November 28, 2006

Fish with orange, chili and saffron

Today´s Swedish word: apelsin. Means orange.

Oh dear, what a lousy picture! But I can assure you that this is the best I have cooked in weeks (now, I haven´t cooked very much but you get the picture). Yum, yum, yum.

The November weather this year is extremely warm, and very gloomy. It is dark when I get up and it is dark when I leave work, and it makes me soooo tired. So I thought, "I want to cook something sunny, something fresh and healthy, something that makes me happy. And I want to eat more fish! More fish to the people!"

This is what my thoughts led to, and a very gloomy Monday evening suddenly felt at least a tad sunny! The taste from the orange and saffron blended perfectly with the fish, and in the background a nice little heat from the chilli.

Sunny fish casserole
Serves 4-6

500 grams fish, I used coalfish (sej) but salmon would be nice too, in large chunks
1 yellow or schalott onion, finely sliced. A clove of garlic maybe? (I cannot use it when A eats)
1 carrot, sliced thinly lengthways
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
1 packet of crushed tomato
1 orange, preferrably organic since you will use the peel as well
a tiny pinch of saffron
salt and pepper

Fry the onions in a little oil until soft and shiny. Then add in the carrot and chilli and cook for just a minute. Add the tomato and the zest from half the orange, season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Squeeze half the orange and add the juice to the tomato. Stir in just a tiny pinch of saffron, you don´t want it to be overwhelming! Stir in the fish and let everything simmer for a couple of minutes until the fish is cooked. Spice to taste with salt and pepper if needed and maybe a little more orange juice. Serve with rice and the remaining orange.

November 26, 2006

Must is a must!

Today´s Swedish word: flaska. Means bottle.

We have passed the magic date and it is now less than a month before Christmas! Since I am helping a good friend with her party-for-82-people-after-defending-a-doctoral-thesis-in-chemistry (and boy, will we celebrate!) next Friday I don´t have time to even think about Christmas food, yet. But I can at least buy a bottle of Julmust now and then, to refresh myself in between baking, planning, thinking... for that party. I am not alone in charge, thank God for that, but today I baked 100 of Johanna´s lovely Pink peppercorn and ginger cantuccini. Beside them I will bring the following to Uppsala very early on Friday morning:

  • Bread
  • Red pesto
  • Tapenade
  • Hoummos
  • Dried fruit, roughly chopped, to put on top of Brie cheeses
  • Party clothes, comfy shoes, toothbrush and my very best mood
The thesis-defending (it could be called disputation like in Swedish?) will start 9.00 and continue until 12.00. I don´t think I will understand very much but will give moral support! After that, me and a whole army of friends and family will get to the restaurant where the party will take place and get on cooking the last things for the buffet table, like Anne´s chocolate pots which will be served with a small citrus salad which I still have to invent, and a bulgur salad, and we will have trays of different meats, veg, pies etc. provided by deli counters, other friends and the Doctor-to-be´s Mum. 18.30 the party starts and we will continue eating, dancing and whooping until 2.00 at night. So there. I think I know what I am doing the upcoming days - resting and cooking...

November 20, 2006

New kitchen toy

Today´s Swedish word: vass. Means sharp.

This is my newest kitchen toy, a ceramic mandoline! I went to the Stockholm Food Fair last Friday with this in mind: I should do something about our lousy knives. I wanted something sharp, really sharp. And I got it. The problem is that it is a little too sharp. I am a little afraid of it! And I haven´t used it for anything other than trying to slice an overripe tomato, showing my dear man that this wasn´t a waste of money (actually it wasn´t very expensive). Well, this was no good for overripe tomatoes but I am sure I will use it for lots of other a little more stabile things, like potatoes and cucumbers and carrots and cabbage... I just have to feel like cooking again, which I don´t, at the moment. At the moment A is the one who cooks, and I do the dishes with sideway glances at my sharp little friend who hangs there on the wall just waiting!

I sure know this is a versatile tool. Cream Puff´s mandoline can even speak for himself! But I need more encouragement. How do you use your mandolines, those of you who owns one? And no "Oh, I once cut off half my finger"-stories, please... *gasp*

And as I said, my desire to cook is luring just behind the corner and will be back soon. I have been to restaurants, I have BBM parcels to put together, I will participate in Menu for Hope, I will cook for a friend who defends her doctoral thesis in chemistry (party afterwards!) and above all Christmas is coming up in just four weeks. So stay tuned!

November 13, 2006

Peace in Gamla stan

Today´s Swedish word: spegel. Means mirror.

You know how you sometimes just cannot go to sleep? Random thoughts keeps popping up in your head, your PJ´s gets twisted around your back and your legs and suddenly you feel hungry. That happened this past night and I lay awake between midnight and about 3.00. Sigh. With a heavy head and very heavy eye-lids I decided to treat myself to a bagel and good coffee for lunch at Coffee Cup, a café chain up on Västerlånggatan here in Old Town which is quite good. Well, on my way there I stumbled upon a new place called Spegeln (see above) and was lured inside because it looked so nice.
And oh, that was lucky! A parma ham focaccia, a salad and a good strong cappucino later I feel (almost) refreshed from my bad night. Focaccias in this town tends to be rather pricey and not so exciting, but this one (for 60 SEK) came with a fresh salad and was filled with lots of ham, lots of sundried tomato and basil and a lovely cheese. And above all, it was presented to me very nicely cut in smaller pieces which allowed me to hold a very good book in one hand and with the other pick up the sandwich bite by bite. When I told the owner how pleased I was with his design he said that he always cut the focaccia like that for girls because they like to nibble! Isn´t that sweet?

And the place was very cozy with lots of mirrors, comfy chairs and sofas and nice corners where you can rest your tired head. And the staff was very friendly and attentive. Go there if you want some peace in Gamla stan!

Old Town Spegeln, Västerlånggatan 34, Gamla Stan, Stockholm

And sorry, but my life is a bit hectic right now so I don´t think I will have much time to update in the coming days...

November 05, 2006

Clay pot chicken

Today´s Swedish word: kyckling. Means chicken.

*Clattering teeth*
My man is on his way to wander round a lake with a friend but I am sooo happy to stay indoors today. It is damp, it is gloomy and just a few degrees above zero. I just got dressed to go down to the library but realised that it is closed today since it is the All Saints weekend. So I am staying here baking, cooking and sewing (oh yes, I am trapped by the crafts devil, happens every year by this time). This photo though was taken this Friday when the weather was absolutely fantastic. I think it looks rather cool with both autumn leaves and snow on the same time. Now the leaves are gone...

Yesterday we invited my in-laws for a simple Saturday dinner and I decided it was time to once again de-dust the clay pot, or romtopf as the Germans call it. I had bought some large chicken legs and also the fridge was full of lovely root veg after a trip to an organic farm last weekend. I leafed through a cookbook or two and found a recipe from my ever-present cooking guru Anna Bergenström which I tweaked a little. This was lovely served with potatoes and a cold sauce made from creme fraiche with freshly grated horse radish. Clay pot cooking is really very practical and the chicken comes out juicy and tender.

Clay pot chicken
Soak the pot in water for at least 30 minutes
Chop up some vegetables in large pieces, I used about two carrots, half a swede, 1/4 root celery, two very small red onions and one large parsnip. I should have used kohlrabi as well but forgot! Put in the bottom of the pot and mix, don´t fill more than half of the pot so you have room for the chicken as well. Season with a little salt and pepper. If you don´t have a garlic allergic in the house add some garlic as well!

Cut the chicken legs (three in my case) in half, rub them with the juice from half a lemon, peel from half a lemon, pepper and salt and a pinch of dried oregano or thyme (I used my beloved Herbes de Provence). Put them on top of the root veggies, pour over a glug of white wine, put on the lid and then put it in cold (very important!) oven, programmed for 200C. When the oven reaches 200C start counting time, it will take about 45 minutes for the chicken to cook.

I like my chicken a bit brown and crisp so I took off the lid the last ten minutes or so and put on the grill mode. You can also brown the chicken before you put it in the pot.

Serve directly from the pot and forget about the cold outside.

November 01, 2006

Snow chaos!

Oh, for God´s sake. Does it have to snow already? Just a short non-food posting today but I will give you several Swedish words.
Kallt, means cold. Blåsigt, means windy. Lidande, means suffering. Snöstorm, means snowstorm. Våt om fötterna, means wet feet. Vänta, means wait.

It started yesterday evening. A and I had been to a concert (Cesaria Evora, wonderful!) and entered the central station in Stockholm where approx. 100 people were standing in line in front of the information desk. We learned that all trains heading north of Gävle, a town about 200 km north of Stockholm, were cancelled and some trains were even standing on the railways in the middle of nowhere because it was not safe to continue in the increasing snowstorm.

I thought the worst was over, but when I came out in the street after work the snow hit my face so hard I just gasped! The commuter train was delayed, and we waited, and waited, and waited. Then we learned that the railway points (växlar) north of Stockholm were totally frozen, didn´t work at all. So the central station was even more chaotic this evening! It took two hours to get home, and that is only because A very kindly took the car to pick me up at the train station. All buses in my hometown were cancelled, the streets were simply too slippery, so we also took a passenger - a poor lady who had been on her way home from work for three hours. Normally it takes about 50 minutes!
I am so glad we decided to switch to winter tyres this weekend, or I would have had to walk all the way home. But now I am OK again after some champagne tea! Now let´s see how it works tomorrow. Life in public transport in Stockholm is so exciting!