Chocolate Cream And Home Made Meringues

c5On a regular basis when visiting my grandparents as a kid, at the end of the meal a big bowl was placed in the middle of the table. Being shorter then, all I could see above the rim of the bowl was a mound of whipped cream. I would squeal with joy and excitement—I knew exactly what was soon to be scooped out and placed in a bowl in front of me. Grandma’s chocolate cream. It’s the simplest thing. Not more than 5 minutes to throw together, then a few hours rest in the fridge. 

A velvety smooth, almost pudding like, chocolate. Not too sweet. Fluffy whipped cream is a must. The key ingredient to make this dessert complete: meringues. The sweetness and crunchiness brings it to a whole new level. We used to crush the meringues in our hand and carefully, like a calm snowfall, let the bits of meringue coat the chocolate and cream. Nostalgic much? You bet. Yum.signaturec2

Chocolate Cream

3 tbsp corn starch

4 tbsp cacao

4 tbsp sugar

3 cups whole milk

1 tbsp vanilla essence

In a large sauce pan, mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the milk. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 3 min. Stir constantly.

Add vanilla. Stir and transfer to a bowl or individual dishes. Sprinkle the surface with sugar (to prevent skin forming on the surface). Let the mixture cool slightly then cover in plastic wrap and move to the fridge to let it set for at least 2 hours.

Meringues

Meringues Suisse – is a lovely and professional method of making meringues by beating an egg white mixture in a double boiler. It creates a less brittle meringue, useful when they are small and delicate. It also helps ensure the sugar is properly dissolved, to prevent a crunchy final product. 

 

4 egg whites

250 grams icing sugar (2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Half fill a medium sized saucepan with water and heat until simmering.

Separate the egg whites and place in a large metal bowl – preferably unlined copper. Rest the bowl over the simmering pan and begin whisking the eggs.

Combine the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while whisking. Continue beating the eggs at high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has a glossy texture. Mix in the vanilla.

Pipe the mixture on parchment paper into your favourite shape. Bake in a very cool oven, less than 100°C, for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of meringue.

Serve with whipped cream and meringues. Serves 4c1c4c3

Savoury Buttermilk Waffles with Tomatoes and Burrata

w5Waffles. Whenever I hear that word, I envision thin, crispy waffles, loaded with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Growing up, that is how I ate them. Today, waffles are more considered a dessert than a savoury dish but I like them both ways. They make a wonderful breakfast/brunch, whether sweet or savoury. 

When we have overnight visitors, I always try to make meals a bit more special. Something extra,  more than simply throwing a box of cereal or a loaf of bread on the counter and say,  ‘help yourselves.’ w1

Recently, I made these savoury waffles for some friends staying for the weekend. They brought some fresh burrata as a gift and I was thinking of a way to put it to good use. Adding some shredded carrots and chives to the waffle batter made them beautifully moist.

Mowing down on these warm waffles accompanied by fresh lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy burrata cheese I realize this is really is quite nice. I should do this more often—a big proper breakfast. Surrounded by cheers and laughter adds to the moment, but who needs guests for these anyway? So what if it is not a ‘special’ morning? Sometimes it’s important to treat ourselves a little. Think of something delicious to make and make this ordinary, nothing special morning, something to remember. 

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1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3 eggs

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

100g browned butter (unsalted)

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1 cup grated carrots

Preheat the oven to 200F.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, sour cream and eggs. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. While whisking, slowly add the flour mixture, a little bit at a time, to the batter then whisk until well blended. Again, while whisking, add the browned butter and the chives and carrots. Stir well. 

Bake the waffles according to the instructions on your waffle maker. Transfer waffles to a plate in the oven to keep warm. Serve with a simple tomato salad and shredded burrata cheese, sprinkled with sea salt.w3 w2

Tomato Tartelettes

tt4Appetizers are often on the menu when hosting a more formal dinner party. The smaller of the first two courses, yet perhaps the most important one. Guests have just been seated to a beautifully set table. Candles are lit, music drowned by cheerful chatter and laughter. Napkins lifted, airborne for a second before landing on peoples laps. Wine glasses chinking and cutlery clinking.

This is why the appetizer is so important: They are the first culinary experience guests will have and often a prelude to adventures to come.  I like to take the time to observe expressions around me. See how they observe what’s on their plate. Watch them lean slightly forward, better to catch a whiff of aroma.This is when you must impress your guest. If the appetizer is visually appealing and the first  bite a hit, they will know they are in store for a treat the rest of the evening. 

Now, despite what I just said, don’t become a slave to the kitchen just to impress your guests. I used to be that slave and I decided it had to end one dinner party when, just before dessert, one of our guests walked into the kitchen just to see if I was still in the house. She hadn’t seen me most of the evening. From that dinner on, I set limits for myself. Years later I am still sticking to them. When thinking of a potential dish for a dinner party, if much of it can’t be made in advance, then it’s off the list. I like to make sure 75% of my time is spent with my guests and the rest in the kitchen, not the other way around. 

Remember, planning is key. Choose dishes which are easy to make and where part of the dishes can be made in advance. The more that can be done in advance the less stress you will have hosting a multi course dinner. It wont be so daunting. tt3

These tomato tartelettes are a great “prepared in advance” appetizer. All the steps except final assembly and baking can be done before anyone arrives. You only need 5 minutes to assemble them. Then go and hang out with your guests while they are baking. 

The people around the table are your family, friends, or simply someone you want to get to know better. You wouldn’t have invited them otherwise. Relax and enjoy. Make sure you see them. Remember, they are coming to your house to eat good food, sure, but mostly they are coming to your house to see you.

Jens

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Crust:

200 g sifted flour

100 g unsalted, cold butter.

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 tbsp ice water

Filling:

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes

75g goat cheese, room temperature

2 tomatoes

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

Crust:

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Add the egg. Pulse the food processor and add the tablespoons of ice water one at a time. Keep pulsing until it forms a ball of dough. It shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 seconds. You may need a third table spoon of ice water.

Remove from the processor and flatten the ball somewhat. Dust with flour, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to rest. It is important not to over manipulate the dough to ensure flakiness.

 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Roll the dough out as thin as possible, ideally about 1/8”. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Line 4 4” diameter pie shell. Prick the bottom with a fork, fill with dry beans or pie weights and blind bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 min until cooked. Take out of the oven, remove beans or pie weights and let cool.

In the mean time, finely dice the jalapeno pepper and sundries tomatoes. In a bowl, mix along with the goat cheese. Divide the mixture between the tarts and spread out along the bottom of each pie crust. 

Slice the tomato in 1/4” slices, and place one slice in each tart.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add the liquid to the tarts until it just covers the tomato. 

Sprinkle with a little bit of grated gruyere cheese.

Bake in the upper half of the oven for 20-25 min until set and golden brown.tt2 tt5

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

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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

Spinach Soup with Egg Halves and Carrot Slaw

ss1We all have them. They come and go. Difficult to avoid. I’m talking about the days where you just want to stay in bed. Not move, not care, not anything. The reasons might be all different but the feeling is universal. I recently had one of those days. The weather was cold, grey, rainy and windy. Coffee didn’t even lift my spirit, which is rare. I knew I had to get up and get on with my day and was looking for something to cheer me up. 

This Swedish spinach soup came to mind. Traditionally served with egg halves and hard bread. I recently picked up some local eggs from a nearby farm and the yolk is the brightest orange you’ve ever seen. This in turn inspired me to go crazy with the colour. A refreshing carrot slaw with ginger and orange zest became a great side snack to the soup which offers subtle spinach, onion and a hint of freshly ground nutmeg. The meal did lift my spirit. Thanks to both flavour and colour. Try it. It’s the perfect lunch on a day when feeling a tad blue.

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Soup:

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely diced

2 1/2 tbsp flour

5 cups vegetable broth

500g frozen spinach

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

salt

white pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 boiled eggs

Carrot Slaw:

4-5 grated carrots

2 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

zest of 1 orange

2 tbsp orange juice

salt 

pepper

In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the carrot slaw. Set aside to marinate while you make the soup.

In a large pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. When slightly browned add the onion and turn the heat down to medium. Sauté for 2-3 min until slightly translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mix well. Let cook for another minute. Add about a cup of the broth and stir well. When simmering add the rest of the broth along with the spinach and nutmeg.

Let simmer for 10-15 min. Take of from the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup along with the boiled eggs. The carrot slaw can be served on crackers or hard bread or on its own on a side plate. Serves 4.ss5
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Pommes Duchesse

pd1Think potatoes. Now think mashed potatoes. Keep thinking. Fantasize how you would possibly make something more out of this dull white mash. How to make attractive, individual servings of mashed potatoes? Think, think, think. This is most likely how this delicacy came about in France, many years ago. Pommes Duchesse. Yes, a French name, yet this is also a real Swedish classic. I’ve done a lot of research about traditional Swedish food over the past few years so this came as no surprise. Many of the traditional dishes in Sweden originate from France. Who else would come up with such delicious bites. They are a classic and though, at the moment, slightly out of fashion in both Sweden and France they deserve as much attention as possible.

They not only look impressive and irresistible to the eye, they are just as delightful to eat. A beautifully fluffy centre with a nicely browned almost crisp exterior. All with the subtle hint of freshly ground nutmeg. Presenting a platter with Pommes Duchesse at the dinner table as a side to meat or fish rather than regular stubby mashed potatoes will certainly make your guests squeal with excitement.

Smaller versions are also perfect as an hors d’oeuvre. Throw in some finely chopped fresh herbs and garlic before piping them out and make them bite size. They are delicious, versatile little morsels.

Happy Easter!

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1.5 kg Potatoes

150g butter, melted

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup cream

3.5 tsp salt

pepper

1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Peel and boil the potatoes until very soft. 

Using a potato press, press potatoes into a large bowl. Let cool slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together. Transfer the potato mixture into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe the potato into mounds, about 2″ x 2”, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the upper part of the oven for 15-20 min or until golden brown. Make sure the tips don’t burn. Serve immediately. Serves 4

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