Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

Last night was Earth Hour here in Denmark. All over the country there were concerts and get-togetherings to raise the awereness of Global Warming. We turned off the lights (and as much electrical equipment in the house possible; including the computer:-) and lit a candle - and well, a quite moment like that - it makes you think doesn't it - which is exactly the point. VOTE EARTH!

Operation Easter Joy

Today I recieved my Operation Easter Joy package. You may recall my previous mentioning of this event and now that someone else upheld the deal - I should get a move on myself. I have an idea of what to send to my mystery Easterbuddy but haven't quite decided yet. Until then I'll enjoy my new wonderful tea, sweets and Easter decorations. WOW how great is this:-)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna - Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge

I made it! Erhhmm, no, dear, not quite. So I wrote in my calender; posting date the 29th and then last night I saw that my fellow Daring Bakers had their post up on the 27th. And just when you think you're ready and up to speed - WAM! But I'm a posten' anyway:-)

I’ve made homemade ravioli before but never lasagne - and the whole experience has been a real pleasure. This isn’t difficult. Sure it takes time, there are stages and decisions to make along the way but all in all even though I’m a first-time lasagne maker it won’t be the last.

Here's the deal:

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I made a vegetarian version of lasagne and used only half of everything (of the original recipe). I threw the rest of the lasagne noodles in the freezer for another time.
I ended up with 9 layers of pasta sheets, which is okay, I think - I read somewhere that there should be al least 6 layers for it to be a real lasagne.

Spinach pasta - Pasta Verde - 1 pound - what I used

2 large eggs (65g)
190 g. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
350 g. all purpose unbleached (plain) flour
I left it in the fridge for two days, it was fine and easier than you'd think to roll the sheets thin with a rolling pin - no, I don't have a pastamaker-thingy. And it worked out fine.

Since it’s still wintery here in Denmark and definitely not tomato season I bought plum tomatoes (more flavour) and made a tomato sauce with a lot of orange juice. This is perfect, if you haven’t reached tomato season yet. This is a chunky version - if you wanted you could pass it through a sieve.

Tomato sauce 500 g.

500 g. fresh plum tomatoes, skinned, seeds removed and diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
Juice from two oranges
A big handful of fresh basil, chopped
A little sugar, a little salt, a little pepper

Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Béchamel - (I didn’t use all of it)

40 g. unsalted butter
40 g. all purpose unbleached (plain) flour
400 ml. milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 1-2 minutes. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water with a little olive oil (so it doesn't stick) to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on a towel or paper towel. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 2 tablespoonful) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center. Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a very solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moroccan fennel soup

50 g. onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 ts harissa, chill sauce
1 ts cinnamon
1 ts cumin
1 ts. paprika
250 g. fennel, diced
200 g. potatoes, diced
200 g. tomatoes, diced
100 g. garbanzo beans, cooked
Juice form ½ a lemon
2 tbs mint, chopped
1 l. vegetable broth (made from water, celery, carrots, leeks, salt and pepper)

Sautee the garlic and onion, add red pepper and spices. Pour in vegetable broth and add fennel, potatoes and tomatoes. Let soup simmer for about 30 minutes. Now add the garbanzo beans and lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste. Sprinkle soup with chopped mint before serving.

Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina means "Easter cake" in Italian. It's a traditional Easter dish from Liguria in the north-western part of Italy. I cheated a little since I used from-a-package puff pastry and the original recipe calls for homemade dough layered 33 times! Phyllo dough could be another easy alternative.


450 g. spinach, if fresh; steam and chop 400 g. ricotta cheese, homemadeJ
100 g. onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs. olive oil

200 g. parmigiano, grated
5 eggs (two the the mixture and three for the small nests in the filling)
Nutmeg, salt and pepper

Steam and chop the spinach. Sautee garlic and onion in a little oil, add spinach, salt, ricotta, parmigiano, a pinch of pepper and nutmeg and two eggs, and mix well.Since I used a false-bottomed cake pan I rolled out the puff pastry so it covered the bottom and sides of the pan. I made a lid to put on top once the filling would be in place.

Now pour the filling on the dough. Make three nests in the filling, and break an egg in each of them. Try not to break the yolk, like I did:-) Put the puff pastry lid on top and try to assemble sides and lid so that it looks tolerable.

Preheat the oven at 200 C.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and place the sheet at the lower half of the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes.

Served cooled.

How to make your own ricotta cheese

This yields about 400 g. of ricotta

2½ l. whole milk
700 ml. buttermilk
Juice from ½ a lemon

Pour whole milk and buttermilk in a large saucepan (stainless steel) and turn your stove to high heat. Stir until the milk is warm and add lemon juice. You’ll soon see lumps of curd form on the surface. When you start to see more and more whey (watery) remove the saucepan from the stove and start to transfer the curds to the cheesecloth lined colander. Leave them to drain. And that’s how you make ricotta.

Hazelnut macaroons

Yields about 80 macaroons - depending on size

375 g. hazelnut flakes or finely chopped hazelnuts
500 g. confectioners sugar
1 ts cinnamon ( 6 g.)
150 g. egg whites (about 5)

Mix all ingredients together and put it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven at 180 C.

Use two teaspoons to place scoops of the mixture on a baking sheet with parcment paper. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Leave to cool.

Make a butter cream using butter, confectioners sugar and melted chocolate.

When the macaroons have cooled use your butter cream to sandwich the macaroons.

Quinoa salad

Perfect to bring with you in a lunchbox, this quinoa salad with carrots, apples, mint and scallions contains a lot of vitamins, it’s got the light texture and mild nutty taste of the quinoa, the crunchiness of the carrots and apple and the freshness of the mint. Yum-yum.

Quinoa salad with carrots and mint: Serves 6 - 8.

250 g. quinoa (rinsed, use your hands to “wash” the grains, cooked with the double amount of water for 15-20 min)
80 g carrots, grated
80 g. scallions, chopped
1 apple, diced
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
Half a lemon, juice only
A dash of olive oil
Salt, pepper

Brioche à tête

You’ll need 18 small fluted tins for this - lucky you, if you have original brioche tins. As an alternative just put the brioche dough balls (and top) on a piece of baking sheet - it should work too. When cooled a little; you cut a brioche in half and butter it - what a way to start a (sun)day. You could also put the brioche dough in bread forms (again make balls, this time bigger though) - this gives you a great bread to make slices from.

You would probably be making the dough in the evening and leave it to proof in the fridge overnight or get up real early and make brioches for brunch. Personally I’d opt for the first suggestion.

If you have the possibility of buying eco eggs, do so - standard brioche should have a shade of yellow from the egg yolks.

Brioche à tête:

15 g. fresh yeast
1 dl. milk, heated
125 g. flour

Dissolve yeast in heated milk. Stir in flour and mix. Dough will be quite sticky and wet. Cover with a cloth or even better plastic wrap, and leave it to ferment at room temperature for one hour.

175 g. butter, leave a little to butter the forms
375 g. flour
1 ts salt
1 tbs sugar
4 eggs (leave a little for brushing before placed in the oven)

Rub the butter into the flour. Mix in salt, sugar, eggs and the fermented dough and knead until the dough is smooth. Butter should be fully incorporated. Leave to rise for 2 hours - or more.

Preheat oven to 225 C.

Butter your brioche tins and divide the dough into 18 - 20 pieces (reserve the amount of 4 pieces for tops). Shape each piece into a ball and place one ball in each buttered tin. Make a dimple in each ball and use reserved dough to form small spherical pieces of dough to place in the dimples.
Leave the brioche to rise for about 45 minutes. Brush each brioche with beaten egg and place your baking sheet with the brioche tins in the lower half of your oven for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mulligatawny - Vegetarian-style

Perfect antidote for running noses and sneak-up-on-ya flu. The peeling and dicing of the vegetables takes a bit of time - as does the simmering of the soup before it’s good and ready - but it’s all worth it. This is sure to be a big hit during the colder months of the year.

Since the challenge of "No Croutons required" for March is an Indian or Indian-style vegetarian soup or salad, I simply have to present my Mulligatawny soup. The trick is long hours of the soup simmering away on the stove - this is what makes the soup so absolutely delicious.

My Mulligatawny

3 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 big parsnip, peeled and diced
1 big onion, peeled and diced
2 leeks, outer layers removed, thinly sliced
2 apples, peeled and diced
150 g. yellow corn
300 g. eggplant, diced
1 red pepper, roasted, skin removed and diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of coconut milk
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 handful of pistachio nuts, chopped
1 lemon, juice only (use some of the peel as garniture)
1 lime, juice (use some of the peel as garniture)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp nutmeg
1½ tbsp curry (depending on how strong your chosen curry is or how strong you want the soup, you can add more or less)
2 bay leaves
1,5 l. water
2 tbsp olive oil
15 g. butter

Prepare all the vegetables. Start by roasting the curry in the oil and butter. Then add the different vegetables and herbs (leave out the lemon, lime, parsley and nuts). Make sure that the vegetabels do not take colour. Then add the water and bring to a boil before you leave it to simmer for 3 - 4 hours. Stir every now and then. This thickens the soup and intensifies the taste. Add juice (lemon/lime), pistachio nuts, parsley and coconut milk, let it blend in with the rest of the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with a bit of nut-parsley topping.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Operation Easter-Joy

I've put on my thinking cap. Uhhh, I do hope something good comes out of it:-). The reason is that I joined this really fun project here in Denmark titled Operation Easter-Joy(Operation Påskeglad). By joining you sign up to send a parcel around Easter to someone else who signed up (you're matched by the great operation-manager Pernille). Then all you have to do is wait for you own parcel to arive filled with exciting secret easter-joy. There's a $10 purchase-limit including postage, so participating definitely won't rock the financial boat. But what to make/buy? Hmm, good thing Easter's still days away. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2009


This rich mediterranean pastry is great to serve with a good cup of tea or coffee. Sweet, sticky and crunchy - you really should try it.

225 g. sugar
300 ml. water
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. orange blossom water
140 g. almonds, blanched, coarsely chopped
160 g. walnuts, roasted, coarsely chopped
55 g. brown sugar
1 tsp. grounded cinnamon
1 package (about 20 sheets) phyllo pastry
80 g. butter, melted

Start with the syrup. Heat the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot on low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Add orange blossom water and honey and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Cool ( the cooler the better).

Set your oven to 180 C.

Put the almonds and walnut in a bowl with the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix it well.

Butter a false-bottomed cake pan (or use any form you have). Take one sheet of phyllo at a time, brush the melted butter very thinly over the top of the pastry. Place 10 layers until you spread half the walnut/almond filling evenly over the top layer.Add four more sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with melted butter before you use the remainder of the filling. Now place the rest of your phyllo sheets on top, well-buttered, and finish off by carefully cutting small diamond shapes with a sharp knife.

Place in the oven for about 35 - 40 minutes. When it’s finished and still very hot pour the cooled syrup over the baklava - it will make a sizzling sound. Leave to cool before you remove the sides of the cake pan.