26 October 2010

Roast Moose

Ah, where to begin. The last few days have been extremely stressful, and as a treat to both me and Lundulph I made roast moose. As in roast beef, but with moose instead.

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After all it is hunting season in Sweden and there's game in every shop and I picked up a lovely piece of moose roast, just over a kilo.

And of course it is mushroom season, as I've mentioned earlier. So my treasure box of frozen girolles had to be included.

We also had quite a bit of luck in that the first frost hit us at the end of last week. I'd been wondering how long it would be, because I've grown Jerusalem artichokes this year and read somewhere that they shouldn't be harvested until after the first frost, as that's when they develop their sweetness. Thus last Saturday I dragged Lundulph out of his cave and into the garden to witness the first harvesting of these lovely roots. And I barely scraped the surface and there were loads of them and a good size they were too.

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Given the preciousness of the moose, I did quite a bit of research on recipes and decided on this one. It's in Swedish and I had to make some changes to it, as I didn't have time to go to the Scandinavian shop and get the required messmör. According to wikipedia, this translates to soft whey butter. I've never been a fan of it myself, but I haven't tried it for many years and this was to be used in cooking, which tends to change things.

Anyway, on with the recipe. On a side note, they claim this is for 4 people, though I'd say 6 portions is more likely.

Ingredients
The Roast
1.2 kg moose roast
salt and pepper
butter for browning
1 whole head of garlic

Roasting Liquid
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 largish onion, about 120 g
3 dl water
0.5 dl white wine vinegar
1 cube of mushroom stock

Side Dish
450 g Jerusalem artichokes
550 g potatoes
50 g butter
3 dl double cream
0.5 dl milk
300 g parboiled girolles
salt and pepper

Madeira sauce
1 largish onion, about 120 g
30 g butter
1 tsp dried thyme
3 dl Madeira
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp double cream


Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 145 degrees C.

  2. Pat the roast dry, then season and brown off in butter on all sides. Then place in a roasting tin and set aside.

  3. Peel the garlic cloves, then fry in the same pan as the meat until the cloves just start getting a bit of colour. Then remove from the pan and chop finely.

  4. Make 5 - 6 cuts in the roast, then stuff all the garlic into the cuts. Then stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
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  5. Crush the juniper berries and put in a saucepan.

  6. Dice the onion and add it to the berries, then add water, vinegar and the stock cube and bring to the boil.

  7. Pour into the roasting tin, then place it in the middle of the oven and let roast until the inner temperature has reached 55 degrees C. This will take about 75 - 80 minutes.

  8. Wash and peel the Jerusalem artichokes and cut into pieces. Wash and peel the potatoes and slice thinly, about 3 mm thick.

  9. Fry the potatoes in the butter, stirring regularly.

  10. In the mean time, bring the cream, milk and Jerusalem artichokes to a boil in a saucepan and simmer until the artichokes are soft, about 15 minutes.

  11. As the potatoes start to soften, add the girolles and fry for a further 5 minutes or so.

  12. When the artichokes are done, pour them along with the cream into the pan with potatoes and mushrooms. Stir well and season, then let simmer for a few more minutes.

  13. When the potatoes are done, transfer to an oven-safe dish and place in the oven to keep hot until serving time.

  14. When the meat is almost ready, finely dice the onion for the Madeira sauce, then fry together with the thyme in butter for a few minutes until it goes translucent.

  15. Pour in the Madeira and simmer until it is reduced by half.

  16. When the meat is ready, take out of the oven and strain the roasting liquid into the Madeira sauce. Set the meat aside and cover with aluminium foil and let rest. Make sure to turn the meat once or twice to allow the juices to distribute.

  17. Bring the Madeira sauce to the boil and simmer for another couple of minutes. In the mean time stir the corn flour into the water, then add to the sauce to thicken it. Then finally add the cream and stir through.

  18. When ready to serve, cut the meat into as thin slices as possible. It should be very pink in the middle. Serve with the creamy side dish and the Madeira sauce.


The changes I made are thus the swap out of the messmör and the use of a mushroom stock cube. I think I got it from Bulgaria, the original recipe calls for a beef stock cube. And the piece of moose I had was 1.2 kg, where the recipe called for 1.5 kg. It also recommended rowan berry jelly, which I didn't have. I should also have steamed some green vegetables like French beans or broccoli, if only to make it more esthetically pleasing.

The roast turned out very well, though next time I'll make sure to cut it lengthwise for the stuffing, so that every slice gets a little garlic.

The sauce turned out very sweet, I didn't realise that Madeira is such a sweet wine and I reduced it a bit too much perhaps, so that I added the remaining couple of tablespoons from the bottle (37.5 ml size). When I crushed the juniper berries, their smell was so strong I really worried that they'd dominate everything, but they mellowed out nicely. There was of course quite a sharpness to it as well, thanks to the vinegar. I suspect that using the messmör rather than regular cream would take off some of the sweetness as well. I do believe messmör is salty on the whole. On it's own the sauce generally felt wrong for the food, however combined with the meat and the side dish, everything balanced out quite nicely.

The best thing for me was the side dish (I don't really know what to call it). I was worried that the potatoes wouldn't cook through and the artichokes would collapse. As it happened I ended up keeping the side dish in the oven for about 20 minutes, so if there were any half-done potatoes to begin with, they certainly finished cooking in the oven. Besides, since I discovered Jerusalem artichokes a couple of years back, I've only used them in my Bulgarian lentil soup, where they work fabulously, but I really like the flavour and it was a wonderful surprise to discover how well they combine with the girolles and I could happily have eaten just this side dish and for a whole week at that. I'm well pleased that my first attempt at growing Jerusalem artichokes had such tasty results.

Lundulph liked this meal as well, though with his sensitive tummy, he wasn't able to enjoy the side dish as much, the artichokes are a bit strong for him. Still, after having had this combo twice, I sliced up the remaining 600 g of moose, divided into 3 portions and froze. Lundulph froze the remainder of the sauce, which by the way was not enough for all the meat and the side dish, which there was still a lot of. Though we both suspect the side dish won't freeze well.

12 October 2010

Inauguration

Today my Mum's new cooker arrived. It was very expensive I thought, but was well overdue, the old one was only half-working after 22 years of quite intensive usage.

This new one is very flash and I decided to give it a try by making macarons. This will be interesting in many ways. We gave the oven a quick try to see that it heats up, but didn't let it hit its top temperature, so there is potential that there will be the "new oven smell" as noted in the instruction manual.

Then my macarons needed to be adapted for the whole family - my Sister Bip has developed an allergy to almonds and hazelnuts, thus walnuts had to be used an I ran them in the little processor. This resulted in a rather course beginning to a walnut marzipan, rather than the fine flour that is actually required. Don't even mention peeling the nuts.

Then, like never before, I succeeded with my French meringue - it was rock solid! And of all times it's not supposed to be, this isn't one.

For the cream, I originally intended to make mousseline cream, but decided to bail out and whipped together one of my Mum's pudding powder packets. I also wanted my macarons to be very brightly coloured so I could try out my beetroot powder. That worked well, the pudding cream already had some extract from beetroot, also known as E162, so adding a bit more worked as I'd expected it to work.

For the meringues, I wanted them bright saffron yellow. Obviously saffron is very expensive and I thought I'd substitute with turmeric. Well, the stuff in my Mum's jar was very strongly flavoured and I didn't really get much colour out of it.

And I forgot to add vanilla essence, that might have made the meringue runny, as would have adding some yellow food colouring. Oh well.

The final straw was that my Mum doesn't have a piping bag. So a food bag with one of it's corners cut would have to do. This resulted in quenelle shaped meringues, very stiff and not budging one bit when I tried to get them to settle by dropping the trays on the able. In hindsight, I should probably have used baking parchment and made a cone, it couldn't possibly have given worse results. And they were knobbly and spotty from the walnuts.

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Though I'm sure they'll be edible one way or another. They are baking now on the fan programme. And I do like this new cooker, you turn it on and set the temperature you want. It then starts pre-heating and displays what temperature it has reached. Once it's reached the pre-set temperature, it beeps to let you know. It was fast too. With a fan blowing hot air around, I'm hoping to bake both trays together.

Oh yes, the timer bleeped after 15 minutes, and the hot air has dried the meringues nicely. Some have cracked and all have spiky tops on them, so no question of them standing up when put together. And when I opened the oven door, I was hit by a combination of turmeric and something else, which I assume is the new oven smell. I've left them in the oven to cool down a few more minutes, probably to after dinner.

But I must get a piping kit, I won't be able to manage with bags.

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Anyway, for the record, here is the recipe that needs massive refining

Ingredients

110 g sifted icing sugar
50 g finely chopped walnuts
1.5 tsp turmeric
2 medium sized egg whites
60 g granulated sugar

Method
  1. Mix together the icing sugar, walnuts and turmeric.

  2. Ensure the egg whites are at room temperature and beat them to stiff peaks, then slowly add the granulated sugar, while beating constantly.

  3. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, add the nut mixture and fold in carefully.

  4. Pipe round meringues on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Leave a little space between them to expand, though they can be piped fairly close together.

  5. Lift the baking sheets a few cm from the table and drop a few times to get the meringues to settle down and flatten even more.

  6. Let the meringues rest for 30 minutes and dry out a bit on the surface. In the mean time pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees on hot air fan.

  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn off the cooker and allow the meringues to cool down in the oven.

  8. Take out and prise them off carefully. Store in an airtight box and only put together the macarons shortly before serving them.


Well, they didn't taste particularly nice, though my parents said they were great, but they would, wouldn't they? Still, they're not too offensive, so we'll get through them one way or another. One cannot cheat on the filling cream, so I will start earlier next time and make proper mousseline cream. And I'll stay well away from turmeric as a colouring agent, it's really not worth it. But I think the walnut meringues worked quite nicely

I had loads of the pudding cream left over, so I made impromptu tiramisu. That is, I cut up ladyfinger biscuits into cocktail glasses, drizzled a little Cointreau over them and poured some of the pudding cream over. I bet they're nicer as the cream is nice on its own, just isn't firm enough to hold the meringues together.

But I love the new oven, it just did its job so wonderfully well.

6 October 2010

Vegetarian Lasagne

Last Sunday, I wandered out into the nearby woods with my Mum as she promised rich mushroom pickings.

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And she wasn't kidding one bit - we picked a whole kilogram of beautiful girolles in just over an hour and we barely strayed from the main path either. And I thought last year was good.

In fact, every time we spotted a small group of the little beauties, it turned out that there was another group a few centimetres away, and another and another and you ended up feeling that you're picking up a trail of crumbs someone has sneakily left for you to make you go into a trap.

Of course it took us both over two ours to clean them up. And the big giant in the photo is a type of cep called tegelröd björksopp and translates to orange birch bolete according to Wikipedia. It was a nice find, they normally come out in August.

My Dad kept talking about doing some sort of mince based food, so I suggested I make lasagne, entirely home made. And I did, following my recipe from last year, but making two batches - on with minced pork, the other with the girolles we'd picked. And with lots of cheese on both, this time.

My Mum parboiled the mushrooms after we'd cleaned them. Mainly to get some of the liquid out of them, rather than anything else. They all went into a saucepan and onto a medium hob and soon started releasing their juices. She stirred them every now and then and simmered them for about 10 minutes. Once removed from the hob, she stirred in a piece of butter and that was it.

The batches below refer to the amounts in my original recipe.

Method

1 batch of pasta dough
1 batch of Béchamel sauce
1 dl grapeseed oil
200 g chopped onions
250 g diced carrots
1 kg girolles
200 g green peas
200 g diced cauliflower
1 can of crushed tomatoes (400 g)
1 tbsp tomato purée
dried basil
dried oregano
dried thyme
salt and pepper
fresh dill
fresh parsley
oil or butter for the baking tin
cheese of your choice

Method
  1. Make the dough and while it's resting, make the Béchamel sauce and parboil the mushrooms.

  2. Roll out the dough to four lasagne sheets and set aside to dry a bit.

  3. Heat up the oil on high and fry the onions for a few minutes until the go translucent.

  4. Add the carrots and the mushrooms and stir for another couple of minutes, until the carrots begin to soften.

  5. Add the peas, cauliflower, canned tomatoes, tomato purée and dried herbs, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the fresh herbs, stir through and remove from the heat.Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  7. Grease a deep baking dish, then line with one pasta sheet. Cover with a quarter of the Béchamel sauce and a third of the mushroom filling. Then sprinkle a little cheese, before covering with the next pasta sheet.

  8. Repeat with the remaining parts, ending with a pasta sheet, covered with the last quarter of the Béchamel sauce, then sprinkle generously with grated cheese and bake for about an hour.

  9. If it looks like the cheese is browning too much, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil. Let the lasagne rest for 5 minutes after taking it out of the oven and before serving it.


The peas and cauliflower were my Mum's idea and she also suggested courgettes and aubergines, but she didn't have either of them. We also managed to fill the baking dish to the brim and it overflowed a bit, since the lasagne will expand a bit during baking. The Béchamel sauce was made with lactose free milk and it worked just as well as with regular milk. Since we used fresh mushrooms, there was no liquid from any cans to add to the sauce, so it was milk all the way through, which made it even creamier I think.

As for the cheeses, we used several - a spicy chilli cheddar in the bottom layer, followed by two layers of parmesan and finally topped with a Swedish grated cheese, possibly Herrgårds, but I'm not sure.

And it was extremely yummy, my Mum even had seconds. I think the meat version was also quite good, my Sister asked for some to take home afterwards.

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We finished off with the remaining four glasses of panna cotta and bilberry jam. So a full blown Italian meal, practically.

4 October 2010

Lactose Free Panna Cotta With Bilberry Jam

My Sister Bip has developed a bit of an obsession with panna cotta, just like Lundulph and so I promised to make her some.

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This is the recipe I did before, but with lactose free whipping cream (35% fat) and lactose free mild yoghurt.

There was also a bit of an incident with the vanilla - last Christmas I gave my Mum a bottle of vanilla essence and was counting on it for the panna cotta. However my Mum wasn't able to find it among all her spices, we both searched through high and low three times. Then decided to resort to vanilla sugar. Well, lo and behold, we couldn't find that either. Then my Mum remembered she had half a vanilla pod left, so I started scraping it off and putting the little seeds in the mixture. At which point she wondered aloud if she might have put the vanilla essence in the fridge. Oh yes, she had, so I ended up using one teaspoon of the essence to the quarter of a vanilla pod that I'd scraped.

Of course this resulted in small black dots all over the panna cotta, but it tasted very nice. Though the bilberry jam was my Mum's usual recipe, which isn't very sweet at all and gave a bit of bland experience with the mildness of the panna cotta. So should perhaps have put more sugar into the panna cotta to begin with, or use sweeter jam.

Still, the family liked it, Mum even licked the glass clean, before rushing off to work. And it was decided not to put the glasses away, because I'm bound to make more soon.

I think regular Greek yoghurt is better, as it has a slight sour aftertaste, which I found very appealing. This was barely noticeable this time.

Kanelbullens Dag

Yes, the 4th of October is Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden. I'd completely forgotten about it, but my Mum kindly reminded me and so we made cinnamon buns the other day in preparation.

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All the newspapers had published what they claimed to be the ultimate recipe, some more outrageous than others and my Mum had chosen one for us to try.

Ingredients

Dough
14 g instant yeast
13 dl strong white flour
1.5 tsp ground cardamom
5 dl lactose free semi-skimmed milk at 40 degrees C
1.5 dl white sugar syrup or glucose
150 g butter at room temperature

Filling
150 g butter at room temperature
1.5 dl granulated sugar
0.5 dl brown sugar
1.5 tbsp ground cinnamon
chopped walnuts (optional)

Topping
2 eggs
1 pinch salt
nib sugar

Method
  1. Stir in the yeast into the flour along with the cardamom. Then add the syrup and milk and mix together into a dough, preferably in a machine and let knead until the dough is shiny but soft, about 7 - 10 minutes. You may need to vary the amount of flour.

  2. Now add the butter in small pieces and incorporate well. Then cover and set aside to rise to double the volume.

  3. In the mean time, mix together the butter, sugars and cinnamon to a smooth brown paste and set aside. Then lay out cup cakes on baking sheets, or butter deep baking pans. Finally whisk the eggs with the salt and set aside for later.

  4. When the dough is ready, take out of the bowl and divide into two equal parts, then roll out one into a rectangle - about 0.5 cm if you want smaller buns, thicker if you want more bready ones.

  5. Spread half of the filling over the rolled out dough, all the way out to the edges, then sprinkle with walnuts and roll it up into a sausage along it's longer side.

  6. Cut the dough sausage like a Swiss roll and place the twirls into the cupcakes or the buttered pan, then allow to proof until double in size. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

  7. When the buns have risen, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle some nib sugar on top and bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until they go golden brown.

  8. Take out and cover with a towel and allow to cool completely.


The recipe said it would give 40 buns, but I rolled out the dough very thin, so I ended up with 88 smallish ones. The brown sugar and walnuts gave it a very nice complexity to the flavour, the buns themselves were not too sweet. But I think if I do this recipe again, I won't roll so thinly and make them bigger, like they do in cafés. I'll probably use 50 g of fresh yeast instead of the two sachets of instant, I think it gives better results.

The interesting bit for me was using lactose free milk. This is because my Sister Bip has developed a sensitivity to lactose and has cut it out altogether from her diet. The milk behaved pretty much like regular milk and I certainly didn't notice any difference in flavour, but then I don't have a very sensitive tongue.

The down side of this is that now we have this massive amount of cinnamon buns, I won't be able to bake any other buns for a while, which is a bit annoying, I had some plans, which now have to be postponed for a few weeks.