Summer BBQ: bacon mushrooms

Summer is the time for barbecue and grill. While Finns love their sausage (and the amount we ate last year was highest ever) I prefer meat and vegetables over the traditional sausage and mustard. My BBQ usually includes chicken, marinated courgette (aka zucchini), corn on the cob, bread and mushrooms. There’s no magic in preparing chicken, courgette or bread, and even less the corn, but mushrooms are the most posh and work-intensive part of this summer dinner.

It all starts in the grocery store, as usual. In Finland I never buy my mushrooms bulk, but always, always pick the best and biggest ones from the box, individually. I don’t mind them being open a bit, atleast for this dish, since it doesn’t really matter in the end. The biggest mushrooms found here are about the size of a smallish clementine, and portobello’s aren’t ever sold in the local supermarket – but the normal “jumbo” (sic) ones are perfect for this use. There’s going to be four of us for the BBQ tomorrow, so I picked 10 mushrooms, two each and two extra ones.

I usually add a little something to the filling, this time it was some onion stalks I had left over from today after making cooked new potatoes again…

Finns are always proud of their selection of cheeses. While we and the Scandinavians love mild soft cheeses and our cheese counters are usually bigger than in UK, there is a wide variety of… Emmental and Edam cheeses, that is, there’s no variety to talk of apart from going into the foodstuff department of a big department store like Stockmann or Sokos. What we *DO* have though is a huge variety of soft, fresh cheeses and cheeselike products. Finnish fresh cheeses take a good portion of the cheese section at my grocery store. While the shop does have Philadelphia, the most well known fresh cheese globally, the other brands take out the majority of the shelf. There’s a fresh cheese flavours of everyone’s preference: dill, blackpepper-dill, smoked salmon, roasted tomato, garlic, horseradish, chili, salami, herb mix, peppermix, shrimp, cheddar, chevre, rucola, chives, vanilla, orange, lemon… and plain. (I use orange/lemon fresh cheese to fill a swiss roll, btw. Perhaps I should blog about that later!) This time I picked two flavours, garlic and chives, but ended up using only about half of the garlic one, about 100g.

The last but by no means the least important ingredient is bacon. Streaky, thinly sliced, “smoked” bacon is the normal one sold here and it’s also what fits best for this dish. I bought two packages of bacon, each 140g, since I knew I’d be extremely lucky if I get full ten slices in a package.

The actual preparing I think is super fun 🙂 Several years ago my then boyfriend and I needed a mixer, and I decided to buy the most expensive one I found in the store, Braun MultiMix M 880, mainly because of the accessories of it were so good. It includes an onion chopper and immersion blender (and a beaker for it) extensions and I love it so much. There’s rarely a week that I don’t use it. And this recipe calls out for the onion chopper extension – I’m not too interested in chopping onion and mushroom to atoms if I can avoid it!

So, first I start with cleaning the mushrooms of any dirt, if there’s any on them, with a dry cloth or paper towel. I gently snap the stalks of the mushrooms off, and put them in the onion chopper together with the onions. Few whirs with the machine until everything is nice and small, then I mixed in half a package of the garlic cheese. If you don’t have these fancy pancy flavoured cheeses in your store, then get plain and mix your own flavourings in it!

Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed Mushrooms Stuffed Mushrooms Bacon On Mushroom

Spoon the mixture in the mushrooms, about a teaspoonful in each, and fill heaped. Then wrap the streaky bacon around the mushrooms, and try to cover all the cheese you possibly can with the bacon. At this point you can wrap a cling film over a plate of prepared mushrooms and put them in the fridge to wait for the BBQ, like I did. Prepare them for eating at latest the next day, though!

The reason why the bacon needs to cover as much of the cheese as possible is because it seals it in the mushroom when cooking them on the BBQ. The proteins shrink and close the cheese in, preventing it to dribble on the gridle when turned and pushed around. The cheese inside gives the mushroom a wonderful taste, keeps them moist and acts as a sauce.

While the BBQ I’m preparing these mushrooms for is tomorrow, I’ve cooked this before. I’ll leave you to dream of attending our barbecue tomorrow with pictures of summers past…
03.06.2008Midsummer menu, part 2
MMMM summer bbq

Childhood summer memories from Finland

One of the few foods that contain potato which have remained with me after moving out from my childhood home is cooked, fresh new potatoes. In Finland it’s traditional summer food that is restricted to summer months, starting from Midsummer or so (if you prefer to use Finnish new potatoes). It’s a real Midsummer Feast delicacy and a cornerstone of Midsummer Party dining.

In Finland the new potatoes are sold in one form: with some soil still on them. You can get them from the market squares, quaint little stalls or just go to your local supermarket. The option of growing them yourself is of course also available; I hear they’re perfectly capable of surviving in a big pot on a balcony.

Ingredients: new potatoes The starting point is potatoes. In Finland, as said, they’re sold with some soil on them, so you need to scrub them. I prefer to scrub mine very well, so that there isn’t any grit grinding when I’m eating: I don’t peel my new potatoes at all. The tradition says that the potatoes should be put in boiling water with a pinch of salt and preferably with dill. I’m not too big fan of dill myself, limiting its use only to gravlax, so I’m not using any here either.

Ingredients: New Potatoes, Washed Potatoes N Stuff Potatoes N Stuff

When boiling the potatoes, remember to keep them covered with water, and not let the water boil too hard. While you’re boiling your potatoes, you’ve got time to blog, upload some photos from your camera and organize your Flickr collections… or whip up a salad, or a posh onion sauce.

My onion sauce isn’t all too traditional, what my mum used to serve was onions boiled a bit in milk with a dollop of butter. My sauce consists of all those, but also flour: I chop my onions, twirl them around in melting butter in a pan, add couple of teaspoonfuls of normal flour and mix again for few minutes, not browning the flour or cooking the onions, though. To this base some milk is added and cooked on low heat until it thickens a bit.

Onion Onion Sauce For New Potatoes

Then comes the serving part. The main thing is of course potatoes, mine took about 15 minutes to cook. They can be served in multiple ways:

This Way like I had them as a kid, with just butter

This Way The way I had them as a teenager, with raw onion and butter

This Way The way I’ve learned to understand as an adult, with pickled herring

Summer Potatoes Or with all the above and the sauce!