January 28, 2007

Porridge for people on the move

Today´s Swedish word: gröt. Means porridge.
An old tradition in Sweden is to bring porridge to people who just have moved to a new house. You don´t see it very often these days, but we in our family have always brought it to new neighbours and friends and I think it is a nice touch and an unpretentious way to make people feel welcome. Rice porridge is traditional for Christmas but we have it now and then during the year, for example sometimes when the harvest is done or when we have guests in the evening (my parents have their dinner at noon and eat lighter in the evening).

Last weekend A. and I was invited to my mother´s aunt and uncle, a lovely couple in their 80´s, for a lutfisk dinner, together with some other relatives living in the Stockholm area. (When I count my blessings this is one of them - even if my close family is far away I have lots of relatives from both my mother´s and father´s side living around here.)

Since they moved house in April and I haven´t got around to see them after that I wanted to bring a small gift but I ran out both of time and ideas. Then it struck me: porridge! I could bring porridge, but not ready porridge since the menu already was set for the evening. Said and done, I took a nice cellophane bag, filled it with porridge rice (round) and decorated it with a nice ribbon and a long cinnamon stick I bought in Copenhagen in December. Voilà! The beautiful wooden box and candleholder is made by my grandfather and my grandmother painted the horses.
Risgrynsgröt (Rice porridge)
Serves 4
150 ml round rice
300 ml water
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
700 ml milk
a piece of whole cinnamon
Bring the rice to the boil with water, salt, butter and sugar in a pot with thick bottom. Not stainless because it will burn! Let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until the water is almost absorbed.
Pour in the milk, put in the cinnamon and stir. Let the porridge simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes, watch it so it doesn´t burn and stir carefully once in a while.
Serve with ground cinnamon, caster sugar, cold milk and I also like mine with a small knob of butter. Why, you have to celebrate a new home!

January 25, 2007

This year I dare...

Today´s Swedish word: lova. Means promise.

I tend not to stick to my New year´s resolutions when they are boring, like "I will start jogging", or "I will not throw my clothes on the floor", but foodie resolutions are something else! Therefore I will present some foodie resolutions for 2007 like for instance
Anne and Pille has done! Better late than never...

So - this year I dare....
1. I will make my own pasta
2. I will take a class in how to handle and cook fresh fish
3. I will make sausages from scratch (that will have to wait until Christmas)
4. I will make sourdough bread

5. I will make wine leaf dolmadas
Hmmm, I feel I have to make a sweet resolution too. Yes!
6. I will make pear preserves with ginger and lingonberries this autumn

January 22, 2007

Waiter, there´s peanuts in my stew

Today´s Swedish word: jordnöt. Means peanut.

At the last minute I am participating in the brand new food blog event "Waiter, there´s something in my..." which will be held every month with a new theme. For January it is stews, very convenient for this - at last! - winter weather. We have -5 and loads of snow!

I decided to turn to my cookbooks and find something completely new, something to warm me up. In Astrids kök by Astrid Nilson, one of my favourite cookbooks, I found a recipe for an "African" stew which caught my eye. Apparently the lady who gave her the recipe comes from Gambia, so it might be Gambian then. Anyway.

The recipe called for peanut butter, something I never have in the house, but I had some peanuts and remembered reading about making your own nut butter at Chocolate and Zucchini and used that method. You simply blitz the peanuts in your blender for some minutes (be patient!) and suddenly oil comes out from the nuts, binding it all together and making butter out of itself. Fascinating! I used 200 grams of unsalted peanuts (I wanted to salt it myself) and used half of it for the stew.

The stew was, I think, amazing. A real keeper! The peanut taste works really well with the meat and tomatoes, it is simple to make and satisfying to eat. Comfort food at its best!

Elizabeth´s African stew
500-600 gram beef, I used some well-hung brisket
2 medium yellow onions (I used one red I had on hand and it was fine)
1-2 cloves of garlic
oil for frying
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tin crushed tomatoes, 400 grams
1 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cube meat stock
200 ml water
2 large carrots
about 150 ml peanut butter

Cut the meat in cubes with 2 cm side. Peel and chop the onions and garlic.
Brown the meat in a pot, and add the onions after a little while. Fry until a little soft. Add tomato paste, crushed tomato, bring to the boil and add the spices, stock and water. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 40-45 minutes under a lid. Never mind that it is a little runny, the peanut butter will thicken it perfectly later!
Peel the carrots and cut them in nice chunks. Put them in the pot together with the peanut butter and let it simmer without lid for about 30 minutes. Check that the meat is tender, spice to taste if needed and serve with bulgur or couscous.

January 10, 2007

Beetroot bread

Today´s Swedish word: rosa. Means pink.

I have been lazy with my blogging but I will get back to it now. One of the many things I haven´t written about yet is the beetroot bread I made for the dissertation party in December. My task was to make bread for 80 people and I decided early to make the kind where you put many smaller buns together and when they rise and bake they stick to each other. I figured it would look almost like a molecule and since my friend´s dissertation was in chemistry that would be perfect. I also thought it would be cool to colour some of the bread with beetroot, so I did.

Why I didn´t take a photo of the "break-bread" I don´t remember but I also made a very large pleated bread where you hopefully can see the different colours. All the bread was devoured almost immediately by the guests and was just, just enough... eeek. But no one was hungry after that party.

The recipe is from a basic cookbook, Bonniers kokbok which I got from my aunt some years ago. At first I didn´t think I needed it but as it turned out it is our absolute favourite. I doubled the recipe and added sunflower seeds and grated beetroot in one of the two batches. The recipe called for wheat flour but I used rågsikt which is a mix of wheat and fine rye.

Beetroot bread
50 rolls
100 grams fresh yeast
1200 ml tepid water (37C)
100 ml oil

1.5 tbsp salt
400-600 ml sunflower seeds
2000 grams wheat flour
2 large beetroots, finely grated

Dissolve the yeast in some of the water, then add the rest of the water and the oil. Add salt, sunflower seeds and the greated beetroot, then almost all the flour (save 200-300 ml for the finish). Work the dough on a floured surface until smooth, this will give you plenty of arm muscle exercise since the dough is rather large and heavy. You can also use a machine if you have one.
Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth and let it rise for 45 minutes.
Shape 50 round rolls of the dough and let them rise again under a cloth on the baking sheet for another 30 minutes. If you want a large "breaking bread" you put them close to each other so they stick together.

Bake in very hot oven (250C) in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until the rolls are nice and golden brown. But mostly they will be pink on the outside (bot sorry, not on the inside.)

Fresh cheese

Today´s Swedish word: ost. Means cheese.

I really have to make a recipe index now, after over a year, but don´t know where to begin really. (Anybody have some advice? Can you use the new blogger in some way? Heeelp.)
I think I have published a recipe for fresh cheese somewhere but I don´t know where and now I have a good picture of it so... This batch was consumed on the dissertation party in December.

If any of you, my dear readers, would come and have dinner here in my cuisine, the possibility of me serving home made fresh cheese is very high. It is easy, you can flavour it in approx. 1 billion ways, you know exactly what is in it and above all it is goood. I usually use mild yoghurt or Swedish fil, and sometimes I put in some creme fraiche as well. My favourite flavourings are chives and horse radish but walnuts and grilled peppers are good too. Not to mention a mix of black, white and pink crushed pepper. You can serve it with crackers, at a buffet or as I often do instead of "ordinary" butter and cheese for good home made bread.
Anyway, here comes the recipe. Again?

Fresh cheese
Serves 6-8 people depending on how you serve it. The cheese keeps for a couple of days in the fridge.

1000 ml yoghurt or fil
if you like 200 ml creme fraiche
a good handful of snipped chives or other fresh herbs, or chopped walnuts, or...

Combine the yoghurt and creme fraiche in a pot and heat it up. Just when it starts to split take it from the heat and drain it in a coffee filter for a couple of hours. (You can use the whey for baking bread later if you like.) Season and serve. Voilá!

January 08, 2007

Crafty Clivia again: bags

Today´s Swedsh word: väska. Means bag.

Oh yes, my sewing frenzy continues and my man is cooking. Today something electrical in our oven burned so now we will probably have to buy a new stove. Woohoo. (I mean, what a shame. So expensive!)

I made these bags for two little girls I know. The oldest, aged six, knew exactly how she liked hers and even draw a picture of it. Brown, with purple handles and a gold pocket, and then she drew something curly that I have interpreted as lace. The younger, aged four, said that she wanted a red bag. A little more room for improvisations there...

The brown bag is made of velvet, brown and deep purple, and it is lined with a flowery cotton fabric in brown. I made a gold pocket and after a little pondering also decided to add the small beads because the bag looked so "grown up", not as something for a little girl. The red one is made of simple cotton fabric, with a "pouch" pocket and handles in a red fabric I hade left after the quilt. It is lined in bright yellow and I found a lovely "flower" ribbon to decorate it even more. Oh, what a lousy picture this is but the light was hopeless!
I had so much fun making these and hope that their new owners will like them too!

January 07, 2007

Why I am so silent

Today´s Swedish words: sy. Means sew. Tyg. Means fabric. Lapptäcke. Means quilt.

I feel a little silent on this blog at the moment and here you see why. I have been off work for almost three weeks which in turn has given me lots of time for hobbies. And this year it was not my hobby cooking that "won", instead I have spent quite a few days in a sewing frenzy... So today is "Crafty Clivia" and not Cooking Clivia" writing...

I have wanted to try and sew a quilt for years but as a person I am a little impatient so the ordinary patterns didn´t suit me. An attempt to make a quilt out of 2 gazillions tiny fabric squares ended up in an ugly pillow in 2005 and there I was when I learned that my sister-in-law expected a baby. "Sorry little one, I thought. No quilt for you, I will never succeed".

But then I stumbled upon a technique called "stack and slash" and suddenly I saw the light. No counting, no fiddling, quick and easy. You just take six different fabrics, cut them in 30x30 cm squares, pile them on top of each other, cut them off in exactly the same line on all six, mix them and sew back together. Then you pile, cut in another angle, mix and sew again and again until you are satisfied. I made all the squares almost ready in one evening and then all I had to do was finding a good fabric to "bind" it all together, quilt it and here it is! I think it is beautiful, even though the quilt is a little bubbly in the middle. Well, they can cover it up with the baby boy. The photo is a little blurry but I chose fabric in bright, happy colours with frogs and cherries and teddy bears and bubbles on, and the "base" fabric is dark grey with a curly pattern in lighter grey.

So now you know what I have been doing instead of cooking. I am making bags now, but hopefully I will get back to more cooking soon! Combined with a lot of sewing, because it is so much fun and because I really have a lot of fabric to use!

January 05, 2007

Tasty new year!

Today´s Swedish word: ny. Means new

The picture is from last year but this year looked exactly the same (no snow though). We have the most fantastic view from our balcony and stood there for about 30 minutes sipping champagne and not freezing because of global warming. (When will we get snow? When?)
Anyway. Here is our New year menu, with rapsodic recipes...

Lobster baked with mushrooms
(cut the lobster in halves and put on a stew with fried yellow chanterelles, onion, white wine, dijon mustard and a little cream and herbs. Top with strong grated cheese and bake in hot oven

Beef, sauce and potato gratin
(Not very inventive, but tasty. We got a whole piece of beef, about 1 kilo, browned it in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and put it in the oven om low heat, just 125C until the inner temperature reached 65C. Let it rest in tin foil and make a good sauce from the juices. More cream and a dash of worcestershire sauce. Served with a plain potato gratin)

Spiced pineapple with ice cream
Press the juice from an orange and heat up with some tbsp muscovado sugar, some tbasp rhum, two star anise and a vanilla pod. Dissolve the sugar, then put aside. Peel, core and slice a pineapple, sprinkle over a little brown sugar and fry in butter until golden brown. Pour over the spiced orange/sugar mix and let simmer for a couple of minutes, then serve with a good vanilla icecream.

January 04, 2007

Red cabbage salad

Today´s Swedish word: lat. Means lazy.
... not that I am lazy in any way. Yesterday I sorted out my wardrobes and today I am doing laundry big time (after wardrobe-cleaning I texted some friends complaining that I don´t have anything to wear. As it turned out all the goodies was in laundry basket) and I am sewing a quilt for our new nephew and I have to clean the cabinet under the sink and then I have some books to read and - last but not least - I have to get going with my blogging which has been a little slow these past weeks. So I will fill my remaining four free days! It is just so lovely to feel that you can do whatever you like, when you like to.

Today I will share a super tasty, quick and easy recipe for red cabbage salad. Red cabbage is always on the Christmas table in our home but this is a fresh and new take I think. From being one that only takes a mouthful of the red cabbage I turned into one that took both second and third helpings... The recipe is from the programme Gokväll, Good evening.

Red cabbage salad with oranges and walnuts
Serves 10 but the recipe can easily be halved.

0.5 head red cabbage, about 750 grams
1-2 tbsp vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar
2-3 oranges
small handful of walnuts

1 tbsp vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 tbsp neutral oil
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Finely shred the cabbage and put in the boiling water together with the vinegar. And why vinegar? Well, it prevents the cabbage from turning blue! Bring to the boil again and drain the cabbage very carefully in a colander. You don´t want it wet! This procedure makes the cabbage milder, but still crunchy.
Peel the oranges with a sharp knife and cut out wedges over a bowl to catch all the juices. Cut the wedges in smaller pieces. Put aside.
Chop the walnuts and put aside.
Mix vinegar and mustard and then add the oil while stirring vividly. Spice to taste and pour the dressing and the orange juice over the cabbage in a nice bowl. Let it sit for a little while before serving. Stir in the oranges and walnuts just before serving, or they will turn purple as well. The salad keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge but you might want to add more fresh oranges.