Archive for the potato Category

Venison à la Nelson?

Posted in mushroom, potato, scandinavian, stew, vegetables, venison with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by oskila

Already a new post? It never rains but it pours…

Venison again? Yes. The grocery store offered venison at a discount again, this time cuts best suited for boiling.

À la Nelson? Why? Well, it’s slightly complicated. There’s a classic Swedish dish, the name of which translates to ‘sailor’s beef’. It’s sliced beef, onions and potatoes, stewed in beer. The sailor connection is supposedly that it’s practical to cook everything in one pot on a ship and fresh water isn’t always readily available, hence beer. A bit of googling indicates that there’s an English (or Polish) version that adds mushrooms and trades beer for stock. It’s called Steak à la Nelson. Yes, after lord Nelson, of Trafalgar fame.

I bastardized my recipe further by not only using venison instead of beef, but also wine and stock instead of beer and adding mushrooms and parsnip.

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Frying a chopped portabello mushroom.

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Searing the meat for a more flavoursome stock.

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Thinly sliced potatoes, onions, browned venison and parsnip in a pot, together with mushrooms, various herbs, black pepper, a hint of garlic and a few juniper berries.

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Deglaced pan with wine, stock and bayleaf.

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After simmering everything for 45-60 minutes it’s not the prettiest of sights, but it’s how it’s supposed to look.

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Finished dish along with a dollop of crème fraîche and pickled Hokkaido pumpkin (Many slow-cooked meat dishes in Swedish cuisine are traditionally served with pickled beets. Pumpkin was the least sweet pickle I had in the house. And it’s halloween soon…)

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NYE 2014 Soup

Posted in cod, dairy, leeks, parsnip, potato, shellfish, soup, stock, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2015 by oskila

It says soup, but the concoction in question has a few similarities to a stew, a casserole, a chowder, a bisque or a bouillabaisse. Anyway, it’s a soup I made for the NYE dinner main course at my mother in law’s. Since it turned out rather excellent I feel like sharing.

The most important ingredient of all is good stock. I had two pints of lobster stock that I forgot to blog when I made it, so we’ll deal with that first.

Lobster stock (serves: you right)

1. Have your mother or similar invite you for a lobster party.
2. Nab the shells.
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3. Lug a bucket of lobster peel home.
4. Cut up some good stock vegetables such as onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, parsnips (fennel, celery and celeriac are good too) and give them a sizzle in a large pot.
5. Cram the lobster remains in. Be as violent as you need. (I used a potato masher). If the shells refuse to be properly seared, oven roasting them first is a good idea.
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6. Top up with water, wine and perhaps a bit of sherry.
7. Simmer for as long as you like I’d say, skimming frequently and seasoning to taste.
8. Strain the solids. I ended up using a pillowcase.
9. Simmer down to a more manageable volume
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10. Use soon or freeze in a suitable container, for example a milk jug.

Freezing it in a milk jug will likely mean you end up using all of it in one go rather than a little here and there, since you’d have to defrost it to get anything out (apart from the bit with all the salt in it sloshing around the bottom unless the freezer is very very cold.

Since I’m a bit of a cheapskate I didn’t want to use this luxurious stock on just any soup and was at risk of waiting for too long when the opportunity of New Year’s dinner came along just in the nick of time. Also, wanting to defrost the stock well in advance of NYE to see if it was OK I took it out a couple of days early and discovered that we accidentally had turned the freezer off some time around Christmas eve and the temp inside was hovering around zero. Without the stock we’d probably gone for another day or two without checking the freezer, spoiling everything in it.

Aaanyway – for this soup you’ll need:

1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, cut to matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
3 inches leek, julienned
1 kilo almond potatoes (or other mealy fingerling) cut to pieces or large dice

1 quart stock, for example lobster (see above)
1-2 glasses white wine
½-1 pint double cream
crème fraîche
water (optional)

400 grams fish fillet, diced
100 grams smoked mussels
peeled shrimp

In a pot suitable for soup-making, start by sizzling the tomato paste and onions, then add potatoes and garlic. I left the potato skin on since almond potatoes are very mushy when cooked and will be held together a bit better by the skin. The reason for the comparatively large amount of potatoes is that they absorb salt and the stock was very very salty. Add water as needed.

Deglace pot with a small amount of wine, then add the stock and wine to taste. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are nearly done, then add leeks, fish, mussels and cream to taste and cook until everything is nice.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few shrimp as garnish. Garlic bread or croutons are nice on the side.

The above recipe was cooked up for five adults as main course, but turned out to be enough for seconds for three and thirds for two and also leftovers for lunch for two a few days later, which should add up to 12 servings, but not the largest ones.

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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…

Miraculously Noodle-Free Quick Dish (and 2-year anniversary)

Posted in beans, chicken, potato, scallion, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by oskila

I’ve noticed that I most often go for the noodles when in a hurry these days. That is especially bad considering the fact that I often preach about the evils of instant noodles. (Not only are they made ‘instant’ by deep frying, they’re deep fried in palm oil, one of the least environment-friendly food products of today)

We’ll be having potatoes instead.

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Sliced potatoes go in the microwave oven for five or so minutes, just in order to soften them a bit. Much quicker than frying raw potatoes and uses less fat.

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Frying potatoes after nuking

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Added chopped scallion, some sort of ‘chicken’ ‘kebab’ and frozen green beans (fun fact: their french name, haricots verts, sounds a lot like the Swedish words for ‘Mister Envelope’. I’d say lots of Swedish children grow up believing that’s what they’re actually called.)

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Done! While those chicken kebabs aren’t all that appetizing to begin with, I think they can be spiced up to be more palatable. Also, isn’t it good in a way that they actually make use those small bits of chicken left on the carcasses after taking away the nicer parts? Thirdly, since they’re a prefab product that’s slightly odd, why not make it a vegetarian dish by using Quorn or similar instead?

Checking the archives, this post marks the 2nd anniversary of the wordpress incarnation of the Nerd Cuisine blog. (It was actually yesterday, but don’t tell anyone). I started the celebrations early by taking away the (in my opinion) least compelling header image and replaced it with a new nicer one. Thanks to all my followers and occasional passers-by. I couldn’t fathom two years ago that I’d still be at it by now. Let’s hope the next year gets just as good. Now I’ve better take care of that bucket of lobster shells on thhe balcony…

Feral Fall Food

Posted in cabbage, chestnut, discount, leftovers, mushroom, parsnip, pork, potato, sauce, scandinavian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by oskila

Autumn is truly upon us and almost automatically, the food gets stouter and earthier, at least in my kitchen (well not ALWAYS, but what few salads we had during summer have definitely given way to soups, stews and casseroles). One of the returning, short-seasoned ingredients that tend to sneak in is chestnuts. For many years, I bought a few out of interest, then saved them for a more festive meal, until they dried up unsalvageably and had to be thrown out. Over time I’ve learned to get my chestnuts early in the season and use them the same day.

The post title refers to the mix of domesticated and ‘wild’ ingredients of today’s dish, which is a bit of a stretch really, since only the mushrooms are actually harvested in the actual wild.

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These chestnuts (already roasted in the picture) were picked up at a grocery store closer to work than home, which I visit only occasionally, mainly for the differences in product range (such as early chestnuts). A short walk down the vegetable aisle also resulted in good looking parsnips, fresh brussel sprouts and some yellowfoot mushrooms.

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Mushrooms, having been fried in a dry pan with some salt beforehand, sizzling away with onion and garlic.

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Diced potatoes, parsnips and carrots added. The different dice-size was decided upon in order to cook them fairly evenly as they were nuked in the microwave for five minutes before frying.

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It’s also time to fry up some salt pork. I had originally decided to use pork loin in this dish, but as I went shopping at the local store for hand soap, potatoes and an apple, I came by short date salt pork at 50% off. I sprinkled some of my dry rub on it, but I think most of the rub stuck to the pan, on account of containing lots of sugar.

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To the vegetable pan, add finely diced apple (I use Granny Smith), chopped roasted chestnuts and brussel sprout leaves. (Separating them is a tedious task, but a lot more elegant than chucking whole or chopped sprouts in)

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For the plating I made use of the bottle of red wine sauce my brother left last week. It goes rather well with the pork and the apple and the parsnip and so on.

Pulled Some More Pork

Posted in american, condiments, leftovers, pork, potato with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by oskila

My brother came over the other day and since he hadn’t had dinner he went to the store for food to cook at our place. He returned with a piece of pork shoulder, shaped like a fillet, and marinated in orange and ginger and also some potatoes and a bottle of ready made red wine sauce. He only cooked and ate half of it, so I had the rest for lunch the next day.

Since both my previous attempts mainly involved an oven and nearly whole days of cooking, I knew I had to change method or have something else for lunch. The choice fell on the cast iron pot that’s been heavily featured recently. I tipped the rest of the red wine sauce in, along with a bit of water, pork stock, sugar and half an onion in slices. Simmered the meat, which wasn’t as large as the big chunks of pork neck I’ve used before, for about two hours

Both this step and the next would have had really nice pictures, if the camera hadn’t messed the files up. (My trusty DSLR does become a bit iffy from time to time.  It’s about 10 years old.)

Next step was to rub the cooked meat with a new batch of dust, basicall same as the old one but with muscovado sugar instead of regular and some Sichuan pepper and English mustard powder added to spice things up a bit. Then half an hour in the oven at 150 C (300 F) to get a bit of bark going.

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Pork pulled and camera working again.

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The remains of the simmering part.

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Meat reheated in a pan with a dollop of homemade barbecue sauce. It had time to go cold due to slightly poor planning with the garnish and all the fiddling with the camera.

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Comparatively quick pulled pork with refried potatoes and some onions and romaine lettuce

Summer Memories: Charbroiled Beef Patties

Posted in eggplant, ground beef, mushroom, potato, sauce, stew with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by oskila

I mentioned in the last post that there’s a substantial backlog of unpublished material. Now would be as good a time as any to start sorting that out.

The first dish up is one with only one photograph, and a rather horrible one at that. I’m thinking that it’s probably taken with an iPad. The image file EXIF thingy informed me this meal was photographed, and thereby probably also eaten at the 11th of July.

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Charbroiled beef patties, sparsely seasoned but rather smoky. Served with likewise charbroiled eggplants and button mushrooms, caramelized onions, new potatoes and a chanterelle stew.

The real hero of the day is the stew, which is really in undefined stew/gravy/sauce-country. It’s important to first dry-fry the mushrooms with a pinch of salt to remove some liquid and then add a slightly too large knob of butter, a small amount of finely chopped shallots, a bit of pepper and perhaps a sprinkle of thyme. Add as much cream as you like, bring to a boil and reduce to desired thickness. If you’re not in a hurry it’s advisable to simmer the stew very gently for an hour or so to let the flavors develop properly.

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