Thursday, January 26, 2006

Carrot cake ponderings

Doesn't this carrot cake look all sad, lying there on its side? (Not actual depiction, mine is still in the oven..)
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I often bake when I get bored. It's the easy way out, I always have eggs, butter and flour around the house, so I take out my frustrations on cakes I will be besotted with when they come out of the oven, but whose popularity amongst the household's females in the age range of 19-25 will wane almost immediately. I get very easily bored of cakes. They always sound like a good idea, but their rather dry disposition makes them a not so favourite of mine. But I love to tinker in the kitchen, so baking is always a good pasttime.
I am always on the look-out for a good carrot cake recipe, because every recipe I encounter seems to be boring. I have tried everything, almonds, walnuts, coconut flakes, a variety of spices, individually and combined. Today I am trying a new ingredient which may work rather nicely: I grated some fresh ginger in the mix. I won't bore you with a detailed recipe: it is, after all, pretty much the most common recipe for cake on the net. My own addition will be simply to say, one must always experiment with ingredients other than the basics.

ps. While I was washing up my blender paraphernalia and my grater, I had the thought that tiny, miniscule pieces of ginger grate might get stuck in the grater, which would give the next couple of things I grate a faint fragrance of ginger too. I found the thought strangely comforting.
ps2. It's a big day for me, I finally got my name added on the door, so no more confusion for our mailman and you can send me fanmail now:P Or maybe not. Also in other news, I discovered I have finally mastered the art of liquid eyeliner application. Not really food- related, but a small victory, nonetheless. I'm off to celebrate with carrot cake!

Friday, January 20, 2006

The ice cream zucchotto (Jamie Oliver inspiration)

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During Christmas, I happened to watch an old Jamie Oliver Christmas show, I think it might have been filmed in New York. I was sniffing around for a nice dessert to make for a post holiday dinner with the fiance's family, so it had to be something nice. Jamie, my personal favourite "celebrity" chef (the lisp just does something for me! The other day I was telling a friend of mine how he might just be a semblance of the ideal man: mentor in the kitchen, trainee in, well, the other rooms:D Meh, my fiance reads this you know!). Anyway! He basically created a dessert which was meant to be an alternative to the usual english Christmas pudding, the heavy, liquor-laced dessert with all the dried fruit. I've never had it actually, just looking at it gives me a bit of an indigestion, but I promise I will first chance I get. I'd probably taste anything.
His recipe was basically for a globe-shaped cake with a stuffing in the middle, comprising of ricotta cheese, sugar, cherries, dried fruit, almonds, coffee and melted chocolate. My version was the "can't be asked" version, which I suspect must also be a little cheaper. So I simply made the cake and replaced the riocotta filling with plain ice cream.

The cake:
200 gr butter
200 gr sugar
200 gr flour (self raising. If you only have normal, add 3 teaspoons of baking powder on top of what the recipe already requires. So in this case, a total of 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon baking powder (see above)
3 eggs
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Mix it all up, preferably eggs and sugar first. Bake in two round, flat forms, one slightly smaller than the other. The objective is to make two flat pieces of cake, like you would use in an actual layer cake. It should be fluffy, but not too thick. Bake at 190 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool well before you handle them.

Next, take a round bowl and line it with plastic foil. Once the cake has cooled down, take the bigger slice and cut it like a pizza, in 8 slices, which you then place in the lined bowl, so as to make a small cake dome. Next, you fill the "cake bowl" with ice cream ( I used vanilla ice cream with strawberry sirup). The ice cream should be a little soft and melty, to enable easy handling. Place the second, smaller cake slice on top, like a lid, add a plate or something that matches the shape on top (so there will be a bit of pressure applied to the cake) and freeze everything for 2-3 hours. Make sure you let the cake defrost a couple of minutes before you serve it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Drinkie! no. 2

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Here's a pink one for ther ladies I whipped up the other night. I always try and get creative with alcohol in our place, because all we usually have is vodka (or home brewed vodka, not actually brewed in our home, but some farmer's or something like that, I don't quite know and quite frankly I am not very inclined to discuss it, as I don't really think it is all that unfrowned upon as it should be. Digressing again.) Anyway! So as you can imagine, I always like to challenge myself and try to come up with new ways to use the same stuff and make it taste different. The above concoction was immediately named cotton candy, for obvious reasons. It was a simple base of vodka and lime soda mixed in a cocktail glass, and then added to that was a separate mixture of ice cubes, a splash of Malibu, a dash of vanilla sugar and a couple of drops of concentrated red food colouring. When the ice cubes have been thoroughly crushed and homogenised, you can spoon a couple of small, fluffy heaps into your vodka base, and make sure you serve right away, because obviously the ice mix melts in seconds. For the second batch, I mixed everything together in the blender and added literally a splash of milk. The result was rather cherry-like and creamy. Not bad t'all!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Snakebite and black Posted by Picasa

Here's a lovely beverage that I used to enjoy during those missing months I spent in Manchester as a student! It kept me away from class on many an occasion (due to hangovers). It is a "cocktail" no one outside of England seems to recognise as a name...
It comprises of about 1-2 centimetres of condensed blackcurrant syrup (collectively known in England as "squash") in a one pint glass (Ribena concentrate works well) combined with equal parts of cider and lager (the cider goes in the bottom). You can either stir the concoction or serve it as a float. I love the dark pinkish colour and the sweet taste of this, but beware, it might get you inebriated a little faster and more intensely than planned! You have been warned.

A night at the Opera

Königin der Nacht Posted by Picasa

Last night I had my first ever visit to the Opera. I saw the play that I have always wanted to start my operatic experience with: Die Zauberflöte. Needless to say it was an amazing experience. The building of Kungliga Operan in Stockholm was quite beautiful, but I do have to say that swedes did not rise to the occasion stylictically. It's the opera people! You might as well crank out those extra special clothes you've been saving and make it a special experience for you. I know I brought out the special occasion red lipstick I save for those events. Also, it would have helped if the lady sitting next to me (best seats in the house too, I beg your pardon! Well, best seats save for the ones reserved for the royal family I suppose..) hadn't slept through the whole show. I mean, really! I wanted to nudge her like Eric Idle, know what I mean? But I didn't. All in all, I nearly cried out with excitement even with the opening strings of the awesome overture! What amazing and imaginative combinations of instruments and notes. Truly a great musical arrangement. Words are superfluous when you talk about Mozart.
I do have to say that the build up for the aria of the Queen of the Night was pretty strong, but the soprano did not deliver. Parts of the music during the aria were slowed down to suit her, which is kind of unthinkable really, I mean I know it is probably the most difficult aria to belt out, but you can't simply slow down Mozart because you can't sing the song. Not to mention she had a cheat sheet. !! . You know? I just did not clap after that part, I was disappointed. Everyone else seemed to not have noticed anything though..
And here is a link to an older version of that amazing piece of music that is "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen". It is incredible! The quality of the recording below is a tad rough, but at the least the lady (Patricia Valdéz) delivers the goods in a spectacular manner!

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen

I know this had absolutely nothing to do with food in any way. Meh!

(link by

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Year's Eve party menu, as experienced by us

I thought I could be original for once and actually post a couple of normal looking recipes, instead of my own half baked suggestions.. So here it is, this was the main course that the fiance and I enjoyed at the New Year's Eve party we attended with some of our swedish friends. The party had a James Bond theme, incidentally. Me and the fiance seemed to be almost the only ones that took the dress code seriously and dressed like freaks.. I went as Xenia Onatopp and Johan was Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Recipes courtesy of Jocke and Anna and also (same place as the pictures as well)

Double marinated veal fillet Posted by Picasa

One veal fillet (not too thick)

Marinade 1
2 spoonful soy sauce
1 spoonful hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon salt
2 spoonfuls olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar

Marinade 2
½ dl white vinegar
½ dl water
2 dl olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 crushed clove of garlic
½ dl parsley (chopped)
2 spoonfuls capers (1 small jar)

Mix the ingredients for marinade 1. Place the fillet in a plastic food bag and add the marinade in the bag.
Marinate for 3 hours (or overnight).
Grill the meat at 175 for about 40 minutes, turning the fillet once.
When it’s done, take it out of the oven and let it cool down.
Mix the ingredients for marinade 2. Slice the cooled down fillet in ½ cm slices and place them in a bowl, adding the second marinade on top. Marinate again for at least 4 hours, and serve as is, with the marinade. You may spoon the marinade over the meat if you wish.

And the so called french potato gratin, to match with the above Posted by Picasa

1 ½ kg potatoes
3 dl cream
6 dl milk
2 spoonfuls of finely chopped garlic
1 spoonful salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2-3 dl grated cheese

1. The day before the party: Peel the potatoes and slice them finely.
2. Warm up the cream, the milk, the garlic, the salt and pepper in a pot. Add the potatoes. Cook in moderate heat until the potatoes are soft, so about 25-35 minutes. Mix once in a while (not too many times, so you don’t crush the potatoes out of shape).
3. Place the potato mix in an oven safe pan or tray. Let them cool down. Cover with plastic foil and place in the fridge.
4. On the day of the party: Warm the oven up at 175 degrees. Sprinkle with cheese and grill for about 35-40 minutes in the oven.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I don't know what is up with me lately, but I have been experiencing intense potato cravings (and no, I am not going the family way). I love me a hefty, warm portion of carbohydrates (sadly), pretty much prepared in any way. Baked in the oven with lemon, garlic and oregano, stewed with spices and consumed with a couple of fried eggs, grilled with the skins on and sprinkled heavily with barbeque seasonings, fried in oil and accompanied by feta... But believe it or not, the thing that has really been on my mind lately everytime I think potatoes is a swedish staple: good old fashioned, boiled potatoes in salty water, served only with salted milk butter (the ultimate Bregott!). It's strange, as this is a way of eating potatoes that one would assume is the simplest one of all and least tasty, but they would be wrong! Wrong I tell you!
I do assume that this phase will pass.. I do tend to have whole periods when I am craving something very specific. Usually though, it tends to be rice dishes, as it just so happens. This used to happen when I was living as a poor student in Corfu, and I would visit home every two to three months. Right before I started the long travel home all the way to Athens, I would call my mother and she would always ask me what dish she should make for me. For a whole year I would always request oven-baked okra (or lady-fingers, as some people call them) in tomato sauce with chicken, and then I had a thing for yiouvarlakia (a lemony, intensely warm soup with contains a kind of meatball with rice). Greek food is awesome :D
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It's flu season!

Here's a little tirami su I whipped up yesterday for my fiance, who is afflicted by the seasonal flu. I wanted something yummy and intense enough, without being too strong. I combined two saftig avocados, the juice of half a lemon, half a red bell pepper chopped into tiny bits, a hefty helping of olive oil, some cayenne pepper, salt and one crushed clove of garlic. We had this juicy health injection with some dill and sourcream chips, the extra crunchy ones. The flavour of the lemon and the cayenne were enough to perk the fiance right up :)
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