Category Archives: smörgås

Two Different kinds of Pesto: Sorrel and Basil & Celery

Some may think it’s silly to grow your own sorrel when you have it growing wild just around the corner. As the cultivated sorrel has a slightly milder and nicer flavor I believe its a great idea to include this sour and lemony herb in a  garden plot.

Its best is to harvest the young light green leaves, as when the leaves gets older and larger (darker green) they get tough and unpleasantly sour. Sorrel can be cooked like spinach for soups and omelets or raw in salads and pesto (see below). I also think the sourness in this pesto works terrifically well with fish, poached or cured. Spread on cracker this sorrel pesto can be a simple and delicious appetizer.

Sorrel Pesto

about 2 cups of young sorrel leaves
2 garlic cloves
a handful of walnuts
fresh red chili to your own taste (I use about ½”- 1″ depending on hotness)
½ cup grated parmesan
olive oil
a few sprigs of parsley (optional)
season with: salt and pepper

Pick about 2 cups of very young Cultivated Sorrel leaves. Rinse the leaves in cold water and drain while you prepare the other ingredients. Chop the walnuts and the chili a little. Grate the Parmesan roughly.
When the sorrel is dry, run them in the food processor (or use a mortar and pestle). Add chopped garlic and run the machine a bit before adding chili, walnuts, (parsley) and parmesan. Drizzle some olive oil over. Blend the mixture carefully as it should have a crunchy texture. If necessary add some more olive oil. Season with salt and fresh pepper.

Note: Sorrel contains plenty of vitamins but the plant contains some oxalic acid which is not healthy if eaten too much (especially if your body easily creates kidney stones). I think to have sorrel on a few occasions over the summer can hardly harm you.

This spring I have seeded plenty of basil and they are now all growing on my window sill. They are doing well but are still too small to be harvested. If you don’t have the patience to seed basil you can of course buy a plant from the plant shop. You can also sometimes find small pots at the vegetable shop which work really well replanted in a larger and nicer pot. I use basil to spice up almost any vinaigrette and as a main herb when making hazelnut baked cauliflower. Why not try basil as a flavor in cocktails! I like it with cucumber in my favorite summer drink pimm’s cup. Even if it’s well known, I still think basil on fresh tomatoes and mozzarella is magical.

This basil pesto is made with the addition of celery stems (and leaves) that gives a nice grassy flavor. Instead of pine nuts I use walnuts (or roasted sunflower seeds). I use this basil pesto with spaghetti, as side to vegetable patties or on bread topped with tomatoes.

Basil & Celery Pesto

2 stems of celery
about 2 cups basil leaves
two cloves of garlic
handful walnuts (or sunflower seeds)
½ cup fresh grated parmesan
olive oil
salt and pepper

Rinse the basil leaves carefully under cold water. Set aside and let dry while preparing the other ingredients. Chop the celery and garlic into small pieces. If the celery comes with leaves I would add them to the pesto as well. Mix all ingredients in a blender, starting with the basil, garlic and some olive oil. Add the celery, walnuts and lastly the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add as much olive oil as you like. Use less if you like to spread the pesto on bread and more if serving with pasta.

Both of these pesto variations, when packed nicely in a jar, are a great summer present – especially when you have a place in your garden where sorrel or basil grows better than any flowers.

If you like to learn more about sorrel I suggest reading Sarah Smith’s article about sorrel at The Foodie Bugle and Clotilde Dusoulier’s 50 Things To Do With Fresh Sorrel post.

Over at Food52 you can follow Amy Penningtons City Dirt column on how to grow plants from seeds etc.

this article was originally published at Ecosalon

 

 

Cured Trout for Easter

It’s Easter again and I’m planning to treat myself and guests to some cured trout. To cure trout I use the same method and ratio as when I make traditional Scandinavian gravlax. The recipe below is plain and simple. Not much more is needed for this delicate treat, but if you want to try something different you can add other flavors. Ederflower, ginger, crushed juniper or a shot of aquavit work really well. The list is endless.

Besides salmon and trout you can use this same method to cure other types of fish. Mackerel is an excellent option, and Keiko over at food blog Nordljus cured a good looking seabass with a scent of licorice. As I love licorice, I decided to add some toasted fennel seeds to my cure this Easter, which I think will go really well with the mild trout flavor.

for the curing you will need

1 kilo (2 lb) trout fillet
1 teaspoon freshly milled white pepper
4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
bunch of dill

toasted whole fennel seeds (optional)

for decoration
fresh dill
lemon

Note: The trout should be frozen one or two days before you start the curing. The freezing will eliminate unnecessary bacteria.

It’s not hard to fillet your trout yourself. The benefit is that you can use the remaining parts (except for the guts) to make an excellent stock together with bay leaves, carrot, celery, onions, dills stalks, some herbs like thyme, salt and pepper.

If you still think this is too messy, ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you but remind them that the skin should be kept on.

When you have your fillets ready. Rinse them in some cold water and pull out, if there are any, remaining bones with a pair of pliers.

Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. Rub the fillet with some of the mixture and sprinkle the rest on top of the fillets. Wash the dill and chop finely. Put the fillets together, meat against meat with the chopped dill and (if you like) some toasted fennel seeds (slightly crushed) in between. Wrap the fish in a plastic foil. Let the fish cure in the fridge with something heavy on top for 48 hours. Turn them now and again.

After two days, unwrap and clean the fillets. Start to slice the trout at the end of the fish into thin diagonal slivers using a fillet knife (or any other suitable knife). Garnish with some dill branches and slices of lemon. They can be served on toast or dark bread. However this fish is sensational on a thin “knäckebröd” topped with a drip of Hovmästarsås. Enjoy!

Hovmästarsås
Stir together 3 tablespoons mustard, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar with plenty of chopped dill. Slowly start dripping in a little less than a 1/2 cup of olive oil into the mixture while stirring continuously (just like you make mayonnaise). If you add the oil too quickly the mixture can separate. The result should be a thick sauce. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Before buying any fish check with Seafood Watch (US) for the most sustainable options.

 

This article was originally published at Ecosalon, 5 April 2012

Duck Liver Starter

While the duck is baking I treat my friends with some spiced duck liver. Often there is not that much liver that comes with a duck, so you may have to add some extra if you like. Many food shops sell duck or chicken livers separately. This dish may be tiny but its definitively worth every bite.

a couple of duck livers (or chicken livers)
one small shallot
half a poblano
one teaspoon coriander seeds
one teaspoon cumin seeds
chili flakes
salt
one or two garlic cloves

lime juice
fresh cilantro

Chop the shallot and the poblano into tiny tiny pieces. Saute in plenty of butter on low heat until soft. In another pan, roast the cumin and coriander seeds on high heat until they start to pop. Remove from heat and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle to a semi fine powder. Chop the liver into very small pieces. Heat up a pan with some olive oil. When hot add the spices with some chili flakes. Let the spices merge with the olive oil before adding the liver. Sprinkle some salt over and stir constantly until the liver starts to get color. Squeeze some garlic cloves in and cook for just a little bit more. Take off the heat and add some freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with some bread. Enjoy!

A Toast of Trumpets

This summer many of my friends in Sweden bragged about the number of baskets of yellow chanterelles they carried home from the woods. I came home with none. But I smiled along and remembered last year, when I couldn’t carry home all the King Boleteus I stumbled over in the woods. I still have plenty left, dried in big glass jars in my pantry.

But, I got to pick other treasures such as Black Trumpets and Funnel Chanterelles which are both equally delicious.

(read the whole story over at EcoSalon… )

Toast of Trumpets
an appertizer for two

about ½ -1 cup dried Black Trumpets (or Funnel Chanterelles)
*½ cup or more white wine (for example, a dry Riesling)
salt and pepper
about 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
butter
one shallot
about ½ cup cream
a small handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
freshly grated parmesan
sliced baguette, toasted

Soak the dried mushrooms in just enough white wine to cover all the mushrooms for at least 30 minutes until soft. In the meantime, chop the shallot into tiny pieces. Sauté on very low heat with plenty of butter until soft and golden.
Drain the mushrooms and reserve the wine for later. Heat up a dry pan, set the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. If the soaked mushrooms get stuck on the pan, add some of the soaking water, in this case the soaking wine. When the water is gone add a big lump of butter to the pan. Add thyme and sauté the mushrooms until they start to get some color (can be hard to see with black mushrooms). Raise the heat and add the shallots and the rest of the soaking wine. Let simmer and reduce to about half. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. When the cream has thickened divide it equally over the toast. Top with toasted walnuts and freshly grated parmesan. Serve this Trumpet Toast with a simple tomato salad. Enjoy!

If using fresh mushrooms you should skip the soaking part and only add the wine at the end.

* if you are not able to pick Black Trumpets or Funnel Chanterelles yourself, you can find them dried in well-stocked food shops. There are also plenty of online shops that sell them. Other dried mushrooms such as King Bolete work mighty fine as well.

Story and recipe was originally posted at EcoSalon on 26 October 2011.

More mushroom stories on kokblog:
Mushroom Pie (recipe)
Mushrooms (preserves)
Mushroom Risotto

 

Akvavit Cured Pork Belly

Ever since I had my first Pork Belly Bun at Momofuku’s Noodle bar in the East Village I have never had enough of them. Their Pork Belly is cured with spices like star anise, fennel, coriander and cinnamon etc. The pork is served on steamed buns with cucumber, fresh coriander and Housin sauce. To cure fatty pork  is an old tradition and common all over the world and it’s a good way to conserve the meat. In Sweden they call it söt-saltat fläsk (sweet-salted pork belly).

The first time I cured pork belly I followed Stephane Lemagnen’s excellent recipe. Stephane even claims that his pork belly buns are better than Momofuku’s. Later I developed my own versions and a couple of weeks ago I had some friends over for a Nordic-style pork bun. I spiced the pork with coriander, fennel and caraway seeds (the same spices that are used in Akvavit). Instead of steamed buns and Housin sauce I served them in rye bread buns* with sweet baked cabbage (see recipe below), fresh cucumber, pickled carrots, and mustard thyme sauce (see recipe below). Everyone loved it!

cure the pork belly
(enough for 7-9 people)

1 ½ kg (3 lb) pork belly
some peppercorns
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ cup (120 ml) salt
½ cup (120 ml) sugar (I used brown sugar)

for the broth
one large onion
one carrot
two celery stalks
a twig of thyme
bay leaves

Toast black pepper, coriander, fennel and caraway seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop. Remove immediately from heat and pour into a mortar and pestle. Crush them as fine as you want. Mix the spices together with the salt, sugar and garlic.

Score the fat of the pork and start to rub in the spice mixture on all sides. Place the meat in a dish or a bowl and pour, if any left, the rest of the spice mixture over. Cover with plastic wrap and place something heavy on top. Let it cure for 48 hours (24 hours with thinner pieces). Turn the meat around now and again.

After 24 – 48 hours, brush off the spices and rinse under cold water. Place the meat in a pot together with the broth ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. Skim off the fat that floats to the surface. The meat should feel soft when you stuck with a fork. When done let the meat cool in the liquid. The liquid can be used in soups (like this). Slice the meat into ¼” (about 5 mm) slices. Place them with the fat side up in a baking pan and grill them in the oven on high heat until the fat is caramelized. Serve immediately together with rye bread and accompaniments listed above. Enjoy!

Mustard  Thyme Sauce

This mustard sauce is like a traditional Hovmästarsauce (butler sauce) that is often served with Gravlax. Instead of dill I used fresh thyme from the garden.

3 tablespoons mustard
one egg yolk
100 ml (0.4 cups) olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
(1 tablespoon sucanat)
plenty of thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper

Mix mustard, egg yolk, vinegar and thyme. You can skip sugar if the mustard is too sweet. Slowly start dripping in the oil while stirring the mixture. Continue dripping in the oil and stirring. If you add the oil too quickly the mixture can separate. The result should be a thick sauce. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. (If the mixture separates start over with a new egg yolk and slowly add the separated mixture.)

Sweet Baked Cabbage

Clean and cut one head of white cabbage into wedges. Brush the wedges with a mixture of lemon, olive oil and sugar. Season with salt and pepper on top. Bake At 400ºF (200ºC) on one side for about 15 minutes or until it starts to brown. Turn around and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

* I really need to create a better bread post where I describe how I measure flour and why my breads always change depending on what I have in my pantry and fridge. Until then my older rye bread recipe will do. Instead of two loaves make several mini buns.