Thursday, December 31, 2009

Baked eggs in zucchini

I was inspired by the post "Baked eggs in potato skins" over at The Kitchen. I scooped the round zucchini, seasoned with salt and pepper and baked at 200C for about 20 minutes. The zucchini should be somewhat soft. I cracked one egg in each zucchini and returned to oven for about 15 minutes more. You can check with a toothpick if the egg yolk has been cooked to your liking. When done, season once again and serve.

I pan fried the scooped zucchini flesh with onion and garlic in some olive oil and served alongside with the baked eggs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Tomatillo is a vegetable native to Mexico and it is used when making green salsa. Although it looks similar to tomato it is nothing like tomato. It taste is tart and fresh, it is not juicy, rather spongy and it has many small seeds. The thin husk is peeled before use. If I would compare the taste to any another vegetable it would be the green pepper, but at the same time it does not have the bitter taste green pepper can have.

I have never seen tomatillos in Europe. I do not know why they did not make it to Europe (or maybe in Europe?) like tomatoes did long ago. It is an excellent vegetable and I have no doubts that many people here would love it.
The green salsa made of tomatillos is the greatest salsa ever. It is very easy to make it as well. Depending on what kind of taste you are after, the salsa can be made with fresh, cooked, roasted or pan fried tomatillos. And addition of coriander, onion, chili and garlic makes a true Mexican green salsa.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poppy seed strudel with cherries

I have been wanting to make poppy strudel since forever and when I saw this recipe in the food-magazine Essen und Trinken I knew the moment had come. I love poppy seed, taste is so special, so different, and oh so delicious. And poppy seed with sour-cherries just cannot be wrong.

To use poppy seed in baking is very Central and Eastern European thing. There are many different cakes, cookies and breads that are made with poppy seed, and luckily strudel is one of them as well.

This time I made strudel dough with spelt flour, and I was really surprised how well it worked. It was the best strudel dough I have ever made. In Germany there are three different types of spelt flour and I used the white one which in German holds the number 630. The number says that each 100 grams of this type of spelt flour contains 0,63 grams of minerals (i.e. good stuff).

Poppy seed strudel with cherries
adapted from Essen & Trinken
serves 10
200 gr ground poppy seeds
2 dl milk
7 tbsp sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 dl raisins
3 tbsp dark rum
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
1/4 tsp cassia cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs
about 3 tbsp bread crumbs

1 can of sour cherries
2 tbsp sugar
1 dl orange juice
1 tbsp cornstarch (more or less)

2,5 dl white spelt flour (or strong bread flour)
2,5 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
about 7 tbsp warm water

80 gr melted butter for brushing the strudel dough

First make the strudel dough and let it rest for an hour. While the dough is resting start preparing the filling.

In a sauce pan heat the rum and raisins, pour over in a small bowl and set aside. Put the milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and cook until it boils, add ground poppy seed and mix well. Add raisins with rum, blend well, take off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside. The mixture should be quite thick (but wet, not dry) as later eggs will be added.

In a small sauce pan melt 2 tablespoons of sugar until light golden, add the orange juice and cherries with their juice, and let everything boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a bit of cold water and add slowly to the cherries (mixing all the time) until you have a thick sauce. Depending on how much cherry juice there is you will maybe have to add more cornstarch. Drain the cherries from the sauce and set both aside.

Stretch the strudel dough, and cut the edges so that you have 70x50 cm sheet. Let it dry for about 10 - 15 minutes and then brush with melted butter (a bit more than half of the melted butter). Preheat the oven, 200 C.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the poppy seed, mix well. Spoon the poppy seed paste over a third of the stretched dough (40x25 cm), leaving a 5 cm edge on the three sides.

Now carefully with a help of a spoon spread the poppy seed paste evenly and put the cherries on the top.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the whole strudel dough, filling and the part without the filling. Fold in the sides (only the sides around the filling) and start rolling the strudel.
As you roll keep on folding in dough sides over the strudel and push the ends inwards when the strudel wants to get out of the path.

Brush the strudel with melted butter and with the help of the cloth roll over the strudel on a baking sheet. Now brush the other side with the melted butter, use all of the butter that is left, strudel loves the butter. If you have some butter left over brush the strudel couple of times during the baking. Strudel really loves the butter.

Bake for about 40 minutes.When done let it cool, then cut and serve with the cherry sauce.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chickpeas with spinach

adapted from BBC Good Food
serves 2

1 can chickpeas (about 400 gr)
1 garlic clove

3 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp vegetable stock (or water)
200 gr baby spinach
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, add chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, without browning. Rinse chickpeas under water, drain and together with the vegetable stock add to the garlic. Cook until chickpeas are warmed through, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Salt and pepper, serve.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beef tacos

There are many many different types of tacos in Mexico and this is one of them, beef tacos. The key to these tacos is to use chuck-cut of beef, because it is marbled with tissues and fat which melt during the braising (about 2 hours) and give the meat its strong beef-flavour. The meat is amazingly soft and juicy as well.

And the salsa is as important as the meat (if not more). With meat tacos usually smooth red or green salsas are served. There are many different types of both, but in general red one is made with red tomatoes and dried red chillies, and green one is made with tomatillo and green chillies.

As it is hard to find tomatillos in Europe I stick to the red salsa. Any kind of dried/smoked red chillies can be used but if you do not have substitute with a bit of smoked paprika.

In Mexico corn tortillas for tacos are small, about 10 cm in diameter, so usually two tortillas are served. And tortillas have to be warm, they are never eaten cold, even when they are made of wheat.

Beef tacos
serves 2
400 gr beef (chuck cut)
some oil
salt and pepper

250 gr tomatoes (the more ripe the better, I sometimes use cherry tomatoes)
2 jalapeños
1 onion
2 small garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 guajillo chillies (ancho, chipotle or a pinch of smoked paprika works fine as well)

16 warm corn tortillas (10 cm in diameter)

fresh coriander

Heat some oil in a saucepan, cut the meat in large cubes, salt and pepper and brown in batches. Put back all the meat in the sauce pan and pour in so much water that it covers the bottom, it should not cover the meat. Put the lid on and braise for about 2 hours. Add water from time to time but just so much that it covers the bottom. When done it looks like this:

In the meantime make the salsa. Half the tomatoes (quarter if big), quarter the onions, clean the jalapeño and together with garlic cloves (unpeeled) roast in the oven, 180 C, for about 40 minutes. When done let cool.

Clean dried chillies and soak in hot water until soft (30 minutes). When roasted vegetables are done, squeeze out the garlic, add the soaked chillies and blend everything until smooth. Salt and pepper, add some water if the salsa is too thick.

Chop the onion and coriander. Cut the meat in small cubes. To serve, put some some meat in the middle of a warm tortilla, top with onion, coriander, salsa and a squeeze of lime. Fold in half, open side up and eat!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saffron pancake

Every year on December 13th Saint Lucia is celebrated in Sweden. Traditionally a white-dressed woman with candles in her hair is chosen to be Lucia and she is followed by girls and boys who all sing Lucia songs. Every region, city, school, kindergarten chooses Lucia each year. There is also one offical Sweden Lucia.

And as most traditions Lucia comes with traditional food as well. Saffron buns (Lussekatter) are eaten on December 13th. They are made of sweet yeast-dough with saffron. But as much as I like these buns (saffron cannot be wrong) I did not feel to make the yeast-dough.

So I looked for another recipe with saffron and chose to make saffron pancake. This cake comes from Gotland (Sweden´s biggest island) and despite the name is not really a pancake, but rather a cake made with rice pudding and saffron. And this cake has nothing to do with Lucia.

I used Japanese rice called mochi but traditionally regular short-grain white rice is used. The cake is eaten with whipped cream and dewberry jam. Dewberry jam can even be hard to find in Sweden so feel free to replace it with your favourite jam.

Saffron pancake
serves 6

1,5 dl rice ( I used mochi rice)
about 6 dl milk
pinch of salt
0,5 gr saffron threads
0,5 dl sugar
1 dl chopped blanched almonds + for the top (optional)
3 eggs
about 1 dl milk
jam and whipped cream to serve with

Put rice, milk and salt in a saucepan and cook on low heat until rice is done. It takes approximately 1 hour for mochi rice to absorb most of the milk and to be done. Let cool. This can be done one (or couple) of days in advance.

Put sugar and saffron threads in a mortar and mix until the saffron threads are transformed into powder. Add saffron-sugar and almonds to the cooked rice and blend well. Add eggs (one by one), and milk as needed. The mixture should be very well mixed and not very thick, but not liquid neither. Pour in a greased and floured baking pan (1,2 litres) and sprinkle some chopped almonds over the top.

Bake in pre-heated oven 180C for about 3o minutes. Serve warm with jam and whipped cream.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Stew with lamb, dates and sweet potatoes

I found the recipe for this stew in BBC Good Food (Dec. 2008). It was supposed to be a tagine but I do not have one so I call it a stew instead. And what a stew this is! It is exotic (for me), delicious and a perfect winter dish. I have made it with lamb and beef with excellent results.

Stew with lamb, dates and sweet potatoes 
recipe from BBC Good Food
serves 2
1 onion
1 tsp chopped ginger
400 gr cubed lamb
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 Ceylon cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
2 dl passata
2 dl water
2 medium sweet potatoes
6 pitted dates

toasted almonds and fresh coriander

Slice onion thinly and cook in some olive oil until soft. Add ginger and lamb (in batches) until the meat gets some colour. Return all the meat to the pan and add cumin, paprika, coriander and cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook couple of minutes until fragrant. Add water and passata, cover and cook for about 1,5 hours.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut in large cubes, add to the stew and cook for another 15 minutes. Add pitted dates and cook fr 1o minutes more. Serve in bowls with almonds and coriander.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Salmon, dill and potato gratin

This was supposed to be a tart, but I left out the pastry so it became a delicious salmon, dill and potato gratin. I used sour cream (10% fat) instead of cream (32 % fat). The reason is in the parentheses. And as the most potato dishes is best eaten right away.

Salmon, dill and potato gratin
serves 4
adapted from
BBC Good Food

400 gr potatoes
3 dl sour cream
2 eggs
3 tbsp chopped dill + for decoration
salt and pepper
200 gr smoked salmon

Preheat oven, 190 C. Slices the potatoes and cook in salted water for about 8 minutes. When done drain well. Beat together sour cream, eggs, dill, salt and pepper. Slice the smoked salmon in stripes.

In a dish (1,2 liters) put half of the potatoes over the bottom, pour over the half of egg mixture and put half of the salmon stripes. Repeat with remaining ingredients once again. Bake for about 25 minutes. When done let cool for 10 minutes, decorate with fresh dill and serve.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Rolled potato dumplings with sauerkraut

Lately I have been into sauerkraut. More than usual I would say, as living in Germany makes it very easy to get to know new ways of preparing and eating sauerkraut.
So this is another dish with cooked sauerkraut, pan fried potato dumplings (Schupfnudeln mit Sauerkraut). It is a typical dish from south of Germany, Schwabia.

Potato dumplings are basically gnocchi that are rolled and pan-fried until golden. Result? Nice crunchy-crust dumplings with soft inside. And together with sauerkraut they make a most wonderful hearty winter dish. I heart it.

I found the recipes for dumplings and sauerkraut at the website of a German food magazine called Essen und Trinken. The second recipe is a fancy way of preparing these noodles but I choose to make them simple and traditional, just like they are served on the country side.

Rolled potato dumplings with sauerkraut
serves 2
adapted from Essen und Trinken
400 gr floury potatoes
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp corn starch
0,5 dl flour (or as needed)
freshly ground white pepper and nutmeg
some salt

200 gr sauerkraut

50 gr smoked ham
1 small onion
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 dl vegetable stock

Put potatoes with skin on in a sauce pan with water and salt and cook until done. In the meantime chop finely the onions, and cube the smoked ham. Heat a sauce pan with some oil, add onions and ham and cook until they get some colour. Add sauerkraut, caraway seeds, bay leaf and vegetable stock. Cover and cook on low temperature for about 40 minutes. The sauerkraut will become brownish.

When potatoes are done let cool 5 minutes and peel. This can also be done one day in advance. Mash potatoes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. The potato dough should not be sticky when you touch it with clean hands. If it is sticky add some more flour.

Take a piece of potato dough and on a table roll into finger thick rolls. Cut dumplings, 5 cm, and form spikes at the ends. Boil water with salt in a sauce pan and cook dumplings for about 2-3 minutes. Drain well.

In a pan heat some oil, add drained dumplings and fry until golden. When done add sauerkraut and serve directly. The dumplings get soft quite quickly when mixed with sauerkraut so add them in the last minute. Guten Appetit!