Swedish kaneelbullar - perfect afternoon delights

It has been a work intensive January. 8 fairs in 4 countries in 2 weeks. I’ve been back to London jobwise and took the opportunity to eat at Ottolenghis in Islington, something I wanted to do for ages. Unfortunately I did hot have time to check out this little conscious fish & chip place, but I intend to go back there soonish. London is the place, isn’t it?

From there straight to Stockholm. My first time since ages in Sweden and my first time in Stockholm.
What a lovely city. I mean how can you not love a city where sourdough bread is the standard and you even have a sourdough hotel where you can bring your starter when you leave the town!
We ate a lot of very interesting new nordic cooking but it’s the Swedish classics like the potato parsnip  patties with pickled cucumbers, sour cream and fish roe I fell in love with. Still trying to cook this simple dish at home but after a first massif success we can not reproduce them again. I’ll let you know once we get there. Oh and we had the best sauna experience ever, with a bath in a frozen lake.

The Swedish have the tradition of extended afternoon tea / coffee called "vika". Traditionally they eat Kaneelbullar for vika, a yeast pastry with cinnamon or even better cardamom. Cardamom is a brilliant spice I started to rediscover it last year. It goes well with sweet and savoury flavours. Try serving fresh goats cheese with cardamom. These sweets are really nice, I strongly recommend giving them a go.

You'll need:

For the starter:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbs instant yeast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

For the dough:

  • All the starter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 8 pods cardamom, freshly powered
  • 2 tbs lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 60 gr butter at room temperature

For the filling

  • 75 gr butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup coarsly ground almonds

For the Topping

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pearl or hagel sugar

The starter: Mix the milk, yeast and 2 cups of flower in a large bowl. The dough will be very sticky. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover and refrigerate it.
Let it rest over night or at least for a few hours.

The dough: The next day, 30 minutes before you plan to bake, take the dough out of the cold and leave it at room temperature.
Tear the dough into large pieces. Now add the flour, cardamon and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and sugar and mix well (preferably in a food processor).
Now add the soft butter and knead well until you have a sooth and elastic dough. Add some milk if the dough feels to dry.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle (approximately the size 30x50cm) .

For the filling: Mix together the the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the filling over half of your dough (see image above). Sprinkle with the almonds.
You could make rolls instead, then you would have to spread the filling all over the dough.

Fold the dough in half and cut long stripes, this should give you approximately 15 stripes. Twist and shape them as you like and put on a baking paper, leaving enough room in between. Let rise for 10 more minutes, then brush with milk and sprinkle on some pearl sugar or similar.

Bake them at 200° for 10 to 15 minutes.

Best enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee sitting outside in the garden or balcony on one of the first spring days, covered with a blanket... Or maybe inside in front of a fireplace doing some knitting. Then again, I guess they are just as nice eaten in a hurry waiting for the bus to work ....

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Let's get the garden season started - Waffle

What a mild winter we have over here in Switzerland, mid February and I've already spent an entire afternoon in the allotment. We won't complain - it's heaven! And if it get's cool a cup of tea and some waffles always help ;-)

You'll need:

  • 250 gr flour
  • 20 gr yeast
  • 1/4 l milk
  • 20 gr butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 50 gr of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • icing sugar

Mix the yeast with a bit of milk. Soften the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the rest  of the milk and stir. Now add the sugar, salt, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix this mixture into the flour and stir well. Let the dough rest for a while.
Oil the iron well before you start putting the dough on. Don't let the iron become too hot. Fill with a good dollop of the batter and carefully bake over the fire. After the first minute you can start to check if the waffle are ready. The iron can be opened - you need to be careful thoug, do it slowly. If the waffle are still pale continue to bake. When done take them out and sprinkle on some icing sugar and eat immediately.

Wafflegarden14  003

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Winter evenings - Salad of roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts

I can't remember when I cooked cauliflower the last time. Certainly more than five years ago. I really don't know how to handle this veg. yet once this winter I got so bored of potatoe, leek and cabbage that I bought one. At home I still had no idea what to do with it. After looking through some cook books, I decided to go for yet another Ottoloenghi: Salad of roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts. Delicious!

You'll need:

  • 700 gr cauliflower (just the florets)
  • 5 ts olive oil
  • 30 gr hazelnuts
  • 1 big stalk of celeriac cut into slices
  • 10 gr of flat leaf parsley
  • 50 gr pomegranate seeds
  • 1 ts tc cinnamon
  • 1 ts chilli powder
  • 1 tbs sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 ts maple sirup

Preheat the oven to 220°.
Turn the cauliflower in a mixture of 3 tbs of olive oil, 1/2 ts salt and some pepper.
Roast it for 25 -35 minutes on the top rack of your oven until crisp.
Put in a bowl and let cool.

Turn the oven down to 170° and roast the hazelnuts on a tray lined with greasing paper for 15 minutes.
Let cool, add to the other ingredients.
Mix well, season, serve lukewarm.

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Fish Frikadellen or reminiscing New York

I'm slowly cooking my way through Ottolenghi & Tamimi's Jerusalem. I don't know why I'm so tempted by the Jewish kitchen at the moment. Probably because I've fallen in love with New York again after a recent summer stay in Williamsburg.

A while ago I tried the "Fischfrikadellen", fish fritters with mint in tomatoe sauce. For me they tick all the comfort food boxes. I admit there are more elegant ways to cook fish, methods that accommodate this elegant animal better, but that`s what comfort food is about no? If I would eat meat I'd probably do minced lamb or similar, but I don't.

I try every fish fritter recipe I come across. I prefer the way the fish kebabs in the same book are served (with salted lemon and aubergine puree). I don't particularly fancy the combination of tomatoe sauce and fish. I think the tomatoe overpowers the delicate taste of the fish. But the fritters themselves were really nice - especial on the next day eaten cold for lunch with sourdough bread.

Fish fritters are easy to make and you can experiment with the seasoning.

You'll need:

  • For the fritters:
  • 60 gr white bread
  • 600gr white fish cod, polak or similar
  • 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic gloves squashed
  • 30 gr Parsley chopped
  • 30 gr coriander chopped
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sea salt
  • 50 ml fish sauce
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 4 tbs olive oil

  • For the sauce:
  • 2 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 ts ground cumin
  • 1/2 ts ground paprika
  • 1 ts ground coriander seeds
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 400gr pelati tomatoes
  • 1 chili without the seeds chopped
  • 1 garlic glove squashed
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs fresh mint chopped
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a big shallow pan, fry the onion and the spice. Drench with wine and let simmer for 3 min. Add the tomatoes, chilli and garlic. Season with  salt and pepper. Let simmer for approximately 15 min until you get a thick sauce.

Meanwhile make the fritters. Blitz the bread in a food processor. Finely chop the fish and mix the bread, the fish and all the other ingredients except the oil. Form 8 compact fritters and let them sit in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Heat half the oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, fry the fritters an both sides till slightly brown. Add more oil if needed.

Place the fritters on the tomatoe sauce, add 200 ml water and cover with the lid. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. After that switch off the heat and take off the lid, let it rest for another 10 min. Sprinkle them with the freshly chopped mint and serve hot or at room temperature.

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Is it to early to start dreaming of summer again? We only just had the first snow and it's gonna be a long long time till we can spend the evenings in the garden again. Still, since we spent every minute outside during this lovely and long summer this blog has been a bit lonely over summer and theres a lot to catch up on. So why not start with some pictures of one of the garden dinners we had this summer.

We came to realise that you don't need much for the perfect garden dinner. Just friends, some beer, some wine, the sound of the crickets and maybe lanterns or torches and a big fire.
When we throw a garden dinner we always ask people to bring some food along, some for the grill and some to share. Like this we end up with amazing buffets without to much prepearing.
Sometimes we just bring bread and cheese and we fry some vegetables from the garden with garlic , olive oil and some herbs for flavouring.







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Kitchen Still #11

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The focus was once again on the single dishes and not on the whole so we ended up with a rather funny menu:

Sweet potato and fig salad ( ottolenghi “jerusalem” )
Baked pumpkin with orange zest & bred crumbs ( nigel slater “tender” )
Paratha flat bread filled with potatoes and coriander

So all in all a very earthy and also a very spicy evening, since every single dish had fresh chilies in it. But not bad at all!

The star of the evening was certainly ottolenghis Sweet potato and fig salad with spring onions, chilies and reduced balsamic vinegar.

Indian flat bread is something one should make more often. We made paratha with a filling of mashed potatoes, chilies  and coriander.
Accompanied with a salad this would be a very nice dinner on it's own.

The third dish was baked butternut squash with breadcrumbs, rosemary, chilies  and orange zest.

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Chinese Greens

We came home from Sardinia with several kilo of lime, (from just one tree) and this after 3 weeks of Daiquiri in the evening sun, only to discover that in the garden we were drowning in pak choy or tsatsoi (don't know which one it is we have). So my friend did some research and found the perfect recipe in Nigel Slaters "Tender". Almost all of the ingredients grow abundantly in our garden at the moment. All I needed to buy were shrimp and ginger and lemon grass.

We have cilantro, chillies, pak choy, thai basil and the limes. We even had a few "spring" onions left (lungo di firenze type).

So I went home and tried this recipe and I have to say it's probably one of the best asian recipe I cooked so far.
Vietnamese style, just how I like it, light with a lot of fragrance. Best of all it makes a really fast and easy dinner.

You'll need:

  • 150 gr chinese greens such as tatsoi or pak choy
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • 1 medium hot chillie
  • 2 spring onions
  • 3 cm peeled
  • 15 - 20 raw shrimps
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 50 ml lime juice
  • 50 ml fish sauce
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • a good handful of coriander leaves
  • a good handful of thai basil leaves

Start with chopping all the ingredients you will need. Once you start everything goes quite fast and you don't want to have to chop things then.
Wash the chinese green and chop roughly.
Peel the ginger and chop into small sticks.
Remove the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass and finely chop the tender heart. Chop the chilli and the spring onions.

Warm the oil in a frying pan. Then add the ginger, chillies, spring onions and the lemongrass. Stir -fry for a couple of minutes. When the ginger starts to turn golden add the prawns. When they turn opaque and colour lightly, add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar.
When all is sizzling and fragrant, add the greens. Turn them in the pan. Once they are tender add the coriander and basil leaves and serve immediately.

Serve with a bowl of rice.

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Making "bräzeli" on the fire

Cooking in the garden or outdoors is one of the best things ever. As much as I love summer I have to admit these autumn with crisp air and colorful leaves whirling through the air are beautiful days to be spent in the garden.

Obliviously there must be a fire to warm you.
Last thursdays we spent the whole afternoon in the garden. There lot's of work to be done before winter, like planting bulbs, turning compost and bringing out some cow-dung .
The boys were in charge of the fire and it seems they enjoyed it big time. Best thing was that my friend bought a "bräzeli" iron which we tested, so 4 o'clock teatime was warm "brätzeli" straight from the fire an black tea. Lovely!

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Borlotti and shrimps

One evening while eating at the restaurant our friend ordered a dish with Borlotti beans. While eating he said something like "we just don't eat enough Borlotti beans, they are so nice" . This made me realize that I actually never cooked Borlotti beans myself. I always look at them in the shops and think how nice they look but I never cooked a borlotti dish.
The next day I turned to Locatelli for inspiration and found a recipe that to me seems like an archetype of on Italian dish. Borlotti beans with shrimps.

Our local fishmonger has lovely very red local shrimp and they don't even cost so much so next days dinner was set. Preparing the shrimps takes quite some time and the beans need 40 minutes to cook but beside this its a simple dinner. In fact we got quite addicted to this and had it at least once a week while we were in Sardinia.

You'll need:

  • 500 gr Borlotti beans
  • 3 garlic gloves skin still on
  • a celery stalk roughly chopped
  • a small bunch of sage
  • 15 scampi
  • 3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1-2 chillies sliced depending on how spicy you like it
  • flat leave parsley roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh tomato or one canned pelati cut into dices
  • a glass of white wine
  • salt, pepper & olive oil

Cook the podded beans in a big pot of water. They need to be covered with at least 6 cm of water.
Add the sage, 3 garlic cloves with their skins still on, the chopped celery stalk and a bit of olive oil. Do not add any salt as this will stop the beans from becoming soft.
Bring to boil and cook for 40 - 60 minutes till tender.
Let them cool down in the pan.

Meanwhile prepare the scampi. Take of the peel at and remove the gut.
This is the black string going along the scampi's back. Leave the head on.

Finely chop 3 cloves, slice the chili. When the beans are cooked and have cooled down a bit start frying the scampi.
Depending on the amount of scampi you have, fry them in batches. The scampi need a bit of room in the pan otherwise they loose their juice and become dry. Fry the scampi with the garlic and the chillies in a dash of olive oil. When they turn opaque slightly press on them so they release some of their juice. This should prevent the garlic from becoming to brown. Add the white wine and let it evaporate. Take the scampi out of the pan and put aside.
Use the same pan for the beans. Sieve them out of the water and turn them a few times in the pan. Add the tomatoes and a glass of the bean's water and bring to boil. With a wooden spoon squash some of the bans so you get a thick sauce. Add the flat leaf parsley season and serve.

Serve with some bread and salad.

Here some advertising of our own cause: If you feel like spending some time in beautiful Sardinia and are looking for a lovely spacious house with a big kitchen and a beautiful garden have a look at our Casa Souk. Casa Souk is located in the hills behind Costa Smeralda, close to the city of Arzachena and the small village San Pantaleo. A thirty minute drive from Olbia airport and ferry port.The house is embedded in typical Sardic flora – la macchia – a dense assemblage of rocks and scrubs such as Juniper, Holm and Cork Oak, Myrtle, Barbary Fig. There are a few other houses in the neighborhood of Casa Souk, otherwise the house lies pretty remote. A thirty minute walk through the splendid hills takes you to the next shop and bar.

more information on www.casasouk.net

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