Saturday, October 13 –
Usually I would start one of these posts with, “I made it exactly like the recipe…” but not this time. This dinner was out to test my cooking skills from the very beginning to the very end. Thank goodness I had ChocolateThunder and TroubleWalking in the kitchen helping me to rescue these three dishes: baked mushrooms (that strangely weren’t baked), cream of carrot soup, and caramelized swedes. We also had Bestie Extraordinaire and Mistress Whiskey over, and they brought herb-seasoned fish fillets with potatoes and mushrooms, recipe also below.
Let’s start with the cream of carrot soup recipe. Take the broth and brandy and simmer your carrots in it (I used veggie broth instead of beef broth). Drain the broth mix but save it. Mash the carrots. Set aside. Melt the butter, add the flour, add the milk, presto you have a roux and then a gravy-sauce. Add the carrots, broth, sugar, and pepper. What does that leave you with? A mushy, bland pot of carrot flavored soup-stuff. I took it one step further and had BestestFianceEver use our immersion blender on it. Then I added some salt and some more brandy and let it simmer for a bit, hoping the flavors would all come together. They did, sort of, but it was still bland. Definitely a better texture, but the flavor was pretty pasty. I asked ChocolateThunder to help me figure out what it was missing and I’m pretty sure what he said was he added the parsley and the nutmeg (supposed to be garnishes, but we put them in anyway) and also some onion powder, garlic powder, and some more nutmeg. Then together we decided that the thing it really needed was… bacon. Yes, yes we did. So BestestFianceEver got to cooking bacon chopped into bits and I moved on to the next recipe. In the end it turned out smoky, smooth, and filling. I am planning on making this again very, very soon.
Next up we have the caramelized swedes (aka rutabagas – also aka something I’ve never cooked before, ever). This recipe I did make as it was written, but stay with me until we get to the funny part. The recipe says to use precooked rutabaga but it doesn’t say how to precook them. So I chopped two peeled rutabagas up into little bite-sized pieces and I boiled them until they were fork-tender. I drained the water then added the butter, two chopped shallots, and one chopped, small onion. I let the butter melt and the sound of frying to begin. Then I added the sugar and let the whole thing cook until the rutabagas were yellow/almost gold. In next was the rosemary and the vinegar – then to put the lid on and simmer. After that was gingerbread crumbs (um, ok?) and blue cheese crumbles (um, really?) and let it heat up and blend the flavors. Once the dish was complete I looked around the room and said, “Ok, rock/paper/scissors for who has to taste this first.” ChocolateThunder, TroubleWalking, and I actually ended up tasting it at about the same time. And even though that’s a really weird combination of flavors to me, it was actually really, really good. Surprised? Yeah, me too. But I would definitely make it again.
Last, but not least, is the baked mushrooms. If this sounds like it would taste like condensed cream of mushroom soup, heated, then you are probably right. Also, right about now my eyes just stopped sending the right messages to my brain. I started off on the wrong foot with this recipe at the very beginning. Butter and breadcrumbs? Check. Mushrooms, onion, lemon juice, butter, salt, and pepper? Check. Keeping them in separate pans? Not so much. I didn’t read to the end first to see that you put the breadcrumbs on top. Oops. So breadcrumbs went in with the mushrooms and other ingredients. Then add the cream and boil, right? Nope – I was supposed to have that in yet another pan, heated to boiling. Instead I put the cream in with the breadcrumbs and mushrooms and heated it till boiling. Then the flour. Then the egg (which I tempered with the heated cream). What do all of these mistakes make? A broken roux. It looked like lumpy, mushroomy vomit with butter floating on top. Yuuuuuummm… *wince* We try everything to fix it – we drain the butter, we mix it vigorously, we have it on low heat, then high heat, and then we almost gave up. What saved the day? Google. Apparently if you want to fix a broke roux you take a cup of cream and you simmer it down to half the volume, and you mix this into the poor, lumpy, mistreated dish. It worked PERFECTLY. All of a sudden it was a creamy, beautiful dish again. Hallelujah! (But nope, you don’t bake it. Weird, huh?)
I also made homemade cheddar garlic biscuits to serve on the side to try to make it not so much like a bunch of side dishes thrown together. (It almost worked.) And Bestie Extraordinaire and Mistress Whiskey brought the fish and potato dish – making the only “main dish” we served.
The fish was tender and the flavor soaked into the potatoes perfectly. The biscuits were ok, but by the time we got to eat them they were cold, which isn’t my favorite. The “baked” mushrooms were pretty much heated cream of mushroom soup, but ok I suppose. The caramelized swedes were so good I went back for seconds. And the soup was so good that when I went back for seconds the pot had already been scraped clean!
So there you have it – new foods, rescue operations, gallons of wine, and good friends. All the things that make a Saturday freaking awesome.
Next week is France and is a potluck. Stay tuned!
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.foodfromfinland.com and www.food.com)
Finnish Baked Mushrooms
- 1 lb mushroom, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons onions, finely minced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 pinch salt and pepper (or to taste)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, fine, dry
- 1 tablespoon butter
1 Mix the breadcrumbs with 1 tbsp butter and toast until golden brown, stirring often to prevent burning.
2 To the sliced mushrooms add the lemon juice, onion, butter, salt, and pepper. Saute until onions tender.
3 Heat the cream to just short of the boiling point.
4 Stir the flour into the mushrooms, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping.
5 Stir in a bit of the cream.
6 Stir in each egg yolk separately.
7 Stir in the remaining cream.
8 Cook, covered, until the sauce is just short of boiling.
9 Sprinkle with the toasted bread crumbs and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
10 Note: The thicker the cream the better the dish tastes. Half and half is better than milk and whipping cream is best of all.
Cream of Carrot Soup (Porkkanasosekeitto)
- 1 lb carrot
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 dash pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- rolls to serve
1 Peel carrots. Cook carrots in beef broth and brandy until tender, adding additional brandy if necessary. Drain, reserving the stock, and strain or mash the carrots to make a smooth puree.
2 Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, and stir until blended.
3 Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly.
4 Heat to the boiling point and simmer for 10 minutes.
5 Add reserved stock, carrot puree, sugar, and pepper.
6 Garnish each serving with parsley and a dash of nutmeg.
- 1 swede (rutabaga), app. 500 g when peeled
- 4 shallots or 2 small onions
- App. 25 g butter
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1-2 tbsp rosemary
- 1 tbsp apple vinegar
- 50-100 ml gingerbread crumbs
- Black pepper
- (Blue cheese)
Peel the swede (rutabaga) and cut it into cubes of about 2 x 2 cm’s (0.8 x 0.8 inches). Slice the onions. Pre-cook the swede wedges. Drain well. Fry the swedes on low heat in butter. Add the onion wedges and sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and gets a bit golden. Add the chopped rosemary and vinegar. Reduce the heat, place a lid over it and let it simmer until tender. Season with gingerbread crumbs, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over it with blue cheese crumbs.
Herb seasoned Fish fillets with Potatoes and Mushrooms
- 4 skinless fillets of pike perch, whitefish or perch (app. 600 g)
- Salt, pepper
- 150 ml fresh herbs, chopped (basil, chervil/parsley, thyme)
- 800 g peeled potatoes
- 2 tbsp ripe-seed oil
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 100–200 g shiitake mushroom
- 1 tbsp butter or margarine
- 50 ml lemon juice
Cut a diagonal slit on the deepest parts of the fish fillets, up to half way of the fillet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and spread the chopped herbs, pressing into the slits as well. Slice the potatoes as half-centimeter slices and toss a chopped garlic clove in a small amount of oil, into a baking dish. Season lightly with salt. Even the surface. Cook the potatoes in 225°C (440F) for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms and saute in a pat of butter or margarine in a pan. Season with chopped garlic and lightly with salt and pepper. Combine the mushrooms with the nearly ready potato slices. Add some lemon juice evenly for freshness. Place the fish fillets onto a bed of potatoes and mushrooms and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, until the fish is done. Serve with fresh salad and lemon wedges.