Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 26th

Surely, there is no stopping me this week! It's Dining with the Blogger's time and for once: I've planned ahead. Usually, I'm running around on Tuesday night (admittedly, sometimes on Wednesday mornings) trying to figure out which one of the oh-so-many bookmarked food blogger recipes I'm to try. This week though - no problemo.

Last Wednesday, Fanny from Food Beam had this wonderfully looking picture (complete with recipe) up of a Pissaladiere. Um, and a-whatta? Pissaladiere. Go see Fanny's post, she'll tell you where it comes from. I never had it before, but it looked so good, and it had been a while since I'd done anything with yeast. I just couldn't get it of my mind. Sweet onions, savory anchovies, salty olives, doughy cushions of bread? Hello! If that doesn't speak heaven to you, well... But when would I have the time to make it?

It turned out I unexpectedly got Friday night off. And is there a better way to spend Friday night than with dough and onions? Dropped by the grocer and bought myself a big bag of organic onions and some yeast, and went home and started the dough. I only made half of Fanny's recipe, afterall it was only me eating. Used about 5 grams of fresh yeast, and dumped everything in the KitchenAid and let that do the work for me. Meanwhile, I chopped and sauteed the onions, ever so slowly, for that meltingly, caramelly texture. I chopped up and mashed a couple of anchovies to use as my paste - I don't know why, but you can get all sorts of brands of anchovies here, rolled around capers and bell peppers, but no paste. I can make it myself then!

As soon as the dough was ready, I divided it in two and assembled the pissaladieres and put them in the oven. When they came out, all golden and lovely, it was all I could do to restrain myself from biting right into one. But I paced myself, not wanting to risk burning the roof of my mouth and not beeing able to taste anything at all.

Pure, savory bliss. The sweet onions, contrasted with the salty and pungent anchovies and olives is just that. Bliss. I would have had a green salad, or maybe a tomato salad on the side, but there was no wasting time, there was just eating. Yum. Simple, yet so good.

Fanny's been working on an alphabet of ingredients, taking beautiful photos of the ingredient, and then doing a recipe with it - a great idea that I'm very sad I didn't come up with!:-) And, well - I knew I should have made something for dessert also...

I reheated the second one the next day, so there's nothing left to send to Cathy - the poor girl has had nothing but reheated beans and things from the freezer this week, and didn't even get to make something delish for DwB...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

(Belated) IMBB#20: Has My Blog Fallen? Comté Cheese and Marjoram Soufflé - or a story of how a lot of things went awry, yet the soufflé still rose!

This morning sucked. They're changing the water heater in our building, so from 8.30 am this morning until Thursday around noon, we'll have no hot water. I therefore had to get up at 8 am to take a shower, even though I didn't have to go to school until 4 hours later. I like sleeping. I don't like getting up at 8 o'clock unless there's something more important than a shower for me to get up for.

But heck, then I was awake. What better to spend the time doing than check out what my industrious friends, the food bloggers, had all been up to? And behold: as you all know, there has just been a weekend chock-full of events: both SHF and IMBB! I participated in SHF, but had to see IMBB#20 run by me - I mean, there's only so much food I can eat in one weekend, and with birthday parties to attend to and work to be done, there was no fallen blogs for me.

Or so I thought. Turned out, Kitchen Chick allowed anyone that could sneak an entry in before she had done the last of her wrap-up to enter on a belated note, and still be a part of the event. Yipee! That's me! I haven't participated in IMBB for a while, but I loved this theme, so off my mind went and off my body went to school.

I returned a couple of hours later, when the light was quickly fading outside. Oh no wait, that's not true. It had been raining - POURING - down all day, so there never was any light. Damp, cold - ugh. But I had something good coming - a soufflé!

As I couldn't really be bothered to go out again and get some ingredients, I decided to use whatever I had in the fridge. A large block of comté cheese (geez, a cheese soufflé Zarah? Could you be any more original?), a couple stalks of fresh marjoram. Some leftover mascarpone, just on the verge of hopping out of the fridge itself, right down into the trash. Eggs - luckily! Now, for finding a recipe.

Delia. Oh Delia, to the rescue. Sounded easy enough, and surely I could add mascarpone somewhere here... The intro to the recipe said: The one and only secret of success in making this soufflé is to whisk the egg whites properly. Sure thing, I know that, I've listened! I've made soufflés before. Once. I'm not feeling intimidated. Yet.

I grated the cheese. I buttered the soufflé dish (slightly too large, but eh!) I melted butter for the roux...

I seperated the eggs. One eg... NO! The yolks are NOT supposed to end up in the same bowl as the whites! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Poured out the one egg. Stood there with the dirty Kitchen Aid bowl and contemplated washing it, then remembered: no hot water. Heck, I'll just whisk 'em by hand.

Here we go again: one egg - two eggs - three eg... Sweet mama, not again!! In with the other two whites lay the third AND two lovely splotches of yolk. Hm.

No more eggs. And the rain was very much still there. What does a wise woman do? Pull out a longhandled spoon, and dig out the ill-fated yolk-splotches. Remembering her Dad saying: you'll NEVER get stiff whites if there's ANY sign of yolks in there - and the just-read paragraph. Well.

The butter had melted. I added flour, then milk. Took it of the heat. Grated in some nutmeg - and dropped the entire nut into the white sauce. Along with the grater. Really. Fingered it out, fingers covered in sauce. Oh yes, and still no warm water.

Dumped the cheese and herb into the white sauce, gave it a good stir, then added the egg yolks. Then started whipping the egg whites. It seemed okay. They got pretty stiff, with nice little peaks. I'll show them. Folded them into the cheese mixture, then hurry-hurry, transfered the lot to the soufflé dish and into the oven. Phew. Turned around to see the mustard, that I'd contemplated putting into the mixture, standing there on the counter, unused.

Thought I could just manage to do the dishes while the soufflé was in the oven - you know, old school style, with a kettle of boiled water. Started by emptying my tea sieve. Onto the floor. Missed the garbage bin by a mile or so. Doh.

I know. Things could have burned. I could have scolded myself with the warm water. I could have dropped the soufflé dish on the floor. I actually took the picture of it while it was still in the oven. At this point, I was sure that if I where to handle it at all, it would surely jump onto the floor, and disintegrate completely.

But it didn't. It had risen to a perfect height. It was golden and creamy and tall, and smelled wonderful. I took it out. I dug in - and it wasn't done yet. Close, but no cigar. I didn't care. I plated myself a spoonful, then bunged it back in the oven. Ate that one portion, then came back for seconds. And thirds. And wozza - none was left. Savory cheese, eggy-ness and a sort of (unexpected, but welcomed) peppery kick from the marjoram. Mmm.

I don't know. Maybe there's something in the air? Maybe it was all karma from reading this very funny post, to which I relate so much, this morning. Maybe it was just a tiny bit of Hybris. But most importantly, the soufflé was just the thing to soothe my day. And it rose. Beautifully. HA-HA!:-P

Comté Cheese and Marjoram Soufflé - a bastardized version of a Delia Smith Recipe from Vegetarian Collection

3 large eggs, separated
3 oz. (75 g.) Comté. grated
1 large tablespoonful mascarpone
5 fl. oz. (150 ml) milk
1 oz. (25 g) butter
1 oz. (25 g) plain flour
a little freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
marjoram, a couple stalks, leaves torn off

Soufflé dish (850 ml, or 13 cm diameter, 7,5 cm tall)

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Make a roux by melting the butter over a low heat, then add the flour and whisk well. Gradually add the milk, incorporating it well. It will look like it's curdling, but just keep adding milk, little bu little, and in the end, it will come together. Leave to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for a couple of minutes. Add salt, pepper and a grate or three of fresh nutmeg. Stir in the grated cheese, mascarpone and marjoram. Stir in the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites until you get a glossy mixture that stands in stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites in with the cheese mixture, starting with one tablespoonful that you incorporate fairly thoroughly, then carefully fold in the rest. Transfer to the soufflé dish, and put in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes (I gave mine 30 in a soufflé dish slightly larger than stipulated - I'd do 35 next time)

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PS: I just went down to finish doing the dishes. And came this close to dropping the dish-gunk (you know, the stuff that always float around near the drain after you've done the dishes) on the floor. It must be something in the air. SIGH...

Friday, October 21, 2005

SHF#13: The Dark Side - Dark Chocolate Caramel

Shhh. Don't tell anyone. I'm gonna let you in on a secret. You know when I bake something with chocolate in it, I usually excuse myself with something like: "I substituted the dark chocolate for milk chocolate, because that's how Martin wants his cakes/cookies/desserts"? It's not entirely true. I mean, it is sort of true - that is how Martin wants it. But, admittedly - it's probably also how I like it best. Just throw your chocolate wrappers at me - I like my chocolate creamy, sweet and vanilla-y, without the hint of bitterness I sometimes find in the dark variety. And I have tried the more expensive ones, the cheap ones, the in between ones. Really, I've tried. It's chocolate after all, how come I can't turn around and like it??

Then again. That's also only partly the truth. You see, I tend to fare better if the dark chocolate has been melted, and then incorporated into the sweet. And, as I'm slowly getting older, there are certain items where there is just no way I'd substitute milk chocolate for the dark one. There are certain dark chocolates I'd happily eat, like the Kehlet chocolates with a mint cream filling my Dad used to buy me when I was a kid - or Skildpadder, one of my vices - a turtle-shaped dark chocolate exterior, filled with a rum and caramel filling. It's good I'm telling you. So I wasn't completely lost when Kelli from Lovescool - For The Love of Desserts announced the 13th. edition of SHF with the theme: The Dark Side.

Oh, and by the way - happy birthday SHF! A whole year of wonderful desserts, sweets, cakes and other goodies - may there be many more! Guess I was a wee bit fast on the congratulations in my last entry - the first ever SHF was held on October 1st., with a theme of White Chocolate - I was SO there, and wouldn't want to miss this edition, making something with dark chocolate. In fact, making something from the exact same author as for my 1st. SHF. This time, it's Dark Chocolate Caramels. I told you, it had to be melted, didn't it? There's just something about larger pieces of solid dark chocolate that doesn't go well with me.

And it's easy as pie to do.

Dark Chocolate Caramels - from Morten Heiberg: Heiberg's Chokolade

200 g. dark chocolate (70% - I used Lindt Ecuador)
100 ml. whipping cream
125 g. sugar
100 g. glucose
(And I added a pinch of salt)

Prepare a baking sheet - either line it with silpat or brush it lightly with a neutral vegetable oil (I used almond oil) I used a brownie pan because I wanted the caramels to come out thick (cube sized almost), but do as you please. If you leave them thin, they're probably easier to cut up later on.

Finely chop the chocolate. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and glucose. Bring to the boil. As it starts boiling, turn it down, then add the chocolate, stirring to make it melt. Let it simmer while constantly stirring - the mixture has to reach a temperature of 120 degrees celsius - use a sugar thermometer for checking the temperature. When it's hot enough, quickly pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet.

Leave to cool for 12 hours - preferably not in the fridge, as that's too cold and will probably make for a grey appearance of the chocolate.

When you're confident the caramel is all set, cut it up, using a serrated knife or, if you've made it thin enough, with a pair of scissors. Keep somewhere cool in an airtight jar.

I have to admit, I really like these. They are a bit more bitter than what I'd usually like, but the chocolate I used have a hint of coffee to it, so I'm thinking coffee rather than just bitterness. Chewy and wonderfully dark in taste. Probably not fit for kids - and probably not for Martin either. But that just means more for me, heh!

Thanks for making me challenge my palate with a great theme Kelli!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 19th.

Sorry for the delay - as Cathy was kind enough to explain, the internet connection is back, but the stove was temporarily out of order. But here it is, Dining with the Bloggers!

I hope you're not all thinking that the only time I eat (or in this case, drink) at the moment is when I have to do something for Dining with the Bloggers. But I guess I can understand why you'd think so - as it turns out, my only posts within the last two weeks has been DwB entries. It's sorta like homework, only the good kind of homework (if there is such a thing?) and I like how I can, for a couple of hours (okay, in some cases more like half an hour!) forget about painting walls, washing floors and wiggly doorknobs, an just concentrate on the food.

It's getting more and more chilly outside as the days pass, and I was in the mood for something warm and comforting. And, I just organized all of my spices, so spicy and warm was to be keywords for the entry this week. That's when I remembered: a while ago, Melissa from The Travelers's Lunchbox had a confession-post up. On her spice bowl. Now, I know it, and you know it - we all have one of those. It might be a bowl, or a cupboard, or a drawer, it doesn't matter. There are up til the point of insane amounts of spices in it!! And we love it - we thrive in the colors, the smells, the abundance - don't mess with my spices, and certainly, don't tell me I have to stop buying them. It's just not gonna happen.

Melissa is what I would call an adventurous cook - Moroccan-spiced Poussin, Duck Legs with Orange-Chocolate sauce and a classic turned thrillingly around: Prosciutto e Melone (look at that picture - it's so gorgeous!) A dedicated scientist, Melissa's gone through three different recipes for chocolate gelato, just to find out which one is the best - and like any good scientists, she shares her results with us. If that isn't dedication to the subject, I don't know what is. She writes superbly, and I only wish I will one day have the guts to play around with ingredients like she does. Maybe I should start out with Roasted Sweetpotatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive salad? Or the Dragon's Breath Caesar Salad?

No. I had to start out with the original. With the Spice Bowl (or in my case, spice drawer). With Masala Chai. That would certainly be both warm and spicy - and quick - I like quick at the moment. Means more time for painting and cleaning. Doh!

Melissa's recipe has you boiling the spices and tea WITH the milk. The recipes I've tried before has you doing the blend of spices and tea, then cool this mixture, strain it, add milk and reheat. So I was curious as to whether I'd find this different, texture- and tastewise. I used an Assam tea, and added a little mace to the ingredients stipulated. After I tasted it first, I also added a little honey - so I have a sweet tooth, you should know that by now!

It is richer, both in texture and taste, than what I've made before, but that's okay - it's winter and we all need to get a little more insulation on our bodies!:-) You're not going to drink cup after cup in one sitting, although I did manage one and a half glass first time around. What you are going to do though, is sit, hands cupped around the steaming glass and enjoy the lovely scent of spices and warm milk and tea wafting from the glass. You take a sip, and as the warmth spreads through your body, you'll send Melissa a thankful thought - and thank yourself for actually stocking up on all of those spices so you could whip this up in no-time!

Mind you, the cup of hot chocolate she's just posted about looks like something I'd love to lay my frost-bitten fingers on too...

Cathy's done a little spicy thing too this week...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 12th.

We-hey! An internet connection! Not my own, but that doesn't matter - it's fit for doing this weeks version of Dining with the Bloggers and that's what matters.

Coming to you straight from the brand new kitchen is my version of a recipe found at Anne's Food, written by fellow Scandinavian blogger, Anne. She writes her blog from Sweden, to be more exact from Stockholm, and tells us that she's completely obsessed with food and cooking. And also adds in her "about" text that she's a wee bit obsessed about cats. And who wouldn't be if they had cats as gorgeous as hers??

I actually first met Anne at Nigella's Kitchen - an awesome on-line forum for Nigella-fans, and just, you know, food fans in general. I might be wrong, but I could be lead to believe that one of Anne's other obsessions (just like it is mine) is baking and cakes. Especially out of Nigella's books (just like me - again). She also does plenty of savory dishes I'd love to try (and elderflower cordial, yum!), but my new kitchen needed baking goods, and when I stumbled upon Cappucino Cupcakes, there was no looking back.

Anne suggested making them smaller in size, and also wrote that he recipe yielded a LARGE amount, so she halved it herself. I halved it too, and halved the recipe for the frosting, and it fit perfectly - it made 15 small muffins, and 5 medium ones. And they are super rich, just like Anne warned - but super lovely! A hint of coffee in the taste, chocolate and butter and cocoa - mmm-mmm-mmm. Mine are a bit darker than Anne's, but I suppose I just used another brand of cocoa powder. There's still a couple left, and Anne's idea of making them small are probably good, if you concider the richness of them - the bad part about making them small is that they fit perfectly into your mouth, so everytime I pass the plate, I eat one! I'll just have to learn to live with that, don't I?

Be sure to stop by Cathy's to see what she's done this week!

Thursday, October 6, 2005


Lyrics adapted from Lionel Richie's: Hello

Is it DwB you're looking for?
I know I should have done the post
I know I should have blogged right here
But my house is full of boxes
And my head is spinning 'round
Because there's just so much to do
And I just can't do it all
But I want to tell you so much
I miss you!

Sorry 'bout that weird little intro - just felt like I had to make some sort of effort after having neglected everyone and everything around the Food Blogging World for more than a week. And you know, this is the sort of stuff you'll come up with when your head's been in and out of moving boxes and you're sniffing cleaning products for a couple of hours a day. Just imagine what will happen when we start painting, LOL! Anyways, things are good, apart from the missing internet connection - the new place is amazing, it's huge and bright and we're loving it! Even the little guy took the move pretty well - he got his very own basket to travel in, too! He knows how to make himself comfortable...

I'll hopefully be back in full-time blogging mode soon - and I will definitely be on the wagon for next weeks Dining with the Bloggers. Meanwhile, Cathy's pointing you straight to one of the best foodblogs around this week - go check her post out.

(and oh dear - I'm a couple meme's behind. I've been tagged for both 23/5 and a Kitchen meme - I'll be playing along as soon as possible!)