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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta carbonara one of my all time favorite pastas is easy,  fast and very filling.  I know that most Italians say that there should absolutly not be any heavy cream in a real carbonara but I also know that in some regions in Italy they use it and as I'm not Italian I use heavy cream in my carbonara because I thnk it tastes better.

This time I used pancetta which I think has a lot of taste but if you can't get a hold of that you can use regular bacon.  We drank a 2007 Chianti which I felt suited the dish perfectly.

I tend to do pasta dishes when I do not have a lot of time to cook.  Like I've written before, they are fast and tasty as well as kid friendly.  I have been working a lot during the last two weeks and therefore I haven't been blogging so much but I am now back to my regular schedule more or less so I hope to blog a bit more.

250 g pancetta 
1 bunch parsley
1 shallot
2 gloves garlic
pinch of red chili
2 dl white wine
3 dl heavy cream
3 egg yolk
2 dl shredded parmesean
salt & pepper

Dice the the pancetta, the shallot, garlic and chili.  Place these items in a hot pan and let sear for a minute or so.  Pour in white wine.  Let it cook.  In a bowl mix the egg yolks with 1 dl parmesean, 1 dl heavy cream and put aside.  Add the rest of the heavy cream to the pan and let it cook up a bit.  Add the cooked pasta into the sauce pan and then the rest of the parmesean and parsley.  Toss it around and remove it from heat and quickly pour in the egg mixture.  When you pour in the egg mixture give the pasta a quick toss and then serve... if the eggs starts to boil then you will have scrambled eggs (that's good too but not in a carbonara).  Done!  


Roasted Lamb

roasted lamb with fried sunchokes, pea puree and a dried tomato salad

Today was Valentines Day and so I made one of my wife's favorite dishes... lamb.  This evening I roasted a lamb roast beef and served it with a room temp dried tomato salad, pea puree and fried sunchokes.  The lamb was prepared in a classic way... rosemary and garlic rubbed, it was then left to slow cook for approximately 50 minutes at 125C.  The pea puree was made with peas and yogurt and lemon, a good tip for cooking green veggies is to add baking soda when boiling because it will then keep it's vibrant green color.  For the tomato salad I roasted the tomatos with olive oil, garlic and sage, salt and sugar.  I did the roasting while we slept last night, so they would dried out properly at 90C for about 8 hours.  When they were finished this morning I placed them in a jar with olive oil and a tiny bit of corn oil.  The ones which were not used for this particular dinner will hold for about 1 month in the fridge and the oil is great for cooking... it has lot's of flavor, it can be used for salads or as cooking oil.

The starch today was sunchokes which are currently in season.  For those of you who are not familiar with sunchokes they are a great addition to almost any meal.  They are very rich in flavor.  Think potato mixed with artichoke mixed with pear or something like that.  Today I roasted them but I often puree them.  Once you peel a sunchoke you should put them in water with lemon otherwise they turn black fairly quick.  The lemon water is just so they don't oxidize while you are doing other things, as soon as you can use them... do.

Today I am not giving a step by step recipe, this is a meal which sort of speaks for itself BUT if you want advice or further instructions please let me know and I will happily do what I can.  HAPPY VALENTINES.


Vegetarian of the week: Gnocchi

To make your own gnocchi might be a little complicated the first time but once you learn how the consistency of the dough should be then it is pretty easy.  It takes a bit of time  but it is so worth the effort. It is difficult to eat store bought after having eaten fresh made gnocchi, whether you make it or eat it at a restaurant.  I also think it is one of those meals that you will be proud of once you've made it.  Today I made arugula gnocchi but you can make plain or whatever herb or spice you'd like.  I served mine with eggplant parmesean but it could be served on it's own or with a fish or some kind of steak or whatever you are in the mood for and the eggplant is also something which can be it's own dinner if served with something else... Today we went all vegetarian.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

8-10 potatos
2 egg yolks
3 dl flour
1 glove garlic
1 bunch arugula
1/2 dl olive oil
salt n pepper

Gnocchi Sauce
1 shallot
2 gloves garlic
2 slices red chili
10 cherry tomatos
1 tbl butter
2 dl white wine

Eggplant Parm
2 small eggplants (aubergine)
3 eggs
1 dl shredded parmesean
1 bunch basil
1 tbl lemon zest
1 dl flour
1 dl water
salt n pepper

gnocchi ONE

gnocchi TWO

Start by peeling and then boiling the potatos.  Drain the water when the potatos are soft.  Mash them thoroughly.  Let them cool.

Meanwhile get started on the eggplant parmesean so begin by slicing the eggplant.  Whisk the three eggs with parmesean and flour, chopped basil, water and lemon zest.    Dip the eggplant slices into the egg/cheese mixture and fry them in olive oil until golden brown.  Approximately 2 minutes on each side.  Put the eggplant to the side while preparing the gnocchi and when you have approximately 10 minutes left then put them in the oven to reheat.

Back to the gnocchi.  Mix the arugula with the garlic and olive oil using a hand mixer or blender.  Place this mix into a food processor with the egg, potatos and the flour... if you don't have a food processor you can do it by hand but you need to be quick like an old Italian because if you work it too much it will get sticky.  Then when blended roll it out on a floured surface and proceed to make gnocchi as shown in images above which say "gnocchi ONE" and "gnocchi TWO".  Drop the gnocchi into boiling salted water.  When they pop up to the surface the are done.  Take them up and drain them.  Toss them in some olive oil.

To make the sauce, chop up the garlic, chili and shallot.  Slice the tomatos and put everything in a hot pan with olive oil, let it sear for one minute.  Add white wine, butter and then add the gnocchi.  Toss it with some parmesean, salt and pepper.  Done!


Lemon baked drumsticks with Tomato Polenta

These drumsticks are fun for the kids to eat because they can eat it and compare it to a lollipop.  Before baking I smother the chicken in herbs and lemon... so they are full of flavor and the polenta is a good substitute for rice, pasta or potatos.  Today I also served it with baby spinach, lemon and parmesean but it could be served with a nice salad or some other green.

What you will need for the CHICKEN is:
8 drumsticks
1 bunch tarragon (dragon, this is Swedish not a special kind of tarragon)
1 bunch sage (salvia)
3 gloves garlic
20 g butter
1 dl olive oil
peel of one lemon
salt & pepper

After peeling a lemon as shown below, dice into small pieces along with the herbs and the garlic.  Put everything in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Scrape the skin down on the drumstick as shown.  Dip the drumstick in the herb mix and then place on tin foil which has a click of butter then wrap.  Place in oven for one hour at 175C.

For the POLENTA you will need:
2 dl polenta
1 can crushed tomatos
2 garlic gloves
3 slices of red chili
1/2 yellow onion
2 dl heavy cream
4 dl chicken stock
1/2 dl gradded parmesean

Dice and then fry the garlic onion and chili in some olive oil.  Add the can of crushed tomatos and the chicken stock and the heavy cream.  Let it cook up for 5 minutes.  Blend it till smooth and then add the polenta and cook for 8 more minutes on low heat, stirring frequently.  Add some olive oil and parmesean and salt and pepper toward the finish.  Done.


Sunday Thoughts!

Fried herring

Let's get real, not everybody puts the time or energy  into eating healthy as well as tasty home made food.  But, I suppose if you are reading this blog then you are at least interested in just that?!  I don't always have an hour to make a dinner but I do however, usually, have a plan.  In the kitchen a plan is essential because it is time saving.  My planning always starts at the grocery store.

I usually look around to see what meats and fishes are in stock and for what price.  After the meat or fish is picked out then I go for the side dishes.  I usually shop for at least 6-7 days ahead so it is important to look at the dates to make sure everything will hold up.  I also try to plan the dishes which take the longest to prepare for weekends.  I would say most weekday meals take anywhere from 35-55 minutes which I think is pretty good.  How do I have time for this with I full-time job... I come home and get straight to work on dinner.  I try not to over complicate things in the kitchen when I don't have the time.  As I am a chef and cooking is what I do for a living what is fast and easy for me might not be as easy for you and so I think whomever is reading this blog should use recipes as suggestions and not get caught up in the details. For example don't do things which you find hard, if you think it's difficult to fine dice an onion don't... slice or chop it up however you want.  Is it time consuming to peel potatos, yeah when you've just worked a 10 hour shift and are hungry it is so leave the skin on.

Weekday: Brown beans with pork

Weekday: Pad Thai

Weekday: Pickeled herring with eggs and potatos

Weekday: Potato pancakes (raggmunk)

Weekday: Hamburgers

I think that what it all comes down to is priorities.  Dinner should be the high point of the day.  For me eating frozen fish sticks with a premade mashed potatos is not a high point.   This kind of food has nothing to offer me, it doesn't taste or look good nor is it nutrional.  It may be fast but at what cost?   I think that everyone has time to cook a decent meal everyday.  The question is do you want to and do you care.  It is not hard to eat home made and healthy food and it doesn't need to be complicated.  For example toss a whole chicken in the oven with some vegetables and then do whatever you want (kids, computer, etc).  Or a simple pasta with fresh veggies or a bolognese sauce.  I do my more complicated, time consuming food on the weekend.  As I wrote before I think planning is also very important.  For example  if I make a pizza on Saturday I make extra tomato sauce which I can then use during the week for a pasta.  Or  if you make a roast like I did yesterday there is always plenty of meat left over which I can use for a hash during the week (pytti panna).  I try to make and plan food which lends to other meals.  That way half the work is already done.  Sometimes if I am in the mood I will prepare a dinner the night before when either the kids are bathing or asleep for the night.  This way when I come home or when my wife comes home all we have to do is heat it up.  Another good way to save both money and time is to once a week empty out your fridge and make a soup.  Just take all the vegetables and put them in a pot and boil them with water or chicken stock, add heavy creme and mix it if you want a creamy soup or else have chowder.  Also if you have bread which is getting hard put it into the soup or make crutons.

Minestrone Soup

Tomato and bread soup

On the weekend is when I put more time into our meals.  Then I have energy to put more effort into the food.  The weekend is also a nice time to spend money on some better wines to par with the meals I prepare.

Weekend: Venison striploin

Weekend: Osso Bucco

Weekend: Flank Steak with bernaise sauce

To sum it up, cooking fresh food doesn't need to be hard or time consuming.  Make food you are comfortable with and make more challenging meals when you have the time.  I think cooking is like most things: the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more you plan the better the outcome!