Archive for September, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lavash crackers

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Crackers with fresh rosemary and sea salt.

Ooops, I see a trend… Once again I’m one day late with making and posting the Daring Bakers challenge. This month’s challenge was to bake lavash crackers and make a vegan dip of our own choice. The recipe was choosen by Nathalie and Shel.

The recipe for the crackers was very easy to do. We could choose to make it gluten free, but I used spelt flour which contains gluten (however a much smaller amount than normal flour). I used 5 different toppings for the crackers:

-fresh rosemary and sea salt
-smoked sea salt
-taco spice
-chili and sea salt
-zhug (a spice that contains garlic, cardamon, coriander, lemon and chili)

For dipping sauce I used the left overs from a vegan South African barbaque sauce that I made the other day, I’ll post that in a separate post. We both liked the crackers a lot, they were easy to bake and eat :-) It’s important to roll out the dough as thin as possible so they get really crunchy.

Don’t be fooled by Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Chip and Dale. They are sprinkled with chili and sea salt.

Clock wise: Crackers with taco spice, zhug, smoked sea salt and last but not least rosemary and sea salt. In the center a vegan South African barbecue sauce

    Lavash crackers

    RECIPE – Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

    Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

    The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

    Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

    * 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
    * 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
    * 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
    * 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
    * 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
    * 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
    * Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

    1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

    2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


    2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

    3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

    4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


    4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

    5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

    5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

    6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Bacon wrapped corncobs

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

The barbecue season is coming to an end with autumn knocking on the door. But there is still time for that last barbecue dinner. Even if you’ve cleanead the terrace and stowed your grill in the garage, you should definitly consider to take it out again and make these lovely bacon wrapped corncobs. The recipe is from my colleague F and I can’t thank him enough for it. Bacon and corn, two of my favourite ingredients, are a heavenly combination.

Take one fresh corncob per person. Remove corn husks from corncobs and boil in salted water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Wrap each corncob in 3-4 rashes of bacon (or pancetta), secure with tooth picks. Grill on a barbecue until the bacon is crispy and nicely coloured. Be careful not to burn, make sure to turn regularely. Eat while still warm, don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!

Gooseberry thumbprint cookies

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

The gooseberry plant that I planted in spring was a huge disappointment as I only got five berries. Yes, five fem pięć cinque 5. Luckily for me there is gooseberry jam at IKEA.

    Gooseberry thumbprint cookies
    30 cookies

    450 ml flour
    100 ml sugar (vanilla infused)
    1 tsp baking powder
    200 gram butter

    Around 100-200 ml gooseberry jam

    Pre-heat convection oven to 175 degrees C.
    Mix butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add flour and baking powder.
    Divide dough in 30 walnut sized pieces and roll each to a ball.
    Put each cookie in a small paper cup (småbrödsform in Swedish).
    Press a thumb in the center of each cookie and fill with jam.
    Bake the cookies until lightly golden, around 10-15 minutes.

An early Norwegian Christmas lunch and Aquavit

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Gravlaks, rakfisk, gammelost and other Norwegian specialites.

Christmas comes earlier every year and this year as early as September 17th when I was invited to a Christmas lunch at the Norwegian embassy, hosted by Arcus that is a Norwegian producer and supplier of wines and spritits. First we listened to an interesting seminar about Norwegian food and aquavit, and then we tried their specialites and some newly released aquavits. I’ve never been a fan of aquavit, but these ones were tasty and are perfect to Scandinavian food. Or in this case Norwegian, as wine don’t match the food at all. The main difference to Swedish aquavit is that most of the Norwegian ones mature in oak casks. The food we tried would be considered as very exotic by many of you readers, an interesting and a fun experience!

Multekrem (whipped cream, cloudberries and sugar), a grain pudding with whipped cream and berry compote.

Pacman cake

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Another year has passed and yesterday it was time to prepare a new birthday cake for dear F who’s turning 30 today. Every year he wishes a Nonstop (the Swedish variant of Smarties) cake as birthday cake, which he of course never gets. It’s a kid’s cake for crying out load! So instead I made this even more childish Pacman cake, to follow the 1up Mushroom cake I made last year :-) This year I learned a valuable lesson when using sugarpaste on a cake, don’t omit the buttercream. Without the buttercream it was impossible to get the cake smooth, but I must admit it tasted much better. The first cake filling consists of Dumle-fluff, which is done by melting Dumle (soft toffee covered in milk chocolate) together with whipping cream. Let cool during the night and then whip. It tastes heavenly! The other layer consists of whipped cream, sugar and raspberries. The best part of making the Pacman cake is the wedge you need to cut to create his mouth, you can guess where it went….

Recipe further down.

    Pacman cake

    4 eggs
    200 ml sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    100 ml potato flour
    100 ml flour

    Heat oven (convection) to 175 degrees C. Butter and bread a round pan with removable bottom. In a bowl beat eggs and sugar with an electric beater until white and fluffy. Add sifted flour and baking powder, and combine carefully so the batter remains fluffy and airy. Pour patter in pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and then remove from pan and let cool completely.

    Dumle fluff (needs to be prepared the evening before):
    180 gram Dumle (soft toffee covered in milk chocolate)
    300 ml whipping/heavy cream

    Heat the cream in a pan, add toffee and stir until it’s completely melted. Don’t boil!
    Let cool in the fridge overnight or at least 8 hours. When completly cool, beat with an electric beater just as you would beat ordinary cream.

    Raspberry filling:

    200 ml whipping/heavy cream
    250 gram raspberries

    Beat cream with electric beater until fluffy. Don’t mix with the raspberries as they will be put on top after the cream has been spread on one of the cake layers.

    For assembly:
    Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
    Sugar paste
    yellow, pink, red and turquoise food colour
    black food pen
    melted unsalted butter or butter cream

    Reserve a small amount of sugar paste for the eyes. Take 4 pieces of the sugar paste and colour them pink, turquoise, red and orange (use yellow and red). Colour the rest of the sugar paste yellow.

    Cut the cake in 3 even layers. Sprinkle the first layer with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur). Spread Dumle fluff evenly and cover with the second cake layer. Sprinkle Frangelico over cake and spread whipped cream evenly. Place all raspberries on the cream and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Cover with the third and last cake layer. Sprinkle Frangelico.

    Cut a wedge in the cake and taste it while rolling out the yellow sugar paste. Before covering the cake with sugar paste, brush melted unsalted butter underneath. This is done to avoid the sugar paste from sweating when coming in contact with the whipped cream. However it will be hard to get the cake smooth without butter cream. If looks are more important than taste, make sure to cover the whole cake with butter cream before covering with sugar paste.

    Roll out the remaining coloured sugar paste and cut out ghosts with a knife. “Glue” them on the cake with a small amount of water. Make eyes with white sugar paste and paint a black dot with a food colouring pen. Don’t forget Pacman’s eye as well.

Roe deer weekend blogging

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

This lovely sight met me when I entered the kitchen this morning. The roe deer family was walking around just beside the terrace. The small ones nibbled on the zucchini plant (luckily for me they didn’t like it) and smelled the tomatoes that are standing on the terrace (didn’t like either). Both me and the cats were just standing still watching the beautiful animals. I can’t possibly be angry despite the fact that they ate all the leaves on my newly planted plum bushes (yes bushes, not trees) during the past week. Now all bushes are protected, I just didn’t think that the deers would find them that quickly after me and my mother planted them. But they know the garden better than me :-)

Natural candy from the garden: Physalis

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Wow, what an exciting week I’ve had! The weekend arrived extremely quickly and now I’m just trying to catch my breath. Today I picked some of the homegrown physalis fruits that I planted in early summer. Perfect candy with no weird ingredients, just pure natural. If you’re feeling decadent you can of course dip them in melted chocolate….

Shrimp frenzy

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

What would you say if you would be served a large bowl of unpeeled shrimps, cooked and cold? That is typical Swedish and we even have a specific word for it, räkfrossa. The closest translation would be something like shrimp frenzy, which tells you a little bit about the scale of the event. So what is it all about? You eat shrimps, a lot. And with a lot I mean enormous amounts with condiments such as mayonnaise, different sauces and fresh baguettes. You peel the shrimps on your plate and indulge them until you almost drop.

The last time my parents in law visited us they brought 6 or maybe even 8 kg of fresh shrimps that were caught and cooked the day before coming to us. We had a lovely shrimp frenzy with the shrimps from the west coast. There’s something therapeutic with peeling shrimps, talking and catching up. Despite our shrimp frenzy, we didn’t manage to eat much of them so the majority of the shrimps went to the freezer.