Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy birthday blog!

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So, ten years. Huh. Time sure flies. I'm not going to write a lot about this, except to say that I'm so happy that I have this blog. Sure, I don't write every day, but it's still a lot of fun and I'm so super thankful for all my friends and readers that I've met - irl and digitally - over the years. The blog is an important part of my life and I can't really grasp that it's been this long.

Now, have some cake.

This is an amazing cake. I found the original recipe in Swedish food magazine Allt Om Mat, and it was created by Anicka Larsson who's a talented Swedish pastry chef. It has three components: hazelnut meringue layers, a coffee-infused chocolate mousse, and a cherry compote.  All favorites of mine so I was pretty certain it would turn out great. There was, originally, a fourth element as well - a fairly heavy chocolate frosting. I was pretty sure that would overpower the balance of this cake so I skipped it.

The original was a lot prettier than mine - but frankly, I love the rustic look of this as well and totally dont' care.

Mocha Cherry Hazelnut Cake
serves 10

Hazelnut layers:
200 g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
180 g confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
250 g egg whites (about 7)
70 g caster sugar

Chop the nuts - fairy fine, but they should still be identifiable as nuts, not ground to a powder. Mix with the powdered (confectioner's) sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Beat the egg whites until frothy, and add the sugar. Beat into a glossy meringue. Fold in the nut mixture.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe four layers, about 20 cm in diameter. (Think spirals - start in the middle and slowly move outwards.) Bake at 200°C for about 12 minutes. Mine sank quite a bit so I either didn't beat my meringue well enough or that was how they were supposed to turn out. (I'm going with the latter.)

Let the layers cool completely.

Mocca mousse:
225 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
125 ml cream
2 tbsp honey
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
350 ml cream

Place the chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the 125 ml of cream, honey, egg yolks and coffee until it's just about to boil. Pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then stir until smooth. Leave at room temperature to cool a little before the next step.

Then, beat the remaining 350 ml cream until fluffy (but not too stiff!). Fold into the chocolate - first a little and then the rest. Place in the fridge if not finishing the cake at once.

Cherry Compote:
350 g frozen sour cherries (or fresh and pitted, I suppose)
190 g sugar
2 star anise

Place in a saucepan. Heat, while stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes. Leave to cool completely (I did this the night before I made the cake.) Drain off the syrup and reserve for something else (like stirring into carbonated water - yum!) and there you have your cherries.

 To complete:
Start with one cake layer. Add about a quarter of the mousse. Top with another layer. Add a little mousse and then your cherries. Add some mousse around the edges to act like a dam so the cherries aren't visible from the side. Add another cake layer. Add half of the remaining mousse and then the final layer. Add the remaining mousse. Chill until you're ready to serve (or freeze for that matter). Decorate as you see fit, I just added a little bit of powdered sugar.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caramelized Pineapple, creamy caramel sauce, salted peanuts

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I had some new friends over for dinner the other day. I wanted to make a simple but fun dessert, and something adaptable - I wasn't sure what they would like. So, I began with vanilla ice cream - always a favorite. Popular with the kids, too. I bought some, but you could certainly make your own. I have recipes for vanilla ice cream here, and here.

I then made a batch of Creamy Caramel Sauce. An eternal favorite, and so simple to make.

I chopped up some salted peanuts.

And then, for the actual cooking part - I took a fresh pineapple and cut into wedges. I fried them in a pat of butter and with a sprinkling of dark muscovado sugar, for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Absolutely delicious - I highly recommend this.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cookbook Watch - bake, bake, bake some more!

I find myself cooking less (at least less exciting blog-worthy stuff) and baking more. Or well, less than I used to, but the balance is at least leaning that way. And I'm drawn to baking books. Lucky for me, that's also what's in the stores this fall. Let me tell you about four new books, all in Swedish (albeit with English titles, most of them).

breadexchange

The Bread Exchange is about bread - obviously - but it's mostly about travelling. And about exchanging bread for other things  - for stories, and also for food. There are loads of recipes, and not just for bread. An interesting read, and lots of photos!

johansson-bröd

Bröd, bröd, bröd by Martin Johansson (I think you can guess how the title translates) is fourth book. He's a dedicated home baker (and blogger), who has gone from a very labour-intensive search for perfection to striving for good results through little effort. This book is his most extensive to date, and I can't wait to get baking. His recipes are very dependable - they really work.


royfares

Delicious by Roy Fares. Roy is one of the most famous pastry chefs in Sweden, and is the host of our version of "Top Chef: Just Desserts". He is also gorgeous... and just like in his previous books, there are plenty of photos of Roy himself. But don't think this is just about a pretty face - because no, he's really talented. His pastries are gorgeous, and delicious too. This book has a special focus on fall and winter goodies.

lomelino

Sweet Food & Photography by Linda Lomelino is another book with cakes and pastries by Linda, who also started out as a blogger. This book also has a lot of photography tips, and I'd say a must have for anyone wanting to learn more about food photography.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Teriyaki Chicken with veggies

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Well, I'll just come out and say it. I barely cook anymore. Certainly nothing new. Or from scratch. Or well, that's what it feels like. This is about the only just barely blogworthy thing I've cooked for ages, and even then.. well.

This uses shortcuts. But I prefer to think of it as a way to spruce up a store-bought teriyaki sauce which in itself can be a little boring. So what I did was take a bunch of veggies, grate lots of ginger on top, place some seared chicken on top of that, and then pour over the sauce. I baked the whole thing for fifteen minutes, made some rice, and voila! Dinner.

Teriyaki Chicken with veggies
enough for two adults & two kids who really don't eat much
(because that's my life...)

2-3 small carrots - sliced
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 green bellpepper, cut into strips
A thumbsized piece of ginger, grated
2 chicken breasts
teriyaki sauce - homemade or store-bought
a little water if using store-bought sauce

Place all the veggies in an oven-proof dish. Add grated ginger and toss.

Cut the chicken into strips, and lightly sear in butter or oil. Place on top of the veggies. Pour on the teriyaki sauce and water if you feel that the sauce by itself is a little too salty. (Mine was.)

Bake in the oven at 175°C for about 15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Best sauce for Swedish meatballs

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Never mind this not-super-pretty-photo. This sauce is perfect. It's just the right thing to accompany a plate of Swedish meatballs, served with boiled potatoes, lingonberries and pickled cucumbers. This is, as it happens, the traditional serving for this meal. In the US, Swedish meatballs often seem to be served with a cream sauce and pasta - that would never happen here. Cream sauce goes on potatoes. Meatballs and pasta, well, then you add ketchup.

So, here we go:

Best sauce for Swedish meatballs

100 ml water
1 tbsp concentrated veal stock
300 ml cream
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lingonberry jam
salt, pepper

Take the pan you fried your meatballs in. (And ideally, you didn't scorch any!) Pour in a good splash of water, perhaps 100 ml, and whisk very well. Cook on medium-high heat. Add the concentrated veal stock and cream. Cook for a few minutes. Add the soy sauce, jam and salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, while whisking.

Serve with meatballs, boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam and quick-pickled cucmbers.