Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The end of a chapter

I have finally finished reading Scarlet & Black some 16 or 17 years after starting it. I think this is some sort of personal record and a good way to bow out of 2008. I recommend it to anyone who wants a challenging yet satisfying read (and who has the time to read it).

I have a feeling it will be slightly difficult to celebrate a new year in a fitting manner when you emerge blinking into the 21st Century from the pages of a romantic French novel from 1830 and find yourself surrounded by Finns. However I intend to give it a go!

I won't offer any opinions or historical revisions to 2008 or any predictions for 2009. If you want those they can be found in many other places. I will just thank those who read the blog and wish you all the best for the future and if what we've made in the kitchen for the party tonight is good I will show you where I found the recipe!

Tonight was going to be me and the boss at home with a nice meal and a couple of bottles of champagne. This will have to wait until tomorrow night now and I cannot say how grateful I am that, while I am working on Friday, there will be no early alarm call as I am working the evening shift.

Plus ├ža change?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Carrot and bean soup

Winter is slowly becoming the norm in Finland. We still lack snow but the temperatures are now properly below zero and sticking there stubbornly. Yesterday was Finnish independence day and therefore a day off from work. Myself and the boss had a quiet day, we took a trundle down to Munkkiniemi area of Helsinki and just walked around for half an hour. Very nice and one to explore again in the summer. Alvar Aalto had his house there and his studio. You can visit both but at a price; 17€ per person. Maybe if we get a committed architect come and visit us we will take the plunge. Apart from that we might confine ourselves to just looking in from the outside.

Today it was back to work and it was a busy day. I was back on the bike & it was clear that I have been a bit of a waster recently and that stamina and fitness quickly drop away if you don't keep it up.

Once I got home and got myself cleaned up it was time for tea. This evening we made a rather nice white bean and carrot soup. This is a very simple to make supper and can be taken in many different ways. Enjoy.

White bean and carrot soup
150ml dried white beans, soaked overnight and cooked, drained with the cooking liquid reserved
3 large carrots chopped, boiled in salted water and drained
Chicken stock
Red Onion chopped
3 shallots chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Balsamic vinegar
Chorizo chopped

Gently heat the chicken stock in a saucepan
In a blender puree the carrots and all the beans apart from a handful
Add the pureed vegetables to the stock and mix together
In a separate pan fry the onions and chorizo, while they are frying give them a good dousing with some balsamic vinegar. Mine had lovely bits on the bottom so I deglazed the pan with some vermouth.
Once cooked add the onions to the soup
Season with salt and pepper

Heat up and serve with a sprinkling of freshly chopped basil or a swirl of olive oil.

I have to make sure I give credit where it is due and my sous chef prepared the beans to perfection. Obviously without this the soup would not have tasted as good. Thank you sous chef!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Turkey leftover risotto

Our thanksgiving dinner was excellent, we all had a great time, the food was good and the company was better. A few days later we are still working our way through the left overs. The carcass was duly boiled for stock and before we start to freeze it up we decided to make a risotto as it is a wonderful combination of stock and rice.

While I was idly preparing the soffrito I heard from the TV someone (OK it was Anthony Bourdain) talking about Moroccan cooking and the use of Paprika and Cumin in their cooking and being a suggestible fellow I immediately added these two ingredients to our risotto taking it off in an unexpected, but gutsy and pleasant direction.

Please remember that you have to careful with these two spices in a risotto: less is definately more here and as the result will be rumbustious this dish is best suited to a winter's day when you need food to warm you to the core. I am also taking huge libertys with a risotto here, but it is a dish I love to make and to eat and it's ability to be many different things is one of the things I love about it. Right, speech over. To the food.

Serves 2-3
1 Onion finely chopped
2 celery sticks finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1/4 of courgette finely chopped
100ml risotto rice
Dollop of vermouth
Leftover turkey roughly chopped
Warmed turkey stock 350ml
A dollop of double cream
1/4 white cabbage roughly chopped
1 small dried chili
Handfull of chopped chorizo
A good handful of freshly grated parmesan
A knob of Butter
Salt & Pepper

1) Make the sofrito,
Put a little olive in a pan and warm it through, fry the onion, celery, garlic and courgette. Fry gently for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and fry for a minute further. Then add the vermouth and let the alcohol evapourate.

2) Add the first ladleful of stock, stir constantly and as it reduces down top it up with more warm stock. Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked. Towards the end add the turkey.

3) In a separate pan fry the cabbage in a little olive oil, chorizo and chili.

4) Once the rice is cooked, combine the cabbage with the risotto. Remove from the heat, add the butter and cheese, put the lid on and leave for two minutes.


Of course there will be left overs! Enjoy.