25 March 2019

Crepes for Waffle Day

Once again it is time for pancakes on Waffle Day. Last year I did some research and found this recipe, which seemed rather good. I even started a post about it. But last year was very unproductive, I've started crocheting and knitting again, after many years' break and as with the early years of the food blog, it has become a bit of an obsession, especially when there are so many beautiful yarns to buy.

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I've decided to try and do more cooking again and I thought I'd go back to last year's recipe. But I couldn't find it, because the post never got finished. So another search and I found another recipe, which also seemed rather good. Plus I wanted to try out my new crepe making tool, which I got for Christmas.

I originally thought that I should halve it, since it's just the two of us. The recipe didn't mention the number of pancakes it would give and last year, I froze the remaining pancakes for future desserts, which worked very well. So here is the full recipe in metric:

Ingredients
Makes 14, at diameter of 20 cm

3 dl semi-skimmed milk
3 large eggs
30 ml oil
3 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
115 g plain flour

oil for frying

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and quickly whizz with a hand blender to get a very thin batter, almost like water.
  2. Leave to stand for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer, like overnight.
  3. Heat up a flat frying pan of about 20 cm inner diameter to medium-high heat and brush with a little oil.
  4. When it has heated up fully, stir through the batter and pour ½ dl into the pan, then swirl around to get the batter to spread across the whole pan. If you have a crepe making tool, this is when it should be used to spread the batter quickly and evenly.
  5. It shouldn't take too long for the crepe surface to go dry and then using a spatula, loosen carefully around the edges.
  6. By now the edges will have started to go brown a bit, so carefully lift the edge, slide the spatula under and turn the crepe over.
  7. Let fry on the second side for 10 - 15 seconds, then remove onto a large plate. If the pan looks dry, brush with a little oil again, stir through the batter and repeat the procedure with the next crepe.

As it turned out, in my "greed", I'd picked a crepe making tool that was a bit too large for my frying pan, so I couldn't use it and had to swirl to spread the batter. Still the crepes turned out reasonably thin and delicate, no toughness anywhere and I only tore a couple as I rushed to insert the spatula under them for the turning.

Sadly I can't remember my thoughts last year when I made the first recipe now, but this second one was good and easy. I will try to make them with butter next time, I think that will add a richer flavour. I'll see if I can find a smaller crepe making tool, so I can get the crepes really nice and thin.

I have no comment from Lundulph, but he happily put away 5 of the crepes, two savoury ones, with lovely Hungarian salami and baked beans, and for dessert, two with marshmallow fluff, milk chocolate crumbs and desiccated coconut and one with fig jam. I had two, though I probably should have stopped after the first one, it was surprisingly filling. The remaining seven crepes are now folded and frozen.

What I can say is that the batter turned out so thin, I was worried it wouldn't work at all, but it did!

16 February 2019

Coffee Masala Cake once again

It's time for Brother-in-Law Roger's birthday once more and I was asked to make a cake.

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I had originally planed to bake one for my younger niece Falbala, but she put in a killer shift at her work place on her birthday and spent most of the next day sleeping, so I didn't. I'd planned a really elaborate cake for her, and I'll have to make it at some point. But as I had to make a cake for Roger, I decided to try and stick to the same theme as Falbala's cake, just simplify it, since I had to make it during the working week.

Thus came about the idea of making a cake sponge which was coffee flavoured and almost black to be covered with lovely white chocolate, a bit like a latte in cake form basically. And I had a coffee cake recipe which needed to be sorted out. Noting that I found the recipe and made it back in 2008, I've come a long way since and learned loads about baking and there is absolutely no surprise at all on why this failed at the time. But it also meant I couldn't use the full recipe for Roger's cake.

Instead I did what I usually do and google and go for the pretty picture or a baker that I can trust. This time it was Mary Berry's easy chocolate cake. With modifications to incorporate the coffee masala elements.

Ingredients

some butter and flour for preparing the cake tin
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp instant coffee
110 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
115 g unsalted butter at room temperature
115 g dark muscovado sugar
1 dl golden syrup
2 large eggs
25 g cocoa powder

Method

  1. Place the spices and the instant coffee in a mortar and pestle and grind down as finely as possible.
  2. Butter and dust a 20 cm cake tin with flour. Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C fan.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Put all ingredients together and beat with an electric whisk for a couple of minutes until well combined and homogeneous.
  5. Transfer the batter into the cake tin and level out with a spatula or a spoon. Make a shallow well in the middle to prevent it from bulging into a volcano.
  6. Bake for an hour until a skewer stuck in the middle of it comes out dry.
  7. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a drying rack and allow to cool down completely.
  8. Slice in two just before decorating, so it doesn't dry out.

Filling

221 g white chocolate
98 g double cream at 47.5% fat

Method

  1. Chop the white chocolate finely and carefully melt in the microwave in 10 second intervals and stirring between each.
  2. Scald the cream, then pour into the chocolate mixture and stir well, then leave to set for about an hour or for 30 minutes in the fridge to speed things up.
  3. Use some of this ganache to spread a 1 cm thick layer between the two parts of the cake sponge.
  4. Use the remaining ganache as a crumb layer to cover the whole cake and stop any crumbs coming through to the glazing.
  5. Place the cake onto a roasting rack, which is on top of a baking tray.

Glaze

200 g white chocolate
1 tsp of Mycryo freeze-dried cocoa butter
100 g double cream at 47.5% fat
white chocolate buttons

Method

  1. Chop the chocolate finely, place in a plastic bowl and melt in the microwave in 10 second intervals and stir between each burst.
  2. Check the chocolate temperature, it should be between 40 and 45 °C.
  3. Keep stirring carefully and measure the temperature until it has reached 33 - 34 °C. Stir in the Mycryo to temper the chocolate.
  4. Scald the cream, then let it cool down to 33 - 34 ° as well, before stirring into the tempered chocolate.
  5. As soon as the tempered ganache has come together, pour it over the cake and make sure it runs smoothly over the sides and covers the whole cake.
  6. Leave on the rack to set completely, then carefully prize off the rack and transfer to the display plate.
  7. If the edge still isn't smooth, cover with a row of small white chocolate buttons.

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The cake sponge tasted quite strongly of coffee, not sweet at all, but combined with the white chocolate, this balanced quite well and the whole cake disappeared quite quickly, Roger grabbed the last piece for his drive home.

20 January 2019

Warm Salad With Brussels Sprouts and Curly Kale

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For decades now, my Mum has been subscribing to a ladies' weekly magazine. And for as long as she has been doing that, I've loved to do the crossword section. But since I met Lundulph and got interested in cooking again, I've also become quite partial to the food section too and as it happens, both of these are in the middle of the magazine, so that they can be torn out and saved. My Mum save these for me and whenever we visit Sweden, we bring back batches of these.

This year, I asked my Dad to scan some of the recipes, rather than dragging home a bundle of paper and I think this is the way forward, because I'm a lot more likely to try some of these out, like this warm salad with Brussels sprouts. It really jumped out at me because Lundulph always complains about Brussels sprouts. He does eat them once per year for Christmas dinner. He says it's like taking a regular sized cabbage and shrinking it to the size of a walnut, so the flavour is too intense for him. I disagree, regular cabbage tastes quite differently to Brussels sprouts and to date, I've not come across any member of the cabbage family that I don't like.

I made this salad to go with green masala chicken and steamed potatoes.

Ingredients
Serves 4

250 g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed
250 g curly kale, thick stalk removed and washed
1 dl walnuts
2 - 3 tbsp butter
1 large clove of garlic
2 tbsp honey
salt ½ dl dried cranberries

Method

  1. Quarter the Brussels sprouts and shred the curly kale coarsely. Peel the garlic and roughly chop the walnuts.
  2. Heat up the butter in a deep pan, then press in the garlic and sauté the Brussels sprouts for 5 - 6 minutes until the go soft.
  3. Add the curly kale, salt and honey and stir through. Fry for a few more minutes to soften the curly kale a little.
  4. Add the walnuts and cranberries, stir in to mix and remove from the heat. Serve immediately, before the kale goes soggy.

When I read the recipe, it seemed really good. When I was making it, I started having doubts, but it turned out rather nice. I had set honey and I ended up cooking everything longer than I should have and the kale went a bit soggy and limp. I think the runny honey can't be replaced here, as it needs to spread evenly across the salad and the set honey just stayed in a big lump. But there is a trick - heat up the set honey in the microwave to make it more fluid.

Lundulph thought it had too much butter in it, so I might do 50-50 butter and oil next time, though I thought it was nice. Possibly I might reduce the amount of honey a bit, as the cranberries turned out to be sweetened as well and it was perhaps a bit on the sweet side overall. Lundulph wasn't too keen on the walnuts either. I didn't mind, but I might swap for pine kernels, they tend to be a bit more savoury in flavour.

So overall, I was quite pleased with this salad.

31 December 2018

Kadayif

I've been casting my eyes onto the packets of kadayif in the Turkish shop, every time we've visited Lundulph's parents and since we're doing New Year in the UK, I decided to follow a tradition and make kadayif.

Actually the tradition is baklava, however kadayif is filo pastry which has been finely shredded and is done in pretty much the same way - one layer of pastry at the bottom, chopped nuts and cinnamon in the middle and a second layer of pastry on top.

Ingredients

125 g unsalted butter + some for buttering the dish
400 g kadayif pastry
200 g mixed chopped nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
800 g granulated sugar
1 litre water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 dl dried rose petals
zest from one lemon

Method

  1. Melt the butter on low-medium heat. Butter a large oven-proof and deep dish and pre-heat the oven to 150 °C (not fan!)
  2. Dampen a piece of baking paper or clean kitchen towel.
  3. Open the packet of kadayif and divide into two equal parts. Wrap one with the damp paper/towel and spread the other in the baking dish, making sure the pastry is evenly distributed.
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  4. Mix the nuts and the cinnamon well, then sprinkle over the bottom level of the kadayif, making sure it's as even as possible.
    IMG_5710>
  5. Unwrap the second half of the kadayif and spread over the nuts, again pressing down and making sure it's as even as possible.
  6. Drizzle the melted butter over the kadayif
    >IMG_5711
    and bake in the oven for about 2 h, until it goes pale golden brown on top.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down.
    IMG_5713
  8. Place the granulated sugar, water, lemon juice, rose petals and lemon zest in a large saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes to form a thick-ish syrup.
  9. Pour the syrup over the kadayif through a sieve to remove the rose petals and zest, then press down gently so that all the pastry can soak in the syrup.
    IMG_5714
  10. Leave to cool down, then cover with cling film and chill for 24 h before serving.

The kadayif pastry I bought had been folded up a couple of times the way it came out from the shredder, so each strand was neatly lined up. Based on vague memories of what my Mum's kadayif used to look like many years ago, and what I personally find quite attractive is that it's all jumbled up in the baking tray. So this is what I did this time and this resulted in the kadayif increasing dramatically in volume, so that I had to swap to a bigger baking dish, and even that one just barely fitted everything in. Don't get fooled if it looks like a small packet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just like filo pastry, this dries out very quickly, which is why I wrapped it up in a damp sheet of baking paper. It requires some good planning and swift work, so all ingredients should be ready measured up/chopped/melted/whatever, so that the kadayif can be put together as quickly as possible.

I did some brief searching on the web - most basic recipes are a variation of the above. Most seemed to use a lot more butter than I did and less syrup, but I like the kadayif to be sweet and moist. I'd like to try a couple of more rounds and experiment with different ways of shaping. I think trying to make like tubes filled with nuts would be good. Definitely less syrup here though.

I also think a spray contraption for the butter would work better and get the kadayif pastry more evenly "buttered". In fact the recipe on the packet recommended dipping the whole lot in 250 g melted butter, then dividing in two and sprinkling the nuts in the middle. Perhaps also breaking/cutting up the kadayif into shorter lengths might make it easier to work with.

The original recipe I followed only listed walnuts, but I did equal parts walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios and would have used others as well, if I had any, but since Lundulph developed a sensitivity to nuts, I'm not buying the copious amounts I used to in the past.

This amount was massive, and took a while to get through, since we didn't manage to get the whole clan together this year, so if I try this again, I'll halve everything.

30 December 2018

Pickled Aubergine

Since my Sister's regular escapades into the vegan lifestyle, my Mum has actively tried to accommodate this into the various seasonal celebrations. A Swedish tradition at both Christmas and Midsummer is to have marinated herring of various varieties. So a vegan version would be swapping the herring for aubergine. Last year, Mum made a Swedish recipe and to be honest I didn't like it much at all. This year, my Mum made the vego-herring once more and I was reluctant to try, but they turned out to be very tasty. So what was the difference? This year, it was a Bulgarian recipe, which I jotted down before we flew back to the UK. And I bought some aubergines straight away and spent most of last evening making these.

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Ingredients

~1 kg aubergines, about 4
salt
oil for frying
1 dl cider vinegar
1 dl water
peeled cloves of garlic, about a head and a half
sprigs of parsley (optional)

Method

  1. Trim off the stalks and wash the aubergines. Then slice into circles,about 1 cm thick.
  2. Sprinke each circle with salt on both sides and stack slightly overlapping on a baking tray or a roasting rack over a baking tray.
  3. Lean the tray at one end so the liquid of the aubergines drains into the tray easier. Leave for a couple of hours.
  4. Peel the garlic and wash the parsley and shake off excess water. Prepare a 1 litre jar and several sheets of kitchen tissue.
  5. Heat up a little oil in a deep saucepan on high and mix together the cider vinegar and water in a bowl.
  6. Carefully squeeze out each aubergine circle of liquid, then pat dry on a sheet of kitchen tissue and fry for a couple of minutes on each side, so they get a little colour.
  7. Transfer to the bowl of vinegar/water mixture, while putting the next batch in to fry.
  8. After a couple of minutes move the aubergines from the vinegar/water mixture to the jar, layering as densely as possible and add a couple of cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of parsley between each layer.
  9. Continue with the remaining aubergines, adding oil to the frying saucepan as required, but not too much.
  10. Any left-over vinegar/water mixture can be poured into the jar. Press down on the aubergines as much as possible to squeeze out any air.
  11. Close the jar and leave to cool down to room temperature. Then store in the fridge, however the aubergines are pretty much ready to eat.

My Mum takes the time to cut the aubergines into strips to make it look like herring fillets, but I did circles, as this was the instruction of the original recipe. However, I think strips would be easier to pack in the jar, I ended up with quite a few gaps between each layer, but I did my best to press down.

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Amazing how much liquid they contain!

Update 12th January:
These turned out spot on and were super tasty, we got through them alarmingly quickly.

So I immediately bought double the amount and used my mandolin to slice the aubergines length-wise. The mandolin cut them a bit thinner than I'd intended and what I did manually during the first run, but there is no way I'd risk cutting off my fingers attempting to cut an aubergine lengthwise with a knife.

There were so many of them, I had to make these over two days and even then I had to bake them in several batches, the slices lined next to each other onto a roasting rack and brushed lightly with grapeseed oil.

Because I'd doubled the amount, I also needed to double the pickling mixture and I still ran out and had to do a further half of the above amount. I also used a large spoon to press them down in the jar and used a metal skewer to remove all the bubbles I could see.

Initially the flavour was a bit different and I thought it was down to baking rather than frying, but in hindsight, I think they just needed a bit longer in the jar before starting to eat them and possibly using more of the pickling mixture to start with. But they were just as nice and I discovered they worked a treat between to toasted slices of bread, no need for butter or anything like that. And they do last long too.

A word of warning on the garlic - it is very tasty, but also very strong in flavour and your breath will smell for days. So I recommend using in stews and soups instead of fresh garlic.

10 December 2018

The Winning Lussekatt Recipe

When I started this blog back in 2006, one of the earliest experiments I did was to try my hand at Swedish gingersnaps. Sadly I didn't put any reference in that blog post to where I found it, but it turned out to be a winner and I've never strayed from it since.

Lussekatt recipes, however, are another matter entirely, year after year I try and I've not been happy with them. Until this year. And it's actually a recipe I've made before, but this time without the filling and with a new tip from my Mum's weekly magazine. And Lundulph will not stop eating these, I swear his stomach is taking the shape of a giant lussekatt.

Ingredients

Makes about 75 small ones

1 large egg
1 pinch salt
1 g saffron, ground if available
½ dl granulated sugar
3 tbsp white rum or other pale spirit
1.5 dl raisins or sultanas
2 dl dark rum
150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1.5 dl light or golden syrup
5 dl semi-skimmed milk
50 g fresh yeast
1 large egg
14 dl strong white flour

Method

  1. Break the first egg into a cup, add the pinch of salt and whisk to make the egg wash. Let stand on the side until required.
  2. If the saffron is not ground, place it together with the granulated sugar in a pestle and mortar and grind together as finely as possible.
  3. Transfer the saffron and sugar to a glass and add the white rum, stir together and let stand - this draws out more colour and flavour from the saffron.
  4. Pour the dark rum over the raisins/sultanas and leave them to soak. Cover the dish with a lid or cling film, to stop the kitchen smelling like a distillery.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the soft butter and syrup as fluffy as possible - this is a small amount, so would be difficult, but make sure they combine well.
  6. Warm up the milk to about 40 °C in a saucepan.
  7. In the bowl of your mixer, crumble up the fresh yeast, then pour the warm milk over and stir until the yeast has dissolved fully.
  8. Add the second egg, the saffron mixture and a couple of tablespoons of the butter syrup mixture, followed by 11 dl of the flour.
  9. Let the mixer work the mixture into a very soft dough (almost like a thick batter). Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes.
  10. Prepare a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and have a couple of further baking papers ready. Also have a cooling rack ready so you can swap the baking sheets quickly.
  11. Now start the mixer again and add the remaining 3 dl of the flour, one at a time to bring the dough together and make it non-sticky, but still very soft.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 225 °C (top/bottom heat, 205 °C if fan assisted).
  13. Divide the dough in 2 parts, leave one in the bowl covered and roll out the other one to about 1 cm thickness.
  14. Cut into strips of 1.5 cm thickness and about 15 cm length, then roll each strip and shape into an "S" and place on the prepared baking sheets.
  15. Once the sheet is filled, drain the raisins from the rum (do not throw it away!) and push a raisin into the middle of each swirl of the "S" shapes, then brush with the egg wash.
  16. Continue with the remaining dough.
  17. Let the lussekatter proof for about 30 minutes before baking for 8 - 9 minutes.
  18. After baking, transfer to the cooling rack and let cool down completely, before storing in an air tight container or food bag.
  19. The buns are best served on the day of baking. To bring back the fluffiness in the following couple of days, whizz for a few seconds in the microwave before eating. Otherwise, freeze immediately once they've cooled down.

Use the left-over dark rum from the raisins to enhance your mulled wine.

18 November 2018

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Recently I spotted some really cute cakes disguised to look like pumpkins for Halloween. These came from Preppy Kitchen and I ended up watching several other videos, even though I found the presentation style somewhat annoying. What really struck my fancy was the Italian Meringue Buttercream.

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This is not really news to me, I've come across this before, but never really fancied trying my hand at Italian meringue in the first place, let alone then shoving in loads of butter. A long time it may be, but I still shudder at the word "buttercream" from memories of Bulgarian patisseries in the early 1980-s where they had dispensed with the whisking the butter up with sugar and just piped pure butter onto the cakes. Disgusting!

But I know my friends Dr Cutie and Patsy both are practised hands at making Italian meringue, so I though I should give it a go as well. Add to that the fact that I managed to get hold of large quantities of unsalted butter from France - had to be done. I prepared each part separately, not like in the video, I don't feel confident when making caramel, so wanted to be able to focus entirely on the caramel. In fact I even bought a stainless steel saucepan for this purpose. All my other saucepans are non-stick and almost back in colour and this makes it impossible to tell the colour of the caramel. Stainless still is better.

Ingredients

4 large egg whites
1 ml salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
200 g + 67 g granulated sugar
80 ml water
5 ml vanilla extract
454 g unsalted butter at room temperature and diced

Method

  1. Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in a large metal or glass bowl and using an stand electric whisk, beat to soft peaks, while slowly adding 67 g of the sugar.
  2. Place the remaining sugar in a small saucepan along with the water and place on medium-low heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes clear.
  3. Up the heat a little and put a sugar thermometer into the mixture, then bring up to 115 °C.
  4. Start beating the egg whites again and slowly drizzle the caramel into the foamy mixture.
  5. The caramel will cook the egg whites, so keep beating until the mixture has cooled down completely to room temperature. This can take up to 20 minutes or so. To speed up the cooling, place a bag of frozen peas up against the side of the mixing bowl and keep beating.
  6. If there is a paddle attachment, switch to it, then add the diced butter, a few cubes at a time. Do not despair, there is a lot of butter and the mixture will only go nice and smooth once all of it is in.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is really silky smooth.

The butter cream will hold reasonably well for a few minutes, but for longer, it might need "rejuvenation" by a quick whisk-up. It's really good for piping, so I did just this on my rhubarb muffins. The piping held well throughout the whole day, even though I had to drag it through a train journey of over an hour to get it to the office the following day.

Lundulph's verdict was heaven light as air. My colleagues concurred and several came back for seconds and even thirds.