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Archive for April, 2012

It’s finally warm enough to eat breakfast in the garden on the weekends!! (At least some days..)

This is what I have been waiting for all winter long.  Our backyard is quite small, but we still built a deck over half of it. Well, we didn’t build it ourselves, our friend Mark did. It is absolutely fantastic. In the summertime, it is our second living room. It is just great to have a huge deck with plenty of room for a really big table and still have space left.

During the week we eat oatmeal with lot’s of different kind of berries in the mornings but on saturday and sunday we eat like kings and queens… The sandwiches are always “open face” as the Scandinavian tradition dictates.

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Open sandwiches.  A typical weekend breakfast in the garden.

Use any bread of your choice. I try to make the bread healthy and hearty. 

Use mayo or mustard as the “glue” to keep things from sliding off the bread.

Just know that these are only guidelines. Your imagination should create the sandwiches. Nothing is wrong. I would say that the rule is to not pile thick layers of one thing but to balance everything well. Every bite should have a little piece of everything.

Egg sandwich;

Hardboiled eggs thinly sliced. Mayo as a “glue” as my mom says. Lettuce, some caviar or pepper & paprika. A sprig of dill.

Liver pate’ sandwich;

Liver pate’. Any kind. Spreadable or sliced. Top with finely slices dill pickles or fresh cucumber. 

Cheese and strawberry sandwich;

A sharper cheese like a good cheddar or so. A few lettuce leaves. Nice and sweet strawberries, finely sliced. (If you don’t want to use strawberries, cut up some peppers or cucumbers instead.)

Ham & Cheese sandwich;

A great kind of ham preferably not a pressed ham. I buy mine at the farmers market in New York from a company called “Happy Pig’s farm”. The ham is one of the best ever. The smoke is real not liquid (as in “liquid smoke”).  I sometimes use smoked pork tenderloin too. Add your favorite cheese. A sharp little nutty kind like Gruyère or Jarlsberg would be good. Top with thin slices of red pepper and a little sprig of parsley.

Smoked salmon sandwich;

Smoked salmon (cold smoked), lettuce or arugula, sweet mustard sauce or just plain mustard. Some people likes to use some kind of horse radish sauce or dressing on the salmon. Sliced fresh cucumbers topped with a sprig of dill.

So, these are some of my favorite breakfast choices of open face sandwiches. There are endless options…. Oh, another favorite of mine is cold sliced meatballs sitting on a bed of beet salad. Yum…

I hope you will start doing these “mackor” as we call them.

Enjoy!

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I love eating the kind of kebab they make in Morocco. The way they mix their meats with herbs is really good. I have adapted that into my cooking.

The great thing is, you don’t really have to have a recipe. Just make it out of what you have on hand for the moment.

My family comes from Öland, an island in the south-eastern parts of Sweden. It is an island with very old traditions and treasures. Art is a big focus there.  Öland is my favorite place to spend my time. I am very proud to say that I am part “Ölanning” (“Ölander”).  Growing up, I always heard that one should  “save the Öland’s sheep by eating lamb ever so often. I still try to add lamb to my repertoire whenever I can.

This kebab is a perfect time to sneak in some lamb. You can make it with all ground beef, but I make it part lamb part beef.

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Kebab with cardamom rice.

1 part ground beef.

1 part ground lamb. (You can make it all beef or all lamb or even use any other kind of meat.)

1/2 cup finely chopped herbs. (I usually take parsley, mint, thyme and basil. Equal amounts of each. If you use lamb, you could add a little rosemary.)

1/2 fresh pepper (Or any kind of dried pepper.)

10-12 cardamom pods.

1 stock cube.

salt/ pepper.

Salad for presentation.

Mango chutney or salsa to serve on the side.

Hot sauce on the side.

Directions:

Mix the meat with all the chopped herbs. Add salt & pepper to taste. You could also add  couple of tablespoons mango chutney. It makes the kebabs a little bit more juicy.

Shape the meat mixture into kebabs.  Either fry them as they are on the stove or stick a skewer into the center and fry them like that. Note that you must soak the skewers first so that they do not burn. Make sure to brown on all sides.

While working on the kebab, boil the rice. Use 1 part rice 2 parts water. Add the stock cube and the cardamom pods to the water. Get to a boil. Add the well rinsed rice.

Place the rice in the center of a plate. Add a little salad on top and then finish off with the kebabs.

Serve with the mango chutney and some hot sauce.

Enjoy.

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Here are some pictures of Öland.

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The barn at my father’s farm. It used to belong to my grandfather.

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Gettlinge gravfält- Gettlinge Burial mounds.

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Seby Runestone.

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Ottenby.

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Störlinge windmills. The one in the foreground is my dad’s.

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The main street in Vickleby, my moms village.

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After a food filled holiday I always feel a need to make simple and easy food.

When my sister turned 40 she had an open house with an Italian buffet’ with lot’s of antipasti (cold cuts, olives and things). My mom was cooking, cutting and plating up a storm. This is not my favorite food at all. In the Italian kitchen, I prefer the pastas not the antipasti. The funny thing from that birthday buffet’, is that my mom made this one marinated pork tenderloin that stayed in my memory for a very long time . It was served cold and disappeared like butter in sunshine…  It took a long time until I finally tried to copy it from my taste memory. After trying it a couple of times it finally tasted as if my mom had made it. I hope you will like this way of marinating meat and that you will try to do this with chicken or something else as well.

I now have my own version of this dish. Pork tenderloin is my “go to” food. I always keep a few in my freezer. But in all honesty it really is so that I always can make my sister’s birthday marinated Pork Tenderloin. I make 2 loins at a time and just let it keep marinating in the fridge, it just gets better and better. Yes, it has happened that I have taken an extra trip to the fridge to grab a slice or two just because…

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Citrus & Soy marinated Pork Tenderloin.

1-2 pork tenderloin.

1/2 lemon.

1/2 lime.

1/2 orange (optional).

1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium preferably.

1-3 tbsp. Mirin. (Sweet. Tastes as rice wine).

1 tsp. hot sauce (optional).

1-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. (optional).

The zest from the 1/2 lime & lemon.

1/4 cup cilantro (chopped into large pieces).

Directions:

Sear the meat in a frying pan. Make sure you brown it all around. Put the frying pan into a 400 degree oven so that the meat can get evenly cooked.  I prefer it to me medium well. It will have a light firm feeling if you poke it with a finger. (It will take about 35-40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160°).

Take out the meat. Let cool.

Zest the lemon, orange & lime. Put all ingredients into a zip-lock bag. When the pork tenderloin has cooled down, add it to the zip-lock. Note, put the meat in whole, not cut.

Put into the fridge. It must marinate at least over night.

Cut the meat in very thin slices. Make sure that you have brushed off any cilantro pieces.You can serve this pork with anything.

I like to use a mix of red & white quinoa, rice or couscous. Adding it to a salad works well too. Since I prefer to eat it cold, I usually just cut up cucumbers and add some zest and a little of the marinade.

I hope you will enjoy this as much as I do.

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I have always felt that Easter is the “kick-off” for summer.

This is the time when we, if we are lucky, could sit outside on the deck, having breakfast in the nice and warm spring sun. Not this year though. Even though we had a very mild winter it isn’t warm enough. I was hoping for some garden furniture to come out from the shed but I guess I will have to wait a little longer. It’s actually good, since I am about to re-arrange my whole back yard. I am building new and better flower beds, a little higher than before.  It is a huge project but I can’t wait.

This is also the time when I pick the first flowers to decorate the house with. So far, I have tulips, pearl hyacinths, daffodils, violets and some  apple blossom branches placed in champagne glasses.

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I always try to take good Friday off, it gives me that extra day to work outside and prepare for summer. It is very soothing to just do physical work and “lift things up and put them down..” as they say in a popular commercial here.

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A tradition for me, is to eat poached salmon on good Friday. It is good, healthy and fresh. As one of the side dishes, my mom used to make these little “poison mushrooms” made of eggs, tomatoes and spinach. As a sauce to the fish, we would always have a sour cream. mayo, dill & frozen vegetables mixture. It is just soo delicious (a great summer dish too.) On saturday, we would eat anything but on Easter sunday, we would have lamb.

I don’t like my meat to be pink so I cook my lamb long and slow to make it super tender and infused with flavours. I marinate the lamb in the fridge for a few hours or over night. For anyone who thinks they don’t like lamb this is really a great way of cooking it. I use a steak/ roast, but you could always use any other part of the lamb. Serve with a mint sauce or a delicious rosemary garlic sauce.

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Poached Salmon.

Fresh Salmon. Preferable wild caught. Either one whole salmon or a piece of salmon. As much as you would need for the amount of people you are serving. (Just remember that you can do so many things of the left overs, so don’t be scared of poaching too much.)

Water to almost just cover the fish in the pot.

Black pepper corns, about 10-12.

2 lemons.

1/2 onion.

1 carrot. Cut into medium size pieces.

1/2 orange.

2 bay leaves.

Directions;

It would be great if you have a fish pot but if you don’t, use a large pot. You can also use a cast iron pot /dutch oven.  If you are using portion pieces of salmon, you could just use a frying pan to poach them in. Add the pepper corns, carrot pieces, cut up onion & the bay leaves. Let cook for about 10 minutes to create a broth. Add the fish & the dill. Make sure the water covers about half the fish. Squeeze one lemon and the 1/2 orange into the pot. Let the peel boil with the fish. Some people likes to add some vinegar. I don’t, it makes the meat a little lighter, I use the lemon for that. 

Let come to a boil, then let simmer for about 30 minutes depending on the size of the fish. If you are using portion pieces of fish it will ready much faster. Keep checking it. You know that it is done, when it is starting to loosen from the bones.

Let the fish cool down in the broth. Lift up and plate. You can easily take off the skin if it is cool. If you are experiencing any problems, use a little piece of paper towel as a help.

Cut the last lemon into very fine slices. Add them onto the top of the fish. It is supposed to look like fish scales. Some people use finely cut cucumber slices to decorate the salmon with.

You can serve it hot or cold. Boiled potatoes are great to this poached salmon. As a sauce, I prefer a cold sauce made of sour cream, mayo, dill & some frozen vegetables. Pepper to taste. I of course use hot sauce in mine.

Poison mushrooms.

Hardboiled eggs.

Spinach.

Tomatoes, too big.

Boil down the spinach. I just put them in a pan and let them “melt” with a dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper. You could also use frozen defrosted spinach.

Hard boil the eggs and let cool. Cut the tomatoes. Use 1/3 of the upper part. Cut the very ends of the egg on top and bottom. Stand the egg up with the more narrow part facing up. Add the “hat” meaning the tomato. Cut up the egg white you just cut off the egg. Decorate the “hat” with a few pieces. Stand them around the salmon with the spinach being the “ground”.

Enjoy.

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Lamb roast.

I roast of Lamb.

10 cloves of garlic.

1 sprig of rosemary.

3 tbsp. of olive oil.

1-2 tbsp. of hot sauce (optional.)

Mint, fresh or dried. About 3 tbsp.

Herbs, Dried or fresh. About 1/4 cup.

A pinch of salt & pepper.

Directions.

Add all herbs and the garlic to a food processor. Mix well. Add the olive oil. It will become a pale version of pesto.

Add the mixture to the roast. Massage it into the meat. Make sure it covers any place you can reach. If possible, let marinate in the fridge over night, if not just for a few hours. Turn on the oven on 250 degrees. Put the roast into an oven safe dish. Cover with foil. Let cook for about 3 hours depending on how big it is. You need to look at it after a few hours. It will shrink a bit. When done, just take of the foil and raise the temperature to 450 and make a little colored crust on the roast.

Let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before starting to cut into it.

I prefer to cut very thin slices of the lamb. Serve with any kind of potato side or perhaps just vegetables.

Enjoy!

Happy easter!

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