Monday, 28 March 2011

I must confess... I am a Locavore!

...or at least I wish I was! It feels like finding fresh local food gets harder and harder. As I told in my earlier post I was lucky to find a farmer's market in central Aberdeen, but it is only held once a month. Being a locavore is quite hard sometimes, as well as expensive and time consuming. As a student the groceries in my basket are not always locally produced.

I visited Paris last summer and was amazed by the food markets that went on for kilometres! In Paris it wasn't a problem finding fresh baguettes and croissants from your local boulangerie, your fresh fruit, veg and meat from your local food market and ofcourse your dessert pastries from your local patisserie. We stayed in a little flat near La République and during those five days ate an amazing amount of croissants and little pastries filled with fruit or berries. This Tarte Fine aux Pommes reminds me of summer in Paris and is a perfect pudding to start spring with! Since I am having a bit of a Scottish cuisine theme, it is served with Mackie's Traditional Ice Cream. I bought some lovely venison mince from the farmer's market on Belmont Street on Saturday and decided to make Venison Burgers. To team up with them I made some Roasted Parsnip Fries. I you have the opportunity to try Heinz's new tomato ketchup with balsamic vinegar - go for it! I could not have imagined that tomato ketchup would go nicely with game.


VENISON BURGERS

400g venison mince
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
toasted buns
lettuce
fried onions
Heinz tomato ketchup with balsamic vinegar

Mix the venison mince, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper together and form into burgers. Fry on a frying pan with a bit of butter and a bit of olive oil. Meanwhile toast the buns and fry the onions. Serve the burgers inside the buns with a bit of lettuce, fried onions and Heinz tomato ketchup. I used the delicious new one with balsamic vinegar!


ROASTED PARSNIP FRIES

3-4 parsnips
2 tbsp olive oil
salt

Wash and peel the parsnips. Cut into thin fries. Put in a roastin tin and drizzle with olive oil and add salt. Roast in a 200°C until golden brown.


TARTE FINE AUX POMMES

300g puff pastry
4 Granny Smith apples
30g butter
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Thinly roll the puff pastry. Wash and peel the apples and cut into really thin slices. Arrange the apple slices in rows. Sprinkle the caster sugar and cinnamon on top of the apples. Dice the butter and put the diced bits of butter on top. Bake in the oven for approx. 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

As you have probably noticed these three recipes have very few ingredients and are very simple to make. But boy aren't they delicious! This comes to my ultimate food philosophy which is less is more! Keep it fresh and keep it simple!

And my endless quest to find a good butchers continues...

Teriyaki Goes Scottish

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure to visit the Aberdeen Country Fair for the first time with a fellow foodie. It is such a shame that it is only held once a month on the last Saturday of the month. I got very excited with the variety of fresh meat and fish on offer and came back home with bags filled with fresh Scottish salmon, haddock, venison mince, wild boar sausages and a game stew mix with roe deer, hare, rabbit, pidgeon, partridge and grouse. Why doesn't this amazing fresh meat and fish end up on the shelves of our local Sainsbury's? And I couldn't believe the prices! It was all cheaper than the freaky looking chicken in our local shop - and guarenteed fresh!

I absolutely adore traditional Japanese food, but often cook it myself with a bit of a twist. I have had this idea of Whiskey Glazed Salmon for a while. Nothing is better than Scottish salmon and this delicious marinade really goes with it amazingly!

For starters I made some maki rolls filled with cucumber and sesame seeds, seafood stick and mayonaise and avocado. Surprisingly I have managed to convert the Boyfriend into a big sushi fan and he even does his own rolls!



I served the Whiskey Glazed Salmon with a salad of lettuce, cucumber and avocado with a Japanese Sesame Seed Salad Dressing.



JAPANESE SESAME SEED SALAD DRESSING

50g toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Mix it all together and pour over the fresh salad. This is definately my favourite salad dressing and so easy to make!



WHISKEY GLAZED SALMON

2 salmon fillets
3 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
3 tbsp whiskey (bourbon will do too)
3 tbsp mirin
2 tsp brown sugar
1 inch bit of fresh ginger grated
2 garlic cloves crushed

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and put the salmon fillets in the bowl and let marinate for 15-20 minutes. Grill the salmon fillets in the oven on full power for 15 minutes or depending on the size of the fillets, until fully cooked.

I am luckily waiting for a new camera, so I can finally get good photos!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Deli Delishiousness

I have a confession to make - I love pasta salads. I know you do too, especially when they're this healthy! Had a bit of an obsession with spinach lately. I just love and it's so healthy too! Since it is the last day of report writing and I am almost done, I decided to treat myself with this deli delishiousness. It's just perfect, it has all in one bowl!


DELI DELISHIOUS PASTA SALAD

200g whole wheat Penne pasta
1 chicken breast
a few handfulls of baby leaf spinach
10 cherry tomatoes chopped in half (or sundried ones)
100g of feta cheese
2 tsp of pesto (you're a hero if you make your own)
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (a really tasty one!)
salt if needed
black pepper

The recipe is really simple. Boil the pasta, let it cool down. Fry the chicken breast in a frying pan with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Chop the cherry tomatoes, mix with the spinach, chopped feta and cooled down pasta. Mix the pesto with the extra virgin olive oil and drizzle over the top. Give it a good mix and enjoy! A perfect lunch or healthy dinner!

I have started practicing golf. What a mission! Not sure if I am the champion yet. Luckily my work for university is done and holiday starts tomorrow! Planning some whiskey-glazed salmon for the weekend, hmmmm...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Who Knew You Could Get One of Your Five-a-Day in a Burger?

I have had this thing going on with traditional foods and it continues. This terrible week of report writing really called for some good old fashioned comfort food, which might for some seem a bit unconventional. Lindström's Beef and Beetroot Patties is a delicious Finnish dish that is definately worth trying. It is debatable whether the name originates from a Mrs. Lindström making these patties is Stockholm in the 1800's or a Finnish lieutenant Henrik Lindström continuosly requesting these in restaurants. The story doesn't tell... Anyhow the Boyfriend really liked these, which is always a plus.


LINDSTRÖM'S BEEF AND BEETROOT PATTIES

50g breadcrumbs
1 finely chopped onion
150g finely chopped beetroot in vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped capers
500g lean beef mince
1 beaten egg
salt
black pepper

The mixture can either been made in a food processor or by hand. If making it by hand mix the breadcrumbs with the beaten egg, beetroot, capers, onion, mince, salt and black pepper. Keep on mixing, until the mixture is smooth. With your hands, form into patties. Fry the patties on the frying pan on both sides and then move them in the oven to keep them warm.

Serve with fried onions, capers and boiled potatoes.

And yes, these juicy burgers contains one of your five-a-day!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mighty Meatballs

I can now say that I have succesfully climbed on top of Bennachie and had a very windy picnic up there. I did end up making the Pressed Sandwiches with pesto, mozzarella, salami and basil and they were goooood! Would definately recommend Bennachie for a wee walk - the views from the top are amazing.

Today I decided to give golf a shot. Since me, the Boyfriend and the Family are going on a holiday to Marbella soonish, we have been thinking about golfing there. The Boyfriend is a very keen golfer and I couldn't really match his talent. Hitting the ball is a good start, but then you have to actually aim it in the right direction! I will need quite a bit more practice before hitting the course in Spain...

Since the Boyfriend was such a darling scrubbing the kitchen all morning, he deserved a treat for tea. Surprisingly one of his favourites is Ikea Meatballs. I have to emphasize that these meatballs are not from Ikea, they are just made to resemble the ones of the Scandinavian furniture giant. Being Scandinavian myself these meatballs remind me strangely of home, although we never had them at home, but only in Ikea! I got the original recipe from BBC Good Food and have kept it almost the same. I do tend to make the mixture for the meatballs in the Magic Machine just to make it extra smooth. Nothing is better on a Sunday night that these meatballs with cranberry jelly or lingon sylt in Swedish.

IKEA MEATBALLS

400g lean pork mince
1 grated onion
1 beaten egg
80g fresh white breadcrumbs
finely chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
400ml hot beef stock

In a bowl, mix the mince with the egg, onion, breadcrumbs, dill and seasoning. Form into small meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the meatballs. Remove from pan, melt the butter, then sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes, then slowly whisk in the stock. Keep whisking until it is a thick gravy, then return the meatballs to the pan and heat through.

Sprinkle with dill and serve with lingon sylt, and mashed potatoes.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Disgrace of a Foodie

I've been a disgrace of a food blogger for the past week. I do apologise for not posting enough and not cooking enough. I am waiting for a new camera, so I can start taking proper food photos.

On Monday I was experimenting with pizza dough. The kitchen was an absolute mess, but the small pizzas and parmesan breadsticks with marinara sauce was amazing! Really worth a try! I had a friend coming over with two bottles of Italian red wine and it ended up being a good night. I went for a few drinks at the Athenaeum (£2.75 for Mojitos, White Russians and Cosmopolitans on a Monday), yummy!

Being a poor student means that I really like big stews, casseroles and chillis that make a tea for a few evenings. Favourite of the week has been a traditional chilli with baked potatoes and a generous dollop of sour cream. Instead of making it in a pan, I let it stew in the oven. This is how I like.

THE CHILI QUE RICO

1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 whole chopped red chili
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp oregano
(extra chili powder if you like it hot!)
2 tsp brown sugar
500g lean beef mince
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml beef stock
1 tin of kidney beans
salt and pepper to taste

Turn the oven on at 200 °C. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion, red pepper, garlic and spices until soft and add sugar. Remove from the pan into a large casserole dish. Fry the mince, add salt and pepper to taste and add to the casserole dish. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, kidney beans and salt and pepper in the casserole dish and give it a good stir. Stew in the oven with a lid on for approximately an hour.

Serve with crispy baked potatoes and a generous amount of sour cream. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander. Alternatively wrap in a burrito!

The plan for tomorrow is to go for a wee hike in the lovely Scottish countryside. You might guess that this is just an excuse for picnic food! Thinking about Pressed Picnic Sandwiches with pesto, salami, basil and mozzarella - spotted on TasteSpotting. They remind me of grilled sandwiches I tend to make every summer for long boat trips in the Finnish archipelago. The secret is chili, garlic and basil oil drizzled on the grilled bread!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Food Holidays for Every Day in March?

Looking at the U.S. Commemorative Food Holidays Calendar I'm getting quite confused. Why do the Americans need a Fruit Compote Day? A Banana Cream Pie Day? A Pound Cake Day? Crown Roast of Pork Day? Well I won't be celebrating all of these, that's for sure.

Tomorrow is apparently the International Pancake Day. I was quite surprised walking into our local Spar and finding a whole shelf dedicated to it. Since we already had pancakes on Sunday, I won't necessarily be celebrating it tomorrow (I can't promise that I'll keep away from the pancakes).

Instead I picked up a few interesting days to celebrate this month. The 10th of March is the national 'Pack Your Lunch' Day in the U.S. Will definately do that, since Thursday is a long day at the university and my budget at the moment doesn't allow me to go to Kilau. The 16th of March is the 'Artichoke Hearts Day' - I think this calls for the yummylicious Artichoke Pasta recipe. The 17th of March is 'Corned Beef and Cabbage Day' - love cabbage, hate corned beef. The 18th of March is the 'Oatmeal Cookie Day' - we had an Oatmeal & Cranberry Cookies recipe on our wall at the halls last year, did bake them quite a few times last year. The 22nd of March will be definately celebrating 'Coq au Vin Day' - what an all time favourite! On the 26th of March I could experiment on the Spinach & Feta Omelette, since it's 'Spinach Day'.  I must say that I will skip on quite a few days, such as 'Turkey Neck Soup Day' and 'Coconut Torte Day' - not a big fan of either!

Finally, just to remind everyone, it is also 'National Celery, Flour, Frozen Food, Nutrition, Noodle, Peanut, Sauce and Caffeine Awareness Month' - there's something for everyone!

Sunny Soup Day

Since it is very surprisingly sunny and warm in Aberdeen, I decided to make some colorful and healthy Spicy Carrot & Coriander Soup. The recipe is quite similar to the Carrot & Coriander Soup on BBC Good Food site, with a few additions.

The Boyfriend is a real meat lover, but when it comes to soups - he makes an exception. He wouldn't be happy eating 'veggie' food, but apparently vegetable soups don't count. This is definately one of his favourites, alongside homemade tomato soup.


SPICY CARROT & CORIANDER SOUP

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 peeled and chopped potato
450g peeled and chopped carrots
1 litre water
2 chicken stock cubes
2 tbsp double cream
1/2 squeezed lime
salt and black pepper to taste
handful chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic, then fry for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the ground coriander, chili powder and potato, then cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 mins until the carrots are tender. Add the fresh coriander and blend with a hand blender until smooth. Add the double cream and lime juice. Taste, add salt and black pepper if necessary, then reheat to serve. Garnish with fresh coriander.

The soup was absolutely delicious for tea with the focaccia that I made earlier. The soup has only 115 kcal per serving without the double cream and with the cream just slightly more. Me and the Boyfriend got so inspired with the healthiness and vitamin A fullness of the food, that we decided to go for a jog afterwards. Since I've still got energy after the jog, I'm going to do some yoga! Happy Monday!

Monday Glory

Monday morning! Woke up really happy this morning - I have no university or work today! The sun is shining outside and it feels and smells like spring! Inspired by the amazing weather and good feeling (and the fact that the Boyfriend ate all the toast) I decided to make some focaccia to go with the leftover Spag Bol from last night. What I did realise, when I was raiding the cupboards for dry yeast, is where my student loan has gone. I think this picture says it all...


It is a bit sad to admit that my food and spice cupboards are fuller than my wardrobe. And I still feel that this is just the basics!

I do need to thank the Boyfriend for the perfect 'coming back home from New York' present. I have been using the Magic Machine literally every day since I got it! I have made delicious chimichurri, luscious sundried tomato and tomato soup with torn buffala mozzarella on the top, my own salsas, pasta sauces, etc. I have had it for a week. I do hope that the purchase of the Magic Machine will lure the Boyfriend into the stirring world of cookery.

So, I woke up this morning and decided to make my favourite focaccia. You might call it flatbread or various other names, but I will call it with its original Italian name. This is a recipe I have been making for years now. It is my own recipe, but recipes for focaccias and flatbreads are usually quite simple and similar: water, flour, yeast, olive oil... Nevertheless, it is absolutely delicious and can be used in so many ways!


FOCACCIA

300ml luke warm water
1 sachet of dried yeast or 50g of fresh yeast
1-2 tsp salt (depending on your taste)
1 tsp sugar
700ml plain flour or 350ml durum flour and 350ml plain flour (or as much it takes to get the right consistency)
4 tbsp olive oil

Mix the water and yeast in a bowl until yeast is dissolved. Add salt and sugar. Gradually add the flour mixing firmly until no lumps remain. Keep on kneading the dough in the bowl. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and knead until the mixture is smooth again.Leave to rest under a clean kitchen towel for 30 minutes. Put the oven on at 220 °C.  Move the dough into an oven dish and put the kitchen towel on top of it, until the oven is ready. Bake in the oven until golden brown (approx. 15-20 minutes). Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top (you can see that I am a big fan of Maldon Sea Salt). 

The focaccia is delicious on its own or used to make Bruschettas or as sandwich bread. Salami milano, mozzarella, rocket and olive oil in a focaccia sandwich is a winner!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Great Grandma Anderson's Secret Pancake Recipe

Ok. One post was not enough for today. This is merely because of the most amazing pancakes I made this morning. Everyone is going to be disappointed, since I am not going to share the recipe! Maybe not a good start for a food blog. Second post and already witholding important information. I do have a reason for this though. This is an old family recipe that I got from the Boyfriend. We all know that old family recipes are not to be published online, especially if they are ones not from your own family! I will only say that I have never used cream of tartare before and must say that it works like magic! Anyhow, here is the delicious picture.
















Nothing beats warm pancakes with whipped cream and rasberry jam. The Boyfriend prefered them with butter and syrup and I must admit that it wasn't bad either. I do wish tomorrow was Sunday again, instead of dreadful Monday. I have quite a few tempting breakfast recipes waiting to be made, that have to wait until next weekend.

The Official First Post

First post. From now on this is going to be my little wee pet project. A tribute to my love of food, but also a challenge for myself - to be more inventive, try out new things and create amazingly delicious and affordable recipies!

Enough with the intro. There has been alot of fuzz about one certain recipe lately. I need to tell you the story behind it. I recently went to New York, since Miss D currently recides there. What an amazing week it was. Besides all the typical touristic stuff, we really got to experience the real NYC with a local guide. Some food ideas and flavours definately traveled back to Scotland with me. Besides that I came back with quite a few pairs of shoes and an empty wallet. This isn't necessarily the best time to start up a food blog, since my monthly food shopping budget will be quite tiny, but what would be a better challenge! I've got a few things I really want to try, since tasting them in New York. Waiting to be made is Spinach and Artichoke Pizza, inspired by Artichoke Basille's Pizza and Brewery on East 14th Street. Needless to say that Miss D and E both should be here to quality check it, but I will give the task to the Boyfriend. Something I had once and saw on many diner menus was Spinach and Feta Omelette. Why didn't I ever think of making such a delicious omelette for breakfast? Roll on next Sunday breakfast. Something that has already made its way to our hearts is Chipotle's Burrito Bowl. Chipotle Mexican Grill is your typical Tex-Mex fast food place, but their Burrito Bowl made it to my menu here in Scotland. It is quite an obvious recipe, but for me it became instantly a comfort food favourite. Basically the idea of the Burrito Bowl is that you layer everything that you would put in a burrito, but in a bowl - very clever indeed!



















(I do apologise for this being not my Burrito Bowl, but the one we ate at Chipotle.)

BURRITO BOWL
New York Chipotle Style with an Aberdeen Twist

1st layer
CORIANDER & LIME RICE

steamed rice (long grain or maybe even basmati)
chopped fresh coriander
½ squeezed lime
pinch of salt

Boil the rice normally and when cooked, toss in the chopped coriander, lime juice and salt and gently mix it.

2nd layer
GRILLED MEAT

chicken, beef, pork, whatever your heart desires

A quick marinade for chicken:

splash of olive oil
½ squeezed lime
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
salt
black pepper

Let the chicken marinade for 10-15 min and fry until cooked. Serve the chicken sliced in the burrito bowl.

3rd layer
BEANS

tin of pinto beans or black beans (or kidney beans if really can’t find anything else)
splash of olive oil
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp cumin powder
pinch of salt

Gently fry the beans in olive oil, with the crushed garlic and cumin powder. Lightly season with salt.

4th layer
SWEET CORN

tin of sweet corn drained and washed on its own

5th layer
TOMATO & JALAPEÑO SALSA

2 fresh tomatoes
approx. 5-10 slices of jalapeño peppers
½ onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
salt

All whizzed up together in a food processor. Alternatively chop all the ingredients and make into a fresh salsa, just leave the ketchup out then and splash a bit of lemon or lime on it – or just go to the shop and buy ready-made salsa.

6th layer
GUACAMOLE

2 ripe avocados
1 garlic clove
½ squeezed lime
1 tsp cumin powder
(2 tbsp sour cream)
salt
black pepper

All whizzed up together with a food processor or hand blender. Season to own taste.

7th and 8th layers
SOUR CREAM AND LETTUCE

The recipe is quite self explanatory really – make it just the way you like it, yummy and spicy! Remember to add a dash of Tabasco sauce on top and serve it on its own or with tortillas or nachos or whatever you fancy.

I know it is very lame to not have a picture of the actual food I made myself for my first recipe post, but trust me, this recipe had been tested and liked very much!

So now my new project has started. I will have to watch Julie&Julia once again for some Julia Child like inspiration...