Archive for May, 2008

No Opera Cake, 2 birthday cakes instead

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I’m really sorry to say that I didn’t do this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, an Opera cake. We’re moving this weekend and there’s absolutely no time. But at least I’ll let you see the two birthday cakes my mother made for her 60th birthday. I know, I’m lousy, but she really insisted. I promise! The chocolate cake is has two fillings: chocolate mousse and Daim cream.
The other cake also has two fillings: whipped cream with raspberries and lemon mousse. Delicious and beautiful! But now back to prepare for the move, see you!

Center with strawberry, lemon & chili

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Every time I shop groceries I notice more and more classic chocolate bars with new “modern” flavours. I’ve tried Daim Forest Fruit (not very good) and Plopp Tutti Frutti (even worse than the Daim Forest Fruit), and I must say I prefer the coffee variants of those chocolate bars. Milk chocolate doesn’t really go well with artificial fruit flavour, but still I had to try Center with strawberries, lemon and chili when I saw it in the store. I must admit that I liked the combination of milk chocolate with strawberry and lemon caramel and then the hot touch of chili (however very unnecessary). But in the end I guess that I’m boring, I prefer my Daim and Center plain. I can’t understand why they insist to use chili in everything and also sea buckthorn which is included in almost every food product nowadays, but that’s another story.

Bacon and pear salad with Stilton dressing

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

It’s less than two weeks left until we move to the house and I’m so excited that I can’t sit still! Everyday I check my tomato plants that I planted last month and the kitchen table is full of seeds: four different kind of beets, several kinds of carrots and radishes, salad, mangold, spring onion and so many others… And not to forget my cucumber and water melon plants, also brought up from seeds just like the tomatoes. On the balcony I have strawberry plants and a gooseberry plant, and of course the rhubarb. As you can understand I’ll have a very busy summer in the garden. And during some of the coming warm summer evenings I’ll be having this delicious salad that we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago.

    Bacon and pear salad with Stilton dressing
    (adapted from BBC Food. Serves 4 as a starter)

    2 pears, cored and thinly sliced
    1 large handful of fresh chervil, chopped
    1 large handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
    1 large handful of fresh dill, chopped
    1 large handful of fresh chives, chopped
    1 package (around 180-200 gram) of streaky bacon

    4 tbsp white wine vinegar
    5 tsp Dijon mustard
    100-150 ml olive oil
    100 gram Stilton cheese, crumbled
    Maldon sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    First make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk slightly, you’re supposed to have Stilton lumps in the dressing.

    Combine pear slices and herbs in a bowl. Fry the bacon until crisp and golden, remove it to a paper towel to drain. Break each bacon rasher in half with your hands. Put the bacon over the salad just before serving it with dressing on the side.

Intense chocolate cookies

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago Swedish television was broadcasting Nigella Express during weekday evenings. After watching the episode with Nigella’s intense chocolate cookies, which can be seen on youtube, I felt an immediate urge to bake the cookies. The recipe is quick and simple and I quickly made a batch before starting to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I changed the quantities of the recipe, I especially cut down on the chocolate as I didn’t want the cookies to be too intense and I also added some white chocolate. The result was delicious chocolate cookies, however very rich so one is really enough.

    Intense chocolate cookies

    (Adapted from Intense chocolate cookies from Nigella Express, quantities and method slightly changed. Results in 12 large cookies)

    125 gram dark chocolate, chopped
    150 gram flour
    30 gram cocoa, sifted
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    125 gram salted butter, softened
    60 gram light brown sugar
    60 gram caster sugar
    1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
    1 free-range egg, cold from the fridge
    200 g dark and white chocolate chocolate, cut in chunks

    Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

    Melt 125 gram of dark chocolate in the microwave.

    Combine flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.
    In the bowl of your mixer, cream butter and brown and white sugar until light and fluffy. Change to slow speed and add the melted chocolate. At the same speed, add the vanilla seeds and the egg. Let it blend in well. Remove the bowl from the machine and by hand mix in the flour mixture. Finally add the chocolate.

    Scoop out 12 balls of the cookie dough and divide them between two baking sheets covered with baking sheet paper, without flattening the cookies.

    Let the cookies bake for 18 minutes. A skewer should come out semi-clean and not wet with batter. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

    Don’t forget to save the vanilla bean for your own vanilla sugar. Just put it in a jar together with caster sugar.

Smörgåstårta – savoury sandwich cake

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The Swedish savoury sandwich cake (smörgåstårta) is very common at parties and celebrations. Especially since it’s beautiful and tastes best if it’s prepared one day in advance and then decorated on the serving day. The layered cake is very rich with fillings stuffed with goodies of your choice spread on crustless toast bread. My mother is the queen of all cakes, including smörgåstårta, so this was one of many things that we had for her 60th birthday. She made this fantastic cake and there isn’t really any recipe as she does everything by heart. The bottom consists of crustless toast bread. The first filling consists of mayonnaise, crème fraîche, asparagus, boiled eggs and tuna. Then there’s crustless toast bread again. The second filling consists of mayonnaise, asparagus, boiled eggs, mushrooms and shrimps. Then there’s crustless toast bread again. Finally there’s the decoration with cucumber, roe, cray fish tails, shrimps, mayonnaise and salad. Delicious!


Sunday, May 11th, 2008

This weekend we’re celebrating my mother’s 60th birthday with a lot of delicious food. Happy birthday to the best mother in the world! :-)

Cats and ice cream in Rome

Friday, May 9th, 2008

The cat sanctuary at Torre Argentina. Note the similarities between the sleepy Roman cat and Bowser in the header of my page.

There were two places we visited every day when in Rome with my mother. The first place was the cat sanctuary where volunteers take care of abandoned cats. The personel is very friendly and very keen to show you around. Most of the cats live outside in the ruins, but there is also a shelter inside for cats in need of extra care. We visited the room where they keep cats in need of extra special care and we came out with tears in our eyes after meeting a brain damaged cat and one without any eyes. Please make sure to visit them and leave a donation when in Rome.

The other place that we accidentally passed by every day was Giolitti to eat their delicious ice cream…

The cat sanctuary at Torre Argentina

Forum Romanum.

Forum Romanum

Somewhere in Trastevere.





Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

This delicious Chinese chicken dish that apparently was labeled as politically incorrect during the cultural revolution is known under two names: Kung Pao and Gong Bao Ji Ding. The dish is named after a late Qing Dynasty governor of Sichuan called Ding Baozhen. But why two names of the same dish you may ask. Kung Pao is derived from Ding’s title, Gong Bao, and actually the two names of the dish refer to two different versions: the original Sichuan version (Gong Bao Ji Din) and the American version (Kung Pao chicken).

The most important difference is that the Sichuan version contains Sichuan pepper corns while the American version does not. For many years Sichuan pepper corns were illegal to import into the United States as they were potential carriers of a citrus tree disease. Nowadays there are new ways to process the pepper corns and the ban is abolished. But still the ban is the reson for the two different versions and why the American version doesn’t incorporate Sichuan pepper.

This recipe is my own version, a combination of the two versions. It’s probably not very authentic but it’s very tasty and both me and my husband love it. Add more garlic and pepper if wanted.

This is also an entry for Chinese Take-out party hosted by Mochachocolata-Rita. The lovely round up can be seen and read here.

Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken – my way
(serves 2-3 depending on hunger)

2 tsp sesame oil, for frying
1.5 tsp Sichuan pepper, crushed
1 medium sized dried chili (medium hot), crushed
450 gram chicken thighs (de-boned and skinless)
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or chopped
0.5 tsp ground ginger
6-8 spring onions
100 gram roasted peanuts

2 tsp soya
1 tsp water

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soya
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp instant concentrated chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
1 small pinch of Maldon sea salt
1 tsp maizena

Cut the chicken in bite size pieces or dices. In a bowl combine chicken with marinade ingredients.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a separate bowl.

Heat 2 tsp of sesame oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Fry the chili and Sichuan peppar for 2 minutes. Increase heat, add chicken and fry until the meat is almost white inside. In the meanwhile, chop the spring onions: discard 1/3 of the green and chop the rest.

Add garlic, ginger and chopped spring onions to the chicken. Stir-fry for a few minutes.

Stir the sauce and pour it into the pan/wok. Stir until the sauce has thickened a bit and then stir in the peanuts. Serve with cooked rice.