Monday, December 28, 2009

Harira Stew

When my family and I were in Morocco this past summer, I made it a point to try the national soup, Harira. It's the soup traditionally eaten to break the fast of Ramadan, but it's eaten any time of the year besides. And every local eatery with respect for themself serves it, most likely coming from a pot of ginormous dimensions simmering the whole day through.

I had several versions. With lamb. With chicken. Vegetarian. All excellent. I tried my own hand at it on a cold winter's eve, gleaning elements here and there. The traditional must-have elements are there, but I beefed it up a bit physically, to make it heartier. I stuck with the veggie version though. I imagine this fairly easy dish will be a great hangover cure New Year's Day.

2 onions
half tsp cinnamon
half tsp turmeric
half tsp cumin
half tsp ground ginger
1 can tomatoes
a few pinches of saffron
1 liter broth
1 cup lentils (f.ex Puy)
1 can garbanzo beans
2-3 carrots, cubed
1 or 2 handfuls whole buckwheat
1 tsp freshly crushed pepper ( I used red peppercorns)
salt, to taste
cayenne, to taste, if you'd like it spiced up a bit.
lemon wedges

Gently fry up the onions in oil, adding the spices to fry along.
When the onions and spices are soft and incorporated, add the remaining ingredients, one by one, letting them incorporate. Let simmer until lentils, carrots and buckwheat are soft.
Add, salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
The more it simmers, the more the buckwheat will absorb, so add water accordingly.

Serve with a little fresh squeezed lemon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baked Salad, Better than You Think.

Have I ever mentioned the fact that I get a CSA box thingie at home, from Årstiderne? I have? Well, I'm still getting it, despite the fact that it's pretty predictable, since Autumn and Winter rolled around, and the pickings got slimmer and slimmer. We're pretty much down to turnips, potatoes, kale, white cabbage, jerusalem artichokes if we're lucky....*sob*. It's pretty boring. A few weeks in a row now, they've thrown in some endive, which is fitting, since in Denmark they call it julesalat aka "Christmas salad". It sat there in the fridge for a spell, while I looked at it, scratched my head, and wondered how the hell I was going to get my kids to eat it. As a kid I saw my dad chomp on the stuff raw, but I never saw it consumed any other way.

*Cut to 25 years later, enter Belgium*

Turns out, in Belgium (which you can read about on the innernets), they bake it. With cheese. Sign me up!

The rundown is this:

- Slice your endive lengthwise, remove damaged outer leaves, cut off knobby bit at bottom.
- Steam gently for app. 10 minutes.
- Prepare a small amount of Bechamel sauce, adding a handful of grated parmesan here, and a handful of grated gruyère there, stirring until well incorporated.
- Arrange the steamed endive in am oven-proof dish,
- If you want to get crazy, wrap the endive in slices of ham, parma or serrano would be nice, but the Belgians use thick slices of boiled ham, which just ain't my style. No ham is just as nice though, if you're a veggie.
- Pour the cheesy Bechamel sauce over your endive, and throw some more grated cheese on top.
- Bake on medium/high until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

I swear, my 2 yr. old couldn't get enough! My husband thought baked salad was a bit much, but truly, it was delicious.

Another version to try out is to add slices of chorizo on top, instead of ham, and add cheddar to the sauce, instead of parmesan/gruyère. A little on the Tex-Mexy side, but not bad, not bad at all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Moist, Dense, Perfect Gingerbread

This is another re-post from my family blog. From back in 2007 I think. But still just as fine as it ever will be. I am a busy bee with my last term paper, my innumerous jobs, and taking to the streets on the behalf of our climate.

This cake is...perfect. I remember tweaking it just a tad here and there, as I didn't have the exact sugars called for, but nevertheless, it was...perfect. And popular.

Kille Enna's Gingerbread

300 grams flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
50 grams dark chocolate
250 grams butter
2 dl boiling water
3 tbsp fresh finely grated ginger
200 grams dark muscovado sugar
200 grams molasses cane sugar
4 eggs

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a bowl.
Melt the chocolate in a water bath.
In another bowl, whisk the butter until frothy.
Add hot water, ginger and sugar and whisk well.
Add one egg at a time while whisking.
Fold the chocolate in the mixture, then add the dry ingredients. Whisk well.
Pour into a buttered and floured cake pan (20 cm x 25 cm).
Bake at 170 Celsius for 45-60 minutes.
It's done when a knife comes out clean.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mini German Pancakes

This is a re-post from my real bloggy blog, back in February 2008. It bears repeating!

Picture eaten by Blogger - sorry!

Out of the blue the other day, I suddenly remembered a recipe my mom used to make every so often on Sundays, after church. It was a big, fluffy, eggy pancake that got drowned in lemon juice with a sprinking of powdered sugar. As I've written before, I haven't missed all that much stuff from my years in the States. But lately more and more things keep popping up in mind, and then I can't let it go again until I get it out of my system.

So the other day, I called my mom for this recipe and I've already made it three times since! It's a German Pancake, and there are loads of recipes out there on the net for it. It's originally supposed to be just one big oven baked pancake, but I modified it so some brunch guests could have a couple of mini pancakes each, which was a hit.

This recipe is really easy. To use a poetic Danish term, it's like scratching your ...

Half a cup flour
Half a cup milk
2 eggs
pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter

Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius. Disperse the butter in the holes of a muffin tin, and preheat in oven until butter is melted. While that's happening, whisk the other ingredients together in a bowl until they are JUST incorporated. It's very important not to overwhisk the batter. Disperse on to the melted buttered muffin tin, and bake for roughly 10 minutes. My convection oven is extremely effective, so you may need more. Don't open the oven until it's done, or the pancakes will deflate before they're done.

Serve with lemon slices and powdered sugar, or whatever your heart desires.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Next Best Thing

These are just about as close to being chocolate chip cookies with out actually being chocolate chip cookies. They are but humble meringues. As in, no flour. Ergo no gluten. And these in particular are chock full of nuts and chocolate chunks. Delightful and delicious.

40 grams egg white (one large egg white)
100 grams powdered sugar
100 grams almonds (or hazelnuts) chopped
100 grams dark chocolate chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Brown the chopped nuts lightly in the oven. Mix the egg white and sugar with vanilla and vinegar until it gets peaky. Fold the other ingredients in. Drop with a spoon on baking parchment, and bake for ten minutes at 160 degrees Celsius.

That easy.

I've added the cocoa powder, vanilla and vinegar, otherwise this recipe is taken from a Nikolaj Kirk cookbook. The bigger the chunks of chocolate, the more you will fool yourself into believing that you have a real chocolate chip cookie on your hands.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

French Onion Soup

Oh, now this is real childhood favorite of mine! In the picture you actually see it as I did as a youngster. My parents got these Danish bowls together, and after divorcing, my Dad took a few of him up north to the Chicago area, and when he died, I took them back to their place of origin. I also ate my cheerios from these bowls, broth when I was sick, strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar for an impromptu dessert...these are the bowls of my childhood. And I'm so happy I have them again, even if it does mean my dad is dead. Life is bittersweet like that.

French onion soup on the other hand is warm, delicious, inviting, comforting and cheap to boot. You'll need:

10 yellow onions
few drops Worchester sauce
salt to taste (or few drops Tamari sauce)
broth (beef broth is usually used, I make do with vegetable)
slices of stale bread
grated cheese (gruyère, sharp cheddar etc)

I start off my slicing my onions. Some halve the onions first, slicing thin lunar shapes. Some slice through the whole onion, creating rings. I like halving them, and slicing along the poles. Makes for a chunkier bite of soup I find.

Sauté gently in a bit of butter and oil until they go a bit glassy on you.
Add a few tsp of sugar to caramelize slightly.
Now add a tbsp of flour or so to thicken and brown.

*Now, I have to add here, that if you use a beef broth, you should be fine, colorwise. I prefer not to, opting instead for vegetable broth, but this gives a light colored soup that's otherwise meant to be on the dark side. So at this stage, I add my Worchester sauce and Tamari to get the onions nice and dark before adding my broth.

I add about 1.3 liters or so since that's how much water I can boil in the kettle at once. Let it bubble for a while before tasting it. Add a few pinches of dry or a sprig of fresh thyme at this stage. I like to let mine boil down until it's quite thick with onions.

Now arrange the soup in an oven-proof bowl, lightly set a slice of bread on top, and cover with grated cheese. Grill in the oven until bubbly and brown as you like it. I like mine slightly less brown than most, but it needs a bit of crunch to be just right.

My kids aren't quite hooked on this yet, but I'm planning on breaking them in with this recipe this winter!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chocolate-covered Caramel Crunch

This recipe is well known on the internets. I think this was the guy who started it all. But in these matters, I don't mind being a sheep. It's worth it. The recipe is easy, delicious, and best of all, impressive. If you make it for guests, they'll be flabbergasted that you've mde your own Daim, or Skor as it's called in the US. Just don't let on how easy it was.

You'll need:

enough crackers to line a baking sheet (matzoh crackers make this an appropriate Passover treat)
1 c unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 c packed light brown sugar
big pinch of fleur du sel (optional)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c toasted coarsely chopped almonds

1. Line baking sheet with foil, making sure you have enough to create a tall rim around the pan. Line pan with crackers, breaking up pieces if you have to, to fill in any cracks. Preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat. Stir frequently until the mixture begins to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. If you are using unsalted crackers, add in salt. Pour caramel over crackers and spread evenly with a silicone spatula.

3. Put the baking sheet in the oven, reducing heat to 350° F/190° C. Bake for 15 minutes, watching carefully that the caramel does not burn.

4. Remove from heat and cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes until chocolate melts and then spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and fleur du sel or whatever toppings you desire. Let cool completely and then break into pieces, storing in an airtight container.

I happened to have some pecan-meal on hand which I used in lieu of the almonds, but the variations on this are endless!

Monday, November 9, 2009

More of Them Apples

This dish is an old Danish favorite. It translates to "apple cake", but it's not apple cake like the one most people think of, which I'd more call a "kuchen". This is a concoction consisting more or less of apple sauce, a crispy topping, and whipped cream. Everybody's grandmother has their own recipe.

You'll need:
Bread crumbs

Start with your apples. Peel them, core them, cut them into biggish chunks, so there's still some texture. In a pot, simmer them with just the slightest bit of water, until they go all mushy, but not too liquidy. Add sugar to your liking, a little vanilla is a good thing too.

Now, while those are bubbling gently, and reducing, gently toast some bread crumbs with a little sugar in a pan. You want them to have a golden color, perhaps a dark golden color, but this requires guarding them lest they burn on you.

Whip the cream.

Now, if you're the patient type, I suggest layering your apple sauce and crumbs, and then waiting until they're almost completely cooled before adding the whipped cream to the whole thing.

If you're the impatient type, like some people I know and happen to live with, make individual servings while it's still nice and warm, and then race each other to eat up before the whipped cream melts completely.

*Some people use crumbled up macaroons instead of crumbs. They're sweet by nature, and don't need any toasting.

**Some people also add sherry or a port wine to the crumbs/macaroons. This is always a welcome addition in my family.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Them Apples

We have been on Bornholm for a few days of R&R. The people whose house we live in let us know that we were welcome to partake of their garden's apple booty. So we did.

We had Æbleflæsk (Apple/Pork concoction), Æblekage (dessert made from apple porridge, with sweetened crumbs and whipped cream on top), and washed it all down with Æblemost (apple cider, with no alcohol content) and Æblecider (apple cider with a high alcohol content). We're all appled out.

The Æbleflæsk is a favorite, so I'll start with that. No pictures unfortunately. We ate it up before I could even grab my camera!

- You start by taking slices of pork breast (about 500 gr, at least), with the rind still on, and frying them up in a skillet. It will sputter a lot, so take care. Turn them often. When they are browned and crispy, take them off and lay them on some kitchen towel. There should be some melted fat left in the skillet. Add about a thumb of butter to that, and when that's melted, add slices from 3-4 large apples in the skillet. Fry until they go soft, but still have their shape. Now, serve on thick slices of buttered rye bread, with the slices of pork on top.
Dig in - it is heavenly.

I'll try to make some more Æblekage so I can share the recipe, and pictures with you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Word on Mashed Potatoes

It would hardly be a proper post around here if I didn't mention we get a CSA box from Aarstiderne. We do. And along with all those dang carrots, we get potatoes every week too. Which is great, because we get to eat French fries and mashed potatoes alot, which are always a hit with the young, hip crowd that live here.

Now, have you ever had the feeling that the mashed potatoes you make could double as an adherent for wallpaper? I'm not sure the exact chemical processes that make this so, but I suspect is has to do with how you beat the potatoes, and also how much they are boiled. But here, I have a few tips for bringing the perfect mashed potato to your table.

1) This is a Heston Blumenthal tip, not exactly energy efficient, but it really gives you a perfect mashed potato. Heat potatoes up in a large pot of water. When the water starts to steam, though just before bubbling, drain the water from the potatoes. Yes, drain the water and throw it away. Most of the starches will have left your spuds by now, so add fresh water to the pot and potatoes, a sprinkling of salt, and carry on as you always have.

2) Instead of a whole serving of mashed potato, use half potatoes, and other tubers for the rest. I like using celeriac, parsnip, carrots, jerusalem artichoke, root parsley et. al. They add a different flavor, different nutrients and aren't starchy like potatoes can be.

3) I hand beat mine, with an egg beater, or even a fork sometimes. It gives a nice rustic feel to it, and doesn't beat the starches out of the potatoes and into the dish.

Anyone else have tips?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Many Ways a Perfect Cake

Since last, our carrot supply has actually grown. I keep having to think of creative ways to use them up, and this is harder than you would think! We are just not carrot people, but they are in our CSA nonetheless. I found this oh so yummy carrot/banana cake on the interwebs yesterday, and it was not only quick and easy, it was absolutely delectable, moist, perfect texure and with a cream cheese frosting, and we all love that, n'est-ce pas?

The Perfect, Moist Banana/Carrot Cake

3 medium eggs
175g soft brown sugar
175g plain flour (I used my usual spelt flour w/germ)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175ml sunflower oil (I used coldpressed rapeseed/canola)
175g walnut pieces (I used 90 grams of Texas Pecan Meal)
2 ripe, medium bananas, mashed
175g grated carrot

75g butter, softened
75g cream cheese
150g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chopped walnuts, to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 20cm-diameter cake tin with removable base.
Beat the eggs and the sugar together until thick. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well then add the oil and walnuts, then the banana and carrot.
Pour into the tin. Bake for 1¼ hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover with foil if it begins to brown too much (I didn't do this, and mine was pretty brown, but by no means burnt). Cool on a rack.
For the icing, beat the butter and cheese together, then add the sugar and vanilla. Spread on the cold cake. Finish with walnuts.

As if we could wait that long for the last bit. We ate it still warm with a side dollop of the frosting. Perfect for a night in while dogsitting for friends. We didn't share with our furrry friend though. This recipe is originally for 8 people, but if you're anything like Mik and me, this is a weekend cake for two.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little Indian for a Change

Meet June. She's one of my newest expat friends, just moved to Copenhagen two months ago. She's funny. Go read her blog. Don't walk, run.

June and I sometimes meet up for coffee, with other expats. Like today. And still unsure of her new hometown, I always offer to drive. So to speak.

And after said coffee, we took a little walk around town, before heading back to her place for a chai. What else. Never had chai with fresh ginger before, but I can assure you, that's the only way I can drink it from now on. June also bestowed upon me a package of real Indian curry, with the words, "go home, and throw everything else you have out". Good thing one of my spice jars was recently emptied, and just screaming for new spices.

This gift of spice coincided with the fact that I am drowning in carrots. I get a box of seasonal Danish veggies every week from Aarstiderne. Enough with the carrots! In desperation, I chopped them (all 6lbs of them), boiling them in broth until they could be blended. Now I've had this "carrot base" in the fridge for a few days, alternately serving it as soup, or adding it as a thickener to stir fry.

My repertoire opened up even further today, and I made a lovely Carrot Daal using the eponymous June curry. Quite a success with the youngsters I might add, it was a lovely, mild curry enlightened by the sweetness of the carrots and a touch of coconut milk.

Not much to it really:

5 cups of carrot base (carrots boiled in broth, puréed)
1/2 cup dried green lentils
2 tsp. curry powder
1 small can of coconut milk
salt to taste

Let all the ingredients gently bubble together, until the lentils are tender. At the very end, throw a handful of frozen peas in, for the texture and color. When they're cooked through, serve over rice. Lovely.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Most Decadent Popcorn, Evah!

To combat the Autumn in Denmark, Danes do the "hygge" thing. They make tea, light candles, snuggle and under afghans with a good book, if they don't just go whole hog and bring the duvet into the sofa. That is one of the many variations at least. We do a Blockbuster run, renting 4-5 dvds at a go, splurging on hot cocoa and popcorn (and maybe a mixed bag of sweets after the kids are asleep).

I have slowly learned to elevate popcorn to a new level, beyond the salt, beyond the melted butter. It took me a while to catch on. My first lesson was this one at Everybody Likes Sandwiches. Then, I turned on to truffle oil, and now I can never go back. The truffle oil I use os diluted to begin with, the stuff is potent I tell you!

I fry my popcorn in a big pot, in the old fashioned manner. I use cold pressed virgin coconut oil in the pot, for that genuine cinema popcorn effect. I melt a good 50-60 grams of butter, and when that's melted and taken off the heat, I add just 1-2 tsp. of truffle oil to it. Mix it well with the finished popcorn, adding a good sprinkling of sea salt as you go. Some call for a handful of shredded parmesan to top it all off as well. Divine. And for all the luxury it exudes, it goes down very well with hot cocoa and dvds.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smørrebrød Revisited

People often think of open faced sandwiches when they think of Denmark. The typical variations are pickled herring, liver pâté, slices of smoked sausage or other cold cuts, with a number of various garnishes to top them off. They're usually stacked so high that eating them with knife and fork is required. I'll do that in good company of course, otherwise I have a contest with myself to see what I can shove in my mouth (tsk tsk). This is what I'd call a "Californian" smørrebrød. Very simple, healthy, yummy and elegant. Until you eat it that is.

From bottom to top:
Rye bread
A smear of butter
Sliced tomato
Sliced hard boiled egg
(A thin layer of Hellman's doesn't hurt)
(A sprinkling of curry powder ain't bad either, though I don't know what's Californian about that!)
Sliced avocado
Sprinkling of Maldon sea salt

Eat with knife and fork or alone.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Rainy days have their merits!

There was a lovely picture here of cinnamon buns, but Blogger ate then so you'll have to use your imagination! :)

Anyone in Scandinavia has by now noticed that it's officially Autumn. Grey, rainy, and cold - just how it's supposed to be right? Good excuse to get baking in the kitchen, making warm, yeasty treats like these Norwegian Cinnamon Rolls from Nigella. I woke up this weekend to such a dreary day, and had had a bad dream to boot. Not a great combo. Cooking up comfort food like these babies soothes the soul though. They're not so sticky that you can't eat them with your fingers, and they're not so dry that you have to eat them with a cup of tea. They're quite good at any time of the day. Enjoy.

For the dough
600 gr. flour
100 gr. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50 gr. fresh yeast (or 3 packages dry)
100 gr butter
4 dl milk
2 eggs

Heat oven to 230 C. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Melt the butter, whisk it with the milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth and firm. Let rise in an oiled bowl for 25 minutes.

Roll a third of the dough out to fit the bottom of a large pan (35x25 cm, circa), lined with paper. Roll out the rest of the dough into a large rectangle, app. 50x25 cm. Now, mix the following ingredients well (I do it with my fingers) and smear it out on the rolled out dough:

150 gr. room temperature butter
150 gr. sugar
1 1/2 cinnamon

Roll the dough from the one long side to the other, until you have a long roll. Cut it into 20 pieces, laying them cut side up/down on the dough bottom in the pan. Beat an egg, and brush it on to your raw cinnamon rolls. Let rise for another 15 minutes, until big and fluffy.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check the middle ones to see that they're baked through. Let them cool a bit before tearing into it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday Night is Pizza Night

I promised several people, eons ago, to give them my pizza recipe, but somehow never got around to it. So here is my recipe for the dish we eat most often at our place. It is THE meal to have on a Friday night, but also what I throw together if I have to feed more than four adults at short notice (since making two is hardly any more taxing than making one). I always have these ingredients on hand: Canned artichokes, bell peppers, shredded mozzarella, frozen spinach, tinned tomatoes, which makes this an easy dish to put together. The secret is in the preparation of the dough.

To make the dough mix these dry ingredients in a bowl:
250 grams of flour (sometimes I use tipo 00, sometimes I use spelt. Anything goes.)
3 tsp fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

1.5 deciliters warm water
dollop olive oil

- Mix well, before kneading gently with a sprinkling of corn flour on the table. Let rise for an hour in an oiled bowl.
- When the dough has risen, I dump it on a big piece of baking paper, and working from the middle and out, use my fingers to spread it out until it's roughly the size of the baking sheet. May take a little practice, so just use your roller if you need it.
- Then, dump one can of chopped tomatoes on the raw dough, smooth it out with a spatula and sprinkle salt on top.
- Bake for about 20 minutes in a very hot oven (about 250 Celsius).
- When the tomato has a thickened appearance, and the crust sounds a little bit hollow, take it out of the oven and add your additional ingredients.

I use:
- sliced onion
- chopped, canned artichokes
- sliced bell peppers
- thawed frozen spinach, fried in a little oil, with garlic
- sliced black olives
- shredded mozzarella
- occasionally, I finely slice chorizo sausage as pepperoni.

This is all negotiable though, the main point of this pizza being that you prebake the dough with the canned tomatoes. After that - it's a free for all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Big-A** Fluffy Pancakes

Hardly a weekend goes by in this family without an appearance of these babies. The original recipe is Nigella. I have taken the most fattening element away (melted butter in the batter) and replaced the run of the mill flour with whole grain spelt flour (including the germ). They are still excellent. I dare say a cup of thawed frozen blueberries would be an excellent variation!

225 grams flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 deciliters milk
2 eggs.

Mix the first four (dry) ingredients together in one bowl. Then thoroughly mix the egg and milk together before adding to the dry ingredients. I use a medium heat teflon frying pan for this, no oil or butter, just dry. Pour your batter into appropriated sized splotches and wait until they are bubbly to flip. They'll need a little less time on the other side. Enjoy however you like. My fav is with blueberry maple syrup (NOT Aunt Jemima) and fresh cut up fruit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dogmatic Autumn Lasagne

Yesterday, our Teutonic friends and their whippet came by for dinner. I had just received my local veggie box from Aarstiderne and had loads of good stuff to use. I made the perfect autumnal lasagne using the most seasonal ingredients available. All that was left was one piece!

Again, I'm not that adept at writing my own recipes yet, so I'll just describe what went into the different layers. Og course, the lasagne sheets start at the very bottom, and then between all the layers. I used full grain.

- Bottom layer - steamed hokaido pumpkin, cut into small chunks. A few spoonfuls of tinned tomatoes on top of those, and a sprinkling of salt.
- Next to bottom layer - Sliced zucchini, onion, and chopped celery stalks, fried gently with oil and fennel seeds. Then, half a seleriac, grated, topped off with a generous helping of bechemel sauce.
- Next to top layer - a HUGE bag of kale, de-veined and chopped, fried in oil with sliced garlic until wilted. Mixed with a few spoonfuls of 10% Greek yogurt and salt.
- Top layer - Four large carrots, grated, and then topped with a generous portion of tinned tomatoes, a smattering of salt and fresh, hand shredded mozzarella.

Bake in the oven at 200 Celsius for 45-60 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through, and the dish has bubbled for a little bit.

This was a great way to use all those seasonal veggies in a non-traditional way. I will definitely make this (or something very similar) again!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fish Tacos

Blogger ate the photos, d'oh!

Fish tacos were all the internet rage a few months back, though I'd never had them myself, and I needed to see if they lived up to the hype. Although they're not the dish I'd pick to have on my birthday or anything, they really have their merits. They feel light, and healthy, and will fill you up nonetheless. Bonus is that my kids will eat anything wrapped in a tortilla!

In lieu of a real recipe, I'll just tell you how I made what you see in the photos.

- I cut a fresh, white (firm meat) fish into bite sized chunks and dredged them in a mix of flour, salt, pepper and chili. I fried them lightly until golden brown.

- I shredded about half of a head of cabbage, blanched it quickly under boiling water though keeping its "bite" intact. Added a few large, shredded carrots to the mix. Then tossed it all up with a runny mixture of mayonnaise and a little vinegar.

- I heated corn tortillas in a stack in the oven (keeps them from getting all crispy and crumbly) and filled them with the fish and cabbage/carrot mix. Add a few spoonfuls of pineapple salsa (or whatever you have) and you're all set.

The bite of the cabbage teamed with the texture of the corn tortilla is quite satisfying, not to mention the crunchiness of the fish. Worth bringing into your repertoire, though I'd encourage anyone to try out the different variations out there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fig and Goat Cheese Clafoutis

This yummy tidbit comes from Traveler's Lunchbox. It's a recipe I've tried four or five times, and it's always a hit. Made it just yesterday (again) in honor of my mother, who's visiting from Texas, and who ate this for breakfast, dessert or a little snack whenever she felt like it! Don't let the goat cheese put you off, it's a light and fluffy chèvre you need for this, and it's not invasive in the dessert context at all.

Fig and Goat Cheese Clafoutis

Serves: 6
Notes: Equal parts custard, cheesecake and pancake, this clafoutis is not terribly traditional, but it is really good. Serve it in generous wedges, lukewarm or at room temperature, with something fresh and tangy as counterpoint.

5 oz (150g) mild goat cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (110g) sugar, plus extra for dipping figs
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1 lb (500g) figs, any variety

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Put the goat cheese and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Whisk in the honey and cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them too. Whisk in the flour just until no lumps remain. At this point the batter can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours (and indeed, some people say it improves with age).

Halve the figs lengthwise. Grease a shallow baking dish or cast-iron skillet (approx 10in/25cm diameter) with butter and pour in the batter. Pour some sugar into a shallow bowl and dip the figs, cut-side down, into the sugar. Arrange them, cut-side up, in the batter.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes (this will depend on how large your baking dish is). Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.