Category Archives: food

Leftovers

The leftover goose bones and trimmings from Christmas were made into stock and into that I put the leftover stout from making my birthday cake and some leftover cauliflower (erm, I don’t even want to think about when I first bought that) and leftover Swedish cheese from Christmas Eve, and pureed it all, and I ate that a few times, and then added to it the leftover broth from simmering the beans and sausage to make cassoulet for New Year’s Eve, as well as the last spoonful or two of the cassoulet. And now I am eating it, along with pate and Finn Crisp from Christmas Eve. And it is so good.

Happy 2012

NYC

Laguardia.

Snow.  Pizza.  Murray Hill Diner.  NYU.  Broadway.  John’s Pizzeria. 5th Avenue.  School Products. Deedee!  Korean barbecue.  Doughnuts.  Habu Textiles. 6th Avenue.  Soho.  Nolita.  Lower East Side.  Chinatown.  Live frogs in a bucket.  Balaboosta.  Subway.  GAP.  American Idiot.  Stage door.  More pizza.  Sarge’s Deli.  Blintzes and lox and pastrami.  New York Public Library.  Rockefeller Center.  Central Park.  New shoes.  Chocolate of many lands.

O’Hare.

Shrimp and Egg

One more food post for Swedish Christmas Eve.  It’s a very ritualized meal in our family.  We don’t do the traditional ham.  Instead, we eat a smogasbord, one dish at a time in a specific order.  We begin with cold herring and small boiled potatoes, and then move to the gravad lax and then the shrimp and egg.  The last fish dish is Jannson’s frestelse — a shoestring scalloped potato dish with Swedish anchovies, which are sweet, juicy, and spicy, not so salty.  Then we eat small meatballs with no sauce but a bit of broth and ham and cheese and hardbread.  And we sing and drink snapps, and finish with rice pudding and Christmas cookies.  It is a simplified version of the one we used to do, because we have a lot of people in our house who just don’t like herring all that much.  So no more sillsalad and matjes herring.  And no more braised mushrooms and kidneys (thank goodness) or eel and scrambled egg, which was my Czech Jewish grandfather’s favourite.  I haven’t told anyone, but I think I might make fagelbo this year.  If I do, photo and recipe next December, because it is very pretty.

This is one of the easiest dishes we make and it is easily multiplied for a bigger crowd, or shrunk just for one or two.  You will need:

  • 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 c cooked peeled baby shrimp, the kind you get frozen in a big bag
  • 1 boston lettuce

Line a plate with lettuce leaves.  Spread the hardboiled eggs on it in one layer.  Layer the thawed shrimp evenly over the eggs.  Then top with the following dressing, made of  all these ingredients, mixed together:

  • 1/4 c whipped cream
  • 1/4 c good mayonnaise.  I was not much of a “brand” person until I bought some Whole Foods mayonnaise. *Shudders at the memory*  I suggest Hellman’s.  You can also replace some of the cream and mayonnaise with good yoghurt.
  • 1 tbs. chopped dill.  If you don’t like dill, this whole Swedish Christmas Eve thing may not be for you.  Just saying.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash white pepper

Here’s what it looks like before you add the dressing.  You can see the dressing to one side, and also some cheese on a wooden board.  God Jul!

Gravad Lax

By far my most popular post ever is the one to my bullar, which I linked in the previous post. I thought I would continue the Swedish Christmas season theme by giving you our recipe for gravad lax — salmon cured with dill — that we eat on Christmas Eve. Our cousins laugh at us and say that gravad lax is not appropriate for Christmas Eve but we just think they’re jealous. Begin a couple of days before you want to eat, so the evening of the 22nd for Christmas Eve.
You will need:

  • As large a piece of salmon filet as you want to eat, cut in two equal sized pieces
  • Equal parts sugar and salt (kosher is nice but we don’t bother).  You can use 1/4 cup of each.
  • white or black peppercorns, ground.  for 1/4 cup sugar and salt, use 2 tablespoons of pepper.
  • a massive bunch of dill

Mix the sugar, salt, and pepper together.  Place half the fish, skin side down in a glass or enamel or non-reactive metal baking dish.  Sprinkle some of the sugar/salt mixture over it.

“Lucy, how much is ‘some’?”

I was afraid you’d ask me that.  It depends on the size of your fish.  Not so it is a thick white layer.  Just so much that there is a nice sprinkling.  About as much as the sugar/cinnamon mixture you sprinkled over the bullar, how’s that?  If you use the full 1/4 c of sugar/salt proportions, you won’t come close to finishing the mixture, unless you have a massive piece of fish.  Put most of the dill layered over the salmon.  Sprinkle more sugar/salt on the dill, about the same amount as before.  Put the other piece of salmon on top, skin side up.  It will look remarkably like this:

Gravad lax

Put saran wrap over it, or put it into a clean plastic bag.  Put the salmon in the fridge and weight it down with all those heavy condiment jars you keep in your fridge and can’t bear to throw away.  Now you know why they are there.  Or use a big can of tomatoes, or something heavy.

Every twelve hours or so, turn the salmon over, and then put back the weights.  You will find that a little juice collects in the bottom of the dish.  Great battles are fought in our family over whether you are supposed to pour off the juice, or whether you are supposed to leave it in.  I forget which one we do right now, but I’m sure we’re right.

When you’re ready to eat, remove the weight, lift off the first salmon piece, gentle remove any clinging dill and sugar/salt, and slice thinly.  Sprinkle with a little fresh dill and serve with mustard sauce.

Oh wait, you want the mustard sauce recipe too?  To be perfectly honest, the one they sell in a jar at IKEA is perfectly acceptable, but if you can’t make it to an IKEA, you can whisk together:

  • 4tbs mustard.  Not Dijon.  Not something grainy and German. The Swedish mustard from IKEA  would have been perfect, but if you could have bought that, you could have bought the dill sauce.  Oh well.  Next year.
  • 1 tbs. powdered mustard
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs. white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • massive amounts of dill.  This is why you didn’t use it all in the salmon.

Let it sit in the fridge for a bit so the tastes all marry.  The whole thing should come out looking a bit like this:

Gravad lax and dill sauce

Happy Sankta Lucia

It used to be the shortest day of the year, before they changed the calendar. This year, at least in Chicago, it is just the coldest. So stay warm. And if you haven’t done so already, go make bullar and let the scent of cinnamon and cardamom fill your kitchen. While they’re baking, you can read Making Light, where there is an interesting post up about the traditions and songs associated with Sankta Lucia. I have never been able to find the version of the song we sing. My family sings one verse; my cousins sing quite a different verse, and neither has ever turned up in the magical world of google.

Could we be the last remnants of some impossibly old and forgotten folk tradition…?

Toronto

Porter, Streetcar, Bathurst and College, Crown and Tiger, Cloak and Dagger, Iranian Kebabs, up at dawn, Future Bakery, Liber testamentorum ecclesie ovetensis, Flip Toss and Thai, Burry and David, Cora’s, Harbord Bakery poppy seed danish, the Kitchener Picks, Indian food, the Roxton not the Rushton (or is it the other way around?), Ezra’s Pound and Alison, Polish sausage on the street (a big mistake), lots of Rachel, Monkey’s Paw, Ossington between Dundas and Queen, RCMP paper napkins (wish I had bought them now), Foxley (arctic char ceviche and lamb duck prosciutto dumplings), Clinton’s, cider all over my sweater the floor and everything, Stanley Cup, Carin and her Mum, Bar Mercurio Espresso, carrot cake, Kensington Market, Lettuce Knit, Romni Wool, hempathy, Subway, Streetcar, Porter.

Home.

Mercat de la Boqueria

I’ve promised a lot of people a food post and I’m sorry it has been delayed, but here it is now.  I’m a passionate food tourist — I can even spend an hour or so happily in a perfectly ordinary foreign supermarket — and one of my great griefs on earlier trips to Spain has been that I haven’t had anywhere to cook the wonderful food I see.  Well, this time around, I have a tiny kitchen and one of the best markets in Barcelona across the street from me so I am making up for lost time.  Check it out:

Can you believe that wonderful fish and shellfish?  One of the things that fascinates me is how all the vendors seem to follow rules about what they can sell.  Poultry sellers sell game, but not other meat.  Fresh pork sellers sell charcuterie (embotits) but not beef.  Beef and lamb can be sold together.  And offal is all sold at the same few shops.

Here are some raw materials about to be cooked by me:

These are tiny lamb chops and some “pimientos de padron.”  These peppers are blistered briefly in oil, salted and eaten.  I’d read about them many times, but never eaten them before.

This is a dish I made from a fish and some tomatoes I bought.  The fish was a “dorada,” a farmed fish, very cheap, and it was sold like all fish are in this market, not only whole but ungutted.  The guts will make a fish spoil faster, so their presene is a sign of freshness.  Thank goodness, the nice fish ladies with the big knives will gut and scale them for you.  

Sankta Lucia

sankta luciaNo, not me. Well not exactly. Today is the feast of Sankta Lucia, the patron saint of light. In the old calendar, her feast was the shortest day of the year, and in Sweden it is celebrated with singing, candles, coffee, and special little buns at dawn. It’s also a great chance for me to try out my new camera.

“But Lucy,” you say, “Those little buns look so delicious. Where can I get some for myself?” I am so glad you asked. I posted the recipe for them this time last year, and they’re called bullar. Follow the link and they too can be yours. Which brings me to an interesting factoid about this blog. My food posts are by far the most searched for parts of this blog. If you google “bullar,” this recipe turns up close to the top of the page. But by far the most popular recipe I ever posted is the one for flan de queso. It is regularly the top monthly search string. Makes me think I should post more recipes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy my tea.

Beyond the Great Wall

As if I didn’t have enough lovely fiction to read, my favourite cookbook writing duo, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have come up with a new one, Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China (Artisan, 2008), which i simply had to buy. When I say I am a fan, I’m not kidding. The Seductions of Rice was the first book of theirs I received, followed by Flatbreads and Flavors and Hot Sour Salty Sweet, abut the cuisines of South Asia. Then last spring, I was searching for meaning in the cookbook aisle and I thought to myself, how wonderful it would be if they wrote a book for India like the one they had done for South Asia. I looked up and, lo, there was Mangoes & Curry Leaves.
Why do I like their books so much? Two reasons. First, they’re political.  Their attitude towards food and eating is one of both delight and responsibility in a world of scarcity.  Their way of eating urges the western world away from making costly (in so many ways) meat the centre of our diet and towards thinking of meat as a delicious accent to a diet based in vegetables and staples like bread and rice.  In addition to being guardians of resources, and no more so than in this most recent book, they are guardians of cultures.  They are photographers and essayists as well as fine cooks and their stories and pictures document and defend little known cultures and peoples.

The second reason I love their books is that the food is delicious.  The receipts typically have modest lists of ingredients and they always work.  I admit that my pantry may be better stocked with unusual ingredients than most, but almost everything in their latest book can be made with things you’d find at an ordinary grocery store.  It isn’t “restaurant” ethnic food; it tastes more like home cooking, and it is often based directly on dishes they have eaten on their travels, with ordinary people.  The classics make way for unusual and unique receipts and their books will not duplicate anything else you have in your collection.

But why take my word for it?  I thought I’d make one of their receipts and present it here for you.  So, below the fold: Savory Boiled Dumplings! Continue reading

Bullar

bullar.JPG
I am one-quarter Swedish, but since it is too much of a strain to be one-quarter Swedish all year long, I solved that problem by being all Swedish during the month of December. And since someone was nice enough to tell me they made the last receipt I posted, I thought I would give you another one. This one is for the lovely buns in the photo, called bullar. They may look complicated, but are very easy and all people seem to love them — children, in-laws, boyfriends, ex-husbands, step-siblings, everyone.

  • 3/4 cup milk, scalded
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter plus a few tablespoons
  • 2 small tablespoons (2 packages) yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 1/4 – 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 – 1 tbs. ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • cinnamon and sugar

I scald the milk in the microwave in a large measuring cup and then add 1/2 cup butter cut in cubes and the sugar, to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar in the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on th warm water and stir. Put the milk mixture in a large bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of flour. beat with an electric mixer for a minute at low speed to develop the gluten. Beat in the eggs and the yeast. Now would be as good a time as any to add the salt and the cardamom. I always use a full tablespoon of the latter, but you can use less. Make sure it is fresh. Add as much of the rest of the flour as you need to make a nice dough. Knead for five to eight minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. This receipt makes a dough that is very easy to work with. Don’t add too much flour and let it get too dry, but the dough should not be sticky either.
Let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk. Punch it down. Divide it in two, and keep the half you are not working with under a cloth while you shape the first half. Roll one half into a long rectangle about 10″ wide and as long as it gets with the dough fairly thin, maybe 2 and a half feet long. Spread your rectangle of dough with two or three tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. How much cinnamon sugar? Well, let’s say you were making a nice piece of cinnamon toast for yourself. That much. Fold the longest end down 1/3 from the top and up 1/3 from the bottom, like you were folding a letter for a business envelope. You will end up with a piece of folded dough about 3″ wide and still two and a half feet long or whatever, sandwiching the butter and cinnamon sugar. Cut this long piece of dough into short strips that are about 3/4″ wide. Hold an end of each strip in each of your hands and twist it as many times as you can, four or so good twists. Then tie it in a knot. Yes, it will work. The first strip is the hardest, but you’ll soon get the knack. Do this for each strip and put them on a cookie sheet spaced about an inch apart on all sides.
Now you can preheat your oven to 375 degrees because you need to let each batch of dough knots rise for half an hour before you cook them. Roll, fill, fold, twist, and knot the second slab of dough while you’re waiting. Then cook each sheet for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned on the top and bottom. And then eat them with a mug of coffee, tea, or cocoa. Dipping is encouraged. Yum.
If you are very enthusiastic, you could brush beaten egg on them and sprinkle on pearl sugar before you put them in the oven, but my family always says to heck with it. We do freeze them in bags in batches, so we can always have them fresh. I find that reheating them for 20 seconds in a microwave warms them perfectly.