Monday, 24 September 2007

Out of the Kitchen to Hoth

Soon it will be time to shut the Kitchen down and move it to Helsinki. Before that happens we will have a few weekends when things are quiet to get out and see a little of Norway before the year runs away with us.

Just to show how far things are advanced here I've included a photo from a wedding we attended at the weekend. We had a chance to take a quick walk before the ceremony and I've since discovered we were wandering over pretty much most of the film locations used in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Walking is one of my passions along with cooking and a spell away from the Kitchen can be a real good way to get yourself enthused again.

Tomorrow night I'm going to make a simple turnip soup. I kind of figured it out in my head earlier today and then did the research and I was very close. It's part of what I'm striving for in the Kitchen - a store of knowledge about the food we eat so that no matter what ingredients land in front of me something tasty, something worth sharing with friends, something comforting, somthing nurishing will come out. The simple stuff and the fancy stuff, it all needs to come from within, the recipe book in front needs to be less important than the knowledge in your head.

So if this turnip soup works well I'll be heading out for another walk.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Seasons & soppjakt

The year is turning fast, summer is really gone. All those weeks I managed to run around the house in my shorts are just a memory and we have really begun to think about buying some more woolen underwear.

This week the kitchen has been mirroring the change. Friday night, after a long week at work we managed to turn out a deeply autumnal risotto that welcomed in the change of the season. It came about in a good way which was true to the kitchen's ethic that it is wrong to waste food.

Last week when the boss was away I prepared some Palette du Porc a la biere for her return. It was delicious but we had too much sauce left over. So for our first risotto of autumn 2007 we converted the sauce into a stock (or in laymans terms we diluted it with water) for the risotto which gave it a deep richness that allowed the simple ingredients we used. I'm sure there are purists out there who would decry me for allowing a sauce that had french mustard in it anywhere near a risotto but I don't care.

In a slightly odd counterpoint to this the boss & I kicked back last night after service and had a couple of wonderfully stiff mojitos to say goodbye to a great summer.

As if further evidence was needed of the march of time the first snow was seen on Vassfjellet this morning when we got up. Unperturbed by this we went to nearby Bymarka to collect wild mushrooms and endured a day where we were snowed on, rained on, blown about and generally treated like a rag by the elements. Luckily we were well wrapped up so it was great fun to be out. The hunt itself was a desperately frustrating affair as we managed about 4 pig fungus and 1 small chanterelle. Still they were put to good use in tonights service.

Moving time is soon upon us so the challenge now is to empty the freezer of as much as possible. This makes service in the Kitchen very simple but probably means there'll be more time to clean which is my least favourite job!

Keep cooking and waste nothing!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Top tip

It's so simple but mix chorizo and slab bacon together. They bring out good things in each other.

Green Tea Ice Cream

We had a friend over for dinner on Sunday and decided that in his honour we needed to cook some Japanese food. He's German so Japanese was the natural choice!

What was due to be a fairly simple meat and rice dish became much more fun as we made some miso soup and some green tea ice cream.

First of all when it comes to Miso soup you need your Dashi stock. Like any stock home made stock is better than packet bought instant. Yes in mid Norway it is difficult to find seaweed and bonito flakes to make an authentic dashi but where there is a will there is a way and the results are better for it. So next time you make miso, go out and make proper stock.

Next time you make anything that needs stock - make your own.

Make a lot.

Freeze the excess.

It is worth it.

The other thing we made was green tea ice cream. This was hand made old fashioned ice cream needed just sugar, egg yolks, milk, cream and green tea powder. For those of you who are sceptical - it tasted wonderful, it wasn't too hard to make and it is a real wow at the table.

I'm very excited that the relocation of the Kitchen to Helsinki will make the availability of ingredients for Japanese food so much easier than here in Trondheim. However much I am enjoying the idea of living in a big, cosmopolitan town again there is a part of me that will be sad that the inventiveness that was needed here will be gone in the face of all the odd ingredients you could wish for in a big city.
Still no stopping progress hey?

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Getting ready to grow up

Tonight I am on my own in the Kitchen. My partner in crime has decided to head to England for a few days so I was left holding the fort and today was wine bottling day.

We've had some wine on the go for the last 6-8 weeks or so and today was, according to the schedule, bottling day. So after work I have gamely steriles anything even remotely concerning bottling (except myself) and have put wine into 15 bottles and have filled 2 x 5litre containers awaiting the next arrival of bottles. The kitchen is strictly artisan.

I actually thought that wouold be enough for tonights menu but was caught myself having so much fun that I did a ready, steady cook with the contents of the fridge. So here is a classic after work, weekday dish.

Salt & Pepper
Basil leaves

The basic principle here is that this dish should take no longer than it takes for the pasta to cook. So if it does you need to go back and try again.

Saute pan - cast iron, warm it up and then turn the heat down.
Olive oil
Chopped onions, garlic into the pan
Pasta on
Add chorizo to saute pan, brown
Add chilli - to illustrate how much of a cheats dish this is I took mine straight out of the freezer (yes you can freeze fresh chilli), chopped it and put it in
Add peas - whatever you have is fine, the best of course is straight out of your own garden. Tonight because of a stupid bet I used an out of date tin of marrowfat still tasted good.
Check pasta if cooked, drain and add to saute pan. Turn thge heat off. Good lug of olive oil and then onto the plate.
Pepper and cheese.
Last thing a few basil leaves, yes they struggle with the chorizo and the chilli but every now and then you just get something with them so I think it's worthwhile.


I was thinking earlier today that I need to define what kind of cook I am, I have a leaning towards bistro cooking (French) and Italian (specifically risottos, dishes involving pulses and pasta with sauces so generally the penne, fettucine variety), Thai and I like the idea of home made burgers and bread. I am not a great cooker of Chinese, Jewish, Turkish, Norwegian (although I have dabbled in that). Right now I think I wan t to go deeper into the few subjects I know about rather than wider. I still have a few quests - pastry, mentioned before but the others are

To be able to make a really good omlette with my eyes closed and to make a really good poached egg. Not just once but time after time after time.

Simple hey?

Am I talking about love or food?

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The Kitchen Re Opens!

Some of you may have noticed. Others might have missed it. The Kitchen closed in July and for some reason never got around to re opening in the summer. Life was being lived at a hectic pace, there were a lot of adventures, beer, food, travel and work. It was a work hard and play hard time but it didn't leave a lot of time to cook. Not in the way that inspires me to blog. It seemed like cooking was just another fuel stop on the way to the next horizon.

However now a cold coming at the end of the good summer weather, house hunting in Finland and big things at work have brought about a whopping great big full stop in my activities and actually allowed the kitchen to get a look in.

We will move to Finland in November which will necessitate the kitchen closing for a while but in the meantime I'm on a quest to find some wild mushrooms and to cook them with a nice juicy steak and a glass of red wine.

The home made wine will be ready for bottling in the next few days and that should be interesting and hopefully dreadfully alcoholic!


In other sad news my auntie Ivy passed away late last week and I don't know if I will make it to the funeral next Tuesday. What I do remember is the time we made one of those awful choclate rolls that you cover with some kind of sugary spread and serve at christmas. I didn't quite remember the whole recipe so we used normal sugar instead of caster or icing sugar. You can imagine how we had to crunch our way through the most unappealing christmas roll ever...however she laughed with me and not at me and that is how I will remember her.