Monday, March 30, 2009


To me arrival of the rhubarb means spring is finally here! There are two different types of rhubarb that I know about and that I use differently.
The rhubarb on the left side on the picture is the most common one and as it has some woody strings I usually peel it, cut it in smaller pieces and use in pies and cakes. I also freeze this rhubarb for later use.

The rhubarb on the right side is from my parents garden in Sweden. It has shorter stalks, strings are not woody and its flesh is so delicate that you do not need to do much to it as it is perfect just like it is. The young tender stalks of this rhubarb can also be eaten fresh.
When I cook it I usually dip it in sugar and bake covered in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, just until soft, and serve with mascarpone, ricotta or yogurt. Here in Germany there is strawberry quark that is perfect to serve with this baked rhubarb.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Semolina soup dumplings

These soup dumplings were one of my favourite food when I was a kid, but I cannot remember when I ate them last. Luckily they are very popular in this part of Europe so I have kind of rediscovered them.

Something that was complete new to me was that here in Germany these dumplings can even be prepared as a dessert. I just bought some buckwheat semolina and will definitely give it a try.

Semolina soup dumplings
serves 4
2,5 tbsp soft butter
1 egg
1 dl semolina (I used kamut semolina)
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1,5-2 litres chicken soup
finely sliced chives

Beat the butter until creamy, add egg and beat well. Add semolina, salt and nutmeg. Blend well and let rest 20 minutes.

Boil the chicken soup and take off the heat. To shape dumplings take 2 teaspoons, put some dough in the spoon that is in your right hand (if you are right handed). Slide it off on to the empty spoon and you will get one semi-fine side (picture 2 and 3, first row).

Now with your right hand spoon slide of the dough again (picture 1, second row). Turn your hand and slide off the dumpling on to the left spoon (picture 2, second row) and your dumpling is ready (picture 3, second row). The dough is enough for 16 dumplings.
Slide the dumplings into the hot chicken soup. When all dumplings are done put the saucepan back on the cooker and cook on the low heat for about 20 minutes. The dumplings double in size so make sure the saucepan is big enough. Pour the dumplings into individual bowls, sprinkle some chives and serve.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fresh zucchini salad

This is a perfect salad to welcome the spring! It is fresh, fabulous and you just want more of it. Feel free to make it with different vinaigrette.

Fresh zucchini salad
serves 2
2 small zucchinis
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red chili, finely sliced
1 tbsp chopped coriander
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
bit of cress

Mix oil, lime juice, coriander, chili, salt and pepper. Slice the zucchinis with a potato peeler and mix with the vinaigrette. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add halved tomatoes, top with the cress and serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bramley apples

I have been curious about Bramley apples for a very long time, and finally I got a chance to cook with them. Bramley apples are British and almost all UK recipes, where apples are included, call for Bramley apples.

They even have their own web-page where they are described as "superior to other dessert apples when cooked". The web-page has some great recipes as well. So what can put these apples to the test if not good old apple strudel!

The strudel turned out excellent and Bramley apples were amazing. They are melting away and the taste is wonderful. Bramley apples have passed the test. But all of you who are not able buy them, do not worry, Boskoop apples, which are easier to find outside the UK are as good as Bramley.

Apple strudel serves 64-5 apples (500 gr when peeled and cored)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1,5 dl breadcrumbs
65 gr butter
1/2 dl sugar
1 dl raisins
3 tbsp rum
1 dl chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon

homemade strudel dough or phyllo

If you are doing your own strudel dough start with it and let it rest while you are preparing the filling. Peel the apples, cut them in quarters, core and slice in thin slices. Add lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon to the apples and set aside. Heat the rum in a saucepan and add raisins. Take off the heat and set aside.

Roll and stretch out the strudel dough until thin. I find it easier to handle the dough if I let it dry a bit while I am preparing the breadcrumbs.

Melt the butter in a pan. Take away 4 tbsp of melted butter that you will use for brushing the strudel later on. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and fry until golden. Should look something like this:

Add raisins and walnuts to the apples. Brush the strudel dough with butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs all over the dough, leaving 5 cm edge all around. Spread the apples only over half of the dough. Fold in the edges on the sides, fold in the dough on the short side.

With the help of the cloth start rolling the strudel until you have used all the dough.

With the help of the cloth put the strudel on a baking sheet, brush with butter and bake in preheated oven 200 C for about 35 minutes.

Strudel is traditionally sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with vanilla sauce. I serve the strudel just like it is, simple and delicious.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring is coming...

...asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus...I cannot decide which one I am looking forward more...rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarab, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb, asparagus, rhubarb...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

White Stilton

It looks like a cheesecake but it is not. It is a piece of English white Stilton cheese dotted with cranberries. I love it. It is creamy but at the same time it crumbles easily, the taste is mild and cranberries are slightly sweet. And on a piece of your favourite cracker it becomes a true English delicacy.

45 crackers, 5x5 cm
1 dl kamut flour
3 tbsp buckwheat flour
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
4 tbsp of water

fresh or dried oregano, thyme, rosemary...

2 tsp poppy seeds (or sesame, caraway, fennel, coriander seeds...)

Preheat oven to 200 C. Mix the flours with salt, add oil and water (herbs if using) and kneed until you have smooth dough. Roll into a square 35x35 cm. Cut into smaller squares, 5x5 cm, brush lightly with water, sprinkle the seeds, transfer the crackers on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mexican refried beans

Refried beans have the most confusing name a dish can have, ever. The first time I heard " frijoles refritos", as they are called in Mexico, I got a picture of beans that have been fried twice, with lots of oil (deep-frying amount of oil) involved. Makes no sense, I know.

And their English translation, refried beans, did not make it any easier neither. But one day after watching how they were being prepared everything became more clear. In short, refried beans are not re-fried and have nothing to do with deep-frying. Their name is just a result of another linguistic mess up.

Beans are first cooked in water until soft, like you would usually do with beans, then they are mashed, and then fried in a small amount of corn oil or lard (2-3 tbsp) with some onion and garlic. And when done you have the most delicious Mexican refried beans.

Frijoles refritos
serves 2
2 dl pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp corn oil

Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Cover with water and and simmer until soft. Do not add salt as salt hinders beans from becoming soft. Takes about 1 hour.
When done drain, but save about 2 dl liquid. In a pan fry the onion and garlic on a low heat until soft and translucent, add beans, bit of the liquid and mash everything until you have a paste. Add more of bean-liquid if necessary. Serve with totopos (corn tortillas wedges).

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sweet corn cake

This is an amazing cake, it is definitely in my top 3 favourite cakes. In Mexico it is called "Pastel de elote", and it is made of sweet corn.
It is a very delicious, moist cake and the best part is that because of the natural sugar of the sweet corn the cake is made with only 3 tbsp of sugar. If you are not on the sweet-side then you can use even less than 3 tbsp.

The trick is to use fresh or frozen sweet corn. Canned or already boiled corn doesn't work as you need the starch and sweetness of the fresh corn. I have used frozen sweet corn this time but as soon as the season for German sweet corn starts, August/September, I will use the fresh corn...cannot wait!

It took me a while to find a recipe that did not include the condensed milk. Somehow condensed milk has find a way into this cake, which is a bit strange considering how ancient the tradition of corn in Mexico is, and how short it has been since Nestlé conquered the continent with its condensed milk (La Lechera).
Anyway, I have found the recipe at Epicurious and have made some small changes. I did not use milk, I did not use food processor and to be able to bake the cake in my 1,3 litre baking pan I have reduced all ingredients by a fourth.

Pastel de elote serves 8
450 gr frozen or fresh sweet corn
3 eggs
1,5 dl + 2 tbsp cream
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter, soft
2 tbsp flour
1,5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 175 C. Butter and flour a baking dish, mine holds 1,3 litres. If you have a food processor blend everything until almost smooth. Pour in the baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes, cut and serve.
If you do not have a food processor, start with chopping the corn (see the picture). Beat the sugar and butter until pale and creamy, add eggs one by one, blend well, add cream, blend. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Blend everything, add corn, blend and bake.