Love hearts

The Love Hearts candy was quite big when I was in school. There was a definite interest in finding one that said the right thing. (And possibly send the perfect one to a crush…)  And there’s definitely a nostalgic element to them.

Now, I’m less interested in what they say… and only try to find the proper pink “strawberry” ones that are my favorites.

Chili meatballs

These cocktail meatballs from Allrecipes quickly became a staple in my party food cookbook. I have modified a bit, to suit the Norwegian/Danish kitchen, and my own laziness.

See, I buy the meatballs instead of making my own – which might be why I think it is dead easy.

Essentially, you mix jelly/jam, chili sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar in a pan, and let them combine. After that you add the meatballs, and let it stand for an hour or so, while you get dressed for the party, do a last minute panic cleaning, or whatever else you like.

Since jellied cranberry sauce is fairly difficult to come by in Norway (and if where it is available, it is usually super expensive), I have substituted with different things on different occasions. What probably works best is red currant jelly, but raspberry jam will do in a pinch. (You do tend to get a lot of extra seeds in your teeth, though.)

In addition to the ingredients below, you need a bag of 20-40 meatballs, depending on how much you want.

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Apple Chutney

Chutneys are becoming one of my favorite things to make – essentially it is just a matter of putting the ingredients into a saucepan and letting them bubble together for a long period. The downside is that the chutneys need to stand for a while to mature, so no instant gratification.

The apple tree in my grandmother’s garden is notorious for producing small cooking apples that are not good for much beyond apple cake.

I decided to try my hand at putting a couple of them into a chutney once I found this recipe.

As always, there were modifications as to what were in my pantry, and I’m not a huge fan of sultanas – so I left those out entirely. I also cut down on the amount of onions due to what I had. I reduced the sugar slightly because of it.

 

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Caramelized red onion and feta “pull-apart” bread

The cinnamon pull-apart bread made its round in the blogosphere a while ago – and boy, was it tasty.

But I was intrigued when I saw the other side of the coin – the savory version at Pink Parsley.

I modified a bit, the cheese and herb looked good, but I had a real craving for caramelized onions and feta cheese. I also substituted regular flour for bread flour.

I loved it. My sister, H., who isn’t crazy about onions, liked most of it, but the middle pieces which tend to have a lot of filling were too much for her.

Dragging the slices off the bread satisfies a childish tendency in me.

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Plum chutney

We’ve had a fair bit of plums outside this year. They’re not as tasty-looking as in previous years,  (I am really picky when it comes to eating plums from the tree – they have to look just right, or else I won’t bother) so the obvious thing is to use them as an ingredient in something.

I found this recipe in Danish newspaper Politiken’s online archive of recipes. I have adapted it to suit my cupboards (I have limited spices, and as a result, it got a flavor-profile of Christmas/Autumn). Experiment with a bit of chili if you have if. The original recipe states Danish plums, which might be a bit difficult to find elsewhere, so I have adapted. And, apart from taking the stones out of the plums, it is really the simplest recipe there is.

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Want: Twinings Lady Grey

Maybe there is something about being a librarian… Most of the places I’ve worked, where there have been a large librarian population – tea breaks have been the norm, not coffee breaks. When I was out on work placement in the UK, I noted that my supervisor and colleagues were adamant that I take my allotted two daily tea breaks. And it was almost as though the heavens would come down if I didn’t.

(This might have just been about being British, though… Anyone?)

Even now, we usually have our daily tea break in the afternoon.

One of my favorite teas is Twinings Lady Grey. The smell of it is simply fantastic – and it tastes quite good too. For someone with a sweet tooth, it is a good way to avoid sugar, as there is a slightly sweet taste to it.

Anyone else have teas to recommend? I figure we’re heading into the time of year when having hot beverages around is one of the things that makes it bearable.

Mutton in cabbage

 Mutton in cabbage, or Fårikål, in Norwegian, is one of the recipes that Norwegians view as traditional and Norwegian.

It usually is made in the fall, and actually has a whole day dedicated to it. September 29. There are also groups dedicated to it, and friends will get together for dinner parties.

It is about the simplest recipe to make, which everyone was eager to tell me as I was planning on making it, though it takes a while on the stove.

The recipe below is translated and adapted slightly from Matprat – but all the recipes I’ve seen of this are similar in construction.

It is traditionally served with potatoes.

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Milk chocolate sorbet

It may not be warm enough here for ice cream or sorbets – but it is always time for chocolate.

I first saw this on Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats; it  is part of the Tuesdays with Dorie project.

Intrigued by the concept, and having a love of chocolate, I rummaged through my cupboards and found the ingredients for this sorbet.

Essentially, it is just five ingredients. I didn’t have all of the original, so I substituted the dark chocolate for Cadbury Dairy Milk and cut down on the added sugar to compensate.

The recipe doesn’t make a lot of sorbet, but since it is so rich, it lasts for a very long time if you’re not having a party. (The post I got the recipe from says that it keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks, but mine was quite tasty even a month afterwards, though a bit harder than sorbet.)

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Chocolate and custard cupcakes

These are my mother’s chocolate cupcakes. Yummy and chocolatey, and the custard filling makes for a nice surprise inside.

In my opinion, they’re also exceptional when eaten slightly frozen – when the custard is ice-cold and the chocolate is deliciously chocolatey.  I’ve actually frozen almost all of the cupcakes from this batch – it stops me from eating all of them at once, and increases the odds that there will be something around if I get unannounced visitors.

Thick vanilla custard cream is available in stores in Norway, so there is no recipe here. If you’re making that as well, the consistency should be somewhat similar in consistency to a Crème pâtissière filling.

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Cinnamon and raisin bagels

Back in July, watching the television coverage from the Oslo bombings and the Utøya shootings. I was sitting in front of the television set the entire Saturday… and in the evening, I felt like I had to do something else. Being on the other side of the country, unable to help anyone on the Eastern parts; I chose to make bagels.

There is something ultimately satisfying about kneading a dough and getting out a bit of frustration in that way, if you know what I mean.

I haven’t taken a picture of my efforts, since I’m apparently hopeless when it comes to shaping bagels, but I ended up eating them over the following week – and they were really tasty,.

I used the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker here.

Cinnamon rolls

I got this from Beantown Baker who remade a recipe from Pioneer Woman. I’ve adapted the recipe to metrics, and modified a bit as to what works for me.

However, I do recommend taking a look at the other two to see what may or may work for you.

I’ve made it twice, and the last time I changed out a bit of the flour for wholemeal, which worked rather well.

Personally, I like a bit less cinnamon than in the original recipe, so I’ve cut down on that.

All I had in the fridge was low-fat milk, so I’ve substituted that for the original whole milk.

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Chocolate Dump Cake

Every now and then, I need an easy thing to throw together for unexpected visitors.

This time, it was a friend of mine who is getting her PHD in Vienna, who is home for a brief time this summer. I had been offered dinner at my parents before she was due to arrive, and so I had about 40 minutes to get this thing going.

I also made it for the Eurovision Song Contest party I held earlier this year – sometimes you need the chocolate to get a sugar high to make it through the evening… 😉

It is about the simplest thing ever, and getting the batter together takes about five minutes.

I first saw it on Eat, Live, Run, and have made it a couple of times since then.

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Eating at work

When I got back to work after a two-week vacation, they had started renovating the cafeteria closest to my desk.

For the past two days we’ve been trying out the other cafeterias in the building – they serve the same food, which is made in the same kitchen – but somehow it is not the same. The food is in the wrong places, I can’t find anything… and so on.

And since it is the largest dining area that has been closed off, finding a space to eat can be a challenge.

I guess I am very much a creature of habit on some things.

The Eurovision menu

Having an Eurovision party is an excellent time to try out the recipes I’ve collected from other blogs. Norway isn’t in the finals, which didn’t come as a huge shock, but the food should be good anyway.

Currently in the oven is the Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart bread. Earlier today, I made Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and Chocolate Dump Cake. I can’t wait to eat the Chocolate cake – it is looking really good out of the oven. (Aside – converting from imperial to metric on the go is not advised. The whole operation took a bit longer than it would have if I’d just printed the recipes and written the conversion on the paper prior to baking. Why can’t we all have the same measurement system?)

In addition to a bowl of crisps and some sweets, it should be enough to distract from the worst of the songs.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

The picture is really not doing this tart justice. It tasted delicious, and as I said as I was making it – there are very few ways to make this go wrong. It is chocolate and raspberries, for Heaven’s sake… 😉

I used the wrong size of mold, so the pie crust was a bit too thick at the bottom for my taste. The chocolate-and-raspberry filling was delicious.

Since we had a bit of leftovers, we froze it – and I ended up eating a small piece straight from the freezer. It tasted like a bar of chocolate, with lots of raspberries in. I thought that was even better than the non-frozen version…

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Banana Cake

We had some bananas that were turning brown, and rather than cut them up and freeze them for smoothies – we decided to make banana cake.

When I was growing up, we had this neighbour who had the most amazing banana cake. It was soft, moist and incredibly tasty. This isn’t her recipe, but it comes pretty darn close.

This takes some time to make, but mostly that is oven or cool down time. Mixing it together takes about 10-15 minutes.

It serves 10, according to the recipe, but it depends on the size of the slices.

Banana cake.

Adapted from Bagværk by Lesley Mackley

Ingredients

125 g softened butter/margarine
175 g regular flour
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
175 g sugar
2 big, mature bananas
2 eggs
5 tbsp of boiling water
175 g dark chocolate – roughly chopped. (I only had about 75 g. chocolate, so I added 100 g peanut butter instead. It worked fairly well.)

1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius
2) Cover a 1 liter mold with baking paper, and/or butter the form.
3) Sift flour, natron, salt and cinnamon in a bowl, and set aside.
4) Take another bowl, add the butter/margarine and sugar and mix until light and slightly airy.
5) Add the bananas and eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, and mix them together. It may look like the whole thing is curdling, but that is okay.
6) Alternate adding the flour mixture and the hot water to the rest of the dough, until everything is mixed well in.
7) Add the chocolate (and/or peanut butter, if you’re like me and didn’t have enough chocolate…)
8) Pour the dough into the mold, and ensure you have a smooth-ish surface.
9) Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until it has risen and feels firm.
10) Let it cool in the mold for about 20-30 minutes, before taking it out of the mold, and cooling it a bit more before serving.

The recipe calls for it to be served cold, with whipped cream, but slightly warm with ice cream also works splendidly.

Yum!

Norwegian Christmas Cooking: Sirupsnipper

Or as a translation to English might be: Syrup Diamonds. Basically because they’re meant to be shaped like men’s cuff (hence the name in Norwegian) but actually look like the diamonds you find on playing cards. Well, they’re meant to. Mine just looks, er…, odd. But they taste good, and that is the most important thing, right?

These are also the kind of Christmas cookies that have been a staple in my home – chiefly because my grandmother has been making them. My mother, who makes almost every Christmas cookie under the sun, have yet to attempt them.  For that reason, but also because the recipe said they were complicated to get right, I’ve been stalling over whether or not to make them. It did take some extra care, but I am glad I did, because I got lots of positive feedback on the taste. Including from my Dad, who, I swear, is the world’s pickiest Christmas cookie eater.

It takes about two days to make, so that is something to take into plan.

This recipe has been adapted from 7×7 Slag by Tove Diesen.

Ingredients

2 dl light syrup.

1  1/4 dl sugar

1 dl heavy cream

225 g butter

1 egg, whisked

The zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2  tsp  powdered cloves

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp black pepper

ca. 500 g all purpose flour

1/2 tsp Ammonium bicarbonate/crushed hartshorn

For decoration

Scalded almonds. (White almonds)

Day 1

1) Bring syrup, sugar and the cream to boil in a saucepan

2) Pour the hot caramel mixture over the butter, so that it melts it.

3) Whisk until the mixture is cold and airy.

4) Add the whisked egg, the spices and the flour with hartshorn.

5) Let the dough stand in cold temperature (We used the fridge) until the next day.

Day 2.

1) Take only as much of the dough as you can comfortably roll out at the time. The warmer the dough is, the harder it is to work with, so use small portions. Leave the rest in the cold temperature-space.

2) Put the oven on, at 200 degrees celcius.

3) Roll the dough out fairly thin (how thin you roll should depend on whether you want soft cookies or crisp. Roll thin for crisp, and a bit thicker for soft.)

4) Cut out diamond (as in cards) -shaped cookies from the dough by using a cutting wheel. Or simply a cookie cutter.

5) Add the diamond shaped cookies to baking trays.

6) Paint the cookies with a bit of egg white, and add half an almond to the middle.

7) Bake for anything between 6-10 minutes, depending on oven. Ours were done after 6 minutes. The cookies should be golden brown, but not have black edges.

8) After the cookies come out of the oven, make sure they stay flat until they turn cold. Otherwise they will get a funny shape.

I had a bit of trouble getting the “proper” diamond, or cuff shape, of the cookies, so a few of them ended up as triangles, or squares.

Cooking chicken with white sauce

From my great grandmother’s cookbook from 1920, or thereabouts, I have now learnt how to make chicken with white sauce. It is quite simple, really.

You simply make it like you would make hen with white sauce.

That’s the entire recipe.

Granted, the hen with white sauce was the recipe before that, so it is not very strange, but it has become an internal family joke now.

Experimental Cooking: Homemade vanilla extract

At school, I was a terrible student when it came to the natural science subjects. I just could not see why we should cut a liver and get a reaction to it. Or to cut our fingers to test which blood type we were – when the hospitals could do that a whole lot more accurately, and under more sanitary conditions.

This puzzles my Dad, because I love to experiment, open gadgets, watch reactions and find out how things work. (Putting the gadgets back together again after opening them is less interesting.)

But, I think that if we had done experiments where I could see the use, I might have been more motivated. Such as homemade vanilla extract.

I’m trying this out because it seems to be a staple in a lot of recipes, yet, it is not available commercially in any food store I’ve been to in Norway. Artificial vanilla essence, yes, vanilla extract, no.

I bought vanilla beans, but then was faced with the alcohol problem. Curiously enough, we do have a lot of flavoured alcohol at home – tax free shopping – but very little without any additives at all. So that had to be acquired before I could start.

White wine vinegar, which is rather difficult to find in a regular Norwegian grocery store, ended up having the perfect bottle for the experiment.

I relied on the previous documented experiments of Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini and Elise of Simply Recipes. Both of whom have very detailed recipes, so I won’t repost that. I used a bit more liquid than they did, as my bottle was around 2 cups (4 dl) in size, and the vanilla beans looked so alone with a half full bottle.

The day after I put the vanilla beans into the alcohol, it had started changing colour. A week after, it was lightly brown.

Three months down the road, and the bottle is half full – I’ve used so much of it in baking and by making butterscotch fondue.

Eggy cooking: Poaching an egg

Almost all the cooking shows I’m watching has someone poaching an egg at some point. I also saw it in Julie and Julia (or was it the other way around?)

Not only that, but I have a surplus of eggs at the moment. I never seem to remember that I have them at home when I spot a new carton in the supermarket. Before my experiment with poaching, that meant we had 28 eggs in the refrigerator, and some were moving towards their Best Before Date.

Clearly some cooking had to be done with eggs.

And then the notion of attempting to poaching them came to mind. The sister was encouraging (but wanted no part other than as an observer, which was fair enough.) My Norwegian cookbook from the early 80s and Delia Smith’s How to Cook both said the same thing (and Nigella did not even mention poaching an egg in her How to Eat…) to put a small amount of water in a frying pan, put it to boil, and down to simmer and crack a fresh egg into that.

Well, that was nothing like what I was seeing at the telly. Apart from the water and the egg, it was two separate worlds entirely. So I tried with a mix.

It was not very successful. Well, to a certain degree, it did resemble a poached egg. And the yolk was runny when I poked it. But it just did not look like anything we wanted to eat.

And it has taken me two days to recall why it was not tempting me at all (something I should have thought of before I started the experiment): I have never been a fan of eating runny egg yolks.

Instead we used a frying pan and fried four eggs instead. That was yummy. But while the sister had hers sunny side up – I ended up frying mine on both sides.