31 December 2018

Kadayif

I've been casting my eyes onto the packets of kadayif in the Turkish shop, every time we've visited Lundulph's parents and since we're doing New Year in the UK, I decided to follow a tradition and make kadayif.

Actually the tradition is baklava, however kadayif is filo pastry which has been finely shredded and is done in pretty much the same way - one layer of pastry at the bottom, chopped nuts and cinnamon in the middle and a second layer of pastry on top.

Ingredients

125 g unsalted butter + some for buttering the dish
400 g kadayif pastry
200 g mixed chopped nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
800 g granulated sugar
1 litre water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 dl dried rose petals
zest from one lemon

Method

  1. Melt the butter on low-medium heat. Butter a large oven-proof and deep dish and pre-heat the oven to 150 °C (not fan!)
  2. Dampen a piece of baking paper or clean kitchen towel.
  3. Open the packet of kadayif and divide into two equal parts. Wrap one with the damp paper/towel and spread the other in the baking dish, making sure the pastry is evenly distributed.
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  4. Mix the nuts and the cinnamon well, then sprinkle over the bottom level of the kadayif, making sure it's as even as possible.
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  5. Unwrap the second half of the kadayif and spread over the nuts, again pressing down and making sure it's as even as possible.
  6. Drizzle the melted butter over the kadayif
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    and bake in the oven for about 2 h, until it goes pale golden brown on top.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down.
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  8. Place the granulated sugar, water, lemon juice, rose petals and lemon zest in a large saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes to form a thick-ish syrup.
  9. Pour the syrup over the kadayif through a sieve to remove the rose petals and zest, then press down gently so that all the pastry can soak in the syrup.
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  10. Leave to cool down, then cover with cling film and chill for 24 h before serving.

The kadayif pastry I bought had been folded up a couple of times the way it came out from the shredder, so each strand was neatly lined up. Based on vague memories of what my Mum's kadayif used to look like many years ago, and what I personally find quite attractive is that it's all jumbled up in the baking tray. So this is what I did this time and this resulted in the kadayif increasing dramatically in volume, so that I had to swap to a bigger baking dish, and even that one just barely fitted everything in. Don't get fooled if it looks like a small packet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just like filo pastry, this dries out very quickly, which is why I wrapped it up in a damp sheet of baking paper. It requires some good planning and swift work, so all ingredients should be ready measured up/chopped/melted/whatever, so that the kadayif can be put together as quickly as possible.

I did some brief searching on the web - most basic recipes are a variation of the above. Most seemed to use a lot more butter than I did and less syrup, but I like the kadayif to be sweet and moist. I'd like to try a couple of more rounds and experiment with different ways of shaping. I think trying to make like tubes filled with nuts would be good. Definitely less syrup here though.

I also think a spray contraption for the butter would work better and get the kadayif pastry more evenly "buttered". In fact the recipe on the packet recommended dipping the whole lot in 250 g melted butter, then dividing in two and sprinkling the nuts in the middle. Perhaps also breaking/cutting up the kadayif into shorter lengths might make it easier to work with.

The original recipe I followed only listed walnuts, but I did equal parts walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios and would have used others as well, if I had any, but since Lundulph developed a sensitivity to nuts, I'm not buying the copious amounts I used to in the past.

This amount was massive, and took a while to get through, since we didn't manage to get the whole clan together this year, so if I try this again, I'll halve everything.

30 December 2018

Pickled Aubergine

Since my Sister's regular escapades into the vegan lifestyle, my Mum has actively tried to accommodate this into the various seasonal celebrations. A Swedish tradition at both Christmas and Midsummer is to have marinated herring of various varieties. So a vegan version would be swapping the herring for aubergine. Last year, Mum made a Swedish recipe and to be honest I didn't like it much at all. This year, my Mum made the vego-herring once more and I was reluctant to try, but they turned out to be very tasty. So what was the difference? This year, it was a Bulgarian recipe, which I jotted down before we flew back to the UK. And I bought some aubergines straight away and spent most of last evening making these.

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Ingredients

~1 kg aubergines, about 4
salt
oil for frying
1 dl cider vinegar
1 dl water
peeled cloves of garlic, about a head and a half
sprigs of parsley (optional)

Method

  1. Trim off the stalks and wash the aubergines. Then slice into circles,about 1 cm thick.
  2. Sprinke each circle with salt on both sides and stack slightly overlapping on a baking tray or a roasting rack over a baking tray.
  3. Lean the tray at one end so the liquid of the aubergines drains into the tray easier. Leave for a couple of hours.
  4. Peel the garlic and wash the parsley and shake off excess water. Prepare a 1 litre jar and several sheets of kitchen tissue.
  5. Heat up a little oil in a deep saucepan on high and mix together the cider vinegar and water in a bowl.
  6. Carefully squeeze out each aubergine circle of liquid, then pat dry on a sheet of kitchen tissue and fry for a couple of minutes on each side, so they get a little colour.
  7. Transfer to the bowl of vinegar/water mixture, while putting the next batch in to fry.
  8. After a couple of minutes move the aubergines from the vinegar/water mixture to the jar, layering as densely as possible and add a couple of cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of parsley between each layer.
  9. Continue with the remaining aubergines, adding oil to the frying saucepan as required, but not too much.
  10. Any left-over vinegar/water mixture can be poured into the jar. Press down on the aubergines as much as possible to squeeze out any air.
  11. Close the jar and leave to cool down to room temperature. Then store in the fridge, however the aubergines are pretty much ready to eat.

My Mum takes the time to cut the aubergines into strips to make it look like herring fillets, but I did circles, as this was the instruction of the original recipe. However, I think strips would be easier to pack in the jar, I ended up with quite a few gaps between each layer, but I did my best to press down.

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Amazing how much liquid they contain!

Update 12th January:
These turned out spot on and were super tasty, we got through them alarmingly quickly.

So I immediately bought double the amount and used my mandolin to slice the aubergines length-wise. The mandolin cut them a bit thinner than I'd intended and what I did manually during the first run, but there is no way I'd risk cutting off my fingers attempting to cut an aubergine lengthwise with a knife.

There were so many of them, I had to make these over two days and even then I had to bake them in several batches, the slices lined next to each other onto a roasting rack and brushed lightly with grapeseed oil.

Because I'd doubled the amount, I also needed to double the pickling mixture and I still ran out and had to do a further half of the above amount. I also used a large spoon to press them down in the jar and used a metal skewer to remove all the bubbles I could see.

Initially the flavour was a bit different and I thought it was down to baking rather than frying, but in hindsight, I think they just needed a bit longer in the jar before starting to eat them and possibly using more of the pickling mixture to start with. But they were just as nice and I discovered they worked a treat between to toasted slices of bread, no need for butter or anything like that. And they do last long too.

A word of warning on the garlic - it is very tasty, but also very strong in flavour and your breath will smell for days. So I recommend using in stews and soups instead of fresh garlic.

10 December 2018

The Winning Lussekatt Recipe

When I started this blog back in 2006, one of the earliest experiments I did was to try my hand at Swedish gingersnaps. Sadly I didn't put any reference in that blog post to where I found it, but it turned out to be a winner and I've never strayed from it since.

Lussekatt recipes, however, are another matter entirely, year after year I try and I've not been happy with them. Until this year. And it's actually a recipe I've made before, but this time without the filling and with a new tip from my Mum's weekly magazine. And Lundulph will not stop eating these, I swear his stomach is taking the shape of a giant lussekatt.

Ingredients

Makes about 75 small ones

1 large egg
1 pinch salt
1 g saffron, ground if available
½ dl granulated sugar
3 tbsp white rum or other pale spirit
1.5 dl raisins or sultanas
2 dl dark rum
150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1.5 dl light or golden syrup
5 dl semi-skimmed milk
50 g fresh yeast
1 large egg
14 dl strong white flour

Method

  1. Break the first egg into a cup, add the pinch of salt and whisk to make the egg wash. Let stand on the side until required.
  2. If the saffron is not ground, place it together with the granulated sugar in a pestle and mortar and grind together as finely as possible.
  3. Transfer the saffron and sugar to a glass and add the white rum, stir together and let stand - this draws out more colour and flavour from the saffron.
  4. Pour the dark rum over the raisins/sultanas and leave them to soak. Cover the dish with a lid or cling film, to stop the kitchen smelling like a distillery.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the soft butter and syrup as fluffy as possible - this is a small amount, so would be difficult, but make sure they combine well.
  6. Warm up the milk to about 40 °C in a saucepan.
  7. In the bowl of your mixer, crumble up the fresh yeast, then pour the warm milk over and stir until the yeast has dissolved fully.
  8. Add the second egg, the saffron mixture and a couple of tablespoons of the butter syrup mixture, followed by 11 dl of the flour.
  9. Let the mixer work the mixture into a very soft dough (almost like a thick batter). Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes.
  10. Prepare a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and have a couple of further baking papers ready. Also have a cooling rack ready so you can swap the baking sheets quickly.
  11. Now start the mixer again and add the remaining 3 dl of the flour, one at a time to bring the dough together and make it non-sticky, but still very soft.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 225 °C (top/bottom heat, 205 °C if fan assisted).
  13. Divide the dough in 2 parts, leave one in the bowl covered and roll out the other one to about 1 cm thickness.
  14. Cut into strips of 1.5 cm thickness and about 15 cm length, then roll each strip and shape into an "S" and place on the prepared baking sheets.
  15. Once the sheet is filled, drain the raisins from the rum (do not throw it away!) and push a raisin into the middle of each swirl of the "S" shapes, then brush with the egg wash.
  16. Continue with the remaining dough.
  17. Let the lussekatter proof for about 30 minutes before baking for 8 - 9 minutes.
  18. After baking, transfer to the cooling rack and let cool down completely, before storing in an air tight container or food bag.
  19. The buns are best served on the day of baking. To bring back the fluffiness in the following couple of days, whizz for a few seconds in the microwave before eating. Otherwise, freeze immediately once they've cooled down.

Use the left-over dark rum from the raisins to enhance your mulled wine.