Friday, May 16, 2008

travels with dumplings

I recently returned from a 7 day trip with my 'Sustainable Baltic Region' course through Helsinki (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia), and Riga (Latvia). Though it wasn't quite educational in an institutional sense, I absorbed plenty of culture: tram etiquette, bus routes, language barriers, beer, and dumplings. Dumplings, it could be said, ruled this trip. My estimates vary within 1.5 pounds and 1.5 kilos for the week.

Dumplings are the home-cooked comfort food of Eastern Europe. They are eaten on holidays, for dinner, lunch, and gobbled as after-pub snacks. Whether boiled or fried, their thin but firm dough outer houses a variety of tasty eatables. Potato, farmer's cheese, cabbage, beef, pork. While sour cream is the requisite dip, condiments often include parsley, pickles, sweet-chili sauce, and garlic sauce.

Dumplings, condiments, soup (BORSCHT!), sides, and drinks are self-service and priced by weight. Just great.

I've determined the Swedish version of this to be a variety of peeled-boiled potatoes, rather than dumplings, in self-service vats. Sides would include köttbullar (meatballs!), beet salad, pannkakor (pancakes!), lingonberry jam, and gravy, (and tube caviar? of course). It would be wildly popular.

And, a delicious poppy seed pastry I consumed:

Monday, May 5, 2008

chocolate craving

I present this recipe to reveal my thought process when faced with typical cravings and minimal pantry.

::2 eggs
::1/2 c sugar
::1/4 c really soft butter
::1/2 c flour
::1/8 c cocoa
::1 t baking soda
::1/8 c hot, strong coffee

-Pretty much mix wet, mix dry, mix everything and 375 for 15-20.

It's a really simple, moist, fluffy, eatable cake that satisfies my urge for chocolate and my need to bake. What really made this cake great:


I made this up real quick a few weeks ago for a pot-luck to drizzle on Swedish pancakes. Nobody made pancakes. I take spoonfuls in passing, but I was eager to use it with another foodstuff.
I don't remember anything close to a recipe. I know it involved these ingredients:
::cocoa powder
::fresh ginger
::sesame oil

A complex, deep flavor. I was satisfied using my quick cake as a vessel for mass-consumption of this.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

some college cooking

this is a brief interlude in my recent conquests of desserts, baking, and swede culture.

I started this blog last summer to showcase simple, tasty recipes I consider a step-up from the stereotypical college fare. I generally cook myself 2 meals a day, 6 days a week. It's just what happens on a budget. Mind you, I do often splurge at the grocery store. It’s also partially because I need at least one creative outlet per day. Sometimes its thinking and writing, often painting. Mostly: cooking.

A few days ago I awoke without the trace of appetite. Regardless, I sat and thought of food until 3, then had a chocolate cake to hold me over until dinner. Enter: appetite. And: rice. Recently I've been preparing rice by sautéing it in the saucepan with sesame oil, ginger, and garlic until crisp before steaming. The rice absorbs these flavors beautifully. I've also convinced myself that the grain holds form better...maybe true?
The more exciting part of the meal: carrots. Chopped then sautéed with potatoes and garlic and smothered with a nice sauce of tomato paste, sesame, chili pepper, soy. A happy compromise of sweet and spicy.

potato salad. no mayo. thanks. tomatoes would have been nice, though

Boiled potatoes are popular in Sweden. And not seasoned. usch. So, with a hefty portion of leftover potatoes and boiled eggs I made a simple, light potato salad. Too easy, in fact: too good.
::boiled potatoes
::boiled eggs
::fresh basil
::olive oil
::fresh lemon juice
::sweet, white "balsamic"

Okej, key to good cooking: fresh ingredients.

The grocery store only sells herbs in I won't be buying any more basil for the next month. Thanks, ICA.