May 26, 2006

Oh Lord(i)

On TV right now - an outdoor concert live from Helsinki with the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest, Lordi. Now I know what they did with all the leftover orch costumes from the Lord of the Rings movie. At least some of them were sold to this bizarre Finnish rock band! Also they resembles the rubber dinosaurs my brother collected when he was little. But where did they get that mummy on a stick they are waving?
Lazy thoughts from the couch! We are enjoying a lovely long weekend, starting yesterday on Thursday. Today it feels like Saturday but it is Friday. Earlier it felt like a Sunday but it wasn´t. It is raining but I am enjoying myself by planning for the balcony garden and of course cooking. And we are also planning our coming holiday in Latvia and Estonia. July 7th we are leaving for Riga, and then driving over the islands Saaremaa and Hiumaa to Estonia. So now we have lots to do booking ferry tickets and accomodation...

This post is to announce an important thing: I have had matje herring for the first time this year. Ask any Swede (almost) and the thought of matje herring with new potatoes and sourcream, gräddfil brings tears in their eyes. Not without reason, it is extremely tasty! Other tasty things this weekend: kroppkakor, (like gnocchi balls with filling of ham and onion) made by my dear man yesterday, roasted asparagus with Västerbotten cheese and a lovely sweet and sour beef and dill casserole I am cooking tomorrow.

Ah, sorry for this blah blah posting - just felt like writing something!

May 21, 2006

Cyberkocken 2

Today is no ordinary day because it is Cyber chef day! Cyberkocken is the Swedish edition of Paper Chef, this time hosted by Frida of Broccoli who by the way got married yesterday. Congratulations! And since she goes on honeymoon Ilva fixes the round up.
And now Swedish! English version further down!

Hmm, mango, spenat, quinoa och något rökt var inte de lättaste ingredienserna att kombinera. Men skam den som ger sig! Idén att göra någon slags rullar fick jag av vännen A - tack! Däremot justerade jag resten i sista stund eftersom jag inte hade lust att gå iväg till affären, en folkdansuppvisning i ösregn hade tullat allvarligt på mina krafter. Istället för den kalla rätt med färska varor som jag hade tänkt mig blev det en varm version av de ingredienser jag hade hemma. Mangon är i chutney-form dels för att jag som sagt inte orkade gå till affären och dels för att det kändes som om det skulle bli godare. Och det blev det. Men nästa gång jag går till affären ska jag skaffa en ny chutney, nu använde jag Santa Marias och det var faktiskt aningen för mycket nejlikor i!

Kristinas kalkonrullar
2 huvudrätter eller 4 smårätter

6 skivor rökt kalkon
1 dl quinoa + drygt 2 dl vatten eller buljong
2 dl bladspenat från frysen, tinad och grovhackad
1 finhackad liten gul lök
salt och peppar
3-4 msk god mango chutney

Skölj quinoan i hett vatten och koka den sedan i vatten eller buljong tills den är mjuk och de små "svansarna" har tittat fram. Fräs löken på svag värme tills den är mjuk och genomskinlig, tillsätt spenaten och låt det puttra ihop någon minut. Smaka av med salt och peppar. Blanda väl med quinoan.

Bred ut kalkonskivorna på en skärbräda och bred lite mango chutney på varje. Lägg på en rejäl hög av den varma quinoa-spenatblandningen och rulla ihop till trevliga små rullar. Servera bums med en bit gott bröd.

... And in English...

Cyberkocken this time was about the ingredients quinoa, mango, spinach and something smoked. My dear friend A suggested I should make some kind of rolls and I jumped at the task Saturday evening buying some smoked turkey. Today I would buy fresh mango and spinach and make a delicious cold salad, and wrap it in turkey. So I thought. But after folk dancing in pouring rain today I was so exhausted I couldn´t be bothered to go to the shop. Luckily I had all ingredients at home, but the mango is in chutney form... The cold salad turned into something warm salad-like and the rolls turned out great even though my new chutney is not so good, to much cloves in it. I am definitely going to try my invention more times, this is a good summer´s dinner or lunch I think and can be varied endlessly.

Kristina´s turkey rolls with warm quinoa salad and chutney
serves 2 as a main course and 4 on a buffet or as a starter

6 slices of smoked turkey or ham
100 ml quinoa + 200 ml water
1 finely chopped yellow onion
200 ml spinach from the freezer, thawed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp of your favourite chutney

Rinse the quinoa and boil it until soft in the water. Fry the onion until soft, add the spinach and sautée for a couple of minutes. Mix with the quinoa and spice to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread the mango chutney on the turkey slices, put a good amount quinoa/spinach mix on each slice and roll it up. Serve immediately with some good bread.

May 14, 2006

Throwing food away...

This week I heard on the evening news that Swedes every year throw away 900 000 tons of food. For various reasons, of course, sometimes you just fail cooking something, but the main problem is that people has stopped sniffing and tasting food before they bin it. They look at the expiry date and if it has passed - off it goes!
The same thing happens in food stores where the staff every day has to throw away perfectly good meat, milk and vegetables just because the date is "wrong". The reporter said to compare that everything grown in a country big as Belgium correspond to the amount of veggies that are just thrown away every year.

This report really made me think about my own habits. We try not to throw away food in this house, and we try to use our groceries before they are too old (and I mean really too old, I taste and sniff!) but compared to older generations we are real wasters! I have an old cookbook from 1925, the year my maternal grandmother was born. In that book is a whole chapter on what to do with leftovers! Has anyone seen such a thing in a modern cookbook? No. I think not. So from now on I will try even harder to really treat food with the respect it deserves. Use leftovers, not buy more than I need, look in the fridge before I go to the shop so I don´t buy something we already have... And this is easier said than done, everyone knows how easy it is to just drop in the shop on the way home and buy something new instead of going home and be creative with all the random strange things you have lying around...

It would be really interesting to write a cookbook where the starting point is different leftovers and not the usual: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables... It would be good both to wallets and environment!

And now I am curious:
  • Which leftovers are most common at your place? (Ours: cooked rice and potatoes and bread)
  • What is your most common leftover dish? (Mine (at the moment): Japanese trick with old rice)

Flying Jacob

Flying Jacob is a true Swedish classic and true comfort food. Fat-wise it has it all - bacon, whipping cream, grilled chicken and peanuts. And taste-wise it is simply glorious, even if you don´t want to have it every day, not even every month. I tried to find out some history about this rather peculiar dish but didn´t succeed. Maybe someone else knows?

Anyway, yesterday after nearly a full day´s work cleaning out the office in our dancing club´s house I made a "Jacob" for dinner and we enjoyed it on the balcony watching the sunset. Sorry about the lousy picture... Try this recipe - and then compensate by having something healthier the day after!

Flying Jacob
Serves 4-6
4 servings of plain rice, cooked
1 grilled chicken
150 grams streaky bacon, cut in pieces and fried until crisp
300 ml whipping cream
50 ml chili sauce or ketchup
100 ml toasted and salted peanuts
2 bananas

Spread the rice in an ovenproof dish. Take off the skin from the chicken and shred all the meat. Spread it over the rice. Slice the banans and put them on the chicken. Whip the cream and stir in the chili sauce, spread it over the chicken. Top with bacon and peanuts and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes on medium heat, 200-225 degrees. Serve immediately with a fresh salad.
Some people include a little curry powder in the cream but I don´t. You can also serve the rice on the side if you want

May 07, 2006

BBQ premier with home made potato salad

Another premier yesterday, first barbecue of the year with good friends, catching up and admiring a baby girl, three weeks old. I also did a lot of playing with her big sister, aged 2, who is very talkative and takes her new role in the family very seriously. She told me several times: "it is my little sister!" and when I held the baby she came and said "help out!" Of course she could. I lifted her up to my lap so she could help me keep the baby happy with a lot of hugging and kissing. What could be better an evening in May, entertaining two adorable little girls and enjoying a good meal outside in the garden?

For the grill we tried one of two samples I got when I attended my first (and last? Quite a unique arrangement) press release barbecue lunch this Wednesday at Scan, with Anne. More on that later. We got some steaks called Mammut, that´s mammoth in Swedish (by the way, do you know why there are not any mammuts left? There were no papputs! Haaahaaahaaa! Get it? Pappa is father in Swedish) and some ready skewers and I brought the mammuts to the party. Normally I prefer to choose and spice my own meat for the grill but this kind of meat ready for the grill come in handy many times. I think I will try the Mammuts again this summer because the taste was really really good and the meat (pork) very tender, but the skewers were nothing for me, something with the spice... A matter of taste perhabs?

Now back to our Saturday dinner. I really hate that greasy mayonniase-y white potato salad you buy in plastic boxes. Expensive and with an ingredient list longer than... oh I don´t know. A snake? Anyway, I always make my own and almost never use "white" things - I prefer vinaigrette or a good stock to flavour the potatoes but will maybe try it out with some Greek yoghurt soon.

Potato salad with variations
I don´t give exact quantities, merely an idea of what I ususally whip up in summer when I want a potato salad...

Boil 1-2 medium potato per person - watch it so it doesn´t overcook because you don´t want that. Cut in nice chunks.
While the potatoes are still warm, this is essential so they really suck in the taste, toss them with some good vinaigrette spiced with what you prefer - mustard or herbs or a little garlic... Let it sit until it has cooled off, then carefully stir in for example:
  • capers, turnip kale, green pepper and zucchini as in the picture
  • ground feta cheese and very finely sliced leeks
  • very finely chopped red onion
  • chives
  • fresh herbs of your choice - like parsley, basil, thyme
  • rocket salad

Enjoy your summer evenings!

May 05, 2006

balcony premier with club sandwich

I have, as you may know, waited eagerly for the spring, the sun, the warm winds. And they are here! Today I had my first lunch outdoors, chicken with herbs and chanterelle rice, on a very nice and sunny roof terrace with my dear friend A. And this evening my man and I had our first dinner on the balcony. We have a lovely balcony turned westwards so we get a lot of evening sun, and soon we will fill it with geraniums and other flowers, and herbs for cooking.

I had planned for a pasta with beef, mushrooms, zucchini and mustard but as it turned out my man wanted to celebrate spring with the best meat available in the shop, Swedish fillet of beef. Since he is the
sandwich expert in this household, I have told you before about his great prawn sandwiches, I only assisted him in the making of these delicious club sandwiches with fresh rocket and spinach, tomatoes, a thick stew of mushrooms and zucchinis spiced with a little mustard and of course the wonderfully tender meat. He is also very good at the presentation as you can see!

This weekend it is going to be about 20 degrees each day, lovely lovely! I have lots to do cleaning, folk dancing and meeting friends but will try to blog a bit too.

Fantastic club sandwiches
Serves 2 on a sunny balcony

2 slices of fillet of beef or some other good meat
10-12 champignons or other good mushrooms, cut in half or quarters
1/2 small zucchini in half-moons
2 tbsp plain flour
100 ml cream or milk
1-2 tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
4 slices of good bread
a handful of rocket and spinach
some tomato slices
2 slices of mozzarella

Start with the stew. Prepare the mushrooms and zucchinis and fry them in a little butter until a little tender. Powder over the flour and stir a little to bind the fluids, then add the milk a little at a time and let simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens. Spice to taste with mustard, salt and pepper.
Fry the meat a couple of minutes on each side - everyone seems to want their meat differently but we prefer it a little pink inside. Salt and pepper. Put the meat aside and let it rest while you fry the bread. Get your plates ready and combine your sandwiches as you please. Ours were bread-salad-meat-stew-bread-mozzarella-tomato. A wooden skewer helps to stabilize it. Carry them out in the sun and eat them immediately! A cold (Estonian) beer is nice to have with it. And try to ignore the teenagers driving back and forth with their mopeds (aaargh! Is this an international problem? Drives me crazy, but I also understand it is irresistible).

May 03, 2006

Cyber chef

Firstly I want to thank you all for visiting - my counter has passed 7000 visits now - a number I couldn´t believe some months ago... I still think it is so fun to blog about food and meet other foodies - in the comments and mails or even for real. Today for example I met Anne for a truly unusal lunch, but more on that subject when I get the photo of her, me and...

Last week I participated in the Swedish edition of Paper chef, called Cyberkocken i.e. Cyber chef. Phew. That was complicated. Anyway, the winner was Frida of the Swedish food blog Broccoli with some fantastic-sounding meatballs with lentils. I will try it and translate it some time. Another winner is Lexi of Catching points (also linked) who blogs in English and won the prize for "quick and easy" with a scrumptious lentil salad with ricotta...

My own contribution to the contest (the given ingredients were red lentils, rocket salad, pistachio nuts and something yellow) was with a recipe I am very proud of, tweaked a bit to fit in with the ingredients. I made it up many years ago when I had a party for some friends. Among the guest was a girl who was lactose intolerant and also a vegetarian and I created these peppers with lentils because I wanted her to have something nice and warm and filling. As it turned out not only she but all of the guests loved them so I have made them many many times since! They are tasty warm and cold but doesn´t freeze well, but you could make a double batch of lentils and freeze that. It also makes a good soup if you pour some water in... Now the recipe!

Kristinas peppers with lentils and spring salad with rocket and pistachios.
Serves 6 on a buffet or 3-4 people as a main course. (I served it with some grilled chicken as you can see in the picture)
6 medium peppers, I like them in different colours
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1 tin peeled whole tomatoes or 3-4 fresh, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large bay leaf
200 ml red lentils
salt and freshly ground black pepper
large pinch of dried herbs, I often use herbes de Provence or a small handful of fresh thyme
If you want: some grated cheese (I used some left over halloumi this time)

Cut off a lid on the peppers and remove seeds. Rinse and put in an ovenproof dish. I never parboil them, don´t think it is necessary. Chop up the lids and the onion and sauté in some olive oil until a little soft. Add the red lentils and the tomatoes with the spice and bay leaf and stir. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. The mix should get really thick, but watch it so it doesn´t burn. Spice to taste.
Use a large spoon and fill the peppers to the brim with the lentils. Crumble over osme cheese if you like (feta cheese is wonderful!) Bake in 200C 20-30 minutes until the peppers are alittle soft and the cheese has some colour...

The salad is simple but delicious. I just spread the salad on a plate and stirred a little yoghurt with some lemon zest - drizzled it over the salad and added, at the last minute, some toasted pistacios right from the pan, still warm... I also used some flakes of my Fleur du sel.