Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Korean Grilled Beef and Glass Noodles

One advantage of growing up in Los Angeles is the bountiful amounts of ethnic food.  Los Angeles is so big that there is a group of people of every nationality, and someone somewhere has opened a restaurant to cater to them.  I was in college before I was introduced to Korean BBQ for the first time, but after eating it once, I was hooked.  We went to a great place called Yellow Cow.  A small restaurant, located in an ubiquitous LA strip mall, once inside the smokey interior, you would find load of Koreans grilling meat at their own tables.  The tabletops would be groaning with a myriad of little dishes, called banchan, containing salads, various types of kimchi and other little delicacies.  You had a bowl of rice. You had delicate rice noodle pancakes and a big bowl of crispy salad.  You grilled your meat and ate it wrapped up in a pancake with some of the salad and perhaps garnished with some kimchee or hot sauce.  I still go to Yellow Cow every time I am back in LA and it is still one of the best Korean BBQ places that I know.

Here in Stockholm, the choice is limited.  However, we do have one decent place, Arirang.  Ten years ago, you also could grill yourself, but now the meat comes to the table pre-cooked. I am not going to say this is great Korean food, but it still hits the spot.

I never tried cooking Korean food myself until a year or two ago when I found out about a Korean blogger, Maangchi, who does YouTube videos of how to cook authentic Korean food.  This recipe is inspired by her recipes for Bulgogi and Japchae.  Bulgogi is sweet soysauce marinated beef, usually thinly sliced and grilled or pan fried. Japchae is a dish of stir fried glass noodles, made from sweet potato starch called dang myun.  These noodles are fairly tasteless on their own but have a nice chewy texture and soak up flavors beautifully.  They are also gluten free, for those who are interested. I saw these noodles at my local ICA the other day, so I snatched them up.  Wandering down the meat aisle, they had some nice flank steak, which is not that common here in Sweden and so I decided to use the Bulgogi marinade for the beef but grill it whole in the oven, and then slice the meat over the noodles.

Here is how I did it:

Serves 4 to 6

Grilled Flank Steak
1 pear or apple
1 small onion
8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons soysauce*
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
black pepper
1 kilo of flank steak

Peel your pear or apple, take out the core and roughly chop it. Stick it in a woozy woo (mini food processor) and process until it is a paste.  This is easier to do with a pear, which is the traditional fruit. But I have so many apples in the garden right now, I decided to use that instead and it tasted fine.  Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion and puree in the woozy woo in batches.  You can also do this in the food processor or if you don't have one, you could use a mortar and pestle.

Take a large ziplock bag, one which will fit your meat, and dump the ingredients of the marinade into it.  Close the bag and knead it to mix up the marinade.  Throw in the flank steak, close the bag and knead it, making sure the marinade covers the entire steak.  Put in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, but overnight is even better.

About half an hour before you want to eat, turn on your broiler to its highest setting.  Take the steak out of the bag, scraping excess marinade into a little pot and set aside to use in the noodles. Lay the steak on a pan that is covered with aluminum foil (to help contain the mess).  Broil for 6 to 15 minutes per side until each side is nicely browned.

The time will depend on how hot your broiler is and how close to the heating element you can get your meat.  If you like your meat rare, then put it as close to the heating element as possible. There should be some bits that look almost burnt. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes and then slice it thinly AGAINST the grain.

Stir Fried Glass Noodles
About 150 grams of dang myun sweet potato noodles
2 large carrots
1/4 head savoy cabbage
15 to 20 fresh shitake mushrooms
1 onion
3 to 4 spring onions
1 to 2 tablespoons of soysauce*
1 tablespoon sesame oil
olive or vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

Take a large pot and fill with water and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Peel and grate the carrot. Take the cabbage and cut out the core and cut into thin strips.  Cut off the stem on the mushrooms.  You can save the stems to flavor a stock, if you like, otherwise discard. Thinly slice the heads of the shitake mushrooms. Cut the onion in half and then thinly slice.  Thinly slice the white part of the spring onions and slice the green portion into 2 cm (about 1 inch) pieces.

Take the little pot of marinade from the meat and put it on the stove.  Bring it to the boil and the turn the heat to low and simmer it for 10 minutes.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat a glob of oil on high heat.  Stir fry each vegetable over high heat separately:

1. Throw in the mushrooms and stir fry for a two to three minutes until they are tender and the edges are a bit browned.  Pour the mushrooms into a large serving bowl.  Put a plate or lid over the bowl to keep everything warm.

2.Put a bit more oil in the pan and throw in the grated carrot and the white part of the spring onions and a pinch or two of salt.  Stir fry for a three to four minutes until the carrot is tender and sweet.  Pour the carrot into the bowl with the mushrooms.

3. Add a bit more oil and then stir fry the cabbage, sliced onion and the green part of the spring onion with a pinch of salt until tender and the edges of the cabbage are getting a bit brown, about three to four minutes and then pour into the bowl.

When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for about 7 minutes until the noodles are tender.  Drain the noodles and add into the bowl. Add the sesame seed oil and a tablespoon of soysauce.  Throw in the cooked marinade from the meat. Toss everything together.  Taste the noodles and add a bit more soy sauce if it needs more salt.  If there are any juices from the grilled flank steak, throw that into the noodles, too. If the vegetables have cooled too much, you can throw the whole thing back in the pan and warm through.  Taste and adjust, adding more soysauce and sesame oil if necessary.

Serve the noodles hot with the thinly sliced grilled flank steak on top.


*If you want this recipe to be gluten free, you have to make sure you use a gluten free soysauce, like a Tamari style soy sauce.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dutch Baby Pancakes

I made this for breakfast this morning and you should too.  My whole family practically applauded when I took this out of the oven and it was demolished within a couple of minutes.  Even my husband who is generally not a fan of sweet things was impressed. Not only was it delicious, it was stupidly easy to make.  Whip up the batter in a couple of minutes, throw it in the oven, and 20 minutes later, you are eating heaven.

At the breakfast table, we pondered the name of this dish. After a quick google search,  what it comes down to is that it has more or less nothing to do with the Dutch or babies.  It seems to have been dubbed this name by an American restaurant and the name stuck. However, it is really just a big popover, which is in turn a slightly sweetened Yorkshire pudding.

I was inspired to make this today because suddenly I kept seeing recipes for it everywhere.  Smitten Kitchen did this version in chocolate.  The Guardian had this lemony version.  My recipe is loosely based on this version.  The differences are mainly in the amount of eggs and the flavorings.  I went for a 3 egg version.  Lots of recipes have you rest the batter, but that requires more planning than I can manage and with no evidence at all, I doubt that it makes any significant difference.  Having said that, if you are the organized sort, it seems obvious that you could whip up the batter the night before, which means that in the morning you could just heat the oven and dump the batter in.  It won't save you much time since you still have to heat up the oven, but it does mean that if your brain is not yet functioning without your cup of coffee, you won't mess up with the measurements.

Eat this with whatever pancake accompaniments you might like.  I personally prefer powdered sugar and lemon.  Any kind of berries thrown on top would be delicious.  Jam and/or maple syrup are also obvious candidates.

Recipe feeds 2 to 4 persons.

Batter:
3 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the pan:
50 grams (1/4 cup) butter

Pre-heat your oven to 210C or 450F.  Put a medium cast iron pan or oven proof dish in the middle of the oven while it preheats.  In a large bowl, whisk up all the batter ingredients, until smooth.  It can have a few small lumps of flour.

When the oven is heated, open the oven door and plop the butter in the hot pan.  Close the door and let the butter melt.  When it is melted, open the door and pull out the rack so that you have better access to the pan and swish around the butter so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pan.  Pour the batter in the pan.  Push the rack back in and close the oven door.  Bake the pancake for 18 to 25 minutes until the sides have risen high, the middle is puffy, and the whole thing is golden brown and your mouth is watering.

Right before it is ready, gather your eaters around the table.  Whisk the hot pan from the oven onto a trivet on the table.  Let everyone ooh and aah.  Take a bow.  Civilized people might cut it into pieces but my family just tore off pieces with their hands.  Sprinkle with lemon and powdered sugar or your preferred topping and devour.


Sunday, January 08, 2017

My best tips for Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a wonderful city!  So colourful, it is just a pleasure to walk around. The central area is not that large so you can easily walk to most of the sites. I have been there many times since it is so near to my summer house in Sweden.  So these are my tips cultivated over many weekend stops.  It is fun to bicycle around Copenhagen and pretend you are a native. They have bicycles to rent all over town. 

Top Things to Do
Tivoli Gardens—this is sort of like Disneyland but more charming.  The gardens are pretty and it is nice to stroll there, even if you are not interested in riding the rollercoasters.  It is worth taking the time to research the restaurants there because along with all the standard fast food, they have a few very nice dining establishments.

The Little Mermaid—Even though this is very touristy, there is something really magical about this little statue sitting in the water.  I recommend that you take a stroll here in the gardens early in the morning before the hordes of tourists arrive.  There in the quiet, you can really appreciate it.  If you go later, there will be crowds around and then it is just a statue.

Nyhavn—you must take a stroll down this famous harbour.  It looks just as beautiful as the pictures.  On a gorgeous day, crowds converge on the many restaurants.  It is a good place to have lunch, trying either seafood or the famous Danish sandwich.  Most places will have fried plaice served with potatoes and a curry mayonnaise sauce, which I love.  Or walk around the corner to get some modern Danish food at the Standard.

Canal Boat TourWhile I don't normally go in for such a touristy activity, a friend wanted to go on this and I didn't want to be a party pooper.  I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  You get to see areas of the city that you wouldn't normally see, and of course Copenhagen is gorgeous from the water.  You can find several kiosks selling these tours in Nyhaven. 

Stroget—This main pedestrian shopping is street is another must. If you have kids, you will obviously be stopping at the flagship Lego Store. Illums Bolighus is a wonderful department store which carries a lot of high end Danish design items. Illums Bolighus also has a very nice chocolate selection! If you are hungry for lunch, I recommend Café Europa.  They also do a lovely brunch.  A good place to try Danish baked goods is at Lagkagehuset, which is located on the end of the street on the side of the Town Hall.

  











Amalienborg Palace SquareThis is where the current royal family live and it is worth taking a stroll over there when you are visiting Nyhavn.  The square itself is beautiful and has a lovely light stemming from the pinkish grey stone of the square.  There is a museum in one of the four palaces, but, if you want to be seeped in history, and have limited tolerance for dusty castles, then I would recommend the Rosenborg Castle instead.

Rosenborg Castle is located in pretty gardens and has the royal jewels.  It is a tiny castle, despite its importance and can be seen quite quickly.  The cafe is a nice place to have a cup of coffee.The Botanical Gardens are very near Rosenborg Castle so you can stroll through that on the same visit. 

National Museum—this is very interesting especially if you want to learn about Viking history.  I think it is even free.

Our Savior's Church Tower (Vor Frelsers Kirke)This was another surprisingly fun touristy activity.  It is not that strenuous to climb and you are rewarded with a stunning view at the top.  I do not recommend it, however, if you are claustrophobic because the stairs are tiny and it can be quite crowded.



GlypotekThis museum is full of Ancient roman and Egyptian statues and the like.  While it is worth a look, the best thing is the café in the middle, set in a pretty greenhouse, which is full of amazing pastries by a well known Danish chef.  This museum was founded by the Carlsberg beer family!

The Experimentium (https://www.experimentarium.dk/) This is a hands on science museum which is a great place if you have younger kids.

Zoo and Aquarium—skip these unless you are very keen.  Monterey Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo are infinitely better.

Hotels
Copenhagen Admiral Hotel (https://admiralhotel.dk)—this is a newish hotel in a modern style built in an old warehouse.  It is nicely located near Nyhaven.  The restaurant in the hotel was very good when I was there a couple of years ago.  For a family of four, they have nice rooms with a sofa bed and a double bed in a sleeping loft.

Copenhagen Strand (www.copenhagenstrand.com)—I stayed here last two times I was there and was surprised at how nice it was, even though it is fairly inexpensive.  The location is great, and even better is that a fabulous sushi restaurant is around the corner, Karma Sushi.

First Hotel Kong Frederick (http://www.firsthotels.se/Vara-Hotell/Hotell-i-Danmark/Kobenhavn/First-Hotel-Kong-Frederik/)—I have stayed here twice. Good location near Stroget.  Not much in the way of amenities but perfectly nice.

If you want more luxury, the best hotel in town is supposed to be the Hotel D’Angletterre (http://www.dangleterre.com/).  They have been remodelling it, so I have never been inside but it is open now.  I love hotel bars, so it is on my list to try their new Champagne Bar.  The swanky shopping area of Copenhagen is located in the quarter right behind the Hotel D'Angletterre.  If you need a break from shopping, try grabbing a luscious hot chocolate at the Hotel Chocolate (http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/chocolate-shops/copenhagen).

Restaurants  
There is a lot of good food in Copenhagen so it is hard to know where to start.

Kiin Kiin (http://www.kiin.dk/)
Last time I was there I went to Kiin Kiin which has a Michelin star.  They serve very refined Vietnamese food which I thought was truly delicious and exciting.  They do a cheaper and slightly smaller theatre menu, which is what I had.  They start you out downstairs in the lounge area and bring you some little appetizers and drinks.  Then, they move you upstairs to start your meal.

Karma Sushi (http://karmasushi.dk/)
Karma Shushi was delicious and not that expensive, considering.  I ordered a menu, their Signature, which was much more delicious than it sounded on the menu, including this wonderful dish of caviar and avocado!  They serve a lobster miso soup which is a lovely twist on the normal.  With it, they serve a crunch seaweek salad which was so delicious that we ordered an extra portion. The Signature fed the three of us quite well.  If you are more persons, you could augment it with a few of the a la carte items.  We also ordered a pitcher of water which they augment with cucumber, ginger and mint slices.  Very refreshing.

Cafe Europa (http://europa1989.dk/)
This Cafe right on Stroget is a perfect place to stop for a bite.  It is particularly good for brunch.

Paper Island (http://copenhagenstreetfood.dk/en/)
An old warehouse on a little island is now a thriving food truck hub.  It is a fun walk to the warehouse and even more fun to walk around and gaze at all the different types of food before plunging in.  Outside, there are benches, tables, and deck-chairs where you can sit and enjoy your food and the beautiful waterside location.




The Standard (http://thestandardcph.dk/en) This gorgeous deco building is just around the corner from Nyhavn overlooking the water.  There are two restaurants and a jazz club in the building. I have eaten at Almanak which serves very nice modern Danish food in a luscious setting.



Bistro Royal (http://madklubben.dk/bistro-royal/) Right next to the Hotel D'Angleterre, this airy cafe serves hearty meat dishes, burgers and sandwiches.  They have amazing french fries.  From the outside, it looks like an old fashioned cafe, but on the inside it is light and airy.  A perfect place to people watch over the square, although the square is currently under construction.

On my personal list of restaurants to try the next time I am in Copenhagen:
Perchs Teamroom (http://www.perchstearoom.dk/):  The place to have afternoon tea.
Kanal Cafe (http://www.kanalcafeen.dk/):  Old school place to have smorrbrod.
Schonnemann (http://www.restaurantschonnemann.dk/) Another old school place to have smorrbrod.
Aaman's Deli (http://www.aamanns.dk/) Modern take on smorrbrod.

Let me know if you have been to any of these and if you have any tips for my next trip!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jansson's Temptation (Janssons Frestelse)

One of the most charming Swedish traditions is vickning.  To understand the tradition, you have to understand that Swedes are enthusiastic drinkers when at parties and a good party will go on until the wee hours of the morning.  To help soak up the alcohol and to politely signal the end of the party, a small fat laden meal will be served.  Usually a vickning has at least one warm dish, along with the ubiquitous hard bread and cheese.  A luxurious vickning may have some hot meatballs or sausages along with a delicious hot  creamy potato casserole, Janssens Temptation.  A portion of Jannsens is a perfect armor for facing the elements on the way home on a cold snowy night.

Janssens Tempation is not only traditional for a vickning, but is also present on the Swedish smorgasbord.  Although, Janssens is rarely served in Sweden as a side dish for a normal meal, I think it is delicious on its own for dinner, served with a green salad.  It would also be a fine dish to accompany slices of ham or a meatloaf.

The subtle flavor of this dish is from tinned Swedish ansjovis fillets. While the obvious translation would be anchovies, the fish are actually sprats, a kind of small herring.  They are pickled in sugar and salt and flavored with spices.  This spice mixture is what gives the casserole its characteristic flavor.  If you don't live in Sweden then you can find ansjovis at IKEA or at specialty shops. These days, you can buy them on-line, as well.  If you cannot get the Swedish kind, do not despair.  Use about half of a small tin of regular anchovies in oil, discarding the oil.  Then mix 1/8 teaspoon cloves, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, and one teaspoon of sugar, with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of water. Sprinkle this mixture in the recipe instead of the tinned juices.

If the idea of fish marinated in spices sounds strange and perhaps not appetizing, ignore those thoughts.  The finished dish has a subtle savory flavor and is not at all overpowering.  

6 medium sized potatoes (about 1 kilo)
2 large yellow onions
1 (4 1/2 ounce) tin Swedish ansjovis fillets
1 to 2 cups cream
4 to 6 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425F (200C).  Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish.
Peel potatoes and cut into slices, and then again lengthwise, so that you have stick-shaped pieces.  Peel onions and cut off either end.  Cut into half, length-wise, and then slice into strips.  Chop the anchovy fillets into little pieces, reserving the juice.

Put half of the potatoes in the dish.  Top with half of the onions.  Sprinkle the anchovy over the mixture.  Then, layer on the rest of the onions and then the potatoes.  Sprinkle the juice from the anchovy tin over the casserole.  Pour in cream until it is about 3/4 way up the potatoes.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top in a nice even layer.  Chop up the butter into little bits and sprinkle on the top.  


Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the top is browned.  This dish can be made up to two days in advance and re-heated.  In fact, it is actually better if you make it the day before and re-heat it.  The cream is absorbed into the potatoes and the flavors will beautifully meld.



Friday, December 09, 2016

Swedish Cinnamon Buns and Safrron Buns (Kanelbullar och Saffransbullar)

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a baking class arranged by the SIS Out and About Club.  We had a lovely teacher, NikAnnika Märak, who taught us a few tricks.  Among other things, I learned that I have been making my dough way too dry. Our teacher kept hers very wet.  Basically you just have to have to learn to live with goopy hands.  But as you knead the dough, it becomes less sticky. 


I also learnt a new filling.  The classic filling for cinnamon buns is just butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Ms. Märak added almond meal which added a lovely subtle flavor and thickened the filling so it didn't just all drizzle out of the bun when you cooked it.

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)
About 16 buns

Dough
75 grams butter (smör)
2.5 deciliters milk (mjölk)
25 grams fresh yeast (jäst), sold in 50 grams cubes in the refrigerated section, normally near the butter
½ deciliters sugar (strösocker)
1 egg (ägg)
1 spice spoon salt (a pinch)
1 teaspoon cardamom (kardemumma)
420 grams all-purpose flour (vetemjöl)

Filling
100 grams butter at room temperature (smör)
1 deciliter almond four (mandelmjöl)
150 grams sugar (strösocker)
3 tablespoons cinnamon (kanel)
Handful of pearl sugar (pärlsocker) for garnish

Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, or in the microwave.  Crumble the yeast into a large bowl.  Add the milk into the butter and stir.  Stick your finger into the butter/milk mixture.  It should be about body temperature.  If it feel hot to the touch, let it cool because a too high heat will kill the yeast.  Pour the butter/milk mixture in the bowl with the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients for the dough (egg, cardamom, salt, sugar, and flour).  Stir the ingredients until it forms a dough.  The dough should be quite wet and sticky.  Knead the dough on the counter or on a board, using a bit of flour but not too much.  The dough will become easier to work and less sticky as you knead it.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic.  If you are kneading by hand, you cannot overknead.  Put the dough back in the bowl and dust with flour.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it rise for at least 30 minutes until it roughly doubles.  If the room is cold, it will take longer to rise.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl.

Some of the different shapes you can make.
Put the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ½ centimetre thick.  Spread the filling over the dough.  Roll up the dough and shape into buns.  Put the buns onto a baking sheet covered with parchment/baking paper (bakplåtspapper).  Turn on the oven to 225 degrees Celsius.

Let the buns rise for 30 minutes (a bit more if the room is cold).  Brush the buns with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water.  Sprinkle over pearl sugar (pärlsocker).  Bake in the oven 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

Saffron Buns (Saffransbullar)

About 16 buns

Dough
75 grams butter (smör)
2.5 deciliters milk (mjölk)
25 grams fresh yeast (jäst), sold in 50 grams cubes in the refrigerated section, normally near the butter
1 deciliter sugar (strösocker)
1 egg (ägg)
1 spice spoon salt (a pinch)
1 packet ground saffron (saffron), ie. 0.5 grams
420 grams all purpose flour (vetemjöl)

Filling, if desired
100 grams butter at room temperature (smör)
1 deciliter almond four (mandelmjöl)
150 grams sugar (strösocker)
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
Handful of pearl sugar (pärlsocker), raisins, or flaked almonds for garnish

Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, or in the microwave.  Crumble the yeast into a large bowl.  Add the milk into the butter and stir.  Stick your finger into the butter/milk mixture.  It should be about body temperature.  If it feel hot to the touch, let it cool because a too high heat will kill the yeast.  Pour the butter/milk mixture in the bowl with the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients for the dough (egg, saffron, salt, sugar, and flour).  Stir the ingredients until it forms a dough.  
The dough should be quite wet and sticky.  Knead the dough on the counter or on a board, using a bit of flour but not too much.  The dough will become easier to work and less sticky as you knead it.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic.  If you are kneading by hand, you cannot overknead.  Put the dough back in the bowl and dust with flour.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it rise for at least 30 minutes until it roughly doubles.  If the room is cold, it will take longer to rise.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the filling, if you are using it.

Put the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter.  If you don’t want the filling, divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape as desired, using the raisins for garnish.
For filled buns, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ½ centimetre thick.  Spread the filling over the dough.  Roll up the dough and shape into buns.  Put the buns onto a baking sheet covered with parchment/baking paper (bakplåtspapper).  Turn on the oven to 225 degrees celcius.
Let the buns rise for 30 minutes (a bit more if the room is cold).  Brush the buns with beaten egg mixed with a bit of water.*  Sprinkle over pearl sugar (pärlsocker), or flaked almonds.  Bake in the oven 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

You can also brush them with sugar syrup instead of egg if desired.  To make the sugar syrup, boil 1 dl sugar with 1 dl water until the sugar is fully melted.  Cool.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Cauliflower Cheese

Today I saw a gorgeous cauliflower at the market which screamed at me, "Cauliflower cheese!" This is a classic English dish that I first had when living in London.  The dish is simply cauliflower covered with a cheese sauce and breadcrumbs and baked briefly to get a nice crunchy surface.  The taste is smooth and mild and comforting.  I like to toss in some pasta which allows for maximum usage of all the luscious sauce.  Some crusty bread to mop up the sauce would serve the same purpose.

For the sauce, I decided to use my new favorite combination of cheese, namely, cheddar, parmesan and American, which I use for my macaroni and cheese recipe.  The classic is just to use all cheddar.  I usually use whatever combination of cheeses that I have in the refrigerator at the time.

Serves 4 as a main course

1 large head of cauliflower
½ cup breadcrumbs or pankko
250 grams pasta of your choice

Cheese Sauce
About 30 grams
3 tablespoons flour
half a liter Milk
200 grams Cheddar cheese plus a handful to sprinkle over
100 grams parmesan
5 slices American cheese
A couple shakes of Worsteshire sauce
1 teaspoon Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


Take the cauliflower and cut off the dry end of the stem.  If there are any leaves still attached to the head, you can leave them on if they are nice and fresh, or cut them off if they are starting to get dried out.  Put the cauliflower whole into a big pot and fill with water at least halfway up the side of the cauliflower.  Add a generous amount of salt into the water, put on a lid and bring to a boil.  Throw the pasta into the pot. Let the cauliflower cook for the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta (around ten minutes) or until it is tender.  Using a large spoon, carefully take out the cauliflower and place into a baking dish.  Drain the pasta and pour it around the cauliflower.

While the cauliflower is cooking, make a standard white sauce.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  Stir and cook for two to three minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour.  Add the milk slowly, stirring all the time until all the milk is added and there are no large lumps.  Don’t worry if there are a few small ones.  These will melt away as you stir.  Use a wire whisk if you feel the lumps aren’t going away fast enough.  Bring the milk to a boil, stirring continuously.  If you want this process to go faster, then heat the milk up before you add it to the pot.  Once the milk comes to a boil, cook it for a further two minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If you feel it is too thick, you can add a bit more milk (or the water that the cauliflower was cooked in).  Add the cheese, the mustard, a few shakes of Worsteshire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the cheese melts, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Drain the cauliflower and put it in a baking dish (or use the pot that you boiled the cauliflower in, if it is oven-safe) to go into the oven.  You can either put in the cauliflower whole, which will make a nice presentation, or you can break it up into pieces, which will give you a higher crust ratio.  Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese over.
.
Put the dish into the oven with the broiler and bake until the top is browned (about 10 minutes).
Options:  Sometimes I like to put some sliced tomatoes into this, in which case I lay the slices over the top of the cauliflower.

If you want the dish extra luscious, you can whizz up some fresh breadcrumbs, add a slug of olive oil and some fresh rosemary and throw this on top.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Mozerella with Roasted Tomatoes and Avocado


This lovely salad is a caprese salad for when the tomatoes you have are a bit less than amazing, which in Sweden more or less means all the time.

Slicing the tomatoes and letting them grill in the oven intensifies their sweet flavor. Sometimes, I grill tomatoes like this as an accompaniment to steak or other grilled meat. This makes a perfect starter, or even main course for a light lunch or dinner.

Serves 6 as a starter

8 to 10 medium sized tomatoes
one onion
olive oil
salt and pepper

375 grams fresh mozzarella
1 ripe avocado
balsamic vinegar

Put your oven on its highest grill setting. Slice the tomatoes and lay on a baking tray.  Slice the onion in wedges and throw those in. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  If the tomatoes are particularly unflavorful, you can even sprinkle on a bit of sugar.  Spread the tomato and onion out in an even single layer. Grill the tomatoes for 15 to 25 minutes until they have charred edges.  Let them cool to room temperature.

When you are ready to eat, slice the mozzarella and lay the slices out on a serving platter.  Peel and slice the avocado into wedges and lay them on top of the cheese and arrange around the platter.  Sprinkle a bit of salt onto the avocado slices. Heap the grilled tomato and onion in the middle of the platter.  Sprinkle the whole thing with a bit more olive oil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grind some fresh pepper over it.  Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.