26 December 2011


My friend Patsy has a sister who has a boyfriend who is a hobby farmer of sorts. Not sure exactly how that works, but they have about a dozen lambs every year, which they kindly distribute amongst friends and this year, I was one of the very lucky ones to receive the mail about the lambs.

This is a first for me and in the excitement I have been spamming Patsy with e-mails about when the lambs would arrive. It felt like the waiting was forever, but they did arrive in the end and I got myself one and filled up both my parents' and my Sister's freezers with the thing. Everything was quite civilized and the lamb arrived cut up into pieces or minced and in bags and frozen. What I couldn't find out is if it was a boy or a girl, but apparently they are all called Helmer or Helmina respectively. Perhaps for the best.

So on Lundulph's first visit after this marvellous event, I took out a bag of beautiful chops and my Mum dug out a new recipe book, which she believes to be Greek, but which actually just has a collection of fairly simple and rather tasty sounding recipes. The one I selected was called Lamb Cutlets with Rosemary. But my personal opinion is that if you are putting lamb and rosemary together, then there is no way you can skip the garlic. So I added that too.


2 chops per person
garlic - about 1 tsp pressed garlic per chop
olive oil for frying
fresh coarsely chopped rosemary leaves, about 2 tsp per chop
salt, pepper
dry white wine
squeeze of lemon

  1. Turn on the oven to around 80 degrees C and place an oven-proof dish with a lid to warm up.

  2. Place the chops on a plate and rub with garlic and press in the rosemary, 1 tsp per chop per side, and let stand for 15 - 20 minutes.

  3. Heat up a little olive oil on high in a pan and put the chops in, but don't crowd them.

  4. Turn the chops over when they have a bit of colour and season with salt and pepper. Depending on how thick they are and how done you want them, you may need to turn them a few more times.

  5. Moments before removing the chops from the pan, pour a little white wine over each, perhaps about a tbsp or so.

  6. Remove the chops and put in the oven-proof dish to keep warm while you do the next batch. Squeeze a little lemon before putting the dish back in the oven.

  7. When all the chops are done, pour some more white wine to deglaze the pan, and bring to the boil to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavours. If too thin, stir a tsp of cornflour in cold water and add to the gravy, it should thicken up pretty quickly.

With these wonderful chops, we had baked potatoes and salad.

I was intending to take a photo, believe me, I had my camera ready and everything, but it smelt so nice, once everything was served we all just tucked in.

14 December 2011

The Lussekatt of the Year


This was the title in my Mum's weekly magazine a few weeks back. These are the famous Swedish saffron buns. I've made these before on several occasions

But this recipe was well intriguing - combining the traditional ginger snap with the traditional saffron bun. So very appealing in my buzzword driven world at work - streamline Christmas into one easily manageable thing to eat.

Reading the details, it's actually not a straight forward combo of the two types of dough, but the ginger snappy bit is actually ground almonds mixed with the traditional spice mixture used for ginger snaps, orange zest and lots of sugar. However, as Doctor Cutie and Bip were invited and are allergic to nuts, I opted to leave out nuts completely and used sesame seeds instead. It worked a treat last year for my macaroons.


Main dough
150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1.5 dl light syrup
5 dl full milk
50 g fresh yeast for sweet doughs
1 g ground saffron
0.5 tsp salt
1 medium egg
14 - 15 dl strong white flour

1 orange
1 dl raisins
200 g peeled sesame seeds
100 g butter
1 medium egg
1 dl granulated sugar
2 ml vanilla extract
1.5 tsp ground cardamom
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
0.25 tsp ground cloves

Finishing touch
1 egg lightly whisked with a pinch of salt to use as egg wash.

  1. Make the egg wash first and let stand in room temperature until needed.

  2. Whisk together the butter and syrup until fluffy.

  3. Warm up the milk to 40 degrees C (warm to the touch).

  4. Crumble up the yeast in the bowl of your mixer, then pour the milk over it and stir to dissolve completely.

  5. Add the saffron to the yeast mixture, then follow with the egg and a couple of tablespoons of the butter mixture.

  6. Add 11 dl (that's eleven!) of the flour and mix quickly to a smooth and very soft dough.

  7. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for about 40 minutes.

  8. Zest the orange and press out as much of the juice as possible afterwards.

  9. Place the orange juice in a small pot together with the raisins and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and let cool down, then blend to a smooth paste.

  10. Grind the sesame seeds as finely as possible.

  11. Combine all the filling ingredients to a paste.

  12. Go back to the resting main dough and add the remainder of the butter mixture and the rest of the flour and work to a smooth and elastic dough.

  13. Take out of the mixing bowl onto a floured surface and divide in two equal parts.

  14. Roll each half to a square of about 40 x 40 cm and spread out half of the filling over half of the square surface.

  15. Fold the dough over so that the filling ends up in the middle, then cut strips of about 2 cm width.

  16. Line 3 large sheets with baking paper. Form S shapes from the strips by standing them on one of the long cut edges, so that the layers are visible. Place on the sheets, but not too close together.

  17. Once a sheet is full, brush with the egg wash, cover with cling film and set aside to proof until double in size, about 30 minutes.

  18. Pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees C and bake in the middle until golden brown, about 10 - 13 minutes.

  19. When done, remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.

These are best served on the same day as they are made. They ended up fairly big, which my Dad liked, as they were closer to the size of the ones you get in the shops, rather than the tiny ones my Mum normally makes. Another benefit was that the technique of rolling out the dough made the process of shaping so much faster than the normal one, where the dough needs to be rolled into strips, cut to a good length and then shaped.

I served these at my glögg party, but along everything else that was very sweet, I don't think I did any one any favours. I haven't adjusted the amounts above. Also a word of warning on the light syrup. This is the stuff that is sold in Swedish shops and can be replaced by liquid glucose I guess. In the UK I would have used golden syrup, but that is very much sweeter than the Swedish stuff, so I would have reduced the amount by quite a bit.

For some reason my Dad didn't like the final result, he thought it tasted funny. But it seems he is alone in this, I thought they were lovely and it seems that others thought so too. Though they did end up rather sweet and next time I should reduce the amount of sugar in both the paste and the main dough. I did take some to work along with brioches and the lussekatter disappeared a lot quicker than the brioches, despite my boss' heroic work on the brioches. I think he put away 3 with clotted cream and jam.

11 December 2011

Melty Snowmen

Although the global warming thing seems more obvious than ever at the moment, with birds singing and nesting in the UK and daisies and roses blossoming in my parents' garden in Stockholm, I thought it would be a good way to start the festive season, by making melted snowmen cupcakes.


These were submitted by a fellow contestant during my brief stint on Art You Eat a couple of years back and they went straight on my to-bake-list.

It is also the reason why I raided Lakeland the other week-end, when I was in the UK - I needed silver cup cakes. Needless to say I bought a lot more things than planned.

I also was wondering where I could get hold of cranberries for the recipe - I've not made any muffins in maybe 20 years or so. And then I've only used Doctor Cutie's recipe, which is brilliant, by the way.

Mum suggested I use the frozen lingonberries she keeps in the freezer. Why not? It's actually better, because cranberries come all the way from America and the lingonberries are pretty much the European version of them.

Another curious thing was the use of clementine zest. It's not at all as easy to make as from lemon, lime or orange. And after zesting one, I had so little to show for it, I zested two more. But it was very nice to smell - different and slightly sweeter than orange.

I doubled the recipe from the original and it resulted in 18 slightly over-filled muffins:


200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
2 ml vanilla extract
200 g plain flour
2,5 tsp baking powder
5 medium eggs
200 g frozen lingonberries
finely grated zest of 3 clementines

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla, then cover and set aside.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder well.

  4. Add the eggs to the sugar/butter mixture, one at a time and with a tablespoon of the flour mixture and incorporate well, before adding the next one.

  5. Finally stir in the frozen lingonberries and the zest carefully, just enough to distribute them evenly in the mixture. It will go a bit stiff, as the berries will cool it down.

  6. Place paper cupcake cases on a baking sheet and spoon or pipe in the mixture, careful not to overfill, which is what I did. I think about two-thirds should do it.

  7. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, keep an eye on them, so they don't go too dark on top.

  8. Take out and let cool completely.

At this point they are ready to eat, but the decorating part is just as fun to do, so why stop here?

This particular decoration requires two types of icing - a fondant, which is malleable and can be shaped. I bought this ready made. It also came in different colours, I bought a white one and an orange one.


For the hats, I used red Non-Stop buttons - they are the Swedish version of Smarties.


The second type of icing is a liquid one for pouring, but should be made very thick by mixing small amounts of water into icing sugar. The idea is to scoop this over a cup cake and let it run down towards the edges, but it should be so thick that it dries as it is about to run over the edges. That will give the illusion of a melted snowman.

Here is where I made a mistake and gave in to the pleas from my Mum and Bip - to use up the icing we had made for the gingersnaps, where icing sugar is mixed together with egg white. This had to be spread with a spatula and didn't run at all. Only the last two muffins got the proper icing, as the egg white based one ran out. Once again I need to learn to stand my ground when someone tries to persuade me to do something I know is wrong.

Glögg Party

December is the time of parties in Sweden - everyone does "Julbord" and "Glöggfest", so why should I be different?

So I sent out an invite to my dear friends and started planning on what to do.

Needless to say, I have been busy at work and had absolutely no inspiration whatsoever as to gingerbread houses and so did not do anything for the competition held every year by the Architecture Museum. Such a pity, this year the theme was actually a good one, "Pride and Prejudice".

But flicking through my notebook, I came across a recipe I must have found last year. For Mulled Wine with chocolate and chilli. Unfortunately I had not written down where I saw it, so I can't provide the source, sorry.

750 ml red wine
1 10 cm stick of cinnamon
1 large dried chilli
1 tsp ground allspice
5 whole cloves
100 g granulated sugar
50 g finely ground cocoa powder

  1. Heat up the wine with all the spices on low heat and allow the flavours to develop.

  2. Add the sugar and let it dissolve.

  3. Finally stir in the cocoa.

  4. Sieve away all spices before serving

Unfortunately I had written down the recipe in Swedish and I don't know if it was my translation sloppiness, or just not thinking things through properly, but I interpreted the cocoa part as chocolate. This resulted in me grating finely 50 g of 86% dark chocolate, which took a while, as I didn't want to get it melting on my hands or everywhere in the kitchen for that matter. It also meant that it didn't dissolve properly in the mulled wine and I ended up with some sort of sludge, which I personally quite liked, but which no one else seemed to enjoy as much.

Bip bought a ready made version of this and said it had cocoa powder in it and had tasted very nice. So this recipe is one where I need to keep working on.

Besides, the chilli was barely noticeable, even if I used one of the ones we grow in our kitchen, which are very hot.

Just to be on the safe side, I also made traditional mulled wine, with a packet of spices. That was a lot more popular.

No photos unfortunately, I did take some, but they didn't look pretty at all.

Christmas Preparations


This year, we started early on the Christmas baking, mainly because I made yet another visit to my local Lakeland shop and couldn't resist a new gadget - a set of 12 star shaped cookie cutters which make it possible to create a Christmas tree.

In addition, I managed to dig up my Mum's old cookie spritzer and after some googling, I decided to merge the spritzer cookie experiment with the gingerbread making.

Using my usual recipe, but with 11 dl of plain flour, rather than 13, Bip and I made enough starts for the Christmas tree and also 3 big trays of spritzer cookies. It was tricky at first, but once we worked out the technique, we just kept stamping away. Sadly I forgot to take photos, but on the whole, spritzing worked pretty well. One thing to keep in mind is not to put any raising agent in the dough if using the spritzer. Since I had prepared the dough before I read this instruction, it was a bit late and the cookies lost some of their shape in baking.

This also goes for the stars for the Christmas tree.

My Sister Bip made the icing and she's got a pretty good hang of this. As we were decorating biscuits, i e hard and crunchy things, the icing needs to be made with egg white. We also established that it takes quite a lot of green food colouring too, we decided to stop at pale green this time. I should maybe try some green gel colouring from the sugar craft shop, that might give a stronger colour.


My original plan to first coat each star and then stack would have taken too long, so I did it on the fly. I also decided not to coat in the middle, to save on icing. It still ran out and Bip had to make a second batch, but clever as she is, she managed to get the exact same shade!

And when you have all these different sizes of cutters, it was not possible to resist experimenting a bit with them.


On the whole, a very pleasant way to spend the evening.

16 November 2011

Cake Pops with Bip

Last week-end, Bip and I had decided to finally try our hand at cake pops. I know they were the thing to do in 2010, but sadly I missed that boat.


We were both quite busy and didn't get much of a chance to do research. And I decided to buy a ready made sponge cake, rather than bake one first. As it turned out, this was mistake number 1. We made quite a few ones on the way and I must say, neither of us expected that it would be such hard work.


First things first - shopping. Never having purchased such an item as a sponge cake, we had to search through several of the food shops and venture to isles we had not been to before. The choice was underwhelming - one shop didn't have any sponge cakes, the other one had 3 types, two of which were basic sponge of different brands and one was gingersnap flavoured. So we purchased two of the lightest regular sponges we could find and two gingersnap ones. The idea was to dip the light pops in dark chocolate and the dark gingersnap pops into white chocolate or something like that.


We bought some food colouring - Bip wanted to do bumblebees and piggies. We bought white ready to roll icing. Then on the off chance, we wandered in to the craft shop and found that they have increased their assortment to include coloured fondant and in suitable colours too. The only thing we didn't get was black icing - after the recent Halloween, they were fresh out. But they did have lolly pop sticks.

I was also not familiar with the concept of frosting in tins, which seems to be the binding substance of choice in many of the American recipes and videos. A UK recipe called for Philadelphia cheese, but Bip wrinkled her nose at that, so I suggested mascarpone. Only one of the shops had that, puh, lucky. We also picked up some white and dark chocolate for cooking - I had a vague idea of using food colouring on the white chocolate.


Thus here are our


2 x 220 g regular white sponge cake
2 x 230 g gingersnap sponge cake
250 g mascarpone
200 g white chocolate
200 g dark chocolate (46% cocoa solids)
liquid yellow food colouring
pink ready to roll icing
thin wafers
leftover decorating icing in tubes from last year
big box of sprinkles (found in a cupboard)
daim sprinkles (also in the cupboard)
lolly pop sticks made of wood
icing sugar

  1. Crumble up the sponge cake - light one in one bowl, dark in another bowl.
  2. Divide the mascarpone equally between the two bowls and stir together until the crumbles come together and form a sort of dough.
  3. Scoop out walnut sized chunks and roll to round balls, then place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
  4. Place in the fridge for 15 - 30 minutes to firm up.
  5. In the mean time, prepare the pop sticks - a piece of polystyrene is good here, we didn't have any, so resorted to using shots glasses.
    It sort of worked, once there were two pops in a glass to balance each other out.
  6. Melt some of the chocolate, preferably of the same/similar colour to the one that will be used for the pop dipping. Take the tray with the cake balls out, dip a pop stick into the chocolate, about a cm. Then push into a cake ball, about half way in.
  7. Once they are all done, place in the freezer for an hour.
  8. Prepare the decorations - piggy noses and ears took time to make.
    Then melt the chocolate. White chocolate can be coloured a bit - a drop of red food colouring made it pink, but thickened it as well. Yellow food colouring was not as strong and by the time we had the right saturation, the whole thing had seized up, as chocolate does when it comes in contact with water. So careful.
  9. Then out with the frozen cake pops, quick and careful dip into the melted chocolate and then on with the decorations.
  10. Finally back in the fridge to make things set.
Now this took most of the Saturday.

The treasure and wonderful surprise was the Swedish meatball maker - this is an item that has been in one of the kitchen drawers in Sweden since as long as I can remember, a whim purchase from a second hand shop, I suspect. I also can not remember that this item has ever been used and so, I had started campaigning to get rid of it. The shame, oh the shame!
As it turned out, it was perfect for scooping a good amount of cake mixture and getting it ready shaped into a ball. OK, so I rolled each as well, but more out of principle, than anything else.

We chilled them and I melted chocolate in the microwave for the very first time - it's actually not at all bad, I always feared that I'd burn it. Cool.

We dipped the pop sticks and pushed them in. Bip pushed one all the way through a cake ball and I think I pushed most sticks in too far too. Anyway, we put them in the freezer for only 15 minutes and that was a mistake too. Should have let them freeze completely.

Some of the other mistakes we made were to push the piggy ears into the cake pops - this further weakened the pop, so that it sort of collapsed off the stick. And they were way too big and made the cake pop top heavy, another reason for falling off the stick.

And as the yellow food colouring caused the white chocolate to seize up, I mixed up some icing sugar with water and yellow food colouring, to a fairly thick paste and used that as coating for the bumble bees. It took longer to set of course, but worked pretty well on the whole. We weren't able to find white chocolate chips to use as wings, so I used a small flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out flowers from a thin wafer. I then cut the flower in two halves, which we pushed into the cake pop as wings for the bumble bees.


We used the daim sprinkles for eyes and once we ran out of chocolate, we used up some of the other colourful icing from the tubes to decorate straight on, that was the easiest and most fun I think, but it fell off very easily too, once it had set.

So to conclude - these need definitely to be made once more, but with home baked cake, careful on the chocolate, make sure there is polystyrene for the cake pops to set and not to push any of the decorations into the cake pops, but just glue them on. And let them freeze fully before dipping.

9 November 2011

Birthday Cake for Lou

When I asked my older niece Lou if she fancied a themed cake, she said she didn't mind. And having followed the second season of the Great British Bake Off, I decided to go straight for the most fantastic thing I saw there - the Chocolate and Orange Mousse cake! This was such a beautiful and original piece of edible art work and such an interesting method of making, I felt no hesitation at having a go at it.


The basic idea is to make two thin rectangular sponges from joconde. From these two rounds and two strips are cut out and put together to form a circular box. The middle is filled with the chocolate mousse. The interesting part is that a joconde paste is first made and coloured. It is then piped in swirls onto paper lined baking trays and these are put in the freezer until the paste has frozen solid. This ensures that the pattern remains when the main sponge mixture is poured over it.

Joconde Paste Ingredients

50 g unsalted soft butter, and some melted butter for brushing the baking sheets, about 15 g
50 g sifted icing sugar
50 g egg whites (about 2) at room temperature
55 g sifted plain flour
food colouring

  1. Cream the butter, icing sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg whites slowly, while still whisking.
  3. Fold carefully in the flour.
  4. Add food colouring as desired.
  5. Brush melted butter onto two shallow baking tins (45 x 30 cm with an edge!).
  6. Place baking paper on top and make sure there are no air bubbles or folds on it.
  7. Pipe the paste in swirls and place in the freezer for about 1 h.


Joconde Sponge Ingredients

180 g egg whites at room temperature (about 6)
25 g granulated sugar
225 g ground almonds
225 g sifted icing sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
40 g sifted plain flour
40 g sifted cocoa powder for baking
85 g melted and clarified butter

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks stage, then add the granulated sugar and whisk further until stiff peaks form. Cover with cling film to prevent it collapsing and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk almonds, icing sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy. Then add the flour and the cocoa powder while still whisking.
  4. Carefully fold in the meringue into the mixture.
  5. Mix about a cup of the sponge mixture into the clarified butter, then add the butter mixture into the sponge.
  6. Remove the baking trays with the joconde paste from the freezer and pour the sponge over the swirls in a thin layer, about 1 cm thick, level carefully and bake for 5 - 7 minutes until the sponges have coloured lightly (will be difficult to see, since they are chocolate coloured to begin with).
  7. Once out of the oven, place a sheet of grease proof paper over each baking tray, then turn over the tray to release the sponge. Remove the grease proof paper the sponge was baked in. This reveals the pattern. Let the sponges cool a bit.

Chocolate Orange Mousse Ingredients

zest and juice of one orange
2 tbsp powdered gelatine
175 g melted plain chocolate
2 eggs separated
300 ml whipped double cream

Final Decoration Ingredients

300 ml whipped double cream
strips of orange zest

  1. Strain the orange juice, then dissolve the gelatine in it, using the instructions on the packet.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the zest and chocolate with the egg yolks.
  3. Add the orange juice with the gelatine.
  4. Whip the whites to stiff peaks and fold gently into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Cut out two circles and two or three narrow strips from the sponges. The cake needs to be built inside a round cake tin - the circles should be a couple of cm smaller in diameter than the cake tin.
  7. Place one circle at the bottom of the round tin, fit the strips around the sides, making sure there are no gaps anywhere.
  8. Pour in the chocolate orange mousse, then cover with the second circle. Cover and refrigerate until required.
  9. Just before serving, decorate by piping whipped cream and cut out twirls of orange zest.


Now for some reason, the recipe published on the BBC web site was missing the instruction to place the swirl patterns in the freezer. But I'd seen the show, so I know that this needed to be done.

What was a more unpleasant surprise was that the orange joconde paste resulted in some 4 - 5 times more than I actually needed. I have adjusted the recipe above accordingly, but I also have three more batches of orange joconde paste in the freezer for future practice.

I also gravely mis-judged the sponge and opted for making a slightly smaller, but taller cake. Unfortunately the amount of mousse I ended up with was far from enough and you can see the 3 cm of edge I had to cut off because of this. I don't see how this amount would fit in the larger cake described on the BBC web site. Having said that, the double cream exhibited some massively unexpected behaviour. I have whipped double cream in the past and it has worked fine, I just would get slightly less volume. But this time, within seconds it almost turned to butter. So the mousse didn't perhaps get the volume it was supposed to have. At serving time the next day, Lundulph had to whip the remaining cream by hand and again after a few beats with a balloon whisk, the thing had gone to stiff peaks. Really not sure what happened there, it wasn't out of date, I checked!

There was also the issue of baking: 5 - 7 minutes just didn't seem enough and I ended up baking for almost 15 minutes. This was a mistake, as it resulted in a drier sponge, which cracked at the patterns, when I fitted it into the cake tin. Could also have been that I made a smaller diameter cake of course. So don't get tempted to leave it baking for longer!

I also decided to skip one part of the decoration - a layer of gelatine made with orange juice. On the show, it was yellow, not orange and I didn't think it added any value to this otherwise so very impressive cake.

As always, I do not use enough gelatine to make things firm up and so, after Lou cut the first piece, the mousse just poured out like some sort of goo. I have tried to adjust the recipe above for that as well.

On the whole it was a very tasty cake actually and disappeared in the usual manner when we celebrate a family birthday.

Lundulph had some good ideas - he thought this would be really great to do with green swirls and chocolate mint ice cream as filling. I concur and so I will make a second attempt in a couple of weeks when he comes over to visit.

An idea that occurred to me is that you could plan ahead and draw specific patterns on the greaseproof paper that lines the baking tin and even write words on it. But you must do that in mirror writing. Then when you turn it out, the writing will be incorporated into the sponge. So I might try that as well. There seem so many possibilities on this technique.

The many off-cuts from the sponge went into a big box in the fridge for snacking purposes and lasted well over two weeks after the initial baking and very little staleness was noticeable. What I didn't do was to try and freeze some of it, to see how it reacts to that. So that I know if I need to take out a cake with ice cream filling early or at last minute before serving. Well, I'll find out soon enough.

3 November 2011


This is a dish from Northern Sweden, and translates roughly to "frost lump".

It is a piece of meat, most often moose, but other meats are OK too. It is roasted at a very low temperature, under 100 degrees C for a very long time and from frozen! It is then left in a salt solution for several hours and is sliced very thinly and served cold with potato gratin or such.

Doctor Cutie made this for us when we went to visit them last Christmas and it was wonderful!

So when my Mum was clearing out the freezer and spotted a nice size of inner thigh from moose, that's what I said I'd do.

And so the frozen piece of meat went into the oven which I set to 80 degrees C, at the bottom shelf at around 20:30 on Friday night.


Some 3 hours later, when my parents came home from a concert, Mum helped me push a meat thermometer through it and set the oven to keep cooking until the centre had reached 70 degrees C. It had reached 35 degrees C, so based on my very random calculations, the final temperature would be reached around 4 am. And I wasn't sure the cooker would stop as I'd told it to do - there was no info about this feature in the manual.

But having a built in worry alarm, I woke up just after 4 am and wandered off to the kitchen for a check-up. The inner temperature was now at 55 degrees C. OK, cool, so another couple of hours to go. I turned up the heat to 100 degrees C, to be on the safe side. We were planning to eat it for lunch after all.

Actually I got up at 7 and started on the Danish pastries, and the thing was still not ready. My Mum got up and I quickly turned down the heat to 80 degrees C again. It was another hour and a half, when the cooker bleeped and switched off.

Then it looked like this


Thus, I quickly boiled up the brine:


1 l water
1 dl salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp crushed black pepper
2 tbsp crushed juniper berries

  1. Bring all the ingredients to the boil. IMG_1350
  2. Place the piece of meat in a lidded container or a heat tolerant plastic bag, like a roasting bag.
  3. Pour over the brine and close the lid or tie the bag.
  4. Let stand for 4 - 5 h.
  5. Remove from the brine, pat dry and slice thinly.
  6. Serve with potato gratin or a warm potato salad. The meat should be cold.

Specialised contraption to ensure the whole piece of meat is covered during the soaking period.

What it looks like inside.

But unfortunately, I should have had more faith in the cooking instructions and not fiddled with the temperatures. I also thought that 1 dl of salt was way over the top and only used half, so very little had penetrated through. So less fear salt-wise too.

What we ended up with was something with a very spongy texture and that tasted of over-cooked liver. I didn't like it at all. Must ask Doctor Cutie how she did hers, because the one she made was fantastic. The only positive thing was that it was very easy to cut, but that really isn't the main point of food, is it?

Now the piece of moose was around 1.5 kg and the brine was just about enough to cover it. For a bigger piece, the brine needs to be scaled up.

Puff Pastry Experiment

After watching most episodes of the second Great British Bake-off (except the last one, don't tell me who won, please) and with some regret that I couldn't have tried for it even, I felt I needed to tackle the issue with puff pastry and declared my intentions to my Mum.

Her reaction was, why bother, when you can get ready made from the shop?

I disagree, I want to be able to know how to make my own, what if civilization as we know it collapses? What if the war comes? Or any natural disaster for that matter and there is no puff pastry in the shop? You've got to know how to make it. So there!

And so, I scoured my old haunts of blogs for recipes. See, when I went to my baking master classes, we made puff pastry with yeast and I wasn't really sure about that. So I made two batches - one with yeast and one without.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had a bit of a delay on my planning and so had to freeze both batches in the end and make the Danish pastries the following week-end.

Now, I can't even find the recipes I used. But one thing was certain - as said by a French patissier on the Great British Bake-off - it's equal parts dough and butter. So that was the guiding light.

The dough without yeast didn't seem to come together very well from the start, I kneaded and kneaded and the results were a very poor excuse of gluten development. But I got tired after a while and moved onto the next step - chilling etc.

The second batch was with yeast and it developed much better. Very strange - all ingredients came out of the same packets, really the only difference was the yeast. Good gluten, good everything. Oh well. Maybe my attitude improved inbetween or something.

I had a good banging away at the butter with the rolling pin. My Dad even came rushing to the kitchen to ask if I was intending to demolish the house. That bit was fun, though.

So roll and fold, roll and fold and pretty soon no-yeast dough was too thin and broke in several places, though I was very careful not to get things too warm and the butter oozing out. But I had a feeling the damage had already been done here.

The second batch was much easier to roll, easier to control etc, but still it felt like there was too much butter for the dough.

The next week-end Lundulph came to visit and so I was going to make Danish pastries for breakfast. I let both batches thaw thoroughly in the fridge overnight, then I got them mixed up and left the non-yeast one rise, while the yeast one went straight in the oven. So the result was massively greasy, not well risen at all (by any means), but with quite clear layers and fully edible, although not too great amounts.

So on the whole, progress, but still a massively long way to go. Maybe I should try rough puff next time.


I did play around quite a bit with the shapes, that was great fun, though my Mum was very concerned that I left too much space between each. The croissant-y shapes are filled with crumbled up feta cheese mixed with eggs. The twirls have a dab of créme patissière and a well drained peach on top.


2 November 2011

Left-over Puff Pastry

After making two batches of cakes, I had loads of puff pastry left over. What to do, what to do...

Of course - cut it in strips and wrap around cocktail sausages.


That's pretty much it. And bake them on 200 degrees C.


I didn't even brush them with egg wash.

1 November 2011

Friends Of The Mazarines

If you remember back in March, I found an old magazine with recipes.

Well, I've tried two more of the recipes, again the really quick ones using rolled out puff pastry.


Visually perhaps not entirely successful, but very tasty nevertheless.

On the right of the picture we have Kejsarkronor, which translates to Imperial Crowns. On the left, there are Kokosformar or Coconut cups.

At the back, there are chocolate cigars, but made with coconut fat. No difference in taste as far as I could tell, but oh so very difficult to incorporate, it has a much higher melting point than butter.

So, to the cousings of the mazarines.


340 g puff pastry, thawed but cold for each of the fillings below.

Filling for Kejsarkronor
300 g marzipan, coarsely grated
150 g granulated sugar
150 g egg whites (about 5)
For glazing
1 dl smooth apricot jam + 0.5 tsp water

Filling for Coconut Cups
250 g dessicated coconut
250 g granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 dl ready-made vanilla custard

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C (fan assisted: 175).
  2. Take two pieces of the puff pastry and press together. Then on a floured surface, roll out as thinly as possible. Let it rest for a few minutes, so it doesn't shrink.
  3. Cut out as many large circles as possible and place into aluminium foil cups, pressing down to remove any air trapped underneath. Cut-outs of the dough can be squeezed together and rolled out anew. Let the dough rest for a few minutes more in the cups.
  4. For Kejsarkronor: blend the marzipan and sugar, then add the whites a little at a time, then let stand to swell for 30 minutes (up to overnight is OK).
  5. For Coconut cups: Stir together all the ingredients and let rest and swell for 1 h.
  6. Fill up the cups with your choice of filling and to the brim, even with a bit of a top on.
  7. For Kejsarkronor: Cut out 1 cm wide strips, two for each cup and place in a cross over the filling and tuck in at the edges.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven. 20 minutes for Kejsarkronor, 15 minutes for Coconut Cups, until they get a nice golden brown colouring.
  9. For Kejsarkronor: Bring the apricot jam with the water to the boil, then brush the Kejsarkronor once they are out of the oven, to give them a nice shine.
I made these back in May for my birthday. Lundulph certainly liked them. There were a lot of them too and they were pretty big, so it took some time to finish them. They held pretty well in a box in the fridge. The Kejsarkronor collapsed a bit sadly. Maybe I didn't fill them up enough.

Catching up

Well, doesn't time just fly? I have been swamped with work pretty much the whole of Summer and hadn't realised that I last posted in mid-March!

And being busy at work means of course that I haven't been cooking much, certainly not much new stuff.

Then the old computer died, literally and the agony of finding a new one. Which I've grown to hate lately, it gives me more trouble than my old one even.

Still, I do need to do some posting and catch up on the few new things I've done and mistakes I've made.

Looking at the weekly stats of the blog, I've come to realise that it still stays steadily on about 25, which kind of implies that it's mostly bots that visit it. Oh well, it's good to be able to access my recipes whenever I am online, if nothing else.

15 March 2011

Teriyaki Chicken with Noodle Rösti

Last week-end Lundulph came to visit and in addition to the surprise Valentine's Day dinner that I'd booked at a nice French Restaurant, I thought we could do with a fancy lunch. I sadly still don't know how to plate food.


My Mum had bought a food magazine on easy recipes and flicking through it, this recipe caught my eye.


6 boned chicken thighs with the skin removed
2 chicken breasts
2 dl teriyaki sauce
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp lime juice
400 g dried thin rice noodles
2 l water
1 chopped red chili of desired heat level
1.5 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 dl chopped fresh coriander
1 dl sesame seeds
butter for frying, about 1 dl
2 dl teriyaki sauce for serving

  1. Cut the chicken into similar sized chunks and place in a bowl.

  2. Add the teriyaki sauce, press in the garlic and add the sesame oil and lime juice.

  3. Stir in well, cover and let stand in the fridge for at least 1 h.

  4. When marinating time is nearly up, pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C.

  5. Bring 2 l of water to the boil, then add the noodles and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes.

  6. Drain most of the water, then add the chili, ginger, coriander and sesame seeds and stir in as well as possible.

  7. Heat up a frying pan on medium, then brown the chicken and place in an oven safe dish and finish cooking in the oven for about 20 minutes.

  8. In the mean time, heat up some butter in the pan, then take out about 1 dl worth of noodles and place in the frying pan in a pile. Then flatten with a spatula and let it go a bit crispy. Turn over and fry on the other side, then take out and place on kitchen paper to remove some of the fat.

  9. Repeat with the remainder of the noodles, adding butter as needed.

  10. Serve immediately.

This turned out to be a very good recipe. My Mum was worried that the spices weren't correctly balanced and tried to persuade me not to put in the full amount of sesame oil. Luckily I didn't listen to her this time, because it was yummy just the way it was.

We had enough for 5 people and there was a little left over, so 6 portions all in all.

The noodle rösti were an even better surprise - I call them rösti because that's what they ended looking like. Fabulously tasty, even my Dad had some, despite declaring from the outstart that he wouldn't eat anything silly like that.

My Sister on the other hand is now a teriyaki sauce convert and has declared to be the new ketchup and favourite dipping sauce.

I struggled with my timings and the chicken was ready well before the noodles and I had to keep it in the oven longer than needed and the breast pieces were a bit on the dry side.

We had a salad with this meal - romaine lettuce, radishes, cucumber and avocado, which worked rather well. Though I think a mixed baby leaf salad would be better.

As for our Valentine's Day dinner, we went to Brasserie Le Rouge. It was pricey, but very good and very nice atmosphere and very suitable for Valentine's Day. We didn't get a chance to celebrate it this year, so this was our opportunity to catch up.

7 March 2011

Cheaty Pizza

Due to my escapade in the world of mazarins the other day, I ended up with an alarming surplus of thawed puff pastry.


Well, I wouldn't have if I had followed my original plan and made a second batch to take to work, but the usual combo of laziness and far too much to do at work and generally not feeling like it, meant that I skipped that second batch.

So, what to do, because despite everything, I cannot bring myself to throw things away. But a nagging hankering for pizza and the newly discovered fact that pressing two sheets of puff pastry together and rolling out thinly results in something thin, yet crispy forced my steps towards the local deli for pizza supplies.

And what I ended up with was so tasty, I had to make it a second time.

2 sheets of puff pastry (~170 g)
250 g ready tomato sauce for pasta
200 g sliced cheese
200 g sliced canned mushrooms
125 g thinly sliced chorizo
15 olives

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (regular heat, not fan assisted).

  2. Press the sheets of puff pastry together, then roll out on a well floured surface. It should be a couple of mm thick. Let rest for a few minutes, then place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

  3. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the base, taking care to leave about a cm or two around the edge free.

  4. Line the cheese slices on top, followed by the mushrooms and chorizo.

  5. Place the olives on top and place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.


The pasta sauce I used was the Dolmio extra spicy Bolognese, not that there was any discernible difference between it and their regular stuff. And it felt a bit too runny for my liking, better do a proper thick sauce and freeze for emergencies next time. I was worried that the dough would go soggy before I'd finished stacking everything on top and putting it in the oven, so to be on the safe side, I put first tomato sauce and then cheese on one half of the pizza, then started with the cheese and then tomato sauce on top of that on the other half. I couldn't tell any difference - it was crispy straight from the oven and then in wasn't when re-heated.

I also wanted to use pepperoni, like usual, but the deli was limited and had only chorizo, so that's what it had to be and frankly it worked just as well.

The great thing was that the pizza was thin and crispy and impossible to eat with your hands, but it was good for my Dad, since he's not too keen on food that requires strength of teeth and a lot of chewing, meaning regular pizzas have not been an option for years.

The cheese and chorizo were both fairly salty, so if making the sauce, make sure not to put any salt in it.

I think capers would have been nice in there somewhere and possibly some chilli for extra kick.

This pizza definitely worked best fresh out of the oven, but is also edible, albeit a bit soggy, after a good whizz in the microwave. In fact, for the second round I invited my Sister Bip over and she liked the pizza so much, she had seconds and also wanted to take the left-over home. However, I'd already set it aside for my lunch box, so I didn't let her have it.

The second round I also timed - 50 minutes from taking out the ingredients from the fridge to serving it on the table and it was enough for 4 people. So Bip should be able to make one herself, it's dead easy.

1 March 2011


Just before Christmas, my Mum dug out a food magazine - "Allt om mat" - which translates to all about food and I believe is comparable to "Good Food" in the UK. It was the November edition of 1992 and had a lot of Christmas related articles in it.


But that's not what caught my attention. Well, the date did, obviously, but mostly the front page picture of a mazarin and some other similar pieces of pastry.

The article was about the Swedish tradition of kaffebröd (literally: coffee breads) and in particular the mazarin and its cousins.

Now, as you know, Lundulph is very partial to things containing marzipan and the mazarin is actually filled with it. The shell is made of short crust pastry and it's glazed with icing on top. So I thought, he'd like the mazarin cousins as well and flicking through the pages, I decided on what seemed the easiest of them all - kongresser.


This does indeed mean congresses and there was no information as to why they are called this.

It also felt very cheaty to do them - using ready made puff pastry. So here goes, without further ado. This recipe makes 20 - 25. It also requires aluminium foil cup cakes, as they are sturdier and will force the pastry to keep its shape.

340 g puff pastry, thoroughly thawed, but cold
400 g hazelnuts or walnuts
300 g granary sugar
5 medium eggs

  1. Put together two sheets of puff pastry and squeeze together. Then on a floured surface roll out as thinly as possible, about a couple of mm thick.

  2. Let the dough rest a couple of minutes, so it doesn't shrink. Then with a round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.

  3. Any off-cuts can be piled together and rolled out again.

  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C (fan assisted to 175).

  5. Fit the circles in the aluminium cup cakes. Press in if necessary.

  6. Whizz the nuts in a blender for a minute or so, there should be a good mix of coarse and fine pieces.

  7. In a bowl, mix the nuts with the sugar and stir in the eggs.

  8. Distribute the mixture in the cup cakes, filling up as much as possible.

  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, until they stop swelling.

The rolled puff pastry doesn't swell up like unrolled one does, but still goes a bit crispy. The filling has a good crunch to it thanks to the nuts, but at the same time it is a bit sticky in the middle.

The original recipe says hazelnuts, but we seem to have an excess of walnuts at the moment, so I used them instead. Plus my Sister Bip can't eat hazelnuts either, so this way she could have some too.

I made this batch last Friday. Today is Tuesday and they still taste rather nice. I can't wait to try out the other mazarin cousins.

(If you search on google images for mazarin, you'll get a lot of portraits of a man in a red dress, this would be Cardinal Mazarin, who apparently was fond of the mazarin cakes and they are named after him).

13 February 2011

Mum's Birthday

After so many years, I'm now finally back in Sweden and can celebrate my Mum's birthday and instead of giving her yet another thing to clog up the house, I decided to let her have a day off from housework and cook dinner and make the cake. Though of course it was a croquembouche, since the first attempt failed miserably.

For the main course, I made fishcakes with cheese sauce from the Hairy Bikers. It was the cheese sauce that was most intriguing, but since Lundulph doesn't approve of cheese, I was saving this recipe for an occasion where he wasn't around.


To be on the safe side, I also made a double amount of the recipe.

1 kg mashed potatoes
1 kg hake fillet
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 dl full milk
2 bay leaves
2 medium sized eggs
3 tbsp finely cut parsley
ground white pepper
4 tbsp plain flour
4 medium sized eggs
3 dl bread crumbs
vegetable oil for shallow frying
additional milk to bring liquid up to 1 litre
100 g butter
4 tbsp plain flour
350 g grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel and boil the potatoes, then mash or push through a ricer and set aside to cool down completely.

  2. Cut the hake fillet into chunks so as to fit into a saucepan, season with salt and pepper and lay it in a saucepan in a single layer. Pour the milk on top, add the two bay leaves, cover and place on the hob on low to medium heat and poach for about 25 minutes, until the fish has gone opaque and goes flaky.

  3. Pour off the liquid through a strainer and top up with milk until it is 1 litre, then set aside for use in the cheese sauce.

  4. Remove skin and such, then shred the fish and add to the mashed potatoes.

  5. Add the two eggs, parsley, salt and white pepper and mix together well.

  6. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and when it starts to bubble, add the flour an stir vigorously for a couple of minutes, then start adding the liquid a little at a time, stirring constantly.

  7. When all the liquid is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken a bit, add the cheese and stir in until it has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  8. From the fish-potato mixture, form patties and roll in flour.

  9. Heat up the oil in a large pan on medium hot, in the mean time, whisk the four eggs lightly and prepare the breadcrumbs on a plate.

  10. Dip each patty in the eggs, then roll in the bread crumbs and fry for a couple of minutes on each side, enough to make them golden brown and heat them through.

  11. Serve with the cheese sauce.

I don't know if I've reached a new stage in my life where I'm prepared to accept fish as food (other than salmon and tuna as up to now) or if I'd just made my mind up to do this recipe and thus was in a mental state to actually eat these fish cakes, but when I picked up the hake yesterday morning, I didn't feel nausea from the smell when I unwrapped it. My Dad came round to see what I was up to and wrinkled his nose, I take after him, obviously.

I then pulled out a couple of disposable gloves and proceeded in poaching and then shredding the fish. It still smelt strongly of fish, but also rather pleasant. And those gloves were great, I must get some for my kitchen in the UK. I also used them to mix everything, it was so much better that way. And also the shaping was easy, as very little stuck to the gloves. From the above amounts, I got 20 fish cakes, planning on 2 per person, though they did turn out to be a bit too big for that, for me at least. And the cheese sauce was fantastic, using the poaching liquid added a nice dimension to it and the end result was not at all fishy, which both I and my Mum found rather surprising.

As usual, I was a bit light on salt. And I think the fish cakes might benefit from dill and chives as well, to spruce them up even further. My Mum did mutter on several occasions yesterday that I shouldn't follow a recipe literally, but I stood firm, and the result was great. Now next time, I can start varying things.

Interlaced with the fish cakes, I made the croquembouche. I used the same recipe as before, but double batch and I made the buns in the evening before. The oven was playing up, I guess this is something one has to live with. And so many of the buns collapsed when I turned the trays around. But for the last tray, I turned down the temperature to 175 degrees C and that made the difference that I could leave them in without turning round. This resulted in the buns staying puffed and round, making them so much easier to fill. So actually the collapse is undesirable. I also sprinkled pearl sugar on them at the start and tried a few with Daim sprinkles, which sadly melted, so won't do that again. But the ones with nib sugar seemed fine. Though after storing in a box overnight, the sugar had sadly melted.


For the filling of the choux, I decided to do something with Nutella, to compensate for the fact that I once again missed World Nutella Day on 5th February. A quick google search resulted in the following that was sufficiently simple enough to do.

2 dl Nutella
1.25 dl whipping cream
2.5 dl whipped cream

  1. Melt the Nutella with the 1.25 dl whipping cream in a bain marie, while stirring together until it is a smooth mixture.

  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down completely.

  3. Whip the 2.5 dl to stiff peaks, then carefully stir into the Nutella mixture and place in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

This turned out to be something absolutely divine! Would work nicely on cakes too, though not as glazing, it's not firm enough, I don't think. And whenever I get my hands on an ice cream machine, that'll certainly be a mixture I intend to try out in frozen form.

Then after a brief rest, my Mum came over and we made a cone, this time from a newspaper and with a vase supporting it on the inside and covered with aluminium foil on the outside. Mum then melted sugar and made a beautiful caramel, she has the knack for it. She kept stirring when needed and heated and cooled as needed, while I concentrated on building the pyramid. Frankly, this contraption definitely requires two people.


I didn't grease up the aluminium foil, so a lot of the choux buns stuck to it and we decided to leave the mould in, rather than do it the proper way and remove it. Maybe the third time is the charm and I'll manage to make a true croquembouche.

It was tasty though and I used up a lot more buns than I had intended, around 80 I think. It would have been enough for 20 people at least too, because after a full meal, fitting in more than 3 of these delicious little things would have been a struggle.

Today, some of the caramel had melted as it tends to after a few hours, but thanks to the mould cone still being in place, everything still holds together. We'll be eating it for a few more days to come I'm sure.

9 January 2011

Gotländsk Saffranspannkaka


On the day of Epiphany, I and my Mum met up with my good friend Nana, her husband and their two year old daughter for brunch at the fabulous Petite France, claiming to best café in Stockholm. We were lucky in that it was the first day of opening since the holidays and also we miraculously made it some 30 seconds before the rest of the world wandered in.

Thus Nana went off to secure us a good seat, while I and the others ordered sandwiches, pastries and coffee. Everything was fantastic.

And so, after a couple of hours that contained seconds, Nana invited us back to their place for a light lunch.

To finish it off, she offered us a slice of Gotländsk Saffranspannkaka, which would translate as saffron pancake from Gotland. This was so wonderfully tasty, that we asked for the recipe, which turns out to be very simple. We also found it among one of my Mum's food magazines from the 90s. Given that it has saffron in it, I suspect it is traditionally served around Christmas.


1 kg ready made rice pudding
3 dl single cream
4 medium eggs
1 g ground saffron
75 g blanched and flaked almonds
2.5 dl golden syrup

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

  2. Stir together the ingredients, making sure each is well incorporated before adding another. Make sure to add one egg at a time.

  3. While adding the syrup, keep tasting and adjust the amount as it depends on how sweet the ready made rice pudding is.

  4. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking tin or pyrex dish. and place in the middle of the oven.

  5. Bake until it sets and becomes golden brown on the surface about 30 - 40 minutes.

  6. Serve warm or cold with a little jam on top. Whipped cream may also be nice.

I used the Swedish golden syrup and it isn't as sweet as the English one, so my dessert wasn't very sweet, I would have liked it a bit sweeter.

Traditionally in Gotland it is served with jam made from dewberries. We didn't have that, so used my Mum's bilberry jam instead, which also isn't very sweet. Nana served with drottningsylt, which translates to queen's jam and is made on equal amounts of bilberries and raspberries.

Nana also mentioned that if the above feels too rich, half of the 3 dl of single cream can be swapped out for milk.

I think it would look nicer to bake in portion sized ramekins, if serving at a fancier dinner, because it is very hard to cut out pieces from the baking dish and transfer to plates. I also think a splash of maple syrup may enhance the flavours too.

What I find really clever with this dish is that the almonds become invisible in the mixture, so when you look at the slice, it looks like rice pudding with saffron, yet when you put it in your mouth, you get creaminess and crunch.

I must try to fine tune this recipe, I suspect Lundulph will like it.