Saturday, July 14, 2012

Delicious Yoghurt Soda Bread with Dried Fruit and Nuts

Finally I'm on holiday and finally I'm on my own so I have some time to take pics of what I cook and bake!
Today I have been mowing the lawn (it was worse than a workout session), dying some old beige (=boring) curtains and watering the garden. Needless to say, I have been having a bad hair day and I just didn’t felt like changing to respectable clothes only to buy bread. I pulled out a bread book that I bought for myself as Christmas present but never had time to bake from it, and started to
search for a nice bread recipe. I found several that I liked but most of them were sour dough recipes and I was getting really hungry when I came to a chapter for Breads with baking powder and baking soda. Perfect! It took 3 minutes to mix the ingredients, then an hour to bake it and 5 seconds to eat 3 slices with lots of butter :)

It was fabulous! I don't like to use superlatives when it's not needed - well, yes I do, but I would never say it about food I don't reeeeaaaally like.
All I can say: try it. You won't regret it.


Yoghurt Soda Bread with Dried Fruit and Nuts

1 bread

1dl rolled oats
3dl graham flour
5dl wheat flour
2tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
3/4dl chopped dried figs or apricots (I used both)
1/2dl chopped hazel nuts
4dl yoghurt or soured milk
3/4dl golden syrup or dark syrup (I only used 1/2dl)

Mix everything, put it in a 1,5 liter loaf tin and bake it for 1 hour at 175C. Done. No kneading, no forming, nothing, just let it cool a bit and enjoy!

Note: the dried figs, apricots and yoghurt in the bread are not only pretty and delicious, but they are helping to balance the pH of the bread and make it more alkaline. To make this bread ever healthier, I will try to reduce further the amount of the syrup and add more yoghurt, perhaps add a bit more dried fruit.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rhubarb Fever - testing recipes for best rhubarb cordial

 I know, I know, rhubarb is so passé for this season but I have loads and loads of rhubarb in my garden that just doesn't care about that and keep on growing wether in season or not. Of course I too do my part to prelong the season by cutting the flower and seed stalks as soon as they start forming. Contrary to popular opinion, rhubarb plants do not become poisonous after flowering starts, but it does reduce the vigor of the plant and shorten its stalk producing season. So in the wait for red currant and raspberries, I use my rhubarbs to make all sorts of preserves, jams, cordials and chutneys.

the little buggers - the rhubarb flowers
Last year I experimented with different recipes for rhubarb cordial and found one that was really delicious, not too sweet, not too sour and tasted rhubarb. This year when it was time, I didn't have a clue which recipe I used or tweeked or which two or three recipes I mixed and came up with a new one. I started from the start, P had to act a guinea pig and try to inform me (very diplomatically!) about the end result.
I have tested cooked and raw cordials and here is the verdict: the ones where you soak the lemon slices overnight or sometimes for 48 hours, become bitter and we don't like bitter, do we?
I made one with redcurrant, that came out very well, but it tasted more of redcurrants then rhubarb. So if you don't necessarily want a vlean rhubarb taste for your cordial, I can really recomment this one.
 I have also made a batch of Rhubarb rose water cordial from Sybil Kapors Taste. It tasted summery and fresh -just as stated- but we couldn't detect the slightest taste of rhubarb it tasted only of rosewater.

Rhubarb redcurrant cordial
Makes 1,5-2liters

1500g rhubarb
500g redcurrant
900ml water
600ml sugar for every 1000ml released juice

Cut rhubarb stems in 1cm chunks and rinse. Mix with redcurrant and water in a pan and boil until the fruits become mushy. Tip into a jelly bag suspended over a clean bowl and leave to drip for a few hours.
Return the liquid into the pan measuring it first and add 600 ml sugar for every liter liquid. Bring to the boil and let simmer for a few minutes, constantly skimming off the scum.
Pour into sterilised bottles while still warm. I never use preservatives, so I boil the cordials in the bottles and then let cool very, very slowly, well muffled in lots of tea towels, blankets and a duvet. This way the cooling process can take up to 3-4 days.

Rhubarb rose water cordial

This makes a delicious, refreshing summer drink and is a good way to use up excess garden rhubarb, as you can freeze it in batches. 
Makes 650ml

680g trimmed rhubarb
680g granulated sugar
1 lemon, juiced
a generous teaspoon distilled rose water

Cut the rhubarb stems into 2.5cm chunks. Mix with the sugar in a china bowl. Cover and macerate for an hour. Add 250ml water and transfer to a non-corrosive saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat, bring to the boil, then simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb disintegrates and releases its juice. Tip into a muslin jelly bag suspended over a clean bowl and leave to drip for 6 hours.

Return the liquid to a non-corrosive saucepan and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. It should reduce by about 100ml. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and pour, while warm, into a sterilised bottle or jar. Once cold, add the distilled rose water. Seal, shake and store in the fridge.

To serve, put a few ice cubes in a glass, add cordial to taste, top up with cold water or soda and stir.

So last but not least, here comes the winner...drum roll...

Best Rhubarb Cordial

2000g  rhubarb
1,5liter (1500ml)  water
1 lemon, juice of 
1000g sugar

1. Cut rhubarb stems in 2cm chunks and rinse
2. Throw rhubarb into boiling water and cook until soft.
3. Tip into a muslin jelly bag and leave to drip for about 30   minutes.
4. Return the liquid into a non-corrosive saucepan, add lemon juice and sugar and boil until the liquid is clear. (During the whole process you are constantly skimming off the scum)
5. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.

As I don't use preservetives, I usually simmer the jam jars or cordial bottles in a saucepan filled with water for 20-30 minutes. Then, while still hot, I cover them with everything I can find: tea towels, blankets, a duvet, to slow down the cooling process. After a few days when totally cold, I dig them out and store them in a cool, dark place. As soon as you open the bottle, you need to keep it in the fridge, otherwise it gets spoiled easily.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An almost black beauty - because I'm worth it! (Flourless chocolate cake)

No, not L'Oreal :) This is a lot more "natural".
These last three weeks I have been on diet, no wheat, rye, oat, nor rice, potatoes or corn. It went quite well, it's easier in summertime I reckon, because all the delicious sallads you can eat. The hardest was -and still is- not to be able to eat a good sandwich or an afternoon cake and tea. I'm an inveterate tea drinker and I'm sure that a tea-and-cake addiction is comparable with coffee-and-cigarettes :) So yes, I miss my cake.

This sunday we had our neighbours visiting and it was a good reason to bake a cake. I made a redcurrant cake (yummy, I'll post the recipe soon) for them and Nigellas flourless chocolate orange cake from Feast for myself. (Careful, I can hear what you're thinking :D "A whole cake for one person?" Phleeeeeze, I'm on diet because of my health, not because I'm lacking appetite!)
My friends at and later on Vi's Pantry have been raving about this cake, I don't know why on earth I've never tried it.

Chocolate Orange Almond Cake

2 small thin-skinned oranges
6 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200 g ground almonds
250 g caster sugar
1 dl cocoa
orange peel, for decoration

*Put the whole orange or oranges in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft.
*Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips.
*Then pulp everything - pith, peel and all - in a food processor.
*Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, butter and line a 20cm springform tin.
*Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but slightly knobbly with the flecks of puréed orange.
*Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty well clean. Check after 45 minutes because you may have to cover with foil to prevent the cake burning before it is cooked through, or indeed it may need a little less than an hour; it all depends on your oven.
*Leave the cake to get cool in the tin, on a cooling rack. When the cake is cold you can take it out of the tin. Decorate with strips of orange peel or coarsely grated zest if you so wish, but it is darkly beautiful in its plain, unadorned state.

the almost-black beauty

It turned out to be a cake that was delicious, moist, morish, that could be eaten without any remorse. I used Green & Black's Organic Cocoa Powder, the taste was great but it wasn't a black beauty as Nigellas. It was just a tiny bit too orangy, next time I might not use all the orange peel, perhaps one and a half. This is definitely a cake I'll make again and again, no matter diet or not.
Oh, one more thing. A book recommendation: Diane Setterfields The Thirteenth Tale. I bought it a couple of years ago but somehow didn't read it before now. It is written in best classic storytelling tradition and goes perfectly well with the almond cake and a cup of spicy tea with almond milk.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Chicken with sweet potato, lemons and olives

This weekend we spent on a beautiful little island in the northern part of Gothenburg Archipelago, visiting some very nice friends. We had a good time of course, but what else does one expect when there is  nice weather, good food and even better company?
Our hostess is interested in food and is capable of creating the most delicious meals in a laidback manner that I admired very much. When we are expecting guests, I'm running about like a crazy hen, totally stressed up, wanting everything to be perfect and in the end everythig turns to pancake anyway:) She was so cool about cooking, just chopped a bit here and a bit there, went out to the veranda for a bit of sunbathing, went back to the kitchen for a few minutes, then came out again, sawing and spiking a bit and after a while voilá! there was a gorgeus seafood soup on the table!

Anyway, when we were there I promised her to give the recipe for Diana Henry's (who is btw my absolute favorite foodwriter) chicken with smoked paprika and pickled lemons and lots of other good stuff. Here you go.

Chicken baked with sweet potato, smoked paprika, olives and pickled lemons
serves 4

Marinate 8 chicken thighs in 4 tbs olive oil, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 5 crushed garlic cloves and the finely sliced flesh of 1/2 preserved lemons plus 2 tbsp juice from the jar of lemons. (If you don't have preserved lemon it'l go just as well with a whole fresh lemon cut in wedgs and tucked in between the chicken thighs) Put into a roasting tin with 900g sweetpotatoes cut into big chunks, 2 red onions cut into wedges and salt, pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked through in an oven preheated to 200C, adding a handful of stoned black olives and the shredded rind of the lemon 15 minutes before the end. Scatter with chopped parsley and serve.
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Warm Black Pudding Salad

I realized the other day - somewhat ashamed - that I don´t really cook Swedish food. Long time ago I made up my mind that it was boring and tasteless and after that I haven´t bothered.

However, I think it´s time to reconsider that statement and give it another chance. I don´t want to call it a project because then I feel that I have to, but I would like to try out more swedish recipes or at least recipes by swedish cooks, chefs and foodwriters.

Since I am still working late hours, quick warming  nutricious and tasty are still criterias that i would like my food to meet.
First out is Leila favourite dish "Blackpudding with bacon and apples". It´s an easy non-recipe, doesn´t require many ingredients. For me it was a bit too much serving meat with meat and the sweet apples with even sweeter raisins. Don´t want to be negative here, but it just wasn´t my kind of taste-combination.

There was another nice looking black pudding salad in Diana Henrys Roast Figs, Sugar snow that I have marked last year (back then I thought it was a recipe with beetroot!!), so now was the time to mix the two recipes and come up with one that fitted my taste. I omitted the bacon, eggs and raisins, kept the potatoes and fried the apples in butter

Black Pudding salad
serves 2

200g black pudding in 1cm thick slices
a few cooked, cooled potatoes, in slices
2 handfuls of rucola salad
2 red apples in slices

dressing: 2 tbs olive oil
               7 ml balsamico
               1 tsp mustard
               1 garlic clove

Fry the black pudding and potatoes in oil and apples in butter (in different pans if you can)
Salt and pepper.
Toss black pudding and potatoes carefully with the dressing and serve it on a bed of rucola with the fried apple slices and lingonberry jam.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


secret garden..., originally uploaded by vonsachsen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

sicilian meatballs and no-knead bread

It´s been more then three weeks since I came back from Sicily and my tan is already fading...I´m afraid the memories would too but I am trying very hard to keep them alive. I have eaten Caprese quite a lot with the fresh Mozarella, the not-quite-as-sweet-as-in-Italy tomatoes and the peppery scent of the basil instantly transferring me back to Sicily. ...all I have to do is to close my eyes. I have also had melon with prosciutto, Penne alla Norma (my way) with the Ragusano I brought back home.

Last weekend I made Tessa Kiros´ Budino di semolina from Twelve and it was very popular with my friends, although the consistency wasn´t really what I expected. Tessa wanted me to cook the budino in bain marin and I just hate that. I don´t have the "real stuff" so I just place a large pan filled with water in the oven and I place the actual pan with the pudding in it. The Silver Spoon suggests that you bake it in the oven without any bain marin, so next time I´ll try the easy way, because I liked the taste very much.

I haven´t mentioned yet, but - of course - I bought a cookbook in Sicily, quite a touristsy one. I am not very fond of these kind of books, but this was the only type of cookbook I found in English.

This weekend I made my first dish from it and it turned out surprizingly well. I made the meatballs in tomato sauce and served it with some no-knead bread that I made for the first time.

Sicilian meatballs in tomato sauce
Polpette al Sugo

500g minced beef
1 clove of finely chopped garlic
1 egg
3 tbsp of chopped parsley
2 spoonfuls of oil
4 toasted rusks (I used 4 small handfulls of ströbröd)
salt, pepper
1/2 cup of flour (I omitted that - too much starch)
1 pinch of cumin

tomato sauce:
4 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled
2 spoonfuls of oil 1 clove of garlic
1 small onion
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 pinches of cumin
1 bay leaf

Prepare the sauce: in a pot, sauté the whole garlic and onion in oil for five minutes, them ermove them and add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, parsley, cumin and salt. Reduce to medium heat for around 15 minutes and keep aside.

In the meantime, crumble the taosted rusks into a large bowl and moisten them with a little warm water. Leave to stand for about half an hour, then press with a fork to eliminate any lumps and add the minced meat, egg, garlic, chopped parsley, cumin ans salt and pepper. Mix well with a wooden spoon until perfectly smooth. In the palm of your hand, roll into meatball the size of an apricot, press lightly and flour.

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the meatballs for about 15 minutes on a medium heat, turning twice. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and cook on a medium heat for a further 7 minutes. These meatballs may be served either hot or cold.

The no-knead bread (Jim Lahey/Mark Bittman)was great, of course I didn´t succed to 100%, but being a novice bread baker, I was satisfied anyway. I used a way too large Römertopf, so the bread was a bit flat, but rose perfectly and had a wonderful crust. I used 1 1/4 of tsp of salt, which I found too little, it might have been the sea salt I used...I definitely must use more salt next time. And yes, I am going to make this again, as it is a no fuss bread. Umm...did I tell that I also swapped 1 cup of plain flour to Graham flour?

No-Knead Bread
From NYT Dining & Wine

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

So, finaly the bibite (yes, I am showing off a bit ;P), the latte di mandorla. All the time
I was thinking that it was made of ground almonds (and it sort of is), but every recipe I came across was using pasta di mandorla. Since I haven´t bought any in Sicily, I used some Swedish mandelmassa, that should be close to the original. Of course, the Swedish ones are surely not made of Sicilian almonds, also they contain things I could easily live without, so I am still to find a recipe I am satisfied with. Here´s a tutorial video on YouTube that can be usede as inspiration or guiding lines. I suggest you turn down your speakers on your computer if you don´t want that stupid background music to drive you totally crazy...

It is best served sweet and well chilled.
Also, in a previous post I have been telling about the modest owner of Bar Manzoni in Catania, who - in my opinion makes the best latte di mandorla. He learned me a little trick how to recognize good quality latte di mandorla even before tasting it. If the bottle the latte di mandorla is being poured from remains too clear, that means that the beverage is too thin. If it remains white even after being emptied, then it should be OK.

I made the test with my own bottle and here is the result:

pretty good for a beginner ;)