Monday, November 24, 2008

Late Harvest



It's been snowing here, for the last four days. Snow, people. It's winter. The parsley in my window sill planter is covered in snow, and the pineapple sage is freezing it's leaves off. I think I may have managed to save the lemon verbena, but you can never be quite sure.

So what am I up to with the tomatoes? Nothing but bragging, really. These are from my tomato plant, from this summer. I just had a couple today, for lunch. I have no idea how this is possible, but the green ones are slowly riping in the paper bag I've put them in, on the counter, and every once in a while, there's enough for a nice sandwich. If it wasn't because I'd grown them myself, I'd be sure they were full of pesticides and other nasty-ness - how else could they keep for so long? - but they're not. I grew them on the balcony. They're all natural (apart from being city-tomatoes, that is) And they're really tasty, too.

What do you grow?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yes, I Have Fallen



... out of the NaBlop-loop! Too much work, yesterday and today, and too much wanting to sleep. And dog-sitting, too! And no cooking. Argh. I wish and hope and pray that I will have a proper post for you tomorrow. Who knows, maybe the brownie-experiment will be worth writing about?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beautiful Butternut Squash



We had this tonight - or, half of it - roasted in a pan, with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Then we put it in a wonderful risotto with bacon, peas and spinach. A little mascarpone and a lotta parmesan. 'twas very nice.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the other half.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Commenters Meme


I have walked around a lot like this lately... Is it just me or is it getting REALLY cold and dark and wool-sock worthy or what?

Hah! I've been tagged! And I forgot all about it! But as the cooking is still slow, and I was just reminded by another meme today, here we go:

I was tagged by Gemma from Dressing for Dinner. Gemma left out the people from her list that had already done the meme, but I haven't, just because I didn't want to. And as always, if you feel like playing along, do, if you don't, I'm not gonna come after you!

The rules:

1. List the last ten people who have commented on your blog
2. If you’re on my list then you should do the meme on your blog too

1. Jeanne from CookSister!
2. Gemma from Dressing for Dinner
3. Gabriel from iRECEPTY
4. Lily Penelope from FREEFORM and ARTemology
5. Gemma from ProBonoBaker
6. Bridget from Cabbage Tree Farm
7. Angela from A Spoonful of Sugar
8. Heather from Grow it. Eat it.
9. Eva from Sweet Sins
10. Jennie from Copenhagen Follies

Now for the questions:

1: What is your favourite post from number 3's blog?
Um, well, you see. Gabriel is from Slovenia, and writes in his native tongue. So I wouldn't have a clue, I must admit...

2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that have moved you?
Jennie is a Mom, and almost everything she writes about her sons, and being a mom moves me. Picture-wise, I'd say plenty of the shots she snaps of her sons has me laughing out loud or going awwwww! Like this one (the bathtub one) - or these - or how about this here? Having met those kids briefly, and seeing these photos, they seem like really happy, at-ease kids. Just like I'd want mine to be, once that day arrives.

3. Does number 6 reply to comments on their blog?
It doesn't seem like it, although Bridget's is a blog I've only just recently discovered. Do you, usually, Bridget?

4. Which part of blogland is number 2 from?
Where IS this Blogland? Probably, she's in NaBloPoMo county these days - right, Gemma?;)

5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be?
Keep up the good work, Angela!:)

6. Have you ever tried something from number 9's blog?
I have! Only, it didn't turn out so well, I had the audacity to substitute half of the ingredients and well... The bread turned out rock hard and just... kinda boring. And looked nothing like Eva's pretty specimens! I'm positive it was me messing too much with it - maybe I should try it again?

7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you?
Funny thing is, Jeanne, and her blog Cooksister wasn't one I followed keenly - sure, I had it in my bloglines, and I read the odd post here and there, but then Jeanne started popping by here, just recently, commenting and being so very sweet, I thought I just had to keep a better eye on her blog. And as it often goes, once you start paying attention, you get caught up. Now I wouldn't want to be without her daily writings, and I wonder what I'll do once NaBloPoMo is over and she'll stop posting every day!
Anyways, that wasn't the question. One of the posts Jeanne wrote that I did notice, quite some time ago, was one about her friend who died of cervical cancer (edited for accuracy). I had tears in my eyes reading it. At the time, I was (as I often am) much in doubt about my studies, and whether I really wanted to become a doctor and all that, and I remember thinking: heck, no, I HAVE to become a doctor. It's not fair for people, young people, to have to die like this. There must be something we can do to stop it.
So while it wasn't an inspirational post in the blogging sense, for an instant, at least, it had me grasping at the idea of why it is I should want to become a doctor.

8. How often do you comment on number 4's blog?
I never have, I must admit - Lily Penelope just posted her first comemnt here today, so I just found her blog. Hers look mighty purdy though!

9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly?
Jahaa! Heather just delurked in my hoarder-post and I immediately added her blog to my bloglines. I want chickens, too! And a garden!

10. How did number 5's blog change your life?
I don't know if Gemma's blog has changed my life as such, but just after we moved into our bigger apartment, Gemma put up a notice on her blog that she was going to Europe and if anyone had suggestions or beds to offer, she'd be thankful. Having that big, new apartment, M and I agreed to invite Gemma and her significant other to come to Copenhagen and stay with us - not that we'd have much time to show them around or anything, but I've always thought that the best way to experience any city is to stay with people that actually live there. Or at least visit them, go out with them, and get an idea of what daily life is like. I'd just never done it. Or invited someone to do it, here. And if you want to be able to do that yourself, you have to offer the opportunity to others, don't you?
It being a great experience, having them stay here, made meeting "strangers", getting to know them, even if only for a couple of hours, a lot easier, and something I enjoy a lot, now. Apart from all the lovely people M and I met and stayed with on our roadtrip across USA, I've also had the pleasure of meeting both Danish and international bloggers, and I have to admit, I hope it'll never stop!

11. Do you know any of the 10 bloggers in person?
Gemma (ProBonoBaker) and Jennie. Lovely, lovely ladies, both of them.

12. Do any of your 10 bloggers know each other in person?
Um, I don't think so. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

13. Out of the 10, which updates more frequently?
Well, these days, with NaBloPoMo, both Gemma (Dressing for Dinner) and Jeanne blog every day. Should we keep it up, ladies? ;)

14. Which of the 10 keep you laughing?
Jennie, no doubt. And I have to admit, Jeanne's ongoing fight with her boiler had me giggling a tiny bit. Yes, I did feel extremely sorry for her - I HATE being cold - but the way she wrote it all up still had me giggling.

15. Which of the 10 has made you cry (good or bad tears)?
Well, Jeanne almost had me, once, as I already told you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dining with Three Bloggers - November 17th., 2008

One more time, for the crowd! ;)

Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcake Bakeshop

I made these cupcakes for one of my Sister's friends, back in May. Vanilla cupcakes with a couple raspberries thrown in, and a pink cream cheese frosting. Yes, it was an All Girl Birthday, how did you know? You probably won't be surprised that the recipe was an adaptation of one from the now sadly 'closed' Cupcake Bakeshop, namely this one, and inspired by this one. Basically, I made the batter, then layered it in the cupcake liners with some frozen raspberries. I liked how the raspberries cut the sweetness a little, because you know, those cupcakes are sweet!

Savoy Cabbage Gratin from Orangette
Now you've had your sweets, I'm sorry, but you gotta eat your greens, too. Molly posted about this Savoy Cabbage Gratin a couple days ago and lo and behold if there wasn't a Savoy cabbage sale at the local supermarket shortly after. I grabbed one, remembering Molly's post, something about some triple cream cheese and... hm. Went to the cheese shop, got me some Delice de Bourgogne, the only triple cream cheese they had - and one I later found out Molly'd used too! Crazy coincidence! Molly warns against using the rind of the cheese - I hadn't read that (I'm so attentive, aren't I?), and used it, and yes, it's pungent, but if you don't mind that, I say go for it. Also, I used a shallot, finely minced, in place of the spring onions - I might have gotten lucky with remembering 'triple cream cheese', but something as mundane as spring onions - no.

Molly had me buying the book this recipe is from a while ago, after she'd raved about it, and this dish is just one more that makes the book a great buy. I absolutely LOVED the gratin. Had the leftovers for lunch Saturday, and it was even more perfect with a poached egg and buttered brown bread. I didn't mind that M wasn't so fond of it, 'cause it meant I had it all to myself :)

Green Beans with Hazelnuts from Fresh Approach Cooking

Yes, more greens - you need something to make up for those cupcakes;) I like green beans. Like, really like. Especially for Pariserbøffer, and the ones I usually make is just a tad mustardy for when you also have pickles and everything there. These here, green beans with hazelnuts, were perfect though. Crispy, buttery, with crunchy-buttery nuts. Easy, fast and yum! Will definitely make them again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wish I Was Here...



But reality is, I haven't cooked a single thing this weekend. Not one. Work, you see.

The closest I got was poaching an egg for eating with my leftovers from Thursday night. I didn't think I knew how to poach an egg, but apparantly, I did. It was perfect - whites solid, yolk runny and lovely. Mmm. Imagine what you can learn from reading food blogs.

Hope you had a nice weekend!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

[DANSK] Time for a Good Old Standby: Den der du ved nok...



It's been a while since we've had cake, has it not? Maybe not so, I guess the whole dulce de leche affair the other day counts as cake. But it's been a while since DANSK has been showing it's pretty face, so why not combine the two and bring you this - Den Der Du Ved Nok-Kagen. Didn't get a word of that? That's fair. It translates into That-Cake,-You-Know. How did it get that name? I don't know. But what's in a name? A rose by any- you know!

What it is, is a cocoa version of Drømmekage. Just like Drømmekage, this is tender sponge cake with lots of coconut and butter on top, and it is awesome, both in the eating and in the making. It is one of those cakes where you need exactly three bowls and a cake pan and nothing more strenous work than a few stirs with a whisk and a spoon. And maybe a bowl for melting the butter, and a coffee pot for making some coffee, but honestly, it's dead easy. When I was a kid, I used to make it a lot after school, inviting the friends over for doing the dishes. In the bath tub. But that's a different story. And they did get to eat the cake, after they'd done the dishes ;)

The worst part about this cake is that you have to wait for the cake to cool before you can put the topping on, and then you should, ideally, wait for that to set a bit. In reality, that seldom happens. And then you have topping dribbling down your fingers and chin, but oh, it's all part of the enjoyment.

Den Der Du Ved Nok-Kage - or Cult Cake (as in it certainly developed sort of a cult following in the years of bathtub dish washing), or, as it was known in my family, in fact, still is: chokoladekage med snask - litterally, chocolate cake with sticky goo. May not sound yum, but it is.



I use a 20 x 30 cm. roasting pan, and line it with baking parchment - that way it's easy to get the cake out of the pan afterwards, and cut it into neat slices.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

For the cake:
350 g. sugar
450 g. flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tabelspoons cocoa
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla essence
200 ml. buttermilk
175 ml. milk
250 g. melted butter

In one bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl or pitcher, mix the eggs, vanilla essence, buttermilk, milk and melted butter. The butter will go a little lumpy, don't worry. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, making sure there are no pockets of flour left. Pour ito the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the topping (snask, goo - whatever you prefer!)
250 g. icing sugar
100 g. shredded coconut
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 tabelspoons vanilla essence
7 tabelspoons coffee (as in the hot, liquid beverage - not granules or something!)
175 g. butter, melted

When the cake has cooled, you make the topping. You can make it earlier, but it most certainly will set, and it's not a problem to stir it with a bit more coffee to make it spreadable again, but why go through the trouble? This is a hard step (not) - mix all the ingredients, and spread the topping on top of the cake. It may seem a wee bit liquid, so you may want to start with 4 tablespoons coffee, and then go from there. It should have a texture somewhere between spreadable and pourable, if that makes any sense. Either way, you should leave it to set before cutting into the cake. If you can. Share with friends.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just a Photo of Summer

From the batch of elderflower and strawberry jam I tried making this summer. It came out horrendously runny, so I'm not going to share the recipe. The scent of it, as well as this picture reminds me a lot of summer, though, and that was just what I needed on this dull, grey, work-loaded day. Mmm, summer and warmth, and elderflowers and strawberries.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cracking the Baking Books: Cracked Wheat Rolls



Bread books. I have, oh plenty. There's the old time favorite, Bread Book, by Linda Collister. She's also done one called Flavored Breads that I own. There are the Danish ones I adore - 'Nannas Brød og Kager' by Nanna Simonsen, and Camilla Plum's 'Brød'. Also, there's a Danish one by THE flour man, Jørn Ussing, Aurions Bagebog. Very back to the roots, that one. Then there's The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger and another Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum (is that blasphemia? TWO bibles?) The tome, HomeBaking, by (some of my all time favorite cookbook authors) Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Baking with Passion, by Dan Lepard also snuck itself in there. Not to mention all of the recipes for breads that are hiding in the back of "regular" cookbooks, and in magazines and on del.icio.us.

So enough of the buying - even though I have both this, and this, and oh, don't forget this and this - and okay, there's this one and this one, too - I just don't know where to stop, do I? - on my wish list for Christmas. On with the baking, I say.

Cracked Wheat Loaf - or Rolls, in my house :) - adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum: The Bread Bible
- I give the recipe here as I made it - it should be noted though, that Rose is a very thorough lady and if you have the book, I would definitely recommend you go look up the recipe there. It's on page 289. She uses instant yeast and dry milk powder, both of which are difficult for me to find in a decent quality. So I snuck out of it, using fresh yeast and buttermilk (I had buttermilk around. You can use milk if you prefer, I'm sure)

For the dough starter:
78 grams bread flour
72 grams whole wheat flour
5 g. fresh yeast
½ tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
166 g. water
100 g. buttermilk

Combine the two types of flour, sugar and honey. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add this and the buttermilk to the flour, whisking it until it becomes very smooth, about two minutes. It should look like a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, the prepare:

The flour mixture:
312 g. bread flour
½ tablespoon sugar
2 g. fresh yeast

Mix the flour and sugar. Rub the yeast into it, breaking it into as small pieces as possible. Sprinkle this on top of the sponge - it will make quite a thick layer, and that's perfectly fine. Cover with plastic wrap (or as I usually do, a cut-up freezer bag - they're reusable and work great) and leave on the counter for 1 to 4 hours.

Now, you need some finishing ingredients:
85 g. coarse bulgur
118-154 g. boiling water
11.5 g. salt

Cover the bulgur with the water - depending on how much crunch you want in the finished bread, go for the smaller or larger amount of water. I used the larger. Leave to stand for an hour, at least.

To finish the bread, you transfer the sponge/flour mixture and the bulgur to the bowl of a mixer (if you're smart, you started everything out in the mixer bowl) Mix with the dough hook on low speed for about one minute. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes.

When the 20 minutes are up, add salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes. It should end up a elastic and slightly sticky. Leave the dough to rise until doubled - I let mine rise in the fridge overnight.

When the dough has doubled, shape it - either into a loaf, or as I did, about 12 rolls, tugged snugly into a roasting tin as to make nice, flat, fill-able sandwich rolls. Let rise for 45 minutes to 1½ hour, doubling in bulk.

An hour before the rolls/bread is to go in the oven, preheat it to 350 F. Pop the rolls/bread in once it's hot, and bake for 25 minutes for rolls - the bread more likely needs 40-50 minutes.

Now, having written this, I have to urge you to please, PLEASE, seek out this book somewhere. I swear, I'm a poor excuse for a recipe writer (even when I'm just copying/paraphrasing - all those nitty-gritty details and it's 11 PM!) and I do her no justice when I sum it all up like this. But. Seriously, here. When you're making something from the book, it's nice to have. Like, what does "medium speed" entail? Rose will tell you - it's speed 4, which I personally thought was way to fast for a bread dough to be slung around, but it works! Not only is the book packed with recipes, it's thorough and guiding, and the end results are wow! The rolls here, slightly nutty from the cracked wheat, a hint of sweetness from the honey and sugar, and, as is claimed in the introduction to the recipe, the perfect sandwich bread - what more do you want? Makes me want to bake more, that's for sure. And that's all you could want, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hoarders Anonymous



Hello.

My name is Zarah.

I hoard food.

I'm not shy of stocking up the fridge, or freezer. But mostly, I hoard pantry items. Rice, flours, lentils, beans, grains, chocolate, dried fruits and nuts. Vinegars, oils, obscure sauces. Any cupboard or drawer, the smallest crevice in our build-in bookcase thingy, fabric bags on the hooks on the rail in kitchen - they're all filled with stuff.

Flours, I usually manage to use before they go past their due-date. Mostly, it's because I've gotten better at ignoring that a certain type of flour has to be used for a certain type of bread. Yes, if it's a specific type of bread, or texture, or a new recipe, I may insist on using what the recipe states, but if it's a version of the everyday bread, who gives whether I use rye or whole wheat? I make that bread often enough for it to be nice to have a slight change of taste every now and again.

There was a reason I brought home 5 pounds of Rancho Gordo Beans from my trip to San Francisco back in June. Besides the occasional chickpea, I very seldom cook beans, but with the recommendations they've gotten from all over foodblogland, I had to get some. It didn't matter that I had to rearrange all of my belongings, right here on the airport floor, because I'd packed my suit case so tightly it was ridicoulously overweight, and the nice lady behind the counter insisted I pack it into two bags instead. I just couldn't help myself. It's an addiction.

But the reason certainly wasn't for them to go bad, stuck in the back of a drawer, little white thingies covering the bottom of the bag of (luckily! only!) one of the bags. ICK! But they did. And see, this is was happens eventually, when you're a hoarder. There's just no way you're going to get to eat all of these things all at once, especially not when you're one to forget exactly what it is you have at home, or exactly how to use it. Or you're prone to need just that one other ingredient you can't seem to find to try the recipe you did actually find, that used the hoarded item.

I refuse to have that happen to the rest of the beans. And a lot of the other things that are fastly approaching their best-by date. So I'm trying to do something about it. I've been looking for recipes to use some of my stash, and I hope to try out these in the next couple of days. Weeks. Ok, soon. -ish.

Eye of the Goat beans - there's a nice hint here, but really, they deserve something more, don't they?
Chickpea flour - how about these chicken and chickpea dumplings? They sure sound nice...
Black Calypso Beans -supposedly, they taste like potatoes. And are good with bacon. Hmm. I'm hungry.
Red lentils - Luisa's lentil stew that she put up just the other day. When she can cut a 5-types-of-lentils down to two, then so can I (I'll try. I promise!)
Masa Harina - why, corn tortillas, of course!
Christmas Lima Beans - with mushrooms?
Cornmeal - corn muffins?
What about flageolets? The black beans? The whole rye kernels? My long grain brown rice? Or the 3 kilos of lovely chocolate?!?

You know, then, when I'm done, and there's all this precious room in the drawers, I'm going to have to go get me some black lentils for dal mahkani, and some black eyed peas for this Goan curry - oooh, and some yellow split peas for the dal! And maybe I do need that funny flour made of a local wheat type. Certainly, I will. Need it. I will.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mysterious...

I have no idea how this happened. Well, I do, sometimes, when I have my camera on certain settings, the shutter gets stuck, and this is the result. It's happened quite a number of times. I'm slightly intrigued. Maybe I should read that manual...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Entering Unknown Territory: Butter Chicken



Do you remember my list of Foodie Dares? from (ahem) 2007? I did do a follow-up post on my progress, and the note is also still on the fridge - the actual crossing off items on the list is the hard part.

Allow me to refresh, briefly, that one of the things I wanted to do, was to try making Indian food. Specifically, I wanted to make samosas and Dal Makhani, and on the list I have on my fridge, I also wrote Butter Chicken (also known as murgh mahkani, I later learned. Mahkani means butter. Obviously, I'm all about butter)

I scoured the internet for recipes, bookmarked half a dozen, thumbed through a couple of cookbooks. With the host of Indian food bloggers out there, I suppose it would have been easy as pie to find a recipe there, but for some reason, the one that intrigued me the most was from a Danish chef, a big, red-haired dude that's as Danish as they get, that I found in a Danish cookbook. Don't ask, the point is, you have to start somewhere and I finally got started!

It wasn't hard to make, the one thing that needed a little attention is the fact that you have to start the night before you want to eat it, as the meat has to marinate in a yoghurt-spice marinade for 24 hours, making it lovely and tender. I'm still working on the exact spiceblend I like. I do make both the tandoori and garam masala mixes myself - 'cause I'm a geek and I like it ;) - but they're not exactly as I want them. Maybe I want it a little sweeter. I also added almonds and raisins to the original recipe, as well as a dash of cream, as these weren't in there, but that's how we get it from our local Indian take-out place, and that's the version I'm measuring against. I'm still playing around with it, but it sure is a keeper.

Butter Chicken - adapted from Simremad og ting der tager tid by Claus Christensen etc.

500 g. chicken - I use breast filets
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500 ml. drained yoghurt
100 g. butter
2 cans of tomatoes
about 2 large tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala (I use this recipe)
1 tablespoon tandoori masala (from this recipe)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 ml. cream
about a cup of raisins
about 2/3 cup chopped almonds

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix about 300 ml. of the yoghurt with a teaspoon each of the tandoori masala and garam masala. Add one of the garlic cloves, finely chopped. Add the chicken pieces and leave to marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Heat the butter in a deep pan. Once it's melted and has gone slightly frothy, add the rest of the spices and let it become fragrant before you add the chopped up onion and the rest of the garlic. Add almonds.

Now, see, this is were I may try something different next time. The original recipe now calls for you to pick the chicken out of the marinate and roast it in the pan with the onion and garlic. But I think I'd rather use my grill pan, making sure I get a little char on that chicken, and finish the sauce by itself, then add the chicken and let it simmer for a little while.

For the sauce, then, you add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, rest of the yoghurt and the raisins. You may want to adjust the seasoning a little here - I tend to add a tiny teaspoonful of sugar, and maybe more almonds and raisins. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Lastly, add chicken (assuming you've grilled it seperately) and leave to simmer for a couple more minutes, finishing of with the cream.

Serve with basmati rice and naan, and maybe some raita.

If you have any suggestions regarding the recipe, and how to tweak or twist it, I'm all ears! Should I be using whole spices? Are the almonds and raisins highly unorthodox? Too much yoghurt? Too little butter? Have you tried Meeta's version? Comments are open!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Apologies with Dulce de Leche-filled Brownies & Cupcakes



I missed yesterdays NaBloPoMo. Actually, I missed Friday, but the post I put up Saturday morning I'd started Friday, so I figured eh. Tsk tsk. But you know what? I'll make up for it with brownies and cupcakes!

The brownies are crazy rich. Crazy. I guess that's what you get when you put chocolate, peanutbutter and dulce de leche in the same baking pan, but don't say I didn't warn you. They're the kind of confection that could almost substitute expensive filled chocolates. In my case, anyways, seeing I'm not big on filled chocolates - in fact, I'd rather eat brownies than filled chocolate any day. I should note that I'm definitely a lover of a fudgy brownie (as this one is - look at this) - no cake-crumbly style for me here. Rich and decadent, these are, and cut into tiny squares, put on a pretty platter and served with coffee or tea - or a tall glass of milk, they'll be fit for royalty. Or people who dig heavy brownies, at least.

The idea came from David Lebovitz brownie I made a while ago. The brownie was unbelievably good, but I did find the brownie-part of it just a bit to cocoa-y and cakey for my taste. So when I was trying it out again, I used my go-to brownie recipe (which I just realized I've never posted here - so that's one more post to do), mixed half the batter with a couple spoonfuls (about half a cup, total) of smooth peanutbutter and then dropped alternate spoonfuls of peanutbutter-batter, regular batter and dulce de leche (I think just short of half a cup total here as well) in the brownie pan. Suh-weet. Very.



The cupcake, oh, the cupcake. Yes, we are behind regarding the cupcake craze here in Denmark - we're just getting started. These, I suggested as a combo back in April 2006, but I never think I nailed it proper. My cousin and I took up the challenge again back in May this year. Who else to provide a basic chocolate cupcake recipe with enough taste to withstand the sweetness of the dulce de leche and the frosting than Chockylit from (the now sadly closed) Cupcake Bakeshop. This was it, dulce de leche came straight from the boiled can, and the cream cheese frosting was as Cheryl directs here. Oh boy. As with the brownie, you only eat one of these in one sitting. Until you find yourself digging into the next one.

I told you're there could never be too many posts on brownies (or cupcakes, I suppose ;))

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Makeover! One of My Favorite Lunches



It's been four years since I started blogging. Mind you, the last two years has had it's share of unusually quiet months. It's not how I want it to be. I admire the people that manage to put up post everyday, all year - heck, I admire the people that gets up posts a few times a week, or just once a week.

I can't explain what has happened. Life, the ever present excuse, yes. Not trying so many new things, or them not working out well, or forgetting to take the photos to prove I actually made something. There are only so many times you can post a recipe on brownies. Actually, on the subject of brownies, there might be arguments you can do a bunch of posts.

I seem to have been in this dump for a while now, and I want it to stop. I guess it's mostly a matter of DOING it. That's probably why I'm trying this NaBloPoMo-thing - so that I HAVE to post. I'm not happy with everything I put up, but at least my mind starts working differently, and with what it is that I want to change. I'd like to think.

I remember the time of wanting to post three posts on the same day, just because I had so much to say. It's not that I want that again, I just want to feel like I have something to say. It doesn't have to be all unique and special all day, every day, but it somehow has to be something that's close to my heart. It has to have a purpose. Even though it is, afterall, only food.;)

This was one of the very first posts I ever did. Wait, stop! Please don't click that link. Seriously, your eyeballs may just pop out from the bad photo experience you'll have if you go there. This was before - long before - I figured out what a macro button was. Or how to turn off the flash. And the likes. Whew. It's quite funny - and oddly disturbing - to go back to some of these posts. Times sure have changed.

The salad's still awesome, though. Brown beans, pickled cucumber, fresh cucumber, hardboiled eggs, lots and lots of chopped parsley, coarse grain mustard, a little olive oil. Feel free to bulk it out with spinach, maybe some bacon bits. A hunk of bread, preferably something dark. Keeps well in the fridge, so you can make it the night before you want to bring it to work, or school or wherevere it is that you're going.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here!



Go get your own! At Johnny Cupcakes - and don't forget to have a look at the blog. And his story. And then, buy some t-shirts. You know you want to! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What to do with Mayo



Do you make your own mayo? Really, you should. I mean it. It's easy. I'm not holy or nothing, I do keep jars of mayo in the fridge at home - in fact, I keep several different kinds: one kind for smørrebrød, another for french fries, a third for sandwiches - but I like making my own every now and again. Sure, I'm afraid it'll split every time I make it, but so what if it does? There's always a new yolk to the rescue.

I start with two egg yolks (I use pasturized, and I know some people would then think it it wasn't worth the trouble, but I like to be sure that I, or worse, potential dinner guests, won't catch anything) a nice teaspoonful of Dijon mustard and a good pinch of salt. Whisk it together, then add, drop by drop, an oil of your choice. We use grapeseed oil, but any neutral tasting oil will do. Some people like to use a light olive oil for half or one third of the oil, or a dribble of some kind of nut oil, depending on what you'll use the mayo for. Your choice.

Keep adding the oil, whisking and whisking away as you go. In the end, you'll have added about 250 ml. of oil. If the consistency is to thin, add a bit more oil - if it's to thick, you could add a couple drops of water, but start by adding a bit of lemon juice, to taste, that oughta thin it a little too. Salt and pepper to taste, and then you could go for:

Caesar Salad Dressing - add a couple chopped up anchovies, a squirt of lemon, a good grating of parmesan and you're all set.

Sesame & Tamari Dip - mix equal parts drained yoghurt and mayo, add toasted sesame seeds and a couple glugs of tamari. Awesome with carrot sticks. This sounds so simple, and it is, but I swear, everytime I serve it, people ask for the recipe.

Ranch Dressing - and thank you Garrett for that outline, that I of course when straight ahead and bastardized. I use three parts mayo to one part sour cream and one part buttermilk - and then the rest of the hooha, garlic powder, salt, pepper. And oh, chives, instead of dill. Who am I kidding, this isn't Ranch dressing. But it's good.

Garlicky Mayo - lots and lots of chopped up garlic in there, and it's perfect for shrimps.

Remoulade (the Danish kind) - mixed with drained, finely chopped pickles. You need this for fiskefrikadeller. And fiskefilet. And spegepølsemadder.

Guilty sin, mixed with soy sauce, a little honey and wasabi, for sushi. I know, it's terrible, but it's sooo good.

Chicken salad - and egg salad, and tuna salad and any mayo-based salad. And in sandwiches, for roast potatoes - you keep the list rolling...

(I was just corrected by M - we make mayo at least once a week. Busted.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dining with Three Bloggers - November 4th., 2008

Short and sweet today, I'm on the couch watching series with M :) What would a post-athon be without my trusted Dining with the Bloggers, or as in this case, Dining with Three Bloggers? Nothing, I say, so here you go:

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins from Smitten Kitchen

Deb's Whole Wheat Apple Muffins were a big hit at the ICU I spend a couple of days in (as a medical student, not a patient!) back in spring. Especially after I convinced the nurses they were practically healthy, what with the apples and whole wheat and oats on top (and addition I made) and what have you. They disappeared fast, even though someone else had brought in candy on the same day as well. That's one of Deb's recipes down - now I only have 81 bookmarked to go!

Soba with Peanut Citrus Dressing from Orangette


I think I have yet to do a Dinning with Three Bloggers that doesn't involve one of Molly's recipes - this one shall be no exception. Her soba noodles with peanut citrus sauce (actually, as with the chickpeas, this is the brainchild of her husband Brandon - we must give credit where credit is due! ;)) are nothing short of lovely. Creamy peanutbutter, lime juice and crunchy vegetables. Good-good-good-good-GOOD. I took the liberty of using whatever greens I had lying around, at the time peas and carrots, but I have no doubt that radishes are perfect here, as is bok choy, if you like it - I'm not so fond of it myself. I was planning on bringing some for lunch the next day, but when I was done eating, the bowl was empty. Oooops!

Biscuits from Homesick Texan


Finally, Lisa's biscuits. Ah. Back when I did my first DwB featuring a recipe form Lisa's site (cornbread) I hinted that she may just needed to get up a recipe for biscuits. Two weeks later, my prayers had been answered, and she had put up a post. Fast, that girl. Biscuits are not common around here, so it's not like I knew what i was missing, but for some reason, I knew they were bound to be something I'd like. They were. Buttery and soft, slightly sweet - and great for getting out any anger you may have lingering in you, as you have to beat the c*** out of the dough - the more you beat, the better! I made them on a night we were having soup for dinner and I had no bread in the house and even though that may not be what God intended them for, they served that purpose beautifully. I wouldn't mind trying them in a homemade version of an extraordinarly good egg-bacon-and-cheese biscuit I had on a recent visit to The Buttery in Boston's South End either. Oh my. I think I may have to invite over some friends to have an excuse recreate these, and I know these biscuits will fit perfectly...


South End Buttery Egg Biscuit. Ah-mazing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Muesli Rolls for Breakfast



As if it's not enough that we're notoriously bad at eating our vegetables in our household, we're also ridiculously negligent in the breakfast department. No vegetables, no breakfast, no cooking (obviously, since there's been no blogging, there couldn't have been cooking, could there?) - how we even manage to stay alive is anyones guess!

I always make sure I get my (very large) glass of Earl Grey tea in the morning, M always gets his coffee, but the solids? Just. Not. Happening. There are tons and tons of excuses, but really, it's no use. Breakfast is good for you and you should eat it. And noone says it has to be the minute you get up, but sometime during the first 2 to three hours after you've risen I guess is appropriate.

Often, M will get something from a bakery on his driving abouts at work (he's a realtor) and he's usually good at getting something healthy. But lordy, is it expensive! Especially if you want something that's edible and doesn't turn into sawdust the minute you bite into it. So I took up the challenge put up by Martin, oh, three months ago I guess, when he came home from work with a dark-brown roll filled with raisins, pumpkin seeds and oats and said: I KNOW you can make these better. Will you make me some? I promise I'll have breakfast every day if you make these for me!

It did take me a while to get on it, but when I did, it was actually not that hard. Using my Malt Bread recipe as a blueprint, and the method Susan introduced me to via her Oatmeal Bread of softening the oats in a bit of hot water, it only took me two tries to get what I wanted. Chewy, moist, darkly flavored rolls, dotted with sweet raisins and walnuts. I'm telling you, that man of mine is having breakfast and even I have been seen sneaking a couple of rolls into my bag before I dash out the door.

Muesli Rolls - makes 12 muffin-sized ones

For the "muesli"
75 g. rolled oats
65 g. raisins
40 g. coarsely chopped walnuts
30 g. soft brown sugar
190 g. boiling water
- feel free to substitute any kind of nuts and dried fruit you favor.

For the dough:
125 g. yoghurt (or even the whey from drained yoghurt - I've used that succesfully quite a number of times and it makes me feel so virtous!)
12 g. salt
4 g. malt powder (flour)
5 g. yeast
250 g. water
150 g. spelt flour
400 g. bread flour

In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, fruits and nuts. Pour the boiling water over it, and give it a good stir. Leave on the counter for half an hour to cool.

Now, for the dough - in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the yoghurt. Mix the salt, malt powder, spelt flour and 4/5 of the bread flour. Add this to the water/yeast/yoghurt mixture, kneading to make everything stick together. The cooled oat mixture can now be added to the dough, and then its time for kneading. I usually do it in the bowl, as the dough is pretty wet, but do as you please - if you think it's easier on the tabletop, take it out. You may need more flour then. But only add more flour if it really needs it - it's supposed to be quite sticky. Knead for ten minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean plastic container or bowl. Depending on when I want to eat the rolls, I then put the dough in the fridge to rise (it can easily stay here for 12 hours and then some) or leave it on the counter to rise, 2-3 hours.

Once risen, shape your rolls. Make a log out of the dough, cut it up in 12 equal portions and shape them into rolls. I like leaving them for their second prove in a buttered muffin pan, it gives them a really nice shape, but just letting them rise on a baking sheet is also fine. If you like, after shaping the rolls, you could dip the top in first cold water, then rolled oats, but if you want to eat these on the go, the oats might go flying all over your (black, naturally) skirt, so I often don't bother. Whatever you choose, they need to rise again, 1½-2 hours. Or for a couple of hours in the fridge, depending on your schedule.

Preheat the oven to as high as possible. Once warm, put in your rolls, turning the oven down to 240 celsius. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200 celsius and let them have another ten minutes. They may need an additional 5 minutes more after that, depending on your oven. Enjoy, with butter, if you have the time for such fanciness - it only makes them better.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So Last Season: Zucchini in Fine Slices



Listen, I know, I know, that picture up there practically SCREAMS out of season. Not very comme il faut, I know, but if I tell you I made this back in July, will you forgive me? I did tell you I had a lot of photos lying about with stuff I never blogged about and I might as well start now.

I - come to think of it we, as in both of the people in this household - eat too little vegetables. One of the things I have resorted to doing is to make salads to eat either before or after the "main dish" if you will, just to make sure we actually get some greens. This was one of those, heavily inspired by Shauna's Zucchini Carpaccio (from October. 2005. Yowser, time moves fast!) that I bookmarked some time ago (obviously). It's easy to do, and if you have a garden with zucchinis growing in it (I envy you - but that's not really the message I'm trying to get across right now), a bag of almonds and a block of crumbly cheese in the fridge, you're all set.

Finely slice your zucchini (I use a mandoline), layering them on a big, flat plate. Drizzle a little of your favorite vinagrette between each layer (for looks, use one with a light vinegar, such as white wine or elderflower - if you don't care about the dark streaks and want your balsamic, by all means, go ahead. Just don't say I didn't warn you) Chop up a small handful of parsley and basil. Toast a handful of almonds in a warm skillet and sprinkle on top. Crumble a nice chunk of feta cheese over everything, give the lot a good grind of black pepper and of you go.

Currently, I have 1254 (!!!) recipes to try in my del.icio.us account (isn't del.icio.us fantastic btw? I wouldn't know what to do without it!). Not to mention the piles of magazines with post-it notes sticking out from them and the cookbooks. 30 days of NaBloPoMo? Pshs! ;)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Seriously? Seriously.

Cupcakes for a friend of mine's wedding, back in August. The living room served as assembly station - there was A LOT of cupcakes, I'm telling ya! I used a recipe from my trusted source, Chockylit - the one here.

I'm joining NaBloPoMo.
Why?
Because there are too many photos lying about, too many words unwritten, too many post-it's in the cookbooks, too little focus and too little time. And because I miss doing this, and it seems I can only either do it all day, every day, or not at all.
No promises as to the content, but (hopefully) I'll have a post for you, every day of the month this November. Heck, I may even keep it up for December, like last year. You joining the madness too?
(And I know, this is already a cheat's post, 'cause I'm backdating, but I didn't realize NaBloPoMo was yesterday until today. So excuses already ;))