Pears&Poaching

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So I keep claiming that I’m not that much into dessert, which isn’t strictly true. I don’t understand people that get all uppity about chocolate fondants and I think Créme Brûlée is overrated. However, a few things from the dessert cart can really get me going and those usually involve fruit.

This time of year is great for one of the easiest and tastiest ways to end a dinner; poached pears. Like really, very little work involved and you don’t need much more then sugar, a bit of spice and the pears. Maybe a bit of cream or ice cream to serve it with. As far as the sugar goes this is an excellent time to use the flavored sugars I have mentioned before. This time I used the Christmas flavored sugar and the cinnamon, cardamom etc. worked beautifully with the pears, and then I reduced the fluids with a little cream for an excellent sauce. These pears were soft from the beginning so the poaching no more then 7 minutes.

Poached pears; serves two

2 pears, peeled (leave the stem on, it looks nice)

3 tablespoons caster sugar (preferably flavoured)

1,5 tablespoons of water

(2 tablespoons of heavy cream)

  1. Put the pears standing in a saucepan with a solid bottom, then add the sugar and water.
  2. Put on the lid, and let it come to the boil on medium heat.
  3. Keep the lid on whilst they poach which might take every thing from 5 to 25 minutes depending on how firm they are. Do check with a kitchen needle/knife.
  4. When the pears are done, take them out and place them in serving bowls. Bring the syrup to a boil and let it reduce a bit (possibly adding a day of cream to make it into more of a sauce).
  5. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, with a bit of syrup drizzled on top.

This is moorish and I love this sort of thing after a heavier meal. If the dinner is lighter I might go all in an make a chocolate sauce to serve with the pears and ice cream, basically making it into Poires Belle Hélène. JK JK JK, even after a heavy dinner that can happen because pears, chocolate and vanilla is just the best combo, Escoffier wasn’t joking with that one.

(And yes; I’ve got the Christmas books out already. This recipe isn’t in that one though, however I think it should be. If I ever make a Christmas book I will make sure to include poached pears. It’s an integral part of the Winter kitchen as far as I am concerned)

-Suss

 

 

 

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Vendredi&Vin chaud

The other morning when I left the house I noticed that it was nippy out, to the point that I should have either worn my winter coat or put on my little down west underneath the coat I was wearing. Luckily I had a big wooly scarf, and my little thermos of coffee, nice and toasty I was, huddled up with my book in the corner of the train. You can make anywhere cosy if you have good books and coffee.

Later that day however I was shivering in a bad way. Someone had lured me out on a walk in the nice autumn sun, and it was nice as long as we were putting one fot in front of the other. The minute I was standing and waiting for the underground I curled up desperatley in my scarf, and at that point the sun was rapidly disappearing and with it any warmth it brought.

So when I got home I was both hungry and cold, and very much in the need for comfort food. I ended up mixing two things (some left over ragu and one small portion of vegetable stew) I had in the freezer which I ate with pressed potatoes which really is one of the best side orders; fluffy carbs and so light compared to mashed potatoes (which I love don’t get me wrong but there is a lot of butter in that one)

While I was waiting for the whole thing to be ready I made myself some Vin chaud and read entries from Life is meals a food lover’s book of days by James and Kay Salter. I’ve mentioned this book before of course, and I will again. At this point I’ve read all the little sections for different days at least twice. It’s such a lovely kitchen companion, just the right amount to read in between, and so so good for my mood, always.

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Vin chaud; serves two

Mix equal amounts of red wine and boiling hot water in a heat proof glasses ,approx. 2 deciliter of each depending on what glasses you are using (so each glass 1 dl wine+1 dl hot water), and then add 1 teaspoon of caster sugar to each glass, stir, and then garnish with a thin slice of lemon on top. Serve and enjoy responsibly!

This is a very nice aperitif during this time of year as it is quite light, not a lot of sugar and spices as the glow later in the season. It’s easy to make too, which is an added bonus. Why more bars in this town don’t serve it is beyond me, French bistros do however, that’s how I learned about it in the first place. If you want a non-alcoholic option I will always think fondly of blackberry cordial and boiling water with some lemon and possibly cinnamon mixed up.

Now if you excuse me I have to get out some extra blankets, socks and locate the hot water flask because winter is coming, soon.

-Suss

 

Monday and My Greasy spoon adventure

Last weekend I went out to brunch, more or less. My thoughts on brunch are well known I think, but it does happen from time to time. In this case it was a lesser evil as the time for this particular brunch was actually around the time for a late lunch, and we didn’t tuck in at a buffé with scrambled eggs that have been in a canteen for ages, but a place with menus, dishes made  à la carte and there was no limit on how many refills of coffee you could take.

I’m obviously talking about the much hyped Greasy spoon here in Stockholm; they now have two places and as their second venue is located on my side of town, I ended up visiting.

I will say that they food I ordered wasn’t all that, I felt it was a bit overpriced but other around the table made better choices. There is a reason why critics make at least three visits to a restaurant before writing a review.  I probably will go again as the ambiance was nice, it is so convenient with a place that has options for all allergies, diets and convictions when it comes to food and makes it very clear in the menu what is what.  You can find out more about Greasy spoon here.

Something that I have seen in their feed as it is a sometimes “daily special” is the french toast with croissants. I do love different versions of french toast, but this was new to me. When I saw it I just thought how brilliant it was and why hadn’t I thought of it myself? However, I did make it myself.

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Croissant french toast; serves 2

2 croissants

1 egg

1 dl of milk

1 knifes edges of vanilla sugar

butter for frying

for serving;

confectioner’s sugar

fresh berries or fruit

Possibly bacon

  1. Whisk the egg, milk and the vanilla sugar together.
  2. Slice the croissants lengthways.
  3. Heat a non stick frying pan on medium, add butter.
  4. Dip the croissants in the batter on both sides. Let the sides soak up batter for a few seconds.
  5. When the butter is turning brown, add the pieces dipped in batter and fry on both sides until golden.
  6. Serve with the accompaniments of your choice.

This is so easy to make but feels like the most indulgent of breakfasts. This will most certainly become a regular feature on the weekend table.

-Suss

Monday & Moreish breakfast

One of the highlights of last week was the fact that plums were cheap at my corner shop. I do love plums and try to make the most of the season. These plums were for the most part of a firm kind so they lent themselves very well to being poached in syrup although I have made it with just about any plums I’ve gotten my hands on over the years. The thing to remember is that because the syrup is hot, the cooking will continue in the jar, so you have to be careful not to end up with a mush (which has happened to me more than once). The plums will need somewhere between just being brought to the boil to three minutes. No more. Make sure the jar is heat proof and sterilized before storing the plums.

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Plums poached in vanilla-syrup;

500 gr of plums

3.5 dl of water

2.5 caster sugar

0.5 vanilla bean ( or 2 teaspoons of good vanilla sugar)

  1.  Bring water,sugar and vanilla bean to the  boils and let it simmer for about ten minutes.
  2. While it is simmering, rinse the plums and then cut them in half and remove the stone.
  3. When the syrup is ready, add the plums and let them simmer along for one to three minutes.
  4. When they are ready, transfer them to a heat proof jar and pour the syrup over. Remove the vanilla bean if you have used one. Let it cool of a bit before closing the lid.
  5. The plums will be ready to eat the day after!! Enjoy with yoghurt for breakfast or with whipped cream (or possibly custard) as a dessert.

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The plums don’t last long, about a week in the fridge but you can put them in a plastic container (with syrup and all) and keep them in the freezer to have something delicious in winter. I haz no chill so I’m eating them all now.

-Suss

7 great places for cardamom buns in Stockholm

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I don’t understand why people talk so much about cinnamon buns, cardamom has so much more to offer. This is not a best of list, mainly because I haven’t tried them all. A worthy goal it would be but lactose and I don’t agree so it’s a treat for sometimes when I can deal with the consequences. In no particular order, here are seven suggestions for where to cardamom buns in Stockholm. You people need more Swedish “fika” in your lives.

1. In the home of someone who bakes, and does it well. No surprise that homebaked goods are some of the best. I admire people who make the effort.

2. Fabrique. This chain has places scattered all over Stockholm(and one in London I think) and it’s very popular. Rather pricey but good coffee and buns and their places are very Instagram-able. Worth a visit.

3. Snickarbacken 7. I’ve blogged about this café before (here) and there is nothing I can add to that, except great cardamom buns. I don’t think they make them on site but rather by from a nice bakery but I don’t care.

4. Bröd och Salt. This is my “go to” as almost all their pastries are lactose free. I can indulge without repercussions. They have a few places around town, the one at Sveavägen is nicest for a “sit down fika”.

5. Saturnus. Another place I have mentioned before (here). Their cardamom buns are expensive but also big enough for two to share. Legendary.

6. Valhalla bageriet. This is where I think many cafés actually order theirs from. It’s a hole in the wall on Valhallavägen, so of the beaten path, but if you are in the neighborhood do swing by and also make sure to stock up on their sourdough bread.

7. Albert’s & Jacks. At the corner of Humlegården this place is found, great for lunch but also”fika”. I rate them very highly.

-Suss

Breakfasting, fast and slow.

When it comes to food and drink my rating of interest goes something like;

1. First and second breakfast.

2. Dinner.

3. Cocktails and crisps.

4. Fika i.e. mid-afternoon coffee and something sweet.

5. Everything else.

There is also a negative rating for that popular phenomena called “brunch”. I mostly object to it because a) brunch is an awful portmanteau and it sounds like you are throwing up when you say it b) All to often it’s just poorly prepared food. c) I’m an early bird so it doesn’t at all chime with my internal clock. But mostly it’s the word that grates me. I famously have no issues with bacon.

I do have a sweet tooth but care very little for desserts and focus mainly on chocolate,salty licorice and cardamom buns. I will at some point share with you the few dessert recipes that I always fall back on because they are easy and make guests happy, On the subject of breakfast however I can go on and on. I could eat breakfast all day(case in point; I just had french toast for dinner).

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My current weekday breakfast is Bircher-style müsli or whatever it’s called. Overnight oats maybe. It’s this Swiss style of making it when the müsli is soaked overnight in apple- or orangejuice and then served with yoghurt in the morning( that I had first time on a vist to Berlin). I find this to be a perfect breakfast in summer because it’s cold and refreshing but also keeps me full until elevenses. I prefer apple juice for the soaking, and I use granola as the base. (Granola would be the roasted version, müsli just a mix of things).

I make my own granola, dead easy I tell you. Why people buy ready-made I have no idea. I started out using the recipe from The Rose bakery cookbook and then added bits from other cookbooks and at this point I improvise every time. The base is oats and then I added whatever basically. Great with yoghurt and here is a tip; it makes a great hostess gift if you are going to a party. Impresses the hell out of everyone. Homemade granola in a nice jar is the kind of easy luxury that I love. A recipe for granola can be found here except I don’t use an egg white. Make it a few times and then start adding your own touches. I love apricots and pistachios in mine.

Where was I? Yes, Bircher. You don’t have to make granola and soak it in appleljuice overnight, a mix of oats is fine. A version can be found here (I trust Hugh Formerly-Whiffingpoof or whatever his name is a lot, me not remembering what he is called is because my brain is teflon for names. He really is brilliant).

But if weekdays are all about utilitarian breakfast  with vitamins,fiber and keeping you going all day, then weekends should be all about luxury, and indulgence.

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Look no further then the Bread&Butter-pudding with blueberries from Smitten Kitchen. I came across it the other day when procrastinating and I will never look back. You can find it here and I urge you to try it. Why the English eat this as a dessert I have no idea but the also drive on the wrong side of the road so I wouldn’t go to them looking for answers. This is the breakfast of the future.

-Suss

 

Weekend & What I’ve done with elderflower

The elderflower season is short but sweet. On these few days in June when the trees blossom their scent spreads with the wind, and the freshness after a rain is augmented by that distinct smell released by the droplets hitting the flower heads. The allusiveness is probably part of the allure. It’s a scent and taste so connected with a certain time of year; the end of the school year and the midsummer celebrations, in short; the beginning of summer.

The other day I made the by now annual collecting of elderflower; as always with foraging make sure you know what you are picking, that it’s allowed and do so away from roads with heavy traffic. Then it’s off to the kitchen!

I do not rinse them as some do, I just give them a proper shake to make sure no bugs make it into cordials etc. So far this year I’ve made vinegar, cordial and liqueur.

Vinegar

This is a recipe I got from the oft mentioned Frances Bissell. It’s very simple; add flower heads to white vinegar. Bissell recommends using 2-3 flower heads for a small bottle of white wine vinegar( which I’ve interpreted as the 37.5 cl ones). She thinks that the flowers should be replaced after a week but I have never done that because of time and availability. I find that infusing the vinegar for two weeks give a good result and supermarket vinegar is just fine. I usually make a few small bottles as it’s the kind of thing I don’t use loads but love giving away to culinary mined friends. I use it mostly when making sallad dressing or mayonnaise that’s gonna be served with seafood. Elderflower and salmon go very well together.

Cordials

I’m not gonna give you an exact recipe as the internet is full of them. It’s well worth making as mixed with water or mineral water it’s a wonderful thirst quencher to say nothing of the possibilities as far as cocktails are concerned. I will say this; play around with the choice of citrus fruit. I’ve used lemons and limes which is quite traditional but also grapefruit peels and those of oranges. I’ve used bergamot syrup instead of sugar with great results. There is room for improvising as far as that is concerned.

Liqueur

I use vodka as the base. The thing is to pour a a couple of centiliters (like 4 cl) from the bottle, then add all the elderflower and just a bit of simple syrup* (like 5 cl) as it helps the flavor develops. Then use the poured vodka to seal the whole thing. Elderflower that are in contact with air will oxidize and turn brown, giving the whole thing a bi-taste and less then savory colour. Then it should sit on the window sill for a week, a two three more weeks in the back of the cupboard. Not until it’s done do I really mix it with syrup to the desired level of sweetness. The flowers will turn a little brown and give the vodka a slightly yellow colour but usually that just looks nice. Makes it artisanal looking or something. Cordial is also a shade of yellow and no one minds that?

I don’t know if the seal is visible but there is one. Since it’s there feel free to open the bottle up and smell it during the time it infuses. Depending on how much elderflower you add it will take different amounts of time. I make a strong one, I can always dilute it with plain vodka in the end.

*I refer here to simple syrup made with caster sugar and water. It’s easier to use then pouring caster sugar into the bottle as I don’t have to shake or turn the bottle during the time it infuses to make sure everything blends.

Hopefully this can be of some help to someone.

-Suss