Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Braised sausages with lentils and apples

Like I wrote in my last post, I'm really into comfort food at the moment. This casserole with sausages, lentils and apples might not be very pretty dish, but it tastes heavenly and is easy to make. My sister and her husband were here over the weekend, and as they also are major foodies, we both ate and talked about food a lot. We had this discussion if it's healthier to eat a lot of lentils and beans compared to for example dishes with meat. I don't know, I think I'll side with my sister here and say it comes down more to portion size if you want to eat healthy and losing weight (Sorry L!). That said, I do think everyone would benefit from eating more lentils, because they are nutritious, cheap and most importantly of all, delicious. Though this is an incredibly tasty dish, making portion size control difficult....

If you don't like sausages, and those strange people exist - my sister is one of them, you could braise beef or chicken instead, but maybe then also add some smoked bacon for flavour. Or make the lentils without any meat and serve it with for example pan-fried cod.

Braised sausages with lentils and apples (4 portions)
4 dl puy or green lentils
4 bay leaves
1 cube of beef stock
450 g of sausages (I used Tesco's chili pork sausages)
1 large red onion, in thin wedges
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 apples, in wedges
1 tbsp flour
1 dl red wine
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 cube of chicken stock
salt and pepper

Start by boiling the lentils in beef stock together with the bay leaves. Cook for 15-20 minutes until they start to soften but still are a bit crunchy.

Cut the sausages in thirds, and fry in a large saucepan on medium heat until golden.

Add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the apples and fry for another couple of minutes.

Sprinkle over the flour and stir it in.

Add the red wine and about 3 dl of chicken stock, also add the thyme and mustard.

Drain the lentils and remove the bay leaves. Add the lentils to the saucepan and cook on low heat for another 15 min. Add more stock if necessary.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Today's song is Veronica Maggio's Stopp

Oven pancake with bacon and apples (fläskpannkaka med äpplen)

I've been ill for the last couple of weeks, I have this very persistent cold. When I'm ill I feel really sorry for myself and wish I was home and my mum could take care of me. Unfortunately I am a grown-up, and unless I'm extremely ill like last year when I had the swine flu and had to go into to the hospital for a bit, I have to take care of myself (but must say my flatmate does a great job of taking care of me too, she's a sweetheart). The next best thing after my mum at times like this is comfort food.

Maybe this is an expat thing, but I think it probably is the same for everyone, comfort food is food you grew up eating. One of favourite dinners growing up, and still when I go home, is a thick pancake with salty bacon. In Sweden you would use rimmat fläsk, which is a heavily salted fatty pork meat, here I used smoked bacon but I think pancetta would work as well. Instead of bacon, you can make this pancake with apples but then you might prefer having it as dessert. Here I used both bacon and apples as I like the contrast between salt and sweet. In Sweden you would eat your bacon pancake with sugar or lingonberry jam, thus you would get that contrast anyway. I'm not very keen on jams so I add the apples instead. To make this a meal, I serve it with a simple salad with grated carrots, grated cabbage and oranges.

Oven pancake with bacon and apples (6 portions)
600 g smoked bacon, chopped
2 apples
50 g butter
5 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 L milk
5 dl wheat flour

Fry the bacon in the pan until it starts to be slightly crispy

Whip the eggs, add the salt, 2 dl of milk, and flour, stir it until you have a smooth batter. Add the milk, a little at the time, and whip it until you have a smooth batter.

Put a large oven tray in the oven at 225C, add the butter to the tray

Once the butter has melted, add the bacon and apples to the tray. Pour over the pancake batter and put the tray in the oven.

Cook for ca 35 min until the pancake is golden and has risen.

Serve with sugar and jam if you like, and salad.

As I'm feeling a bit home-sick and nostalgic, I've been listening to Bo Kaspers Orkester a lot today, a band I listen to a lot during late evenings over endless cups of tea with my friends during my late teens/early twenties. Here is one of my favourites, Hon är så söt (She is so sweet)

Parsnip soup with home-made bread rolls

Fresh bread still hot from the oven must be one of the most delicious things ever! Just the incredibly smell that fills the house when you bake bread is a reason good enough to make you're own bread. I love baking, it is easy and doesn't take much time at all. I made this to go with a parsnip soup last week when I had a friend over for dinner. Soup is such comforting food when it is chilly outside. Soup, bread, some wine, and hours spent in company with your friends, that is truly quality time.

The soup is easy to make (sorry C, there is some creme fraiche in it, but you can make it without it. The creme fraiche makes it a little bit smoother and enhances the flavour), and the bread as well. The dough needs some time to rise, you can do it for half the time than I suggested but the longer time will develop the taste of the bread. So far I have never been able to find fresh yeast here in the UK except if I go to Scandinavian kitchen to buy Swedish yeast or by asking for it at bakeries, here in the UK I almost always use dry yeast. It works well, I particularly like Sainsbury's dry yeast.

I added crispy smoked bacon and portobello mushrooms to the soup when I served it. The saltiness of the bacon goes very well with the slight sweetness of the soup.

Basic white bread rolls (20 rolls)
45-50g yeast
6 dl milk or water
50 g butter or 2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar or runny honey
10-12 dl strong wheat flour

If you use fresh yeast:

- Dissolve the yeast in a little milk or water first in a large bowl
- Melt the butter, warm the milk or water. If you use fresh yeast, warm the liquid to 37C (finger temperature)
- Add the warm liquid to the yeast mixture and stir until the yeast is completely dissolved
- Add sugar/honey and salt, then add 2/3 of the flour and stir together
- Add more flour until you have a smooth dough
- Knead the dough for a couple of minutes in the bowl or on the kitchen counter
- Leave it to rise in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel for 30-60 min

If you use dry yeast:

- Add 10 dl of flour, sugar (if you use honey, add it to the liquid instead), salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix it together
- Melt the butter, warm the milk or water. If you use dry yeast, warm the liquid to 45C (slightly hotter than finger temperature)
- Add the warm liquid to the flour mixture and stir together
- Add more flour until you have a smooth dough
- Knead the dough for a couple of minutes in the bowl or on the kitchen counter
- Leave it to rise in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel for 30-60 min

Once the dough has risen for the first time, take up the dough and knead it on the kitchen counter. Add more flour if the dough is loose and sticky.

Divide the dough in two, then roll out each half to a long roll and divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece to form a small bun and place on a buttered baking tray. Make sure to not place the buns to close together as they'll grow in size.

Cover the baking trays with kitchen towels and let them rise for an additional 30 min.

Bake at 225C for 10-20 min until golden. Both the top and bottom should be golden, and the rolls should feel 'light' and not heavy and doughy.

Parsnip soup (4 portions)
5 large parsnips, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small celeriac, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 dl white wine
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp honey
0.5 tsp dried thyme
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
2 cubes of chicken or vegetable stock
a pinch of dried chili flakes
1 dl creme fraiche
olive oil
salt and pepper

6 slices of smoked bacon, finely chopped
4 portobello mushrooms, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed

Saute onions, garlic and celeriac in a large pot for a couple of minutes without the colouring the onions

Add the parsnips, wine, spices, and stock cubes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables.

Cook for 15-20 min until the parsnips and celeriac are soft.

Remove the bay leaves and blend the soup until smooth, and return it to the stove.

Add the creme fraiche, and if necessary more water.

Add salt and pepper to taste. The soup should have a delicate slightly sweet taste.

Fry the bacon until crispy and remove from the pan. Fry the mushrooms together with the garlic in the bacon fat. Stir together bacon and mushrooms, and let everyone add it to the soup themselves when serving.

Here's one of Robyn's latest songs, Hang with me, to go with the soup

Roasted root vegetables with feta cheese

I'm trying to save a bit of money at the moment as I want to go on a longer trip to China next year, and one way to save money is food. However, cheap food doesn't have to be boring, there is really no need to just eat pot noodles because you're skint. Although I do remember one summer as a student when I was pretty broke and partially survived on massive courgettes from a friends garden, pasta, and apples from the gardens around where I lived... That wasn't much fun, but just at little bit of money is really enough to eat very well.

One way of saving money on food is eating according to the seasons, at the moment things like root vegetables and apples are really cheap. That they are tasty and good for you is another bonus. This is an easy dish, I think it's good on it's own with a spicy feta cheese mix, but you could of course have it together with for example a roasted chicken too.

Roasted vegetables with feta cheese (4 portions)
4 carrots
8 parsnips
6 large potatoes
2 red onions
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
olive oil
salt and pepper

250 g feta cheese
1 dl sour cream
1-2 tsp harissa (I used Belazu rose harissa, one of my favourites)
1 garlic clove, pressed

Cut the vegetables in equal sized wedges, and place in a large oven dish

Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add the garlic, smoked paprika, herbs and salt and pepper, and toss the vegetables to cover them with the oil and spices

Place the dish in the oven and roast at 200C for 30-45 min until the vegetables are golden and soft.

In the meantime, grate the feta cheese, add the sour cream, harissa and garlic and mix together for a coarse sauce.

Enjoy! And why not listen to the lovely Elegi by Lars Winnerbäck whilst eating this?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Cauliflower and lentil curry

I made this today to have for lunch during this week, roughly following a recipe I found in the latest number of Delicious. Delicious is my favourite food magazine here in the UK, I find inspiring recipes in most of the numbers. I love food magazines and cook books, preferably reading them in bed. Nothing wrong in indulging in a bit of food porn :)

This curry is quite mild and filling, with mushy lentils and crisp cauliflower. You could have it with rice or bread, but I think I'll have it as it is. Next time I'll be sure to add some turmeric, as the recipe suggested, to give it a nicer brighter yellow colour, but I forgot to buy it when I was at the grocery store (along with a lot of other stuff I should have bought, sometimes I really am a goldfish). I think I would also add some mustard seeds at the start together with the cumin seeds, and maybe also add some cardamon pods.

Cauliflower and lentil curry (4 portions)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
150 g red lentils
1 yellow onion
2 cm ginger, grated
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 red chili
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp mild curry powder - I added 1.5 tbsp
1 can of coconut milk
200 gr tomatoes, chopped
juice from 1 lime
large bunch of coriander
1 cube of vegetable stock
mild olive or sunflower oil

Fried spices
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves
0.5 tsp chili flakes
mild olive oil or sunflower oil

Put the lentils into a small pan with 450 ml cold water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 10-20 min until the lentils are soft and almost like a puree.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add half of the cumin seeds and the cauliflower florets, cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat until the cauliflower starts to have coloured spots.

Add some oil, the rest of the cumin seeds, and once the seeds starts sizzling, add the chopped onion. Cook gently until the onions has softened but not browned.

Add the ginger, garlic, and chili, and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and curry powder, cook for another minute and then add coconut milk and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender.

Stir the lentils into the curry with the lime juice and add salt to taste. Simmer for a couple of more minutes.

Add the chopped coriander and turn of the heat.

Fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves and chili flakes in a little oil quickly, and then stir into the curry. Let the fried spices infuse the curry for a couple of minutes before serving.

Mmmmm, already looking forward to lunch tomorrow (and Wednesday, and probably Thursday, but will be quite happy to go out for lunch on Friday to eat something else)!

Today's music suggestion is one of my favourite songs my Anna Ternheim, To be gone. For some reason I always associate it with autumn.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

How do you leave comments on the blog?

I got a couple of questions re how to leave comments on the posted recipes. It is easy, when you get the choice to add Name/URL, you just write your name (or whatever you want to call yourself). You don't need an account or URL.

So please, keep reading and let me know what you think of the recipes and the music :)

Kladdkaka - Swedish sticky chocolate cake

Kladdkaka is a Swedish sticky chocolate cake, a bit similar to chocolate brownies. Kladdkaka is very popular in Sweden and is served in most cafes. I made this as dessert to have after the chili on our birthday party. It is very easy to do, the only thing is to keep an eye on the time, if it is left to long in the oven it goes dry and you really want it to be quite gooey and loose.

I used a recipe from a Swedish blog dedicated to kladdkaka and other chocolate cakes, the original recipe can be found here http://kladdkakerecept.blogspot.com/2007/11/lyxig-kladdkaka.html

Kladdkaka (8 portions, but sometimes it is enough for only 2 people as it is delicious...)
100 g butter
100 g dark chocolate, I used Green&Black 70% dark chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 eggs
2 dl sugar
1 1/4 dl flour
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp strong coffee

Preheat the oven to 175C.

Butter and bread a 24 cm cake tin.

Melt the butter, and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted in the hot butter.

Pour the butter and chocolate mixture into a bowl, add the sugar, salt, flour, coffee and eggs. Stir until you have smooth and glossy batter.

Pour the cake batter into the tin, and bake for 20-24 min. The cake should still be quite soft and gooey in the middle when you take it out.

Let the cake settle for a couple of hours before eating. It's great on it's own or you could serve it with ice cream or whipped cream and raspberries. You can also vary the recipe by adding for example raspberries and pistachio nuts to the cake batter.

Here is more Swedish electro to go with the cake, Rebecca & Fiona's The luminary ones

Beef chili

It was my birthday earlier this week, and to celebrate I had invited my friends over to our flat. I love having people around and cook for them. I wanted to make something autumnal and that I could leave on the stove with a minimum of attention so I decided to make a massive pot of chili. The picture was taken quite late in the evening, but the 10L pot was completely full at the start of it, and the following morning completely empty. Lucky that, because I thought when I was making it that I might end up eating chili for the next 6 months.... I have a tendency to cook way too much food, it's like I have a perpetual fear of anyone leaving my house hungry. I think this trait is directly passed down from my mum and gran, my family cooks a lot and really do show their love through food.

This recipe is for 15-20 people, but you can easily just divide it and make a smaller batch. The addition of coffee, cocoa powder and cinnamon gives the chili a complex and deep flavour. I made it the night before the party, it needs a good 4-5 hours on the stove or in the oven on low heat. The day after you slowly heat it up again and add the beans and maybe some additional red wine or spices. It's hot and full of flavours, I served it with sour cream and bread but you can of course also serve it with rice.

Beef chili (15-20 portions)
3 kg of casserole/stewing beef, cut in 2 x 2 cm chunks
6 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 bottle of red wine
6 yellow onions, chopped
6 peppers, chopped
250 g chorizo, thinly sliced
600 g smoked bacon, chopped
15 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 cans of butter or cannellini beans
10 bay leaves
2 tbsp mild chili powder
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp oregano
0.5 dl sugar
0.5 dl apple cider vinegar, or use red vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 cubes with beef stock
1 dl strong coffee

Start by browning the meat in batches, lightly season it with salt and pepper, and add to the pot.

Saute onions, peppers, and garlic and add to the pot.

Fry the bacon and add to the pot.

Add the chorizo, tomatoes, red wine, the beef stock, sugar, vinegar, coffee. Add water if necessary.

Cook at low temperature on the stove or in the oven, it takes up to 4-5 h for the meat to become tender and the flavours to develop.

It the chili is too hot, try adding more sugar and adding some more wine or vinegar. Usually it will become more mellow by day two as the flavours develop.

The next day, heat it up on low temperature and add the beans. If you like, add 2 dl red wine too. Let cook for another hour on low heat, taste it and add some more salt/pepper/sugar if necessary.

What could be better than some cool electro to go with that hot chili? Here's Robert Svensson's The beat

Monday, 4 October 2010

Sweetcorn soup with chorizo and salsa

I'm just back after a fantastic and sunny weekend in Barcelona. Such amazing food, I love tapas, especially the fried green peppers, Pimientos de Padron. So delicious, I need to learn how to do them! Back here in the big smoke it was quickly back to reality with drizzle and tube strike. To counteract the real world for a bit longer, I made this yellow and spicy sweetcorn soup. It's quick and easy to do, and I know this is going to sound really corny, it's sunshine in bowl, it really is.

Sweetcorn soup with chorizo and salsa (4-5 portions)
3 large cans of sweetcorn w/o added sugar (approx 900 g)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cm fresh ginger, finely sliced
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
vegetable or chicken stock
200 g chorizo, finely sliced
100-150 g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1 small bunch of coriander
3 spring onions, finely chopped
zest and juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Fry the onion, chillies, red pepper, ginger and garlic on moderate heat in a large sauce pan

Add the sweetcorn and stock, cook for 10-15 min

In the meantime, stir together the chopped tomatoes, green pepper, spring onions, coriander and lime juice and zest to a salsa.

Also fry the chorizo on moderate heat until slightly crispy.

Blend the soup until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste

Serve the soup topped with salsa, chorizo, and yoghurt.

I served to soup with tasty quesadillas.

tomato puree
mature cheddar

Spread a thin layer of tomato paste onto one tortilla, cover with thin cheese slices or a thin layer of grated cheese. Cover with another tortilla.

Heat up a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the tortilla and fry on both sides until golden and the cheese has melted.

Cut in triangles and serve directly with the soup.

To brighten up your dinner even more, and to remind you that summer will come back again, here is a Swedish indie pop song from 1993, 'Waiting for the summer' by Stevepops. It's one of my favourites from high school.

Have a happy Monday everyone!