About jens

Posts by jens:

Nectarine and Raspberry Flaugnarde

f3Clafoutis. Such a beautiful word for an equally decadent dessert. Fresh fruit enclosed in a firm custard, scented with a hint of vanilla. The name is easy to pronounce and most people have heard it. A little while ago I got the worst craving for clafoutis.It hit me like a brick. I was standing in the kitchen and I suddenly said loudly to myself: “I have to make a clafoutis”. I’m not quite sure where this all came from since it’s safe to say I haven’t thought about this creation for years.  

Here is the funny part. While researching what went into and how to actually make a clafoutis, I noticed that some recipes referred to the clafoutis as flaugnarde ([floɲaʁd]).

That is odd, I thought to myself. Continuing my research I found out why. Clafoutis is the proper name for this French dessert ONLY when baked with black cherries, which is what was traditionally used. Any other fruit used when making clafoutis, it is not actually a clafoutis, but a flaugnardePerhaps not as pretty of a word or easy to pronounce, yet it is proper. f4

Clafoutis was made using fresh black cherries, pits still in. When baking, the pits gave the dish a hint of almond. Nowadays, as an easier, safer and more elegant way of eating it, pits are removed before baking and almond extract would be added in their place. 

Whenever you make a flaugnarde or clafoutis, remember to always use fresh fruit. Frozen fruit is too broken down and will produce too much liquid. Also remember that the final product will not be a fluffy airy cake. In fact, it won’t be cake like at all. Think very thick and firm custard, almost like a creme caramel.

I happened to have fresh nectarines and raspberries at home so, flaugnarde it was. Next time I will make a traditional clafoutis full of black cherries. Who knows. Perhaps I’ll even leave the pits in.

Jens

f5

4 nectarines

1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

1/4 cup butter

3 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut the nectarines into 1/2” pieces into a bowl and mix with the raspberries. Set aside. 

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt along with 2 tbsp of the melted butter to a mixer. Blend well, then sift in the flour while mixing and mix until smooth. 

Pour the rest of the melted butter into a 9” baking dish and spread evenly on bottom and sides. Add the nectarines and raspberries in an even layer, then pour the batter to cover. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 min. Turn it around halfway through to make sure you get an even bake. When done, the center will have a slight wiggle and it will be golden brown. It will most likely deflate a touch when cooling but that is normal. When cooled for a while, dust with icing sugar. f6 f2

Chicken Curry with Cauliflower and Chickpeas

c1Years ago we were invited to dine at a friends home. I remember it vividly. It was winter. Cold and dark. A crazy snowstorm. We were contemplating canceling but decided to brave the storm. The idea of someone cooking for us trumped staying home. Dinner was a casual affair. We were all crawled up on the sofas around the fireplace the entire duration of the evening. Blankets and pillows all around. Great music, lots of candles and one of the best currys I have ever had. 

Our friend told me that she didn’t have a recipe but just winged it. So, that’s what I did too. I’ve made it many times since then. Mostly on cold winter nights. Spiciness level vary slightly depending on my mood but the whole point of a good curry is to warm you up – Make you sweat a little. You get ready for the next bite with a smile on your face, thinking, this, is good. 

Stay warm out there. Remember. Spring is just around the corner…ish.

Jens

c2

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

4 garlic cloves

2 cups chickpeas

4 cups cauliflower florets

2 1/2 cups coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth

4-6 tbsp curry paste

1 1/2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp ground coriander

1 1/2 cups green peas

1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

3-4 tsp salt

Black pepper

Finely chop the chicken thighs. Sauté in the olive oil over medium-high in a large cast iron pot heat until browned. No need to have the chicken cooked all the way through at this point. Remove the chicken and set aside. Leave leftover oil and liquid in the pot.

Finely dice the onion and garlic cloves. Add to the same pot along with chickpeas and cauliflower florets. Sauté over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut mill, chicken broth, curry paste and coriander as well as the chicken. Bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 min. Stir occasionally. Pull off the heat and stir in the peas and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

Let sit for 5-10 before serving with cooked rice or cous cous. 

Garnish with fresh cilantro, green onions and hot peppers.

This is also a great vegetarian option for a dinner by excluding the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. c3 c4 c5

Creamy Beef and Dill Stuffed Buns

b1This is a perfect cold and rainy or snowy lunch dish. I discovered it years ago flipping through one of my moms old food magazines. It was just a day like today. Dark and gloomy. The kind of day where you really don’t want to get out of bed. Howling winds and rain hitting the roof is anything but inspiring. Not much can be done about it. So, why not put on your comfiest of clothes and spend the day in the kitchen? That’s what I usually do.

The original copy I had of the recipe for this dish is long gone but this is how I remember it. I have to admit, horseradish and dill in a ground beef mixture was something new to me. It does work really well. I may have brought up the spice level a bit from the original, but tastes do change with time.

I find dill a very underrated herb. It’s not often used unless with fish or seafood. Another dill and meat dish that I love is a Swedish classic: Lamb cooked in a dill sauce. I have a feeling it will be featured in its own post in the not so distant future. But until then, why not try these crunchy, creamy and full of flavour buns. You’ll love them.

Jens

b5

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic

1/2 zucchini

1 tbsp freshly ground ginger

1 1/2 tbsp grated horseradish

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

600g ground beef

1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp sambal oelek

1/2 cup finely chopped dill

1/2 cup water

1 cup crème fraîche

2 tsp salt 

1 tsp white pepper

1 1/2 cup grated cheese

5 large french white buns

Preheat oven to 450F.

Peel and finely dice the onion, garlic and zucchini. In a large cast iron pan, heat up the butter and olive oil. Fry the ground meat over medium-high heat until browned. Brake it up well with a wooden spoon and stir often. Transfer the ground beef to a bowl, but leave the juices in the pan. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, horseradish and ginger to the liquid and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir often. Pour the beef back into the pot and add mustard, tomato paste, sambal oelek (or other hot chili sauce), dill and water. Season with salt and pepper. 

While the beef is simmering, cut the top of the buns, about 1″ from the top. Scoop out some of the centre and chop it into small pieces. You should have about 1 cup of diced bread. Add to the meat sauce along with the crème fraîche. The filling should be fairly dry to prevent the bottom of loaf/buns getting soggy. When well mixed, add the filling. Let it mound a bit. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese (I use a mixture of mozzarella and gruyère). Bake in the upper part of the oven for 10-15 min until cheese is melted and nicely browned.

Enjoy with a green salad.b4 b3 b2

Swedish Sugar Rings -Christmas 3/3

s6If you ask a Swede if they have ever had Sockerringar, they would most likely say yes. How they became a Swedish classic on the cookie tray I don’t know, but I am happy they did. Light, crisp and fluffy rings, generously sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar.  So delicious.

Traditionally, when inviting guests for more formal coffee parties, 7 different cookies were the norm. Cinnamon buns and a selection of soft and hard cookies. The more elaborate the better. I remember how sometimes on Sunday after church, we would enjoy ‘church coffee’ with fellow churchgoers. What a treat for a young kid. By the time I was done mowing down cinnamon buns and cookie selections, nothing more was needed until dinner time. Perhaps not the best lunch for a growing boy but quite worth it once in a while. 

Although Swedish sugar rings are not considered a Christmas cookie per se, they have always reminded me of christmas ornaments. Perhaps it’s the pearl sugar. Who knows. Just tie them up in a string, hang them in the tree and voila! Pretty edible treats within an arms reach.

Jens

 s3

3/4 cup cream

1/3 cup water

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast

300g butter (room temperature)

4 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup pearl sugar*

 

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium sauce pan, heat up the cream and water to 98F (37C). Place yeast in a bowl and add the liquid. Let sit for 10 min. 

Add the yeast mixture to a mixer along with the butter. Mix well. On low speed, sift in the flour, a little bit at a time, until well blended. Transfer the dough to a flat surface dusted with flour. Roll out the dough until 1/2″ thick. 

Using a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, make rounds in the dough. Then using a 1-1 1/2″ cookie cutter, make smaller rounds within the large ones. Remove the centre of the small rounds. Carefully lift up the rounds and dip the surface in pearl sugar. Place on a sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 min. 

In the meantime, collect the cut out pieces of dough, kneed it into a smooth dough, roll back out and repeat until all the dough is used up. Once all the cookies are baked, turn the oven down to 200F. Place all the cookies on a baking sheet (one big pile) and let sit in the oven for 1-2 hrs to dry. 

These cookies are quite easy to make and they will keep well in a sealed container and won’t need to be kept in the freezer. Makes 50-60 cookies. 

*Pearl Sugar, also known as Nib Sugar can be found in specialty food stores. The great thing with pearl sugar is that it does not melt when baked but stays nice and crunchy. Also great to sprinkle on top of cinnamon buns.s7s13s10

Creamy Beet Salad -Christmas 2/3

b6Christmas in Sweden is all about food. Traditional Swedish Christmas buffets are found in most homes and eating establishments. Beautifully decorated with cranberries, red apples and rosemary, overflowing with all kinds of goodies. Pickled herring, omelettes with mushroom béchamel, Christmas ham, gravlax, meatballs, cooked red cabbage, Jansson’s temptation, cheeses, sausages, soft and crisp breads only to mention a few. Traditionally you go back to the table several times, each time grabbing different items. In good company, you’ll be eating for hours.

This beet salad is another member of the buffet table. Pickled beets, apple and red onion tossed in a crème fraiche and mayonnaise sauce with a touch of mustard. How simple is that? It will take about 10 minutes to assemble and it will add a lovely punch of colour to your table. Even if not planning a full fledged Swedish Christmas buffet this season, this beet salad would be a great side dish addition to any dinner table. I also love serving it as an hors d’oeuvre on crackers.

Jens

b5

400g pickled beets

2 apples, peeled and cored

1 small red onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp pickled beet juice

Salt

Pepper

Cut the beets and apples into 1/2” pieces and add to a bowl.

Finely dice the red onion and add to the same bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. 

Cover in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a few hours, preferably over night to marinate. Stir occasionally.b9b12b3b7

Swedish Saffron Buns -Christmas 1/3

s3Lucia. The old Scandinavian tradition where girls dress up in white dresses with a candle-lit wreath on their head and guys, often rather embarrassed, in tow wearing funny pointy hats while holding a big golden star. Dating back to 3rd Century Syracuse, Sicily, Saint Lucy supposedly brought food and aid to those in need, spreading light and peace in the dark winter months. The candle-lit wreath was used to free her hands in order to carry more food. 

Lucia always falls on December 13. This is when these soft golden saffron scented buns with raisin decorations are first introduced for the season. They are then served at most coffee breaks until shortly after Christmas, when they will not be seen again until the following year. Often served along alongside gingerbread cookies and a hot cup of Swedish glögg or coffee. I love eating them slightly warm with a glass of cold milk.

Jens

s1 

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup dark rum

2 tbsp dry yeast

2 cups milk

1 pinch saffron strands

1 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

7 cups flour

100g butter, room temperature

2 eggs

Soak the raisins in the rum. 

In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of the milk along with the saffron. Stir and heat up to just below boiling to extract colour and flavour of the saffron. Let cool.

In a medium sauce pan, add the rest of the milk and heat to 37C. Remove from heat and add the yeast. Let stand for 10 min. 

In a mixer, add the milk/yeast and saffron along with the ricotta cheese, sugar and salt. Blend well. Slowly add the flour while mixing on slow. When well incorporated, spoon in the soft butter and mix until smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 40-50 min.

Preheat oven to 450F. 

Cut dough in half. Cover one half and roll the the other half into a long rectangle, about 6” wide and 1/2” thick.

Cut in thin strips and roll into shape. Place on a baking tray, add the raisins, cover, and let rest for another 30 min. Repeat with the second half of dough.

Brush with whisked egg. Bake in oven 7-10 min or until golden brown. s6s5 s4 s2

 

 

Carrot and Last Minute Pear Soup

cp4I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Soups are great. They are easy to make and a good food option for all seasons. Warmer weather calls for cooler versions. When winter sets in, you want to nestle up with in a blanket and a steaming bowl of your favourite soup. Such a marvellous way to warm up. 

Recently I needed a reason to use up a big chunk of the carrots in our garden. Soup came to mind. Who wouldn’t love a bright orange soup made from freshly picked carrots? 

Whilst pureeing the soup, a bowl of pears on the counter caught my eye. Hmmm. Well why not? I  grabbed a few and quickly peeled and cored them berfore tossing them into the blender as well. Delicious. The vibrant colour and subtle taste of carrots went seamlessly with the fresh hint of pear. 

I do love when I hear a symphony of “mmmm’s” around the dining room table. It is one of those simple pleasures in life I never tire of. This time around it was with each spoonful. 

This recipe is a keeper. Equally as good warm as chilled.

Jens

cp1

6 large carrots

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic

6 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup pear eau de vie

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

salt

pepper

4 pears

dollop of crème fraîche

chives

 

Peel the carrots and onion and cut into 1” pieces. Peel and lightly crush the garlic cloves.         

In a large pot, over medium high heat, heat up butter and olive oil then sauté the vegetables for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the eau de vie. Let cook for a minute, stirring the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until carrots are soft, about 20 min. Take off heat and let cool slightly.

In the mean time, peel and core the pears. Cut into 1” pieces. Add to a blender.

Transfer the soup to the blender as well and pure until smooth. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche, some finely diced chives and a sprinkle of sea salt.cp2

cp5cp3

Asian Stuffed Peppers with Orange Vermicelli

sp1Being sick can have its perks. People close to you pay you more attention. They dote on you and supply what you need in order to make you feel better and to make your suffering as light as possible. A few weeks ago it was Bruno’s turn. A pinched nerve in his back forced him to lay still for much longer than first anticipated. I wanted to lift his spirits and so I asked him one afternoon for dinner suggestions. Surprisingly, he said stuffed peppers. This is something I don’t make often. To be honest I only think I’ve made them once or twice. Usually when we crave them we visit Bruno’s parents. His mom makes wonderful stuffed peppers. Since I didn’t want Bruno comparing mine to what he was used to, I decided to come up with something completely different.

A peak in the fridge and I realized no ground beef was to be found. Ground chicken on the other hand we had. An Asian inspired dish came instantly to mind. Now, I was getting excited.  I decided to leave out the rice which is usually mixed with the beef and instead served the peppers on a bed of rice vermicelli noodles tossed in orange juice and green onions. And the chicken? Well, lemongrass, cilantro and good helping of ginger. Loveliness.

sp2

Peppers Filling:

1 stalk lemongrass

1 small zucchini 

7-8 shiitake mushrooms

1 stalk celery

2 tbsp cilantro

1” piece fresh ginger, peeled

2 green onions

1000g ground chicken 

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp horseradish

2 tbsp green curry paste

1 tbsp sambal oelek

Zest of one lime

 

6 yellow or orange bell peppers 

Parmesan cheese

 

Vermicelli:

250g vermicelli rice noodles

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tbsp soya sauce

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. 

 

Stuffing:

Peel the lemongrass and finely dice the soft centre part. Also finely dice the zucchini, mushrooms, celery, cilantro, ginger and onions. 

In a large pan sauté the ground chicken in the olive oil over medium-high heat until just cooked. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the vegetables and the rest of the ingredients. Let cook on medium heat for 5-10 min. Add the chicken back into the pot. Stir well. Set aside.

With a small pairing knife, cut around the top of the peppers and lift out the centre. Clean the inside of the peppers from white flesh and seeds. Trim bottom of peppers carefully to make them stand up straight, but make sure not to cut through. They need to stay as a sealed bowl.

Place the peppers on parchment paper on a baking sheet then stuff the peppers with the chicken mixture. Grate parmesan cheese on top, then put in the middle of the oven for 40-45 min. until slightly browned and soft. 

Vermicelli:

In the meantime, cook the vermicelli according to the package. Drain and set aside. 

In a large bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients. Add the vermicelli and stir well. Keep warm.

When serving, place some vermicelli on a plate and place a stuffed pepper on top.

Sprinkle with finely chopped green onions and cilantro.sp3sp4sp5

Gruyere Stuffed Arancini with Spicy Tomato & Basil

a6“What are the odds of me leaving to go to the city to help our friend move, while you stay here and deal with the tasting room?” I asked Bruno a few days before a busy August weekend. After an unexpected all clear and green light, I quickly made firm plans with Natalie – our good friend in great need of a moving partner for the weekend. Two long days and sore backs later, I popped open a  bottle of our sparkling pinot noir. We toasted work well done on her balcony while watching the Toronto skyline and sunset. 

Magical. 

“Let me take you out for dinner” she said. “Where do you want to go?”. 

I told her to choose a place I hadn’t been before. As you all know, I love food and I love eating. So, needless to say, I was very excited when we walked through the door of Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant, known coloclially as: The Nose. Such a marvellous place! Italian all the way. Small plates, perfect for sharing, which I found difficult – much too delicious to share. One of the dishes was arancini. Stuffed, deep fried rice balls, served with an oh so tangy yet sweet tomato sauce. Finger licking good.

In September my parents came over for a three week visit. A few days in Toronto is always a must on their list. “Let’s go somewhere we’ve never been before” they said one evening when discussing what to do for dinner. I instantly knew where to go. Back at The Nose we ordered one of most things on the menu – the arancini being one of them. Watching my parents share these rice balls was a joy. Talk about kids in a candy store. I recently decided to make them myself. I started with the tomato sauce. The key to good tomato sauce is time. Let it simmer and simmer. And simmer. 

Heaven.a5

Tomato Sauce:

3 cups plain tomato sauce

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 

2 tbsp finely chopped basil

1/4 cup maple syrup.

1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup onions, finely chopped 

2- 3 tbsp sambal oelek

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup water

 

Risotto:

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

3 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp oregano

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

Salt 

Pepper

 

2 whole eggs, lightly beaten

150g Gruyere cheese 

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Sunflower oil

Add all the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a pot. Bring to a boil, then let simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally. I let the sauce slowly simmer until the Arancinis are fried and ready to be served.

Prepare the rice by adding all the ingredients for the risotto in another pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer over low heat, covered, until al dente, stirring occasionally. Add more chicken broth if needed. It needs to be sticky, not too wet when done in order to roll the balls properly. When cooked, set aside to let cool. 

Cut the cheese into 15 equal size squares. 

Add the beaten eggs to the rice. Mix well. 

Grab a small handful of rice and place it in the palm of your hand. Take a piece of cheese and place in the middle of the rice. Enclose the cheese in the rice, creating a ball. The ball should be 1 1/2″-2″ diameter. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the cheese then carefully roll the balls in the breadcrumbs until well covered.

In a large pot, add oil about 2″ deep. Heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 350F. Fry the balls, a few at a time, until golden brown. This will take about 4-5 min. Place on paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve hot with the tomato sauce. Makes roughly 15 Arancinis. a1a4a3

Tiramisu – In a Glass

t5I am always drawn to it whenever I see it on the list of desserts during a nice dinner out. Tiramisu. How true the saying, there is always room for dessert. Bruno is more of a dessert person than I am. I mean, he LOVES desserts. I don’t mind them once in a while. I can easily go without them. Face starting to twitch. Sweets don’t do it for me. I’m really neither here nor there about it. Nose beginning to grow. If I never had dessert again – ok, fine, who am I kidding. I too love desserts. I don’t think I’ve ever turned one down. Whether it’s offered to me, or teased in front of me in the shape of a nicely printed restaurant menu. My inner monologue about not having dessert is gone, evaporated. 

A couple of days ago I decided to make lady fingers. Decadent cookies made from egg whites gently folded with egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, then baked until fluffy and weightless. I’m not sure why I came to think of them, but I’m certain my subconscious craving for this moist cake had something to do with it. 

I have to admit we ate most of them with coffee that same afternoon. Trust me, eating just the one fresh out of the oven lady finger is nearby impossible. Not having enough cookies left for a proper cake, this is what came out of it. I replaced whipping cream with ice cream. Blended all the ingredients together and voila- the elegant flavours of tiramisu- in a glass. t7

 

8 lady fingers cookies

1 double espressos, cold (or 1/4 cup strong cold coffee)

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 tbsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp cocoa

2 cups vanilla ice cream

4 Lady Fingers for decoration

 

Place the lady fingers in the bottom of a bowl and pour over the espresso. Set aside to soak. Add mascarpone cheese, vanilla and cocoa to a blender and mix until smooth. Add the softened cookies and leftover liquid to the blender. Scoop the ice cream in small pieces and add as well. Pulse a couple of times, but not until completely mixed.

Pour into glasses, powder with cocoa powder and decorate with a Lady Finger. Serve immediately.Serves 4.t2

If you don’t want to buy lady fingers but want to make your own below is the recipe I use. It is taken from Hilaire Walden’s The Great Big Cookie Book.  

 2/3 cup plain flour

pinch of salt

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

icing sugar for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 300F.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with a thin layer of icing sugar.

Sift the flour and salt together twice. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar until thick enough to leave a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat in the remaining sugar until glossy. Sift the flour over the yolks and spoon a large dollop of egg whites over the flour. Carefully fold in with a large spoon or spatula, adding the vanilla essence. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe 3in long lines on the parchment paper about 1in apart. Sift over a thin layer of icing sugar.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until crusty on the outside but soft in the centre. Cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.t9t6 t3