Sunday, July 31, 2005

Vacation! Vacation!



"Zarah's left for vacation with her Dad and Stepmom - I think she'll be back Friday, but don't worry, I'll take care of the television-watching and blog-reading meanwhile. I'm really good at that, I found plenty of new food blogs for her. Remember, the round-up for IMBB's TasteTea version will be up at Clement's shortly, and SHF, this time with coffee, is just around the corner! Tea and Coffee, people!? Carrots I tell you, carrots!"

;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Little Piece of Lunch



Homemade semi-dried tomatoes, chopped up. Applied to toasted sourdough bread, topped with goats cheese. About 5 minutes under the grill (or 10 in a hot-hot oven), finishing touch with a blow torch to give it that nice scorchy look.

Tastes remarkebly well with a bit of leftover pea purée. Mmmmm...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bananas + Blueberries = Goody!



Revisiting another grand classic - Baking by Flavor. I'd bought blueberries for a bargain, and had a couple of bananas turning to that exact stage of ripeness where there's nothing you can do but use them for baking. Or make a smoothie, but the weather here definitely screams cake more than smoothie - SIGH!

It is a gorgeous cake - loaf - whatever. The very best (berry best??) blueberry muffin I've ever had was from miss Yockelson too, and had you accent the delicate blueberry flavor with nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon. Oh my. This time, there was only nutmeg and banana doing the accenting, and I have to say, it's a marriage made in heaven. The dark, somehow caramelly taste of the bananas together with the slight acidity and flavor-burst of the blueberries is an amazing combo. Do make. Easy to put together and with a moist and delicate crumb. It wont be the last time it has visited my kitchen.

Blueberry-Banana Tea Loaf - from Baking by Flavor

9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan, buttered and floured (or sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray, but I don't have that)

2 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup fresh blueberries
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (In my world the equivalent of 125 g. - I think actually a little less, but the recipe worked fine with this amount)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, sieved if lumpy
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 small ones)

Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Toss the blueberries with 1 ½ teaspoon of this mixture.

Beat the butter in a freestanding mixer for 2 minutes. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and beat for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, beat for another minute. (I used to think all these "1 minute this, 1 minute that" was ridiculous - surely I could tell when things were incorporated. Well, I might be able to, but the times I've actually followed these instructions instead of just going by feel, things have turned out lovelier than I have ever dared dream of)

Incorporate the eggs, one at the time, beating for 45 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract and mashed bananas.

On low speed, add the flour-mixture in 2 additions, making sure everything is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Stir in the blueberries.

Bake for one hour, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cake rack, then CAREFULLY unmould. The loaf is very fragile at this point, so unless you want a puzzle, do pay attention to what you're doing.

Let cool. Eat. Drink tea with it. It's a tea loaf for crying out loud!

One of the things I've neglected to remark about this book is the index in the back that tells you just how to and for how long you can freeze many of these dreamy concoctions. This one will keep for 6 weeks in the freezer. So for all you blueberry-bush and blueberry-bargain people out there, keep this in mind!

WAIT! You need to see the picture from the other side too!:-)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sweetcorn Fritters for the Girls



So I think we all know that guy by now - his big, boyish smile, his brightly colored cookbooks. Yes, it's Bill Granger again. I've made these a dozen times, and I've loved them each and every time - and I'm not that big a fan of corn, I might add! I like fresh corn, maybe a grilled corn on the cob - but please, spare me of the frozen/canned variety. Do not like. Sorry!

Last Sunday, I had two of my girlfriends coming for brunch, and I whipped a batch up - there was a couple left, so I thought I had plenty of photographing opportunities. Then Martin came home and swish-swish - all I managed to save was what you see in the picture!

Sweetcorn Fritters - from Sydney Food by Bill Granger, p. 29
The veggies
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (the equivalent of 2 cobs in my world)
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup sliced spring onions
1/4 cup mix of parsley and basil, both chopped

Mix it all up! When you're ready, make up the batter (you could actually make the batter up to three days in advance, but you don't want to mix the veggies and batter until just before you cook the fritters)

The batter
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, into which you add the milk and the eggs (cracked, of course, don't be silly!) Carefully whisk the flour into the milk and eggs, making a smooth, lump-free batter. It will be quite stiff.

Pour about two thirds of the batter over the vegetables and give it a good stir. If you think it needs a little more binding material, add more batter - I usually end up using all of it, partly because I hate throwing the leftovers out, and partly because - well, there's nothing wrong with pancakes, is there??

Heat a couple of spoonfuls of vegetable oil in a pan, and cook the fritters, 4 at the time (or more or less, depending on the size you want) I've made them really small and served them at a brunch buffet at my Stepmoms 40th. birthday, topped with avocado, bacon an rocket. Mmmmmm. If you make a 3-4 inch/12 cm large ones, you'll get about 10.

To serve
How about... homemade guacamole - Crispy bacon - cheddar cheese - spinach - homemade semidried tomatoes - rocket - ketchup - be my guest. Or just eat as is!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Me Me Me - and it isn't even a meme!



You know what? Apart from the new design, there's another thing I think my site needed. I've been keeping this blog for almost a year now, and still I've managed to tell you only a tiny bit about ME - I mean, apart from all of the food hooha, of course. At first I think I just didn't feel comfortable writing a lot about myself. Now I've gotten waaay past that point - I mean essentially, that is what I do every time I post something, isn't it?

And while it may seem terribly self-absorbed, I've felt lately that I actually owe it to the "regulars" (and also to people popping by every now and again) to tell a bit more about myself, just like I've promised to do a formal introduction of Le Guinea Pig. The memes going around have helped me share some more, but I think there's some truth to a blog being more interesting if you fairly easily can tell who the person behind it is. When I find a new blog, I always check the "about" section out if there is one - I would never dismiss a blog that doesn't have one, but I like it when there is - it gives you a short-cut to what the person writing the blog (and thereby, the blog itself) is about. That goes for both the shining new blogs and the old cared for and loved ones - I still on a weekly basis find blogs that are new to me, but that have been around for ages! So I think I need to provide some info, too...

We used to have these "Friend Books" when I was a kid - you know, the kind of book that you passed around to your friends and then they had to, in their childish writing, answer all of these weird questions, like favorite color, biggest wish etc. Continuing that tradition, here I've made a slightly updated version - please indulge me while I toot my own horn!

Name: Zarah Maria - well, there's more, but some privacy is still in order I think!

Residence: Copenhagen, Denmark

E-mail: zarahjordahn(at)gmail(dot)com

Born: on February 15th, 1979 (so right now I'm 26)

Height: 1,74 m.

Weight: You really thought I was going to tell you!?!

Natural haircolor: brown

Natural eye color: weirdly brown-green things...

Family: Not easy, I have a weird family tree, but: Parents (who are divorced - or rather, they were never married, so could I say they were divorced?) Mom J & Dad J

On my Mom's side I have an Older sister, T

Stepmom C - who married my Dad, what? 10 years ago? Yes, something like that. On my Dad's side I then have to younger siblings, The Brother M and the Sister K.

Boyfriend Martin (yay, an actual name!)

Best friend(s): J - and B, P and I.

What do you do? I'm a medical student. Right now (September 2005) I'm going to start 6th semester - there's 12 in total. Oy!

Favorite color: Oh... red. No, yellow. Oh, but orange, too. Could I just say bright colors??

Favorite dish: Hmm. ALL of these!;-P

Favorite singer/group: Check out this one

Favorite Animal: My guinea pig - and dogs

Favorite TV-show: Sex and the City. Nothing above it!

Favorite movie: Pretty Woman; The Fabulous Amelie of Montmatre

Favorite book: A cookbook - look here! As for regular books, it changes a lot, but some favorite English books are: Intimacy by Hanif Kureshi; The man who ate everything;

When I grow up I'd like to be: A doctor. In fact, I'm almost halfway there... I'd really like to be a pediatrician - I can dream, can't I?!

Favorite subject in school: Call me a nerd: biochemistry. But back in (the equivalent of high school here) gymnasiet it would have been chemistry and math. So much better Zarah!

In my sparetime I: study. Work as a waitress. At school I take part in the student politics organization and am active in a group that manages a donor program for Indian kids. I've just recently started doing volunteer work at the office of Médecins sans Frontières here in Denmark (trying to work my way in so I might one day be able to be sent off to somewhere, heh!;-)) Like to go swimming and do yoga (but it seldom happens) Oh yeah, and I blog quite a bit. And blog-hop WAY too much!

I dislike: people that aren't honest. Exams.

I love: my boyfriend and my family. The scent of freshly baked bread. Earl grey tea in the morning. Chocolate. Studying medicine (but see above).

What's up with all the food? See this.

My biggest wish: Peace on Earth. Seriously, I used to write that all the time! On a more back-to-reality-materialistic level, I'd probably say... A digital reflex camera.

I'm most proud of: Speaking achievements in life, I'd say going to medical school after 4 years of doodling around. I hate it from time to time, but deep down, I have no doubt that this is actually what I want to do.

Added questions:

By Karen: Where or how did you get your funny bone?
Now where is the anatomical position of the funny bone??;-) No, joke aside - I think it just runs in my family. We have this weird sense of irony that are an integral part of our lives. I remember when my brother was younger than he is now, one of the funniest things I knew of was to put him through the grinder. Say we were making cookies or something and he came into the kitchen and said: can I have one? I'd answer, voice stern and serious, but with a hint of something: "No, they're all for us - you can't have any, because you're too little." For a second, he wouldn't know what to say but he'd have a sparkle in his eye and then he'd just burst out laughing because he KNEW I was taking the p*** on him! And I mean, the boy was 4 or 5 or something! I remember my older sister doing it to me, too. Don't say kids don't understand irony - if they're subjected to it day in and day out, they'll learn faster than you can say peek-a-boo!

We've always been a bit silly in my family too - growing up with just my Mom and my older sister, things could go quite wacky in that household. I remember Saturday mornings in my Mom's big bed, with her performing a show with my teddybears, each one having it's own unique voice and dialect. These days, Martin blames me for making him silly. He says that before he met me, he'd never thought of doing some of the weird stuff he does now, like we have this exchange: One of us goes: "Hey, you know what??" The other one, very naïvely goes: "No, what?" - full well knowing that the answer will be "I LOVE YOU!!" I guess you could just say that to begin with, but that's just not how it happens here - everytime at least.

By Cathy: Did you always want to become a doctor? If not, what did you used to want to be?
Ahem. One of the things I thought you'd never know about me. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up. I suppose it had lots to do with the fact that my Dad used to take me to the opera all the time and I loved (and still do love!) the stories, the drama, the singing. But. Well. I have a rather high-pitched voice (think The Chipmunks - darn it, I'd have made the meanest soprano!) and I guess it really was more of a dream than something I ever really pursued. Apart from that, I think I went through: professional dancer (I took dance lessons from when I was 6 until I was 16 - I practically lived at the dance school!) - lawyer (my entire family are lawyers (Dad, Stepmom, Older Sister - and my Mom's a lawyer's secretary!) - waiter & chef (well obviously!) and last but not least, doctor. I remember thinking about it around 9th grade, but then let go of it again - crappy hours, weird smelly people, sickness - and who would anyone want to spend their lives in a hospital when they aren't even sick?

7 years passed, and I figured: Zarah, you love science - all that math and chemistry and physics - you like people - admit it, you do like just a slight bit of stress... and you know, just because you study medicine doesn't mean you have to end up in a white coat with bags under your eyes, deprived of sleep. You could do research. You could cure cancer. You could pretend you have it in you to save the world. I'll most likely end up in the white coat, trawling the aisles of a dimly lit hospital, beeper going nuts - and I think I've grown to love that idea...

By Alice: Do you have a favorite artist or work of art?
Uh-oh. Alice, Alice, Alice - you caught me! I'm really bad with art. I wouldn't say that I'm not interested in it, it's just never been anything I've been introduced to. Noone's ever taken my hand and lead me through a gallery, pointing out the clear strokes of this or that painting or the alluring contrasts here or there, or made it into a discussion of "why do you think this is good/stinks/sucks/rocks your world?" I've found that a lot of the interests I have and enjoy are things someone else has been passionate about - be it a teacher, a colleague, a family member. They somehow managed to transfer some of the energy they had for the subject onto me, and I've loved it ever since. Like opera (my Dad) and food (some fabulous colleagues). And I know, not everything's supposed to be fed to you by spoon, some things just grab you and you can't stay away - I swear my family sometimes roll their eyes when I go all medical student on them! I've wanted to learn more about art, art history, composition, but there are only that many hours in a day. Oh, and photography, I want to learn more about that too - I even took a course, but that ended up being mostly about developing pictures. I love photography. All sorts, but they can go too artsy on me.

I love looking at architecture, but it's not something I know stuff about, if you know what I mean - I don't walk around categorizing: that's funkis isn't it? Early 60's, huh? I just enjoy it for the clean lines or waves. Which, I guess, could bring me to an answer to your question: I adore Gaudí;, the Spanish architect. I could spend hours and hours looking at his houses - colors, textures, hidden treasures. Love 'em. And then I have this at home. It's a "portrait" of me, made by one of my Mom's friends who does these fantasy-like pictures in vivid colors (you can see some of them here, although these are not really like the ones my Mom have). Love the rest of her paintings too.

By Nicky: What do you most treasure about Denmark and the people living there? Any other country you would like to live in at some point in the future?

Well, what's there not to love about Denmark? I love the fact that the weather changes - that we have (at least from time to time!) bright, warm and sunny summers and icy cold and snowy winters. I love the long summer evenings where the sky stays purplish blue until 11 pm. I love that I can ride my bike everywhere in Copenhagen, and that I almost always feel safe, no matter where I go in the city, or at what time.

I like Denmark because it's got a lot of history - lots and lots of old buildings and architecture. Green forests and yellow fields. We have wide, sandy beaches and blue-grey-greenish oceans. I think I like it because it's small.

Actually, Danes are really weird sometimes. We're a very private nation - we like our hygge (roughly the same as the link tells you), like to light candles in the dark evenings and like to spend time in our own homes. Don't get me wrong, it's not like we don't like other people - but we're not as open as Americans, for example (at least the Americans I've met) We're really bad at being proud of ourselves and the things we accomplish. I don't suppose you've ever heard of Janteloven? A short explanation (the link will give you the full one) is that basically, you're not supposed to think you're better than anyone else. It thrives here. Unfortunately. Of course, people that are way full of themselves can be a pain in the rear, but what's up with being frowned upon because I think there's something I'm good at? Modisty is one thing, but this is just stupid.

But what do I really treasure most about them? Well, taking me back to Karen's question (see above) - I love our sense of humor. Sort of dark, bordering to morbid. Much irony. In general, we're pretty people, LOL! Being a Dane, I'm embraced by my fellow countrymen, but I think it can be really hard for other nationalities to come here - we're not so good at embracing the new and adventurous, as I think we should (or could) be. We're too afraid of offering people a little finger, then having them run away with our arm. Stupid, I know. But I think we're getting better at opening up, with all us young'uns traveling out into the world and seeing how it is possible to treat strangers - with arms wide and curiosity in front, seeing them as someone you can learn stuff from, and not as someone that's coming to take things away from us.

Hmm. It sounds like we're not the nicest bunch on the planet. But scratch the surface, and you'll see that beneath the private, secluded person is a thinking, breathing, passionate human being. I think that maybe that is also one of the reasons I like it here. I can be alone, even in the middle of a crowd. Sounds a little sad, but I actually like being alone, sometimes.

I would love to try and live everywhere in the world - or, let me refrase that - I wouldn't mind staying anywhere, as long as it wasn't in the deepest, darkest war-zone. Heck, even that wouldn't scare me - oh who am I kidding, I'd be scared shitless, but I'd do it, if I needed to, and if I thought it served a greater purpose!

So far, I've lived in London for 6 months (waaaaay back in 2001, heh!) and I loved it there. I loved the size, the people, the bustling an commotion. A great city. I've back-packed through much of South America, and spend (way too little time) in Santiago, Buenos Aires, Lima and several other big cities there. I'm a city girl. Not because I miss the drinks and the high heels if I'm out in the country, but because the city's (often) where the people is.

I'd really like to try and live in USA. I think we here in Europe are very prejudiced on what Americans are, without ever really knowing. American politics - and the American way of living (if such a thing exists - is it really that different from our lives here in Europe?) is making a larger and larger impact on my own daily life. The world might be big, but it's still getting oddly smaller. I think I owe it to myself to try and break down some of my pre-formed opinions, and replace them with some I've made myself. Big cars, hours of commuting, not enough exercise, fast food, gigantic cities, weapons, green country-sides and a curious and welcoming people. It's just one big mix of things of which I'm not quite sure what to think? Is it really as good/bad as the papers and tv describe it? I need to know by seeing myself what all this is about.

Getting as close to living there as I can, I'll (hopefully - visas, car-buying et all allowing!) go on a roadtrip with my boyfriend this February, crossing form east to west, spending 6 months there (or as long as the money will allow us!) - more on that to follow shortly! And just so that no one from immigrations will come after me, I have no intentions of working while on said roadtrip, or to overstay my visa!;-) I have an education I'd like to finish some day, and a family here in Denmark that I am SO returning to - and you know, I just can't help but love this place anyways!

The lazy persons CV:

Past: nerdy student (LOL, still am!) Spent four years working as a waitress full-time (which probably made way for my love of food and cooking) Lived in London for 6 months. Traveled in South America for 3 months. Used to be a vegetarian.

Present: Medical school. Waitressing. Living with the boyfriend and the guinea pig. Cooking and baking. Started to eat meat again.

Future: Going on a roadtrip across the USA. Finishing medical school. Having children. Cook. Blog. Be merry.

This will be an ongoing project - if you feel there are questions that are left out, put them in the comments section, then I'll try an answer them - unless they're nasty of course!:-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

TA-DAH!

New lay-out! That's why I haven't been posting so much lately, I've spend hours and hours trying to make this one - do you realize just how much time one can spend doing this?!?! I know Ana must - and Jennifer - there's a lot of people jazzing up their blogs at the moment and I'm sooo tagging along! Maybe I have too much time, hmmm...

Anyways, it's not quiet done yet, there are still some smaller tweaks, but I've gotten to the point where I need some feed-back - so hit me, hit me hard!;-) And oh yea, are there are any PhotoShop wizards out there that have ANY idea how I might get the banner picture to look like this:



- all gauzy?. This I've done using some CSS-magic, but I can't seem to put it into my template without messing it up! I'll send you weird Danish candy for the answer! (Oh, and if you do know, holla at me at my e-mail - this is a food-blog afterall, not a CSS-nerdy blog?8-))

The original looks like this:

just in case you was wondering...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

[DANSK] Mormor salat



Grandma salad, translated. It's plain, it's simple - it's one of those dishes that really show-cases the ingredients, which is why they have to be at their best. Or rather, the one star ingredient has to be at it's peak. Nothing more, nothing less than a head of lettuce, like this one. Not romaine, no no, the leaves has to be softer than that - anyways, they're not hard to find in summer, at least not around here.

You basically wash the salad and rip it into bite-size pieces. Just before you want to eat it, dress with 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream, the juice of half a lemon (maybe a little less), 1-2 teaspoons sugar, salt and pepper. Taste - the directions given here are as I remember doing it, but I usually do it by feel and tastebuds and without measuring. Toss. Serve. I can eat this with everything - or, you know, if it's just me and a head of lettuce, I'll devour it all in one sitting, with maybe some crusty bread on the side for mopping up the dressing. Hey, it's cream, it's good for you!;-)

You can variate the salad by adding quartered strawberries or orange wedges - M also likes tomatoes in it. Personally, I don't seem to tire of the sweet/sour/fat/crunchy complexity of it just as it is, but be my guest...

Friday, July 15, 2005

SHF#10: Oh Honey! Honey-glazed Cherries in a Martini Glass



I really don't have to say it, do I? I mean you KNOW, that Sugar High Friday is here again! And this time, Nic of Baking Sheet has us all going "Oh Honey!" creating the dessert of our dreams centering around the theme of - well, honey of course!

I don't know if I've told you, but summer's also here ;-) We've got a bounty of fresh berries at the market at the moment, so when I saw the dark red beauties that is cherries, I went straight for them, thinking yes, oh honey yes! I actually usually just eat them as is (unless I turn them into muffins) but - you know I've been trifli'ing around lately, so when I spotted a recipe for a cherry trifle in one of my cookbooks, there was no turning back. I therefore present to you: Honey-glazed cherries with homemade macaroons and sweet vanilla cream.

This portion should make enough for 4-6 individual servings.

For the honey-glazed cherries:

200 g. cherries, pitted and halved
2 tbsp. honey of your choice - not something that's too strongly scented if you ask me...

Warm up the honey in a small pan. Carefully glaze the cherries in it. Leave to cool slightly.


For the macaroons:

Makes about 12 medium sized ones:

55 g. almonds, blanched and finely chopped (or you could use almond flour, in which case I'd say about 50 g.)
2 egg whites
15 g. sugar
80 g. icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Whip the egg whites together with the sugar until peaks form (see Nic's instructions if you have any doubts about whipping egg whites) Carefully fold in the icing sugar and almonds. Using a spoon, make about 12 dollops of the mixture on a lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes at which point they should've turned a golden brown. Leave to cool completely.

For the vanilla cream:

2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
½ vanilla pod
250 ml whipping cream.

Whip the egg yolks with the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla pod until almost white. In a second bowl, whip the cream lightly, until soft peaks form. Fold the cream in with the egg yolk mixture.

Find the glas you'd like to use - I like wine glasses or martini glasses because you can really see the layers.



Begin with a layer of cherries, then crumble a macaroon or two on top. A spoonful of cream, maybe two or three, then a couple of cherries and some more macaroons. I like! The honey lends a subtle perfume to the juicy cherries, a bit of earthiness or herbalness, if one might say so. I was thinking one might be able to substitute some of the sugar in the macaroons with honey, but I honestly was happy I didn't fiddle with it - the taste of honey is there already, and delightfully so.

Thank you for hosting Nic! Can't wait to see what everybody's been up to in my favorite on-line event...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is there such a thing as too much rhubarb?



The fancy version when using the rhubarb compote I've told you about before. This one is much more dark pink than the first of the season - I made this around the end of May. The one I made just yesterday was verging on purple... You gotta love the change of the seasons and the colors of the produce!

The other thing I tried with rhubarb is the Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake



- hitting the blogs this season! A Nigella "classic" I suppose you can call it, and the recipe has been put up by Angela, so I'm going to be lazy enough and just point you there. I loved it, it's easy to do and it keeps well. Only thing I'll add about it is DO PAY ATTENTION to her saying line your cake tin with paper! Look what happened to mine because I was too lazy...



That'll teach me! But at least I got 5 more minutes out in the sun, heh!

Thursday, July 7, 2005

[DANSK] Hot Dogs and Agurkesalat



Hot dog, Danish style: ketchup, sweet mustard, roasted and raw onions, pickled cucumbers - and sausage and bread of course! As it would be served at any of the pølsevogne here - or as you could make it yourself at home. Most of the ingredients are plain bought, but we do make our own agurkesalat.

Agurkesalat


2 large cucumbers, sliced ever so thinly, maybe with amandoline, should you be lucky enough to own one of these...
0,4 liter apple vinegar
100 g sugar
10 black peppercorns, whole
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt

Bring vinegar, sugar, peppercorn, bay leaf and salt to the boil. Leave simmering until the sugar has dissolved. Place the sliced cucumber directly in a 3/4 liter pickling jar. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers. Leave to cool for half an hour, then eat. Any leftovers can be kept in the jar in the fridge (observe normal pickling rules: no dirty forks go in the jar, rim of jar kept clean etc. etc.)

Agurkesalat is also great with fishcakes and roast chicken. It is a bit on the sweet side, but if you try and make it (it's not really that hard as you can tell!) you can probably come up with even more suggestions as to what to serve it with. There's always a jar in our fridge, and while they're nothing like the fat little sweet pickled gherkins I'd use for my bean salad, neither nothing like the French cornichons, agurkesalat has it's very own place in our culinary mind.

Monday, July 4, 2005

By the way...

I inagurated the roasting tin: what better to make than CINNAMON BUNS! And cinnamon buns for the extra lesson our fantastic teacher in immunology had offered to give us just before our exam, just to make sure we had things down right. When we'd finished the "real" lessons", he brought cake (almost like Julie does!), so me and one of the other students decided we had to do something for this last lesson.



People sorta hated did not like me for having the time to make cinnamon buns (courtesy of Nigella, again - they really are the best in my opinion) In reality, I used it as an excuse to not ponder my books too much at the last minute. It only confuses me more - you know, you get to the point where there's just no more room in your brain, eh? And it surely didn't stop anyone from eating them either!

Oh yes - and I just KNOW the sugar from these was what made sure I PASSED this exam too! YAY ME!!

Nigella's Cinnamon Buns from How to be a Domestic Goddess, with some minor adaptations

Makes about 18

For the dough:
600 g flour
100 g sugar
½ teaspoon salt
21 g (3 sachets) of easy-blend yeast or 45 g fresh yeast (I usually cut this amount in half, then let rise for double the time - I hate yeasty stuff! I've also succesfully used about 15 g of fresh yeast, then let it rise in the fridge over night)
100 g butter
400 ml milk
2 eggs

For the filling:
150 g soft, unsalted butter
150 g sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
(I usually make 1½ portion of this - the original recipe instructs you to use one third of the dough as a bottom layer, but I always skip that step and just make more buns - so I need the extra filling... Well, that, and I like them gooey!)

Icing sugar, for when the buns are cooled, if you are so inclined.

Roasting tin (33 cm x 24 cm) or a large brownie tin with baking parchment bottom and sides

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture. Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of a food mixer until its smooth and springy. Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes (Or double the time if you're using half amount of yeast) I've also been told you can succesfully do this step in your breadmachine (I've never tried that personally, 'cause I don't have one)

Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl.

Preheat the oven to 220C (Gas 8). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 50 x 25 cm. Spread the rectangle with the buttery cinnamon mixture. Try to get an even coverage on the whole of the dough. Roll it up from the longest side until you have a giant sausage.
Cut the roll into 3 cm slices which should make about 20 rounds. Sit the rounds in lines in the tin, swirly cut-side up. Don't worry if they don’t fit snugly together as they will swell and become puffy when they prove. Let them rise again for about 15 minutes to let them get duly puffy (or, again, for about 30 minutes if using half yeast)

Put in the hot oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden-brown in colour.

I usually make this batch, but only bake about 4 or 6 and freeze the rest, un-baked. If you want to do this, then after you've cut up the assembled buns (before the second rise), you put them on a cutting board or some other flat item, stick them in the freezer and leave them there for a couple of hours. When they're frozen solid, transfer to plastic bags, for easier storage. Then, whenever you feel like a freshly baked cinnamon bun, pop a couple out of the bag, leave to defrost and rise at the same time in the pan you'll be baking them in (takes an hour, hour and a half depending on how warm your kitchen is), and bake as per usual instructions. Really not the worst thing you could have lying in your freezer, and for some reason, they're never there for that long.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

No Summer Without Watermelon


Salad of Watermelon, Feta and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you haven't tried this one yet, you really should - I know, the combination sounds a little odd, but it really, truly works - I promise! My - well, recipe would be a very fancy word for what is really just a set of instructions! - comes from Peter Gordon, of the Sugar Club (and sweet chili sauce!) fame. He says it's roots are Israelic - whether or not, it's a nice summery salad. And then it's easy to do, too!

Get the best watermelon you can lay your hands on, preferably seedless. Cut it into chunks and peel. Arrange on a large plate. Crumble a good, salty feta on top (Mr. Gordon says sheep's, but if you prefer cow, I wouldn't judge you by it). Toast a handful of pumpkin seeds, sprinkle those on top, and drizzle with a extra virgin olive oil and a grind or 7 of black pepper. Eat. Preferably out on the porch - in the sun somewhere, at least!

Nigella has a version in which she puts feta, olives, lime juice softened red onion, mint and parsley with the watermelon. And what could possibly be bad about that combo?!

Friday, July 1, 2005

Utensibility Meme: Of stoves and grill pans...

Sam's asked us all to participate in this Utensibility Meme, which will ultimately turn out in a round-up compiling all of the things you could just NEVER EVER be without in your kitchen. Whether your favorite thing is a money-is-no-object object or an itty-bitty cheap-as-dirt thing, it has to be on the list! Here's what I for one, wouldn't want to be without:

The no bars, spend spend spend object:



My SMEG gas stove with matching electric oven.

I love it, and well, obviously, use it on an almost everyday basis.



A lot of the buildings in Copenhagen have gas laid in, but alas, not ours. So we have a great big portable gas "tank", you know, the ones people use for camping stoves, standing in one corner of the kitchen. Pretty stubborn, eih? I thought my boyfriend was a bit wacko when he insisted we got a gas stove, but boy am I glad he did! There's just nothing like cooking on gas - the heat is so much easier to control, it's fast and efficient. Okay, so you have that greasy film EVERYWHERE, and seeing it's a steel stove, you do need to give it a wipe-down everytime you've used it, or it just looks disgusting. But it's all worth it.



The combination with the electrical oven (convection-mode, too!) is perfect. I had a gas oven in my last apartment and continuously got bread that was doughy on one side and burned on the other - argh! This one works a charm. And I do like using that oven of mine...

Price? I dunno. But it's not the least expensive on the block, I'm sure...

The little less expensive (and in some cases it will probably fall above the $25 limit, but ours didn't!) is this one:



My grill pan. Or, actually, this isn't mine, but my boyfriends - but you know, mi casa es su casa and all that. We have no garden, so the closest I get to that smoky, charred flavor is this.

Ours is actually a rather cheap one, bought at the supermarket. No brand names here - I did once buy a Le Creuset grill pan, now languishing on a top shelf somewhere (or did it go to the basement storage already?) that just didn't work (Seems they do have some nice ones around now though - but less than $25? I'm afraid not...)

But you see, the price is not that important - what you have to pay attention to when buying one of these is, in my opinion, not it's name, but it's qualities. It's got to be a heavy bastard, cast iron, preferably, That way you can heat it, heat it, and heat it some more, and it won't start breaking on you. As for the ridges - oh dear, the ridges! Small and pointy, spaced about 0,8-1 mm apart. Please, please don't get the ones with rounded ridges (as the Le Creuset did) - half of the pleasure of grilling food is that nice grill pattern you get, and if the ridges are to thick or too close (or too far apart) you'll just get one great big brown mass)

ALWAYS heat it until smoking when you want to use it. Never wash with soap. Never put oil directly on it, but brush the food item with a little oil (or if it's well seasoned, you don't even need the oil for vegetables) Every once in a while, cover the surface with a nice thick layer of salt, put it on the heat and wait till you hear the salt starting to crackle - this cleans the pan as much as I could wish.

Use it for asparagus - for grilled aubergines in a salad, or to go with hummus or falafel - grilled fennel on top of a creamy risotto - grilled scallops, makes the loveliest pattern! - grilled bread for bruschetta, adding that smokiness you just won't have it you make it in the oven - you add to the list. Important thing is, if you don't already have one, I urge you to buy it. If my apartment caught fire, this would surely be one of the things I'd rescue. Hmm, or maybe I wouldn't have to - it could probably survive the fire. But I just can't carry my stove, can I?;-)