Oct
24
2011
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Salmon burgers with dijon

Skeptical about fish? Try salmon burgers!

Sometimes a great recipe comes to you, in all of its simplicity, handed down from various sources which attest to its greatness. No one really knows the origin of these recipes, they just get passed on because they are great. One such recipe was passed onto me by my friend Johanna, who had seen the recipe in a newspaper. The paper had taken the recipe from somewhere else.

Salmon is one of those fish that even those who say they do not eat fish like eating. This recipe is bound to appeal to everyone. I served it with kohlrabi simmered in stock and blended with creme fraiche and a green salad. It works with any one of a number of combinations, but here is the basic salmon burger, in all of its greatness. One of the beauties of cooking salmon like this is that it never tastes too dry. 

Salmon burgers with dijon
(serves 4) 

300 g or 10-11 oz raw salmon (filleted, bones and skin removed)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
olive oil for sautéing

Chop the salmon into chunks and place in the food processor with all ingredients save the onion. Blend until a smooth paste. Place the mixture in a bowl and add the red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into burgers. Place olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Sauté 4 minutes on each side or until the salmon is cooked. Serve warm with your selection of vegetable dishes.

Written by Admin in: Fish,Fish Dishes,Salmon,Savoury Food | Tags: ,
Aug
04
2011
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Salmon with Zing & Berries

Black currants make the meal right

As the summer season wears on, the traditional salmon, dill and new potatoes can start to feel a little mild. Particularly, as the nights begin to clear in August, and the air sharpens, it feels like time to get a little zing into that salmon dish.

During a recent dinner I found a way to do this by preparing the salmon with some of the sharper spices of the East and by serving it with a salad of tangy berries that gave the whole meal a warming, pre-autumnal flavor. Black currants have a salty flavor and therefore fit well with savory dishes.

The entire meal is a plus for health, although you’ll want to give attention to issues concerning salmon – see The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook under S.

Salmon with Zing & Berries
Serves 4

For the salmon:

700-900 grams or 1 ½ to 2 lbs of salmon fillet with skin on
4 cm or 1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 length of chili, seeds removed and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Sprig of fresh coriander, chopped
3/4 dl or 1/3 cup olive or canola oil
Salt/Pepper

For the salad:
4 cups well-rinsed fresh spinach leaves
1 cup black currants
4 tbsps olive or canola oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
Salt/Pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C or 390 F. Rinse the salmon fillet and place, skin down on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix together the spices in the oil and spread evenly over the fillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, place the spinach leaves in a salad bowl and toss over the black currants. Sprinkle over oil and vinegar. and season with salt and pepper. Toss before serving with the salmon.

Jul
05
2011
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What goes best with crab?

What goes best with crab? Here is the answer.

Yesterday while out jogging in the forest, I noticed the first golden chantarelle of the season. As you know from my other writings, this is indeed a glorious moment: the first glimpse of those golden nuggets plugged into the green, mossy forest bed without anyone else having yet discovered them (if they had discovered them, they would be gone here in Sweden!).

The family didn’t believe me when I returned home, so I was forced to drag them all out to the very same spot with my mushroom-picking basket, to show them that I was not hallucinating.

I had planned to make crab cakes for dinner, in anticipation of the shellfish season later in the summer. It occurred to me that the mild flavor of chantarelle might fit just perfectly with the delicate flavor of crab. And what a combination it was. So delicious with a bit of sour cream dolloped on top and some new potatoes on the side. Does it get better than this? I am not sure.

Use my usual recipe suggestion for preparing and sautéing wild mushrooms and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the following recipe for crab cakes.

Crab Cakes with Summer Chantarelle
Serves 4

340 grams or 12 ounces of crab meat
4 pieces white bread, crusts removed and broken into crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm or 0.8 inches ginger, grated
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for sautéing

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl until a batter forms. Form the batter into cakes that fit into the palm of your hand.  Warm oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the crab cakes in the pan and sauté for 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Place on a warmed serving dish and scatter the chantarelle on top. Serve with new potatoes and soured cream flavored with a herb such as chive or parseley.

Written by Admin in: Chantarelle,Crab,Mushrooms,Shellfish | Tags: ,
May
09
2011
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Salmon Nettle Pie

Perfect with salmon

Alright, this sounds like a motley combination, doesn’t it? The truth is, however, that there are few flavor combinations from Scandinavian nature that complement one another as well as salmon and nettle. The flavors are serene and earthy. This is real comfort food without the hangover.

A more usual green partner to salmon is spinach, but if you take the trouble to pull on the garden gloves and harvest the nettle growing around the compost at about this time of year, your efforts will be more than well-rewarded.

To use in cooking, prepare the nettle by removing the thickest part of the stalks, as well as cleaning out any grass and soil that has come along in the picking. Blanch the nettle by plunging it into a pot of boiled water for a couple of minutes. Drain the water and once the nettle has cooled, squeeze as much water out as possible, forming the nettle into a green ball. Chop it up and freeze or use immediately in cooking.

Here is a fine recipe that family and friends will enjoy on these warming spring nights.

Salmon Nettle Pie
(Serves 6)

6 narrow cross-sections of salmon fillet, skin removed
1.5 liters or 1.5 quarts of nettle, cleaned
250 grams or 9 oz. grated mozarella cheese
Thin sheets of butter dough to cover the base of the casserole dish
Two medium-sized tomatoes, thinly sliced
Olive Oil
Twist of lemon
Salt
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 C or 374 F. Line a casserole dish with the butter dough. Distribute the nettle across the dough evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Follow with a layer of mozarrella. Season the salmon with lemon, salt and pepper. Lay the long fillets on top of the other layers. Decorate with tomatoes in between the fillets. Season all with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

Dec
22
2010
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Healthy Nordic Alternatives for your Holiday Season Table

Don't let Christmas weigh you down!

It’s Christmas again and with this a time when your healthy kitchen could take a nose-dive. But not here at Julie’s Kitchen! With all due respect to saffron buns and Christmas ham, we really do need to start to think along different lines. Christmas mingles in Sweden usually offer up gingerbread biscuits, hot spiced wine and a host of other delicacies which unfortunately often include an overdose of refined flour and sugar. Yet the Scandinavian traditions of Christmas also offer unique opportunities for healthy eating that will leave your digestive system feeling light and bright. So here are a few suggestions of healthy Scandinavian elements to think about introducing into your Christmas that will also make your Christmas smorgåsbord or mingle especially interesting.

Starter Ideas

Focus on crisp breads with different types of smoked fish toppings. Make a luxurious pate using your favorite smoked or preserved fish topping by pureeing the cooked or smoked fish with olive or canola oil, a twist of lemon, salt and pepper. Combine in a food processor, adjusting ingredients to give you just the right consistency. Sardine is a fish that is hard to beat in pate.

Experiment with sour, vitamin C rich berries such as cranberries or rowanberries as a tangy topping for crisp bread combinations.  Place small bowls of berries in between the crispbread and toppings. Try not to sweeten too much – just a sprinkling of sugar and a bit of cinnamon will do it.

Main Dish Ideas

Make vegetables the focus! What could be better than a steaming platter of honey-baked grilled root vegetables accompanied by some festive tossed kale? For the root vegetables (beets, potatoes, parsnips, turnips and more): peel and cut into large chunks, toss in olive oil and rosemary or bay leaf, and a bit of salt and pepper. Bake at 200c or 390 F for 40 minutes. 10 minutes before the end of the baking drizzle over a bit of honey. For the kale: Chop roughly and saute for a few minutes in olive or canola with onions, golden raisins, salt and pepper. The kale should keep some of its firmness. Serve the vegetable dishes with some Turkish or Greek yogurt (not Scandinavian but it’s a great topping!).

Dessert Ideas

That’s simple! Lay out clementines, mandarins and oranges in generous bowls interspersed with small bowls of walnuts. If you want to provide an extra special touch to the walnuts, melt some good quality dark chocolate and bathe the walnuts in it. Place spoonfuls of chocolate walnuts on baking paper and allow to harden in the refrigerator.

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Check The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook and Paavo’s Bytes for many other great suggestions for your holiday season table!

Jul
17
2010
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Cooking Fish

The best food in the world, if you treat it right

The fresh perch that we’ve been catching recently in our lake has reminded me that great food isn’t at all about complicated recipes, particularly when it comes to fish. Why is it that so many children dislike fish? Because the fish that lands on their plates is most likely over-processed, over-handled and not particularly fresh. While not everyone has a lake to pull their fish out of every day, one can certainly address the first two points.

Making a great fish dish has much less to do with what you throw into the frying pan or pot (other than the fish), than it has to do with how long you cook it. Due to phobias about bacteria in fish, we usually consume our fish overcooked. A bit of salt and pepper, a bit of butter or olive oil and the courage not to overcook  usually delivers excellent results when it comes to fish.

So what happened to the perch? I filleted them, melted  a dollop of butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, lowered the heat to medium and placed the fillets in the pan. Fillets suffer from over-handling. So, don’t start shuffling and flipping until you see that the fillets are starting to turn white around the edges. Flip once and then remove from the heat. If your fillets are very thin, which is usually the case with perch, leave the pan uncovered. If you have thicker fillets, cover the pan with a top so that a bit more cooking takes place.

Serve the fish with a few new potatoes and steamed vegetables. There are few main courses that beat this.

Written by Admin in: Fish,Fish Dishes,perch,Savoury Food | Tags: ,
Jun
28
2010
1

Classic Gubbröra renewed

 

The Crown of Swedish summer dishes: Dill

Gubbröra is one of those Swedish summer classics that never grows old. It is typically made with strong-tasting ingredients, including anchovies, and eaten on rye crisp bread or with new potatoes. It makes for a light lunchtime meal which is satisfying, not salad (!), and yet leaves you feeling light and mobile on a hot summer’s day. 

Anchovies are not most childrens’ cup of tea, so to speak, and so I decided to come up with a variation on Gubbröra that they might be able to enjoy as well.  The only thing that I was not willing to change in so far as ingredients was dill. It is that supreme herb of Swedish Midsummer that gives whatever you are eating that relaxing summer flavor. Here is my family-friendly answer to Gubbröra:

Family-friendly Gubbröra

8 thin slices of smoked salmon cut into thin strips
1 red onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Juice of half an orange
Salt/Pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs sliced

Combine all ingredients. Toss. Place in a serving dish and top decoratively with boiled eggs. Serve with crisp bread or new potatoes.

Oct
05
2009
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Pollock or Saithe in a tomato bath

Which fish?

Which fish?

In my household we love to eat fish. The problem is that there is one issue or another with buying most of the fish commonly sold in my supermarket. Cod presents a sustainability problem. The farmed salmon has got various health and sustainability issues attached to it. But then there is the Saithe or European Pollock which is a superb alternative since it is sustainable, safe and enjoyable if you find the right way to prepare it. Saithe has quite a firm meat so is easy to handle in cooking. My past experiences of consuming Saithe is that it had a rather fishy flavor which I didn’t like. However, the following recipe which I came up with at the spur of the moment surprised and delighted everyone in the family.

Pollock or Saithe in a Tomato Bath
Serves 4

2 large fillets of Saithe or Pollock
white flour for dipping the fish in
1 egg, beaten for dipping the fish in
4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 cloves garlic
500 grams or 18 oz. crushed tomatoes
dried or fresh chopped herbs of your choice
thinly sliced cheese such as gouda or other to melt over the fish
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry. Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Dip the fillets into the egg first and then into the flour which should have a pinch of salt and pepper blended into it. Place in the pan, crush garlic on top and brown on both sides. Lower heat and spoon the crushed tomatoes around the edges of the fish. Sprinkle over the herbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Add cheese slices on top of the fish and cover once again, cooking for a further 5 minutes when the cheese will have just melted over the fish. Serve with a salad and some whole grain bread.

Check The Nordic Wellbeing Guide to Responsible Eating and our new rating system in The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for more about sustainable eating!

Jul
12
2009
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Scandinavian Sushi

Scandinavian Sushi

Scandinavian Sushi

When first I came to Scandinavia I worked for a Danish company based just outside of Copenhagen. In their cafeteria on every day of the week one could choose from several different types of pickled herring combined with various toppings and several different types of bread, many of them dark and grainy. I wasn’t wild about it at first, but it grew on me. I began to miss my pickled herring smörrebröd when I sat in London pubs – England was my other base during this phase of life.

Now that I have been living in Sweden for 13 years, I know that the summer cannot pass without a jar of sill or pickled herring in the refrigerator. There are many types that you can purchase in the shops, prepared in almost every imaginable marinade. The classic in Sweden is to lay a few slices on a starter plate with boiled new potatoes (peel unremoved) and soured cream. It is an elegant and exotic start to a meal even if you come from these parts. Sill is also a highlight at Christmas although at that time of year served with crisp bread rather than potatoes….but that is too far away to worry about just now.

Sill doesn’t feel like something you want to consume too much of at once. It has a richness as a result of the fact that herring is an oily fish and a strong flavor, imparted by the marinade, that makes small quantities in starter portions just right.

For some years there have been health concerns about the consumption of herring from the Baltic sea which was heavily contaminated by PCBs (Polychlorinated Byphenals used in refrigeration), methylmercury and dioxin-like compounds during the 1960s and 70s. In addition, overfishing severely reduced herring stocks to dangerously low levels.  The news for the Baltic seems positive, with sinking levels of these pollutants and collaborative efforts to control fishing. Still, best advice is to consume Atlantic or Pacific herring up to two times per week. If you are expecting, avoid consumption of fish from the Baltic entirely.

The good news is that sill is one of three types of oily fish (the others are mackerel and salmon) rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which protect against heart disease, among other clear health benefits. These fish are a great way to get the healthy fats that your body needs without eating ‘fat food’.

So, what is the trick for coming up with that tangy tasting sill that is one of the most common features of the Scandinavian smörgåsbord? Here is a basic recipe that you can vary according to taste and what herbs you’ve got available. You can consider adding other flavors such as juniper berries, sherry or garlic.

Pickled Herring

1 dl or 1/2 cup vinegar
6 dl or 2 1/2 cups water
3 dl or 1 1/3 cups sugar
800 g or 1.8 lbs (28 ounces) canned herring
20 Black and white pepper corns
2 red onions, sliced thinly
4 bay leaves
Clean pickling jars

Blend the vinegar, water and sugar and bring to simmering. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. During this time, chop the herring fillets into 2-3 cm or about 1 inch chunks and layer in clean jars with pepper corns, onions and bay leaves. Pour over the liquid so that it covers the fish and fills the whole jar. Seal and allow to marinade for 4 days.

Serve with your favorite dark bread, potatoes, sour cream and perhaps, for that extra health and flavor kick, beet root salad. The possibilities are endless.

Jan
03
2009
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Light-on-the-Butter Salmon Casserole

Hello Mr. Salmon

Hello Mr. Salmon

Laxpudding or Salmon Casserole is one of those absolute staples of the Swedish kitchen. If you don’t eat it once a week, things aren’t really ‘kosher’.This thinking heralds from a time when salmon was at one point in Swedish history the staple food of the peasantry. The servants ate it on most days.

One of my problems with Laxpudding is that it can become rather buttery and can feel heavy. That adoration of melting butter over everything might also be a little hangover from peasant culture where it was a luxurious food item to be eaten sparingly.

Here is my best shot at Laxpudding, maintaining its traditional ingredients, but lightening it up a bit and keeping an eye on the butter.

Laxpudding or Salmon Casserole

300 g or  11 oz. gravad lax or dill-cured salmon, sliced into strips
1 large white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
10 medium cooked potatoes, thinly sliced
1 dl 1/2 cup chopped dill
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps butter or margarine
2 dl or 3/4 cup light creme fraiche
3.5 dl or 1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
salt and white pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C or 390 F. Gently saute the onion and zucchini in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Layer the potatoes, zucchini, onion, salmon and dill in a greased casserole dish, starting and finishing with a layer of potato. Blend the creme fraiche with a small quantity of the milk and then gradually add in all of the milk. Add eggs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until even and pour over the mixture in the casserole dish. Dot with butter or margarine. Bake for 45 minutes or until fully set. Serve with a green salad.

Just a little added note concerning new books out on Husmanskost (the food of the common man). If you read Swedish, I can very warmly recommend ICA’s new book Hela Sverige’s Husman (ICA AB, 2008) which is packed full of the best recipes for traditional Swedish food that I have tried so far (and that is a lot!). Why? Because it truly gathers together the best recipes of the common people FROM everyday people! If you do not read Swedish stick to our Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook and you’ll find a treasure trove of new and old Nordic cuisine for your good health there!

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