26 September 2015

Cottage Pie

Goodness, I'm well behind my blogging, work has been so busy and stressful and I'm also doing a course in the evenings, there's not bee much inspiration at all in the past few weeks and the few new things I've tried were not a hit mostly. But today Lundulph has gone to a football match and I'm doing house chores, so might as well try to catch up.


At the end of October, Lundulph expressed a hankering for pie and so we looked through the Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pie book and decided on a Cottage Pie. This is a pie that only has mashed potatoes as a topping, no dough involved at all. I had some minute steak and some braising chunks to use up, so was all in all a good match for all requirements.

On our trip to Dorset earlier this year, we had black garlic aioli at one of the restaurants. This was very tasty and rather curious, so when I saw that they were selling it in my local supermarket, I bought one to try out. How it's made is mentioned in Wikipedia. And I've subsequently seen it used in Swedish cuisine as well. So I swapped the garlic cloves for some of the black garlic in this pie recipe. Needless to say I also dropped the celery.



1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
500 g beef in small chunks
187 ml (small bottle) red wine
2 tbsp plain flour
200 ml beef stock
a splash of chanterelle concentrate (optional)
200 ml water
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1 bay leaf
a splash of Worcestershire sauce
4 black garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Potato topping

Delia Smith's perfect mashed potatoes


  1. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion and carrots for a few minutes until the onions go translucent and the carrots soften. Stir regularly so they don't burn.
  2. Add the beef and fry until browned all over, then add the wine and let simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. In the meantime, make the beef stock and stir in the chanterelle concentrate, water, tomato purée, the dried herbs and Worcestershire sauce. Mash in the black garlic and stir through.
  4. When the wine has reduced in the pan, sprinkle the flour and stir in well and let simmer for a further couple of minutes, before adding the stock mixture.
  5. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and leave to cook for some time, depending on the type of beef used.
  6. While the pie filling is cooking, prepare the mashed potatoes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C and transfer the beef into a pie dish.
  8. Spoon or pipe the mashed potato over the beef, starting from the edge and working inwards.
  9. For extra crunch on the topping, rough up the surface of the potatoes with a fork, then bake for about 25 minutes until the potatoes have gone golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  10. Ready to serve

The amount of filling was a tad too much for my pie dish and I should have made adjustments to the mash, to make it more solid. As it was, it was very runny and at the top of an overfilled pie dish, the result was that things dripped to the bottom of the oven. So a very hot tip is to place a larger baking tray under the pie dish, to save yourself the trouble of oven cleaning. The original recipe calls for cheese in the mash, but we don't do that in our household.


I also didn't allow for the fact that braising steak comes from an older animal and thus requires significantly longer to cook, so I ended up with rather chewy pieces in the pie. Lundulph was very good about it, but frankly this was a very stupid mistake to make.

19 September 2015

Blackberry and White Chocolate Mousse Cake

It is the season for blackberries and it's also Lundulph's birthday once again. And so, it had to be a blackberry cake this year, from a recipe I received from my Mum. It looked really pretty in the photo, so without delay I got going. IMG_4851

400 g marzipan at 38% almond content
2 large eggs
4 tbsp cocoa powder
zest from 1 lemon

Blackberry mousse
5 dl blackberries
1.5 sachet vegegel
3 large pasteurised yolks
1.5 dl granulated sugar
3 dl whipping cream

White Chocolate mousse
150 g white chocolate
2.5 dl whipping cream
2 yolks

Extra large blackberries
Grated white chocolate


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan, then prepare a Springform cake tin of about 20 cm diameter by greasing and lining with baking paper. The edge of the paper should be a couple of cm above the edge of the Springform.
  2. Grate the marzipan into a large bowl. Break and lightly whisk the eggs in a side bowl, then add to the marzipan, a little at a time until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in the cocoa and lemon zest, then spread into the cake tin and level it with a spatula, it should be around 2 cm thick.
  4. Bake the cake base for 12 - 15 minutes until it starts coming away from the edges and looks dry on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  5. Place the blackberries in a fine sieve over a bowl. Then using a spoon mash and press out as much juice as possible, about 2.5 dl.
  6. Whisk the pasteurised yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Whip the cream separately to stiff peaks.
  7. Stir in the vegegel into half of the blackberry juice, then pour into the remaining juice.
  8. Working quickly, pour the juice mixture into the egg mixture and fold in.
  9. Finally fold in the whipped cream into the egg mixture and pour over the cooled down cake base.
  10. Cover with cling film and chill until it sets.
  11. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.
  12. Place 1 dl of the cream in a small pot along with the yolks and heat up until it bubbles, while stirring constantly.
  13. Remove from the heat when it begins to thicken and pour over the chopped chocolate.
  14. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and been incorporated into the mixture, which should have cooled down.
  15. Whip the remaining cream to stiff peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture.
  16. Pour over the blackberry mousse, level and chill for at least 1 h until it has firmed up a little.
  17. Just before serving, carefully remove from the Springform cake tin and remove the lining paper.
  18. Arrange the extra large blackberries on top and sprinkle the grated white chocolate.

As happens with many recipes, this one was clearly not tested by the magazine that published it, nor was it reviewed by someone with baking experience, because I had to double the mixture for the cake base or I would not have been able to cover the base of the cake form. So the amounts above are about right.

The blackberry mousse was really nice, but again, the proportions were wrong once more, so I had to adjust on the fly and got lucky. The white chocolate mousse on the other hand seemed OK, however it tasted more of whipped cream than chocolate, so I'd say 200 g or even 250 g of white chocolate might be better. However the overall cake tasted nice as it is.

And as the family came to celebrate, this cake was much appreciated and very little remained from it at the end. Because of the grated chocolate, it's not a cake for candles. Lundulph wanted candles, otherwise it wouldn't be a birthday cake, so he had a couple on the side. And he was well happy about the marzipan base. It was nicely crunchy.


15 September 2015

Chocolate Cookies With Toffee


Back in July, my Sister Bip and I had a long talk about food and as she's doing a lot of cooking these days, she forwarded me a couple of recipes that seemed interesting. However, things were getting a bit busy around the house, so I sort of forgot about them until a couple of weeks ago, when I felt my colleagues needed a little reward for being so helpful to me and I dug one of the recipes out, this (in Swedish) one to be precise.


Makes about 50
200 g soft unsalted butter
2 dl granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ dl golden syrup
½ dl cocoa powder
4 dl plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
about ½ tsp of caramel/dolce de leche


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C and line a couple of baking tins with baking paper and cut up a couple of more pieces to fit.
  2. Whisk together the butter, sugar, vanilla and syrup into a smooth mixture.
  3. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl first, then stir into the butter mixture.
  4. As it gets thick, you'll need to knead it to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  5. Now take out walnut sized pieces, roll into balls and place on the baking tins and spare baking paper, making sure they are not too close together.
  6. Make a small well in each ball with your thumb and place a small blob of caramel into each.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cookies have spread out, but watch so the caramel doesn't start burning.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in an air-tight container.

Now I made my own caramel from condensed milk in the past, but nowadays it's sold ready made in the shops, so might as well use that. I recommend stirring the caramel through until it's soft, if it has set, don't be tempted to use it if it's set, it won't run out over the cookie during the bake.


Also, the original recipe says to divide up the dough into 24 pieces, but these were way too big, I ended up with huge cookies and as I didn't stir through the caramel, it stayed in a lump in the middle. But they were rather tasty, even if a couple burnt a bit. Very easy to do on the whole, I think, and not too sweet.