Berg Restaurant, Vik, Iceland

As my trip in Iceland continued, I drove further east and arrived in Vik.

Vik

It’s a small town and there are about two restaurants. So on night one, dinner was at the restaurant in the hotel, Berg. Per the website, “in Icelandic, Berg means “mountain,” a word that not only symbolizes the powerful forces from which this rugged island-nation was formed but, the also the sentiment their beauty inspires. Creativity and inspiration are what drive our chefs, who invite you to sample our delicious Icelandic cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients.”

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While browsing through the menu, the taste of the house came out with bread, salmon on cukes and butter with some type of herb.

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Ordered a nice Sauvignon Blanc – wine wasn’t too cheap. Well over $50/bottle for not overly fancy stuff.

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After looking over the menu, meal choices ended up being:

Appetizer of:

Tiger Shrimps (yes the plural version) in a mango and chili sauce with coconut rice. kr 2,490. Good taste and amazingly coconut-y rice! A bit heavy on the sauce.

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Marinated Chicken Leg with potato dippers and salad with green pesto and garlic skyr (which was on the side) kr. 3,900  A nice salad on the side. One of us had mozzarella balls, the other skipped them.

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Dinner was very nice, and very plentiful. And just had to go back upstairs after finishing.  No long trek ‘home’.

Also, had I mentioned it rained a lot in Iceland? View from hotel room.

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Mole de Pistache (Pistachio Mole)

Wanted to make a new (to me) recipe the other day and did some Mexican food research in a great cookbook — Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook.  Wanted something fairly unique versus the normal tacos, etc.  Found a recipe that sounded great — Pistachio Mole.  Had to give it a try.  I had to alter it a bit because of some of the dairy factors.

The quick mention:

Martha Chapa puts together the unusual and delicate combination of pistachios and avocado leaves in this new version of mole.

Ingredients:

8 chicken legs with thighs (I used chicken breasts)
3 cups white wine
3 cups water
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic
4 avocado leaves, fresh or dried**these are pretty much non-existent in the States — the best substitute I found based on research is a combination of bay leaves and cracked anise seed
salt
6 tablespoons butter (I used olive oil)
2 tablespoons oil (sort of brought this and the above together)
1 chile poblano, roasted, peeled and membranes removed
10 oz shelled pistachios, skins removed
freshly ground pepper

Garnish

1/2 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
fresh avocado leaves (optional)

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Directions

First, the fun part was roasting the chile — I no longer have a gas stove so tested the ability of doing this on an electric (coil) one.  Quite interesting.  I turned on all fans and opened all windows.

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-In a large covered saucepan over medium heat, simmer the chicken in the wine and water along with 1 onion and the garlic, avocado leaves and salt until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain the chicken, reserving the stock, and return to the saucepan.

-While the chicken is cooking, heat the butter and oil in a skillet.  Add the chile, remaining onion and the pistachios and saute until lightly browned.

IMG_2303In a blender or food processor, grind this mixture with a little of the reserved stock, then simmer in a covered saucepan over very low heat for 30 minutes.  Pour over the chicken and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Before serving, add pepper and more salt if needed.

-In a small skillet, saute the onion in the butter for 5 minutes or until translucent. Garnish with the onions and, if you like, fresh avocado leaves.

The end results was quite unique.  I love pistachios so you can never go wrong.  It could have used a touch more salt and I would say maybe a hint of lemon.  I would definitely recommend trying this.

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Posole

It’s winter, which means it’s soup time.  Was debating what to make the other night and came across a recipe I love that I hadn’t put together for awhile — Posole (from Cooking Light).  The true meaning of the word/name is hominy, so that is obviously a must in the ingredients.  There are many ways to make it/variations on the recipe.  The key is that it has to be made during the the cold weather season.

Ingredients

1 pound tomatillos (I normally use green salsa but the store was out this time so actually had to use what the recipe called for)
6 cups Brown Chicken Stock (not sure what brown vs. ‘normal’ is, and I just use broth)
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I usually just use Tabasco and/or chili powder)
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt

—>below are all garnishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
8 lime wedges

Preparation

Remove/discard husks and stems from the tomatillos. Cook whole tomatillos in boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender; drain.

IMG_1911[1]Place tomatillos in a blender; process until smooth; set aside.

IMG_1913[1]Place stock and the next five (5) ingredients (stock through hominy) in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from bones (I have always used boneless — and skinless); shred. Stir in pureed tomatillos and salt; cook for five(5) minutes or until heated.

Stir in chicken, and serve with cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges, if desired.

IMG_1917[1]Delicious!  I served it with some guacamole, salsa and chips.  I also have plenty to eat for several days or freeze to keep on hand.

No-Recipe Stew

Last Sunday I finally had the time to break in my new kitchen (just moved).  So wanted to make something fun.  And, the night before I opened a bottle of red wine that did not merit being finished.  I don’t really want to waste wine therefore determined I would just cook with it.  It had been a windy, sort of cold day around DC, so determined I wanted to make a stew-like meal.  I did some research online and didn’t find anything that truly struck my fancy so got creative and put together my own thing.

Ingredients (all quantities are some/non specific):

-chicken (sliced or cut into pieces)
-cannellini beans
-stewed/canned tomatoes
-mushrooms
-kale
-red wine
-onion (used a red one)
-garlic
-thyme (had some fresh stuff on hand)
-water
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I sauteed the garlic and onion for a few minutes then added the chicken and sauteed that until it was cooked.  After that I added the balance of the ingredients and cooked it over low heat for about an hour — I was in no hurry.

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It was a very tasty stew, lots of flavor.  I served it with a quality-of-a-name Zin, Zinzilla.  It was a nice wine!

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Explore in the kitchen!  Never hurts to have fun and try something new.

 

From Demo to Homemade…delicious find

I was at Whole Foods last week and they of course had all sorts of food demos/samples out in the store.  One was this delicious salad that they were charging a good amount for and extra to add salmon or chicken to.  I looked at the ingredients and mentioned how I’d love to just make it at home.  The girl doing the demo said quietly ‘just google it under Martha Stewart…’  Score!  So, last night I served some wonderful Toasted-Quinoa Saute with Lemony Cabbage and Dill with Pan Seared Chicken. There aren’t too many ingredients in the recipe:

IMG_02021 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed well
S&P
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 head Savoy cabbage (about 1 pound), cored and thinly sliced lengthwise, divided
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 ounces pitted large green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola, halved (about 3/4 cup) — picked up basic green at Trader Joe’s
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

Step 1

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir in quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to high, and cook until water evaporates and quinoa is dry and tender, about 5 minutes (stir frequently to prevent scorching).  *I just cooked it like regular quinoa.

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Step 2

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown in places, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining cabbage.

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Step 3

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Return sauteed cabbage to skillet, add quinoa, and raise heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is toasted and crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chickpeas, olives, and lemon zest and juice, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in dill, and serve with yogurt.

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The salad was amazing!  And, it’s dairy-free and gluten free!  We enjoyed it with two whites (one was opened earlier in the night).  Chalk Hill 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and Chateau St. Jean 2010 Chardonnay.

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And for dessert we had some of the wonderful Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet.  That stuff is deadly!

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Roti

I have walked by, read and heard about Roti for quite awhile.  Finally got to have it the other day at a catered event.  Lives up to the hype!  From hummus to salad to pita to all else, stuffed forever!  Very fresh, you can see/tell everything that’s in your food and absolutely delicious.  I’m a big Mediterranean food fan so was loving all of this.  Highly recommend checking it out if you can.

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Beef & Rice

IMG_2731Chicken

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Greek salads, mostly devoured

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Pita chips

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Hummus

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Couscous

Koper Pennie Wortel Slaai (Copper Penny Carrot Salad)

Last week I had my monthly supper club and the theme was Food From a Place You Want to Visit/Love to Visit.  South Africa is on my (near future) itinerary so I did some searching for a dish from there.  I finally decided on Koper Pennie Wortel Slaai (Copper Penny Carrot Salad).  It’s fresh veggies and quite the ‘dressing’.

Ingredients:

Salad

1 kg Carrots
3 Onions (I used white)
3 Green Chillies or if you prefer Green Pepper (I did that — nice green bell peppers)

Sauce/Dressing (note — I did some major amount adjustments to these)

250ml water
1 packet of tomato cream soup (I used a can of tomato soup because of lactose intolerance, so eliminated the aforementioned water)
200 ml Vinegar – used about 2 tbsp white vinegar
250 ml Sugar — used about 2-3 tsp
125 ml Oil — used about 1/4 cup olive oil
10 ml Worcester Sauce — used about 1 tsp
7 ml Mustard — used about 1 tsp

IMG_2545To make:

Cut carrots and onions into rings.  Boil carrots 15 minutes with a little salt. During the last 6 minutes, add the onions.

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Dice green peppers or chillies.  Add carrots, onions and chillies or green peppers in a low bowl. (Remember not to use stainless steel bowl, as it will cause a reaction due to acidity).

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For the sauce/dressing, combine all ingredients and bring to boil for about 5 minutes.

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Pour hot sauce over the vegetables.  Refrigerate for at least one day.  Enjoy!

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For the balance of the meal, some food came from Italy with a Tuscan Bean soup, the Southwest with some great spicy beans, Northern Africa with some Moroccan Chicken.  Delicious all around!

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Christmas Eve Posole

This year I am celebrating Christmas with my family in a new location and we did something new for Christmas Eve dinner.  We went to their neighbor’s house for a laid-back, several-family gathering.  The main dish was a seafood bisque and I offered to bring a non-dairy dish because of my lactose intolerance.  I hadn’t had posole for awhile, it just sounded good, it’s quick and easy and with the wind howling around here in CO my mind was set.

I have relied on Cooking Light’s recipe for quite awhile and just had to quickly pull it up.

Ingredients:

1 pound tomatillos — I always just use a big jar of green salsa
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I’m a wimp for heat, use 1)
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt

(These are toppings)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream $
8 lime wedges

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The hardest part of this at the start is chopping the onions (just makes me cry…).

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After they’re chopped, you just throw them, the chicken stock, chicken breasts, garlic, jalapeno, hominy and salt into a pot and bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30+ minutes until the chicken is cooked.

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Then, you take the chicken out and shred it.  And while you’re shredding it, you’ve added the tomatillos (or salsa) to the pot.

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After the chicken is shredded, throw it back in there, heat everything through.

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Then serve with cilantro, chips and sour cream, if you’d like.  Great addition to dinner!!  There was not much left at all.

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Cold Weather = Hot Stew

The nerve of November to bring cold weather!  It has gotten me in the hot soup/stew mood and I finally made some the other night.  I flipped through several cookbooks and recipe binders I have and found one that I couldn’t remember if I’d made before so checked it out.  So Monday night I crafted some of Cooking Light’s Dijon Chicken Stew with Potatoes and Kale.

It took a good hour+ and was well worth it.  First, the aroma of leeks and garlic made my mouth water then the simmering for ‘way too long’ made it nice and warm in my apartment.  When I got my first taste, despite my tongue getting burnt (OW!), very tasty!  The recipe says it’s 6 servings and that is a good call.  I have been enjoying leftovers for lunch all week.

My next thought for soup/stew is either posole or a lemon-type soup a friend gave me a recipe for a couple years back.

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Genes & Food

You learn something new everyday is all too true.  I was reading this short, interesting article earlier today in National Geographic about how (some of) what we eat is somehow tied to us, DNA-wise.  As the articles states, ‘…at first glance, look like cousins.’  Glad they said that because for a second I had to think…does this truly mean we are what we eat?

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Ok, back on true topic.  From that flank steak & burger to a great chicken breast; then further down the line, think of that rice some stir-fried chicken might go on top of.  Baker’s yeast — bring on the bread — was on there!  And, wine grapes, not just ‘grape’ grapes made the list.

The article mentions how while all species are unique, from inanimate to breathing objects, we have many genes in common at the base.  Check out the article.  I just though it was great to learn about.  The kitchen and food can be much more/provide much more information than we think.  Talk about food for thought.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/125-explore/shared-genes

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