23 November 2013

Mushroom Crispbread


A while ago, my Mum sent me a new recipe for crispbread, which she thought seemed interesting - instead of water, it used tomato juice.

Since we ran out of crispbread a few weeks ago, I decided to give this recipe a try. However, Lundulph has developed reservations towards tomatoes, he reckons they are a bit too acidic for his stomach. Besides, tomato juice is not something I keep in the house on a regular basis. What to do, what to do, hmmmm...

Mushroom juice! Well not quite, there's no such thing, I don't think. But I always save the liquid from cans of mushrooms and freeze with the hopes of making risotto or such. But I don't make risotto too often and the frozen blocks of this liquid are slowly filling up the freezer. I'm well pleased that this substitute worked, now I can clear up the freezer, ha!

7 g dry instant yeast
3 dl mushroom liquid
0.5 tsp whole fennel seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 dl wholemeal flour
3 dl rye flour
3 dl strong white flour
1.5 tsp salt


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the liquid, then add the remaining ingredients except the salt.
  2. Stir together either with a spoon or your hand until it come together into a dough.
  3. Turn out onto the work surface and work for a few minutes, then add the salt and work it in well.
  4. Shape into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover with cling film and let rest/proof for about an hour.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 parts. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees and line a couple of trays with baking paper.
  6. Dust liberally with flour and roll out one part of dough at a time as thinly as possible.
  7. If you have a knobbly rolling pin, then use it at the end of the rolling, otherwise prick the dough with a fork. Then cut up into pieces as desired and place on a baking tin with a little space apart.
  8. Bake for about 5 minutes and keep an eye on the crispbreads so they don't burn!
  9. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
  10. Store in an air-tight container with a piece of kitchen tissue to keep the breads dry. Will last for weeks or even longer.

The original recipe called for 2.5 dl of liquid, but this just wasn't enough and the dough was impossible to work, so I ended up adding another half a decilitre while kneading. It was still a fairly stiff dough and even after two hours, it hadn't risen much, but such is the nature of rye I think. And the reason I left it for two hours is that I was busy with other things.

A hot tip in the recipe was to use a pasta machine for the rolling. I don't have one, but it's a good idea for people who do.

The fennel was very subtle as were the sesame seeds and the mushroom flavour from the liquid, but it got me searching the internet for more interesting recipes and I've found one, which I'll try when this batch runs out. This time I cut the dough into squares of about 5 cm sides and I had quite a few for lunch, so I don't think they'll last very long.

Now rolling a stiff dough very thinly takes some effort and I spent the afternoon chipping plaster off the walls in our future bedroom, so my arms feel rather sore, but it was well worth it.

On a side note, a few days ago I noticed that my beloved butter knife has worn down dramatically over the past 20 years that I've had it and so I bought a new one and this time I splashed out on luxury - one hand crafted out of juniper wood, which is nice to hold and also smells nice. Hopefully it'll last at least as long as the old one.


17 November 2013


The other day I came across a recipe for a traditional Swedish casserole, but with a new twist to it, which seemed very appealing, not the least the fact that it would cook fairly quickly. The original version is actually called sjömansbiff and should have chunks of beef in it, however, this version uses beef mince instead, so cooking time is the time it takes to get the potatoes cooked.


Sjömansbiff literally means seaman's beef and the reason for this is that it's a convenient thing to cook on a boat, since everything goes into one pot. The casserole is made with beer, which was more readily available on ships in the past, unlike fresh water. The recipe I used is here and is in Swedish. Needless to say, I had to swap out some ingredients which I wasn't able to find in my local supermarket.

5 - 6 portions
2 largish onions
300 g white cabbage
600 g waxy potatoes
50 g butter
500 g beef mince
1 tbsp dark soft sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 - 2 bay leaves
2.5 dl dark beer, e. g. porter or stout
4 dl beef stock
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh tarragon
2 dl sliced pickled cucumber (preferably brine-pickled)
Salt and pepper to taste
sprigs of fresh parsley for serving


  1. Peel and dice the onions (about 1 cm chunks). Wash and cut the cabbage also into 1 cm pieces.
  2. Peel the potatoes if needed, then slice into 5 mm thick slices.
  3. Heat up the butter in a casserole dish until it bubbles and starts going a little brown, then add the onions and cabbage and fry until the onion starts going translucent. Stir now and then.
  4. Add the beef mince and stir round to avoid getting large lumps of it.
  5. Add the potatoes once the mince has browned and follow on with the sugar, soy sauce, bay leaves, beer and stock.
  6. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. In the mean time, wash the thyme and tarragon and remove the hard stalks, then cut into small pieces. Slice the cucumber and add to the casserole along with the herbs.
  8. Stir through and let simmer for another 15 minutes or so until the potatoes are ready. Leave uncovered if you think there's too much liquid or add more beer and/or stock if it seems too dry.
  9. When it's ready, serve with parsley on top

The swapped ingredients were:

  • Dark soft sugar instead of light syrup - I've still not found a decent replacement, but I'm reluctant to drag home a bottle of this all the way from Sweden.
  • Tarragon instead of chervil - I'm not sure it's possible to get hold of at this time of the year, but a quick search on the internet indicated that chervil tastes a little of parsley and anise, so I thought tarragon would be a decent substitute.
  • Cucumber pickled in vinegar - completely slipped my mind to look for brine-pickled cucumbers.
  • Beer - I also forgot to get porter/stout type of beer and so had to make do with what was in the larder - ale and not too strongly flavoured either. Lundulph commented that I should go for a porter or stout with a higher alcohol level, he reckons they have more flavour. Or cider, though I don't think it would work here.

I've started using the Oxo beef stock cubes with reduced salt lately and keep forgetting to account for this, so my casserole was a bit on the sweet side - the tarragon and the vinegary cucumbers enhanced this too, which is why I think it would be better to try and find the brine-pickled variety. Perhaps also reduce the sugar somewhat. So the casserole tasted a bit on the sweet side, however I quite liked it.

I didn't notice the cabbage much, but it seemed to provide a good bulk to this dish, so I might even use more next time. Perhaps it's because I bought a very small cabbage head and it had a milder flavour. Though it still came up to over a kilogram in weight. I'll have to think of ways to use it up in the coming week, cabbage is good.

Lundulph said it reminded him of a Lancashire hot pot and I should give this a try as well, even if the cooking method is different - Lancashire hot pots should be slow cooked and should be made with lamb. But I guess the principle is very similar - not too much preparation, put everything in a pot and let it cook, then eat.

The only drawback I can see with this is that it won't freeze well because of the potatoes. I think they'd disintegrate. The above amounts are enough for us two for three meals, which is OK, even if we aim not to have the same dish more than twice within a couple of days and any further left-overs I freeze for a later date. My Dad on the other hand can happily eat the same thing day in, day out, if it's one of his favourites - bean soup, moussaka, stuffed peppers...

However it is a reasonably quick dish to make and now when it's getting cold and dark outside, a hearty casserole works ever so well. Especially when followed by a slice of chocolate brownie, we'll be eating those for some time to come yet...


I've finally decided to try my hand at traybaking, especially since Lundulph keeps asking for "afters" on a regular basis and I'm just too lazy to do something new every day.


I trawled through the recipe folders on my computer and found two - both from this year's Great British Bake-Off, one from Mary Berry and one from Beca, one of the contestants. Mary's was with ginger and Beca's was with chocolate and cherries, so I decided to try Beca's first, since I have a preference for these over ginger.

Reading through the recipe, the first thing that struck me was the amounts of the ingredients. Corr blimey! Also, as I was mixing things together, I was worried that there was no rising agent and was briefly tempted to add a couple of teaspoons of baking powder, but decided to stick to the recipe and see what would come out.

But I also googled the recipe to see if anyone else had made it and what they'd experienced - seems getting it baked through correctly was an issue and I decided to play it safe. In hindsight, I definitely over-baked the brownies.

Makes 24
300 g unsalted butter
300 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
200 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
225 g glacé cherries
150 g white chocolate
200 g plain flour
5 large eggs
150 g roasted chopped hazelnuts
24 glacé cherries for decorating
whipped cream for serving


  1. Dice the chocolate and butter and place in a small saucepan and let them melt on low heat. Remove as soon as everything has melted and set aside.
  2. Line a 30 x 25 tin with baking paper, both bottom and sides. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C.
  3. Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl.
  4. Chop the glacé cherries and the white chocolate.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the eggs until they go pale and foamy.
  6. Pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, while continuing to whisk.
  7. Slowly add the flour and make sure it's incorporated well.
  8. Finally add the chopped cherries, chocolate and hazelnuts and stir in to get them well distributed throughout the batter.
  9. Pour the mixture into the lined tin, push it into the corners and level as much as possible.
  10. Carefully mark up the brownie pieces and place a glacé cherry in the middle of each rectangle, then place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
    Test with a toothpick for readiness. The brownie should remain sticky in the middle.
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the baking tin for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a wire rack covered with a kitchen towel and allow to cool completely before cutting into rectangles.
  12. Serve with whipped cream.

The brownies are very sweet, so I think plain whipped cream would work nicely to reduce the sweetness. This is how sticky cake is usually served in Sweden. Unfortunately I baked them for an hour and so they went dry and crumbly - Lundulph managed to spread a good part of his first piece over the table. Still, they were quite tasty.

For the baking, I used my adjustable tin and set it to 12 x 10 inches (as it is divided in such a way). The original recipe stated 12 x 9 inches. However, this was also way too thick I think. Would be worth doing in a 12 x 11 or even 12 x 12 sized tin.

Preparations took quite a bit longer than I expected, mainly the chopping of the cherries, I guess a food processor would help here. This is why I skipped melting some white chocolate and swirling over each brownie piece before placing a cherry on top. Perhaps this is the reason why the cherries sank in quite a bit. But I was knackered.