January 29, 2006

Selling a couch for couscous...

Yesterday I read the most marvellous story in my local paper. There was this lady, in her late sixties I would guess, who wanted to get rid of an old couch. Therefore she asked the owner of her local shop here in my town if she could put up a note in the shop. Then he asked what she wanted for the couch (apparently he needed one), but she didn´t want to sell it, she just wanted to give it away.
Since he insisted on giving her something for the couch they agreed on him getting it in exchange of him arranging an event in the shop to give the customers a chance to taste some of the "exotic" foods he has to offer, like couscous and wine leaf domladas and such. The lady in question had seen these food items but dared not buy it because she didn´t know what it was like and how to cook it.

You should have seen the feature in the paper, it was so wonderful. Elderly ladies sitting on their (ah, I don´t know the word in English. Rullator in Swedish, it is a small carriage on wheels which you can lean on and with a basket to put things in and a little seat to rest in), eating dolmadas with great delight, and couscous salad. A great success! Next time he was going to arrange a taste of Finnish food which are sold in many shops here since we have a lot of Finnish immigrants.
Food is such a big part of our culture, and learning to try new things and least of all wanting to, is so important. This story warms my heart, really!

January 26, 2006

Very short, on luxury

Do you know what I bought yesterday? Champagne tea! To be honest it tastes mostly strawberry, but anyway. Irresistible!

January 24, 2006


This is not a memory photo I am afraid. We still have our Christmas tree! You see, if you are really lazy, and renovating the hallway (very messy) and above all the Christmas tree starts to grow again with fresh long green shoots in the end of the branches, you just take away all the christmassy red balls and birds and the - ahem - "star" and go on with your life pretending that the Christmas tree is a really large pot plant with lights in.

Yes, of course we will throw it out. Soon.

And here is our lazy dinner today, rösti, one of my favourite ways with potatoes. This is a plain version but before I moved in with an anti-garlic person I often used to press a clove of garlic in the potato and serve with a little bacon instead of fish roe.

Rösti my way
2 potatoes per person
oil or butter for the pan

Grate the potatoes roughly and season with a pinch of salt. Heat up oil or butter in a large frying pan and put in the potato, press it thin with a spatula or similar. Fry until golden colour, flip it using a large plate and fry the other side for some minutes more. You can also make very small cakes if you feel like it. What you want is a rather thin, golden cake but I always tend to make mine a little too thick. The option to fry two cakes instead of one never appeals to me when I am hungry and lazy. I think in the original version you also include some grated cheese but I have never tried it.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or gräddfil and some fish roe if you have some. A little finely chopped red onion is very good too.

January 22, 2006

All about my cookbooks

And here is my second meme ever, about cookbooks (Anne tagged me for this one)...

1. How many cookbooks do you own?
38. But A also owns a few so the total cookbook amount in the house should be around - 45?

2. Which cookbook is the one you bought most recently?
I have bought three cookbooks in three weeks and want to mention them all. First I found a special issue of InStyle at the Nwesagent´s, Parties. Glossy, thick and beautiful beutiful pictures. Irresistible! I bought it right away and has found quite a few interesting recipes inside, too.
Then I got a gift card and bought a wonderful breadbook, Brödglädje, that means Joy of Bread in English. It is published by the former Swedish state church and mixes stories and thoughts on the meaning and importance of bread with recipes from ordinary people around Sweden. I love the personal touch with notes as "My mother got this recipe from a friend 1948" and such. All the breads has rather crazy names so in the contents register it is not easy to find what you are looking for! You just have to leaf it through and follow your instincts...
The last one I bought is Nigella´s Feast, but in Swedish. And oh, it is wonderful. I can´t believe I haven´t got any of her books before. But that has to do with her TV show. You see, I just didn´t like her cooking with her hair hanging about like that. Silly? Maybe, but I kept wondering how much hair got into the food - something I can´t stand myself...yuk... But other foodbloggers got me interested in her book´s and here we go, another fan of Nigella´s!

3. Which cookbook is the one you read most recently?
Nigella´s Feast is on my bedside table and I read it every night and plan for all the parties I am going to throw... I am even planning to make yellow pea soup, something I never learned to like. But her recipe is so tempting!

4. Name five cookbooks which mean a lot to you
First of all Annas mat (mat means food in Swedish) by Anna Bergenström, my food guru above all. She is one of Sweden´s most famous food journalists and her recipes are so great. I have never ever failed anything I tried from her books and I love the way she writes
Bonniers stora kokbok is a classic and I got the new edition from my aunt B a couple of years ago. It became quickly our favourite. Informative, educational, modern, wonderful pictures and great recipes!
Then another one of Anna´s books, Annas sparmat (spar means save) which I got hold of as a student in Lund University many years ago. When I came there 1993 I barely knew how to cook. I used to bring water to a boil and then throw in three-minute macaroni. At the same time I put some frozen meatballs on a plate, put it in the microwave and set the timer for three minutes. When the micro was ready, my macaroni was ready. Practical! But sooo boring. This book put an end to this misery and I still often use it.
Sju sorters kakor (seven kinds of cookies) is a Swedish classic and is now also available in English. I got hold of a copy which has helped me tremendously these past months with the cup measures... This book is all you need to feed your visitors a proper fika with the right things on the table. My Swedish copy is indispensable for me who never can learn a sweet recipe by heart.
For the last one I choose Husmoderns kokbok (the housewife´s cookbook) "utarbetad av Kerstin Wenström". I found it on a flea market in november and bought it because it is so beatiful and because it was published in 1925 when my grandmother was born. I don´t know how much I am going to use it but it is fun to own it!

... and "bubbling" just outside this top five is Nigella, Astrids mat by Astrid Nilson (but it is not mine, it belongs to the other person in this household though we read it and use it both very much), Jamie Oliver and some other stuff...

Before I return to the couch this very cold -10 Sunday (yes, I have been outside walking and having fresh air, don´t you worry) I want to tag Pille of Nami-nami, Zoubida of Kitchen culture and the Swedish-writing Kinna of Mormors mat for this fun meme. You go, girls, I want to know all about your cookbooks!

January 21, 2006

Turnip cabbage

I just want to draw your attention to this little fellow, the turnip cabbage or turnip kale or kohlrabi as it says in my dictionary. Kålrabbi in Swedish. Call it what you want - it is so good!
Veggies in Sweden this time of year is a sad story. The tomatoes are boring, the cucumber boring. If you want tasty veggies you have to stick to the root vegetables and different cabbages. Turnip kale is wonderfully crunchy and juicy and has a very delicate cabbage flavour. Just peel it carefully because the peel is quite rough, cut in pieces and tuck in! It is an absolute delight, and nothing but good for you.

Over and out - We are renovating the hallway and now it is time for the floor...

January 19, 2006

My first meme

Zoubida has kindly tagged me for my first ever meme and here are the answers... At first I was planning to write both in French and English since this meme comes from the French foodie blogosphere, but I think I´ll stick to English - my head is a bit stiff today...

Which recipe do you consider the best you published?
The best one, although it is not my own invention, but my grandmother´s, is the lemon pickled herring. A wonderfully fragrant, both crunchy and moist dish which I got many positive comments on both on the blog and from friends...

Which picture do you consider is the best?
I am not very good taking photos of food... But I think the picture of my small goodie bags with chocolate truffles is nice, even if I wasn´t so pleased with the project itself...

Which is your most visited recipe?
Swede soup, according to the statistics... Quite a few people is googling that. And Cousins, but that is because I participated in this cookie swap...

What is (are) the best savory recipe(s) you borrowed from an other blog?
I have only tried one so far and that is the lemon braised leek from Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking which I made only last week!

What is (are) the best sweet recipe(s) you borrowed from an other blog?
Same thing there, haven´t tried so many except Gâteau au yaourt from Chocolate and Zucchini which I made my very first week as a blogger!

And who am I going to tag for this? I don´t have so many contacts yet, but Anne has tagged me so now I am tagging you, Anne! And everyone else who feels like answering such interesting questions that gets you to think twice on what you publish and return to old favourites...

January 17, 2006

Prawn sandwiches

A good man is hard to find, but I have succeeded. Among other things he makes the most delicious sandwiches! These prawn sandwiches were served this Friday - they look nice don´t they? On a light rye bread he put lots of fresh prawns (normally we buy them frozen), lemon wedges, salad, tomato and cucumber, sour cream, mayonnaise and roe from the shrimps. And beneath all these goodies was a little surprise: lightly cooked slices of our home-grown Jerusalem artichokes, which went very well with the saltiness from the prawns and the veggie crunch. With the sandwiches we had Estonian beer, as usual.

And when they were finished he went out in the kitchen and made two more!

January 15, 2006

Leek and chicken

Well, I gave myself a challenge this month - don´t buy any food you don´t need. Absolutely nothing for the cupboards, preferably nothing for the freezer. Only milk products and veggies. And use all leftovers. That was my challenge. And how it goes? So-so.

Today I had a lemon that was beginning to feel a little dry, so I had to do something with it. The solution came with one of my favourite food bloggers, Rachael of Fresh approach cooking who wrote very tempting about lemon-braised leeks some days ago. I went ahead, following her recipe and adjusting it by roasting some chicken drumsticks on top of the leeks, which came out very tasty as you can see in the picture. But I don´t know if I follow my challenge if I buy 1000 grams of chicken drumsticks and one giant leek to get rid of one lemon? Anyway, it was very good and I will definitely make it again! The smell in the kitchen was just wonderful!

I have a very busy week but will try to post some things anyway - among other things I have been tagged for a meme, for the very first time!

January 12, 2006

Italian and Swedish goodies

I mentioned my brother´s Christmas gift to me, bought at Arabusta in my home town Värnamo in south Sweden. Here it is - doesn´t it look nice? Now I have unwrapped it to further explore the contents which is:

  • Lemon olive oil from a small scale producer in Italy. Now he has run out of lemons so we all have to wait until this autumn to get more of this oil...
  • Two herb mixes, one for chicken, "Pollo" and one "Spagghetata". Both very nice-looking, the pollo one is green and the spaghettata seems to contains quite a few chillies
  • A small packet of "Nero di Peppia", that is octopus ink! I am very excited to try this, but also absolutely clueless. How do I use it? In what? Does it taste anything special? Enlighten me, please!
  • A big bag of whole spelt wheat, which I learned some weeks ago is called Farro in Italy. But this is not Italian - the wheat is grown in south-east Sweden by Hargodlarna and comes with a recipe for a salad with wheat, carrots, onions and some more things

I am thrilled to find such a place in Värnamo! The clothes and shoe shopping is already excellent there and now you also can go food shopping! I urge you all to go there with your wallet ready. I sure will next time I am visiting my family!

January 11, 2006

Comfort in a box

I am tired, I am uninspired at work, I have loads of boring things to do, the snow is suddenly melting away and my feet are cold and wet. Financial status? Don´t ask. Often January is like this, but this year I finally got something to really help me out! Today, you see, I picked up my great box of comfort, kindly and carefully put together by Celia of English Patis. EBBP3, hosted by The Passionate Cook Johanna with the theme Comfort me was the reason why this Wednesday became a lovely Wednesday. This is what I got:

  • Ingredients for a "melting" chocolate pudding - high quality organic chocolate, flour, sugar and ground almonds. A insisted on me opening the chocolate bar at once and I let him have a small small bit of it. The rest is for the chocolate pudding I will make for some friends!
  • A copy of the magazine Olive, which contains the recipe for the pudding and of course loads of other interesting things. I love food magazines, and actually have flicked through this issue of Olive but didn´t treat me to it. How lucky!
  • Some green tea with strawberries, looks very good!
  • Instant miso soup, which I also love
  • A large bag of crisps with sweet chilli taste - truly comfort food for me!

I can´t thank you enough for all this! Everything was perfect and the theme was really really perfect too this dreadful month. Now if you excuse me I will return to the couch, flicking through my glossy magazine and nibbling on one or two of those crisps....

January 09, 2006

Wireless useless

Last week A bought a wireless router so we don´t have to have a cable rolling around through the flat. That´s the good news. The bad news: it doesn´t work. At least not always, and since yesterday not at all. Humph. So I am sorry but I cannot write so much and don´t publish photos as much as I would like to at the moment but we (he) is working on it.

A small report though: I have sent off an EBBM3 package to someone and is eagerly waiting for the one (hopefully) on its way here. I have been at my parent´s again and had a lovely time and of course lovely food. My brother christmas-presented me with the most wonderful basket from a new shop and café in my home town called Arabusta. I have never been there myself but surely will have to pay them a visit next time I go home. I will write separately about the basket but among many other things I got some fine lemon olive oil and they have such a good contact with the producer they could tell my brother that this in fact was one of the last bottles because now they were definitely out of lemons! That is the kind of information I like to get about the produce I use!

I am also reading one of my christmas books (gift from my father), the one by Mireille Giuliano about why French women don´t get fat and I really enjoy it even if I am not having problems with my weight. Good tips about how to eat, nice recipes and really good writing also!

January 05, 2006

Hoki baked with tapenade

I am continuing on the leftovers from New Year´s and today I had some tapenade to take care of. It is home made and I only used it for some crostini so I had almost the whole batch left, which I just couldn´t throw away. Tomorrow we are going to my parents so I had to do something rather urgently. The solution was to spread the tapenade over some hoki fillets I bought today. (In the recipes I found you are supposed to use cod, but I don´t want to buy cod since it is a threatened fish at least here. Hoki is a similar fish, mine was frozen and imported from New Zealand which is kind of a long way to go for frozen fish... Sometimes it is so hard to try to be good to the environment...)

Anyway, it turned out delicious and I also get all for myself since I am the only one in this houshold eating garlic. If you ever have some leftover tapenade and a nice fish fillet - try it! Just put the fish in an ovenproof dish, spread over the tapenade and bake in oven until the fish is done - in this case about 20 minutes in 200C. I served it with brown rice and tomato, but when I bring it to work in my lunchbox I will try to make some salad with haricots verts and rosé pepper, which I think will be very tasty. I delighted myself by putting four bags of lasagna portions and three boxes with tapenade fish and rice in the freezer. I like to bring my own lunch to work and save my money for really good lunches once a week...

Still no batteries in the camera, but the tapenade fish is not anything to see anyway. Frankly, it is rather ugly! But you should try it anyway.

January 04, 2006

Fresh cheese lasagna

The battery is out on our camera, otherwise you would have been able to see a fine shot of the delicious lasagna I made today. It feels like ages since I cooked something "ordinary" and while I was at it I also made some bread. It is now January and I am not permitted (by myself) to buy anything for my kitchen cupboards. This is leftovers month and today my most urgent leftover was fresh cheese. I like to make fresh cheese when I make dinner for people and for New Year´s I made two batches which really was too much. This is my easy-peasy recipe.

Pour some (1000 ml is a good measure) plain youghurt (should not be any light version) in a skillet. If you want to make it more luxorious you can also stir in some creme fraiche. If you are Swedish, try it with filmjölk. Then warm the youghurt until it starts to "split up", I don´t know the correct English term but you will understand what I mean when you see it. Pour the youghurt in a large coffee filter to drain off for a couple of hours in the fridge, and then mix it in a bowl with salt, pepper and whatever other things you could think of. Chives is very very good, also walnuts, grated horse radish, sundried tomato... Use your imagination! Serve it with fresh bread.

Anyway, making cheese of 2 litres was really too much and today I found myself stranded with a whole unused batch of it. What to do? Yes, I stirred it with a little creme fraiche to make it more easy to handle, and layered it with meat sauce and lasagna, instead of the ordinary white cheese sauce. I had to buy lasagna plates but used fresh soft ones and hence escaped my own rule to not buy pasta for the cupboards... The lasagna was excellent and I will definitely substitute the fatty cheese sauce again.

January 03, 2006

Happy new year!

I know, the new year is now three days old but time flies and I haven´t had time to sit down with this- I have been busy with a puzzle, sleeping, reading and taking walks in the glorious winter weather. Today I planned on skiing, but the lock to the back compartment in our car is frozen so I can´t get the skis in there. That´s life. I have also had my first ever blog-date with one of my readers, if you don´t count the readers I already knew. Thanks Maiko for a lovely evening!

But back to the New Year. We live on the 10th floor and decided to ask some friends over on New Year´s Eve to celebrate and watch the fireworks from the balcony. Very convenient! We crammed eight people in our kitchen and fed them as follows:

For a starter in the living room by the Christmas tree (no needles so far!!!!????!!!): Martini and grissini which I had plans of making myself but decided against (lack of time)

Antipasti my way, with prosciutto crudo, salami and bresaola in very thin slices, crostini with home made tapenade and knäckisar with home made red pesto and crostini with a piece of feta cheese and a slice of roasted pepper

Pork loin filled with basil and sundried tomato, sliced on a plate and baked with a cover of mozzarella, basil, tomato and walnuts - with arborio rice and a nice sauce and sugar snaps

Crema catalan with caramelized sugar and pomegranate seeds

Home made fresh cheese with chives and brie cheese with the top mould layer shaved off and sprinkled with dried fruit (dates, apricots, green raisins). Biscuits and biscotti.

Our dear guests practically rolled out of the door when they were getting home and that´s the way I like it.

Before I go for a little walk I want to share with you the recipe for red pesto, which was my favourite on the table. And those of you who are able to, try knäckisar with sesame seeds, they were really tasty. The recipe is from the always reliable Bonniers kokbok and is definitely a keeper!

You need ten sundried tomatoes in oil, I used the ones I bought in a bag a couple of months ago. First I soaked them in boiling water for about 20 minutes, then I drained them and poured a little olive oil over them, covered and put in the fridge over night. They turned out perfect, even without any spices. You can also of course use ready tomatoes in oil from the shop.

In a bowl or food processor, combine the tomatoes and 25 grams of grated strong cheese like parmesan or Västerbotten (I used Svecia because I wanted Swedish cheese and the shop was out of Västerbotten). Mix in food processor or with a handheld mixer until everything is chopped. Add 1 clove of garlic, 25 grams walnuts and a handful of fresh basil leaves. Mix again. Then add olive oil, very little at a time and stir or mix to absorb the oil. Continue doing this until the texture is nice and smooth and creamy, about 100 ml oil. Serve as you please and enjoy!