27 Apr 2016

Smoked Salmon Potato Salad (Stockmann Deli CopyCat Recipe)

Potato salad is a staple when celebrating 1st May (Vappu in Finnish). It's usually served on the side of sausages or roast beef and for dessert sugar-coated doughnuts and mead. Homes are decorated with balloons, confetti and serpentine. Sometimes people are even hosting dress parties on the Eve of May Day. "Funny" hats are worn (they are mostly student hats signifying which kind of education you have: those having passed their matriculation exams have a white velvet cap with a black vizor, civil engineers (me included) have the same kind of a cap with a black tassel, etc.

Btw, the world's best doughnuts (or at least Finland's) are made by Pyynikki Observation Tower Café: it's situated on the top of the beautiful Pyynikinharju nature area, where you can admire the hilly pine forests and the awesome views opening to the two lakes between which Tampere is nested. It's not that far from the centre and makes a lovely walk after which an afternoon coffee with a doughnut is a must. There can be seen quite many joggers going up and down the steep stairs and paths in the forest. The views from the tower are exceptionally awesome, so remember to climb the steps (or take the elevator) too (pay the entrance fee at the café).

I've done a tuna potato salad earlier, but the idea for this salmon potato salad came from Stockmann Deli: their smoked salmon potato salad is creamy and tasty. Because of salmon it acts as a meal by itself. Oh, have I ever mentioned I worked there as a part-timer when I was a student (though I have to stress out that I haven't stolen the recipe :D I don't even think they had this salad in their repertoire when I worked there).

The crème fraîche part of the salad resembles very much the filling for Salmon Spinach Rolled Omelette. That's why I couldn't resist the temptation to create a copycat recipe, though I went a bit on my own way: I'm quite sure their salad doesn't use "the double dressing technique" (which is a must if making this kind of a potato salad): An onion-y vinaigrette is poured on the hot potatoes and they are left to cool down after which the crème fraîche dressing is added. The original recipe uses parisienne potatoes, which are rounded balls, carved from peeled potatoes using a melon baller and then cooked. They are also sold pre-cut if you want to save the trouble or don't have a melon baller.

Smoked Salmon Potato Salad (serves 3-4)

500 g Parisienne potatoes (buy pre-cut ones or make your own: you'll need more than 0,5 kg potatoes)
200 g warm-smoked salmon, flaked and de-boned

1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cold-pressed oil 
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
a small red onion or shalot, diced
black pepper

Crème fraîche dressing:
100 g crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
lemon juice
fresh dill, chopped

If you're cutting the parisienne potatoes by yourself, choose big potatoes. Peel them and use a melon baller to make rounded balls (appr. 2 cm in diameter).
Cook the potato balls in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes or until cooked, drain and put them in cold water to not overcook them. Once cooled, drain and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Or... you could opt for small round potatoes instead (you'll need ~350 g), peel them and cut into quarters and cook similarly. But, rounded ones are so much cuter and don't break off so easily...
Or... Prepare the precooked ones according to the package's instructions (I quickly blanched mine).

Make the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegar, oil, mustard, pepper and salt together. Add the diced onion (it will be macerated by the vinegar and the taste will be less pungent). Pour it on the cooked potatoes when they are still hot: they will taste much better that way.

Combine crème fraîche, mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill. Pour it on top of the potatoes once they are cooled to room temperature, folding it carefully as not to break the potato balls. Add the salmon too. Season with more salt, if needed. Let it sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours for the flavours to settle. Enjoy with green salad or as a side dish.

I made the mistake of adding the onion on the crème fraîche, after which I remembered that I usually mix it with vinaigrette. Luckily I used a shalot this time as their taste isn't so pungent.

21 Apr 2016

Kuusenkerkkäsnapsi - Spruce Sprout Schnapps


While it's spring (and hence the time to harvest fresh spruce sprouts), I want to share this recipe with you (though it's not quite the time to harvest spruce sprouts in Finland yet). It really celebrates the Finnish forests, nature and spring! It as a wonderfully refreshing taste when diluted with Sprite, lemon soda or sparkling water. Next time I want to try it on the rocks too (though it might be too strong for me like that).


See my earlier post on spruce sprout syrup. It has some additional information on spruce sprouts and how to collect them. If you've made syrup, you could combine the schnapps with it to obtain sweet liqueur (just combine them in suitable proportion according to your taste).

 Spruce Sprout Schnapps

1 L spruce sprouts (new tips of spruce/fir tree branches)
250 ml distilled spirit (up to 32 vol-% alcohol) (I used vodka, which I diluted with boiled, cooled water to get around 30 vol-% alcohol content: according to my source, if the alcohol content is over 32%, it will start to dissolve the bitter tasting compounds from the sprouts)

Wash the sprouts under cold water. Put them in a glass jar and pour the spirit on top. Close the lid tightly and leave on a window sill for about 1 month. Turn the jar upside down every day. After 1 month, sieve the sprouts away. Store in a bottle or jar and use according to taste to spice up other spirits or drink.

Adapted from: http://lautasella.blogspot.fi/2011/05/kuusenkerkkasiirappi-snapsi-ja-likoori.html


17 Apr 2016

おにぎらず - Onigirazu

The latest craze in blogosphere seems to be onigirazu: onigiri turned into a sandwich-form. It's such a great invention, as during my years of my onigiri love I've thought about countless onigiri fillings and later on I've had to abandon them because of their unsuitability to fit inside it or stay inside it. 'Onigirazu-ing' adds instantly countless options that I'm almost baffled what to choose. This time I chose soft-cooked egg (needs some improvement still) with asparagus and tuna-mayo with avocado and lettuce. My technique for wrapping them up also needs some improvement :D

Onigirazu (makes 8 pieces, when cut in half / serves two to four)

Freshly cooked, hot Japanese rice made from 180 ml uncooked rice (see instructions to cook perfect rice here)
80 g tuna (preferably in brine, drained weight)
2-3 tsp mayonnaise, preferably Japanese e.g. Kewpie
optional: a dash of Japanese soy sauce, a tiny knob of wasabi, or to taste
1/2 avocado, in slices
4 small asparagus stalks, cooked for 1-2 minutes
2 cooked eggs (if hard-boiled, I suggest halving them for ease of filling up the onigirazu)

To wrap: 4 nori sheets
Drain the tuna (very carefully esp. if using tuna in oil). Combine it with mayonnaise (and soy sauce and wasabi, if using). Place a nori sheet with a corner pointing up (the shiny side facing downward). Wet your hands and rub some salt on your palms. Take 1/8 of the cooked rice and spread it in the middle of the nori sheet with salt-rubbed hands. Leave enough nori around the rice, so that in the end you can fold all four corners around the fillings (like en envelope). Spread half of the tuna-mayo filling and avocado slices on the rice, and top everything with another rice layer (remember to rub some salt to the rice.)
Fold each corner of nori sheet tightly around the fillings (with the help of a cling film) and let them overlap in the middle. Let the onigirazu rest around 5 minutes before taking the cling film away and cutting the onigirazu in half (easier with a wet knife).

Tip 1. If you're using "long" ingredients as a filling, it makes a difference in which direction you halve the onigirazu (I made myself a memory rule to fold the nori so that after cutting the topmost nori stays whole (like cutting the envelope horizontally): fold first the corners that will wrap the asparagus (or other long-ish things) into a bundle and lastly those where they are pointing.

Tip 2. If you like your nori crisp, then I'd stick to onigiri...

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