29 August 2007

Pesto for Lundulph

I've been thinking of making my own pesto for a long time and also to work out an alternative for Lundulph, one without parmesan and last night I finally got round to making some.

I spent some time browsing for recipes and this one seemed ever so good. Besides, I'd recently managed to make my way to La Fromagerie and had managed to get hold of some pecorino sardo. Yummy! So my plan was to make one lot for Lundulph without the precious pecorino and one with for me.

But, since I also made paneer, just to try it out, it seemed so easy on telly, I only made the Lundulph pesto.

I also cheated, as I used the hand blender and whizzed it all together. The "couple of handfuls" of basil leaves came to 55 g. Instead of the parmesan and the pecorino, I used plain Philadelphia. And I reduced the garlic to 1 clove as it's a school night.

Overall, it was very creamy and tasted strongly of basil. I should have used the full amount of garlic and also added more salt. We had it with pasta of course, Lundulph had ravioli with chicken and mushroom filling (no cheese!) and mine were mushroom and ricotta and I added a generous amount of Spanish black olives and pecorino sardo.

The paneer sort of worked, it was fascinating to watch the milk curdle. But I didn't manage to get enough of the liquid out of it, so it was still quite spongey when it was ready. I think I'll make a Korma tomorrow and use it in there. Out of a 4 pi (2.25-ish litre), the resulting paneer is just about enough for two people. After a chat with my Mum today, the way a similar cheese is made in Sweden is by using the Swedish live "yogurt" which is called filmjölk as a souring ingredient and actually add it to the milk even before bringing it to the boil.

Pottering around the kitchen however, I spotted my knobbly rolling pin, that I specifically asked for last Christmas and that my Sister Bip searched through Stockholm to find for me. It's used in Sweden to make Swedish tunnbröd and knäckebröd and it's definitely time to dig out a recipe or two to try out.

One last comment on the pecorino sardo. My parents discovered this last year, along with pecorino romano and are completely converted. The main reason being that both taste surprisingly similar to Bulgarian kashkaval (Kашкавал). Lately it's particularly precious as the quality of the kashkaval has fallen dramatically and nowadays is not ripened long enough to taste of anything beyond plastic. Also it seems a lot less greasy than normal. I was so happy to find out that there is a place in the UK that sells these cheeses and I'll be doing many more trips to La Fromagerie, not the least to get hold of the World's stinkiest cheese - Vieux Boulogne.

26 August 2007

Kavarma - Koprivshtitza style

The other week, I braved the crowds of Italian and Japanese tourists in Covent Garden and went to the market there. Rumour had it it did late nights in August, so that had to be checked out. I was a bit disappointed, despite not being really sure what to expect, but there was a French stand that had dried sausages and I just couldn't resist - wild boar, venison, garlic and choritzo - so to be on the safe side, I got one of each and parted with a substantial amoun of money. And we've been nibbling away at the venison one for a few days, but very little at a time, as it was very greasy. So I'd decided to cook the others or they'd go out of date.

So I made kavarma (stress on the last of the a's). Or "Каварма" in Bulgarian. And in the way they do it in Koprivshtitza (Копривщица), according to wikipedia. Basically it's a gyuvetch - but with salami. And the Koprivshtitza style is to crack an egg on top.

Today's ingredients were

3 onions
4 cloves of garlic
0.5 dl grapeseed oil
3 tbsp water
1 kg potatoes
3 tbsp sweet paprika
1 dl water
5 smallish carrots
3 courgettes
3 green peppers
3 handfuls of green beans
250 g fresh chestnut mushrooms
2.5 French sausages
4.5 dl water
1 can (400 g) tomatoes
salt, pepper

What I did:
  1. Peeled the onions, potatoes, carrots and courgettes. Cut all up fairly small.
  2. Cleaned the peppers and beans and diced. Peeled the mushrooms.
  3. Placed the oil in a large non-stick pan, added the water, onions and pressed in the garlic.
  4. Fried on medium heat, added the potatoes half way through and fried, stirring every few minutes, until the potatoes started changing colour as they were taking up the fat.
  5. Added the paprika and about a dl of water and stirred in well to get the paprika to dissolve, then turned off the hob.
  6. In my 9 fancy clay pots, I put 4 - 5 mushrooms in the bottom, then about a handful each of carrots, courgettes, beans and peppers.
  7. Added also salt, pepper, thyme and dill and stirred to get a bit of a mix.
  8. Sliced the sausages, about a third of a cm thick and put 4 - 5 in each clay pot.
  9. Divided up the potato/onion mix between them, added a bit more salt and pepper and 0.5 dl water.
  10. Put the lids on and placed in the oven and turned it on on gas mark 2 (130 degrees C) for about 15 minutes, then increased to gas mark 4 (170 degrees C) for another 5 minutes, then increased again to gas mark 5 (190 degrees C) and left to cook for 30 minutes.
  11. Then swapped the pots around, as I had to place them in two levels in the oven.
  12. In the mean time, I liquidised the can of tomatoes along with savory, parsley and mint.
  13. After a further 30 minutes, I took out the pots, distributed the tomato/herb mixture as evenly as possible, stirred as well as I could, then cracked an egg over each pot. Replaced the lid and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Well, it was rather tasty, could have done with a bit more sausage, but I wanted to save the choritzo for a pizza later on in the week. Also should probably only have baked for about 5 - 6 minutes after adding the egg, it went a bit hard, would have been nice to have the gooey yolk.

25 August 2007


These are one of many sweet bites that are so popular in Sweden along with coffee or tea. It's called fika and corresponds roughly to the British afternoon tea. However it can be taken at any time of the day, the drink is usually coffee or tea, and is accompanied by a variety of sweet pastries or bites.

The following is called dammsugare, which literally means vacuum cleaner. The reason for this is that it does indeed resemble the old-fashioned vacuum cleaners used in Sweden a few decades ago (here's a picture, second from the top).
This is the second recipe I've tried and it's a lot better than the first one. The original is here for those who speak Swedish, there's a lot more there, so watch this space, as I work my way through the lot.

This time, I made one change and completely not on my own accord, but the Swedish liqueur punsch is just not readily available outside Sweden, but dark rum is a good substitute.


Inner part:
400 g finely grated digestive biscuits
100 g finely grated marzipan
1 dl apricot preserve/jam
50 g melted dark chocolate
3 tbsp dark rum

200 g finely grated marzipan
2 dl icing sugar + some for rolling
2 tbsp liquid glucose
1 tsp water
green food colouring


150 g melted dark chocolate

  1. As stated in the ingredients, grate everything finely.
  2. Mix the ingredients of the inner part into a dough. I used my electrical mixer with the spirals for dough - worked very well.
  3. Mix all ingredients for the cover. This I did manually and it took a while. Also I had to add additional food colouring, as it was a bit pale. Green is traditional, but any colour can be used. And yes, my fingers were green afterwards.
  4. Now, roll the inner part into long strings, about the thickness of your thumb and place on sheets of greaseproof paper. The above quantity was quoted for about 35 dammsugare, I got 41 out if it.
  5. Next divide up the cover part into the same number of pieces as the number of strings of the inner part. Using a bit of icing sugar, roll out with a rolling pin, the same length as the strings and wide enough to wrap around them fully.
  6. Do just that, place the inner part string on the rolled out cover part and roll so that it is completely covered.
  7. Cut up the strings into bits of about 5 cm.
  8. Melt the finishing chocolate over a waterbath (bain marie if you want to get technical) and dip each end of each piece, then put back on the greaseproof paper and leave to cool and solidify. I used a teaspoon to scrape off some of the excess.
  9. Store in the fridge.

Now, if you've been to IKEA and their Swedish food shop, they sell these dammsugare there under the name punch rolls. Now the English "punch" is nowhere near the Swedish "punsch". The rolls are very tasty though.

After having made the above, I have the following observations to make. The inner part is very tasty and also quite close to the shop bought ones.

The cover part was not very good, as it kept "sweating" in room temperature. Maybe I rolled it too thin, but it wouldn't have been enough otherwise. So this'll need some experimentation. The first recipe I tried only had marzipan and that was very difficult to roll, so this is a definite improvement. I wonder if it would help if I added some corn starch or skipped the glucose. Lundulph will have to eat a few batches of these, until I get them right.

Last, the chocolate finish looked very nice immediately after dipping (hence the photo), but after it cooled down, it went white-ish. Now this happens to all chocolates that are stored in room temperature - it's simply too hot and the fat mixed into the chocolate percolates to the surface. So I should probably have put them in the fridge right away.

Of course none of the above stopped us eating far too many today.

18 August 2007

Upside-down greengage cake

Today we were invited to a barbecue at some friends' house and as we're getting swamped with juicy sweet greengages from the tree in our garden, I thought I'd make some sort of cake and take along. The following is for a 13'' tin (just over 33 cm).


butter for the tin
18 greengages
170 g butter
170 g caster sugar
3 large eggs
340 g plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 dl apple juice

  1. Butter the tin, then line with grease-proof paper, then butter the paper.
  2. Preheat the oven at gas mark 4 (180 degrees C).
  3. Wash the greengages, cut in half and remove the stone, then lay them out at the bottom of the tin.
  4. Melt the butter on low heat. Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Mix the flour and baking powder in another bowl.
  5. Whisk the butter and sugar light and fluffy.
  6. Slowly add the eggs, while still whisking.
  7. Add the flour a little at a time. When it feels like it's a bit too thick, add the apple juice.
  8. Pour the mixture over the greengages and level it. Give the tin a tap, to make sure the cake mixture covers the greengages well.
  9. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes. The cake is ready when you push a skewer through the middle and it comes out clean.
I made this yesterday and left it to cool down overnight. This morning I turned it out of the tin, the greengages were indeed juicy and had been dripping. I should have turned out the cake earlier to allow this juice to sink back into the cake. It worked mostly and the cake was quite nice. Served it with Waitrose's fresh vanilla custard.

One thing I forgot to mention is that this is the first time ever I sifted the flour as it's been in the packet for a while. I have vague memories of my Mum sifting flour for all her baking in the old days, haven't seen her do that in the last 25 years though. Still, it was interesting to try, visually the sifted flour had a lighter colour and definitely increased in volume a bit. Hopefully it also improved the taste of the cake too.