Beer risotto with chanterelles and bacon

This weekend I had culinary holidays. Mr. No Onion Please disappeared in a cottage among woods with his friends and that meant only one for me – FREEDOM!!! I could eat whatever I want, without murmurs and complaints – pancakes as a main dish of the day? Yes, please! But, but, but…. the centerpiece of my celebrations is here, a dish that revolves around 2 most hated ingredients of his, onions and mushrooms (on the other hand it also includes 2 of his favs – beer and bacon 😉 ). The autumn is inevitably approaching, and as much as my mood suffers from upcoming darkness, my belly wildly celebrates, as my favorite culinary season begins. There are still some berries and currants available, capsicums, eggplants and courgettes are at their best, first mushrooms appear and soon the pumpkins and my beloved root veggies will star in my dishes! The recipe for basic beer risotto comes from THIS book. I pimped it up with adding some pancetta, thyme and of course chanterelles!!! It is absolutely delicious, it’s such a pity that those great mushrooms are in season for such a short time 😦 The amounts make a generous portion for 2 people. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

butter

250ml risotto rice (eg arborio)
130ml dark, rich beer
80ml double cream
roughly 500ml chicken stock
onion, finelly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finelly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
a handful of grated mature cheese such as grana padano, parmiggiano reggiano, pecorino etc

1,5 liters of chanterells, bigger ones cut to pieces, smaller ones left whole
150g of pancetta
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
5-6 tbsp of beer

1. Heat up a tbsp of butter in a pot. Add garlic and onion and saute till golden in colour. Add the rice and mix until it becomes slightly transparent from the fat.

2. Add the cream and simmer slowly, stirring continuously. Once the cream is nearly absorbed add the beer and stir. Yes, risotto is all about stirring – the more you stir the better it is, because the more starch is released. Once the beer is nearly absorbed start to add the chicken stock in small amounts and stir. You will need around 500ml and 15-20 min till rice absorbs everything. So in the meanwhile you can make the mushrooms.

3.  Melt a tbsp of butter in another pot. Add pancetta and cook till crispy. Add the mushrooms and thyme, saute for 3-4 min till the mushrooms soften yet stay tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Fish out the mushrooms and add to remaining sauce beer. Heat up till boiling and reduce the sauce.

5. Once your risotto looks ready add the thyme, cheese and 1/3 of the mushroom/pancetta mixture into it, stir for a minute or so.

6. Serve risotto on a bed of mushrooms sprinkled with sauce.

Advertisements

Flammkuchen and Luxembourg trip

I guess you already know we love to travel. I wish I would also love to write about it and share the amazing places we’ve been with you, but I’m kind of lazy, and since I’m making thousands of pictures on holidays (yes you read that correct, I go into THOUSANDS and it annoys even me a lot 😉 ) it’s pretty difficult to choose what I would actually like to show you in a tiny space of a blog post.  Fortunately, that’s not always the case. At the end of  June we went for a long weekend to visit our friends in Luxembourg. Short trip + lot’s of time spend on chatting = few photos 😉 Yes, finally manageable enough for me to finally write a post 😉 Luxembourg welcomed us with rain. Fortunately, we were unlucky with the weather just for a single day and enjoyed hot sunny days for the rest of our trip. I must say I was quite surprised how tiny yet international is the City of Luxembourg. It has only 80 000 of citizens yet it bursts with energy.

Somehow, I had an image of Luxembourg as a country that looks just like Netherlands, and I have never even thought that we will see charming villages hidden in the valleys surrounded by forests. I was really enchanted with tiny old towns full of cafeterias and craft shops – that’s the thing I really miss in Finland. And another reason to visit Luxembourg are lovely vineyards  spreading along picturesque Mosel river scenery, a true lifelong memory for me. I must say I’m really positively surprised how much this petite land has to offer! Sadly, I guess at the same time, it is the least traveled country among Benelux area.

Luxembourg is a really tiny country. I guess it’s a bit difficult to talk about the traditional cuisine there as all the German, French and Belgian culinary influences pretty much mingle together. Thanks to our trip, I have fallen in love with a traditional dish from this region – the Flammkuchen, a kind of  crispy peasant pizza that is topped with fresh cheese or cream instead of tomato sauce (it is also called tarte flambee on the French side). The traditional Flammkuchen is made with onion and bacon cubes, but since I have Mr. No Onion Please at home, I made a bit more modern and lighter version of it. From the amounts given below, you’ll get 2 Flammkuchen. The recipe  for dough comes from  Linda Collister’s and Anthony Blake’s “The bread book” and I found it on CinCin forum. The dough is absolutely fantastic! Comes out crispy and it’s so easy to work with – a must try!

INGREDIENTS

455 g flour (about 12% protein content)
1,5 tsp salt
15 g fresh yeasts
1 tbsp olive oil
280 ml luke warm water

200g creme fraiche
4-5 tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
2 handfuls of rocket
10-12 slices of dried ham

1. Dissolve the yeasts in luke warm water and leave them aside for 5-10 min.

2. Combine flour, salt, yeasts and oil and knead a ball of dough. Let it rest under cover for 1,5-2h until it doubles it’s volume.

3. Hit the dough with the fist to release the air and divide it in half. Roll the dough very! thinly (I additionally stretch it in the air, to make it super thin), you should get 2 pieces roughly of the size of your baking tray.

4. Spread the creme on top, leaving some free space on the sides. Put tomato slices on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 275C till golden brown (remember to preheat not only the oven but also the tray you’ll put the Flammkuchen on!)

5. Spread rocket and dried ham on top. Serve with well chilled white wine 🙂

ENJOY!

Beef tenderloin marinated in molasses with baked sweet potato puree

Today is Finnish Independence Day. In spite of being an expat, it is somewhat natural for me to celebrate 6th of December anyway, as it is a St. Nicholas day in Poland. As much as I would prefer to enjoy the Polish festivity (oh don’t blame me, we get presents on that day), it’s always uplifting to take part in independence merriment. This year, the national celebrations took place in the city of Kuopio and you can have a look at several photos from the army parade in my previous post.  We’ve also decided to have some fun at home with a bit more fancy dinner and so here it is – a succulent beef tenderloin marinated in molasses and ginger and served on baked sweet potato mash. YUM!!!

INGREDIENTS*

beef tenderloin
170 ml molasses
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp chili flakes
3-4 garlic cloves, grated
2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp pepper

1. Mix everything well and marinade for 24h. Turn the meat around occasionally.
2. Heat the pan and seal the fillet all over until brown.
3. Place in the oven preheated to 125C and roast till inner temperature of the meat will reach 56C (for medium) or till your liking.
4. Wrap the meat tightly in aluminium foil and let it rest for 15min before you serve.

* The recipe for beef tenderloin comes from the book STEAK by Paul Gayler

INGREDIENTS

1,5kg sweet potatoes
1,5 tbsp of runny honey or golden sirup
1,5 tsp cinnamon
1/2-3/4 tsp ginger
1/2-3/4 tsp cardamom
1 egg
heaped tbsp butter

butter
bread crumbles – preferably from rye bread

1. Pierce the potatoes with a fork, grease with butter or olive oil, bake in 200C till soft and peal the skin.
2. Blend the sweet potatoes, spices, egg and butter.
3. Transfer the mixture to greased oven-proof dish. Sprinkle generously with bread crumbles and put thin slices of butter on top.
4. Bake for 30min in 180C.

Lamb stew from South Africa

So it’s official. The real winter has finally arrived. The temperature has dropped below -10C and the world out there is completely white. As much as I shiver every time I look outside of the window, still I really enjoy the frost, but only when accompanied by sunshine. The world is then just like taken straight from a fairy tale. Tiny particles of ice shine like little diamonds all over the trees. For such weather there is nothing better than the ultimate winter dish – stew. Slowly cooked meat in a flavorful sauce is surely one of the best comfort foods in such weather. I’ve found this delicious recipe on Fork Spoon Knife blog and changed it slightly according to the contents of my fridge ;). Below you’ll find my version of the mouthwatering South African lamb bredie.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

400g of lamb shoulder, diced into cubes

butter

400g can of tomatoes

2 red chilies, diced fine

2 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

100ml beef stock

5 whole black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick, cut in half

6-7 whole cloves

4-5 cardamom pods, very slightly crushed

1 tsp brown sugar

salt, pepper as needed

100g  peas

 

Marinade:

finger sized ginger piece, grated

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

salt and pepper


1. Marinade the meat overnight.

2. Dry roast the cloves, cinnamon and whole peppercorns, set aside once they are fragrant. Brown the meat in a little bit of butter in a cast iron pot. Add the tomatoes, chilli, cardamom, stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Slowcook the meat in the oven in about 120C for 2-3h.

3. Once the meet starts to become soft and fall apart, add the potatoes and cook till they are soft. Add peas, return to the oven for several more minutes. Serve with rice.

Chicken in creamy amaretto sauce

Not so long ago I was writing how much we like chicken filles stuffed with goat cheese and prosciutto. Well here is another version of this dish and what is really particular about it, is that it utilises amaretto to create really fragrant, delicious sauce. When I saw it on lol foodie I immediately knew I have to make it. Combination of amaretto, chicken, goat cheese and cured ham sounded peculiar and I knew it will be delicious. I decided to change the recipe slightly, I used shiitake mushrooms from Lapland and made the amaretto sauce based on cream instead of stock. I served the chicken with mashed potatoes and honey roasted root vegetables. It was a really memorable dish and definitely we will be making it often.

INGREDIENTS:

3 chicken breast halves, lightly pounded

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

6 tbsp fresh goat cheese

3 thin slices of prosciutto

4 tbsp butter

several tbsp of flour

150g shiitake mushrooms

200ml single cream

1 tbsp chicken stock concentrate

2-3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur

chopped thyme

1.  Season both sides of the chicken filles with salt and pepper. Spread each chicken breast half with 2 tbsp of goat cheese and top with 1 slice of prosciutto. Roll the chicken into a tight cylinder. Tie with kitchen twine or bind with skewers.

2. Melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in a pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and set aside.

3. Dredge each chicken “roll” in flour. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Once melted, add in the chicken rolls.  Fry for several minutes turning the rolls from time to time and in the meanwhile keeping the pan covered. Remove the chicken to the plate with mushrooms.

4. Take the pan off the heat. Add the cream, chicken broth concentrate and bring the pan to the heat. Bring it to the boil and scrape to deglaze all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add amaretto and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, turning to coat in the sauce and heating through. Serve with chopped thyme.

Chicken breast with Parma ham and goat cheese

There are days that I don’t mind cooking, but I’m really lousy with figuring out what we should have for dinner.  Those days I leave it totally to Mr. No Onion Please, though I know that 2 out of 3 times he will simply answer – let’s stuff and wrap something. You see, we have this kind of “rescue” dish when we want something easy, fast to prepare yet still flavorful. It is enough to take a piece of meat (chicken breast or thick slice of pork sirloin), some kind of cheese (ranging from Philadelphia cheese to mature goat cheese),  herbs (sage, basil, oregano, marjoram… whatever you say) and the wrap thingy – dry-cured ham like Parma,  Jamon, or just regular smoked bacon. Choose one ingredient from each group, combine and voila! The dish below is my favourite combo 🙂 I’m a real freak when it comes to sage – it’s definitely my favorite herb and i try to stuff it into any food that we cook 😀 My second great love is goat cheese, though I must admit, the relationship started rough as when I have bought it for the first time, I threw it away with disgust (God, that’s how udder must taste I thought :D). I’m laughing that I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate it,  because nowadays my kitchen would be absolutely incomplete without a log of nicely aged goat cheese. This is an extremely fast and easy recipe that combines all the flavors I like, hope you will enjoy it as well :). The amounts given below are enough for one person. Oh, and by the way, I’m going on holidays again so see you back in 2 weeks or so ;).

INGREDIENTS:

– chicken breast without skin and bone

– 2 slices of Parma ham

– 2-3 slices of goat cheese (I used aged Sainte Maure cheese)

– 1 tbsp of finely chopped sage

– pepper (I don’t use salt as the ham and cheese are already salty)

1. Cut a pocket in the middle of the breast. Be careful not to poke it with the knife. Stuff it with goat cheese, sage and  sprinkle a bit of pepper inside.

2. You may want to close the pocket with the toothpicks, however I don’t do it, Parma ham is enough to keep the cheese inside if you wrap it tightly. Sprinkle pepper on the breast and wrap it tightly in Parma ham. Voila! Now you just need to fry it! Ain’t it super-fast and easy? 🙂

Babi kecap – meat braised in sweet soya sauce

Ok, so I have to warn you 😉 I’m taking part in South-East Asian cooking festival on my favorite Polish cooking forum and what that means is that quite some recipes from that region will appear on the blog in the closest 2 weeks. I love the cuisine from that part of the world and I really wish that I could learn some more about it. Right now I can only study some cookbooks, but I dream of the moment when finally we will manage to travel there and absorb everything with our senses. My biggest priority is to go to Vietnam, but since we’ve started planning it’s always been the issue of either lack of money or time. Well… as in previous years I again dream that I’ll go there finally next year, but well… I guess that won’t be possible. For now, I have to stick to travel and cook books and just dream on 😉

The recipe below is adapted from fabulous Rick Stein’s book “Oriental Odyssey”. I’ve borrowed it by chance from my local library, but I simply fell in love with the recipes and now am awaiting my own copy 🙂

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp oil
100g spring onions, finely chopped (well… not appearing in our dish 😉 )
50g garlic, finely chopped
25g ginger, finely grated

1kg of pork meat for braising (I used mixed pork and beef meat), cut in cubes
4 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste
½ tsp freshly grated black pepper
3-4 chilli, sliced
4 bird’s eye chilli, whole
500ml asian beef stock

1. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pot. Fry the spring onions, garlic and ginger, you may add a bit of salt.
2. Add the meat and fry for 2-3 minutes till it gets some colour. Add kecap manis, soya sauce, tamarind paste, pepper and chilli fry for a minute more. Turn down the heat, add hot beef stock and  braise till the meat will be tender (around 1,5-2,5h depending on your meat and size of the pieces)
3. Take out the meat pieces and heat up the sauce till it’s boiling. Reduce it quite much. It needs to be pretty dense.

Summer liver salad

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m back from my holidays 🙂 I had lot’s of fun sightseeing, hiking in the mountains and visiting my family, a real pity it’s already over. But there is a good news too: just 6 weeks till the second part of my holidays 😉 Life is good (particularly in the summer 😉 ). Now I have to look through hundreds of pics I made, get back to working mode and make one million of other things. Huh, it’s so easy to get used to lazynes, but somehow getting adjusted to regular working mode is a total nightmare. Anyway, I have to try to organise my life again and I leave you with this delicious recipe that I have found on Tatter’s blog. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

3 tbsp oil
handfull of croutons
3 handfulls of watercress
2 handfulls of salad mix
500g poultry livers, cut into pieces (I used a piece of veal liver)
12 pancetta slices, finely cut
125ml Marsala or sherry
1 tbsp french mustard
1 tbsp of torned sage leaves (or as in my case a whole bunch 😉 )
salt and black pepper

olive oil  mixed with herbs such as:
dried garlic, basil, pinch of chilli

1. Heat a pan, add the oil. Fry pancetta till nicely brown and crunchy. Set aside.

2. Add liver pieces to the pan. Fry for several minutes. Set aside. Add sherry to the pan and heat for 1-2 min to reduce the liquid in half. Add mustard, sage, salt and pepper. Add liver pieces again. Mix them well to coat in the liquid and put the pan off the heat.

3.  Arrange salads and watercress on the plates. Put the liver pieces on top and sprinkle with pancetta.

4. Drizzle a bit of oil with herbal mix onto croutons and scatter them on the plate. Season with rest of sherry sauce and olive oil mixture.

Juicy chicken with cashews

Have I already said how much I love Finnish libraries? They have tons of books on cooking and even better, quite many of those are in English (yeah my Finnish is kind of non existent unfortunately). Finally, I got my hands on one of the He-Huang’s books – ‘Chinese in minutes’. I was really excited, cause you may remember I’ve already posted some of her recipes that were an instant hit with Mr. No Onion Please (sesame beef stir-fry, pork tenderloin) and I was craving for some more showstoppers. Unfortunately, I got a bit disappointed. There is no doubt that the recipes she presents are tasty, but once you grab a whole book of hers, you’ll notice that she’s constantly using same flavouring ingredients. So yes, one can learn some quick and easy Chinese-like dishes, but once you’ll try several recipes rest will taste nearly the same. Nevertheless, I’ve marked several dishes to try out, particularly that all of them can be done in no time and they are perfect for mid-week dinners.

I started with juicy chicken stir-fry, just because it was really fast to cook as well as cause I love Sichuan peppercorns and their tongue-numbing properties. From obvious reasons I skipped addition of spring onions, throwing in bell pepper for some crunch. The dish didn’t stun us , it was fine but it was clearly missing something. So if you decide to make it don’t omit the onions, I think they are essential for this dish.

INGREDIENTS:

400g chicken meat from legs, cut into pieces
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spices powder
1 tbsp potato flour
2 tbsp frying oil
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 tbsp yellow bean sauce
1 chili, finely chopped
a dash of Shaohsing rice wine
100g cashew nuts
1 tbsp soya sauce
juice from half of lime
2 spring onions sliced
(I threw in a bell pepper instead but here spring onions would be really needed)

1. Mix the flour and 5 spice powder together, sprinkle over chicken pieces

2. Heat the wok and add oil. Add Sichuan peppercorns, chili and bean paste, fry for 30 seconds add the chicken and let it settle for another 30 sec. Finally add a dash of rice wine, toss everything together and let it fry for 3-4 min.

3. Add spring onions and cashew nuts, fry for 1-2 min. Season to taste with soya sauce and lime juice.

Szechuan smoky bacon cabbage

Today we’ve enjoyed a really great weather! Finally the spring has come. YEY! We had a long walk in the woods, some nice a bit lazy but still very good food and since we got up pretty early also looots of time just to hang around and relax. Ahhh I feel so energetic, the days are really long (15,5h at the moment – a definite reason to celebrate after winter’s darkness) and recently we also got quite much of cloudless days what additionally boosts me with energy. Anyway, time for the recipe 🙂 Today a very simple side – again Chinese and again from Ching-He Huang. The Szechuan cabbage was really good, though I’ve made a small mistake that reflected negatively on the final outcome. The recipe calls for  pointed cabbage I’ve never seen it before and just guessed I’ll do fine with savoy cabbage. Unfortunately, the ends of the leaves in savoy cabbage are very delicate and upon frying they wilted. The white parts, however were deliciously crunchy. Next time definitely I’ll go for a  cabbage with tougher leaves.

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp frying oil
1 chilli, finely choped
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
5 streaky bacon rashes chopped into 1cm pieces
1 tsp Shaohsing rice wine
300g pointed cabbage, shredded
1 tbsp rice vinegar
juice of half lemon
salt

1. Heat wok, fry chilli and peppercorns for a while. Add bacon and fry for 2-3 min till browned.

2. Add rice wine and cabbage and stir-fry for 3 min. Season with vinegar, lemon juice and salt.