Monday, 7 March 2011

Curly kale with pancetta and roasted pine nuts

In our family, what we eat goes in trends. I think that is the same for most people.
You find a recipe or an ingredient that you like, and then you use that about once a week, until you start getting bored of it, and something new tickles your fancy. I suppose the seasons are a big factor to how we eat as well (at least it should be).
At the moment, Kale is THE ingredient in the Colgan household. We all love the taste, and as a mum I find it extremely satisfying when my daughters enjoy eating something so nutritious.
Luckily both girls, 4 and 7, quite happily try new foods (not that kale is new by any means..). I like to think that it's because I,ve always fed them what ever me and my husband eats, and never cooked a separate "kiddy meal". I think the danger of starting to cook different meals for different requires (unless health related), is that it will soon be expected to be the norm. And the family kitchen turns into a restaurant where the child is choosing between the usual "yellow dishes" ie fish fingers, chicken nuggets e tc. A child would very rarely (or dare I say, never..) be born with a natural desire to try new foods. We are naturally cautious, and it's up to the adults to introduce the child to the wonderful flavours of different kinds of food. Even if it's just the smallest bite. The pallet will soon get used to a new taste, and enjoy the array of flavours that are on offer. I try to introduce my family to a new flavour every week. And it has actually worked out so well, that we all get quite exited about what to try next.
This is a side dish that I served with pork chops and sweet potato chips at the weekend. It was a hit with the whole family. Hope you'll enjoy it too.

Curly kale with pancetta and roasted pine nuts
  • a hand full of curly kale per person
  • 1 cup of cubed pancetta
  • a hand full of pine nuts
  • black pepper
Start by roasting the pine nuts in a dry pan until slightly golden. Set aside.
Fry the pancetta until crispy, and set aside with the pine nuts.
Place the chopped up kale in the hot pan, stirring occasionally until weltered.
Mix in the pine nuts and pancetta. Season with black pepper. The pancetta will provide the salt.
Enjoy with some white meat, or fish.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Nettle soup

There is nothing quite like springtime in a country that has been covered in snow for months on end. The first sign- the snow on the roof tops are melting and dripping down outside the window.
The next step- the once so white snow is turning grey and slushy, revealing the "business" the dogs have left behind the whole winter (not my favourite part..).
Photo www.sarajson80.blogspot.com
But then, evenings getting brighter, birds begin to sing. The rain and the sunshine taking turns to get rid of the last remaining snow.
And slowly, slowly the earth begin to thaw, and crocus and snowdrops are popping out of the ground. So does the less popular stinging nettle, absolutely bursting with flavour and nutritional goodness.
Pick the nettles when they are small and tender (make sure to wear marigolds).
Once cooked the lose there "sting" and is an amazing vegetable.
You could also use it to make pesto or mixed with ricotta cheese in cannelloni et c. But this is how to make nettle soup, the way my grandma Ingegerd use to make it (although I've added the shallot, I'm sure she wouldn't mind..)



Pick your nettles using Marigolds (rubber gloves) to prevent your hands from getting stung, that's an unpleasant experience that we'll rather do without.
I won't give any measurement, because it would depend on how well your nettle hunt goes, but also on how thick you want your soup. I'll trow you some guidelines though.

Nettle soup
  • Nettles, a couple of hands full per person will be sufficient.
  • 1 or 2 shallots
  • a knob of butter
  • chicken stock
  • cream (only about a 1/4 of the amount of stock you are using)
  • salt and pepper
  • Half a semi hard boiled egg per person
Rinse the nettles thoroughly.
Finley chop the shallot and fry in butter on low heat until soft, but not coloured.
Add the nettles and leave until weltered.
Pour in some of the chicken stock and using a blender or a mixer ( I just use a hand held mixer), run until smooth.
Bring it back to the heat and add the cream and season to taste. Make sure not to boil the soup, as you would loose most of the nutrients and the colour would look dull.
Serve with half an egg, slightly creamy in the middle.
Now go on, get you vitamin boost!

Enjoy!


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A healthy salad with mackerel, avocado and pink grapefruit

This is a very nutritious salad, packed with vitamins and minerals.
Many of us spend a lot of many buying vitamins and minerals in a jar from the pharmacist.
One brand trying to out do the other. Super-mega-multi-complete best-ever vitamin/minerals, you
know what I mean, and I think we've all tried them.
And sure, we Do need and extra "vitamin kick", especially this time of year.
But the best way of getting all the vitamin and minerals you need, is to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
I know you have heard it all before, but that is just because it's true.
Try to eat colourful food, they generally contain lots of yummy vitamins. Tomatoes, peppers, spinach, oranges. Be brave, try new fruits and vegetables, that you've never tried before.
If you can't buy it fresh (if it's not in season), by frozen. Frozen vegetables often contain more vitamins then the vegetables you can get from the supermarket.

I am going to kick off this new year with some healthy recipes to sort the immune system out. I know I need it and hopefully it will benefit you too.
I am using smoked mackerel in this salad, because it makes a nice change to the tuna always used in salads and sandwiches in Britain. But mostly because mackerel has great health benefits:

  • It helps reducing cancer-causing agents in cells.
  • It regulates the hormone level and makes blood vessels and capillaries more elastic.
  • Mackerel also helps in reducing the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering blood pressure.
  • It prevents cardiovascular diseases, strengthens the immune system, improves functions of organs weakened by illness and regulates metabolism.
  • Mackerel helps in easing the pain of migraine and arthritis.  
I will also be using avocado and baby spinach, and grapefruit packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

Healthy salad with mackerel, avocado and pink grapefruit 
(2 people)
  • 2 fillets of smoked mackerel, teared into bite sized pieces
  • 2 handful's of baby spinach
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 pink grapefruit (don't have to be pink, just makes it prettier) segmented
  • 3//4 of a red chili finely chopped
Assemble on two plates, season moderately with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
I serve this salad with toasted wholemeal pita bread. Either fill the pita pocket and tuck in, or cut into manageable strips.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Roasted tomato and sweet potato soup with a drizzle of basil oil

I'm back!
Sorry, it's been a while.. Hope you are all well, and dodging all the seasonal germs that are out there. Happy new year by the way, better late than never.
The new year often comes with the sudden need to revalue ourselves and the way we live our lives. We have this urge to better who we are. Stop smoking, lose weight, drink less alcohol, get more physically active and so on.
I agree that it's good to try to improve ourselves. In fact, that should be an ongoing activity throughout the year, and throughout are lives for that matter.
I am however sceptical to new year resolutions. I think as soon as we call it "a new years resolution" we're heading for a fall. Realistically, how many new years resolutions have you actually followed through?
Speaking for myself, I can't even mention one.
I believe that change will come when you are well prepared, you are in the right mind set, and you are ready to make the commitment to change.
And that will not just happen automatically, because you need to change your calenders.
The "home improvement" I am working on is to get moving more.
It so easy when the weather is cold and grey to get a bit lazy. That has definitely happened to me. Leaving me feeling tired and sluggish. I can't wait for the spring to come and lift this old grey woolly blanket and shower the ground with pretty flowers.
But until that happens I'll make a head start with this revitalizing delicious soup followed by a quick power walk across the back fields. Who knows, maybe I'll find some early signs of spring.

Roasted tomato and sweet potato soup serves 6

  • 16 tomatoes
  • 1 big sweet potato
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 table spoon of tomato puree
  • 200ml single cream
  • chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt, pepper and granulated sugar to taste
Cut the sweet potato in half (length ways) and place in the oven with the garlic (skin on) and the tomatoes (whole). Roast on a baking tray for about an hour in a medium hot (200C) oven, or until the skin of the tomatoes start to turn black. 
Leave it to cool down slightly, before you remove the skin from the tomatoes. It is very important to let the tomatoes cool down, since they will be extremely hot. 
Use a spoon to dig out the soft flesh of the sweet potato and place in a blender with the tomatoes and the garlic. You can easily squeeze out the soft centre of the garlic ones roasted. The roasted garlic has a much milder taste than if used fried or raw. 
Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Use only as much stock as you feel necessary, to achieve the  right thickness  of the soup. I prefer a slightly thicker soup, but if you use more stock it will feed more people.
I use sugar to counteract the sourness in the tomatoes on offer in England this time of year. If your tomatoes has been grown in a warmer climate, sugar might not be needed.
Ones you are happy with your soup, heat it in a pan to ensure it is hot enough. But do not boil.
My finishing touch to the soup is a drizzle of basil oil. 
Simply bash a hand full of fresh basil in a pestle and mortar, slowly adding 100ml of  virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Heaven!
Enjoy!





Monday, 20 December 2010

Jansson's temptation and saffron pancake

I am off to spend the Christmas with the family in freezing Sweden. Can't wait for my Mum's Christmas food. It doesn't matter if I am using the same recipes as her, there is nothing like Mum's food.
All the Christmas presents are wrapped, and most of our bags are packed. The girls are playing and I' m having a quick break with a cup of coffee. Thought I would leave you with these  two, dead easy Christmas recipes.
The first one is Jansson's temptation- Janssons frestelse, a potato gratin with anchovies. My personal Christmas favorite. And as you might know with anchovies, it does melt into the dish, so it's not really a "fishy" dish. Many non fish eaters have been converted with dish dish- trust me ;-)

Jansson's temptation - Janssons frestelse

  • potatoes (king Edward or similar)
  • yellow onion
  • milk
  • cream
  • anchovies
  • butter 
  • bread crumbs
I'm not going to complicate things by giving you measurements for this dish, because it's really not necessary. 
Use as many potatoes as it takes to almost fill up your chosen  ovenproof dish, ones you have peeled and cut your potatoes into thin "french fries". Finely slice one yellow onion and mix with the potato strips. Chop the anchovies roughly and add them as well. Pour over milk so it almost covers the lot, and top up with cream and sprinkle over the bread crumbs. Finish of with a few knobs of butter and bake in the oven for 3/4 of an hour - 1 hour 200C. The smell coming from the oven will be utterly heavenly.


The second recipe that I want to share with you is a dish that my auntie Tine makes for Christmas, Saffron pancake.
A traditional dish from the island of Gotland, the largest island in Sweden. 


Saffron pancake- saffrans pannkaka

  • one lot of rice pudding (see earlier blog post)
  • 0.5g of saffron (1g if you want a more intense taste of saffron)
  • 6 dl milk
  • 1 dl cream
  • 4 eggs
  • blanched and chopped almonds
  • 1/2 dl sugar
Grind the saffron with a little bit of sugar in a pestle and mortar.
Mix the powder with the milk and cream, and add it to the rice pudding.
Add the eggs one by one, the sugar and the almonds (leave some for decoration).
Pour the mixture into an oven proof dish and scatter the remaining almonds on top.
Bake until the mixture is set 200C. This will depend on the depth of your oven dish app. 30-45 min.
Serve with a geneorous helping of whipped cream and a dollop of your favourite jam.
Enjoy!


 I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support you all have shown me from all over the world. And for all you positive comments and advise. They put a smile on my face every time! 
I'll be back in the new year with more mouth watering recipes.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!


Love
Jenny

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rice pudding- Tomtegröt - Risgrynsgröt

In Sweden, the tradition of elves goes far back in time. In the olden days they believed that elves helped out around the house and the barn, stable etc commonly known as a "house elf", hustomte. Making sure the animals were happy, crops grew and cup boards were full. But in return, it was important to look after the house elf, or else he would get up to mischief. And he could be a very grumpy so and so. One way to stay on the good side of him was to give him rice pudding, tomtegröt on Christmas eve. But you had to make sure to put a big dollop of butter in the middle, because that's the way he liked it.
And the Santa that comes on Christmas eve ( the main day of our Christmas celebration) has his roots in that old tradition. Less Disney and "coca-colafied", if you know what I mean.
The YouTube clip is of a story called "The Tomten" and shows how hustomten is looking after all the animals at the homestead.
And if you want to make some tomtegröt for your "hustomte" this Christmas, or treat the people that you love. This is how you make it:

Tomtegröt  6.port

  • 3 dl pudding rice
  • 5 1/2 dl water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10dl (1 litre) full fat milk
  • Cinnamon stick (can be left out, if preferred)
Boil the rice, water and butter for 10 minutes.
Add the milk, the cinnamon stick and the salt, and simmer for 3/4 of an hour-1 hour. Stir occasionally.
To make a "de luxe" version add a splash of cream when you add the milk.
The tomtegröt is traditionally eaten with a tablespoon of golden syrup or a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar ( only hustomten likes butter on his tomtegröt). Some like it with a splash of milk, but I prefer it without. However, a cup of glögg wouldn't go a miss ;-)
Enjoy! 

Rice Pudding on FoodistaRice Pudding

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas spiced red wine - Glögg

So you have made your lussebullar and your pepparkakor, now you definitely deserve a drink.
This is the Swedish equivalent to mulled wine or glühwein.
A "Christmassy" drink that will warm you from the inside out.
Traditionally drunk in a small cup with a few raisins and almonds (blanched) in the bottom.
You can also make a non-alcoholic version with blackcurrant squash, or if you like it a bit stronger, you simply add 1 dl cognac. 

Glögg

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 2 1/2 dl water
  • half a thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 slice of orange peel

Crush the ginger and break the cinnamon in half (if needed).
Bring the water and all the spices to the boil, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
Sieve, and mix with the sugar and red wine. Heat the mixture, but do not boil.
Serve with a few raisins and almonds.

Enjoy responsibly!