Sunday, October 31, 2004

IMBB? # 10: Cookie Swap

Scheduled for the 21st. of November, and I'm totally into this months edition of IMBB? - a cookie swap! YAY! Hosted by the sweetest of the sweet tooths among us, Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess - everything you'll need to know about this round of IMBB? is on her site (no need for me to type it all up again, is there? Me and my lazy butt...)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Lady of the Bagel: A quest begins

I need to bring lunch to school almost on an everyday basis. While I'm a big fan of a nice salad, I'm very much a bread person as well - no Atkins for me here! I just cannot fathom that anyone would like to live without a daily dose of wheat!

Anyways - I figured out that one of the breads that could be somewhat easily made, and not go too stale on me - and a type of bread I really like as well - drumroll please: a bagel! So I'm trying out a couple of different recipes at the moment - will hopefully get the ring-making technique down during the quest - no comments on the half split bagel there!;-)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Spinach and Anchovy Tart from The Art of the Tart

I had to go ahead and try one of the recipes in my newly acquired books - why else buy them?? This one I had my eye on already when ordering the book - it was mentioned in one of the reviews at Amazon and I couldn't stop thinking about what it might be like.

I am a big fan of anchovies - that is, I do NOT like eating them on their own, but I really enjoy them in a home made Caesar salad dressing and the likes. For a while I've been trying to convince myself that there's no reason I don't like tarts. Hence, the purchase of The Art of The Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis. The book is small, but BURSTING with recipes - both savory and sweet - and I really think it's gonna get me places in the tart-enjoying department. This had exactly that salty-savory taste that I love in the anchovies, but without the fishy-fishy bad part. It was even nice the next day!

And here you go:
Spinach and Anchovy Tart
Shortcrust pastry:
120 g. white flour
60 g. cold, unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoon best olive oil

For the tart:
30 g. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
325 g. organic baby spinach
black pepper
200 ml. double cream
1 egg and 2 egg yolks
12 anchovy fillets.

Make shortcrust pastry by blitzing together the flour and butter in a food processor, adding olive oil to make the dough come together. Chill, then roll out and line a 22 cm. tart tin.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes, then remove the beans, prick the base with a fork, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

While the pastry is in the oven, heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed enamel sauce-pan, add the spinach and pepper, and stir briefly until the spinach has wilted but not lost it's shape, about a couple of minutes.

Whisk the cream, egg and yolks together, then pour in any liquid from the spinach pan. Tip the spinach and anchovies into a food processor and process a briefly as you dare, to keep their texture and so as to not reduce them to a slushy purée. Throw them into the bowl with the cream and eggs and stir with a fork, then pour the whole lot into the pastry case and cook for about 25 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then serve with something plain, like a cherry tomato salad and good, white country bread and butter.

- from The Art of The Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis, p. 45.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cookbook AMUCK anyone?

I swear, someone stole my credit card and went on a SEROIUS shopping spree on amazon. Luckily, everything was sent to me. Because it really couldn't have been me. No. NO! It couldn't! Aren't you listening?!? I'm way more sensible than that. I would never, ever spend that much money on cookbooks. Well, definetly not more than twice a year. Okay, maybe three times then. But...

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I got 6 - SIX - new cookbooks waiting for me to get around to them! How's about it?!? MUAHAHAHA!

They are:
Jamie's Dinners
Nigella Lawson's Feast
American Boulangerie
Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis
Charlie Trotter's Seafood
Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody


Petite Critters!

There's something I have to admit. There's one thing other than biochemistry drawing my attention away from my blog at the moment. It's these guys:

They are soo cute, my little guinea pigs!!:-) They're actually my younger sister's, but she doesn't give a royal f*** about them, so I've borrowed them for a couple of weeks. They're named Tim & Bum, from the Danish translation of Cinderella - the mice that makes her dress, remember?

I've never actually had a pet before, so that probably accounts for me being so overly excited - I have to admit I kinda am! Even though my boyfriend find them a bit boring: "but they don't do anything but hang around in their cage Honey!?" I don't care. They're cute and they're cuddly - all you could want - but of course, so is he!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

IMBB? #9: Layers and Layers! Foie Gras Terrine Burger

Time is a no-go area for me at the moment. It's just not available somehow. Don't know why, but it's a fact. Still, I can't bear the idea of not being in on this IMBB?, as already mentioned, hosted by Derrick of An Obsession with Food. Afterall, IMBB? was one of the main reasons I joined in on the blogging thing. So I'm doing a cheats version this time round - I actually made this dish about a year ago for a dinner I did for my Dad and stepmom's bridge club and on looking through my folder of digital photos, this sprang out - and you know, it may not be a layered terrine, but it's a terrine and I layered it Big Mac stylie, so I thought I could convince myself that it fit the theme of Terrine: Layers and Layers! in a decent way!

The components are actually very classic, I just put them together in a not so classical manner. The foie gras terrine I got from a Danish cookbook called Svinkløv Badehotel. The bread part is a brioche from a Danish food magazine and then I did sweet pickled yellow tomatoes and a tomato marmalade for garnish - and as you can tell from the picture, it was served with lamb's lettuce as well.

So I'm gonna cheat even more and just give you links to a foie gras recipe and a brioche recipe - not tried and tested by me - again, apologies for my laziness, but biochemistry is screaming at me! As for the tomato marmalade, I'll be a good girl and give you that - it's an adaptation of a tomato and chili jam from Peter Gordon's The Sugar Club Cookbook:

500 g. very ripe tomatoes, washed
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
300 g. golden caster sugar (I actually used half muscovado)
50 ml. red wine vinegar
50 ml. sherry vinegar

Blend half the tomatoes and the garlic to a fine purée in a blender. Don't strain this, as the seeds provide the pectin that will make the jam set (which mine didn't do exactly, but still) Put the purée, sugar and vinegars in a deep pot and bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time. When it reaches boiling point, turn to a gentle simmer and add the remaining tomatoes, which you have cut into 5 mm dice, seeds, skin and all. Skim off foam and cook gently for 30-40 minutes , stirring every 5 minutes to release the solids that settle on the bottom. Also, be sure to scrape the sides of the pot during cooking, so everything cooks evenly.
When it's done, pour into warmed glass jars and allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge or a cold larder for later use.

Mine actually got a little on the too sweet side (Does a thing like that even exist??) so feel free to juggle it around!

For the pickled tomatoes:

500 g. tomatoes (I used small yellow ones)
1/4 dl sugar
1 dl vinegar (I used half elderflower vinegar and half plain white vinegar)
1 dl water
1 vanilla bean

Put everything but the tomatoes in a pot and bring to the boil. Pierce the tomatoes with a cake taster or something of the like, then add to the "syrup" and boil for 3-5 minutes. Store in a glass jar.

(And please, please, if you feel like trying any of this and found this too hastily blogged and you're full of questions - comment me, and I'll try and answer as soon as possible!)

Now lemme see yours - I actually found this theme a bit hard on the imagination and research front! But I'm still in on the next one!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Carrot Birthday Cake

My sister turned 33 - well, actually, she did in August, she just haven't had the time to gather up the entire family and share her birthday until now! Seeing that I LOVE to bake (you'd never have guessed, would you?) I offered to do her a birthday cake. Actually, that's a lie - she already decided she wanted a carrot cake, I just offered to bake it!

I'm a big fan of carrot cake - even more, I'm a big fan of the cream cheese topping! Naturally, there has to be lots and lots of it, and preferably all over! With the birthday and everything, what would be more appropriate than doing it layer-cake style?

The recipe I use is from The Little Red Barn Baking Book. I bought this book when I lived in London and practically baked my way through it - not quite, but I sure have tried a lot of the recipes and they have never failed. It makes a very light and lovely cake, despite the cream cheese...

For the cake:
250 g. plain flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
345 g. caster sugar
280 ml. sunflower oil
300 g. grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)

For the Cream cheese frosting:
200 g. cream cheese
100 g. butter
Icing /confectioners' sugar to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Butter and flour two 23 cm. round, deep cake pans.

Sift the first five ingredients for the cake into a large bowl. In a different bowl, beat the eggs at high speed. Add the sugar and continue whisking until you have a nice pale and fluffy mixture. Add the oil in a steady stream, as if you were making mayonnaise, beating until the mixture holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface. Fold in the carrots, using a metal spoon, then the flour. Don't overmix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before covering with cream cheese frosting - I layered them, and put cream cheese frosting between the layers and on top. The frosting is made by simply beating together the COMPLETELY softened butter and cream cheese and adding sifted icing sugar to taste (I like mine rather toothachingly sweet, hence the not so precise measure for the amount) This amount may not be quite enough to cover the sides of the cake as well, but it's fairly easy to adjust the amounts...

And if there's some left, it actually improves on fridge-keeping...

I'm a poor excuse for a cake decorator - but I'm a d*** good baker!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

SHF:ISTBE # 2: Apples!

This has become a noticeboard I think... Eventually, I'll have to post the things that I'm making for the events I'm announcing, don't I?

This time around, for Friday the 12th. of November, gorge yourself on apples all around the world! Check out Jennifer's page for further info...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Who stole my time?!

I know, I'm sorry - I'm the most boring blogger of them all right know... School is all over me, but I promise, I promise I'll try and do some REAL posting soon... Uh, that would imply cooking - or baking.... Yumm...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

WBW # 3: A trip down under: Australian Shiraz

Things are moving fast in the blooging community - at least fast for me, but I guess my school has started taking up more time! Seattle Bon Vivant is the host this time - check out the terms and conditions and do join!

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

WWWBW # 2: Spanish Reds

On to yet another endeavor in the world wide events - drinks some wine and drink it well! Lenn of Lenndevours spun the IMBB? and invented World Wide Wine Blogging Wednesday - he himself held first edition, and this, the second edition, is held by Alder at Vinography with a theme of Spanish Reds!

I'm usually a white wine drinker - I think I started out drinking red wine, then turned to white - and never really got back- I know it's usually the other way around, but this is how it went for me. Maybe I've just been spoiled with the really nice whites we have at work? But you have to grab the bull by it's horns...

Boyfriend recently closed down his restaurant, bringing home about 70 bottles of wine (where DO you put that in a three room apartment??!! Oh yeah, down your throat!) so we went hunting in the bottle forrest on our living room floor. There was a couple of bottles of Spanish descendants, and we settled for this one: Casa de la Ermita 2000 from Jumilla in Spain. To get the facts straight, Boyfriend seems to remember the price to be somewhere around the equivalent of $10-$12. It's a blend of tempranillo, monastrell and cabernet sauvignon and has been lying on oak for 10 months. Oh, and Jumilla is here - inland from Alicante, near Murcia.

The first bottle we opened was - okay let's just say it tasted like port! It must have gotten air or something, the color was very dark, and the smell..- well, like port. Luckily, there was another bottle of the same kind - that was more like it! Color still very dark, but the nose not at all port-y! Blackberries and vanilla, smack in your face - a bit smoky, too. The taste was rather nice as well, though there were plenty of tannins - if tannins is that feeling of your mouth drying out from the sides and inwards? Vanilla and blackberries again, even slight hint of pepper.

I found this - Heh, which actually corresponds pretty well to what I found! Their own homepage has this to say - I'll hate to disagree!

Although I found it heavy and full-bodied - definitely one that would go best with hearty dishes - I liked it. Not a summer wine, but in front of the fireplace with something cooked from a pot in the fire, it would work a treat!

I'm still learning here... The idea of teaching myself this, with the help of the blogging world does appeal to me, so I'm definitely in on the next one as well. Now, gotta go to work and drink some white wine this time ;-)

Saturday, October 2, 2004

IMBB? # 9: Layers and layers!

The word is out - the next IMBB?-event, this time hosted by Derrick at An Obsession with Food will have Layers and layers - or just plain terrine - as the theme, and will be held on October 24th. Come join the fun!

If you're stuck for ideas, Derrick posted a small teaser - I'm thinking: Sweet? Savoury? Sweet?... -Ooh the possibilities! No matter what, I'm definetly there!

Friday, October 1, 2004

SHF:ISTBE # 1: White Chocolate - White Chocolate Soufflées

The natural progression of the IMBB?-events for those among us with a sweet tooth had to come - Sugar High Fridays! I mean, how could we not? Cleverly thought by Jennifer, who also judged that white chocolate had to be our starting off point.

I'm a big fan of these events. It makes me look at my cookbooks - and food and cooking in general - with all new eyes, simply because I have something in mind, an ingredient or a subject, to which I have to succumb. I don't think that's a bad idea - it is somewhat of a restriction, but not necessarily one that's bad. It's a challenge, and boy, do I like a challenge, especially when it's in the kitchen!

The one thing that troubles me about IMBB/SHF/WWWBW and the likes is the demand on being creative - which I guess is not actually true, 'cause noone demands you to go out of your way to satisfy them - you only have to satisfy yourself. But I, for one, would really like what I come up with to be groundbreakingly fresh, new and innovative - or, at least, something that noone else has thought of!

But, alas - I'm not Adrian Ferran (El Bulli -and try reading this! Fantastic blog about Louisa's adventure there) I'm a homey, comfy person, and still very dependent on my cookbooks. I like to eat stuff that I can actually tell what was from the beginning - well, at least when I'm in my own home. I'd love to try the restaurant though... But I realized, that cooking - and eating for that matter - is about what you want, what you feel like, your desires! And, to some extent, what's in your cookbooks or your head!

So all the images of creative/starstruck/WILD stuff was pushed aside, and then ideas started rolling in: Blondies. White chocolate rum custard - to go with a cake of course. Cookies. White chocolate mousse. Bavaroise. And I settled for this one because - 1) I've never done a souffle, hence it fit the "challenge"-bit nicely. 2) They sound nice! 3) It's getting colder here - wind, rain, ugh! - I need something from the oven! And so I present:

White Chocolate Soufflées - from Morten Heiberg: Dessertcirkus
Makes 6-8

225 g. white chocolate, finely chopped (I used Valrhona, but any nice brand will do of course)
100 g. unsalted butter
100 g. egg yolk (about 5)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons almond flour
3½ tablespoon flour
160 g. egg whites (about 5)
Optional - Zest of 1 organic orange
Cold butter and sugar for greasing the ramekins
Blackberry compote for serving

Grease the ramekins and coat them with sugar.

In a bain marie or the microwave, melt the white chocolate with the butter, taking care not to scorch it. Take of the heat. Stir in the egg yolks - at this point it will look like everything has split and will never amalgamate - it will, just keep stirring gently until a shiny concoction reveals itself.
In a different bowl - maybe in your Kitchen Aid if your lucky enough to possess one of these wonderful creatures! - whip the egg whites with the confectioners' sugar till stiff. Gently fold the egg whites in with the chocolate, together with the flour, almond flour and zest, if using. Fill the ramekins till about 1 cm. from the edge. At this point you can choose to either freeze the soufflées for 18 hours (or more, I guess?) or bake them straight away - I chose the latter!

My brave little soldiers...

Can you stand the HEAT!?

- oh yes we can....

So you've proved yourselves...

And we shall eat you!

Not bad, not bad at all! In fact, my stepmom declared it to be one of the nicest desserts she's ever had - she'd not into stuff that's too sweet, but this fit her rightly. The white chocolate taste wasn't smack-in-your-face, just nice and subtle, and it worked really well with the blackberry compote. I also really liked the fact that the recipe wasn't too intimidating, considering it was soufflées.

YAY! Great first SHF:ISTBE event! What did YOU do?? and what's up next? ;o)