Simple Scandinavian beauty on a plate

A beautiful plate of Scandinavia

Lunches al fresco are what slow summer days are made out of. These warm days have been something like no other and we try to each lunch in a little bit of shade, if possible. I love this spot at our country house, that is in the front of the house surrounded by woodland and the life in the old tall trees. Since we just approached crayfish season yesterday and August is around the corner, I thought this recipe is worth sharing if any of you are planning on having garden parties any time soon. This plate would make a beautiful side dish for crayfish to compliment the Nordic theme.

For other than Scandinavians, this dish may be an acquired taste. The beautiful thing about it however, is that you can alter it to your liking, for example by leaving out the herring completely. The plate is made to look like a crown and is decorated with eatable flowers and summers delights. You make the base of the crown with boiled new potatoes and eggs and add dollops of homemade salmon mousse. Then you basically add any seasonal produce you find at a farmer’s market, like peas, sweet summer onions and radish. Then you add some herring on top and sprinkle some dill and black pepper in the end. Lastly add some eatable flowers.

 

Easy Salmon Mousse

To make the salmon mousse, you need some smoked salmon. We smoked the salmon ourselves in a smoker with juniper branches and let it completely cool down. However, you can just as easily buy a medium size piece of smoked salmon from the store. Once cool, mush the salmon with a fork into a bowl. Add about 1 cup of some crème fraiche, a couple of tablespoons of aioli, lemon juice and white pepper. Mix well so it becomes a mush. Check for seasoning.

 

Crispy Asparagus & Artichoke puree

Cooking at the countryside needs to be easy and fun and because it is easter time, it seemed perfect to grill some crispy asparagus. Not only are they in season now, but this dish makes a flavourful comforting lunch with the right amount of crunch, sweetness and depth. You could basically eat the asparagus as crispy fries, but they are also wonderful paired with an earthy artichoke puree that is an elegant and refined combination.

Crispy Asparagus

Find the recipe for the crispy asparagus from here. However, instead of baking the asparagus in an oven, we cooked them in a grill for about 15 minutes.

Artichoke Purée

  • about 500g jerusalem artichokes (peeled)
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes (peeled)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • vegetable stock concentrated-cube
  • salt/paper
  • fresh sage leaves

Directions

Boil the peeled artichokes and potatoes in a pot until almost cooked through. (Easiest to check with a knife to see when the middle is soft, then they are done)

Pour most of the water away and leave a few tablespoons in the bottom of the pot. Place back on heat, add a dollop of butter, the shallot, garlic, sage and sauté gently. Add the cream and the vegetable stock and let it cook for 10 minutes so the flavours emerge together. Then purée the mixture with a handheld blender to the consistency you like. I like to leave some chunks of artichoke and potato so it is not too smooth. If the puree seems to dry, add a bit of water or more cream for your desired liking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the asparagus are grilled or baked in the oven, you are ready to plate. Place some artichoke puree on the plate, lift some asparagus on top, add some black pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.

Ultimate Spring salad

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‘healthy Green Salad infused with flavours of Spring’

Finely, I’ve experienced the feeling of sun rays warming me up allowing me to fully embrace the essence of spring! The amazing weather has generously allowed me to sunbathe on our balcony giving me a healthy complection to the face. The first freckles have appeared and the seagulls are living on our rooftop again. Spring is at it’s best at the moment, flowers are slowly beginning to pop up from the ground and people have shifted to a lighter wardrobe. I’ve taken my winter shoes and most jackets to the basement and ready to start packing maxi dresses and silk pants for Venice. I’ve noticed a shift in food aswell, we crave for lots of clean flavours like vegetables accompanied with some protein now that the days are lighter and longer. For lunch, I’ve made a delicious super salad that is rounded with a sweetness from the beet quinoa and filled with green delights.

Spring Bowl: This ultimate spring salad is packed with fresh ingredients and amazing flavour. The partially raw asparagus gives a great effect to its fellow green friends while the beetroot quinoa coats a subtle sweetness to the salad. It is packed with nutrients as the broccoli, most of the asparagus, spinach, kale and green leaves are all raw maximizing the flavour, freshness and crunch in the salad. A bit of heat is added from chili and the garlic lemon zest sautéed asparagus merges beautifully with the toasted almonds. You can add any herbs you wish to the mix as this gives the ultimate spring taste.

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Ingredients

  • Bunch of green asparagus
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • Spinach leaves
  • Kale leaves
  • Arugula & tiny green leaves of choice
  • Yellow chili, lemon juice (and zest) , olive oil
  • Toasted almond flakes
  • Maldon salt/Ground black pepper/ herbs of choice

Directions

In a saucepan, roughly chop the beetroot and add a dollop of butter. Place the lid on and let it gently cook in medium heat. Flavour with salt, pepper, thyme, runny honey and grated ( 2 cloves) garlic. Add a touch of water to the saucepan if the garlic begins to burn. Once cooked, press the beetroot into a “mush” with a fork. Mix in the cooked quinoa and remove from heat. Leave to rest to the side.

Wash and remove ends from asparagus. Chop the buds off, as they will be sautéed later. Finely chop the stems into a large bowl. In this bowl, also add finely chopped broccoli, kale and all the green leaves. Drizzle lemon juice and good quality olive oil, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix in the purple quinoa into the salad leaves.

In a hot pan, sauté the asparagus buds in butter, lemon zest and garlic for a few minutes until a bit golden. Add to the salad once cooked. Lastly, add in finely chopped yellow chili and toasted almonds. Ready to plate. Lastly, sprinkle with favourite herbs in, such as thyme, oregano, basil parsley or mint.

 

 

Can’t wait for those warmer days, when you need to find shade to cool yourself down! Ps. How cute is this hay bed in Southern Italy, it surely makes a decent reading spot listening to birds and crickets in the backdrop.

 

 

 

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-23 Celcius Nordic Lobster lunch

When the temperatures drops to -23 celsius degrees, I can’t think of anything better than a lobster lunch al fresco style… and that’s exactly what my friend and I did on a sunny day at our countryside. The amazing sunlight hit directly on our terrace and we bundled up in our fur, dabbed on some red lipstick and dropped a bottle of bubbly into the snow before the feasting begun!

It was breathtaking, the intense winter sunlight was low, full of flare as it shimmered through the pine trees and reflected off the crystalized lake. Every breath was greeted with a dainty fog that evaporated into the cold air and the crystal glasses were coated with a light layer of frost. I cuddled into a blush coloured oversized knit, put on my favourite ruffle dress (with layers of thermal pants underneath of course), stepped into my uggs and through on my mink. In true nordic style, I skipped on makeup, let my hair run straight and painted on some ruby-red lips for our luxurious lunch. We sat on reindeer and sheep skin and watched the beauty of the countryside amaze us as we sipped on our ice cold drinks. Every now and then a faint gush of wind caused piles of snow to drop from trees and a few ravens circled the blue sky and we enjoyed one blini at a time, a slow divine day.

These turmeric blinis (or mini pancakes) are really easy to make and showcase a great appetizer or canapé in any given occasion. I thought the classic combination of smoked salmon and cream cheese with a bit of seaweed roe on top always works with lobster and a spinach garlic infusion for some freshness.

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How to make turmeric blinis

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk

Mix everything together until it forms a thick batter. Cook “tablespoons” of batter on a non-stick pan over medium heat until the surface starts to bubble. Flip over and voilá, little blinis are formed! Let them cool before adding the toppings. I made two types of toppings to suit our lobster dish.

Smoked salmon filling

  • smoked salmon
  • cream cheese
  • parsley
  • seaweed caviar (fish roe will do as well)

On top of a blini, add some cream cheese, a slice of smoked salmon, a spoonsful of seaweed caviar and chopped parsley. Add ground black pepper on top.

Spinach garlic puree

  • 2 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large grated garlic clove
  • 100g greek yogurt
  • pinch of salt/pepper
  • 1 avocado

Blend into a smooth puree with a handheld blender. And place a dollop onto a blini. Add some rich feta, a spinach leaf and more seaweed caviar. Add ground black pepper on top

 

Sage Garlic Green beans

In a medium heated pan, add a generous amount of butter, about 5 sage leaves and some grated garlic ( a few cloves will do). Give it a good stir and add the green beans. Let it cook for about 7 minutes until they are just aldente. Add a pinch of salt and white pepper and sprinkle with roasted nuts.

Serve the lobster on top of the green beans with a generous scoop of aioli sauce.

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Seafood Under the Pergola

Is there anything better than dining under the Umbrian sun?

The thick pergola umbrella casts a calm Italian ambiance perfect for those slow dinners with the family that last for hours. We dressed the table with a white table-cloth, placed candles, olive branches and lavender here and there creating that relaxing rustic chic look. We sipped on wine and grilled some simple seafood on an old-fashioned char grill that was built into the stone wall. We made a pot of classic french mussels set in the middle of the table where we all scooped some for ourselves. Looking back at these pictures, I still can taste the rustic bread that I scooped into the white wine sauce with a hint of fresh herbs in the background. The view over the hills was purely breathtaking, just green after green as far as the eye can see. We got dressed nicely, my sister-in-law dabbed on some red lipstick as she put baby B to sleep. We all cooked together and the men naturally took charge of the grill. We listened to music, danced and enjoyed the evening that prolonged until late after midnight and still cooked some steak later on. I still remember when my brother asked his wife P to dance and they were spinning in the backyard, it was one of the best nights of summer!

Seafood is such a great social food as everything is placed in the middle, easy to cook and always looks and tastes great! The key is to make a great marinade for the seafood, grill it to get that lovely char flavour and dress it with lemon and simple flavours, that’s really all you need! Scroll down for the recipes and inspiration for dining al fresco, country-style!

How to make the Seafood Marinade

Make the marinade in a bowl; add some olive oil, chopped parsley, chili and garlic. Use this marinade for the  different shrimps and octopus ( in separate bowls) and let them marinate for a few hours. Grill the seafood and add ground black pepper and salt if needed and brush the remaining marinade on top. Serve with lemon wedges.

Classic Moules Mariniére

2 kg Mussels (cleaned & beards removed) Wash mussels in cold running water. Press the shells of any open mussels together; if they don’t close, discard them. With a sharp knife pull out the beards and drain well.
1 onion finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic, handful of thyme, 2 bay leaves Over a medium heat in a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic and herbs in the butter for a few minutes.
150 ml dry white wine Add the mussels and white wine into the pot and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes, until the mussels open.
Handful of chopped parsley Ready to serve: add in some chopped parsley (can add a splash of cream if you wish) and serve with rustic loaf to scoop the juices with.

 

 

 

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Spinach Pea side dish

Add a dollop of olive oil on a pan along with the grated garlic, a few leaves of chopped sage and the chopped shallot. Stir for a few minutes before adding the peas (we used frozen ones). Add ground black pepper, a pinch of salt. Then stir in a few large handfuls of fresh spinach and about a handful of grated parmesan cheese. Cook for a few minutes until the spinach wilt.

 

 

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A few easy Healthy Dishes.

Easy dishes are the best on a regular weekday when you are limited in energy and don’t feel like spending too much time cooking. After a long day, all you want to do is make something that requires little fuss but still have a healthy meal for lunch or dinner that has a proper amount of nutrients in them. Both of these dishes are packed with flavour and spices that taste delicious! With the beetroot rolls, you could make the buckwheat/quinoa beetroot mixture in advance making the dish ready in under five minutes. The garlic and ginger infused soup is all about chopping a few ingredients and letting it simmer gently as the flavours merge together. Both dishes are vegetarian, but you can add any protein to the mix to make it more suitable to your liking. For example, I sometimes add in left over chicken to the soup and fried tofu, pulled pork or salmon to the burrito sushi- rolls.

Healthy Beetroot Rolls

  • 1 cup cooked buckwheat
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • chili flakes

Filling

  • Baby spinach leaves
  • shiracha mayonnaise
  • grated raw turnips & radish
  • fried egg slices

Begin by making the beetroot pureé. In a medium heated sauce pan, add a bit of olive oil and the chopped beetroot, sweet potato, shallot and garlic. Stir gently for about 10-15 minutes until everything is cooked. Add salt, ground nutmeg and pepper. Add a bit of water to the pan midway of the cooking process, so nothing sticks to the bottom and provides a bit of steam. Once cooked, puree with a hand-held blender into a smooth paste. Check for taste

Mix the beetroot purée with the cooked buckwheat and quinoa and use this as the spread, as you would for “rice” when making sushi rolls. Spread a large scoop of the mixture on one side of the seaweed. Then add some shiracha mayonnaise, grated veggies of choice (I used raw turnips and radish), spinach and fried egg slices.

Wrap the roll into a tight cylinder and cut in half from the middle. Sprinkle with chili flakes and serve with light soy sauce.

Cleansing Spicy Veggie soup

  • 1/2 cup cooked buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • handful harriot beans
  • 5 garlic cloves (grated or finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 zucchini sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon shiracha sauce

In a medium heated sauce pan, add some sesame oil and the ginger and garlic. Stir gently and then add the chopped vegetable and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, turmeric, soya sauce and shiracha. Let it simmer gentle for about 10 minutes so the flavours intensify and lastly add the cooked buckwheat almost right before serving.

Freckles & cappuccinos & grilled peaches

Punkaharju, Finland

A constellation of freckles, mouth-watering appetizers and frothy cappuccino are what slow summer days are made of. Our summer cottage is really close to this country-style manner and my hubby and I decided to escape the cottage life for a proper cappuccino one morning. I’m a huge fan of freckles against a tanned skin, I especially love the ones I get over the shoulders as they are exposed directly to the sun. This country-esq look is super simple and comfortable, an oversized boyfriend shirt with tassels on the hem over a crisp white dress and my hair in a ponytail. Those slow coffee moments in the countryside are the best, it just tastes better in these scenic settings, outdoors of course.

I also wanted to share this simple and quick summer recipe made from rosemary and sage peaches caramelized on the grill. The sweet and juicy peaches are topped with lemon ricotta and parma ham slices along with grilled porcini that has a wonderful earthy flavour to it. This dish has a good balance in being salty and sweet and a creamy roundness from the ricotta. We were lucky enough to find the mushrooms straight from the forest, first porcini of the seasonso they tasted even better to us!

‘Grilled Peaches Country style’ (makes 4 portions)

  • 4 saturn peaches (sage, honey, olive oil, rosemary)
  • Parma ham (8 slices)
  • about 100g Ricotta cheese (mix with grated lemon zest)
  • Black pepper/salt
  • porcini Mushrooms (4 mushrooms)

Halve the peaches and marinate them: In a large bowl, add olive oil, sage, honey and rosemary and toss the peaches so all are coated. Leave to rest for about an hour.

Grill the peaches in a medium heated grill until they become tender and caramelized on the surface (about 10 minutes). Make sure to brush leftover marinade on all sides when on the grill. Add a pinch of salt to each peach. Halve each porcini mushroom, brush with oil and place on the grill. Cook until tender for about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt/ ground black pepper.

Ready to plate: Place two peaches on each plate, add a spoonful of ricotta on each peach and a few slices of parma ham. Place the porcini on top along with more black pepper and a twig of thyme.

 

 

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Healthy Breakfast Portobello’s

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These super delicious portobello’s have slowly become our great weekend breakfast special that is low in carb, but full of flavourful nutrients. I think it looks quite trendy, like the dish could be served in the next fashionable vegan/vegetarian brunch restaurant. I came up with the recipe one day when I was tired of eating avo toasts, porridge or smoothies for breakfast and wanted to combine lots of healthy greens together in a warm meal, not being an omelette. This dish also makes an easy lunch/snack that is really quick to make if you make the beetroot hummus in advance. The sweet flavour of the hummus really suits the tangy mushroom and garlic spinach kale stuffing. For a vegan approach, skip the egg and add some fried crispy tofu on top. These portobellos have really become a favourite in our household, even my meat-eating Mr. loves them too! Although, you could actually add a few crispy bacon slices on top and I bet that would be heavenly as well!

Beetroot Hummus

Find beetroot hummus recipe from here.

Stuffing Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup (rough handful) chopped kale
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa ( boil in until with a bit of salt, see measurements on package)
  • Parsley
  • soy sauce/Pepper/ chili flakes
  • Olive oil/Butter
  • 1 egg (7 minute refrigerated)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

Preheat your oven to 190 celsius degrees. Wash the portobello and chop off the stem that you will use later. Brush olive oil over both mushrooms and place on a baking tray and place into the oven to cook for about 20-30 minutes. Cook the quinoa in a bit of water until it gets absorbed, expanded and cooked through out.

Meanwhile finely chop the garlic, shallot, the stem of the portobello and add into a medium heated pan with a bit of butter on it. Cook gently before adding in the chopped kale including its stems. Add in a teaspoon of soy sauce and ground black pepper. Stir in the spinach leaves and cooked quinoa, check flavour and leave to rest to the side.

Boil a refrigerated egg for 7 minutes so the yolk is lovely and soft. A few minutes before taking out the portobello’s from the oven, turn your oven into grill mode for a few minutes so they catch a lovely colour on top.

Once ready, remove the mushrooms from the oven and scoop over some quinoa stuffing on top that you may need to heat again. Add a dollop of beetroot hummus, a squeeze of lemon juice, more black pepper and a halved soft egg. Sprinkle lots of parsley and chili flakes on top before serving.

Green Juice ingredients: Blend together 1 juice of lemon, 1 cup parsley, chunk of ginger, 1 cup water

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Yellow Soup of the Day

 

This yellow vegetable soup is a quick hearty friday fix if you are looking for something delicious, easy and comforting for the start of the weekend. It builds from basic staple ingredients such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and some vegetables that of course can be altered to your liking. Not to mention, the above are all incredibly good for you, it also has a soothing creamy taste from the coconut cream and is vibrant in flavour from the variety of veges, toasted seeds and freshness from the raw yellow beet.

Ingredients

  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped paksoi
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 200dl coconut cream
  • Seasoning: 1 teaspoon of soy sauce & sriracha

Garnish: toasted seeds, yellow beetroot, oregano

Directions

In a medium heated sauce pan, add a dollop of butter and stir in the finely chopped garlic, shallot and carrot. Stir gently for a few minutes before adding the cherry tomatoes, grated ginger and turmeric and zucchini. Mix around for a few minutes and pour in the chicken stock. Let it simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Add in some seasoning and the rest of the cream. Add in some roughly chopped kale/paksoi. Let it simmer so the cream reduces and becomes thicker for about 15 minutes. Taste for flavour.

Ready to plate: Pour some soup on a plate and garnish with fresh oregano and toasted seeds of choice. Grate some raw yellow beet on top.

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Garlic Asparagus & Zucchini

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When you are in a hurry or want to create a super easy vegetarian dish, this recipe is great one for you. The key is to add lots of garlic and fresh herbs, but otherwise it is as simple as it gets. It works well as a side dish too, a quick snack or supper for one.

Ingredients

  • asparagus
  • zucchini
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt/ground black pepper
  • pumpkin seeds
  • fresh mint/thyme
  • lime juice
  • butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 c. In a medium-sized pan, add a dollop of butter. Place in the sliced zucchini and chopped (and cleaned) asparagus. Stir gently around so they get coated with the butter and grate in the garlic. Add salt and ground black pepper. Place the mixture into an oven dish and grate parmesan cheese on top along with the fresh herbs. Place into the oven for about 20 minutes.  Ready to plate: Squeeze some lime juice, sprinkle pumpkin seeds and add more black pepper on top.

 

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