Sunday, December 31, 2006

Before it's too late...

...and before we completely forget all about the Christmas we just had, let me show you a couple of pictures from this years cookie-baking-parade. My Bonusmom and I have made a tradition out of getting together on the third Sunday in Advent and bake a truckload of cookies. This year, I totally miscalculated and made WAAAAAY to much dough - apparently, there is such a thing as too many cookies! We had a lot of fun though, and luckily, M and I also have a tradition of inviting family and friends around for some white glögg and cookies (and a little savory bite, too) on the very same day - let's just say people were stuffed with cookies and had their purses full of ready-to-bake homemade cookie dough when they left!

There are the cookies that are always there - vanillekranse (bottom picture, the big, BIG jar!) and klejner (top tier) - a couple classics, but not ones we make every year - brunkager (bottom tier) and specier (middle tier, right) this year - and a couple new ones as well. I scoured the foodblogs and tried out Farmgirl's Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps (they're on the middle tier, left) and Nic's Christmas cut-out cookies that I bookmarked already last year (never managed to snap a photo). My baby sister loved the Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps and gobbled up four before they'd even cooled. The cut-out cookies are probably the best of it's kind I've ever tried - soft, buttery and just that bit more interesting than my usual standby from Nigella's Domestic Goddess book. I'd planned to make icing for people to decorate their own cookies, and I guess the cookies are even better with the icing - but I never got that far and they disappeared regardless! It was a cookie-feast indeed...

Vanillekranse - not enough to fill this GIGANTIC jar I got from my Boyfriend as an advents-present, but makes probably, oh... 80 cookies?

will update with the recipe - heck, it's New Year's Eve in a blink of an eye, you're not going to make them now anyways, are you?;-)

HAPPPY 2007 to all of you!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope you and your family are enjoying the Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's all in the packaging...

I haven't managed to buy one single Christmas present this year. Yet. I'm going out shopping with my sister today, so hopefully, things will have changed by the evening... But. Just in case they haven't, I was wondering if you think I could buy a whole lotta these Christmas anchovies and give to people instead? That can is just plain wonderful, if you ask me...:-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kneading is my Meditation

No, no, I'm not going to be one of the birds piping the virtues of that fabulous looking no-knead bread from Jim Lahey that is EVERYWHERE on the blogs these days - but I will admit, it does look gorgeous. No people - I'm afraid this bread here calls for a little upper-arm work-out.

I'm a self-proclaimed home baker. Not quite a Bakerina ('cause face it, who would be able to live up to the Bakerina?), but I try to make sure we never have to buy bread, unless we feel like something I don't know how to achieve myself at home (that would, coincidentally and ironically, be something like the wonderfully hole-y and slightly tough to the teeth-looking no-knead bread) I not only like baking my own bread for the whole "we're providing for ourselves here"-mentality - but I actually like the job itself. It's strangely comforting and relaxing to me.

A long, loooooong, time ago, I used to do yoga. I don't remember exactly how I ended up in a yoga class, but I think it was because there was some classes being held at the gym I was enrolled in at the time, and I guess I thought I might as well try it out, as I do with so many things in life. Initially, I just liked it for all of the stretching and the full-body workout (I did an Ashtanga-type class). I liked the discipline - that it was actually possible to cheat in almost every position, but the only one that would suffer from it was yourself. I liked seeing how my body would step across the limits I thought it had already set, from one class to another. I liked not concentrating on nothing but my breathing and the next move I had to make my body make.

Every class was ended with a five minute meditation sequence. Lying flat on the floor on our backs, our teacher would talk us through every little inch of our bodies, inside and out. At first I thought it a bit ridiculous, but after a while, I learned that as hard as it was to let everything else out, just as giving it was when you actually accomplished it. It wasn't easy, and four times out of five, I didn't succeed - but the times I did? Woa. That's when I started missing it whenever I wasn't able to go to a class.

These days, meditation - or yoga for that matter - is scarce. I'm not even sure I did it right back then. But if there is ever a time I feel sort of the same calm and tranquility, the same kind of focusing on a single thing, that I got from lying there on a thin mattress on the hardwood floor, it would be in my kitchen. It doesn't really matter what I'm doing, but the sheer act of concentrating on nothing but picking the leaves from a couple of parsley stalks, stirring a risotto or (even!) doing the dishes, has an effect on me that is similar to that from yoga class. The action that does it best is probably kneading bread. The constant focus on stretching, folding, gently punching, turning again, puts me in a state of calmness unlike many others. So I'd go as far as to say that not only is this bread good for your stomach - it's also good for your mind.

TyvenKokkensHansKoneOgHendesElsker's (TheThiefTheCookHisWifeAndHerLover's) Malt Bread
- what do you know, I'm going crazy with recipes from the chefs and restaurants I know! This one is from a place I've worked at, on and off, for the last 6 years. I've eaten it almost every time I was there, spread with plenty of salted butter, or dipped into their fantastic béarnaise (they have a lot of stairs that I was running up and down all night, so eating béarnaise was totally justifiable!) It wasn't until recently ioccurreded to me that I had to get the recipe and bake it myself. The hardest thing in doing that was getting a hold of the malt flour/powder - I ended up getting it from Specialkøbmanden, who was kind enough to make a special order for me.

makes 4 medium sized boules

500g. yoghurt
80 g. salt
16 g. malt powder (flour)
24 g. yeast
1000 g. water
600 g. spelt flour
1600 g. durum wheat flour (tipo 00)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the yoghurt. Mix the salt, malt powder, spelt flour and 3/4 of the durum wheat flour. Add to the water/yeast/yoghurt mixture - if you think it needs more flour before you can start kneading, add it. When ready, turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes, gradually adding more durum wheat flour if need be. Once you're done kneading (and meditating), transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 8 hours (up to 15 should be fine, too)

When you want to bake the breads, take the dough out of the fridge and leave for half an hour at room temperature. Turn it out onto your worktop, and divide in 4 equal portions. Shape the breads into boules by tucking the dough from the sides aunderneathith itself. Leave to rise for two hours.

Half an hour before you're ready to bake the breads turn your oven to 260*C. Dust the breads with a little flour and slash them all. Put into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200*C and bake until done, approximately 20 minutes more.

But that no-knead bread does look good - perhaps I could just sit for ten minutes and stare at it proving?;-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Chefs and I, and Chicken Liver & Raspberry Salad

As you might know, I've been doing the working in the restaurant business as a waitress on a regular basis for the past, oh... eight years. Woo. Eight years? Has it really been that long? Time travels fast when you're having fun!

Funny thing is - I keep this food blog of mine (okay, I try!) and you people out there know just exactly how enamored I am with food and baking. Even so, I've never told anyone, on either side of the pass about Food & Thoughts existence. And I think if I was to ever tell anyone, I'd start with the waiters. Because somehow, the idea of the chefs knowing intimidates me. Like a lot.

Over the years I've met and gotten to know quite a couple of chefs. There's far between the ones I don't admire, or even adore. With them, I've taken on a role of sorts. I was - or should I say am? - the brown-haired girl with the green eyes and the glasses that, at first anyways, didn't know a whole lot about food. The difference between a glace and a jus? Eh. Hot plates for serving? Ouch! Putting plates down facing the right way? Ooops.

But I learned. I learned to ask questions. And they learned, gradually, that I actually meant it when I wanted to know things. They learned that I was sincere when I asked weird food-related questions. Why a bavarois and not just fancy jello-ish thing? How do you make your bread? They learned that I cared, on a level deeper than just satisfying the customers.

But I digress. I was saying I think it might intimidate me, that they should know how much I really like this thing that they - or some of them, at least - spend every hour they're awake thinking about. This blog and the idea that one of the guys might find it terrifies me. It's this little project of mine, but it's also very personal. Would they be slapping their thighs with laughter, point their fingers at me the next time they see me and say: watup housewife? Baked some brownies lately? Quirped about your family?

A chef I know through another chef actually dropped by a couple of months ago. A guest of his had mentioned that the reason she came to his restaurant was because I'd mentioned it briefly here. He sent me an e-mail, thanking me for the kind words. And I was petrified. Who would he tell? Did he even know it was me? I bumped into him recently - and I was ready to spring for cover. Stupid, I know - but for some reason, it felt like he had a peek into a part of my life that I didn't decide to show him.

I'm no chef. I don't claim to be. You could blindfold me and have me taste-test a hundred ingredients and I might be able to tell you what 10 of them were - if that many. But what does a good chef make? What he does, or the way he does it, his way of approaching things? Or how many ingredients he can distinguish form each other?

That's the whole point, isn't it? There's not a blueprint as to how to love or appreciate food. At least I don't think so. Even though it's at a whole other level than what the pro's do, it doesn't make it less sincere, or honest. And as I told you, I'm nothing if I'm not honest.

It's not that I need to have a sign hanging around my neck saying: look at me, look at my blog. But I certainly don't need the feeling of being ashamed either - especially because I am dead proud of what I've made here. It might not be original, it might be down-to-earth - but I enjoy it. It might not be professional cooking, but it's cooking from the heart.

And you know what? I just told one of my chef friends about this blog yesterday. He's become a friend, more than I can say of any of the other chefs I know, so I felt safe telling him - although even that was a bit of a hurdle. His comment: why haven't I ever gotten any of all of those cakes?!? I guess it ain't all bad then...:-)

Chicken Liver Salad with Raspberries - from Madjournal by Paul Cunningham - another of the chefs who has no idea what he's meant to me and the way I approach this whole food thing...

I know we're out of season with the raspberries here in the northern hemisphere, but I promise you, it's worth waiting for. If you can't wait, I was thinking you could substitute pomegranate seeds, or maybe gently defrosted frozen raspberries. I really like the contrasting flavors of slightly sweet and soft chicken liver with the tart, acidic berries. The bread croutons add a nice crunch.

For the vinaigrette:
2oo ml. extra virgin olive oil
150 ml. raspberry vinegar
250 g. fresh raspberries (or substitute frozen, I don't think these necessarily have to be fresh)
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
- mix all of the ingredients, crushing the raspberries slightly in the process. Leave to infuse for at least a couple of hours, preferably a couple of days, in the fridge.

For the salad
400 g. chicken livers
couple spoonfuls flour
4 + 2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 big shallots, sliced into neat slices
Mixed lettuce leaves, spinach, rucola, mustard leaves - your choice! Washed and dried
250 g. fresh raspberries
1 small (preferably sourdough-) loaf of bread
Olive oil for making the croutons, and more olive oil and butter for frying
Salt and pepper

Start by making the bread croutons. Cut up the loaf into 1,5 cm. x 1,5 cm. cubes. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and to of the crushed garlic cloves. Put into an ovenproof dish in a single layer and toast in a 200 degree warm oven for... oh, about 20 minutes? Until crunchy. You might have to toss them around every now and again, for even browning.

Then go ahead with the chicken livers. Toss them in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper, then fry in olive oil/butter with a little crushed garlic thrown in. You might have to do it in to batches. You want the livers to be nice and crisp on the outside, but still pink on the inside - that's how I want mine, anyways, you do as you please.

Toss the lettuce leaves with the vinaigrette, shallots and raspberries. Put the chicken livers and croutons on top, add a sprinkling of salt and a grind of pepper, and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Sweetcorn tart from Tamasin Day-Lewis' Art of the Tart. Just not what I thought it would be.

The pictures in this post are of food made from recipes that turned out okay, but just not as I thought they would. I don't think the recipes were off, and you might like them should you find the recipe somewhere and try them out. I just thought I'd use the pictures to accompany this post on how things that look good on the outside might be just a little flawed at the edges. Like I feel at the moment.

It seems that lately, all I do here is trying to resurrect my blog. Maybe I'll keep doing that for another year or so, maybe I'll stop completely someday. But the silence the last couple of weeks has had it's very own reasons. Personal ones. And reasons that are really hard to talk about in a place that concentrates on food, and the good kind, mostly. It's got to do with me, how I percieve myself and the people around me, and oh.

Spaghetti and meatballs from Nigella Lawson. Just plain blah - but M spiced them up the next day and they where SO much better. There you go, trust your own (or your boyfriend's) instincts.

Lately, there hasn't been much food. There hasn't been much good, either - not food, not much else. And before I start sounding like I'm somewhere down in a deep depression, I better tell you that I'm not. Things are just hard right now. In my head, mostly. I told you before, that even though I don't think it's something I plan my life around, I tend to try to be a perfectionist. Sometimes, that illusion breaks into a thousand pieces, and there's nothing you can do but try and pick up the pieces and put it back together. Hopefully in a stronger pattern. But there really are no promises. And while you do it, it takes a whole lot of concentration.

Chocolate Swirls from Lisa Yockelson's Chocolate Chocolate. Dry and just not interesting enough, considering the amount of work that went into them. Eh. They looked pretty, though.

Why let you all know about this? I don't know. I actually don't, because face it, I'm not saying much anyways. What I want to do, mostly, is just to be honest and straight up. Is it a weird forum to put all these thoughts out in? Perhaps. But it's also a forum that I trust and love. And one that I miss, as I've said many a time before. One of the things I'm trying to focus on, is to do things that actually make me happy. To really listen to myself and do the things I want to do, and not necessarily what is expected of me.

Ricotta pancakes from Nigella Lawson - BORING and dry-ish...

So I'm trying, again, to come back here. It might not happen. This post might get stuck up here at the top for ages. Just know that I'm trying.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Because something has got to happen around here...


Will be back, hopefully sometime soon...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dining with Three Bloggers - September 27th.

My apologies. It was my sincerest intention to do a DwB post at least every other week. Then what happened? Well, the boss left on paternity leave and left me with a whole lotta work, hence, no post last week. Yup, always blame it on work. So even though I had done some cooking, I didn't have time to do a write up. But it's here today.

Having done this DwB thing for quite some time now has had me troubling my mind - not so much with how to keep finding new recipes that I want to try to choose from - lord knows there's PLENTY! - but from what to do with the recipes I kept bookmarking from blogs that I've already once featured in a DwB session. I know, it's shameless of them to not stop posting about delicious things once I have acknowledged them - but they do keep doing it, oh yes they do! And I mean, of course you want to know about new blogs, but face it - it's also the food we're all after, isn't it?

So what to do? I could of course just try them out, and not tell anyone. But I'm a bragging sort of person (actually, not really, but in this context I think it would be a shame to not be!) so I found this way of doing it. Every now and again, I'll do a post that spotlights three, already individually posted about blogs, with a new recipe from each of them. It'll be short, sweet and more to the recipe-point than the usual posts, but hey - I will tell you about THREE recipes, not just one! So please enjoy the first of hopefully several to come "Dining with Three Bloggers":

Bouchons au Thon from Orangette

From Molly of Orangette (previous feature here), I FINALLY tried the Bouchons au Thon I've had bookmarked almost ever since I got to know the food blogging world. They're easy to whip up, and served with a salad (in my case one of tomatoes, thinly sliced fennel and black olives) they were great warm for dinner, and maybe even better (cold) for lunch next day (first day of school - I needed a pick-me-up!) I think I could make every single one of the recipes on Molly's blog and not tire of it anytime soon. None of the recipes from her blog I've tried has ever failed me - and I have done quite a few.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Who Wants Seconds?

From the sadly no-longer updated foodblog (or let me know if you're still out there Moira! I miss you!) Who Wants Seconds? (previous feature) I tried my hand at a classic: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have a friend that loves - loves - loves this combo, and the *perfect* recipe I had, I accidently lost. So I was on the lookout, and naturally, when Moira posted about these, I bookmarked them. I didn't get round to trying them before last week, but I think we have a keeper: soft and dense in the middle, no crunch but the one you need at the edges and well - had I not left them for 30 seconds too long in the oven, I think the texture would have been just perfect. I'll have to experiment with the rest of the batch that is now residing in my freezer. I'm sure my friend won't mind being the taste guinea pig, heh!

Garlicky Braised Cauliflower with Capers from The Wednesday Chef

I was so lucky to meet Luisa from The Wednesday Chef in person when Martin and I was travelling the US this spring. She is one of my favorite bloggers, and well - her recipe archive is one that has me bookmarking like crazy. I mentioned this one, the Garlicky Braised Cauliflower with capers back when I did my first post about her, and this recipe was one of the reasons I had to invent a way of doing re-features! It's just plain wonderful. Savory, garlicky - mmm. No wonder Luisa ate a whole head of cauliflower in one sitting. If it wasn't because I was making dinner for my man, I'd have done the same. As it was, I served it as the vegetable part of a true meat, starch and veggies dinner plate: grilled pork chops with soft polenta and cauliflower. A real treat it was!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dreams of a Mexican Fiesta

Inside Lime

I have a hard time believing that it's been three months since we returned from our roadtrip. Where did all that time go? Where did all the time that we spend ON the trip fly away too? And why, oh WHY will it not come back??

So a couple weeks ago, I took matters into my own hands, and tried to recreate a little piece of time passed by. The Dinner Club girls (as we shall refer to them in the future) are a bunch of girls that started out in med school at the same time. Some have gone off to do other things, and the rest of us are spread out on different semesters, but we try to get together at least once a month, taking turns to be in charge of dinner and doing the dishes. We try to keep it low-key - it really should be things that we'd make for ourselves on a weeknight, without further ado. But it was summer, I had more spare time than I usually do, with school not taking up the big hunk of time it normally does, so of course, I had to throw myself at it like a kid in a candy store.

We were going to check out the pictures from the trip, so the evening already had an American feel to it. I started out thinking great, big, greasy hamburgers and shakes - but then when I, a couple days before the dinner, looked over my photos and found this one:

I reconsidered. Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is a little place in Miami, Florida. When I say little, I mean little - basically, what you see here is the shop - there's a medium-sized terasse to the left of the place, which seats, hmm, a 25-30 people, but mostly, it's a take-out place. How we found it? A hostess at a restaurant in one of the (very touristy places) near South Beach told us about it - we were having a look at her menu and she asked us what we were looking for, and we were all: we really want Mexican food - which they of course didn't have at her place. She then looked over her shoulder to check if her manager was around, and when she saw he wasn't, she leaned close to us and whispered: go to Lime. It's small, it's a 10-15 minute walk from here - but it's dirt cheap, the food is fantastic, you'll love it, and me and all my friends go there all the time. That sold it - she seemed so genuine that we couldn't help ourselves.

And we're glad we went. Not only did we go there that night, we came back the next day for lunch. And had we had the time, we'd have gone there to pick up some food for the flight back - unfortunately, we didn't.

The food was fabulous, but one of the really lovely things about the place was their salsa-buffet. There was about 6 or 7 different salsas to choose from, all made from scratch, and all super fresh. You could take as many or as few as you'd like, and you could refill, and refill, and refill. Hotsauces?

Got 'em, too. In any strength you'd like.

Ah MAN! It was an awesome place! My mouth was watering as I looked over the pictures, and I could almost taste everything again. I lamented the fact that food like this is nowhere to be had around here... Bo-hoo!

But hey Zarah, you're a wiz in the kitchen, aren't you?:-) So why not just make it yourself? The American-themed dinner quickly turned into a sheer Mexican fiesta - 'cause darn it, if I can't buy it, I can make it myself!

So there was salsas:

From top left, clockwise: pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa roja & roasted corn + black bean salsa.

The recipes I tried was a mixture of what I found through Google and via our beloved foodblogs, combined with a dash of memory and a tad of sudden inclinations. The pico de gallo came about from this recipe. Even though I thought the orange peppers was a sort of unfit addition, I used them, and it worked well.
Salsa Roja was courtesy of Saveur, only I got no where near the amount of salsa they'd promised - must have been some giant tomatoes they used! I doubled the amount of tomatoes, but not chilies - I'm still learning to eat super spicy food. Boy was it yummy! I could even do with a bit more heat, so next time...

The Roasted Corn + Black Bean Salsa was inspired by this version. I 'grilled' the corn under the grill-thingy in my oven, and that actually worked out pretty well, if I may say so myself. Easy, and tasty, and disappeared quickly. It's amazing what fresh corn does to people. I'm one of those persons that would never come close to a can of corn, but corn on the cob, or better yet, like here, cut from the cob - yes please, sir!

To go with all these goodies I sauteed some chicken with some bell peppers, garlic, red onion, a dash of smoked paprika and salt and pepper - the salsas were the important part, the chicken more of a protein requirement, so I didn't give that much thought. I will next time - not that it wasn't okay, it was just a bit - boring.

And, oh, lest I forget: homemade tortillas!

- courtesy of Molly and Brandon - except I used butter instead of shortening, 'cause face it, I ain't gonna buy a pound of shortening to use three tablespoons. And yes, homemade - the ones I can get here smell really weird once you open the pack - they're supposed to be all additive- color and everything free, but they smell - funky. And it's dead easy to make your own, I found out - I even left them proofing for way more than I was supposed too, and they didn't mind one bit. They were used for make-your-own-fajitas and:

Quesedillas. Mmmm, melted cheese... (say in Homer Simpson voice)

I tried writing them at Lime, wondering if they might let go of a recipe to poor little, suffering in Denmark far, far away from anything decent Mexican food-me - but unfortunately, I haven't heard from them. So if anyone's got some amazing salsa recipes - I'm especially eager to lay my hands on a smokey, tomatoey, smooth one - or if you know of any must-have Mexican cookbooks, please let me know. I know this is the "popularised" version of Mexican, and not necessarily very authentic - but eh, it tastes fabulous, and that's what matters!

The girls and I had a great time, and some great food. But the part I (almost) loved the most about it was Martin coming back from work, peeking in the fridge, spotting the leftovers and...

transporting himself right back to Miami with a late night snack. How could I not love this guy?

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Dining with the Bloggers - September 6th.

I had promised myself to be a good girl this week. I'd promised myself: no baking. You can't keep doing cakes and muffins and sweet stuff for DwB, Zarah - you're going to end up having to rename the project Baking with the Bloggers! I know, I've only done one DwB-post yet this time around - but trust me, there's a scary amount of chocolatey treats finding their way into my to-do-list. I could claim I was innocent, that they simply jump in there themselves. But we all know that's a lie. And I'm no liar.

So, I went looking for something savory. And you know, as well as I do, that there is PLENTY of opportunities in that respect out there also. It was a windy, cold and dreary Monday, and it was weather for soup. Yes, already that time of the year.

And there it was, jumping out at me from my Bloglines. Smitten Kitchen is a relatively new foodblog written by Deb from New York. I forget how I first stumbled upon her blog - at first I thought it was from Cate mentioning her, but turns out I've bookmarked recipes from Deb before that feature was made. Regardless - she was instantly added to my rss feed. Her pictures are fabulous and her writing is - well, her writing is of the kind I, as a non-native English speaker/writer, can only dream of ever doing anything like. She uses words that, while I may know the meaning of them (some of them, yes I do!), I would never think of using in a sentence, and I love how she keeps everything down-to-earth and honest - and she's quirky in a way I absolutely adore! (and would probably not like me for calling her quirky, heh!) Just check out how she got her tagline! While her foodblog is new, her regular blog is ooooooooold, and can be found here (and it looks like she was bitten by the foodie-bug a good while before she started Smitten Kitchen - in fact, she announced just today that she's going to devote her time solely to the foodblog - I'm sure we're going to love having her!)

But I digress: soup. I had a longing look at the soup made from 44 cloves of garlic, but had to work for the next couple of nights, so I thought I'd better stay clear for now. Cauliflower Soup it was instead - not a bad substitute if you ask me. I made it using less liquids because I had a small head of cauliflower, and because I like my soups thick - real thick. The recipe is supposed to make 4-6 servings - well, it was the only thing I had for dinner, with a couple of slices of toasted sourdough on the side - and I ate ALL of it. And it felt good. Also, check out the amount of pepper in Deb's picture - it needs it. When I first tasted the soup out of the pot, I thought it was a little blah, but the freshly ground pepper somehow livens it all up. Oh yes, and using chicken stock will definitely liven things up too - I was fresh out (Duh! As if you ever have any, Zarah!) so I used white wine and water.

But I wasn't really going to stop there, was I? Noooooo. There were these, too, you see. How could I pass up on those? Three different kinds of cookies, and while I would have gone all out and done all three kinds, it was a school night and I just did the Oreo-type ones. All the ingredients were in the kitchen, so they whipped up in seconds, and baked in nine minutes. I let them cool and then sandwiched them with some leftover cream cheese frosting from my sister's birthday cake from the day before. That would have to do, as there was no recipe for the filling - Deb used her cookies for ice cream sandwiches, which is definitely no bad idea either!

I snapped a couple pictures, then scooped one up and standing over the sink, bit in. Mouth full and all, I moaned an 'Oh. my. gawd.', spontaneously. They're so good, I just couldn't help myself. Chewy and sticky and cocoa-y cookies, mellowed and perfected with the cream cheese frosting. Ah!

I later found out that she had a link to the full Oreo recipe here - I told you, she was just a foodblogger waiting to happen! It's definitely not the last time I'm trying one of her recipes - I've got my eyes on her Salsa Fresca and her BBQ sauce - and if I could find it in myself to kill (ahem, and buy - where would I get those here?!) so many teddybears, I most certainly would try her Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake...

So you see? I tried. I tried being a good girl, and not go sugar-crazy. I guess it's just in me, isn't it? Thinking about it, Baking with the Bloggers might not be such a bad proposition...:-)

Monday, September 4, 2006

La Festa al Fresco: Tomato & Saffron Tart

I'm so close to being late for La Festa al Fresco - tsk, tsk, but I'm telling you, traffic was just HORRIBLE! ;-)

Lis and Ivonne asked us all to bring something fresh and seasonal for the party, so... wait a minute, it's stuck down here in the big brown bag... Yes, of course I brought something! - what kind of guest would I be if I didn't? I'm not so rude as to be both late and empty-handed!

Fresh, seasonal ingredient? You know it, I know it - it's got to be tomatoes. While I haven't succeded in getting the cut-off's I got from my Bonus-Mom's green house tomatoes to produce anything resembling the amount needed for this, tomatoes are now and here and everywhere - and they're the star ingredient in this yellow-like-the-sun Tomato & Saffron Tart from Tamasin Day-Lewis' The Art of the Tart. Great book and a fantastic tart! I kept expecting shellfish every time I took a bite of it, because what I usually associate with saffron is Bouillabaise. There is no shellfish in it, but you can sure taste the saffron! I actually thought the spice was used mostly for it's color, but WOW! It has it's very own personality. This tart is a fantastic way of letting it be a star ingredient, along with the tomatoes of course.

I'm gonna cheat, because I am late (c'mon, I know it!) and just point you here (scroll down, it's the bottom post - this was the nearest a permalink I could find), where someone else has been so good as to print out the recipe. The shortcrust pastry I use is from Martha Stewart, but use whichever one you feel confident about. I might not have gotten the tomatoes from my balcony, but I did get my basil from the balcony - now that's fresh, isn't it? I wouldn't say you have to necesarily follow the recipe for the tomato sauce - just make your standard one, but keep the spices subtle, and let it boil down 'till jammy consistency. Also, I only needed about half of what is stated for the custard - my tart pan is a bit smaller than what was asked for, so that probably explains it. You could easily do both tomato sauce and (of course) the pastry up untill the rolling out and baking stage the day before you need to serve the tart. And, seeing this is a potluck sort of party, why not do little individual tarts?

Now, scoot on, I have to go say hi to everyone - that's the problem (or the fun part?) with being late, you have to shake hands and smile at a million strangers before you get to the food and drinks! Hi! *Waves* Gosh, I know a lot of the people here already! And there's a bunch I've never met before too! Thanks for the invitation, Ivonne and Lis - I'm sure we'll have a blast (and just push me in the back when you want me to go home - I'm sure I'll be able to roll all the way, what with my tummy so full of goodies!;-))

Tagged with

Friday, September 1, 2006

Comfort me with Cake

'Dear Diary,

Yes, I'm here again. I know, I know - it's an unworthy job, being a diary. You almost only ever hear from me when I'm blue. Or stressed. Or thinking too much about something. You thought something was different this time? Think again...

I've started a new job. Yes, I know, it is only two and a half month since I got back and started working somewhere new, but eh. What can you do? New job it is. It actually seems like it's going to be rather exciting - I might get some responsibility here. If I'm woman enough to live up to it. That's always the thing, isn't it? The fear of not being as good as people think you are. Yes, it's their expectations, not yours. Still. The whole not-knowing-where-things are, new people all around, with names you just can't remember, and ways of doing things you're not familiar with. The lack of well-known routines. It's scary and thrilling. And very much - much.

School starts again Monday. That is to say, school this semester is hands-on - I'm going to be walking around in a hospital, white clothes and stethoscope and all. Listening, looking, taking it all in. And feeling like I don't know anything. It's going to be quite marvelous, I'm sure. What if I don't like it? What if I'm not supposed to be a doctor?

The weather's been plain ridiculous the last couple of days. Wait, make that weeks. Sun mixed with a heavy dose of rain. Rain coming and going, coming and going. You can't go anywhere without bringing an umbrella - well, you can, but you'd surely get wet. I'm drinking a lot of tea, and I rediscovered my closet's worth of wollen sweaters. Today, I tried on a pair of long pants from the closet. I just couldn't bring myself to wear them, so I changed them to a skirt. I have to pretend, just a little while longer. Please summer. Stay.

I forgot to paint the hall during my vacation. I never got started on my roadtrip-scrapbook project. I need to buy shampoo. And flour - 'cause the last couple of batches I bought had worms in them - ick. The computer needs a clean-up - too many weird thing lying about. I think I'm this close to a full-blown cold, and I have a headache, ouch. My mp3-player's rechargeable battery is going wacko, I have to get that repaired. I need my boyfriend to kiss me.

I think I need cake...'

Cream Cheese Pound Cake - from Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor

A rich, decadent cake that I'm sure would do very well with some fresh berries. But I had it with a big mug of tea while the rain pounded on my windows and I was feeling sorry for myself. It worked like that also, and very well. Yes, sometimes, things are as simple as a piece of cake.

I used Boyajian lemon oil in place of the lemon extract and you can most definitely taste it. I might even go as far to say you taste the lemon too much. I'll cut it down to about half next time.

Bakeware: plain 10 inch tube pan for making about 20 slices.

2 3/4 c unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c unsifted bleached cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 pound (16 tablespoons or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
One 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons shortening (I used same amount butter - I can't convince myself to buy shortening, no matter what it might do for my cakes!)
3 cups superfine sugar (vanilla-scented if you have)
2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
6 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C. Grease and flour your cake pan - Lisa instructs you to make a circle of waxed paper to fit the bottom, then grease that too - I couldn't be bothered. Hey, it was an off-day, okay?

Sift the flours, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together.

In a freestanding mixer, cream the butter with the cream cheese and shortening. Do so for 4 minutes, on moderate speed. Add the sugar in three additions, beating for one minute between batches. Blend in vanilla, lemon and almond extract. Beat in the eggs, one at the time. Remember to keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.

On low speed, add the sifted ingredients in three additions, blending just until all flour has been absorbed. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes - maybe a tad longer. The cake will pull away slightly from the pan when it's done, but check with a wooden skewer also. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, on a rack. Then turn it out, and allow to cool completely. Or eat as soon as you think that NOW! it has cooled enough.

'See? This is how it always goes. I do half an hour therapy with you, and everything looks a little brighter. Maybe it's putting it all in print that sets things straight. That makes me realize that really, if these are the only things I can find to complain about - then I should consider myself a lucky person. Thank you. You helped. Oh, and the cake might have, too.'

Friday, August 25, 2006

SHF#22: Can You Can? Rhubarb Cordial

Way back when I used to do a regularly scheduled blog, I ALWAYS took part in this brainchild of Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess - The Sugar High Fridays. Then stuff happened, I didn't blog much for a while and well, no SHF for me. Now I am blogging somewhat regularly - so what better way to celebrate that I've been doing more than one post in the past three weeks than to take part in Nicky & Oliver of Delicious Days' version of SHF: Can You Can?

And in fact, yes, I can can, (I can even do the cancan, but that's a whole other thing!) so this time, I chose to bottle instead. Hey, Nicky and Oliver said it was okay - at least that's how I interpreted the rules (there's a "bottle" in there somewhere, isn't there?)

Hence, I give to you: homemade rhubarb cordial. During the warm (wait, make that darn hot, as they have been here this year!) months, I drink a lot of water, as I'm told to do. I like flavoring it with cordial, and usually go for elderflower or the classic Ribena. I've never tried doing cordial myself because faced with the demand of buying sieving-contraptions and a lot of boiling when it's already hot outside, my head starts spinning. But this one was easy. No hoity-toity equipment needed, just a brief boil, a bit of sieving and a drain through some cloth, and you've got a nice, big bottle of homemade good stuff.

Rhubarb Cordial - from Camilla Plum
makes about 1,5 liters

1 kg. rhubarb, cleansed and cut into chunks
600 g. sugar (I'll try cutting it down slightly the next time - this one was very sweet)
1 l. water

Bring everything to a boil in a non-reactive pot. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes, then turn of the heat and leave to infuse for an hour. Sieve. Drain again through a cloth, to make a nice, non-cloudy cordial. You can use the leftover rhubarb in a rhubarb trifli for instance - the compote is a little more liquid than what I usually make, but I hate wasting things, so used it will be!

Pour into CLEAN jars - keeps for up to two weeks (mine has so far anyways) in the fridge.

When I want to drink it, I usually thin it 1:4 cordial to water, but if you like it stronger or weaker, be my guest. You could use sparkling water for thinning. I also like to spritz a little lime in it - it is a very sweet adventure, this, and the lime gives it a little oomph.

What did you can? Or did you just cancan?:-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dining with the Bloggers - August 23rd.

This might be kind of silly - I mean why draw your attention to a blog that I'm almost a 100 % sure you already know? Because - well, because as soon as I saw what I tried for this post, I knew I had to try it. So bear with me - it might not be an unknown blog, but it's a good blog. (and there is, btw, noone telling me what I can or cannot do - so of course I can focus on a well known blog - heh!)

So: we're talking a guy that's writing cookbooks. Wait, let me re-phrase that - no just any old kind of cookbook. No, this man writes books on desserts. People - how could I not love this guy?

Yes, yes, it's him - it's David Lebovitz and his blog that I've put my clammy hands on this Wednesday. Ever since I first read his blog, I've been rolling around on the floor laughing - I love his sense of humour, and the man is downright FUNNY! Even honest, too (seriously - if you haven't read his confessions-post, you have to hurry up and do it - it's hilarious! It even spurred off a lot of other bloggers doing the same thing - in fact, I think I need to do one myself). And, where was I? Yes. He lives in Paris, and he gives out tips on how to survive there, be it as a tourist or as an American, without all those things you just can't live - or bake - without ('cause even though it is Paris, there are things even she can't provide! Like AC.) And he does dozen upon dozen of things with chocolate (and real food, too), all of which I'd love to eat. So no wonder he's marrying some of my favorite girls (yes, that's supposed to be plural) - and I think he might have his eyes set on one more - they sure seem like they're having a lot of fun!:-)

Anywho, what I want is his Dulce de Leche Brownies. Oh dear. When I saw these, I couldn't get them of my mind again. Chocolate and dulce de leche, in the same treat? Gaaaaaaah! Easy pick!

When reading the recipe, I did think to myself: hmm... adding eggs to the (somewhat warm) mixture of butter and chocolate - wouldn't that make the chocolate curdle ? And oh the horror! Maybe not taste so good either?? And I was right. I did leave the chocolate-butter mixture to cool for a little while, but even so, adding the first egg, the batter looked a little funky. Maybe it gets better when I add the rest, I thought. Not so. Even worse. 'So okay, adding the sugar, that will help.' Ah-ah. Drats. 'I mean, really, who is this guy, anyway?? Some chocolate-baking book professionel, who's effing up a brownie?? C'mon! What's up with that? Yeah so he's done books, he's baked for ages and ages, probably from even before I was born, and...' ooooops! While grumbling away, I'd added the flour and suddenly - suddenly it all looked like it should. Like a real brownie batter. Glossy and shiny. 'Okay, okay, I take it all back! 'Cause this looks mighty fine!' I dolloped batter and dulce de leche in the brownie pan...

and I baked it - and I LOVED it!

Make sure you do use a whole can of dulce de leche - I cut the amount a little, because I was afraid it was going to overpower the brownie, but ended up getting pieces of brownie sans dulce de leche, which was kind of not the point. I learned my lesson - twice! - from now on, I'll trust David anytime!:-)

I usually make my dulce de leche by boiling the can of condensed milk covered with a couple inches water - David is a sissy (tee-hee!) and has a no-boiling-can recipe here, should you need it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I've Created a Monster!

Or actually, that should be, WE, the natural yeasts in the air and I, have created a monster. I can't wait to see what we can breed from it!:-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Return of the Dead: Dining with the Bloggers!

Yes, that's right! :-)

Dining with the Bloggers was - or actually, that should be is - a project Cathy of My Little Kitchen laid out for herself in January last year: she wanted to try out some of all the recipes she kept bookmarking, and not just have them withering around on her computer. I joined her, and we spend a couple of months doing little posts on the recipe we tried and the blog from which it was chosen, every Wednesday.

We stopped in November 2005, after nearly a year of fun-to-do posts and trying out recipes - swamped with that ever-present real work and exams. Luckily, we got a real-life installment when Martin and I joined Cathy for a week during our recent trip to the States. I even had the great fortune to do Dining with the Bloggers, The Real-life Versions! with Stephanie, Julie, Luisa and Jen as well! Yes, you can call me lucky!

And while a virtual DwB is a poor excuse for the real thing, my list is growing like cucmbers in a hothouse during a particularly warm summer. And I've GOT to try some of all these recipes, and not just dream about them - hence, I'm reviving Dining with the Bloggers. I might do a little theme-ing, I might try out some different concepts - I might even only do it every other Wednesday - but I'm looking forward to it. Keep and eye on this space, Wednesdays to come...

In case you want to check out what I've done before on DwB, here's a couple of links for you - each post should have a link to Cathy's post for the same week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm telling you, the French will bring their dogs anywhere...


From the market in Cap Ferret (France), where we had a beautiful vacation with the Family this July...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Counting My Blessings

The family bathing in Vesterhavet...

I think I was 13 when I first met C, my Dad's wife. When writing about her here, I often refer to her as my Stepmom, but really, that title has a bit much Cinderella-"Where's my dress!? Clean my room!"-ring to it - so how about a bonus-Mom then? I think we'll call her that. Because that really sums up what she means to me better.

Anyways. 13. My Dad and I had recently returned from a trip to Burgundy - a trip where the driving back (which, I might point out is just short of 2000 kilometers) was done by my Dad in one stretch, in a little less than 24 hours. He obviously wanted to get home, and I was oblivious as to the possibility of there being such a thing as love involved in his determination to get back so fast. I was just happy to go back to all of my friends at home!

A week or two after we'd returned home, I spend the weekend at my Dad's, as I used to do every other weekend back in the days. My Dad, the lawyer, had a little errand to run, so we took the car to go have a look at a clients house - something about some gravel running into places it shouldn't after a great big rainfall.

And there she was. Standing at the top of the gravel-y mess, on the terasse of a huge, cubistic house, waving. Looking like Sigourney Weaver (which, to this day, she loves me for saying!), dark curly hair and a big smile. My Dad - blushing, was he?? I still had no idea they knew each other other than professionally, but looking back (and because in retrospect, everything is always more clear) I guess I did pick up on something. This wasn't just a client.

I forget how long it took for Dad to admit they were seeing each other, other than at the office. You see, not only was she a client of his - she was one of his employees. That just isn't so comme-il-faut. And she was younger - a LOT younger - like almost 20 years younger. My Dad, the stud!:-)

Eventually, I got to meet her, other than when she was perched at the top of her house. There was a lot of parties, with tons of my Dad and C's friends. There were sleep-overs at her house. And somewhere along the way, I realized that these two - they might actually stick it out. There had been girlfriends of Dad's before, but not like this one. I don't know what exactly set this one apart from the others, but she was special.

From the restaurant at Svinkløv Badehotel...

And sure enough. Marriage. Siblings - two, even! And aunts, grandparents, cousins, from C's side of the family, to boot - not to mention all of her friends and their families.

C has a magical way around people. It's hard to define, but you just know it when you meet a person that's like this. I guess my Dad has the same thing, but it never really occured to me before they moved in together. I guess before he met C, it was mostly his bachelor friends and their hangarounds that benefitted from it. But C and Dad's house is the kind of house where you always feel at home. You trust these people, you confide in them. You can plonk yourself down on the sofa and relax, and not talk, if that's what you want to. Serve yourself - there are always cold beer and soda in the fridge, there's always food to be had, and a bed to sleep in. But most importantly, there's always good company. The house is always brimming with people - even when it's empty. Their house is a place I can't help but call home, even though I've never actually lived there. And it's just like the home I hope I'll have myself one day.

And then there's the food. I already told you about my Dad probably being one of the biggest influences in my food-"life", when we're talking the family's influence. But come to think of it, C probably ranks pretty high up there, too.

She was the one that brought into my conscious recollection stuff like freshly picked and still warm from the sun strawberries and peas in their pods. The peas, preferably eaten in the car, straight out of the brown paper bag we bought them in by the farm door. She taught me, just as I guess her mother taught her, to leave an up-turned plate in the bottom of the bowl where yu put your washed and hulled strawberries, so that the water from the draining strawberries wont turn the bottom ones into mush. She taught me how to use a salad spinner for drying lettuce, and consenquently, it was one of the first things I HAD to acquire when I got my own place. Her Mom and her taught me how to make Mormorsalat. We peel fjordrejer together, sitting on each side of their big kitchen table, papers scattered everywhere to catch the debris, and us, talking happily. She loves soups - any kind, pureed, clear broths - but hold the "fillings", she just wants the "water". I don't think I ever had a proper chicken soup until she made it, all from scratch, over the course of a day. I think she's probably the first to, without me knowing it, teach me to respect the ingredient, and the unique flavor each one posses. Not because she told me, but because she cooked me food that was honest and down-to-earth.

She's always been a friend, more than she has a mom. I remember when she lost her mom, a couple years back. I was travelling at the time, and yes, I felt terrible that my (bonus-)grandmom was dying, but the thing that got me the most was not being able to be there for C. Not being able to share her pain, or her worries, or do whatever she needed me to do. Not being able to help her get through it. Not being able to just sit down and talk, like we used to. We talk a lot. About boys. About my Dad, that I got to know in a whole new way, once C entered our lives. We talk about my siblings. Relationships. Family. How to bring up children. And we talk about food. And despite everything she's taught me about food, she still calls me for help with recipes, ingredient-substituitions and general cooking advice.

Her newest thing is a greenhouse. She grows tomatoes, cucumbers, chilis and a load of herbs, and looks like a small child beaming over her Christmas presents every time she talks about them. And she takes your hand and drags you out there to have a look at what's growing now.

She's starting traditions: for the last three years, we've been baking Christmas cookies. For my birthday the last 5 or 6 years, where I cook for my entire family at Dad and C's house, she's always there, helping me out in the kitchen, getting excited about making little tarts or plucking parsley or whatever I need her to do. She sets the table. Every year, for my brother and sister's birthday, she graciously allows me to make layer cakes for her children. C's mom used to do it, but after she passed away, for some reason C thought I was the person to take over that tradition. One I'm proud of continuing.

Another tradition that runs in her family, is the trip to the north of Jylland every summer. If everything comes together, I'm get to go, too. And when we're really lucky, we go to Svinkløv Badehotel.

It's a pretty, little hotel just off the beach. Every room has it's own pastel color with matching furniture and paintings. It's family run and it's just so cute and quaint you have to go there and see it. Go for a walk in the wind on the beach, then go back and have a cup of tea and a piece of their walnut layer cake. Not that I've ever tried it, but it sure looks decadent. And if you're really, REALLY lucky, you'll have fantastic company with you. Like a family, that even though it's very non-traditional in it's set-up, is perfect for me. It might not be easy to explain to people how we're related, but I love it - Bonus-Mom, Bonus-Granddad, -aunts, -cousins and all!

As I mentioned, I haven't tried their walnut layer cake, but I have the recipe in a cookbook they released a couple of years ago. In that book, there's also a recipe for a wonderful bread. It's probably the one bread I've made most times in my life. I can't help but think of the place and all of the memories related to it whenever I make it.

Svinkløvbrød - Bread from Svinkløv - from "Svinkløv Badehotel" by Mikael Christensen

- makes 2 medium loaves
25 g. fresh yeast
300 ml. water, cold
25 g. salt
10 g. sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
400 ml. buttermilk
600 g. wheat flour
300 g. durum wheat flour
100 g. grahamflour (coarse wheat)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add salt, sugar and olive oil/butter. Add buttermilk and flour, and knead thouroughly. I start out using my KitchenAid, but usually do the last bit by hand. Put the dough back in a greased and clingfilm-covered bowl, and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours. You could choose to leave the dough to rise on the kitchen counter (draft-free and all that), in which case you should probably count on a 2 hour-ish rise.

When the rise is over, punch back the dough and shape into 2 round loaves. Leave to prove, covered with a damp dish towel. I think I usually let them rise for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Brush the loaves with water, then bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness by tapping the loaf underneith - if it sounds hollow, it's done. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

[DANSK] Sommersalat

(still on a blog-cleaning trip - see what I found!:-) It might be a while since I took the picture, but it's still good... In fact, I might have to make this again soon...)

As it reads in the introduction to the recipe for this, rygeost (litteraly smoked cheese) is probably one of the things us Danes have all to ourselves. And no, it's not because it's bad, people, it's just - well, I don't know - just because? To some extent, that does make it pretty silly to give you a recipe for a piece of smørrebrød where the main ingredient wont be one you can just go out and get - but eh, you can't win them all, and look at it this way: if you're ever around here, you'll know what to look for! (and who knows, there might be some Danish people peeking at this blog out there, too!)

Rygeost is a soft type of cheese, consistency-wise like a fresh goats cheese. It's made of cows milk though, and often a lowfat type milk. Why someone came up with the idea of smoking it, and adding just a touch of caraway seeds to it, beats me. But it works - I didn't care much for it when I was a kid, but I've grown into really liking it. The salty, smoky flavor hits the tastebuds in the same way smoked fish and (dare I compare it to this?) bacon does. Put it up there with anchovies, capers, blue cheese and olives, and I guess you know what I'm talking about - it's and acquired taste, and one you can't get enough of once you've turned to it.

In sommersalat (translates into summer salad, but you'd figured that out already, hadn't you?), you mellow out the rygeost a bit with crème fraiche and a heavy dose of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, chives and new potatoes. Serve it all up on toasted rye bread, and you've got yourself a meal fit for a beautiful summer day...

Sommersalat - from Camilla Plum: Umoderne Mad
- enough for 4 generous smørrebrød:

200 g. rygeost
100 ml. crème fraiche 38%
Thinly sliced radishes - loads!
500 g. tomatoes, sliced
1 thinly sliced cucumber
300 g. boiled small new potatoes, sliced
Chives, finely chopped
salt, pepper and sugar
4 thick-ish slices of rye bread

Whip together rygeost and crème fraiche until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar - it's not supposed to be sweet, it's just to cut the flavors a bit.

Serve like this: layer all of the vegetables on the toasted rye bread. Top of with the sommersalat and garnish with a generous amount of chives. Oh yes - you could add a bit of smoked heering or mackerel underneith... yay smoked stuff!:-)

Saturday, August 5, 2006

One for the memory...

And because I'm trying to do a little blog "cleaning" these days, which include going over a lot of old, up-loaded photos - so I found this one.

Panna cotta with mandarin jelly on top, made for New Years Eve 2005/2006. Eh, so I'm late. But it was good. The panna cotta itself not so very different from this one, but I need to put down in print how to make the jelly on top ('cause I remember having to do it with an apple jelly just a couple months after I did this one, and my memory was BLANK!)

So, for the panna cotta

0,75 L whipping cream
3 gelatin sheets (soaked)
150 ml sugar (1,5 dl)
Seeds of 3 vanilla beans

Whisk together the cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a pan. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a bit. Gently wring the water from the gelatin leaves, then dissolve them in the hot cream. Strain the cream through a sieve into the tumblers. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, to set.

For the jelly
-should make enough for covering the amount of panna cottas made in the recipe above, maybe with a bit to spare. I usually make ½ cm. layers, but if you want them thicker, make more jelly - easy, isn't it?;-)

200 ml. of your chosen juice, mixed with a simple sugar syrup if you want it to be sweet
- I don't usually do this, but get the sweet element from the panna cotta itself, or from a cookie served on the side. Besides, I like something a little acidic, to cut the fattiness of the panna cotta. Oh yes, do think about the color contrast as well. And, um - pineapple juice, don't go there. There's something about an enzyme in pineapple that will ruin the setting capabilities of the gelatine...
For each 100 ml. of juice, one sheet of gelatin, soaked (so that would make two sheets in this case)

Gently dissolve the gelatine in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water (a waterbath) with the water clinging to it from the soaking. If you feel more comfortable dissolving it in more liquid, add a bit of the juice. You could also choose to heat the juice, and then dissolve the gelatine sheet directly in the warm juice, but I like the freshness from freshly squezed juice, and don't want to risk loosing that by heating it.
Anywho, leave the dissolved gelatine to cool for a couple of minutes, then stir into your chosen juice. Gently pour mixture on top of the set panna cotta, and put back in the fridge to set.

That's it. Now I know where to look for it the next time...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Today, I bought eggs...

Someone else's home? From The Enchanted Woods at Winterthur...

... for the first time in - well, a long time. Four months? And believe me when I say ours is a household that is very seldom without eggs.

It's a weird, and very small gesture, I suppose. But somehow it was also a purchase that made me go: wow. We're really home. In our very own apartment. Not some pink motel room, not a rented house, not someone else's home. Just plain HOME. For the last couple of months: in the States - when we got back and stayed at my Dad's and my Mom's alternately, between work - on a jaunt to France with the family last week - home's been somewhere non-fixed and always fleeting. All of a sudden, it's place where you can keep eggs.

Mind you, we were in for a surprise when we got the apartment back. I spend the last week (and still am spending a lot of time) cleaning the place and the stuff in it, 'cause the people that had rented it turned out to be little piggies that hadn't bothered to clean it before they left, or, for that matter, in the 3 and a half month they lived here, judging by the inch-thick layer of dust - on the floor. And had broken three lamps. And a thermostat on one of the heaters. And left the heat on. Crazy stuff! But it's a good way of reacquainting myself with the place, and all of my knick-knack. There sure is a lot of it. Heh, and even more after the trip. Someone had to buy a new closet for all of the new clothes...:-)

So anyways. Eggs. Equals cooking. Alas, cooking is not being done much. Working is. Not cheap to travel. I don't know what's gonna happen here on F&T, but, as I've said in practically every post the last 6 months, hopefully SOMETHING will happen soon. I've been thinking. I've got ideas. Maybe they'll be put into reality.

But I'm home. And I'm happy. At least that's a start. Now tell me again, how does that big shiny thing in the corner of the kitchen work?