November 28, 2005

Belgian cookies and more

Yesterday I returned from Brussels where I spent a wonderful weekend with my dear man. Well, I had some colleagues who just had been to Brussels and came home gushing about the glorious weather - cold and crisp and sunny. Of course the rain was pouring down when we arrived to Charleroi airport after a rather dull Ryanair flight, but Brussels have much to offer someone tired and wet and cold. We crawled into a cosy beer café and had a beer and sandwich before bedtime at the hotel at Boul. Anspach. The day after it was OK, but very cold and then we jumped into the Dandoy bakery right behind Grand Place where I ordered the cookies above and tea for only 4 euros, very good value I think. I am not a big cookie fan, but wanted to have a taste of these specialties and was delighted! The best one was the small one with a nut on top to the right but everything was very tasty. I liked the speculoos but they were very like our Swedish gingerbread, only thicker and more crumbly. Another favourite was a tiny cookie with earl grey leaves in, totally delicious and not too sweet. They also had a nice little shop.

I have had some tips on Brussels foodie places but the weather was so lousy Saturday so we didn´t feel like walking around so I stuck to my old favourite places, conveniently located next to each other in Rue des herbes. The wonderful coffee and chocolate shop Café Tasse and La maison du miel where they have all things honey. I bought lavender and chestnut honey and what I bought in Café Tasse shall remain a secret because some people will read this.

... and of course we hade mussels, at least I did. And lobster, and lobster bisque. And we drank some fine beers of course. Unfortunately no crème brulée came in my way this time but I will compensate this next time I go to the best town. But first it is time for christmas, I am already obsessed with recipes and ingredients!

November 23, 2005


This is my contribution to the big cookie swap, at the same time both IMBB and SHF - translation of these mysterious combinations of letters here. I am posting this a little early, depending on that I am leaving for Brussels tomorroow, for a short holiday.

Anyway, these fine cookies are called cousins and I got the recipe some years ago from a newspaper. They caught my eye because I like cousins and my father loves loves loves dried apricots and I take every opportunity to feed him with them. I have made these cookies twice, and they are great. The recipe is created by Anna Bergenström, one of Sweden´s most well-known gastronomic profiles who has written several great cookbooks and inspires me every day.
(The dough needs to rest over night, like the rest of us)
15-20 dried apricots, use the most moist and tender you can find!
200 g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup or 1 dl almond, peeled or not
2/3 cup or 1.5 dl brown sugar
1 3/4 cup or 4.5 dl plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Chop the apricots or cut them with a pair of scissors into small pieces. Chop the almonds. Put aside.
  • Stir the soft butter with the sugar and vanilla sugar until really soft and creamy texture. Stir in the apricots and almonds.
  • Mix the flour carefully with the baking powder and stir in the butter mix. Knead together, to a firm dough, it is easiest to do it on a table...
  • Divide the dough into two or three pieces and make thick rolls, then flatten them to square shape. Wrap them in waxed paper or plastic foil and put in the fridge over night.
  • Use a very sharp knife and cut the rolls in thin slices, put on greased or paper-lined baking sheets and bake in the oven in 200 C/400 F for 10-12 minutes. Watch them very carefully, because the apricots burn really easy! I included one burned cookie in the picture, as a warning! Let them cool on the baking sheets and store in airtight containers. They keep well for several weeks in the fridge.

November 22, 2005

Jerusalem artichokes

Now take a look at these! My boyfriend dug them up last thursday in his mother´s garden and weighed them to 2.3 kiloes. We haven´t planted any this year, but last year, so these have had the cance to grow all year until now. If you have a garden of your own or can borrow a piece of someon else´s - try to grow your own! It is so easy. Just put them in the earth in spring, and harvest them as late as possible. Bear in mind that the plants become very big, so don´t put them in front of the pretty flowers!

Jerusalem artichokes, or jordärtskockor as we call them, are one of my favourite root vegetables. I love that you can make so many different things with them, I love the taste and texture and the way they just taste good in your mouth for a long time after you swallowed! It is the same thing with "ordinary" artichokes I think.

What we will do with this lot (probably both soups and gratins and pies and...) remains to be seen (and tasted) but whatever comes out, I look forward to it!

November 20, 2005

An introduction to chinese food...

BBM package contents

For many Swedes, including me, chinese food equals rice with deep-fried giant prawns in sweet and sour sauce, or beef and bean sprouts in soy sauce. That is what is served here in Chinese restaurants.

In october 2002 we went to Australia for a month and on our way back we spent some days in Singapore with a friend of mine who was living there at the time. She took me and my boyfriend to Chinatown and introduced us to the real Chinese cuisine, the meal that time was soup with a variety of small pâtés, rolls and mince balls to choose from and either put in the soup or eat as a side. It tasted great, but I have had problems getting to cook it at home because the Chinese produce is a mystery to me...

Now, thanks to Cass in Singapore I will try to make my own dumplings and also a thai noodle salad with the nice gifts from her BBM package which arrived here yesterday. Of course I can get asian foodstuffs here, but getting it from someone who really knows how to use it and generously share this knowledge is something completely different. Cass also told me all about the dragonboat festival which was very interesting, and overall it was nice to get a package from Singapore, which I think is a great place!

And the contents in the package is....(drumroll please)

  • Glutinous rice, dried shrimps and dried mushrooms for the dumplings
  • Glass noodles for a thai noodle salad
  • 2 bags of dried fruits - plums and limes (I just love dried fruit, how did you know that?)
  • 1 package of laksa mix, some kind of soup - Cass warns me it is both hot and sour! Exciting...
  • 1 box of powder for an almond dessert, looks like a pudding of some kind...
  • 2 packets of instant tom yum noodles

Thank you so much for a lovely package and thank you Cathy for hosting BBM3!

November 17, 2005

My little parcel

I can exhale, my BBM package has arrived safely on Ana´s porch this Wednesday! Nothing was broken and the lussekatts was still edible! I am so glad, because when I checked out on the internet a parcel to Canada was shipped in 5 days. OK, I thought, then I can make her some lussekatts and send them, they will be fine if she throws them in the oven for some minutes. And so I did, and off I went to the post office where a very nice lady helped me out with toll forms and everything and then merrily said "Bye-bye, your parcel will reach Canada in 8 working days". What a schock. As it turned out, the parcel arrived exactly one week later...

By the way, I told the very nice lady in the post office all about BBM and she thought it was a great idea! And not only because she works in a place that benefits from people sending parcels. I think I will have to go back and tell her that everything went well even though I sent grain products to Canada (it was not allowed, but I wrote "sweets" on the form, said a prayer and sent it off)

November 15, 2005

The day of the cheesecake

Yesterday November 14th was the day of the cheesecake here in Sweden. Swedish cheesecake is not at all like American cheesecake with cream cheese and crumble in the bottom. The Swedish is made from milk, processed with something I can´t translate (the correct English word for ostlöpe? Anyone?) so the milk starts to turn into cheese. Then you scoop up the cheese, mix it with almonds, eggs and cream and bake it in the oven. It is served warm with whipped cream and jam. Totally delicious, but a bit time-consuming and you need a lot of milk....
I come from a part of Sweden where the ostkaka is extremely important, you get it at every festive occasion, especially when older people are involved in some way. My mother comes from another part of Sweden where the ostkaka also is important but there it is completely different in texture, more smooth and a little chewy. There is also a version of this on the west coast of Sweden called äggost (egg cheese). It is a living tradition and I have this untranslatable processing thing in the fridge to try make my own the traditional way some time.

The good news are you don´t have to have the untranslatable thing, abnormal quantities of milk or indeed the time to enjoy the Swedish ostkaka experience. Just follow this easy-peasy recipe!

Swedish cheesecake
Serves 4-6
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
250 g of cottage cheese
1.5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup peeled and roughly chopped almonds

Whip up the eggs and sugar until white and fluffy. Stir in the other ingredients, pour in a greased ovenproof dish (not too big) and bake in 175 degrees (about 340 F) for about 30-45 minutes. Do not overcook! Serve with jam and maybe some whipped cream. Makes a great dessert after a soup for example.

November 14, 2005

Forget, forgot, forgotten

Of course I forgot the camera at home. I would forget my head somewhere if it wasn´t firmly attached to my neck.
But I can tell you that Mum´s food was, as always, delicious and it looked delicious too. And the lovely cats were adorable, as always. And we talked to them and they talked to us, as always.

My sister got engaged and we had this special dinner on Saturday for the lucky ones. The main dish was beef stew with dill sauce and for dessert Mum made my vanilla yoghurt panna cotta, but instead of vanilla yoghurt she used cloudberry yoghurt. Recommended!

November 10, 2005

Oh, that Tina

I watched Foodie Tina again today, see my previous post on the Jackson potatoes, and really. Really.
Well, today in all newspapers they had stories on how bad it is to eat too much salt, and Tina was mentioned as a bad example. She uses just too much salt, some professor said. Her PR agent on the other hand said that the professor couldn´t tell how salty Tina´s food is because he never tasted it. And she uses flake salt and that loooks more than it really is. Anyhow. Tina is a chef, and not some national nutrionist, and she can not be held responsible for people salting too much. That was my view. But she made chili con carne (looked delicious) and practically covered it in salt. Hmmm. So now I don´t know.

But: the fat. Again. She made student food, cheap and plenty, and one dish was potato and leek soup. Fine, I thought. But what did she put in it? Bacon, my friends. And she served it with a huge lump of brie cheese in each bowl. (She also made moussaka and into the white sauce went grated cheese and a huge lump of chèvre).

No, try this student soup instead. I learned it from a friend when I went to Lund University. Cheap, lean and lots of taste.

Curry potato soup
Serves 4
4-5 potatoes depending on size, in bite-size chunks
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 cups good stock, I often use beef stock
1 tbsp curry powder

Fry the onions for a little while in a skillet. Powder over the curry and let it fry a little to develop taste. Add the potatoes and the stock and bring to a boil, let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are ready. Spice to taste with salt and pepper and serve with some nice cheese sandwiches.
Of course you can add about everything to this soup - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, chick peas

Now I am going home to my parents for the weekend, bringing my camera to take some photos of Mum´s delicious food...

November 08, 2005

A box traveller

My parcel for BBM3 is now ready to go, after a couple of weeks of recipe-writing, baking, thinking and shopping. Here it is on its way to the post office.

Bye-bye little parcel, and good luck on your long journey to...someone... I hope the lussekatt doesn´t get too old and the jar with lingonbery jam doesn´t break.


I have had lunch again! Oh, happiness. Yesterday was poor, at least dinner-like and I was starving. On Tuesdays in Old Town you should go to the restaurant Magnus Ladulås to get your lunch, because then they always serve Wallenberg mince beef with mashed potato, creamy sauce, green peas and lingonberry jam. This Swedish specialty was created in the 1930´s I think and is kind of a luxury mince beef with extra high quality meat, cream and eggs and so on. The sauce has an almost toffee-like taste, simply delicious. Not low-fat but sometime you just have to let go! I think I am a healthy eater in general and can treat myself to an occasional Wallenbergare when I feel like it.

Magnus Ladulås is a very nice and cosy restaurant in an old building in Old Town, Österlånggatan 26, quite close to the royal castle. The name Magnus Ladulås comes from an old Swedish king, his reign was 1275-1290.

November 04, 2005

Warm chicken salad

Many years ago a good friend made this dish up for me an evening when I was tired and hungry. The recipe is really easy, just take an equal amount of the three main ingredients. It should be served with a nice bread but the shop didn´t have any (poor!) tonight so I added some creme fraiche to make it "saucy" and served it with unpeeled rice. I´m into grains and rices and stuff right now and tries out new things all the time. Last sunday wild rice, wednesday quinoa (fantastic taste but I still don´t have any good ideas on what to do with it. Anyone?) and today the unpeeled.

So, the recipe:
Chicken meat, I used fillets I cooked in the oven a couple of days ago. (You can use grilled chicken but I think it is too spicy for this dish. The pure taste of chicken combined with the other ingredients gives it a special character)
Mushrooms, I used ordinary champignons but you can use any firm mushroom with mild taste
Parsley, a lot of it, coarsly chopped. In this dish the parsley is a main ingredient and not "just" a spice
Salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar

Cut the chicken (raw or cooked) in bite size chunks and fry them in a pan. Salt and pepper! After a little while, add the mushrooms in big chunks and keep on frying. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar which accentuates the taste of the mushrooms in a great way. When the chicken is ready and the mushrooms just starts to soften (they should have some crunch left when you eat them!) you stir in the parsley, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with some good, fresh bread - or stir in some cream and serve it with pasta or rice.

November 03, 2005

Best lunch in town!

I just had lunch at the restaurant in the Post museum here in Old Town, Stockholm. If you ever come to Stockholm and want a really really good lunch, this is the place to go!

For 79 SEK you get the salad buffé with all goodies imaginable. Beetroots, broccoli, different kinds of beans, lentils, lettuce, olives, wine leaf dolmadas and the usual cucumber, corn and tomatoes. My favourite is the haricots verts, perfectly cooked and spiced with rose pepper. Today they also had big white beans with fresh mint. But it doesn´t stop there. The 79 also includes all you can eat of a delicious main course, today mince beefs with potato wedges and red wine sauce, water to drink and coffee and a small cookie afterwards. They also have soup and some different pies to choose from. On weekends they have a special menu.

Everything is always, always delicious and they often serve classical Swedish food. I heartly recommend it!

Restaurant Treskillingen
Lilla Nygatan 6
Old Town Stockholm
Open 11-16 Tue-Sun

November 02, 2005

Estonian pasta sauce

We often go to Estonia for holidays, which may seem like an odd destination. Mostly people go there just for a cruise to Tallinn but there is so much more to experience!Fantastic landscape, interesting history and long, white deserted beaches... That the prices are so low is an extra benefit!

Last summer my boyfriend and I made a trip to the big Estonian island Saaremaa on a very very hot day. When we got off the ferry and stopped the car in the countryside it was all quiet, you could only hear some bees and birds and in the hot air was the delicious scent of dry hay. We drove to the town Kurressaare and had lunch at a small restaurant with tables outside, this pasta sauce which today can be found in my lunch box. The estonian in this sauce, I think, is the salted cucumbers, a staple in all Estonian kitchens! Nice in sauces, in wedges with beer...

200-300 grams smoked ham in small pieces
2-3 salted cucumbers in small pieces
vegetables of your choice: tomato (seed them), corn, peppers... also in small pieces
chopped onion
2-3 tbsp flour
about 1 cup of thin cream or milk

Fry the ham and the onion. powder over the flour and stir. Pour in the milk or cream a little at a time and let simmer so it thickens. Add the cucumber and the veggies and let simmer for some minutes. Spice with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta. Serves 2-3 persons.