Saturday, September 08, 2007

How to prepare a stress-free Saturday dinner

Yesterday I had a friend for dinner and we enjoyed (or rather drank) two bottles of Moulin de Laussac. This means that my Saturday has ended up more or less the Saturday after the Friday before. Still I have another social obligation this tonight. My two nephews are coming for dinner and I am in the process of preparing a low-stress, low-fat dinner.

Saturday, September 8th at 2 PM

Good food does not have to mean fancy ingredients and a lot of work. I had two frozen pork tenderloins, the low-fat part of the pig. Perfect for two hungry guys destined for a party later this evening. After defrosting, I seasoned the pork with a liberal amount of olive oil and Durkee St. Louis Style Smokey Mesquite, a pungent mix of spices, originally intended for your BBQ experience. Then I placed them back in the refrigerator allowing it to marinate, as I went to the grocers.

Greens - the ultimate solutions to your stress-free Saturday dinner is frozen vegetables. Some of you may frown by the thought of using any other vegetables than the fresh ones, but I would like to point to the fact that frozen vegetables are not what they used to be. Instead of using the day after the evening before to cut peppers, onions, and other vegetables you just pour two pounds of frozen vegetables on the bottom of your oven proof dish, add olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper or your favourite herbs, thyme, rosemary, sage, or oregano. Mix well. Take out your tenderloin and place on top, and put in the oven to long roast at 120C/250F for 2,5 hours increasing the temperature to 200C/400F the last 30 minutes.

I used a wok-mix, of broccoli, bamboo-shots, red and yellow peppers, leeks, bean sprouts, and black fungus. Will be interesting to see the result. Only 24 calories in 100 grams /3 oz. I feel slimmer already. (Stop mentioning the olive oil!!!)

Gravy!! 250 grams of frozen porcini, button mushrooms and cantharellus Heat in a non-stick pan with some butter, add a little flour and mix well. Then add 10 cl / 3 fluid oz good stock and the same amount of single cream, and my favourite ingredient - the Marsala Wine.

I know that this is not the low fat solution, but I hate to be fanatic.

This wine adds the most delicate sweet, slightly smokey flavour to any sauce. This brand is my favourite!!

So, now I am waiting for the dinner to be ready at 4 PM, Saturday 8th September 2007. I think I will have a cold beer. See your later!!

Saturday September 8th, 8.50 PM

My second nephew just left.

This is how the food ended in the plate. The vegetables tasted great

They were covered by 4 slices of delicious pork, topped with a Rösti-potato. Great stuff, and very easy - believe me!!

Moulin de Laussac 2006. Boring, boring, boring......

Bordeaux wines as Moulin de Laussac 2006 is the proof that many inexpensive wines from this famous wine region are lagging behind other much better, reasonably priced table wines produced in France, Spain, South America and South Africa. Moulin de Laussac 2006 is not recommendable neither by your dinner table nor by itself, even at the low price (€9). I would hardly consider it as suitable as food wine.

It is a blend of cabernet-sauvignon (80%) and merlot (20%), but the rich flavours from the merlot grape have no impact in this blend. Moulin de Laussac has aromas of red berries but these are overpowered by an intense peppery bitterness.

Moulin de Laussac 2006 was a once in a lifetime experience. The world is full of wines to enjoy, other wines.....

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Eat spinach - it is good for you!!

I bought a gourmet hen a few days ago. Egg laying hens are often sold for those of us who like to make our own stock, as the meat often is to tough to eat. I prepared my stock and found that even the meat was tender, and with so much stock it was time to make a soup. I made spinach soup for the first time in ages. I had really forgotten how the delicious that was.

Spinach has a bright green colour, and is packed with vitamins and antioxidants that protect our cells from e.g. cancer. Modern science has shown that the amount of antioxidants in spinach even increase as you boil it, so a spinach soup is truly a boost for the body.

Spinach soup is easy to make. As I never use a recipe I may be a little vague when it comes to quantities, but experiment a little in order to find your special blend.

I heated around 50 -75 cl (1-1 1/2 pint) of good chicken stock and added 250 grams (1/2 lb) of spinach leaves. This large mount of leaves will get much smaller as they are subjected to the hot liquid. Allow to heat for a few minutes, and put the stock and spinach into a liquidizer and blend until smooth. Add some sugar to balance the salt and some double cream or sour cream at the end will make this into an easy, tasty and nutritious meal. I even added some boiled chicken meat turning it into a great dinner.

Yesterday I had a pal for dinner and then I also used spinach. I deboned a chicken and filled it with spinach and feta cheese. A great result as the spinach taste mixed with the salty and creamy feta cheese. Try it!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

A decent table wine from Languedoc-Roussillon

Wine Brothers Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Languedoc-Rousillion in South Western France, is an upcoming wine region and this Vin de Table proves that the quality of even inexpensive wines from this region are improving steadily. It will be a pleasant experience by your dinner table or if you need decent wine in your cooking.

I have already declared my love for the merlot grape, and this wine contains 60% of it and the rest, 40 % is made up by cabernet sauvignon.

It has a dark red colour, and has the mellow taste of red berries, apples and a hint of licorice. It is a bargain at 319 NOK (€38). It is not rich enough to match red meat or game, but will be good company to lamb, pork, or chicken.

Looking for another wine?

See complete list of wine reviews here on Enjoy Food & Travel - your source to good wine!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wonderfully easy chicken noodle soup



By guest writer Susanne Koch

I have a cold, and when I do there's only one thing I want: Soup. So today I treated myself to a tasty, nourishing chicken noodle soup which I cooked up in all of 15 minutes. This is what you need:

The thigh of a grilled chicken
2-3 cups of stock (water and a stock cube will do)
1 large red chilli (seeds removed)
1 portion of noodles
1 inch of root ginger
1 large clove of garlic
2 spring onions
A squeeze of lemon
Serves 1 person

Heat the stock, add the chilli, ginger and garlic and simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients as you go: Chop the spring onion, tear the chicken from the bone and chop it in bite sized peaces. Last, add the noodles. I chose some broad rice noodles that cook in just 2 minutes. Squeeze over the lemon and you're done. If you happen to have some cilantro, it will be a perfect match.

Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Pandia.com. Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.

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Gamlebyen in Fredrikstad - the gated city

Gamlebyen in Fredrikstad was founded exactly 400 years ago and Fredrik II of Denmark and Norway intended it to be a military stronghold to defend the area against the main enemy - the Swedish army. It was meant to replace the city of Borg or Sarpsborg, founded by King Olav, the patron saint and eternal king of Norway in 1016. This city was destroyed by the advancing Swedes in 1567. Today Gamlebyen is one of the best preserved walled cities in Northern Europe.

The first city from 1567 had defences made from wood, but a century later Major General Johan Caspar Cicignon designed a walled city made from solid stone. We were privileged to get a guided tour behind the walls and here are some of the military buildings left from the city's glorious history.

Provianthuset (1674)

This massive building is the oldest in the entire city. It goes back to the time of Johan Caspar Cicignon himself.

It is located in the eastern most part of the walled city, overlooking the mouth of the Glomma river as it floats into the Oslofjord.

Today it is used for functions and receptions, and what a place to throw a party! Here you also find workshops for ceramic artists and you can buy their products here.

Tøihuset (1776)

Close to the old church you find the gate of Tøihuset, where the military used to store their uniforms. This is in fact one of the largest military building in the country with a surface covering more than 4000 square metres /40000 square ft.

Today it house a large exhibition covering the period from 1567 to the present day.

The Infantry Barracks (1764)

This large brick building located on the Market Square is one of the finest examples of military architecture in the whole country.

Its plan is based on the calender. 4 gates - for each of the seasons, 12 chimneys - one for each month, 52 rooms - one for each week, 365 windows - one for each day, 24 panes in the window for each hour of the day, and 60 doors for each minute of the hour.

The infantry barracks was the home of the military personnel, and often also for their families, and there was not much room for each during the golden age of the city. Today you find offices and cultural institutions in the house.

The Slavery (1731)

This impressive house built out of stone, was built as main guard house for the fortress at Gamlebyen. It was extended both in 1734 and 1825 to house the prisoners sentenced to hard labour or the fortress slaves as they were called. Being slaves here was rumored to be much worse than anywhere else in the country.

One famous slave was the Norwegian Lay Preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge that originally came from this area and one of the first that dared to challenge the monopoly of religious practice held by the state church. He was arrested December 27th 1797 for illegal religious activities.

Up to now, Slaveriet has been used by the local museum, but is now waiting for new occupants.

Voldportvakten (1696)

Voldportvakten is the gate guarding the only passage over the main bridge. This gate was closed and the bridge raised during night.

On the gate you can still admire the monogram of King Christian V of Denmark-Norway followed by his motto:

PIETATE ET JUSTITIA

Piety and Justice were the reassuring words for the people that passed through these gates from the neighbouring area.

In addition to Voldporten , there were three gates facing the river, Kongeporten (The Kings Gate), Mellemporten (The Middle Gate), and Fergeporten (The Ferry Gate).

The Draw Bridge (1667)

The first Draw Bridge was constructed in 1667 and was painted in bright colours and decorated with wooden statues.

The bridge was lowered every morning and raised during night time, and there were no passage for those arriving too late.

It was hard work operating the mechanism, and it required up to 30 strong men to lower and raise it.

Kongsten Fort (1682-1685)

Kongsten fort was one of the smaller fortifications outside the city walls. It was constructed on the hill was also called Galgeberg (The Gallow Hill), once the old execution ground.

The reason for the construction of the fort was to protect the only area where the enemy could attack the city with their cannons.

There were four other fortifications that were designed to give the city additional protection during war.

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What a swell party this is.......

"Have you heard? Professor Munch Ate his wife and divorced his lunch. Well, did you evah? What a swell party this is!"

Cole Porter

Well certainly my friend Ketil never did this, but he and his lovely wife Astrid invited us all to a great party Saturday, September 1st. And what a swell party that was, and guess what? I cooked!!!

Well, not alone, I have to admit. This was a teamwork with Terje (image right), a former gardener, now a professional cook. And what did we make? We made tapas for 40, and it was so much easier than I had expected. We were lucky though, as we were allowed to prepare the food in a proper kitchen, the place where Terje works. I would like to present what we prepared for Ketil and Astrids friends.

75 little piggies

I have given you the recipe my little piggies earlier, and they are so extremely easy to make, take a prune and fold half a slice of bacon around it. Place all the 75 little piggies, one by one in a tray and bake at 200C / 400F until crisp

Chorizos in port

It is equally easy to prepare the second dish. Cut Spanish chorizos in half an inch slices. Cover the bottom of a tray, pour good port or sherry over them and and bake for 10-15 minutes at 200C / 400F

Pintxos with tuna salad and baked red peppers

This tapa is inspired by the pintxos served at the Bilbao Berria in Barcelona. The only difference is that in Barcelona they serve the red peppers whole, filled with the delicious tuna salad.

Well mix a diced onion with tinned tuna in water or brine, and add mayonnaise and a little thai chili for a bite. Allow to rest in order for the taste to infuse.

Burn some red peppers on the grill or in the oven, allow the skin to get black. Then put the hot peppers in a zip lock bag and close, wait for a few minutes to peel away the black skin.

Place the mix on one inch thick slices of baguette, and garnish with a lice of red pepper and a twig of dill weed.

The heavenly San Daniele Ham

I had kept a large piece of the divine cured San Daniele ham in my refrigerator, and I decided to donate it to the Ketil Zahl and Astrid Melings birthday fund.

In order to enjoy such a great ingredient you really need to prepare it correctly. Luckily the professionals could provide us with the means to serve the San Daniele ham in the way it is supposed to - a professional device to slice it!

We sliced the whole piece extremely thin, and covered a whole tray. This is certainly not your average cured ham. It has a good layer of snow white glistening fat contrasted by the most delicious pink cured meat. The taste is more sweet than salt. This is serious slow food. Dry salted and then left to cure for a long period, and the ham surely disappeared quickly from the tray.

Tortilla de Patatas - Spanish potato omelet

This is a traditional tapa, and believe me, we made tortilla de patatas in industrial quantities. Find a good recipe and add up until you get the right amountto match the number of your guests. We made the egg mixture with 25 eggs (I think), and seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs.

We placed the potatoes in a large tray lined with some baking paper, pour the egg mixture over and bake in the oven until the mix is firm and the top is still slightly runny.

Allow to cool, and turn the tortilla on a table. Cut into squares and turn around. Put half a cherry tomato and use a toothpick to fasten. Great stuff, hot as cold.

Marinated tiger prawns

We used precooked frozen prawns. Here you may use many different seasonings. I used 3-4 tbsp of Tones Salmon and Seafood seasoning, a blend of onion, garlic, lemon peel, dill and other spices. I also added a teaspoon crushed garlic, olive oil, and some thai chili sauce to balance the acidity and salt with some sweetness.

At the end I added a teaspoon of Louisiana style Cajun seasoning for additional heat, and believe me, tiger prawns is great prepared this way, and you do not have to cook them.

And this was not all. We also served crispy marinated chicken wings and calamaris cooked in olive oil, tomato sauce

And all for this great couple - Astrid Meling and Ketil Johan Zahl.

Thank you for the previous 50 years and I look forward to the 50 to come!!!

Love from Enjoy Food & Travel