26/08/2016

Simple remoulade recipe

I was given this recipe by a friend, but haven't personally tested it, so I'm not making any guarantees as to originality or similarity to Gunnars remúlaði.

100 grams mayonnaise
50 grams sour cream
3-4 tbs. sweet relish (she uses the Heinz brand)
dash of mustard
dash of curry powder

Stir together well and adjust spices.

Serve with fried fish or hot dogs.

09/02/2016

Split pea soup with salt lamb - Saltkjöt og baunir

Today is Shrove Tuesday. This day is called Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) in Iceland. This is the last day before Lent, and during the time when Icelanders still observed the fast, it was the last day on which meat could be eaten until Easter. The origins of the Icelandic name for this day are uncertain, but today it is generally taken to mean "eating until you feel like you're bursting". Split pea soup and salted mutton has been the traditional meal for this day since the 19th century.

  • 2 l water
  • 500 g lamb meat or mutton, preferably salt cured, or salt pork if lamb/mutton is not available
  • 200 g yellow split peas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500 g potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 500 g carrots and rutabagas
  • 3-4 slices smoked bacon (optional) – I use a lot more

Soak the peas for time indicated on packaging. Bring water to the boil. Cut onion into chunks and add to the water with the meat and peas, and cook for about 1 hour. If you are using bacon, cook with the rest for the last 1/2 hour. Potatoes, rutabagas and carrots can either be cooked separately, or with the rest, for the last 1/2 hour.

Serving:
Remove the meat and potatoes and serve separately.
Some people will eat the meat and potatoes first, others will cut them up and add to the soup. Some also add milk to the soup just before serving.

The recipe comes from the teaching leaflet "Súrt og Sætt", by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, published by Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga, 1998. Historical information comes from "Saga Daganna", by Árni Björnsson - Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1993).

29/01/2016

Skyr vs. traditional skyr



I’ve just been reading an interesting report by Matís, an Icelandic biotech R&D institute, about skyr. 

They make a distinction between modern skyr and traditional skyr and one of the conclusions they come to is that MS Skyr is not traditional because it deviates from the traditional methods of making skyr.

(I have already posted a recipe for skyr, which may be referred to for one traditional method).

If you want to try the real thing, the report mentions that KEA and Bíóbú both make skyr with (modernised) traditional methods. Their products are available from supermarkets. 

In addition you can also buy traditional skyr from a couple of farms that participate in the Beint frá Býli movement (Farm Food Direct), and from specialised shops (I'm sure you can buy it from Frú Lauga, for example).

I'm planning to read the report in more depth and may post a digest of the findings.

20/01/2016

Roasted lobster (ofnbakaður humar)


Mention lobster and the image conjured up in most people's minds tends to be of an American lobster. Looks yummy, doesn't it?
Public domain image downloaded from Pixabay

Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia

However, when Icelanders speak of lobster, they tend to mean leturhumar or langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus), a smaller cousin of the American lobster that is found in the north Atlantic ocean and parts of the Mediterranean. The westernmost part of its range is around Iceland and it is found as far north as northern Norway and as far south as Portugal. (Here is a distribution map).


Also known as Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi, it is a delicious crustacean with many fans. It can be used in many different kinds of dishes, but the most popular uses in Iceland are in soup and roasted, grilled or fried. Often the same langoustines will provide material for two dishes, with most of the flesh being fried/grilled/roasted and the shells being used to make soup stock. This is decidedly not a traditional food - Icelanders of old would at best have used langoustines as bait, and probably not even that, just as American lobsters were once so little regarded that they were used as fertiliser. 

I like langoustines best simply roasted or fried. When I make them for myself, I generally remove the shells and de-vein the langoustines before briefly sautéeing them in butter with lots of crushed garlic and eat them straight out of the pan. When I have company, I prefer to roast them in the oven, because it takes a lot of langoustines to feed a group of people and frying them would be too much work.

For a main course, you will need about 400 to 500 grams of langoustine tails in the shell. I generally buy what's called "broken" langoustines (brotahumar or skelbrot), which are cheaper than unbroken ones. "Broken" means that they don't look particularly good and might, for example, have bits missing from the shell, be halfway torn apart, be in pieces, etc. They also have not been separated into sizes, so you can get tiny ones and large ones and all sizes in-between in the same box. This makes oven-roasting them a bit tricky. It's best, if possible, to get them as even-sized as possible.

To serve four as a main course:
1.6 kilos langoustine tails in the shell
about 150 grams (or more as needed) butter
6 cloves of garlic (or more if you really LOVE garlic)
salt

If the langoustines are frozen, take them out and let them thaw for about an hour before de-veining. If they are fresh, de-vein them just before you cook them - give yourself some time because de-veining can be time-consuming if you have never done it before. Here's a video to show how it's done. 

However, I prefer to roast langoustines in the shell, because it ensures they stay succulent and don't get dry while cooking, so my method is slightly different:
     With a sharp knife, make a shallow cut through the back of the langoustine tail. Using your fingers, open the cut slightly and you should see the the vein. "Vein" is a misnomer, by the way, as it is actually the digestive tract of the animal, and part or all of it will generally be black or greenish in colour, a mixture of sand and partially digested food. Gently lift it up with the tip of a knife and pull it out. I actually prefer to use a wooden toothpick rather than the tip of a knife, because the vein is slippery and the toothpick gives a better grip than a knife.

AS you can see, the sizes can vary considerably.
Copyrighted image.
If there is a considerable difference in the sizes of the tails, I recommend splitting the biggest ones down the centre so that they just hang together by the shell. Arrange the tails in an oven pan with the cuts upwards.

If the sizes vary a lot, set the smallest ones aside. They can be put in another oven-pan, ready to be put into the oven, or you can quickly add them to the pan with the rest when the time comes.

Heat an oven to 180 °C for a convection oven, 190 °C for a regular oven.

Crush, grate or finely chop the garlic and put in a saucepan with the butter. Melt the butter over low heat. Cool down to the required consistency if necessary. It should be liquid enough to dribble but thick enough not to run much and cool enough to not start the cooking process.

Dribble the garlic butter into the cuts in the langoustine tails and salt lightly. Put the tails into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. 10 minutes should be enough for small and medium sized tails, but if they are large, you will need the full 15 minutes. Remove one and cut into it when 10 minutes have passed. If it's a solid white all the way through, it's cooked. A cooked langoustine should have a slightly softer than al dente feel when you bite into it, and be juicy. If it's firmer and feels dry, it's overcooked.

If you set aside any small tails, put them into the oven after 3 minutes if you're cooking for 10 minutes or 7-8 minutes if you are cooking for 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, pour the juices into a bowl and serve. The diners should be left to remove the langoustines from the shell, which is easy using a knife to hold the tail still while the fork is used to pluck the flesh from the shell. The flesh can be dipped into the juices as needed.

I prefer to serve langoustine tails with just pieces of baguette on the side, which can be used to mop up any stray juices, but feel free to add other elements to the meal.

19/01/2016

Edits


I've added photos to two recipes:

Fried fish Orly

and

Cocktail Sauce


I am also working on a new recipe post.

News: Skyr in the UK

Skyr produced by Arla has been available in several flavour varieties (including natural) in the UK since the middle of last year. How I managed to miss this, I don't know, because this kind of news usually makes headlines in the Icelandic media (we are that proud of our skyr). It's possible the news has been ignored here because the skyr in question is not produced in Iceland. 


Iceland failed to acquire a protected designation of origin for skyr and therefore anyone can use the term, even if the product doesn't really conform to the traditional definition of skyr. I am in no way implying that this is what Arla has done, but it has been implied that certain other producers are making yogurt, thickening it with rennet and calling it skyr.


However, MS Iceland Dairies (Mjólkursamsalan in Icelandic), has now started producing skyr for export to the UK. It will, to begin with, be available in Waitrose supermarkets in and around London as of February 8. I'd be interested - when the time comes - to hear from someone who has done a taste comparison of MS skyr and Arla skyr.