Tag Archives: asparagus

Here Comes The Sun

Salmon, egg, and asparagus

Salmon, egg, and asparagus

We’re in the middle of a heatwave. Kind of.

19°C would have my mate in Southern California reaching for an extra sweater, but for Scandinavia in the middle of April it’s positively balmy.

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Steamed Asparagus In A Garlic Vinaigrette

Steamed Asparagus In A Garlic Vinaigrette

Steamed Asparagus In A Garlic Vinaigrette

Asparagus. Those delicious spears divide the population like no other vegetable.

No, not because of its taste, because of, well, you know, the other thing.

You know.  **cough** … this…

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Sichuan Pork With Asparagus

Sichuan pork with asparagus

Sichuan pork with asparagus

Sunny days in February are often not what they seem.

From the comfort of your living room, all may appear splendid outside, with the sun sitting majestically in a clear, perfect, cloudless, azure sky, but the truth is that in the world beyond the double glazing, it’s still freezing.

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Pan Fried Asparagus With Lemon And Garlic

Pan fried asparagus

Pan fried asparagus

We’re now in the period that we call “Mellandagarna” in Swedish – literally “The Between Days” – that curious hinterland between Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” and Abba’s “Happy New Year”.

It’s a festive trough between two gigantic peaks, and when it comes to food, quick and easy are doubly important, as people stagger around, dazed and confused, some semblance of normality returning to life, before we all jump back on the merry-go-round, and it all kicks off again.

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Steamed Salmon With Bacon, Broccolini, and Asparagus

Steamed Salmon With Bacon, Broccolini, and Asparagus

Steamed Salmon With Bacon, Broccolini, and Asparagus

This dish was kind of half-inspired by a post by Dana over at “I’ve Got Cake.”

I first read that post during a moment of extreme weakness, when I was in that awful no-man’s-land between breakfast and lunch. God, it looked good.

Fast forward a few days, and our local hypermarket unexpectedly had some broccolini in. Three quarters of the people who shop there will scream and run away if they see unfamiliar vegetables, but the rest will buy them for the sake of buying them and to bolster their bourgeois credentials, so I had to move fast.

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Venison Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Venison mini meatloaf muffins

Venison mini meatloaf muffins

“Here you go, then”, said Mrs. Paleovirtus, casually dropping a slab of frozen venison mince into our shopping basket. “See what you can do with that!”

“How fortuitous”, I thought to myself, for that very morn I had come across a recipe that would suit that particular ingredient down to the ground.

What I had in mind was Mini Meatloaf “Muffins” with a vegetable purée “frosting”.

This idea was inspired by an article by Katie, aka the “Wellness Mama”, which can be found here.


 

Makes 12 “muffins”

Ingredients

  • 450g minced venison
  • 1 red onion, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, very finely minced
  • 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1⁄4 cup almond flour
  • approx. 1kg frozen cauliflower

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
  • Place the minced venison in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated red onion, garlic, Herbes de Provence, smoked Spanish paprika, and almond flour. Mix well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours develop.
  • Remove the bowl from the fridge, and allow to come up to room temperature. Mix in the egg with your hands, squishing and squashing the egg and mince together until they are very thoroughly mixed.
  • Place some parchment liners in a muffin tin, and fill the liners with the meat mixture. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf until the tops of the “muffins” are nicely browned, about 30 minutes or so.
  • In the meantime, cook the cauliflower. Drain well, and then purée with a hand held blender. Set aside.
  • When the “muffins” are ready, remove them from the muffin tin, and serve them with the cauliflower “frosting” piped onto the top. We ate them with steamed asparagus dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Notes

On the presentation side – here we used a “standard” sized muffin tin, rather than an “American” or “large” one, which meant that the meat came out shaped more like a slightly flattened, large meatball, rather than muffin-shaped. Our local supermarket sell very reasonably priced large silicon muffin-moulds, which might make for a better meat-muffin.

Another slight niggle regarding the presentation – the cauliflower “frosting” was just a bit too runny to hold its shape once piped onto the top of the muffins, something that’s going to require a bit of further research.

As far as the taste goes, we were more than happy there. Our one thought – the mildly gamey, almost lamb-like flavour of the venison mince might work slightly better with different herbs, spices and seasoning. The definitive Swedish go-to recipe book, “Vår Kokbok”, has quite a few recipes for venison, which might give us some interesting ideas on that front.

Steamed salmon with asparagus and broccoli

Steamed salmon with asparagus and broccoli

Steamed salmon with asparagus and broccoli

Salmon is, as we all know, ridiculously good for you.

This recipe is also quick, simple, and yet still something that wouldn’t be completely out of place at an informal dinner party.

Again, this version was inspired by chef Daniel Green’s book “The Paleo Diet – Food Your Body Is Designed To Eat”.

What? You don’t have a copy? Why not? It’s brilliant! Order a copy instantly!

Seriously though, folks, it is, sans doute, the best Paleo cookbook I’ve come across.

Meanwhile, back at the recipe…..


 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 140g salmon fillets
  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 lemons
  • About 1dl each of fresh tarragon, parsley, basil, and chives
  • Dijon mustard
  • olive oil

Method

  • Wash, dry, and then finely chop your fresh herbs. Set aside.
  • Next, make the dressing – mix 6 tbsp of olive oil, 3 tbsp of lemon juice, and 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Trim your asparagus – personally I stand on the pro-snap side of the great asparagus trimming debate. Steam your asparagus until just tender, about 3 minutes should do it.
  • Steam the broccoli until just tender, 5 minutes or thereabouts.
  • Slice the other lemon thinly. Use the lemon slices to line the bottom of your steamer basket. This should prevent the salmon from sticking, as well as giving it a nice hint of lemon.
  • Place your salmon fillets on the lemon slices in the steamer basket, and steam until cooked through – about 10 minutes or so.
  • Plate up – place a salmon fillet on your serving plate, and garnish lavishly with fresh herbs aplenty. Drizzle over a generous amount of dressing.
  • Don’t forget to give the asparagus and broccoli a good blathering with that delicious dressing, too.

Operation Wind-down – bacon, asparagus, and egg

Bacon, asparagus, and egg

Bacon, asparagus, and egg

As part of my project to use up all my outstanding food stocks before moving, I found myself round at my old place with what initially seemed few options available for the speedy, eat-and-go lunch I needed to prepare, devour, and clean up after between hectic bouts of packing, cleaning, and rubbish slinging.

However, after a quick visit to the local supermarket, I was lucky enough to get my hands on cut-price, quick-sale, use-by-date-reached tomatoes, asparagus, and cucumber. 

This was a fantastic fit with the two rashers of bacon and single, solitary egg I had sitting all alone in the almost empty fridge.

The asparagus was simply trimmed and steamed, the bacon microwaved on my wonderful crisper plate, and the egg hard boiled.

The last drops of olive oil in a bottle, the sad remnants of a lemon, a sprinkling of black pepper, and the scrapings from a packet of Indian spice mix chaat masala took care of the embellishments. 

Not too bad a result, with a few pennies saved into the bargain. Well done me, I say! Hurrah!

Summery salad

summery salad

summery salad

I suppose one day, somewhere around the time that we notice that the street lights are still on when we are eating our breakfasts, and dark early evenings seem to leap out of nowhere at us, we might finally tire of salads, and instead of reaching for the salad bowl, we dust down the slow cooker and start to fantasise about stews and casseroles again. Not today, though.

Yet another quick and easy throw together, packed full of all my favourite flavours of the summer, perfect for an almost unbearably warm early-August late-afternoon.


 

Ingredients

For the dressing…

  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small, insanely hot chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence

For the salad…

  • ½ a red  onion, finely chopped
  • ½ a cucumber, sliced lengthways, de-seeded, and then thinly sliced
  • ½  a yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips
  • a handful each of broccoli and cauliflower florets, lightly steamed until just tender
  • about 10 or so green asparagus spears, trimmed, lightly steamed until just tender
  • 2 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • about 4 tbsp capers
  • about 20 pitted black olives
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Mix the ingredients for the dressing, then set aside for half an hour or so for the flavours to combine. This will also take the sharp edge off the garlic.
  • Steam the asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Cut the asparagus spears into thirds. 
  • Place the prepared ingredients for the salad into a large bowl. Mix well. 
  • Pour over the dressing. Mix again.
  • Drizzle over olive oil to taste. Serve.
  • Told you it was quick and easy, didn’t I..?

Sardine Hash

Important definition – let’s be absolutely crystal clear from the get-go regarding what we mean with the “H” word here, mes amis….

Noun
hash (plural hashes)

  • Food, especially meat and potatoes, chopped and mixed together.

  • A confused mess

Right, now that we’ve cleared that potentially embarrassing source of confusion up, let us continue…

In terms of this dish, those two phrases are about as stunningly accurate as saying that the Sun is large, spherical, yellow, and rather hot. Food…chopped and mixed…confused mess… Indeed.

In the children’s classic book “The Wind in the Willows”, Mole and Rat find themselves facing the prospect of a hungry night at Mole End, until they happen across, amongst other things, a tin of sardines.

Not only are they a great “on-the-road” food, but sardines are also fantastic as a standby ingredient to have in at home “just-in-case” – I always have a tin or two lurking somewhere in my cupboards. Tonight was one occasion when I was glad that I did…!

I did not want to cook tonight, at any price – at the very outside I was up for a bit of chopping, cutting, and mixing. Likewise the thought of foraging at our local “super”-market left me cold. I went straight home from work, determined to make the best of whatever I could find hidden in the fridge and freezer.

As it turned out, I found some bits and pieces that just about worked together, well, at least well enough for me to want to finish eating it!

To go with my tin of sardines I found 4 spring onions, which were thinly sliced, greens and all, and put into the mixing bowl with the drained and flaked sardines. I luckily had a green chilli that needed using, so that was finely chopped before joining the fish and the spring onions. 

Next up, I found some forgotten but still serviceable green asparagus, which was trimmed and then lightly steamed (fret not, dearest reader, for t’was in a minimum-effort-involved microwave steamer bag!) for 2 minutes, before being cut into quarters. The tail end of a cucumber was roughly chopped, as were 2 medium sized tomatoes. Last but not least, I found half a savoy cabbage that would have to have been binned tomorrow, so after being thinly shredded it too was steamed, 3 minutes being enough for it to retain a bit of crunch, but still banish the chewy-blues.

Seasoning seemed best covered by a generous dusting of black and cayenne pepper. 

Giving this assemblage a good mix and a toss may well have helped along its flavour and texture a bit, but as sure as cute little brown baby bear cubs go potty round the back of the Redwoods, it certainly didn’t make it any more photogenic than it started out as, namely “not in the slightest”, hence no photo.

In fact, so un-photogenic was it, that not even Leonardo himself could have crafted a canvas capable of flattering it. This was, mes braves, no feast for the eyes, but rather a “cease and desist” order to the Hunger Demon. 

It worked! Mission accomplished! Hungry no more!

Lords, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let’s hear a nice big round of applause for the humble sardine….!