29 January 2014

Look-a-like Tabbouleh

Continuing on my challenge from Lundulph to clear out the freezer, tonight it was time for some hot smoked salmon. However, I very pointedly didn't buy potatoes to go with it. Instead I had a vague idea of making a tabbouleh salad, which I've had on a couple of occasions in the past and rather liked it.


However, I didn't prepare by looking up recipes and making a list of ingredients to buy. Instead I just bought a large bunch of coriander leaves.

Once I got started, I did briefly consult the internet, but stopped when I realised that I needed bulgur wheat for the salad - all I had was pearl barley. Still, the mixture looks like tabbouleh and ended up tasting quite nice and worked really well with the salmon.


350 g (boiled weight) pearl barley
60 g fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp fresh dill
75 g roasted and peeled red pepper
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper


  1. Wash the pearl barley and simmer according to instructions on the packet, about 45 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, wash the coriander leaves and dill and cut finely, then place in a large bowl.
  3. Dice the pepper finely (I recommend using an alligator cutter) and add to the bowl.
  4. When the pearl barley is ready, drain the excess water and rinse under the water tap to cool it down somewhat, then add to the bowl.
  5. Add the mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and stir through until everything has mixed well.

It looks like tabbouleh and although it doesn't taste like it, it did taste rather nice. I need to get some fresh mint next time, the dried mint kind of got lost somewhere. I must also point out that the roast peppers I use are from a jar and slightly pickled, though freshly roasted ones should do fine as well I think.

19 January 2014

New Neighbour - continued

The second thing I baked to take to the new neighbour's party was the brittle/crisp almond flakes.


Makes about 36

140 g plain flour
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp baking powder
60 g unsalted butter
36 g water
120 g caster sugar
50 g flaked almonds
0.5 tsp vanilla essence


  1. Sift together flour, cinnamon and baking powder and make sure they are well mixed together.
  2. Place the butter and water in a small saucepan and melt together on low heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted, stir in the sugar to warm it up, but not to melt it.
  4. Stir in the almond flakes and vanilla essence and remove the saucepan from the heat.
  5. Now stir in the flour mixture. It'll become like thick batter, rather than dough.
  6. Prepare four sheets of baking paper of about the size of your baking trays. Divide the dough mixture between two of the sheets.
  7. Place the remaining two baking paper sheets over the dough mixtures, then carefully roll out each very thinly - about 2 mm.
  8. Stack the two dough sheets one on top of the other, then place on top of a thin baking sheet and possibly also place a second baking sheet over the dough sheets and place in the freezer for at least 1 h.
  9. When the time is up, pre-heat the oven to 160 °C (150 °C fan assisted).
  10. Take one frozen dough sheet at a time, place on a baking sheet and remove the top baking paper and set it aside.
  11. Bake for 8 minutes, then take out, cover with the saved baking paper and flip over onto it. Slide the baking sheet underneath and bake for a further 4 minutes.
  12. Once out of the oven, quickly cut into pieces and transfer to a wire rack to cool down. Repeat with the second dough sheet.

I cut the first frozen dough sheet into diamonds before I baked it, but the lines flowed together during the baking, so I didn't bother doing this on the second sheet. Of course you could pre-cut the pieces and transfer to new baking sheets with space between them.

In the Danish Bake-Off, these biscuits were a bit paler than mine and also didn't bubble up as much as mine. I'm not sure why, perhaps the amounts of cinnamon and baking powder should be reduced. It wasn't very clearly shown in the episode either, however, the result was very nice, particularly when it was still warm out of the oven - wonderfully chewy, but crispy. The following day, the thins had hardened a bit and would work very nicely together with ice cream. If so, they should perhaps be cut in long, narrow strips instead. Keep in an airtight container, if the air is damp like in the UK.

Lundulph's verdict on both these and the lemon sandwich biscuits was that there should have been more left for us, not just a small taster. I guess, I'll have to make some more...

New Neighbour

We have a new neighbour and she very kindly invited us for drinks the other day, so that we could get to know each other.

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to bake something - Lundulph and I are still munching through the various Christmas treats and I've not been able to bake for a couple of weeks, so this was a great opportunity.

Going through my recipe collection, I decided to try out two more of the Danish Bake-Off goodies from 2012. Now both below recipes can be done on a single day, but since I'm rather busy during the days at the moment, I made the doughs on the night before.


Lemon sandwich biscuits
makes about 45

250 g plain flour
200 g soft unsalted butter
0.5 tsp salt of hartshorn (ammonium bicarbonate)
120 g caster sugar
half an egg, lightly whisked

Lemon buttercream
50 g soft unsalted butter
3 - 3.5 dl icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon, finely grated


  1. Using one hand, carefully pinch together flour, butter and salt of hartshorn to fine crumbs - it'll look like wet sawdust.
  2. Mix in the sugar, then finally add the egg and bring together to a soft dough.
  3. Divide in two and place each piece between two sheets of clingfilm, then shape into discs.
  4. Place the discs in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C (180 °C if fan assisted oven) and line trays with baking paper.
  6. Dust your work surface generously with flour, then take one disc out from the fridge and roll out to about 3 mm thickness, making sure the dough doesn't stick.
  7. Cut out cookies, I made round ones with the 48 mm diameter cookie cutter.
  8. Bake for 5 - 8 minutes, then let cool down on a wire rack. You might want to bake just a few on the first tray to see if the temperature needs adjustment, the biscuits should't spread too much.
  9. While the biscuits are cooling, make the buttercream. Start by stirring through the butter so that it goes really soft and creamy.
  10. Carefully add the icing sugar and incorporate into the butter until 3 dl have been incorporated.
  11. Now add the lemon juice and zest and stir in. If the buttercream feels too runny, add some more icing sugar until it reaches a piping consistency.
  12. Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe a circle on half of the biscuits and press on the remaining ones to form round sandwiches.

By the way, I only made half the amount of dough into cookies, the second dough disc is frozen, I just didn't have the energy.

On the whole, these were very nice, even if the oven was pre-heated to 190 °C, a bit hot for the first tray, and they browned too much and also spread way too much. I turned it down for the second and third trays. This made the sandwiches look a bit funny, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with how they tasted which was really nice. But they are fairly large and one is quite enough, I think.

17 January 2014

Sprouts 2014

Over the course of 2013, I've grown sprouts in my big IKEA jar and it's mostly been successful. However, I've wanted to expand the repertoire for a while and so decided to invest in a sprouter. This is basically 3 clear plastic trays with slotted bottoms where the seeds are placed to sprout and where they can drain and a further tray to catch the drips.

But I bought the whole "starter" kit - with a small book and a selection of seeds. I also bought one kit for Lou, my oldest niece, now that she's a vegan. And I managed to persuade my sister Bip that it's the thing for her as well.

There were a couple of key differences to the method I've used in the past. After soaking, it is very important to rinse the seeds well, preferably under running fresh water. The seeds get churned around and possible dirt and various growth inhibitors they have built in can wash away.

So a couple of days ago, after skimming through the sprouter book, I selected three types of seeds and got the ball rolling - soaking the seeds for 8 h (overnight, so probably a bit more than 8 h). Alfalfa seeds, which came with the sprouter and sesame seeds and sunflower seeds from my own stock for müsli and salads.


In the morning, most of the sunflower and alfalfa seeds had sunk to the bottom and all of the sesame seeds floated on the surface. I believe this means that the sesame seeds weren't viable. I'll need to buy unpeeled sesame seeds.


However, the alfalfa and sunflower seeds worked very well. One thing to keep in mind about sunflower seeds - they should be peeled and not sprouted for more than two days, after that they go bitter and also mould grows on them. At least according to Lou and Bip.

After two days, there was definitely life in the sunflower and alfalfa seeds:



But nothing on the sesame seeds. I decided to keep the alfalfa seeds for a bit longer, but used the sunflower and sesame seeds in a salad. Once two of the sprouter trays were empty, I put on a second batch of sunflower seeds and a larger amount than before. Then I also soaked a handful of almonds. According to the book, these aren't good for sprouting for more than a day, but well worth doing - and they really are tasty as a snack. I've yet to try make them into almond milk. The flavour is a lot milder than the dried almonds and the texture is fantastic - slightly chewy, soft and yet crunchy. It's amazing what a little soaking in water can do to a seed.


Almond "sprouts" aren't very obvious, they swell and the skins might break here and there, but otherwise that's it. And I suspect hazels and walnuts would respond in a similar way, so will try this out in the coming days.

As for the sprouted sunflower seeds, they are a really nice addition to a salad and also quite nice to nibble on straight from the tray too.

I'm now into my third batch of sprouting and it's great fun to do and eat. I'm already considering getting one more sprouter so that we can have some for every day.

A couple of observations - the top tier dries out faster, as it is open at the top. It's a good idea to swap the three trays around after the daily rinse. Also, if it's warm or the air is particularly dry, like in Winter in Sweden, you'd need to rinse/mist the sprouts more than once a day.

11 January 2014

Pan-fried Salmon with Chanterelles and Cauliflower Purée

This year's first cooking challenge was suggested by Lundulph over Christmas - clear out the freezer. And he's right, for most of December I've been putting more things in, than taking out and felt like it's a magic box which seems full to the brim, but yet can accommodate yet another bag of left-over food or such. But I'm well aware that there are things in there, which have been there for a bit longer than they should. I've also not been too good at marking things up, so there will be an extra dimension to my chanllenge - work out what's in some of the bags/boxes.

Over Christmas, I also got a number of new recipes, which my Mum had carefully collected from her weekly magazines and there are quite a few good recipes in there, so to kick off the challenge, I decided to try one out.


Serves 4

600 - 700 g fresh salmon in one piece, without skin
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt
freshly milled black pepper

Chanterelle hash
200 g diced pancetta
25 g butter
300 g parboiled mixture of chanterelles and funnel chanterelles
freshly milled black pepper
300 g cherry tomatoes, halved

Cauliflower purée
500 g cauliflower
1 large onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 litre water
2 tsp concentrated mushroom stock
1 dl créme fraîche
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg

Boiled potatoes


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C (fan-assisted).
  2. Place the salmon on a plate and sprinkle all over with the sugar and salt. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat it dry with kitchen tissue, sprinkle black pepper and fry in a hot non-stick pan or preferably a griddle pan so that it gets a nice surface colour. Note that the sugar will caramelise quite quickly, so watch it.
  4. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and finish cooking in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
  5. In a hot frying pan, fry the pancetta dice to get them nice, crispy and brown, then transfer to kitchen tissue and spread out to soak up the fat. Discard the fat from the pan.
  6. Put the pan back on the hob and melt the butter. Chop the mushrooms if they're large, then add to the pan and fry to warm through and pick up the buttery flavour.
  7. Return the pancetta to the pan and stir in with the mushrooms. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, then transfer to an oven-safe dish with a lid and place in the oven to keep warm.
  8. Wash the cauliflower and divide up into florets. Peel the onion and garlic and cut into chunks. Place all in a saucepan.
  9. Pour in the water and add the mushroom stock, then bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Drain well and transfer to a deep dish. Add the créme fraîche and blend with a hand blender and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. If needed, transfer to an oven-safe dish with a lid and place in the oven to keep warm.
  11. Serve with the boiled potatoes

The original recipe didn't mention potatoes, the idea was to make a carb-free meal, but I fancied some tatties with this.

I made a couple mistakes with this recipe - I misread the instructions for the salmon and patted it dry before sprinkling sugar and salt. This resulted in a very salty piece of fish.

In addition to this, I completely forgot that pancetta tends to be very salty too, so I sprinkled salt over the mushrooms. Finally, the purée was quite tasteless, so I added a little seasoning to it and it then tasted ever so nice. But as a whole, we ended up with a very salty meal and ended up drinking a lot of water, both during and after eating.

I had 120 g of parboiled funnel chanterelles, so I spent most of yesterday reconstituting a 40 g packet of dried chanterelles to fill things out a bit. I've not done this exercise since that time a few years ago, when I'd reconstituted several of these really expensive dried mushrooms, used some of them and Lundulph in a helpful mood threw away the rest, thinking they were scraps. This time, he was at work and I tidied up before he came home, so things were safe and sound. The instructions state to rinse the mushrooms, then soak them for 20 minutes in warm water. This isn't good enough, you end up with tough leathery things. Instead I place the mushrooms in a large sieve, rinsed them, then rested the sieve over a plastic bowl. I then boiled a full kettle of water and poured it over the mushrooms. The bowl filled up and the mushrooms were completely covered. I left this until the water cooled down, then repeated a second time, and then a third time. I didn't save the liquid, because I remember it goes quite bitter.

I chopped the chanterelles to match the size of the funnel chanterelles and they mixed together pretty well.

Adding cherry tomatoes to the mushrooms was a bit of a novelty. The original recipe recommended using canned cherry tomatoes, but I've not seen such in my local supermarkets, so I opted for fresh ones. They wilted just a little and this is the idea, just to get them warmed through. Besides, looking at the photo next to the recipe, it looked like they'd used fresh cherry tomatoes as well. Cheeky!

I don't have a griddle pan, I've been thinking of getting one, but I can't motivate the purchase. So I used my normal pan to fry off the salmon and get a nice, and caramelised surface. And thanks to my new set of pans with removable handles, I put the pan straight in the oven and removed the handle. This is quite an improvement to my cooking I think.

As for cauliflower, I really like eating it raw, preferably with dips, or in pickle. My Mum usually parboils it as a whole head, sprinkles crumbs over it and bakes it until it's so tender it collapses on touch. I never liked it that way and so I still harbour reservations to cooked cauliflower. But this purée was a really nice surprise. Very tasty. Perhaps it's boiling it with the mushroom stock, onion and garlic and then adding the créme fraîche is what did it.

So on the whole quite a nice meal, which would have been even nicer if I'd followed the recipe more closely. Besides, I only had 350 g of salmon, which was just right for the two of us, but it means we have chanterelle hash and cauliflower purée left to deal with.

Thus the challenge of clearing out the fridge has started. Next, I've taken out a bag of ready mixture for Bulgarian meatballs to thaw, hopefully they'll work OK with our left-over side dishes.

First bake of 2014

My Father-in-Law recently dug out his bread machine and for New Year's made a fabulously fluffy and tasty granary bread. Now Lundulph loves this type of bread and so spent some time questioning his Dad about how this was achieved and reported back to me.

It seems my Father-in-Law had mistakenly used self-raising flour rather than bread flour and this gave the good results. Interesting...


So I set about experimenting with baking powder in the bread dough. I didn't have granary flour, in fact I've not bought this for a long time, so instead I decided to make a rye bread, following Richard Bertinet's recipe, but doubling everything. And I spotted the walnut bread variant and decided to do that.


20 g fresh yeast
700 g water at room temperature
800 g strong white flour
200 g stoneground rye flour
1 tsp vitamin C powder
2 tbsp baking powder
20 g salt
400 g walnuts


  1. Stir the yeast into the water so that it dissolves completely.
  2. Mix together the flours, vitamin C powder and baking powder
  3. Add the water and mix to a sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes, then add the salt and incorporate
  4. Roughly crush the walnuts in a pestle and mortar, so that some of the oil is released, then knead into the dough.
  5. Let rise for an hour, then make into the desired shapes and leave to proof for a further hour.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 220 °C and bake the breads for 45 - 50 minutes. Cover with a piece of aluminium foil if the breads begin to brown too much before they are ready.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down on a wire rack.

This time I decided to make just one loaf and use the remainder to make a tear and share bread, since we do eat a lot of soups and I quite fancy such bread with them.

As it often happens, I do a lot of other things while dough and bread is proving and so my breads over-proved a little, however they baked nicely and the whole house smelt of roasted walnuts.

The crumb looked nice and airy, still the bread felt a bit heavy and the tear and share buns felt almost under-baked. I think this is because of all the walnuts I added - 400 g is way beyond what I'd normally put into a dough, which is about a handful or two. It was quite tasty, though I need to focus on my experimentation with the baking powder to achieve a fluffier texture. If this is at all the right way to go. After speaking with Lundulph's Mum, it turns out the granary bread we had for New Year's dinner wasn't the one with the self-raising flour, but a regularly made loaf. Besides, baking powder is a bit salty and I didn't account for this, so chances are I killed some of the yeast because of this.