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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Pineapple and almond cake

I had added a whole pineapple on our food shopping delivery, thinking I would use it for a fruit salad. My husband, however, set me on a different kind of challenge when he asked if I could make a pineapple cake, pineapple granita and a pineapple ice-cream (yes, all from the one fruit!). The juicy pineapple makes this cake very moist and wonderful, and it’s very fluffy and light. I added some Amaretto for a super moist result. The amount I’ve used only gives a slight taste, if you want to make a boozy cake add more.

250g butter
2 dl caster sugar
4 eggs
4 1/2 dl plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 dl chopped almond
1/2 pineapple (about 3-4 dl once chopped to small pieces)
3 tbsp Amaretto (optional)

1. Prepare the pineapple, and chop to small pieces. Measure the dry ingredients together.

2. Whisk the butter and sugar together on high speed, until fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, one by one, whisking thoroughly on high speed.

4. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the pineapple pieces.

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5. Pour the mixture into your baking tin. I use a silicone one, so I don’t need to butter it, however if you use a non-silicone one you may want to butter and coat it with flour first.

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6. Bake in a preheated oven 170°C / 340°F for 1 hour.

7. If using the Amaretto, once out of the oven let cool for 10 minutes. Prick the cake all over with a needle, and pour the liquid all over the cake. Wait for about 30-60 minutes before serving.

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Gazpacho

This summer soup is one of my all time favourite chilled soups. All ingredients are served raw, so you can be sure that all the flavours and nutrients are still present for sure. You can serve it on it’s own, or perhaps with finely chopped cucumber / red pepper pieces, or perhaps with some goat cheese mousse. I use quite a lot of cucumber in my recipe, as I love it, however it dilutes the redness of the soup a little bit. The soup is very liquid, as it’s drained through a sieve, but it is really flavoursome. You can serve it as a very light lunch or dinner, in which case you’ll probably get two servings from this recipe, or you could serve it as a little appetizer or starter on a garden party, in which case you’ll get many servings.

400g large tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 garlic glove
2  handfulls of basil leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
3 dl water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp tabasco
salt
black pepper

1. To get the skin off the tomatoes more easily, place them in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and let cool. With a sharp knife, make a slit on the skin going around the whole tomato, this will make it easier to peel them. Then chop the tomatoes, discarding the hard core part.

2. Peel and chop the cucumber while the tomatoes are cooling. Place in the liquidizer, together with the peeled garlic clove. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil leaves and water, and blend until smooth.

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3. Strain through a sieve, and push as much through as you can. This step will take a while.

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4. Stir in the lemon juice, oil, tabasco and seasoning. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours. Before serving, check the taste, and add seasoning if required, as chilling may reduce the strength of flavours.

Smoked cod with mustard and kale mash

This cod dish is pretty good, easy cooking for those days when you’ve been working late, and just want to quickly get on with it when you get home. Cod itself can normally be quite a tasteless fish in my mind, and buying it smoked makes a nice change. I might also swap it to smoked haddock, which works well too. I would say this recipe can work for anything between 2-4 people, depending on the diners’ appetite!

3 medium to large potatoes
300ml vegetable stock
3 handfuls of chopped kale
2 large smoked cod fillets
25g butter
1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
salt
black pepper

1. Peel and cut the potatoes into fairly small chunks. Place in a pan, and boil in the stock for 5 minutes, covered with a lid.

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2. If the chopped kale pieces are large, you may want to chop them more finely. Stir in the kale and butter, and lower the temperature to simmer. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Place the fish pieces on top of the potato – kale mixture. Simmer gently, steaming the fish for 7-8 minutes.

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4. Carefully remove the fish. Coarsely mash the potatoes and kale together, and mix the mustard in. Season with salt and pepper.