Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Happy birthday to my darling!

Sunday was the big day for the fiance, and it was duly celebrated with the world's first gayke! I recently received a cake decorating thingie and we went a little wild with the pink frosting... Just so happens I only had red food colouring in the fridge... As for the little golden sugar pearls, those were done on purpose :) For those more interested in the actual filling, it was a three layer sponge cake with one layer of blueberry jam and one layer of vanilla cream.

So happy 34th my gorgeous darling! I love you!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A nice juicy bit of salmon fillet, turned in sweet and spicy sauce and then tossed in sesame seeds and cooked in the oven for 20-25 minutes tops. If you are using frozen salmon, please remember to be considerate to your fish and defrost in advance, instead of microwaving it (salmon tends to go all slushy if you defrost it in the microwave, a texture flaw which can't be easily redeemed by grilling the fish in the oven).
It's served here with a sidedish of bulgur wheat boiled in salty water for about 15 minutes and tossed with raisins, crushed linseed (for that extra health kick, but without really any influence on the taste), cinnamon and lime juice. We usually would eat this kind of thing with extra sweet and spicy sauce on the side.

I love colourful food, and colours in general! It may be spring officially, but here in cold Sweden we long for even the slightest bit of warmth... So come on!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The St. Patrick's day special

... although I'm greek, the fiance is swedish and we have no idea why we felt compelled to include St. Patrick in our lives at this specific point.. But hey, anything for a reason to celebrate!
Champ by way of adding fried onion, spinach and leek to creamy mashed potatoes. Top with a bit of butter. very simple and delicious.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

All the way from Kiev

I took some exams in swedish recently, wanting to go on and start some actual lessons, so I can get a better handle on grammar and also to get used to talking in swedish a little more. And also to meet some new people. It is surprisingly difficult to meet people in Sweden, everyone is so suspicious. The worse thing is that you also find yourself influened by that climate as well. It takes a lot of effort to not get sucked in.
Anyway, I passed the first exam quite easily, which means I have managed to avoid approximately 3 years of classes, and all that based on what I've learned from TV jingles and observation. Pretty pleasing. You might be pleased to know I kicked the proverbial ass of the test. 95%. And this little treat to the left is what I made to celebrate with the fiance, although it is really the time before Easter and we were supposed to be trying to avoid meat for a while. Especially with all this bird flu business, we shouldn't be eating fowl at all, but as it were, Sweden must be the only country where all the bird flu talk has gotten people to eat even MORE chicken than before... Weird people!
The above concoction is carefully constructed by pounding some chicken fillets (not too carefully), so they spread out. Careful to not overdo it, so the meat will still be intact and won't have "holes" in it. Next, you mash up 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, half a tablespoon of butter, salt, pepper and some chopped parsley, zap it in the microwave a little (only a few seconds, you don't want the butter to be all runny, just soft and manageable). Mix everything up and add the flavoured butter to the centre of the fillet, rolling it up and pinning the edges with toothpicks. Sprinkle a bit of parsley on top, season well and drizzle a bit of oil, and then cook until you reach the desired appearance. I expect it would go nicely with a side of mashed potatoes. My own sidedish was a grilled butternut squash and sweet potato dish I'm saving for later posting. :)

An evening with red wine, salty crackers and a dip comprising of smooshed feta, a couple of spoonfuls of ajvar (or aivar, or ayvar, if you're nasty), salt pepper, olive oil and chopped parsley.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Semlor in a bag

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These yummy beauties are semlor, a traditional swedish bun to be enjoyed during the period before the fasting begins (because so many people fast noways, heh). They're a fluffy, almost unsweetened bun spiced with cardamom powder, scooped out a little bit and stuffed with intensely yummy almond paste (sort of like chunky marzipan), topped off with unsweetened whipped cream and powdered vanilla sugar. Pretty much the most fattening thing you can imagine:D They can be eaten as a bun, or placed in a bowl with some lukewarm milk and eaten with a spoon.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mash with sage and favourite grilled vegetables

Me and the fiance went bookshophopping today, and I came back with a good amount of new cookbooks. Three to be exact. A new old Jamie Oliver (the first one actually, I think. Well, the one with the rank hair and a matching shirt... But he is so cute, I can't help but forgive him for that lapse of judgement :D). Apart from that one, I also got a bargain on a vietnamese cookbook, and I am a bit excited about getting some fresh ideas from that. And I also got one more cookbook entitled "Kokskolan", which means cooking school in swedish, which I actually bought for 10 kronor. Which is about one euro. Which is a bit of ridiculous price to pay for any kind of book, I suppose.
While I was looking at the cookbooks and trying to decide which one to buy, one recipe caught my eye (or more like an idea), I think it was in a Jamie Oliver book, but I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, here it is:
Creamy, thick mashed potatoes flavoured with sage and topped off with grilled vegetables in balsamico sauce.
I think we all know how to make the mashed potatoes. Try and aim for a thick mash, even leaving a few lumps in the mix. You can also add a little bit of olive oil, to get things mixed easier. Flavour with sage, or maybe you fancy some other green herb, and you're done.

The topping is a delicious mix of favourite vegetables, tomato, crushed and unpeeled garlic, red bell pepper roughly chopped and thick chunks of zucchini and aubergine. Top everything off with olive oil, balsamico, sugar, salt, pepper and basil and bake until your veg has the appearance you can pretty much see in the pic. Moist and soft, but also crunchy at the edges. The key I think is to cook for a long time in medium heat, until most of the juices have been absorbed. Don't serve this dish if there is lots of water in the tray, as your vegetables will be more like boiled than grilled, and that just does not do them justice. Don't forget to taste things along the way, to make sure you haven't forgotten any seasoning or that you don't need more of something.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Carbonara schmarbonara

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Have you ever tried to make carbonara with milk instead of cream? Chances are if you are swedish, it would never have crossed your mind;)
Swedish people love their cream. They even see fit to add it to things where it has no business being, like simple Bolognese sauces. Hard to imagine for some, especially if you are greek or italian I suppose, but here it is more or less the norm. Lately, swedish people have been more turned on to the new food possibilities around them, they are starting to use more and more olive oil, which truly elates me. I mean, cream, save for a few examples, makes everything taste blander to me. Plus it is not really good for you. Olive oil just lifts every flavour and brings it out, interacting beautifully with all the spices. But then again, Sweden is the country in which they take butter, melt it, add cream and a slight amount of tarragon and call it bearnaise sauce. It's just not the same.
Anyway, I personally like to use milk wherever I can, especially creamy condensed milk. This is one of those cases. I made a very simple carbonara by sauteing some mushroom, garlic and some chopped asparagus and ham, adding the boiled basta and mixing in some undiluted condensed milk and an egg, letting everything heat up and serving straight away. You don't want to let this one cool down at all. The consistency looks a little thinner, but the taste is definately creamy, and less fat as well. This idea ties in perfectly with the end of my two weeks of incessant work and no time for actual food shopping. I have been stretching the stash in the cupboard for 2 weeks now, good folk. I don't know how this happened, but it did. You know what it means when you're down to your last jar of canned tomatoes and you are basically out of everything else. So this is just a small example of what one can do in a cinch, as long as you make sure you always have the absolute necessary things in your stash.