Monday, April 5, 2010

Swedish Cinnamon Buns “Bullar”

I have to say Swedish Bullar is one of my favorite desserts.  It is very similar to a Cinnamon roll but not as sweet. The “bulle” is probably the most popular afternoon coffee snack in Sweden. We call these afternoon coffee breaks “fika.”  I like the definition of “fika” in Wikipedia “Fika, is both a verb and a noun in Swedish and has a broad definition. Essentially, it refers to a break from one’s activities in order to drink coffee or other drinks with friends, family or acquaintances. This tradition of a coffee break with a snack is central to Swedish culture, and Swedes are one of the world’s top coffee consumers.”  This is very true. Also while reading in Wikipedia I found out that the cinnamon roll is thought to have been invented in Sweden where it takes the name kanelbulle (literally: “cinnamon bun”).  And it is so popular that there is even a cinnamon roll day on October 4th in Sweden. Well you ask me how are these different from American cinnamon rolls?  I think American cinnamon rolls are a lot more sweet. We use cardamom and the buns are also baked in a very hot oven for just a few minutes. This makes them light and fluffy, with a nice brown surface yet not dry or over baked.  They are always baked in individual paper cups not muffin cups but bun cups that are slightly lower.  And last but not least there is no frosting or glaze.  Instead on Swedish bullar you use pearl sugar, which you can get in Ikea.

Let me know how it goes.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns “Bullar”

Dough

3 packages of dry yeast
1 cup of butter
2 cups of milk
½ tsp of salt
½ cup of sugar
5 -5 ½ cups of flour
2 tsp cardamom

Filling

Spreadable butter
Sugar
Cinnamon

Melt the butter and mix it with the milk in a pot.  Using a thermometer heat it until approx. 115 F and then pour it into a bowl. Add sugar and salt, stir. Mix the flour and the yeast together before pouring into the bowl and mix it with the rest.

Work the dough until it is smooth.  Put it aside and let it rise under cover in the bowl for 30-40 min.

After it has doubled in size divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll out each part until it is 1/4″ thick. Try to make it fairly square. Brush dough with the butter. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of the butter to your taste. Roll up into a cylinder shape and cut each cylinder crosswise into 10-12 pieces. Put each piece into a muffin cup and place them in a warm place and let it rise again under cover for about 30 minutes. Brush the buns with an egg wash and then sprinkle with “pearl-sugar” (you can buy that at IKEA). Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for 7-10 minutes 475 F (225 C). Makes about 48 buns.  These freeze well and are great warm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passover Traditions, Kugel and Brisket

Photo from Paurian Photostream

Since I am Swedish I was raised with Swedish traditions, however, I am married to a man who grew up with Jewish traditions.  So in our family we do both traditions.

Passover which started we on the sunset of Monday the 20th of March and will continue for 7 days until Monday, the 5th of April.

Our Sedar is almost like this “Two-Minute Haggadah”  I think it is great and wanted to share it. I got it from http://www.slate.com/.

The Two-Minute Haggadah  

A Passover service for the impatient.

Opening prayers:
Thanks, someone, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)

Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we’re free. That’s why we’re doing this.

Four Questions:
1. What’s up with the matzoh?
2. What’s the deal with horseradish?
3. What’s with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What’s this whole slouching at the table business?

Answers:
1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It’s called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.

(Heat soup now.)

The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child—explain Passover.
Simple child—explain Passover slowly.
Silent child—explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child—browbeat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover: It’s a long time ago. We’re slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. Someone brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. Someone parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren’t so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again.

(Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice—you name it.

The singing of “Dayenu”:
If someone had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would’ve been enough.
If he’d punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, if would’ve been enough.
If he’d parted the Red Sea—-you get the idea.

(Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)

Eat matzoh.

Drink more wine.

Slouch.

Thanks again, Someone, for everything.

SERVE MEAL.

As always food is very important in our family gatherings and for Passover we usually serve the following: Matzo Balls Soup, Brisket, Kugel, and Haroset. Here I am sharing one of my favorite Kugel recipes from my mother in law and my favorite Brisket Recipe is from the The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

Enjoy!

Kugel  

16oz egg noodles
1 pint sour cream
1 lb cottage cheese
6 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar add 2-3 tablespoons more
1/2 butter melted

Additional Ingredients
2 eggs
2 cups milk
Sugar
Cinnamon

Cook the noodles per direction. Don’t overcook them. Mix all ingredients together except the additional ingredients in a bowl and place it all in 9×13 pan.

Then go into the additional ingredients. Beat 2 eggs, 2 cups milk.  And then pour over the top. Cover with sugar and cinnamon

Bake at 350 degrees for at least one hour or until done on top.

Brisket

1 first-cut brisket of beef – 5-6 pounds
1 to 2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 corn oil
8 onions, thickly sliced and separated into rings
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1 carrot, peeled

Preheat oven to 375 F

Trim the brisket of most of its fat, and dust it very lightly with the flour.  Sprinkle with pepper.
Heat the oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole. Add the brisket, and brown on both sides over medium-high heat until some crisp spots appear on the surface.

Transfer the brisket to a dish.  Keeping the heat medium high, add the onions to the casserole and stir, scraping up the brown particles left from the meat.  Cook until the onions have softened and developed a handsome brown color, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the heat, and place the brisket, along with any juices that have accumulated, on top of the onions.  Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake.  Sprinkle with pepper and the coarse salt.  Add the garlic and carrot, and cover tightly.  Place the casserole on the middle rack in the oven, and bake for 1-1/2 hours. 

Remove the casserole from the oven, and transfer the meat to a carving board.  Cut it into 1/8 – 1/4 inch-thick slices.  Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice (in effect resembling the brisket, slightly slanted).  Correct the seasoning if necessary, and if absolutely necessary add 2 or 3 teaspoons of water to the casserole.

Cover, and return the casserole to the oven.  Cook until the meat is brown and fork-tender, 1-3/4 to 2 hours longer.

Slice the carrot, and transfer the roast, onions and carrot slices to a heated platter.  Serve at once.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Swedish Easter Traditions, Leg of Lamb and Gravy “Påsk”

Picture from Petrified in Pink

Easter in Sweden has a number of things in common with Christmas, even if it doesn’t involve the same amount of hype. Easter cards are sent, Easter decorations are hung up, and many houses and homes are decorated with little chicks, hens and roosters. The home glows with yellow, which is so typical for Easter.  There is no tree to decorate for Easter but people do put up Easter branches decorated with feathers in many colors. The type of branches varies, but the most common is birch. See an example from Monika on what she did at her home for Easter. Monika writes an excellent blog called Splendidwillow

Easter week is a movable holiday; whether it falls in March or April is dependent on the moon. Easter day is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20. In Sweden we have many usual names for they days of Easter Week also known as Holy Week. In Swedish these were: Black Monday, White Tuesday, Damper Wednesday, Cleansing Thursday, and Long Friday 

As a kid there are two things I remember on Easter 1) Dressing up as a witch and 2) Chocolate Candy.  I know they are two very different things let me explain. 

In Sweden children are given eggs made of paper that can be opened and filled with candy. On the outside the eggs are either decorated with chickens and other Easter motifs or covered with metallic foils of different colors and tied with a bow.  This is where it gets a little different for every family.  In my house you left your shoes outside of your room the night before Easter Sunday and when you woke up in the morning you have this large paper egg filled with candy in your shoes. 

Not only are candy eggs a part of Easter, but we also eat a lot of real eggs, after painting the shells, of course.  We use to first boil the eggs and then paint them with watercolor, or make a little hole in them drain them, pain them and then hang them in your birch tree with your feathers. 

Now to the second part dressing up as a witch.  In Sweden on Thursday before Easter we dress up as witches, with brooms, coffee pots, cats, and scarves on our heads.  We make some cards and then head out knocking on doors.  You usually end up going to your neighbor’s house and tell them “Happy Easter” and give them one of the cards you made.  In replacement they will give you candy, fruit or cake.   The history surrounding Easter witches is pretty dark.  During the 1600s, women and men, were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. According to folklore, Cleansing Thursday was a dangerous night, when the witches traveled to Blue Hill for a banquet with the Devil himself as host. There, everything was done backwards. Everyone sat with their backs to the gigantic, long table without end, and ate with their left hands over their left shoulders. 

Food plays a central role in most Swedish festivities and Easter is no exception. Some of the common foods eaten on east are Lamb, Gravlax, herring, eggs and of course schnapps. I will provide future posting on Gravlax and herring but here is a great recipe of the Leg of Lamb, Gravy and a previous posting of Potato Gratin

Leg of Lamb

5 lb leg of lamb
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
Pieces of rosemary stems 

Oven temperature: 350° F
Combine the olive oil, salt, black pepper and pressed garlic in a small bowl, Finely snip the rosemary into the bowl.  Butter an ovenproof roasting pan. Trim off any excess fat from the lamb and place in buttered roasting pan.  Rub the olive oil mixture on the lamb on all sides. Wrap the lamb with aluminum foil and insert a meat thermometer in the center of the leg. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bone.  Roast in the oven until the meat thermometer reaches 145° F for rare, 16o° F for medium or 170° F for well done. 

Gravy

Use the juices from the roast
1 tbsp. flour
a little whole milk
salt or soy sauce 

Drain off the pan juices from the roast into a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to create a gravy; and heat up the gravy that is formed. Add milk and salt or soy sauce according to taste. 

Potato Gratin previously posted on March 12, 2010 

Glad Påsk!!  Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rösle Garlic Press

Rösle Garlic Press

Picture from Sur La Table

 

I don’t know about you but I use garlic for almost everything.  And the thing I hate about garlic presses is that it is a pain to clean, and you never quite get it clean or it ends up with left over garlic pieces in the garlic press, or your garlic press stars to rust etc.  Well one day I was in Sur la Table another one of my favorite kitchen store in Seattle and came across this garlic press.  I asked the sales person about it and she said it was the best garlic press in the world.  I thought it has to be better than what I have now so I got it.  Now I need to tell everyone else about it.  First it looks pretty cool, it is easy to use and IT IS EASY TO CLEAN.  You can’t really tell from the picture but the sieve opens up so you just wipe out the left over garlic pieces.  It is a great kitchen gadget.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Barking Frog Review

Image from the Barking Frog Website

 

The Barking Frog restaurant is truly a destination ofits own as it states on their website. It is located in Woodinville which is about a 20 minute drive from Seattle.  But during the weekend there is no traffic and a perfect time to go.  There are several vineyards there too for example Columbia Winery and Chateau Ste Michelle.  Here is a listing at Woodinville Wine County so you could just do a vineyard tour first and then go to the Barking Frog.  Or you could do a tour of the Red hook Brewery or go to the spa of the Willow Lodge.  Or just go to Woodinville and have a fabulous meal.  I have been to the Barking Frog twice and both time had an excellent time.  The atmosphere is very cozy with a great large fireplace in the middle.  And the wait staff is fantastic and very friendly. 

This time around we ordered Popcorn Lobster as an appetizer for the table.  It was recommended by one our friends and it was the best seafood popcorn appetizers I have ever had.  Very fresh and light on the deep-fried crust with a sweet sauce for dipping. 

Then for appetizer I had the beef tatar with Capers, Anchovy, Shallot, Candied Olives, Pickled Onion, Quail Egg.  It was great, i would add a little more spice to it but it was almost perfect.  My husband had the Roasted beet salad with Orange Supremes, Toasted Hazelnuts, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, Vanilla Honey Drizzle.  Since I love beets it was a fabulous appetizer. 

Then for dinner I had the Braised Short Ribs with Baby Bok Choy Kimchi, Shitake Mushrooms, Asian Barbeque Sauce.  Oh my! This was delishhh!  Not only were the ribs cooked perfectly but the Baky Choy Kimchi was amazing. I had to ask for the recipe.  I am a kimchi lover and the way the chef put this together was just very imaginative.  It fit perfectly with the dish. My husband had the Ginger Crusted Sea Scallops Beluga Lentils, Apple Bacon, Pea Vines, Maitake Mushrooms, Cipollini Onions, Smoked Almonds, Green Curry Coconut Sauce.  It was also excellent,  however, the ribs were better. 

For dessert we tried three different desserst for the table. Caramelized Pear with Bavarian Cream Filled Bosc Pear, Moist Frangipane Cake and Caramel Pear Sauce, Vanilla Raspberry Pot de Crème with Vanilla Custard over fresh Raspberries and Chocolate Molten Cake with Woodinville Wine Infused Ganache, Hazelnut Ice Cream. I am nota marzipan fan so I did not like the caramelized pear dessert.  The vanilla custard was my favorite.  It was just like a Creme Brulee but less sweet.  Also the chocolate molten cake was very good but I like chewy chocolate cake not the dense molten type.  But if you are a huge chocolate cake fan this is probably your type of dessert. 

I highly recommend Barking Frog. 

Barking Frog
14580 NE 145th St
Woodinville, WA 98072
(425) 424-2999
Barking Frog on Urbanspoon 

Chateau Ste Michelle
14111 NE 145th
Woodinville, WA 98072
Chateau Ste. Michelle on Urbanspoon 

Friday, March 26, 2010

American Pancakes

 

Depending where you are from you either call these pancakes or American pancakes.  Either way they are delicious.  We have these for breakfast with fresh berries or really anything you want.  You can make these plain or add berries, bananas, apples, etc.  I have some examples at the bottom of the recipe.  But my favorite is blueberries.  A few weeks back I also did Swedish Pancakes.  Which version is your favorite?

American Pancakes

Ingredients

Makes: about 12 medium pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tbsp melted butter

Filling:
2 cups of berries

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whip in eggs and milk. Mix in melted butter. Allow batter to rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook pancakes on a hot greased griddle or a large non-stick frying pan using butter. Sprinkle berries over the batter immediately after pouring it on the griddle or pan. It is time to flip pancake when the batter surface is covered with little breaking bubbles. Serve with real warm maple syrup.

Other possible fillings:
Other fruit can be added to batter immediately after it poured on the griddle: strawberries, raspberries, sliced bananas, toasted nuts, granola, apples or pears.

Sautéed pears or apples:
Peel, core and thinly slice 2pears or 2 apples. Melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add fruit, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Sauté until fruit is soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. If using apples, sprinkle with cinnamon. The fruit may be mixed in the pancake batter or serve warm as topping.

Other toppings:
Cranberries: Place 1 cup whole cranberries and 1 cup maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to allow cranberries to pop. Serve warm.

Honey and Spice: Warm 1 cup honey, 4 star anise, and 4 cinnamon sticks in small saucepan over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Use warm over pancakes. The mixture keeps up to a week in an airtight container.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Picture from The Best Thing i Ever Ate website

 

I like the food network but I don’t watch it very often due to many reasons but the main reason is that I do not have time.  However, I have a TIVO, can’t live without that and the ONLY thing that I record from the Food Network is The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Have you see it?  If not do!  Ever episode has a theme for example Salty, Crispy, Pizza, chocolate etc. Celebrity chefs and others present each of their favorite item based on the theme and then they describe how it is prepared and then they show you them eating it.  There aren’t many TV shows that make me drool, but this TV show makes me drool.  Watch it and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guacamole

I don’t know about you but I love Guacamole and it is very easy to make too.  Most of the time when people serve guacamole it is store brought and it never taste the same as fresh made.  Next time make it from scratch and it is healthy too.  It is very easy and takes about 10 minutes.

Guacamole

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
1 plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 Serrano chilies seeded and minced (optional for spiciness)

Cut the avocado in half and remove pits. Set one pit aside. Chop one half of one of the avocados into small chunks and set aside.  With a spoon, scoop the soft flesh from peel of the remaining 3 halves into a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except for tomatoes and avocado chunks and mash with a fork.

Stir in tomato and fold in avocado chunks, making sure not to mash them.  Remove to a serving dish and place the pit in the center. This decoration actually keeps the dip from turning brown.  Refrigerate if needed for a few hours.  Serve with chips.

If you want the dip spicy add the chilies.

Serves about 6 people.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Swedish Pizza Salad “Pizzasallad”

In Sweden this traditional salad is served in most pizza restaurants, because of its popularity it got the name pizza salad.  You can do this salad with only cabbage or with shallots, peppers and carrots.  Everyone includes either one of them or neither, it is really up to your taste.

I love this salad and it is so easy to make, on top of it, you can eat it the day after as well.

Pizza Salad

½ cabbage
½ shallot
1 red pepper
1 carrot

Dressing:
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Shred the cabbage.  I use a Swedish cheese slicer to do that, but you can use a knife too. Then slice the shallot, red pepper, and shred the carrot and put it all into a bowl.  The dressing is prepared hot.  Put all the olive oil, vinegar, water, salt and pepper into a pot and head up to boil once it start boiling turn it off and pour over your salad and mix well. I suggest you put the salad into the refrigerator for a few hours to cool down and marinate.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cauliflower

When I was a kid I used to hate Cauliflower, then my mother made this dish and ever since I always serve Cauliflower this way and everyone loves it.  Even my friends that say they do not like Cauliflower like it.

Cauliflower can easily be a  substitute for starchier foods such as potatoes and rice or as a side vegetable.

On top of that Cauliflower is a very good source of fiber. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C, a very good source of Vitamin K and folate, and a good source of Vitamin B6 and potassium.

In addition, cauliflower is one of the cruciferous vegetables, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. It also has a fairly high level of antioxidant phytonutrients on a per-calorie basis.

This is a very easy recipe.  Try this out and let me know what you think?

Cauliflower

½ cauliflowers
2 tsp butter
¼ cup plain bread crumbs

I usually boil the cauliflower first to make it a little softer.  I boil the cauliflower for 3 minutes in boiling water; you can also steam it if you wish.   Once the Cauliflower is steamed or cooked let it dry off.

In a frying pan add the butter and let is soften, once the butter is softened pour the bread crumbs all over the butter and let it brown a little about 2 minutes.  Once your butter and bread crumbs are brown pour in the cauliflower and mix it all together, about another 2 minutes.