feb 10 2010

Fish au gratin

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Fish au gratin, macaroni and fish casserole or fiskegrateng as we call it in Norway, is not a beautiful dish. But it’s tasty, and comforting. Norway has a long coast line and fishing has always been an important part of our culture. Fish au gratin is a convenient dish for utilizing left over fish and feeding lots of people. I guess it’s some kind of national dish. I’ve never tried my hands at making this dish before but there are lots of recipes out there. I borrowed some measurements from Grass Onion since I liked her «secret» ingredient – ketchup! (I guess it’s not so secret anymore). Most kids slather their fiskegrateng with ketchup and I did too – and still do, because it just compliments and balances the rich flavour of the dish really well !
I’ll give you the recipe and how I did it in english:

The grandmother of Grass Onions’  fiskegrateng

4 servings

Ingredients (metric)

  • 5 dl milk
  • 100 g flour
  • 400 grams cooked, cleansed fish, I started with 600 grams of raw cod that I simmered in salted water for 10 minutes.
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1 ts curry powder
  • 1 ts ground black pepper
  • 1/4 ts nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams macaroni (I used whole grain macaroni)
  • 3 tb ketchup, tomato purée or tomato sauce
  • grated cheese
  • breadcrumbs

I started with cooking the cod in salted water until it just started to flake. I also started heating up water for the macaroni. While the fish cooked I made a white, thick sauce from mixing the flour and milk in a casserole, stirring continuously. I got a thick, almoust doughy paste, which is what you want, since the eggs and fish bring moisture when you add them later. I seasoned the sauce,added the onion and fish when it was ready. Then I separated the yolks from the whites, and started beating the whites into a stiff foam. When the sauce had cooled down a bit I added the yolks, then I cut the whites carefully into the sauce carefully. When the macaronis had cooked almost  al dente (in salted water) I mixed them with some tomato purée and ketchup. Then I buttered an ovenproof pan, and layered the fiskegrateng like this: First half the fish sauce, then the macaroni, then the other half of the fish mix. Then I sprinkled the top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. The cooking time says 1 hour, but mine turned out great with only 1/2 – 3/4 hours cooking time. It depends on how much it will rise in your oven. The top got a bit too dark for my taste, so I covered it with a sheet of aluminmum foil about halfway into the cooking time. I served it with råkostsalat – simply grated carrots and a green apple plus some lemon juice.

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mai 24 2009

AWESOME pasta salad

I’ve always thought of pasta salads as a kinda cheesy, 90ties dish with too much mayo and too much starch for my liking. I prefer all-greens salads, but this other day I need to find something to serve as a side to hamburgers. So I googles «hamburger side dish» and I got a lot of suggestions for pasta salad. Scouting around in the food blog world I picked up tips here and there, and combined lots of different recipes to make this one, specially tweaked for my preferences and to what I had in my fridge and pantry. No pictures this time, but I’m sure I’ll make it over and over again during the summer time so you’ll see pictures of it eventually..soo easy, so flavourful, and full of crunchy delicious vegetables. It’s quite healthy too, since you don’t use a heavy dairy-based dressing, the proteinshare is covered by legumes, lots of colorful vegetables (which contain the most antioxidants, as you may know) and wholegrain pasta to lower the GI-value/less carbohydrates. I love dishes that keep well in the fridge and are good for bringing to lunch the next day, and bringing home made lunch versus buying in the cantina is a good way to save some money too.

Here goes:
1. Heat up generously salted water for your pasta; I used about 250 grams whole wheat elbow macaroni, you use whatever you want.

2. Make vinaigrette: Whisk 42 tb Dijonmustard with 3-4 tb white wine vinegar, then add extra virgin olive oil in a thin drizzle while stirring, until it emulsifies and reaches the consistency you prefer. Season with salt and pepper, and something sweet – sugar, honey, agave nectar or sweet chili sauce, like I did. I loved the little sting of heat from the chilis. Add fresh herbs if have them on hand, I didn’t, but herbs always add something to a salad, I think. Parsley, or maybe basil would’ve been nice. Add in a couple of tablespoons (or rather 1/2 cup) of finely diced onions (I think red would be good, but the yellow ones I used worked well too) and some salty capers.

3. Start chopping your vegetables :
- peel and finely slice one big carrot
- chop one red and one green bell pepper/capsicum
- cube 2 ripe tomatoes
- open a can of corn and one can of beans of your choice (I used a mix of kidney beans, brown beans and pinto beans)

4. Cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain it, run it quickly under cold water to stop the cooking process, then mix thoroughly with the vinaigrette dressing. Let soak for a bit if you have the time, or add the vegetables immediately, and serve. I loved this salad the same day I made it, but the day after it was wonderful, with that great savoury, tangy dressing soaked up by the pasta and vegetables. Tomorrow I’ll bring the leftovers for lunch. Can’t wait to have more of it!


Wonderful cherry tomatoes

- Gloooriooouuss cherry tomatoes from last autumn, too bad I didn’t get any of this quality for the salad.

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