Happy New Year!
I've had a bit of a Christmas break from my laptop and blogging and stuff. But obvs not from cooking and eating. Or watching Christmas cooking programs. And about three thousand episodes of Lost. We are sometimes a bit late to the box set party, by when we finally arrive, well, God help everyone.
Sadly the lovely Christmas fun is all over and the decorations have come down. Husband was in charge of the outdoor lights as always and managed to find a six foot inflatable polar bear with twinkling lights in his belly to crown the display. He loved the bear so much that in the first couple of nights he couldn't sleep a wink because he was worried someone might steel it so he had to get up several times and go to the front room window to check that the bear was still there. The bear survived the festive period bringing Christmas cheer to the neighbourhood kids and us as well and is now safely back in the box and waiting for next Christmas.
|Can't help but make you smile!|
Until then it's time to strap on my new running shoes and head for the hills. Husband kindly performed an imitation of what I look like when I run, which unexpectedly reminded me of Phoebe in Friends. Remember when she went running with Rachel in Central Park. Funny. I always imagine myself a lot more like Jessica Ennis.
One of my favourite things I cooked this Christmas, and not only because of the two types of sangria it included, but possibly partly because of the two types of sangria, was the Christmas tapas lunch I did for a friend just before Christmas including.... drumroll.... two types of Sangria, white and red! And a selection of Christmassy tapas. what else. One of the tapas was a traditional Catalan smoked reindeer pinwheel in Lappish flatbread. Recipe - if you can call it a recipe, maybe more just an instruction - below.
|Rosemary infused white wine and apple juice sangria with sprigs of rosemary and cranberries.|
The red one was a mixture of red wine, cinnamon, cloves, clementine, a sparkling pomegranate drink and cranberries.
Another highlight was my Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas Eve is the big day for us Finns, which is an anomaly that husband never seems to understand and always disappears for last minute shopping although Christmas peace has been announced in Turku Finland at noon and all the world should stop all activity apart from listening to Christmas music and eating ginger biscuits. So once the errant husband was back I served a starter of smoked reindeer with rocket and mozzarella - recipe below. Reindeer is a part of a Finnish Christmas, not so much pulling Santa's sleigh as a critically important supporting act on the Christmas table. We always have had some cold-smoked reindeer in the Christmas table, usually served cold on it's own as an antipasto kind of thing, And on the Chrtistmas Day in the breakfast table as something to put on top of your slice of sourdough rye bread, sweet Christmas loaf or Karelian pasty.
For my Christmas eve main I did a veal osso buco milanese with a wonderful yellow saffron risotto inspired by Jamie's Christmas cooking programs. Husband sometimes questions the necessity of hours of Good Food channel and Food Network, so these moments are great proof that there is sense to it all. I also made a panzanella salad and a raspberry tiramisu for dessert. Fantastic.
The one traditional Finnish Christmas food I can't seem to do without is the sweetened potato bake. I actually thought I would soldier through this Christmas without it, but on Christmas morning I caved in having not thought about anything else all Christmas eve and not being able to sleep very well at all. I had a jar of pickled herring and couldn't get it out of my head. How could I possibly not make this awesome potato dish to accompany the herring.
So on Christmas day I served some cold fish starters with the lovely potato bake and some roast potatoes for husband, pickled herring, mediterranean anchovies, smoked salmon and whitefish roe with dill, onion and sour cream - another absolute Christmas must. The main was my provencal duck legs, roast potatoes and roast carrots and parsnip. I was really excited with my purple heritage carrots, but they just actually looked like I had burned my veg. Everything tasted really good though.
|The best way to eat roe - mixed with sour cream, chopped onion and dill.|
Below my two super easy reindeer starters. Smoked reindeer can be hard to find here (although a quite ethical way to grow meat), so you could replace with other smoked meat, Waitrose sells smoked venison, or bresaola would work as well. My sister helpfully suggested cold-smoked horse as a substitute when we were discussing the difficulties obtaining reindeer in the UK. But horse meat is equally or even more difficult to find and very much frowned upon here. Whereas in Finland, practical as ever, we eat our horses after their time has come, even though we don't grow them for that purpose specifically. Waste not, want not kind of a thing. Plus it's tasty. But I told my sister that eating horse to British people is probably a bit like eating labrador puppies would be to us. However practical even we don't eat labrador puppies.
Smoked reindeer, goat cheese and rocket flatbread pinwheels
Pack (about 100g) cold-smoked reindeer
100g soft chevre
2-3 tbsp sour cream (or yoghurt)
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
For the flatbread try to find stonebaked flatbread, the small ethnic shops usually do it. But if you can't find any then any other kind of flat bread will do. Even a tortilla, although ideally I would use something a bit thicker.
Chop the fresh herbs. Crumble the chevre and mix in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or yoghurt to thin it a little and mix well until smooth. Mix in the chopped herbs and black pepper to taste.
Spread the chevre mixture on the flat bread. Cut the reindeer slices into thin strips and spread evenly. Sprinkle over a good helping of rocket. Roll the flatbread and wrap the roll in a tinfoil and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. Slice into about 1-1.5 cm slices and serve on a bed of rocket.
Smoked reindeer mozzarella and rocket salad
Pack of rocket (about 90g)
Pack (100g) cold-smoked reindeer or other smoked meat
150g good quality mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme or rosemary
Spread the rocket on a serving platter or individual plates. Fold the reindeer slices into nice shapes and place over the rocket. If using small mozzarella balls add them onto the plate, or slice your mozzarella and spread the slices on the platter/plates. Sprinkle with salt, fresh chopped herbs, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil.