Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oh! I made éclairs!!

I did really! This is one thing that I never really thought of making myself, but that I now and then choose when in a café. They're not very common here, but one of my favorite places in Göteborg (Gothenburg) where I used to live usually has them.

The éclairs where this months Daring Baker's challenge. Hosts this month were Meeta K of What's For Lunch Honey and Tony of Olive Juice. They choose to make Chocolate Éclairs from a recipe by Pierre Hermé, recipe can be found, for example on Meeta's blog. Thank you both for an excellent choice, and a great job!

It was great trying my  hand at something I usually
 don't make myself. I haven't played around much with pâte a choux before. That was fun, seemed easy to work. Sadly enough I think I underbaked it a little, which probably was the reason they got a little deflated. The chocolate filling  and chocolate glaze (I followed the recipe to the letter this time) was quite a lot of chocolate for me, even though I was having a bad case of PMS :), so if I do this again I will probably do so
me other filling.
I made a small batch, since I thought they wouldn't keep in the refridgerator. The weird thing is, I actually think I enjoyed them more the next day, cold and all. :) Maybe I'm just weird.

So.. It's late, and I think I'll stop it there. I haven't managed 
to do the photoshop stuff yet, so I'll add the pictures tomorrow.

If anyone was wondering about my absence from here.. I'll be back. It's ju
st that summer is running out (by now, it's actually fall up here), work is starting to be regular again, and D. will be leaving again. August was something we somehow stole for ourselves, though it probably wasn't supposed to be. It's been good. I'm busy savouring our last days together in a while, saving up for the coming months. I'll probably start posting regularly again any time soon.  

Thank's again to this month's host and hostess! Check out all the other éclairs to by going to the Daring Baker's blogroll!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So well... I'm back

Actually I'm back home since a couple of days, but we sort of just got things back on track after being away for so long. And now my parents are here visiting. But today is posting day for this months Daring Bakers challenge, I thought I should post about it. I actually managed to make the cake (after I got back, the kitchen in D.'s little appartment in Lille doesn't have an oven). And the cake was a succes with everyone who ate it (I brought it to a dinner at a friends house), except for possibly me. Personally, I think I need to work on my skills wit
h nut meal genoise before I'm happy.
Because of allergies of the host of the party I choose not to use hazelnuts, but used almonds instead. Also, I used rasberry liquor for the syrup and the ganache glaze instead of orange liquor. I didn't have time to take many pictures, but here is the cake packed into a larger spring form pan in order to transport it. 
A big thank you to this months host Chris at Mele Cotte! The recipe for the cake can be found at her blog, direct link to the post here

The recipe, I had no problems with most of it. Everything except for the genoise went without trouble. The genoise was trickier, but mainly due to my being lazy. I was thinking I had been doing this sort of thing kind of  a lot lately, and so I didn't pay as much attention as I ought to. Note that the recipe is a bit weird when it comes to the end of the genoise part. The part when butter has to be poured into a container and then the nut and flour should be folded in freaked me out. (I didn't read far enough ahead to notice that the nuts should be folded into the batter, not the butter. The recipe could be a bit clearer, I think.) And then the cake wasn't really finished when I pulled it out of the oven. Didn't notice that until I turned it upside down to cut, so I had to take it back to the oven again. Oh well. The result, as I said, was appreciated by everyone who ate it except for me. :)

And one more thing about last months challenge. I actually made it, before leaving for France. I just didn't have time to post about it, since finding an internet connection 
turned out to be trickier than I thought. And, since I made it when I was just about leaving I didn't really have time to find somebody that could eat it, so I froze most of the dough. I made one braid tho
ugh, with a strawberry filling, and it was tasty. And so much fun. 
I never made a laminated dough before, and was really curious about how that would be. Pitty it's so buttery, otherwise I would make it a couple of times just to play with it. Interesting!
The one photo I managed to snap is quite ugly, but anyway, here it is...

And one more thing. Photos and things about Lille are coming. (Oh, market shopping! Can't be done here.) But I just can't find time right now, with parents visiting and all... I'm trying to read through a lot of blogs that I missed, just to see what happened in everyone else's life... Good to be back too, in some senses.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Falling downwards

Just a few lines before calling a cab to take me to the airport. I'll be gone for a month, but hopefully posting anyway. Seventh floor will be changed for something closer to the ground, and northern France will replace northern Sweden. Summer vacation is on here, and noone really cares where I decide to do my work right now, so I'm heading down to D. until the french summer vacation starts in July. If I get internet access I'll be telling you food stories from Lille instead, but so far the only way I know about getting internet access in France is to use the free wifi at McDonalds. That wouldn't be very good for me to do that often.. So bye for now, and if nothing else I'll get back in a month. Hopefully with a lot of good photos too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More Lentils

I wanted to add a few more photos today. Today is just another of those totally splendid days that we don't get that many of during a summer. Awesome, temperature around 27°C/80°F and sun all day. Makes me remember that being alive is such a good thing...
 One of the dishes I'm adding photos of is a lentil gratin I came up with yesterday that turned out absolutely great. The very simplest thing to make, and so many possibilities to tweak it. I will make it again, for sure, and probably change it, but I thought I should add th
e recipe. This time around, I used red lentils, but really, any kind should work. I think Puy lentils would be just great... Lentils were just cooked until barely tender and then put into a gratin dish together with a minced shallot and a sliced garlic clove, a diced tom
ato and some feta cheese. Some of the lentil cooking liquid came into the dish with the lentils. Also, salt and pepper was added, and some dried thyme (I didn't think the fresh thyme would really have any taste left after a while in the oven). I topped this with leftover bread which was about to go stale, poured maybe a dL of wine over it 
(until there was only very 
little space left in the dish) and put it into the oven at 200°C for maybe half an hour. I'm not quite certain of how much lentils I used, since I started to cook about 2 dL, but that was too much to fit into my gratin dish, so I used maybe a little more than half of the cooked lentils.
The other dinners in this post is just a simple tomato sauce pasta with some Västerbotten cheese on top, and todays dinner which was braised green cabbage and some marinated chickpeas. Or at least, I think this is green cabbage in English? In Swedish, green cabbage would be something diferent which I don't know what it's called in English, and this would be white 

I'm sitting here writing itching all over right now. Since today was rather warm, and the last few days actually have been warm and nice I decided to go out to the community gardens and see to the watering of all the seeds I planted last week. Actually, some of them are above ground by now! The radishes are at least. Maybe, just maybe, I might be able to have some radishes before I leave for France in two weeks. At least if the weather stays this good, which I'm hoping for since we're planning a picknick for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a holiday here, and I spent some of this afternoon on buying wine and ridiculously expensive beef (which should be ridiculously good, hopefully), planning to make a beef salad. I was also thinking about some kind of desert, but I really don't know what to make. Someone else is going to
 bring some cheese, so maybe we don't need desert after all? But then again, I really wouldn't mind an excuse to bake something sweet in addition to the olive bread I started to make. So I don't know... What are your best recipe for lemon cookies? That would be a good
 thing... and my last attempt was disastrous.

Note: Is using dL to measure things a uniquely Swedish thing? Google won't do the converting from dL to cups... A dL is a tenth of a liter, so 2 dL is 0.2L.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Just Like A Teenager

Oh my. It's ages since I did anything like this. And on a Sunday... And now I'm all awake, and it's past eleven and I don't know when I'll be able to go to sleep. You see, I've been drinking something like a liter of tea tonight. Give or take some...
A friend had been given a bag of different teas to taste. The store he got them from are considering to get some for selling and they wanted an opinion. And we were certainly happy to give them that, but since we got very enthusiastic we tried something like six different teas. Or was it eight? Don't remember anymore. And I just got home. It's totally lovely tonight by the way, I wish I could keep walking for an hour or so instead of going home and trying to get sleepy. It's 17°C (60-65°
F somewhere) and still almost daylight. If this place was like this all the year I would be totally happy. Also, if I got to drink teas like this every day, I would also be v
ery happy. That was one great way to spend an evening, but sadly I didn't bring the camera. Well, 
maybe not so interesting to see lots of different colors of tea in the same cup though...

I do have some pictures though. I finally made a very good bread again. Lately I've been eating through a sort of decent improvised bread I made two weeks ago, but now I managed to get myself together and make the real stuff. Though I hadn't made any sourdough, so I had to make do with some quickly thrown together rye flour and water, so it wasn't quite as sour as usual.

I can't remember if I actually ever wrote down the recipe for this bread.  This is how I make it...
You need a piece of dough from the last batch, about 300-400 grams, and about the same amount of rye sourdough (I make it by mixing equal parts in volume of water and rye flour, usually feeding it for a couple of days, but then, this time I made it maybe an hour before I started baking). 1 kg of flour and about 600-700 grams of water, and some yeast (depending on how long rising times you want, I've used everything between 3 grams and 15 grams) then after most of the mixing is done, 10-20 grams of salt. I let it rise twice, once in a box and second time after I divide the dough in four and carefully put it into baskets. One of the rises is usually done overnight in the fridge. This time I did the second rise in the fridge, and so I got to bake it for breakfast in the morning. I just can't resist fresh bread out of the oven... (I know I should wait until it's cold, but honestly... Can anyone resist that smell?)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dining Lately

Woooha.. I'm on my new computer. And I just finished processing a few photos in absolutely no time at all. Also, I could see what I was doing to the pictures! Although I do love my little 12" Ibook by now it is actually several years old, and not at all suitable for some of the things I do, like try to edit my photos. Now, changing to a 24" screened Imac definitely have some good sides. And, since it's more than three years newer,  it's so much more powerful I can't believe it. Just saving a photo used to take loads of time, now it's instant. 

But, I'm not really here to rant about my new computer. I wanted to put up some more dinner photos. I've been waiting for the computer to arrive all week, and so I was lazy with fixing t
hose images since I knew it would be much quicker as soon as I got this to work. That's why you get a number of dinners in one post here. Top one is today's sesame seed salmon stir fr
y (today must be the day of alliterations). Then, my first real taste of summer. That's new potatoes (but I have to admit that they weren't that great, it's just not time yet.) I'll have to wait for a few more weeks for the real thing, but still, new potatoes with pickled herring and chives might be the most essential summer meal to me. Except for strawberries, that is. Further down is a quick fried rice with frozen peas (no way that the fresh thing is available up here yet, unless they fly it in from quite far off), and a tofu stir fry. 
And yes, there is some kind of stir fry emphasis this week. I'm sort of going through
 some of my cookbooks when making shopping lists. I pick one and sit down to find a number of meals I could make from it and write a list of things I would need. This week I happened to choose a Chinese cookbook, or at least a Swedish version of a Chinese cookbook. I'm quite convinced that not all of the recipes in there are totally authentic, but I sort of got inspired to learn more about Chinese cooking. Anyone has hints about the best books for learning more on the regional cuisines of China?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Leaning Opera Cake Tower

So, this is what this months Daring Bakers challenge came out like in my kitchen. A leaning tower of Opera cake. This months there was four people hosting, namely the two founders of the Daring Bakers, Lisa from La Mia Cucina and Ivonne from Creampuffs in Venice together with Fran at Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea from Whiskful. Thank you all for a great challenge!
In addition to posting this challenge, they also suggested that posts could be dedicated to Barbara at WinosAndFoodies. While I do not know Barbara, I checked out her blog which is a very nice read. Barbara, even not knowing you, I would like to dedicate my cake entry to you and the fight against cancer.
So, now to my cake making. The recipe we used for the Opera cake can be found for example in Ivonnes challenge entry (it's really quite long, and I'm never totally comfortable about putting anyone else's recipe up on my blog without asking, so I link instead, hope that's OK).

Learning from last months challenge, I had decided that even though I had no real reason to make a huge cake, I would still enjoy the challenge. So I left work a bit early on a Friday afternoon (my brain had stopped working anyway, so I couldn't really write much more), dropped by a shop to buy a bit of white chocolate and got home and started to work on a mini version of the Opera cake. I decided to make a fourth of the recipe, and decided that I had two pans that would together be the right volume for that. I started to measure up ingredients. At this point the phone started to call. And suddendly I wasn't at all going to have a nice Friday night for baking, but was invited to a last minute put together dinner party. Oh well, it was still some time to go, and I had a few eggs separated, (and divided into parts since I wanted things like 6/4=three half eggs), so I decided to go ahead with the joconde and the butter cream. Luckily everything turned out well except for me freaking out about there being to little batter for two pans and decided to do it all in one of the pans. As you can see I ended up with somewhat to thick layers because of this. I decided to make use of some wonderful pistachios I had bought a few weeks earlier for this, so I substituted ground pistaccios for most of the ground almonsds in the recipe. Then I made a very lime-tasting butter cream by adding the zest of two limes and the juice of one to the butter cream. The butter cream was nice and easy, no problem to make. I actually heated the syrup for the butter cream all the way up to 124° C, since I didn't understand in what way that had gone wrong (and I like instructions to be explained...) I had no problems doing this, but maybe my butter cream would have been even better if I had followed the sugestion and only heated it to 107°C. Anyhow, it worked fine.

The next morning, after a nice dinner with some friends I went back to working on my cake. For the syrup, I choose to use a orange flower honey which I thought would compliment the pistaccios. And I also made a white chocolate mousse with some extra chopped pistaccios and a little bit of lime zest. Then, finally I made the glace, which I, as I remember it left plain and decorated the cake with some of those amazingly dark green pistaccios.
And when I had put it all together I realised that I really should have used two pans for the joconde, because, well, this was quite a lot higher than it was wide. But at least it looks kind of funny :)
Also, with this thick layers of cake, I really should have used huge amounts of syrup to get them all spongy. Maybe I was a bit to much in a rush to do this properly, because I think it could have been done a bit better. Also, the thickness of the layers made it quite hard to get all the layers into one bite. But, I made it, and I don't think I've ever made a cake with so many components before. And I was certainly enjoying myself while making it. So, thank you to all Daring Bakers that makes this event so much fun each month!