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.

Homemade hummus

I think homemade dips and sauces are always so much tastier than shop bought ones, not to mention they are missing the preservatives present in ready made foods. You can also always add or reduce the amount of certain ingredients, to make it exactly to your taste. I think I have now perfected my hummus recipe to how I like it, I hope you do too. And as a bonus, this is very simple and quick to make. Originally from the Middle East, before spreading to the Mediterranean region,  this dip is now enjoyed world wide.

1 can of cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp of the liquid from the chickpeas
4 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil

1. When draining the chickpeas, reserve the liquid in a bowl.

2. Put all ingredients in a blender, and whizz until smooth.

Serving tip

I normally have this with pitta bread. I’m actually currently making it, however we’ve already eaten most of the hummus with the below accompaniments, as it was so tasty!

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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.

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 (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tbsp Amaretto
1tsp almond extract
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Sugar syrup
1 dl sugar
1/2 dl water
2 tbsp cognac
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rasberry jam
icing sugar
water
a dash of Amaretto

1. Beat the egg, sugars and the extracts 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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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
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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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Apple pie

There are probably as many apple pie recipes, or variations of recipes, for this favourite dessert of many nations, than there are chefs and home cooks. The below recipe is one I like. Some people prefer more filling to pastry, some like more pastry. I think this recipe gives you enough of both.

Pastry
225g butter, room temperature

50g caster sugar, plus a little bit extra for sprinkling on top
2 eggs
350g plain flour
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Filling

1 kg Bramley apples
150g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp plain flour

1. Prepare the pastry first. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until mixed. Add one whole egg, and one yolk, and save the remaining egg white for later. Beat together for one minute.The mixture will look a little bit like scrambed eggs at this point. Then add the flour little by little. Tip the dough onto floured surface, and finish working the dough by hand. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes.

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2. Whilst the dough is in the fridge, prepare the apple filling. Quarter, core, peel and slice the apples. You want the slices to be quite thin, about 5mm thickness. Lay on a baking paper, and cover with paper towels. Let dry for about 30 minutes.

3. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and flour for the filling. Use big enough bowl, to be able to fit the apple slices later.

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4. Heat the oven to 170°C / 340°F. Cut 2/3 of the dough for the base, leaving the remaining third for the lid wrapped. Roll the base out, to be big enough to cover the pie tin, with a slight overhang. It may be a good idea to place the dough between two non-stick baking paper sheets when rolling it. Place into the tin, and roll out the lid.

5. Pat the apples dry, and put into the bowl with the sugar – cinnamon mix, and mix together well, so that all the apple slices are coated with the mixture. Tip it all onto the pie tin. Wet the pastry rim with water, using your fingers. This will help the lid to stick. Place the lid over the apples, and press edges together with the base. Stab 5 slashed with a sharp knife, and brush with beaten egg white. Sprinle with some more sugar, and bake for about 45 minutes.

6. Once baked and golden brown, let rest for about 10 minutes.

 

Butternut squash tortellini

I don’t often cook full vegetarian meals (I should try to do it more), but at the end of the day, as long as the food delivers on flavour, it doesn’t really matter what it is. These vegetarian  tortellinis filled with butternut squash definitely do just that.

Serves 4
1 butternut squash
250g fine white wheat flour (00 grade is best)
2 large eggs
3 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 onion
50ml double cream
50ml pine nuts
1tbsp olive oil
salt
black pepper

1. Peel and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Place half in a pot with two cloves of garlic and the thyme sprigs. Cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer until soft (around 20-30 minutes), drain the liquid in another pan, saving it for later.

2. Peel and chop the onion, and place in the same pot the squash was cooked in, together with the olive oil. Heat and fry the onion for a few minutes. Squeeze one clove of garlic in, and fry for another minute or so. Remove the thyme sprigs and whole garlic cloves from the cooked butternut squash pieces, and add the butternut squash to the pan. Stir together, and set aside to cool.

3. Bake the remaining half of the squash pieces in a preheated oven 180°C/355°F for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

4. Prepare the pasta.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

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5. Once cooled, prepare the filling. Put the boiled squash pieces,  fried onion and garlic in a blender. Add half the cream and half the pine nuts, then blitz together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cut the dough into four pieces. Repeat the next stages with all pieces. Roll the piece to a cigar shape, then flatten the piece with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the widest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. I would say from 7 down to 2 should be fine.

7.  Cut your pasta. Brush half of the pasta round with egg, and add the filling (make sure it’s cooled). Fold the other half of the pasta over, and close with your fingers, pressing the pasta firmly together. Make sure you don’t leave air in.

8. Boil a large pan of water, with a generous amount of salt. Add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.

9. Bring the saved cooking water of the butternut squash to boil in a separate pot. Reduce to about half. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add 25ml double cream. Mix the oven roasted squash pieces into the sauce.

10. Serve the tortellini and the sauce together with the rest of the pine nuts sprinkled on top, and with some pea shoots and grated parmesan cheese.

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