Cabbage conundrum

One of the vegetables we got in our organic box this week was point cabbage. Point cabbage is a form of white cabbage, which is hard to believe since it's green, pointed instead of round, and with very loose leaves. I almost never use cabbage other than for cole slaw, so I had no idea what to do with it. One idea was to make traditional Swedish stuffed cabbage which is filled with rice and ground pork, which I have never made myself and haven't eaten for years, but remember liking it as a child. (I had quite odd tastes, disliking pancakes and hot dogs but happily munching down stuffed cabbage, pickled herring and gorgonzola cheese.) After much googling and cookbook page-turning, I decided to go for something lighter and quicker. I found a recipe for vegetarian stuffed cabbage with goat cheese (chevre) but the pearl-barley and carrots didn't appeal to me, so instead, I went for a combination of tomatoes, Swiss chard and chevre.

I had no idea how this would turn out, but if I may say so myself, it was a success. The cabbage was very mild and had nothing in common with those awful cabbage dishes (cabbage stew, anyone?) that I was served in school. While not rough, it still had a nice crispiness. Plus it smelled good; not at all like an old gym locker which cooked cabbage sometimes does. (Ending a food post with talk about old gym lookers is probably not the best of ideas, but there you go.)

Stuffed point cabbage with chevre, Swiss chard and tomatoes

Makes about 10 cabbage rolls

1 head of point cabbage
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
150 grams Swiss chard
1 can of whole tomatoes (400 grams)
100 grams goat cheese (chevre)
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil

Start with the stuffing. Mix the butter and the chopped garlic and let it melt in a heated pan. Devour the wonderful smell. Add the Swiss chard and let it get all soft and gooey in the garlic-butter (don't you just love my very sophisticated kitchen terminology?). From all of the Swiss chard you see in the picture below, you should end up with a something much sadder looking at the bottom of your pan.

Swiss chard pre-heating and gooeyness.

Drain most of the liquid from the tomatoes and add them to the pan. Mush the tomatoes up a bit and let the chard-tomato mixture get hot. Remove from the heat and crumble over the chevre. Stir, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside while dealing with the cabbage.

Get out a pot big enough to fit your entire cabbage head. Bring water to a boil and blanche the whole cabbage (do not remove the leaves) for a few minutes. Let the cabbage cool in ice water. Remove the leaves from the cabbage head and dry them well. You probably want to avoid using the rough inner leaves. Distribute the filling equally on to the leaves; you want about one tablespoon of filling per leaf. See picture below.

The blob there on the cabbage leaf might look like something from a bad SF-movie, but I assure you that it tastes very nice.

Fold the leaves into neat little packages. Place them in an oven
-proof dish, poor a little olive oil on top and cook at 200 degrees C for about 10 minutes.


Mussels from Brussels

Friday nights dinner was blue mussels (also know as common mussels) cooked in white wine and served with aioli and bread. It's super easy to make, just be sure to sort the mussels before cooking them (throw away the ones with broken shells, open ones that doesn't close when you knock them against something, and those that feel much heavier than normal). Also, after cooking, throw away those that haven't opened.

White wine does of course work with this, but we like a white beer such as Hoegaarden better. Eat the mussels dipped in aioli and the bread dipped in the tasty broth. If you want this Belgian dish to be even more Belgian, serve it with french fries as well. The leftover broth can be frosen (be sure to strain it first) and used as stock in a seafood soup.

Moules à Marinière

5 dl dry white wine
½ onion, finely chopped
1 bayleaf
½ tsp dried thyme
Dash of black pepper
75 grams butter
1 kilo blue (common) mussels, cleaned and sorted

Pour the wine in to a big pot, add the onion, spices and butter and bring to a lively boil under a lid. Throw in the mussels and boil with the lid on for about 5 minutes until they have opened. Shake the pot often so that all mussels are equally cooked. Do not overcook! Serve with bread and aioli.


Easy-peasy apple pie

This is the easiest apple pie ever! The hardest part is to wait for it while it's in the oven, filling your kitchen with intoxicating smells of apples, butter and cinnamon. And the taste? Let's just say: yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy!

Easy-peasy apple pie

2 tart apples
2 dl flour
1 dl sugar
75 grams cold butter (you might need more or less)
A pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Slice the apples about 3 mm thick. Cover the bottom of a pie dish with the apple wedges. Mix the flour, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. Slice the butter very thinly (easiest with a Swedish style cheese slicer) and place the slices so that they cover the apples and flour-sugar mix. Bake at 175 degrees C for about 40 minutes. It's best eaten straight out of the oven, with a good vanilla ice cream.

Cookie update

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted a seventh cookie for my seven cookies week. That's because I didn't make any. Why? Well, I guess I just never got around to it. I feel a bit (as in very little) bad about it - I hate not following through on things, even if it's just making cookies every day for a week and blog about it. I guess I'll comfort myself with a cookie - after all, I have six kinds to choose from.


Seven cookies week day 6*: Maple syrup cookies with pine nuts

Part 1: Is there failure baking in my oven?
I'm usually good at following directions and keeping two thoughts in my head simultaneously. Yeah, apparently not today. I'm using another recipe from Winnie the Pooh's Cookie Book, just like yesterday, and reading through the ingredient list I realized I didn't have enough butter. Well no worries, I thought, I'll just halve it. So I halved the butter. Then I saw that these cookies had brown sugar, white sugar, syrup (molasses) and maple syrup in them. Ok, I'll omit the white sugar and up the brown sugar just a little to make them not super super sweet but just super sweet. So I did. I blended it all together, into a nice creamy sugary syrupy goodness. And realized that I had forgotten to halve the ingredients. So right now I have cookies with half the amount of butter, but regular amounts of the other ingredients (well, besides white sugar), baking in my oven. Oh, and no raisins or all-spice either. They smell very nice though, and the dough seemed okay, so I'm hoping for the best here. I really want to get better at kitchen chemistry. I know my way around flavors and I'm comfortable with exotic ingredients and difficult preparations, but I can't figure out what will happen with a cookie dough that has half the prescribed amount of butter in it. Okay, timer's going off now, need to get these freaks out of the oven.

Part 2: The verdict
So, the first batch are out. They do look very nice and normal. Is it all apperance though? Time to take a bite... *nam nam munch munch*...damn, these are good! Warm, sugary spicy flavor and the pine nuts giving a sofisticated toasted note. Not a failure at all, my friends. Okay, I'll give you my very tweaked recipe. But today you'll just have to do without my masterpiece photos, cause the battery in our camera has completely given up.

Maple syrup cookies with pine nuts

Makes about 30 cookies

125 grams butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup pine nuts
Pinch of salt

Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the syrups and the egg, mixing thoroughly. Mix the flour with the baking soda and spices and stir that in well. Add the pine nuts and the salt. Drop by spoonfuls on parchment covered cookie sheets. Bake at 190 degrees C for about 12 minutes.

*Yeah, I'm one day behind with posting on this. Deal with it.

A favorite soup

When we found that we got parsnips in our organic vegetable and fruit box, we immediately knew what to make of them: cream of parsnip soup. The original recipe comes from Arla, a Swedish dairy producer (although I think they're actually Danish now) who gives out little recipe folders for free in grocery stores. This soup is a find from one of those.

The soup works really well as a starter as well as a light lunch or dinner, and it tastes much more refined than you would think when you hear that the main ingredient is parsnips. The pears add a nice sweet fruitiness and the walnuts a nice crunch. We've made some changes to the recipe, like using vermouth and vinegar instead of white wine, and having the walnuts and pears raw rather than roasted as the original says.

Cream of parsnip soup with walnuts and pear

400 grams parsnips
1 onion
½ tbsp butter
5 dl water
1½ tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
1 dl dry vermouth
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2½ dl light cream (15 % fat)
White pepper
50 grams walnuts
1 pear
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Peel and dice the parsnips and onion. There's no need for very nice dicing since it's all going to be mixed later. Do make the dice quite small though, it will make them soft quicker. Fry the diced parsnips and onion in the butter. Dissolve the vegetable stock in the water and add that together with the vermouth and vinegar. Let cook slowly until the parsnips are soft, it takes about 10-15 minutes. (You can prepare the soup this far.) Mix the soup completely smooth with a blender. Add the cream and reheat. Add freshly ground white pepper to taste. Chop the walnuts and dice the pear. Mix with the chives. Serve the soup with the walnut-pear "chop" sprinkled on top.


Seven cookies week day 5: Banana spice cookies

This post was of course supposed to go up yesterday, but sometimes life gets in the way. Anyhoo, bananas in cooking. I know some people can't stand it, but me, I'm quite a fan. But it has to be real and good bananas, banana flavored stuff (ice cream, candy etc) is usually vile. Not to mention banana liqueur, yuck! But give me banana nut bread, or home made banana ice cream with a good chocolate sauce, and I'm a happy camper.

I do hate over ripe bananas though. Actually, I guess I don't like ripe bananas. If I am to eat them as is, then they have to be a little on the green side. However, when I lived in Venezuela, I had really ripe bananas, the tiny kind, right of the stem, and they were lovely! So maybe it has to do with how they ripen: on the banana stem in the sun, versus in the grocery store or my kitchen.

We got bananas in our organic fruit and veggie box that I told you about the other day, and yesterday I realized the two ones left were too ripe to eat. When I started browsing websites and cookbooks for a recipe for the fifth day of seven cookies week, I came across a recipe for banana spice cookies. Perfect timing! The recipe is from Winnie the Pooh's Cookie Book, another gift from my wonderful American host family who knew that I don't only love baking, I also love Winnie the Pooh. The original, not the fake Disney version.

Although there are plenty of cakes out there with bananas as an ingredient, I had never come across them in a cookie before, so I was intrigued. These cookies were a breeze to make, and they do taste very nice. The flavor is similar to banana nut bread, but much more delicate, and the consistency is very light and moist. Next time I will probably up the spices though, cause I think they would be even better with a little more punch from the cloves and cinnamon. The book says to decorate with powdered sugar or cream cheese frosting but I don't know about that, it would probably be too sweet for my taste. I could, however, see these drizzled with just a little bit of melted good dark chocolate. Hm, maybe something to try...

I've made a few very minor changes to the recipe. If you need to converse the cups into deciliters and the like, look here.

Banana spice cookies

Makes about 35 cookies

100 grams butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used the seeds from about 2 cm of a vanilla pod)
2 1/4 cups flour
½ tsp cinnamon
3 ground cloves (I grounded them myself; if you use already ground ones, take 1/8 tsp)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 big bananas
70 grams chopped walnuts

Set the oven to 175 degrees C. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, spices and baking soda and add that to the butter mixture. Mash the bananas. Add them and the walnuts, and mix well. Using a spoon, drop the batter onto parchment covered cookie sheets. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are lightly brown (note: these cookies are very pale). The cookies will set when they cool.


Seven cookies week day 4: Chocolate crinkles

Today I have tried an all new recipe and not made any major changes, besides halving it, because I didn't want to get too many cookies. Let's say I get an avarage of 20 cookies out of each day this week. That times seven is 140 cookies - that's a helluva lot of cookies people.

I had never heard about chocolate crinkles before, but when I read about them I immediately got interested. Soft gooey fudgy chocolate cookies? That I gotta make!

Please use a really good chocolate for this recipe, don't be cheap with the sugary fake stuff. You really should use a dark chocolate (or bittersweet or whatever it's called where you are), cause otherwise I think these cookies will be overwhelmingly sweet.

Chocolate crinkles (Recipe from Joy of Baking.com)

Makes about 20 cookies

25 grams butter
100 grams dark chocolate (I used one with 70 % cacao)
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used the seeds from about 3 cm of a vanilla pod instead)
3/4 cup (105 grams) flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Confectioners sugar for topping

Place the butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. When it has melted, stir and set aside. Beat the egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the chocolate mixture. Mix the dry ingredients and add them. Stir until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and place in the freezer to set for a couple of hours or overnight, until the dough is firm enough to shape in to balls. Put the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. Using your hands, roll a small amount of the chilled dough into a small ball with a diameter of about 2,5 centimeters (1 inch). Then roll the ball in the confectioners sugar until it is completely covered. Place the cookie balls on parchment covered baking sheets, about 5 cm apart. Bake in the center of the oven at 175 degrees C for 8-10 minutes until the edges are set but the insides still soft. Overbaking will turn the cookies dry. Eat these with a cold glass of milk and a smile on your face!

Mom's quick bread

My mom is really good at baking, and I've grown up eaten mostly home made bread (as well as cakes and other goodies). I have fond memories of baking with mom, such as that morning when I was maybe five years old and I woke up really early, about 3 am, and went to wake up mom. Instead of telling me to go back to sleep, she got up too, and proposed we did something together. So we did: we made bread. At 3 am. When dad woke up, ready to go to work, he was treated to freshly baked bread for breakfast.

I have always found store bought bread kind of unpleasant, and this year I have decided to make as much of our bread as possible myself. I mostly use the book Bröd by Jan Hedh (I think this one is the English translation), but sometimes I don't have time or patience for all the kneading, rising, resting, beating and waiting and just want something quick. And then, this recipe from my mom is ideal.

Like all quick breads, (i.e. breads made with baking soda rather than with yeast), it is best eaten as fresh out of the oven as possible. You could play around with the recipe and use other kinds of flours, add seeds or grains, raisins, grated apple, fresh cranberries and so on. Today I decided to use frozen lingonberries, which adds a nice freshness and tang to the bread. I like to eat it with a slice of sharp cheese and some thinly sliced cucumber or peppers.

Mom's quick bread with lingonberries

Makes one loaf

3,5 dl wheat flour
1,5 dl graham (whole wheat) flour
1 tsp baking soda
0,75 dl dark syrup
3,5 dl sour milk (filmjölk)
1 dl frozen lingonberries

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ones, and then the lingonberries and mix until just blended together. Pour in a breaded pan and bake at 175 degrees C for about an hour.

“Swedish” pancakes

Today is Thursday, and on such an occasion the traditional Swedish food to be had is pea soup and pancakes (if possible accompanied by a glass of punsch). It's not a very strictly observed tradition, but sometimes it's nice to have it. As pea soup is a fairly time consuming dish, we tend to stay with just the pancakes, so that will be today's recipe.

In Sweden we have two different kinds of pancakes, neither of which looks like the American ones. The one we made for dinner today is the thin ones (the thick ones aren't really traditional Thursday's food). The reason I'm writing the story is that pancakes are sort of my territory... once upon a time when we hadn't know each other for very long, I proposed that we have pancakes for dinner, Jenny, having grown up on school cafeteria pancakes, was understandably reluctant. I offered to make them the way it's been handed down to me from my father (in my world, making pancakes is a curiously masculine activity), and she agreed (having abstained from pancakes for a long time, she thought it time to give it a try). Long story short, I made pancakes, Jenny now likes pancakes (at least the ones I make), and we're married (although that hopefully doesn't have much to do with the pancakes).

So, to make the pancakes you need, for every egg:
1 dl flour
2 dl milk
~5-10 g butter

To serve two, use three eggs if you're not really hungry and four if you are. The butter usually amounts to a hefty dollop, so I'm just guessing on the weight of it.

Start by heating up a frying pan and put the butter in it to melt (some will stay in the pan, so again, the exact amount of butter is iffy). Beat all the flour and half the milk into a thick, smooth batter (add some more of the milk if it's too heavy to beat). Add the eggs and the melted butter. Beat it smooth. Add the rest of the milk and salt and whisk it.

Pour the batter into the pan so it covers about ½ of the pan's area. Swivel and turn the pan until it's evenly coated, or until the batter sets (whichever comes first, the batter sets fast). Keep an eye on it until the underside is a lovely light leathery tan, and/or small craters start to appear on the surface. Flip it and let it get some color on the other side as well. Repeat until out of batter.

Stack of thin pancakes

Since it takes a long time to make these (I spent more than ½ an hour today making four eggs worth of pancakes), you can entertain yourself by learning how to flip them without a turner. It's entirely possible to throw them into the air from the pan and catch them with their bellies up, and fun too!

The first one is usually quite unhealthy, having soaked up all the excess butter in the pan, but I really like it anyway, and consider it chef's privilege. The second one is good for gauging the salinity. Add some salt if necessary, the rest of the batch is still to be made.

The traditional condiments for pancakes is whipped cream and jam, but maple syrup, fresh berries, fruit and honey works as well. just pour some in the middle and roll it up like a crepe. Come to think of it, they probably have more in common with crepes than pancakes... but the Swedish word “pannkaka” literally translates into pancake, so I'm going to stay with it. If there's leftovers you can use them as crepes. Just make some nice filling, roll them up and bake them in the oven with some grated cheese on top.


Seven cookies week day 3: Oatmeal cookies with pumpkin seeds and apricots

One of my favorite cookies is oatmeal-raisin. I love the texture, how it's both crunchy and chewy at the same time, and the warm spicy flavors of brown sugar and cinnamon. But since this week is about trying out new stuff, I thought "why not give that old classic a new twist?". Yeah, I know I said this week would be about trying out new recipes, but updating an old favorite surely counts as something new, right?

The basic recipe for this comes from The Perfect Recipe Baking Book by Murray Jaffe. I got it for Christmas from my hostfamily the year that I did a high school exchange year in the States - they knew my love of baking and they sure knew that I fell in love - too much in love - with those tasty American treats. Thanks to this baking book (which only downside is the lack of pictures) I can make all the classics: New York cheesecake, Boston cream pies, corn muffins, banana nut bread... *cue Homer Simpson drooling noices*

So, in my updated version for the very tasty oatmeal raisin cookie, I added some more crunch by switching some of the oats for pumkin seeds. I also used dried apricots instead of raisins. The result? Well, at least as good as the original. The pumpkin seeds adds a nice toasted flavor and the apricots are not as overwhelmingly sweet as raisins can be. They are still sweet, but in a more subtle and sophisticated way.

You could also make the argument that these cookies are healthier than other ones - there's some fibers and good fats - but I won't. It's cookies we're talking about. If I want healthy I'll eat an orange.

I'm sorry about some of the measurements being in cups. I have my own American measuring cups so I don't have to convert, but if you do, here's a handy conversion guide.

Oatmeal cookies with pumpkin seeds and dried apricots

Makes about 30 cookies

100 grams butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1 cup rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried apricots (about 10 pcs)

Mix the butter and sugar together until the mixture is smooth and light. Add the egg. Blend the flour, baking soda and spices together and add that to the mixture. It should just blend together, do not overwork it. Stir in the oats and pumpkin seeds. Cut the dried apricots in smaller raisin-sized pieces, and add them.
Use a spoon to deposit the dough on to parchment covered cookie sheets, leaving space for spreading in between. Flatten them slightly with your fingers and make them round-ish in shape so that they will bake evenly.
Bake in a 175 C oven for 12-15 minutes until they look set. They will still be a bit soft when you get them out, but sets when they cool.

Pie or quiche?

I have never really understood the difference between pie and quiche in English. As far as I have heard it used, "pie" is only used for the sweet kind (apple, cherry...) while "quiche" is used for the savory kind (salmon, crab, ham and cheese...). Is that a correct observation? In Swedish, "paj" (pronounced almost like pie) is used for both kinds, although you can say quiche in Swedish for the savory kind. However, I have read that "quiche" is a special kind of pie from the Lorrain district in France, filled with cheese and ham. So talking about for example a salmon quiche would be incorrect, then.

Anyway, today's dinner was a pie - or was it a quiche? - filled with feta cheese, olives and tomatoes from the organic fruit and vegetable box we have started subscribing to. We got the first delivery today, and besides the tomatoes there were also Hass avocadoes, parsnips, red peppers, fennel, Moro blood oranges, Conference pears and bananas. Really lovely stuff!

(PS. Once again, sorry about the poor quality photo. I look at the photos on other food blogs with envy and shame. I really need to get me some decent lightening.)

Pie with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese

For the pie crust:
3 dl flour
150 grams butter
1-2 tbsp ice cold water
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
2 tomatoes
200 grams feta cheese
2 handfuls of olives
1 egg
½ dl milk
1½ dl grated cheese
Salt, black pepper and paprika

The dough is easiest to make in a food processor. Put in the flour and the salt, and add the butter in cubes. Pulse the machine until grainy. Add the water and pulse just until a coherent dough is beginning to form. Do not overwork it, then the crust won't be flaky and crispy. Put the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. It's best to let it cool for at least a few hours, but I just put it in the fridge while preparing the filling. (Yeah, not planning ahead again...)
Set your oven to 200 degrees C. Roll out the dough and place it in a pie dish. Bake the crust (without the filling) for 10 minutes. This way, the crust won't get soggy from the filling. If you have pie weights (I don't) you probably want to use those, because otherwise it can get quite "bubbly".
Slice the tomatoes, not too thinly. Cut the feta cheese in small cubes. Pit the olives. Whisk together the egg and milk with a fork, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Put the tomatoes, feta and olives in the pre-baked pie crust. Pour over the milk and egg mixture, and put the grated cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees. A salad with some aragula (rocket) would be good with this.


Seven cookies week day 2: Pistachio Clementine Biscotti

Second day of seven day cookie week! I felt kind of crap today and was afraid that this project would fail right at the beginning, but after dinner (carrot and ginger coconut soup, sorry no recipe today) I got some new energy and got baking. The original plan was to make some kind of American cookie in honor of this historical and totally awesome day, but none of the ideas I toyed around with appealed to me, so instead I decided to make biscotti. Maybe that makes sense though, now that we've got a person in the White House who probably can pronounce the word biscotti (and nuclear!) and doesn't think that only terrorist-hugging commies would eat them elitist European cookies. Ok, I totally digress. Sorry.

As far as I know, biscotti are traditionally flavored with hazelnuts, almonds, orange peel/juice and Amaretto (almond liqueur). But they can be flavored with basically anything - chocolate, dried fruits, coffee, berries - I have even seen recipes for salty ones (meant as snack food with a cocktail) that I will try out some day. The idea for this flavor combination comes from a whole other recipe at Tartelette (which I am totally in awe of - divine recipes that has me drooling by the computer, photographies which makes me want to lick the screen and some to die for pastry making skills. Go look for yourselves.). I thought the flavor combination clementine (or satsuma/mandarin) and pistachio would work in a biscotti. And it did!

However, two minor things. First of all, I should have used more pistachios and skipped the almonds, because the pistachios weren't that noticable. Second, I should have used the zest from another clementine, because when you take a bite of the biscotti and get a piece that has a piece of zest in it, then you really get a taste this cookies potential. So if you decide to make this you might want to add that to the recipe.

This should make about 50 biscotti, but every time I seem to end up with loads more. I probably make mine much smaller than intended.

Pistachio Clementine Biscotti (Adapted from Annas Mat by Anna Bergenström)

100 grams pistachios
50 grams almonds
100 grams butter
3 eggs (medium sized)
2 ½ dl sugar
6 dl flour
1 tsp baking powder, brim-full
1 clementine (or satsuma/mandarin), zest and juice

Chop the pistachios and almonds coarsely. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Beat the eggs and the sugar together until the mixture is white and very fluffy. Stir in the butter. Add the zest and juice from the clementine and then the nuts and almonds. Mix in the flour and baking powder, and work into a dough. Pour some flour on your baking board (or other work area), tip out the dough and work it together quickly. It may seem sticky at first, but will come together beatifully after a while. Divide into four equal parts, and form each part to a long roll (not so long that it won't fit your baking sheet though - I already made that mistake for you). Place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Flatten the rolls out with your hand; you want them to be quite flat. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 200 C oven. Let them cool for about five minutes, and then cut them diagonally, about 2 cm wide. Place them with the cut surface up. Dry them in a 75 C oven for about an hour. If kept in an airtight container away from light and heat they will keep for quite a long time.


Seven cookies week day 1: Vanilla rooibos cookies

I found the idea for these cookies from the lovely food blog Anne's Food. It was actually that blog which inspired me to start my own (sorry, our own, since Markus also has a part of this project, even though so far he has been more "behind the scenes"). I was very intrigued by the idea of flavoring cookies with tea - I have eaten tea flavored chocolate which worked very well, but I have never tried it in a cookie.

I really like rooibos tea (sometimes called red tea). Rooibos isn't actually a real tea, but the leaves from the Rooibos bush which is native to South Africa. Since it isn't strictly a tea, it has no caffeine, and unlike black or green tea, rooibos tea doesn't become bitter when steeped for a long time. So, feeling a bit adventurous, I decided to make the cookies using a rooibos tea flavored with vanilla and some citrus, instead of Earl Gray tea. Aside from using a different kind of tea, I halved the recipe (not enough butter at home) and only used regular sugar (again, no powdered sugar in the house. I really need to go stack up on some basics!).

The smell coming from the oven was quite heavenly: a mixture of vanilla, butter and citrus with a light floral note (that did sound like a perfume, didn't it?). And they tasted great too! The tea was most noticable through the strong, but not at all overpowering, vanilla flavor, but you could also notice a kind of warm floral taste. The tea leaves also gave the cookies a nice little crunch, which I really liked. A really nice beginning for my cookie project! Now, let's get those babies in the freezer before they disappear...

Vanilla rooibos cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

25o ml (1 cup) flour
125 ml (½ cup) sugar
1½ tbsp vanilla flavored rooibos tea (leaves, not brewed tea!)
100 g butter
½-1 tbsp butter

Mix the flour, tea and sugar together in a food processor. Add the butter, cut in cubes. Add the water, and let the machine work it into a nice dough. Add more water if the dough is too grainy. Shape the dough into a sausage and wrap it in plastic. Put it in the fridge and let it set for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready to bake your cookies, put the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Cut the dough into 4 mm slices. Place on cookies sheets - the dough will float out a little but not too much so you can put them quite close together. Bake for about 10 minutes - they will still be a bit soft when you take them out but they set when the get cooler.

Seven cookies week

Traditional Swedish etiquette said that when you had visitors over for coffee and cakes ("kafferep" in Swedish), you should treat them to seven different kinds of cookies. Noone really does this anymore, it is a thing of the past. My grandmother on dads side (born in the 1920s) always used to have seven types of cookies (apart from stuff like cinnamon buns, sponge cake and a layered cake with whipped cream and such) for birthdays and other celebrations. One of the most sold cookbooks in Sweden is called "seven types of cookies" and contains recipes for the old classics that almost have been lost among the humongous American-type muffins and chocolate chip cookies that are sold everwhere now.

When reading through the archives at the wonderful Nook and Pantry blog, I found an event called "12 days of cookies" when the blog hostess each day for 12 days leading up to Christmas (like in the 12 days of Christmas, you know) made a different type of cookie. Now, that's definitely a project I can get behind, but Christmas was almost a month ago, so I'm running a tad bit late. But why let the calendar stop me? I declare this week the seven cookies week! Each day of this week, I will make a different type of cookie, so the next time I get visitors (if they come after Sunday that is) I will be able to follow the old Swedish tradition and offer them seven different kinds of cookies. Not that anyone really wants to eat seven cookies at once, but it sounds nice in theory, doesn't it?! However, I will give myself two limitations for this project. First, I will only make cookies I have never done before. There are som many wonderful recipes out there, so why not get started on trying them, huh? Second, the cookies must be able to go in the freezer. I am not going to have loads of different types of cookies laying around like 10 feet from where I work (I work at home. Not as in housewife, even though this blog may give some people that idea, but as in freelancing). So, with those in mind, let's start baking!

A sort of pytt

I guess you could call this dish a more modern version of pyttipanna, the Swedish classic. Pyttipanna (wich my dictionary tells me translates as hash) is usually made of potatoes, onions, maybe some other vegetables such as carrots, and some sort of meat. It is all diced and then fried. It is a good way to deal with left overs, and is traditionally eaten with pickled red beets and a fried egg on top. More modernized version can be vegetarian, or contain fish or chicken, and if you're really radical you could even substitute the potatoes with for example bulgur, like I have done here.

The hardest part of this dish is to dice the vegetables. I know some people find repetetive kitchen tasks, such as making match stick thin julienned carrots or dicing zucchini in perfect 1*1 cm dice, relaxing. I just find it boring. But apart from chopping up the veggies, this dish is a breeze to make. My version of ajvar relish is probably not very authentic, but I thought it tasted quite close to the kind I buy in jars at the grocery store, only fresher. I didn't add any chili to the ajvar since the chorizo was so spicy, but it can of course be spiced up if necessary.

Look at all the pretty colors! (Sorry about the poor quality photo, but since it gets dark by like four here it's impossible get any decent dinner photos.)

Vegetable bulgur with chorizo and home made ajvar relish
Serves 2 + 1 lunchbox

½ onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, diced
½ yellow pepper, diced
½ zucchini, diced
125 g chorizo (or other spicy, flavorful sausage)
4 dl bulgur
2 dl water
Salt and black pepper

Ajvar relish
2 grilled red peppers (store bought or home made)
1 tbsp tomato puré
½-1 tbsp olive oil
black pepper

Fry the vegetables slowly in some butter or oil, starting with the onions and carrots and adding the peppers and zucchini after a minute or so. Bring the water to a boil and add the bulgur. Cook on very low heat until the water is absorbed; it takes about 10 minutes. Cut up your sausage in some smaller chunks; I sliced it and then cut the slices in half. Add the sausage to the vegetables and let it fry for a while. When the bulgur is done, just add it to the pan with veggies and sausage and stir it all around. Season with salt and pepper.

For the ajvar, simply put all the ingredients into a food processor and make a puree. Serve the bulgur with ajvar relish and some plain yoghurt*.

*In Sweden, we get a kind of yoghurt especially suited for use with/in food (appropriately named "food yoghurt"). It is runnier than thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt, and more sour than the kind you eat for breakfast.


Hunger strikes

The origin of this dinner is our friend Hanna, who once treated us to some awesome canneloni with mushrooms and ricotta cheese. We have tried to recreate it many times since, but like with all recipes of this kind - that is, the kind that doesn't really have a recipe - we've added and subtracted stuff and it probably bears no resemblance to the original by now. Sometimes, we add some leftover shredded chicken, sometimes, we use creme fraiche instead of ricotta, and this time, we added some gorgonzola cheese.

We were really really hungry while shopping for this, and even more hungry when making it, so we forgot that you really should pour some kind of sauce over the whole deal before baking it. Cream based or tomato based, whatever you think would work. Otherwise it really gets too dry, and I am not a fan of crunchy pasta. There should be a law that says that lasagna should have so much cheese on top that the top layer can't get hard and crunchy.

So, view this recipe as a draft. And sorry, no picture this time. We were too hungry, and frankly, this dish isn't very photogenic.

Canneloni with mushrooms, gorgonzola and spinach

serves 2 very hungry people

Fresh lasagna platters (cut to appropriate size if needed)
1 small onion
200 grams mushrooms (we used forest mushrooms)
50 grams gorgonzola cheese
1½ dl ricotta cheese
A handful of fresh spinach
Salt and black pepper

Grated cheese for topping
(Sauce of some kind to pour on top)

Fry the mushrooms and onions in some butter or oil. In a bowl, mix together the cheeses. Stir in the mushrooms and onions. Add in the spinach (you might want to tear it down a bit if the leaves are too big). Season with salt and black pepper (but remember that gorgonzola cheese is quite salty). Now get your lasagna platters, add a spoonful or so of the filling at one end and roll it up. Continue until you are out of either platters or filling. If you run out of lasagna platters, just put the rest of the filling on top of the canneloni. Now pour over whatever sauce you think would be good with this (unless you like your cannelonis crunchy. Weirdo.). Put some grated cheese on top, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.


Christmas spirit in January

The smell and taste of this desert is the quintessential Christmas for me. It incorporates traditional Swedish Christmas flavors: glögg (the Swedish version of mulled wine), saffron and oranges, in a beautifully colored and easy to make desert. So why did I make it in January? Well, we had some glögg left over from last Christmas (2007, that is) that needed to be used, there was saffron in the spice cupboard and oranges are in season. And, most important of all, it tastes divine.

Saffron pannacotta with oranges in glögg marinade

serves 2

1½ dl cream
0,25 dl sugar
0,25 g (½ packet) saffron
1 gelatin sheet

For the oranges:
2 oranges
2 dl glögg
1 tbsp maple syrup

For the pannacotta: Soak the gelatin sheet in cold water. Bring the cream, sugar and saffron to a boil while stirring the mixture. Remove from the heat, squeeze out excess water from the gelatin sheet and disolve it in the hot cream. Pour the mixture in two glasses or small bowls. Place in the fridge to set (takes about 3 hours).

Fillet the oranges, there should be no traces of the bitter white parts on the segments. Put in a container or plastic bag, pour the glögg and maple syrup over the oranges to marinate while the pannacotta sets in the fridge.

To serve, get rid of the marinade, and simply portion the beautifully red-tinted orange segments on top of the pannacotta.


Sailor's beef

When I shopped for this dish today I felt kind of old. You see, this is the kind of food that my grandmother would make: traditional Swedish food, no weird ingredients, just meat and potatoes in a big pot on the stove, slowly cooking away and filling the house with a warm, comfortable smell. According to the cookbook there should be carrot slices in there too so add that if you want, but I'm not a fan of cooked carrots, so we ate them raw on the side instead. You could sprinkle the dish with some finely chopped parsley before serving (I didn't have any, so I didn't). We ate it with some black currant jelly, but pickled cucumbers would also work.

PS. No, I have no idea how this dish got its name.

Sailor's beef (Sjömansbiff)

serves 2 and leaves plenty extra for lunch boxes

500 grams beef in thin slices
1 yellow onion
10 potatoes.
2-3 tbsp butter
1 33 cl bottle of beer (preferably dark, I used the Swedish "Carnegie Porter")
3 dl water
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper

Peel and slice the onion thinly. Fry it very very slowly (it should not get any color) in some of the butter. Put the onions aside, pour half of the water into the pan, whisk around and save the sauce for later.
Peel and slice the potatoes.
Add butter to the pan and brown the meat in batches. Season with salt and pepper. When all the meat is browned, put the meat aside, pour the remaining half of the water into the pan, whisk around and pour it, through a strainer, into the onion sauce.
Now get out a big pot, preferably oven proof. Layer the beef, onions and potatoes in the pot, with a layer of potatoes in the bottom and at the top. Season with salt and pepper in between the layers. Put the bay leaf in the pot, and pour in the bottle of beer and the juice from the meat and the onions.
Now, you can either boil it very slowly under a lid on the stove top for about an hour. Or (if your pot is oven proof), put it in the oven - lid on - and forget about it for one hour or so on 200 degrees celsius. I like the top layer of potatoes to be a bit crispy, so I took the lid of for the last ten minutes.


Salmon and salad

So, time for a post not involving cheese or chocolate! The original idea here was to recreate a salad that I had at a Thai restaurant in Hong Kong when we lived there this fall (yes, you can be sure that there will be attempts at Chinese cooking here in the future). The restaurant, Thai Basil, had these incredibly tasty, but very spicy, salads involving green mango or papaya, cucumber, a few thinly julienned carrots, fresh herbs (I think one of them was mint which was kind of surprising in Thai food but worked really well), chopped chilies, maybe some peanuts, and dressing. The salad was then topped with pan seared tuna or salmon.

When I found a recipe for blackened salmon at another food blog, I decided to combine the two recipes and make a Thai Basil inpired salad to serve with the salmon. The original recipe called for a strawberry-feta cheese salad to be served with the salmon, which I am sure would be totally tasty, but it ain't happening in Sweden in January...

When I started to make the spice rub for the salmon, I realized that I didn't have many of the called for ingredients at hand (a lot of our stuff is still in boxes after living abroad) so I had to improvise with what I had. And for the salad, well, it bore no resemblance at all to the Thai Basil salads (I didn't even use dressing since the one I made got too oily and we had no more limes and I couldn't find the white wine vinegar). But the whole shebang became incredibly tasty - the salmon was extremely juicy and "buttery" and the flavors worked very well together. And it's also healthy: salmon contains good fat, it was fried without any fat or oil what so ever, the salad was served without dressing, and there was no carbs at all (okey, besides the sugar in the rub). It also looked very nice and hey, did I mention how good it was?!

Blackened salmon with mango-cucumber salad

serves 2

2 pieces of salmon fillet
For the rub:
2 tbsp raw demerara sugar (or muscovado)
1 tbsp flaky sea salt
1½ tsp ground ginger (not fresh this time)
1 tsp chili powder (I used ancho chili, since that was all I had)

Ground the ingredients for the rub together in a pestle, and rub it into both sides of the salmon. Fry in a dry pan on quite high heat until the salmon is just cooked through and the rub has blackened.

For the salad: Cut 1 mango and 1 small cucumber in thin slices. I also added some sunflower sprouts. I'm sure a bit of julienned carrot would work as well (but not too much). As I said, no dressing here, but I started experimenting with lime, a few drops of fish sauce and some rape seed oil, and it was promising before I splashed too much oil into it and couldn't find anything sour to balance it with.


TGI Friday part 2: Desert

Well, the previous post probably had all the health freaks and GI-eaters running away, so for the rest of us who believe that food is for the soul as well: here's the incredibly tasty desert that I made for my TGI Friday-dinner. It's taken from Nigella's website, but I changed it a little bit. She actually called for three kinds of ice cream (vanilla, fudge/caramel and chocolate) but since I am trying to cut down on unnatural food with tons of additives and weird flavoring, and didn't have time to fire up our ice cream maker, I decided to just use vanilla (I got Häagen Dazs which I know is not at all comparable to home made ice cream and can charge premium money just 'cause they have a "European" sounding name and stuff, but the ingredient list for their vanilla ice cream was reassuringly short and simple).

I halved the recipe to make it for two, but still got a lot of the peanut butter-chocolate sauce (not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't really keep), so unless you're really greedy, this will make enough sauce for three people. The original recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, but I used an organic peanut butter (which only contains peanuts and sea salt) which isn't entirely smooth but a tad grainy, and it worked perfectly well. I also added some more (maybe 20 grams) of chocolate towards the end, cause I wanted the sauce to be more chocolate-y. Enough talking, let's have desert!

Chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae

For the sauce:
87 ml double cream (I used Swedish "vispgrädde" which has 35-40 % fat)
50 g milk chocolate, chopped
50 g smooth peanut butter
1½ tbsp light syrup

Vanilla ice cream, how ever much you want
Coarsely chopped salted peanuts, to taste

Put everything for the sauce in a pan, place on the heat and stir until everything is melted and combined, it takes no more than 2 minutes. Let the sauce cool slightly, and spoon it over the ice cream. Top with shopped salted peanuts. Eat and be happy! Very happy.

TGI Friday

So, let's start cooking, shall we?! You know when all you crave is meat and carbs, preferably with some cheesy sauce and a salad drenched in unhealthy dressing on the side? The kind of stuff you get at TGI Friday's? (Don't tell me you never get that craving and that the only carbs you eat is unsweetened rye bread with low-fat cottage cheese and grated carrots. Then this blog is not for you.)
Well, I got that craving (for the meat and carbs, not the cottage cheese and carrots), and since my town lacks a TGI Friday's (and the stuff you get there is never as good as it sounds on paper, and you pay kind of a lot for not very good food anyway) I decided to make it myself. The meat turned out very flavorful with a distinct note of ginger and cinnamon. Next time I will add some garlic and maybe up the amount of chili because it wasn't spicy at all.

Marinated spare ribs with cheddar mash

serves 2

For the ribs and marinade (adopted from Nigella Lawson's Feast):
600 grams thick spare ribs
1 yellow onion, in pieces
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick, in pieces
1 red chili, seeds removed, chopped
A chunk of fresh ginger (about 3 cm), chopped
1/2 lime, zest and juice
1½ tbsp mushroom soy
1 tbsp cold pressed rape seed oil
1 tbsp light syrup
4 tbsp pineapple juice (NOT the juice from canned pineapple!)

Put the meat, onion, anise, cinammon, chili and ginger in double plastic bags. Mix the lime zest and juice, soy, oil, syrup and pineapple juice and pour it over the meat. Seal the bags and rub everything around so that the marinade reaches all parts of the meat.

Ribs ready to be marinated.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When you're ready to cook, get the meat out of the fridge to reach room temperature. Put your oven to 200 degrees C and pour the meat and marinade into a snug fitting pan. Cook for about 1 hour (mine could definitely have been in the oven a while longer because the middle of my piece of meat was a bit too pink for my liking when it comes to pork). Turn the meat over after 30 minutes so that it browns on both sides.

For the cheddar mash, I made mashed potatoes with a bit of butter, but no milk, and a heap of grated cheddar cheese. How much to use depends on how cheesy you want it - for me, there is no such thing as too much cheese. Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg, and the deed is done!

I also made cole slaw to go with this, flavored with roasted caraway seeds. I also served a simple mixed green salad with blue cheese dressing (grated blue cheese and sour cream plus some freshly ground black pepper).

Seriously, don't plan to get much done after eating this (over than saying stuff like "that was so good" and "please pass the wine"). After this and desert (see next post), we happily sunk into a food coma.


Hi there!

Some blogs have weird titles and some don't, some explain them and some don't. This one has a weird title, but no explanation. The intent of this post is to rectify the situation. “I could even eat a baby deer!” might seem like an odd choice of title—I mean, most people would consider it the most normal thing in the world, deer tastes good. Then again, some people would start to think of Bambi, and the intense cuteness of these yummy animals...

Rather than being a statement on anti-vegitarianistic lines, the title is directly taken from a song from the Simpsons. When Homer is asked whether he likes food, he breaks into this song, and is immediately hired as a food critic.

I like pizza, I like bagels,
I like hot dogs with mustard and beer.
I'll eat eggplant, I could even eat a baby deer.
Who's that baby deer on the lawn?

We also love food, and it is the main topic of this blog. So, there you have it: Homer loves food—we love food; Homer could eat a baby deer—we can blog under that title.