Nordic twist White Fish Tartar

 

White fish Spring Appetiser 

Last Friday it was the first time my hubby and I went for dinner just the two of us while little L was taken care of, back home. One of the dishes at the restaurant was cured white fish dish that had a mix of different components from passionfruit to ponzu and a tarragon oil around it all. It was sweet and fresh, the shiso leaves added a new dimension and together the flavours were heavenly. The dish was so good, we tried to re-create it back home and it turned out amazing. I wanted to share this recipe with you all, so you can enjoy it too. We purchased the “siika” (white fish in Finnish) already cured, but of course, this process can be done at home too if you prepare in advance. For my international followers, if you do not find cured white fish and do not wish to do it yourself, this would work with fresh salmon too, sashimi style. The cured process cooks the fish with salt and sugar and adds a lovely salty flavour to it.

Ingredients 

  • cured white fish (graavattu siika in Finnish) slices
  • shiso leaves
  • tiny bit of cucumber
  • tiny bit of paprika
  • fresh tarragon
  • olive oil
  • green/rosé pepper
  • passionfruit
  • ponzu sauce ( we used a lemon flavoured ponzu sauce)

Directions

Begin by making the tarragon oil. In a blender mix together fresh tarragon leaves, lime juice and olive oil. For my international followers, cured fish is a nordic concept- where raw fish is cooked with sugar and salt overnight in the fridge. In Scandinavia, you can buy ready slices of cured fish in all super markets, but these are best bought from fish stores, for the freshest of flavours. If you cannot find this white fish called siika, cured salmon will also do. The cured white fish we used was flavoured with dill and rosé pepper bought from the market hall.

This dish is really easy to make, it looks beautiful and the components work great together. This dish is inspired from a restaurant we went to last Friday and tried testing it at home. My husband and I were both impressed how amazing it turned out and it honestly has become one of our favourite appetizers. So the only thing you need to do for this dish, is to make the oil and sugar the cucumber, the rest is all about plating.

At this point, cut tiny little slithers of (about 1.5cm long) green paprika (only using the skin part) that is used for garnishing. The skin has a tangy flavour to it and works well with the fish. Also cut similar pieces of cucumber flesh and place into a little bowl of water with a pinch sugar. Leave the cucumber to marinate for about 15 min or some.

Ready to plate: Place the cured fish slices into a little wreath shape in the centre of your plate. Add the paprika and cucumber in little nooks of the fish so it looks pretty. Pour some ponzu sauce in the middle of the wreath. Add the tarragon oil on the outer part of the wreath. Scoop some passionfruit into the centre and on top of the fish. Add shiso leaves on top of the fish and sprinkle with any desired pepper.

Nordic Summer Salad & Salmon Mousse toast

Vendace (muikku in Finnish) or also known as the European cisco, is a freshwater whitefish that is found in Northern European lakes, such as in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia and some lakes in Norway. It is a small fish, almost sardine-like that is commonly fried or smoked when eaten. The roe of Vendace is a real delicacy in Finland as is often eaten during Christmas time.

The lakes by our summer house are known for the muikku- fish and you can see locals pulling up fish nets from their boats right from our pier. To make this dish, you can also use other smoked fish such as salmon or sardines or whatever you have in the region you live. You can buy pre-smoked fish or smoke it yourself if you have the facilities for doing so. We have a smoker at the country house, so my father smoked the Vendace with juniper branches for some additional flavor. Cooked vendace is delicate and flakey, mild but delicious.

Meanwhile to make the salad, begin by marinating some red onion. Finely chop some onion slices and place into a bowl that fills with lemon juice. Leave them to soak in there for a good hour at least.

For the base of the salad, slice about 5 oranges and spread them on a plate.  Add some capers, spring onion and finely chopped dill on top. Then add your smoked fish on top by flaking it into smaller pieces. Add lots of black pepper and lastly, add some of the marinated red onions on top. Also pour some of the lemon juice the onion has soaked in that has turned a vibrant pink color. Add a gently drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of maldon salt.

To accompany the salad, I had a smoked salmon mousse bread for some additional carbohydrates. Basically, toast some sourdough bread, add some salmon mousse on top, fresh peas, some of the marinated red onion, black pepper and dill.

Find the salmon mousse recipe from here.

I love the consistency and flavors of this salad. The juicy oranges give a lot of moisture and sweetness that balances out the capers and red onion. The delicate white fish adds a new dimension of smokiness to the dish, making it a lovely refreshing summer salad. Meanwhile, the creamy salmon mouse toast adds an extra comfort that easily works well in so many other occasions. You can serve the mousse as an appetizer on canapes at a party or in form of a tartar on top of avocado for example.

dad preparing the fish for the smoker

 

 

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.

 

Spring Salmon Plate

‘The season of fresh appetizers comes with Spring’

With May just around the corner, Spring calls for delicious easy appetizers that are pleasing not only to the eye but palette. May 1st is a large festive celebration in Finland where people gather outside for a picnic and celebrate the beginning of summer. It’s an amazing gathering but naturally it has been canceled due to the global pandemonium, which means people will be celebrating at home this year.  Therefore, I wanted to share a little food inspiration that can easily bright up an ordinary day perfect for Spring days. My hubby and I took a walk with Siena to the market square this morning and picked up some cured salmon (gravadlax) from the fish stall. The already cured salmon (in salt and dill) is ready to be thinly sliced on a large plate. Then make an orange vinaigrette and drizzle it all over the fish. Add lots of black pepper and leave it to marinate in the fridge for a good hour before serving. Once it is ready to be eaten, add some toasted pine nuts and baby leaf sprouts on top. To make the orange vinaigrette, mix together Dijon, juice from an orange, olive oil, fresh dill, pinch of salt. When the pandemonium gets better, this salmon dish is going to be a hit during summer evenings over a glass of chilled rosé amongst friends!

Cured Salmon Plate

  • Cured Salmon slices
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Fresh dill
  • Black pepper
  • Baby leaves of choice

 Orange Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon juice of orange
  • Pinch of salt/black pepper
  • Fresh dill

The End of Summer outside Dinner

‘ When the summer season comes to an end at the countryside’

As September comes to an end, so do the dining moments outside at the countryside. The last time we were at the countryside, we were able to eat all our meals outside as we were blessed with such incredible weather. Our countryside is beautiful this time of year, the trees are still mostly green but there are slight signs of fall in the crispy morning air, the lake has turned a glistering blue colour and mushroom season is at it’s best. My hubby and I swam on a daily basis and I let the nature work it’s wonders on my healing process. This season really makes us miss Bella even more as we took her to so many adventures during autumn.

We enjoyed a “last of summer” dinner by the lake with my family, where we cooked some lobster on an open fire and ended the meal with caramelized plums. We also had some tiger prawns and a white paprika salad and a hassleback pumpkin, that is perfect for September dinners. We ended the meal with playing some games outside as the sun set beautifully already at 20.30pm.

We are blessed in Finland that we have four seasons and the most exciting part is the transition process to the new one, as it brings along a sense of new beginnings and change. Our last “summer meal alfresco style” was a great transition to cosier pot meals by the fireplace and allow the cooler days stripe the nature to it’s barest. Below you can find the recipes for the paprika salad, tiger prawns/lobster, hassleback pumpkin and caramelized plums.

White Paprika Salad

  • About 7 long white paprika’s (any colour will do)
  • 1 cube chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1 cup water

Garnish

  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Place the washed paprika in an oven dish. Add enough water so the bottom part of the paprika is just covered. Brake in the chicken stock cube into the water. Add olive oil over the paprika. Cook in an oven for an hour/ 1 hour 30min. Midway cooking, turn the paprika around.

Once ready remove from oven and place the paprika’s on a plate to cool. Save a few tablespoons of the stock and place on top of the cooling paprika’s. Once cooled, roughly slice the paprika into long slices and place onto a large serving plate. Add fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Add creamy feta and black pepper. Ready to serve.

Grilled tiger prawns & Lobster

  • 1 kg tiger prawns
  • Marinade (oil, chilli, parsley, garlic)
  • Lemon
  • Aioli

Directions

We cooked the tiger prawns outside on an open fire using a cast iron grid. Basically allow the tiger prawns to soak the marinade for about an hour at least. Then cook on the cast iron grid over coal, for a few minutes on both sides. Serve with lemon and aioli.

When cooking the lobsters (we used frozen, precooked ones), basically slice the lobster in half first and place each side on the cast iron grid. Brush some garlic butter on top and let it cook for about 2-5 minutes until it heats up. Serve 1 lobster per person and garnish with lemon.

Miso Garlic Hassleback pumpkin

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon miso paste
  • A few twigs of thyme
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Grounded black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Begin by halving the pumpkin lengthwise and peeling the skin of f, which is by far the most challenging part of the recipe. I used a vegetable peeler along with a sharp knife to get the skin off. Once this is done, you make narrow scores (not all the way to the bottom though so the shape does not brake) all the way across the surface on both pumpkin halves. Lay the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet lined tray.

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, miso paste, grated garlic, lemon juice, pepper and finely chopped thyme. Brush the pumpkin surfaces with the marinade and place them into the oven for about an hour or until the pumpkin is fully cooked.

Keep brushing more of the marinade over the pumpkin about ever 20minutes, so they keep moist and intensify with flavour. Once ready, grate lots of black pepper on top and a bit of Maldon salt. For garnishing, I also added more herbs to give some additional colour.

This makes the most beautiful seasonal side dish that is sweet and salty with lovely mild garlic taste in the background. The miso paste adds a lovely salty full-bodied flavour to the sweet pumpkin.

Caramelized Thyme Plums

  • Seasonal plums
  • Few twigs of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • About 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

Deseed and halve the plums. In a frying pan, add a generous amount of butter and let it melt and become a little brown. Place the plums, cinnamon and thyme into the pan and cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes, stirring once in a while. Let the plums caramelize. Serve with whipped cream and make sure to pour all the buttery goodness from the pan onto the plate.

Seafood Countryside Lunch

Eating lunch outside in the midst of nature is the most wonderful feeling at the countryside. I love dressing up the table with wildflowers and my entire family loves eating tapas style food, so we make a real event out of lunch time. We grilled some green mussels, had asparagus and smoked some salmon as well. Spending hours around the table is what the countryside life is all about…

We smoked some wild salmon in a smoker and served it quite naturally with dill, salt and pepper. The smokey flavour pushes wonderfully through, so you prefer to keep the fish as simple as possible due to it’s mild flavour.

Grilled Green Mussels

  • Green mussels (we used frozen pre-cooked ones, already halved because of the ease of transporting them to the countryside)
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves Grated garlic
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive oil

Make the topping for the mussels by mixing together the softened butter, oil chopped parsley, garlic and chilli. Add a little chunk of the butter mix on top of each halved mussel. Grill the mussels for about 5-10minutes. Squeeze lemon on top and a little bit of maldon salt.

White Asparagus with Lemon butter

  • White Asparagus
  • 1 lemon
  • About ½ cup melted butter

Remove the ends and bad bits of the asparagus and boil for about 5 minutes until the stems are soft. Melt the butter in a saucepan, letting it become slightly brown. Add in the lemon zest of 1 lemon and thin slices of spring onion. Turn off the heat but let the sauce infuse the lemon flavour for a few minutes. Pour this on top of the asparagus; squeeze more lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and white pepper.

Nordic Style Fish Menu

‘Countryside dinner inspo that is easy and delicious’

There has been daily swimming at the countryside and I can’t think of anything more refreshing than a lake swim where the water is basically drinkable. We did a little bit of fishing today, took a long log-heated sauna followed by numerous dips in the lake and ended the day with a glorious feast. This post will entail a few Nordic style recipes that are perfect for cooking over hot summer days.

Nordic Style Fish

In terms of absolute ease, nothing beats roasting a whole fish. In terms of flavour, it is my favourite as the heat of the chargrill does wonders to the fish skin making it dry and crispy and cooking over hardwood coal adds that extra dimension of flavour. So you can cook this fish in a basic grill, open log fire or stone oven over the charcoal. So begin by setting up your grill and then prepare the fish.

 

Grilled whole white Fish (serves 4)

  • 4 whole fish of choice
  • lemon
  • herbs of choice (parsley, thyme, sage)
  • dill
  • salt/black pepper
  • oil

Oil the surface and stomach of cleaned fish and add salt and pepper everywhere. Add your favourite herbs into the cavity along with lemon slices. Place each fish into a “iron grid or fish-grilling basket” that holds the fish together will cooking over the remaining charcoal that is left from the burning logs. This will take about 20 minutes depending on the size of your fish but really so the fish flakes beautifully off the bones. Turn it around midway through so both sides cook evenly. Once they are cooked, add lemon juice all over and sprinkle lots of dill on top. May need more salt and pepper.

Shrimp Canapes: Toast some bread and let it cool. Cut each toast into four pieces. Make the skagen mixture (see below) that will be used as the canape filling. Add some shrimp on top of each toast piece and garnish with spring onions and black pepper.

 

Easy Skagen (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2-1 cup mayonnaise
  • handful chopped dill
  • 4 cups shrimps
  • Salt/black pepper
  • 1/2 juice of lemon
  • about 4 tablespoons small capers

Garnish: whole shrimps, dill, black pepper, lemon wedge, rye bread

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients and place into the refrigerator before serving. You can play around with the proportions of the creme fraiche, mayonnaise and lemon juice depending on what flavour you wish to pop out and on the consistency of the mixture. Make sure though, that it is not too soggy and should be rather stiff as the skagen should hold its structure once placed in a mold.

Ready to serve: Use a mold (7.5⌀) and scoop the skagen mixture into the circle. Press down the surface to firm the mixture and remove the mold away. Add some freshly chopped dill, whole shrimps and ground black pepper. Serve with toasted rye bread and a lemon wedge. Repeat the same process for the rest of the plates.

 

Baked Camembert for dessert

A gooey and fragrant baked camembert is always a must at a dinner party. It is possibly the easiest dessert aswell and for a cheese lover, like myself, it is a heavenly way to end any meal. As a tip, you can add garlic into the cheese aswell that works beautifully with wine.

  • camembert cheese
  • toasted nuts
  • rosemary twigs
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • rustic bread

With a knife, cut the camembert cheese from the surface and roughly place rosemary twigs into it. Drizzle a little olive oil and honey on top and place into an oven (200 C) so it begins to melt. Serve with toasted nuts and scoop the cheese with rustic bread

Countryside Breakfast Bliss

Good morning from the countryside,

I’m rested on the edge of the pier with the water at my feet and all I can hear is the sound of the gentle waves crashing against the rocks underneath me. It’s early morning and the lighting is soft and the delicate reed sways back and forth in the water. A seagull rests in the horizon, Bella explores the shallow waters and the sun reflects off the shiny cutlery that rest on my linen cloth. I think to myself, this is the ultimate place for relaxation, rest and tranquility. There is a certain feeling you get at the countryside that cannot be explained, its peaceful but raw, when you are in one with nature. To me, photography is an art of observation and it is little to do with the things you see, but with the way you see them. photography has taught me to capture the beauty in the ordinary.

My mother is making coffee in the house and my father and hubby are still asleep, so Bella and I had an early breakfast moment by the water to catch the pinkish faint light. Last night, we chargrilled some wild salmon in our stone oven so I decided to take advantage of the leftovers this morning. The local supermarket at our countryside has the best rye toast made by a small local bakery that tastes really robust, earthy with a sourdough finish. On each toast, I spread some cream cheese, added flakes of wild salmon, peas and radishes. I added lots of dill, spring onions, some oregano, black pepper and a pinch of salt. I picked some wild strawberries from the forest during my jog and sprinkled some on top of the toasts for a sweet bite. I also picked a bunch of harebell flowers as I love their lilac blue colour and delicate frame.

As I take another sip from my earl grey, I watch Bella enjoy herself and take in the warm rays of the morning sun. Nature has music for those who listen and here I can lose my mind and find my soul.

Nordic Style Rye Toast

  • Rye bread slices
  • Wild salmon
  • Radishes
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Summer peas
  • Cream cheese
  • Spring onions
  • Black pepper/pinch of salt
  • Wild Strawberries

 

 

 

Cozy Campfire Salmon

In true Scandinavian style, eating around a campfire is such a cozy experience that everyone must try a few times in their lifetime. It is especially beautiful this time of year, with the snow-covered ice, no one around and the endless white horizon that has such a calming effect. In true countryside style, we decided to make a fire on the ice and cook some open fire salmon in these beautiful surroundings. With the temperature around -10 celsius degrees, we sat on reindeer skin and warmed up by the fire as the salmon cooked above the flames. Sometimes the simplest of cooking can be the best and this recipe proves just that.  The salmon didn’t require much for it to taste great and why is it that food always tastes so much better outdoors?

 

Ingredients

  • 500g salmon
  • Ground black pepper/salt
  • lemon wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped parsley
  • aioli sauce

This recipe is fairly simple if you have a little campfire set up. Begin by coating the salmon with oil and sprinkle salt/pepper on top. Place the fish into an iron grid and place it on top of the fire. Let it cook gently for about 15 minutes on each side. Ready to plate: Squeeze lemon on top, along with chopped parsley and a generous scoop of aioli sauce.

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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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