Dec 26, 2010

sweetened potato casserole

this dish certainly isn't a looker, but i love it, my mom makes the best. i was dead set on trying to make it this year, i was aiming for it to be turned out edible alright, quite nice actually, perhaps not in my mom's league but let me practice for a few decades...

this dish is traditional, some parts of country make it sweetened (flour and/or syrup) or regular (basically baked mashed potatoes)

i started by boiling 3 kg potatoes (floury work best, like with mashed potatoes). traditionalists say you should cook the potatoes with the skin on, but i figured it's easier to peel them raw than cooked and hot. besides, mom cooks them peeled...

after the potatoes were done, poured out the water and added 2 dl of all purpose flour and mixed well, put the lid on and left to "brew" overnight (if not overnight, then at least for several hours). ideally the pot should be then placed in a warm place. luckily the fireplace had been going on at the shack, so the mantel was quite warm, but you could set the oven for 70C and keep the pot in there.

next day i buttered (generously) four 1,5 liter foil pans. normally i would stay away from foil pans, but they make freezing so much easier

next, i added 1 liter of full fat milk, 2 tsbp of dark syrup (something traditionalist shy away), salt and liquid fat (butter and vegetable oil)

not pretty, but wait until this gets...

... mixed well. the mixture should be rather "runny", a lot more so than mashed potatoes

...and baked. blobs of butter on top and optional, but will definitely make a difference in taste

baked three casseroles for 3 hrs in 175C, froxe one for later use (who says this traditional christmas dish cannot be eaten, say, on easter!?)

my stuffed turkey breast

like i mentioned in my post on dec 23rd, the turkey breast was turned out quite pretty anyways...

i made the stuffing out of these:

dried aprocots
fresh parsley and sage, dried thyme
maldon salt & crushed black pepper

saved the parsley stalks and froze them to be used later in a soup

motorized gadgets make life so much easier

as the breast was so big, i needed to figure out how i was going to tie it. laying out the kitchen twine, bacon and sage leaves beforehand helped a lot

i was going for a rolled efect but the mere size of the breast set limits to what could be achieved

it took two set of hands to tie the monster (and to take pics)

i think the bundle spend little over 2 hrs in the 200C oven, but i did have a thermometer in it, took the meat out once the inside temp was 77C.

xmas lunch

i hope you've all eaten well during the holiday weekend! i had a hasty christmas lunch on the eve before going to work, but i will enjoy a proper dinner tonight (it's still xmas, right?!)

here's what i enjoyed...cold smoked salmon, salmon roe with smetana and red onion on toast.

my fight to like brussels sprouts continues. never a christmas tradition in my family, but here with slivered almonds and balsamic vinegar...i might be starting to like the sprouts

the stuffed turkey breast. i does pay to use a thermometer to check when any meat is cooked enough, the turkey was optimal doneness, not one bit dry.

i served the turkey with red wine gelee, mint jelly and sweetened potato casserole, the latter being my all time favourite xmas food. i have been very hesitant to make as my mom's is so good...i have made once many, many years ago, but will not bore you with the details of how that turned out.

the next couple posts will show how i prepared the sweetened potato casserole and the turkey

sorry for the crummy pics, was in a hurry and lighting sucked (excuses, i know!)

Dec 23, 2010

twice with pak choi, soup & stir fry

besides the market hall there are several asian markets in hakaniemi. one i visited was oriental supermarket, that is one of the few shops in helsinki that carry pak choi. my only groan is that they sell pak choi in huge bags...

on tuesday i made a soup of the other half. started by washing and slicing three pak chois

then chopped 3 green onions

put the soup kettle on and added 2 tbsp of this into one liter of boiling water

added the white parts of pak choi and green onion, and cooked them for a minute before...

...adding the green parts of pak choi...

...and odd collection of shrimp i had in the freezer

dug out some rice noodles as well, cooked those and added to the soup

on wednesday i used the remaining 3 pak chois for a stir fry (or something to that effect...) chopped also 3 carrots and one medium onion

sliced some turkey to go with. the turkey breast i bought for christmas was humongous, 3,2 kg. while butterflying the turkey breast i removed some of the meat to use in this dish. i think we'll still have plenty of turkey for christmas...

browned the sliced meat on a hot pan, added the carrots and onion, cooked for a few minutes more to make sure the meat is fully cooked, then added 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, cooked rice noodles and the chopped pak choi. oh, and cashew nuts, mixed well and here is wednesday's dinner

Dec 22, 2010

shopping & more of snow

if hakaniemen halli (hakaniemi market hall) was more conviniently located as to whereabouts i wander, i would spend a lot more time there. i have, however, told certain someone that one day i want to live within easy tramride away from the hall. whether this will ever happen is another another matter.

monday i went there with purpose to get some turkey for xmas, but couldn't resist taking a tour upstairs. food vendors are downstairs, other merchandise upstairs. some of the shops sell quite regular stuff, some are more touristicky (is that a word?)...i did buy something from upstairs but santa might be upset if i told you how i helped him

there are a few specialist shops, like this punainen lanka for buttons, lace and ribbons. i had to pass it quickly as i have more nicks and nacks for any of my possible future sewing projects, and then some.

this shop i had to stop at, the colors of these yarns were too juicy, more colors on their website vihreä vyyhti oy. almost without realizing, i had started picking out colors, but then remembered the amount of yarn i already have and my sore wrist, i took a picture instead. the shopkeeper was very understanding when i told her about my dilemma.

very, very sinfull, i know, and not very christmassy, but i really was hungry!

view from the window at work, sunday afternoon

seems like my neighbour isn't an avid biker

love the feathery frost on the window

Dec 18, 2010

salmon risotto

another dish that came about the ways of what do i have in the fridge/pantry...there was a package of cold smoked salmon that needed to be used, too much rice in the pantry, still some dried wild mushrooms (they seem to last forever!), some parmesan that was almost too hard to there a recipe in this? hmm, sort of. if fish isn't your thing, just omit it, recipe will work without it

i used risella-brand risotto rice and followed (loosely) the package instructions on how to cook it. other than the rice i used:

½ dl dried mushrooms (any will do), soaked in ½ dl boiling water for 20 mins
1 clove garlic, grated
15 cm leek, white part, minced (or, medium white onion, minced)
1 liter (or so) low-sodium vegetable stock (i used herbamare)
2 dl 5% cooking cream
1 dl parmesan, grated
200 gr broccoli (from freezer, fresh will work too)
150 gr cold smoked salmon (very roughly chopped)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
black pepper to taste (a lot!)

started by sauteeing the rice in oil until opaque, then added the leek, garlic, mushrooms with the water they soaked in (full of flavor) and 2 dl of the stock (kept it hot during cooking), mixed and let cook until most of the stock had absorbed, kept addind stock as need until most of it was used

by the time the rice was almost cooked (time depends on what kind of rice you use) i added the semi-thawed broccoli and cream...

...grated parmesan...

...and the salmon. i find the easier (and tidiest) way to chop is to just remove the top plastic of the package, leave the fish on the bottom part of package and chop on it. i buy my salmon sliced so very roughly chopping it to pieces will suffice. the fish will flake further once mixed into the other ingredients.

now, if you want you salmon fully cooked leave it on the warm stove for a few minutes. i like mine a bit rare, also, i didn't want to cook the broccoli any further, it had time to thaw completely int eh pan, cooking it any further would have made it mushy, and that's yacky (at least i think so). i took the pan off the stove and gave the pepper-mill a serious workout.

did i forget the salt? nope, like always and even with rice, i very seldom use salt when cooking. i find it's easier to add saltiness later, each according to their own taste, whether it be maldon salt, soya- or fish-sauce. and let's not forget, there is plenty of salt in the salmon...

like i mentioned above, this works well without the fish. you might want to add more leek and maybe an onion for more flavor.

Dec 17, 2010

slightly asian hot dog soup & the dog in the snow

cold winter days are made for eating soup, i think so anyway. this was one of those "is there anything in the fridge or will i need to make some instant-noodles"-soups...

here is what i had:

200 gr white cabbage, shredded (used a cheese slicer to get really thin shreds)
10 cm piece of dark green part of leek, minced
100 gr celeriac, cubed (from the freezer)
4 medium carrots, cubed
1 medium parsnip, cubed
2 tbsp grated frozen ginger (had in it the freezer, keeps it longer and is easy to grate), if using freshly grated 1 tsp will be enough (unles you love ginger!)
1 liter low sodium vegetable stock (or what ever you have)
10 hot dogs (or any sausage, or optional), sliced
sesame oil to serve

had taken out some potatoes but felt lazy (didn't want to peel such small potatoes) and saved them for another use...

in a soup pot, first sauteed the cabbage and leeks in rapeseed oil on medium heat until cabbage wilted, then added the ginger, semi-frozen celeriac, half of the stock and brought to a boil.

then added the carrots, parsnip, rest of the stock and cooked for 15 mins on medium low. then added the sliced hot dogs and cooked for another 5 mins, turned off the heat but left the pot on the hot stove for another 10 mins. just before serving added a few drops of sesame oil for the slightly asian taste...

then it was time to take the dog for a walk...i have decided that i will not complain about the weather, it is what it is. i'm not a janitor anymore so i don't have to get my butt out of bed at 4.30 am, first to check if there is more snow, second go out and do something about it. but i will say that dressing for the walks is challenging, when it's -20C outside, you want dress warm but then you also need to take into concideration that walking in the knee-deep snow might make you sweat...

the dog loves snow

you never know what there is under all that white stuff

unless you take a nose-dive in to explore

you might even get lucky and find a fozen blob of horse manure, a cricetidae

the shadows are really long already in the early afternoon (i think the dog's shadow looks just like wile e coyote...)

me a coyote? c'mon...