Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer's day treats

So yesterday my dad came upon a real treasure in the dry forests around our house. Chanterelles are a mushroom pretty common during the fall but this early they are rare. Still super delicious though. Now, there are tons of ways to use them but considering the small quantity I think, one of the simplest and tastiest ways is just frying them in butter and then adding a touch of cream at the end, then serving it on a slice of toast (home made of course). Another good one would be in a risotto, but I think I’ll save that one for the fall.

Guess this won’t be much of a recipe post, more of a picture tryout for me, but I just had to commemorate the yellow gold combined with the black (mom’s cast iron skillet that is).

Since it was rainy I also took the time to whip up a batch of my cinnamon roles. Much to my family’s delight I might add, although, I wasn’t happy with them since I haven’t become really good friends with the oven yet.

Read More......

Monday, June 25, 2007

Forget the baguette, the weather beet me

In my earlier post I promised sourdough baguettes, and although a great concept in theory, I only manage to crank out something that would have made a tasty thin crust pizza but nothing close to a baguette. Several things could have gone wrong, but my money is on the sourdough starter overheating in the summer weather and not being lively enough. I will tinker with it and see what I come up with. For now, I can leave you with a nice little summer side dish recipe as some conciliation.

As the bad pun (I do love them) might hint it’s about beets. Now I know beets maybe aren’t the first vegetable you think of in summertime since they are pretty good all year around and go great with savoury autumn and winter dishes. However, this time a year you can get those cute baby beets which go great in salads or as a side to some grilled meat or fish.

I know some of you might be lucky enough to have cool farmers markets with heritage breed beets, but I’m stuck with the common red variety, and actually they taste great so I shouldn’t say stuck with. Look for bunches with their greens left on and for uniformity in beet size. The fresher the greens the fresher the beet, and the uniformity is just to keep cooking even.

Once you have beets at home this is a pretty quick recipe. Scrub your beets, as they are bound to be dirty, but never peel them before they are cooked. For one the beets wonderful colour will jump all over, and cleaning was never my favourite part of cooking. Further, peeling them after their done is a lot easier than to peel them raw. Just rub the beet in a kitchen cloth or sturdy kitchen paper. Yes it will stain but the colour is water-soluble so don’t worry.

With your beets scrubbed cut of the greens, but leave a little “handle” which will look nice as well as give you something to hold when you peel them. The greens can be cooked and eaten much as spinaches or kale if they are fresh, but if they are slimy discard them (you do have a compost or cute animal to feed them to right?).

Set the scrubbed beets aside in a colander in the sink (because they will bleed a bit). Now depending on your amount of beets make an aluminium foil pouch. I recommend using double lyres so it becomes sturdy and wont mess up your oven. That’s right…the oven! Its way better than boiling I promise. Probably it has something to do with the dryer heat concentrating the flavours of the beet instead of diluting them with water. This pouch method also allows you to create a flavoured environment which can only be betterJ. This is my personal favourite:

Pouch summer beets

  • Olive oil (Generously coat the beets in the pouch)
  • Balsamic or sherry vinegar (One part to three parts oil, think vinaigrette)
  • Garlic cloves (Just crush them, no need to peel or shop finely. Use as much as you want i.e. LOTS!)
  • Sage (coarsely chopped and or bruised with the handle of your knife)
  • Fresh rosemary (Try to balance the amount to the sage)
  • Salt and pepper

Close the pouch tightly and sort of swoosh the beets around inside it to coat evenly and to let everything blend. Then just park it for 40 minutes in a 200°C or 390°F oven.

After you have peeled them serving can range from just a knob of butter to salads whit feta or baked chèvre cheese. Personally I had them with a cooling yogurt tzatziki kind of sauce.

And I know, still no pictures…..if I manage to massacre the wonderfully photogenic beet with my camera I threat for future posts…I’m just not good with the camera.

Read More......

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mmm Toast

Yeah that’s right, I make my own toast. I must say I don’t even look at the scared wheat (my name for the 99% air pre-sliced white bread you find in your local store) when I pass the huge piles of the stuff as I forage for groceries. However, we have just finished celebrating midsummer’s eve here in Sweden and you sort of want some newly toasted bread to go with the egg and pickled herring or the sour cream, onion and fish roe toast. Anyways with a fresh batch of (or I guess it’s sour but anyways) wheat sourdough starter in the kitchen I’d thought this was an excellent opportunity to put its powers to good use.

Sourdough cheese toast
360 g water
30 g fresh yeast
100 g sourdough of wheat
60 g butter
600 g extra strong flour
50 g durum wheat (semolina for you US readers)
16 g sea salt
100 g cheese in cubes (not to hard cheese of your choice, but not to strong, and defiantly not that horrible scary yellow propane product some Americans call cheddar)

Possible taste additions:
10 g of freshly chopped dill
2+ cloves of finely chopped or smashed garlic
Red chilly flakes to taste

15 g of toasted sesame oil
50 g toasted sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients except the salt, cheese and additions in a mixer on a medium setting for 6 minutes (or hardcore kneading for 10). After that add the salt and let your machine work another 4 minutes (or yourself for 7). After this you can add the rest of the stuff and work it in for 30 second (1 minute by hand).

Let your wonderful dough rest for 20 minutes. Divide into two pieces and “round-shape” them (I don’t know the exact word for this but the process is: 1. Flatten or punch down the dough into a disc and then fold it into a jellyfish sort of shape. 2. Cup your palms over the jellyfish and work it in small circular motions. 3. Repeat a couple of times). This is done in order to even out tensions in the dough as well as making a nice round shape:).

While resting the two nice rounds for five minutes prepare to loaf pans with a bit of oil. Now destroy your nice round shape by reshaping the dough to fit into the pans and make some slits in the dough (I went for 3 diagonal ones on each). This is also the time to brush some eggwash on and maybe another addition (raw seeds of any kind fork fine, but try to display what is inside the loaf so if you added sesame in the dough use sesame on top), and then rest for 60 minutes. *insert bad joke about not waiting for the CBS show if you want*

Preheat your oven to 250C or 480F (if you have a wood burning stone oven *drool* that would be the best option, but otherwise convection ovens work best). Put the loafs in spray in water to create steam and lower the oven to 220C or 420F, and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

After removing the loafs from the oven I would let them cool a bit before removing them from the pans but not to let the bread cool completely in them.

Store the bread in a paper bag if uncut or since this is toast, slice it, and freeze it. Toast and eat with butter *YUM*

Ok, so I did mean to be a good bloger and give my readers pictures but I am sort of picky about aesthetics sometimes and I didn’t give my bread enough time to rise after I slashed it which resulted in sort of teacup shaped toast slices not fit for a picture. I’ll be more vigilant with my camera tomorrow when I will make sourdough baguettes.

PS. I'm scared of the camera; I’m a crappy photographer to start, and everyone else post such beautiful pictures HELP

Read More......

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Going wild

Ok, so the blog got of to a really slow start due to me moving from my student apartment to my parents to live the life of a parasitic bum while I search for that dream job. Anyhow, I’m all settled in now and I can start to take over the kitchen like the megalomaniac dictator I sometimes turn into.

First of, some basics: No sourdough starter….what is this *shaking my head*. Oh well I guess that isn’t really a standard item for most, but it should be! It’s easy to make and HALLO those wild yeasties give great rise and a certain zing to nice things like baguettes, toast or fruitbreads YUM!

Ok, so wild yeast are floating around everywhere. Actually, it’s really fascinating; every strain of wild yeast is different and so will bring different flavour to the bred depending on where you are in the world. To harness the awesome power of these free roaming microorganisms (doesn’t that sound tasty ;) we need three things; water, flower and time. Now some people might say they don’t have time, but they are mistaken. Sure, building your starter base is going to take you four-five days but most of that time your starter can be left all alone without your supervision.

Here we go. To set your yeast trap find yourself a container of some sort. I used a plastic bucket type thing which I guess would hold a litre of water (guess that is about two pints of liquid). This is hardly ideal, and I personally prefer a glass jar so I can watch the action. The volume is pretty good though since the starter is going to rice about seven times its original size.

Wheat starter

Day 1

In your container whisk the ingredients into a smooth paste:

  • 200g of water (here in Sweden we have great water from the tap but if the stuff coming out of your tap is full of chlorine and other killers then use bottled since we don’t want any chemicals to kill the yeast that dive into our slurry)
  • 150g of flour (try to use organic stone ground flower because it contains more natural goodness which will give you a better sourdough)

Put the lit or plastic wrap on (but not air tight) and let your yeast spa sit, in a not to warm (about 18-20°C or 64-68 F) dark place, for two days.

Day 3

  • Add 100g of water and 80g of flour, and put it back for another day.

Day 4

  • Repeat the day 3 step and let the starter sit for yet another day and then your ready to bake.

This will produce more starter than you are likely to need for a single bakesession. This is good since we don’t want to repeat this process every time we want to make bread. The leftovers can be easily stored in a sealable container in your fridge, and when your ready to bake again reanimate your starter a day in advance by adding water and flour until it reaches the consistency of a pancake batter and leaving our container in room temperature.

Some of you readers (if there are any) might have noticed my use of grams, this is because baking is a bit of a science and although this starter can be made freehand once you have the feel for it, bread should always be made by measuring the ingredients. However for you people that wants to stick to measuring with cups and all those things 100g of water is one dl and 150g of flour is about 2.5dl. if your not on the metric system and don’t want to go convert the numbers yourself just leave me a comment and I’ll post this and continuing information in that other strange system, which is only used by the US, Liberia and Myanmar ;)

Read More......