Cooking several courses for the pescatarian crowd!

ImageButtermilk and raspberry sherbet with almond caramel

I recently cooked a six course vegetarian (or pescatarian) feast for a smaller crowd. I had created all the recipes from scratch and today I am going to share some of them with you! I know I have had some of the pictures on my Facebook page for many days now – sorry for the delay!

Pescatarian. Vegetarian. Vegan. All three are very interesting to me. It is no secret that I love to cook, and by limiting myself to fewer ingredients I have to be more innovative and creative. I love meat – I really do. But I am not one of those persons who cannot survive without a T-Bone and half a pound of bacon. These thoughts inspired me to go almost entirely vegetarian for a week, forcing myself to explore simple and humble ingredients. I like to make food look good and I love ’high-class’ dining. With these thoughts in my head I went into my own little think tank and started creating the dishes for this minor event. The theme was high class vegetarian (or pescatarian) dining (one dish contained salmon).

Trying to keep this post relatively short I will only post some recipes and some pictures. In case you are interested in more please do comment or contact me and I shall provide you with more details.

The recipes I will share with you are the following three:

Image

Caramelized pear and onion. Acidic pear crisp. Horseradish and parsley coulis.

3 big handful fresh parsley (NOT FLAT LEAF)

3 dl / 1.2 cups cream

1 dl / 0.4 cups milk

2,5 cm / 1 inch piece of horse raddish (chopped)

Half an onion

One red onion

One pear + one extra for crisps

Freshly grated horseradish

Oil

Salt and pepper

Apple vinegar

Cut one of the pears into thin shavings and transfer to a bowl. Add apple vinegar and leave for at least half an hour. Remove, pat dry and transfer to a dehydrator. Dehydrate until crispy. They will be sweet and slightly acidic in taste. Cut the onion and the other pear in four pieces. Brush with oil and bake in the oven for two and a half hours at 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit). Blanche the parsley for one minute in boiling water and transfer to an ice bath. In a saucepan add cream, onion and horseradish and reduce to one third. Add milk and the blanched parsley and blend. Run through a sieve. Taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.

Arrange on the plate and sprinkle with freshly grated horseradish.

Image

Smoked cream cheese mayo. Pink lady apple shaving. Shavings of radish. Croûton fried in cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Horseradish and chives.

2 egg yolks

2 dl. / 0.85 cups Oil

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

2 tablespoons smoked cream cheese

Apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

Bread cut into squares

1 dl / 0.4 cups chopped chives

½ dl / 0.2 cups chopped or grated horseradish

1 pink lady apple

4-6 radishes

Cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Grated horseradish and finely cut chives

Whip the egg yolks for half a minute and SLOWLY add the oil – few drops at the time. Once all the oil has been incorporated add the crème fraîche and the cheese and taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.

Fry the croûtons in cold-pressed rapeseed oil for one to two minutes on each side and transfer to a paper towel. With a speed peeler peel the radishes length-wise and make the shavings look like a rose – this is a little tricky and will take you a few minutes. Trial and error is the way to go. Cut the apple into thin pieces/shavings and organize everything on a plate and sprinkle horseradish and chives. This is a great appetizer.

Image

Pearl barley risotto. Salmon with lemon zest. Green asparagus. Leek coulis.

Risotto

300 g / 10.5 oz pearl barley

1 onion

1 dl / 0.4 cups white wine (dry)

1 l / 4.2 cups vegetable and fish stock

75 g. / 1.4 oz Parmesan cheese

40 g. 0.7 oz butter (divided)

Cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Lemon zest

A small handful of thyme

Add half the butter with a few tablespoons of oil in a pot. Fry the onion on low heat on 3-5 minutes. Add the pearl barley and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the white wine and stir. Once the white wine has vaporized start adding the stock a little at the time. Once the pearl barley has cooked (around 20 minutes) turn off the heat. Add the rest of the butter, the Parmesan cheese, the lemon zest and the thyme and cover with a lid for 2 minutes before serving.

Asparagus

12 green aparagus

Lemon zest

Salt and pepper

Cold-pressed rapeseed oil

20 g. / 0.35 oz butter

Cut the bottom of the asparagus. Add all ingredients to a pan and fry the asparagus on medium heat until done (4-8 minutes depending on the size)

Salmon:

400 g / 14 oz salmon cut in equal sized

Lemon zest

Cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Lemon juice (3-4 tablespoons)

Salt and pepper

Sprinkle the salmon with the oil, zest and juice, and salt and pepper, and grill in an oven or BBQ on very high heat for 5-8 minutes (or until done).

Leek and mint coulis:

4 dl / 1.7 cups cream

½ red onion

1 tablespoon of chopped Moroccan mint

1 leek

Apple / apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients besides vinegar, salt and pepper in a sauce pan and cook on medium high heat until reduced to half. Blend and taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. If you want a more ’silky’ coulis run through a sieve before serving.

Plate the four elements and serve.

I hope you enjoyed! 🙂

Advertisements

Chris’ chocolate, licorice and raspberry trio

Image

Dense chocolate ice cream with fluffy licorice meringue and acidic raspberry sauce (serves 8 people)

I love licorice. Salty, sweet, chewy, hard, soft – you name it. Being a licorice lover it often bothers me that the flavor is such a rarity in not just the dessert kitchen, but in general. I have been to Iceland twice and my family has good friends from Iceland so I remember receiving packages for Christmas with Icelandic candy while growing up. One particular flavor combination that I really liked was chocolate and licorice – something I had not tried anywhere else in the world. It is a flavor combo that I have seen very few times since although it works so very well together. A week ago I decided to buy some raw licorice root powder to try to experiment a little and bring back a distant memory from my childhood. Licorice is ‘Nordic’ and very trendy, but essentially the decision was made because I am a sucker for licorice and I wanted to rediscover the flavor combination of licorice and chocolate.

Trying to re-create childhood memories I started brainstorming. I wanted to make a dessert, which would bring in a dominant chocolate flavor with a hint of licorice. Overwhelming licorice flavor would most likely scare some people off so a subtle hint was what I was looking for. At the same time I did not want to invent or reinvent anything, but rather bring in licorice as an addition to classic flavors and textures, which was why I chose to work with ice cream and meringue. Also, both licorice and chocolate are quite heavy flavors so I needed to bring in some contrast. As the licorice has a salty dimension and the chocolate will work as the main sweetener I wanted something acidic to ‘lighten’ up the dish. I decided to use raspberry as it has a clean and crisp flavor, and accompanies dark or dense chocolate very well.

So…. Here you go. Chris’ Chocolate, licorice and raspberry trio. Enjoy!

Image ImageImage

Chocolate ice cream
350 ml / 1.5 cup heavy cream/whipping cream

350 ml / 1.5 cup whole milk

120 g / 4 oz. semi sweet chocolate

1 dl / 0.4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1½ dl / 0.7 cup sugar

1 vanilla pod

4 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Heat the milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile melt the chocolate on a double boiler. Take the milk off the stove. De-seed the vanilla pod and mix the seeds with a little bit of the sugar. Now whisk in cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla sugar, melted chocolate and a pinch of salt in the warm milk and cream. In a separate bowl whisk together the four egg yolks until pale yellow and thick. Add about one fourth of the hot chocolate milk to the egg yolks while whisking vigorously, and then pour it back into the saucepan. Heat the chocolate and egg yolk mixture on low heat for about 5 minutes (until it is thick and covers the backside of a wooden spoon). Remove the mixture from the stove and leave to cool. After 45 minutes transfer the mix to the fridge and leave until completely cold, and freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to the freezer and freeze for at least one hour (several hours or even overnight is recommended).

Licorice meringue
4 egg whites

110 g sugar

110 g icing sugar

3 teaspoons raw licorice powder + 1 teaspoon to sift on top

Whisk together egg whites until they start to thicken. Combine licorice powder and sugar. Add one tablespoon of the licorice sugar at the time while whisking vigorously. Once the mixture is very stiff sift one third of the icing sugar over the mixture and fold it in with a spoon or spatula. Repeat until all the icing sugar has been combined with the egg mixture. Arrange the meringue on a baking tray and sprinkle/sift one teaspoon of licorice powder on top, and bake at 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour and 15 minutes in a conventional/gas oven or 1 ½ hour in a fan oven.

Raspberry sauce

80 g / 3 oz. fresh or frozen raspberries

4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons water

Combine water and raspberries in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Mash the berries using a whisk. Strain the mixture and reserve the liquid. Heat the liquid again and add sugar and lemon juice. Reduce by one third and remove from stove. Let the sauce cool before use.

Arrange as you like and enjoy!!

Midtfyns Bryghus – Let’s have a beer and cook some food!

IMG_5795

Midtfyns Bryghus, a microbrewery centrally located on the Island of Funen, Denmark. In 2006 when the brewery was only two years old the American born ‘bon vivant’ Eddie Szweda took over the operation. After just a few years at the helm he had positively transformed this unknown brewery and helped putting Funen on the map of great breweries – nationally as well as internationally.

Not the ordinary brewery

There are plenty of reviews of Midtfyns Bryghus’ beer, so I will focus on two very different aspects; the brewery itself and a recipe of a delicious sauce made from the brewery’s ‘Imperial Stout’.

I have visited breweries before but Midtfyns Bryghus is different. I met Eddie during the ‘Cherry Festival’ in Kerteminde in Denmark where he had a small stand promoting and selling his beers. I asked him if he would have time to give me a quick tour of his brewery as I am writing an article about the culinary island life on Funen. He was very open and enthusiastic, and a week later I drove to Årslev to see what they are all about. From the very first moment I knew that Midtfyns Bryghus was not the ordinary microbrewery. One thing I love about smaller breweries is the passion for beer. Not just the final product but also the very process itself: brewing and coming up with new ideas and concepts. This was no different at Midtfyns Bryghus. Same enthusiasm and passion, but it did not end there. Looking at the beers, the shop (located at the brewery), the future plans and ideas, the awards, the hospitality, Eddie’s character and the operation itself it was clear to me that Midtfyns Bryghus is much more than just a brewery; it is a gateway to Danish culture, it is the American dream, it is quality of service and products, and it is innovative and responsible solutions. Eddie recently relocated from Brobyværk to Årslev and bought brand new, custom made brewing equipment from the Danish company JTM Brew owned by Thomas and Jesper. Cheaper solutions exist in countries like China, but Eddie wanted the money to stay in the country, which was one of the reasons why he purchased the more expensive Danish solution. I was lucky enough to meet Thomas, one of the two owners, at the brewery. He was helping Eddie in the production, which I found very interesting. The commitment from JTM Brew, the appreciation from Eddie and the rest of the crew as well as the common passion for beer and the craft of brewing makes this relationship between buyer and supplier genuine and beneficial. Another part of Midtfyns Bryghus that was very remarkable was the fact that all the beer labels do not just have beautiful designs, which function as lures to the human eye, but are all printed in braille making it possible for visually impaired to examine the beer before buying it. The brewery is, according to Eddie, the only one in the world doing that.

From left to right: (1) Eddie in front of newspaper articles (2) Chris, a happy blogger tasting the ale (3) The new equipment at Midtfyns Bryghus

ImageImageImage

Midtfyns Bryghus sells twelve different beers plus an additional three seasonal. As I few days after the visit had to cook for a smaller birthday event I decided to use one of the beers to create a recipe in honor of Midtfyns Bryghus as well the birthday kid (my mom!). I generally think that beer is completely overlooked in cooking, so I though it would be a fun little challenge to implement the taste of Funen and Midtfyns Bryghus in a dish. I wanted to make a gravy that would suit lamb, or any kind of game, a rebellious act as wine is often the flavor agent in these kind of sauces. I decided to use the ‘Imperial Stout’, a full-bodied beer brewed from a blend of roasted malt varieties and aged with oak wood, and add typical game flavors like rosemary and juniper berries. I wanted strong flavor without overpowering the beautiful chocolate, oak, vanilla and coffee characters of the beer, so keeping it simple was the key. It turned out to be super delicious and of course we share the recipe with you!

From left to right: (1) Ale at Midtfyns Bryghus (2) A selection of beers from Midtfyns Bryghus (3) Lamb on the BBQ

ImageImageImage

Lamb with Imperial Stout gravy (serves 6 people)

Gravy
4 dl. / 1.7 cup Imperial stout from Midtfyns Bryghus

2 dl. / 0.9 cup Vegetable stock

200 g / 7 oz. carrots (cut in chunks)

200 g. / 7 oz. onions (cut in chunks)

50 g. / 1.8 oz. celery (cut in chunks)

10-15 juniper berries (crushed)

1 big sprig fresh rosemary

50 g. / 1.8 oz. butter butter

2 tablespoon oil (canola works well)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 dl. / 0.9 cup heavy cream/whipping cream

2 tablespoons molasses sugar or cane sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Add oil to a vessel and heat on high flame. Add carrots, onions, celery, juniper berries and rosemary and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the stock and the stout and reduce by one third. Strain and reserve liquid. In a sauce pan add the butter and heat on medium flame. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 5-10 minutes (until the mixtures is dark caramel brown). Add the hot beer/vegetable stock little by little while whisking. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and add sugar and vinegar. Taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Lamb

1 kg / 2.2 pounds lamb culotte (or other similar cut like sirloin)

8 small twigs of fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

10 Juniper berries

8 cinnamon sticks (Cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon)

1 dl / 0.4 cup olive oil

Coarse sea salt

With a sharp knife pierce the lamb meat and force the rosemary twigs and cinnamon sticks through. Using a mortar and pestle crush the juniper berries and black peppercorns. Add olive oil. Drizzle the meat with the juniper flavored oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cook in an oven or BBQ until the core temperature has reached 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). Cover with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! It is delicious!

Read more

http://www.midtfyns-bryghus.dk/ (Danish)

http://jtmbrew.com/ (Danish / English)

Sweet onion BBQ sauce

Image

If one food could be said to epitomize summer it would be ribs. Ribs go hand in hand with summer, sun, BBQ and cold brewskis, which is why the smell of a baby back on the grill makes me want to put on my sunglasses and open a Corona. Barbecuing is a science in itself so I will not get into the techniques and different schools, but instead give you my own recipe of a delicious sweet onion sauce which goes very well with ribs (and many other things!).

Before I give you the recipe I would like to discuss something real quick. What makes a good barbecue sauce? I’ve made barbecue sauces many times and over the time I have learned that the most important ingredient is sugar. Whether you use simple syrup, refined sugar, corn syrup, molasses sugar, cane sugar or natural sugar from, say, apple juice, it is very important. You want a dense sauce, which will caramelize and stick to the meat, which is why sugar is such an important ingredient. If your BBQ sauce lacks sugar it will never stick to the meat, and even if it does, it will not give it that finger-licking deliciousness that you are looking for. Okay, sugar is important but you want flavor too. One of the most appetizing smells is onions frying in a pan. Many hot dishes, whether we are talking curries, stews, sauces or oven dishes, start with onions frying in oil, which is why this particular aroma often awakens a hidden appetite – it means food is on its way! By adding this smell (and flavor!) to our sauce the guest will certainly build up an appetite while waiting for the food to be done, which is why I love this sweet onion sauce.

ImageImageImage

Sweet onion BBQ sauce

3 teaspoon white mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 whole star anise

2 red onions

2 cloves garlic

chili (as much as you like)

70 g / 2.5 oz tomato concentrate

1 dl / 3.8 oz Ketchup (Heinz works very well!)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

5 dl / 17 oz apple juice or apple cider

½ dl / 1.7 oz syrup

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon English Sauce or Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vinegar (whatever kind you like – neutral, apple cider or balsamic work well)

3 tablespoons molasses sugar or cane sugar

Canola or other oil

Salt.

Blend together onions, garlic, chili (without seeds) and tomato concentrate. Fry on low heat in a couple of tablespoons of oil for about 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile toast fennel and mustard seeds with star anise and the black peppercorns on a pan on very low heat for the same amount of time. Grind the spices and add to the sauce with the paprika, onion and garlic powder. Fry for another minute. Add the ketchup and mix all the ingredients well. If starting to stick just add more oil. Fry until the mixture is dense and dark in color (another few minutes). Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat until the sauce is very thick and dark brown, stirring occasionally (around 45 minutes). Add salt to taste.

Leave the sauce to cool and blend until smooth using a stick blender or blender/liquidizer. This sauce can easily be stored in the fridge for a long time.

Make sure you DO NOT apply this sauce until the last 20 minutes of cooking or all the sugars will start to burn rather than caramelize. Also, keep it away from direct heat (if possible).

Go ‘cue it up!