Sunday, March 30, 2008

another banana bread.

There was a period of my life defined by the baking of weekly banana bread. It was delicious for a few weeks, until I become more interested in the smell and the process than the taste. Needless to say, I made many friends. Now that I have finally found baking soda in ICA (the main Swedish grocer), I can finally get back to some regular aroma therapy sessions. I also bought honey at the store and, with a box of honey puffed cereal (like "Smacks", but generic), was eager to satisfy my sweet tooth.

check out that toasted cereal!

::1/2 c butter (room temperature)
::1/4 c honey
::1/4 c sugar
::2 large uber-ripe bananas
::1 egg
::1 T baking soda
::1 c flour
::1/4 c oats
::honey puffed cereal
-cream butter with honey and sugar
-mash bananas with egg
-mix bananas into butter
-mix baking soda, flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and a handful of cereal
-combine wet/dry mixes (should be very moist)
-put in a butterDusted pan and top with another few handfuls of cereal
-bake at 350 for 45-1.

"Whoa! Wow! Next time you make this I watch."-Swedish roommate. It was his birthday and this was the most excited he got all day. Yeah, banana bread didn't exist here.
This batch came out very moist. The texture was perfect and the honey and crunch of the honey and crunch were suitably subtle and smile-worthy. I will make this again. I still want to add either yogurt or cottage cheese. Luckily you can by pre-mixed cottage cheese yogurt cinnamon snack at the local ICA. hmm...suspect

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Your leftovers are my pudding.

I took home some extra vegan bread from the vegetarian/vegan restaurant I work at. It's very dense and has whole roasted hazelnuts, apricots, and raisins mixed throughout. We serve it to every table as they sit down. I can't eat more than a bite without alternating between it and gulps of milk. It's just too dense. But, I figured, why not use it for a recipe? I considered making a bread pudding, or grinding/crushing it and using it as a pie crust (I also make crusts of old cornbread or banana bread, any bread really, try it). After reading Emiline's entry to her food blog contest, I knew the bread's fate: pudding. Delicious, moist pudding.


::1 c milk
::3 T cocoa
::1/3 c sugar
::2 T butter
::2 t salt
::2 eggs
::1/2 c cream
::dry/stale bread (Challah works best, but use what you have)
-Heat the milk, sugar, salt, and cocoa in saucepan until dissolved and scalded.
-Melt in butter and TAKE OFF HEAT
-Once mix is about room temperature, mix in eggs and cream.
-Add in chunks of bread and let sit for 15 minutes (or cover and place in fridge for hours)
-Pour into buttered baking ban or individual ramekins
-Bake for 35-45 minutes at about 350º (I used maybe ramekin use 375º)

I served this in a bowl, drizzled with heavy cream. Really tasty. Since the bread was so dense, and could not be fully infiltrated by the custard, there is a great variety of textures. And the surprise crunch of a hazelnut or sweetness of dried fruit really made this batch special. I'm definitely going to have to take home more of this great bread next week!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

black and tan and a spoon

A few days ago I decided to take a stroll around the food blogosphere. I do this every once and a while, usually searching for ice cream recipes, inspiration, and delicious pictures. Eventually I came across Sugar Plum, where Emiline had chosen to throw a St. Patrick’s Day food blog event. I've never participated in a blog event before. And with beer plentiful here in Sweden, I knew I must participate. Even before I had made that decision, my mind had started wandering around the "kitchen." This test kitchen, thought mostly fanciful, is unavoidably accompanied by a growling stomach and a half-concealed grin. Anyways.

Some initial thoughts: Beer, cream, ice cream, no ice cream maker, beer, pudding, génoise, no pans, mousse, beer.

I decided a mousse would be perfectly spoonable and elegant. And why not add whipped cream? I've run into a few problems while cooking in my Swedish kitchen the last two months. I don't want to spend (too much) money on kitchen essentials that I know I will leave behind in 4 months. Also, it's just difficult to find certain ingredients. Baking soda and cream of tartar have both eluded me in the grocery stores! Baking soda! And, with this in mind, I set out to make mousse with neither electric mixer nor recipe. dumb

partially inspired by the drink: Black and tan

served in a shot glass.

(not exact, and not portioned well)

::::Guinness-caramel mousse::::
::1/2 c Guinness (room temp preferred)
::1 c sugar
::2 T water
::4 eggs separated
::1/2 c heavy cream
::cream of tartar (I did not use this, but you should)
-heat 1/2 c sugar and water in saucepan on medium-high until sugar dissolves and caramelizes.
-take off heat and add Guinness (it will foam like crazy)
-reduce heat to Low and reduce to about 1/2 c.
-beat egg yolks with about 1/4 c sugar until light
-beat egg whites with a tablespoon sugar and a bit of cream of tartar until stiff peaks.
-beat cream with a tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks.
-beat yolks continuously while slowly adding in hot Guinness/caramel
-alternate folding in spatula-fulls of whipping cream then egg whites
-pour into glasses, cover, chill.

::::orange-ale whipped cream::::
::1/2 c pale ale
::1/2 c sugar
::1/4 c fresh orange juice
::the orange's zest (remember to zest before cutting the orange!)
::3/4-1 c cream
-heat sugar and ale until sugar dissolves over medium-high.
-add zest and juice and turn heat to Low
-reduce until about 1/2 c
-mix orange-ale syrup with cream and whip until stiff peaks

Okay. It tastes really great. Both parts of this recipe taste fine on their own. The beer and flavoring parings are great. Dark, creamy Guinness with smooth, complex caramel. The light ale whipped with fresh orange. Great.
With proper kitchen appliances I would expect both to have more complex/contrasting textures. And maybe next time chocolate-guinness rather than caramel. Or both?

I'm looking forward to seeing what the other bloggers put together. Should be a delicious moment.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

banana bread.

I haven't done any baking in the last two months. It was difficult. But now, with the fumes of fresh banana bread wafting through my corridor, it will be hard to stay away from the oven. I tried a few new things in this "loaf". First, I say "loaf" because I baked in a circular, glass pan. Not quite a loaf, but quite delicious. Who cares about shape anyways? Another new addition: an unmashed, less ripe banana. I caramelized it a bit before placing it, cut lengthwise, on top of the dough. I also used half flour, half oats. I think that will be nice.
If there is one thing I love about banana bread, it's that it reminds me of banana bread ice cream!

(I didn't have a recipe and I have a limited pantry (no baking soda!: oops), so don't be too critical or trusting of this. I'm not)

::1/4 c butter softened
::1/4 c sugar
::2 eggs
::1 large ripe banana
::1 large yellow banana (peeled and sliced lengthwise)
::1/2 c oats
::3/4 c flour
::2 t baking powder

-cream butter and sugar
-mix eggs and ripe banana
-combine egg/banana with butter/sugar
-mix dry ingredients
-slowly mix in dry ingredients
-put mix in buttered, circular pan. or use a traditional 5x9 loafer.
-caramelize the fresh banana in a frying pan on medium/high heat. Consider sprinkling it with cinnamon and salt.
-place banana slices on dough before baking for about 45 minutes at 350.

*remember: using a glass pan like I did, please turn the stove down about 20º.

I haven't tried this yet, but it has all the requisites of success. Looks good, smells good, and induces roommates to halt studies and wander toward kitchen. as a note of importance: THIS IS THE FIRST BANANA BREAD MY SWEDISH ROOMMATES HAVE EVER SEEN!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

another college feast.

I bought my first package of Swedish meatballs (kötbullar) today. Turns out that, except for special occasion, most Swedes buy this popular food in the refridgerator section. They microwave hot in about 45 seconds. They also heat well on the stove. Tonight I had them with chopped dalakorv (a large, cheap, common sausage. It's ok). And, of course, ketchup. My swedish roommates go through more ketchup than anyone I've seen. Last night one of them ate tortellinni...douced in ketchup.

A quick note: for those who don't know, ketchup and catsup are both legit spellings. The sauce originated in China, where it was used with fish. Try it sometime (not just on fish sticks. real fish too). Or try Heinz Chili Sauce. It's ketchup-like with added zestiness. Worth a try.

Also: I bought soy sauce. I got a really dark one. For some reason I have an uncontrollable craving to eat it with fried chicken.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A brief commentary on Swedish food and culture

What did I know about Sweden two months ago? In Scandinavia. Cold. IKEA. Design. Environmental. Fish. Swedish fish. Let's check my scorecard so far: Yes. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Not quite.
Arriving in Sweden, I was quick to assess its culinary realm. However, as an eager exchange student, I had plenty of people, booklets, and roughly translated websites dishing me the stereotypical plate of Sweden.
Potatoes. Pickled herring. Caviar (tubed and jarred). Crisp bread. Sausage. Cheese. Coffee. Licorice.
This is true. All of it. Over the last two months all these items have become more prevalent in my diet. We're they new? Well, except for the tubed caviar and salt covered licorice, no. I have fond memories of sitting in my Ann Arbor kitchen, eating large quantities of crisp bread, jarred and canned fish (I think I described this to a roommate as part of my transitory phase between Ovaltine and adulthood), sausage, potatoes, cheese, and coffee. Lots of cheese. Even more coffee. Regardless, this has been an effortless transition. But the question remains: What is the Swedish culinary reality?
It's hard to tell. You cannot simply walk into a Swedish style restaurant. You cannot, I am sure, because I am certain they do not exist. Some things are certain. Swedes love buffet style service, coffee breaks, sweets, and fish. There abundance is abundant. Everywhere.
I frequent a few different book stores around town. They are quite large, like small Borders. It's hard for me to understand many of the books. They are in Swedish after all, which is a Nordic language, though sometimes if I am not paying attention I swear it sounds like English. But it's not. It's just a language. Anyways, one afternoon I found a particularly inviting fish cookbook. I read the glossy photos and deciphered what I could of the strange arrangement of consonants and vowels. Within minutes this book shared the true story of Swedish food. Delicious.

A quick list: sushi, soups, stews, sesame-saffron, encrusted, pesto, cilantro-lime, tomato-basil, wok-style, gazpacho, kebab.
That is modern day Swedish culinary culture. It is familiar. It is vibrant. It has all the culinary bells and whistles that consumers expect from global culture. At the same time, it has the peasant dishes, the pies, soups, and earthy, root stews that secure its heritage.

And because this post is lacking color:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

food fight

This is a really intersting video I found on YouTube the other day. It is a brief history of US-centric war. Countries are represented by their different stereotypical foods. See if you can figure it out. Great animation as well.


tourist pictures