Guinea fowl supreme

One tray bakes are a very easy way of cooking dinner. All you need to do is chop your ingredients, put it in the oven and relax. I love gamy birds. Game is very lean meat so it may dry easily, which is good to be aware of. It has it’s distinctive flavour, some more, some less. Guinea fowl has a very mild flavour, so if you’ve not tried game birds before it might be a good one to start with. In addition to the usual vegetables I use for my one tray bakes, I thought beetroot and sweet potato would also be great accompaniments, with their earthy flavours going well with game. Also, bacon goes well.

serves 2
2 guinea fowl breasts
1 large raw beetroot, peeled and chopped to small cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped to small cubes
1 pepper, cut into bite size pieces
1 courgette / zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped into large pieces
4 chestnut mushrooms, quartered
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 plum tomatoes
4 thin smoked streaky bacon
few sprigs of thyme, leaves only
salt
black pepper
olive oil

1. Heat oven to 180° / 355°F. First, place the guinea fowl and the prepped beetroot and sweet potato in the tray, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme leaves. Roast for 15 minutes.

2. During the first stage, prepare all the other vegetables. After the first 15 minutes of cooking time, add all the prepared ingredients. Drizzle with some more olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.

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3. Place the thin bacon rashers on top, and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.

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Cappuccino cake

My husband would like me to bake more, so I’ve been making cakes a bit more than I normally do. I’ve been trying to be creative, and make a variety of styles. Last time it was fruity pineapple cake (click here for recipe), this time it’s a cappuccino cake with a mild coffee flavor.

5 tbsp strong coffee
175g butter
175g light muscovado sugar
3 eggs
175g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
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400g double cream
50-75g dark chocolate (I use 85%)

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating into the mixture. If the mixture ‘curdles’ during this process, add a spoonful of the flour.

2. Mix the flour and baking powder together. Once all the eggs have been beaten into the butter – sugar mixture and it’s again fluffy, start adding the flour. When you have only little flour left, add the coffee, followed by the remaining flour. After the flour has been added and completely mixed, you don’t want to overdo the mixing.

3. Preheat the oven to 175°C / 345°F. Line a baking tin with non-stick baking paper (unless you’re using a silicone one), and pour the cake mixture in. Bake for about 45 minutes.

4. Once baked, take out of the oven. I tend to check the cake is baked through by using a metal knitting pin. When you pull it out, if it’s clean the cake is done, if some batter has got stuck to it it’s not done yet.

5. Lift the cake and the baking paper out of the tin and let the cake cool on a rack.

6. Remove the baking paper and cut the cooled cake into three layers.

7. On each layer, put some whipped cream and grated dark chocolate. Then put another layer on and repeat.

Chicken burgers

One of my husband’s hates is fast food burgers, and he in fact refuses to eat them. Having said that, he loves them when homemade. When I noticed we still had some homemade burger buns in the freezer from the last time, he was absolutely delighted to learn that we were going to have chicken burgers for dinner. It is also especially suitable food for days when watching The World Cup. For the chicken preparation, I’ve used the same technique as I use for my Wiener Schnitzel click here for recipe. I beat the chicken breasts to be thinner, and one breast will serve 2-3 people.

serves 2
2 burger buns
1 large chicken breast
1 egg
1/2 dl plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 dl breadcrumbs
50g butter
Garnishes to your liking: cheese, lettuce, gherkin, tomatoes, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, red onion

1. Chop your garnishes to be ready, and set aside.

2. On one plate, mix the flour and all the spices together well. On another plate, put one beaten egg, and on a third plate put 1/2 dl of the breadcrumbs. Keep the rest of the breadcrumbs at hand, as you will need to add more during the chicken preparation.

3. Place the chicken breast in a bag (I use a medium re-sealable freezer bag). Beat the breast until wanted thickness, about 1 centimetre (around half an inch). Cut the beaten breast to pieces.

4. First, place the pieces on the flour – spice mixture, followed by the egg, and last the breadcrumbs. On each stage, coat both sides. I tend to use one hand for moving the pieces through the stages, and use the clean, dry hand at the last stage.

5. Place most of the butter in a frying pan, and once melted place the prepared chicken pieces in, frying in medium – high temperature for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken, add the rest of the butter, once melted fry the burger buns for couple of minutes on the cut side.

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6. Build your burgers and enjoy!

Fish Florentine

Mondays in our household normally mean fish or seafood for dinner. I have to confess I’m much more comfortable cooking a carnivore’s feast rather than a fish dish. I’ve been lately getting more experimental with fish however, and here’s today’s recipe for Fish Florentine. I was a little bit nervous with this recipe, as I would never have put fish and cheese together, but it actually worked really well!

serves 2

2 fillets of white fish (I think cod is best for this kind of dish)
150g spinach
3 large chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
splash of olive oil
25g butter
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2dl milk
1 tsp ground paprika
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
2tsp potato flour or cornflour
1dl grated gruyere cheese
1tbsp grated parmesan cheese
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250ml dry white wine (I usually use Sauvignon Blanc in cooking)
2tbsp chopped parsley
1tsp dried tarragon

1. Heat oil and butter, cook onion until soft. Add thinly sliced mushrooms and garlic. Fry, stirring occasionally, for few minutes and add spinach. mix together until spinach is wilted.

2. Heat milk in a pan, and add all ground spices. when the milk is starting to simmer mix the potato flour / cornflour with a splash of water, and pour into the milk. Stir until the mixture thickens. Add both cheeses.

3. Poach the fish in a frying pan with the white wine and herbs for 4-6 minutes.

4. Put the onion, mushroom and spinach mixture at the bottom of an oven proof dish. Lay the fish on top, and pour the sauce over everything. sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, and grill under preheated grill until starting to brown and bubble over.

Slow cooked lamb shanks

This is my husband’s favourite Sunday roast. I must admit that lamb has never been my favourite meat, however when I cooked these lamb shanks for the first time I was completely sold. The meat literally falls off the bone. This is also one of the dishes I would cook when I want to impress guests. With this kind of dish, I would say the main challenge is timing of all the elements. The lamb itself will take a long time in the oven, but once they are cooked, they can be covered and put aside to wait. You can also see the links to the perfect accompaniments of roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding below.

Perfect roast potatoes
Yorkshire pudding
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4 lamb shanks
100g plain flour, seasoned with salt / black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
500ml red wine
500ml chicken stock
1 onion, sliced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 fresh bay leaves

1. Heat the oven to 160°C / 320°F.

2. Coat the lamb with the flour.

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3. Heat the oil in a casserole dish, and fry the lamb for about 5 minutes, turning until browned all over.

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4. Add all the other ingredients. Liquid should pretty much cover the meat. Because of the size of the dish I use, I have to use double the amount of wine and stock than in the recipe, to cover the meat.

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5. Place in the oven, and cook for 3 hours.

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6. Remove the shanks. You need to be careful when handling them, as they are now so soft that the meat will fall off very easily.

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7. Sieve the liquid into a pan.

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8. Reduce the cooking liquid by boiling, uncovered, to about half, to get wonderful gravy that’s full of flavour.

Kesäkeitto (Summer soup)

Since I started writing my blog, I’ve really been enjoying going back to my past, all the way to childhood, to make foods I’ve not had in a long time. There are so many lovely things I’ve almost forgotten exist, but luckily I now have an excuse to really look into them. This tasty soup’s key elements are milk, and fresh vegetables, and it’s also suitable to vegetarians. I tend to prepare most of the ingredients before starting the cooking, as the soup actually cooks pretty quickly. This recipe makes a big soup, enough for about 8 people.

2 carrots
200g green beans
2 dl peas
1/2 broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets
500g new potatoes
150g spinach, chopped
4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 litre water
1.2 litres milk
4 tbsp plain flour

1. Cut the vegetables.

2. Boil the water with the salt and sugar added, then add the carrots, green beans and peas, and boil for 3 minutes.

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3. Add the potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, and boil for about 10 minutes, until almost cooked.

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4. Mix the flour with 2 dl of the milk, until there are no lumps. Pour the remaining 1 litre of milk into the soup, followed by the flour- milk mixture. Add the chopped spinach, and cook for a few minutes. It’s good to stir the soup during the cooking after the milk has been added, to prevent it from burning at the bottom.

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Butternut squash risotto

I didn’t used to like risotto in the past, and only started liking it when I started making my own. These days I have a couple of ones I keep going back to in my kitchen, a butternut squash one and a beetroot one (click here for recipe). They are also both good vegetarian recipes (apart from these risottos and a couple of other recipes I don’t cook much vegetarian), however make a great meal even for a carnivore like me.

serves 3-4
1 butternut squash
700 ml vegetable stock (I use water mixed with Bouillon powder)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
1 bay leaf
4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
250g Arborio risotto rice
4 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
200ml white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good)
80g grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 180°C / 355°F. Cut, peel and deseed the squash. Place half of the prepared squash in an oven dish. Drizzle with half the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Place the other half of the squash in a pan together with the vegetable stock, bring to simmer.

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2. Finely chop the onion, and place in a pan with the remaining olive oil, and half the butter. Whilst the onion is frying for few minutes, finely chop the garlic and celery. Together with the herbs, add to the onions, and cook for couple of minutes.

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3. Add the rice, and stir together. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, then add the white wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced.

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4. Start adding the stock, one ladle at a time. Let the liquid absorb before adding more. Keep stirring the mixture.

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5. When there is only a little bit of stock left, mash until pureed, and add to the rice. If the rice isn’t yet cooked enough, you can also add the puree little by little.

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6. Add most of the roasted squash pieces, remaining butter and most of the cheese. Mix together, and let stand for couple of minutes. Season if required, and give another stir. Serve with the remaining roasted pieces and parmesan cheese.

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