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Strawberry salad

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008


One of the best things with summer are all fresh vegetables. After a long winter they appear full of colour and flavour. The easiest way to indulge them is just to use them in a salad. This tasty salad was found and suggested by my husband; it comes from the Swedish magazine “Allt om Mat”. Using strawberries in a savoury salad was new to me and I really liked it as an appetizer. The combination of sweet strawberries with vinaigrette and fresh vegetables is an excellent match.

    Strawberry salad
    Serves 4 as appetizer

    salad:
    500 gram fresh strawberries
    2 avocados
    a couple of spring onions
    250 gram cherry tomatoes
    a handful of rocket

    vinaigrette:
    2 tbsp Olive oil
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp honey
    a pinch of Maldon sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl.

Peel, pit and slice the avocados. Slice the strawberries. Slice the onions and halv the cherry tomatoes. Add avocados, tomatoes, strawberries, onion and rocket to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Gently toss until evenly coated.

Bacon and pear salad with Stilton dressing

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

It’s less than two weeks left until we move to the house and I’m so excited that I can’t sit still! Everyday I check my tomato plants that I planted last month and the kitchen table is full of seeds: four different kind of beets, several kinds of carrots and radishes, salad, mangold, spring onion and so many others… And not to forget my cucumber and water melon plants, also brought up from seeds just like the tomatoes. On the balcony I have strawberry plants and a gooseberry plant, and of course the rhubarb. As you can understand I’ll have a very busy summer in the garden. And during some of the coming warm summer evenings I’ll be having this delicious salad that we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago.

    Bacon and pear salad with Stilton dressing
    (adapted from BBC Food. Serves 4 as a starter)

    salad:
    2 pears, cored and thinly sliced
    1 large handful of fresh chervil, chopped
    1 large handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
    1 large handful of fresh dill, chopped
    1 large handful of fresh chives, chopped
    1 package (around 180-200 gram) of streaky bacon

    dressing:
    4 tbsp white wine vinegar
    5 tsp Dijon mustard
    100-150 ml olive oil
    100 gram Stilton cheese, crumbled
    Maldon sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    First make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk slightly, you’re supposed to have Stilton lumps in the dressing.

    Combine pear slices and herbs in a bowl. Fry the bacon until crisp and golden, remove it to a paper towel to drain. Break each bacon rasher in half with your hands. Put the bacon over the salad just before serving it with dressing on the side.

Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

This delicious Chinese chicken dish that apparently was labeled as politically incorrect during the cultural revolution is known under two names: Kung Pao and Gong Bao Ji Ding. The dish is named after a late Qing Dynasty governor of Sichuan called Ding Baozhen. But why two names of the same dish you may ask. Kung Pao is derived from Ding’s title, Gong Bao, and actually the two names of the dish refer to two different versions: the original Sichuan version (Gong Bao Ji Din) and the American version (Kung Pao chicken).

The most important difference is that the Sichuan version contains Sichuan pepper corns while the American version does not. For many years Sichuan pepper corns were illegal to import into the United States as they were potential carriers of a citrus tree disease. Nowadays there are new ways to process the pepper corns and the ban is abolished. But still the ban is the reson for the two different versions and why the American version doesn’t incorporate Sichuan pepper.

This recipe is my own version, a combination of the two versions. It’s probably not very authentic but it’s very tasty and both me and my husband love it. Add more garlic and pepper if wanted.

This is also an entry for Chinese Take-out party hosted by Mochachocolata-Rita. The lovely round up can be seen and read here.

Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken – my way
(serves 2-3 depending on hunger)

2 tsp sesame oil, for frying
1.5 tsp Sichuan pepper, crushed
1 medium sized dried chili (medium hot), crushed
450 gram chicken thighs (de-boned and skinless)
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or chopped
0.5 tsp ground ginger
6-8 spring onions
100 gram roasted peanuts

marinade:
2 tsp soya
1 tsp water

sauce:
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soya
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp instant concentrated chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
1 small pinch of Maldon sea salt
1 tsp maizena

Cut the chicken in bite size pieces or dices. In a bowl combine chicken with marinade ingredients.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a separate bowl.

Heat 2 tsp of sesame oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Fry the chili and Sichuan peppar for 2 minutes. Increase heat, add chicken and fry until the meat is almost white inside. In the meanwhile, chop the spring onions: discard 1/3 of the green and chop the rest.

Add garlic, ginger and chopped spring onions to the chicken. Stir-fry for a few minutes.

Stir the sauce and pour it into the pan/wok. Stir until the sauce has thickened a bit and then stir in the peanuts. Serve with cooked rice.

Bulgur with pomegranate and pistachios

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

This bulgur salad with pomegranate is very simple to do and it’s something that I often serve when cooking Middle Eastern food. The nuttiness in the bulgur goes really well with the pistachios and the pomegranate seeds add a nice sweetness, especially when serving with hot and spicy food. When you’ve tried this recipe you don’t want anything else to your Middle Eastern food. On the photo you can see that I’ve used whole bulgur, but you can use a smaller grain size; I’ve done this recipe successfully with cracked bulgur as well.

    Bulgur with pomegranate and pistachios
    (serves four when served with chicken or meat)

    100 gram peeled pistachio nuts
    1 pomegranade
    300 ml bulgur
    600 ml water
    1 tbsp instant concentrated chicken stock

    Pour water, stock and bulgur into a cooking pan. Bring to boil and let simmer under cover for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave under cover for 5 minutes.

    In the meantime, cut the pomegranate in half. Pour cold water into a bowl and submerge the pomegranate halves. While peeling keep the pomegranate under water. Remove the seeds carefully from the pith with your fingers, they’ll sink to the bottom while most of the pith and rind will float to the top. Collect the pith and rind with your hands and then drain the seeds in a sieve. This method will save you from red stains and makes the peeling a lot easier.

    In a serving bowl, combine bulgur, pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Serve with chicken tagine or any spicy Middle Eastern stew and yoghurt with garlic and mint.

Kalafior z bułką tartą (cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Sometimes the simple things in life are among the best, like this very easy and tasty cauliflower dish. Cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs is THE way to eat cauliflower in Poland, or at least in my family. To my pleasant surprise Pille wrote about the same dish some time ago as they also eat cauliflower in the same way in Estonia. In Sweden it’s often served gratinated in cheese sauce which doesn’t appeal to me at all.

This dish is one of those comfort dishes that I love to eat and the simplicity makes it a perfect snack or dinner when I’m very tired and hungry. When I was growing up we very often had it as a condiment or just ate it plain, nowadays I eat it more seldom as my dear husband dislikes cauliflower and I can’t eat a whole califlower by myself. But last week I found very small cauliflowers in the grocery store, perfect for one person and then I knew immediately what I would cook. This isn’t really a recipe, you just cook some cauliflower and then you take some butter and bread crumbs for the “sauce”.

    Kalafior z bułką tartą (cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs)
    (serves one)

    1 small cauliflower (300 gram)
    1.5 tbsp butter
    1.5 tbsp fine dry bread crumbs

    Boil the whole cauliflower in salted water for about 12 minuter, until soft enough but not too soft. You want it kind of al dente. If you’re using a large cauliflower then cut it in florets before boiling, and also boil it shorter. Drain the cauliflower and put it on a serving plate. Melt the butter in a pan, add the bread crumbs. Stir the mixture while it browns, this will take a couple of minutes. Pour/sprinkle the butter/crumb mixture over the cauliflower and serve.

Salad with feta cheese and watermelon

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

It’s very warm and sunny in Stockholm this week, but unfortunately I’m back at work again. I would much rather be having picknicks in a park with nice books to read and yummy snacks. But you can’t get it all so I have to make the best of the evenings instead. For warm summer days or evenings this salad is a winner. I’m sure that many of you have already tried the combination of feta cheese and watermelon; the saltiness of the feta cheese goes perfect with the refreshing and sweet watermelon. Serve the salad with some spicy grilled chicken and fresh bread, and you have a perfect dinner for sunny evening that makes you forget all about going to work again the next day. You don’t really need a recipe for this, but for reference here’s what I put in yesterday’s salad:

    Salad with feta cheese and watermelon
    (serves 4)

    around 1 kg watermelon, rinsed and sliced (and “peeled”)
    200 gram feta cheese, sliced
    a big handful of black olives
    1 small red onion, thinly sliced
    2 tsp extra vergine olive oil
    Fresh basil leaves

    Combine the ingredients on a serving plate. Drizzle some olive oil over the salad. Decorate with fresh basil.

Polish cottage cheese salad (twarożek z szczypiorkem i rzodkiewką)

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

This simple and refreshing summer salad with cottage cheese is very popular in Poland. I’ve eaten it every summer since childhood and will continue to do so. I make the salad exactly as my mother does, the way she learnt to do it from her mother, my dear granny.

    Polish cottage cheese salad
    (twarożek z szczypiorkem i rzodkiewką)

    3 spring unions
    12 large radishes
    400 gram cottage cheese
    150 ml crème fraîche (or sour cream)
    salt
    pepper

    Slice the spring onions. Grate the radishes. Combine spring onions, radishes, cottage cheese and crème fraîche. Salt and pepper. Serve with freshly baked bread.

Risotto al Gorgonzola

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

I love cheese and the funny thing is that I didn’t eat any blue cheese until a few years ago and now I can’t imagine myself without it. The Gorgonzola cheese is Italian and has a rather sharp yet creamy flavour. It’s perfect in food and yesterday I put it in my risotto which resulted in a great and delicious dinner. Risotto may sound difficult to make but it’s really easy as long as you take care of it and stir frequently. This risotto goes perfect with rocket/aragula/ruccola, cherry tomatoes and red onion.

    Risotto al Gorgonzola
    (serves 2-3)

    1 small onion, finely chopped
    50 ml Olive oil Extra Vergine
    300 ml Arborio rice
    1 litre warm broth (I used an instant one called “Italy” with pine kernels and tomato)
    100 gram gorgonzola cheese, cut in cubes
    20 gram Parmesan cheese, grated
    pepper
    (salt if needed)

    Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat.

    In another pan heat olive oil, add onion and sauté until tender and colourless. Add rice and stir for a minute or two. Add 200 ml of hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 100 ml at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 20 minutes. When done the rice corns should be creamy with an al dente kernel. Stir in the gorgonzola and parmesan cheese. Season the risotto with pepper (and salt if needed). Transfer to bowl and serve, eat immediately. Don’t reheat in the microwave, it won’t come out good. Serve with red onion, rocket (ruccula) and cherry tomatoes.