minutes, stirring, until onions start getting softer.

4. Place all the remaining ingredients in and mix everything together thoroughly. Cover with a lid, and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes.

 

Cheese soufflé with bacon crumb

I’ve been wanting to attempt making soufflé for quite a long time, and finally thought it was time. I thought it might be a interesting change to my usual soft boiled breakfast eggs, and to give a bit more of a breakfast feel, top it with bacon crumb. I was relieved that my soufflés rose. My husband was worried the cheese would be too overpowering, however that luckily wasn’t the case. Depending on the size of your ramekins, this recipe could make 3-4.

15g butter

15g flour

150ml milk

35g finely grated gruyere cheese

1/2 tsp mustard powder

pinch or two ground white pepper

1 egg yolk

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp lemon juice

~~~~~

butter

fine breadcrumbs, about 1 tbsp in each ramekin

2-3 thin bacon rashers

1. Grill the bacon slices in the oven at medium setting for about 10-12 minutes, turning once. Let it cool, and crumble very finely.

 

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C (fan) / 300°F, keeping the oven tray in during the heating.

3. Butter the ramekins (easiest way is to put a small piece of butter in a kitchen tissue, and wipe the ramekins with that by hand. Pour the breadcrumbs in the ramekins, and turn them around until all surfaces are coated.

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4. Warm the milk in a pot. In another pot, melt the butter, add the flour and mix together. Little by little, pour the milk in, whisking together until smooth. Add the cheese and mustard powder, mix well and cook for few minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little bit.

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5. Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until fluffy and peaks form.

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6. Whisk the egg yolk to the slightly cooled mixture, and season with white pepper. Add a third of the egg whites, and whisk into the mixture. After this, fold the remaining egg whites in carefully, using a large spoon or spatula.

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7. Pour the mixture into the ramekins, fill them about 3/4 to the capacity. Place the ramekins on the warmed oven tray, and bake for about 15 minutes. Don’t open the oven door during the baking. Once baked, sprinkle the bacon crumb on top.

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Restaurant review: Texture, London

The quality range seems to be very vast in the group of restaurants that have 1 Michelin star. My husband and I have thought this many times in the past, and within the last few weeks have dined at a 1 star restaurant that was definitely at the lower end of the 1 star places we’ve been to, and one that was at the top end of all the 1 star restaurants. The difference between the two restaurants is so big that I’m not sure how they can both have the same rating.

We decided to go for the fish tasting menu with matching wines. Texture is a Scandinavian restaurant, and we were surprised by a fusion of Scandinavian and Asian flavours. One would think these two to be too far from each other, to be successfully joined together, but it indeed works together very well! What is also interesting is that the restaurant doesn’t use butter or cream for their cooking.

We arrived 20 minutes early for our booking, which was the first seating, and were pleased to be welcomed in. We had our champagne aperitif, as well as nibbles at the bar, whilst waiting for the restaurant service to begin. This was at bonus to the place, because some places don’t let you in until the first seating starts, which is especially annoying if it’s raining.

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The menu started with a wonderful beetroot soup, which was earthy and sweet, with a velvety consistency. It was paired with Henriot Demi Sec champagne, which complimented the food very well. on it’s own, the sweetness of the champagne was very present, however when had together with the food it didn’t seem sweet at all.

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Next course of salmon was a delight, and the best course of the menu for my husband. Salmon can often be overcooked, but this one was cooked exactly how it should be, very moist and pink inside. It was served with oscietra caviar, slightly mustard flavoured sauce, sorrel, perfectly thin rye bread and very well pickled cucumber. All the flavours worked very well, served with mild flavoured Italian Garlider 2016 Sylvaner.

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Next dish of scallop had flavours of coconut, kaffir lime and lemongrass. They were skillfully used, and weren’t overpowering the dish. one thing my husband didn’t like was fresh coriander, that had been used. It seems a lot of restaurants these days use fresh coriander as a garnish to a lot of their plates, even though it has a strong, overpowering taste. The South African FMC 2016 Chenin Blanc served with this dish was a big hit with both my husband and I. Even though this wine is a little bit more complex, with slight oakiness, and you might wonder how it could possible go with the flavor combinations of the dish, the wine complimented the dish well, as well as being a delight to drink on it’s own.

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Cod was cooked very well, the piece was very meaty and flaky. I think cod is quite a boring and tasteless fish, so it needs interesting accompaniments. It was served with avocado, brandade, tomatoes which were prepared very nicely, and chorizo. There was also a little bit of potato mash under the fish, and some cannellini beans. I think the fish was hidden under a lot of ingredients, and plating could’ve perhaps been a bit more refined for this dish. I also think that the beans didn’t seem necessary. Wine pairing with this dish was Italian 2012 Pinot Noir Montalcino. I’ve had Pinot Noir served with monkfish before, but not with cod. The wine didn’t overpower the cod, and suited all the ingredients in the dish.

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I wasn’t too keen on the taste of the pre dessert palate cleanser. It was clean but dull flavoured, however I would’ve liked a bit more freshness and sharpness from it.

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There were elements I really liked in the dessert, and also some I wasn’t too sure about. The skyr pannacotta was nice, and I loved the nectarines, I thought these were the star of this dish. The ice-cream for me didn’t have much flavor. Wine served with the dessert was German 2013 Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Auslese, which was a sweeter Riesling, however not too syrupy and sweet like some dessert wines might be.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Winter warmer beef and root vegetable soup

I was planning on making this soup for few weeks. Since I started planning it I’ve gone on a diet, and after I made it, I decided to count the calorie content of the soup. My recipe makes a really big amount, which only contains 2000 kcal. I was very pleased to find out that a portion size only contains a couple of hundred calories. The purpose of this soup was not a low calorie meal options, but it for sure is an added bonus. You will still get soft meaty pieces of beef, and the fresh vegetables bring such great flavour. It’s perfect winter warmer food.

600g diced beef
500g swede (about 1/2 of a large swede)
350g turnips
400g parsnips
250g carrots
600g potatoes
1 onion
125g cauliflower
125g broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 dl frozen peas
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
handful of fresh thyme sprigs
4 litres of water

1. Place the beef pieces and half of the water to a large pot. Cover with a lid, bring to boil, and boil for couple of hours, until the pieces are starting to get soft. It doesn’t necessarily matter what cut of the beef you use. If you are using tough, cheaper cuts, boiling them this way before you add the other ingredients will make them wonderfully soft. At the beginning of the boiling, keep on eye on the pot, as the ‘muck’ coming out of the beef may foam a lot. You may want to skim some of the foam / muck away. After about an hour’ add the salt, peppercorns, allspice, finely chopped garlic, bay leaves and thyme.

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2. While the beef is boiling, prepare all the vegetables. Peel and cut the turnips, swede, parsnips and carrots into small pieces. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into bigger, still bite sized pieces. Finely chop the onion, and cut the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets.

 

3. After the beef has been boiling for couple of hours (or longer if required) and is soft, add the carrots, swede, parsnips, turnips and potatoes, and the remaining half of the water. Bring back to boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Add the onion, cauliflower, broccoli and peas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check the taste, and add seasoning, if required.

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Fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes

I’m more of a savoury breakfast person, however from time to time it’s nice to opt in for the sweet version. These kind of American style pancakes haven’t really found their way to Finnish or British breakfast tables, so I’ve not had much experience with eating or making them. I wasn’t happy with my first attempt some time ago, however now, after research, and then combining what I read to my own recipe, I ‘m pleased to announce that the result has been magnificent! These came out super soft, airy and fluffy with great flavour.

350ml plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
250ml buttermilk
100ml milk
1 large egg
25g butter, melted + extra for frying
175g blueberries

1. Place all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and mix together with a spoon. In another bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together.

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2. Spoonful at a time, add the flour to the wet ingredients, mixing in with the whisk. You don’t however want to overwork the batter (like with any cakes once flour is added), as this will end in a dense, rather than fluffy texture. The batter will be quite thick.

3. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

4. Rinse and drain the blueberries.

5. Heat the frying pan with little butter on a medium – low temperature. Place lumps of batter on the pan. Add some blueberries on top and press them into the batter a little bit. Once the batter has set (around 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pancakes and the heat of the pan) turn over. Fry the other side for about 1-2 minutes.

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Marrowfat pea soup

This is one of the soups I’ve really been missing from my native Finland. Ask anyone what food is served on Thursdays, and they should all say it’s this pea soup, followed by pancake for dessert. I found it difficult to find dried marrowfat peas traditionally used, so I decided to try a soup mix of pearl barley, green split peas, haricot beans, marrowfat peas, red split lentils, yellow split peas and brown rice, and was absolutely delighted at how close it came to the real deal! I was organized and planned my roast pork which literally fell apart (click here for recipe), for the weekend before making this soup, and it was perfect.  You will need to be a little bit organized when making this soup even if you haven’t planned to cook the meat in advance, because you need to soak the dried pulses for 12 hours. This recipe will make a big soup.

500g soup mix of dried pearl barley, green split peas, haricot beans, marrowfat peas, red split lentils, yellow split peas and brown rice
~500g pork shoulder meat, pulled to shreds
4 litres water
2 beef stock pots
salt
white pepper

1. Place the dried pulses in a large bowl, and cover with plenty of cold water. Leave to soak for 12 hours.

2. Drain and discard the soaking water. Place the pulses in a large pan, together with 4 litres of water. If your pan isn’t large enough, start with 2 litres, and add more after some liquid has evaporated. Bring to brisk boil, and boil for 10 minutes, unvovered.

3. If using uncooked meat, place the piece in the pan, skin removed. If you are using already cooked meat, leave until later. Bring the mixture to a softer boil, add the stock pots and cover with a lid. Boil for 2 hours. Stir a few times during the cooking.

4. If you cooked the meat with the soup, remove the piece, pull apart to shreds and add back to the soup. If you are using pre-cooked meat, add it in now, and heat through, stirring occasionally.

5. Season with the salt  and pepper to taste. You should have a nice, slightly thick soup. Also, it will taste even better when reheating it again the following day. As a serving suggestion, do also try it with a little bit of mustard mixed in.

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