July 27, 2006

Swiss chard dolmadas with rice and mushrooms

Swiss chard (mangold) is a rather new veg to me, partly because you seldom see it in "ordinary" supermarkets where we get most of our food. But as a foodie I have started to visit other places and there you always can find this magnificent vegetable - I think it is so beautiful with its large leaves and stems in white, red or yellow.
Last week I visited Rosendals trädgårdar at Djurgården in Stockholm and found a big bunch of Swiss chard for only 15 SEK, so I bought it without even thinking what to make of it. I put it in a vase on our kitchen table and turned to my trusted cooking guru Anna Bergenström for advice. I have written about her before and cannot praise this woman enough. She is simply the best! I use her cookbooks all the time and have yet to try a recipe of hers I don´t like. These Swiss chard dolmadas was another success! She gave the recipe in the book more like a description than a recipe with exact measures and I describe it in the same way.

Swiss chard dolmadas
Take large Swiss hard leaves , trim off the stalks and maybe a bit of the central "nerve" and put it in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, to soften them. Drain and put aside. I used eight leaves.
Boil 3-4 servings of rice in some good vegetable stock and some dried herbs like thyme or oregano, I used brown rice which I use more and more. Put aside.
In a frying pan sautée one chopped small onion and a bag of yellow chanterelles from your freezer (or other good mushrooms) until a little soft. Mix it with the rice and spice to taste with salt and pepper.
Put a good spoonful of the rice/mushroom mix on each leaf and roll together. Put the dolmadas in a greased ovenproof dish, pour over just a little of milk or cream and grate over some good cheese. I always use Västerbottenost which is an almost parmesan-like Swedish cheese, delicious.
Bake in the oven, 200-225 degrees, for about 25 minutes and enjoy!

July 24, 2006

En resträtt till Cyberkocken

It is time for Swedish Paper Chef again, this time hosted by Anne. So sorry, just Swedish today... I don´t think I will translate it this time, my throw-together with the given ingredients broccoli, sundried tomatoes, shrimps and cheese of some kind will hardly go down in history. But I got rid of some leftovers and it was OK! And bye-bye again, for a couple of days. The weather is going to be nice the coming days so we will take a sailing trip to the beautiful town Mariefred. I will be back on Friday when it is time to sieve my limoncello.

Och nu över till svenskan. Jag lider av lite "gah-semestern-är-snart-slut"-blues och kände mig lite oinspirerad fast ingredienserna kändes väldigt goda och lätta att kombinera. Min grundtanke var att göra något slags paella men slutprodukten har inte så mycket med paella att göra, snarare pyttipanna... Och blogger vägrar ladda upp bilder för tillfället så ni får väl försöka tänka er en stekpanna med en massa broccoli, ris, räkor, halloumiost...

Jag började med att koka ett par portioner råris i buljong, ja i själva verket gjorde jag det i förrgår för att använda till annat och fick en massa över. Sedan kokade jag jättefin broccoli, köpt på Rosendals trädgårdar, i stora buketter och spolade av den med iskallt vatten så den behöll färgen. Ställde åt sidan. Fräste en halv liten purjolök, lite röd chili, en halv överbliven zucchini och blötlagda soltorkade tomater tillsammans med räkorna. Sedan blandade jag detta med riset i pannan, lade på broccolin överst för jag tyckte den var så stilig, och toppade med ett par skivor halloumi - denna guds gåva till ostälskarna.

Inga märkvärdigheter, men enkelt och gott och framför allt ett bra sätt att ta vara på rester. Man kan ju använda lite vad som helst!

July 23, 2006

Souvenirs from Estonia

The grand finale of our summer holidays in Estonia is usually a stop at a supermarket on our way up to Tallinn and the ferry. The first year I was mainly interested in buying beer but my interest has gradually turned more and more to the other shelves of Maksimarked. Thanks to Pille I left all the beer responsibilities (we simply have to bring some good Estonian A Le Coq home!) this year and concentrated on other things, like running around for ages looking for Kama, choosing the best pickled cucumber and drooling over the chocolate department.
Waiting in line my basket contained the following (cannot you just tell I am a foodie now?)
  • 1 large jar of pickled cucumbers
  • Several small bags of bread snacks, like croutons with intriguing flavours like salmon caviar and pickled cucumbers
  • 4 small and 2 big Kamatahvels
  • 1 bag of Kama
  • 1 mini muffin tray, impossible to find in Sweden. At least for about 70 SEK.
  • 1 piece of salad cutlery made of wood
  • 5 small viru valge coolers (for my neighbour who kindly looked after our home) and 1 Vana Tallinn cooler for us to taste
  • 1 dark chocolate bar for my father

In the car were also several loaves of Estonian rye bread, a jar of Latvian honey bought in sign language from a nice lady in the market in Riga, a bottle of Riga Balzams (not mine) and the vodka in the picture, bought in Haapsalu for making Ilvas Limoncello (sorry, recipe in Swedish. I made half a batch). You are supposed to use 95% alcohol and the strongest you can get here (at least legally, which I definitely prefer) is 40% but in Haapsalu I found this 80% vodka which I hope will work out fine. It has to sit for 5 days and then a whole month before tasting but I assure you I will report back about the outcome... I have never made liquor before so this is exciting!

Now back to the kitchen. After no cooking apart from some pasta for over 10 days I have lots of catching-up to do! For instance I now have 6 skinless lemons to take care of. Marmalade?

July 20, 2006

Back home

Yawn. Yaaawn. I am so so tired, but very happy with our long trip to Latvia and Estonia (it was boiling hot so we had to leave Lithuania to another time) which we returned from this morning. Everything went fine, absolutely no problems with anything*. The sun was shining all the time, we swam in the warm sea and lay on long white beaches. We ate really really good food and met wonderful people, and we found nice places to live almost all nights (although I recommend booking in advance if you are going to Ventspils, we arrived 18.30 and had to live at a dreadful hostel). The best with this trip was to see the countryside in both countries, so beautiful and untouched. I love the stork birds so much, we don´t have any in Sweden because we have dried out too much swamps where the storks´ favourite food the frogs lives.

What strikes you the most as a Swede, especially in Latvia, is the price level which is very low. You can get a lunch in Latvia for 20 SEK and you really have to make an effort to get a dinner, with drinks, for over 50 SEK. That is very very cheap which of course is good for tourists but I have mixed feelings anyway because I know that meals in restaurants and nights at good hotels are completely out of reach for the average Latvian. We met a woman in Riga whose pension was about 790 SEK a month! I hope they get their economy going better soon and will do my best to support it by more visits, something I also heartily recommend. Well, more on my trip in later posts!

The sandwich in the picture was my extra lunch today, the ordinary lunch was new potatoes with herring and sour cream. After an hour or so I discovered it wasn´t enough and made a favourite summer sandwich, very Swedish. Hard bread with sliced cold potato and caviar on top! Sometimes I put on some chives too but I was too hungry. And the chives, by the way, is growing on our balcony now!

*Well, we had a little incident with a piece of a pipe laying in the middle of the road somewhere just outside Aizpute. KABONK it said and then the gears was crazy, it sounded funny and oh my god. We could at least drive it to Liepaja! But our problem solved when we found a very helpful hotel receptionist who called a car mechanic for us and wrote little notes in Latvian about our problems and so on. Car mechanics in Latvia doesn´t generally know English but we simply gave them the notes and with those and some sign language we were back on the road, gears almost fixed, after two hours.

July 08, 2006

So long!

We are not leaving tomorrow anymore, since ten minutes back we are leaving today. And I haven´t packed yet, gah. But at least everything is clean and my bag is standing in the hallway and all the elderflower cordial has been taken care of so I dont´have to worry about that at least. And I have written down a lot of addresses to friends and family ´cause I am a postcard-writer yes I am. And the address to the hotel in Riga too!

It will be all right in the end I guess. We leave the house tomorrow by 3 in the afternoon and the ferry leaves at 5. At least we think so, we haven´t exactly checked (but we have talked about checking it, several times today). To make a long story short things will be quiet here at Clivia´s for about two weeks. Maybe a simple update from some exotic place in Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania (we have almost decided to include a little of Lithuania in our trip). So long all foodie friends, I wish you twelve sunny and happy summer days with many delicious salads, such as the tabbouleh in the picture!

July 05, 2006

Elderflower cordial

I have just tasted my elderflower cordial which is sitting in the fridge and it is almost done - look forward to drink it later! (When I get water, that is. We got a note last week about the water shutting down 8.00-16.00 today and tomorrow. There are also signs on the door and in both elevators. But do I remember to fill buckets and bottles before 8? Nope. Better luck tomorrow...)

Elderflower is my favourite cordial, versatile for much more than drinking it plain. I use it as a sweetener for ice tea and in desserts, for example. This is the first time I try to make it myself actually, but it is easy. I got the elderflower from some dancing friends with a big garden but tried in vain to get hold of organic lemons. You can make marmalade of the lemons afterwards but I don´t think I will use these even though I scrubbed them with hot water and detergent. Besides, my fridge is still full of jam from last summer and now the berry season is coming up again...

Elderflower cordial
Makes about 2000 ml, to mix with water

30-40 elderflower "clusters", make sure you use the right kind with flat clusters
3 large lemons, organic, or wash them really carefully with a hard brush and detergent
about 2000 grams caster sugar, I used about 1500 grams but then you have to freeze it to keep it for a longer time
2000 ml water
30 grams citric acid
(In my recipe you should also include two pinches of something called natriumbensoat, I have absolutely no idea what it is called in English... But I guess that the citric acid is enough conservation...)

Slice the lemon very thinly and layer them with the flowers in a large stainless bowl. Bring the water and sugar to the boil and dissolve the sugar. Then stir in the citric acid. Pour it over the flowers and lemons and let it sit in a cool place for 3-4 days. Drain off the cordial and pour it in small containers or plastic bags for the freezer, or if you use more sugar in clean bottles. Fill them to the brim, seal them and keep them in the fridge.

Making this cordial has made me nostalgic. Mum making cordial and jam is one of my strongest food memories from my childhood. Redcurrants and blackcurrants from the garden, picked from the many very old bushes we have there - a bucket or more. If she was going to make jam she picked the berries one by one, carefully. If it was cordial it wasn´t so fussy and we children could help out (sometimes at least).
Then she put everything in her largest casserole, added water and sugar and it boiled and boiled. I remember it boiled for hours but it cannot have been so long. It smelled so good and we stirred it with a large wooden spoon which was almost black from all the cordial cooking.
She went up to the attic and returned carrying a lot of bottles and jars in her apron. She washed them and put them in the oven. Everything was hot, we weren´t allowed to help in case we got burned. But we looked! She filled the jars with jam and put them on an old newspaper beside the stove to cool off. The cordial was poured into a big cloth sieve over a stainless bowl and dripped for hours. Then she poured it in bottles and the cordial was ready. We kept the jam and cordial in the potato cellar and went to get it one by one. The blackcurrant and redcurrant jam and cordial was for everyday use - what a luxury! I remember telling one of my friends off when se said she didn´t like mother´s cordial...

The first chanterelles

I just love picking yellow chanterelles, yellow chanterelles, yellow chanterelles...

These are our first yellow chanterelles for this year, picked yesterday and eaten (fried with a little butter) today. Usually we can pick the first ones at Midsummer but it has been so cold this spring so they are a bit late. Before I met my man I wasn´t too keen on picking mushrooms. OK, fun when you found some - but how? I never saw them. Fact is, I often stepped on them and crushed them. But he has taught me how to find them and we pick, pick, pick from June to late November sometimes. Our freezer is full of mushrooms and we use them for omelettes, sandwiches, meat stews and sauces. They are also fantastic to have with Jerusalem artichokes. My favourite flavourings with mushrooms are salt, pepper, butter and balsamic vinegar. Mushrooms are really fascinating and these last years I have tried to learn some more edible species although the man is so suspicious of them I have to eat them myself!
Well, that is all for today from the Mushroom department - I am sure I will get back to this subject! Until then, please tell me about your mushroom favourites! I will need a lot of recipes to get rid of all the freezed mushrooms and get room for this year´s crop.

July 04, 2006

Strawberries again

First day of vacation and it is wonderful! So far I have put up an IKEA CD shelf and filled it, and filled another book case with books. No cooking today, we are going to some friends for dinner. But this weekend I cooked. A lot! And ate! A friend and I visited another friend and her family on the west coast near Gothenburg. The first thing she asked us when she picked us up was "do you mind having fresh prawns for dinner?" Umm, no? "And tomorrow we are planning to grill some fish, is that OK?" Well... OK then!

We brought some gifts, all food-related of course. A bottle of rosé wine, a must in summer, some champagne tea and a Jamie Oliver flavour shaker which I haven´t tried yet but I really like the idea and thought it would suit the foodie friends. As it turned out their young son also was very very fascinated by this new kitchen gadget. He´s 15 months, very perceptive and very sweet. On Saturday I discovered quite a lot of ripe strawberries in their garden, along with some mint plants. I decided to try the shaker out making some of Anne´s mint sugar (who actually thinks she got the idea from Oliver himself). The shaker is quite handy and easy to use but you really get a lot of exercise for your arms! I put sugar and mint in it and began shaking it like mad in front of the little boy who watched me with big round eyes for a long while. He had already started calling me "Ninna" on Friday but after my mint sugar exercise in the kitchen that evening the name Ninna was accompanied by shaking his little hands frenetically. I texted with his mother yesterday and he still talks about Ninna and shakes his hands, apparently! Too sweet. They will have a hard time keeping the shaker from him, he really liked it!

The mint sugar was fantastic with sunwarm strawberries right from the garden. Next time I will try it with pineapple as Anne suggests. I will just have to buy a shaker for myself now, it was great fun to cook with it! And speaking of Anne - she and I will go to this place tomorrow for a really substantial coffee...