Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bistrot le porc

A little gem of a restaurant that we found last Autumn is Bistrot le Porc. The menu is small and changed regularly and is affordable. What I really like is that while the food sounds relatively simple, it has always been beautifully executed and every last mouthful has been a pleasure. I also love how they have wine recommendations for each dish. This is somewhere that you can go for lunch, go with girlfriends or for celebratory meal. It is not the cheapest place to eat but the quality to price ratio is excellent and always worth it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salmon and creamy dijon pasta

We found a fab deal a few days ago on salmon but as usual we had enough for several meals so I decided to find inspiration from the web and came up with this...

Our salmon was a fillet that had been cooked the day before, but you could also use cold-smoked or gravlax. Just beware that gravlax is quite salty so be gentle when seasoning. My friend at Uni used to use the Tesco value offcuts when making something similar, so you don't have to spend too much on this dish! I guess you could also add some veg such as peas or broccoli.

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • salmon (however much you have or like, maybe around 200-300g for 2 people).
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • dried pasta (enough for 2 which is about 75g per person)
  • 250ml cream, either single, whipping or what the Finns call ruokakerma. You probably could even use a thick natural yoghurt.
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a handful of chives or dill
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions. If you are using fresh pasta, obviously start cooking this as the last thing!
  2. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic on a medium heat until transparent, try not to get them coloured.
  3. Add the cream and dijon mustard to the onions and garlic. Taste and add more dijon if you like.
  4. Cook together for a few minutes, if it is looking a bit thick add a bit more cream (or milk).
  5. Add the herbs and season to taste
  6. Add the salmon and cook gently for a couple of minutes to warm through
  7. Drain pasta and mix the pasta and sauce together and serve
Hyvää Ruokahalua!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lamb chops with greek veg and couscous

Have worked our way through almost all the random lamb cuts we have in our freezer. Again after a few experiments I have decided that braising is the only way forward for any meat on the bone. Feeling lazy, this is a mostly from packet meal, but as it turned out so well, I thought I'd share.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  1. Preheat oven to 175C
  2. Heat some oil in a pan
  3. Brown the lamb chops on a high heat for a few minutes
  4. Submerge lamb chops in the stock in an ovenproof dish (with lid), make sure the chops are covered in liquid. Put foil over the top of the dish and then put the lid on.
  5. Cook chops in oven for 1.5-2hrs
  6. Once chops are cooked, put them to one side, cover in foil to rest. Reserve some of the stock to cook the couscous
  7. Warm the sauce for around 10mins 
  8. Meanwhile, cook the veg according to the instructions (stir-fry for about 5 mins on high heat) and cook the couscous in the stock water according to instructions and serve.
I wasn't so sure this would work when I started, however when tucking in this evening the lamb fell off the bone nicely and the fruity sauce went very well with the cous-cous, veg and lamb. It also went down nicely with a rose wine from Portugal.

 Hyvää Ruokahalua!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Our friend gave us what I thought resembled half a lamb a few months ago which we dutifully froze and have been trying to make a variety things from the different cuts we got (so please excuse a few upcoming lamb recipes).

While we have had fun getting to know the different cuts and how to cook them: scrag or neck (grillikiekko), chops (grillikyljys), leg (viulu) etc. We have also had a few disasters: lamb ribs - I will never buy again, they are just fatty with the minimum of meat; Anjum Anand's Honey Roasted Spicy Leg of Lamb recipe was not good - I don't know what we did wrong but it ended up dry and the meat was not flaky and soft like lamb leg should be. If I had actually paid good money for a leg of lamb I would have been hopping mad about the failure of this one.

So, instead, I thought I would make the new start to this blog with a traditional British recipe and probably one of my favourite dishes of all. If it's cold, or I'm homesick and want some good hearty food, then Shepherd's Pie is one of the dishes I crave the most. After several experiments with different variations and some help from Gordon Ramsey, I think I may have cracked how to make good Shepherd's Pie. For those who don't know the difference, Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie are pretty much the same, except Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb mince and Cottage Pie is made with beef mince.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g minced lamb (I am just so happy when lamb is available here I don't care whether it is lean or not!)
  • 3 or 4 rashers of bacon
  • 1 large onion (or a couple of small ones), grated
  • 1 large carrot (ditto), grated
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
  • 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Thyme fresh (1.5tbsp)/frozen(1.5tbsp)/dry(1 tbsp)
  • Rosemary (same quantities as thyme)
  • 250 ml red wine. I usually use alcohol free because it's cheaper
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • 1 kg of potatoes which are good for mashing, peeled and quartered
  • 50 g butter
  • around 100 g strong cheese, grated e.g. Gouda, Cheddar or whatever else you like
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Heat oil in a large pan until hot
  3. Season the mince and fry both bacon and mince in the oil over a moderate to high heat for a couple of minutes. They don't have to be completely browned.
  4. Stir in onions and carrots and add the garlic. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and herbs and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the red wine and reduce until it has almost completely evaporated.
  6. Add in the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened. At this point you want it slightly runnier than is to your taste as it will thicken further when it is baking.
  7. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until soft (Don't forget to stir the mince from time to time). Drain and then let steam dry off the heat for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and a bit of milk or cream if you have any and mash. Add about 3/4 of the cheese and continue to mash until relatively smooth.
  8. Spoon the mince into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish (I like the small Ikea Koncis series, they seem to be the perfect size and are a good shape for the oven, although they do resemble school dinner serving dishes!).
  9. Add the mash potato on top. I find this a bit difficult, so I just put small blobs around the top of the dish and then gently try to smooth them together to form a layer over the top of the mince. I then make swirly patterns with the fork and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  10. Bake in the oven for around 20mins until the top is just starting to turn golden brown
Since we are a two person family, I usually save half in the fridge to reheat in the microwave for the next day.

Hyvää ruokahalua!