Saturday, November 5, 2011

Classic bagels

Autumn is here and before we know it winter is on the doorstep. For some people this is the worst time of the year, for myself the short days just means more time to spend in front of the open fire. Lots of films to watch, hot ports to drink and citrus fruits in season is all great things that makes the darker time of the year more bearable to me.
Other things to kill some time is of course baking, that will never become boring and there will always be someone up for freshly baked goods. A couple of weeks ago I had another go at making bagels, they turned out really nice. A crusty outside sprinkled with sesame seeds, a chewy inside with a good, dense texture; everything a bagel is about. So with a few bagels in the freezer even the darkest mornings can become really enjoyable. Serve them toasted with cream cheese. Or do you prefer marmalade or jam? The topping is really up to yourself, I can only provide you with the recipe.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cinnamon bun crisps


Just as pancakes has its own day here in Ireland, the cinnamon bus has its own day in Sweden. This day is the 4th of October and I sure did my duty as a Swede abroad and baked some buns. When buns are fresh they are such a delight to bite into, but after a day or two they loose their freshness and a lot of leftover buns end up in the bin. Then I read about what delicious things they can be turned into; bread and butter pudding, french toast, grilled into a sweet bruschetta topped with apples and mascarpone...the list is long but one idea really caught my interest.
The bun is sliced thinly and put on a baking tray or wire rack, toasted in the oven and then dried out on a low heat to create crisp, biscotti-like biscuits to serve on the side of tea or coffee. I tried and it worked a treat. The bun is so rich itself that even though it's dried out it tastes sweet and buttery.
So just get some old buns, slice them up and toast on 175C for 5min, turn down the heat to 120 and continue to cook until the buns are dry and crisp.

Whiskey and cardamom truffles


It has been so quiet here on hoglundshomemade, some of you might wonder what I have been up to. I have not forgotten about my blog, not at all. I have just been working so much lately that there has simply been no time for experimenting in the kitchen. But things are looking brighter and I am now ready to start cooking up some yummy stuff again.
October is coming to its end and that means Halloween. Not my favourite holiday I have to say, but any reason to eat chocolate is good enough for me. There is all sorts of chocolates and sweets around at this time of the year, big bags of them that can be bought very cheap in the supermarkets, but unfortunately this stuff is not very tasty at all. Most of it is full of unnecessary . "Since when do the put paprika extract in chocolate?" I asked myself one day when reading the label of a well known chocolate bar. It just does not seem right.
After the dry spell in my kitchen and a few too many of those not so tasty chocolate bars I decided to make some really tasty chocolates but without all those unnecessary ingredients. An old and well tried recipe for chocolate truffles became very handy as it is very easy and does not require a lot of ingredients; some good quality chocolate, cream, butter and which ever flavour you like. The day i made the truffles I was loking for something rich, heavy and a bit on the boozy side. A dark chocolate and cardamom truffle flavoured with whiskey is what I made and they were so delicious. We had them in the evening after dinner with a cup of green tea, but they go just as well with black tea or coffee for those who like that. This recipe makes about 12-15 truffles.

100 grams dark chocolate (70%)
100ml cream
20 grams butter
20ml whiskey
2 cardamom pods

100 grams dark chocolate(70%), cocoa powder

Crush the cardamom pods open so the little black seeds come out, crush the seeds lightly. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Bring the cream and cardamom to boil, pour through a fine sieve over the chocolate, stir until the chocolate is melted. Add butter and whiskey, stir until smooth and shiny. Chill for at least 4 ours, preferably over night.
Dust your hands lightly with cocoa powder and roll teaspoons of the truffle mix into little balls. Chill for 1 hours. Melt the chocolate and roll each truffle in the chocolate until the surface is covered, roll in cocoa powder and chill. Keep in the fridge in an air tight container.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lemon custard hearts


In the kitchen there is a box full of the things I use when I bake, there is muffin cups, icing, cookie cutters, different tools and ingredients and then there is a load of little metal tins in different shapes, sizes and varieties that are very valuable to me. I got them from my mum, and she got them from her mum and I just love using them because of the history to them. When making these shortbread biscuits filled with custard, a very typical Swedish treat usually made in heart shaped tins, I felt quite lucky to come from a family with people who shared and shares my interest in cooking and baking. My grandmother was a very good home-cook and baker, she made the most amazing chocolate fudge and baked the yummiest buns with almond paste...
When I decided to use the heart shaped tins and make these pastries I made a small change to the recipe, not so surprising at this stage...do I ever follow a recipe completely I wonder? It was only a tiny change though; the vanilla flavoured custard, as the recipe called for, was swapped for a lemon flavoured custard because I like tangy things and I had no good vanilla at home. Simple like that!

Dough
120 grams plain flour
100 grams butter
30 grams cornflour
25 grams caster sugar

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add both types of flour gradually while stirring into a smooth dough. Let the dough chill in the fridge while making the custard.

Custard
1 egg yolk
100ml milk
1/2tbsp cornflour
1tsp caster sugar
zest of one lemon+2tbsp juice

Mix egg yolk and cornflour. Heat milk, sugar and lemon zest until it nearly starts to boil. Pour the liquid over the egg yolk while whisking. Put the mix back into the pot and on a medium heat bring the mix to 85C, or until it starts to thicken, while stirring constantly. When thick (but not scrambled!!) take off the heat and add the lemon juice. Let cool down before straining the lemon zest away.

Roll out half of the pastry and line 8 small pie tins or what ever moulds you are using. Fill with the custard and roll out the rest of the pastry to cover the top. Bake for 10-15min on 200C until golden.

Pear, chocolate and almond tart



A few years ago I lived in an area in Dublin with fabulous gourmet food shops. Unfortunately they tend to be quite expensive so for daily grocery shopping they're not ideal, but for the occasional treat they do fill their purpose. One of these shops is a vegetable and fruit shop that also stocks farm fresh eggs, hand made cheeses, pasta, jars of all sorts of condiments, grains and pulses...The list is nearly endless and I always seem to find things in there that I might have been looking for in several other shops without any luck.
The other day I did not really need anything from there, I just cycled by and decided to have a look and there they were; these amazingly pretty pears, they were red, green and shiny. To pretty not to buy so I got two of them not even knowing what to do with them. But then an idea took place in my head after finding both ground almonds and dark chocolate in my cup board. Think chocolate frangipan in a cocoa flavoured pie crust, on top of that these juicy pears baked until slightly caramelized. Success.
Pastry
25 grams caster sugar
50 grams butter,at room temperature
65 grams plain flour
10 grams cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
Almond filling
75 grams butter,at room temperature
50 grams caster sugar
50 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
75 grams ground almonds
1tbsp plain flour
1 egg+1egg yolk

1 pear

Mix flour, cocoa powder and sugar, rub in the butter until it forms crumbles. Add the egg yolk and quickly mix into a dough. Roll out between cling film and line the baking tin. Put in the fridge while making the almond filling.

Beat butter and sugar pale and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk and continue to beat until smooth and well combined. Fold in almonds, flour and chocolate. Spread out in the pie crust. Peel the pear and cut into very thin slices. Arrange the pear slices on top of the almond filling and bake for 30-40min on 160C. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chocolate and hazelnut muffins


I love to bake but find it terribly hard to control myself when I keep baked goods in the house, it is as if I cant walk by the kitchen without having another little sample. Lucky I have a job where I get to bake most days and that way get it all out of my system before I come home.
I do however still bake a lot at home, mainly before having guests, or if I am going to someone I can bring some fresh pastries. That way I can nearly pretend I am working and don't have to eat it all myself.
The other night though I just had a craving for something sweet to go with a cup of tea. After a look around in my cupboard I found some ground hazelnuts and decided to make some muffins. Hazelnuts are so delicious when toasted and added to cakes or muffins and goes really well with chocolate. So there it was; chocolate and hazelnut muffins. This make 8 normal sized muffins.

1 egg
75 grams butter
130 grams caster sugar
100 grams plain flour
30 grams ground hazelnuts
1.5tsp baking powder
75ml milk
1 1/2tsp cocoa powder

Melt butter and put aside to cool down. Combine flour, cocoa powder, hazelnuts and baking powder. Whisk egg and sugar until very fluffy and pale, add butter and stir until smooth. Add the dry ingredients through a sieve and fold in, last add milk and stir until all is well blended. Fill muffin cups to 2/3 and bake on 175C for 20min or until a skewer comes out dry. Let cool down.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Slow roast tomatoes


In the shops this time of the year the fruit and vegetable section is full of fantastic surprises; berries of all kind (locally sourced), green leafy vegetables, melons of all kinds and of course tomatoes. This really is the time for this humble fruit (yep, not a veggie) to shine and I eat tomatoes nearly every day in some form. The other day I got a packet of mixed baby tomatoes, some were round, others were yellow and another few were kind of oval shaped. They all got halved and put in the oven with some olive oil and garlic and were left to sit there for a few hours on a low heat. Out came the most delicious little dried up tomatoes, still a bit juicy but just all the good flavour capsuled in one tiny tomato half. Tonight I will put a few into a chickpea and chorizo stew, tomorrow I think they will be great on some bruschetta with mozzarella cheese...there is plenty of things to do with these tomatoes.

250 grams mixed baby tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil, salt, black pepper and a sprinkle of caster sugar

Half the tomatoes and put on a baking tray with the flesh side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of caster sugar on top and place 3 crushed garlic cloves in the tray. Bake for 3-4 hours on 100C.

Raspberry and yogurt sorbet


Even though July has not been so very summery as one could wish for, the summer generally is a good reason enough to make sorbet. A week ago I made the most incredible lemon yogurt sorbet with a good splash of limoncello..it was creamy, tart and refreshing in the same time. Inspired by that lemony goodness I decided to make sorbet again, still with yogurt because it really takes this otherwise quite icy dessert to a different level, this time with raspberries though.
I use liquid glucose in my sorbets and ice creams, it stops it from freezing rock hard and makes it more smooth and creamy. The addition of some sort of alcohol will also prevent it from freezing too hard. Liquid glucose can be replaced with white corn syrup and of course you can leave the booze out if there will be children eating the dessert.
I have an ice cream maker at home but for this small amount of sorbet I just make it by hand with the help of a plastic container and a freezer.
This recipe will make 6 good sized portions.

200 grams raspberries (fresh or defrosted)
200ml water
140 grams caster sugar
40 grams glucose
200ml yogurt
20ml limoncello

Combine water, raspberries and sugar in a pot. Bring to boil and let simmer for 10min. Strain through a fine sieve and add glucose, stir until melted and let cool down. Stir in yogurt and limoncello to the raspberry mix and freeze in a plastic container. Keep stirring the mix every 20min or so until the mix is frozen but not solid.

Monday, July 18, 2011

About soufflé...

Usually I do not put up posts on my blog unless I have a picture to present with the recipe. This post is different though, this is just me not being able to help myself from going on about the most wonderful dessert I had last night. I want to tell everyone about my success in making a souffle. But no, there is no recipe, and no picture. That will all come when I decide to make this again.

It all started with Martin deciding to cook us dinner, a real treat for me since I do most of the cooking in this house. So there he was cooking up a lovely Vietnamese stir fry that has become his signature dish, it is really tasty but still quite light so after dinner we were both looking for a little sweet or something to round up our meal with. I was happy to come up with something yummy for dessert and I decided to go for something I have been wanting to make for a good while now.

Here is the part when I confess something I am not proud of; until yesterday I had never tasted a soufflé. Ok, more precise, I have cooked soufflés in places I worked in, I have had a tiny bite but no, I have not ever ordered this fluffy, light dessert in a restaurant or made it at home and actually savoured the whole delight. Yesterday it all happened, I made it from scratch, cooked it (lying on the floor looking into the oven to make sure it was rising the way it should), I even took it out and was able to leave it for a couple of minutes before digging straight into it and oh!! There it was, a perfectly, not sinking, light raspberry dream with tiny chocolate pieces coming through it.

I made them quite big and was worried we might not be able to finish them, I even told Martin he could leave some if he was not enjoying it. That was before we tasted it, because when we did the room went quiet and we scraped the dishes in the end to get the most out of it. It was unlike anything else we ever ate. It was just melting on the tongue and I kept wanting more and more after each bite.

Now some of you might think I'm crazy, because you all know how to make souffles with your hands tied back and just don't understand all the fuzz I have created around this subject. Some of you might just be terrified of the whole procedure of making something that involves buttering ramekins, folding egg whites and for gods sake no opening of the oven unless you know for sure the dessert is ready to take out! I feel for both parts here because I am a somewhat mix between both opinions, I used to feel it was a lot of hassle and too many moments to pay attention to. But I can also safely say that it is not rocket science, just a little bit of common sense and a lot of attention paid to the recipe.

So go on, find a flavour that you like, find a soufflé recipe with this flavour and go ahead and make them. You will get standing ovations, or at least very pleased and impressed guests.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Almond and cardamom biscotti


As a chef it is important to find basic recipes that always works. Once you have one you can play around a little and create all sorts of taste sensations. Remember not to move too far from the original recipe though when it comes to baking, there is a lot of chemistry involved in getting the right amounts of flour, sugar, eggs and butter to come together and turn out to be the perfect pastry, cake or biscuit.
This biscotti recipe is more or less foolproof, I have never failed when making them and I still return to the recipe on a regular basis. The only thing that changes is the flavour. One day I use hazelnuts and chocolate, like here. Another day I might not use nuts at all but throw in some dried fruit and spices. Another day I just keep it simple and use almonds like the original recipe calls for and then just spice it up a little with some freshly ground cardamom. Like here:

220 grams plain flour
220 grams sugar
110 grams almonds
2tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1tsp ground cardamom

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the eggs and quickly bring together to a loose dough. Divide into 3 pieces and roll out to the length of the baking tray you are using. You need a good bit of flour on the surface you are working on to prevent the dough from sticking. Bake for 12-15min on 220C. Cut into biscuits about 2cm thick. Put back into the oven and turn the heat down to 50C and let dry out(takes roughly an hour). Keep the biscotti in an air tight jar. Serve with tea or coffee, great for dunking.

Spinach and feta cheese pasty


Despite being quite damp and rainy, Ireland still seems to be the perfect climate for growing some fruits and vegetables. Blackberries, strawberries, cabbage and potatoes are just a few to be mentioned. I can only call myself lucky for having a boyfriend who's dad grows all sorts of vegetables, fruits and berries in his garden. Last week I was given a big bag of Swiss chard, a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach. What to do with this one might wonder, but I already knew... a whole wheat flour dough, a piece of feta cheese, some garlic and nutmeg and there they were; Pasties. Basically it is like a savoury pastry that it perfect to eat for lunch with a side salad, or maybe have it for dinner together with a bowl of soup.
There are plenty of yummy fillings to choose from but I have to say that the spinach and feta cheese one is a really good combination. It is vegetarian but filled with iron, vitamins and protein. So go ahead, make some pasties, freeze them individually and you will always have a quick meal ready to just defrost and heat up.
This recipe makes 8 pasties.

Dough
250ml milk
7 grams dried yeast
25ml olive oil
1tsp salt
1tsp honey
200 grams plain flour
140 grams whole wheat flour.

Bring the milk to 45C in a pot. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add honey, olive oil and salt. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Add most of the plain flour, you might not need all of it. Knead the dough for a few minutes until elastic and neither too wet or dry. Let rest for about and or or until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile make the filling.

Feta and spinach filling
500 grams spinach or Swiss chard
75-100 grams feta cheese
2 cloves of garlic
2tbsp olive oil
nutmeg, salt, pepper

Wash and rinse the spinach, remove any big stalks. Finely dice the garlic. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and sweat for 30 seconds, add the spinach and cook until it is wilted. Drain in a sieve. Let cool down and chop roughly. Crumble the feta cheese and mix with the spinach, add a good sprinkle of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball. Roll out the dough balls to flat rounds with a rolling pin, the rounds needs to be about 15cm across. Divide the filling onto the dough rounds, place it on one half of the dough, fold the other dough over the filling. Use a fork to seal the edges. Brush with a little milk or an egg yolk. Bake for 15-20min on 200C.

Strawberry, lemon and mascarpone tart


It has been quiet on the blog lately, apologies, but my time has been dedicated to put myself out of my non employed misery and get a job. Success; I am now the proud employee of a well known Italian/Irish company with a good few restaurants in Dublin. I can not explain the relief of getting back into a professional kitchen and do some hard work. Half time I will be working on pastry (yes I am one lucky girl with a job that also is my hobby) and the rest of the time will be spent cooking lovely Italian food.
It is stressful trying to get a job though, it takes a lot of time and energy. But I am still cooking and baking away at home. On Friday afternoon when I passed by a lovely fruit and vegetable shop in Rathmines on my way home from work the rain started pouring down. I took that as a sign to stop and seek shelter, also I wanted to see what this shop had to offer. Lucky me was in for a real treat, I left the shop with 3 punnets of Irish strawberries for only 5euro. They were absolutely amazing. I know, it was only strawberries but one can not wish for better strawberries than the ones I bought that day. They were small in size, glossy, juicy and perfectly sweet.
I decided to make the most of those strawberries and baked a pie crust with brown sugar and oat flakes (a crumbly and crusty melt-in-the-mouth story), filled it with lemon flavoured mascarpone and topped it with 2 punnets of strawberries and a lemon glaze. Oh I do not know where to start to try and describe this dessert, it was just delicious and a true pleasure to eat.
This recipe makes 8 portions.

Pie crust
75 grams butter
50 grams oat flakes
60 grams plain flour
20 grams brown sugar
2 squares dark chocolate

Combine all dry ingredients, rub the butter into the dry mix and bring together to a crumbly dough. Press the crumbles into a greased pie tin. Chill for an hour before pricking with fork and baking for 20min on 180C. Grate the chocolate on top of the pie crust when still warm. Let cool down.

Mascarpone filling
200 grams mascarpone cheese
20 grams caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon

Beat mascarpone, sugar, zest and juice together until smooth. Fill the pie crust with the mascarpone. Top with 400 grams of halved strawberries.

Lemon glaze
3 tbsp lemon marmalade
3 tbsp water

Melt the marmalade in the water on a low heat. Strain through a fine sieve, to remove any lemon peel, let cool down to room temperature before spreading over the strawberries on the tart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tzatziki


With the summer here there is always more things happening, week days and weekends. My favourite part of the summer must be the BBQ's, what a perfect way to cook food. A good quality piece of meat and some nice salads, dips and bread is all it takes to create the perfect summer meal. With all the fresh fruit and vegetables in season that is easy to achieve. Depending on what meat you decide to put on your BBQ there is plenty of options when it comes to the sides, but this Greek yogurt and cucumber dip seems to go well with pretty much anything. Personally I like it best with pork steak or chicken. In Greece they serve it with fresh, crusty bread and that is yummy too.

200 grams Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber
1 clove of garlic
fresh herbs: oregano, mint or dill (I prefer oregano)
salt, pepper, olive oil

Cut the cucumber in half length ways and take the seeds out. Grate quite coarse and sprinkle with salt, let rest in a bowl for 30min,. Squeeze the juice out from the cucumber through a fine sieve. Chop garlic finely and add to the yogurt together with the cucumber and herbs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, drizzle with olive oil.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yogurt panna cotta on chocolate fudge brownie


In Italy I was once served panna cotta that was just out of this world. A display fridge full of desserts was placed next to the bar, the waiter took a panna cotta out of it's mould and poured a ladle full of chocolate sauce on top before bringing it to our table. The vanilla flavoured cream pudding melted in my mouth, feather light texture, and the warm chocolate sauce was perfectly rich and gooey.
Last week we had dinner guests and I decided to make dessert. I have wanted to make panna cotta ever since that evening in Italy and now was the perfect opportunity. Replacing some of the cream with Greek yogurt makes this dessert light and fresh. Serving it on top of chocolate brownie is indulging and of course optional. I also added cardamom to the recipe bit that is optional too and can be replaced with vanilla. This is a recipe for 4 small panna cotta so if you decide to serve without the brownie I'd double the recipe.
Panna cotta
75 ml cream
150 ml Greek yogurt
40 grams caster sugar
1 leaf of gelatin

Soak the gelatin leaf in cold water. Bring the cream and sugar (and cardamom if using) to boil. Stir in the Greek yogurt. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add to the cream mix. Stir until smooth. Pour into 4 cups or moulds, let set for 4 hours or over night before serving.

Chocolate brownie
75 grams butter
1 egg
100 grams caster sugar
40 grams flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Melt the butter and let cool down. Add all other ingredients and stir until smooth and even. Bake for 15min on 160C.

To assemble the panna cotta and brownie; Cut out rounds of the brownie with a cup or mould the same size as the panna cotta. Dip the panna cotta in hot water and tip it out of its mould on top of the brownie. Serve with some fresh berries or a dusting of cocoa powder.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Italian meringue


If you ever think of making meringues, and you should, this is the recipe to use. Sugar and water is boiled to a thick syrup that is poured over beaten egg whites and whisked until cooled, this creates a very firm glossy mixture that can be used as an ingredient in mousses, parfaits and ice creams, or just piped into little bite sized meringues that will look very professional. You will need a hand held electric mixer and a kitchen thermometer. It might sound like a lot of work but once you take time to read the recipe and follow it you wont regret making Italian meringues. The recipe here will make a small batch, maybe a good idea to start small and just double it next time. I made my meringues very small and got about 15 out of this batch.

60 grams caster sugar
20 grams water
30 grams egg white
6 grams caster sugar

Bring the larger amount of sugar and the water to boil in a pot, turn down the heat and let simmer. When the mix comes to 115C start beating the egg white with the small amount of sugar, beat to quite firm peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches 120-124C start pouring over the egg whites while beating. Continue beating until the mix is completely cold. Pipe or spoon the mix into little meringues on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 3H on 80C.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rye loaf for toasting


Having a passion for baking can sometimes be tricky when there is only two of us eating my baked goods, we simply can not eat everything while it is fresh and I don't know how many times I have ended up throwing away things. Personally I don't eat that much bread anymore and for breakfast I mostly eat cracker bread rather than toast. Martin on the other hand loves a couple of slices of toast with beans for breakfast. We all know that toast bread does not have to be fresh to be tasty. Brilliant I think because it allows me to bake loaves of bread, slice it and freeze. Toast bread like this does not even have to be defrosted but goes straight into the toaster from the freezer. Here is a version that is easy to make and it is quite healthy too, usually I put mixed seeds in it but if you like nuts or maybe dried fruit that work well too.

7 grams dried yeast
250ml water
50 grams rye flakes
50 grams rye flour
200-250 grams strong white flour
1tbsp honey
1tbsp salt
50 grams mixed seeds


Bring 200ml of the water to the boil, add rye flakes, rye flour and seeds and stir into a thick porridge. Let cool down to room temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the remaining 50ml water(luke warm) and add to the rye mix. Add honey, salt and half the flour. Work as much flour in to the dough so it it easy to knead and not too sticky, but be careful not to add too much flour, the dough will get to compact and have difficulties to rise properly. Knead the dough for 5 min and let prove until doubled in size. On a floured surface knead into a loaf, put in a loaf tin and let prove again until doubled in size. Bake for 30-40min on 220C.

Brown butter pecan shortbread


Back home there is a very old fashioned grinder we used when grinding nuts for certain pastries. It is attached to a table top and lets you by hand grind nuts or coffee in to fine powder. Nuts and coffee can of course be bought ground already but there is something special about making things on your own. At a recent trip to Stockholm I came across one on these grinders in a little old style hard ware shop. I bought it and brought it back to Ireland and was very eager to try it out. Having a bag of pecan nuts in my cup board i decided to grind them into fine powder, toast it and use in a brown butter short bread biscuit. The result; lovely crumbly biscuits with a rich flavour of nutty butter and sweet toasted pecans. Go on and try it.

100 grams butter
50 grams brown sugar
150 grams plain flour
50 grams pecans
1 large egg yolk

Melt butter in a pot, let it start to foam and smell nutty. When the colour in brown take of the heat and let cool down.
Grind pecan nuts and toast in a dry hot pan until golden in colour. Let cool down.
Beat sugar and butter until fluffy and pale, add egg yolk, pecans and flour. Knead quickly into a dough. Roll out to a square about 1cm thick. Prick with a fork and score little rectangular biscuits in the dough with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35min on 160C. Sprinkle with caster sugar just after it comes out of the oven. Let cool down before cutting in to biscuits.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Banana pockets


I think you recognise the picture of half brown, sort of sweet smelling bananas in the fruit basket staring at you, begging you to use them. Banana cake is not an option, there has been way too many of them lately in my kitchen and even though I do like banana cake it can be a bit much sometimes....
Two years ago I worked in an Italian/Irish restaurant in Dublin, sort of modern European cuisine. As a pastry chef at the time I was, together with the head chef, working on the dessert menu. Banoffie Pie is a classic dessert here in Ireland and we wanted to use the flavours of it but take them to a new dimension, put a real twist on it. The result; a smooth toffee flavoured parfait served with a hot, crispy banana and almond pastry. That is a dessert I still dream about, it was just so perfect.
Someone asked me the other day to make something sweet suitable for diabetics, specially children suffering from not being able to eat the same yummy desserts/sweets like their friends. It is tricky with things that has to be sweet but without sugar, personally I do not use artificial sweeteners and even though honey is better than sugar I was on a mission to make something as natural as possible without any type of sweetener/sugar. Having over ripe bananas at home and thinking of that toffee and banana dessert an idea started to take place in my mind. And that is how it happened that I created a little snack or dessert without any sugar, but oh so tasty. Little spring roll pastry pockets filled with banana, served with crunchy almonds and maybe a drizzle of honey.

4 sheets of spring roll pastry
2 bananas
almonds, toasted
honey

Cut each sheet into 4 squares. Put 2 and two together and place on a dry, clean surface. Cut each banana into 4 pieces, slice each piece into 4 slices. Place 4 slices of banana on each pastry sheet. Roll together like spring rolls and seal with a little water. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake on 200C for 15 min or until crisp and golden. Serve hot with honey and almonds.

Tabbouleh


My home town has a big population of people from the Middle East, and as a result of that there is a lot of small shops selling all sorts of, for us Europeans, new and different ingredients. One of those shops is located not far from my parents house and I recall going there as a child with my mum to buy the best feta cheese, pickled chillies, pistachio nuts and olives. The shop is tiny but sacks full of all types of nuts, seeds and grains are stacked on the floor, and the walls covered in shelves up to the ceiling filled with boxes, bags and containers of all sorts of ingredients. Most things are bought by weight and it makes so much more sense than buying pre-packed, boxed ingredients in the super market. The owner of the shop was called Jakob, an old man with a big heart. He always filled the bag with a little bit extra, but still only charged for the weight you had asked for.
Cous cous and Bulgur is becoming more and more popular here in Ireland but I have had it for more than ten years i think. Personally I eat it instead of rice or potatoes with meat, or even just with vegetables as a salad. One typical dish with bulgur is tabbouleh; finely chopped parsley, tomatoes and onion dressed with lemon juice and olive oil is a tangy side dish to any BBQ and must be tried!

60 grams bulgur
120ml vegetable stock
30 grams flat parsley
1 tomato
1/4 white onion
1 small clove of garlic
1/2 lemon, juice
olive oil, salt, pepper

Bring the vegetable stock to boil and add bulgur. Turn down heat to very low and let simmer under a lid for 15-20 min. Fluff up with a fork and let cool down.
Chop parsley very fine. Cut the tomato in to quarters, take the seeds out, chop into small cubes. Chop the onion and garlic finely. Combine bulgur, tomato, onion and garlic and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, drizzle some olive oil on top.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chcolate sponge with mocha frosting


I have blogged about this recipe before but that time as Mocha Muffins. Traditionally it is made in a large tray and then cut into squares/bars, but this time I still did not stick to that but made it as a cake. It is so tasty when fresh but it does keep pretty well for a couple of days since the frosting on top will protect the sponge cake from drying out. I made a small cake, still enough to feed 8 people, and used one sandwich tin to bake it in. If you double the recipe and use two sandwich tins you could fill it with layer of frosting in the middle and spread over the top as well, that would make a great birthday cake.

Cake
1 egg
75 grams butter
130 grams caster sugar
130 grams plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
75ml milk
1 1/2tsp cocoa powder

Melt butter and put aside to cool down. Combine flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Whisk egg and sugar until very fluffy and pale, add butter and stir until smooth. Add the dry ingredients through a sieve and fold in, last add milk and stir until all is well blended. Pour into a greased sandwich tin and bake for 30-40min. Let cool down while making the frosting.

Frosting

50 grams butter
1tbsp cocoa powder
3tbsp coffee
100 grams icing sugar

dessicated coconut or hundreds and thousands

Melt the butter and add coffee, sugar and cocoa powder. Stir until well combined and spread over the cake. Sprinkle with coconut or hundreds and thousands.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Herb bread


Having homemade herb oil left over in the fridge I decided to make a savory bread. Honestly I had no high expectations but it turned out absolutely delicious; crusty edges with a light, fluffy center with streaks of herbs going through it. A couple of days old I had it grilled, rubbed with garlic and served with a caprese salad covered in pesto on top. Do I have to tell you it was delicious? My herb oil had only basil in it but of course you could put any other soft fresh herbs in as well.

500ml water, luke warm
600 grams strong, white flour
7 grams dries yeast
1 1/2tbsp salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add salt and about 500 grams of the flour. Work the dough with a wooden spoon in a bowl, if it looks too wet ad a little more flour before turning out on a floured surface. Knead for 5min by hand. Let prove for 40min while making the herb oil.

50ml olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 hand fulls of basil
1/2 lemon, juice

Blend basil, garlic and lemon juice until pureed, add oil bit by bit and mix until smooth.

Roll out the dough to one large flat rectangular shape. Spread the herb oil on the top and roll together as a "Swiss roll". Divide into 2 pieces, fold in the edges under each roll before placing in loaf tins. Let prove to double size. bake for 30-35min on 225C.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vegetarian springrolls


After spending a few months in Asia I have developed some sort of addiction to spring rolls. In Thailand they come filled with glass noodles, mushrooms and cabbage, served with sweet chili sauce. In Vietnam they come filled with minced pork and vegetables, rolled in rice paper, sometimes deep fried or served fresh over lettuce leaves. Any way is good for me because there is something special about thin sheets of pastry filled with tasty stir fries, served with delicious dip sauces. Sometimes even just plain soy sauce is good enough to dip in.
When making these spring rolls I had Thailand in mind but served them the Vietnamese way with soy sauce mixed with chopped garlic and chili. I decided to cook them in the oven, that makes it a much more healthy meal and you wont have your home smelling like a deep fat fryer for days. It was more than enough for 2 big main course portions, I would say this recipe could serve 4 people as a starter or 3 as main course.

8 spring roll pastry sheets
100 grams glass noodles
1 carrot
2 hand fulls of white cabbage
4 spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
2cm fresh ginger
2tbsp vegetable oil
fish sauce, soy sauce, white pepper

Cook the noodles after the instructions on the packet, pour cold water over them to stop cooking and set aside.
Chop garlic and ginger finely. Slice spring onion and carrots into thin strips. Heat a wok until smoking hot, add the oil and stir fry cabbage, carrots and spring onion for a couple of minutes until they starts to soften. Add garlic and ginger and continue to stir fry for another minute. Season with soy sauce, fish sauce and white pepper. Last add noodles and season to taste.
Divide the stir fry on to the 8 sheets of pastry. Wrap the pastry around the filling and seal with a little water. Brush with oil and cook for 15-20min on 200C, until crisp and golden.

Almond meringue with daim parfait


Easter came and I took the week off from blogging and spent the weekend in Stockholm. Usually Easter is a holiday where I end up cooking a storm but this year I did not go too crazy; a couple of meals out and BBQ in my parents garden. However I made the most delicious dessert the days before we left Ireland for Sweden, and lucky me still have a big piece left in the freezer. The recipe comes from a Swedish food magazine my mum bought at least 10 years ago and ever since then this dessert always manages to impress even the fuzziest eater. Crispy, chewy almond meringue topped with daim parfait really is a great combination and to add something extra I like to serve it with fresh blackberries. Blackberries goes really well with milk chocolate and almond, so since the dessert contains Daim (includes milk chocolate) and sweet almond meringue it just works a treat. Another plus with this dessert is that it is glutenfree. The recipe makes enough dessert for 6-8 people.

Meringue

2 egg whites
50 almonds
60 grams caster sugar

Parfait
250ml cream
25 grams caster sugar
2 egg yolks
60 grams daim

Chop almonds roughly. Beat egg whites until firm peaks appear, add 30 grams of the caster sugar and beat to a firm meringue. Fold in the rest of the sugar and almonds. Spread out on baking parchment to a 2cm thick flat round. Bake for 30min in 175C. Let cool down before making the parfait.

Chop daim into small pieces. Whip the cream, not too hard but quite firm. Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in cream to the egg yolks, last the daim. Spread over the meringue and freeze straight away for at least 3 hours before serving.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Morehampton chocolate cake


When making these chocolate cup cakes a few months ago I explained the history of the cake called Morehampton; a Swedish sticky chocolate cake that turned into a hazelnut fudge cake when I lived on Morehampton Road. Last week I baked one of those and brought to a BBQ, it was very appreciated and nobody could belive this was put together in 35min, including the time in the oven. I used dark muscovado sugar instead of caster sugar, and put little chunks of dark chocolate on top of the cake before it went in to the oven, it made the cake even tastier.

150 grams butter
2 eggs
200 grams dark muscovado sugar
80 grams plain white flour
40 grams cocoa powder
90 grams hazelnuts
pinch of salt
50 grams dark chocolate

Chop the hazelnuts finely and toast in a hot frying pan until golden brown. Melt butter and let cool down. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, add melted butter and the egg, stir until well mixed. Pour in to a cake tin and sprinkle chopped dark chocolate on top. Bake for 25min on 175C.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chocolate mousse


On a friday night after a lovely home cooked meal I crave dessert. It does not have to be big or fancy, just something sweet to hit the spot. After making parfait the other week I still had my mind set on chocolate and raspberries so after a quick look I realised I had all ingredients at home to make a chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis. This is an easy version containing eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate, it tastes very "chocolaty" so make sure you use good quality chocolate.

2 eggs, separated
70 grams dark chocolate
1tbsp butter
4 tbsp caster sugar

Melt chocolate and butter, let cool down to room temperature, carefully stir in the egg yolks. Beat egg whites until soft peaks appear and start adding sugar bit by bit. Whisk to a firm meringue. Fold the meringue into the chocolate. Divide in to cups or glasses and chill for a couple of hours before serving with fresh raspberries or raspberry coulis.

Toffee biscuits


Sometimes I lack in inspiration and motivation to bake or cook, still I can simply not sit still and do nothing. These are the days when I go back to old, well tried and tested recipes that when I use I don't need to pay to much attention to what I do. These are recipes known by heart and always turns out the same, yummy in this case.
These toffee biscuits are so simple to make, my mum used to bake them a lot when I was younger and I still remember how they came out of the oven as big rectangular flats of dough, cut in to pieces while still hot and then cooled down before kept in a cookie jar in the kitchen. The end pieces were always left out for sampling when still hot.
Yesterday we were invited for a dinner party and I brought a batch of freshly baked toffee biscuits as a gift, it was highly appreciated.

100 grams butter, soft
60 grams caster sugar
155 grams plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp golden syrup
1/2tsp vanilla extract

Beat sugar and butter until smooth and creamy. Add syrup and vanilla extract. Last stir in flour and baking powder, work until the dough comes together. Divide into 2 pieces and roll out to the length of your baking tray. Place on the tray lined with baking parchment. Press the dough gently to flatten a little. Bake for 18-20min on 175C. Take out and let settle for a couple of minutes before cutting into 2cm wide biscuits.

French toast on duck egg brioche


After baking duck egg brioche I knew straight away I was going to use it for a lovely brunch. French toast is not my type of thing to eat early in the morning but waking up at midday on a Saturday I really enjoyed this meal. Brioche is rich and buttery, soaked in a mix of eggs, milk and a little bit of flour it really crisped up and created a lovely little dish served with honey or cinnamon/sugar.

4 slices of brioche
1 egg
50ml milk
1tbsp flour

Beat the egg lightly with the flour, add milk and whisk until well combined and smooth. Soak each slice of bread in the liquid and fry in butter on medium heat. A couple of minutes on each side should be enough to get golden, crispy toast. Serve hot with cinnamon/sugar or honey.

Duck egg brioche


A week ago Martins mum brought me 2 duck eggs from a friend of theirs who has his own ducks. I am not a fan of eggs, I don't eat them poached, boiled or scrambled, so what was I to do with 2 beautiful locally sourced duck eggs? Well, after a bit of thought put in to my actions I decided to bake with them. Duck eggs provides extra strength and richness to your baking due to the high content of fat in the yolk, and protein in the white. I baked brioche with my duck eggs and the result was fantastic, the dough really rose and created a light, fluffy yet rich bread that melts in your mouth. There is hundreds of recipes and ways of baking brioche, this is a simple version that wont take you the whole day to make.

100 grams butter, room temperature
2tbsp water, warm
7 grams dried yeast
2 duck eggs
1/2tbsp sugar
1/2tsp salt
250 grams flour
1 egg yolk for brushing

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add duck eggs and beat them lightly. Add sugar and salt and work flour in to the eggs. When you have a firm dough start adding butter bit by bit while kneading the dough. Work the dough by hand for 8-10min. Let rise to double size. Divide the dough in to 3 parts and create a braid shaped loaf. Let rise to double size on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Brush with egg yolk and bake for about 20min on 220C.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raspberry chocolate parfait

Sometimes I don't really think things through before starting to cook or bake something and the result will always be a bit of a surprise then. This was the case when making this parfait; all I knew was that I wanted a yummy dessert and that I had to use what was in my freezer and cupboard. I always keep a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer, I like to eat them defrosted with yogurt in the morning or to put in sponge cakes or muffins. Chocolate is another must have ingredient that always hangs around either my fridge or cupboard, dark, milk or white...
These two ingredients go so well together so there was no doubt the flavour of the dessert was going to be nice. Semifreddo has been a hit the last few times I made it so I decided to make something similar, but in French it is called Parfait.
The dessert went down a treat together with fresh raspberries and hot chocolate sauce.

Parfait
2 eggs, separated
200ml cream
60 grams caster sugar
40 grams dark chocolate
60 grams raspberries

Melt chocolate and let cool down. Whisk egg yolks and 30 grams of sugar until white and fluffy. In a separate bowl whip cream until soft peaks appear. Beat egg whites in a third bowl, when soft peaks appear start adding the sugar bit by bit while beating to a firm meringue. Divide the egg yolk mix in two and mix with raspberries in one bowl and chocolate in another. Add half of the cream to the raspberries and the rest of the cream to the chocolate. Last gently fold in the meringue. Pour in the chocolate mix in a tin and the raspberry on top. Freeze for 4 hours. Take out in room temperature 10min before serving.

Chocolate sauce
2tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
3tbsp water
1 pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a pot, stir until well combined. Bring to boil and let simmer for 3-4min while stirring. Serve hot on the side of the parfait.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More foccacia


For this bread I have just used my regular foccacia recipe but rolled little balls of the dough, placed them near each other and stuck little cubes of parmesan cheese in between. It does not taste any different but it looks great and at a dinner party it is so handy that each guest can break off pieces as they want.

Feta cheese and herb dip


Last week 3 lovely Swedish girls arrived to my place for a girls night in. I love entertaining and hosting dinner parties so any time the chance is given I cook up a storm. This time some antipasti was served for started with home made foccacia bread in a new shape, main course was fillet of pork served with honey roast root vegetable and a red wine sauce. A dessert of double raspberry and chocolate parfait really hit the spot after all that food.
For the main course I decided to make some sort of dip, even though I had red wine sauce i wanted something else to cut through all the meaty, hearty flavours. I remember eating some kind of feta cheese dip before in a Greek restaurant and decided that this was going to enter my table that night, with a bit of a twist; fresh parsley and basil not only gave it lots of flavour but also an almost lime green colour. Together with the sweet, crispy, roast vegetables this went really well.

50 grams feta cheese
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
2tbsp natural yogurt
olive oil, salt, pepper

Crumble the feta cheese in a bowl and mix with the herbs and garlic. Add enough olive oil to get the mix smooth . Fold in yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Serve with roast root veg, potatoes or just as a dip with crusty bread.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rhubarb crumble


The last few days has been very mild and sunny here in Dublin, spring is in the air for sure. I was delighted when given a bag of the first rhubarb of the year last week and made a crumble. We have an awful lot of rhubarb growing in the country house garden in Sweden, and when spending the summers out there we used to make crumbles all the time. I was even put off baking or eating crumbles for a few years until I recently realised what a wonderful way this is to cook with fresh fruit and berries in season. Rhubarb has such a lovely flavour; tangy, sour almost bitter, but with the right amount of sugar it just goes all yummy and sweet. I like to put oat flakes in my crumble, makes it crunchier and tastier. Cardamom and rhubarb is a great combination, it lifts the whole dessert to a new level. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

500 grams rhubarb, chopped in small pieces
1tbsp cornflour
4tbsp caster sugar
1tsp ground cardamom

125 grams butter
60 grams oat flakes
65 grams plain flour
40 grams brown sugar

Combine rhubarb, caster sugar, corn flour and cardamon. Spread out in a baking tin or pie dish. Mix brown sugar, oats and flour. Rub butter in to the mix until crumbly. Spread the crumbles on top of the rhubarb and bake for 20-25min on 220C.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yogurt and spelt bread


When experimenting with making my own yogurt the result was not always up to my standard. One morning the yogurt was not quite set, still sour and tasty but not thick enough for me to sprinkle my muesli on. Not much goes to waste in this house though so I decided to bake with the "sour" milk. Yogurt is nice to use in bread baking because it gives the bread a little more flavour and makes it more moist. First I was going to make Rye cakes but when I opened my cup board I saw a bag of spelt flour and decided to use that instead of rye.. With a small amount of yeast and lots of time for proving the result was a lovely moist bread with a nice crust and lots of flavour.

350 grams plain flour
200 grams spelt flour
7 grams dry yeast
2tsp salt
2tbsp golden syrup or honey
500ml yogurt or butter milk+25ml warm water
50 grams butter, room temperature
a couple of hand full of mixed seeds if you like

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add to the yogurt. Add syrup/honey, salt and butter (and seeds if using) to the liquid. Add spelt flour while stirring. Work the plain flour into the mix, you might need a little more to create an elastic dough, not too wet and not too compact. Leave to prove under a cloth for 3h. Work the dough a little by hand and cut into 8 pieces. Roll balls of each piece and roll out to about 2cm thick. Let prove again for 30min. Bake for 20min on 200C.



Insalata caprese


Sometimes the simplest things are the tastiest, in those cases it is all about the ingredients; they need to be top quality. I think most people knows this dish as Tomato and Mozzarella salad. For me, and the whole of Italy, it is Insalata Caprese. Two weeks ago deep red tomatoes caught my eye in the vegetable aisle in the local super market. Those tomatoes together with mozzarella, freshly ground black pepper, a drop of olive oil and some fresh basil became a lovely lunch. The days are getting longer and the temperature rising and I feel more and more like eating fresh, light food.Go ahead and try this if you haven't, with a piece of bread and maybe even a cheeky glass of wine it is simply delicious.

1 tomato
1/2 ball of mozzarella
basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

Slice the tomato and mozzarella in 1/2cm thick slices. Arrange on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and garnish with some fresh basil.

Home made yogurt



I am, as many other these days, quite aware of what I eat to amke sure I stay healthy and get all the nutrition I need. It is hard not to since it seems to be a favourite topic in magazines, books and TV programs. I have been thought from a young age to eat well and at regular hours. During week days my mum would make sure we ate well before heading to school, and at weekends breakfast was a meal the whole family would sit down to. I still make sure I eat breakfast every day and it does not even feel like a must, it is just a habit at this point.
My latest project has been to make my own yogurt, after reading how good probiotic yogurt is for a healthy digestion and boosting the immune system. It sounds a bit tricky but if you just have a thermometer, thermos and milk you are ready to go. You need to buy a good, plain probiotic yogurt to start the fermentation of the milk. After the first time you can save some of your home made yogurt and use as a starter for the next batch.

500ml milk (or as much you need to fill your thermos)
2tbsp probiotic yogurt (per 500ml milk)

Heat the milk up in a pot on medium heat. When it reaches 85C take off the heat. Fill the thermos with boiling water to sterilise it. When the milk comes down to 43C add the yogurt and stir. Pour out the water from the thermos, pour in the milk, put on the lid and let stand in room temperature for 8-10h. Transfer to a container and chill over night before eating. I like to eat mine with home made muesli.

Lemon semifreddo


Last week I had home made Lemon curd in the fridge and a bottle of Limoncello brought to us as a gift straight from Italy. It would have been a crime not to combine these to delicious things so I made Lemon semifreddo. Martin who was quick to grab the plate I used for the photo, a couple of minutes later I came in to the room and the dessert was gone. That kind of thing makes me smirk a little and feel very pleased with myself. The day after I served the dessert after a lovely meal and oh what a joy, the fresh tangy lemon cuts through the creamy, soft semifreddo and just melts in your mouth. The addition of limocello will not only make this dessert taste even better but also stop it from freezing too hard and leaves it kind of soft frozen. Served with fresh blueberries and mint it was a top class dessert.

4-6 portions

2 eggs, separated
200ml cream
60 grams caster sugar
50ml lemon curd
40ml limoncello

Whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar until fluffy and pale. In a separate bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks appear. In a third bowl whisk egg whites until fluffy, start adding sugar little by little while whisking. Continue whisking into a firm meringue.
Carefully combine whipped cream, egg yolks, limoncello and lemon curd. Last fold in the meringue and pour into a dish. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Leave in room temperature for 10min before serving.

Lemon curd


This classic, English spread goes just as well with your afternoon tea scone as in desserts and cakes. I came across Lemon curd a few years ago and was not that impressed to be honest, little did I know then all the wonderful things it can be used for. These days I make Lemon curd myself, I prefer not to eat in on toast or scones, I use it more as an ingredient while baking or making desserts. The other day I had some really juicy lemons in the fridge and decided to cook a small batch of Lemon curd, later in the week I used it for a lovely lemon semi freddo. The recipe comes from the "cooking bible" La Rousse, a personal favourite cook book that never lets me down with its many recipes.

2 lemons, juice and zest
100 grams butter
225 grams caster sugar
3 eggs, lighlty beaten

Melt butter in a pan on a low heat. Stir sugar, eggs , juice and zest of the lemons together until well combined. Add the lemon mix to the butter slowly while whisking. Stir until it starts to thicken, be careful not to let the eggs coagulate. Take off the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Keep in an air tight container in the fridge.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Digestive biscuits


Did you know you can make your own digestive biscuits? I did not until I the other day got the idea into my head and started having a look around on other food blogs and recipe pages. It obviously has been done before and there is a good few recipes out there. This recipe is one that came up on a few different pages and seemed easy enough. With a few different types of flour, butter and of course my lovely cookie stamp they turned out to be lovely. The taste is just like the biscuits you buy in a packet, maybe a little less sweet though. I like to dunk mine in a cup of tea but of course they go very well with a glass of cold milk.

12 biscuits

25 grams plain flour
35 grams whole wheat flour
40 grams oat flakes
40 grams butter
1tbsp milk
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1tsp sugar

Blend oat flakes and whole wheat flour into a fine powder with a hand held mixer or in a kithcen assistant. Add plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Rub butter into the dry mix and last milk to bind it together to a dough. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and take out cookies with a glass or cookie cutter, prick with a fork. Bake on 175C for 15min.

Brown butter banana cake


With brown bananas in the fruit bowl and a wish to bake something I was today standing in my kitchen. I had the recipe for my Banana oat bran muffins in front of me and was all ready to start when an idea came to me. After making the Friands a few weeks ago I have been wanting to make something else with brown butter. Reading a few recipes and blogs for inspiration I now had a plan; Brown butter banana cake. Imagine a rich, dense banana cake with the nutty, caramelised flavour of brown butter, a touch of cinnamon and served warm. It was absolutely delicious and I will definatly keep this recipe in mind for the next time I see brown bananas in the fruit bowl.

120 grams butter
150 grams soft brown sugar
2 eggs
180 grams plain flour
1tsp baking soda
1pinch of salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
60ml plain yogurt
2 bananas

Melt butter in a pan and keep it on the heat until a foam appears on the surface, it smells nutty and looks brown in colour. Set a side to cool down. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl mix eggs, sugar, the bananas roughly mashed up and butter. Add dry ingredients and yogurt. Stir until well combined and bake on 190C for 35-45min.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chocolate Macaroons


The other day I baked Macaroons again and they turned out nearly just the way I wanted. A crisp chocolate meringe shell with a chewy inside, filled with smooth milk chocolate ganache. I used this recipe and added 1tsp of cocoa powder to the icing sugar/almond mix. The milk chocolate ganache is very easy to make and I chose to kepp it plain, next time I might flavour it with some liqour or whiskey. I used Fair Trade milk chocolate of good quality.

Milk chocolate Ganache

100 grams milk chocolate
50ml cream
1tbsp butter

Bring the cream to boil and take off the heat. Add butter and chocolate, stir until the chocolate has melted and it all looks smooth and well combined. Set a side to cool down. The ganache is set when not runny anymore and thick in consistency. Fill the Meringe shells with the ganache and put together two and two. Chill before serving and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Blood orange drizzle cake


"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" the old saying goes but in the month of March it is more a case of blood oranges being in season and I like to make the most of it.
Lemon drizzle cake is something I tasted the first time in London. We were strolling around in a park, the sun was shining and it was a lovely late summer day until all of a sudden the sky turned grey and it looked like bad weather was on the way. In the gardens of Kensington Palace a lovely cafe called The Orangery is located and as we seeked shelter in there the weather started to get better again, and by the time we had ordered our afternoon tea the sky was clear again. English weather, what can I say?
However I decided to go very Brittish this afternoon and ordered a slice of lemon drizzle cake accompanied by a pot of Earl Grey tea. What a pleasure to bite in to this soft, moist sponge drizzled with a lovely tangy lemon icing, sipping tea in the gardens of Kensington palace.
This month I have indulged in blood oranges as they are in season and the price is very reasonable. It is lovely to eat them just the way they are of course but it can be nice to make something more and since I love baking I decided to put a twist on the classic Lemon Drizzle cake and do a Blood Orange Drizzle Cake. A rich sponge is topped with a blood orange juice and sugar mix, the orange juice will sink into the cake and make it moist, the sugar will stay on top and create a sherbet like icing.

Sponge

200 grams butter, room temperature
300 grams caster sugar
4 eggs
240 grams plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100ml milk
1 blood orange, zest and juice
1 pinch of salt

Cream butter, sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at the time while beating into a smooth batter. Add flour and baking powder through a sieve. Last fold in milk, zest and juice of the blood orange and make sure all is well combined. Bake for 30-40min on 175C, a skewer should come out dry. Take out of the oven and let cool on a wire rack while making the syrup and icing.

Icing

1 blood orange, juice and zest
80 grams caster sugar (i used icing sugar, it wont be as "icy" on the top, still very nice)

Combine the juice and sugar, pour over the cake and sprinkle zest on top.

Serve with your afternoon tea or as a dessert with a dollop of cream or yougurt.




Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swedish shrove tuesday pastries


The 8th of March this year was the date of Shrove tuesday. More known as pancake tuesday this is the day people indulge in pancakes. For me it was once again a day of making pancakes all day long in work since people, religious or not, really do want their pancakes on this very day. So working in a restaurant or cafe this day can be pretty busy.
In Sweden however this day is called "fat tuesday", but we dont eat pancakes. We eat a pastry called "Semla" or "Fastlagsbulle" (lent/fast-bun). A cardamom flavoured bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar. It is a real treat and should traditionally only be sold and eaten on this very day, nowadays most cafes and bakeries sell the pastries for weeks before the actual day to eat them though.

Buns

50 grams fresh yeast/ 14 grams dried yeast
500ml milk
150grams butter
85 grams caster sugar
1tsp salt
900 grams plain flour
1tsp cardamom, ground
1 egg+egg yolk for brushing the buns

Melt butter in a pan and add milk, let it be luke warm. Add the butter and milk to the yeast in a large bowl and mix until the yeast has dissolved. Add egg, sugar, salt and cardamom. Add 2/3 of the flour, mix into a paste. Gradually add more flour while working the paste into a dough, you might not need all flour, the dough is good when it is elastic and easy to work. Let prove under a cloth until it has doubled in size.

Divide into 20 pieces and shape little round balls. Let prove under a cloth on a baking tray lined with baking paper for 30-40min. Brush with a lighlt beaten egg yolk and bake for 8-10min on 220C. Let cool down.

Almond paste

100 grams ground almonds
100 grams caster sugar
water

Combine almond and sugar and and add just enough water to bind it togehter to a firm paste.

Cut the top of the buns and put a small bit of almond paste on each bun. Whisk 300ml of cream, not too firm but firm enough to pipe on top of the almond paste. Place the lid of the buns on top of the cream. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

If you have some unfilled buns left you can cut them into quarters and dry out on a low heat in to oven for a couple of hours and you have lovely, crisp cardamom biscotti.

Grilled Aubergine


I have always been a fussy eater and even now I find myself still learning to like certain types of food or flavours. Fish, capers, chickpeas and beans are only a few of the things I have learned to appreciate the last few years. One thing I am still working on is aubergine and I am getting to like it! Now I do not like the chunks of aubergine I so often find in Ratatouille, actually I do not like any chunks of auberinge. No, I want it roasted until soft and mashed up in to Baba Ganoush; a lovely libanese aubergine dip. But lately I have discovered how tasty aubergine is when thinly sliced and char grilled, soaked in a lovely marianade served as a side dich to grilled Halloumi salad and Bulgur wheat.
This recipe can also be used to make lovely Brushetta for a starter. Try to use fresh herbs as it will not only look pretty but also taste so much better.

1 auberine
1 red chili
1 clove of garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice
mint, basil, olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine in to 0.5cm thick slices. Heat a grill pan until smoking hot. Grill the aubergine on both sides, it should have nice grill marks on it and start to feel soft. Place on a plate or in a serving dish.
Chop chili (without seeds), garlic, basil and mint. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the aubergine. Scatter chili, garlic, lemon zest and herbs on top and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pink macaroons with rhubarb and cream tea


I have done it again and this time successfully. I am talking about macaroons and I am now very proud to present my latest attempt to bake these little treasures. It is such a challenge to have patience for all the little steps that are crucial for a perfect result. This time the macaroon bases were close to perfection and they just looked absolutely gorgeous. The recipe is the same as my Hazelnut macaroons but this time I did it the traditional way and used ground almonds.

150 grams icing sugar
60 grams ground almonds
2 egg whites

Mix half of the icing sugar with the ground almonds pass through a fine sieve. Beat egg white until soft peaks appear, slowly start to add icing sugar bit by bit while beating. Continue whisking to a firm meringue. Gently fold in almonds and icing sugar, stir just so all is well blended and has lost a bit of its volume, be careful not to stir too much.

Drop or pipe small rounds of the mix on a tray with baking paper. If small peaks or bubbles appear gently tap the tray against your work top and they will even out and look smooth. Let dry for 1h before baking on 150C for 12-15min. Let cool down completely before removing from the baking paper.

Fill with butter cream or chocolate ganache. My filling was a butter cream flavoured with rhubarb and cream tea, it will come later on the blog.

Bagels


Waking up on a weekend morning there is few things that taste better than a dense, chewy bagel toasted with cream cheese. The ring shaped bread with its variety of toppings and flavours has its origin in Poland and has since the 16th century spread around the world and is now mostly associated with cities in USA, Canada and UK with a big Jewish population.
For me bagels brings back memories of been a teenager and going to cafes to meet my friends for tea/coffee and having toasted sesame seed bagels with cream cheese and ham or turkey. Even before I tried a bagel I just knew I would like them. These days I don't eat too many bagels since they are rich in white flour and carbohydrates, but on a weekend a treat is a must and bagels really does the trick. What makes them so chewy and dense is the process of boiling the bagels before baking, sound a little tricky but it is easy enough and definatley worth the effort.

8 bagels

250ml water, luke warm
8 grams salt
8 grams sugar
7 grams dried yeast
400 grams plain flour

seeds, cheese, nuts...

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar and salt. Add flour and bring together to a dough, Knead the dough by hand for 10min. Let prove under a damp cloth for 1h. Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces and shape little round buns. Let rest for 10min. Make a whole in the middle of each bun and pull gently to make it a little bigger and even. Let prove again for 30min.

Turn the oven on 250C. Bring a pot of water to the boil with 2tbsp of sugar. Gently drop bagels in to the water and turn the heat down to let the water simmer. Cook the bagels for 1min on each side, lift up from the water and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle topping of your choice on top of each bagel. Turn heat down to 220C when you put the bagels in to the middle of the oven and bake for 20min.