Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

There has been a few days since the last post and I'm afraid that is in the spirit of the season. Until Christmas we will be awfully busy at the restaurant. On Thursday we will have our first holiday presentation. Emma and I are making wonderful new dishes that all taste of a joyful Christmas! I promise pictures and recipes in a few days! Now I have to go find my Santa hat!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! HoHoHo....


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes....

My gorgeous friend Lisa asked me for some ideas on potatoes. Since the spud is one of my favorite roots I'm more then happy to oblige.

We are closing in on Christmas and one of Sweden's traditional dishes is "Janssons frestelse", Jansson's temptation, a potato/anchovy gratin. This is how I make it... Cut the potatoes julienne (shoestring), use a firm variety for best texture. Butter a gratin dish and add a layer of the potatoes, then a thin layer of sliced onion and add anchovy fillets, I like the salty taste of it so I tend to use quite a lot. Repeat the layers of potatoes, onions and anchovies and cover with potatoes. I mix double cream with a bit of milk and add salt and white pepper. Whisk it lightly and pour in to the dish. I bake it on medium to low heat for a looooong time, I don't like it runny so I make sure the cream and milk are absorbed by the potatoes and that the anchovies are almost melted. Towards the end I sometimes cover the dish with parchment paper to keep it from blackening. It's so yummy and one of my "must haves" for Christmas.

I make my potato au gratin in a similar way as the Jansson, but I thinly slice the potatoes on my mandolin. I only use cream and I add salt, white pepper and loads and loads of garlic to it before I pour it in. Some people add cheese on top, but with all the cream you get the same effect anyway. It's fantastic to chow down on the leftovers the day after.....

Next up is one of my best recipes, one that I have made over and over again. And it's a given every time I make Indian food. Bombay potatoes... Like most Indian dishes there are a billion different recipes. Start with boiling the potatoes in salted water, I usually pre-cut them in larger chunks, quarters of a medium sized potato. While the potatoes a boiling, fire up a saute pan and add canola oil. In to the pan goes the spices, generously, chili powder, turmeric, brown mustard seeds, mango powder (go easy on this one, makes it HOT), cumin and garam masala. Stir the spices together and add finely chopped onions and shredded ginger. Add the potatoes to the pan and give a good toss to it, make sure they get covered in spices properly. If the spices are too dry you can add a bit of the starchy potato water. This dish goes perfect as a side to anything Indian!

Mash! Oh how we love our mashed up spuds! My basic recipe is just potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. I tend not to use the mealy potatoes, I just don't care for the texture. I do vary the mash quite a bit though. Throw in a few cloves of garlic with the potatoes when you boil them and you get a nice and soft flavor to it. Or add some chunks of your favorite root, celeriac, rutabaga, parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke, carrot...
Throw in a hand full of shredded parmesan cheese or cheddar or the Swedish västerbotten.
Or why not go crazy and flavor it with a bit of smoked salmon and chives. Or even crispy bacon and apple.

Lisa I hope you are happy with this and cook up a storm!
Please let me know if there's something you'd like me to write about.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My best Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh:
n. A Lebanese salad made with bulgur wheat and finely chopped scallions, tomatoes, mint, and parsley.

This is my version of this beautiful dish.

I boil the bulgur and mix it all together while it's still somewhat warm to get the best out of all the flavors.
To the bulgur I add finely chopped fresh tomatoes, pressed garlic, very finely chopped parsley (lots), lemon juice, finely chopped red onion or shallots, lots of cumin (spiskummin), some olive oil, salt and a little splash of tabasco if you feel like giving it a kick.



I would typically serve this dish with roasted chicken and a sauce made of yoghurt and mint. Or actually just as it is, a huge bowl of lovely comfort food.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jam session

I don’t eat jam… No, it’s true, I don’t! But I love, love, LOVE making it! It all started at the farmers market in Stratford, Ontario in the spring of 2008. Well actually it started a few days before at my Aunt’s kitchen table with a jar of Judy’s bluebarb jam. Needless to say we went to see Judy at the market the following Saturday. She’s such a lovely woman and my son fell instantly in love. To be honest so did I…
We purchased a few jars of chutney, mango and rhubarb. They were nothing short of amazing, and before we went back to Sweden I was in possession of a few marvelous recipes.
Back home and following my usual obsessive behavior I started to cook! I produced jar after jar after jar of different jams, chutneys, pickles and relishes. Some classical and some with a twist…
In most jams I have apples (Granny Smith style) to balance the sweetness.
Jam jars:
·         Pineapple and chili (Spanish pepper)
·         Strawberry, chocolate, cardamom
·         Red currants with cinnamon
·         Strawberry and Rhubarb
·         Blackberry, apple, vodka
·         Gooseberry
·         Mango, honey dew melon and kiwi
·         Apple and cranberry
Chutneys:
·         Lingonberry
·         Red beet and coconut
·         Apple with all spice and cloves
Pickles:
·         Finely cut carrots with orange and jalapeno
·         Fennel with pink pepper, chili and orange
·         Red beets with all spice, cloves and orange
·         Garlic
I haven’t eaten a single jar myself, but I have made the people around me very happy with home cooked goodies. Even Judy did get a jar of pineapple/chili jam last time we went to see her. Next year I’ll bring something new and exciting yet again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 food items I always have at home

There are a few things that makes cooking easy and tasty in my kitchen. A few things that I can vary to fit what ever I'm in the mood for.


  • Bulgur - Inspires me. Tabbouleh, cinnamon and apricots, garlic and butter, or in just about any salad.
  • Onions - Makes the difference.
  • Broccolli - It's a love story. Roasted in the oven with lemon oil and sea salt... All I need!
  • Chickpeas - Caters to my reoccuring cravings for Indian food.
  • Egg - Omelette, scrambled, quiche, boiled, fried, poached and on and on and on.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homemade pizza at it's best, cheats part 2

Every now and again I indulge myself and make a fabulous pizza with extra topping and lots and lots of cheese. Usually my brother can smell it's in the oven because he has an almost uncanny way of showing up just in time to help us devour it...

I always cheat! I have never made my own pizza dough. The products to be found at the supermarket are so good that the need to knead never has appeared.

I usually don't make pizza with marinara sauce since it makes all pizzas taste more or less the same. In stead I brush the dough with a flavored olive oil, lemon is usually the one I end up using, then I go crazy with the toppings before I add plenty of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Some of my best pizzas has come about when I didn't plan to make any.
  • Salami, pear, onion
  • Pickled peppers, ham, olives, arugula
  • Blue cheese, ham
  • Pesto, parma ham
  • Horseradish, smoked reindeer
  • Prawns, ginger, sweet chili sauce
  • Mango chutney, chicken
  • Mushroom, garlic, parsley
  • Tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, parmesan
  • Feta cheese, onions, salami

I could go on and on, but my point is, use what ever tasty things you have at home.

Pizza is always delicious!



The food my kid likes the best

My son Connor is two and a half and has, on a good day, inherited my love of food and spices. On a bad day there is nothing that will pass the harsh judgement of the tiny food critic.
He loves to help out in the kitchen, he has his own apron and a chef's hat, so standing on a chair at the counter he stirs and mixes, chops and peels. A good little helper to keep an eye on so not too much of the ingredients dissappear along with his appetite.

The little guy loves pasta and I try to vary it as much as possible for him.
  • Tomato sauce with herbs
  • CrĂ©me fraiche with garlic and parmesan cheese
  • Cheese sauce with ham and tarragon
  • Chicken, corn and sweet pepper
Of course pancakes are on the wish list, but no jam or syrup, he loves cinnamon fried apple chunks. And they are sugar free too!


Pytt-i-panna, a Swedish hash with diced potato, onion, meat and sausage, served with pickled red beets.

Oven baked chicken nuggets with any of my home made dip sauces except for the wasabi one...

Meatballs (he is Swedish after all...) with boiled potatoes and spinach.

His all time favorite though is the szechuan noodles from the take away place on the corner... It does break my heart a bit, but then again they are fabulous noodles!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My top 5 side salads

  1. Arugula, baby spinach, sugar snaps, orange slices, pink pepper, olive oil and a touch of squeezed orange.
  2. Iceberg lettuce, freshly grated parmesan cheese, garlic, black pepper, oil (canola) and balsamic vinager.
  3. Roughly grated carrot, zucchini and celeriac, mixed together with oil and lemonjuice, salt and pepper.
  4. Finely sliced red cabbage, grated apple, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
  5. Choped tomatoes, corn, baby spinach and a chipotle vinaigrette.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It all happened on a fluke...

OK, so I get ideas from time to time. Won't share my worst (at least not yet). But I will share some of my best. I have made my own flavored olive oils for quite some time now and I will write a special piece on that at a later date.

This particular time I had made a vanilla oil. I simply cut a vanilla bean in two and put it in a bottle and filled it up with olive oil. I had had it standing on the shelf for about a week when I figured it was time to try it out. The only problem was with what....


Not quite in the mood to go shopping, I set out to find something exciting in my fridge. After a bit of sniffing, turning and pondering I found mozzarella and nectarines, I chopped it and mixed it all together and drizzled over some of the oil, it was fantastic! The sweet, the nutty and the creamy just came alive! Have it as an appetizer, desert or as a side to chicken, fish or even beef.

The Swedish - Canadian spice trade...

There's no secret that I'm a bit obsessed with spices, I have a spice rack that even I sometimes shake my head at. The saying "So many spices so little time" has never been more apt!
I think it's amazing how the same ingredient can take on so many different shapes with just a little help from a jar of something fragrant, colorful and utterly tasty.

Imagine the chicken if you will. A chicken that can travel the distance from South America with cacao and chili, up north to Cajun and hickory across the pacific ocean to Japan with soy and sesame and then slip over to china with a taste of sweet and sour, down to Thailand for a bit of lime and cilantro, then off to the curry pots of India, stopping by Lebanon for the lemon and cumin scene and a brief visit to north Africa with a lovely taste of Cinnamon before hitting the European kitchens that offer garlic, parmesan and basil. How I'd love to be that chicken!!

I share my passion for flavors with many members of my family, but maybe most of all with my amazing aunt Annette who resides in Canada. When other people bring chocolate (well OK, we do that too..),  cheesy souvenirs and booze (...and sometimes that too...) when they go see family abroad, we usually focus on the spices that is not available to us at home. Like the newer series that Santa Maria has put out on the market here in Sweden with a Wasabi/sesame, a green harissa, a piri piri and lime/mint and many many more. Off the go to Canada for approval and great reviews. In return I find my spice collection expanded with amongst other goodies ground rosemary, ground bay leaves, ground jalapeno and heavenly Montreal Steak spice. We do this a lot and I'm so happy to have the possibility to have access to spices not commonly found here at home. Needless to say I have to travel quite a bit to keep my stash up to par....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My top 5 herb

  1. Dill - there's nothing like buttered boiled new potatoes sprinkled with dill.
  2. Mint - just because I'm in love with Lebanese food at the moment.Oh and mojitos... ;)
  3. Rosemary - all you pork lovers out there know why
  4. Basil - I'll never tire of pesto and caprese
  5. Thyme - it's a red beet thing...


Sorry all of you who hoped for Mary Jane to make the list... I don't do special brownies... ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The racy red beet!

The topic of the day have to be the sweet and sexy red beet. A most versatile root that I could eat for weeks straight without repeating a single recipe. Here are some luscious ones...


Boiled:

Oil, Dijon mustard.
Butter and freshly grated horseradish.
Lemon oil and sea salt
Cold with apple and red onion
Coconut and raisin
Wasabi and sesame seeds

Soup:

Orange, ginger and all spice
Bacon and chanterelles
Borsjtj

Roasted:

Feta cheese and thyme
Chevre cheese, honey and toasted pine nuts
Bacon and capers
Garlic and arugula
Sesame oil, sesame seeds and sea salt

Raw:
Grated with Parmesan and balsamic vinager

Pickled:
Orange peel, all spice, cloves
Jalapeno pepper


I'm not much of a baker, but grated red beet in brownies and other chocolate cakes tastes like yum!!
I also have a recipe for my Grannies Christmas salad, I'll save it for December, there has been no Christmas with out it, EVER! So stay tuned....

Monday, October 11, 2010

My favorite cheats part 1

You know how you sometimes don't want to spend a lot of time on dinner... Or just don't have the time or energy to whip up a nice meal for your family or friends. But you still want to treat them to a nice experience. Well, from time to time I'll share some of my favorite cheat meals here.

The first one is one that my Mom keeps asking me for. A salmon pasta so easy I almost feel ashamed admitting how I make it. It's super nice and a treat even for you after a long busy day



First off, stop by the supermarket on your way home. This is what to pick up:

Fresh pasta preferably tagliatelle, smoked sliced salmon, a red onion, ready made creamy roe sauce, extra roe is optional.

While you wait for the pasta water to boil you finely chop the onion and shred the salmon.
The pasta shouldn't take more then 3-4 minutes to cook and after you drain it you mix it with the sauce and the salmon, sprinkle the onion on top and add a nice dollop of roe if you are so inclined. Dill or basil makes a nice garnish if you feel the need to make it fancy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My top 5 potatoes

Ahhh, this superb golden lump of goodness! One of my favorite veggies of all.

For those of you who haven't read Michael Pollan's book The botany of desire please do, it will change your look on plants for good. Michael Pollan tells the stories of four plants who have changed them selves and us humans to fit their need. I learned so much about the potato, the apple, the tulip and the cannabis plant. And even though it was highly educational it was also immensely entertaining. Enough with the book review though, back to my list....

  1. Mashed - I cook the potatoes with two or three cloves of garlic, mash it all with butter and maybe a little cream, salt & pepper. Awesome!!
  2. New potatoes boiled with dill stems and sprinkled with sea salt.
  3. Roasted potatoes with lemon oil and rosemary.
  4. Potato au gratin with loads of garlic and cream.
  5. Potato chips lightly salted with a nice home made dip.



Really any of the entries could claim top spot at any time since I'm a moody foodie... ;)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The wonderful world of afternoon tea

It all started in May of this year, with me heading off to London to see my gorgeous friend Steph. She had booked us and Becca a table at Grosvenor House. A luxurious hotel just off Oxford st. What an amazing experience it was, we sat there for hours sipping tea and enjoying all kinds of wonderful treats. Finger sandwiches filled with (I hope my memory serves me right) cucumber and mint, tomato, egg and butter, ham and mustard, chicken, shrimp and a lovely lovely salmon.... ooops, one eludes me, there were eight kinds. There were two kind of warm scones served with jam, honey and clotted cream. And to top it off there was a huge selection of sweet sweet pastries, Victoria sponge, mini eclairs, fruit tarts, chocholate cake... It was all to die for, and best of all.... Free refill!!!
Needless to say this event started what might very well be a lifelong love affair between me and british tea salon cuisine.



Getting back home to Sweden I figured I had to set something up for my girlfriends. So I rounded up some of the moms with the smaller kids and we met up at Lisa's place one sunny afternoon in August. Everyone brought something for the table. And what a table it turned out to be... finger sandwiches, scones, two lovely cakes, cup cakes and a couple of pots of tea. The kids had a good time and the four tired mothers had a nice relaxing time on Lisa's patio. We will do it again and again!
Update: In all my excitement I forgot to write what's in the sandwiches.
Small tray top: cream cheese with wasabi topped with parma ham, physalis and cherry tomato on dark bread. Small tray bottom: parmesan and cream cheese topped with parma ham and strawberry on dark bread. Large tray top: Ham and blue cheese with a cherry tomato. Large tray 2:nd row: cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, garnished with lemon and physalis. Large tray 3:rd row: butter,egg and cress.
Large tray bottom: cream cheese, cucumber and mint.

There you have it, if you get a chance book an afternoon tea some place nice, it might change your life... ;)

The first of many a list....

The 5 things I can't live without in my kitchen:

  1. My amazing victorinox bread knife that makes all other knifes obsolete.
  2. The well stocked spice rack. With loads of fragrant jars from all across the world.
  3. My wonderful and well used jam/chili pot from IKEA of all places.
  4. The wooden spoons and spatulas that makes the food taste extra yummy.
  5. A captive and grateful audience with a huge appetite!
Let me know what you need in your kitchen! I bet it's one or two coffee makers in there....

Friday, October 8, 2010

The soup that rocked my taste buds!

I'm the kind of person who usually don't cook the same thing twice. Not because I don't want to, but mainly because I don't use recipes. I just can't remember what and how much I used of that particular ingridient. Usually if I'm trying out something new I check out a few different recipes and make my own version. That's why you won't find any detailed recipes here, but I will share as many and as tasty dishes as I possibly can.

For some odd reason I found my self in posession of a butternut squash. Here in Sweden we're not that used to the squash and the pumpkin, we are more of a root veggie kind of people. I had my squash sitting in my veggie bowl on the kitchen counter (watching me) for about a week befor I descided it was time... Went online and found a few interesting soups. This is the ingridients and flavours that went in to my pot and my mouth:

Butternut squash
Onion
Garlic
Chicken broth (or veggie broth to make it vegetarian)
Cream (indulge in a 40% cream)
Butter
Curry (I prefer Santa Marias Mango curry)
S&P (salt and pepper)
Cinnamon
Possibly some syrup,but that depends on the sweetness of the squash

Saute the chopped onion and garlic in butter with the curry (about a teaspoon)
Add the diced squash and fill up with chicken stock (amount depends on how thick you want the soup)
Let it simmer under lid until the squash is nice and soft. Either put it in the blender or just squash it with a fork or a stomp. I like mine with a few bits and pieces. I do have teeth! Add some cream and bring it to boil, then add at least a teaspoonof cinnamon. Salt, pepper and syrup to taste.

Serve steaming hot with toast or sprinkle it with crumpled blue cheese or crispy bacon.



Try it out now when the days are getting shorter and the need for savory food gets bigger.

The first entry...

Strange... Never thought I would find myself blogging on the internet. I mean for this blog to be all about food, tasy food, healthy food, unhealthy food, kids food, Scandinavian food and all things food related. I have a great love for food and all the billions of flavors and textures that is to be found around the world. I do hope you will enjoy your brief or regular visit here. xxx