30 Jul 2012

Bacalao: One of the Greatest Salted Fish Dishes of all Time with Olives, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Skordalia Mashed Potatoes

kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, capers and alot of garlic

This dish, which has its origins in the Mediterranean, I tasted for the first time at my neighbors - Jón Þorkell and Álfhildur. They served this wonderful dish made from Icelandic salted fish and it was truly delicious. Skordalia was not presented at their table, instead we added the mashed potatoes when we attempted to emulate their recipe.  

The mashed potatoes, or Skordalia, is in no way my idea - far from it. This is a well known Greek recipe which revolves around blending a whole lot of crushed garlic with e.g. potatoes, nuts and liquid-soaked bread. There is a wide range of recipes for this "sauce" where the common element is of course garlic and good extra virgin olive oil (which is almost the epitome of Greek cuisine) and some kind of acid, like vinegar or lemon juice. As should be obvious, this offers a lot of diversity in approach.

I originally tasted Skordalia when I was a boy at a dinner party with my parents. One of the guests had lived in Greece and brought the recipe back to Iceland. Everyone in attendance thought the amount of garlic used for mashed patotes was quite extraordinary! And it was robust - but robust with garlic - and I thought it tasted great. I think my love for garlic properly and seriously began at that point. And my garlic-love was not minimized by being raised where I was - my mother is a chronic garlic addict and it seems that this addiction is inherited as a dominant gene!

Wheat-coated Bacalao
Bacalao: One of the Greatest Salted Fish Dishes of all Time with Olives, Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Skordalia Mashed Potatoes

We got the fish from Iceland. We were incredibly lucky; our aforesaid neighbor, Álfhildur, offered us roughly a kilo of salted fish. Everyone should have neighbors like these!

I began by washing the fish in cold water. Dried it and then cut into chunks, seasoned and roll in a bit of flour.

Minced garlic with extra virgin olive oil

I placed the garlic in a food processor, and mixed into a fine paste along with a few tablespoons of quality extra virgin olive oil. The garlic is then used for the potatoes. 

Scorthalia in the making

I poured the garlic puree over the potatoes, probably around 12-15 cloves of garlic (I know, it does sound a bit extreme - but it is wonderful!). Mashed the potatoes along with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper. Added a pinch of cream cheese as well, and last but not least, juice from half a lemon.

Bacalao in the pan

Next, the fish was fried. This I did last since the fish cooks very quickly. Firstly, pour oil into the pan, around a centimeter deep layer. When the oil is hot (180 degrees), you carefully layer the fish into it. I allowed it to cook for about 2 minutes on each side. When I had turned the salted fish over I added Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomotoes and capers and fried alongside the fish. 

Ready to serve

Removed the fish from oil with a slotted spoon so most of the oil is drained away. Layered beautifully on a plate and sprinkled with fresh parsley. 

Trivento Reserve Chardonnay

With the food we enjoyed this lovely wine from the Uco valley in Argentina, Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay from 2010. Very nice sip. Smells of fresh fruit and marked with a light touch of vanilla. A dry wine but a powerful taste of fruit and slightly oaky aftertaste.


This meal will definitely not disappoint. This I promise!

Bon appetit!

22 Jul 2012

Quick Oven-grilled Rainbow Trout with Feta cheese and simple couscous salad

I aspire to start each week with a vow to eat a healthy cuisine to pay for the gastronomic sins gathered during the preceding weekend, were I bathed my food in butter and salt and cream and all those delightful pleasures. But all those good delights have been labelled unhealthy (Though I do sometimes doubt these claims) so during the working week I try to compensate by eating a more politically correct foods. I think this Icelandic rainbow trout meets these aspirations. 

As I live in south Sweden getting our hands on good quality fish is an expensive venture. Buying fresh fish is both costly and sometimes the quality is questionable at least compared to my homeland, Iceland, were fresh fish is in abundance and of usually of superb quality. So I have become reliant on travelling fishmongers that sell frozen fish from trucks they drive around the neighbourhood. But I was in luck last year of procuring frozen Icelandic fish from a country(wo)man of mine who lives in Malmö and delivers fish to our door - if you live nearby, check out - www.galleryfisk.se.

Quick Oven-grilled Rainbow Trout with Feta cheese and simple couscous salad

This is a truly simple dish. First brush the fish, about 800 gr or so, with good extra virgin olive oil, season with salt & pepper. Then crumble 70 gr of feta cheese over the fish. Add a dash of syrup, maple or agave, and then a handful of capers that you spread over the fish fillets.

Lovely pink fillets of rainbow trout

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees (Celsius) with the grill on full whack.

Don't take your eyes of the fish - as thin fillets cook quickly!

Place in the centre of the oven, and grill for a few minutes. Mine took no more than 7 minutes to be cooked to perfection.

Leonardo Trebbiano

With the meal we enjoyed some white wine from Italy. Leonardo Trebbiano. This particular wine originates from the countryside near to the town of Empoli, which lies between Florence and Pisa. This producer is a collective from the crops from over 150 farmers than manufacture a few varieties of wine. This is a wine made from 100% Trebbiano grapes. It is pale in the glass, hints of lemon. Rather dry, lemony and apple tones. Lightly acidic. Balanced finish. Suited the meal!

I also served this humble couscous salad. First prepare the couscous as described on the packet. I then fried half a red pepper, half a yellow pepper, half a red onion and two cloves of minced garlic in a tablespoon of oil until the vegetables softened up. Stir into the couscous and season with some salt & pepper. A few green leaves were also placed on the plate!

I also made some sauce creme fraiche. 100 ml of light creme fraiche was put in a bowl, half a minced clove of garlic, teaspoon of syrup, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt&pepper.

Looks appetizing, doesn't it?

Bon appetit!

13 Jul 2012

The Greatest Pasta Dish for the Summer: Grilled Tomatoes, garlic and Basil! Wonderful!

Beautiful summer tomatoes

This dish is inspired by the very book that inspired this blog, namely, Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a keen taste! Nigel claimed to have made this dish in the middle of June when the first harvest of tomatoes arrived. Here, in Scania, making this dish would fit perfectly around the middle of July, which I indeed did! I had bought a bunch of new tomatoes and allowed them to rest on the table where they developed a wonderful red color - the kind of deep red where you can almost see their sweetness. I also used a whole lot of fresh basil, which incidentally is my favorite herb; the aroma, the taste, the texture - few experiences compared to having a glass of white wine on a summer evening, after having chopped down fresh basil - the smell is simply incomparable - my god, I am easy to please!!!

Wine, tomatoes & an abundance of garlic

The Greatest Pasta Dish for the Summer: Grilled Tomatoes, garlic and Basil! Wonderful!

Place 600-800 gr of beautiful, chopped tomatoes into an ovenproof dish. Distribute 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic and then drizzle around 4 tablespoons of olive oil over. Generously season with salt and pepper. Optionally, you can sprinkle a bit of balsamic vinegar over for a deeper flavor. Heat the oven to its maximum capacity and turn on the grill, place the ovenproof dish into the oven, about 15 cm below the grill, and cook for a few minutes until a few of the tomatoes have begun to color. Some will become golden brown, others a bit darker. Remove the ovenproof dish from the oven and crush the tomatoes using a fork - though try to leave a few chunks intact. Scatter around 30 finely chopped basil leaves over and pour in 4-6 tablespoons of cream. Place the ovenproof dish back in the oven for a minute or two in order to heat the cream. Season to taste.

Placed in an oven dish

Boil pasta (for example penne) in richly salted water and when ready, pour into the warm tomato sauce and mix well together. Add a touch more of fresh basil and seasoning. Serve with good bread - for instance homemade foccacia with olives, and a rich salad. Make sure you have a generous amount of parmesan cheese at hand - and a nip of cold white wine doesn't hurt either.
Stir in the pasta

.With the food we had white wine from Chile - Castillo de Molina - Chardonnay from 2007. This is a very good and moderately priced wine. Considerable fruit which reminds you of pears. Thick and soft on the palate, and a nice aftertaste. Suited the dish quite well.

Bon Appetit!

P.s. If you like what you read here - check out my page on Facebook; The Doctor in the Kitchen! 

8 Jul 2012

Delicious Summery Salad Nicoise with Tuna, Tomatoes, Olives, and More

Salad nicoise - ready for the picking! 

This salad has its origins in France, in Nice to be more exact, which rests by the Mediterranean. This is a particularly tasty and rich salad, so tasty is it, that we have made it a number of times since we first came across the recipe. It is an ideal summer dish, perfected by the company of a cold glass of white wine, but it doesn't seem to be any worse come autumn when night arrives sooner and cold winds speak louder. Of course there are a few varieties of the salad, though most similar, and all include vegetables, tuna, olives, boiled eggs and of course anchovies. Hold on ... don't stop reading! Anchovies have for some strange reason been expelled from many a kitchens. For no good reason at all! Anchovies stored in good oil are a delightful addition to a multitude of dishes. Why use anchovies? Well, because they are flavor enhancers. They lift up the dish and the ingredients used for it and interestingly - do not add a fish taste. So you could claim that anchovies are the natural third spice! Thais for example use fish sauce, Nam Pla, for precisely the same purpose!

Delicious Summery Salad Nicoise with Tuna, Tomatoes, Olives, and More

Writing down a recipe for a salad feels a tad silly. It is so easy and requires hardly any cooking - apart from boiling the eggs and opening the can of tuna.

The salad is so tasty it deserves a few photos from diffirent angles! 

First, distribute some greens on a plate, spinach or some other leaf vegetable. Then sliced tomatoes, few slices of boiled potatoes. Lots of kalamata olives and a handful of capers. Next, 250 gr of quality canned tuna - and I layered sliced boiled eggs in between the tuna chunks. Season and scatter chopped fresh parsley over the lot.

Finally, I drizzled a bit of vinaigrette over, which was made in the following way: 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon dijon, a few pieces of minced anchovies, and even a little bit of the anchovy oil, dash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and half a finely chopped shalott onion. Mixed thoroughly and drizzled over the salad. A cooled, good quality Chablis makes a perfect company to this dish!

A close up of the best salad in the World - Salad Nicoise! 

Bon appetit.


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