Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Christmas present for someone...



In real life, I'm not at all well-planned with regards to Christmas presents. I usually buy my last Christmas presents on the 23rd - and the first somewhere around the 22nd. But this one was going places, so I had to get it done early. And today, I send it out into the world... Well, you know, I didn't just put it in the mail box, it does have a reciever in the other end - but it's actually a woman I have never met. That is, I sorta met her, I know her from - yes you've guessed it - the internet! My friends at Nigella's Kitchen organized a Christmas Gift Exchange in which I participated. The people at Nigella's are from all over the world, so I'm really looking forward to see where my present will be coming from...

And I just wanted you all to take a minute and think about all the nice people out there, that, if it weren't for this weird, virtual space, you would have never gotten to know. Gotten to know might not be the right words, but I think you know what I mean - I'm pretty sure my life is richer, and I'm wiser from it and you. Yes, I AM a big sap now, and yes, you do take up WAAAY too much of my time - but boy, I do enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Banana CHOCOLATE muffins



So I was contemplating making yet another recipe from Baking by Flavor (WOULD YOU BUY THE BOOK ALREADY ANGELA??!!? Heh ;-)!) because I love how Lisa Yockelson accents her chosen ingredient with spices - and take a look at the theme for this edition of Sugar High Friday - and I kinda had to keep in spirit.

But. When a man wants chocolate, he's gotta have chocolate. Luckily, Yockelsen has been so kind as to provide variations with almost ALL of her recipes, including in the one for these, the aptly named Texas-size Banana Muffins! (Is everything bigger in Texas than in America in general?) Usually, the spices used would have been nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cardamom and I REALLY want to try that variation - but this time around, my man demanded chocolate, and chocolate it was.

Now, I fiddled around with this recipe quite a bit - it called for coconut and walnuts, of which none of us are big fans, and then of course all of the spices, that were to be left out and substituted with chocolate, as instructed in the variation-bit. Anyway, I thought I tossed it around so much, that I feel it's okay to give you "my" run of it:

Banana Chocolate Muffins
4½ cups unsifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cup plus 2 tablespoons mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup thick, cultured sour cream
2 cups chocolate chips/chopped chocolates

Makes for 10 HUGE muffins - so you need 10 HUGE muffin cups, buttered and floured.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda and the cream of tartar.

In the bowl of your freestanding mixer (or get out that wooden spoon and beat like h*** and think of the nice biceps you'll get!) cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute - add the light brown sugar and beat for another. Add the eggs, one by one, beating for about 30 sec. after each. Blend in the vanilla extract and the bananas.
Alternately, add the sifted dry ingredients and the sour cream - dry ingredients in three additions, sour cream in two. Blend in the chocolate.
Divide between your muffin cups

- I truly don't know what it is, I just like those little armies...

- and bake in an oven preheated to 375F /180C for about 25 minutes. Cool in the cups for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long!), then remove form their cups and serve at room temperature (or scolding hot if so preferred!) Can you tell mine barely came out of the oven before I dug in?

I have to say, this is a surprisingly light and fluffy muffin, with a nice hint of banana. I really wanna try the original recipe - I like my chocolate, but I tried the blueberry muffins in the book and they were FABULOUS! with just that extra blueberries because of the spices...

Yet again, I must succumb: I love this book. Apart from the cookie-semi-disaster - which, in truth, was my own fault, not using the right ingredients - and I might add, the taste was a ok! - it's really lovely and very instructive. What I might miss is PICTURES! Then again, it does do a great job of explaining how everything should end up with little paragraphs on "batter observation" and introductions to every single recipe. And, erm - if you really WANT the pictures you could always check and see if I've done it and taken photographs - chances are I might have...

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sugar High Friday #3: Spice Up Your Winter!



Yup, you got it! As I could ecstatically announce a couple of days ago, Jennifer let me host this months installment of the fabulous IMBB?-spin off, Sugar High Friday!

Sugar High Friday is, as the name might imply, a day were the sweet-toothed bloggers among us join forces and blog about - well, something sweet we've done, all centered around one theme - this time, the theme will be: SPICES!

Now, I'm not gonna let you just run amuck in the spice-jungle out there - so here's the catch:

The spice you use, should be one of the three: nutmeg - cardamom - allspice. Why these three? I had to choose, didn't I? The three here very much encapsulates winter for me - warmth, fragrant - ah, delish! And, um - vanilla would just be too easy! (although it might be a suggestion for a SHF in it's own right!)

But, but, but... Hey! Okay, you want suggestions? You want tips? You NEED information - 'kay then:

Nutmeg: that little knobbly nut wrapped in it's delicate lingerie of another spice, mace. You either grate it yourself (making sure to take some skin of your knuckles, too!) or buy it ready ground. Myristica fragrans is the Latin name, and it started out growing in the Molucca Islands, but is now found throughout Indonesia and in Grenada, with Grenada ones being of choice, regarding Penzeys. Goes really great with eggs, custard, milk, raisins, pumpkins, blueberries...

Cardamom: Isn't that just the funniest little pod? Until recently, I never thought that the ground stuff is actually the hard labor of someone taking out the little black seed of the pod, then grinding it up - but it is! Okay, maybe not hard labor - it is a bit fiddly doing it, but definitely worth it in my opinion! Oh a slightly doughy, cardamom-fragrant bun, and what would a chai be without it? Comes in black, green and a white? (I never heard of that one before!) variety - I usually go for green, because that's what's easy to come by here... Put a pod in your coffee - infuse the cream for a custard or ice cream with it - pair it with almonds, or marry it off with cinnamon, allspice and cloves - but be aware of it's strong and sometimes very perfumey scent...

Allspice: Pimenta dioica, and is - as the name might reveal - a spice that has a little bit of everything to it. Growing in South America and the West Indies, it's a small, hard berry you'd use to enhance the flavor of carrots, apples, poppy seeds and the spices it's usually referred to work as a blend of: cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. You might say it's one of the more savory spices - but as a part of almost any cake spice mix, I say what would a Spice Cake or Apple Pie be without a pinch of it?

Alright. Terms and conditions. You make some kind of dessert/cake/sweet thing/whatever takes your fancy, but it must contain one of the chosen spices - or all of them, if you're that eager! You blog about it on Friday the 10th. of December 2004 - and e-mail me a link to your entry (zarahjordahn@hotmail.com) Or, in case you don't have a blog, but would really like to join - you send me an e-mail with the entry and pictures if you want, and I'll post it here on my blog. Then you wait. And you go just a teeny-tiney bit impatient, 'cause we all know that as soon as you've posted your own entry you just wanna see everyone else's! Then, when you're just about to send me angry e-mails, I'll post a round-up of all the entries here! Now if that's not pretty easy, I don't know what is! Come join the fun!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

IMBB? # 10: Cookie Swap



Oh the joy of a cookie! Is there anything as good as sinking your teeth into that slightly crunchy, buttery disc of goodies, or dunking that biscotti in that mug of latte? Exactly the reason why I was bouncing with joy when Jennifer, our Domestic Goddess, announced this months IMBB? theme of a Cookie Swap! And then I went and nearly forgot...

I had this very cute idea of doing a traditional Scandinavian cookie - or by it's proper name, småkage - my sister always used to make us when we were younger, called Finskbrød - it's a crunchy, cocoa-y thing with lots of big granules of sugar sprinkled on top - I LOVE it, but can't remember when the last time was I had it! And then, all of a sudden, Sunday was here, and I found myself without that special sugar for the sprinkling - and well, I'm sorry for being a nit-pick here, but that sugar is just the ESSENCE of that cookie, so I couldn't bring myself to do it without it!

Again, I turned to Baking by Flavor - and found out I've never tried a cookie from it, oh the shame! I fell for a Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookie one, which I - coincidentally - had everything for in the house - or at least, for making half a portion!

Well, now I suppose you're looking for the recipe. And I will post it, if I make it again, and it goes well. This time around, it just wasn't that... good. Probably my own fault, seeing I halved the recipe, which never really works for me - why is that? You can easily double a recipe and it works fine - but halve it and your in deep. Then there's the thing about the butterscotch. I'm not sure what I used was actually butterscotch because... well, I'm not at all sure I know what butterscotch is! I'm sure you'll enlighten me? But from the description in the cookbook it sounded like the fudgy thing I used... Does this look right?


At one point, it did look good:


Anyway, it sorta ran away from me, as you can tell...


Boyfriend did eat 'em (And they didn't even have chocolate in them!). But they will NEVER EVER beat the chocolate chip to-die for cookie we usually make...

But um.. Wanna swap? I'll make some new (and other!) ones!;-) Stepmom and I will be doing the traditionel Danish småkage extravaganza in a couple of weeks - that oughta get me some nice recipes and pictures to blog about...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

On your screens...



WEEEE-HEEEEEEEEEEEH! No, that wasn't a cowboy, that was me, being really excited because I've been asked (LIE! I begged!) to host the next edition of Sugar High Fridays! The installment will be held at 10th. of December and the theme... wait a minute, the theme?! I have to find a theme too??! Oh! I'll let you know during the weekend...

For those of you unfamiliar with IMBB?'s, SHF, WBW, DMBLGiT and that sort (tell me WHERE have you been??), go to this place and learn ALL there is to know and then some!

Don't go away, we'll be right back after these messages...

Friday, November 12, 2004

SHF: ISTBE # 2: Apples!



Mmmm, yummy, it's here again - Sugar High Fridays, the International Sweet Tooth Extravaganza! Hosted - again (Oh we're a bad bunch, not taking any of the summing-up responsibility - I will do soon, I promise!) - by it's inventor/spin doctor Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, with a theme of apples galore!

Everyone's been doing apple this and apple that and I even recently bought myself an entire BOOK of apples - not just recipes, but also about growing and caring for apple trees - that will be the day, but I figured I'd better start preparing! This is my book:

There's a really yummy-looking recipe for an apple-spice mix in it that I'll have to try soon...

Okay so I KNOW this is a really, really bad picture of a picture in a book - of a picture (not anywhere near a scanner, sorry) - but you HAD to see this - the "painting" is made out of APPLES, put on a nail and arranged to look like flowers! That is just SO cool, I had to share!

But OH! I must admit that somehow time caught up with me (as you might now it does a lot at the moment!) and I found myself with a very limited amount of time - how embarrasing! That's why I ended up doing something that I actually think turned out very well, and that I'm sure I'll do for an easy pudding for the girls one night during winter...

I was inspired by one of the recipes in my book - Baked Apples. Now this one calls for a lot of hoo-ha, but i just cut open my apples (coxes they were), cored them and stuffed them with a mixture of almonds, marzipan, small raisins (korender in Danish) some light brown muscovado sugar and a bit of lemon zest, dapped some butter on top - et voilá!



Half an hour later, out of the oven:



And then...


I have to say, they would have been AWESOME with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or some cold, cold custard - but cold creme fraiche did very well too!

So on to all your adventures out there...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Chocolate Velvet Honey Cake



I can't believe this!
Already it's one week since I last posted - believe me, it's not because I'm not cooking - okay I'm not cooking that much - it's just... Oh okay, so it's just because!

Anyway, last Saturday I did NOTHING but cook - me and my boyfriend managed to pull out a four course dinner for my Dad and his bridge club - this cake was part of it - a Chocolate Velvet Honey Cake - I'll get back to you with the rest!

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Look Ma, no meat!



I love me a good burger. But being a semi-vegetarian makes that a not-so-often enjoyed thing - I don't know why, but it seems like the cafées in Denmark is not really willing to admit that vegetarians exist! They will do you a lot of veggie- or fish stuffed sandwiches and salads, but a decent burger, cheese, ketchup, mustard and all - no. It's just not happening. So I decided to take matters into my own hands...

The Parmesan Patties I found in a lovely book on vegetarian fare by Celia Brooks Brown, New Vegetarian - they we're SOOOOO good! Cook them 'till really crisp - Hubby actually rather wanted mine than his own meat-one! He! Btw., the book is one of my all time favorites... Check it out!

Parmesan Patties
1 tbsp. olive oil + extra for brushing
2 medium onions, chopped
125 g. mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
50 g. parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
50 g. cheddar cheese, grated
150 g. canned borlotti or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
100 g. fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. red wine
1 teaspoon mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. cornflour

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions, mushrooms, thyme and salt and fry until softened and golden. Let cool.

Transfer to a food processor, add the cheeses, beans, breadcumbs and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until mixed, then add the rest. Process until mixed, but not too smooth.

Using wet hands, shape the mixture into 8 balls, then flatten into 2 cm. thick patties. Put on a prepared baking sheet, covered with clingfilm. Chill until firm.

When ready to cook, transfer to a baking sheet, brush the tops with extra oil and bake in a preheated oven at 220 C for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

My word of advise: make a double batch! My can of beans had 240 g. in it, so it felt kinda ridiculous to leave the rest. You can freeze the patties after you've shaped them - I actually put mine in the freezer to let them firm up.

I also made my own buns out of Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible - they were exactly that slightly sweet I think hamburger buns has to be...

Served with the lot - cheese, ketchup, gherkins, mustard, spinach, mayo, guacamole, fries... well, I'm sorry, I know not to waste food, but number 2 ended here: