Jul 16, 2010

3 salads & seared scallops

in this hot weather i've made do with salads. certain someone has been back to work and i haven't bothered to cook much of anything, the searded scallops being an exception (they took mere 5 mins to cook).

cantaloupe and jamon serrano became dinner earlier in the week, with some nice bread. some notable tv-chef (i think it was mario batali) mentioned that eventhough jamon serrano and prosciutto are basically the same thing, the spanish version is actually better because it has been aged longer. go figure, i usually buy the one thats costs less...

not the traditional way to serve, but i'm all about easy (besides, even this broke a sweat...)

stayed at my apartment earlier in the week and went to a shopping mall to cool myself...naturally happened to spot this cute little colander that got to come home with me. how did i ever manage without it?

corn (from a tin), button mushroom (huge one), avocado, cucumber and salad greens. now, this would have been very healthy...

...if i hadn't found this blue-cheese dressing in the fridge

another huge lunch salad. greens, cukes, avocado (seems i'm graving it lately), thinly sliced red onion, crumbled feta with black pepper and olive oil

these salad bowls are huge, but i ate this all myself. i had taken the dog for a walk (and a swim) early in the morning and i was hungry

i went grocery shopping yesterday and i had kinda decided that i'd get squid to grill. the shop that i went to (because i was feeling lazy and didn't want to spend too much time walking around a huge shop) didn't have squid. then i remembered i had some scallops in the fridge, called certain someone to take them out to thaw, and bought this wonderful bread to go along the scallops.

the bread had wonderful crust and authentic french taste (like i would know what that is!) but i'm afraid the nutritional value must be close to zero...other than carbs, that is. anyways...

...as i seared the scallops in butter with thinly sliced garlic and flat leaf parsley, the bread hardly mattered

i don't think i had ever had scallops before so i don't how these were supposed to be like. they were super-tasty (c'moon, butter & garlic!) and not chewy at all. we didn't lick the pan, but scraped all the goodness with that bread...

Jul 13, 2010

grilled burgers and veggies & quick pickled cukes

cucumbers get the honor of starting this entry. i got the cukes out of a whim (hmm, but isn't that what i usually do?) thinking mom's quick pickled cucumbers. actually, i'm not sure these are pickled as per se, i call them pickled because there is vinegar...

i left some of the peel intact, the cukes make prettier slices that way. somehow, now that i haven't been to work for months, there seems to be less need for zen (=chopping) therefore i used the mandoline to slice

traditionally, at least in finland, dill is used in the brine for this kind of cukes, but i used flat leaf parsley, minced fine. could be that i'm gastronomically challeged when it comes to dill. i'll nibble it if it lands on my plate on something, but i'm very hesitant to use it myself. could be that i'm put off because a slimy, off-white meat dish we were served at school that had dill in it...

i did measure what i put in the brine, but that was on saturday and for the life of me i can't remember how much of each...fortunately this is more of a taste thing. i like my cukes quite vinegary, not too sweet. anyways, you could start with 1½ cup of cold water, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp white pepper mixed together until sugar and salt are dissolved. have a taste, if your tongue curls up, add some water (and sugar), if it's too tame, add some vinegar. salt isn't my thing in these, so feel free to add some more if your palate needs it.

i divided the batch between two jars, then added the parsley, poured in the brine, closed the lids and gave them a good shake. put them in the fridge for a couple of hours and served chilled with the burgers. not sure how long they keep, would imagine a week, they never last too long in my fridge

i had bought some ground beef for the burgers and these were the only things that went into the mince. i went quite light on the salt but heavy on the black pepper, thought that people could salt according to their taste when eating. for the 1 kg of mince i used one heaping tsp of dry mustard

i tried not to handle the mince too much besides mixing in the spices. i find that the denser the mince gets, the drier the burgers, could be just me, though. did measure out the mince to get equal size burgers

as i was going to be grilling these, i placed them on an oiled parchment on a baking tray, poured some oil on them as well. that way i didn't need to take the oil out the yard for grilling. see the indentions in the middle of each burger? that is to avoid the bulge when they cook on the grill

oh boy, was it hot at the grill. though it's kinda nice that in the summer you don't have to wear woollen socks to be warm, this recent hot weather isn't for cooking at hot stoves, or grills.

the finnish word for this kind of weather is helle. just to be sure, i looked in the dictionary for the translation, it is simply hot weather. for us to have a specific word for this kind of weather proves it is special. in finland, helle is defined as when the daytime high is over 25,1C (a mere 77,2F, which, i know, is barely nothing in some places...). yesterday they measured the highest temperature in 76 years, 33,9C.

it's been hot for over a week and seems to go on for another. let me remind you, we do cold, we do ice, we do darkness, this immense heat and bright sunshine are strangers in this part of the world. therefore, almost no one has AC in their houses. i'm fighting the nighttime heat by sleeping under a wet kitchen towel, not too high-tech but allows me to fall asleep.

oops, back to grilling

i did grill some eggplants as well, but by this time it was getting close to people arriving, me getting sticky hot, and well, i kinda forgot that i should have taken some more pics...

i had whole wheat buns for the burgers, not quite round but they packed what needed to be packed on the burgers, namely the classics ketchup and mustard, dressing, my cukes, cheese. that's my slaw on the side (cabbage, carrots, spring onions, sour cream, mayo, salt&pepper and a hint of vinegar). as i was actually paying attention to cooking time to make sure they were almost cooked thru on the grill (as they would continue cooking some more on the platter) the burgers were juicy and tasty in between the buns. and everyone tooks seconds...which always makes a cook happy!

Jul 11, 2010

strawberry meringue tart

sorry for the absence. i tried to blog but it is just too hot, my fingers get sticky and stuck on the keyboard. not to mention the fact that my brain boils and nothing coherent comes out...

since strawberries have been all over the place last week (and we got company coming yesterday) i finally decided to try the strawberry meringue tarts from anna olson's cookbook fresh.

i was aiming for this (picture from the book)

for the crust, flour, unsalted butter, white vinegar, egg yolk, cold water

the dough looked a bit sticky but wasn't...

...easy enough to roll into a log (kept mine in the fridge overnight)

i was quite hesintant to make these as it required heating the oven twice, first for the crust and then the meringue. the indoor temperature at 9.00 am was +25C, which made rolling the dough a bit challenging. the recipe says it makes 6, well, i got 7 and i thought my crusts were a bit on the thick side. i think this recipe might actually make 8, and there would be enough filling and meringue for 8, as well

pricking before oven

at this point the smell was amazing. there is something in the baking buttery smell...

the filling, i first quartered the berries, added only half the sugar the recipe calls for (it was still quite sweet, almost too sweet for my taste, if you can believe!), then strained the juices after 20 mins...

..and cooked the juices with cornstarch to thicken...

...cooled the thickened juices before folding the berries in

i had plenty of filling for 7 tarts (in fact, had to eat the rest as is because there was too much of it...) at this point the tarts went into the fridge to cool

the meringue then, i almost used only four egg whites but for some strange reason i did as the recipe said (which later proved would have been a good idea, one should learn to trust instincs again)

on a hot day i do appriciate my machines

i did my best to use all the meringue i had, and ended up with these humongous meringue clouds on the tarts. i did consider piping the meringue to make it look prettier but it was too hot to fuss like that...

this might have been the prettiest, not too shabby compared with the picture from the book, if i say so myself.

will i make these again? definitely, maybe with other berries (raspberries might be equally tasty). but, i will aim for 8 crusts as there is plenty of filling and meringue for at least that amount. i did check my tins and they were the 9cm like the recipe in the book calls for. fortunately i have a set of 12 tins so one or two extra won't be a big deal