Archive for the side dish Category

Throwback Thursday Battle of the Gratins

Posted in dairy, pickled sprats, potato, scandinavian, side dish, swede, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2014 by oskila

Merry Christmas readers! The posting has been sparse this year and I don’t think I can promise lots of improvement with Nerdcuisine jr entering her second year in life rather soon.

When I started this post it was still Thursday so it counts. It’s a post I’ve been meaning to do for a whole year. It’s like this you see; last year mrs Nerdcuisine’s water broke on December 22nd. No baby came though, so we had to go in for check-ups the following three mornings. On the morning of Christmas Eve we decided to get some work done before having to go to the hospital, so we prepared some Christmas gratins. A classic Swedish one and a probably even more classic Finnish one. I usually have lot of photos in my posts, but this session was done very early in the morning, so most of the pics were mostly pointless. We’ll have to make do with just the finished products.

Gratin 1: Janssons Frestelse
Janssons frestelse (en: Jansson’s temptation) is a gratin of julienned potatoes, onions and cream, flavored with ‘anchovies’, which is, for some reason, a trade name for pickled sprats seasoned in a specific way. There are a few explanations for the name. The one I’m going with claims that an opera singer named Janzon often served the dish at his afterparties in the late 19th century. It’s been an important part of smorgasbords and late night snacks for a long time.

It’s also easy to make. Layer matchstick-cut potatoes, onion slices and ‘anchovies’ in a suitable vessel. season with salt and pepper. Smother the whole thing in double cream mixed with the brine from the anchovies tin and cover with breadcrumbs. Cook for an hour in 200 degrees C. Some people use machinery or graters for the potatoes these days (I’ve even encountered a TV chef using frozen french fries) but I consider the hand-cutting a point of honour.

Gratin 2: Lanttulaatikko
Lanttulaatikko (en: Turnip box) is a traditional Finnish Christmas dish. Since the main ingredient is mashed swede it’s a bit more like a pudding than a gratin perhaps, but Christmas is no time to be picky. The mashed swede is mixed with treacle, breadcrumbs, eggs and cream, seasoned with white pepper, ginger and nutmeg, plopped in a dish and generously sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked at 175 degrees or so for 2-4 hours.

To ensure a nice crust on both varieties we usually put a generous helping of butter on top. Some people are content with a few dollops, but I like to slice most of a stick of butter with a cheese cutter and arrange the slices in a nice tile pattern.

These two dishes have several ingredients in common but are very different in most other aspects. One is a standalone dish or part of a buffet, the other more of a side order. And thus ends the battle of the Christmas gratins, Sweden vs. Finland. It’s probably a draw. I had a sceptical attitude towards Jansson’s well into my twenties but after being assigned to make it for student association Christmas parties I warmed to it and it is now my favourite Christmas food, along with pickled herring. My first encounter with lanttulaatikko was an anecdote dad brought home from a work-related Christmas party in Finland in the 90s. It has since entered the list of must-haves by way of my wife’s Finnish ancestry. I like it not only for flavor, but also because it’s an excuse not to boil any potatoes, since I consider eating potatoes at Christmas a waste of stomach room.

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Lanttulaatikko on the left, Janssons frestelse on the right.

That’s what we did the morning of December 24th (which is the day for Christmas celebration in Sweden). Terribly early on the morning of Christmas Day we went to the hospital again, this time to induce labor. About 48 hours and a C-section later, NC jr was safe in my arms and stuff like blogs pushed down several notches on the priority list.

Merry Christmas and other holidays again dear readers. Hopefully I can squeeze another post in before the year ends. There seem to be a lot of grandmothers around this time of year…

Jammed Onions

Posted in condiments, leftovers, peppers, preserve, sauce, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2014 by oskila

It’s finally time for a proper post about food again! This time it’s about a cold sauce that goes well with pâté rustique and similar dishes. The need for such a sauce arose when we got some pâté (and other awesome food) left over from my brother’s 30th birthday party, which me and mrs NerdCuisine missed on account of being busy fussing over NerdCuisine jr. (also known as Olivia) in a maternity ward.

Now, the pâtés I’ve eaten have usually been accompanied by Cumberland sauce, which consists mainly of red wine, black currant jelly and orange rind. I possessed neither and had to improvise something of a similar sweetness and acidity. Also, there’s an unprecedented amount of pictures, just because. These things happen.

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This was the first batch of ingredients I decided on – red onion, tomatoes, raspberry syrup, lime, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and red bell pepper. Since this is a highly improvised affair, more stuff will be added along the way.

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A bit of chopping later, the vegetables are sizzling in a pot, along with some unannounced red currants I realized were in the freezer. A small pinch of salt gets the sweating going.

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With the liquids added, a slow simmer for as long as one can stand waiting is in order.

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Another late addition; a squeeze of pomegranate juice (and probably quite a few seeds)

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Adding some lime zest. The whole thing has started to thicken somewhat and it’s also probably time to add what else in the way of spices one would like to have.

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Acidity was a tad high, so a bit of palm sugar was  added to balance it out (and make the ingredient list complicated)

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And now it’s time to squeeze the whole thing through a sieve. Mainly because we’re still attempting to mimic some aspects of real cumberland, which means a smooth texture without any bits.

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That taken care of, we put the pot to a simmer again, with some gelling sugar and very thinly sliced red onions added in. I used raw onions, but I’d hazard that onions with a bit of sear on them would render the result sweeter and less sharp.

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Simmer just long enough for the gelling agent to kick in. A couple of juniper berries also found their way in, and since I overdid it slightly with the sugar, I compensated with a couple of splashes raspberry-flavored balsamico. As the title suggests, the end result is something ranging from rather sweet and sour sauce to comparatively tart jam.

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And so – cold, red, sweet sauce accompanying pâté, like nature intended. Long time readers might wonder what the deal is with me and making sweet condiments out of onions around NYE, but it’s pure coincidence actually.

It’s great to be back in business! Next time I think we’ll look into a bit of Swedish and Finnish Christmas food, only some 50 weeks in advance. Take care until then!

Bacon and Eggs. And Mushrooms. And Rice Noodles and Ssamjang. And Kimchi?

Posted in asian, bacon, cabbage, condiments, eggs, korean, leeks, mushroom, noodles, preserve, salad, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by oskila

OK. New food instead of backlog, because I want to, and I can do what I want with my blog. I started out by trying to figure out dinner and found eggs and bacon. Then I found a couple of mushrooms at the back, along with a leek. Reaching for the granulated garlic in the cupboard next to the fridge I saw the new rice noodles. While the kettle was on to make noodle water I checked the fridge again and found the trusty old ssamjang and the spanking new packet of kimchi. Behind the kimchi I found the cabbage I pickled myself some time ago (back in March).

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Fried all the fryable stuff and tossed it together, then put some proper kimchi next to my ko-jaeng-i stuff. I have to say my feeble attempt is rather good considering I hadn’t tried the real stuff before making it. For future reference, this real kimchi is a bit less sour, a lot less sweet and heaps, plenty, lots spicier. I hear Koreans eat kimchi for breakfast and I secretly hope the breakfast variety has a bit less chili in it. On that bombshell we end tonight’s post :)

Fast Food, Only Slow…

Posted in leftovers, mediterranean, pork, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by oskila

We didn’t even eat half the roast of the last post for dinner that night. I didn’t feel like just slicing and re-heating it. After some thinking I realized that the Greek fast food dish gyros is usually made with pork neck. The name comes from the broiling on a rotating spit of course, but you can’t get all the details right just for the sake of it. Pan fried is totally nice too.

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Having previously roasted the meat once, it’s much easier to slice it thinly before frying – and considering that nice pink, it badly needs frying.

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Fantasized up a nice seasoning mix, mostly from memory of previously encountered Greek food and a bit of logical reasoning. Equal parts ground coriander seeds, cumin, chili powder/paprika, dried parsley and dried garlic along with half-measures of black pepper, thyme, oregano, rosemary and sumac. Also added a dash of cinnamon after comparing to recipes found online (although most of them, except notably the one in the Wikipedia article on gyros, suggested adding as much cinnamon as oregano, which I suspect would be an overpowering amount)

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Give the seasoning mix a quick sizzle before adding the meat to the pan. (Most of the cooking fat is rendered piggy lard from the roasting dish)

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To fully imitate proper gyros, the frying has to go on for quite some time since the meat should be bordering on overcooked and charred. I kept the meat in the pan for almost the whole time it takes to cook prefab French fries in the oven (20 minutes).

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There was also some tzatziki left from last time. All things considered a really nice dish just like the ones from the fast food joints, with slightly healthier fries since they’re baked instead of deep fried and slightly less healthy meat since it’s fried in considerable amounts of fat instead of broiled. And there are four more pounds of pork neck in the freezer…

Someone complained yesterday that I don’t pay enough attention to the finished dishes in my blog posts. I’ve tried to come up with more than the above paragraph, and I realize that it’s simply not my forte. I often enjoy cooking the food slightly more than eating it I think, and by the time I’ve come to the presented plate of food-part of the blog posts I mostly want it over and done with.

More Noodly Frolicking: Soba

Posted in asian, cabbage, condiments, crossover, discount, eggs, japanese, korean, mushroom, noodles, preserve, side dish, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by oskila

As said before, I got hold of a lot of interesting stuff at that Asian store recently. One of them was Soba noodles, which are made with buckwheat (perhaps something for gluten sensitives to look into?) In addition, the little supermarket on the way to work had dirt cheap button mushrooms. Like so often before, the resulting food is  some kind of general fusion of Japanese and Korean, interpreted by someone with limited actual experience of either.

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Frying up a considerable amount of sliced mushrooms, along with a bit of carrots, shallots, garlic sprouts and a little bit of celery

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Plop slightly undercooked noodles into pan. Season a bit, with for example light soy and Worcestershire sauce (sitting in for mirin. That stuff is really expensive)

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Served up with a fried egg and a knob of ssamjang. For a proper Korean meal one should have kimchi. I didn’t feel like doing a weekend of fermenting napa cabbage, so I cheated a bit and just pickled some white cabbage. Just mix up one part distilled vinegar with two parts sugar and three parts water. Add salt, chili and garlic to taste and chuck in cabbage, onions or whatever tickles your fancy. The resulting condiment could be regarded as something halfway between Korean kimchi and Japanese tsukemono.

Simple but Fancy Potato Salad

Posted in arugula, cheese, discount, meatballs, potato, salad, sausage, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2013 by oskila

My recent blog posts about blue Swedish potatoes are about to get company by one about some rather yellow Danish ones. Today’s main ingredient is Ratte or Asparges potatoes, originating in Denmark according to Wikipedia. They were bought at the same time as the Blue Congo potatoes and at the same shop. Also very cheap for such lovely spuds. The bag claimed they were good for potato salad, so that’s what  I did.

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A batch of asparges potatoes, boiled in their skin along with a vegetable stock cube. I usually run all the potatoes through with a long pin or similar before boiling, to allow some salt in. The asparges potato, when boiled, has an almost creamy texture and a flavor with a lot of nutty notes.

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The protein for the evening. Cheapest possible. Prefab meatballs and discount sausages in order to make sure there was enough potato salad to make a lunch box.

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Salad assembled. Oil, french herbs, powdered garlic, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, potatoes, arugula, diced feta-like cheese and some capers. Heavenly!

Valentines Highlights

Posted in beer, cheese, fruit, ice cream, mango, pork, roast, salad, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2013 by oskila

Last year for Valentines my fiancée cooked dinner for me. This year she came down with a bit of a cold, so we cooked together instead. Here are some of the highlights.

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A loin of pork covered in garlic cream cheese, biding its time in the oven.

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The first kriek (belgian cherry ale) I’ve ever had that was drinkable. All other attempts at drinking kriek have been abandoned less than halfway through. This one a friend gave me for my 31st birthday. The picture is also, incidentally, sort of a self portrait.

salad

The real inventive masterpiece of the evening in my opinion – A salad of arugula, mango and pink grapefruit, dressed with a bit of olive oil and mango vinegar, along with salt, black pepper and chili flakes.

icecream

This is ice cream in the making. Vanilla and Oreos. Yummy. The fiancée’s idea. (It was also her idea to get an ice cream machine in the first place)

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