Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finish the Weekend with a Flavorful Finnish Meal--Why not?!!

I haven't always liked to cook. In fact, I've had my share of disasters in the kitchen--from exploding hot dogs in the microwave to catching stovetop funnel cakes on fire. I used to think: "I'll just leave that to the experts." or " Let's go out!" Which I still say. However, raising and nurturing a family has made me more interested in improving my cooking skills. Plus, my teens are always up for a culinary challenge. And, I encourage their enthusiasm--most of the time.

Our family's repertoire of recipes has really expanded over the past few months. Before Christmas, we made galaxy cookies for Caroline's SpaceX project, homemade crusts for Elizabeth's pumpkin pies, "made from scratch" gingerbread mini cupcakes for a cookie exchange and 12 lbs of icing for a holiday party--to name just a few! By mid-December, I was thankful to revisit conventional fare like chicken noodle soup and my husband's homemade chili.

However, the return to traditional comfort food didn't last long. At the end of a very busy weekend, Caroline reminded me that she was required to make a Finnish meal for a school project. Of course, Elizabeth (our resident baker) was excited to be her sister's sous chef. To John's credit, he insisted that I relax with a glass of wine while he guided the girls through their next culinary experience. I was happy and grateful to oblige. And to my surprise, the dinner was healthy, exotic (in a good way) and delicious. In fact, it was so wonderful that I'd like to share it here:

 Salmon with Mustard & Dill Sauce
1 tsp grounded peppercorn
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped dill (or substitute a sprinkle of dry dill weed)
1/8 cup Stevia for baking
1 lb of Scottish Salmon*

Baste the Scottish salmon with the first six ingredients. Wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. Then, uncover and bake for another 10 min. 

*The original dish requires "gravlax" (raw salmon that has been cured in citrus juice and prepared with chili peppers--"ceviche-style"). We took the liberty to bake instead.

3/4 cup spicy dijon mustard
1 1/2 oz of fresh chopped dill (or substitute 1-2 Tbs of dry dill weed)
1/8 cup vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sugar
3/4 cup oil

Combine the first five ingredients. Whisk in the oil. Serve with salmon.

Finnish Rutabaga
2 lbs rutabaga. peeled and sliced with mandolin
4 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup maple syrup
salt & pepper

Melt butter in a large pan. Brown the rutabaga. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add maple syrup. Toss and cover. Simmer until tender.

Making our first acquaintance with rutabaga

Elizabeth photobombing the ingredients
Yummy rutabaga!
Our first Finnish meal
Great job, Caroline & Elizabeth!

The happy parents enjoying their daughters' tasty meal

Note: These recipes were adapted from Global Table Adventure.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lunchbox Sushi--It's Simple!

When Scott asked me for a "springy" recipe for the March issue of the magazine, one of my daughters suggested "Spring Rolls." Her idea reminded me of the homemade sushi rolls that she and her twin sister taught me to make. They learned how to make sushi in their Japanese class at Ferrum Enrichment Camp this past summer. I always thought sushi would be hard to make--but it really isn't that difficult.

Easy Veggie California Roll Recipe

1 cup of uncooked Nishiki sushi rice
8 sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
1/4 cup rice vinegar 
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 cucumber, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
2 avocados, peeled pitted and sliced in thin slices

Rinse uncooked rice. Drain well and cook according to package directions. Mix vinegar and sugar in heated pan until sugar has dissolved. Add to cooked rice and mix well. Allow to cool.

Lay a sheet of nori, shiny side down, on wax paper. Press a thin layer of rice over nori, leaving 1/4-inch of nori uncovered at the bottom edge of the sheet.

Slice the vegetables lengthwise.

Add a line of cucumbers, avocado slices, and carrots in the middle of the rice-covered sheet of nori.

 Fold the bottom edge of the wax paper up, enclosing the filling. Carefully roll the rice mixture and vegetables into a tight cylinder. Gently squeeze to seal the sushi.

Cut each roll into 1-inch pieces with a sharp knife. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.