Archive for January, 2006

Star Trek Cake

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
Star Trek Cake

My dear brother Dariusz had his 40th birthday in December. I got the honor to make the birthday cake and I bet that he didn’t exepct to get a Star Trek cake instead of the usual birthday cakes that I make. My brother really likes Star Trek and other science fiction, so when I came with the cake on his birthday reception he was very surprised and happy.

The cake consists of a layer with a wonderful homemade Raspberry mousse and a layer with vanilla custard which is covering a small amount of Strawberry Jam. The cake bottom was baked in a large pan and then divided in 3 parts. The whole cake is covered with blue coloured marzipan which was rolled out, apparently not enough as I wasn’t able to cover the cake all to the bottom… The plan was to decorate the misstake with whipped cream but I wanted to do that at my brother’s to minimize possible damages during the transport, and unfortunately at my arrival I noticed that he doesn’t own any electric mixer so I had to skip the decorating. And besides, my little misstake wasn’t so visible after all. The blue food colour was bought at Panduro as the ordinary groceries only have red, yellow and green food colour. The Startrek ship Enterprise is also made of marzipan, just as the stars.

    Large Cake Bottom

    6 eggs
    6 dl caster sugar
    2 dl water, hot
    6 dl flour
    3 tsp baking powder
    some teaspoons of Grand Marnier

    Heat the oven to 175º C. Butter the pan and then dust it all lightly with fine, dry bread crumbs.
    Whip the eggs and the sugar until puffy. Add the water, a little at a time, while whipping. Combine the flour with the baking powder and mix it carefully with the batter. Bake immidiately in the oven for around 35 minutes.

    Raspberry Mousse
    3 dl strained Raspberries (about 0.5 kg Raspberries before straining)
    2 tsp gelatine (you could have about 0.5 tsp more to be sure that the mousse will become a bit more stiff)
    1.2 dl caster sugar
    3 dl double/whipping cream

    Soak the gelatin in a small amount of water. Combine the strained Raspberries with the sugar. Melt the gelatine on low heat while stirring and put aside. Whip the cream hardly, it may not be too loose. Combine the Raspberry mix with the cooled gelatin (If you discover any lumps, as I did, heat the Raspberry/gelatine mix carefully while strirring and then let it cool again). Finally combine the Raspberry/gelatine with the whipped cream. Store in the fridge for about 15 minutes or until it’s rather stiff. My mousse took long time to become stiff, so you could actually add some more gelatin, about 0.5 -1 tsp more

    How to assemble the cake

    Divide the cake bottom in 3 parts. On the first one, sprinkle some liqueur. Spread a thin layer of Strawberry jam. Cover the jam with Vanilla custard. I didn’t do my from scratch, instead I used a mix that you combine with milk. Cover the custard with a cake part. Sprinkle some liqeur over the cake again and then cover it with the Raspberry mousse. Place the last cake part on the mousse and again sprinkle some liqueur.
    Decorate as wanted and then store the cake in the fridge.

Star Trek Cake

My Polish Wigilia

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Fresh fruit and other goodies
Fresh fruit and sweets at my mother’s.

(Click on the photos to enlarge).

Fredrik and I never eat Christmas Eve Dinner together. Why, you may ask. Well, Fredrik prefers Swedish Christmas food with his family and I prefer Polish Christmas food with my family :-) In the morning we eat breakfast together (te and gingerbread cookies) while we open our Christmas presents. Then we separate go to our families to celebrate with them. This year (or actually last year as it’s already January), thanks to our rather new mobile phones, we had video calls during the day in which we were able to see each other and our families. Fredrik’s grandmother who’s over 90 years old was thrilled over the video calls and had a lot of fun.

In Poland the Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia, begins when the first star – Gwiazdka - appears on the sky. Normally this occur around 3-4 P.M. The dinner table has always an extra place set for an unexpected guest, which I think is a lovely custom. The table is set with a white tablecloth and under it there should be a thin layer of hay in memory of the Godchild in the manger. However in my family we have always omitted the hay for an unknown reason. Before the dinner starts we pray by the table and then we share Opłatek with each other. Opłatek is a Christmas wafer, very similiar to the altar bread in the Roman Catholic Church. The Opłatek that we share is stamped with beautiful ornaments and it is always sent from my dear aunt in Poland. Everybody takes a piece of the Opłatek and then breaks it with each person present while wishing each other health, love, happiness and other more personal wishes. I always have a hard time during this moment as I get very emotional.

Uszki, the beetroot soup Barszcz will be poured over them in just a while.

The dinner then continues with the first dish, which is the beetroot soup Barszcz. On Christmas it is served clear without any pieces or vegetables. The soup is very hot and normally my brother Sebastian always does the very last seasoning before it is served. This year he celebrated Christmas with his parents-in-law, which means that we had to put the last touch ourselves but we managed well :-) The Barszcz is served with Uszki which means small ears. I guess that you can say that it’s a kind of small stuffed tortellini with mushrooms that my mother makes. This year, when I started eating the Barszcz and the uszka I just couldn’t stop smiling and my mother laughed at me. But it was so divine and I was really happy to eat it as we only eat it once a year.

Barszcz z uszkami
Barszcz z uszkami (Beetroot soup).

Before I continue with describing the food I just want to mention that the Wigilia is a meatless dinner. Long time ago the Roman Catholic Church decided that meat on Christmas Eve was forbidden and that a strict fast should be observed. Nowadays the Church laws have been revised and permit meat on Wigilia but most of the families continue with the meatless dinner, my family would never dream of changing this old tradition.

Ruskie Pierogi Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami
Ruskie Pierogi and Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami.

After the Barszcz we continue with the Pierogi, my favourite dish. Pierogi is a kind of Ravioli or dumplings, stuffed with goodies. There are a lot of differents variants, but my favourite is the one with quark cheese and potatoes called Ruskie Pierogi (Russian Pierogi. Don’t ask me why they are called like that. I suspect that they don’t have anything to do with Russia at all). Luckily for me, the ones we eat for Christmas are always Ruskie Pierogi and also Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami (Pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms). So know you know my favourites, Barszcz and Ruskie Pierogi, but there are other dishes as well. So let us continue.

Śledzie w śmietanie
Śledzie w śmietanie, pickled herring with Crème Fraiche.

Śledzie , pickled herring, is another great dish. This year we only had one kind of herring, Śledzie w śmietanie, which is pickled herring in cream or actually Crème Fraiche and onion. Earlier years we’ve had pickled herring in a kind of oil as well, but each year we tend to eat less food and it’s no use waisting it so nowadays we only prepare our absolute favourites. The Polish pickled herring differs from the Swedish one; there’s no sugar and the taste is much better even if I can appreciate the Swedish one as well.

Chrzan Buraki
Chrzan and Ćwikła.

Another typical Polish dish is Ćwikła, very finely grated beetroots with horseradish. Delicious and hot, perfect as accompaniment to other dishes. Then there’s also Chrzan, finely grated horseradish that we always get ready from Poland in some way. It’s really hot and perfect as a strong accompaniment just as the Ćwikła.

Vegetable salad Crayfish tail salad
Vegetable salad and Crayfish tail salad.

Another dish on the Christmas table is vegetable salad with potatoes, green peas, carrots, onion and mayonnaise. There’s also a salad with crayfish tails and eggs, among other things. And there’s also smoked salmon and fried fish. I didn’t take any photos of the “non-typical” Polish dishes as I wanted to place emphasis on the traditional Polish food.

As I wrote earlier, we don’t make as much food for Christmas as we used to do as we ended up with too much left-overs. When I was a young girl we, among other dishes, always had Carp - the traditional Polish Christmas fish. The Carp was bought alive (!) at Saluhallen by my mother and then we had it in the bath tub for a few days before the poor fish was killed by my father. Understandable, I wasn’t at home at the terrible points of time. And most important, I never ate the Carp. Never. This doesn’t mean that my parents were cold-murdered Carp killers. Buying an alive Carp and having it in your bath tub is a typical Polish tradition and everyone does it, or at least did it earlier. Luckily Carps are not allowed to be sold alive in Sweden anymore. The whole Polish Carp tradition is a big issue that has attracted attention among many, so read more about Polish people and their Christmas Carps here.

Tort Jagodywy Tort Czekoladowy
Blueberry Cake and Chocolate Cake.

After dinner, it’s time for the Christmas presents. Just as last year I was announced Santa and had to wear a Santa cap while handing out all Christmas presents from under my mother’s white (!) Christmas tree. We had a great time and after a while we were enough hungry to start with the cakes and the coffee. Traditionally Polish people eat Sernik (Polish baked Cheesecake) and Makowiec (Poppy Seed cake) on special occasions, but otherwise also. This year my mother made a delicious Blueberry Cake while I did a Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Oblivion Cake that I’ve blogged about earlier, originally from 101 Cookbooks. I also made an extra Chocolate Oblivion Cake for Fredrik’s family which they appreciated very much as their dessert had strangely disappeared. Actually the main ingredient for their dessert, Ris à la Malta ( a delicious kind of creamy rice pudding that you eat in Sweden as Christmas dessert), had disappeared so they were extra happy for the lovely Chocolade Cake which they ate instead.

I hope that you also had a wonderful Christmas with your dear ones. I had a lovely time and this year, after moving to Stockholm, the Wigilia will mean even more to me as I won’t be able to see my parents as often as today.

(Click on the photos to enlarge).

New Cookbooks

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

New cookbooks!

3 new cookbooks.

Happy New Year! I hope that you had a fantastic Christmas and New Years Eve! I know that I have a lot of catching up to do, so please be patient with me :-)

I received a lot of wonderful Christmas presents which I’m very thankful for. Some of them are food related and some not. As I love new cookbooks, like many of you I presume, I wanted to show my new ones.

The first one, “Den goda julen” by Christer Lingström with Christmas recipes only, I received by mail the day before Christmas Eve. It turned out that I had won it, after taking part in an internet competition. It was a very fun surprise! For next Christmas I will probably try out some of the recipes.

The second one, “Med smak av Japan” by Dag Hermelin, is a Japanese cookbook that I got from my friend Christian. I’ve browsed through the book in the book store earlier and I was really happy to get it. I’m very interested in Japanese culture and food, but I’ve never tried to cook it at home. The recipes in this book seem quite simple and very tasty, so it will be really fun trying them out.

Last but not least, I got “Jamie’s Italy” by our dear Jamie Oliver from darling Fredrik. I’ve already tried the “Torta di riso” and I’m sure that this cookbook will result in a lot of delicious dishes.