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.