Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas Baking

So this is how it all went down (and I swear we wore our "Nissehuer" all the time!).

Weighing, mixing, stirring, tasting, baking, cooling, tasting, tasting, tasting and finally some impatient photographing in the bad lighting of a dismal December afternoon. My friend Britta and I ended up making the following four things:

* Several trays of ANZAC biscuits - with my Australian grandmother's secret recipe
* Lots and lots of biscotti (see above) with chocolate, almonds and different spices
* Russian apple cake (German link) with cocoa and rum - also made as muffins
* Two chocolate cakes baked with a chocolate truffle "drizzle"

Naturally we were pretty exhausted by the last cookie tray, but then we had to go deliver most of the goods at a Christmas art gallery on the other side of Copenhagen, so we stuffed the bics and cakes in brown paper bags and went away. Only to find that I had gotten the time wrong and the place was going to close for the day half an hour later! Hopefully the goods behaved well on the next day too.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

And So I'm Back, From Outta Space

Honey, I can't begin to tell you how great it is to have handed in the third draft of my travel book today. It's finally looking up for our relationship! With the book almost done I finally have a bit more time for producing pictureworthy pastry that can land a place on this blog. Now I can't wait to show you the result of my Christmas cooking on Saturday. My friend Britta is flying in from Munich and we'll be baking and tasting our way through the day, wearing our "nissehuer" with pride as we go along. Until then I'll leave you with my favourite comfort drink ever: Hot and spicy chocolate with a big bouncy dollop of whipped cream and a bit of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Sweet Add-Ons

In these crazy deadline times, I haven't had much time for cooking. But somehow this tiny experiment found its way into my tight schedule. I've made these vanilla biscuits umpteen times, but only recently I thought of making a tiny indentation in the dough and adding a teaspoon of raspberry conserve before baking them. I used to love these Swedish-style things - sometimes even with a bit of icing sugar on top. And my friend's 10 year old daughter seemed to like them too. She chomped them down in no time! Now that's the best compliment any cook can wish for.

Monday, 25 August 2008

It's Show-and-Tell-Time

Remember how I told you, I went to Falsled Kro while researching for my book? Well, I finally think it's time to show you one of the best dishes of the evening - and there were quite a few so that makes this one all the more special. This was actually "just" an appetizer: Potato wafers on an apple-celery salsa and most importantly - a scoop of densely whipped cream / sour cream with water cress, lemon zest and some other ingredients I couldn't quite put my finger on. Now that's really something to lift up the second scoop of Calvisius caviar on top! The mere consistency of the discretely zesty cream was heavenly and just the right buddy for the burst of caviar on the tongue. Dammit! Why does this place have to be so far out of my economic and geographic range? Btw. please excuse the oddly displaced focus on the photo - it seems as if my dreamy-eyed state has influenced on the lense...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Eat This! (you heard me)

Here's what I do, when my writing skills don't agree with me or the silly material just won't budge: Make melting miniature marcipan cakes. That and I take pictures of them from so many different angles and with so much (food) porn in mind, I feel like a real pedofile - this shot might just as well be an upskirt of a six year old! Please let me in on your procrastination tricks - are you getting any good dusting done, do you prefer filing your cd's after colours or are you finally giving Stallone's "oeuvre" the time it deserves? Or could it be that I'm the last dinosaur out here still doing work that's vaguely similar to an exam, however long-lasting this one may be? Pleez tell me it isn't so!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Just For Kicks

Okay, I guess it won't hurt to reveal what I had for nibbles...
Teaming up with a 2002 Veuve Clicquot rosé were not one, but a whole selection of nibbles. In the front row: A mayonnaise-dip reminiscent of bearnaise (it contained tarragon), four boiled quail eggs in a custom made egg shaped jar (don't worry, I didn't pinch it), homemade potato chips with tomato powder, one deep fried onion ring and finally, the quirky bit: Caramellized popcorn. The only minus was the fact that no sooner had I had a sip of my drink, but the maitre d' said: "Don't mean to rush you, but we have six courses to get through - please follow me...". I quickly tried one of each treat, grabbed my drink and left the rest behind (notice how the appetizer still shows on the photo from my dinner table). Must admit that I don't quite get the fuss about quail eggs though. As much as I looove quails on their own, I find that their eggs are really just tiny, although very pretty, eggs. And the onion ring although very tasty was actually a bit funny. I guess the whole array was their take on popular culture, which wasn't a bad idea at all.
And on another gourmet note I'd better not even get started on black truffles. What's with the much ado about that ingredient? As far as I have tasted, it has a very delicate (meaning hardly noticeable) flavour vaguely resembling an unripe and green hazelnut fresh from the shell. By all means, that's a nice flavour and all, but for that price, I don't really think it's worth it. How about you? If you think I'm an unbearable ignoramus, please let me have it - while you are at it - let me in on the brotherhood-of-the-black-truffle secrets, please.

When Two Become One

Have you ever had that happen to you? That two parts of your life coincide and make sweet, sweet music? Well, it happened to me not so long ago. For the last couple of months I have been out doing extensive research for my upcoming traveller's guide for the rather well known line of books called "Turen går til..." by the Danish publisher Politikens Forlag. It is a book about 24 weekend trips away from Copenhagen around Denmark and a few in the southern parts of Sweden. On that occasion I have been on a trip for every single weekend for ages it seems. A great job for me, but not too good for the blogging I'm afraid. But now it's pay-back time. Because the moment this job seriously started to make sense and sweet sweet music, was when the time came for my gourmet trip to Funen, around Faaborg. This photograph was taken from my seat at the highly acclaimed countryside inn, Falsled Kro, where I ended my gourmet trip in style. I really truly enjoyed seeing what they came up with, and every single plate was a work of art (one in particular made the tepid metaphor come true - it really looked like a Miró!). Anyway, I noticed some very definite trends among the different restaurants I have tried of late, some of which were due to the seasonal ingredients:

1) Peas, peas, peas - mostly just naked and ready
2) Variations on a theme: Carrots, strawberries, malt etc.
3) Freeze-dried berries, which I really don't understand - in my world that strange flavour belongs in a müsli, not a gourmet dessert!
4) Calvisius caviar or lumpsucker roe with a dense whipped cream/creme fraiche and fresh herbs or smoked cheese (a specialty on Funen) dollop.
5) Food arranged in separate little dollops, dots, balls, twigs etc. - making the plate seem a bit flimsy, but in a good way.
6) Using edible flowers
7) The wine-guy talking really fast and mentioning all sorts of more or less interesting details about the wine-making process to the extent that you forget the name of the wine itself, which is really annoying if you want to go out and get it on your own some day
I might get back to you with a pic of the food, but I don't know if I should. Wouldn't want to reveal too much of their stuff online. But one thing I learned, and was very very sad to understand, is how you can actually get too much of a good thing. I seriously wouldn't recommend having three 4-7 course gourmet dinners within five days, and especially not accompanied by wine menus as well. It doesn't do the food or you justice at all. You want to
take this kind of food as slowly as it is produced, give it a whole evening with nothing else planned than clomping back to bed afterwards. My tight scedule nearly ruined the gourmet experience at times, but luckily the royal treatment at Falsled got me back into the game just in time. So learn from these mistakes and don't waste all that money and good food on an overstimulated palate.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Hot Stuff

As so many of my kitchen-crazy peers, I have lusted for a crème brulée torch for a long time.
As very few of them though, I don't allow myself to buy too many single-purposed tools. That's why it took a present from a friend of mine to finally equip me with that fine invention. Of course it didn't take me long to realize that there's no such thing as a genuine single-purposed tool. There are only single-minded craftsmen and I was one of them. Or at least until I started scorching and torching away at everything. This is one of the more succesful results: Baked and then torched vanilla custard with orange & brandy-marinated plum, yum yum.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Sweets for the Salty

Even the savoury kitchen needs a little sugar in its bowl sometimes. Take this tomato marmelade from Rosa Sala Burgaya's tapas book for instance. It's red, sticky and has a hint of sweet bay-leaf that suits white poultry and pork very well. Try to smear it on your regular club sandwich with chili-mayonnaise instead of curry dressing and suddenly it's a different ball game altogether. Here's how you make good with your canned tomatoes:
1 can of organic tomatoes
The zest of half a lemon (organic too)
1 bay-leaf
4 tablespoons of sugar

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and leave it to simmer without a lid for about an hour (Rosa says two, but I find one is plenty) until it's firm and sticky. And that's it really. A seductive condiment for your table in no time. But do try to keep that index finger in check until the guests arrive. Once it's tried to dip into the glass, it can't seem to stop.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Recycling Made Tasty

Thank God bakers are a thrifty lot. How else would they have invented this age old classic? In Denmark there's hardly a child who hasn't tried buying one of these romkugler (rum balls) and then enjoyed the heavy feeling in the bag of a great satisfaction to come. Anyway, originally meant as a way of using bakery leftovers such as Danish pastry and biscuits, the version on this pic is a bit more upscale. With all the time I spent making Christmas goodies I just couldn't bring myself to chuck it after a while, so instead I mixed it up with marzipan, good quality cocoa, jam, rum, and finely chopped cake bits. I recommend gathering the odd slice of cake and cookies in a bag in the freezer until you have enough different flavours (old trick of the trade). These balls contain ginger bread biscuits, chocolate cake, macaroons and lots more. To dress them up a little, dip them in melted chocolate and roll them in roasted almond slices or coconut.
Don't you just love recycling?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

What a Blast!

After having toiled over this architectural masterpiece of a "kransekage" (traditional Danish marzipan cake for new year's) I applied the icing with slapdash precision and rushed off. On the metro I nearly strained an unmentionable muscle or two trying to rescue the sucker from certain doom. Lo and behold if it didn't make it in one piece to the party only to be knocked off the table shortly before this picture was taken. At least now I know why we chose to make these sturdy fellows for an alcohol infested evening such as this... Happy new year people!

DIY Fast Food

Deep-fried prawns in Orly-pastry with homemade remoulade - a shortcut to any man's heart. Am not so sure about the blue plate though.