Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Back to Our Retro Roots

As you can see I have gone retro both in the new layout and my cooking. I found my mother's first cookbook dating back to 1987 and I got inspired. The theme of our holiday lunch was the foods that were cool back in the late 1980's and which I still remember eating in the early 1990's. We did not have to think hard or long, since one of the staple "cool" dishes was my grandma's own invention Parsapaistos - Asparagus and Chicken in Cream cooked in the oven. She used to host fabulous dinner parties and this recipe seemed to be on the menu quite often. Asparagus was new and fabulous back then, even the ones you get in jars.

Another classic that used to be on the dinner table from the 1970's all the way to the 1980's is the Prawn Cocktail. My mother used to make ones with lemon and mayonnaise in an avocado, which is a more Scandinavian version of the British one with a Marie Rose sauce.

There is nothing special in these recipes or the ingredients, but there is a lot of nostalgy. We had a good time gorging through these foods that so much reminded me of my early childhood and the food then. For dessert we had a good look through all the old family photographs. I can say that they get better year after year.


PRAWN COCKTAIL IN AN AVOCADO

150 g frozen prawns or shrimps
2 ripe avocados, halved
salt
juice of half a lemon
a bit of fresh dill
mayonnaise squeezed on top of the prawns

Defrost the frozen prawns in room temperature. Half the avocados and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Assemble the prawns on top of the avocados. Season with lemon and fresh dill. Squeeze a dollop of mayonnaise on top of the prawns.


BAKED ASPARAGUS AND CHICKEN IN CREAM

400 g chicken breast, diced
1 jar of white asparagus, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200 ml cream
salt and black pepper
whole rose peppers
100 g grated Emmental cheese

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Dice the chicken and gently fry in a dash of vegetable oil. When the chicken is almost browned, add the garlic. Add the chicken with the drained asparagus in an oven-proof dish. Season with salt, black pepper and rose pepper to taste. Add the cream and the grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Serve with boiled rice.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Festivities and Christmas Spices

I am making a Christmas comeback with a few recipes and menus from the festive period. It is Christmas Day today and I have opened my presents already, since in Finland we do it on Christmas Eve. We spent Christmas Eve at my uncle's and the food was delicious. I was reminded how terribly good Russian blinis are and that I really need to start learning the old family herring and baltic herring recipies.

I was left with the dessert as always. On previous Christmases I have been making quite conventional desserts - Christmas Spiced Cheesecake, Red Berry Parfait, Cranachan, etc. I will surely be sharing these recipies at some point too, but this Christmas I decided to make a dessert I have never made before. I have been experimenting with making my own glögi - Finnish mulled wine. Getting into the groove of spicing up red wine with cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, cardamon and all that, I made it into a dessert. This recipe of Poached Mulled Pears is not original in any way, since there are tons of similar recipies out there. However, this is how I made it yesterday and I might say that it was a success.



POACHED MULLED PEARS

1/2 bottle of red wine (I used Merlot)
100 g caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
A few strips of lemon peel
3 tbsp orange juice
4 pears, peeled

Peel the pears and slice the bottoms off. In a large saucepan, combine the red wine, sugar and the spices. Bring to boil until sugar dissolves and bring to simmer. Add the pears to the saucepan and poach them for 30-45 minutes. Turn them once in a while so they get evenly coated. Turn off the heat and let the pears cool down before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

I am in the middle of making Balsamic Red Cabbage which is one of my winter warmer favourites. It is one of theeasiest side dishes to make, although it takes a bit of time. I will be taking it with me this afternoon when going to my grandparents' for Christmas Day lunch.