November 12, 2008

Japanese surprises from San Fransisco!

It was such a long time since I participated in a BBM exchange, almost two years! And I almost missed this one too - if not the lovely Stephanie had let me in at the last minute...what a stroke of luck!
Anyway, on Mondays I am out with the other mums taking a walk with our little ones and when I got back to the house there was a message from Federal Express that they had been there with no luck but they would try again "automatically" three times and also they left a warrant to post on the door that I allowed them to leave the package on the doorstep if I wasn´t at home. So far so good. On Tuesdays we go to a baby singsong thing where the kids have fun and get tired and the mums can have coffee afterwards, very nice. And I got home to - nothing. OK so maybe on Wednesday. No. So I called them, and it turned out that to get that second "automatic" delivery you would have to call them. So this Thursday, finally!!! I got my longed-for package from
Bonnie of Kumquat connection who very thoughtfully had put a large box toegther for me, filled with her own favourites. And mine, as it turned out! "Japanese I wrote in the title for this - it wasn´t all Japanese but lots of it. And I happen to looooove Japanese food, and I happen to not buy Japanese things very often because all the shops are in Stockholm and it is quite expensive and you don´t know how to use everything (Thanks to my friend Maiko I know some at least, after a guided tour at JFK, Japan Food and Kitchen a couple of years ago. Ocha-zuke, ocha-zuke!).

Well, Bonnie also has got me addicted to Trader Joe´s "Everything" Pretzels which probably are impossible to get hold of here - very inconvenient. I will have to get a wishlist here on the blog like Anne does, in hope for nice people over there to send me a new bag now and then. Sigh.

Enough said: here are the full contents of my package!
  • Large bags of Pretzels like I told you, incredibly tasty!
  • Box of Bonnie´s favourite crackers, Ak Mak´s - similar to Swedish hardbread and also very nice, my man has already finished most of it
  • Bag of candy corn, seasonal this time of year. Bonnie said people tend to love or hate it, she loves it and I do too, this bag exists no more
  • Small bar of chocolate with bacon, intriguing! Bonnie said that this probably was the craziest thing in the box but actually I had already heard of it. I am a big fan of chocolate with salt so also this one exists no more
  • Jar of grilled bell peppers from Trader Joe´s, looking very tasty. Grilled peppers are a staple also at my house so I really appreciated this! I love to use it for example in a feta cheese spread.
  • Udon noodles, which I have wanted to try for a very long time but never got round to, but with Bonnie´s guidance they exist no more. I made a delicious soup on that very evening!
  • Noodle soup base with that fantastic Japanese umami taste that makes you want more and more - I hope to find something similar when this bottle is finished
  • Japanese chili spice, also for the soup. A little smoky, a little sweet and very hot!
  • Rice spice mix with wasabi and seaweed and other things, to sprinkle over rice
  • And finally that delicious tea I always drink at sushi restaurants but have not found - it is hard to know which is which at a Japanese shop with no Swedish or English instructions! Bonnie included neat little unfilled teabags, like a small pillowcase to fold in a little of the tea and soak in hot water.

Thank you so much for all this Bonnie - and above all the small tips you gave on how to use everything. Now I feel inspired to use also the soba noodles I have in the cupboard, and I will certainly approach the shelves at JFK next time I am in Stockholm. A special thank you also to Stephanie, who arranged this event and very kindly let me participate although I was one day late...

November 07, 2008

My first bread pudding

Bread pudding seems to be quite common to serve in for example UK but here in Sweden you seldom hear of it. Since I had some bread going stale today and planned on the not so very filling dish baked potato with prawns for dinner I decided that it was time to try it - all recipes I have seen sounds so good. But now when I was in a hurry I couldn´t find a single one of course, except one in Nigella´s Feast which just this time seemed a little wrong with lots of eggs and stuff. None of my basic Swedish cookbooks could provide me with what I wanted and my last hope was the very old cookbook from 1925 I bought at a flea market last year.
Bingo! Apparently even Swedes made bread puddings back then. I altered the recipe just a little, soaking the raisins in a little rhum inspired by Nigella and replacing kidney suet (something I can say with perfect confidence that I will never ever buy. Eww.) with some butter. We had it with vanilla custard and I knew from the first bite that I will so make this again. Stale Lucia buns would be very nice for this I think! The result was perfect: warm and comforting, soft with crunch on top and a subtle taste from the raisins. A real carbohydrate schock too, I could feel my eylids getting heavier....and heavier...

There you see what can happen when you for once open a cookbook from 1925!

Bread pudding
Serves 4

Stale bread, I used about 3-4 rolls
100 ml of milk
about 100 ml raisins soaked in a little rhum for about 10 minutes
25 grams cold butter, diced
3 tbsp sugar
zest from one orange, the original recipe called for candied peel which would be nice
1 egg
225 ml milk
pinch of nutmeg

Peel off the bread crust with a sharp knife and dice the bread. Soak in a little milk for a couple of minutes (the original recipe recommended 30 minutes and then to stir the bread to a mush - I wanted a little crust and decided to keep it diced!) When the bread has absorbed the milk add in the raisins, sugar, butter. orange peel and nutmeg. Stir carefully and then add in the milk and the egg. Mix again and pour into a dish lined with melted butter and breadcrumbs. Bake in 180C for about 45 minutes and serve with custard.

November 05, 2008

A broken promise

No, I don´t mean that I promised to write more often and then didn´t because I told you I have so much to do with the baby and all. I mean my foodie resolutions for 2008, which I just imported from 2007 when I didn´t keep them either. Make my own pasta, take a fish class, wine dolmadas? Fat chance! Maybe possibly we will make sausages but I am not sure.
And the last one: "I will not feed my baby food from a jar unless it´s an emergency". Blah. I have changed the resolution to "I will not feed my baby food from a jar if I wouldn´t consider eating it myself" and everyone is happy at the moment. You see, I have found that the jars are sooo fantastic- even when I am not in an emergency. Especially the ones with porridge. Oh I love the porridge you just bring along to cafés and activities. And when you try to find out what the baby likes and not it is so much easier to open a jar of lasagna than making a whole lasagna with no salt and then maybe he doesn´t like it, or is allergic to tomatoes. I have come to terms with the jars, they will be part of our lives. But not the veg ones! Oh no. Not after trying broccoli!

You see, I had heard that babies like broccoli and wanted to try it but thought that maybe I could buy a jar the first time. I opened it, frowned at the terrible smell of it but heated it and stuck a spoonful of it in D´s mouth at which moment he just looked at me with a "You have got to be kidding" look at his face. I tried it and agreed with him. The contents went into the kitchen sink and I made broccoli for him from scratch which he didn´t like either but at least I don´t risk teaching my child that broccoli is brownish and tastes like a fart smells. Look at the picture and try to guess which is which!