24 December 2006

Christmas Eve

Today I built the gingerbread house. For the first time ever, I actually made the dough, cut out and baked the parts too.

I'm not too happy with the result of the decoration, but it'll have to do.

Merry Christmas to all!

Also I did a salmon pie.


400 g smoked salmon
2 packets puff pastry
4 - 5 leeks
400 g spinach leaves
20 g butter
2 tbsp grape seed oil
400 ml creme fraiche
fresh mint, fresh thyme, fresh dill and black pepper

  1. Cut the leeks in 2 cm chunks.
  2. Melt the butter and oil together in a large casserole dish.
  3. Add the leek and fry it until it softens, then add the spinach and stir until it wilts.
  4. Add the herbs and take off the heat. Leave to cool.
  5. Stir in the creme fraiche.
  6. Lay out one of the puff pastry sheets on a baking tin. Layer the salmon on top of it, leaving 1 - 2 cm free along the edges. Spread the spinach mixture on top.
  7. Cover with the second puff pastry sheet and press in the edges. Make holes to allow steam out.
  8. Bake in the oven at 220 degrees C or gas mark 7 until the top puff pastry has puffed up and gone golden brown.
Do not use salt as the salmon tends to be quite salty.

Fourth of Advent

As it is on the same day as Christmas Eve, we decided to cheat a bit and light the fourth candle on the Saturday during our traditional Christmas dinner. This is the first of three that we are having, the next one is on the actual Christmas Day with Lundulph's family and then the third one is on New Year's Eve with mine.

Since we moved together, we've been going through various birds for our special Christmas dinner and last year we had guinea fowl. But since we didn't have an oven to roast it in, we did guinea fowl au vin (from Delia Smith), which was nice, but not really Christmassy. This year, we repeated the guinea fowl, but according to another one of Delia's recipes, guinea fowl with 30 cloves of garlic. This sounds drastic to any one but a garlic lover, but to be honest, it was absolutely divine! The garlic cloves are cooked in their skins and that gives a very delicate flavour.

With this, I did roast potatoes and carrots. Boiled the potatoes (Maris Piper) with the carrots for 10 minutes, removed the carrots, poured out the water and fluffed up the potatoes by shaking them in the saucepan. Then placing them on a deep baking sheet, where I'd heated up about 2 dl goose fat. I added the carrots as well, browned all a bit on all sides and put in the oven together with the guinea fowl. Took out and turned the potatoes after 20 minutes and also poured hot oil over everything again. At this point wafts of delicious smells of rosemary and garlic came out from the oven. Mmmmm!

Also, I steamed some sprouts and broccoli. When they were done, I added them to the tin of potatoes and carrots, to get a bit of goose fat on them and back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Needless to say, this is a recipe I'll repeat, it was ever so tasty.

With the bird, we had a Rioja from 2001, Baron de Ley. This is a wine we discovered when we went to Spain in 2003. It is a relatively new brewery, but the wines are very good.

22 December 2006

Fusion Cooking

On the whole, I'm not a big fan of the so called fusion cooking and I refer to something Niles said on Frasier. It goes along the lines of Swedish and Mongolian are not supposed to be fused, they are on the opposite sides of the planet, they were meant to stay separate. I concur.

But when I've forgotten to get an ingredient or can't be bothered to wait for the brown rice to boil or something really needs to be cooked now or thrown in the bin, I do pretty much that - fusion cooking. Mostly it's a bad idea, but also mostly, Lundulph is too hungry to care and eats it and says it's delicious. He's so nice to me.

So here's the fusion cooking from Tuesday. Sorry for the delay, but Christmas shopping and driving around various car parks has taken up far too much of my time lately.

The meatballs are a left over from a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's book Indian Cookery, Kashmiri meatballs. To be honest, she seems to have toned down the amount of spices to the point of blandness. Generally when I try a new recipe, I tend to follow it exactly, unless there is an obvious mistake and these meatballs just weren't what I expected. More spices next time, at least the double amount. But the mix was quite OK, after having been frozen for several months.
She recommended a lentil curry, which was even more bland than the meatballs. So this time, I tried the lentil curry from Mridula Baljekar's book Fat Free Indian Cookery (now sadly out of print). This one called for equal parts of red and green lentils. I only had red, so I used only them. Lundulph really liked it. When I tried it, it tasted almost exactly like my pumpkin cream. So I was surprised to say the least. Also I didn't like it much, because of that - I associate the flavour with dessert, not main course. Oh, well. Next time I'll try with green lentils too.

Finally, I boiled potatoes and sautéd them.

This is what it looked like.

I've become friends with butter again. Quite interesting, and oh so tasty.

19 December 2006


Lundulph and I have been chiseling away at our new kitchen work surface where the sink is to be installed, so absolutely no time for extravagant cooking of any kind. We've been having salads for lunch and tonight I thought it would be nice with some hot food, so I made an omelette.


1 tbsp grape seed oil
2 eggs
½ roasted or fresh pepper
2 slices of ham or salami
2 spring onions
3-4 mushrooms
1 pickled hot chili (optional)
1 dl milk
salt, pepper
grated cheese

  1. Cut the pepper, meat, onions, mushrooms and chili into thin pieces or strips.
  2. Whisk them together with the eggs and the milk and season. If you are using salty salami, don't use salt.
  3. Heat up the oil in a pan, on medium heat.
  4. Pour the egg mix into the pan and leave to sizzle for 2 - 3 minutes. Then stir. It'll turn into a sort of scrambled eggs with bits in them, so not really food for entertaining guests.
  5. Add the grated cheese shortly before serving, so that it melts a bit.
  6. It should be possible to get it nice like they do in restaurants, but I've forgotten how to do that. Maybe cook on lower heat and leave for longer.
Last night I forgot the mushrooms and used a pack of dried moose sausage, which we picked up at the IKEA Swedish Food shop, when we went there last. Mostly they contain salt and fat, but Lundulph thought it was very tasty. I think pepperoni or chorizo would be good in the omelette too. Also Lundulph doesn't eat cheese, so I didn't put any either.

A quick search on the internet came up with this description on how to make the perfect omelette, with pictures. I'll try it out and update the post.

17 December 2006

Third of Advent

Well, one more Sunday to go and it's Christmas. We're pushing to get the kitchen ready, so it looks like we won't do a Christmas tree this year. But I'm not budging on the Advent traditions, here is the third candle.

Today, Lundulph asked if we could de-sweaten the non-alcoholic mulled wine, so I mixed it with an equal part water. This definitely made it more drinkable. With that, we had saffron buns, they are very nice when heated up in the microwave. It's easy to eat one too many.

A New Stir Fry

As I mentioned, I'm in between jobs at the moment. One of the leaving gifts (and I got surprisingly many, that was nice) was a cook book.

So last I tried one out. Had to change it a bit, because I couldn't find all the ingredients, but it was rather tasty, so I'm adding my version here.

Pork and Noodle Pan Fry


4 tbsp grape seed oil
350 g broccoli, cut into small florets
300 g fresh thick egg noodles
7 - 8 spring onions
450 g pork medallions
100 g shiitake mushrooms
200 g Cantonese chow mein sauce
250 g bean sprouts
2 handfuls roasted and salted cashew nuts

  1. Wash the broccoli, brush off any dirt from the mushrooms and cut if they are too large.
  2. Wash and cut the onions into 5 cm strips.
  3. Cut the pork into thin strips.
  4. Heat up the oil, add the broccoli and stir for a couple of minutes, until it softens a little.
  5. Add the pork strips and stir fry for another couple of minutes.
  6. Add the noodles and the sauce and stir them in.
  7. Add the mushrooms and onions, still stirring all the time.
  8. When the mushrooms have softened a bit, add the bean sprouts and cashew nuts.
  9. Ready.
The original sauce was supposed to be sweet and spicy, but I couldn't find that and so used the chow mein. But the amount was the same and I think too little, at least two jars are needed, possibly three. Also I forgot to add some crushed chillies to give it a bit of a kick.

But on the whole it was tasty, fresh and quick to make.

15 December 2006

The Day of St Lucia

On 13 December, Sweden celebrates St Lucia. Amongst other things, special saffron buns (lussekatter) are made.

And this is the story of how I discovered that there are different types of flour. The first time I made these in the UK, I used plain flour and so they didn't rise. They went into the bin and I made a second lot the next day, again with plain flour and again with the same result. I'd invited friends and treated them to these horrible things. They politely tried them, so many thanks for that. I binned the rest after they left and decided never to make these again, I'd lost it, it was as simple as that.

But then I found out about different types of flour and so this year I tried again. Needless to say there was much worry involved and I ended up adding too much flour which made them a bit dry and dense. They did rise very well, but I made another mistake too - I decorated them with raisins and egg after they'd proofed, which caused them to collapse.

Also a bit more sugar would have been better.


50 g fresh yeast (or corresponding amount quick dry yeast)
200 g unsalted butter
6 dl full milk
1 g saffron
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 dl caster sugar
1 dl glucose or light syrup
½ tsp salt
1000 g + 200 g strong white flour
1 egg yolk

  1. Place the butter and milk in a saucepan and let the butter melt on low heat and warm up the milk to just above 37 degrees.
  2. In the mean time, grind the saffron with a teaspoon of granulated sugar with a pestle and mortar. Then add to the milk and butter and stir in well.
  3. If using fresh yeast, break it up and dissolve in the liquid - very important that it isn't too hot or the yeast will die.
  4. If using dried yeast, blend it well with the 1000 g of strong flour.
  5. Add the sugar and syrup to the liquid, then incorporate the 1000 g flour.
  6. If needed, add more flour to form a fairly soft dough, that just about doesn't stick to the fingers. This is where I made my first mistake of adding too much flour, making the dough hard and difficult to work. Hot tip: use a kitchen machine to mix the dough or you won't have strength enough to make the buns.
  7. Leave to rise until it doubles in size, so in a warm place and covered with a tea towel.
  8. Make the buns and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Add the raisins and brush with the whisked up yolk. Then leave to proof for about 30 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat the oven at 225 degrees C or gas mark 7, but turn it down to 200 degrees/gas mark 6 when you bake the first lot.
  10. Bake one sheet at a time in the lower middle of the oven for 10 - 15 minutes.
  11. Leave to cool on a rack. The buns can be frozen. This recipe yields about 30 buns. And they are particularly nice when they are warm.
I'm including some links to traditional bun shapes

Saffron buns 1
Saffron buns 2
Saffron advent candle holder

Today was my last day at work and as a leaving do, I made these for my colleagues yesterday, along with gingersnaps and Swedish non-alcoholic mulled wine (courtesy of IKEA). The buns didn't quite turn out too well and so I still have quite a lot of them. They weren't sweet enough but I thought this would off set the extreme sweetness of the mulled wine. The gingersnaps went down very well though. Also I've had a glimpse of what it may feel like when you retire and leave colleagues and good friends behind. But a new job is lurking behind the corner and possibly less time to cook. So twice as sad in a way.

If you don't have time for buns, you can make a large plait and cover it with pearl sugar or make a wreath by rolling the dough and spreading the filling from the cinnamon buns mixed with some finely chopped or ground hazelnuts. Then make it into a roll and snip through half of it with scissors. Then put the two ends together to form a circle and alternatively pull the cut bits to the outside or inside of the wreath.

10 December 2006

Second of Advent

Today we've had more mulled wine. Unfortunately as we're in the middle of installing our kitchen, I haven't had time to bake anything. This is not an ideal situation and I'll try to do something about it in the next few days.

In the mean time, the second candle is lit.

And Lundulph is almost half way through his Christmas calendar. I made it for him a couple of years ago. I'm working on mine, didn't make it this year, sadly.

6 December 2006

Sponge Cake Without Eggs

This is a recipe I haven't made since uni and I suspect originated during some difficult times. I haven't made it today, but it's for my good friend Simon.


butter or margarine
dessicated coconut
2 dl grapeseed oil
2 dl caster sugar
2 dl Greek yogurt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 dl plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp vanilla essence
raisins and/or nuts (optional)

  1. Butter a cake tin, then pour some dessicated coconut and shake it around to get it well covered. Remove excess coconut.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C or gas mark 3.
  3. Mix the oil and sugar (and vanilla, if using a liquid variety).
  4. Separately, mix the flour, cocoa and vanilla (if using a dry variety).
  5. Now you need to work fast. Add the soda to the yogurt, it'll start expanding fairly fast, so stir it into the oil and sugar mixture.
  6. Then slowly add the dry ingredient mix and whisk until smooth.
  7. Add raisins and/or nuts.
  8. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes. Test with e. g. a bamboo skewer, it's ready when the skewer comes out clean.
Update 9th December 2006: I had a chat with my Mum today, she said that her version of this recipe uses oil instead of butter or margarine. Sunflower or olive oil.

4 December 2006

Pork Chop Night

Well, finally I got around to making pork chops with potatoes, veggies and gravy. I got a couple of nice chops and grilled them according to the recommendation on the pack, 18 minutes, turning them a couple of times.

In the mean time, I steamed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, Savoy cabbage and peas.

I cheated and made Bisto beef gravy.

But all in all, it was absolutely yummy.

Next time I'll try it with Delia Smith's mashed potatoes. I think that would be better than just boiled potatoes.

And doing the vegetables sauté would be even nicer. For special occasions.

3 December 2006

First of Advent

The four Sundays before Christmas are celebrated as the Advent Sundays in Sweden, conveniently numbered first through fourth. This year is a bit unusual, as Christmas Eve is also fourth of Advent. The strangeness being that Christmas Eve is the main celebration day in Sweden with the big dinner and the opening of presents.

The tradition is that you have a special candle holder with four candles and on each of the Advent Sunday, you light a candle.

Also you drink mulled wine and eat ginger snaps. Swedish mulled wine is called "glögg" and is sweeter than the English variety. But the spices have different proportions and no fresh fruit is added, but dried slices of orange. The wine is heated, but not boiled, then served with raisins and blanched almonds. You pour the mulled wine in small glasses or mugs, then add a couple of teaspoons of raisins and almonds. You keep the spoon and eat the raisins and almonds while you drink the wine.

Today we're only having the mulled wine, I'm making ginger snaps later in the week. The Swedish mulled wine comes in bottles ready to heat. There are also bags with mulling spices in the shops, for the more enthusiastic people. Lundulph and I went to IKEA the other day and got some from there. There are non-alcoholic versions, wine based (both red and white) and brandy or vodka based. Since it's morning, we had the non-alcoholic one, which was very sweet.

One thing that is a bit strange to me is that in the UK blanched almonds are cheaper than regular ones. Well, I only had a pack of regular almonds, so I blanched them last night.

Place some water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Put the almonds and leave to boil for a few minutes. Then take off the heat and leave to cool. The almonds can then be peeled by squeezing each at the wide end. Leave on kitchen roll to dry. After this you really wonder why the blanched almonds are cheaper.