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.

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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 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? 🙂

Trout steamed in a Thai way

This is a second dish I have prepared for previously mentioned South-East Asian festival. I’ve recently noticed we definitely don’t eat enough fish. We buy smoked salmon quite frequently, but fish as a main dish appears on our table maybe 4-5 times a month what is definitely too few. Finland is plentiful in salmon and trout and I’ve decided from now on to incorporate them more frequently to our menu.  Let’s hope this is a good start and I’ll keep to my  resolution 😉 This recipe comes from the book “The food and cooking of Vietnam and Cambodia”.

INGREDIENTS:
200ml coconut cream
2 tsp raw cane sugar
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 chili, finely chopped
4cm piece of ginger, grated
750g trout
1 star anise, grated on powder
a handful of fresh Thai basil leaves
a handful of cashew nuts, chopped
salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry garlic, chili and ginger. Turn down the heat, add coconut cream and sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves, take out from the heat.
2. Place the fish on a wide piece of foil and tuck up the sides to form a boat shape container. Cut several slashes into the meat and rub them as well as the inside of fish with salt, pepper and star anise. Scatter half of the Thai basil leaves on top. Spoon the coconut cream into the container and close it firmly.
3. Steam or put to the oven (180C) for about 20 min.
4. Roast the cashew nuts in the frying pan. Once the fish is ready transfer it to a plate, drizzle with cooking juices and sprinkle with  nuts and remaining Thai basil leaves

Cod in pistachio crust

Ohoh, summer has really come here, I’m so lazy with writing new posts 😀 Not that I don’t cook, but I just don’t feel like writing somehow…. at all…. Lately I have lots of writing to do at work and in the evenings I just can’t put myself to write several simple sentences. I  need holidays. Fortunately, they are nearly here! We’re flying on Saturday to Poland for whole two weeks 🙂 Can’t wait, I also hope we will make a day trip to Slovakia and be sure I’ll post lots of pictures from our beautiful Tatra mountains :). However, now time for a copy-cat recipe 😉 I’ve found it on Trissalicious blog, it’s fast and gives a really nice outcome. I’ve just noticed I’ve never posted any fish recipe here before. And again it’s the same story we eat them but I don’t write about them, or no wait… it’s rather that I don’t find fish photogenic. Or …. ok, well ok I’ll just admit it… I can’t make nice fish pics… there I said it…. snif…. I kept to recipe pretty much, apart from folding the fish and adding still a spoon of Parmesan to the crust as well as omitting egg white (ups … I forgot about it). Below is an original recipe, enjoy 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

2 cod fillets, skinned and deboned

35 grams butter

75 grams pistachios

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 springs thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg white

4 slices lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Season the fillets with salt and pepper
  3. In a food processor combine the pistachios, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper (Parmesan optionally)
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the pistachio mixture. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. Add the egg white and mix well (not necessary)
  6. Bend fillets in half, put 2 slices of lemon inside. Coat the fillets in the pistachio mixture
  7. Place the coated fillets in an ovenproof dish
  8. Bake the fillets for around 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.

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.

Sesame beef stir-fry

Not to become too monothematic with my Istanbul posts, before serving you the final one, let me show you what I cooked last week. You may remember, I’ve mentioned it once, that on my favourite food forum we have a custom of making thematic weeks. The theme for last week was chinese cuisine. Being really succesful with my previous chinese creation – pork tenderloin in yellow bean sauce, I decided once again to give Ching’s fail-proof recipes a go. Much to Mr’s No Onion Please delight, I’ve chosen a sesame beef stir-fry recipe (Ching-He Huan, published in Delicious magazine). WHOA it is just amazing! It’s quite simple and the result is delicious – a huge chunk of meat (over 600g!) disappeared in one day! I believe it speaks well enough for the recipe 😉 Anyway, the result is not only tasty. The texture is absolutely fantastic! I must say I was a bit skeptical when looking at the picture in the magazine. As usual the food looked perfect, but my previous experience with coated meat was far from such – I notoriously was loosing at least half of the coating when frying, getting it burned and if it wasn’t burned then the meat was turning out to be soggy. So no wonder that when attempting this recipe I sighed quietly trying to gather all my patience. But there were no reasons to cry! As you can see yourself, the sesame coating is just perfect. It looks good, doesn’t fall off, it is crunchy and just bellow you’ll find melt in your mouth beef (if, of course, you’ll invest in a good quality sirloin). I saw my man eating  Ching’s dishes and I bet I already know whose cookbook will be the next present from him 😉

INGREDIENTS

marinade:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp Shaohsing wine
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp brown sugar

250g beef sirloin, cut in very thin slices
potato flour
egg, slightly beaten
sesame seeds

oil for wok
1 tbsp Shaohsing wine
2 peppers cut in pieces
100ml beef stock
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp corn flour

1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, add beef slices and let it stand for half an hour in cold place.
2. Each beef slice should be coated first with potato flour, egg and finally sesame seeds.
3. Fry the pieces in heated wok for 1-2 min and set them aside.
4. Put the wok back to the heat, add wine and peppers, fry for 2-3 min.
5. Mix wine, soya sauce, sesame oil, sugar and corn flour together. Add to wok and fry for 2 more min.
6. Add the meat, mix well so that it gets coated with sauce and take away from the heat.

Venison in red wine and blackcurrant sauce

I would like to wish all of you peaceful and relaxing Easter time! We’ve just came back from warm and sunny Istanbul, full of blossoming tulips and twittering birds to grey, cloudy Helsinki, still covered with 10cm layer of snow … Pretty depressing to be welcomed by rain, nevertheless after one week  of delightful laziness I feel I’m back boasting with energy 🙂 Now I just need to unpack, go through several hundred of pictures and I promise that soon I’ll be back for good with some posts about Istanbul, its fabulous street foods and some recipes too!

For now though, I’ll leave you with the post about delicious wild bites 😉 We had enjoyed these pretty venison steaks just before we left to Turkey. They were fried and sprinkled with crushed peppercorns, served with potato mash and honey roasted carrots and parsnips. The sauce is a red wine and blackcurrant reduction. I’ve eaten such once in a restaurant and tried to replicate it. It came out pretty well, I must say.

INGREDIENTS

small bunch of thyme
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
300ml red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cube of organic beef stock
2-3 tbsp blackcurrant jam (depending on acidity of your wine and your taste)
25g butter, cubed

1. Put the wine, garlic, juniper berries, thyme and a beef stock cube into a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer till the liquid volume decreases by half.

2. Pull the sauce through a sieve and return it to the pot. Add jam, season with salt and pepper. Slowly add butter, one cube at a time, whisking continuously till it melts and adds a nice thickness and gloss.

Sweet potato and peanut soup

A new post and…. back to Asian flavours again 😀 What a surprise 😉 Today I’d like to present you a delicious Thai style batat and peanut soup. We’ve enjoyed it really much. I’ve found the recipe in an online issue of Men’s health magazine and changed it a bit. You can see the original version here. Bon Appetit!

INGREDIENTS:

– 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– finger-long piece of ginger, finely chopped
– 2 big batats (0,8-1kg), cubed
– 1 tbsp curry (I gave Madras blend)
– 1 tbsp red curry paste (be careful if you don’t like spicy food)
– 0,7-1l water or vegetable broth
– 1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
– 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
– juice from 2 limes
– coconut milk – I stirred in 400ml, can be more depending how dense you want the soup to be
– sesame oil
– coriander and peanuts to garnish

1. Fry garlic and ginger in a drop of oil till golden. Add batat cubes, curry and curry paste and saute for several minutes. Stir in water, bring to the boil, decrease the heat and simmer till batats will soften.

2. Add fish sauce, peanut butter and lime juice. Cook  for 2-3 min more. Take of the heat and blend it. Return to the heat and add coconut milk till the soup will reach the consistency you like. Simmer still for 2-3 min. When serving drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with coriander and peanuts.

How to slow roast lamb plus a quick Mediterranean leftover salad

Mediterranean flavours inspired salad with slow roasted lamb

I’ve just noticed that till now I’ve blogged either about sweets or about Asian inspired dishes. I admit, we love to use lots of spices as well as have combined sweet, sour and salty flavors together, just as it is done in that part of the world, but it doesn’t mean that we’re eating only like that 😉 So here, finally, is something more European. A slow roasted lamb and still a second recipe for Mediterranean salad with the roast leftovers.

We don’t eat lamb that often. Or actually by that I mean we don’t eat it at all. Usually, I order it when we go to a restaurant, but Mr No Onion Please firmly states that he dislikes this meat, cause it is bitter (has anyone ever heard that lamb has some bitter aftertaste?). I understand if he said “stinky”, cause I guess that’s the most often heard complaint, but BITTER? Well anyway, once I got the permission to finally buy some lamb I decided to slow roast it, as I hoped that it will mellow the whatever taste there is that makes Mr No Onion Please shudder. In his book “Jamie’s Kitchen”, Jamie Oliver describes how it should be done. I’ve just added some lemon to flavour it nicely and otherwise followed exactly his recipe.

Ingredients:

2kg lamb meat for roast (leg or shoulder)

olive oil

salt & pepper

bunch of rosemary

bulb of garlic unpeeled, broken into cloves

lemon cut in wedges

1. Preheat your oven to the highest grade possible. Score the skin (beware not to disturb the meat), splash with olive oil and rub it with lots of salt and pepper.

2. Press the garlic cloves with knife so that they crush a bit. Place the meat on the roasting tray together with rosemary, garlic and lemon (place those around and on top of the meat).

3. Tightly cover the tray with tinfoil and place it in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 170C and cook for 4h.

Yup, simple as that, no fuss at all and of course slow roasting rewards you with delicious meat that melts in your mouth. And yeah, according to Mr No Onion Please there’s no bitterness anymore (if there ever was any 😉 ). Now, when you roast 2kg piece of meat, obviously there will be quite some leftovers. But that’s not a problem really cause I have here for you a truly refreshing salad recipe.

I must say, I’m really bad when it comes to salad recipes, as I basically just throw things together and I simply can’t give you any proper measures on how much of what you need. But hey, I bet most of you do it same way, so just toss the things together as you usually do and you’ll get a great Mediterranean flavours inspired lamb salad.

Ingredients

green stuff (oh how lovely descriptive is that 😉 ) – I used watercress since it’s in season

cucumber – sliced, then cut into sticks

2 red bell peppers, cut in half, deseeded, brushed with oil and baked till soft, skin removed, torned to smaller pieces

feta cheese, cubed

sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

big bunch of mint, shredded

pieces of roast lamb

olive oil + a pinch of sweet paprika