Baked salmon with fennels

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Some of you might be a little sceptical when it comes to fennels because of their strong anise flavour, but I really recommend tasting them at least once. Cooking, baking and roasting them softens the taste a lot. The way I have made them with cream, capers and baked in the oven makes the fennels really delicious. Easy to make and not too time consuming.

This salmon (Atlantic salmon from Norway) has been made in a very traditional and simple way: just some pepper, salt, dill and lemon juice on the fillet and then into oven. Salmon, fennels and garlic potatoes baked in foil makes for a great meal to serve even when you are having guests over.

You can find the recipe of fennels on this page just after salmon.

The recipe for potatoes baked with garlic and herbs can be found from here.

PORTION: 2 persons
TIME TO MAKE:
salmon 20-30 minutes, depends on how thick the fillet is
fennel about 20 minutes
potatoes about 1 hour

Baked salmon

Ingredients:

  • 300-400 g of (Atlantic) salmon fillet
  • salt
  • green, red and black pepper
  • dill
  • lemon

Preheat the oven to 220°C (428° F)

Season the salmon with salt, peppers, dill and lemon juice. Place it skin side down on a slightly oiled baking pan. Roast till salmon is cooked evenly through, about 20-30 minutes. Serve with fennels and in folio baked garlic (herb) potatoes.

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Baked fennel

Ingredients:

  • 1 big fennel
  • 2 dl cream
  • 3 teaspoons of capers, rinsed and dried
  • salt (just a pinch)

Trim off the green fronds and browned parts of the bottom or sides. Cut the clean and trimmed fennel vertically into about 1-1.5 cm thick slices. Then put the slices into boiling, lightly salted, water and let them boil for about five minutes.

Place the fennel slices in an oiled baking pan, add cream with capers and just a pinch of salt. You can put the pan into the oven at the same time as the salmon, because they both need about the same time and temperature. The fennel is ready when the cream starts to thicken and gets a nice brownish colour.

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Oven baked potatoes with herbs

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Potatoes are really nice root vegetables, much due to the infinite number of delicious dishes and side dishes you can make from them. No matter which way you prepare them they are always good, not to mention cheap and easy to make. Simply one of the best inventions in the world – the potato!  

Speaking of potatoes brings back memories from my childhood. There was a large potato field in my grandmother’s yard and in Autumn we grandchildren would help with the potato harvest. It was a very rewarding job – so many beautiful, round potatoes at the other end of the stems, hiding under the soil.

This potato harvest also included a campfire near the field. I really don’t know why we did this but I do remember that the new potatoes were buried under the almost extinct campfire embers. From there they were picked up the next day. I didn’t like them – they were so black, sooty and creepy. Now in hindsight I suspect they were actually quite tasty, but I guess I will never know because I refused to taste them at the time.

PORTION: 2 persons
TIME TO MAKE: about 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 middle-sized, floury potatoes
  • butter
  • sea salt
  • garlic cloves
  • different kinds of herbs, for example rosemary, thyme, parsley, dill

Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F).

Wash the potatoes well and remove all bad parts, if there are any. Cut proper pieces of foil and also similar pieces of baking paper, if you find that worth doing.

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Cut a lengthwise hole to each potato as shown in the photo above.

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Then cut the potatoes like shown in the second photo.

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Place some sea salt on the foil (or paper) and then place one potato/foil on the salt bed. Fill the holes with minced garlic cloves (at least one clove/potato).

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Add minced garlic clover and some herbs to your taste. After adding a good piece of butter, just wrap the potatoes (first into the paper and then) into the foil and put them into the oven.

After one hour baking they should be ready. You can check them by putting a bbq skewer through the foil: if it goes in easily, the potato is baked. Although if you are using paper as well I suppose you can’t put the stick through it… so you will just have to trust your timing is good.

Tzaziki

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Making a good tzatziki very much depends on the quality of the chosen yoghurt, not to mention how long you have drained both yoghurt and cucumber. If you’re not patient and fail to do this properly you’ll have a tzatziki with too much water in it – a wet tzatziki, doesn’t sound too good, does it! Both yoghurt and cucumber need to drain for at least three hours, even better if you have the time to to drain them over night.

In my tzatziki I have used unflavored Greek yoghurt since it’s quite thick, smooth and creamy. The thicker it is, the less liquid it contains and the better tzatziki you will have.

The strong taste of garlic smoothens when kept in yoghurt for at least 1-2 hours before you add any other ingredients. Dill is the last thing to add just before serving.

Portions: 4-5 persons

Ingredients

500 g Greek or Turkish yoghurt
1 big cucumber
coarsely chopped fresh dill fronds
1-2 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of salt
olive oil
lemon juice

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first photo shows how to peel the cucumber, while the second one shows how thick a good yoghurt is before draining it.

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All you need to drain the yoghurt is a coffee filter, a funnel and a glass. The coffee filter will take about 500 g of yoghurt. After three hours worth of draining there will be about 1,5 dl water in the glass and the yoghurt is ready to use.

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Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater straight into a sieve. Add two teaspoons of salt and toss well. Toss and press every now and then while draining to strengthen the dewatering.

Mince one garlic clove, add it in the yoghurt and taste, usually one is enough but if needed, you can add another. After one or two hours you can add the grated cucumber and just a little bit olive oil. Chopped fresh dill will be added shortly before serving.

Roasted beetroots

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The internet is filled with roasted beetroot recipes, but I feel like posting mine here as well.

A very simply side dish to make, but roasting takes about 1-2 hours. All you need is some beetroots and some sea salt. You can roast as many as you want or need. In this recipe I have roasted only three, which is just enough for two or three diners.

PORTION: 2-3 persons
TIME TO MAKE: about 1½ hours

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pretty small or medium-sized beetroots, unpeeled
  • sea salt

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Wash the beetroots and place them in a roasting tray, root side down. Let them cook in the oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 1½ hours.

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They do not look very pretty, when they come out from the oven, do they? Still the beautiful red color is hiding there under the roasted cover. You can use a wooden stick to be sure the roots are ready: if it enters easily they are cooked and ready. When the beetroots have cooled down, peel them and cut them just the way you want.

Gravlax and baked potatoes

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with tzatziki and roasted beetroots.

Salted raw fish is one of the real favorites of all our family, even my three daughters have stuffed themselves with them since they’ve been very, very young.

White fish is possibly the best one when made raw,  but it is a very close race with salmon.

When making gravlax (salted raw salmon),  the Finnish sea salmon is  the best (just my opinion) but also rainbow trout works well.  Atlantic salmon coming from Norway is quite greasy and I like it most when baked in the oven… although it is generally regarded as the best.

The recipe for tzatziki can be found here.

The recipe for roasted beetroots can be found here.

PORTION: 4 persons
TIME TO MAKE:
Salted raw salmon needs about 24 hours to be evenly spiced, seasoning the salmon takes just few minutes.
Beetroots (quite small ones) should be in the oven about 1-2 hours
To make good tzatziki you have to drain the yoghurt for at least 3 hours and the cucumber needs about the same amount of time to remove the excess water.
The potatoes need one hour in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

Salmon

  • About 500 g salmon fillet
  • Coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • Ground sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, rose pepper and green pepper (about one teaspoon of each)

Season the fish a day before you intend to serve it.

Grind all the peppers slightly in a mortar. Then add the salt and grind it as well.

Spread the mix on the salmon (one side only, not the skin side), then coat it with dill. After that wrap the fish tightly into a baking paper and let it stay there at least 15-24 hours.

Next day take off all extra salt, dill and most of the peppers. Serve it cut in very slim pieces.

Baked potatoes

These are simply just flavoured with butter and salt, and then baked in the oven (220°C or 428°F). You need two potatoes per diner.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F).

Peel potatoes and make some traverse cuts to ease the evenly baking. A ladle could be a good tool to ease the cutting so that you won’t cut throughout the whole potato. (Photo below has been taking in a different situation, but you can use the same technique – just don’t make that big hole in the middle).

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Put some salt and butter on the top of potatoes before baking. Bake them about one hour: potatoes are ready when a tooth- or cocktail pick goes easily in.

Cauliflower chutney with cream cheese

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Because the cauliflower soup I made was so  delicious, I had the idea to make a cauliflower chutney with the same ingredients. This experiment was a great success: a heavenly good chutney, a side dish that goes with all kinds of meat, fish or even poultry.

As told already before, “Koskenlaskija” is quite old, very well known and a much used traditional cheese here in Finland. It can be hard to find anything quite like in other countries, but you can try with any kind of not-spiced creamy cheese.

PORTION: 4 persons
TIME TO MAKE: about 30-40 minutesINGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower
  • 1 small yellow onion or a half of a bigger one
  • 70-100 g cream cheese
  • 1 dl cream
  • salt

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Cut off all the green leaves of cauliflower but don’t throw them away, because the thin parts of the leaves are still needed in the mash to bring some nice green color.

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Cut the cauliflower into small pieces.Bring a kettle of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower pieces and chopped onion and cook until the cauliflower is tender but still firm.
Be careful not to put in too much onion, because it may spoil the whole mash, but then again it is an important part of the taste, so you cannot leave it out either.

After ten minutes add the green leaves, then another ten more minutes and you can pour the water away. Just to be safe you can test a piece of cauliflower with a fork or taste it to be sure that it is soft and well done.

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Mash the cauliflower pieces with a pestle, place the kettle back to a hot stove, add a big pat of butter and about half a decilitre of cream (not too much right away, because cauliflower doesn’t need as much liquid as potatoes do). Don’t cook the mixture too long, just make the cream to boil and take the kettle off the stove.

Add about 70 g of cream cheese. Toss it well and taste. Put some more cheese and add salt if needed. A quick mixing with a hand blender and your chutney is ready.

Roasted whitefish with pine nut butter

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I tend to use pine nuts in quite a number of dishes to give them a somewhat different and piquant taste. On my plate there can never be too much of them, but you will be fine even with smaller amounts – everyone is free to use them to their own taste. All white fish, like the European whitefish, pike-perch, northern pike and even saithe will work for this recipe.

I got the idea for a cauliflower chutney after making the cauliflower soup simply because the soup was tasty, so why not to make chutney with the same recipe.

The result was a success and this mash is an excellent side dish for this one, as well as any other fish, meat or poultry.

The recipe for cauliflower chutney can be found here.

PORTIONS: 2 persons
TIME TO MAKE: about 20 minutes
INGREDIENTS:

  • about 300 g whitefish
  • slightly chopped pine nuts (something between 50-100 g – according to your own taste)
  • 50-70 g butter
  • salt, black pepper, lemon juice
  • dill

Season the fillets with salt one hour before roasting.

Place the roasting pan over a medium-high heat and melt the butter in it. Once hot add the lightly chopped pine nuts and cook for some minutes till the nuts are getting nice brownish colour.

Then add the salted whitefish fillets. How long to roast depends on the thickness of fish: usually between 2-5 minutes a side. When turning the fillets season to taste with dill, black pepper and lemon juice. Serve with pine nuts on them.

Cauliflower soup with creamy processed cheese

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This modest looking dish in my bowl belongs with the very best of soups, at least on my favorite list. I am very fond of soups, to such an extent that it is hard to pick a favorite, when I for example eat salmon soup, it is the best soup ever – and the next time when eating soup made of smooth pork sausages, it is even better than the one made of salmon… and so on.

As with all soups, cauliflower soup is quite easy to make and it doesn’t need too many ingredients. You can of course add bacon, smoked reindeer or smoked salmon if you want to have a slightly different taste or a bit more filling soup.

“Koskenlaskija” is quite old, very well known and a much used traditional processed cheese here in Finland. Hard to say if you can find anything quite like it in other countries, but you can try with any kind of not-spiced creamy processed cheese.

PORTION: 4 persons
TIME TO MAKE: about 30-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small or medium-sized cauliflower
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 100 g processed cheese
  • 3 dl (0,2 cups) cream
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons of wheat flours/ 1l water
  • 2 tablespoons of finely cut parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (on your own taste)

Peel off the papery skin of onion and chop it.

Cut the cauliflower in quite small pieces. Heat the kettle and put some oil, onions and cauliflower in. Let them cook about two minutes and then add flour (and some more oil, if needed) and roll it quickly with the onion and cauliflower pieces. Add water slowly: keep stirring all the time and stop adding water when the soup is as thick as you want to have it.

After that add the bouillon cube and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes on a low heat stirring every now and then so that it won’t burn. Then add cream and cheese – remember to add the cheese in small amounts and taste often so that you get the taste you prefer. Too much for one person can easily be too little for someone else after all.

Finally, add some lemon juice and parsley. If needed, you can also add some salt and ajust a little of black pepper. And there it is, a delicious soup all ready to eat!

Eeek, here it begins…

 

Today was finally the big day when my very own food blog was published and I’m really, really curious to see how this will be received.

I constantly find myself thinking about food, like what shall I cook today, tomorrow, how should I prepare it, where should I take the pictures, what to make next weekend, what to serve my guests and so on. Of course most of the dishes have been made many times before by other people, but I want to add a little variation; a couple of different ingredients, changing some herbs or spices, adding a slight twist. In other words I believe I can carry my own little straw into the stack of the food world.

The primary purpose of a meal is to nourish of course, but I happen to know some people who do not care a bit about what they eat or how it tastes as long as their stomachs will be filled. I dare say that I am not one of those people; if I eat I want something that tastes nice. When I was younger I could go for weeks on nothing but sandwiches and coffee – but as time goes by things change, making and enjoying a good meal becomes more and more important until one day where you realize it is one of the greatest joys in life.

There are exceptions of course, some times when I am home all alone I do not pay much attention to what I eat, I can easily spend a day or two eating sausages, egg, french fries or something like that. As a change it can be quite tasty, but to me eating is more than just the food, it is to a great extent a social event with laughter, conversation and maybe a few glasses of good wine. As the saying goes “good food, better mood”, but then again “good mood, even better food”, because the joy of cooking a meal is reflected in the results.

Take your time and enjoy your visit to the “Food Circus”!

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