Oven baked creamy salmon and vegetables

Salmon is a great versatile, tasty and meaty fish that can be cooked in many different ways. It is also very healthy, and in particular is rich in Omega 3.

Serves 2
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 courgette (zucchini)
2 small turnips
100g green beans
~6 florets of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 salmon fillets
200ml cream
salt
white pepper
cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Peel and chop the turnips into bite size chunks. Chop the courgette, green beans and broccoli also into bite size pieces. Place the spinach at the bottom of an oven dish, followed by the other vegetables. Squeeze the garlic on top. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.img_1537

2. Place the salmon on top of everything, pour the cream over, and season the salmon with some salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

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3. Place in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. If you don’t like your vegetables crunchy, you might want to bake the vegetables on their own first for 5-10 minutes, before adding the salmon and cream.

Nasi Goreng with chicken

This dish is something I was already cooking before our holiday to Bali, but it was only during this holiday that I learned Nasi Goreng actually is Indonesian food. I had to of course sample it a few times whilst there, to find out how my one compares. Having now eaten it at it’s original, local environment, I’m proud to say mine is as good as the original. Nasi Goreng itself means fried rice. I didn’t particularly plan that I was going to make this this week, so I didn’t have prawns that are normally part of it, but I’ve added them to the recipe. Last time I made the paste I saved half in the freezer, and used it now.

Nasi Goreng paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
4 garlic cloves
2 large shallots
15g roasted salted peanuts
6 green small chillies
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Nasi Goreng rice
1.5 dl uncooked long grain rice
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 large eggs
vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil)
4 large shallots, finely chopped
150g peeled and cooked prawns
1/2 cucumber, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
salt
black pepper
1 tbsp light soy sauce

1. Put all paste ingredients in a blender, and blitz together until smooth paste.

2. Cook the rice in boiling, salted water until tender. Depending on rice this will take around 10-15 minutes. Drain, and rinse. Drain again, and spread on a tray to cool during the other food prep.

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3. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper, and fry in a little oil into three thin omelettes, frying briefly on both sides. Roll them up, and cool. Once cooled, cut into thin strips.

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4. Heat a good splash of oil (few tbsp) in a pan, and add about half of the paste, or 4-5 tbsp. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring,  and add the shallots and chicken. Stir, making sure all chicken pieces are coated with the paste.

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5. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the cooled rice, and prawns. Fry, stirring, until warmed through, then add the cucumber, spring onions, egg strips and soy sauce, and stir fry for couple of minutes.

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.

 

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)
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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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Kinkku (gammon)

Gammon is the main star of the whole show in the Finnish Christmas table (nothing of course is stopping anyone cooking it other times too). The original one would be gray in colour instead of the pink in the picture, but unfortunately I’ve not been successful in finding a gray salted one in the UK yet. For the pink version, nitrate is added. It acts as a preservative, and gives the pink colour, however it’s considered to be pretty unhealthy. In the gray version, nitrate isn’t added. The key to getting a juicy piece of meat, as anyone practicing slow cooking of roasts already knows, is to cook the gammon at a very low temperature, for a very long time. It then gets taken out of the oven and cooled, coated and put back for a very high temperature for a short period of time. Traditionally, on the Christmas table the gammon is served cold. I tend to cook it the day before, and on the day of cooking have it also for dinner served warm. It’s perfectly fine to serve it both ways, which ever you would prefer.

1. Take the gammon into room temperature. Dry with kitchen tissue. I would recommend putting it in a roasting bag. Cut a small hole at one corner. Put a roasting thermometer in the cold meat, so that the tip is at the thickest part. If your meat has a bone take care not to touch the bone with the thermometer. The ideal inside temperature of the meat for putting it in the oven is 10°C / 50°F.

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2. Place some water at the bottom of an oven pan. Heat the oven to 100°C (fan) / 210°F. The aim is to achieve inside temperature of the meat of 77°C – 80°C / 171°F – 176°F. I tend to try to get to the lower end, for juicier result.

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3. Remove from the oven. Cut the bag off, as well as any strings or net around the meat. Let cool on a rack for half an hour to an hour. After this, Remove the skin, and most of the fat.

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4. Coat with mustard, and breadcrumbs.

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5. Heat the oven to 250°C / 480°F, and cook the gammon for 10 minutes.

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Luxury mac and cheese

As I’ve recently been on a lighter diet, I found this ultimate comfort food very rich and filling. It’s not for faint hearted or those even contemplating on a low calorie meal. This would have to be for your cheat day, I didn’t even bother counting the calories (= ignorance is bliss sometimes). This recipe makes a big batch, for those who have read my posts before know that for certain type of food I like making a big amount at one go. This recipe will probably serve about 10 people. This is a more luxurious version of a standard, simple mac and cheese. During baking the smell is indicating it might be very cheesy, however, surprisingly it actually isn’t.

500g uncooked macaroni
200g bacon lardons
2 medium onions, finely chopped
100g butter (+ a small piece to butter the oven dish)
100g plain flour
1tsp Dijon Mustard
1.2 litres full fat milk
100ml double cream
2 bay leaves
1tsp ground nutmeg
1tbsp ground black pepper
400g extra mature cheddar cheese
75g light breadcrumbs
80g grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook the macaroni to be al dente (still with a little bite to it), and drain well.

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2. Melt the butter in a large pan, on a low heat. Add the flour, and mix together. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, then add the mustard. Remove from the heat, and little by little, add milk, whisking the mixture together. Add the cream and bay leaves.

3. Heat the mixture, stirring regularly. I use this period for grating the cheese, however you have to remember to keep an eye on the mixture, and stir or whisk it occasionally. Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat, and remove the bay leaves.

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4. Add the cheddar cheese, and mix until melted. Then add the nutmeg and black pepper, and mix. Also add the cooked macaroni and mix together.

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5. Fry the finely chopped onions and bacon in a frying pan, and mix into the macaroni and cheese.

6. Heat the oven to 180°C / 355°F (fan). Smear your oven dish with a little butter, and put the mac and cheese mixture into the dish.

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7. Mix the breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese together, and coat the mac and cheese with the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

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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.