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Mustard-coated Oven-roasted Salmon

10 Nov

Good quality filets of salmon are very well priced and accessible here in Stockholm.  We picked up a big piece of salmon the other night from our local supermarket for dinner.

One of my favorite, simple ways of cooking a big piece of salmon is by oven-roasting it in a mustard, garlic and lemon coating.

For the mustard mixture, finely mince a red onion (small) and 3 garlic cloves, and put them in a small bowl.  Add about 1.5 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and also about 1.5 tablespoons of whole grain mustard; add about a tsp of salt, and mix.  I originally made this recipe without the red onions, but I thought it might add some flavor/crunch, and it seemed kind of Swedish-inspired (?).

Next, zest the rind of a 1/2 lemon into the mustard mixture, then add the juice of 1/2 lemon.  Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix.

The consistency of the mustard mixture should be on the thick side, so that it sticks to the salmon.  If it seems too wet, you could add more mustard.  It’s good to taste it and adjust the seasoning.  Put the salmon, skin-side down, in a roasting pan or dish.  Coat the salmon with the mustard mixture.  Cover with cling wrap and let the salmon marinate in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.  While you have the salmon in the fridge, preheat the oven.

Our oven in Stockholm is tiny and not particularly powerful, so I set ours to broil.  At home in Brooklyn, I generally preheat the oven at 500 F.  After letting the salmon marinate for about 15-20 minutes (as above), take it out of the fridge, take off the cover, and put the dish in the oven.  Roast for about 15 minutes to medium rare, a little longer for medium.

Rest the salmon for a few minutes before serving.  For a simple side-dish, I pan-fried some asparagus with garlic.  The salmon is great cold, too!  (Makes for good leftovers the next day, should there be any left!)

A local butcher + cooking perfectly medium-rare steaks

8 Nov

After some internet investigation, I found a great butcher in Kungsholmen called Taylors and Jones.  Founded by an Irish butcher and a Welsh chef, Taylors and Jones provide “quality meats, sausages, cheeses and other specialties from the British Isles,” and use “only quality Swedish meat in [their] sausages and offer English butcher style cuts in [their] meat counters.”  People seem to have great things to say about them, and, as the butcher is only about a 20 minute walk from our apartment, we had to check it out.

Taylors and Jones is not big.  It has the feel of a neighborhood butcher, and sells fantastic dry-aged beef, various cuts of pork, and a wide array of homemade sausages, alongside some British imported cheeses, groceries and snacks.  Everyone is very friendly there, and helpful with questions.  We bought 2 steaks of dry-aged bone-less rib-eye, as well as 2 pork chops and a few selections of sausages.

High-quality cuts of beef — especially dry-aged — are not for everyday consumption, since they are on the expensive side.  For 2 steaks, we paid 340SEK, or about $46US — definitely a more “special” occasion home-meal.  But when you consider cooking at home versus dining out, and how expensive it is to eat out in general in Stockholm, eating gorgeous steaks at home seems like a fabulous and preferred option.  A main dish at restaurants generally hover around the 220SEK mark or more — and that’s for one person!  From this perspective, cooking a fantastic steak dinner at home seems quite sensible.  What you don’t want to do is overcook these steaks at home.

Before cooking the steaks, it’s important to bring them back to room temperature.  I generally take the steaks out of the fridge, put them on a plate, and let them sit for about 30 minutes.  Then, I salt and pepper both sides of the steaks, and leave them for about another 15 or 20 minutes (out of the fridge).  Bringing the meat back to room temperature helps to cook the meat evenly.

For a steak of about  1-1.5 inch thickness, my magic timing for a medium-rare steak is about 3 minutes on each side, and then resting the steaks for 5 minutes.  It’s better to under-cook the steaks and have to cook some more, than to over-cook them.  If the steak is bone-in, then the cooking time could be longer (from my experience, usually by about 1 more minute on each side).  Cooking time will vary between stoves/burners.  The electric burner in our Stockholm apartment definitely has spots that seem hotter than others, which I’m still in the process of figuring out.  In the mean time, I rotate the pan halfway during cooking to try to even out the hotspot exposure.

Heat a skillet with some olive oil.  Get your timer ready.  When the skillet is nice and hot, put the steaks on the pan, and start the clock.  At 3 minutes (or more if the steak is thicker, or you want it better done than medium rare), turn over the steaks.

After cooking the other side for 3 minutes (total of 6 minutes cooking time), take the steaks off the pan and put them aside on a plate to rest.  Rest the meat for 5 minutes.

Perfectly medium-rare!  I like to eat good quality steaks very simply, without any sauces.  On this occasion, I roasted some cauliflower for a side vegetable, and we had some leftover eggplant and zucchini ratatouille I’d made the night before.

Simple Eats: “Mediterranean”-style Chili

6 Nov

ICA has a line of i (heart) eco products

The hardest part about grocery shopping in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, is understanding what it is that you are buying.   Organic items are usually easy to spot — Bio or Eco normally indicate organic products in Europe (biologique or ecologique).  In Sweden, too, you see a variety of “Eco” or “Eko” products (Ekologiskt).  Recently, I learned that there is another label for organic products established specifically in Sweden — KRAV.  Useful information to have, as I don’t think I would have figured this out on my own.  After reading various expat internet forums on buying groceries in Stockholm, it seems that organic meats and produce in supermarkets are a relatively new thing here, and that quality varies greatly from one supermarket to another, even within the same chain.  We visited the ICA in the NK the other day, where we picked up some nice looking, KRAV ground beef.

Ground beef — or mix of beef and pork, as often is the case in Europe — is a useful item to have in the fridge for a quick, protein-rich meal.  At home, when David needs to load up on protein, or we want a quick lunch, I make what seems like a cross between a bolognese (sans pasta) and a chili.

I dice some onions and carrots, mince a couple of cloves of garlic, and finely chop a whole jalapeño pepper, deseeded.  In a heated pan, I drizzle some olive oil and sauté the vegetables until tender, on medium-high heat.

When the vegetables are tender, I turn down the heat to about medium.  I add a pack of mince meat (like the photo above) into the pan, and with a spatula, I break up the meat and combine it with the vegetables.

When the meat is mostly cooked, I add a can of organic tomato sauce (no sugar added, chunky tomatoes, not whole).  Stir the pan.  When the sauce simmers, add a handful of capers.

And, here is my version of something between a bolognese and a chili — I call it “Mediterranean” style chili because of the capers.   It’s hearty and tasty, and great for the winter!