Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 30th.

So I know the theme this Wednesday was Tarts & Pies - sweet and savory. And I had everything all planned out, I had found the tart I wanted to do (seeing Cathy had, on proposing the theme, called dibs on Barrett's Mexican Black Bean Tart) My tart of choice was the fabulous Alsatian Onion Tart from the equally fabulous Molly at Orangette. I love Molly's writing (so poetic and image-conjuring!), and almost each and everyone of her recipes send me drooling.

Which was exactly what happened this time. My attention got diverted away from the tart, and on to this: Shortbread Waffles. I mean, come on! You know I'm on a waffle frenzy, that iron has to be put to good use - and this was sugar, butter, sugar, flour, sugar, eggs (almost quoting Barrett there!) - and a generous drizzle of syrup on top.

They were terrific. They have that snap and a little bit of crunch, just like - well, shortbread! They're sweeeeet, no doubt, but they truly work. Molly's suggestion of using them for dessert is not bad, as the girls to whom they were served - after a generous brunch, I might add - couldn't stomach more than one each. My yield was 8, but that was okay, 'cause as Molly (Or Jimmy, who's recipe I suppose this rightfully is) says, you can always toast the leftovers and revive them. Indeed so. And with a large cup of hot cocoa on the side, lots of whipped cream on top - it just ain't half bad...

So I forgot the tart. I will be trying it tomorrow, hopefully. What was up with the Easter biting of a day of my week so I completely forgot until this morning that today was Dining-with-the-bloggers-day?! Be on the look-out for my update on that. Meanwhile, if you can't wait to hear about it other than from Molly herself, I know others have had the pleasure too...

Cathy had the pleasure of the Mexican Black Bean Tart - go, go, see for yourselves!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Just when you thought you were safe...

You'd think these were your regular old bread crumbs - okay, regular old Japanese bread crumbs anyways.

Think again. Flip the bag over...

You don't see it? Here, take a closer look:

They're the CRUMBS OF DREAD!!! OH NO!!!! RUN! HIDE!!;-)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

IMBB#13: My Little Cupcake!

You're probably not going to believe this, but I've never had a real cupcake. Not one that I knew was a cupcake, anyways. I've had plenty of muffins, ranging from the saw-dusty store-bought type, to the beautifully, light-crumbed, stuffed with goodness homemade kind. I prefer the latter! So naturally, my joy was genuine when I heard that Maki was hosting this round of IMBB? and had chosen the magnificent theme of My Little Cupcake - or Muffin! I had to make myself my first ever cupcake...

So I went through ALL of my books, searching high and low for the one, the only, the CLASSIC cupcake. I searched the net, I asked around.

Finally, I decided what to me would be the cupcake - the one to end my ignorance. I think the reason why I never tried them was that they just seemed too simple. It's butter. Sugar. Flour. Eggs. That's about it. And then a wicked layer of more butter and sugar on top, of course. Wouldn't that all just be, dare I say it? - too much??

The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook has been on my wishlist for a while, but as with so many other items on that list, it had never snug itself into my shopping basket and made it all the way to the "complete order" category. Luckily, I found the recipe here. Why I would consider The Magnolia Cupcake to be the ultimative of cupcakes, I don't know. But I love the colors, and the childish-ness of them, and well - I heard a lot about them around. I am, as I already said, a novice when it comes to cupcakes - on my search on the net I found several blogs dedicated ONLY to the subject. Take a look at All Cupcakes, All the time for instance - seeing something like this makes me realize there are so many things within just one category I've never tried!

The recipe I found made 24 cupcakes - a wee bit too many, considering if a cake doesn't have chocolate in it, Boyfriend is not likely to be eating much of it. So I halved it easily, and here you go:

Magnolia Cupcakes

For the Cakes:

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self-raising flour
½ c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:
Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers. Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F.
Cream the butter for a couple of minutes alone first, just to make sure it's adequately soft. Add the sugar in three additions, beating well after each addition. Add the eggs, one by one, again beating well after each one has been added.

Mix the two types of flour together. Then add the flour in four additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract in three additions. Divide the batter between the 12 waiting muffins cups, then bake for 20-22 minutes.

Leave to cool completely, before frosting.

For the frosting, place butter, 2 cups icing sugar, ½ cup of milk and the vanilla extract in a free-standing mixer (or you can beat it by hand I suppose!) and beat on medium-low speed. Add the rest of the icing sugar until you reach a desired consistency - I only used three cups in total. If you want, you can color the icing - that's like half the fun of these!! And of course, you can use sprinkles to your hearts content!

I liked the icing part - I wanted them to be really swirly to look at, and in all sorts of colors. I found your finger to work best for that swirly look - ahem... ;-)

So I'm gonna go for a little picture over-kill here, just to show you my choice of colors. There was the purple one you just saw above - then pink:


And green and yellow:

As for the cupcake - well, what can I say?! I'm a convert, that's for sure! It's butter and sugar, true, but it's good. And look at that fine crumbly crumb!

I love it! The icing is sweeeeeeeet and almost nothing but sugar, but I've never been sugar-shy. I'm game, I'm on - I want to see all of the variations possible! I've heard of the Hostess one, and of course, some laden with chocolate... Oh just plain YUM! Show me, show me, tell me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 23rd.

I can't begin to fathom the amount of new food blogs popping up here and there and everywhere! It really is amazing and I'm very impressed with the love and care put into each and every one of them. Cheers to you and keep up the good work!

The Sugar High Friday this time around was hosted by Debbie and introduced me to an INSANE amount of food blogs I've never visited before. Not all of them entirely new, I know, I know - I'm just sooo slow! Anyways, one of the several that caught my eye was Lex Culinaria, written by a female lawyer "deported" from Melbourne to Edmonton. She makes fantastic food I tell ya, and has a handy index that I immediately ran through. (Sorry, but I couldn't find her name on the site - I'll just call her Lex - I hope that's okay?!) As if that isn't enough, she's got another blog too - and she's funny! Take a look at this one for instance!

And I found this wonderful sounding thingy, fitting perfectly with this weeks theme, rice. Vanilla Sour Cream Risotto with Blueberries and Syrup. And oh boy! Was it good or was it good!? It reminded me a bit of risengrød (rice porridge I guess it would be - sorta like this) that we traditionally eat around Christmas, only this is (obviously, look at the name of the dish!) laced with plenty of vanilla and blueberry syrup.

I managed to mess up the syrup - something with the water to sugar ratio looking weird to me, then a lot of bubbling, seizing, stirring. Anyways - it still worked. The sour cream in the risotto intrigued me - I sometimes use a couple of spoonfuls of lightly whipped cream in my savory risotto, making it just a tad lighter and fluffier. The sour cream does the same, and also adds a slight sourness that works really well against the vanilla - I suspect it would work nicely in a savory version too. And oh, I'm a sugar piggy, so I added a spoonful of vanilla-scented sugar to the risotto in the end. I might just try the leftovers cold with the warmed syrup on top.

Cathy's managed to take an early bite of spring this week...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Comfort food in a healthy way

I was reading this post over at Julie's on the exact same night I had had this for dinner: grilled aubergine/eggplant in thick slices, drizzled with a little yoghurt and date-syrup. Up until recently - in fact, I guess still now - I didn't like the idea of sweet and savory together. Well, you live to learn I suppose!

Cut aubergine in thick slices. I like using a grill pan for the right criss-cross pattern to show on the grilled slices, but you could also bake the slices in a, say 170 C hot oven for 15-20 minutes. Either way, I wouldn't bother with oiling them. Leave to cool just a bit, then drizzle with yoghurt (I used a Greek kind which was sorta thick, so I stirred it with a splash of milk) and date-syrup. You could substitute the syrup with maple syrup or honey - I tried it with maple and the slight smokiness goes really well with the charred aubergines. A good grind of pepper, sprinkle of Maldon salt, and a generous handful of chopped parsley. That's it - and that's that!

Btw, don't forget to check out all of the entries for Moira's Comfort Food Competition - this is by no means an entry, but I can't wait to read about what other people make when it's time to snuggle up in the sofa...

Friday, March 18, 2005

SHF # 6: Stuck on You - Caramel! Squillionaire's Shortbread

It just wont go away, that Sugar High Friday - and it most certainly wont this Friday, 'cause the theme is Stuck on You - it's caramel! Ingeniously thought up by Debbie at Words to Eat by, this months installation's got you whipping out those pans, burning those fingers and ruining those rubber spatulas!

Except for me. Hold on, hold on - you really didn't think I'd stay away from a Sugar High Friday, did you? Well, think again - if you thought I stayed away, 'cause OF COURSE I didn't. Au contraire, I've been known to do a double take!

And I like caramel. I do. But I LOVE it's cousin, dulce de leche. So I asked Debbie if she would allow using this sweetened, milky, caramel-cousin - and she said YES! We-hey! Then I knew exactly what to make!

A couple of years ago, living in London, having not as much money as we could've wished to spoil ourselves with, the Boyfriend and I took to buying each other little gifts instead of just buying oneself presents. So after a "I'm-not-buying-anything-browse" through a Habitat shop, where I'd been eyeing a huge table with loads and loads of cookbooks, my boyfriend came up to me when we got out of the shop and handed me this little book called Chocolate Temptations by Linda Collister. Oh my. Mmmmmmm - chocolate. My friend.

Plenty a cake was then baked in the little studio flat - when people came to visit from back home, they would have the book (Or the Little Red Barn one) shoved in their hands, with the question: which one do YOU want me to make?? Chocolate Crackles (My friend B's cookie), Black and White Cookies (My Mom's), Fudge Brownies (It was a poor excuse for a brownie, so I wouldn't want to dedicate it to anyone!) Chocolate Ginger Bread... and well, then there was the one recipe, at which everyone stopped in their leafing through the book and just stared. Myself included. It was a two-page picture of a dark shortcrust thing, with a thick layer of caramel, topped with dark and white chocolate. On the next page was the recipe, with a spoon of dark, fudgy caramel. It was called Squillionaire's Shortbread, and included boiling a can of condensed milk to oblivion, turning it into that lovely thing they call dulce de leche. I didn't dare. I just didn't - I had pictures of projectile caramel all over the tiny kitchen, me ducking so as not to be hit by the wayward can. Wouldn't want that.

We returned home, forgot all about the recipe and dulce de leche. Then I started food blogging and everything came back. And just a month ago, M, The Boyfriend took the first step and boiled a can. OMG. Once you've gone there, there's no turning back. And with this theme, there was nothing I could do, but find the book and finally make:

Squillionaire's Shortbread - Chocolate Baking, p. 36

397 g. canned condensed milk, for the filling
120 g. unsalted butter, room temperature
60 g. golden caster sugar
160 g. plain flour
20 g. cocoa powder (I usually use Valrhona, but this time I went for a lighter kind, I think it might be called Dutch process cocoa?)
For the topping:
160 g. plain dark chocolate, chopped (I used half milk, half 70% dark chocolate - otherwise Boyfriend won't go near it!)
30 g. unsalted butter, diced
50 g. white chocolate, chopped and melted.

Makes 16 (or more like 25 in my case - really depends on how you cut them, but I strongly suggest you cut them small - they're very RICH!)

23 x 23 cm. cake pan (greased if it's not non-stick - I have one with a removable bottom, worked a charm ungreased)

Put the unopened can of condensed milk in a heavy pan of water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer, without covering the pan, for 3-3½ hours. Under no circumstances are the water to go so low so it doesn't cover the can. Keep topping it up - I usually check on it every 15 minutes, but probably only top it up every ½ hour. I'm just trying to be cautious. Let the can cool COMPLETELY before you open the can.

Make the chocolate biscuit base by beating the butter until creamy, then beat in the sugar. Sift the flour with the cocoa into the fluffy butter/sugar mixture, then, working with your hands, make a smooth dough (It is sorta crumbly, but eventually it will turn smoother) Press the dough into the cake pan, making an even layer. Prick well with a fork, chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the base in a preheated (180 C) oven for 20 minutes - until slightly dark around the edges. Don't overcook, it will turn bitter. Let cool.

When completely cold, spread with your dulce de leche. Chill until firm, 1-2 hours.

Melt the dark chocolate. Remove from the heat, then stir in the butter (I actually forgot the butter, but I suppose it will make for smoother cutting out in squares when you get there.) When smooth, spread over the caramel, then leave to set almost completely (goes pretty fast, remember the caramel is cold) Melt the white chocolate, then using a fork or paper icing bag, drizzle it over the dark chocolate.

Leave overnight until firm before cutting.
Eat within one week.

As I already mentioned, they're VERY rich, very sweet - but sinfully good! I cut them into really small squares - half the size you see on the picture - I think they where 3-4 cm x 3-4 cm or something when served, the ones on the picture being 3 by 6, more or less. I had enough to eat with tea with the Boyfriend, bring some to one meeting and even some to the next meeting as well! Everybody loved them - I think I have to start bringing goodies to more meetings, everything runs just a tad smoother, what with all that caramel:-)

My teeth are already shrieking for more caramel - so what got Stuck on You?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 16th.

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day - or so they tell you, even in medical school. I know this. I know this. Still, I find it VERY hard to eat anything before 8 o'clock in the morning - actually I find it very hard to eat anything before I've been awake for about an hour and a half. So you just go figure out how much breakfast I actually eat. On the week-ends, no problemo - maybe that's because breakfast turns into brunch, and then there are so many things to do! Like this - or this - or maybe even this??

Brunch for me has got to involve eggs, one way or the other. So I figured - where better to find something I could do for this weeks Dining with the Bloggers than clicking each and every entry entered for the fast-growing - dare I call it food-blogging event? - or should it be anti-event?;-)- that is EoMEoTE! - End-of-Month Eggs on Toast Extravaganza! Invented by Jeanne and Anthony, it is now on to it's fifth installment. I've never actually joined in on the fun, but I always enjoy reading the funny entries made. Take a look at this one for instance - Moira, Moira, you're such a joker!

And there it was. I'm not the only one! Julie from her not-so-new-anymore blog A Finger In Every Pie is my kinda girl - eggs for breakfast, yes please - she actually eats it for breakfast, as opposed to me, but that really shouldn't make matters worse. She does say the Dilled Egg Salad will do for lunch as well, so I took her up on it and ate it for a late breakfast/early lunch (okay, call it brunch!) today.

What really intrigued me was the lemon juice Julie puts in her egg salad. It's not like I haven't made egg salad before - but I surely never put lemon in it!

But you know what - it worked! It gives the whole thing that little zing and makes the salad not so cloying - I think sometimes the mayonnaise will do that, but this was really good. I had no prosciutto bread, but hey, you can't win them all - I liked the egg salad a lot anyways!

Healthy Cathy's done granola today... Maybe I should try that one too and eat breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Don't forget!

Monday, March 14, 2005

"And tomorrow, I'm making Waffles!"

quote: Donkey in the animated movie Shrek.

Making waffles was what I did - not tomorrow, but Sunday morning for breakfast. You see, my sweety-pie of a Boyfriend, found this:

on sale a couple of months ago, and I thought it about time that I inaugurated it. That, and okay, there was no more bread to eat for breakfast!

I used a recipe found at the King Arthur Flour site - I was introduced to this site by Fae of TinyFork (where are you Fae? Are you still there? I miss you!) and they have all sorts of cool recipes! In Denmark we don't have King Arthur Flour, but hey, my guess is I wouldn't run out to the store to get some even if we did! I just used my regular ole organic flour. They have a TON of different recipes for waffles, but the one I liked the sound of was the Classic Buttermilk Waffle. I had buttermilk in the fridge, just waiting to be used, and I liked the fact that the recipe didn't overdose on eggs. I wanted a plain, no frills waffle for my first batch.

As it was, I did go and change bits and pieces. So here goes:

2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 3/4 cups wheat flour
Pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Basically, you stir together the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry ones in another, then mix them up. It's pretty simple, and not hard to do on a Sunday morning even though you might have had a little wine the night before!;-)

But ey - why not make a little bit of this, a little bit of that? Having tasted the first batch - well, I had to see if they were any good, didn't I? - I decided that I loved the slight tang of buttermilk - but maybe they were just a tad to bland. I divided the batter in two, and out of the fridge came Parmesan - grate-grate-grate - and there you have it! Buttermilk-Parmesan Waffles!

As it was, we would need breakfast-dessert too, so the other bowl got a shot of vanilla-scented sugar - mmmm....

I had just been leafing through one of my cookbooks that mentioned this:

Date syrup, recommended as a substitute for honey or maple syrup. I don't know how it got in there (okay I do, shsh!), but I had some in my cupboard. So what better way to go with that and thick creme fraiche than:

It was indeed a beautiful Sunday morning...

UPDATE! I just found out that Donkey really says: "and in the morning, I'm making waffles!" Zarah, learn your comics properly!:-)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Our Lord of Fantastic Cookies

What's in a cookie? A cookie by any other name would be just as - good!

In this little household, there's is only one, only this one - THE Chocolate Chip Cookie. The recipe is from Bill Granger - hey!, you say - I thought chocolate chip cookies was the epitome of American baking and Bill Granger is GASP! Australian! Well, I'm sorry -but this man makes the best chocolate chip cookie I know, and the only chocolate chip cookie to pass the lips of my man. Maybe that's a lie - but it is the one he likes the best!

I do think we are somewhat weird in the cookie-preference region though. I like my cookies soft, almost melting and on the brink of not baked in the middle. Yes, I do eat the cookie dough too - how could I not!?

Bad habit, bad habit - but I wouldn't want to waste the batter left in the bowl and okay, I'll sacrifice myself and my stomach. You have to build a resistance to those darn salmonella bacterias, don't ya?

Here it is:

Chocolate Chip Cookies - From Bill Granger's Sydney Food, p. 111 (OMG, that's so embarrasing - my book actually falls open on that page!)

125 g. (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups tightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1½ cups of chocolate bits

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) Place the butter and sugar in a bowl, and beat until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat again. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt until just combined - this will seem like way too much flour, but just keep folding and folding, it will incorporate! Fold through chocolate chips.
Place spoonfuls of cookie mixture on a lined baking tray, allowing room for spreading. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until they turn pale gold.
Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before placing the cookies on a wire rack to cool further. Makes 16. I often freeze half (or make a double portion and freeze what I don't need right here and now) It's so nice to have laying around - for the week that it lasts!

I know the recipe might not seem special - I think what makes them speciel to me is that they only have brown sugar and no regular sugar in them - wouldn't regular sugar make them more crisp usually? Actually, I haven't tried that many chocolate chip cookie recipes, simply because I found these and promptly declared them my favorite, then never strayed! Maybe I should come out of my cocoon? Do you have a great recipe I have to try?

BTW, it has to meet one other criteria: almost nothing to wash up afterwards!

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 9th

I bet Cathy never saw this coming, but in proposing the theme of Muffins and/or Cupcakes, I had already secretly decided what I wanted to do - and I really didn't know we had an IMBB coming up with the exact same theme! Anyway - Cathy and My Little Kitchen's contribution to SHF # 3, the spice edition was what I liked. Ever since I read her entry on "Auntie Bee's Cardamom Apricot Muffins" I wanted to make them - I'm not particularly fond of dried apricots, but this just had that ring to it that I thought might convince me of the joys of apricots. I generally find them way to sweet, and in a very perfume-y way - you can't escape the taste, it overpowers everything - well, sometimes, to me at least.

The recipe is great in that it only makes 6 medium-sized muffins - while I love sweets and cakes as much as the next woman, it just sometimes annoy me having dozens of cakes lying around - we all know who ends up eating those, eih? On to it - I guess what apricots need is a little taming - and surely enough, the cardamom did exactly that! As Carolyn described it in her comments on Cathy's post, the pepperiness of the cardamom suits the apricots perfectly, making sure they are accented in the loveliest of ways. Dried fruit in a muffin is always good, but dried apricots makes for an almost caramelly goodness, and the frosting I'm sure would make it even lovelier - who doesn't like frosting? Unfortunately, someone had emptied my jar of icing sugar, so I only had frosting on one muffin - that was good. I might contemplate putting in pistachios or almonds next time and maybe a pinch more cardamom - but I'm now officially a converted apricot-muffin lover! Even Boyfriend, who's not the biggest fan of dried apricots either popped an entire one in his mouth when he came home from work and declared them "mmm, tasty!" then started on one more!

This week, Cathy's been the one cheating ever so slightly - but as long as the results are these, who cares?!

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A little laugh...

... not on my behalf hopefully, but Diane just pointed me to the Amateur Gourmet's clips of - well, he's done a lot of FUNNY stuff and I've been rolling on the floor laughing for the past half hour. I know, I know, Adam's not exactly new around the food-blogging scene (In fact he won the 2004 Food Blog Award in the Humor category and just had his 1.000.000th visitor!), but I (ignorant me) never saw these before - so if you haven't either, go check the link and all of the clips he's hiding in the left hand bar... Now, go LAUGH!!

Friday, March 4, 2005

The Best Sweet Chili Sauce EVAH!

(For an updated version - with better pictures! - please check this post.)

So you're probably going: why on EARTH would I want to slave over my own chilisauce, when there are so many nice brands out there, that are even cheap? Well, I for one do, simply because this is the best one I've ever had. The taste may not be as the commercial kind, here you can taste every single ingredient - maybe I'm not able to taste the galangal from the ginger, but I know it's there! And there's just something weirdly satisfying about reading a recipe that says "2 tablespoons of chilisauce", then taking that little, dark, sweet-spicy smelling, sticky jar of your own homemade sauce out of the fridge, instead of a large bottle. I'm weird like that, but I do like that feeling...

Sweet Chili Sauce
Makes three small jars (250 ml each)

You need:
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 large red chilies, stems removed
3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 thumb of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
8 lime leaves
3 lemon-grass stems;
remove the two outside leaves, discard the top third of the stem and finely slice the remainder
1 cup fresh coriander leaves

Ginger vs. galangal - yes, there is a difference, but if you can't get galangal, just use ginger.

Put in a food processor and purée to a coarse paste.

Then put
1½ cups caster sugar
together with 4 tablespoons water in a saucepn, place on a moderate heat, stirring well intil the sugar dissolves. When it has, remove the spoon and turn up the heat to full. Boil for 5-8 minutes, do not stir, but of course, don't let the caramel burn either. (I never actually need to turn the heat to full - it seems to boil away nicely on a medium heat with me...)

Stir in the paste, bring the sauce back to the boil and add:

100 ml cider vinegar
50 ml Asian fish sauce
50 ml tamari

Return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour in jars, and leave to cool before eating.

The recipe is not actually made to be a keeper, but I've had mine around in jars for about a year or so, no problemos at all - I don't really do anything special to keep them, other than sterilizing the jars (ok, basically pouring boiling water over them before I fill them!) and keep them in the fridge. Also, if you want it to be HOT you could probably leave some of the chili seeds in - this really isn't hot at all, but I just am not that big on hot-hot stuff...

I stole the recipe from Peter Gordon's: The Sugar Club Cookbook, a, in my opinion, really nice book. Very pacific rim, and okay, I am a bit biased: I used to work at The Sugar Club's sister restaurant, Bali Sugar -when The Sugar Club moved to Soho, the owners opened yet another restaurant, Bali Sugar, at the original place in Notting Hill, so all the pictures in this book is from the restaurant I used to work at. Ah, memories!

In the cookbook, the chilisauce is served with grilled scallops, watercress and creme fraiche - that's a great combo, and a signature Peter Gordon dish! I'd also use the chilisauce with homemeade fries aka potato wedges - small saucer with creme fraiche, small saucer with chilisauce, and then you dip your potato wedge into each one alternately. I had this in Australia and though I at first thought the combination sorta weird, it really worked!

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 2nd

It started snowing here - again - so when Cathy spelled out soup for this weeks dinner, I was indeed pleased. I decided to try my hand on something simple and easy: miso soup. I've loved miso ever since I worked at a sublime sushi restaurant here in Copenhagen - I love the feeling of the warm wooden bowl in your hand as you sip the hot soup, and digging out the slightly chewy sea weed with my chopsticks and trying to scoop up the soft tofu without it breaking - mmmm. Don't bother with salmon or mushrooms - I like it plain, thankyouverymuch.

As I've mentioned before, my experience in the Asian genre isn't very up-to-date, so when I found this recipe at the YAY! revived "I was just really very hungry" I was thrilled! I sometimes find it so hard to find recipes on things that are "just basics". How to do a stock (I have found that one now, thanks to Thomas Keller!), how would I get my spring roll paper to stick together, how do I __________ - fill in the blanks! So I loved that Maki had taken her time to let me (us) know just how to get it right - and had found a picture to go with her post that shows miso exactly as it's supposed to be served, in my opinion!

There's the recipe for miso - but to do a proper miso, you also need dashi, the "stock" of the soup so to speak, made from bonito flakes and kombu. That started out somewhat a problem - my local Asian market didn't stock bonito flakes and I was send home with - dashi-granules! Well, I have never! Luckily, my other standby Asian market had the real kind - and, I found out, was about $3 cheaper on everything else I needed, than my local shop.

It's so easy to do, and it's instant gratification. It's warm, savory and it smells lovely - I know, it's dried fish flakes for crying out loud, but I really liked it. There's no muddling of the flavors - so do make sure you buy a miso paste that's worth the trouble - and sip away. As I mentioned, I like my soup plain, but Maki's got some nice suggestions for other ingredients, should you be so inclined. Also, she tells you to stir the miso paste with a little of the dashi before adding it to the rest of the dashi, just to avoid lumps - please do follow those instructions - I forgot and got - lumps! Silly me!

Cathy's done TWO soups this time around - I don't know HOW she finds the time!