Pan seared, oven roasted duck breast with garlic potato mash and roasted beetroot

I was so late with my food shopping order last night, that I wasn’t able to get it for delivery today. I’ve therefore had to rummage through my fridge and freezer for any left over ingredients I can use for dinner tonight. Luckily, I’ve found a duck crown (I’ll be cooking it on the bone), potatoes and beetroot. With these ingredients, I somehow don’t think I’ll be starving tonight.

serves 2-3 portions

250g beetroot
olive oil
salt
black pepper
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1 duck crown
salt
black pepper
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5-6 medium white potatoes
1-2 garlic cloves
50g butter
milk
dash of cream
salt

1. Heat the oven to 180°C (fan) / 355°F.

2. Peel the beetroot, and cut to wedges. put in an ovenproof dish, splash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about an hour.

3. Peel the potatoes, wash, cut in half (or quarters if bigger in size), and boil in salted water for about 40 minutes or until soft. Pour the water away, and mash the potatoes. Add butter, milk and salt to taste and texture desired, finish with some cream. Squeeze in the garlic.

4. Rub some salt and pepper on the skin of the duck breasts. Cook in a frying pan, skin side down, until browned. If you’re cooking breasts off the bone I would also sear them briefly on the meat side too.

5. Put in the oven, skin side up, and roast for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes (this will allow the juices to stay in the meat better). On high setting, grill for 10 minutes.

Tip I find it easier to get a crispy skin on duck breasts that are cooked off the bone. When cooking this way, I slit the skin with a sharp knife, then rub salt and pepper in. Then fry in a pan in a little olive oil until browned and slightly crispy, and finish off in the oven for 10-15  minutes.

Rosolli (beetroot salad)

After any festivities, and overindulging, many of us are choosing the lighter leftovers for a snack. This beetroot salad is exactly what we need. For some reason, this particular salad is only seen on the Finnish table around Christmas time. I think the flavours are actually completely suitable to any time of the year. You get sweetness from the beetroot, saltiness from the pickled cucumber and freshness from the apple. Together with the other ingredients it all comes together like a perfect symphony.

1 salty gherkin
3 beetroots
1 carrot
1 small onion
1 medium size salad potato
1 sharp apple, for example Granny Smith
half a bunch of fresh parsley

1. Boil the beetroots in boiling water for about an hour. Once cooked, pour the hot water off, and cover the beetroots with cold water. You can now rub the skin off very easily, whilst submerged in the cold water.

2. Boil the potato with skin on, until just cooked, take care not to overcook. Once cooked, peel the potato and chop into small pieces. Peel the carrot, and boil until just cooked but still firm. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into cubes.

3. Finely chop the onion, and cut the gherkin into quarters lengthwise, then chop into cubes. Finely chop the parsley.

4. Cut the apple into wedges. I tend to do this first, and then peel each wedge, but you can also peel the whole apple first. I then cut the inside edge off, where the core is. Finally, chop into cubes.

5. Mix all ingredients together. For more flavour, leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

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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Grilled mackerel with wasabi potato mash, cooked beetroot and pickled cucumber and radish

As I was driving home this evening I was contemplating what to serve with the star of today’s show, mackerel. Beetroot is always a good friend with this oily fish, as well as pickled cucumber. As I hadn’t planned for the pickle in advance, mine didn’t have enough time to work it’s magic, however I still wanted to go for it. You would normally give the pickling process several hours, or even a day.

Pickle
250ml apple cider vinegar
250ml water
150g sugar
1 tsp salt
4 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
fresh dill

1. Add all ingredients into a pan, and heat, stirring, until all sugar and salt have dissolved. Take off the heat.

2. Thinly slice the radishes, and cut cucumber into small cubes. Pour over the cooled liquid, and put in a fridge.

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Beetroot
1 medium beetroot

This versatile vegetable can be cooked in many ways. Today I used boiling as the cooking  method of my choice. Boil in water for about an hour, with the skin on. Once cooked, pour hot water away, and cover with cold water. Whilst in the water, you can rub the beetroot with your hands, and the skin will fall off very easily.

Wasabi potato mash
5 medium potatoes
wasabi powder
50g butter
milk
salt

1. Peel and half the potatoes.

2. Boil until soft.

3. Prepare the wasabi, by mixing the wasabi powder with a small amount of water.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash. Add butter, salt and milk, as well as the wasabi mixture.

Mackerel
4 mackerel fillets
salt
black pepper

I used frozen mackerel fillets today. Cook under high temperature grill, first flesh side up, seasoning with salt and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes each side. Cook skin side up last, to end up with a nice crispy skin.

Beetroot risotto

This dish is one of my husband’s all time favourite dishes. I actually never used to like risotto, until I started making my own.

500g fresh, raw beetroots, peeled, trimmed and cut into wedges
splash of olive oil
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
250g risotto rice (I use Arborio)
150ml dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
700ml hot vegetable stock (for this I mix Bouillon powder with water)
handful of grated parmesan cheese
dill
crème fraiche

1. Heat oven to 160°C (fan).

2. Put chopped beetroot in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, season and cook for about an hour, until soft.

3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, and cook the onion and garlic for about 3-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the rice and white wine, and let bubble on medium heat until the wine has disappeared (about 3 minutes).

4. Little by little, add the vegetable stock, stirring in between, letting most of it be absorbed before adding more liquid. This whole stage should take around 20 minutes. Once the rice is desired texture, move on to the next stage.

5. Remove the cooked beetroot from the oven and take about a 1/4 aside, to blend into a puree. Chop the remaining 3/4 into small cubes. Then add the pureed and chopped pieces to the risotto.

6. Stir in some parmesan cheese and chopped dill. To serve, add a dollop of crème fraiche on top, and sprinkle some more parmesan cheese and dill.