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.

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.

Jan
17
2009
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Not done with cabbage yet!

More Cabbage!

More Cabbage!

Just when you thought that I couldn’t possibly come up with another cabbage recipe, here it is! This isn’t just any old cabbage recipe, it must be my absolute favorite and fits well with so many savoury dishes. Since you know all about the fantastic health benefits of eating raw cabbage (mainly heart and cancer protection), I know I don’t have to convince you. Dill, by the way, was once used a means of getting small children to sleep better – it might work on you too!. Here it is:

 

Dill White Cabbage Salad

1/4 head of white cabbage, center cut away and chopped into small, bite-size slivers
fresh dill, a handful chopped finely
1 dl or 1/3 cup olive or canola oil
4 tbsps apple vinegar
Salt/Pepper to taste 

Place the cabbage in a large salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl, blend the liquid ingredients and dill with a manual beater. Pour over the cabbage. Add salt and pepper. Toss, taste, add more salt and pepper if needed.

 Serve as a healthful and delicious side dish.
Oct
22
2008
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The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health

Yummy Vegetables!

Tummy Trim Vegetables!

Oh dear. “What is she thinking now?”, you might wonder. Isn’t a title like “The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health” just naturalness gone too far? No, not really although I do agree that a book with that title might not make the bestseller lists.

This was just my crazy little way of calling your attention to the value of controlled fermentation in the kitchen for good health. Cultivating good bacteria in order to mature foods in ways that are good for our stomachs and that appeal to our palates is a very old art used in many parts of the world, including in the Nordic region. Lactic fermentation of root vegetables and cabbages is one good example. This technique was originally a means of preserving the vital nutrients that these vegetables could provide until the next warm season could deliver new nutrients. What is lactic fermentation? It means using the watery liquid (the whey) that is left when you drain out the creamy part of yogurt or other forms of ‘live’ dairy product. What is a ‘live’ dairy product? It is one that contains live bacteria good for maintaining your digestive flora (check the labels!).

When I thought of “The Rotten Cookbook for Good Health”, I thought of a whole host of foods that would fit in. All kinds of interesting combinations of tasty vegetables that could be fermented and bottled, wonderful sourdough breads, home-made yogurts and more. The idea just gets bigger all the time!

Now let’s get down to practicals. During the past days, I have made classic Nordic fermented root vegetables. A serving of this a day is guaranteed to keep your digestion in good form! Here is the basic recipe:

Tummy Trim Vegetables
(makes 3 liters or 3 quarts)

2 kg or 4.4 lbs root vegetables and cabbages of your choice (I used white cabbage, swede, carrots and turnip) roughly chopped
1 liter or 1 quart yogurt or buttermilk (filmjölk in Swedish) drained through a cheesecloth overnight
Salt
Water

Place the chopped vegetables into a large clean glass or ceramic container that can be sealed. Pour over the whey (the milky liquid) that has been separated from the cream. Mix the vegetables into this liquid and place a heavy weight on them (I use my limestone rock paper-weight) so that they are compressed and just covered with the liquid. Seal and leave to ferment in a warm place in the house for 12 hours. Open and add salt water if the vegetables are not covered in liquid. The recipe for salt water is 3 tsps to one liter or quart of water. Place the weight on the vegetables again and seal. Leave in the same place to ferment for 3 days this time. After this time you can bottle the vegetables and liquid as you like and refrigerate or keep in a cool place. In contrast to most foods, these just improve with time! Consume as a side dish with almost anything. For extra seasoning, add in paprikas, onions and your favorite herbs such as rosemary or dill on the first day of fermentation. This makes a mean “rotten” side salad!

Visit The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for a further selection of great recipes!

Oct
09
2008
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Scraping the Cabbage Bowl

Lovely White Cabbage

Lovely White Cabbage

Last night over dinner I thought I was hallucinating as I watched my 10-year-old son scraping the bottom of the empty cabbage salad bowl. “Mmmm….that was really good Mamma. Is there any more?” My jaw dropped as my daughter added in a complaint that everyone else had hogged the cabbage salad and she’d barely got any.

Cabbage isn’t exactly the thing that you expect your 10-year-olds to crave more of. In fact, it isn’t the sort of thing that most people crave more of. However, it is one of those things that all of us should be eating a lot more of. Healthwise, its benefits are second to none, particularly when eaten raw.

So, are you going to get your family to devour not only cabbage, but raw cabbage? Let’s take this one step back: how are you going to get yourself enthusiastic about it? Here is a recipe that won’t fail to stir the enthusiasm when served as a side dish or as a base filling in tacos, pita bread or wraps. It is VERY quick to make, VERY simple, VERY inexpensive, VERY good and VERY healthy. You cannot get more VERY!

Tangy White Cabbage Salad

1/4 large white cabbage, core cut away and chopped into small bite-sized pieces
1 dl or 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil (rapeseed oil)
3 tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 tbsps water
2 tbsps light mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper

Prepare the cabbage. Mix together the remaining ingredients into a smooth dressing with a manual beater. pour over the cabbage and toss. Done!

For more great cabbage recipes visit The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook!

Oct
03
2008
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Solving the Squash Dilemma

End-of-season vegetables from my garden

End-of-season vegetables from my garden

If there is one thing I can always rely on my kitchen vegetable garden to produce in quantity, it is squash. My children walk into the kitchen holding specimens that could double up as baseball bats.

It’s costs me next to nothing, it grows in large quantities outside my kitchen window, it’s good for your health, so isn’t this an ideal food for this season? We should be head over heals…As soon as my husband sees me chopping the squash for the evening meal, he already starts planning that little pile of squash that is going to be left on the edge of the plate when the meal is done. My son isn’t crazy about the stuff either. Only my daughter and I down it like the true good food soldiers that we are.

In a bid to transform squash, in this case zucchini, into everyone’s favorite food, I set about exploring recipes. I found a seemingly exciting recipe for squash muffins in a recent “gourmet” magazine that unfortunately ended up tasting like sugar cake with green bits in it. I tried all sorts of stir-fry variations but that little heap of uneaten squash kept piling up on the edges of plates and returning from whence it came (the compost).

One evening I lacked lettuce to serve with the meal but there was that trusted zucchini on the counter. I decided to chop it rough and toss it with a few tomatoes in a bowl. How could I spice it up? Here is what I did:

Curried Zucchini Salad

1 medium zucchini chopped into small chunks
2 medium tomatoes chopped into quarters
1 red onion chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 dl or just under 1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water

Sauté the onion with curry powder in a little olive oil for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from heat. In a mixing bowl blend with zucchini and tomato. Beat together the remaining ingredients into a dressing. Pour over the zucchini and tomato. Toss and serve on a bed of lettuce or ruccola.

With this recipe there were no zucchini Tower-of-Pisas on the sides of the plates at the end of the meal. Surprise! Surprise! The salad bowl was empty.

Another fantastic squash recipe I cannot but help share with you is for summer squash (yellow or light colored). Even if you are a squash skeptic, this one will warm your heart like a soft, warm blanket.

Summer Squash Soup with Chili

1 large summer squash, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red chili, center removed and finely chopped
4 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps flour
4 dl vegetable or chicken stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
Herb-flavored olive oil

Saute the onion, garlic and chili for 2 minutes without browning. Add the squash and saute for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the flour. Gradually stir in the stock and return to the heat. Cover and allow to cook on low heat until the squash is softened (about 10 mins). Puree in a food processor. Add further stock if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a swirl of herb-flavored olive oil.

Adding sliced squash to home-made pizza also works well, but we’ll take that another time!

For more great recipes with Nordic inspiration visit The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

Written by Julie in: Salad,Soup,Squash,Vegetables,zucchini | Tags: , , , ,

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