Jul
05
2011
--

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
11
2009
--

Asparagus Time

Asparagus and Potatoes with Lemon Oil

Asparagus and Potatoes with Lemon Oil

If you want a real lift this May, I suggest you try the light lunch prepared in under 10 minutes that I enjoyed today. What was it that I prepared and ate? Asparagus. What is that doing in the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook, you might ask? Doesn’t that grow in a sandy, dry environment somewhere where it is much warmer? In actual fact, asparagus is a hardy plant that grows in a wide variety of climates and can even tolerate frosts. Asparagus from Gotland has become a delicacy in Sweden, for example. During the past decade asparagus has become a favorite of Nordic kitchens during the warmer, lighter season.

What’s so good about asparagus from a health point of view? Just a few of its many virtues include that it is a great source of vitamin C, B2 and one of the richest existing sources of B9 (folates) among other essential vitamins and minerals. If you’ve got diabetes, gout or fluid retention you’ll want to eat more of it. It’s also one of those foods that you don’t have to buy organic since it has relatively low pesticide residues. Since it doesn’t have a long shelf life, it’s one of those vegetables you’ll have to eat relatively fresh. There are, of course, also frozen options.

A more long-standing great favorite of the Nordic kitchen is the potato and these combine beautifully with asparagus for a delightful and satisfying meal. If you’ve got any of those boiled potatoes  left from last night’s meal, don’t throw them out! They will make a perfect lunch with asparagus.

Asparagus & Potatoes with Lemon Oil
Lunch for 2

Bunch of asparagus (green or white – up to you)
4 medium-sized boiled potatoes, room temperature (ecological please!)
1 lemon cut in half
Canola or extra virgin olive oil
Salt/Pepper

Wash the asparagus, cut off the hard ends of the stalks and place in a pan just covering with water. Sprinkle in a little salt. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a sieve, draining out the hot water and rinse immediately with cold water so that the asparagus retains its crispness. If you’ve got an asparagus cooker (steams the asparagus upright so that it cooks more evenly and preserves more of the nutrients) it will take about 10 minutes.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and divide between two plates. Divide the asparagus into two quantities and pile next to the potatoes. Drizzle potatoes and asparagus with oil and serve with a half a lemon for squeezing over just before eating.

This dish is as divine as it is simple. P.S. Kids and adults alike love it.

Dec
03
2008
--

Beetroots for Christmas

Big Beautiful Beet

Big Beautiful Beet

Since I’m on great Finnish food ideas and root vegetables this week, I thought I’d throw in that little extra that will add great color and flavor to your holiday season table.

I just cannot say enough good things about beetroots. Just a superb food. If you don’t eat them yet, start! Want to learn more about them? Check Paavo’s Bytes for May 2008 in More Bytes.

Beetroots in Soured Cream with mashed potatoes or mashed root vegetables (see my recipe in the previous entry in this blog) is a terrific dish and very easy to prepare. Here’s how:

 

Beetroots in Sour Cream

1.8 lbs or 800 g medium beetroots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 tbsps butter
1 2/3 cups or 4 dl sour cream
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
Salt/Pepper
A generous handful of fresh chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion and beetroot. Lower the heat, cover and allow to ‘sweat’ until cooked. Blend in the soured cream and wine vinegar. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Place on a warm serving dish and sprinkle over parsley.

Typically, this dish is served with mashed potatoes piped around it. However, you can go for a lighter version and simply serve with my light recipe for mashed root vegetables as a separate dish.

If you are wondering how to avoid ending up with pink fingers after making this dish, wear disposable kitchen gloves.

Dec
03
2008
--

Just Right with Rutabaga

Rutabaga & Kale - Staple Nordic Winter Foods

Rutabaga & Kale - Staple Nordic Winter Foods

I recently asked my friend, Paavo from Finland who caters to some of the more illustrious tables of Manhattan, what some of his favorite memories of Christmas food from Scandinavia were. I expected something elaborate and well, frankly, upmarket, but certainly not Rutabaga Casserole. I shouldn’t have been so suprised, Paavo is, after all, a master of suprise.

So what is rutabaga? It is what I have previously called turnip or yellow turnip in this blog; a marvelous mixture between a turnip and a cabbage (thus deserving of its Scandinavian name, kålrot, which literally means cabbage root) that will henceforth be known as nothing other than rutabaga in this blog.

Rutabaga has had a hard time in northern Europe.   In hard times it has been a food of last resort, making it a food of no resort during good times. Its rehabilitation has been tough in Germany where it earned a reputation as famine food. In Scandinavia those associations are not quite as strong and there has been some creativity around rutabaga. After all, it comes from this part of the world – it is thought to have spread its way westward from Siberia and Finland during the 17th century – so we ought to know how to handle it!

Aside from its original taste, rutabaga is both nutritious and eco-smart. It is a good source of vitamin C, folate and fiber. The down side is that it is a high GI food, but on the other hand low in fat. As with everything else, consume in moderation. On the environment side, it grows in cold climates, reducing the need for pesticides.

Finns are the grand masters of rutabaga, particularly in the form of Rutabaga Casserole which is a classic during the holiday season. It’s got a bit of cream in it to give it that festive flavor. However, if you want a superb light rutabaga recipe that got 5 stars from my family (can you believe it?), you’ll want to try my low-fat rotmos or Mashed Root Vegetables. This dish is an exciting alternative to the much less interesting mashed potatoes and healthier too! Here are both the casserole and mashed root veg. recipes.

Rutabaga Casserole

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 medium potato
2/3 dl or 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2/3 dl or 1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp butter

Cover rutabaga and potato in water with a dash of salt and cook until soft.  Drain off the water and mash. Mix the bread crumbs with cream and allow to soak for a few minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and egg. Fold this mixture into the mashed root vegetables. Pour into a casserole dish, dot with butter and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in 350 F or 175 C for about one hour until lightly browned on top.

Mashed Root Vegetables or Rotmos

1/4 medium rutabaga, peeled and roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt/Pepper for seasoning

Cook the root vegetables until soft. Drain and save the liquid. Mash by hand or in a blender so that the vegetables are smooth. Return to the cook pan and over low heat blend in a few tablespoons of the liquid until the rotmos has reached the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

For more recipes visit The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook!

Nov
22
2008
--

The Indomitable Potato

An exhibition of pest-resistant potato types

An exhibition of pest-resistant potato types

During the past years potatoes have come under attack for being high carbohydrate foods that send our blood sugar soaring. As always, with extremist conclusions about good ingredients like the very best of potatoes, there are plenty of arguments that one can make to the contrary. Potatoes are very low in fat if handled the right way, they can be an important source of B vitamins and important minerals such as potassium and magnesium and they may even have a preventive effect against certain viruses and cancer due to the presence of antioxidants. The most important thing, a with all foods is to eat them in moderation.

In the Nordic region potatoes are today regarded a basic ingredient in traditional food. However potatoes have only been around as a staple food in this region since the 18th century. Before this time they were often regarded as the food of the devil from faraway lands (South America).

During this cold season we want more out of potatoes than just plain boiled. There needs to be a little extra – some excitement that combats the dreary season. The problem is that most of the excitement that you can add to potatoes is also fattening.

Here is a basic recipe for potato gratin that got the thumbs up from my family. It fits well as a side-dish with most meals and it isn’t the carb bomb that most gratins are.

Slender Potato Gratin

8 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 dl or 2 1/4 cups milk or lactose-free milk product (soy or oat milk)
Salt/Pepper
50 g butter, in small cubes

Preheat oven to 225 C or 437 F. Grease an oven-proof casserole dish and create a bottom layer of potato. Cover with a layer of onion. Season with salt and pepper. Continue with this sequence until all of the potatoes and onions are used up. Pour over the milk. Scatter butter cubes on top of the bake. Bake for 40-50 mins or until the potatoes are soft.

For another great Scandinavian idea about how to use potatoes the slender way visit my article, A Light & Satisfying Winter Meal. Visit the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for more great recipes!

Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | TheBuckmaker.com WordPress Themes