Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lemon coconut biscuits

Since I moved to the UK I've really developed an addiction to biscuits. Today I'm working from home and really fancied something sweet, but our cupboards were completely devoid of even the tiniest crumble of biscuits or sweets, so I decided to bake something instead. This is an easy recipe based on what I could find at home. These biscuits are heavenly, melt in your mouth delicious, with a light lemon flavour and a bit of crunch from the coconut.

Lemon and coconut biscuits (15 biscuits)
100 g butter
0.75 dl sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 dl flaked coconut
1 dl ground almond
1.5 dl flour

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Cream butter and sugar, stir in lemon zest and baking powder.

Stir almond, coconut and flour into the butter mix.

Roll out the cookie dough into a 2-3 cm wide log, and cut into 1 cm slices.

Transfer slices onto a buttered baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake for around 15 min.

Let cool slightly and devour with a cup of tea or coffee.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Mustard chicken with savoy cabbage and broccoli

I've had major cravings for vegetables during last week. I hate this time of year because the choice is so limited for fresh vegetables. I refuse buying anemic and expensive tomatoes! Walking around in the grocery store I decided to make use of what I could find that's at least more in season like cabbage and broccoli. This is a very easy and colourful dish, partly inspired by a recipe by Jamie Oliver in the last number of Delicious.

Eating this, I can't understand why I used to hate cabbage when it is so tasty. Maybe because most of my experiences was my Gran's cabbage stew (sorry Gran, I still can't eat Kålpudding), which the rest of my family likes, but there is just something with that very strong smell of cabbage... Anyhow, here the savoy cabbage is just very gently cooked to keep that vibrant green colour and slight crunch, and the smell, well it still smells a little, it is cabbage after all, but it is worth it the second you try you're first morsel.

I served this with only the greens, chicken and a mustard cream sauce, but you could also half the amount of cabbage and serve with boiled or roasted potatoes or toss pasta with the mustard cream sauce.

Mustard chicken with savoy cabbage and broccoli (4 portions)
4 chicken fillets, butterflied
2 head of savoy cabbage, cut in wide shreds
1 head of broccoli, or 500 g of sprouting broccoli
4 tsp Colman's mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
juice and zest from 1 lemon
2 leeks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 tsp butter

Mustard cream sauce
2 dl single cream
1 tbsp coarse mustard
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch of dried tarragon
pinch of dried rosemary
0.5 chicken stock cube

Mix mustard powder and smoked paprika, and pat the mix onto both sides of the butterflied chicken fillets. Season with salt and pepper.

Saute the onions and garlic for the sauce in a small pot. Add the cream, mustard, herbs and chicken stock. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 min. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until golden and cooked through. Squeeze over the lemon juice over the cooked fillets.

Saute leeks and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes in a large frying pan, add the cabbage and lemon zest and fry for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and keep stirring the vegetables until the cabbage is cooked but still crunchy. Season with salt and pepper.

Steam the broccoli. I think the easiest way is to steam it in the microwave. Add the broccoli to a plastic deep dish or bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with a plastic microwave plate cover or lid. Steam on full effect for a couple of minutes until cooked but still crunchy. Drain, replace in the bowl and add a teaspoon of butter to glace the broccoli.

Serve the sliced chicken fillets with the savoy cabbage, broccoli and mustard sauce.

This was a lovely dinner, and also a great lunch the day after.

Spaghetti alla Norma - pasta with roasted aubergine

I love Italian food! A lot of my appreciation and first insight into how to cook Italian food is thanks to Davide, who I was living with when I moved to London the first time to work as a waitress, and who is an amazing cook. One of my most memorable meals will always be the 10 (!) course dinner he cooked when I decided to go back to Sweden to study.

Spaghetti alla Norma is a classic Sicilian recipe with tomatoes and fried aubergine. It is delicious, but that aubergine really do soak up a shocking amount of olive oil. Something I really like is the Middle Eastern dish baba ganoush, a dip of roasted smokey aubergine, so I decided to instead of frying the ingredients for this dish, I would roast them in the oven instead. The result was delicious, with a soft smokiness and that rich flavour of roasted garlic and roasted peppers.

Spaghetti alla Norma - Sicilian pasta with roasted aubergine (4 portions)
2 small-medium aubergines
2 red peppers
2 red chillies
1 large red onion
1 garlic bulb
1 can of good quality plum or cherry tomatoes
small bunch of fresh basil
1 tbsp capers
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
a pinch of sugar
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cleave the aubergines lengthwise. Add a little olive oil at the bottom of a oven tray, and place the aubergine halves with the cut side down in the tray. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast in the oven for 45 min until the aubergines are black and wrinkled. Take out and let cool down. Once cold enough to handle, scrape out the soft flesh.

While the aubergines are roasting, half and take out the seeds of the red peppers and chillies. Place in another oven tray, and add the quartered onion.

Cut of the top of the garlic bulb, exposing the cloves within. Place in the tray with the peppers, chillies and onion, and drizzle olive oil over all the vegetables. Roast for about 25 min until the skin of the peppers and chillies are charred and the garlic cloves are soft.

Take the charred peppers and chillies and place in a plastic bag and leave it to cool down (the steam coming off in the bag will make them easier to peel). Once cold enough the handle, remove the skin and squeeze out the garlic cloves.

Using a blender, blend all the roasted vegetables, including onions and garlics, with the canned tomatoes, basil, capers and smoked paprika. If I would do this during the summer, I would roast 4-5 good tomatoes as well, but as it is so difficult to find good tomatoes at this time of year, I opted for good canned tomatoes instead.

Add a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with spaghetti and grate over some parmesan or pecorino cheese when serving.


Amazing brunch at Brasserie van Koch in Århus

I'm rubbish at keeping my new years resolutions, so it should come as no surprise that I haven't managed to update the blog once a week. I have actually been cooking a lot, but life has gotten in the way of regular updates. I'll try to do better....

At the end of January I went to visit my sister and her husband in Århus in Denmark. As usual it was a real treat to be in Århus, not only did I get to spend quality time with my sister and brother-in-law, I also got to play with their lovely dogs and stuff myself with gorgeous food, both at home and restaurants.

There is a fantastic restaurant in Århus, Brasserie van Koch (sorry, the website is only in Danish). I've been there a number of times for dinner when visiting Århus, and the food is very high quality, innovative, and delicious. It is by far one of the best restaurants I've been too, and that it's very reasonably priced makes it even better. One thing I always missed visiting is the Sunday brunch at Brasserie van Koch. My sister has talked about it for years, but it has always been fully booked when I've been there. However this time they've managed to secure us a booking.

I was full of anticipation going there, would it really be as amazing as I've heard? My oh my, was it amazing! Mind-blowingly good. There can not be a better brunch anywhere. Seriously, this was an incredible experience!

We started with a small bowl of lovely bouillebaise bisque to wet our appetites. Not really necessary as I was already drooling at the site of the buffé of epic proportions that was laid out in the beautiful light dining room. Of course there was a table with common breakfast items like yogurt and muesli, but honestly, I can have yogurt anytime, and this was not an occasion when you want too waste valuable stomach space with everyday food like that. But then there was the two tables with cold and hot food. Pickled herrings of course, this being in Scandinavia, but also different types of salmons, paté, salad, smoked meats, sausages, meatballs, marinated vegetables, chili con carne, curries, eggs, different types of gratins, braised pig cheeks, ribs, potatoes in every form..... Well, just look at the picture below and you'll get an idea of the multitude of choices. In fact there was so many choices that I almost had an anxiety attack at the realization that there was no way I would be able to sample all the dishes.

Here is some of the lovely cold dishes that find it's way to my plate. To this we had a fresh apple-ginger juice and coffee.

I also sampled a lot of hot dishes, including the braised pig's cheeks which was gorgeous, the meat so tender that it was falling to pieces, but I forgot to take a picture....

Then there was one table filled with incredible cheeses. This being Denmark, there was also a table with tasty bread. Oh I miss quality bread! The standard of bread in common grocery shops here is depressing.

I only managed to sample a few of the cheeses, one mature goats cheese was particularly tasty. The cheeses tasted even better with a glass of port wine and a delicious fig compote.

Another table was full of desserts, cakes and pancakes and all things sweet.

The lemon cheesecake and pancakes were lovely. In a very feeble attempt to be healthy I added apple wedges to my plate. No idea why as I of course did not have any space left for fruit at that time.

As you can see, this was an amazing meal. My only regret was that I only had one stomach.... Below you can see my lovely sister and brother-in-law enjoying our fabulous brunch (J&L hope it's ok).