Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scottish salmon and spinach frittata

Glennfinnich monument jakobitowA

What does Scottish cuisine have to offer? Quite a few interesting things. And this is after excluding the ever ubiquitous porridge and haggis. Fish and seafood are of exceptional quality in this country of mists and moors . It does not come as a surprise after visiting Scotland's rocky coast.

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Scottish smoked salmon is of quite exceptional quality and has really refined taste. To make it more interesting and colorful pair it with eggs, lots of herbs and fresh spinach. This frittata is a quick and tasty dish for lunch.


It is important to prepare it in a frying pan that can go to the oven (with metal or cast iron handles).

losos frittata1 copy

Salmon and spinach frittata with herbs

7 eggs
200 ml of thick sour cream (or crème fraîche )
2 teaspoons horseradish creme
salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
3 shallots , finely chopped
3 tablespoons chives, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
50 g fresh spinach, chopped
6 slices cold-smoked salmon
some chopped chives and freshly ground pepper

Combine eggs, sour cream , horseradish and salt in a big bowl. Whisk it until smooth and frothy. Preheat the grill in the oven. Fry the shallots in butter for 2 min in a skillet. Add chives, parsley and spinach and fry for 3 more minutes. Pour the egg mixture and immediately distribute it evenly with fried greens. Fry for about 5 minutes until the edges begin to brown .Put the skillet  in the oven for 2 minutes. When the top starts to cook distribute slamon slices in the middle and bake for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the chopped chives and ground pepper. Serve frittata hot in the skillet.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Honey and walnut cake with coffee frosting


Honey, nuts and coffee. What else do you need for a lovely winter cake? Especially on a such wet and foggy Sunday. All you want to do is roll up in an armchair with a nice, hot cup of tea (and it is exactly what I am doing right now).

The Atlantic Ocean has calmed down a little bit after providing us with 20 meter high waves last week.  Last Sunday the ocean water "geysers" were 3 times higher than the lighthouse displayed on the blog header. 20 cars were swept away by the waterfront, including a turist bus. Fortunately nothing bad happened to the people who were there, but everybody got quite frightened. It is better not to mess with our Atlantic puddle.


Let's get back to our cake. It contains a little honey and some crunchy walnuts . The frosting is enriched with butter and sweet cream. You get a lot of frosting from this recipe but of course you can make a cake without it if you prefer. But then you won't get a coffee note, which, in my opinion, is quite important for this cake. What more do you need? A cup of coffee or tea. You cannot go wrong with tea... especially prepared the English way - with milk.


Honey and walnut cake with coffee frosting

20 cm round cake tin

125 g butter
75 g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
150 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs
75 g walnuts, toasted and chopped

50 g butter
100 g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons single cream (12% fat content)
150-175 g of icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Mix the flour with baking powder and salt. Whip the butter, add sugar to it and mix until fluffy and smooth. Add  eggs and flour alternately, mixing briefly on a low speed. Add chopped nuts and fold them to the batter. Pour into the prepared (greased and floured) cake tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Frosting :
In the saucepan, combine together all the ingredients except icing sugar. Stir and bring to boil. Remove from the fire and gradually add icing sugar to the desired density. Pour the frosting on a cooled cake.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hoppin 'John for good luck - New Year's dish

Hoppin' John

After the Christmas feast this dish is stunning in its simplicity. The main ingredient - black-eyed beans ensure prosperity and abundance in the New Year. Hoppin' John is eaten on 1st of January in the southern United States. Accompanied by: rice, dark green vegetables (like green $) and cornbread (symbolizing the precious gold). This set of dishes is to ensure financial success in the coming year.

The recipe for Hoppin 'John comes from Lowlands on South Carolina coast. But it has its roots much further - in West Africa, especially Senegal, where people eat cowpeas and rice for centuries.

City of Charleston South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina. We visited this stylish city in 2006.

Rice and beans are very popular combination in many traditional cuisines (especially in warm or tropical countries). The residents of equatorial Africa and Central and South America love every imaginable dish with these ingredients. In South America it is so iconic that Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury released a CD called "Feijão com Arroz" (portuguese for: beans and rice), one of my favorites from the time I moved to Portugal. You can already find some rice and bean dishes on my blog: a Cuban and a Honduran version. Today it is time for the U.S. rice and beans.

Hoppin' John

Initially, Hoppin 'John was cooked and eaten mostly by blacks slaves, then somewhere in the middle of the eighteenth century everybody in the southern states began to enjoy it. Every American cook has a favourite recipe for this dish. Variations abound. The core ingredients are: black-eyed peas, some kind of smoked meat (bacon or sometimes the whole ham on the bone), hot peppers, and of course rice to accompany the dish. My version of Hoppin John s a little bit unorthodox - I add tomatoes to it,  but it helps to blend all the tastes very well. This is best done in big pot, as reheatings only enchances the flavours.

Just a word about the strange sounding name - it is said that Hoppin' John is a corruption of Creole pois pigeon (pigeon peas).

All the best for the New Year!

 Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John

3 cups of dry black-eyed peas
1 onion, peeled and halved
3 carrots, peeled
2 l broth cooked with some smaked meat or veal stock
3 bay leavessalt to taste

250 g bacon, cut into ladrons
1 onion
2 celery sticks
1 green bell pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed 
 salt to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
800 g tinned tomatoes

Soak the beans in plenty of water for 10-12 hours. Drain them off. Add carrots, 1 onion, beans and 3 bay leaves to the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 min. Add salt at the end of cooking. Reserve 2 cups of cooking broth. Drain off the rest. Throw away onion, carrots and bay leaves.

In a large, preferably cast iron pot fry bacon until browned. Dice onions, celery and peppers. Add the vegetables to the bacon. When the vegetables are tender, add the garlic and fry for a while. Add thyme, paprika, pepper and bay leaves. Add diced tomatoes with liquid. Cook covered for about 30 minutes. Add the beans and enough cooking liquid to get the desired consistency.

Serve with cooked rice.