27 July 2008

Croissants From Scratch

Well, since the June Daring Bakers Challenge, I've been planning to repeat the attempt at making laminated pastry and this week-end the opportunity arose.


I scoured the web for recipes and there is a lot of variations on the theme. I decided to go with the recipe from Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef. And for the first time ever, I used the imperial weight setting on my kitchen scales, I just couldn't be bothered to check the conversions given in the book. I used the small batch recipe that would result in 15 croissants.

For the butter block, I had to add some flour, just like for the Danish braid. And this is my first failure - I didn't mix it in well enough, there were still a few lumps of butter in it, but I was worried that mixing by hand would warm the butter too much, so I left it at that and just formed it into a square and put in the fridge, just to be on the safe side, while mixing the dough.

I also mixed the dough by hand, it took me ages to dissolve the dry yeast in the milk. The recipe calls for fresh yeast, but I didn't have any.

Once I'd added all the flour, the dough was more a paste than a dough, extremely sticky, so I added some more flour. Not much, still I think the dough went a bit too stiff and it said it should be soft and not rubbery. Also it was not to be overdone!

Anyway, I rolled it out, placed the butter block onto it and folded it in. I think the consistency of both was similar, but there were those butter lumps that hadn't been softened...

So once I started doing the turns, the word lumpy would be the best description to it - all those butter lumps that I hadn't softened up were indeed too hard and went through the layers and squirted out from everywhere.

The book also said 3 single turns only in total, whereas most other instructions I'd found called for 6. I noticed that with each turn, it seemed that the butter lumps dispersed, so I did 10 single turns in total yesterday.

Finally this morning, after oversleeping, I rolled out my laminated dough to the specified size. I couldn't find a ruler, so guessed on the measurements. I cut the dough into the triangles and started rolling. Well the dough mostly insisted on sticking to the baking surface and I had trouble rolling the croissants into a recognisable shape - mostly they ended up looking like hedgehogs.

They rose a bit, but not very much and I should perhaps have left them for longer. All in all I got 21 pieces.

At this point I was hungry and sick of the whole thing, so I didn't bother with egg wash, but brushed with milk. The book said this is how it's done in France.

I baked them in the oven for 17 minutes at which point they were well brown on top, but probably not entirely baked inside.

Still, left them to cool a bit and had them for an extremely delayed breakfast (almost noon!).


The taste was the right one, but the texture wasn't and given my alterations to the recipe, perhaps it's no wonder. Very fatty of course, but fairly edible with a dab of Nutella.

I'll leave the laminate doughs for a few months now I think, it's such a big effort and the final result is not really as expected, I need some time to recover from this failure.

I was planning to make some cinnamon buns today as well, but half the day is gone, so I'll leave that.

On a different note, we barbecued yesterday and Lundulph got to try out his new barbecue wok. It worked rather well - got all veggies done nicely and also the king prawns I'd bought especially for this occasion. It's a uni-tasker, but a useful one.

22 July 2008

Chicken Do-Piaza

Now that I work long hours as does Lundulph, we end up eating salad many evenings during the week, but occasionally it's nice to have a cooked meal and chicken do-piaza is a very quick dish to make.

I originally got it from Mridula Baljekar's Fat Free Indian Cookery, which is sadly out of print now but seems to occasionally come up on Amazon.


Over the years, I've made changes to the recipe and here is what I did today.


2 large chicken breasts (300 - 400 g)
4 tbsp blended ginger
4 large cloves of garlic
4 pieces of cinnamon stick about 5 cm long
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
4 bay leaves
2 large red onions
1 tsp turmeric
1 - 2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
4 tbsp plain yogurt
225 g boiled and blended onions
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato puree
300 ml beef stock
1 tbsp plain flour (optional)
8 large button mushrooms
2 bell peppers
1 head of broccoli
2 large tomatoes
2 -4 green fresh chillies with stalks intact
6 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
a handful of Thai basil leaves (optional)

  1. Clean, trim and cut the chicken breasts into bite sized chunks and place in a large non-stick wok or pan.
  2. Add the ginger, press in the garlic, add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and bay leaves. The cardamom pods should first be bruised by placing them on a chopping board and hitting them with the end of a knife handle. Not too hard, or the whole thing will explode and spread the seeds all over the kitchen, just enough to crack the pod.
  3. Stir around, while heating up over medium heat and cooking until the chicken is browned, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced red onion and keep stirring for another 3-4 minutes until it releases its juices.
  5. Add the turmeric chili powder, ground cumin and coriander and stir vigorously for about 1 minute to mix and release the aromas.
  6. Add the yogurt and stir in. It'll melt and go thin and help distribute the spices more evenly.
  7. Add the boiled blended onions and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the salt, tomato puree and beef stock and bring to the boil. If you want a thicker sauce, add the plain flour. Once boiling, reduce the heat and leave to cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Peel and dice the mushrooms, wash, trim and dice the pepper and wash and cut the broccoli into small bite sized florets.
  10. Half-way through cooking, add the vegetables.
  11. While the dish continues to cook, dice the tomato and chop the coriander and Thai basil. Just before taking the curry off the hob, add the tomatoes, the whole chillies, the coriander and the Thai basil and stir in.
  12. Serve with naan bread or rice.

Because I cook Indian food quite often from this cookery book, I buy about 1 kg of fresh ginger a couple of times a year, spend an evening in front of the telly peeling it, then blend with a dash of water. I then distribute the pulp into ice cube trays and freeze. Each ice cube is about 1.5 tbsp and generally I go for one large clove of garlic for each ice cube of ginger.

The same goes for the boiled blended onions - I get a larger amount, boil with a couple of bruised cardamom pods, then blend with a little of the water. Then I distribute it into 225 g portions and freeze.

On the whole it may seem like a complicated dish, but it's easy and very quick if you line everything up ready to add.

And the best thing of all - no fat, besides what's in the yogurt and the chicken! And it becomes even leaner if you use turkey instead.

18 July 2008


Tunnbrödsrulle translates directly to thin bread roll and constitutes of thin soft bread rolled up with a couple of spoons of mashed potato, a sausage, ketchup and mustard in it. This is the basic form. Optionally onions, salad and pickled gherkins can be added.

I love Swedish thin bread and I still haven't found a recipe that's close enough to the ones sold in the shops. They tend to be used like tortillas, but unlike tortillas they are very tender. Not a hint of chewiness. I think they have yeast in them and are flavoured with anise seeds.

IMG_3865 trimmed

This is the standard thing to have after a night out in Sweden. Or a luxury cooked meal as a poor student. There's a place in Stockholm that used to make them with real mashed potato - as opposed to the mix the powder with water stuff. I have many fond memories of this dish and I try to have one every time I go to Sweden, for old times' sake.

I even introduced Lundulph to this delicacy a few years ago.

At my last trip to IKEA, I bought some tunnbröd -Swedish soft thin bread, which is what you need and on my way home today, I got some jumbo Frankfurters from the supermarket, along with crème fraîche and a bag of potatoes claiming to be perfect for mashing.

Now, for the mashed potato, since I tried Delia's recipe, I don't make any other type. But I do tend to be very generous with the crème fraîche. The potatoes too ages to boil, and once they were done, I put them through my potato press to get a smoother texture than I tend to get when I use the whisk.

I grilled the Frankfurters, I think they taste best grilled, though you can go for boiled in Sweden if you prefer that. There's also a choice of chorizo and cabanosse.


And then it's put together.

  1. Place the thin bread on a piece of baking parchment.
  2. Place a couple of spoons of mashed potatoes in the middle and stick the sausage into the mash.
  3. Squirt some ketchup and mustard over the sausage and mash.
  4. Add shopped onions and what ever else you'd like.
  5. Fold up the bread along with the baking parchment. The paper helps hold the thing together.
  6. Ready to eat.

IMG_3864 trimmed

Lundulph said that my photo set-up looks rude. And looking at the photos, he's right. Well, so what, it was ever so tasty, but I need to get hold of larger thin breads.

Be warned though, this is extremely filling. Lundulph had two and is regretting it now - no room for dessert.

6 July 2008

Falukorv with stir fried vegetables

Well, one of the advantages of my new job is that every now and then I end up very near an IKEA store, like last Friday and I took the opportunity to check out the Swedish food shop. I spotted this wonderful Swedish sausage called Falukorv - "Falu" as from the city of Falun and "korv" as in Swedish for sausage.

This is something I haven't had since school and then I always loved it (though would never have admitted it, as no one else claimed to like it). And so I bought one. Traditionally they used to be wrapped in a bright red skin and used to be huge and shaped like a horse shoe. Nowadays they've been spruced up - for starters they aren't as large, so you don't have to keep eating it for a week. Second, the skin was orange and had flowers printed on it. This refers to an old Swedish children's song - "Jag vill ha blomming falukorv till lunch, mamma!" basically a child asking for a flowery falukorv for lunch, because it doesn't like any other food. In addition, they also support the BRIS foundation. This is Barnens Rätt i Samhället translating to Children's Rights In Society.

This week-end we also went and spent some of the vouchers we got for our wedding (despite having said that we didn't want any presents). So now we have fancy new everyday cutlery that we're both happy with (so far Lundulph has used his ones from the days before we moved together and I've used the ones I inherited from my parents). And I have a new set of pots from Tefal - compact ones, where the handles fold to one side and take up a bit less space.

Today I tried the large one out by stir frying some vegetables, a bit inspired from having had lunch at Wagamama yesterday. Actually we were supposed to barbecue, to try out Lundulph's new unitasker - a wok-shaped colander that can be used to "stir-fry" vegetables and prawns over a barbecue. But the Sunday rained away, so we had to change our plans.

I peeled the bright skin off the sausage and cut it in 1 cm thick slices. It has sufficient amount of fat in it, not to need additional oil for frying in a non-stick. It's enough to just brown the sides.

For the stir-fry, I had an aubergine, a courgette, half a leek, 2 bell peppers, 1 chili, 6 mushrooms, about 20 leaves of Thai basil and a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds. I fried them in toasted sesame seed oil and added some Japanese soy sauce. The cutting in strips was made very quick with using my Alligator cutter, that I got from my Mum a few months ago. This is yet another unitasker that I'm slowly getting used to, as it's quite useful for chopping vegetables quickly. It sort of works, if everything is needed in julienne form...

Anyway, the cooking part was very quick on both sausages and stir-fry, which was the main idea I think, we've been shifting furniture around today and sifting through a lot of our things and throwing away quite a lot, while keeping an eye on the Wimbledon tournament and time flew by and suddenly we were hungry. I had some left-over rice in the fridge, so that made the carb part of our meal.

The stir-fry tasted very much like a Ratatouille with a hint of Thai basil. The falukorv was saltier than I remember it, but very tasty. The chili was not noticeable, despite being labelled as very hot. We had to add a couple of drops of Cajun sauce (can also be used as rocket fuel) to give it a bit of a kick.


For dessert we're having biltong - I found a small bag in the larder. Must remember to put it on my shopping list.