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.