My favorite winter vegetable served with zander

I had a teacher in the high-school called Zander. She was old and reminded me more of the old pike than a quick zander. Zander or pikeperch is a real delicacy and one of the few game fishes that you could fish in the rivers and seas surrounding Berlin. In this dish the fish is accompanied by my favorite winter vegetable, jerusalem artichoke and chanterelle. This is a dish that everyone could prepare. Enjoy!

Fried zander with chanterelle and puree of jerusalem artichoke

  • 700 g zander fillet with skin
  • 0,5 liter chanterelle
  • 100 smoked pork belly
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 300 g jerusalem artichoke
  • 200 g potatoes
  • 0,1 liter creme fraiche
  • 1 l chicken broth

Start with the puree. Peel potatoes and artichokes and cut into pieces. Boil in chicken broth. When the vegetables are done, strain and mix the potatoes and artichokes with the creme fraiche. Flavor with salt and white pepper.

Fry chanterelle, smoked meat and shallots in butter on high heat for 3 min.

Fry the zander on the skin side in butter for 3 min. Flavor with salt and pepper. Turn the fish around and remove the pan from the heat. After two minutes the fish is ready to serve.

Arrange the mushroom mix on a plate. Put the fish on top and serve with the puree on the side. Enjoy!

Music: Listened to Fishes by Cat Empire

Extraordinary wines

A year ago I received a mail from my friend in California. He was planning his 40′s birthday and wondered if I would help in the kitchen. The dinner was going to take place in Sweden this autumn. I hesitated until I read the prerequisites. Since he is a true wine nerd and his birth year is 71 he had, over a longer time period, collected rarities from the great wine year 1971. Those bottles were going to be consumed together with a the food we came up with.  The hesitation was gone and I was in.

When planning a tasting menu I normally come up with the dishes and then find the wines. This was the first time the wines were given and I needed to find the suitable dishes. My friend had already set up three courses and I added another three. The food was great and together with the fantastic wines the courses tasted even better. However for me, the most important thing apart from making my friend satisfied was to enjoy the one in a life time wine menu. If you know your way around wines, start drooling.

Some of the wines we had

This was what we had

  • Appetizers – Dom Perignon 1971
  • Parsnip soup with tender smoked whitefish (we had a special Swedish sweet water fish) – Schloss Eltz Riesling Auslese Rauenthaler Baiken 1971
  • Goose liver creme brulee – Château d’Yquem 1971
  • Frozen Gazpacho – water
  • Ravioli stuffed with eggplant and truffles, brown butter and fried sage – Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1971
  • Cheeks of beef, red wine sauce, potato puree flavored with truffles – Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1971 and Beaulieu Vineyard George de la Tour Private Reserve 1971
  • Pear- and almond tarte with cardamom cream – Moulin Touchais 1971

Some comments. We were extremely lucky. All wines but one had survived the years and tasted wonderful. The one that had oxidized was the Dom Perignon that tasted more like sherry. In all, this matched my high expectations and I have never had such good and interesting wines in one evening. My two favorites were Ch. d’Yquem and Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion. To make sure we didn’t run out of wine if the 71 had oxidized, we had at least one back-up wine for each course. The back up wines we had normally play the leading role…

Smashing pumpkins

The menus and the stores are crowded with pumpkins. I love the thought of cooking with mainly seasonal ingredients, but I must admit I have problems with pumpkins. For me it is like sweet potatoes, no real character just sweet.  Since so many people eat pumpkins there must be something wrong with me. To convince myself that pumpkins are gods gift to all gourmets, I don’t give up, but try new recipes. This one is the best so far and it is a perfect starter. The secret is the old swedish conservation method – vinegar and sugar. With the spices it makes the pumpkin more tasteful and not that sweet. Try it.

Ingredients

  • 200 g pumpkin
  • 0,1 l sugar
  • 0,2 l water
  • 5 cl vinegar (12%)
  • 1/2 cm ginger
  • 75 g goat cheese
  • 0,1 l chopped and roasted hazelnuts
  • your favorite salad

Start with the pumpkin. Cook water, vinegar and sugar. Remove from heat  and add ginger in slices and pepper.  Cut the pumpkin in thin slices (use a mandolin/slicer  if you have). Marinate the pumpkin in the lukewarm liquid for at least 3 hours.

Arrange the pumpkin, salad and goat cheese on a plate. Add the roasted chopped hazelnuts and pepper. Sprinkle some pumpkin marinate on top.

Music: Of course we listened to my top 10 album all time, Siamese dreams by Smashing Pumpkins.

Vacation = food trip

When planning where to go on our vacations, one of the most important criteria is the quality of the local cuisine. Therefore it may not come as a surprise that our last three vacations were spent in Italy. As food lovers we’ve rented apartments so that we have the possibility to try out the local ingredients ourselves. We just love visiting the local markets, the butcher, the cheese store, etc. Take our ingredients home, cook and pretend that we are locals.

We realize of course when booking that not everyone have the same interests as us and sometimes the kitchen utilities are quite disappointing; like last year in Sicily where you could have won the downhill gold medal in the frying pan. This year though we got lucky and had a kitchen full with knives, pots and pans, gas stove and an oven. The only thing missing was the grill – actually the reason why we choose the apartment in the first place, but that’s life… At least we had a griddle pan.

We have a newborn and therefore decided to do our own cooking in the evenings and only have our lunches at restaurants. We were very delighted with what was served, but were quite surprised that the Sardinians didn’t eat a lot of fish. Instead meat and shellfish seem to be the main ingredients. The prime dish is the porchetto – roasted suckling pig – that often needs to be ordered 24 h in advance due to the slow preparation. The whole pig is grilled over open fire which give a wonderful crust and an extremely juicy meat.

Porchetto

Another delicacy you should not miss is pecorino. With age the character changes much more than parmesan so you should at least try 5 different ages. Sardinia is really strong on wines. One of the biggest and best wineries is Sella & Mosca. We tried 5 of their wines and were very satisfied.

The most peculiar thing we had, was pasta with sea-urchins. It smelled like ammoniac but fortunately it tasted better (probably due to large amount of garlic). Interesting but not a dish we will order again.

To sum up our cooking. We did fairly well also without a char-coal grill. Every night we had at least two courses inspired by the italian kitchen. The local butcher delivered wonderful bisteccas, bresaola and tasty veal. The local pecorino producer provided us with 7 different aged pecorino and the supply of fresh sun-tanned vegetables were immense.

A selection of what we cooked

We can not only recommend Sardinia for the food, but also for the wonderful scenery, the beaches and the friendly people.