March 25, 2007

Kiwi and elderberry sorbet

Today´s Swedish word: glass. Means ice cream

Recently I have played around with the thought of making ice cream, sorbet, semifreddo... Maybe it is the coming spring with promises of sun and warmth that inspires me, and also a longing for something light and fresh. Next time I go home to my parents´and bring the car I will ask to borrow mum´s ice cream maker but for now a bowl, a fork and a freezer will have to make do. And it does!

Last weekend after a more than hectic week I discovered a whole tub of kiwi fruits, hidden away in the kitchen AND a plastic bag with four new ones. That is what happens when you are not around keeping an eye on your loved one and his grocery shopping... Anyway, I immediately decided to use the kiwi galore for some kind of sorbet or ice cream.
I checked my trusted Bonniers kokbok for advice, then tweaked the recipe quite a bit. It said to use gelatine but kiwi and gelatine don´t like each other so that was out of the question. It also said to use sugar syrup but I had some concentrated elderberry cordial in the freezer and used that instead. In the end my kiwi and elderberry sorbet came out really well, beautifully green with the little black speckles from the seeds, fluffy and icy and refreshing. The elderflower and the kiwi turned out to be good mates, too. Next time I will perhabs use a little less elderflower because it was kind of dominating but then again I love elderflower and you could taste the kiwi too. Anyway, the recipe is so easy so you can try both!

Kiwi and elderberry sorbet
one small batch
3 ripe kiwi fruits
200 ml concentrated elderberry cordial or 100 ml sugar syrup* and 100 ml water

Peel the fruit and blitz it in a blender or with a hand held mixer to a smooth purée. Mix well with the cordial and pour into a freezer container with a lid. Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then take it out and fluff it up with a fork to get rid of the crystals. Put it back, let it stay for an hour more or so, take it out and fluff and etc. until it sets and becomes more smooth. Scoop it up, serve immediately and devour in no time, before it melts.

*the recipe said to boil 150 ml caster sugar and 100 ml water together until the sugar dissolves, and let it cool.

Waiter - there´s something in my... Easter Basket

Today´s Swedish word: dag. Means day

Today is Waffle day, and also we put our watches one hour forward, to save daylight. It is tough to wake up, notice that the time is 8.30 on a Sunday morning, prepare to go back to sleep and then realise that it is in fact 9.30 instead so you really have to get up. But we made waffles for breakfast, for comfort. (The recipe is of course from Backstugan and you find it here.) And it is nice in the evenings when you get one hour extra sunlight!

Anyway. It is time again for "Waiter, there´s something in my...", this time hosted by Johanna with the theme Easter Basket. Two weeks to go to my favourite holiday! I really like Easter a little better than Christmas both because of the spring and the food. After writing this I am going to spring clean our place and put up some chickens and eggs for decorations. And after this coming week with its insane schedule of evening classes (even on my birthday, boohoo) and meetings I will also plan the food. Easter food tends to be lighter, with less meat and more fish. I want gravlax and smoked salmon, vegetable and/or fish paté with a cold sauce, perhabs lamb, spinach and asparagus, and naturally lots of herring and the most important thing: eggs. Both plain boiled eggs and egg halves which is my contribution to this event. When I set the buffet table for Easter I always include a large tray of egg halves with different fillings.
I like to make things up and use whatever I have in the cupboards so egg halves is the perfect starter in Easter times. Cold potatoes, caviar, smoked salmon or gravlax, shrimps, chives, anchovies, capers, dill... Only your imagination sets the limits.
These are a product of what could be found in our kitchen yesterday. From back to front:
  • Mayonnaise mixed with dill from the freezer and shrimps on top
  • Whipped cream mixed with Swedish caviar (try IKEA) and chives on top
  • Egg yolk mixed with chopped anchovies and chives and then put back in the eggwhites

I am so sorry about the blurry picture but something mysterious happened while uploading. Got to start working on my photos when things start to slow down...

March 17, 2007

Oink, oink

Today´s Swedish word: gris. Means pig. And they say "Nöff nöff" here.

I am sitting here in the middle of the night after a very tough week, waiting for the oven thermometer to beep. And I wonder: what on earth possessed me when I volunteered to cook pork loin for 55 people?
The story goes like this. As you might know I am a keen folk dancer and spend Thursday evenings dancing, first training a children´s group and then dancing myself. Midsummer is a very traditional day for most Swedes, and then most Swedes like to see folkdancing, and hence we spend midsummer dressed in our traditional costumes, very warm clothes by the way, dancing and dancing in at least three different places. Of course we love it, but it is also totally exhausting!

And that is why we tomorrow will celebrate midsummer the proper way, in the proper clothes (brrr, it is still rather cold here), with a folk dancing group coming to perform for us (but hush, it is a secret) and above all the proper food - and this is where my pork loin gets into the picture. At midsummer, you barbecue. Of course you eat herring, but barbecuing is at least as important. And that is why I am cooking 8.5 kilos pork loin in my oven. I have brushed it with soy sauce and a little liquid smoke, hoping that it will get the authentic, slightly burnt, aroma. Then tomorrow I will slice it, put it on plates and brush it with a marinade I still have to make up, with - I plan - more smoke, oil and a little garlic. We will eat it authentically with potato salad, we have bought 12.5 kilos and then do our traditional frog-leaping dance around the pole - of course we have one of those as well. I will get back to you with a full report when I come to my senses again.

The photo is of me in the clothes I won´t have to wear for "midsummer" tomorrow.

March 12, 2007

Pasta with brussels sprouts and mustard

Today´s Swedish word: brysselkål. Means brussels sprouts.

Oh joy. The sun is still shining, the sky is still blue and I have got a job. Oh yes, I already told you that... But I am really excited about it! It is "only" a part-time job for 6 months but it is my dream job, where I get to meet lots of interesting people and where I can use my creativity. I will, in short, be planning courses and seminars on different subjects for different people and the job also is here in my home town which is very nice, just a 15 minute walk from home. Yay! Of course I will miss working in Gamla stan, but Stockholm is just 30 kilometres away so I can go there whenever I like.

Well, enough on that subject. Today I will share one of my favourite recipes for pasta, with brussels sprouts, mustard and cream. I first found it in one of my oldest cookbooks: Kokboken Format by Malin Landqvist and Lotta Seipel, and has made it many times in different shapes. This time I used a new product which I got as a sample, Valio creme fraiche with a mix of mustard and lemon in the lid to stir in the creme fraiche. It was OK, but I found it a little too strong and maybe shouldn´t have put in all the spice mix. Or maybe I am simply not very much into this kind of convenience products, at least not when making it from scratch will take you just 2 minutes more... This is one of my quickest recipes, you make it while the pasta boils.

Pasta with brussels sprouts, mustard and cream
Serves 4

500 grams brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen
small knob of butter
half a yellow onion or 2-3 large schalott onions, finely shredded
200 ml whipping cream (I more often use cooking cream or creme fraiche)
2 tbsp french mustard

Boil the sprouts for 10 minutes or prepare them according to instructions on the bag. Drain in a colander. Meanwhile, sautée the onion in the butter and stir in the cream. Let it simmer for a while until a little reduced. Stir in the mustard and spice to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Add the sprouts and heat it all up, and serve immediately with pasta. I often add a few slices of crisp streaky bacon on top, too.

March 11, 2007

A quick note on happiness

Today´s Swedish word: lycka. Means happiness.

Let me just tell you, that today we have sun, blue sky and a whopping 9 degrees above zero. All the snow is gone and I have got a job. And now I will head off to a tupperware party at Anne´s where I will, without doubt, be fed lots of wonderful things.

See you later!

March 03, 2007

Five things you didn´t know about me

Today´s Swedish word: sak. Means thing.
Pille has tagged me for a meme and I happily accept since I am a wee bit uninspired these days and don´t post nearly as much as I should, or as I did when I worked full-time. I will try to come back soon to my old energy!
Anyway, the theme of the meme this time is Five things you didn´t know about me and I have thought a lot on what to reveal this time. I have actually taken part in a similar meme last year and then gave ten random facts. This is what I came up with now:
  1. Cousin statistics: I have 15 cousins. 10 boys and 5 girls. 7 on my father´s side and 8 on my mother´s and I am the second oldest on both sides. 7 of them lives around here in the Stockholm area, 2 in Järvsö, 1 in Hammerdal, 1 in Uppsala, 1 in Linköping, 1 in Värnamo and 2 in heaven. I have 4 second cousins (kusinbarn). Update: apparently my dictionary was wrong about this. I have much more second cousins (sysslingar) than 4! What I meant was that my cousins´children all in all is 4. 3 girls and 1 boy!
  2. I have had eye surgery twice as a little girl to correct a squinting eye but my mother claims that I still squint when I am tired.
  3. I can hold a speech or be toastmaster for a large number of people without thinking twice but if you suggest us playing charades at a party I will go and hide somewhere or just plain refuse. I hate playing charades, and also board games where you have to sing, even though I am good at singing.
  4. I love Monty Python. My favourites (some of them): Fish slapping dance, Penis song, The Pet Shop and everything when they are dressed like old ladies. Oooh, and the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects it.
  5. I am a total sucker for accordeon music and also folk music, preferrably involving a tramping organ. When I really love a song, like "Tukkipoikka" with JP Nyströms (a group from the very north in Sweden which sings in both Swedish and Finnish) I play it over and over again and once made a friend of mine yell: "Oh please, just shut it off! It is so terrible!" And yes, I like music you actually heard of too, like R.E.M. and Ella Fitzgerald.