Sunday, August 28, 2005

IMBB#18: Summer's Flying, Let's get Frying! Spring Rolls

Let's start with the appropriate apology for the slightly fuzzy picture - but I just couldn't bear not entering this month's IMBB?, hosted by Linda from At Our Table, so I used an old picture. Eh, the picture can be old, as long as what it shows is good, no?

The theme is "Summer's Flying, Let's Get Frying!". I'd initially planned to make My Stepdad's Beignets - but SOMEONE decided school had to start tomorrow, so there was all of a sudden things I had to take care of, instead of enjoying myself in front of the deep fat fryer. But bite-sized, homemade spring rolls - who could say no? And I haven't really coaxed that recipe from him... yet... but I will, and then you shall know all about 'em!

I love me a nice springroll. Crispy, preferably made with some sort of pork, but I'd never be shy of a veggie one either. These was made with minced pork, fried with chili, garlic, onion, soy sauce, fish sauce and a bit of sugar to taste. Again, with the guideline, no recipe, but this is how I make them - a bit of this, a bit of that!

Let the meat cool off, then put a teaspoonful or two on the spring roll paper, a bit of julienned carrot, bell pepper - you could use white cabbage, or whatever you fancy - roll up, using lots of beaten egg to make the paper stick. Regarding the rolling business - there's usually an instruction on the packet, just follow that. I've tried re-working that instruction - ahem. Let's just say they know what they're doing, and the spitter-spatter of a roll that breaks - not funny.

I like making the rolls small, just two or three bites worth each, and so of course, the 1-2 teaspoonsful apply to such a size. You can make them as large as you like. For the smaller size I find that 1 kg. of meat makes 50 rolls. I can't claim these are traditional - but they're easy to do, except for a bit of fiddly roling! I'm actually a really bad "Asian Cuisine" student - hmm, maybe I should start doing something about that??

You can do all of these steps in advance, just making sure you space the rolled rolls a bit apart, or they might stick together. Just before you want to serve 'em, fry em up - deep fry, or just a good layer of oil (1 cm's worth) in the bottom of a trusty pan, then pan fry. Serve warm and crispy, with sweet chili sauce and soy sauce on the side. Mmmm.

Thanks for hosting Linda! Now I'll go count calories...;-)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Time for Some Real Food

Just so happens, Jennifer set people straight on the whole crouton business the other day, so I don't have to. I love that post. Who other than a food blogger could get so heated about a crouton?? And I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree with her - it might just be those bready thingys on your salad, but NOTHING compares to the real deal. And the real deal can only be made at home, and does NOT come out of a box. Nu-oh!

A rather untraditional use for them here though - I had fantastic chantarelles - and chantarelles just screams "a little bit of chopped shallots, cream and plenty of salt and pepper!" at me. Creamy - so then you need something crispy for a nice textural contrast... and a bit of greens of some kind... and actually, we needed a salad. Ta-Dah! Born was (in Martins opinion) a weird combo of the above - cos salad torn in chunks, creamy, warm chantarelles and homemade croutons. I liked it, it was sort of a warm salad with all the textures needed to be a real meal. Okay, maybe a tiny bit weird. But good.

And oh yes, I was tagged for that Childhood meme thing - twice! I'll get it done soon - I thought I'd be working this weekend, but got hit by a virus affecting my vocal cords - I sound like every teenage boys worst nightmare, my voice changing pitch by the second. Or, you know, as I like to explain it, I just smoked three packets of cigarettes and downed a bottle of whiskey - yup, time to go sing the blues somewhere!;-) Or maybe, make a cake - hmm...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's Someone's Birthday Today!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday Little Food & Thoughts!
Happy Birthday to YOU!

Yeah. We're full of ourselves like that, me and my blog. We also almost ate both of those layer cakes, entirely by ourselves. Okay, so maybe not. But we could have! If you sing, maybe you can have a slice too ;-)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Return of a Blogger

I have now safely returned from the German highways - I managed to get the car to 190 km/hour at one point - boy that was FAST!!:o)! Saw two amazing - and stylistically very different - instructions of Wagner operas (Tristan & Isolde and Lohengrin) in Bayreuth, the mecca of Wagner-fanatics. A great experience that I wouldn't mind doing all over, should tickets become available again (hint, hint Dad!)

Alas, vacation will soon come to an end - just one more week! I have to return to school - which, as always, sets mixed feelings of excitement, fear and joy rolling around in my tummy. Luckily, I got into the division I had as my first priority, so things are looking well from the beginning - it's always nice to get off to a good start. But you know, there are always all of the things you never got to do - like finishing the scrapbooks, alphabetize the cupboards, work like a dog to make enough money to last you through the winter (and for all the other stuff), getting into the habit of baking my own bread and plan our dinners for the forthcoming semester (wouldn't want to be caught of guard, now, would I?) And oh yeah - spend time with the family, the friends, send out e-mails and candy and answer the memes and... okay, I better stop now before I feel too bummed! :-) I've had a great summer, and I'm gonna squeeze out as much of the rest of it as I can before it really ends. For when it does end, I bought this little bag of tea from a cute shop in Bayreuth - it's filled with dry fruits and little heart-shaped candies - I'm sure it will be awfully sweet, but I just couldn't resist.

This post was supposed to be a little intro to what you might expect to see on these pages for the next couple of months - but - and there's always the but: I haven't made a plan (geez, another thing I didn't do!) [DANSK] will of course continue, and Dining with the Bloggers is due to return very soon - and my God there are so many new blogs I have to try recipes from I have no idea where to begin!

... I have made one plan for the future, though. It's not entirely devoted to food, but I'm sure food will be worked in there in miraculous ways! To set the plan alive, I will need to pick the brains of all you people - I promise it won't hurt, I'm a professional, remember? Tee-hee! So stay tuned - the next year will probably be just as weird as the first one*, LOL!

*yes, I am one of those persons with a blog turning one this month - in 3 days to be exact - it's amazing we can keep our aprons on with all those blog-toddlers around!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wauw! There's a Blog Party Near You!

Greetings from Bayreuth! I'm here with my Dad (and an incredibly slow internet connection - but I found one!) and I just had to be a part of Stephanie's new event: Blog Party! Cook up a tasty, one (two-three-or-four)- bite(s)-sized treat - then blog about it, and send a link to Stephanie. You can even throw a real party if you want to, Lord knows you'll have plenty of ideas as to what to serve, drink and listen to, with the round-ups and editions to come! And if you don't know who else to invite, you can always invite me - tee-hee!

I just told you a little while ago about my tapas-esating sister. Well, so be it, I have a fairly sized repertoire of small morsels, and while I love the whole gather around the big bowl let me ladle you some stew, I also enjoy a perfect little treat, served just for me. One of them is the one pictured above. It's gazpacho (you know, the cold tomato soup) served in a shot-glass, this one served for my cousins 18-th. birthday. I decorate it with just a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil and a small stick of selery (sp?? I am far, far away from a dictionary, sorry;-))

One of the other reasons I also like this event is that we don't have to give specific recipes - and as it is, my gazpacho changes a bit from time to time - simply because I seem to forget what I did the last time. But these are the guidelines:

Plenty of fresh, ripe tomatoes, blanched, skinned and deseeded
Bell peppers, red and yellow (I do not like green ones - I do not!)
Selery (again with the sp?)
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Small bit of onion
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs or stale bread

- all dumped into the food processor, whizzed, and chilled for at least a day (to make the flavors blend together too) Serve like this, or you could make (or buy) little grissini sticks or long croutons - cucumber sticks - whatever. Most importantly, have a GREAT party!

Thanks for the new event-invention Stephanie!

(PS: I'll updtae with all of the appropriate links - this internet-connection is so slow and I have to go to the opera soon!)

Friday, August 12, 2005

SHF#11: Coffee! Mocha Chip Pound Cake

You know what the first thing I ate this morning was? Uh-huh, that's right. A piece of that cake. Yup. Because you know, it's Sugar High Friday again, and Ronald has asked us all to incorporate coffee into our desserts today. Desserts, schmesserts - heck, what's wrong with breakfast?!

And coming up is a promotion of one of my favorite books, Baking by Flavor. It's not like you haven't heard of it before, is it??:-) Lisa Yockelson has a whole chapter in the book titled "Coffee and Mocha", and Martin is not a big fan of coffee in his food (but loves drinking it) - could there be a better excuse to try one of the recipes?? I don't think so!

I like coffee, but don't drink it that often - the occasional latte, or iced latte -or okay, I admit, sometimes when studying, I do need a fix... I need loads of sugar and milk (except for the espresso after a several course meal) though, so the mocha idea appealed to me. Coffee and chocolate, oh yummy! I found a recipe for Mocha Trufle Cookies I'd love to have tried, but honestly, I just couldn't bring myself to use almost a kilo of chocolate for making them - so I settled for the equally delicious sounding Mocha Chip Pound Cake.

And the cake was a hit! It's easy to whip up, and the result is amazing - the coffee is not overpowering, but accents the chocolate very well - you can't really tell if it's chocolate, coffee or the cocoa that shines through, but it doesn't really matter - it's all good!

A nice, slightly dense crumb, dotted with the lightly melted chocolate chips.

I think actually one of the guys at work said it best: "There's only one problem with this cake: I work too slow now - I need to keep one hand on the cake, popping more into my mouth, so I can only use one hand on the keyboard!" I don't mind that I have to use up the rest of the espresso powder I bought, going through some of the recipes in the chapter - but if everything else fails, I wouldn't mind going back to this one either! I made it with only minor, cost-reducing changes, that I've noted below.

Mocha Chip Pound Cake - Baking by Flavor p. 366

The coffee wash:
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup coffee liquor, such as Kahlua (I actually used amaretto, just because I didn't want to splurge on a bottle of Kahlua)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place everything except vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Cover and set over low heat, letting the sugar dissolve. As soon as it's dissolved, raise the heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce until 2/3 cup. Take of the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Leave to cool completely.

Can be made several days in advance.

For the cake:
2 1/2 tsp. instant (not granular) espresso powder
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp hot water
2 3/4 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsifted bleached cake flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened, alkalized cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because that's what I had handy)
1/2 pound (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, sieved if lumpy
5 large eggs
1 cup thick, cultured sour cream
2 tbsp. heavy cream

Plain 10-inch tube pan, greased with shortening and lined with a circle of waxed paper cut to fit. And dusted with flour.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Combine espresso powder, vanilla extract and water in a small ramekin.

Sift the two type of flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Toss the chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of the mixture.

Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding mixer. Add the granulated sugar in three additions, beating well between each addition. Add the light brown sugar and beat thoroughly again. Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each addition. Blend in the espresso-vanilla extract mixture.

On low speed, add sifted ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions. Blend in the heavy cream. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick withdraws clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a wirerack and peel of the waxed paper. Brush the cake with the coffee wash and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Keeps for 5 days.

Oh come on! You know you'd lick that spoon too! Even if that was really the first thing you had this morning... and not the cake... Ahem... Thanks to Ronald for giving me an excuse to go down the caffeine road early in the day!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

'Nuff of the compotes already!

Okay, I promise. I've really been on a compote overload lately, but it's just 'cause they're so good with that fabulous yoghurt from Thise for breakfast. That way at least I get SOME fruit in my stomach - I can't live of banana-blueberry tea loaf, can I? Or could I? Hmm, worth contemplating...

The gooseberries at the market was gorgeous, so I got some, just to come home and find myself with no idea whatsoever as to what to do with them. Except for a compote. So that's what I did.

Easy as always: place gooseberries and a fair amount of sugar (you'll have to taste along the way, but for about ½ a kilo I'd start of with 3/4 cup - see me juggling with American AND metric measures at the same time, wo-hoo!) a dash (okay, 2 tablespoons) of elderflower syrup/cordial and about 2-3 tabelspoons of water, in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, squish some of thegooseberriess to make sure that whatever it is that flows from them that will make what looks like a watery mess into something that goes all jelly-up, run! The elderflower plays very well with the tart- and sourness of the berries. I'm hard pressed to give you an exact time for the boiling - I'm getting really bad (or good, depending on who you ask!) to just go by the flow and taste things underway to see if they're cooked properly. 10 minutes maybe? They need have lost some of their sourness and have turned soft.

Serve as you please, fancy style or for breakfast. Serve it with a sponge cake (maybe a version with some ground almonds - I like almonds with gooseberries. Maybe drizzle the sponge with a little elderflower cordial...?), or use it in a layer cake. And a trifle, always the trifle! See, compotes are so versatile!

I'll really try - 'nuff of the compotes. And the very long sentences. For now. Maybe. I'll probably be able to keep the promise regarding compotes, but I really would be lying if I said I'd be able to stop making long sentences! ;-)

Oh you poor little lost goseberry! Where did all the others go?

There they are!

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

For My Sister, The Lawyer

If I was ever to open up my own catering business, I'm pretty sure I'd name it "My Sister's Caterer". Why, you ask? Well...

My sister is probably the person to whom I've catered the most, usually buffet-style. Jerusalem artichoke soup, salmon/cream cheese rolls, pigs in blankets (I know, so kitchy, but we love 'em!), salads, spring rolls, chicken skewers - lots of bite-size things. She's very much the tapas-eating kind of person.

And I should probably just clarify, here in Denmark, the word "tapas" has been misused to such a degree that any dish served in a cup or on a small plate, consisting of a maximum of say, 7 bites, would be called a tapa. I dunno, I guess the chef's just think it's smart. And if there are no tapas in sight on a menu when she's out eating, she'll be sure to make them happen anyways: "does anyone want to split something?" is a sentence you'll definitely hear somewhere around the time the waiter's pouring your first glass of water. I know no one like her that can change an appetizer or entree into fitting her exact needs - my cheeks are blushing by the mere thought of it! (I'm a waitress myself afterall, and I know what the poor girl in front of us have to deal with in the kitchen when she rings in an order like that)But I'm also strangely fascinated by her doing it, asking all those weird questions and ALWAYS getting away with it. I for one would rather pick out the corn in my corn chowder than ask if I could have it without. Okay, silly example (and no, my sister wouldn't ask that!!) but you get the idea.

We grew up together, living with just my Mom. T is 8 years older than me, and we have different dads. The age difference considered, I'm pretty sure there could have been a lot of sibling-fights going on, along the lines of "Get out of my room!!", "T is teasing!" but I don't remember any of that. I remember her tickling me so much, I once peed in my pants; me walking around the streets with her and her friend S, alternately screaming when holding their hands because they squeezed them, yet still wanting to hold their hands. Hey, I was 7 or something, okay?? And my Mom have the most fantastic pictures of me, aged 2 or 3 and her, 10 or 11, having a popsicle. In the first picture, I finish mine; next picture shows me looking longingly at my sisters popsicle; third picture, her giving me a bite and last, the fourth shows me with a BIG smile on my face! I'm pretty sure we had our share of arguments, but as my sister said the other day: there never really was any idea in screaming at you - if I just explained to you why I wanted you to do something, you usually understood, and did it. Ah, even then I was a very reasonable person!;-P

When I was around 10, she went to America to work as an au-pair. The following years she spend alternately in Denmark and the US, with me not seeing that much of her. I was busy beeing a teenager, my first boyfriend had presented himself, a guy I ended up being together with for 2½ years. At the time the relationship was ending, my sister was tugged away in LA. On a day that had been particularly rough, a lot of crying on both his and my behalf, I came home and found a postcard my sister sent. The one pictured in the beginning of this post. Call it weird bonds of sisterhood, or just plain mindreading across the ocean, but somehow, she knew exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. "What makes you stronger makes you beautiful" and the few sentences on the back just proved to me that no matter where in the world we might be, a 5 minute walk or 5000 miles between us - there's nothing that can take away the feeling of her always being there, knowing what's going on.

In 1999 (I think?) she moved back to Denmark to go to law school. She's got a huge crowd of friends (and a large family to boot!) and she takes good care of them. Every now and again, she finds there's an occasion to celebrate. That's where my catering business comes into play. I've set up the food for her graduating law school-party - her "18th. birthday" (ahem, probably more like 30th, but who's counting?;-)) - and a couple of smaller birthday-parties and family-get-togethers. The latest event was her being called to the bar (becoming, like, a lawyer for real you know) where she and one of her friends threw a BBQ party for 50 of the closest friends. I (only) took care of desserts - carrot muffins with cream cheese topping and chocolate chip cookies.

So this is for my Sister, The Lawyer. I'm proud of you. I hope our late night chatting in the sofa, about family and boys and futures; our dinners with Mom and you stopping by our apartement on an impulse; our Christmas Eve traditions and all the other stuff, will never end. Heck, I even hope you'll never stop being hopeless when ordering in restaurants! Congratulations Sis!

Carrot Muffins

I used this recipe, that I doubled. For the first batch, I forgot to put in the baking soda, and they actually turned out having a better texture (a bit firmer) than the second batch (in which I did put baking soda). If I'm to make them again, I'd leave it out. One batch made 30 small muffins (3 cm. in diameter) and 9-10 medium (6 cm in diameter)

The cream cheese icing I made with equal parts butter and cream cheese (300 g. each should suffice, with icing sugar to taste) and then piped it on the muffins with a star-shaped nozzle, for that posh look :-)

And just because some of the guests at the party might come here and look for it (my sister likes to brag about my blog, tee-hee) I'll give the recipe in Danish too: (the rest of you are allowed to have a great laugh at the weird language:-D)

Gulerodskage med Flødeosteglasur

Til kagen:
250 g. hvedemel
2 tsk. bagepulver
1½ tsk. natron (udelades hvis du skal lave muffins)
1 tsk. stødt kanel
1 tsk. salt
4 æg
345 g. sukker (jeg bruger gerne rørsukker)
280 ml. vindruekerne- eller solsikkeolie
300 g. reven gulerod (ca. 3 store)

Til glasuren:
175 g. flødeost (f.eks. Philadelphia eller Kirks Flødeost), ved stuetemperatur
175 g. smør, også stuetemperatur
Flormelis (ca. 2 dl., men efter smag)

Forvarm ovnen til 180 grader. Smør to springforme med en diameter på 23 cm og drys dem med mel (alternativt kan du bruge muffinforme - som sagt fik jeg omkring 30 helt små og ca. 10 medium ud af en gang af opskriften; ELLER du kan vælge at lave én stor kage, så skal din form nok være en 28 cm. i diameter, og bagetiden bliver noget længere)

Sigt mel, kanel, salt, bagepulver og natron sammen i en stor skål. I en anden skål piskes æggene med et elektrisk piskeris, ved høj hastighed. Tilsæt sukker og pisk, stadig på høj, til de bliver hvide og luftige. Tilsæt olien i en tynd stråle, lidt ligesom når man laver mayonnaise. Blandingen skal konsistensmæssigt også minde om mayonnaise når du er færdig - lidt tyk i det, og sådan så piskeriset nærmest kan trække spor i blandingen. Fold forsigtigt de revne gulerødder i, og fold derefter mel-blandingen i.

Fordel i de to forme (eller muffinsformene) og bag i 30-40 minutter for kagerne, ca. 15 min. for muffins'ne (men check, jeg tog ikke rigtig tid, checkede bare efter 10 minutter og derefter sådan hvert 3-5. minut til de virkede færdig. Ja sorry, men jeg er jo sådan lidt la-la i mit køkken, ik?;-))

Når kagerne er færdige, tages de ud af ovnen og skal køle i 10-15 minutter i formene - IKKE LÆNGERE, slet ikke hvis du lave muffins, for så sidder de altså fast i formene (tro mig, jeg har prøvet det!) Lad dem køle helt af på en rist. Lav glasuren imens:

Sørg for at både smørret og flødeosten er VIRKELIG bløde (tag dem ud af køleskabet når du begynder at lave kagen, gerne før), ellers får du det aldrig til at hænge sammen med flødeosten. De to slås sammen (jeg plejer at bruge en dejskraber til formålet) til du ikke længere kan se spor af den ene eller den anden, men det er blevet en homogen masse. Smag til med flormelis. Jeg kan godt lide den ret så sød, men smag dig frem. Kom glasuren på kagerne når de er HELT afkølede - hvis du har lavet to store kage, så kom først glasur ovenpå den ene, læg den anden kage ovenpå den første og kom så glasur over hele molevitten. Nyd den i små eller store stykker, der går nok ikke lang tid før den er væk! (men den holder sig faktisk fint i køleskabet, skulle der blive noget tilovers...)

Saturday, August 6, 2005

[DANSK] Keeping it simple...

Back from vacationing in the north of Jylland, having enjoyed plenty of smoked salmon with creamed spinach, brunsviger, beer and local butter. I even went bathing in Vesterhavet (The North Sea) and loved it, wave-crushing and all! And while I didn't have this on this specific vacation (My Dad did) I do love it. New potatoes, boiled to perfection and cooled. Thick slices on rye bread, mayo (homemade if you have the time) and loads and loads of chives. Salt and pepper. Smørrebrød for ya.