28 July 2015

New Breakfast 2


The second breakfast recipe I tried was for "fruit porridge" and there were a couple of things I decided to ignore from the outset - one of the ingredients was celery. Just say no, that's all I'm saying. The second one was to blend the fruit together into some sort of porridge consistency. Well, that would be fruit purée, and why do that, when it's nicer to have it diced and have some textures and colours as well? Not to mention that surely if the stomach has something to digest, it might prevent getting cravings a couple of hours later?

Of course diced fruit in a bowl is a fruit salad and that would take some time to do, not enough of that in the mornings, so I prepared it on the evening before. Lundulph came into the kitchen to see what I was up to and as he saw the kiwi fruit, he decided that he'd like to try this new breakfast as well, so I made a second portion for him too.


1 portion
1 apple
1 pear
1 large kiwi fruit
a handful of raspberries and blueberries
1 tbsp crushed linseed
1 peeled hard-boiled egg


  1. Wash, peel and core the apple, then dice and place in a bowl.
  2. Wash, peel and core the pear, then dice and add to the bowl.
  3. Peel and dice the kiwi fruit and add to the bowl.
  4. Gently wash raspberries and blueberries and add to the bowl
  5. Finally sprinkle the crushed linseed over and stir through to get everything mixed and it's ready to eat along with the egg.

When I handed Lundulph his fruit salad, his only comment was that this is one big bowl of fruit, then he went off to the home office, where he tends to eat breakfast most of the time.

I had the fruit salad first and then ate the egg with a little salt. It was a bit of a struggle to eat everything and I felt rather stuffed afterwards. The idea is of course that the egg provides the protein and again, I got through up to lunch without experiencing any cravings at all.

I was telling my Mum about this too, as she's been having fruit salads with nuts for breakfast for years and she concurred that it's a very filling meal indeed.

But it is also a bit more effort than I have time for, so I only made it a couple of times. I think it would work as a dessert for two, just the fruit salad that is, minus the egg. Making it on the evening before and keeping wrapped with cling film in the fridge works quite well and if you're already cooking in the evening, this won't add too much effort.

And yes, the raspberries and blueberries were the replacement for the celery. The photo in the book actually had pomegranate pieces and I suspect that's rather nice too.

27 July 2015

New Breakfast 1


Now, my new diet books have lovely recipes and I've tried to follow their concept of palm portions, but I have a bad feeling that's too much for me anyway, perhaps because I no longer feel hungry around elevenses. In the second book there were a couple of breakfast recipes that seemed very appealing and I tried both. Here is the first one, which I've ended up sticking to, as it's a little quicker to do.


1 portion
4 tbsp cottage cheese
½ banana
4 - 5 large strawberries
1 dl heaped with blueberries
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp whole linseeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Scoop the cottage cheese into a bowl and slice the banana thinly over.
  2. Remove the stalks of the strawberries, wash and dice into the bowl.
  3. Wash the blueberries and add to the bowl as well.
  4. Finally add the almonds, sunflower seeds and linseeds and sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
  5. Stir to mix and eat.

Now, the palm portion concept states that the meal should consist of protein of about the size of one's palm (minus the fingers and thumb), then two fist-sized portions of veg or fruit and a fist-sized portion of carbs. This will help you keep your weight. If you want to lose weight, then swap the third fist-sized portion for veg or fruit as well. The book then provides loads of ideas for what to use in each of the food groups.

In this breakfast recipe, the cottage cheese provides the protein part and 4 tbsp are about the size of my palm. The ½ of banana counts as one fist-sized portion of fruit, the strawberries a second and the blueberries a third. I believe the nuts and seeds provide protein and some fat as well, not to mention that linseed tends to get the system going. The cinnamon is not necessary and I've forgotten it on some days, and it was still tasty. I will need to make it more seasonal, I'll have to do some research on what I can swap the strawberries and blueberries with, to make it more interesting. But it's a really nice and filling breakfast that keeps me going well up to lunchtime, no cravings at all.

Of course this takes a little longer to put together in the mornings than say müsli and milk or yoghurt, but not too bad and I think it's time well spent.

26 July 2015

Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes

This year has quite a few big birthdays in the family and next up is my Mother-in-Law. And I get the honour of making some of the desserts - cupcakes and cake pops. Lovely! So on my latest trip to my local Lakeland, I couldn't resist buying moulds for making lace out of icing. Of course it's not regular icing, it requires some special mixture to allow it to keep its shape.


And as I'm doing more and more advanced things in my baking, I have to practice in advance and this is it - try out one of the many cup cake recipes I saved from the Danish Bake-off in 2012 and combine with icing lace. Note that the original recipe is in Danish.


125 g soft unsalted butter
100 g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 tbsp lemon juice
275 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 ml salt
2 tbsp black poppy seeds
¾ dl single cream


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C (160 ° C fan-assisted) and prepare some muffin cases.
  2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and incorporate well. After the final egg, also stir in the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the poppy seeds and stir through to make sure they are well mixed.
  5. Add the flour mixture a little at a time and whisk incorporate into the butter mixture to form a thick batter. Add the cream when the batter becomes stiff and the electric whisk is struggling.
  6. Spoon or pipe into the muffin cases, filling about ⅔ of each case.
  7. Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (depending on size), test with a toothpick to see if they're ready, it should come out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

I bought slightly smaller muffin cases recently, they are much more manageable when eating and have a better balance between the cake part and the icing. So I used them and had 20 muffins from the above amounts. I should have placed them in my metal muffin tins even if they are smaller, that would have helped them keep their shape, but instead I squeezed them all into one tray and so some went rectangular as they bumped into their neighbours while baking.

IMG_4755 IMG_4756

Now for the decorations, I first went for the recommended icing in the recipe, however it split and I couldn't sort it out, but it was very tasty, so I've frozen it into creamy ice lollies. I also was reluctant to flavour it - it was supposed to be divided in 2 equal parts and one to be flavoured with lemon juice and coloured yellow and the other part to be flavoured with orange juice and coloured orange. It seemed to be a lot of the two juices to be added and I thought it would end up being rather runny.

Ingredients for icing

90 g soft unsalted butter
75 g icing sugar
250 g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla extract
yellow food colouring

Whisk together everything until it's soft and fluffy. If it doesn't split, pipe onto the cooled down muffins. Otherwise freeze into ice lollies.

I tried to pipe the split icing with the hopes that it might force it to come together, but it started melting in my hands and I gave up. I put some giant raspberries on top, which tasted nice, but made the cupcakes so very top heavy they were not able to stand up on their own.


The next thing was to try out the icing lace. The packet instructions were for industrial amounts, I made a fifth if them and still had a blob left over. The mixture was very rubbery from the start and it took me quite a while to work out the right level of pressure to use to get the lace moulds filled enough to form a lace and yet not accidentally scrape half of the filling off. I left them to dry naturally through the day and in the evening, I dug out some ready to roll blue icing, rolled it out and cut out circles, then put the icing lace on top and it looked very pretty.

The next day, the blue icing had bled into the muffins and also picked up lots of moisture from the air, as it is very rainy at the moment. The white icing lace kept well, but also succumbed to the strong blue colour of the rolled out icing on day 2. I'll need to make another batch of the icing lace, to make sure I have the knack for Mother-in-Law's birthday party. And I also need to work out a good recipe for the cupcakes.

I personally liked the poppy seeds, they give a very nice crunch, but Lundulph thought they were more of a savoury ingredient and we both were struggling to taste the lemon. I also thought the muffins were a bit on the dry side - the original recipe called for milk, but I think using single cream should make them a bit more moist. Lundulph suggested muffins with cardamom flavouring, like a cinnamon bun basically, so that'll be the next thing to try.

I also took some to work for some of my overworked colleagues. I've not heard anything from them, so my guess is these weren't quite a hit with them either. And not surprising, work has been hectic and stressful for weeks and I'm tired and have headaches, so my baking very much reflects this. I think I need to knead a dough by hand and get some of the built-up frustration out.

Everyday Beef Burgers with Veggie Mash


Another recipe I picked from my new diet books, this time with beef. The original recipe is for 2 portions, but I scaled up to fit with the amount of mince I had to hand.


Veggie mash
300 g broccoli
300 g cauliflower
10 g chives
1 dl crème fraîche
salt and peppper

240 g onions
95 g carrots
500 g beef mince
6 tbsp crème fraîche
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
butter for frying


  1. Start by making the mash - trim and wash the broccoli and cauliflower, then divide into florets.
  2. Steam until they go soft - each on its own, as they take different amount of time for this.
  3. Place in a large bowl and mash together, adding a little of the steaming liquid if needed.
  4. Cut the chives into the mixture, add the crème fraiche and season to taste.
  5. Peel and finely dice the onions, peel and grate the carrots finely.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together the onions, arrots, mince, crème fraîche, mustard, salt and pepper to combine well.
  7. Heat up a little butter in a frying pan, then drop handfuls of the mince mixture into it and use a spoon to shape into burgers.
  8. Fry for 4 minutes on each side.
  9. Serve with the veggie mash and mixed salad or carbs of your choice.

Sadly this was ages ago and I've forgotten if we liked it or not. I have vague memories that I wasn't too impressed with the veggie mash, but I also have a feeling I might have forgotten to add the crème fraîche. Though the burgers were really nice - the carrots did make them very juicy, though without bread and egg, they didn't really hold together very well, were quite far removed from the photo in the book, which was more of a Wallenbergare type of burger.

Luckily Lundulph remembers this dish well and commented that it was very tasty, so a repeat for sure.

18 July 2015

Baked Churros

While spending a number of evenings watching youtube recipes, I came across the wonderful channel of Ann Reardon of How to Cook That and one of the recipes was for churros, which I think of as the Spanish version of mekitzi.


I've had churros a couple of times and really enjoyed them, but never really thought about making them at home and when I found the tutorial video, I decided to try them out.

The basic dough is very similar to the choux dough, but with fewer eggs and I was a little concerned that they would puff up, but they didn't and perhaps that's down to the smaller amount of eggs in the mixture.


Churros dough
250 ml water
115 g butter
160 g plain flour
3 large eggs
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking oil spray

Cinnamon sugar
54 g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Nougat dipping sauce
1 part nougat
1 part semi-skimmed milk


  1. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 200 °C.
  2. Put the water and butter in a saucepan and melt on the hob.
  3. Stir briskly in the flour and once the dough starts thickening and comes together into a ball, remove from the hear.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and incorporate well in between.
  5. Finally stir in the sugar and vanilla and transfer to a piping bag with a fairly narrow star nozzle.
  6. Pipe straight lines, a couple of cm apart onto the prepared trays and spray with a little cooking oil.
  7. Bake each tray until the churros go golden brown on the ridges.
  8. Stir together the caster sugar and ground cinnamon to mix well.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle immediately with the cinnamon sugar.
  10. Make the dipping sauce by dicing the nougat and placing in a heat proof bowl.
  11. Bring the milk to the boil, then pour over the nougat and stir until the nougat has melted and has become a homogeneous mixture.

I also used a nozzle that was too wide, so my churros were a bit on the thick side, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pipe the dough, it felt a bit thick and I didn't want to get a smaller nozzle clogged up. In the past I've mostly used too small nozzles and had tremendous problems with piping things well. This meant I had to bake my churros for 25 minutes and I also upped the temperature to 220 °C as they seemed to be taking forever to develop colour. I also had some cinnamon sugar left over, but that can be used when I make cinnamon buns next.


But they were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and worked very nicely with the nougat sauce. In fact the reason I made it was that I didn't have any chocolate in the larder and thought I could make a "ganache" with the nougat, but rather than using cream, I used semi-skimmed milk. This resulted in the mixture not setting like a ganache would, even after being chilled in the fridge, so it's a good one for ice cream as well I think.

This was a surprise for Lundulph and a very tasty one too. We ate almost all of the churros for breakfast, so if I make this for more people, I definitely need to increase the recipe. Hopefully I'll remember to use a smaller nozzle next time too, that should shorten the baking time considerably. Lundulph liked that they weren't greasy like deep fried ones and of course you could tell the difference, but it wasn't a bad one at all.

13 July 2015

Chicken Burger with Beetroot Tzatziki

After two fish recipes, we decided to go for a chicken recipe from my new diet book.


Also pleasing is that I get to try out sambal ulek - I've heard of this, but never cooked with it. It's an Indonesian chilli paste. The brand I bought wasn't as spicy as I expected and would have liked, but was still very nice.


Beetroot tzatziki
2 large beetroot
300 ml light crème fraîche
1 tbsp horseradish paste/sauce
salt and pepper

500 g chicken breast
4 shallots
2 large eggs
4 tsp sambal oelek
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper
oil for frying


  1. Peel the beetroot and then grate it coarsely and place in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the crème fraîche, the horseradish, salt and pepper.
  3. Next, trim the chicken breasts and chop finely - or whizz in a food processor, then place in a large bowl.
  4. Peel and finely dice the shallots and add to the chicken.
  5. Stir in the eggs, sambal oelek, lime juice cornflour, salt and pepper and mix to get well combined. It will not be possible to form into burgers, that's OK.
  6. Heat up some oil in a frying pan, then using a scoop spoon 2 - 3 patties into the frying pan and press down into burger shapes, making sure they don't touch.
  7. Fry for a few minutes, then flip over and fry for a few more minutes and the burgers are done.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Serve with the beetroot tzatziki and steamed or sautéed potatoes.

The beetroot tzatziki is a bit misleading I think - tzatziki has fairly fixed ingredients, none of them being beetroot. But the mixture was very nice. The key thing is to wear protective clothing when peeling and grating the beetroot and it should be preferably red in colouring or you'll be sorry. The book recommends stir-frying the beetroot first and letting it cool down before making the mixture, if you want to tone down the beetroot flavour. To be honest, I think it was nice raw and I keep thinking we should try to eat more beetroot, but it is a bit of a hassle to prepare it as it can stain and also as it would discolour our food. My Sister Bip usually makes juice and she's promised to make some for us next time we go to Sweden.

As for carbs, I'd bought some lovely baby potatoes, which I first steamed and then fried in the left-over oil from the chicken burgers. If you do that, I strongly recommend that you warm up the oven to about 80 °C and keep the burgers warm. But of course burger buns would work just as well, maybe add some sliced tomato, red onion and a couple of salad leaves.

Finely chopping the chicken took a lot of effort, as the processor attachment on my handheld blender broke the other week and so I don't recommend doing this on a week-day. But it's well worth trying to dice finely, rather than mince as the burger texture was very good. I was also pleased that I didn't need to get my hands dirty forming patties and I'll try that when I make Bulgarian meatballs in the future. I used my ice cream scoop to plop 3 scoops into the frying pan and then gently pressed them down, leaving about a cm between them. But next time I'll add a spicier chilli paste.

Lundulph's verdict - nice texture, meatier than normal burgers, tasted nice and the beetroot and potatoes worked well with them.

5 July 2015

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

Some time ago, my friend Electric Bob kindly gave me a small bag of chilli seeds labelled "Trinidad Moruga Scorpion" and with the comment that they are among the hottest type of chilli there is. A few months ago I finally got around to planting them and they all happily sprouted and grew and grew. I even gave a couple to brother-in-law Roger as he's a keen grower of unusual plants.


And indeed in the Spring the first flowers appeared, I dug out a small brush and set to work pollinating them every morning and one set fruit. This fruit seemed mis-shapen from the start, but it grew and grew until it reached the size of a walnut and then stopped.

After our trip to Sweden in early June, we came home to this chilli as it had started blushing and within a couple of weeks it was bright red. Lundulph was quite pleased as it matched the colour of his favourite football team.

I left it on the plant for a bit longer and the other day I decided to make a curry with it, so I went for what is arguably my favourite curry - Chicken Do-Piaza.

I used some chilli powder and added Mr Scorpion at the end. I cut off his tail and sniffed it - not only did it smell wondefully, it was also noticeable that it was going to be spicy. Lundulph had a sniff too and concurred.


As it turned out, it was indeed massively spicy hot - in addition to the 4 tbsp of yoghurt the original recipe states, I added at least 500 g more and still it was plenty hot. Lundulph reckoned that one chilli would have been enough for 10 more curries... It's a good thing I had also made a huge bowl of tarator, which we ended up having as dessert. That calmed down the taste buds.

Since then, there have been plenty more flowers, but only a couple of fruits and they are still tiny. But once they ripen, we'll be sorted out for the rest of the year at least.

We had the curry with teff and courgette spaghetti. Teff is an Ethiopian cereal. I need to do more research on how to cook it, the instructions on the packet didn't give a good result, it tasted more like semolina pudding. The courgette spaghetti was very nice though - courgette sliced lengthwise, then boiled for 5 minutes. Very nice and pretty.

Lundulph's verdict: the hottest chilli ever.

3 July 2015

Fish Burgers With Guacamole

With the success of the lovely teriyaki salmon skewers, I cracked on with the next recipe I'd marked up in my new diet cook book.


However, Lundulph had made an impulse purchase of smoked herring and suggested I use it, rather than the suggested fish in the recipe, which was either salmon, haddock or hoki. The result was really not to my taste and frankly why would such a small fish need so many bones? Lundulph obligingly ate all of the burgers, apart from the one bite I tried. I think using one of the suggested fish would work better. The recipe actually calls for raw fish, not pre-cooked in any way. In fact they recommend frozen fish, that's been allowed to partially thaw, for easier handling.


1 small red onion
2 tomatoes
1 large avocado
2 tsp lemon juice
a few drops Tabasco
salt and pepper

Burgers 200 g smoked herring
2 boiled potatoes
1 egg
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
salt and pepper
1 - 2 tbsp butter for frying


  1. If the fish is frozen, take out to thaw.
  2. Starting with the guacamole, peel and dice the red onion finely and place in a bowl.
  3. Dice the tomato and add to the bowl. Peel the avocado, dice it and mash up with a fork, then add to the bowl.
  4. Stir through and add lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste, then cover with cling film and set aside.
  5. Chop the partially thawed fish finely and place on a piece of kitchen tissue to drain off.
  6. Peel and grate the potatoes, then stir together with the fish in a large bowl.
  7. Stir in the egg, dill, salt and pepper, then form into small flat patties.
  8. Heat up the butter and fry the patties until golden brown.

Serve with granary or rye bread and perhaps sliced tomato and lettuce. I didn't have any suitable bread, so I served with quinoa, stir-fried mixed veggies and alfalfa sprouts.

As I said, this really wasn't to my taste and spending most of the evening removing tiny bones from the herring didn't contribute to enjoying this meal.

The guacamole was OK, unfortunately the original recipe stated way too much lemon juice and I ended up adding a second avocado to neutralise the flavour. I had the left-overs for breakfast the next day on a slice of toast, which was very yummy.