Daring Bakers August: Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This will be a short post, cause there's simply too much going on right now. Let's just say this was a delicious challenge! I made the Baked Alaska with apple ice cream, the brown butter pound cake as written and then covered the whole thing in vanilla flavored meringue.

Markus is in Beijing at the moment and has the camera with him so this post will be updated with photos when he gets back has now been updated with pictures. Yes, I'm definitely making this one again! Thank you Elissa for a wonderful challenge!

For recipes and to see the other Daring Bakers' creations, head over to the Daring Kitchen!

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)*
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*You can make 1 cup of cake flour by placing 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a 1 cup measure, and filling to the top with all purpose flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions

1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.


Daring Cooks Augusti: Pierogi

Woohoo, the Deer Eaters are finally Daring Cooks again. Sorry about neglecting the blog so much lately, there simply has been too much other stuff going on. And what better way is there to finally be back in the Daring business, than to totally misread the challenge?
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
For some reason (and I can't understand why, because it's all there, right in the first few paragraphs of the challenge presentation post on the private Daring Cooks' forum) I misunderstood the challenge. Not going to elaborate on why and how, but the fact is that we didn't make the challenge recipe. Sorry about that! We did, however, make pierogi. Two different kinds. I hope that makes up for misreading the challenge.

First up, Karelian pierogi, a Finnish specialty. We made these because they're delicious and because Markus is half Finnish, so that kind of represents his locale, or something. Anyway, maybe they're not pierogi in the challenge sense of the word (Wikipedia calls them Karelian pasties) but let's not dwell on that. These pierogi are made from a thin rye crust and filled with rice porridge. I know I know, it sounds weird and to be honest not very tasty, but trust me, they are good! The hardest part about making Karelian pierogi is cooking the rice porridge - it takes forever and the porridge always get burnt in the bottom of the pot. Luckily, there's a handy solution for that in Swedish grocery stores: ready made rice porridge in sausage form!

No it's not really a sausge, just rice porridge packaged in a plastic tube.
By the way, you can get yellow pea soup packaged the same way.

The next pierogi we made were more traditional, although oven-baked instead of boiled. For that local touch we filled them with ground moose and chantarelles. A note on the recipe, we found these a bit dry, so if you want to make them you might want to add some sort of liquid to the filling.

To see what the other Daring Cooks made, head over to the Daring Kitchen where you can also find the original recipe!

Karelian Pierogi

makes about 20

50 g butter
5 dl rye and wheat flour mix (Sw. rågsikt)
1½ tsp salt
2 dl water

For the rice porridge filling:
1½ dl round grain rice (Sw. grötris)
½ tsp salt
3 dl water
7 dl milk
...or use ready-made rice porridge (Sw. risgrynsgröt)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water

Start with making the filling. Let rice, salt and water simmer under a lid for ten minutes without stirring. Add the milk, stir and bring to a boil. Simmer very slowly under a lid for about 40 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn't burn! Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
OR, as I said, skip this step and use ready-made!

Heat the oven to 175-300°C.

Cut the butter into small cubes, add the flour and use you fingers to make a crumbly dough. Add salt and water and work into a uniform dough. If it's to loose, add more flour, if it's too hard, add more water. Spread some flour over your work surface, and roll the dough out into a long roll. Cut it into about 20 pieces. Use a rolling pin to turn each piece into an thin oval. Put a heap of rice porridge in the middle and fold up the edges around it (see picture). Transfer to a parchment-covered baking sheet. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes, lower the heat if it looks like they get done too fast.

Melt the butter, add the water and heat. Brush the piergoi with melted butter as soon as they are out of the oven. Let them cool covered with a cloth (although I think they are best eaten warm).

Pierogi with moose and chantarelle filling

makes about 12

25 g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
3 dl luke warm water
2 tbsp oil
1 egg
9 dl flour

For the filling:
2 yellow onions (medium sized)
Oil and butter
100 g fresh chanterelles
500 g ground moose
2 tbsp tomato puré
1 tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
black pepper
1 egg for the egg wash

Crumble the yeast into a big bowl, add salt and some of the water and stir to dissolve. Add the rest of the water, oil, egg and finally the flour. Work into a dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Finely chop the onions. Cut down the chanterelles into smaller pieces. Heat oil and butter in a pan and fry the onions and chanterelles until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Add a little more oil and butter and brown the ground meat. Add the onions and chanterelles, tomato puré and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool.

Heat the oven to 225°C. Knead the dough a little and roll it out into 12 large ovals. Put 3-4 tbsp of filling on the middle of the dough. Brush the edges lighly with water to make the dough stick together, fold the dough over the filling and press down with a fork to seal and make a decorative pattern around the edges. Transfer to parchment covered baking sheets and let the pierogi rest for about 25 minutes. Brush with egg wash. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. Let the pierogi cool under a cloth. They freeze really well, just heat them a little in the oven before eating.


Daring Bakers June: Chocolate Pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.
Paired with fresh Swedish strawberries and cherries, this was the perfect dessert for our Midsummer's Eve dinner. Midsummer is a big deal in Sweden and there are a lot of "musts" and traditions and expectations coupled with it, which I really don't like. So we decided to do Midsummer our own way - with a delicious, untraditional dinner consisting of Atlantic catfish poached in beurre montée (recipe to come) and then the Daring Bakers challenge as dessert.

We started a few days early by making mascarpone using the recipe from the February Tiramisu challenge. The actual challenge then had four parts: chocolate meringue, chocolate mascarpone mousse and a Crème Anglaise which was used in a mascarpone cream.

The meringue recipe was really good. Besides flat meringue shells for the Pavlovas, we also made decorative choclate meringue tops. The batter held its shape very well and allowed for some really high piping.

The Crème Anglaise was easy as well. But the chocolate mousse, well that's another story...

What went wrong? We used Lindt chocolate which I believe is decent quality. Can somebody tell us why we got grainy goo and a lot of oil? Into the trash it went and we made a second attempt (good thing we had bought too much chocolate). The second try threatened to end up the same way, but somehow we saved it although it still was a bit grainy.

The mascarpone cream also looked weird to begin with but ended up fluffy and delicious. And bountiful, which means we got to dip strawberries in it today, and there is still enough left for an apple pie tomorrow!

All in all, we really liked this challenge. By themselves, the parts weren't spectacular (especially the chocolate mousse where the flavor didn't seem to match the amount of work it took), but the sum of them can be summed up in the word YUM!

Thank you Dawn! Please visit the Daring Kitchen for recipes, a look at the other Daring Bakers' creations and lots of other good stuff.

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Chocolate Meringue:

3 large egg whites
110 grams white granulated sugar
30 grams confectioner’s (icing) sugar
30 grams cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:

355 mls heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
255 grams 72% chocolate, chopped
390 mls mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

Put 120 mls of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (Do not overbeat as the mascarpone will break!)
Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Mascarpone Cream:

1 recipe crème anglaise
120 mls mascarpone
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
120 mls heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

235 mls whole milk
235 mls heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
Pour about 1 dl of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not overcook!
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.


Daring Bakers May: Croquembouche, or Piece Montée

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
I had never heard of a Croquembouche ("crunch in the mouth") before but when I started reading the recipe that hey, this is essentially a dessert made up of éclairs, and who doesn't love those? At least I do! I hand the mike to our host this month, Cat from Little Miss Cupcake:
The classic piece montée is a high pyramid/cone made of profiteroles (cream-filled puff pastries) sometimes dipped in chocolate, bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. Modern pastry chefs have taken to assembling this dessert in all manners of shapes and sizes, and you should feel free to express your creativity too!
As (almost) ususal we made this in the very last minute, so being elaborate and creative wasn't really an option. We went traditional: the choux were filled with vanilla pastry cream and we decorated our (not very high and neither cone nor pyramid shaped) piece montée with dark chocolate.

We made a whole batch which, in hindsight (*pats very full belly*) wasn't too smart - these things are rich, people! But oh so so delicious!

The whole thing wasn't very complicated at all - we were a bit worried when our choux was in the oven because they didn't seem to puff up at all at first, but that was an unfounded worry. We didn't have enough pastry cream to fill all the choux (good thing) so we will definitely try some savory experiments with those left over. We tried one filled with the sauce we had with dinner tonight (dinner was oven-poached char with lemon, dill and white wine, served with boiled potatoes, sugar snap peas, and a sauce made of sour cream, dill and red caviar) and it was really nice with a savory flavor as well. That sauce together with some smoked salmon would be really nice for a savory choux, especially if you flavor the dough with some herbs.

Thanks Cat for a cool challenge, we're really glad we made it - with two hours to spare before deadline!


For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet). Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!


Daring Cooks May: Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.
Good Mexican food is hard to come by in Sweden. Sure, “Tex Mex” is extermely popular and is on the dinner tables of many Swedish families on Friday and Saturday evenings, but it's of course a “Swedified” version and, in my opinion, quite boring. I haven't found any good Mexican restaurants either, but we do have some Taco Bell-copies.

So, the alternative, as always, is to make it yourself. But then you run into problems at the grocery store. Corn tortillas? Yeah, maybe. Anaheim chilies? Errrr, no. Tomatillos? What's that? (Answer here.) As usual, our hosts were aware of the regional limitations of the global Daring Cooks, and provided us with some suggestions for substitutes. Tomatillos are apparently somewhat related to gooseberries. Fresh gooseberries are hard to come by during gooseberry season (unless you have a bush in you garden, or knows someone who does, your only bet is the local farmer's market. I have never seen gooseberries in a grocery store), and in May? Impossible!

So what's two Daring Cooks to do? Well, improvise of course!

We had of course great plans to make our own tortillas and all, but we didn't have time. We did, however, have time for a crazy chicken “grilling” experiment. The recipe says to use a gas grill or medium-hot charcoal, which we didn't have access to. Instead, we brushed the chicken breasts with Liquid Smoke (yay, artificial flavorings!), cooked them in the oven for about 20 minutes, and then Markus went over them with our kitchen torch (the kind you use for brulées). We don't know if the torch thing really did anything to the flavor, but it added some color and was so crazy we just had to do it!

And for the Anaheim peppers? Well, our guess was that they are mainly green and has a bit of a punch in them, so we opted for green bell peppers (for the color), regular red peppers (for the punch), and some jalapeño (for color and punch, turned out to be hard to peel them after roasting, so we ended up not using very much of it, which was probably for the better anyway.)

Oh, and since we were unable to get either tomatillos or gooseberries, we opted for gooseberry jam! Well, what's a daring cook to do?

So, here's the recipe for our gooseberry-pepper salsamathingy

450 g Green bell peppers
40 g Jalapeño
70 g Red chili
1 Onion
2 cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Chicken stock concentrate
½ dl Water
250 g Gooseberry jam
1 tsp Dried oregano

Grill, peel and remove the seeds from the green bell peppers, the jalapeño and the red chili. Chop the onion and press the garlic. Mix it all up with a mixer, and stir in the chicken stock, water and seasoning. Taste on your own risk. Since we only had 250 g of Gooseberry jam, we halved the recipe at this time, using only half of the pepper mix.

To assemble the enchiladas, we used store brought corn tortillas, a mixture of Porte Salute, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese and the “grilled” chicken. We started with a thin layer of salsa, then added two layers of tortilla, salsa, chicken and cheese, and topped it all with a layer of tortilla, salsa and cheese.

The enchiladas were cooked for 15 minutes at 225°C, and served with guacamole and cold, Mexican beer – as is becoming of this kind of dish. We later found out that tomatillos are available in Sweden, but only as a prefabricated “Tomatillo & Green Chili Sauce”...

Thank you for a fun and tasty challenge! Make sure to visit the Daring Kitchen for the whole recipe and the other Daring Cooks' creations!


(In the spirit of) Daring Bakers April: Pudding

I constantly rave about how being a Daring Kitchen member lets you try out things you would never have done before. Maybe that is especially true for this month's challenge.
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
Suet, I learned through this challenge, is a hard, but flaky fat found in the area around the kidneys of a cow or sheep. I've never seen it anywhere here in Sweden, or even heard about it, but I'm sure it would be possible to get some, given you had the time to shop around. We didn't. The challenge said it could be substituted with hard, white vegetable fat or shortening. I'm sure we could have found something suitable, given we had the time to do some research. We didn't. Instead, we went outside the box, and inside the bone.

We made marrow pudding!

We figured this would count as being “in the spirit of the challenge” – it is a British pudding, made with a somewhat unusual animal product. The only thing that doesn't meet the requirements is that it's baked, not steamed.

The recipe comes from our dessert guru Jan Hedh. I've looked at the picture of the English marrow pudding in his book Deserter many times and thought that “hey, that looks good, but I'll never make it”. Well thanks to the Daring Bakers, we have! And it tasted lovely!

Esther, sorry for not making your challenge recipe, but thank you for giving us this opportunity to try something completely new!

Jan Hedh's English marrow pudding
from the book Desserter

8-10 portions (we halved the recipe)

200 g ox marrow
1½ dl cream
200 g eggs (about 4)
80 g sugar
10 g vanilla sugar
2 ml salt
200 g white bread, crust removed
200 g corinths
4 tbsp dark rum
Butter and sugar for the pan
4 tbsp dark rum for flambéeing
Caramel sauce for serving (recipe below)

Day 1:
Soak the marrow in cold water overnight. Change the water a few times.
Mix cream, eggs. sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread. Let it stand overnight to swell.
Soak the corinths in the rum overnight.

It's hard to believe that this soaking goo can turn out so delicious! Thankfully, Sweden is a BSE-free zone, otherwise we wouldn't dare to eat this stuff cooked or not.

Day 2:
Set the oven to 175°C.
Drain the marrow and chop it finely. Mix with the bread mixture and the rum-soaked corinths. Use your hands to combine everything well.
Coat an ovenproof dish (about 1½ liters), preferably one with a lid, with the butter and sugar. Place the pudding mix in the dish and cover with wax paper, cut out to fit the dish. Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil.
Bake for one hour.
Remove from the oven and let the pudding rest for 30 minutes.
Remove it from the pan and place on a heat proof dish.
Heat the rum carefully and pour it over the pudding. Set on fire (be careful, of course!), and serve the pudding in flames together with a caramel sauce.

Fresh out of the oven

Caramel sauce
120 g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 dl cream

Boil sugar and lemon juice, stirring constantly until you have a light brown caramel.
Add the cream, a little at the time, and boil until the caramel is dissolved.
The sauce will keep about 5 days in the fridge.

Marrow pudding flaming in the spirit of Captain Morgan ('s dark rum). Flambeing can really bring out a lot of different colors!


Letting him eat cake

People who know me knows that I like crazy projects and out-there ideas. In the kitchen this takes the form of plans for elaborate 12 course tasting menus (not realized yet, but one day. One day with a lot of time and patience), weird flavor-combos, or, as today, complicated birthday cakes.

Markus is turning 30-something today, and as is tradition in our household, that means I'm making him a birthday cake. Last year I made an elaborate Jan Hedh chocolate creation, and I didn't want to make anything less this year. When I came across this post at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker, I knew I just had to do it. Quoting Gesine:
It’s a lot of work. It takes more time then you really want to invest. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful.
A lot of work, a lot of time, making a mess. Topped with beauty. It's a done deal!

Writing backwards to create decor sides.

I gave the cake an almond bottom, filled it with vanilla-lemon quark mousse and garnished with peaches (canned, cause it's that time of the year), raspberries and passion fruit. For the quark mousse I used a Swedish quark product called Kesella Vanilj, which is flavored with vanilla. You could use regular quark and add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. I miscalculated the amount of mousse so I didn't get enough to fill up the sides of the cake. You probably want to double the mousse recipe, or else make shorter decor sides.

The decor sides do take time to make, but I didn't find them that difficult. I wrote "GRATTIS MARKUS" (congratulations Markus) in block letters. The Markus part turned out beautiful, but "grattis" had some floating out, I don't know why that was but I guess I wasn't careful enough when spreading the jaconde sponge batter over the frozen tuille.

Good lettering.

Bad lettering. IS is fine, but what happened to the rest?

The cake tasted heavenly, and was easy to cut into clean, nice slices. And Markus was mighty impressed - mission accomplished!

The writing's on the cake

1 batch decor sides, follow the instructions here

For the almond cake bottom:
300 g almond paste
2 eggs

Grate the almond paste. Mix well with the eggs, and spread the batter out into a buttered and breaded springform pan, about 23 cm in diameter. Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool before removing the springform pan.

For the vanilla-citrus quark mousse
1 1/4 dl milk
1 dl granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
250 g vanilla-flavoured quark (Kesella Vanilj)
1½ dl cream
4 sheets gelatin

Bring the milk, sugar, salt and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl and mix them well with some of the warm milk mixture. Add the rest of the milk, stir well, and pour back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens. Pour it into a cold bowl and let it cool completely.
Add the quark.
Soak the gelatin sheets for five minutes in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and melt them over low heat in a small saucepan. Mix with a little of the egg-milk mixture, and stir the gelatin into the rest of the mixture.
Whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold it in.

Assembling the cake:
Get the almond bottom and attach the springform ring around it again. Get your decor sides and trim them to the correct height and length. Place them around the cake ring, writing side out of course. Pour the mousse onto (into?) the cake. Let it set in the fridge for at least two hours before decorating the cake with the fruits and berries of your choice.


Shrimp cocktail, Thai style

This was the starter for our Good Friday dinner (us secularized Swedes don't mind indulging on that day. Either.). A huge bunch of salad in our organic fruit and vegetable box, some shrimp in the freezer, the need for something fresh and savory with a punch, and the idea of a Thai style shrimp cocktail was born. To be honest, the original idea was to make fresh spring rolls but with salad leafs instead of rice paper wrappers, but the salad didn't want to roll up neatly so we ended up with something that looked more like burritos. To keep them from unrolling we served them standing up in shot glasses, and then I realized that hey, this is more of a shrimp cocktail than a spring roll.
Whatever it is, it's delicious and was a perfect start for our dinner. It was followed by a Tunisian lamb tagine with apricots and almonds (we've blogged about it here although this time we made a slightly different version) and for dessert an assortment of cheeses (Beaufort, Manchego, a fantastic unpasteurized Brie, and an anonymous but delicious blue cheese of French origin) accompanied by an amazing port.
I don't have any measurements in the recipe, just eyeball it. The Prik Nam Pla, or dipping sauce, is the most important part of this dish, so don't get scared off by the fish sauce and skip it!

In a bowl, mix shrimp (we used frozen and thawed, but fresh is of course better), some julienned carrot, de-seeded cucumber in thin slices, julienned papaya, fresh cilantro and white sesame seeds. Place a spoonful on a salad leaf and roll it up in a fashion that works for you.
Serve with the dipping sauce.

Prik Nam Pla - Thai dipping sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp demerara sugar
½ red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients and let it stand for a while. Taste before serving if you want to add more lime juice. We ended up doubling the amount of lime juice, but that was a tad too much. Wait until the sauce has been standing for a while before tasting it, because the flavors mature and if it's too "fishy" when it's just been made, it might be perfect 20 minutes later.


Daring Bakers March: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.
I had only heard of vegetable tians before, so this challenge was yet again a new discovery on the never ending journey around all things sweet. Alain Ducasse's orange tian consists of a pate sablee with orange marmalade, a flavored whipped cream topped with orange segments and a caramel-orange sauce.

We made this dessert over the course of two days, because it is quite involved even if neither of the steps were too tricky. I opted for blood oranges since they are in season now, and I just love their color. We don't have any round cookie cutters, so we once again turned to the animal kingdom to shape our tians. The tian is supposed to be a very elegant dessert, but I guess this way it's more playful than elegant, even if the taste is still very refined.
I present you with the Bunny Tian and the Fishy Tian!

Thank you Jennifer for a lovely challenge - we will make it again! To see the other Daring Bakers' creations, go to the Daring Kitchen. There you will also find the recipe!


Banana and Dulce de Leche ice cream

I made this ice cream in maybe November I think, but never got around to blogging about it then. We have of course eaten it by now, and I forgot to take pictures. But it was delicious, and we haven't written anything in the blog for ages, so here it is, the recipe sans photos. It feels like we only do the Daring Kitchen challenges for the blog now, and maybe a Paper Chef challenge here and there, but we've gotten awfully bad at blogging about other stuff we eat. Too much going on in life I guess.

Banana ice cream with Dulce de Leche

6 large bananas (500 g of banana pulp)
2 g gelatin (1 sheet)
½ vanilla bean
150 g milk
10 g honey
60 g egg yolks (about 3)
40 g sugar
1 orange, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
100 g confectioner's sugar
2 cl dark rum
dulce de leche

The dulce de leche needs to be made beforehand. Take a can of condensed milk, and put it unopened in a pot of hot water. The water should always cover the can. Boil for about 2 hours, refilling the pot with hot water as necessary. After boiling, the condensed milk will have turned into a creamy caramel-like sauce - dulce de leche. Let the can cool completely before opening it.

To make the banana ice cream:
Put the gelatin sheet in a bowl of cold water and let it soak at least 10 minutes.
Put the bananas in a mixer together with the orange and lemon juice, confectioner's sugar and rum. Mix until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a small saucepan. Do not throw away the leftover vanilla bean, put it in a small jar of sugar to make your own vanilla sugar! Add the milk and honey, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.
Whip the egg yolks and the sugar lightly, add the milk and mix quickly. Pour it back into the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture has thickened a little and reached a temperature of 85°C.
Remove the gelatin sheet from the water and put it into the milk-egg mixture. Do not squeeze the gelatin to remove the excess water, just drop the wet gelatin sheet into the pan. Stir until the gelatin has melted. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into the banana mix. Stir.
Pour the ice cream batter into your ice cream maker and churn until it is smooth and quite firm. In my ice cream machine, this took about 30 minutes.

Keep the ice cream machine running while dolloping dulce de leche into the ice cream. I can't give you any exact amounts, just eyeball it. The idea is to get little dulce de leche-surprises while eating the ice cream - there should be little pockets of yummy gooey-ness. So you don't want to mix the dulce de leche completely into the ice cream. When you are done, transfer the ice cream to plastic boxes and put into the freezer.


Daring Bakers February: Tiramisu

Updated below!

Finally the deer eaters are back among the Daring Bakers after having missed both December's and January's challenges. This one was far too good to miss (and the rules won't let us anyway, not if we want to remain in the fabulous kitchen posse which is the Daring Bakers), because in February we are making one of our favorite desserts: Tiramisu.
The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.
As I said, Tiramisu is not a stranger to our table. The one we usually make (from the modern Swedish classic cookbook Nya Annas Mat by Anna Bergenström) can be put together in half an hour, plus some chillin' time. But this being the Daring Bakers, there was of course a much more involved recipe, coming from Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone. This tiramisu certainly isn't one you make in half an hour, and the challenge also required us to make the savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone cheese ourselves!

Savoiardi biscuits with their snowy dusting of confectioner's sugar.

Markus started the day before with making the mascarpone while I was in Stockholm celebrating my mom's birthday by having dinner at Berns Bistro - delicious breast of duck with puy lentils and truffle sauce - and watching the musical Hairspray - both highly recommended if you happen to be in Stockholm! Markus says that making mascarpone was quite easy; the problem was knowing when it was done - what is "a few clear whey streaks"? It's also important to use quadruple cheesecloths for straining- we only have two and Markus thinks some mascarpone got lost in the process. Apart from that - way (whey!) cool that we now can make our own mascarpone! It looked and tasted just right! I love discovering how you can make cheese on your own - we have mastered ricotta earlier, and next up is either mozzarella or paneer.

So, the next day - and here I have to confess that "next day" means today, as in posting day, as in yes, we waited with the challenge until the very last minute again - we made the savoiardi biscuits, the zabaglione and the pastry cream. No major problems with any of these, we had forgotten to buy marsala and were out of both port and amaretto so we had to substitute coffee in the zabaglione, and vanilla extract is virtually unheard of in Sweden so instead we exchanged some of the sugar in the zabaglione and the pastry cream with homemade vanilla sugar.

After the chilling, it was time to assemble. We decided to skip sweetening the espresso, as we (correctly) assumed that the Tiramisu would be sweet enough without that additional sugar. And rum extract in the coffee? We of course went for the real deal - Captain Morgan! Lacking a suitable dish, we made individual Tiramisus in cocktail glasses. Not very traditional, but quite pretty!

We're sorry, but you have to wait until tomorrow to get the answer to the most important question: how did it taste? It's past midnight here (so really I'm posting this late) and we don't really feel like Tiramisu for a midnight snack today. But we promise to update the post tomorrow with the verdict!

In the meanwhile, go visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the other Daring Bakers' creations! Thank you Aparna and Deeba for a really nice challenge!

Yes, yes it was good. Very good. Very very good. As in, great that we still have some left in the fridge. As in, too bad I'm going away to work in an other city this week and have to leave Markus with that bowl all to himself. (Yeah, we made some in a bowl as well, besides the two pretty cocktail glass ones which were mainly to get good photos.)
I was worried that the coffee flavour would have been too much, with coffee both in the cream and for dipping the savoiardi (and I like coffee) but it wasn't, it was very balanced. I'm sure it would have been even better with marsala though, and will definitely get a bottle for next time.
But. I don't know if the pastry cream, with the extra work that entailed, really added that much to the end result. Texture-wise it made the tiramisu fluffier, which is nice, but I'm not sure that it made much difference to the flavour.
Homemade mascarpone and savoiardi was definitely worth it though, and neither of those were difficult to make, so we'll do that in the future, but, I think, with our old tiramisu recipe. It uses raw eggs in the zabaglione which isn't a problem here in Sweden (yay for strict rules and salmonella testing) but which I know can be iffy elsewhere so I understand why a cooked zabaglione recipe was chosen for the challenge.
In sum, this was a great. We learned something. We were challenged. We got a really delicious result. We will do it again (at least parts of it). What more can you ask for? Thanks again Deeba and Aparna!


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar (50 g)
60 ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
55 g sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour (8 g)
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
175 ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
235 ml chilled heavy cream
55 g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
470 ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 tsp rum extract (optional)
110 g sugar
75 g mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (30 g)

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

500 ml whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
75 g granulated sugar
95 g cake flour, sifted (or all purpose flour with 2 tbsp cornstarch)
50 g confectioner's sugar


Preheat your oven to 175°C, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.


Daring Cooks February: Mezze

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
This was a really creative challenge with only two mandatory parts: pita bread and hummus. Then it was up to the Daring Cooks to fill their mezze tables with tabbouleh, falafel, baba ganouj, lebneh, feta cheese, olives and whatever else Middle Eastern finger food they could think of. Fun!

I recently had a fabulous mezze meal at a Lebanese restaurant in Stockholm, and was looking forward to being inspired for the Daring Cooks challenge. But come the day of mezze making, I wasn't in the mood for tons of little dishes (going to the Middle Eastern supermarket and buying their ready-made stuff felt like cheating) and then there was the usual time constraints resulting from the usual procrastination, so I ended up a bit outside the box. But still, I hope, within the spirit of the challenge. My not-so-mezze mezze table ended up consisting of:
  • Tunsian lamb tagine with dried fruit
  • Orange salad with feta cheese and mint
  • Pita bread
  • Hummus
Let's start with the mandatory parts of the challenge, the pita bread and the hummus. The pita bread was easy to make, even if it took quite some time to roll it all out and bake it. It tasted real nice and I'm happy to have a reliable pita bread recipe now. The recipe makes a lot though, we got about 20 (more or less) round breads measuring about 15 cm in diameter. Next time I'll quarter the recipe if making just for the two of us.

I have to admit I took some liberties with the hummus (sorry!). When I worked in the kitchen at Kibbutz Hamaapil in Israel, I made loads of hummus and learned that tahine is not a necessary ingredient. What is necessary, however, is olive oil. So I omitted the tahine, added olive oil and also ended up forgetting the garlic. (Oups.) I served the hummus like we always did at Hamaapil: drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika powder.

The recipe for the Tunisian lamb tagine with dried fruit comes from the lovely book Citrusköket (the Citrus Kitchen) by Caroline Hofberg. I've made a few changes to the original recipe. It's a lovely, warm, spicy and fragrant stew that you can serve with couscous or bulgur, but we just ate it with pita bread and some thick yoghurt.

As a side dish I made a small salad with oranges, feta cheese and mint. These flavors work really well together and the colors are lovely.

Thank you Michele for a fun and creative challenge! Wanna see the other Daring Cooks creations and all of the recipes? Visit the Daring Kitchen where you will find the recipe archive and the blogroll. Our lovely host Michele has posted a lot of great mezze recipes on her website.

Tunisian lamb tagine with dried fruit
(adapted from Citrusköket by Caroline Hofberg)

500 g boneless lamb shoulder
100 g dried apricots
100 g dried figs
3/4 dl almonds, peeled
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 orange
1 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
½ g saffron
2 tsp paprika powder
1 cinnamon stick
1½ tbsp freshly grated ginger
1½ tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
5 dl water
1 tbsp cornstarch (Maizena)
1 tsp harissa
  1. Soak the dried apricots and figs in hot water.
  2. Roast the almonds in a dry pan until they get a little bit of color. Set aside until later. In the same pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds and set aside.
  3. Peel the orange with a potato peeler (you want quite long bits of peel with as little of the bitter white stuff as possible). Juice the orange. Set aside peel and juice.
  4. Chop the onion and garlic finely.
  5. Cut the lamb shoulder into cubes about 3×3 cm. Fry them in some olive oil until they are a nice brown color.
  6. In a large pot, fry the onion and ginger carefully so that it becomes soft but doesn't get any color. Add the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, saffron, paprika, the cinnamon stick and the grated ginger. Fry for about a minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Add the meat and stock, water, orange peel and juice. Boil over low heat for 1–1½ hours.
  8. Drain the apricots and figs, cut them in smaller pieces and add them to the pot. Boil for another 20 minutes.
  9. Remove about ½–1 dl of the liquid from the pot and use it to dissolve the cornstarch. Pour it back, stir well and let the tagine thicken for about 5 minutes. Season with harissa. Add the almonds right before serving.

Orange salad with feta and mint

Cut a couple of oranges into fillets (segments without any white peel). For two, I used two small blood oranges and a larger regular orange. Crumble up some good feta cheese and sprinkle on top of the oranges. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, season with freshly ground black pepper, and, for the final touch, add some fresh mint leaves.

Pita Bread

Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 tsp regular dry yeast (12.1 grams)
2½ cups lukewarm water (591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (497-596 grams)
1 tbsp table salt (15 grams)
2 tbsp olive oil (29 ml)
  1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1½ hours.
  3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
  4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
  5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.


Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (301 grams)
2-2½ lemons, juiced (89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tbsp tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste. You can use sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers etc.

  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.


Paper Chef 49: Prawns meet Peppery Passionate Pinaple

It's Paper Chef time again! I know, we haven't been doing this much lately (feels like forever since last time), but now we're back on track!

This months challenge is brought to us by Cath of ShowFood Chef, and with only a few days 'till Valentine's day it time to get jiggy with it, the ingredients for this month are prawns, fennel, sweet peppers and... passion, smoking hot and with a carte blanche in terms of interpretation!

Now, let's get the boring stuff out of the way so we can focus on the hawt stuff! We're making a prawn burger... it's like a crab-cake-in-a-bun, only with shrimp instead of crab. Well throw in the fennel and bell peppers for seasoning. After two tries, this is the recipe:

Prawn burgers

(makes three large or four smaller)

250 g Shrimp
75 g Fennel
75 g Red bell peppers (for keeping with this month's theme)
15 g Bread crumbs
1 tbsp Rice flour
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

If you're living in Sweden and can come by frozen peeled shrimp practically for free, thaw and pat them dry, if you live somewhere where you get good quality fresh prawns, dice them. Dice the fennel and bell peppers and add it all to a food processor. Give it a few spins, don't over do it (you could probably get away with a knife and hard labor instead). Add the bread crumbs, rice flour and egg and combine thoroughly. I don't think it's a good idea to actually add salt and pepper and then taste the batter, so just add whatever amount seems appropriate to you (that's how I usually do it when it says “to taste”, unless it sits on the stove). Let it rest for a while. Heat a frying pan with some butter (or oil if you are so inclined), shape the batter into patties and fry until golden brown on both sides. This is the tricky bit since they have a tendency to fall apart, but perfectly manageable.

Sandwich between two halves of a bun of your choice (we typically go for some roll rather than ready-made burger buns)... voilà!

In retrospect, some fresh red chili would have added a nice tang to this. I guess third time's a charm, but that will have to wait for another post.

That's the “prawns” bit of the title, now for the Peppery Passionate Pineapple!

This is a real killer salsaish thingy we made for the burgers that really elevate them to new culinary heights. For enough to the above recipe, combine

2 slices Fresh Pineapple, diced
2 Passion fruits, the gooey innards
2 tsp Peruvian Pepper, lightly crushed
1 tbsp White Crema di Balsamico (reduced white balsamic vinegar)
1 tbsp Crude (or Muscovado) Sugar

in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer while frying the burgers.

Mmm, mmm! Makes you want to rip out the spoon and gobble it down to the last gooey slurp! Perfect for that Valentine's Day's atmosphere!


White pizza with blue cheese

White pizza (pizza bianca in Italian) is pizza without tomato sauce. This was a little invention I did some time last year, but didn't get around to blogging about until now. It was made from stuff that needed to be used up - overripe pears, cheese nearing expiration date - and it turned out really delicious. Sweet pears, salty juicy bacon (juicy, a nice euphemism for artery-clogging) and sharp blue cheese topped with fragrant rosemary: a real winner!

No real recipe this time, this one is super easy. You need:
A pear
A few slices of bacon
Some crumbly blue cheese (we have used Swedish Kvibille Ädel as well as British Stilton)
Dried rosemary
Some mozzarella, if you want to

Make and shape your pizza dough. Slice a pear thinly and place the slices on the pizza base. Throw on a couple of strips of bacon. Crumble blue cheese on top and sprinkle with rosemary. If you feel like it, you could make it cheesier by putting some mozzarella on top as well. Bake at 275°C for 8-12 minutes.


Daring Cooks January: Satay

It's a new year, both calender-wise and for us deer eaters: we just celebrated one year of food blogging! The highlight of this blogging year has definitely been the Daring Kitchen challenges. In the past twelve months, we have mastered the art of sushi making (ok, "mastered the art" might be a slight exaggeration if you ask a true Japanese sushi chef, but we're proud of ourselves, so there!); realized that if you find a macaron recipe that works for you, you should stick with it; we have turned disappointments around, ventured into vegan territory, put the pasta machine to use in two challenges, and even done molecular gastronomy à la Grant Achatz and Alinea.
In short: we have learned a lot, we have been challenged, and we have had loads of fun as members of this awesome community of food bloggers from all corners of the planet.

Enough with the retrospective, onwards to this month's challenge:
The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Yay, we love satay! We have made it a couple of times at home but never really found a perfect recipe for the peanut sauce. This challenge was very easy (although you could make it more involved by for example making additional sauces or doing more types of satay using pork, chicken, veggies, tofu etc.). As we did this the very last minute (sounds familiar....?) and were both tired and hungry, we were happy that it was uncomplicated and didn't take much time. I made the marinade in the morning (chucked everything into the food processor - whiiiiiirl, and done!), stuck the chicken in the fridge during the day, and in the evening we had dinner on the table in about 40 minutes, the rice taking the longest to make.

This marinade is a real find, it made the chicken super-tender and super-tasty. It will definitely be put to use during the BBQ season (which feels far far away now - we have lots of snow and temperatures of about 10-15 below Celsius (5-14°F) - shudder!). The peanut sauce was good, but still not the satay sauce we're looking for. I guess the quest continues... It was really easy to make, and quite close to the satay sauce we've had in Malaysia and Indonesia, but there's something missing from all the recipes we have tried. Any ideas?

Thank you Cuppy for a nice challenge! I wouldn't call it challenging, but it was tasty, easy and we will definitely make it again. For the full recipe, go to Cuppy's blog or to the Daring Kitchen recipe archive.

Chicken satay

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger root, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil)
1 tbsp fish sauce (optional, but gives a more authentic Thai flavor)
3 chicken breasts

You could cut the chicken breasts into narrow strips, for skewering and grilling/broiling. We just kept them whole.
Anyhoo, either do the marinade by hand (chop the vegetables really fine) or do the cheater version: dump everything into the food processor and mix until smooth. Place the chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour in the marinade, mush it around a little, seal well and place in the fridge for 2-12 hours.
Get the chicken out of the marinade. Broil or grill at 290°C/550°F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes. We pan fried our chicken, and I didn't bother to wipe of any excess marinade, I just put the chicken into the pan. The marinade did get quite a bit of color quickly, but it wasn't a problem, we just lowered the heat and put a bit of foil over the pan to keep the heat in.

Peanut sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk (180 ml)
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.
All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Serve the satay as an appetizer, side dish or main course. Enjoy!