Smoked Fish Spread

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For those of you who have visited the Upper Peninsula  of Michigan (the UP) you know that smoked fish is a “thing.”  As soon as you cross the Mackinac Bridge you start to see little shops with signs hocking smoked fish.  Smoked whitefish, Menominee, salmon, and my personal favorite, smoked trout.  You can buy a whole fish or a slab.  It’s great to eat just as is.  Your fingers get a little greasy and they smell a little fishy but we don’t care.    The fish also makes an excellent spread.  Easy to make.  And you won’t smell as fishy!  My Dad used to make us smoked fish from his fresh catches and I will always remember his as being the very best.  My very favorite.  But Dad is nearly 89 and isn’t fishing much anymore.  So when I visit the UP I frequently get fish for our family and for friends from one of the little shops.

Ingredients:

2 cups (approximately) of smoked fish flaked

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

3-4 green onions sliced thin

2 T capers

2 T lime juice

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 tsp if you want more kick)

Cracked pepper

Salt to taste

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Use a hand mixer and beat the cream cheese and sour cream together until it is smooth.

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Add the capers, lime juice, black and cayenne pepper, and paprika to the cream cheese, sour cream mixture and stir well to combine.

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Slice the green onions and flake the fish.

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Add the fish and onion to the creamed mixture and blend well.

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Taste before you salt.  Some smoked fish is saltier than others.

This spread is excellent on crackers or served with raw vegetable like celery and carrots.  Great with bread and butter pickles.  You’ll also love it served on another UP tradition.  Finn Crisp.  Rye bread is the most traditional bread in Finland and in some areas of Finland it is baked only a few times a year, then dried and enjoyed year round.  It is baked with a hole in the center allowing the loaves to be hung on dowels to dry.  I’m sure that Finn Crisp is modeled  after those loaves.

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Enjoy  the smoked fish spread and enjoy the Finn Crisp if you can find it.

NOTE:  You could add some fresh dill to this recipe or substitute some minced dill pickles for the capers.

 

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Pizza Sauce

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Last year when I was canning tomatoes I decided to make salsa.  As usual, I did more than necessary and have plenty of salsa left for this year.  This season I made some of my tomatoes into pizza sauce.  There is no pizza delivery anywhere remotely close to where we live so when we are craving pizza I need to make it myself.  The sauce is relatively easy to make.  Cooking down the tomatoes is the most time consuming part so you need to be patient or you will end up with watery sauce.  The kitchen smells so good when this sauce is cooking.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes , approximately 4 quarts peeled and diced

2 T olive oil

1 Large Onion diced

6 or more cloves of garlic (I used more)

2 T oregano

2 T basil

2 T celery seed

4 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T salt

2 T granulated sugar

cracked pepper to taste

1/4 tsp citric acid per pint of sauce

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Core, peel and dice the tomatoes.  Bring a large kettle of water to a boil and drop a few tomatoes in for a minute or so until you see the skins start to break.  Remove the tomatoes to an ice water bath and slide the skins off.  Dice and put the tomatoes into a large, non aluminum, kettle.

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Begin cooking the tomatoes over medium heat.  In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent but not brown.  Add the onion and garlic to the tomatoes.

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Bring the tomatoes to a simmer stirring frequently.  Add the sugar, herbs and spices, and salt and pepper.  Once the tomatoes begin to break down use an immersion blender to get a nice, smooth sauce.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have reduced by approximately 50% and you have a nice sauce that clings to the spoon.

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Ladle the sauce into sterilized jars (I used pints).  Add 1/4 tsp of citric acid just before sealing the jars.  Process the sauce in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  Once you remove the jars from the water bath allow them to cool completely before storing.

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That is not ALL pizza sauce…better than half the jars are diced tomatoes.  Now, all you need to do is whip up a crust and get a pizza in the oven.  I made one with the sauce that was left over after filling my jars and some of our favorite toppings.

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NOTE. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor and process in small batches.  Also feel free to add other spices or increase/decrease some of the ones that I used.  If you like your sauce kicked up a little add some red pepper flakes.

I put my garlic cloves in the tomatoes without dicing.  Once the sauce simmered for awhile the immersion blender took care of  them.

Cabbage, Potato and Sausage Bake

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the FinnishDish.  I haven’t stopped cooking or taking pictures of food but apparently I have not been focused on sharing.  I’ve been busy canning…tomatoes, pizza sauce, pickles.  I have a crock full of shredded cabbage waiting to become sauerkraut.  I’ve never attempted that before.  It will take at least another 5 weeks but I will blog that, success or failure.  Everyone tells me homemade sauerkraut is the BEST.  Hope mine lives up to my expectations.  In the process of shredding the cabbage (the thickness of a dime) I had a good amount of odds and ends left so I decided to make the cabbage and sausage bake.  Fall is nearly here and this is perfect one dish, easy comfort food.  One of my Dad’s favorite dishes is boiled dinner and this is kind of a baked boiled dinner.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges

1 pound of new potatoes

1 large sweet onion sliced

4-5 slices of bacon diced

1 pound sausage links (I used andouille)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat your oven to 370.

Cut your cabbage into quarters and core.  Cut quarters in half and put in a large casserole or roasting pan. My cabbage is kind of a mess because it’s odds and ends but it will cook up fine.  Wash the potatoes and add them to the cabbage.

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If you’re using larger potatoes cut them into quarters.

Fry the bacon for 6-7 minutes.  You don’t want it to be crispy.  Add the onion and cook until onions are translucent.

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Distribute the bacon and onion mixture, including the drippings, over the cabbage and potatoes.

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Brown your sausage in the skillet and add to the casserole dish.  Add salt and pepper and pour broth over the meat and vegetables.

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Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove casserole from the oven and allow to sit 15 minutes covered.  Serve and enjoy!

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NOTE:  Recipes frequently call for two or three slices of bacon so when I buy bacon I roll the slices and put them in threes or fours and freeze them in zip lock freezer bags.