New Nordic Cuisine

Here I am yesterday in my chef’s whites back for another program at my alma mater.  The course New Nordic Cuisine is following a style similar to Danish chef Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer of the famed Noma restaurant, named best restaurant in the world by the San Pelligrino group of judges. I feel right at home and familiar with this as I spent the first 6 years of my life in Sweden and Finland.  The colourful and healthy dishes are full of flavour. The ingredients may be challenging to find depending on where you are living and what markets you have access to. I have included some images and if there are requests for instructions,  I will happily provide them. I just loved the colours and flavours of this cuisine.

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At my alma mater with my favourite hand forged Japanese chef’s knife (covered in it’s wooden sheath). I want to sing each time I use it.

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Nordic Grains with Wild Mushrooms and Turnips

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Flowers and Roots Salad

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Better Than Swedish Meatballs

Another great comfort food for game day and those cold winter nights!  Everybody loves meat balls!  suomenlippuSwedish meatballs are famous possibly because of IKEA . Better than Swedish meatballs are Finnish meatballs. I make them in quantity, serve them or make ahead and freeze until the big event!  Deeeelicious!
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INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 pound lean ground meat
1/2 pound ground pork
1 onion, minced
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons butter for frying
1 tablespoons minced parsley
1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons flour (optional for sauce)
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Soak the bread crumbs in cream.
2.  Mix together the ground beef, ground pork, minced onions and soaked bread crumbs.
3.  Mix together the beaten eggs, salt, allspice and minced parsley.  Add to the meat mixture and combine well but do not overwork.
4. With about 1 teaspoon of the mixture, form meatballs avoiding “packing” the meat, which makes for tough meatballs.  Melt butter in a frying pan and put in the meatballs a few at a time.  Shake the pan to swirl the meatballs, cooking them on all sides.IMG_1451
5. After all the meatballs are fried return them to the pan and cook another 25 minutes or alternatively place in a 300F oven for 25 minutes.

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jing_yangIt’s all in the  SAUCE!
WHITE SAUCE: You can add a few tablespoons of flour to the drippings in the frying pan, cook and then add a cup of milk to make a white sauce to serve with the Finnish meatballs*.
BROWN SAUCE: is served with Swedish meatballs.
*The single addition of the ground allspice is what really elevates the Finnish meatballs.

These Finnish Meatballs Are Rough Looking Because They Are Soft And Tender As Any Tenderloin Steak!

These Finnish Meatballs Are Rough Looking Because They Are Soft And Tender As Any Tenderloin Steak!

HAT2SERVING SUGGESTIONS ( TIPS ): As a main course, Scandinavian MEATBALLS are classically served with lingonberry preserves, cucumber salad and dilled or mashed potatoes.  For a crowd of people, you can serve these savory meatballs as a snack or an appetizer. You simply leave the meatballs in a slow cooker for hours and let people help themselves. Place shish kabob fine wood skewers in a glass next to the meatballs. Let people help themselves.  Include assorted raw vegetables as finger food; sticks of raw celery, carrots, bell peppers (not ghost peppers), cucumbers and green beans (slightly blanched).  If you make the meatballs ahead of time, they are just as tasty reheated on game day!  These meatballs are high in protein and will keep you going for hours.
VARIATION: Mix chopped spinach into your meatball mixture before constructing  the meatballs. Once I tried it for fun and I got future requests. It’s actually quite good!

YOUR FOODIE TIP
Do you have garlic smell on your fingers when you have finished handling garlic while cooking? Or, onion odour on your fingers after chopping onions?
You can either:
1) Scrub your fingers
2) Purchase a stainless steel bar and wash your fingers gently with this bar.
3) Rub your fingers along the back of your stainless steel knife.

Pick no 3.  Rub your fingers along the back length of the knife! Grasping the knife with all 5 fingers ~ see diagram . You’ve got a knife in your hand anyway. You will save on the cost and having to store the stainless steel bar or won’t be scrubbing your skin until it’s red. Your fingers will be immediately wonderfully odourless! It only take a second.

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Your Foodie Tip – Onions

Every day when you cook something you almost invariably have to cut onions.  It appears to be unavoidable. Well, how are you cutting your onions?

IMG_1391If you cut your onions horizontally, you may have these unmanageable round rings in your soup and pick up the pieces on your spoon the soup can easily splatter. Don’t wear your good white blouse!

I remember  Julia Child discuss this as well.  Cut the onion in half from the root end to the tip and then slice.  That way the slices are manageable when eating a soup or another dish.  No long circular strands hanging down.IMG_1388

Please don’t cut off that stem.  If you leave the stems on your onion, you will have a handle to use to do your fine dicing.  If you watch the chef’s on TV dicing onions like a human Cuisinart, they never show cutting the end of the onion do they?
Well that’s a problem especially if you have no stem or handle it is difficult and not so elegant to deal with the end.  This is so much easier!IMG_1392

Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust ~ Healthy Back to School Snack!

kids32 Your hungry kids need a snack when they come home from school.  Surprise them with gluten free CAULIFLOWER CRUSTED PIZZA!  I tested a few variations for a cauliflower pizza in my foody lab (kitchen).  In one version, I used ground almonds in the crust. It had a  grainy consistency. Perfect for a base as an appetizer or an hors d’oeuvres. Thumbs down for a kid’s pizza.  In another version, I combined eggs and cauliflower plus my magic flavorings. My friend’s kids eyebrows  went up on the first bite. Mikey likes it! A home run!

Here is the healthy,  yummy RECIPE
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pizza456INGREDIENTS
1 cauliflower medium head about 2 lbs.
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets and place in your food processor along with the garlic cloves. Pulse until fine, like rice.
3. Place cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out all liquid until very dry.
4. Place the cauliflower in a clean bowl and combine with mozzarella,  Parmesan cheese,  eggs, thyme, oregano, pepper and salt.
5. Place the cauliflower mix on a pizza pan (or baking sheet) lined with parchment and spread evenly with fingers or a rolling pin.
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6. Bake in the oven until the crust is crisp and the edges are golden, about 25-30 minutes.
7. Allow the cauliflower to cool slightly while you assemble the toppings.
8. Add your favourite sauce and toppings. I used my baked tomato sauce  as a topping.

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9. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly; about 15-20 minutes longer.

pizza_hamI left the kitchen and came back to take a picture of a slice and the pizza was all gone!  The kids said the pizza monster was here .  I enlarged part of the whole pizza to show you the added ham -for all you Carnevours. This veggie+(ham) powered pizza needs to make its way into your kitchen. Kids learn about gluten and grains from school. They may look forward to a gluten-free pizza. Today’s food buzz is “cauliflower” crusted pizza. Even though it has been around for a few years, there are still some people that have never heard of it.   What’s neat is that it doesn’t taste like cauliflower.
HAT2FOOD TIP: Place a piece of parchment on top of the cauliflower mix and move a rolling pin over it. This will give you and even crust guided by the edges of the pizza pan. Make this crust in advance and refrigerate (up to 4 days). You can add the sauce and toppings later on.  Use Asiago cheese in place of the mozzarella. Toppings:  Add prosciutto,  crushed red pepper flakes and basil (my favourite). YUM!

How do you fit parchment into a circular pan?                                                                                          First measure the diameter of the pan. Fold the parchment several times like you did when making a snowflake cut out in school and then cut to half the diameter of the pan.  The parchment will now fit your  pizza or cake pan.

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Baked Tomato Sauce Recipe

My Baked Tomato Sauce is so EASY to make! The magic is in the fresh ingredients. No more stirring and simmering over a hot stove.
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INGREDIENTS
2 lbs or 1 kg tomatoes
1 small tin anchovies (drained and diced)
3 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 tsp.(2ml)  freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp.(2ml)  hot red chili flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp. (1ml) salt (optional)
1/4 cup (50 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (50ml.)   chopped fresh basil or parsley
add 6 thyme sprigs (optional / recommended) and/or sliced onions before baking.

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DIRECTIONS
1)  Preheat oven to 350F(160C)
2)  Slice tomatoes into 1/2″ (1 cm.) slices and layer in a casserole dish with the chili flakes, anchovies, garlic and pepper.  Optionally add salt as well.  Pour olive oil on top.
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3)  Roast in the oven for 1 hour or until the tomatoes are soft and caramelized.
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4)  Keep warm and cook your pasta.
5)  Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle with the basil or parsley.

in-depthIN DEPTH:
Read more….
Interesting back story
Please click “HERE“.

The CLASSIC PASTA DISH (Home made)

The CLASSIC PASTA DISH (Home made)

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW? HEIRLOOM Tomatoes are increasing in popularity by the organic veggie consumers because they are a more natural and flavourful fruit. TOMATOES are armed with healthy Lycopene fighting free radical and the UV tomato skin battles cancer cells – every time you eat a tomato. The amount of bioavailable lycopene increases by cooking the tomato compared to eating them raw.  When you add a bit of healthy fat like olive oil, your body absorbs the lycopene more readily – four times more in fact. That’s how you maximize the body readiness of carotenoids from a tomato.This popular nightshade fruit is more powerful than an apple. Like carrots, the tomato is also good for your eyes.