29 November 2010

Yoghurt Bread

On my latest flying visit home, it was time to resuscitate Monty, my sourdough starter. However, from the last time I did that, I had loads of starter already, I'd even frozen some of it and still the jar where it lives was two-thirds full.


So I decided to do something drastic and not feed the starter in preparation of making bread. Instead I measured up 360 g, leaving a little for next time. Then I added 260 g of strong white flour and 140 g of granary flour (in effect what was left in the packets) and ran it in the Kitchen Assistent. This resulted in something very crumbly, since the starter itself was pretty stiff for some reason.

I didn't really fancy adding water, so had a look in the fridge for something else and spotted half a tub of creamy yoghurt. That was about 225 g, which I added to the dough and it came together pretty well.

I mixed it for 5 minutes, then gave it 30 minutes of autolysing, then another 5 minutes of mixing before adding 15 g salt.

I then let it rise for 2.5 h with folds at 50 and 100 minutes. During this time I didn't notice it rising much. It also seemed a fairly soft dough, but felt more like cold modelling clay or putty rather than elastic dough.

I shaped it into one big loaf, placed it in the loaf tin and put it in a very cold room (about 15 degrees C) and went out for the evening. When we got home, I had a peek at it and it hadn't changed noticeably, so I returned it to the kitchen where it was a little warmer (about 18 degrees C). When I got up the next morning, it had doubled in size and looked very nice.

I pre-heated the oven to 230 degrees and slashed the loaf. This is the first time it slashed well, without sticking and dragging along with the razor blade. Then quickly into the oven before it changed its mind and collapsed. I baked it for 50 minutes, turning down the heat to 200 after 25 minutes.


I got great oven spring and when it had cooled, I sliced it to discover a brilliant crumb texture and a strong sour smell. It tasted very nice too, strongly sour, despite the yogurt really not being sour at all, but perhaps keeping it out of the fridge while the dough was developing increased the sourness. I hope Lundulph likes it too, but certainly this was a very interesting dough, easy to handle and rather tasty too. When I've baked previously, my breads haven't really been very sour at all. This also is a new way of resolving starter surplus. I think next time I do this, I'll add anise or perhaps lingonberry jam to enhance the flavours.

22 November 2010

Руло Стефани

The title above reads Rulo Stephanie and is what Bulgarians call meatloaf.


After catching the end of a Nigella Express episode a couple of weeks ago, where she made meatloaf, Lundulph expressed a hankering for it and I thought I'd make one for him when he came to visit this week-end.

The Nigella vesion only had eggs in it, but was covered with bacon, which I found intriguing and after discussing with my Mum, we decided to have a crack at adding bacon to our regular recipe.

So this one is a collaboration between me and my Mum, which was great fun. I also found out that the vine leaves were her invention to begin with, inspired by a gyuvetch made by a friend many, many years ago.

The mince we had for the meatloaf was home made, thus extremely lean, as my Mum removes every trace of fat and sinews before grinding the meat, so bacon would definitely be needed to stop it going dry.

And having spotted a photo of woven streaky bacon on a turkey, I thought I'd try that as well and make things extra festive.

Sadly my Mum never really bothers with amounts for ingredients there days, so the below may be well off the mark.


Mince mixture
1.5 kg minced meat
300 g bread
water for soaking
4 medium onions
5 eggs
salt, pepper, dried savoury and fresh parsley

Filling mixture
3 medium onions
1 can of mushrooms (400 g)
3 large carrots
3 tbsp vegetable oil
7 hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper

about 30 preserved vine leaves

560 g smoked thinly sliced streaky bacon

Garlic and paprika potatoes
7 jacket potatoes
4 - 5 tbsp garlic granules
2 tbsp paprika

Béchamel sauce
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp flour
6 dl full milk
2 dl whipping cream
juices from the meatloaf

  1. Start by making the mince mixture on the evening before, so that flavours have time to develop. First soak the bread for a few minutes, then squeeze out and mix in with the other ingredients. If it feels too wet, add some breadcrumbs.

  2. Next prepare the filling. Peel and chop the onions. Peel and dice the carrots finely, drain and dice the mushrooms.

  3. Heat up the fat and fry onions, carrots and mushrooms for a few minutes.

  4. Peel and dice the eggs, then mix in with the other vegetables, season to taste and let cool.

  5. To make the meatloaf, first line two or three loaf tins with the vine leaves.

  6. Then on a piece of baking parchment, weave the bacon strips.

  7. Spread half of the mince (if using two loaf tins) over the bacon and then beyond onto the baking paper at one end. Pat it into a rectangle and fairly thinly, so that it can be rolled.

  8. Spread some of the filling in a thin layer, leaving 2 - 3 cm free on each of the two short sides of the mince rectangle.

  9. With the help of the baking paper, start rolling the part that's outside the bacon. Make sure the paper doesn't get trapped inside the roll. The idea is to have the bacon part cover the meat loaf on the outside only.

  10. Tuck in at the edges, then transfer to the loaf tin making sure the seam side is down.

  11. Cover with more vine leaves and bake in a pre-heated oven at 165 degrees C for about an hour and a half. It depends on how thick the loaf is.

  12. After the first 30 minutes, add a little water to each loaf tin.

  13. While the meatloaves are baking, peel and cut the potatoes into wedges, then parboil by covering them in cold water and just bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and let them cool for a few minutes.

  14. Grease up a deep oven tray and transfer the potatoes to it. Sprinkle garlic granules, paprika and salt and stir around to spread the spices.

  15. Distribute some margarine over the potatoes and bake in the oven at 225 degrees until they are soft inside and crisp up on the surface and have a nice golden colour. It works well to have the potatoes at the top of the oven and the meatloaves at the bottom, they should both have the required baking temperatures. It's a good idea to stir through the potatoes a couple of times during baking to make sure they all cook through evenly. If they look too dry, add a bit more margarine.

  16. For the sauce, heat up the oil, then add the flour and fry for about a minute, stirring vigorously.

  17. Start adding the milk a little at a time and still stirring constantly. It'll clump together to begin with, so just keep adding more milk and eventually the cream.

  18. When it has the thickness you want, let it simmer for a couple of minutes (still stirring) and then remove from the hob.

  19. When the meatloaves are done, carefully drain the liquid from them and add some of it to the sauce. Save some for later servings, as the sauce will go pretty thick when it cools down completely and this is a way to spruce it up a bit.

This was very successful, we served it with steamed and sautéed broccoli. It all combined very well, though we didn't use up all of the mince mixture, but had to remove about 200 g of it in the end. I wanted to freeze it and use to make a few Bulgarian meatballs at a later date, but my Mum mixed it up with some of the leftover filling and made a third mini-meatloaf.

Lundulph thought adding some chilli next time might make it even more interesting and add further depth to the flavour. I was thinking of perhaps adding red pepper or tomato to the filling to increase the contrast and make the roll shape more obvious when serving.

It was certainly great fun to make and to cook together with my Mum.

Brioche Roulée

In order to treat Lundulph and my parents to a special breakfast, I decided to finally try out Lenôtre's recipe for Brioche Roulée.


His dough recipe is a bit different from Richard Bertinet's one, that I've been successful with, so I was a bit nervous, especially due to some of the instructions that didn't quite make sense in my head.

Besides, I've had trouble baking and cooking things in my Mum's kitchen for some reason. It's just not the same as at home, I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's because my Mum is there and historically she's been the one to cook for the family, not me, whereas at home, I'm the one that does the cooking. Who knows. But I was determined to give this a try.

The original recipe is called Brioche Rulée aux Fruits Confits and is translated to Rolled Brioche with Candied Fruit. It would have almond or vanilla cream in it, along with candied fruit and raisins soaked in rum and be decorated with a sugar glaze. Problem nr 1: My Dad doesn't like dried fruit in yeasty breads. Now I had some mousseline cream left over, which I thought I'd use up. As it turned out, I had to throw it away, since it had fermented. I guess 3 weeks in the fridge is just really pushing my luck. That makes Problem nr 2. What were the alternatives? Well, there are 5 jars of jam in the fridge and by far the most popular is bilberry, so I decided to use that instead. Thus also the issue with the fruit was resolved and I decided to add some chopped walnuts for a bit of crunchiness.

I also decided to actually do the brioche properly, i. e. prepare it the night before and let it rest in the fridge, I generally skip that bit. The recommendation was to make in small amounts, rather than big. The roulée was supposed to be made from 400 g dough in a 20 cm cake tin. I didn't weigh my dough, but I knew it would be more than the required amount. This worked out OK, since my Mum's cake tin is 23 cm.

Brioche dough ingredients

9 g fresh yeast
1 tsp warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp full milk
250 g strong white flour
3 eggs
225 g unsalted butter at room temperature

Brioche dough method
  1. In a small bowl, crumble the yeast into the water and stir to make a runny paste.

  2. Combine the salt and sugar in the bowl where the dough will be mixed and add 1 tbsp of milk to it and stir to dissolve as much as possible.

  3. Add the flour to the salt/sugar mixture, then add the yeast paste on top and mix to combine.

  4. Add 2 of the eggs and continue to mix the dough until it is firm and smooth and evenly blended. If it seems a bit dry, add the remaining tablespoon of milk.

  5. Add the remaining egg, then continue to knead for some 10 - 15 minutes (if using a machine, possibly longer if by hand). The dough should become light and soft, but not too sticky.

  6. Now divide up the butter into ice cube sized chunks and add to the dough and incorporate well, but don't over-work the dough.

  7. Cover the dough with a cloth and set aside in a warm place and let rise to double volume, about 2 h.

  8. Punch it down, fold a couple of times, then let rise a second time to double volume, another 2 h or so, then cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

The bits I was wondering about was the almost ridiculously small amounts of water and milk in order to dissolve the dry-ish ingredients. But having done them, I realise that the point is to make it easier to blend them into the dough, rather than add liquid to it. Brioche dough generally only gets liquid from the eggs, so this is a very neat trick to incorporate yeast, salt and sugar and get them well distributed throughout.

From the instructions I got the impression that the dough would be soft, but not sticky. I didn't end up with anything near that. The eggs I used were on the small side and the overall amounts were a bit too small for the Kitchen Assistent, so I ended up kneading by hand and also adding the extra tbsp of milk in order to get it to come together.

The most disturbing thing was the amount of butter, I think I might have got it wrong, because it was way too much and the final dough that I put in the fridge was more of a very thick batter, than a dough. I just about managed to incorporate it all. I certainly struggled to punch it down and fold it between the two rises.

Roulée ingredients

unsalted butter
1.5 dl granulated sugar
1 dl water
2 dl jam
1 dl chopped walnuts
1 egg

Roulée method
  1. Butter a round cake tin.

  2. Take the brioche dough out of the fridge and take about a third of it and roll out to a circle, large enough to cover the bottom and walls of the cake tin. Then place it in the tin and spread some of the jam on the bottom of it. It must be a thin layer.

  3. Roll the remaining dough into a rectangle, about 60 x 20 cm and spread the remainder of the jam on it. Sprinkle the walnuts over the jam, then roll up to a 50 cm long sausage.

  4. Cut the roll into 12 pieces 5 cm thick and arrange in the cake tin, making sure they don't touch each other or the dough at the edge. Cover and let proof until the pieces begin to touch, about an hour.

  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

  6. In the mean time bring the sugar and water to the boil to make a simple syrup. Let simmer for a couple of minutes, then set aside to cool.

  7. Just before putting the roulée in the oven, whisk up the egg and brush the surface well. Bake the roulée for about 35 minutes, until golden brown.

  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush or drizzle the syrup over the roulée until it's all absorbed.

  9. Allow to cool a bit, then serve warm.

The night in the fridge did wonderous things for the brioche dough, it was very much like modelling clay than dough, but most definitely not like batter.

I tried to work as quickly as possible, and used copious amounts of flour when rolling.

I also baked it at 185 degrees and used the hot air fan. This mainly to save a few minutes on waiting for the oven to heat up, rather than anything else.

The result was fabulous, albeit on the greasy side. I also put in too thick a layer of jam at the bottom under the rolls. This is mainly due to the bilberries being whole in the jam, I should have prepared it and blended it beforehand.

On the whole, it was an interesting experience, but I think I'll stick to my original brioche recipe next time, it seems a bit less hassle.

I also suspect other types of jam would work just as nicely.

Everyone liked it and there's only a small piece left over. Dad and Lundulph even had seconds. So I'm happy too.

7 November 2010

Halloween Dessert

As for the dessert, I had inspiration from Dick Strawbridge's work during the last stages of Celebrity MasterChef.


He made little cups out of filo pastry, which he filled with sweet things, I can't remember exactly what. I thought the cups were brilliant and so made some for my dessert.

The filo pastry I had was a bit on the dry side and I had to revive it with water from the spray bottle. This worked a treat though and with care I managed to unroll them with very few tears.

Unfortunately I did not have muffin tins and decided to use aluminium cups normally used for mazarines.

So I melted 40 g of unsalted butter on very low heat and cut squares from the filo, two or each cup.

For each cup, I brushed the first filo square with the melted butter and placed it over a cup with the butter side up and away from the cup itself. I then brushed the second filo square and placed on top of the first square, but turned it 45 degrees, thus ending up with an 8 point star. I centered the cup and carefully pushed the filo into it, folding where necessary and making sure the edges formed some sort of a petal and didn't stick out too much. And I also realised that shaping these in a muffin tin would have been so much more difficult.

I preheated the oven to 200 degrees C and baked and went to check my emails and burned the whole bunch.


After some swearing, I cut another batch of filo squares and repeated the process, but I also lowered the heat to 180 degrees C. And kept watching. I think it took bout 5 minutes and I moved them around during the baking, to make sure all got baked evenly.


With a much better result. Quickly out of the oven and left to cool down, on the baking sheet, which perhaps provided a few extra seconds of baking. Once cooled, I removed the aluminium cups very carefully, then placed the filo cups in boxes well padded with kitchen paper and closed the lids tightly to keep crisp. I used them the next day and staleness had just begun to do its work, so I don't think they would have lasted a further day.

I then turned my attention to the pumpkin. Off with it's lid and out with the seeds and stringy bits in the middle. Then I drew a simple face on the front and cut it out. Once that was done, with the help of the melon ball scoop, I carved out about 50 pumpkin balls, which I steamed until they began to go soft.

I then heated up about 175 g medium maple syrup until it started bubbling (on medium heat) and added the pumpkin balls, sprinkled over cinnamon and basted them in the syrup to get them nicely caramelised/infused. Then out onto a baking parchment and allowed to cool down.


I tasted one while it was hot and it was fantastic, once cooled though, the sweetness went away a bit, or I managed to get the one that had soaked up most of the sweetness. I should have stewed them a bit longer in the maple syrup perhaps.

So, to serve, I placed a filo cup on a plate, placed 5 pumpkin balls inside it and added a teaspoon of mascarpone.

It was my intention to drizzle more maple syrup over them, but had another of many brain skips and completely forgot that.

Thus the wow factor that I was aiming for got lost, however it was still pretty tasty.

5 November 2010

Moose Wallenbergers

Actually Wallenbergare, this is a type of a burger, named after Marcus Wallenberg, a distinguished member of the Wallenberg family.

Normally it's made of beef mince, but during hunting season, moose mince is also used. I've never done this before, but I had it many years ago at the Stockholm Arlanda airport and it was delicious.

So the main course for the dinner party was to be a moose Wallenberger accompanied by the Dauphinoise potatoes, the mushroom fricassée, Madeira sauce and a blob of lingonberry jam.

I researched quite a few recipes and this one seemed the most interesting, though I decided to add a splash of cognac as suggested in another recipe.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, I have moose on the brain at the moment.


1.5 kg moose mince
3 eggs
2 dl double cream
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
0.5 tbsp stock concentrate of beef or game
3 tbsp cognac
finely ground breadcrumbs
butter for frying


  1. Mix together everything except the breadcrumbs and the butter.

  2. Take a small piece and fry and taste. If needed, adjust the seasoning, then leave for a few hours in the fridge, so flavours develop.

  3. Make large burgers, about 200 g, but they shouldn't be more than 2 cm thick.

  4. Turn in the bread crumbs, then fry for 3 - 4 minutes on each side and finish off in the oven at 120 - 130 degrees C.

Now I wasn't entirely sure what the stock concentrate is, but I found some in a bottle in a shop and used it. It tasted pretty much like a stock cube, but in liquid form. I guess a cube can be mashed up into fine powder and mixed in and it should work in a similar way. Or perhaps dissolve in the cream.

As I was speaking with my Mum later in the evening, I realised I'd completely forgotten to add the eggs, so had a rush to add and incorporate them.

During frying, I switched my brain off for a bit and burned the surface on several, as the pan was hotter in the middle than towards the edges and the frying was uneven. I did correct this, by turning the burgers a quarter of a circle every now and then. Sometimes I wonder why I bother reading scientific cookery books, if I'm not going to follow the advice in them.

It turned out the "finish off in the oven" bit is not that simple and I wasn't sure that they would cook properly, so I played it safe and did the finish at 175 degrees and I left them in for quite some time, along with the Dauphinois potatoes, mushroom fricassée and the Madeira sauce to keep everything hot. So the burgers were a bit over-done.

At serving, the burgers also felt a bit dense, I might add some bread next time to make them a bit fluffier. But they were still pretty tasty and were quite easy to shape too, I hadn't expected that.

As for the Madeira sauce, this time I had messmör and incorporated it. Contrary to what I thought would happen, its flavour was barely noticeable next to the Madeira, but it added a very nice richness to the sauce and took off the sharpness of the wine itself. I think créme fraîche would be a better substitute than double cream. I wonder if the messmör would generally always behave like this in gravies, must experiment.

And so how was it overall? Well, I think I had far too many flavours, all pretty strong and screaming for attention and although fairly tasty, I should try and keep things a bit simpler. The guests seemed to like it, though they felt that the portions were way too big.


This is a photo of my portion, which was a bit smaller and perhaps what I should have aimed at in the first place.

Dauphinoise Potatoes

For the carbs part of the dinner party, I decided to make Dauphonoise potatoes. I've had it in restaurants and it's always been wonderfully tasty and I've always thought I really should try making it at home.

Well, despite its simplicity, this dish is fiddly. And I didn't have the proportions, having noted down the definition from Larousse Gastronomique.


6 large jacket potatoes
750 ml single cream
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper


  1. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly. Best use a food processor for this.

  2. Butter a deep oven-proof dish.

  3. Place the cream in a bowl, peel and press in the garlic, then season so that it's a bit on the salty side.

  4. Lay one layer of the potato slices to cover the bottom of the dish completely. Then drizzle a bit of the cream mixture.

  5. Lay another single layer of potatoes and drizzle with cream, then continue until the potatoes are slightly above the edge of the baking dish. If there's any cream left, distribute it over the potatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

  6. Cover the dish with cling film and place something heavy on top to press down the potatoes. Keep an eye out, because it might overflow. A few minutes of the pressure is enough.

  7. Place in the oven and bake for 2.5 h, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If the top layer starts burning, cover with aluminium foil.

The slicer attachment of the Kitchen Assistent machine made a very easy job of this and as it turned out, the potatoes filled the baking dish perfectly, but I didn't keep watch during the pressurising and so I ended up with a big cream puddle under it.


I think I fitted about 8 or 9 layers in total, I didn't count, but they were many. And so, it took a long time to bake even though the potatoes were quite thin. A gorgeous smell of garlic spread through the kitchen and I briefly did toy with the idea of having a nibble, but no, this was for the dinner party.

Mushroom Fricassée by Raymond Blanc

After watching Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, I noted down way too many recipes (as usual, one might say) and they're all on my to try out list.

As the girolle season is coming to a close, I just had to squeeze in a dish with this gold of the forest.


Chef Blanc's recipe is for 4 portions, so I scaled it up to fit 10. I also only had girolles, that's what grows in the woods behind my parents' house.

Originally reading through the recipe, I didn't see where the tomatoes should be added, so I thought it was some sort of typo and crossed them out from my notes. But they should be there. Also I thought the dish would taste in a particular way. It didn't, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I also couldn't get hold of chervil, so increased the tarragon instead.


1 kg fresh girolles
2 small onions
2 cloves of garlic
40 g unsalted butter
10 g chopped parsley
3 sprigs tarragon
1.25 dl fruity white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g tomatoes
1.5 tbsp cornflour (optional)
salt and pepper


  1. Brush off the girolles and cut into pieces, do not wash.

  2. Peel and finely dice the onions, peel and press the garlic.

  3. Heat up the butter on medium heat in a large shallow pan until it bubbles.

  4. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes until they go translucent.

  5. Increase the heat to high and add the mushrooms and fry until they've released some of their liquid, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

  6. In the mean time, chop the parsley and the leaves of the tarragon.

  7. Add the herbs, white wine and lemon juice to the pan and stir through.

  8. De-seed the tomatoes and dice finely, then add to the mushroom mix.

  9. Let simmer for a further 5 - 6 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle over the cornflour and stir in well to thicken the sauce.

The original recipe can be found here. The above is what I actually did.

I served this as a side dish, but it would work wonderfully in an omelet I think.

Salmon Roll Starter

Wanting to keep the Saturday dinner party Autumnal, I decided to so something with Caviar of Kalix. This is a delicacy called löjrom in Swedish and is produced in the region of Kalix in the far North of Sweden.

And searching for interesting recipes, I stumbled across this one. It is a roll made of gravlax and the caviar is placed on the side. Seemed pretty nice and could also be made up to 3 days in advance, so that would be one thing less to do on the day.


The recipe claims to be for 12 people, but it's nearer 15 portions, so the number of slices may need to be adjusted.


3 leaves gelatine
450 g thinly sliced gravad lax
3 dl créme fraîche
300 g strained Greek yoghurt
3 tbsp grated horseradish
3 tbsp chopped chives
4 tbsp chopped dill
salt and pepper
12 slices bread
60 g rocket salad
15 g chives
dill for decoration
250 g Caviar of Kalix

  1. Soak the gelatine in some water.

  2. Place a long (70 cm) piece of cling film onto the work surface, then lay the slices of salmon so that they cover a rectangle of 20 x 50 cm. Make sure there's a good amount of overlap so everything holds together.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the créme fraîche, yoghurt, horseradish, herbs, salt and pepper.

  4. Squeeze out the gelatine and melt it on low heat, then stir into the herb mixture.

  5. Spread the herb mixture over the salmon, leaving a cm uncovered along one of the 50 cm edges.

  6. Now pick up the cling film from the other side and roll it up like a Swiss roll, so you end up with a 50 cm long sausage. It'll be fairly runny, so try to roll as tightly as possible.

  7. Place in the fridge to set.

  8. When ready to serve, toast the bread and cut out circles of about the same diameter as the salmon roll.

  9. Chop together the rocket and chives

  10. Place a toast circle on each plate, then cut up the salmon sausage about 5 cm thick and place on top of the toast. Decorate around it with the rocket mixture and the caviar and add a small sprig of dill on top and serve.

I had massive trouble rolling things up and then it sort of kept going flat, so I ended up rolling baking paper around it in the hopes of giving some stability. It did, but not much.

I also ended up using 400 g of the salmon, so during rolling the filling came through here and there, so the remainder was used for patching up just before serving. The roll didn't set very hard, so could be re-shaped during plating. Or so I thought. I could just about slice the roll, but a lot of the cream mixture just kept coming out and all I could do was just about place it on my pieces of toast. Which I couldn't cut into circles, as I didn't have a cutter, so they became triangular instead.

So, once again I botched up gelatine work, I should have used a lot more. See, the original recipe states ricotta cheese, which perhaps is stiff enough so that 3 leaves of gelatine are enough, but as Lundulph won't eat cheese, I swapped it for strained Greek yoghurt and so I should have adjusted the gelatine. Perhaps I should have used mascarpone instead, which is pretty stiff and is acceptable to Lundulph as he doesn't believe it really is cheese.

When it comes to rolling, a cm should be left free of the mixture along both long sides of the salmon rectangle. One of them should then be folded over the mixture and then the whole lot should be rolled. This way, you won't end up with lots of mixture in the middle of the roll and lots of salmon on the outside and it'll look esthetically more pleasing, like a real roll.

Now I tried some of the caviar on it's own and although it didn't feel too fishy for me, it was still not something I'd eat, but combined with the salmon and the creamy mixture and the toast, this was a perfect flavour match, most likely made in heaven.

As you can see from the photo, my plating leaves a lot to be desired, I ended up with some sort of sad/angry clown face, very far from what the picture in the original recipe looked like.

One of my guests doesn't actually eat fish and so I decided to fry some halloumi cheese for her on a bed of rocket, pea shoots and colourful cherry tomatoes. When I spotted them in the shop, they made me smile.


I realise just now that I completely forgot to dress her salad and it must have been terribly dry to eat, she was so very polite not to complain. I'm ashamed, there is no excuse for such forgetfulness.

4 November 2010

Nut-free Macarons

In preparation for an Autumn dinner party, I decided to make macarons to go with the coffee at the end of the meal. And of course get the opportunity to make meringues in my Mum's new oven, obviously.


However two of the guests - my Sister Bip and Doctor Cutie - are allergic to nuts and the like and so I set about finding a substitute for the almonds once again. Mostly the replacement is coconut, which sounds really nice. But that won't do. Doctor Cutie can do coconut, but Bip can't. What else then? Well, seeds.

As it happens both can deal with sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, so either of these would have to be used. There were some sunflower seeds already in the house, so the choice was easy.

My Mum keeps them in the fridge, so straight out of there, nicely chilled and straight into the processor resulted in something that was pretty close to ground and with the benefit of not going oily, which I worried about.

Following the same recipe as I've done before, I added the icing sugar and the cocoa powder and blitzed for a couple of more minutes, but it didn't go finer than before.

I also made sure not to over-whisk the egg whites, most definitely kept them at soft peaks stage and wasn't too careful when I folded in the seed mixture either, so I ended up with a somewhat runny macaron mix. I let it rest in the bowl for 30 minutes, then piped as prettily as I could (not pretty at all, in other words), then did the tray dropping exercise, they did settle a little bit, but not as much as I'd hoped.

I then let them rest for a further 30 minutes after which time they'd settled down more. At this point I'd also spotted a jar of Daim sprinkles and decided to decorate some of the macarons with them.

And now I switched off my brain and pre-heated the oven to 140 degrees C. Not taking into account that I'd be using the fan to bake the meringues, thus requiring a lower temperature. And so the majority of the macarons went volcano. I had just about 20 left to make one macaron for each guest. Bah! And some of the Daim pieces had melted.

But they were tasty, I made a sample for my Dad and he then asked where I'd hidden the box with the others. He said he wasn't bothered about the cream bit. Needless to say the "spare" ones disappeared off very quickly.

At least I made proper mousseline cream, though it ended up a bit loose, but is good enough. And the macarons were wonderfully crunchy and with a very distinctive chewiness in the middle, so nice that I'm getting there. I think sesame seeds and perhaps honey or maple syrup would be a good combo to try out.