Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cullen Skink, a Scottish smoked haddock and potato soup (gluten-free)


Few days ago the Scots - and friends of Scotland - celebrated yet another anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, hosting or attending a Burns Supper. Any self-respecting Burns Supper begins with a proper Scottish soup. I've shared a recipe for Cock-a-leekie before, other options are Scotch broth and Cullen Skink.  Now it's time to share my recipe for the smoked haddock and potato soup - think of it as a Scotch chowder :)

The soup is from the North-East of Scotland, from the fishing town of Cullen. Originally it's a comfort food, cheap and easy fare, and it's still popular in and around Cullen. Yet somehow that humble soup has tranformed into a fancy fare to be enjoyed at various festive Scottish occasions.

Scots know their smoked fish. Arbroath Smokie is a pair of salted haddocks, hot-smoked in a humid smoking chamber. Finnan Haddie, the traditional fish used for making Cullen Skink, is gutted and cleaned haddock that's been dry-salted and then smoked in a cool smoking chamber for 8-9 hours. If Finnan Haddie is hard to find where you live - that's probably most of the world apart from the British Isles - (and avoid the bright yellow dyed stuff, it discolours the soup), then any other nice smoked white fish would do. I used smoked cod, a user of my Estonian Nami-Nami site said that the soup worked well with smoked herring.

Cullen Skink
(Šoti suitsukalasupp)
Serves 6 as a starter, 3 as a main dish


500 g smoked haddock (ideally Finnan Haddie)
500 ml (2 cups) of water
butter for frying
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
2-4 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh chives, finely minced

Place the fish into a pan, add the bay leaf and cold water. Gently bring into a boil, then simmer for about a minute or two. Remove the fish from the pan, transfer onto a plate and leave to cool. Keep the fish stock!

In another pot melt the butter gently. Add onion and leek, cover and sauté gently for a about 10 minutes. Stir every now and then, do not brown! Season with salt and pepper. Add potato pieces to the onion and leek, give it a stir. Add 500 ml/2 cups of fish stock, bring into a boil and simmer until the potato is cooked.

At the same time remove the fish from the bones carefully, flake into smaller pieces (discard the fish skin and bones). Using a slotted spoon, take couple of spoonfuls of the potato-leek mixture from the soup and put aside. Discard the bay leaf. Add the milk, bring gently into a boil. Add about half of the smoked fish. Mash the remaining soup or pureé using the hand-held/immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a large spoonful or two of potato-leek-smoked fish mixture into the middle of each soup bowl, then ladle the liquid soup neatly into the bowls as well. Garnish with chives and serve.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recipe for a Latvian Beet and Bean Salad (Pupiņu un Biešu Salāti)

Läti peedi-oasalat. Latvian beet and kidney bean salad.  Pupiņi un Biešu Salāti. Rūjienas salāti.

A few years ago Saveur, the American food magazine, featured some Latvian recipes (Latvians, remember, are our Southern neighbours). Among them was a recipe for beet and bean salad, Pupiņu un Biešu Salāti, that caught my attention. I love beetroot, and cook and eat various beetroot salads quite frequently. Some of my favourite beet salad recipes have been featured here on Nami-Nami as well over the last 9+ years, like the Russian vinaigrette salad, beet and potato salad, layered vegetable salad with smoked salmon, to name just a few.

Given my love of beets and the simplicity of the salad, it was only the matter of time I made this salad. We loved it, a lot, although the salad is probably more Russian than Latvian in its origins (any Latvian readers wanna comment on this?). It has also proved to be highly popular with my Estonian readers (like the ones on Nami-Nami's Facebook page), and who knows, perhaps you'll be positively surprised as well :)

Just a handful of ingredients, but surprisingly lot of flavour. Gluten-free as well.

Latvian Beet and Bean Salad 
Adapted from
Serves six to eight

Läti peedi-oasalat. Latvian beet and kidney bean salad.  Pupiņi un Biešu Salāti. Rūjienas salāti.

200 g sour cream (20%)
100 g mayonnaise
400-500 g cooked beetroot*
2 cans of kidney beans (about 400 g/12 oz each), rinsed and drained
4 pickles, chopped
salt and pepper
fresh parsley or chives, finely chopped

* You can use boiled, steamed or roasted beet to make this salad. I use coarsely shredded boiled beetroot. 

In a large bowl, whisk the sour cream and mayonnaise until combined, then season with salt and pepper. Add the beet, beans and pickles, folding them into the sour cream and mayonnaise dressing. Season again, then transfer the salad into the serving dish and sprinkle with herbs.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Traditional Christmas roast (oven-baked pork shoulder with honey, mustard and rosemary)

From the recipe archives (originally posted in December 2012. Still my favourite Christmas roast). My traditional Christmas roast / Traditsiooniline jõulupraad
Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the December issue of Kodu ja Aed magazine, 2012 

What's your traditional Christmas roast (assuming you're eating meat)? Turkey? Goose? Duck?

In Estonia it's definitely pork, though roast poultry has become more popular during recent years. I've been flirting with roast goose and actually served duck leg confit on Christmas Eve this year. It was delicious.

However, for years I've been serving pork roast - a pork shoulder (kaelakarbonaad in Estonian) in a mustard-honey-garlic-rosemary marinade, to be more precise. I love that it's a pretty fool-proof recipe, simple to make, with lots of flavour. And - as an added bonus - any leftovers are excellent on top of rye bread on the days after the party, or as part of a salad. So if you're not making it for a big family feast, you can still make the same amount and simply make several meals out of it.

So here you go. Nami-Nami's traditional Christmas roast. On the photo above, it's accompanied by black pudding ('blood sausages') - another traditional Christmas dish.

Wish you all a lovely festive season!!!

Traditional Christmas roast
(Ahjupraad karbonaadist)
Serves about 10

2 kg boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
3-4 Tbsp honey
3-4 Tbsp Dijon mustard or Estonian Põltsamaa mustard
2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs (leaves only)
3 large garlic cloves
2 tsp sea salt

Finely chop garlic cloves and rosemary leaves, then mix with honey and mustard until combined.
Season the meat generously with salt, then spread the mustard-honey mixture all over the pork shoulder and massage into the meat.
Place the pork shoulder into a large ovenproof dish, cover with foil and place into a fridge or cold larder for 1-2 days.
Bring back to the room temperature about an hour before you plan to cook the meat.
If you have a meat thermometer, then stick it into the thickest part of the meat (you can do this through the kitchen foil).
Roast the meat in a pre-heated 160 C / 320 F oven for about 2,5 hours or until the meat thermometer has reached 82-85 C/ 180-185 F.
If you plan to serve gravy with your meat, then pour a cup of hot water into the baking tray half-way through the cooking. 
When the meat is cooked, remove the foil, season the meat once more lightly with salt and then bake for another 10-15 minutes at about 200-220 C/ 390-425 F, just to brown the meat  a little.

Remove the roast pork from the oven, cover again with a kitchen foil and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving into thin slices.

This recipe was also included in my latest cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011. 
I also included the recipe in the December 2012 issue of Kodu & Aed magazine.