Friday, April 24, 2009

Butternut squash soup with garlic bread

When you are reading this, I am either on the flight to Madrid, or on the transfer flight to the south of Spain. Or perhaps I am drinking a glass of cold white wine on Malaga airport, waiting for my mum and sister to meet me there. Maybe I am already in our rental car, trying to figure out how to get to our first hotel. It is also very probable that while you are reading the recipe for this nice soup, I am just about into dive into the sea, or that I am meandering the streets of Granada. Who knows!
I'm so much looking forward to see my mum and sister and feel so lucky that I can make this journey with them. While I'll be doing that, you can make this wonderful, colorful soup to brighten your day.

Butternut squash soup (serves 4)

(olive) oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 butternut squash, seeds removed and chopped but no need to peel! (NL: flespompoen)
1 L water
1 bouillon cube, vegetable or chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
handful of chopped coriander or parsley
to serve: (Turkish) yogurt or crème fraiche, paprika powder and sea salt

* fry the onion and garlic until soft, but not brown
* add potato and butternut squash and fry for a minute
* add 1 L water and 1 bouilloncube, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika powder and 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender
* puree with a hand mixer (NL: staafmixer) until smooth
* stir in a handful of chopped coriander or parsley
* serve with (Turkish) yogurt or crème fraiche, a dusting of paprika powder and some flakes of sea salt

The great thing with butternut squash is that it's not necessary to peel them. And if you've ever peeled pumpkin, you know it's a pain in the ***.

Garlic bread

olive oil
flakes of sea salt
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half

Rub a few slices of bread with a little olive oil and sprinkle some salt on it. Put on a hot grill and turn when it's got some color. When done, rub some garlic on the surface of the bread. This is a very nice way of serving some bread that's not super fresh anymore.

PS: a friend asked if I took all the pictures of the food myself and the answer is YES!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tunnbrödsrulle - Swedish wrap with real potato salad

On nearly every street corner in Sweden you will find some sort of a 'gatukök' - literally a street kitchen, where you can buy different kinds of snack food. The most common is a grilled hot dog, optionally served with a prawn salad and roasted onions. It is the weirdest combo, but tastes pretty good - especially at 3 AM in the morning when you are so drunk that you can hardly stand on your legs. This of course never happened to me, and if it did - hey, I'm just trying to integrate with Swedish culture.

Anyway, you can also get Swedish wraps. Much healthier and also easy to make at home. The wrap is made of 'tunnbröd', which is a thin and soft bread. The most common tunnbrödsrulle is served with roast beef and potato salad. I love these, and I happened to have some roast beef left over. I made the potato salad myself: much tastier and you spare yourself from a lot of E-numbers.

Potato salad (serves 4)

500 g waxy potatoes (NL: vastkokend), unpeeled
4 big tablespoons low fat sour cream/crème fraiche
1 big tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
handful of parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped chives (NL: bieslook)
1 red onion, finely chopped

* cut the potatoes in even sized chunks
* boil them in salted water until just tender when pierced with a knife, around 15-20 minutes
* in the meantime: stir 4 big tablespoons of crème fraiche, 1 big tablespoon of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon mustard, a handful of chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons of chopped chives and plenty of salt and pepper together
* when the potatoes are ready, discard the water and let the potatoes cool down until you can easily touch them
* remove the skins and cut the potatoes in slices of 1-2 cm
* carefully stir in 1 finely chopped red onion and the crème fraiche mixture
* leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour

This potato salad is also great when you have a barbecue and you can easily make a bigger amount. Don't serve it ice cold - take it out of the fridge a while before serving.


To make the tunnbrödsrulle you simple fill a soft bread (or a tortilla; softened in the microwave) with some roast beef, potato salad and rucola. If you want to do it the 'gatukök' way, skip the rucola and add some roasted onions, ketchup and mustard. Roll it up and eat!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oatmeal and raisin cookies

The nice thing with these cookies is that they feel a bit healthy. Of course you know that there is some sugar inside, but it's brówn sugar. Plus: oatmeal is really healthy, right? So dig into these cookies without feeling guilty - they are really good. And as they fill you up with complex carbohydrates, it's an ideal cookie to bring to work, school or a trip.

Oatmeal and raisin cookies
(makes 30)
adapted recipe from Coming Home by John Burton Race

150 g butter, softened
225 g soft brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I only used one teaspoon)
125 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
235 g rolled oats (NL: havermout)
125 g raisins

step 1

* preheat the oven to 180C
* line baking tray with baking paper
* stir the 150 g butter with the 225 g sugar until it's creamy
* stir in 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* sift (NL: zeef) 125 g flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt into the bowl, stirring in between. make sure it's mixed, but don't over stir it
* add 235 g oats and 125 g raisins and stir. I also used my hands to make sure the oats and raisins were well divided

step 2

* roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the baking tray with 5 cm of space in between
* flatten the balls with a fork dipped in flour
* bake in two batches and put the remaining half in the fridge while the first is baking
* bake the cookies for 20 minutes
* remove from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes on the baking tray
* transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely (but eat some while they are still warm)

Prawns with homemade mayonnaise

Up until a few years ago I didn't like prawns. In fact, I didn't like anything that could crawl or still had legs, claws or antennas.
Then I started going to this tapas place around the corner of my old house in Amsterdam. I would go there with either my roommate and best friend A. and/or my boyfriend M. Both of them were crazy about the gambas al ajillo. With fascination and disgust I looked at those little animals and watched how they were devoured. The head was jerked off, and then the rest of the skin. Taking the bowels out and then, finally, they could eat this poor little pink thing. Not so appealing, but the smell of garlic and oil..hmmm.
Finally I took a bite. Since then I am sold and now I skin these little mama's without any scruples what so ever.

I also love eating them plain, with some homemade mayo, toasted bread with butter and some lemon juice. Just put everything on the table, and let everybody clean the prawns themselves.
Take 100 g of unpeeled, cooked prawns per person.

Mayonnaise (around 1 cup)

1 egg yolk
1 small teaspoon Dijon mustard
2,5 dl sunflower oil
little bit of lemon juice
salt and pepper

* mix the egg yolk with the mustard with a (electric) whip (NL: garde)
* add just a drop of oil and mix
* add another drop and mix and continue this way until it's getting thick and creamy
* dribble in the rest of the oil slowly while whipping continuously (I tend do it too fast and have to start over - very annoying)
* stir in some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

* don't use olive oil for your mayonnaise, or use half olive and half sunflower oil, because otherwise the olive oil flavour will dominate the mayonnaise too much.
* make sure all the ingredients of the mayonaise are on room temperature
* you can use frozen prawns if you skin them while they are still frozen. This way they won't get soggy (I got this tip from my 'aunt-in-law' who is a food journalist/writer and great cook)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Moroccan Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Whilst a butternut squash is mixing its flavours with some onion, garlic and coriander to form a beautiful soup, I will tell you about something completely different. The soup's recipe will follow later!

Remember that I made a couscous plate a few days ago? I also made a tomato and cucumber salad that is amazingly good. I think it's the roasted cumin that does the trick, but this salad is really quite special.
The recipe comes from a cookbook that I found in a discount book store in London. I have made several recipes from it and they all turned out deliciously. The book is called Feast Bazaar, by Barry Véra, and is about food from India, Morocco and Syria. A rather strange combination, geographically seen, but it's a great book.

Morrocan Tomato and Cucumber Salad (serves 4)
(adapted recipe from Feast Bazaar by Barry Véga)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 roma (plum) tomatoes (make sure they are ripe and smell good)
1 cucumber
1 red onion
1 green capsicum pepper (NL/S: paprika) (I used a red one instead)
1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons lemon juice
100 ml olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

step 1
* heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* dry-roast the seeds for 2 minutes on medium heat, while stirring
* place in a mortar and pestle (NL: vijzel, S: mortel) and grind to powder

step 2
* cut 6 tomatoes in 4 quarters, cut the seeds out and cut the tomatoes in dices
* cut the cucumber in half, scoop the seeds out with a teaspoon and cut the cucumber in dices
* finely dice the red onion and cut the paprika in dices
* put all this in a serving bowl

step 3
* chop a handful of parsley
* put parsley, ground cumin, 4 tablespoons lemon juice and 100 ml olive together in a bowl
* stir thoroughly
* pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well
* add salt and pepper to taste

You can serve this salad as a side dish to accompany grilled fish or meat, or with couscous. It's also nice to serve as a starter together with some bread, or as part of some various 'mezzes' (small dishes).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Feta cream / hummus

Back to my Moroccan plate. You got the couscous recipe earlier and now I will let you in on the sauces. A thick cream of feta, a nutty and earthy hummus and some harissa form the ideal company to some couscous or serve well as a dip with other dishes.

Harissa is a hot North African sauce made of chillies and garlic. In Morocco it's served with couscous and other food. I found it in the regular supermarket, otherwise a North African store will have it. You can substitute it by sambal, or hot ajwar.

Feta cream (half bowl)

The feta cream is made by mixing 100 g of feta with a few tablespoons of Turkish yogurt. Put it together in a bowl and mix into an almost smooth paste with a fork.

About the feta: there is feta and there is feta. Feta should be made of sheep and/or goat milk, but definitely not of cow milk. Check the ingredients. Real feta might be a bit more expensive, but there is such a big difference between the real feta and the fake, that it's worth paying a little bit extra.
Turkish yogurt is almost like mascarpone: it's very thick and creamy. Can be substituted by ordinary full fat, thick yogurt.

And then the hummus. I tried making hummus with my handheld mixer (NL: staafmixer) but that didn't work. My mixer is not very strong though, so you could try it and maybe it works. I have a little food processor that is more like a small chopping machine that did the trick (wish I had a real machine though..)

Hummus (makes a full bowl)

1 can chickpeas (400 g) (NL:kikkererwten, S: kikärtor)
juice of 1/2 small lemon
3 tablespoons tahin (sesamepaste)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8-10 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 tablespoons of liquid from the chickpeas

* place all the ingredients in the mixer bowl
* mix it
* stir and mix again
* repeat until it has become a smooth paste, add more olive oil/liquid if necessary
* drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving, or some paprika powder

If you have the time: make the hummus a day in advance. That way the flavours work together to get an even better tasting substance.

The hummus and feta cream also serve very nicely as a snack, with for example some toasted pita breads or sliced red bell peppers and sticks of cucumber.

Spicy muffins

After eating lunch, I didn't feel quite ready to face the computer and books again and I really felt like eating something 'lekker' (tasty/delicious). Desperately rummaging through my cupboards and fridge, I ended up with flour, sugar, one egg, a little bit of butter and some cream. Hmmm...
Flipping trough an old cookbook I came across this recipe for cardamom muffins. Yippee, it fitted exactly with what ingredients I had on hand.

Cardamom is a favourite spice here in Sweden: the famous kanelbullar have some cardamom in it, so do 'semlor' and you even have cardamom cakes and buns.
But cardamom is not every one's favourite. A visiting friend thought they had put black pepper in her cake! She refused to eat it.
I agree that too much cardamom is no good, so I took a little less cardamom than the original recipe requires, and replaced it with some cinnamon.

Cardamom muffins (cupcake size)
(12 pieces)

50 g melted butter (original recipe requires margarine, but I think that's all wrong)
paper cups + little butter for greasing
1 egg
130 g sugar
120 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dl cream (NL: slagroom, S: vispgrädde)

* grease the bottom of the paper cups lightly
* preheat the oven to 170 C
* melt the butter: put it in the microwave on 450 watt for 1,5-2 minutes
* mix 1 egg with 1,5 dl sugar until it's white and foamy with a whisk (NL: garde)
* add half of the flour (60 g) and stir it in with a wooden spoon
* add 1 dl cream, stir
* add rest of the flour (60 g) with 1/2 teaspoon cardamon and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, stir
(don't stir too much: with muffins it is better to leave some lumps in the batter, even if it seems strange)
* add 50 g melted butter, that has cooled down a little bit and stir shortly, just so it's mixed
* put one big tablespoon of batter (NL: beslag, S: smet) in each paper cup, dividing it equally. it's best if the cups don't become too full
* place in the oven for 15 minutes

I think these fluffy cakes or muffins are really nice. A little bit spicy and not too heavy. Happy that I found the recipe in Mildas bästa recept from 1976!

EDIT: keep your muffins in a airtight container (NL: koekjestrommel, wat een leuk woord) and two days later they still taste great! The texture becomes a bit more dense, which is also quite nice.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oven-steamed couscous

You should have smelt my kitchen just now. Roasted cumin seeds, fresh lemon, sesame paste, honey... This Swedish little house had some Morocco in it tonight!
I made myself a plateful of delicacies. Some steamed couscous with prunes and raisins, a fresh salad of tomato, cucumber and roasted cumin, a dollop of feta cream and homemade hummus and oh so spicy harissa.

I will give you all the recipes, but I will spread it out a bit over the days. That way you might come back again!

Let's start with the steamed couscous.

Oven-steamed couscous (4 portions)

5 dl water
1 cube of vegetable or chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon ground cumin (for this dish I use ready grounded cumin / NL: gemalen komijn)
1 teaspoon harissa (substitute: 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek)
1 big teaspoon honey
2 big teaspoons butter
4 dl couscous
handful of dried prunes (8-10 pieces), chopped
handful of raisins
1/2 lemon in thin slices

* preheat the oven to 200 C
* bring 5 dl water to the boil with 1 cube of vegetable or chicken bouillon
* stir in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of harissa, 1 big teaspoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of butter and let that melt
* in the meantime: put 4 dl of couscous in an ovenproof dish (something you would make lasagna in)
* chop up a handful of prunes and add to the couscous, together with a handful of raisins
* pour the bouillon mixture over the couscous and place the lemon on top
* cover with alumiumfoil and place in the oven for 15 minutes

Variations: use apricots and/or dates; add some almonds or a chopped shallot et cetera. This couscous is also very nice with some grilled fish or lamb. You can also use bulgur instead of couscous, but check if it's fine or course. The course bulgur might need a bit more time and some more bouillon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oatmeal porridge - havermoutpap

I like rituals, especially in the morning. I get up, do some yoga (started that a while ago, and it feels so great), put on the kettle and walk to the mailbox. Get the newspaper, listen to the excited birds and breathe in the fresh Swedish air. Make some porridge and just sit there, in my kitchen, reading the paper. Often the best time of the day!

A bowl of warm, creamy porridge can really make me happy. Growing up I always started my day with Brinta, the most common Dutch variety of porridge. We usually ate the porridge with brown caster sugar, that melted when you stirred it in...yummy!
I didn't eat porridge for years, and last year I had a sudden craving. In the supermarkets here there is no Brinta to be found and it's closest resemblance had ingredients like dried milk powder. Why!? I just wanted a bowl of healthy, pure porridge.
I decided to try and make oatmeal porridge instead. I heard it's really healthy and it seemed worth the try. I was so pleasantly surprised! Since then I have been eating porridge for breakfast nearly every morning, especially in the winter. It's fast, fills you up and warms you from the inside. Plus, you don't get hungry until lunch.
I know it's getting warmer outside, but I can still not part with my porridge breakfast. Maybe you feel like trying some, but you don't really know how to go about it. It's very simple! The packaging of the oats usually have an instruction, but here is how I like to make it:

* Take 5 tablespoons of oats (havermout) and mix with some milk. I use oatmeal milk (Oatly), which is available in all the shops here in Sweden. I don't like to drink too much cow milk, and I heard that drinking soy milk too often is not so good either. I also think that Oatly milk gives a sweet flavouring and a creamy texture - but try it with any kind of milk.
* place your bowl in the microwave, and heat for 2 minutes on 750 watt
* stir (I leave the bowl in the microwave while stirring)
* heat again for 2 minutes
* pour in some cold milk until you find the consistency you like
* choose your topping. this morning I used some sweetener and cinnamon, but I also like to put in some lingonberry jam or brown sugar/muscovado sugar
* eat and be warm and happy!

Very nice to go with your porridge, or instead, or later in the day: a creamy superhealthy smoothie. Mix one banana, one pear (unpeeled!), 200 ml orange juice (= one big glass) and 3 tablespoons of Turkish yoghurt in a blender or with a handheld mixer. This is enough for two big glasses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chewy meringue cookies

I have been trying to make the perfect meringue cookie for a while now and finally I had some success! These cookies have a marshmellow like texture in the middle and are crunchy on the outside. Very nice to eat the way they are, or you can use them in a dessert with some ice cream and fruit.

Last Sunday I made a nice spaghetti carbonara- the recipe will follow later. Anyway, I had some egg whites left over. While studying for my thesis I decided to turn those egg whites into something tasty. This is what I did:

Chewy meringue cookies
(18-25 cookies)

4 egg whites
1 lemon (not necessary)
150 g icing sugar (NL: poedersuiker)
1 teaspoon cornflour (NL: maizena)
1 teaspoon vinegar
100 g finely chopped almonds
little oil or butter
extra: baking sheet (NL: bakpapier)

* split 4 eggs - eggs are easier to split if they are cold from the fridge
* let the whites come to room temperature - or place them in a plastic container (make sure that it's not greasy) in some hot water for 10 minutes
* preheat the oven to 100 C
* take a mixing bowl and whisk (NL: garde) and rub them with some lemon - this is to prevent them from being greasy and gives a slight taste. if you don't have lemon on hand, wash the bowl and whisk with washing up liquid. you can also use an electric mixer.
* beat the egg whites until they are forming peaks
* sieve 150 g icing sugar and 1 teaspoon cornflour and blend with the egg whites and continue to beat
* add 1 small teaspoon vinegar and beat until shiny and thick. you need to be able to turn the bowl upside down (I held it above my head!)
* fold in the 100 g of finely chopped almonds
* place a baking sheet on a baking tray and grease it slightly with some oil
* form little heaps from the egg white mixture using two tablespoons
* place in the oven and leave it there for a loooooong long time, about 1 1/2 hour. when they are dry on the outside take them out and leave to cool on a rack.

Tip: I read somewhere that you can also have the oven on 150 C, place in the cookies, turn the oven off and leave the cookies overnight. I haven't tried that yet!

Mercimek - Turkish lentil soup

Now that I am on the roll, I will also tell you my favourite lentil soup recipe. I just heated up some for lunch.
A few years ago I went to Istanbul with my mother and sister. Every day we would eat a cup of 'Mercimek' and sometimes even two. I thought it was so good!


(olive) oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1,5 dl water
1 cube of instant bouillon
salt + pepper
2 teaspoons dried mintleaves
1 big tablespoon tomatopurée
350 g red lentils

* fry the onion and potato until soft in a little oil (on low heat)
* add 0,5 dl water, 1 bouilloncube, salt + pepper, 2 teaspoons dried mintleaves and 1 big tablespoon of tomato purée
* bring to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes
* add 1 liter of water and 350 g red lentils
* bring to a boil while stirring regularly (the lentils like to stick to the pan)
* let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until the lentils are mushy and soft
* purée the soup with a hand-held blender until smooth
* serve with fresh lemon (very important!)

I usually freeze some, and then take it as a packed lunch. It can also serve as a meal, with some bread on the side. As a starter I think it is too heavy - it really fills you up.


Kanelbullar - Swedish cinnamon buns

Last week I made some typical Swedish buns: kanelbullar. They turned out so nicely that I decided to take a picture of them. That turned out to be a nice picture (or at least not awful) and actually that's when I decided to join in and start a blog. Why not?

The recipe is from a bag of flour from Willy's, a supermarket here in Sweden. Try it!

Kanelbullar (18-25 pieces)

7 g bag of dried yeast
125 g butter (of which 50 g on roomtemperature)
2,5 dl milk
1 dl sugar
1 small teaspoon ground cardamom
7 dl plain flour
1 large teaspoon cinnamon
paper baking cups
1 egg

step 1
* take the butter out of the fridge, and put 75 g of it in a saucepan
* melt the butter (don't let it get brown) and add 2,5 dl milk
* warm it up to bodytemperature
* put the yeast in a big bowl and add a bit of the milkmixture
* stir and then add the rest of the mixture
* add a pinch of salt, 0,5 dl sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cardemom and stir again
* add 7 dl flour in stages; stir in between
* when you can't stir anymore, start kneading until it becomes a supple dough
* put a kitchen towel over the bowl, put the bowl somewhere warm and let it rise for 30 minutes

step 2
make the filling by stirring together 50 g butter (roomtemperature) with 0,5 dl sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon

step 3
* sprinkle a little flour on you worksurface and on a rolling pin
* roll out the dough to a rectangle of 20 x 50 cm
* spread the filling out on the dough and roll the dough up (start with the long side)
* cut this into slices of 1,5 cm
* place these in the baking cups and put them on a baking tray
* cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise again for 30 minutes
* preheat your oven to 225 C

step 4
* whisk 1 egg and coat the buns (use a brush if you have one, or your fingers)
* sprinkle some pearl sugar on top
* place in the oven for 10-15 min until goldenbrown and firm
* place them on a rack to cool down

These kanelbullar are best eaten fresh. If you don't eat them all in one day, put some in a bag in the freezer. When you get the munchies, put one in the microwave for 30-60 seconds and let it stand for 30 seconds. Yummie!

* the recipe requires 25 g of fresh yeast, but dried worked fine for me

Welcome reader of my blog!

While I should be working on my thesis, I spent a lot of time on blogs. All these blogs have one thing in common: they are about cooking, baking and eating food. As I read my knowledge on food grew and I got inspired to try out what I read.
I cook and bake in different ways. Sometimes I follow a recipe to the dot and sometimes I create my own. Very often I am inspired by some recipe and then give my own twist to it.

Now I think I got to the point where I would like to share my experiences. On this blog I plan to post recipes, by myself and by others, that proved to be tasteful and succesful. When a recipe is not my own, I will of course let you know where I found it.

I hope my blog will inspire others, like so many blogs have inspired me!