Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Oh my camera does this no justice!
We don't do this often (who am I kidding? I need my fix at least once a month!) but I loves me some sushi! I once worked at a sushi restaurant and am now in the sad situation of being able to eat ridicolous amounts of this fine food in one sitting. I've never tried doing it myself - seeing the chefs at the restaurant, and the pride they took in getting every rice just right (I am NOT kidding you here - Anthony Bourdain, eat your heart out!;-)) kind of made me feel I would never be able to do it anyways. And I guess there are some things here in life that you should just leave for others to do. No, not just the cleaning and the vacuuming, but the good things in life, that you get to eat, too...
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I hope you know what a jerusalem artichoke is - otherwise you have to find out! It's the nicest little tuber, sometimes very nubbly (imagine the worst root of ginger and you peeling it!), sometimes pretty potato-like in the peeling - easy, smooth sailing. If you're really lucky, you might even get away with just scrubbing them. The taste is delicate, slightly nutty and I find it to go really well with cream and smoky stuff, like bacon.
Now, I would have included a picture of the unadultered with choke, but it seems it also has, well... certain fallos-look-alike qualities and I just couldn't convince myself that was appropriate on an otherwise decent blog!
What I usually make is a soup - very basic, just cut them up in chunks (the smaller you dice, the shorter the time it'll have to cook)
A couple of chopped shallots, a clove of garlic for good measure, but no more than a clove, it will overpower the delicateness of the choke. Sweat that of in a bit of olive oil or butter, add the chopped jerusalem artichoke and just leave it to soften on a medium-high heat. When you've got no more patience, cover with stock (yes, of course, ideally your very own, home-made from scratch - but BAH! This is no Utopia and I more than often get by with those liquid chicken stock-thingys) Leave to simmer until everything's softened - sorta like when you cook potatoes for a mash. Blend, and would you look at this?
Adjust the liquid (easier to add at this point than trying to get out the amount you added extra when simmering, ain't it?) until the soup has a consistency you like. Salt, pepper - ahh!
I like to serve it up the rustica way, as above, with croutons, creme fraiche, lot's of freshly ground black pepper - bacon for those who like it, maybe a sprinkling of chives or parsley...
Or, if you liked, you could serve it the artsy-fartsy way, as we did for my Dad and Stepmom's Bridgeclub back in November:
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Bruschetta with roast scallops and speck, chive oil
Just goes to show - as soon as I started complaining about my blogging incompatibility here, I eyed an opportunity to spend a bit more time putting together a post - so here goes:
As I've already revealed a couple of weeks ago, my stepmom, C, and I embarked upon a Christmas Cookie extravaganza and did a truck-full of cookies. I wish we had, anyways - although it seemed like a lot at the time, my part of the pile is already gone... We didn't want it to go stale now, would we??
This is one of the cookies we made, Svensk Chokoladebrød, or to put it in a language we all (almost!) understand, Swedish Chocolatebread. My sister's favorite when we we're young, and dead easy to make too! I really love the sugar on top and the slightly cakey-chewy center...
Svenske Chokoladebrød - recipe from Karolines Køkken, p. 61
300 g. flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200 g. sugar (vanilla-infused if you have)
2 tablespoons cocoa
200 g. cold butter
egg-white for brushing
granulated sugar (I'm not sure that's what it's called, here in Denmark it's perlesukker - have a look at the pictures, it's got to be rather large grains...)
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Dice the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients, as you would for a short-crust pastry. Add the egg, little by little, until you have a dough that looks like this:
Roll out the dough (I usually just make little sausages, then press them flat until abut 1 cm. thick), brush with the egg white and sprinkle (lots and lots!) of sugar on top - you could add sprinkled almonds to the topping, but I think it interferes with the simplicity of the cookie (and we just never did that - don't mess with tradition, you know?)
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, then cut the "logs" on the diagonal, as you would a biscotti. Leave to cool, then EAT!
The recipe says it makes about 125 (!) - NOT SO! I'd say around 60, but then again, I'd rather have them a bit on the big side...
Monday, December 20, 2004
I'm not being lazy here. Well, I guess you could say that blog-wise, I sure am. But. There's a lot of reading for an exam coming up on and I'm afraid this baby here is the easiest to neglect, although I'm having severe withdrawel symptoms...
Hopefully I'll find the time to post about all of the cookies I did for this Christmas, but if not, here's a:
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Saturday, December 11, 2004
It was the year 1317 and I was travelling with Marco Polo along the Silk Road. On our way, we passed the most amazing cities, small ones, large ones, but they all had something in common. There was always, ALWAYS a bazar to be found. Vegetables, dried meats, live animals, clothes, spices - ah, the spices. The scent went to your head, almost making our entire company dizzy.
I remember one bazar particularly well - actually, my memory serves me badly, for I cannot remember in what town we were, or even have a remote idea whereabout in the town I would ever find it, should I be so lucky as to stumble upon the city again. The bazar was one of the liveliest and loudest I've ever seen, with vendours everywhere, offering golden jewellery and wowen cloth. All of a sudden, I found myself lost in the maze of stalls, and could see nothing but sand, high walls and brightly colored scarfs all over. When I finally thought I got my bearings, everything was quiet. It seemed I had found my way down a small alley, without even knowing, being drawn there by the loveliest scent...
As I came closer, I realized I had found a hidden treasure. Everywhere around me I saw happy women with the most amazing stuff piled up on their small tables, and the scent - ah, the scent - allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, mixed with cinnamon, almonds, oranges, pistachios.... I was amazed and impressed with the diversity displayed.
I went to the first stall, where stood a beautiful woman that greeted me with a smile - she seemed to be the one responsible for arranging all the women here. Her name was Jennifer and she called her stall The Domestic Goddess. On display she had an amazingly looking Christmas Spice Cake - the scent had my head spinning...
The next woman in line, Jeanne was her name - had on what she called her World on a plate served up Pear Nutmeg Scones with a homemade clotted cream. I took a long, longing look as I passed by...
"Would you like to try a bite of my Spiced Angel Food Cake?" It was the prettiest little creation, with a spiced filling, presented by Nicole. As she stood there with her Baking Sheet, tempting me, it was hard to resist - but I had to see what else was going on in the secret alley...
I passed Christine, who was calling out "I like to do stuff!" From her small fire wafted the pretty air of Cardamom and Nutmeg infused Rice Pudding with Sugared Pistachios. I saw other people buying her pudding, and it was served in the loveliest way, in a tall cocktail glass.
Next up I noticed the glistering jewel-like-ness of a tower of Cardamom Rose Turkish Delight. Sam, the woman offering them said she almost always closed her stall, Becks & Posh early, because everyone loved them so much, she sold out in no time - only her husband thought them too weird...
The next three stalls were boasting cookies, but what cookies! The first stall, Culinary Epiphanies had Kelli behind the counter. Her Ghoraiybah smelled beautifully of cardamom and I liked the little almond-adorned ring-cookie.
Kardemommmekager, Kardemommmekager! Viv offered from Seattle Bon Vivant - and kindly explained to me that they originally were of Danish origin, just like myself. But she'd dappled them around to make something entirely her own, and they looked gorgeous, nice and chewy.
Big mugfuls of hot beverages and fine glasses of sweet wine were offered along with Elise of Simply Recipes' Ginger Almond Biscotti They were made with ginger from her own garden, as well as allspice and nutmeg and looked good and crunchy. I thought about taking some with me for our travelling, but someone was faster than me...
As I walked on, I saw a big sign on a tent, saying Esurientes - The Comfort Zone. I went in, and in the cool temperature inside sat Niki with a couple of tall glasses filled with Orange Jelly with Lemon and Cardamom. It had a thin layer of cream on top, and the cooling jelly looked like what everyone would need here in the desert heat.
Back in the sunlight, I was blinded and could hardly see anything. When I had adapted, I found myself in front of My Adventures in the Breadbox. Alice sold thick slices of Cardamom Banana Bread with Pistachios, the banana and cardamom smell blending in a way I had never imagined possible.
I managed to tear myself away from the bread just to see a couple of twins grab the last of Annalyn's Banana Pistachio Crunch. She told me I could always stop by her stall, Ajay's writings on the wall and she'd get me a copy of the recipe for the next day. I promised to come back, it sounded so easy to do...
The heat from the sun started getting to me - but then I realized it wasn't the sun, but a large communal oven hidden in a small shop, from where the heat emanated. The shop was called Words to Eat By and Debbie who was adjusting the oven, was pulling out a great-looking batch of Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The smell filled the room and had people stopping outside to smack their tongues in delight - Debbie had a repetoire of things she did, and the Pumpkin Bread Pudding was a definete favorite amongst everyone, someone told me.
Just outside the shop was a small fireplace with a curiously looking pot. I went to ask the woman, who's name was Carolyn, what is was? She kindly explained, that in the 18thC cuisine, a Charlotte Mold was used for doing things like Steamed Apple Pudding with Cardamom, Allspice and Nutmeg. I was lucky, and she offered me a piece of the just finished pudding, with a big glob of sabayon on top - it was divine. I went on, munching on my cake, thinking 18th century? That's a weird calender they have here...
From the back again, came the sweet scent of cardamom and apricots. I had to go and see where it came from, and standing on my toes, peaked through a window. A woman smiled out to me, saying: "Welcome to My Little Kitchen" Her name was Cathy and she was putting together a batch of Auntie Bee's Apricot Cardamom Muffins, a recipe that her favorite aunt had tought her. As I was getting up to leave, she adorned them with a cinnamon glace - they looked fingerlickingly good.
It had started to go a bit dark. Men started appearing, some of them turning to a stall named Where's my dinner? I think it might have to do with the homemade liquer that Anne had for sale - it did look divine, bright, red strawberries combined with cardamom and steeped in vodka. As if that wasn't enough, she also had a Cardamom-Cinnamon-Walnut Cheesecake on display - the people were eager to get at it, so she hadn't even tried the two things herself. Yet. She promised me she would.
I looked around and found the streets lit by nothing but the small stall-lights and the white teeth of all the women smiling. How lucky was I to have seen all of these 16 women's creations? I had to find my travelling companions and take them here, this they couldn't miss out on. On finding my way back to our camp, I stuck my hands in my pocket and found a small paper bag - it had to small tart-like Cardamom Cakes in it. I had no idea were they came from, but bit into one happily and stopped to look back at the street where I had spent the entire day. I couldn't see it anymore. All I had left was the memory and a small cake...
Thank you for participating in yet another Sugar High Friday ladies!
Friday, December 10, 2004
I'm cheating tonight. Which is really embarrasing, considering I'm actually hosting this time around. But. You all know how it is - I hope?!? - all of a sudden your life just goes tremendously busy, and there's nothing you can do, but go with the flow.
I found myself enrolled in some catering for my brother-in-law's Christmas party - school acted crazy - and to top things off, there was a Christmas party for my old class mates from med school -OY! - and well, excuses excuses! My very well planned Sugar High Friday started coming apart.
But you see, my plan was GOOD. I actually did my assignment in due time - only.. ahem. I haven't had the time to post about it until now, which is 5 am GMT +1. But then I figured - hey! I haven't slept yet, so it's kinda still Friday - and it's almost certainly still Friday somewhere in the Pacific - I can still do this and then just "back-date" my post. He! But I AM sorry 'bout the minor cheating-thing...
Anywho. On to the subject matter, which has definetly and absolutely NOTHING to do with time - deadlines, restraint or the likes. No what this is about is this: SUGAR HIGH FRIDAY as invented by soon-to-be-married Jennifer at Domestic Goddess!
A while ago, I was inspired by the ever enchanting Clotilde to buy these little thingys:
After announcing the theme, I decided my weapon of choice, besides the small, individual tart cases would be
Yup, cardamom. I have a thing for it at the moment, there's something about that slightly musky and - to me - very homey scent.
I went browsing through my books and in one of my favorite Danish dessert books, Camilla Plums: Sødt, I stumbled upon the very straightforward but yummy sounding Cardamom cake. It also listed another favorite, marzipan, as an ingredient - I had to do these!
250 g. flour
170 g. butter
75 g. icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, butter and icing sugar
- until it resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and add the egg, making a dough out of it. Slightly flatten the dough and leave it to rest in the fridge for about an hour (or longer if that fits your schedule better!)
When ready to use, roll out the dough, about 2 mm thick, and line your tart case of choice with it.
2 dl. cream
15 cardamom pods
300 g. marzipan
100 g. sugar
juice from 1 lemon
zest of ½ a lemon
Lightly crush the cardamom pods, and put them in a saucepan with the cream. Slowly bring to the boil, letting the cream infuse for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool - it will go quite thick.
In a food processor, pulse together the marzipan, sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest
- strain the infused cream into the marzipan mixture and pulse again, until incorporated.
Fill your tart cases with the cardamom-flavored marzipan mixture.
Bake (for small tart cases about 15 minutes, larger ones more like 30) in a 175 C hot oven. And do enjoy the scent as they come out of the oven...
Now I have to say, they're really nice - subtly scented and sweet, with a slight kick from the lemon. And all, though I can hardly say it's obligatory for one to enjoy them, what makes them even better is eating one, blogging and being a wee bit tipsy in the early morning hours of December - ... ;-)