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Archive for March, 2006

EBBP 4 – A parcel from Italy

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Bay leaves from a nearby tree
Bay leaves which Ilva has picked from a nearby tree. The background reveals a snowy Stockholm.

First a quick introduction what Euro Blogging by Post is all about. Every second month or so, European food bloggers send food parcels to each other. Every participant gets an e-mail with the receiver’s address from the organiser (this time Andrew), posts a parcel with food to the receiver and then waits for another parcel in return from a secret sender. This is an excellent way of getting to know the other food bloggers and to try foreign food and ingredients.

Yoshi can't resist the rubber duck!
Yoshi can’t resist the dubber duck!

This month I was blessed with a parcel from dear Ilva at Lucullian Delights. One month ago I had the opportunity to meet sweet Ilva at the Swedish food bloggers tapas evening here in Stockholm, and I really hope that we’ll meet again. She’s a really nice and kind person, bubbling with happiness! I was really happy when I realised that it was Ilva who was my secret sender and her wonderful parcel was really considerate, I love all the things that she sent me! Thank you!

Here’s what Ilva sent me:

Fagioli Zolfino

Fagioli Zolfino which is a typical local bean that only can be found in Ilva’s district.

Chickpea flour

Chickpea flour so that I can make the Ligurian dish Farinata which I’m really looking forward to make.

Dried goodies

A bag of dried tomatoes, peproncino, oregano and capers. According to the bag the contents should be put in glass jars and then covered with Olive oil. Mmm, yummy!

Octopus ink

Octopus ink to make black fish and sea fish risotto or to colour homemade pasta.

Lovely chocolote

Bacetti which are Italian chocolates. I’m actually eating these while writing this post, mmm :-)

A lovely parcel

A cute rubber duck to the cats! They love it!

Fresh Bay leaves from a tree in Ilva’s neighbourhood. This must have been the best thing with the whole parcel, because it felt so personal. Imagine Ilva picking these leaves from a tree at home and then sending them to me in snowy Stockholm!

Thank you so much Ilva for this lovely parcel which made me really happy! The contents or your parcel will bless me with wonderful hours in the kitchen experimenting with Italian food. And of course a thank you to Andrew, the man behind this event! His round up of this great event can be found here.

And my parcel which I sent out? The receiver of my Euro Blogging By Post 4 parcel was Johanna at the Passionate Cook, which I can reveal as she has already blogged about my parcel here.

EBBP #4 – the dispatch

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Mail box
(photo from Posten)

Today on my way to work I finally posted my Euro Blogging By Post #4 parcel, to a happy recipient somewhere in Europe. A parcel full of goodies, which actually got stuck in the mailbox to that point that the door neither could be closed or opened. In pure panic I got too physical with the mailbox, but then I finally heard and saw that the parcel fell down safely into it. Now I just have to wait for my own secret parcel. This is so much fun (except for that time when my parcel that I sent for the international Blogging By Mail got lost in the mail… :-/ ) Thanks Andrew for arranging this lovely event!

My amazing and unforgettable 30th birthday

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Me and Vicky

As I wrote earlier Fredrik was very secret about my birthday, but on Thursday evening he finally told me. When we met in the evening at home after work he gave me flowers and I thought that it was a bit unnecessary as it was still 2 days left to my birthday, but still I was very surprised and glad. When I removed all the paper surrounding the flowers I found a card, saying that I was going to meet and bath with the dolphins at Kolmården Aquarium!!! I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy and I couldn’t stop smiling!!! I love animals, especially dolphins and I had a long period when I was determined to become a Marine Biologist. But I choose another path and became a programmer, but that’s another story that I can tell you about another day :-) Anyway, I was in extasy and I had a hard time falling asleep that night.

Kisskiss ;-)

Early on Friday morning we got up and went to get the rental car that Fredrik had arranged and then we started our trip to Kolmården which is only about 130 km away from Stockholm. The program started at 10 a.m. and we were 6 persons that would meet the Dolphins. We started with some coffee as we watched the dolphins through several windows that faced the bottom of the dolphin pool. I got really emotional and my tears just ran, I was so excited and thankful for this very special day. After the coffee we had a 2 hour lecture about dolphins which was very interresting. There was a problem though, in the class room there also was a window facing the dolphin pool and I couldn’t stop staring when the dolphins swam by the window, playing with each other :-) After the lecture we had lunch, still by the windows looking at the beautiful animals. I could hardly eat my lunch, and then finally it was time to change to wetsuits! The whole building is built with windows facing the pool, so you can see the dolphins all the time even in the changing room and also in the sauna so it’s important not being timid as you’re watched by the dolphins :-)

Lunch by the Dolphin pool

Lunch with the dolphins.

The encounter with the dolphins was fantastic. We were divided into 2 groups and I was in the same group as Fredrik and a lady. Our group started with taking photos. So the first time I ever touched a dolphin I had to pose to the camera at the same time, but I quickly forgot all about it as soon as I met Vicky, a 33 year old dolphin. I couldn’t stop smiling and I kissed and cuddled with her. It was absolutely amazing. Then Fredrik and I went away to the other side of the pool where we sat beside one of the trainers. She called the dolphins, one at time, and we cuddled with them. We also learned different commandos: we conducted in the air which made the dolphin dance and sing, we applauded and so did the dolphin and we splashed with our feet and the dolphin did the same. After each command we got a fish that we threw to the dolphin. It was fantastic and the dolphins were so kind and soft. Afterwards all 6 of us put on snorkels and cyclops and then we sat down under the water so we could hear and see the dolphins while they did different tricks. At the end we were told to stand up in the pool without our cyclops and one of the dolphins swam by, splashing water on us! The time went so fast, too fast. I could have stayed there forever but it was time to say goodbye. We were rather cold by now so it was nice and hot to sit in the sauna for a while, watching the dolphins swim by. I had a lovely day! It was totally amazing, I can’t describe in words how happy I am.

Fredrik, the trainer, Dagmar and one of the 9 dolphins

Fredrik, the trainer, myself and one of the dolphins.

Afterwards we strolled around alone in the zoo, it is closed during winter but we were allowed to walk around. Most of the animals were inside in their houses as it’s too cold, but we saw the Sibirian tigers, the penguins and the funny seals which seemed to enjoy our company pretty much. We spent the night at the Viltmarkshotellet, where we got the most lovely suite and Fredrik’s parents had also sent a bottle of Champagne. We ate a 3 course dinner in the hotel restaurant, and in the morning on my birthday we headed back to Stockholm.

On Saturday evening we went to the luxurious restaurant “Pontus in the green house” and the food was totally amazing. The waiters and the service was excellent. We started with a drink and then we ordered our main courses, I choose “Fillet of Monkfish with shellfish and lobster foam served with Jerusalem artichoke purée” and Fredrik choose “Swedish fillet of veal with ox marrow, knuckle of veal, artichoke and tomato”. Before our main course we got an appetizer, asparagus rolled in some kind of meat. The waiter kindly served me asparagus with a lovely ratatouille and lime aïoli instead, when I told that I didn’t eat meat. We both thought that the appetizer was really nice. We were also served different breads and 3 sorts of butter, and then we got our main courses. The food was absolutely amazing, delicious and excellent composed. We enjoyed every bite of our food. After the main course we ordered dessert and while we were waiting for our “Crème Brûlée” and “Cherry poached pears on pear and lemon curd with pear and vanilla doughnuts and macadamia flarn”, we were holding hands when Fredrik kindly asked me to close my eyes. So I did and after a short while he asked me to open my eyes again. And for the second day in a row I experienced a moment that I couldn’t believe was true. There, during our lovely evening, my dear Fredrik proposed to me while holding the most beautiful ring. It was really romantic and he said beautiful things. Of course I said yes, I love him very deeply. I was so happy, we both were. And the ring was perfect, a long time ago he had tried one of my rings and memorized how it fitted his own finger. After a while we were served a pre-dessert: a fennel sorbet on raspberry soda which was very interresting tasting and really nice. It was hard concentrating on the pre-dessert, our thoughts were somewere else. After the sorbet we got our real desserts which were so delicous and my pear composition was just beautiful. And I couldn’t stop smiling, everything felt great. When we were done we were very satisfied but to out surprise we got another dessert, a marble plate with 6 or 7 different mini sweets like conjac truffle, marshmallow, lemon toffee, panaforte and other ones which I don’t exactly remember. Each and every mini sweet tasted divine, it was a perfect ending on a perfect dinner and evening. We then walked home hand in hand through Gamla Stan, a truly happy and lucky newly engaged couple with stomachs full of amazing food and hearts full of love…

Pancakes that melt in your mouth

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Yummy!

The last two Sundays we’ve been enjoying these lovely pancakes. They are truly delicious with a scent of lemon (or orange, I’ve done both variants) and they melt in your mouth. The original recipe calls for Ricotta, but I used the Swedish quark “Kesella 10%” and the second time I used the Polish quark “Serek Smietankowy Delfiko”. Both turned out really nice. The pancakes are rather fragile so be careful when you fry them. Serve the pancakes with maple syrup or your favourite jam, myself I prefer them with a Polish Raspberry Syrup.

    Lemon and Ricotta pancakes
    (adapted from “Frukost och Brunch” by Jonas Borssén)

    175 ml quark or Ricotta
    50 g melted butter
    3 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
    1 tsp vanilla scented sugar
    50 ml plain flour
    2 tbsp caster sugar
    1 tbsp lemon or orange zest

    Combine the quark, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla sugar and put aside. Combine flour, caster sugar and zest in a separate bowl. Combine the two previous mixtures. Whip the egg whites until they become stiff. Carefully combine one third of the egg whites with the pancake batter and blend carefully without loosing the volume from the egg whites. Then add the rest of the egg whites. The batter should be homogeneous and airy.
    Fry small pancakes (about 8-12 ones) in butter.


My 30th birthday is coming up…

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

Pontus in the Green House

…and Fredrik is still very secret about it. Today he finally reveiled that we’re going to the luxurious gourmet restaurant Pontus in the Green House !! Faboulus! I’m so excited! At the beginning they had a special menu for ladies without prices, and I think that I’ll need one of those or else I’ll have a hard time enjoying their fantastic but oh so expensive food :-) I still don’t know what we’ll do on Friday, he asked me to take a day off from work and I’m sooo curious but he doesn’t wan’t to tell me yet… To be continued…. :-)

A box!

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

The cats investigate the box

I’ve been away in a town called Linköping for two days due to work and today when I came home just a few minutes before 5 P.M I was getting ready to call the customer support at Årstiderna as my organic box wasn’t delivered yet. The boxes are delivered on Thursdays, latest at 5 P.M so I was wondering if they had forgotten about me. But just 2 minutes to 5 P.M. the door bell rang and when I opened, my box stod in front of the door and the delivery man had already dissapeared. The cats were very curious of the box of course, a lot of new smells. And I was very curious aswell! So what did we get in our “Mixlåda”?

2 bell peppers
A bag of rocket salad
1 cauliflower
4 tomatoes
A bag of Jerusalem Artichokes
2 onions
3 shallots
9 bananas
4 apples
5 oranges

For next Thursday I’ve ordered a “Singellåda”, less veggies and fruits but with some groceries instead. Among the preliminary ingredients for next week are Pear syrup, tangerine jam, pasta, lemon, spinach, apples etc. Everything organic of course.

Yummy

Organic Vegetable Subscription

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Ecologic vegetables
(Photo from Årstiderna)

Now when I live in Stockholm I’ve finally subscribed for a weekly box with organic vegetables and fruit delivered to my door, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Nobody has introduced this to Gothenburg yet and as far as I know the only cities in Sweden with this option are Stockholm and Malmö. There are two companies that deliver organic vegetables and fruit and I had a hard time choosing between Ekolådan and Årstiderna. I finally ended up with a subscription from Årstiderna, and I will get my first box on Thursday. There are many variants to choose between, and for a start I will try Mixlådan (the mix box) with both vegetables and fruit which costs 230 SEK including delivery. A report will come next week when I receive my goods.

Shrove Tuesday: Semla

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Semlor
Semlor (I still havn’t unpacked my battery charger for the camera so you have to stand with the cell phone photos)

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, and in Sweden we have a tradition eating a special bun called Semla on this day. It is a plain wheat bun with cardamom filled with whipped cream and almond paste. There’s a long story behind this bun, and I have to admit that I don’t know all about it even though I just bought a book called “History book for cookie lovers” (in Swedish though) where there’s a lot of history to read, including the history behind and about the Semla. The Semla is eaten in many nordic countries, with a few modifications and other names. For example you can read about Pille’s Estonian Vastlakuklid here.

Anyway, you either go to the nearest bakery and buy a Semla (which nowadays can be found from New Year’s to Easter) or you bake them yourself. Yesterday evening I did my own ones, for the first time. The bun is easy to do and was excellent, but I wasn’t quite happy with my almond mixture. I did my own almond paste, but as I don’t have any kitchen mill I first grated the almonds in my food processor and then I used the food processor knife. I didn’t get the almond paste as fine as I wanted but it was sufficient. I also (as usual) havn’t found my kitchen scales in any of the unpacked boxes yet so I just used the deciliter measure, even though I prefer to weigh my ingredients.

    Semlor
    (12 ones)

    Buns:
    100 g butter
    300 ml milk
    1.5 tsp cardamom
    50 g fresh yeast
    a pinch of salt
    100 ml caster sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp baking powder
    900-1200 ml of plain wheat flour (about 540 g-720 g)

    To brush on the buns:
    1 egg + a small amount of water

    Almond paste:
    200 g sweet Almonds
    120 ml icing sugar
    1 drop of bitter almond extract

    To the Almond mixture:
    100 ml milk, hot

    Decoration:
    500 ml double /whipping cream
    Icing sugar

    Melt the butter and combine with the milk. Make sure that the mixture has the right temperature, which is 37 degrees C.

    Crumble the yeast in a large bowl or a kitchen aid. Add the milk and egg mixture and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add cardamom, sugar, salt, egg, milk, butter and baking powder, and combine. Then start to add the flour while you work with the dough. Make sure not to use too much flour. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Then let the dough rise in its bowl for about 45 minutes.

    When the dough has risen enough, knead it again and add more flour if needed. Shape 12 round balls that you put on 2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Cover the buns with a kitchen towel and let them rise for about 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size. Beat the egg and add some water, then brush the buns with the mixture. Bake in the oven (225 degrees C) for 8 minutes, make sure not to burn them. I baked both baking sheets at the same time as I nowadays have a fan oven (yay!! ) Let the buns cool.

    AlmondsNow it’s time to start with the almond paste. Blanche the almonds by boiling them for 3 minutes. Drain off the water and slip the skins off by squeezing the almonds between your thumb and fingers. Be careful as they really are slippery! If you have a kitchen mill, then use it. If you don’t, first grate the almonds in a food processor and then use the food processor knife so that you get a very fine mixture. Now add the icing sugar and the bitter almond. Mix some more. Add some drops of water so that the almond paste binds together.

    Plain bun with a hole!When the buns have cooled completely it’s time to assemble them. Cut off a small lid on top of the 12 buns. Put the lids aside. Scoop out the crumbs from the buns, making a small hole. Mix the crumbs with the almond paste and the hot milk. If the mixture is too firm you can add some more milk and also some more icing sugar if it isn’t sweet enough. Whip the cream, but absolutely not to hard. You don’t want the semlor to taste like butter. Add a pinch of vanilla sugar to the cream.

    Cut the 12 lids, which you earlier put aside, so that they become triangular.

    Fill the buns with the almond mixture, about 2 tbsp for each bun. Now put some whipped cream on each bun and top it with a triangular lid. Sift each bun with icing sugar. Enjoy!!

Dagmar’s tip: Yesterday when I baked, I only assemled 4 semlor. The rest of the buns I put in the freezer so I easily can assemble more Semlor when I want, without having to bake new buns.