12 Apr 2016

Authentic Cesar Salad - Super-quick Feast

The name of this famous salad is often falsely attributed to Julius Caesar. However, the Roman Emperor had nothing to do with this salad - he probably had bigger fish to fry - instead it was first assembled by a man called Caesar Cardini. This latter Caesar was a chef who operated number of a restaurants in the States and Mexico. Legend has it that on July 4 1924, Cardini invented the salad in a moment of desperation as he realized that his Tijuana restaurant had run out of supplies in the kitchen during the height of the evening rush. So he threw together the remaining ingredients and the Caesar salad was born! However, not everyone agrees this was the case. Cardini's friend, Paul Maggiora claims to have made the salad for the first time in 1927 and presented it to a group of American pilots, and consequently named the salad "Aviator's Salad". Cardini's brother, Alex, also stated that he had invented the salad in 1925, also for pilots. Who the real author of the salad is, we'll never know for certain. What we do know is that it's tasty and it helped bring Caesar's restaurants to fame.

I tasted the salad for the first time around five years ago at a fancy restaurant in town and it was, as everybody knows, delicious. The salad was big  and meaty with large pieces of crunchy romaine lettuce, succulent chicken, beefy chunks of Parmesan cheese, and topped with a sharp heavy sauce. Ever since then it's been a special favorite of mine! I encourage you to make the salad, it's equally simple as it is scrumptious - especially if you make the dressing from scratch. 

Authentic Cesar Salad - Super-quick Feast

For the salad:

1 head romaine lettuce
150 g bacon
2 chicken breasts
2 large slices of good bread
100 g Parmesan cheese
2 medium-sized tomatoes
Garlic oil

For the dressing:

3 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp sour cream
2 anchovies
1 garlic clove
Juice from half a lemon
1 tbsp water
20 g grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

The salad:

1. Season the chicken breasts and fry on a pan. Once they begin to color, tranfser to an oven-proof dish and bake in a 180°C oven. Cook until the internal temperature is 82°C. Remove from the oven and set to the side. 

2. Cut the bread into dice-size pieces and fry in garlic oil until their golden-brown and crunchy.

3. Fry the bacon and set to the side.

4. Tear the romaine lettuce into smaller leaves, chop the tomatoes and carefully arrange in bowls.

5. Cut each chicken breast into 3-4 pieces and place on top of the lettuce and tomatoes. 

6. Place the bacon on top, followed by the breadcrumbs and finally the Parmesan cheese. 

7. Pour a generous amount of dressing over the lot.

The dressing: 

1. Put the anchovies and garlic into a mortar and mash together until you have a rough paste. 

2. In a bowl, blend together the mayo, sour cream lemon juice and water.

3. Add the anchovies and garlic-paste and season rigorously. Mix well together.

The feast doesn't have to be complicated!

19 Mar 2016

Close-to-Perfect Beef Tenderloin with Cheese Sauce and Baked Potato

This recipe is perfect for those who are taking their first steps on the journey of sous-vide cooking. On the other hand, those of you who have already entered the upper echelons of sous-vide mastery, can also use the recipe in conjunction with your preferred sous-vide equipment and cooking techniques.

With all my naturally-endowed humility, I call this steak 'close-to-perfect'. I only say this, though, because through this method the meat is perfectly and evenly cooked through. I usually use an immersion circulator to cook the meat but I wanted to introduce an alternative method to achieve similar results. This method - wrapping the meat in plastic foil and cooking in an oven set to 60°C - is closer to how the whole sous-vide movement began, and therefore also serves as a ideal introduction. And don't worry about using plastic in the oven; the temperature is too low to influence any chemical reactions in the plastic. The issue has been thoroughly researched!

The cheese sauce is almost purely made from cheese. It is based on a French recipe named after the cheese that is used, Saint-Marcellin cheese, which is a lovely soft cow's milk cheese. This cheese comes from the Dauphiné region France. However, you can use any soft cheese that you like, such as brie or camenbert. Be adventurous in your gastronomic experiments and trust in your taste! 

Close-to-Perfect Beef Tenderloin with Cheese Sauce and Baked Potato

Beef tenderloin
Salt and pepper

Cheese sauce:

250 g delicious soft cheese
60 ml cream
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

First step is to rinse the meat, and cut away sinews and tendons. Don't use salt at this point because it will absorb moisture from the meat as it cooks. Pepper is fine, encouraged!

Wrap the steak in plastic foil, at least 6 layers - and the regular household kind will suffice. Heat the over to 60°C. Transfer to the oven and roast for around 2 hours.

Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for a few moments. Melt the butter in a pan, season the
steak with salt and brown on the outside.

Allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing it.

Heat the cream in a small pot. Chop the cheese and add it to the warm cream.

Melt and mix together on low heat. When the cheese is fully melted, grate the nutmeg into the sauce and season to taste.

We had this vigorous Merlot wine with the food, 2012 Marques de Casa Concha Merlot from Chile. Pungent red wine, thick texture and juicy full bodied mouthfeel. Fruit forward - plums and ground spices. Delightful pour!

If you are interested in exploring this cooking technique, I highly recommend the Sansaire immersion circulator. It's definitely worth it!

The feast continues!

6 Mar 2016

Invigorating Chili sin Carne with Nachos, Grated Cheese and Yellow Corn

I was at a dinner party the other day with good friends and the menu consisted solely of veggie food. I was so impressed by one of the dishes that the host gave me the book in which she'd found the recipe: Anna Jones: A Modern Way to Eat. Highly recommended! Anyways, the following day I was browsing through the recipes in the book and a wonderful take on a chili sin carne, aptly titled Proper Chili. Can a veggie chili overshadow the meat-version? I asked myself ... hardly! There was of course only one way to find out. And I have to admit, this is one the greatest chilis I've ever tasted. I might a have adjustments to her recipe, for example, I had to alter the proportions of beans because I didn't have the amount called for. But that's way with recipes - they're constantly changing. And the result was lip-smacking amazing! It was so tasty that my wife applauded in sheer gastronomic delight! I instantly regretting telling her that the recipe was mostly stolen - the honor could have been all mine!

Invigorating Chili sin Carne with Nachos, Grated Cheese and Yellow Corn 


8-10 servings.

1 red onion
4 garlic cloves
5 cm ginger
1 red chili
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp chipotle puree
2 cans canned tomatoes
150 g Puy lentils
150 g bulgur
200 g quino tricolore (mixed)
400 g mixed canned beans (e.g. kidney beans, brown beans and  augnbaunir og brĂșnar baunir)
1,5 l vegetable broth
2 tsp cocoa powder
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Nachos (or tortillas)
1 finely chopped chili
Yellow corn
Grated cheese
Fresh coriander

First step is to fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chili in hot oil until soft. Drop the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves in there also. Season with salt and pepper.

Then introduce a bit of spice: Chili powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, chipotle puree, cacao powder. Stir well together and fry for a few minutes with the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the canned tomatoes and heat to a boil.

Add the lentils - they need about 30 minutes of cooking.

Then the bulgur and quinoa.

When 10 minutes remain, rinse the beans and mix into the stew.

In total the stew requires around 35-45 minutes of cooking.

We enjoyed 2013 Rosemount Shiraz with the food. This is an Australian red wine characterized by a robust bouquet of berries, confident enough to pair with such a pungent stew!

Arrange the ingredients together for a beautiful presentation: Nachos, chili, cheese, fresh chili, fresh coriander. And of course, enjoy!

The vegetarian feast never ends!

1 Mar 2016

Chicken Kiev with Parsley Infused Potato Mash and Mixed Tomatoes

Even though the dish is called Chicken Kiev, it probably originates in France. The dish most likely draws its influence from the famous Cordon bleu, where meat (commonly veal) is woven around cheese and ham and then rolled in breadcrumbs and pan-fried. The Russian elite hired French chefs and sent Russian chefs to study the fine art of French cuisine and so the recipe eventually found its way to Russia.

Chicken Kiev differs from Cordon bleu in that it uses chicken (which explains the name) and the chicken is filled with garlic butter before it is rolled in the breadcrumbs. Chicken Kiev was extremely popular in restaurants during the 70's, however, its fate was sealed when Marks and Spencer began mass-producing the dish for their chain of stores. With that, Chicken Kiev mania died out and was soon forgotten.

Maybe it's time to bring Chicken Kiev back -  it cannot be anything else than delicious. Chicken breasts filled with garlic butter, I mean, how can this fail?! It's going to be awesome.

Chicken Kiev with Parsley Infused Potato Mash and Mixed Tomatoes 
6 Servings

6 chicken breasts
100 g butter
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 red chili
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

3 egg
Garlic salt and pepper

1 kg potatoes
75 g butter
3 tbsp garlic oil
Handful parsley
75 ml milk
Salt and pepper

Begin by preparing the garlic butter. Mix the garlic, parsley, chili, salt and pepper with the soft butter.

Roll the butter in aluminum foil.

Roll the butter into a caramel shape, twist the ends and place in the freezer for half an hour.

Cut a small pocket into the thickest part of the chicken breasts.

Stuff a plump knob of butter into the pocket.

Then fold the the upper layer of the breast over the pocket.

Roll the chicken breast in flavored flour, brush off the excess flour and dip into the eggs. 

Roll the breast in the breadcrumbs and make sure they're evenly coated in crunch.

Easy - right?

Heat the oil in a pan to 150°C. Fry the chicken breasts for two minutes on each side. You need quite a bit of oil because you need to partially deep-fry the chicken breasts (2 cm is a good rule of thumb).

Heat the oven to 180°C. Put the breasts into an ovenproof dish and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water. When the potatoes are cooked, pour the water away and mash, adding the butter, garlic oil, milk, parsley, salt and pepper as you go along.

Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley.

We drank this 2009 Baron de Ley Reserva with the food. The wine comes from Spain is made from 100%  tempranillo grapes. Fantastic and balanced red wine delivering a long and soft aftertaste. 

Looks delicious! The chicken wonderfully tender.

Arrange on the plate - mashed potatoes, chicken breast and mixed tomatoes. An absolute feast!

The never-ending feast!

30 Nov 2015

Stuffed Lamb Shoulder Sous-vide with Gratin, Rustic Gravy and Peas

I found lamb shoulder in my freezer the other day (yes, it's a crowded place) so I decided to treat myself with a proper nostalgic feast - few things in this world are as tasty as Icelandic lamb - and I concluded that sous-vide would be the cooking method of choice, in order to do the lamb the honor it deserves. Sous-vide cooking is an exotic concept to many people but I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to give it a shot. In contrast to a common misconception, this cooking method doesn't necessarily require any complicated gadgets or industrial kitchen equipment.

Of course, the process is made easier if you have a vacuum packing machine or an immersion circulator, but you can achieve the same results using zip-lock plastic bags, meat thermometer and a sturdy pot in which you can maintain a steady cooking temperature. What matters most is to make sure that same internal temperature is maintained throughout the cooking procedure.

Stuffed Lamb Shoulder Sous-vide with Gratin, Rustic Gravy and Peas

I decided to bone the lamb shoulder, which is relatively straight forward. You can of course ask your butcher to bone it for you, and he/she will happily comply.


1 lamb shoulder
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful of blueberries
50 g blue cheese
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Start by boning the lamb shoulder. You don't have to feel daunted by the process - the only thing you need is a sharp knife, and concentration.

Place the lamb shoulder on a cutting board with back side facing down. The fillets have sometimes been removed, but they're in their place on all proper lamb shoulder cuts!

Remove the fillets by carefully sliding the knife along the bone. Set to the side.

Turn the shoulder over. Slide the knife along the blade bone, following the ridges and down towards the opposite end of the blade. When you arrive at the spinal column, cut along the ribs.

Fold open the shoulder and cut the meat away from the blade bone along the spinal column. Be careful not to puncture the skin. When you have removed the meat from the bone on each side it will hang from the ligament, which is then easily cut away by following the ridges with the knife.

The shoulder has been separated into four parts. Two fillets, the bones and boned meat. The bones will of course be used for broth!

Now to the cooking! You can fill the shoulder with anything that you desire. Personally I love the combination of blueberries and blue cheese, to which I added a pinch of thyme. I should have used the native Icelandic arctic thyme but it was in short supply unfortunately. Season with only pepper, leave the salt until the lamb is cooked. Place the fillets into the middle and roll up the shoulder.

I've tried to teach myself how to make a 'butcher's knot' but I can't pull it off. It's clear that I would've never made it as a surgeon!

Then cut the shoulder in two and put both parts into a vacuum bag. Pour a bit of oil in the bag along with some pepper and a few leaves of thyme before sealing.

Place the bag into the water and set the temperature to 65°C. Let it rest in the pot for the next 6 hours - in hindsight 3-4 hours would have been plenty.

Cut the remaining meat-covered bones into smaller pieces and brown in the oven. Then transfer to a pot and cook up a pungent broth using for example garlic, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, white wine and water. Start with around 4 l of liquid and reduce it to 700 ml.

Take a glass of wine, sit down and relax and enjoy the atmosphere while the meat cooks away.

Prepare roux in a pot. Use a sieve to clear the broth and then pour it in with the roux. Season with salt and pepper. Proper broth doesn't require anything more fancy than this!

When the shoulder is done, melt butter on a pan and brown the meat.

Allow the meat to rest for a few moments before you slice it.

Serve with potato gratin (see here), simple salad and peas, and last but not least, a lovely drizzle of gravy!

Monti Garbi Ripasso

We had some 2011 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Monti Garbi Ripasso with the food. I quite like this red wine but I haven't tried it for a long time. The wine traces its roots to regions outside Venice and is made from a blend of three grape varieties where the CorvĂ­na grape plays the central role. The wine is thick in the glass, deep dark color, with a rich berry aroma and a dominant aftertaste. I highly recommend this red wine!

The feast never ends!


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