Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Oh Bliss!

I have truly been missing the Finnish summer in rainy Scotland -- especially the visits to the archipelago. Getting a chance to spend one of the last summer weekends by the sea was bliss. Nothing beats the fresh sea breeze and a traditional sauna.


Usually crayfish is enjoyed during August in many Nordic countries. I have written about how much I enjoy crayfish before, but I can never get enough of it. Served with toast, dill butter and akvavit, it marks the end of the summer. Schnapps with seafood has never been my ideal, but once again I gave it a go. We had Skåne Akvavit, which is a Swedish brand of vodka spiced with caraway, anise and fennel. I would rather have it with pickled Atlantic herring, than crayfish.


In September chanterelles, the meaty orange coloured fungus, can be found under layers of moss in the archipelago. Distinctive in its colour and thus easy to find, it is the ultimate autum treat. Lovely creamed or in a sauce, in a quiche or in a risotto or with pasta.


I went to the woods and found a few chanterelles. It may not look like there's a lot, but the flavour compensates for the quantity. Local food at its best and highly relaxing wondering around the forest looking for the bright coloured spots amongst the dark green seas of moss.


CREAMED CHANTERELLES

1 tbsp butter
150 g chanterelles or chestnut mushrooms (or as much or little you can find), finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
150 ml double cream (and a dash of milk if it thickens too much)
salt and black pepper

Clean the mushrooms and finely chop. In a saucepan melt the butter and add shallots and saute until soft. Add the chopped parsley and mushrooms. The mushrooms will shrink in size, but don't let them loose texture. Add the cream and the soy sauce. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.


My mother served the Creamed Chanterelles with beef burgers and new potatoes. So simple, so delicious!


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Luncheon at the University

It is a huge event when something new appears on campus. I have always been a big fan of Kilau and visit their café in town fairly often. They have now expanded their takeaway café on High Street into a restaurant café upstairs. The concept is a changing menu every day with two soups, two salads, a pasta and a veggie main. We decided to treat ourselves since it was our last day of our internships. We had booked a table in case it gets busy due to the British Science Festival held on campus.



The ambiance is lovely. Something you would expect to find in an ancient university campus like ours. The upstairs and back garden has been nicely furbished. The upstairs was surprisingly spacious and traditional, but still modern.


We ordered two Salami and Gherkin Salads and a Penne Pasta with Ham, Cheese and Chive. I was in between the two salad options, the other one being a Caprese. I inquired about the type of salami used in the salad, since I know they do a German Salami and Gherkin Baguette. The waiter assured that it was "salami milano style." I was very disappointed when it turned out to be the same German salami they use in their baguettes. Priced at £6.95 the portion was minuscule. It really needed some more body to it. A bit more lettuce and maybe a bit of bread on the side would have done the job. Compared to the salads Kilau serves on Little Belmont Street, this was quite disappointing. I would have loved to see my favourite Bacon and Halloumi Salad also on the campus menu. Nevertheless, my friend was happy with the pasta, which looked like a fair lunch sized portion.



We all had a hole to fill in our stomachs and decided to go for Scones with Jam and Clotted Cream and a Danish Pastry with Apricot. I have to confess that even though I have lived in the UK for three years, I was a "scone virgin" until today. The scones were tasty and a very pleasant experience. Kilau definitely shines more on the baking side of things. We ordered coffees to go with our sweets, but by the time it got to the table it was too cold. Don't get me wrong, I drink my coffee luke warm, but not everyone does.



Altogether it came to a grand total of around £12 per person, which doesn't sound like much, but for a café on campus it is too pricey -- for both students and staff alike. We were hoping for the baguettes to be also served upstairs, but they are only served in the remaining takeaway bit downstairs.



Kilau on High Street has only recently opened its doors. I think with tweaking the menu a bit and lowering the prices it will be a success on campus. Food on campus has not been that great and the new Kilau is a welcomed addition.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hearty and Healthy

Something wonderful has happened. The Boyfriend's lovely grandmother has gifted us a Kenwood food processor. It truly is the best housewarming present for a student foodie. I have already tested it with my foolproof coleslaw recipe and green pea soup. Today it was time for our household favourite -- tomato soup.


I used to dislike tomato soup. I really used to dislike it. All of this because my mother used to make it all the time. When I say all the time I mean every week. Now I absolutely love it though. It is my absolute favourite healthy and cheap midweek eat. I got into it again when I first moved in with the Boyfriend. It happens to be one of his favourite foods. He even loves Heinz tomato soup. It doesn't come as a surprise that his favourite type of tomato soup is the creamy orange tinted sort. I personally prefer a darker and chunkier one with sun blushed tomatoes and a bit of mascarpone. I think this recipe is a good inbetweener and can be tuned to your own taste. Where this soup really gets the taste from is the beef stock. For a vegetarian option substitute with vegetable stock.

I do cheat a bit and make it from tinned plum tomatoes. This mainly because it is much quicker and easier and I always have tinned plum or chopped tomatoes in my cupboard. A real pantry recipe! What makes it even better to serve two people will cost less than £1.


THE BEST & EASIEST TOMATO SOUP

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
400 g tinned plum tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
400 ml water
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp soft cheese
salt and black pepper to taste

Finely chop the onion, peel and chop the carrot and crush the garlic clove. Heat up olive oil in a soup pan and add onion, carrot and garlic. Saute until onion is soft. Add paprika, Herbes de Provence and tomato puree. Add the plum tomatoes, water and beef stock cube and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the soft cheese, lemon juice, sugar, salt and black pepper, and blend until smooth. Check the taste and add seasoning if necessary.

Serve with toasted bread, croutons, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or pesto. Basically anything that takes your fancy. Enjoy!