Scallops on a bed of passion fruit hollandese and wilted ginger spinach

Once in a while, when we want to enjoy ourselves, yet not go out, we decide to have a slow Friday evening, with a bit more fancy food. We open a bottle of wine and start to prepare a three course dinner, that usually lasts for several hours. Mr No Onion Please is responsible for the main course, as for him the proper main dish consists of a good quality steak 😉 I focus on appetizer and dessert. This is a starter from one of such evenings. I found the recipe in a fantastic book of Gary Rhodes – 365/One year. One book. One simple recipe for every day. It takes a while to prepare, but is really worth it. It was the first time I’ve used passion fruit in combination with seafood and I must say it’s absolutely fabulous, particularly now, in the summer time!

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PASSION FRUIT HOLLANDAISE

175g butter
3 egg yolks
juice of 1 small lemon
salt
pinch of pepper
3 passion fruits

Melt the butter. Place the egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender and while at maximum speed slowly add the melted butter, continuing to blend until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Halve the passion fruits, scooping the seeds into a sieve over a bowl. with the back of the spoon press and scrape all of the juices and pulp from the seeds. Add the juice to the hollandaise along with spoonful of the seeds. Put the sauce to one side and keep warm.

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WILTED GINGER SPINACH

200g young spinach, trimmed
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
(2 shallots finelly chopped)

Fry the ginger (and shallots) in a bit of butter. Throw in the spinach and saute till wilted.

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SCALLOPS

12 scallops
butter

Fry the scallops on a smoking hot pan for 2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for further 1 to 1,5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Thai style mussels

I have a little confession to make. I actually do have a favourite space in my fridge. Yup, you read it right, FAVOURITE SPACE in the FRIDGE. How weird that sounds? Anyway, it’s a drawer where I store all kinds of sauces and pastes that are used in South-East Asian cooking. You see, I have this great dream that one day I’ll go for a long cooking course, where I will finally learn true, ingenius way of oriental cooking and whenever  I look in that drawer I smile to myself imaginig the dream comes true. Since I adore that versatile cuisine, I read a about it and cook quite some dishes. I slowly start to understand the complex taste combinations and begin to figure out my own recipes. The more I learn  though, the more I want to learn from someone who has the skills of that cuisine “in their blood” 😉 Anyone interesting in borrowing me their grandmum 😉 ?

This recipe makes for a lunch for 2 or a starter for 4.

INGREDIENTS:

1kg mussels

2 mild chilli peppers, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
300ml coconut milk
1 lemon grass – smashed and cut into 3-4 pieces
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tbsp demerara sugar
salt

handful of chopped coriander

1. Clean the mussels. Discard the ones that do not close when you knock on them.
2. Saute chilli, garlic and ginger. Add half of the volume of coconut milk.
3. Add lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce and red curry paste. Simmer for 3-4 min till the milk become very fragrant. Add the rest of the coconut milk and season to taste.
4. Add the mussels, mix well and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add coriander, stir and steam for additional half a minute.

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.

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

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.

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.