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Food & Thoughts

- wants 'happy' back in the kitchen...

Updated: 2017-10-15T15:41:44.858+02:00


A Year of Brownies - June


It's June, it's summer, it's HOT! Can't have the oven on for too long, so brownies, layered with ice cream from the lovely, Foodbeam? Hear hear! Only I never got so far as to do the cookie sandwiches - I just ate my cookies alongside banana ice cream from ParadIS. It was lovely!METHOD:This is a cookie, but unlike most cookies I make, there's no creaming of butter and sugar. Instead, you go the standard brownie route: melt chocolate and butter together, beat eggs and sugar, mix the two and add flour mixture. The batter ends up somewhat stiffer than a regular brownie batter, but only by a whisker. INGREDIENTS:These cookies use brown sugar - that's new, only my standard recipe has a mix of brown sugar and regular sugar. There's a - in comparison - tiny bit of sugar (30 grams), but that is more than made up for by the amount of chocolate - 200 grams. I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%.chocolate:egg:sugar ratio:Standard (January): 110:2:300Meyer (February): 100:2:125Nigella (March): 125:2:170Smitten Kitchen (April): 85:2:265Dodge's/Scharffen-Berger (May): 60:2:60Foodbeam (June): 200:2:150THE VERDICT:While a cookie by nature, texture-wise, these are almost a brownie. They come together super quick, the dough keeps and bakes really well from the freezer, and they get that crackly surface a proper brownie should have. They're in it to win it, The chocolate taste is rich and dark, but if I am to be brutally honest, they aren't brownies - they don't have the squidge, the je-ne-sais-quoi - and they're not square. But they're awfully good, and no bad substitute for a brownie. When I was to place these on the ever evolving LIST, they actually came out no. 3. So there.THE RECIPE: HEREI only got 20 cookies out of the recipe, not 20 sandwiches.(btw., Foodbeam - or Fanny, as she is named - has moved to Sweden and now blogs over at Comme un Lait Fraise)THE LIST:1. Nigellas Brownies2. The Little Red Barn Baking Book's Brownies3. Foodbeam's Brownie Cookies4. Meyer's Brownies5. Smitten Kitchen Brownies6. Jim Dodge's Cakey Brownie[...]

A Year of Brownies - May


 For the month of May, I'd decided to try a cakey brownie. I should probably let you know - and I guess I already have - that I much prefer my brownies fudgy, rather than cakey. But you know - science. Perhaps I was missing out, not ever trying out the cakey ones?If anyone should know about chocolate (and hence, brownies) it oughta be The Scharffen Berger people. So I grabbed the cookbook I have from them, and found the aptly named: cakey brownie. They have other kinds, too, but this what was I needed. Here we go:METHOD: The method in this cake involved doing a meringue to start - whipping egg whites with sugar, luckily nothing with thermometers and sugar syrup! I let the trusty KA do the job, and it was no problemo. The recipe did call for the meringue to be whipped until the sugar dissolved, and while it was whicking away, I started thinking whether my sugar ever dissolves?? Not just using this method, but Im pretty sure there's always a little grit to it... I always use cane sugar - I like the caramelly taste, but it is a little coarser than regular white. Hm.The meringue is blended with the rest of the ingredients, and produces a pillowy batter. I could almost see it souffle right there!INGREDIENTS:This brownie has cocoa powder in it, the first of the ones I've made to have that. I guess it makes sense, when you want something drier... Considerably less sugar and chocolate.chocolate:egg:sugar ratio:Standard (January): 110:2:300Meyer (February): 100:2:125Nigella (March): 125:2:170Smitten Kitchen (April): 85:2:265Dodge's/Scharffen-Berger (May): 60:2:60THE VERDICT:Definitely cake-like and light, in fact so much so that I served them with creme fraiche and raspberries. (For the record, I often eat brownies out of the pan ;)) It almost souffle'ed in the oven, the fell back when I took it put. It was a lovely cake, but a cake - not a brownie. I tried chilling a few pieces, but it still never became the dense, fudgy thing I like. I'm not a convert. Peeps, we didn't even finish it. I've frozen the leftovers, and intend to crumble it into some ice cream some day, but this was a definite dud, for me. Tasty, but not my kind of brownie. But it was fun trying someting new!Jim Dodge's Cakey Brownie - from The Essence of Chocolate (ha! I love it how all of the books I refer to are no longer available other than used. Is this the world's way of telling me I'm old?!)Makes 18 1½ by 3 inch brownies.9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.4 oz. (115 grams) unsalted butter (I used salted, because I always do)4 oz. (115 grams) 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%)1/3 cup cake flour (I used 45 grams regular flour + 1 teaspoon corn starch)1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)1 teaspoon baking powder1 cup granulated sugar4 large eggs, separatedoptional: ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts or chocolatePreheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit/170 Celsius. Butter or line your brownie pan.Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Set asideMelt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. remove form the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and evenly blended with the butter.Add ½ cup of the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the yolks. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the dry mixture, stirring until just incorporated. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whites at high speed until a loose froth with large bubbles form. While continuing to whip, gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar in a slow, steady stream. If sugar builds up on the sides of the bowl, stop the mixer and quickly scrape down the sugar into the whites. Continue whiupping until the whites form firm peaks.Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the chopped nuts or chocolate, if using. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a few strokes of the spatula. Don't spend a lot of time trying to make the top perfectly even, be[...]

A Year of Brownies - April


Unsweetened chocolate. Oh, the woe is me. Unsweetened chocolate was the key ingredient in this months brownie, coming to you from Deb, over at Smitten Kitchen. Not easy to come by around these parts, let me tell you. Back when I started this project, I asked one of my friends going to New York if he would get me some, but even in the City of Dreams, he didn't find it. Well, he didn't find the Sharffen-Berger kind I wanted. Luckily, I had some at home, from a trip I did many, many moons ago - but it was long-past-it's-best-before-date. Not one to be deterred, I used it anyways - which may be an explanation for my less than impressive results. (yes, that was a spoiler right there...)METHODYou melt chocolate and butter, then whisk in sugar, then eggs. Similar to my standard recipe, but the batter became almost fudge-caramel like - long and dense, somehow. And you could tell there was a LOT of sugar in there, with it almost crystallizing.INGREDIENTS:chocolate:egg:sugar ratios:Standard (January): 110:2:300Meyer (February): 100:2:125Nigella (March): 125:2:170Smitten Kitchen (April): 85:2:265Considerably less chocolate, much more sugar! Which makes sense, considering the quality of the chocolate - there's just les sweetness to it, naturally. (I tasted the melted chocolate - honestly not a pleasure!) This recipe also uses only caster sugar, no soft brown sugar.THE VERDICT:Tastewise, definitely okay, but sugary sweet. Texturewise, fudge-like - not chewy, not cakey, they felt more like a candy, with the sugar very noticable. This may have been caused by my out-of-date chocolate, but as they were, tasty enough, just not... a brownie, in my book. Deb suggest these are best cold, maybe even frozen - I never managed to try them frozen, but the suggestion has me wondering whether the fudge-like quality is enhanced by this, or would make them more brownie-like? I will try them again, should I get so lucky as to come by some unsweetened chocolate, just to make sure. Deb's recipes very seldom disappoint, so I am stumped as to why this one did... Perhaps my 13th. brownie should be one of her other brownie recipes, just to make amends?THE LIST:1. Nigellas Brownies2. The Little Red Barn Baking Book's Brownies3. Meyer's Brownies4. Smitten Kitchen Brownies[...]

A Year of Brownies - March


The first month of spring, and time for something new. For me, and The Year of Brownies, that meant really getting out of the comfort zone, in the form of adding something not chocolate to my brownies. Enter the walnut.I've had bad experiences with nuts. There's nothing that can ruin a cake, bread or salad like a stale nut, and for a long time, I was the type of person that bought stockpiles of nuts, only to have them go rancid at the back of the drawer. And a bad nut will most certainly mess up the taste experience, so perhaps what I've not liked about nuts in my brownies was not so much the texture, but the (off) taste. Given time, I've learned to keep my nuts in rotation, and now buy them when I need them, so they're fresh and sweet. There seems to be a trend towards me posting at the very end of the month, but I promise, these were baked on March 31st (hence the back-dating of the post). Nothing like a deadline, eh?METHOD:Slightly different from my standard, but similar to February's version - you beat egg and sugar together, then add that to melted butter+chocolate, and finally add flour and nuts.INGREDIENTS:chocolate:egg:sugar ratiosStandard (January): 110:2:300Meyer (February): 100:2:125Nigella (March): 125:2:170More chocolate and less sugar than the standard; more flour than Meyer. Also, walnuts.THE VERDICT:I was very pleasently surprised by this brownie? These brownies? Terminology, people? Either way, pleasently surprised indeed. I'd read reviews around that they were dry and dull, but that was not the case in my version at all. Squidgy and yet cakey at the same time, the texture was just about perfect; ever so slightly crumbly, yet moist. Not to sweet, the chocolate and sugar very well balanced, whereas Meyer's recipe was just a bit too dark in taste for me to really love them. Texture wise, these may benefit from a couple of hours in the fridge? I have a small piece left that I'll try and put in there to see...And you know, I liked the walnuts! For both texture AND taste. I'm looking forward to trying the recipe without the walnuts, I think I have to, to compare properly with The Standard, but I do think I have a new favorite.THE LIST:1. Nigella's Brownies2. Little Red Barn's Brownies3. Meyer's Brownies.Brownies- from How to Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson, scaled down to ½ portion.185 grams butter (she calls for soft, but you're going to melt it anyways, so...)185 best-quality dark chocolate (I used Guanaja 70% from Valrhona)3 large eggs½ tablespoon vanilla extract250 grams caster sugar112 grams flour (plain)½ teaspoon salt150 grams chopped walnutsBrownie pan measuring 22x22 cm.Preheat the oven to 180 degress Celcius. Line your brownie pan - I use baking parchment.Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. (Use a large one, because then you can use it for mixing the batter in - you know, less dishes to do afterwards.)I a bowl or large wide-mouthed measuring jug, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan.Bake for 25 minutes. When it's ready, the top should be adried to a plaer brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. Keep checking on them, while they bake - the difference between gungy brownies and dry brownies is only a few minutes; remeber that they will continue to cook as they cool.Makes a maximum of 24 brownies.I'd like to call this: Reflections in butter and chocolate ;P[...]

A Year of Brownies - February


February is my birthday month, so of course, we had to have brownies for my birthday. Choosing this particular recipe for this month made a lot of sense - in it's original listing, it makes 40 brownies and uses 750 grams of chocolate! No way was I going to find myself with that much cake around ALONE. I scaled the numbers back to 8/15 (original recipe calls for 15 eggs, hence the weird conversion), and even so, we had PLENTY of cake - even some for the fridge for a couple of days later. For some reason, they state in the recipe that the cake will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Yeah, not around here.METHODProcedure-wise, this recipe has you melt chocolate and butter and add that to whisked together eggs and sugar. This is slightly different from my standard method, were the sugar is dissolved with chocolate/butter, and the eggs then added afterwards. INGREDIENTSThe chocolate:egg;sugar ratio in my standard recipe is 110:2:300. The Meyer recipe has a lot less sugar, weighing in at 100:2:125. It also uses only caster sugar, whereas the standard uses a mix of brown and caster. (I use cane sugar, as that is my standby, not regular white caster sugar) Also, a lot less flour in this recipe. I should have put in chopped walnuts, but I just couldn't do it. I told you, not a big fan of bits and bobs in my brownie.THE VERDICT:At first mouthful, this brownie was more airy than expected, the chocolate/flour ratio in mind. I'd expected dense. Not at all. In fact, Martin deemed it a 'chocolate cake'. A good one, yes, but a chocolate cake. Not a brownie. We then proceeded to put a single piece in the fridge, and after a couple of hours had a taste. Crazy difference! Way more fudgy and dense, not nearly as fluffy or cakey. Definitely improved the overall mouthfeel to us. This brownie has a more full taste, it's very chocolate-y and dark, compared to what we're used to. Bearing in mind the lesser amount of sugar, it makes sense that we got a more full-on chocolate taste. It's not my preference, but it was a very nice brownie, that texture wise improved immensely from a rest in the fridge.Meyer's Brownie(measurements scaled down, hence the weird numbers)400 g. chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%, as suggested in the recipe)213 g. butter (I used salted, as always)8 eggs608 g. sugar104 g. flour1/4 t. baking powder1/4 t. salt3 T. + 2 t. cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)(160 g. walnuts, coarsely chopped)Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line a baking pan measuring roughly 40 x 20 cm with parchment paper.Coarsely chop the chocolate and melt it together with the butter in a bain marie.Gently whisk together sugar and eggs - you merely want it to blend, not go airy or light. Stir the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg/sugar mixture.Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder into the batter, gently mixing. If using, stir in the walnuts.Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to cool completely in the pan, before unmoulding. Cut into 20 squares.[...]

A Year of Brownies - January


Like I said, I already have a brownie recipe I find pretty perfect. It has no add-ons, save for extra chocolate, when I feel like it, it comes together in no time, and I almost always have all the ingredients at the ready. Come to think of it, this recipe may have been one of the first brownies I ever made. The book that it comes from is one that I bought back when I lived with my still-boyfriend in London, back in 2000. It's called The Little Red Barn Baking Book and is written by Adriana Rabinovich, who - I just found out - has a gluten-free-centered blog called Gluten-free Cooking for Kids. Back in the days, her company (also named The Little Red Barn) sold brownies, cookies etc. to Starbucks, Fortnum & Mason's and Selfridges to name a few, and she decided to share her recipes in this here book. aIt was a little unassuming number, but the amount of recipes I wanted to make - banana bread! cinnamon buns! Devil's food cake! Snickerdoodles! -  as I paged through it was numerous. It was one of the only baking books I had for the six months we lived in London, and as is apparent from all of the scribbles and splatters in it, it was much used and loved. Still is, in fact. Not only the brownies, but also her banana bread and carrot cake are keepers.

Onto the brownies! In the book, it's the recipe called Rum and raisin brownies, but if you leave out the raisins, it's a classic one. This is definitely one of the fudgier versions, dense and not cakey. I've had some people finding it a tad on the sugary-sweet side, but I just really like it like this and wouldn't change a thing.

155 g. plain flour
1/4 tsp. salt
110 g. good-quality plain chocolate (70%)
110 g. unsalted butter (I use salted with no problems)
150 g. dark soft brown sugar
150 g. caster sugar
2 eggs
optional: 110 grams of Marabou milk chocolate, cut into 5mm chunks

23 cm. square cake pan

Preheat the oven to 170 degres Celsius. Butter and flour the cake pan. (I usually put in a sheet of baking paper, fitting it to the pan - it's much easier to get it out this way)

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl; melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add the sugars to the melted chocolate/butter mixture and leave to dissolve slightly. Stir to combine. Add the eggs, one by one, beating after each one. This will produce a very glossy mixture. Gently fold in the flour, taking care not to overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks if using.

Spread in the cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven. Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes 16-20.

A Year of Brownies


I miss it here. And you know? There's only one way of changing that. Getting back to it. This morning, while putting together a brownie for coffee guests coming over later, it hit me: I need a project. No better time for starting one than when the year has just turned.I think I have a pretty good recipe for brownies. At least I have one I always make -  I've made others, but have somehow always returned to this one. But is it really the best? I like squidgy and gooey more than cakey brownies. I like plain, unadorned brownies - no nuts, berries, add-ons - just chocolate, please. But perhaps I'm in the wrong? Thing is, I don't know. I need to find out.So prepare for a 2016 with a Baker's Dozen of Brownies - one for each month. My list is as follows:January: My go-to - Little Red Barn Baking Book's BrowniesFebruary: Claus Meyer's Brownies (from Meyers Bageri)March: Nigella Lawson's Birthday Brownies (from How to be a Domestic Goddess)April: Smitten Kitchen's Favorite BrowniesMay: Jim Dodge's Cakey Brownies (from The Essence of Chocolate)June: Foodbeam's Brownie-like Cookies and ice cream sandwichesJuly: David Lebovitz's Helene's BrowniesAugust: Lisa Yockelson's Chocolate, pure and straight, Brownies (from Chocolate, Chocolate)September: Anne au Chocolat's Brownies with white chocolate chipsOctober: Thomas Keller's Brownies (via Pretty. Simple. Sweet.)November: Markus Grigo's Brownies (from Grigos Hjemmebag)December: Orangette's BrowniesThe a surprise, to be found while the experiment is going on ;)Contenders:Mikkel Friis-Holm's BrowniesBlondies from DebBrownies with frosting!Skillet Brownies from Martha StewartBrowniest Cookies - also from Deb (I could have done 12 brownie recipesfrom her site alone, I think! ;))Brownies with cookiedoughBrownies with four chocolatesResearch (may be extended)Bon Appetit on Brownies[...]

Penance, with Rice Pudding


Our son, Charlie, is 5 years old. He loves playing with Lego, running, climbing, digging in the dirt, watching cartoons, fixing stuff with his Dad, eating ice cream and dancing with his Mom in the kitchen. He says 'please' and 'thank you' and almost never wipes his hands on his pants. He looks gorgeous with a chocolate moustache and his little hands are always warm. He has lovely and cute friends, and they play like there's no tomorrow. I try to show him the world, to teach him everything I can. But I think that sometimes, he's the one teaching me. I recently had a week from Hell. Something about me finishing up at the place I'm currently at, and looking for a new job, thinking I got a position that then turned out to be a dud, and me going into a drama-queen-existential-tantrum, thinking the world would never come back together again. (Okay, I was post two nightshift and only had three hours of sleep. Reason has tight accomodations under those circumstances.) I had a couple of hand-wringing days where I felt like crap - and that just rubs off on the young'un. When I don't feel good, I can be sure that C mirrors it. Or perhaps he doesn't, it's just that I get ticked off more easily, and I choose my battles very uncarefully. Actually, I don't think I even choose - I just crash into them, without even thinking.It can be all sorts of stuff. 'No, we can't go to the café AGAIN today'. 'Charlie, for the 100TH TIME! PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES so we can get out the door!!'. 'The CD's don't belong on the floor, do they?' 'No. More. iPad. I'm serious.' 'Eat your vegetables.' 'No, we're not reading the third chapter of the book that you did not even WANT to read.' 'Go to sleep!' 'I'm not just going to come because you yell for me to come - you come here!' I'm sure these are by no means extraordinary utterances in households with 5-year olds. Even as I read them, I'm thinking: is it that bad?It isn't. But some days - those were I'm more drained of energy, or tired, and can't even begin to think what we should eat for dinner, let alone put together a sentence where I'm full of understanding and embracing of all of his feelings - even the smallest of questions or request will be met with a: No. Because I said so. Go ahead and call the social services.Most of the time, I think I'm a pretty okay mother. No really, I do. But there are definitely days where I wish I could be a little more fun, a little more 'whatever'. More playful and understanding, more compelling and assertive. More sure that what I am doing is right, and good, and will turn him into that lovely and wonderful young man I want him to be. But that week wasn't one of the weeks I was an okay mother. I knew it, I felt it deep in me. So when it finally ended, I knew I had to make amends. I took him for a walk, wanting to hold that little warm hand and hear his little voice chatting. He wanted to ride his bike. I said yes, with a lump in my throat, because damn it. He's so big now it's no longer important to hold you Mom's hand? Not even when she needs it?I didn't tell him I needed it. He's five. I'm not sure you're supposed to put that kind of responsibility on a child. But the next day, I took him to the toy store, and bought him Lego, however politically incorrect it is to try and buy the love of your child. I needed to just sit next to him and listen to his words and see his hands at play and ruffle his hair and hear him laugh. And I cooked him rice pudding for dinner, because some days, I don't care. I just need to make it all better again. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Rice Pudding - or Risengrød, as we call it here- from Frøken Jensens Kogebog1½ l. milk (I prefer full-fat)200 ml. pudding rice (grødris in Denmark - I know some people use risotto rice, when grødris aren't available)1 teaspoon [...]

Because, Life.


My Dad used to boil me eggs. Back when I was little, and I was with him on the weekends, we'd usually have soft boiled eggs in the morning. Two per person. I'd rush to eat my first one before him, so that I could turn it upside down and pretend to serve him his first egg. He'd play along and give it a proper bash to peel it, and lo and behold, the empty shell would fall in on itself. Ah, the silly little joys!

I remember how hard it was to peel that egg. It was too hot, and my little fingers got burned, and the shells cut like little sharp blades. I'm not entirely sure, but I actually think my Dad always peeled them, until that whole ritual stopped - not consciously, but because, life. I became a teenager and got a boyfriend. My Dad married my Bonus-Mom and little brothers and sisters entered our lives and had to have their eggs peeled. For a lot of years, I didn't eat many soft boiled eggs. M doesn't like them and if he was having scrambled eggs, it felt weird boiling my eggs instead.

But then, life, again. I grew up, I studied, I became a doctor. I work my share of night shifts. Sometimes, I get to sleep for a few hours, sometimes none. Regardless, once it's over, I come home, usually around 9 or 10 in the morning, all alone, in the apartment abandoned by the rest of the family just a few hours earlier. I boil water in the kettle, enough for a big cup of milky tea and for the pot that I will boil my two eggs in.

The night shifts are at times exhausting - not just because the patients are (often) more sick than the ones we meet during the day (otherwise they'd be in their own beds, I'm sure) and therefore more complicated, from a medical view - also because the stories during the night always seem a little sadder, the destinies a little more tough. I've always loved working evening and nights, I always will. I like the wee hours. But there is also no doubt that they do take a little more toll on me than dayshifts. Even if only because of the lack of sleep.

So when I get home, I'm usually a little rough around the edges. I peel of my clothes and put on a big sweater and soft pants, ruffle up the duvets and pillows. Cut two slices of rye bread, put butter - always butter, except if it's smashed avocado, like above - and cheese, perhaps a little 'spegepølse' on the plate. If I slept during the shift, I eat in the kitchen, but most mornings, I bring the tea, the eggs, the bread with me into bed (shhh, don't tell M!) and I eat it there. My eyelids are heavy, the bed is warm from the guys that left it not long ago, and the eggs provide a strange comfort, almost as much as that of the heavy duvet. My belly full, I fall asleep. And when I wake up, the world is well again.


In my opinion, there is an art to the soft boiled egg. It really needs to be cooked proper - not too little, and not too much. If the whites are runny (ick!) or the yolk too hard, it's just not right, and it will never hit the comfort spot. What works for me, is 5 minutes and 30 seconds of proper boiling - yes, I bought a timer that works in seconds. I put the eggs in once the water boils, get the water back to a boil, then time it. The second the timer beeps, I run cold water over the eggs and that's it. It's not groundbreaking culinary new-comings, but it doesn't always have to be.

I baked.


Bread. Last week. It happens, every once in a while. Last week, I also had pizza made with pre-made crust, and at least one take-out meal. 

I'm far, far away from the food blogging scene, but I miss it here. I miss writing about food, and reading about food. I miss cooking. Dancing in the kitchen with ingredients.

It's not like we don't cook no more, it's more like I don't take photos of it. 

But perhaps now is as good a time as ever to get back to it. It's been two years, almost. Perhaps I should just do it, as they say. I will. I'll press 'publish', just like that. Here you go!

Growing stuff


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } I have eleven (11!) tomato plants on my balcony. There are white ones, yellow ones, green and red ones, pink, orange and even black ones. Some are big, some are small, some are the shape of dates, some are very round and others very long. Two of them are striped. A couple of them I grew from seed, but I couldn't help myself when we went on our yearly visit to Gartneri Toftegaard, so some of them came into this home as wee little baby-plants. They've grown, they're producing like crazy (as in big bowlfuls, everyday) and I love it. I loved that I've nursed them all through spring and summer, trimmed the little side shots and the crazy leaves, schlepped water from downstairs so they could have their drinks, fed them, talked to them, moved them around so the sun wasn't too harsh on their delicate leaves or so that they didn't drown in the August downpours. Tomatoes are like gold.But they are not the only thing growing in this house. When I got pregnant, I promised myself I wasn't going to turn this into a mommy-blog. I like being a mom - I may even go so far as to say I love being a mom. I like reading about other people being mom's. I just thought no, this is a FOOD blog, my food blog. Not a baby blog.But then. There had to be a but. I am a mom. I've become a mom. Being a mom is what I do these days, it's what I've done for the past ten months. It's what I eat, read, and (don't) sleep. It fills up my thoughts, takes up my time, even fills up my kitchen, with it's sippy cups and plastic spoons and pureed foods and high chairs. It's just like that - he's everywhere. While I do blog about food, my blog would be nothing without the stories I tell about myself, my family, my life, my everyday and my past. My future. This blog is about food, indeed, but in essence, it's about me. My thoughts, my food and thoughts. And if there's one thing on my mind these days, these past months, it's him. He's called { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } He was born on a pretty non-assuming grey Tuesday, a couple of hours past noon. In the evening he was welcomed into the world by an entourage of family members and friends who joined us at the hospital. My dad - the proud granddad - arrived with a briefcase full of champagne and crystal champagne glasses and silver trays of kransekage. Everyone toasted and smiled and cried happy tears and the little one slept through it all, safe in the arms of people that already loved him.The growing up whizzes by faster than anything you can imagine. Everyone told us it would, but it's unreal. He eats now, proper food, like the rest of us. Strawberries was a favorite for a while. If he's on my arm when there are rolls fresh out of the oven, he lunges forward to grab one, happily gnawing away on it, leaving crumbs in his trail. He loves sitting in his high chair when we cook, yelling at the pots and pans if they hiss too much, keeping a track on everything going on. He likes homemade pizza and tomato sauce from a spoon, meatballs and salmon and baked, peeled bell peppers. Cheese-sticks disappear within seconds, even those cut from really adult (i.e smelly) cheeses. The only thing I've sen him wrinkle his nose at so far has been anchoïade (and okay, the one time I tried feeding him something from a glass. He's already spoiled rotten ;)) He eats with gusto, and he eats a lot. It's a joy and I know he may outgrow it, but we'll deal with that if or when the day arrives.It's crazy and it's hard. I've lost count of the hours I've spent worr[...]

Cupcakes and Blogs, with or without a reason


I wish I had more time.

I wish I had more inspiration. I wish that instead of a feeling of helplessness when stumbling upon a new foodblog, I was sure of my own voice in this weird, interactive community. That I felt like I had a place, that what I did was - is - something unique. There are days when I do, and then there are days where I feel like it doesn't matter one bit, because how is what I do different from what all the others do? And if it isn't different, why bother?

I wish I didn't feel like I had to make an excuse everytime I actually do put up a post. I wish it didn't bother me so much to have to type out recipes. This is a food blog - it kind of goes with the concept. I wish I didn't feel like I'm sometimes holding on to something that's already dead.

But in my mind, I'm still writing up posts and I'm still taking pictures. Granted, there are a lot more baby photos taking up space on my memory card these days, but every now and again, there's also a photo of  a roasting tray, full of the most amazing homegrown, differently colored tomatoes, ready for drying. Of perfect light green fresh lima beans, nestled in their cosy pods. Of a pretty cupcake and freshly baked bread.

And I think a lot about food. Still.

I'm afraid I sometimes kill my own posts before I start them, thinking: surely someone must have posted about this before. Then I go check my blog reader, and there they are. Three, four, five posts about the exact subject I was thinking about writing. Darn seasons. And that's only what's in my reader - I imagine there's a lot more out there I never hear or read about.

I wish I knew what it is that makes a good food blog. Actually, no. I wish I could stick to writing the things I think makes for good food blogging. Honest, enthusiastic stories, about food, revolving around food, stories that ends - or starts - with meals, or cakes, or disasters. Stories with humor. And actually, not necessarily stories that ends with recipes. I'll take passion, and warmth and personality over written instructions any day.

I wish I wasn't a follower. Sometimes, I wish I wasn't such a pleaser. Sometimes, I wish I followed my heart, and not my head so much. There are days when my self-editing makes me want to kick me in the butt.

I wish I had more cupcakes. Even though I'm not really sure I like cupcakes. But I make them, again and again, because they're pretty to look at. Because I can. And that's probably not the worst reason to bake. Or blog. Just because.

Vanilla cupcakes with rhubarb compote and cream cheese frosting
Recipe for cupcakes: via Cheryl - THE queen of cupcakes, in my opinion.
Rhubarb compote: cut rhubarb into 3 cm. bits, couple of spoonfuls of sugar poured over and mixed in, baked in a 180 degree Celsius oven for about half and hour. Leave to cool.
Cream cheese frosting: equal parts butter and Philadelphia (or other cream cheese) beaten together; lots and lots of icing sugar beaten in (roughly the same amount as the total amount of butter and Philadelphia)

On Bread Baking Mojo


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Walnut breadsHow many bread bibles is it legal for one woman to own? Considering that I am an avid baker, who takespride in baking most of the bread we consume in this wee household, I take it there's still a limit. Two of the ones I have are even NAMED The Bread Bible, but are by different authors. One book I have two editions of, because, well... I didn't realize they were the same. Yet, even so, I managed to acquire one more of those babies - Meyers Bageri. It's Danish, it's gorgeous and I strongly recommend { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Light rye breadEvery time I buy a bread book (or even a regular cookbook) I feel like it's more or less the same recipes that are in there. Obviously, it doesn't stop me from buying them. But there's your everyday wheat-type bread, a couple sourdoughs, some dark bread and then they end with a couple of yeasted cakes. Of course, they're not exactly the same in all the books, but they're cut from the same fabric. Often, I just end up using the same standard bread recipe I always use - one part coarse-type flour, one part tipo 00, 2 parts wheat. It's easy and { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } .flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Emmerbrød - bread made from emmer, an old wheat-typeDoes it feel too overwhelming, following a recipe I never tried before? Perhaps. I know that's how I sometimes feel with recipes for everyday meals, even though they may be no more time consuming than the things I make on a regular basis, and would bring something new! and exciting! to the table, which, I must admit, is desirable. Afterall, we can't live off mince, chicken and baked root vegetables all the { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Brunsviger with marzipan, ohmygoshyoumusttrythis!This book here, I felt was different. I'd been eyeing it in the shops for a while, and got it for a friends birthday present. I then proceeded to leaf through it the entire evening (what company I am!) Yes, there's still all of your standard fare, but there was something more. The photos are pretty, text good and thorough - but not overly lecturing - and something in it made me want to { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Pumpkin bread All of it.Apple muffins with fresh cardamom - it really does make a differenceThe breads are wow, even without the baking stone they keep telling me to use. Since I got it, I've baked several new breads, a yeasted cake, apple muffins - I even raised a sourdough! I guees that's all the proof you need - it made me want to bake again. It made me try a new way of kneading, and had me browsing the internet for bread baking techniques and (ooops!) had me searching for a new mixer (yes, I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, but it sadly isn't strong enough for the type of bread doughs I'd like to make) On my way, I found a new forum (The Fresh Loaf, anyone? It's a veritable treasure trove of all good things bread) and plai[...]

How to Celebrate with Chocolate Cake(s)


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } Pistachio Petit Four Cake - for my 31st. { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } It seems like it was just yesterday M drove me to the hospital, one early morning. We thought we were just going for a scheduled check-up - but then again, some sort of something had started during the night, and I wasn't quite sure, is this contractions and am I...? Turned out, M missed his meeting. We never got the bring "the bag". Or park the car in the right place. It went fast, and out came one little wrinkly, dark-haired, big, fantastic baby boy.And that's it. All of a sudden we were parents. A Mom and a Dad. Two days later, late in the evening, M drove the three of us back again. He's never driven that slow before either. A new family.Mile-High Devil's Food Cake - for the Maternity GroupOh my, oh me. People, it's been six months. That's half of an entire year. And my - our - baby boy is growing up so fast it's all we can do to try and keep up.It's a whirlwind. It's crazy and amazing and breathtaking and scary as s***. It's huge, enormous even, it's taking over everything - taking up my time, my heart, my every thought. And it's all okay, it's as it should be. Somehow, it's all very natural.At one point, I got back to thinking about food. Which, happily, coincided with getting time to cook - and bake - some, too. Also, it seemed the camera had been glued to a baby smile - taking photos of food again took some readjusting.It's not that I believe you have to have excuses for baking a cake, but it seems that lately, there's been cause for celebration. Within the last couple of months, four three-layered chocolate cakes have come from my kitchen.Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake - for the BabyshowerFirst, pre-baby: Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake. It was served at the babyshower my Mom and Sister threw me, and it was awesome. Even better the next day, if I may say so.Then, a Pistachio Petit Four Cake for my 31st. birthday back in the middle of February. Ooooh, so pretty (and so expensive! Shelled pistachios cost an arm and a leg around here. But worth it)Not long after that, I made a Mile-High Devil's Food Cake for my Maternity Group (we're 6 mothers and babies in total) because, you know, new mothers and chocolate cake go hand in hand, and motherhood should be celebrated! Also, we need chocolate, to make us forget the hours we don't sleep.Last, but by no means least, one of my best friends is getting married in a couple of weeks and we threw her a "Hen's Afternoon" (instead of night - she's pregnant) which included a Chocolate-Hazelnut Gianduja Cake.Chocolate-Hazelnut Gianduja Cake - for P's "Hen Afternoon"There's always a reason for chocolate cake...RECIPESThere may be a lot of my cookbooks I don't use regulary, but my copy of Sky High is just about to stick to the countertop! I'm not the first to have that happening - Deb from Smitten Kitchen is a die-hard fan, as is a whole host of people from The Cake Slice Bakers. So I'll take the liberty of linking to their write-up of a couple of the recipes, and just put my notes here - that way, you even get more people telling you to just go out and buy "Sky High - Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes" by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne, already! ;)Pistachio Petit Four Cake - recipe link here (from Smitten Kitchen)My notes:I baked the layers the cakes the day before I assembled the cakeI used storebought marzipan and made the roses in the morning - it t[...]

The Everyday Conundrum


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } On a day to day basis, I think it's safe to say that I do most of our grocery shopping and cooking. It's not that M doesn't like cooking (the shopping is another matter), it's just that me making dinner is what makes sense. I get off earlier from school and work, so I don't have to suffer the post-traumatic stress it is to go to the store after 5 o'clock and generally, I say I like cooking us dinner. Only problem: what to make?I usually ask M in the morning what he may feel like having for dinner, but being the man that he is, knowing what he'd like to eat anywhere further away than 20 minutes from the present is a question along the lines of "What is the meaning of life?" He hardly EVER has a clue. So much for inspiration, I'm telling you.We've tried a lot of things: picking out recipes from randomly selected cookbooks that looks or sounds good; I've had M go over my delicious bookmarks, so he could find things he'd like eating; I've taken "what we had for dinner" notes for an entire month, to have that as inspiration for forthcoming months; we've scoured both Danish and American magazines to find drool-worthy (and everyday-cooking managable) recipes. I've tried to do week-to-week food plans, but something always pops up and wrecks my best attentions and the chicken ends up spoiling in the fridge. Just buying what looks good at the market on Saturday invariably leaves me with something that doesn't look nearly as good on the following Thursday. Which is also a terrible, terrible waste.All I want is recipes that are easy, managable, not using crazy expensive ingredients, or things I have to go to specialist stores to get, or that requires hours and hours of prep work or marinating or. That lives up to my - self-prescribed - requirement of protein and two veg. This last one is probably what gives me the most problems. If I was to make dinner for myself alone, I'd live happily ever after on brown rice and avocado, but when I'm cooking for the man, I feel like there should be both protein, starch and carbs on the plate. Don't ask why, it makes no sense, and I'm trying to shed myself of it.Making nice, nutritious food on an everyday basis is just not as easy as I would like it to be, and fast becomes a chore. A dud. An energy- and life-draining one at that. And I want my time in the kitchen to be pleasurable.But then, then, it happens that I stumble upon keepers. Like the chicken meatballs up there. I was, once again, at the end of a day of work and trying to figure out what to eat that night, and ended up on the Gourmet website. Ta-dah! Dinner solved!I've always passed on the minced chicken in the cooler at the market. Why, I have no idea, minced chicken just seemed a little odd to me - considering the amount of other types of minced meat we eat, it really makes no sense, but I guess I just never really knew what to do with it. Now, I make this. I've served them with a chopped salad (with this dressing) and the peperonata suggested, but I think they'd be the bomb in a sandwich, too. They even freeze well, so make a double portion and you won't have to think about what to make next Wednesday for dinner. What do you do to make sure you don't live of pasta and jarred tomato sauce every day?I followed the recipe on the Gourmet site almost to a T, but forgot to put in the parsley, hence the scattered greens in the photo. [...]

Cupcakes for Grown-ups


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } A story my Mom and older sister like to tell other people from time to time is back from when I was little. It's the one about the red robin. We lived in a big house with large windows, and one day, a red robin flew, head first, into one of those glass panes. I'm pretty sure it died on impact, and it's tiny body fell to the pavement below. Mom got out the biggest shovel we had and scooped the dead bird into the outside bin, thinking not much of it. Until I asked her: 'when I die, will you put me in the bin, too?'I was a deep, deep, kid. Or a weird, weird kid, depending on how you see it. It wasn't because I was afraid to die, I think. I was just wondering what would happen.Another story is the one where I, not much older than 6 or 7, crawled up onto my Mom's lap and burst into tears. My Mom sat there for a second or two, wondering what might have happened, before she asked me what was wrong. 'I don't want to grow old. I don't wanna be an adult!' I hiccuped through tears.I don't remember the stories as such, but I remember the feeling. Of not wanting to grow up.Throughout my teenage years and my twenties, I used to joke that you weren't a real grown-up until you had your own home. Then it wasn't until you had a car. I eventually got both of those things, so the natural progression was: you're not an adult until you have kids. When my friends, even the close ones, started having them, I kept the mantra going: YOU may be a grown-up, but me? Noooo.Now look at the mess I've gotten myself { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } I guess I just have to grow up then, don't I?For the record: I'm due late October. The ultrasound says it's a boy and if you can judge anything from the kicking and frolicking and jumping and pushing and general energy-level going on in there, they sure could be right! No, I can't really blame pregnancy for the lack of posts here. Yes, there has been, is and most certainly will be a lot more of that thing called life getting in the way of blogging, but borrowing the words of a wise woman I happen to know: I just can't bring myself to put an end to Food & Thoughts either. Scattered and sporadic posting is what I'm all about. Hope you'll still feel like keeping up.Cupcakes for Grown-Ups - or, as they're called in The Essence of Chocolate: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes.I should at least have something to make up for the whole going adult thing, shouldn't I? In the book it says that these would be ideal for a child's birthday - I think that would very much depend on the kid. These aren't sugary, fluffy cupcakes with a tooth-achingly and gritty sweet topping - these are not-to-dense, almost chocolate-y bitter cupcakes with a lush, heavy frosting. A bit more suited for the grown-up palate, but maybe that's just my opinion.For the cupcakes:1 cup all-purpose flour½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder10 tablespoons unslated butter, at room temperature3/4 cup granulated sugar½ teaspoon baking soda1/8 teaspoon baking powder1/8 teaspoon salt1 large egg3/4 cup whole milkFor the frosting:1 cup heavy cream8 oz. 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely choppedFor the cupcakes:Turn your oven to 350 F and position a rack in the middle. Line 12 muffin cups (3/4 cup capacity) with liners.In a small bowl, stir together flour and cocoa. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, combine butter, sugar, baking soda, baking [...]

Dinning with The Bloggers - May 26th. 2009.


Allow me to ease myself back into blogging mode (one needs to, every now and again, don't one?) I've actually been cooking quite a lot from my fellow blogging friends these last couple of months - they're not half bad at it, the food bloggers out there, I must admit. Here are some highly recommendable try-it-yourselves:Spring Slaw from Tea & CookiesLet's start with a beauty - I was this close to calling the round-up "The Ugly (but tasty!) Edition" this time, because - well, you'll soon learn why. Tea's spring slaw didn't quite fit into the ugly category, au contraire, it is both very spring-pretty and ladylike in it's colors. That it was also very tasty didn't hurt, either. We had it with potato salad and frikadeller (a Danish meatball I will have to tell you about at a later time) and I had it the next day for lunch as well. Very yummy, and you feel so wonderfully healthy eating all that cabbage and radish and whatnot :)Love Dip from The Homesick TexanOkay, here we go with the not so flattering pictures. My fault, 'cause really, you can't put a finger on taste or texture of this fine, fine dip. I made it for my 30th. birthday back in February and was so smitten with the tangy cream cheese taste I made it again a week later for another birthday party, It's a keeper. I didn't have salsa at the ready, but found a jar of chipotle paste that I used instead, of course cutting back on the amount. I liked that, but am sure salsa would make for an interesting version, too. I served the Love Dip with:Spelt Crackers from Smitten KitchenYou need to spend a little time making these, but they are worth it - trust me. I used a little chili on some, sesame on others, and just plain flaky salt on a batch as well. Feel free to use whatever you like, and if you're the coordinating kind, you could choose something that matches whatever you're serving them with. Point is, they take well to almost anything you can throw at them, and are sturdy enough for you to be able to scoop a decent amount of dip onto them - and all-essentiel quality in a cracker, if you ask me. You can even make them well in advance - they keep (almost) indefinitely.Chicken Liver Pâté from Sassy Radish Oh this, I loved. Don't let the looks decieve you, 'cause it is good. In fact, this was made twice in a couple of weeks (as well) and served with caramelized red onions on toasted bread. Forgive me here, but YUMM-O! Smooth and creamy, with enough taste of the liver for you to know that it is there, but discreet enough for kids to like it as well. That, and the fact that it's a breeze to make has given it a permanent place in my kitchen notebook.Giant Chipotle White Beans from 101 CookbooksI'm still working on my private stock of beans, and lo and behold, when I came upon this recipe, I knew I had to dig in there and find some of my big white beans and make it (and make room for another bag of something at the same time - what an oppurtunist I am!) I like beans, I'm realizing that more and more - especially when they're used in proper dishes and not just mashed and used as a spread. I actually went more along the lines of the original recipe (It's linked at the post), but whichever one you'd go for, I say remember to do the pesto-thingy for drizzling on top - it makes a world of a difference.Have you tried any of your fellow blogger's recipes lately that you think are worth a repeat?[...]

Being spoiled is...


  • recieving Molly's new book and reading it within three days (I had to go to work in between. Otherwise I'd have devoured it much faster)
  • having dinner with friends who reveals they're getting married, and squealing with delight at the thought
  • having breakfast in bed at 10.30 am - scrambled eggs, whole grain bread, cream cheese and Bayonne ham
  • making bread form scratch on a weekly basis
  • not knowing which of the recipes to attack first in your new Ottolenghi Cookbook because you want to do them all - especially the eggplant ones
  • spending Saturday night with your best friend, her husband and little girl and big slabs of beef
  • buying 2 pounds of vanilla beans and constantly swooning away from their heady scent

Probably The Prettiest Salad on the Planet: Fattoush


Doesn't that look like spring? Just a tiny bit? And don't we NEED a little spring? I know I do. The weather has been absolutely pretty around here the last couple of days, I've dropped off my big bulky winter jacket at the cleaners (so it'll be ready for next winter) and am cautiously stepping out of the ever present jeans and yesterday, I thin pantyhose and a skirt. A SKIRT. Next up, I'm getting seeds ready for the balcony. It IS spring, yay!

The great thing about the salad up there - besides being almost girlish-ly adorable in it's colors - is that you can actually make this in the depth of winter. No, the tomatoes won't be as fantastic, but then leave them out and up the amount of sweet, musky melon (and I know, they're not really in season either, but at least they're worth paying for, as opposed to the greenhouse tomatoes from Holland that are all texture, no taste) The REAL time to make this is probably late summer, but I simply cannot wait. I want my dose of spring NOW!

Fattoush - Middle Eastern Bread Salad - a Camilla Plum inspiration
Another fantastic thing about this salad is that you can cut everything up well in advance, then toss it with the dressing just before serving.

You need:
6 medium ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1 yellow and/or 1 red bell pepper
1 small bunch of radishes
1 small red onion
4 handfuls of mixed, crispy salad - I often use spinach, a bit of romaine, maybe some mizuna...
The seeds of half a pomegranate (but why not use the entire thing while you're at it?)
Half a small melon (I like honeydew melons, but cantaloup or Galias are just as fine. Definitely use watermelons when they're in season) and you're always welcome to do a mix, of course
Large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
Fresh mint
2 pita pockets

Cut everything into chunky - not too small - bite-sized pieces. I try to make sure I have some thing in slices (like the radishes) and some things in quarters (tomatoes) and other things just roughly cut (bell peppers, cucumbers). Tear the salad leaves up a bit, scatter the parsley and mint over. Toast the pitas until a tad more crispy than you'd do if you were stuffing them, then tear them up over the salad. Toss everything together with:

The dressing:
75 ml. nice olive oil
1 tablespoon elderflower vinegar (or other light vinegar)
2 cloves of garlic
maybe the juice of half a lemon (i usually don't think it needs it, but you be the judge)
salt and pepper
- whisk everything together. Start by using half, then add more to the salad if needed. Toss, toss, toss, then sprinkle everything with a pinch or three of sumac - it has a slightly tangy, citrussy kick that pulls everything together.

Turning 30.


Is what I did this month. It's two weeks ago (it was on the 15th.), but I'm still revelling in it. I love being 30.

I had a party - a FANTASTIC party, with cocktails, bubbly, dancing and finger foods. We had small glasses of butternut squash soup, shrimp cocktail in choux puffs (heavily inspired by Johanna's version - in fact, I took plenty of hints from Johanna's Canapées & Finger food section), blinis with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and chopped red onion; we had chicken liver paté and little tarts with onion and bacon, sandwiches with grilled vegetables and bruschetta with aubergine and feta spread; there was homemade lamb sausages with slaw (and more on those some other time), pork meatballs with herbs and slow roasted tomatoes - and, pictured above, the party favorite, small baked potatoes with seared, VERY rare beef and a caper-tarragon mayo. Almost like béarnaise. There was cake - carrot cupcakes and a traditional lagkage, and chocolate mousse.

Of course, I completely forgot to take pictures. I have some preparation shots, a couple blurry ones from the night, and one or two of leftovers (like the one above) I was busy. Turning 30. Sorry ;)



nothing like a lazy weekend morning in bed, with breakfast, food magazines and a new lens (that I don't quite know how to master yet, but still already adore)

I just realized I haven't recieved Gourmet since the May 2008 issue. (I am a subscriber. I don't expect them to just send them to me at random. Although after all those cookies, they should think about it, shouldn't they?)

But seeing I didn't realize the lack of Gourmet for a full eight months - do you think that means I've gone overboard in the food magazine department? Is there really such a thing?

I also subscribe to Saveur, Bon Appetit and Gastro (Danish food magazine. For men. I still get it though, it's the best around here.) Which ones do you get?

(Real food, coming right up. Oh, and happy 2009!)

Christmas Countdown: The Last of The Cookies


We're cookie here, I know, but I promise, this is the last one this year.

These are Applebutter-filled Gingerbread Cookies. I found the recipe back when Luisa made applebutter last year, and she mentioned it could be used in cookies as well, providing a link to the LA Times and a recipe. Unusual for me, I didn't bookmark the recipe, only printed it, and it had been languishing in my notebook ever since. That is, until I made applebutter a couple of months ago and tried finding something to use all those jars for, besides licking it off a spoon. Which is good, but these - are absolutely divine.

I made the dough a couple days in advance so I needed only to roll, fill and assemble, then bake on the day. That whole thing is a bit time consuming, but I really like the look of these, so I think it's worth it. I cut the "windows" at an angle, as you can see from the picture below, just to play around a little. They're gently spiced, and with the applebutter peeking giving the whole thing a boost of freshness - yum.

I have to say though - these don't keep very well. It may have been because I used my own applebutter, or didn't let the cookies cool completely (I was running out of cooling racks - does that happen to you too?), but they quickly - within a day and a half - turned soggy on the bottoms and crumbled. The taste was still lovely, they just weren't nearly as pretty, or easy to eat, with all those bits and pieces all over your napkin, as they were on day one. Eh. Just make less at a time, and you'll have fresh, crisp, cookies when you need them. Definitely recommendable this one.

Christmas Countdown: Liqour Cabinet Clean-Out


The last of the Gourmet cookies I tried this year. Chocolate Sambuca Crinkle Cookies.

Admittedly, I made these because I have not one, but two half bottles of Sambuca lingering on top of the wine glass cabinet where we keep or liqour. We don't drink Sambuca. In fact, we rarely drink hard alcohol at all, but if or when we do, it's usually gin or vodka tonics, or the occasional mojito. I think maybe the bottles are leftovers from my younger days - I seem to remember a pretty hardcore shot of vodka, with orange slices dipped in sugar, resting on the edge of the glass, with a bit of sambuca poured over it, and then lit with a match. But truth be told, if that's what I drank, how on earth do I still remember? Sounds like it could make anyone forget!

The cookies also have chocolate and walnuts in them, which are big ringers in the taste department, and Sambuca definitly needs something to pair up with. Personally, I like the anise-taste, but M despises it. I can't even get him to eat fennel. So I figured I better make these cookies for someone else, hence they were served at the Julestue. I wouldn't say they were a big hit though - people noticed the alcoholic afterthought in these babies, and that just doesn't ring well with my crowd, I suppose - but I liked their deep, dark flavor. They're mighty pretty though, plus I got to use up an entire half cup of Sambuca - the cabinet's already looking better!

Christmas Countdown: Gingerbread Snowflakes


I told you before that I am a hoarder. But I'm not only a hoarder of dried goods. I'm also doing very well in the kitchen utensils/machines/gadgets department.

Like cookie cutters. I have a big jar full of them, and they look mighty pretty on my shelf, in my office - they're not even in the kitchen any longer. But truth be told, I've hardly ever used them.Yet, when I'm abroad (they're expensive around here, so I seem to be able to control myself) one or two always seem to sneak themselves into my suitcase. I have no idea how this happens.

The truth is, I don't really care for cut-out cookies. They're often bland, buttery, boring affairs with their biggest asset being their shape (and perhaps their frosting). I know, you shouldn't judge a cookie - or anything else, except maybe a new haircut - by it's shape alone, but I do. I like the rugged, crumbly, fat discs of joy - not the controlled, straight-lined kind.

Still, those cutters needed some excercise (and I needed the jar for cookies) so I went looking for a recipe, and again, Gourmet to the rescue. These are delicately spiced Gingerbread cookies that keep well and stay crisp. They even, for this cut-out cookie disbeliever, were deemed worthy of their calories, even when competing against five other kinds of cookies. That is pretty high marks, I tell you.

You'll find the recipe here. I used only 1½ teaspoon baking powder and rolled them just short of 1 cm. thick. They were glazed with a mix of powdered sugar and lemon, because I wanted them all white, like Shauna's pretty things. And I used my latest investment, the snowflake cookie cutter, because 'tis the season, right? I think I got about 40-50 cookies, but it will of course depend on the size of the cutters you're using.

Now at least I feel a little bit better for having used my cutters...

Christmas Countdown: Still Time for Cookies


.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; } I have been sorely absent form this blog - again. I will try and make it up to you with a spurt of a Christmas Countdown - I know I have only five days to go (we celebrate Christmas Eve here in Denmark, so I'm counting down to the 24th., in case you thought I got the days mixed up), but at least it's something. Next year, I'll be better. Early with the New Year's resolutions, aren't I?As we have done the past three years, this Sunday, the third Sunday in advent, was Julestue chez nous. Cookies were baked, both the traditional vaniliekranse and klejner, but for once I managed to make some of the ones I'd bookmarked during December as well. I always make many plans to try something new, only I never succeed - the days just seem so short in December, don't they?I bookmarked these Brown-Sugar Brown-Butter Shorties from both Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet - did you by the way have a look at their extravagant spread of cookies from the decades? You must! The cookies were a BIG hit, especially with my older Sister. They look like your average butter cookie but there's no doubt the browned butter changes everything and makes these so much more than that. Plus, they're easy to make and you can make them well in advance and just have the logs waiting in the fridge (or freezer, I suppose) for when the craving hits.Here's the recipe, with a couple of my notes and weight measures instead of cups - that's how we roll here, you know. Sis - bake your heart out!Brown-Sugar Brown-Butter Shorties - from Gourmet175 g. unsalted butter100 g. cup packed brown sugar (I used light muscovado sugar)1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract200 g. cups all-purpose flour1/4 teaspoon salt Demerara sugar for the edge of the cookiesPlace the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the butter to a bowl and chill. It should firm up. I browned the butter a whole day in advance, and just left it in the fridge. I took it out about an hour before wanting to procede with the dough.Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into logs, 4-5 cm. in diameter. Roll the logs in demerara sugar, making sure the sugar sticks to the sides in as thick a layer as possible. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour, or up to one week. Preheat oven to 170°C. Slice dough into 1 centimeter-thick rounds, arranging 5 cm. apart on an ungreased, lined baking sheet. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.[...]