January 14, 2008

Nigella´s involtini

Getting rid of: cheese, aubergine, raisins

This is, seriously, one of the best meals I made 2007! Nigella Lawson´s Feast is a book I leaf through at least every other week, just to enjoy her excellent writing and compensate myself during hard times for not having time to cook or having parties.
When I came home in late November after a particularly hard day at work I reminded myself that I a) had two large aubergines lying about in the fridge from the veggie box b) should grab the opportunity to make something proper even on a Tuesday. Involtini is maybe not the thing you should attack under these circumstances, but the name kept floating up in my brain all the way home and since I had most of the ingredients I simply jumped to the task. Nigella´s recipes are never scary - that helped! But do make sure you have a sandwich or some nibbles on hand before you start off - this will take you at least an hour! Count in that when you are finished and the involtini has cooled enough to eat you will remember nothing from your hard day at work, it is all obscured behind a joyful time of cooking!

Here is Nigella´s recipe (for those of you who has not yet got the book) with my own tweaks and changes

2-3 large aubergines cut lengthwise in thin slices
1500 grams tomato passata (I used less, see below)
200 grams mozzarella (I used leftover filling)

100 grams crumbled feta cheese
100 grams mozzarella
25 grams grated parmesan (I didn´t have any mozzarella in the house so instead I scraped together 225 grams of other mixed cheeses; feta cheese, another excellent salad cheese from
Jarseost, and parmesan)
75 grams pine nuts (I used chopped walnuts or almonds if I remember correctly)
50 grams raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
zest from 1 lemon
a good pinch of dried mint
2 tpsb parsley
1 egg

Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with olive oil and grill them until soft and nicely patterned, I used my beloved cast iron grill pan for this. Put aside and let it cool.

Mix everything for the filling in a bowl, yes, raisins too. I was soo sceptical to these raisins! I am not a huge fan of Fruit in Food you see, and warm raisins are...yeurgh... But I decided to stick to the recipe the best I could and go with the raisins which really was t-a-s-t-y, surprise surprise. In the meantime I decided to make a cooked tomato sauce instead of just using passata, because I had so many odd aubergine slices and some old onions and whatnot in the fridge. I simply chopped it all up, sautéed in olive oil, poured in a packet of passata and let it boil with some dried thyme, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar while I made the involtini. Put about a tablespoon of filling on each aubergine slice and roll it up firmly. Put in an ovenproof dish. When all the slices was gone I put the rest of the cheese filling in the tomato sauce and poured it over the involtini, and then baked in 190C oven for 25-30 minutes. The involtini should be served lukewarm according to Nigella, or cold - all but boiling hot from the oven! That way you will be able to really taste everything in these marvellous little rolls.

January 09, 2008

My new kitchen

This is me, or 2/3 of me, in our new kitchen on Gooseberry road. Since December 8th we live in a small radhus, which means a house connected to other houses in a row, I don´t know the correct term in English for it. We have four rooms and a kitchen and a small toilet and a bathroom and storage room in the front yard and a garden shed in the backyard, and a small pond and a glass room which will come in really handy April-October since it is so well built you can sit there while it is still a little too cold outside, or too hot, since we both have a fan and a heater in there. We also have a grill, and furniture enough to house 12-16 people for a garden party. Very nice!

For now we have to stay indoors though, and work to fit in all our belongings in cupboards and boxes in time for the baby´s arrival in just over three months (yikes, so soon!). Last week I crawled inside the kitchen cabinets to fit in a new basket shelf which you can slide out to reach what´s in it. I have already some problems reaching my own feet and in a month´s time I certainly will not be able to reach, say, a bowl from this cupboard which is very deep and very deep down. After much twiddling around I took the basket shelf and tried to fit it in - bah, the cupboard was 50 cm and the shelf was 60 cm! So I had to crawl back and take away everything and move it to the other cupboard and try not to swear too much, the baby can hear me now. We will have to go back to The Large Swedish Furniture Warehouse and buy a new shelf! Sigh.

But to make a long story short: I really like this kitchen even if we have slightly less space in it. It is what we call a parallell kitchen, stove and washing on one side and fridge and another working space on the other. When I am at the stove and need something from the fridge I simply turn on my heel and get it in two seconds instead of having to run some metres to the right and squeeze myself in between the kitchen table and the fridge (which also was smaller). This is so so much more practical! When you have all the shelves in place, mind. And above all, the eating area is just outside the kitchen and opens up into the living room - equals lots and lots of space for having lots of friends over who never again will have to hear the phrase "oh could you get up, I have to get something from the fridge".

January 06, 2008

Last year - I dared...nothing?

Hahaha, I just re-read my foodie resolutions for 2007 with a grin on my face. What has become of them? Absolutely nothing! But since I am good at forgiving myself for things I did (or did not) that didn´t harm anyone anyway I am simply putting them up again for 2008! Isn´t that neat? Some of them will be easy, some of them not. But then there is always 2009!

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
6. I will make pear preserves with ginger and lingonberries this autumn
7. (new) I will not feed my baby food from a jar unless it is an emergency

And I have made other things this year, really! I have further explored Lithuanian and Estonian cuisine, I have ordered veggie boxes, I made my own red cabbage for Christmas for the first time, I have become a cooking teacher... And above all I lost my job, got a new one, became pregnant and bought a house and moved. Christ, 2007 has been busy! Not sausage-making, though.