Grilled tuna steak

Fresh, proper piece of tuna steak is very different from the tinned version most are used to. It is meaty, and flavoursome, which can also be enhanced by marinating. To cook, I just popped it under the grill in the oven this time, which was very easy and hassle free.

Serves 2

two tuna steaks

Marinade
1 small green chilli
1 garlic clove
1 piece of
root ginger, about the size of half a thumb, peeled
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
handful of parsley (a few stalks)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Finely chop chilli, ginger and parsley. Peel and squeeze the garlic clove. Mix all marinade ingredients together. Place the tuna pieces in a container in the fridge. 8 hours marinating time would be ideal, if this is not possible try to do at least 2 hours.

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2. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Place the tuna pieces under the grill, and cook for about 12-14 minutes, turning once half way through the cooking.

Rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes

Rack of lamb is quite a simple Sunday lunch food to cook, and a nice cut of meat. The longer you have the marinade on, the better the result will be. I would try to have the meat marinating for at least four hours, but overnight would be ideal. In terms of the cooking time, I like mine medium (pink), and the cooking times on here provide exactly that.

Serves 2
Lamb rack

25g butter for searing
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Marinade
2 cloves of garlic
leaves from 3 rosemary sprigs
leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
6 black peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
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Garlic mashed potatoes
5 large potatoes (about 800g)
50g butter
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
100ml milk
50ml – 100ml double cream
5 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp sea salt (or standard table salt)

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together. I tend to crush them together with a pestle and mortar.

2. Clean the rack bones with a sharp knife, to remove the sinew. It won’t however be a problem if you don’t, this is only done for aesthetic reasons, and won’t affect on the cooking of the meat.

3. Rub the marinade mixture all over the meat, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for four hours, or overnight.

4. Peel and quarter the potatoes, place in a pot with four out of the five garlic cloves, rosemary and salt. Cover with water, bring to boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Once cooked, pour the water off, and remove the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs / leaves. Mash the potatoes, and add the butter, milk, cream and salt. Finally, peel and crush the remaining garlic clove into the mash.

5. Heat oven to 200°C (fan) / 430°F. Melt the butter in a frying pan suitable for oven. Place the rack in the pan fat side down, and brown for a few minutes. Then sear both ends of the rack. Sear the remaining side, leaving the rack on the frying pan fat side up. For aesthetic reasons, you can cover the bones with foil, so that they won’t colour too much in the oven.

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6. Place the frying pan and the lamb rack in the preheated oven. For medium (pink) meat, cook for 20 minutes.

7. After the cooking time has passed, remove from oven. Cover the meat with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

 

Runeberg’s tart

The name for these mini cakes is slightly misleading, because they’re called tarts even though they are cakes. Direct translation between languages can sometimes be very difficult when you want to be true to the original name, but know at the same time it will give people a wrong impression. These delightful cakes are traditionally eaten once a year, in celebration of Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, on 5th of February.

makes about 8
Batter
1 egg
25 ml caster sugar
1/2 dl light muscovado sugar
100g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 dl double cream
2 dl plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 dl finely chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp Amaretto
1tsp almond extract
~~~~~
Sugar syrup
1 dl sugar
1/2 dl water
2 tbsp cognac
~~~~~
rasberry jam
icing sugar
water
a dash of Amaretto

1. Beat the egg and sugars until fluffy. Whip the cream until soft peaks are starting to form. Add the butter, cream and Amaretto to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix together.

2. Mix all the remaining dry ingredients together, and fold into the wet mixture.

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3. To make the cakes the traditional shape I had to improvise, as I don’t have the molds (will have to try to remember next time is visit Findland to buy some). I used non stick baking paper to make cylinders, which do work pretty well. This step of course isn’t necessary, and you could just use muffin cases, if you’re not too particular of the shape of the cakes.

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4. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355° (fan). Bake the cakes for about 15-20 minutes.

5. While the cakes are cooking, prepare the syrup. Place the sugar, water and cognac in a pan, and bring to boil, cooking until all the sugar has dissolved.

6. Once the cakes have cooked, let cool for 5 minutes. Prick holes in them with a thin cocktail stick / needle. Then, brush the cakes with the syrup, using all of it. Let the cakes moisten for half an hour.

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7. Cut the tops of the cakes, to make them flat, and turn upside down. Place raspberry jam on top, leaving a space all around it. Mix the icing together, making a thick mixture, and finish the cakes with a ring of icing around the jam. Let the icing to harden, and the cakes are ready to be enjoyed!

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Beetroot and dill cured salmon

Cured salmon is one of the foods often enjoyed as part of the Scandinavian kitchen. There are many variations to it, however the basics you will need are sugar and salt. The whole process is based on the reaction called osmosis, and is an ancient way of preserving foods that wouldn’t last fresh for long otherwise. During the curing, you will notice a lot of liquid will be drawn out of the fish. The cured fish will last in the fridge for few weeks, however I doubt you will have anything left for that long.

2 raw beetroot, grated
500g piece of fresh salmon
50g table salt
90g caster sugar
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
a bunch of fresh dill

1. Dry roast the mustard seeds, until fragrant and popping. Cool, and crush together with the peppercorns with pestle and mortar. Mix together with salt, sugar and finely chopped dill.

2. Place a large piece of cling film to cover the dish you’re using for your curing. Place half of the raw, grated beetroot at the bottom. Then add half of the mixture of the other ingredients.

3. Add the piece of salmon on top of the beetroot and sugar / salt mixture. Leave the skin on the fish.

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4. Add the salt / sugar mixture and the beetroot on top of the fish too.

5. Tightly pack the fish and curing mixture. I used three different layers of cling film, however some of the liquid will still seep through. Place something to act as weights on top of the fish, and put in to fridge.

5. About every 12 hours (or every morning and evening), turn the fish upside down. I also change the direction my weights are, to try to ensure they are covering as much as possible during the process.

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6. After two days, your fish is ready. Drain all liquid, and wipe the fish piece clean.

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Roasted butternut squash soup

This soup is super tasty, and also pretty easy to make. Even though a couple of chillies are used, it’s not at all spicy. Butternut squash gives the soup a wonderful, sweet taste. This velvety soup is perfect for the approaching winter.

1 butternut squash
2 onions
1 garlic clove
2 chillies (I use green chillies)
900ml vegetable stock (I use Bouillon powder)
100ml double cream
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
black pepper and salt to taste

1. Peel and chop the butternut squash, and discard the seeds. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Place the pieces in an oven dish, and sprinkle half of the oil on the pieces. Roast for 30 minutes. Half way through, turn the pieces.

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2. While the squash is in the oven, put the rest of the oil and the butter in a pot. Peel and chop the onions to large pieces. Cut the chillies in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and the pith. Finely chop the chillies and peeled garlic. Place onions, garlic and chilli in the pot, and fry on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the onions are soft and translucent.

3. Once the butternut squash pieces are done in the oven, add them to the pot, together with the hot vegetable stock. Let cool for a while, before whizzing into purée.

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4. Pour back into the pot, reheat, add the cream and season to taste.

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Scandinavian mustard dill sauce

I serve this slightly sweet mustard dill sauce usually with fish such as mackerel and salmon.

3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp white wine winegar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp white pepper
200ml rapeseed oil
60g dill

1. Mix together all ingredients apart from the oil and dill.

2. Pour the oil in on a continuous, thin stream, whisking properly at the same time. Make sure the oil gets fully incorprated onto the other ingredients.

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3. Chop the dill very finely, and add to the sauce.

4. Chill in the fridge before serving.

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Scandinavian pickled cucumber

Scandinavian pickling is sweeter than what you would normally expect from pickled vegetables elsewhere, but nevertheless very tasty. You can of course pickle a variety of vegetables, rather than just cucumbers. I often make cucumbers and radishes. They are also ready within a couple of hours so even if you haven’t been very organised with the planning, can easily make them for your meal. This recipe is for light pickling solution, meaning delicate vegetables requiring short pickling time, for example vegetables with higher water content. Good general rule is vegetables you would eat raw.

125ml apple cider vinegar
125ml water
75g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 juniper berries (dried is fine)
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
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1/2-1 cucumber
4-6 radishes

1. Boil all solution ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved (couple of minutes), then let cool.

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2. Thinly slice the vegetables. For this kind of slicing, I tend to use mandoline, as it will give you equally thin slices. On my mandoline I used level 0.5 for the radish, and 1.5  for the cucumber.

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3. Place the vegetables in a ceramic or glass bowl (metallic one can affect the flavour). Pour the cooled solution over the vegetables, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

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Plum and custard tart

I don’t bake and make dessert often enough, so I’m consciously trying to make more of an effort with this. I love this plum custard tart, and I think this would also be excellent with other fruits, such as figs. This is currently one of my favourite things I’ve been making quite a lot.

Pastry
200g plain flour
1 tbsp caster  sugar
1 tsp baking powder
125g butter, plus a samll extra piece for greasing your baking tray
1 egg
2 tbsp double cream
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400g fresh plums
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Filling
170ml double cream
1 egg
75g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

1. Prepare the plums by quartering them. Discard the stones. I find the easiest way to get the stones off is to cut the plums with a knife placing the knife on top, pushing it in as far as it goes until it reaches the stone, then running it around the full way, until you reach where the knife started from. Do the same again in a way that it makes a cross at the top. This way the cut will be quartering the plums. You can then twist the pieces off, and cut the stone off the piece it has stuck to.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F (fan). Grease your baking tray with butter.

3. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a bowl, then rub in the  butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

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4. Mix the cream and egg together, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir together until mixed into a dough.

5. Place the dough into the baking tray, and shape it equally to cover the tray. Arrange the plums on top of the pastry.

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6. Bake for 25 minutes. During the the baking time, beat together the cream, sugar, egg and vanilla essence.

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7. After the 25 minutes baking time, remove from the oven. Pour the liquid over the plums and bake for a further minutes until set.

8. You can serve the tart warm or cold.

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Homemade chicken stock

I take great pride for making most things from scratch. I would say a general rule is that homemade is always much tastier and healthier, whatever it is. Please don’t be put off making your own chicken stock even though it does take quite a while to make; after the initial steps it won’t need much attention from you, and you can use the remaining cooking time doing other things. The absolute key to a good, flavoursome stock is bones. You must, must, must use chicken on the bone, and for richer flavour you do also want to ensure you have some meat. I usually use chicken legs, drumsticks and wings. Once the cooking of the stock is finished, you can  remove the meat off the bone and use it for other meals. Once cooled, I freeze the stock in portion sizes. Since I started making my own stock, I hardly ever use shop bought ones anymore, those are now in my cupboard merely for back up for when I’ve run out of my own. I often make a double batch of the recipe, as it does take quite a long time to make.

1 chicken leg
475g chicken wings
500g chicken drumsticks
3 liters water
1 celery stick, chopped into big pieces
1 carrot, chopped into big pieces
1 medium onion
~15 black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tsp sea salt
~~~~~
I sometimes make a Chinese variation, and replace the celery, carrot, onion and bay leaves (use the other remaining ingredients) with

1 thumb size piece of root ginger, sliced
4 spring onions

1. First, place the chicken and water in a large pot, and bring to simmer. Bare in mind that for the best results, the stock shouldn’t boil at any stage, only simmer.

2. ‘Scum’ will start coming to the surface of the stock. Keep skimming this away, however don’t stir or disturb the stock otherwise. I use a slotted spoon for this. At this stage, it’s important to give the stock attention.

3. Once there is no more scum rising to the top (this can take about half an hour), you can add all other ingredients. Then cover with lid, and set the temperature to a low simmer, making sure it doesn’t boil. Cook for 3 hours.

4. Strain the stock through a sieve. I tend to also use muslin, to get rid of even finer impurities.

5. If freezing some of the stock, let it cool. Portion into containers, and put in the freezer. Work through all the wings, legs and drumsticks (by hands) to remove all the meat. If not using straight away, freeze in portion sizes. You will get quite a lot of meat out of them, don’t waste them!

Moussaka

Greek food somehow seems to often get forgotten in my kitchen, as well as when dining out. There is no particular reason for it, but it just doesn’t seem to be an obvious first choice. Apart from moussaka that is, which is a dish I make quite regularly.

3 aubergines (eggplants)
~~~~~
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 green peppers
bunch of parsley
50ml olive oil
25g butter
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp oregano
1 dl tomato puree
4 dl water
500g minced lamb
~~~~~
3 dl milk
2 1/2 tbsp plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs

1. Finely chop onions and parsley. Cut the green peppers into small pieces.

2. Fry the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the chopped green peppers and parsley, squeeze in the garlic and fry for 5 minutes.

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3. Add butter, salt, pepper, oregano, tomato puree, water and the lamb. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the taste, add more salt and pepper if required.

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4. Mix the flour with the milk, and heat until the mixture thickens. Pour the eggs in whilst mixing, and season with salt.

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5. Cut the aubergines lengthwise, to about 1cm thick slices. Use half of them to layer bottom of an oven casserole dish. Add the lamb mixture, and put a layer of aubergines on top. Pour the white sauce over everything.

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6. Cook in preheated oven 190°C / 375°F  for 45 minutes.

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