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: ,
Oct
24
2011
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Rose hip in stews

What can you make with rose hip other than rose hip soup?

As I was picking the fruit of the thorny rose hip this autumn out on my island I kept wondering whether there was anything else simple – other than the usual rose hip soup – I could do with these fantastic vitamin-C rich fruits of the season. There are so many excellent flavor and health benefits of rose hip that it had to be possible to find other uses for them.

While preparing the spicy red cabbage stew (see Paavo’s Danish or Swedish red Christmas cabbage) we were going to enjoy as a vegetable dish with the season’s local lamb and boiled potatoes, it occurred to me that I might try throwing in a few rose hips and see what new flavor experiences might await. Removing the top and and many seeds can be a little bit of a challenge, but if you have some good music or your favorite radio program on in the kitchen, it is just a pleasure.

I am happy to report that the flavor addition was outstanding. After this experience, I can heartily recommend that you use rose hip in any one of a number of your autumn stews (vegetarian or not), which you would like to add a tangy flavor element to. Add the rose hip in the last 20 minutes or so of cooking. Simmer gently!

 

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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New discoveries with rhubarb

Full of new potential

Rhubarb season is past, but I cannot resist sharing with you a couple of excellent discoveries I made with rhubarb for a couple of early summer parties. You might still be in the mood for rhubarb, with its wonderful, tangy flavor, offering so much possibility but most often relegated to that good, but a little repetitive rhubarb crumble.

A good cheeseboard is always in need of a tangy, acidic fruit contrast. For a generous cheeseboard I laid out for an early evening cocktail party (in an outrageously beautiful setting – a green clearing on a cliff overlooking a lake), I offered a large, open jar of rhubarb and apple chutney. No one knew what it was but courageously dove in anyway and spooned dollops onto the top of the chunks of cheese on crisp bread. Rhubarb seemed logical to me with cheese and the apple was a little additive to reduce the sting of the rhubarb and make the chutney a bit smoother in texture – more comfortable, perhaps? My very own harvested honey made all of the difference – raw honey rather than sugar really makes this topping into the delight that it is.

Rhubarb Apple Chutney

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 medium-sweet, crisp apples, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
Juice of half a lemon
1.5 dl or 2/3 cup raw honey
4 tbsps water

Place all ingredients in a non-metallic pan (important to cook rhubarb safely in – read more!). Allow to cook for a half an hour over low heat, or until the rhubarb is soft enough for the blender. Place the mixture in a food processor and mix until smooth. Spoon into a clean jar and seal. Serve on a cheeseboard with celery that can also be dipped into this divine mix.

At one of my early summer dinner events, a number of the guests were vegetarians, and it struck me that making a curry with lots of wonderful fruits and nuts to scatter on top would be just the thing. The idea of making a curry with rhubarb as a base wouldn’t leave me and so I decided to make my guests guinea pigs and try it out. The outcome was striking – not sure I’ve ever enjoyed curry as much as I enjoyed this one.

Rhubarb Curry
Serves 4

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
4 medium-sweet apples, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 stalks of celery, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 cm or 1-1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsps curry powder
6 tbsps olive oil
1/2 liter or 1/2 quart vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps raw honey

Sauté the onions, crushed garlic, grated ginger and curry for 2 minutes. Add the celery and the rhubarb and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the apples and pour over the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add raw honey and adjust seasoning. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Serve with bulgur, couscous or brown rice mixed with sunflower seeds. Provide a smorgasbord of condiments: banana sprinkled with lime, dessicated coconut, cashew nuts, slivered almonds and whatever else you can think of that might up the flavor and texture experience!

 

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.

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.

Apr
27
2010
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Nettle Soup

Wear rubber gloves when you handle them until they are cooked!

How could we miss it? The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook hasn’t got a nettle soup recipe until now! If you don’t already know it, those stinging nettles that shoot up around your compost or wherever there is a bit of nutritious soil, are one of the very first fresh spring ingredients of the Scandinavian kitchen. And how fortunate we are that they kick in first! Nettles launch us into that green season of lighter foods with a healthy dose of iron.

You can pick nettles for use in the kitchen throughout the warm season – use them dried as a herb in cooking and bread baking, sprinkle them dried on a bit of yogurt or buttermilk for enjoying on a hot day, bake them into pies – but we are out after the smallest and earliest leaves for nettle soup. Follow the instructions for preparing nettles as in the recipe for Spring Nettle Pie up to cutting the ball of cooked, pressed nettles into strips. Then follow this recipe reprinted from the invaluable food chapter of On My Swedish Island by yours truly.

“For every amount of fresh nettles that you use, you need half the amount of broth (for 1 quart or 1 liter of fresh nettles you need 1/2 quart or 1/2 liter of broth). Add the cooked, pressed nettles to the broth and gently warm, mixing together. Add whatever: a couple of  tablespoons of butter, cream, or creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper. You can also stir in an egg yolk or two. As garnishing serve with either a dash of sour cream, or finely chopped hard-boiled eggs. There are so many ways.”

Written by Admin in: Herbs & Spices,Nettle,Savoury Food,Soup | Tags: , ,
Apr
07
2010
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Dinkel, dinkel little star

Add 2 dl/1 cup to your usual sourdough recipe for better results

While everyone has been focusing on best techniques for preparing Easter lamb, I’ve been thinking about how to freshen up my diet for the spring. One way to do that is to reduce the amount of refined white flour and to introduce more fiber, fruits and vegetables. I do, however, love that nice slice of sourdough bread (search for recipes in this blog) and find it hard to give up that zone of my culinary life. There is a way, however, to include that slice or two and improve the quality of your diet. Dinkel or spelt is one answer.

First a little background on dinkel. It’s been grown for consumption in northern Europe for the past 3000 years making it one of our oldest grains. During the 19th century and into the 20th production of spelt reduced considerably as it was more labor-intensive to produce than our modern white flour.  Thanks to the continuation of limited production in southern Germany and Switzerland, dinkel was kept alive as a healthy grain alternative.

Dinkel offers excellent benefits from both health and environmental points of view. First, I need to clarify one misunderstood issue: dinkel is easier for people who are gluten-intolerant to consume, but it isn’t gluten-free. In contrast to regular wheat flour, dinkel contains essential nutrients not only in the husk but also inside the grain. These include essential amino acids, vitamins B1 and B2 and several essential minerals such as iron, copper and zinc. In comparison to whole wheat flour, the nutritional differences are not as great until you examine the environmental differences. The husk of spelt protects it from spoilage by many of the pests and diseases that afflict regular wheat. For this reason it is easier to grow biodynamically. Spelt is also less demanding on the soil, growing even in poor soils.

As we learn increasingly that the key to meeting our nutritional needs into the future rests partly on bringing greater diversity into our diets, I cannot recommend trying spelt more. While you can purchase it in the form of flour and use it in baking just as you would any regular flour, I suggest trying to integrate it into salads and as a side dish in meals as a substitute for whatever starch you would otherwise consume with your meal. If you are going to try it, you’ll need to remember that the whole grains you purchase from your local grocery will need to be soaked overnight and then cooked over low heat for an hour or so to be ready to used in preparing breads and other dishes. While this preparation time might seem long, you can prepare a batch for the week and store it in a tupperware container to use whenever you need it.

As we enter into a season where we’ll be able to enjoy tomatoes and parsley grown closer to home, I thought of the following simple lunchtime salad recipe which is also a very satisfying accompaniment.

Dinkel & Tomato Salad
(Serves 4)

4 dl or 2 cups whole dinkel, soaked and cooked
4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Parsley for garnishing
150 g  or 5 oz feta cheese
For the dressing:
1 dl or 1/2 cup rapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsps water
Pinch of salt and pepper

Combine the prepared dinkel, tomatoes and chopped parsley in a mixing bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients in a clean, empty jar with a lid. Screw on the lid tightly and shake so that the dressing blends smoothly. Pour the dressing over the dinkel mixture. Place the dinkel mixture on a serving dish, crumble over the feta cheese and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

Baka med Spelt

If you can read Swedish and have been looking for the ultimate dinkel recipe book you can now order Gotland Dinkelcentrum’s book by Icelandic Sophia Bövarsdottir which provides 87 pages of dinkel recipes! Let me know if you can find a good English equivalent that I can recommend.

Mar
16
2010
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Eating Naturally

Still working on using up last season's carrots

Still working on using up last season's carrots

We’re being asked to do so many things when it comes to food and diet these days. The new drive to combat obesity spear-headed by Michelle Obama in the United States is long overdue yet at the same time opens the floodgates for all sorts of new diets suggesting a host of rules and regulations about eating and food preparation. Today it is common knowledge that rigid diets do not serve us well over the long term. They might reduce weight for a time but they won’t do anything for us as the years go by. So what do we do?

At the same time as we are being urged to think about how to eat for healthier weight, we are also being asked to choose in relation to the environment, taking climate change, pesticide use and genetic modification into account. On top of all of this we should prioritize fair trade, meaning the purchase of food products which improve the working and living standards of producers in developing countries.

All of this seems a tall order. You could be forgiven for standing in your kitchen holding your head in your hands. It was with all of these various new demands in mind, the experience of winning over a food disorder and the strong desire to have a natural relationship to food that I came up with The Natural Eater system for thinking about food choices. On the concept page you can read about this values based idea for having a relationship to food that feels freeing and healthy rather than constraining and leading only to short-term health solutions.

With The Natural Eater system in mind, I’m freeing you up with a refreshing little recipe for using up whatever is left and creating a hearty meal out of it. One of the operating principles of The Natural Eater is that food is creativity. For this to be so, it’s important to have enough food preparation skills so that you can look into your fridge or pantry at any given time and prepare something good to eat. Limitation is the mother of invention if you have certain basic food preparation skills. The idea of using whatever is left also relates to another important Natural Eater value which is that food is solidarity with the planet and its peoples and therefore we do not waste it.

I opened my fridge at about 5 pm this weekend and found a few carrots, a carton of champignons, a bit of cottage cheese, a stick of mozarrella cheese and some remaining soured cream.  I had a few other odd ingredients around and wondered whether I should instead shoot off to the supermarket to reduce my thinking time. Then I thought of one of my favorite food programs shown on BBC television for years in which a well-known chef was asked to prepare a meal with a bag of inexpensive ingredients purchased by a regular everday person who would be their assistant. Using this program as my inspiration, I came up with the following:

Carrot & Champignon Lasagne (serves 8 persons)

1 package of lasagne sheets
6 carrots, peeled and grated
dried or fresh herb such as parsley, tarragon or nettle
1 box of champignons, rinsed and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 dl or 1 cup soured cream
2 dl or 1 cup cottage cheese
500 g or 1 lb mozarrella cheese
3 dl or 1.5 cups milk
canola or olive oil
salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F. Grease a rectangular pyrex (mine is 30 x 17 cm or 12 x 7 inches)and cover the base with lasagne sheets. Set aside. Prepare the lasagne fillings. Toss the grated carrot with 2-4 tablespoons of herb. I used dried nettle which you cannot find in shops but parsley, tarragon and a host of other dried or fresh herbs work just as well. Drizzle over a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Set aside. Drizzle some olive oil into a pan and saute onions and garlic over medium heat for two minutes. Add the sliced champignon and saute for another two minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl blend the cottage cheese, soured cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the mozarrella thinly.

Assemble the lasagne. Spoon half the carrots onto the bottom lasagne sheets and cover with a new layer of pasta. Spoon half the mushrooms onto the new layer of lasagne sheets and cover with half of the milk mixture. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets and repeat the layers once more, finishing once you have spooned over the rest of the milk mixture. Cover the surface of the lasagne with mozarella slices, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the mozarella is lightly browned. Serve with your favorite salad.

I thought the dish would last us for two days. It didn’t. We probably ate one too many portions, but at least you know that this recipe lives up to the taste test!

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