Friday, 26 June 2009

Homemade hamburger buns

As you might have figured out by now I am a huge fan of grilling. I think I could grill no matter season, and I have met Americans who grill outdoors even though they have to dig in about 4 ft of snow to find the grill! Those hamburgers where by far the second best hamburger I have ever tasted! Thank you, the Lehman family in Muncie, IN.

This is how much I love hamburgers. HA!

The best hamburger I ever tasted was at the local YWAM base in my hometown. I was on a work experience in 9th grade and I helped at the local elementary school. In the class where I helped out was a little American girl. It became my task to take care of her, and help her communicate with her peers, she knew very little Swedish and they knew very little English. As a thank you for helping her in school, her parents invited me over to the base, where they lived, for a BBQ. They made me American hamburgers and I can remember they were YUM! I don't know what they put in them to taste like a little piece of heaven, but they were truly divine.

Hamburgers is such a great thing to throw on the grill for a quick dinner that still tastes delicious. I hate the hamburger patties you can buy in the supermarkets over here, they are so thin and I don't know what they put in them to make them taste like... paper. I love making my own hamburger patties, and with the weekend being just a few hours away I am planing what to eat on Saturday and Sunday. I have to plan for Sunday (lunch and dinner), as all stores are closed on Sundays, which leaves no room for whims of inspiration and creativity. Extremely annoying!!!! Or maybe this is where my cooking skills really are put to the test?!
We're having hamburgers this weekend. Surprised?

As I said I tend to make my own hamburger patties, but I tend to buy the hamburger buns. I hate them almost as much, if not more, than I hate the store-bought hamburger patties. The buns here are DRY! So, to celebrate the good weather (25° C in the shade), and to stay out of the sun for a couple of hours - I'm too far from the ocean for my liking, I am making my own hamburger buns today. Found the recipe in MAISON MAT & VIN.

Before I set them to rest a second time... they grew enormous in those 45 minutes.

This is how they came out. YUM!

Hamburger buns
Makes 8 huge buns. I suggest you make 10-12 smaller buns

550 g flour
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3.6 dl lukewarm water (37° C)
25 g fresh yeast
1 egg 2 tbsp milk
sesame seeds

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, and butter.

2. In a seperate bowl, dilute the yeast in the lukewarm water. Set to rest for 10 minutes.

3. Pour the liquid into the flour mix and kneed for a good 8-10 minutes. (You can do all this in your Kitchen Aid or similar device, if you're luck to have one. OR you can do as me and use the hands God gave you).

4. Cover the dough with a cloth and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough into 8 (or however many you decide to make) equal parts, and roll each part into a ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet and press down slightly.

6. In a glass, or small bowl. Mix the egg and the milk. Using a brush, or the back of a spoon, brush the egg mix onto each ball of dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover with a cloth and let stand for another 45 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 225° C. Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes.

8. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

From my experience these buns do not freeze very well, they become too dry! So you should really try and eat them that same day or any time during the next couple of days.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Midsummer tart

Shrimp-, crayfish-, tomato-, artichoke- and button mushroom pie
Serves 6

Pie crust:
3 dl flour
1 pinch salt
150 g unsalted butter

2 tomatoes
6 button mushrooms
1 can artichoke hearts
300g crayfish tails
or 150 g crayfish tails and 150 g shrimps
4 eggs
2 dl heavy cream
2 dl milk
salt and white pepper

1. Start off by making the pie crust. Mix the ingredients in a food processor or by hand. Add water, a little at a time, until you have a ball of pie crust dough. Chill for 1 hour.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200° C. Roll out the pie crust and pre-bake it for 15 minutes.

3. Dice the tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts. Fry the mushrooms in a little butter until all the liquid has evaportated.

4. In a bowl, combine the eggs, cream, milk, and salt and pepper. Place the filling the pie crust, pour over the egg mix.

5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. After 12 ½ minutes cover the pie with aluminum foil.

I must have done something wrong when I made this because I had to have it in the oven for well over 1 hour before I got it to set properly... Hope yours goes better.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Midsummer is a really big thing in Sweden. More in the olden days than these days, Swedes danced around an upside-down phallic symbol, something to do with fertility apparently. These days people get together with friends and family to enjoy traditional Swedish summer food and to enjoy each others company.

Being a Swede abroad I thought I'd bring Swedish midsummer to me, rather than the other way around. I invited a friend from Sweden to come celebrate with me and all was good. I had planned on making mum's traditional midsummer dinner (probably the same as everyone else has at midsummer); herring, dill-boiled potatoes, meatballs, mini sausages, sour creme and chopped chives. But for some reason I got side-tracked, and we ended up having a savoury pie for a first course, shrimps in baguettes from our main course, and sticky chocolate cupcakes for dessert. We had already started off the festivities with a delicious, and super easy to make, salad for lunch.

Shrimps, sweet corn, tomatoes, apples, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, romaine lettuce, red onions, and yesterday's garlic chicken leftovers.

Shrimp-, crayfish-, tomato-, artichoke- and button mushroom pie. Click for recipe

Sticky chocolate cupcakes with chocolate- and coffee flavoured frosting.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Harissa chicken burger

I found this little cute can of Harissa at my local Asian/International food market the other week. I have been looking for Harissa for a long time, and I even had the perfect recipe for making it myself last year, but it got lost in the move and now I can't seem to find it anywhere. In fact, the Harissa I made myself was ten times better than the canned stuff. Gosh, I hate that I can't find the recipe.

Anyway, the local soccer team (ODD Grenland) played a home game on Sunday, and we had planned on having friends over after the game for, what we call a BBQ but what the rest of the world refers to as a grilling or a cook-out. When we have BBQ's at our house I take care of the condiments, such as potato salads, vegetables, sauces... yeah, that kind of stuff, and each guest brings his or her own meat to grill. That way me and my boyfriend don't end up feeding the entire neighbourhood each time we have a cook-out.

For Sunday's cook-out I had decided on making chicken burgers and since I had just bought the can of Harissa I wanted to try it out. The result was good, but not as spicy as I had hoped, and wished, for. It actually started to rain when we were on our way back from the game, which we won by the way, so we decided on going out for dinner instead. So, in order not to spoil the hamburgers, I had already made them before the game, I ended up frying them, and then we had them for dinner the next day. I think they would have been much more tasty had I grilled them instead of frying them.

Harissa chicken burger
Makes 4 large patties, or 8 small

400 g ground chicken
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tsp harissa
1 egg
1 dl breadcrumbs

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set to chill in the fridge for no less than 1 hour.

Heat a nonstick pan, or fire up your grill. Dip your hands in cold water. Divide the chicken mince into four equal parts using your hands. Roll each part into a ball. Place the balls in the pan, and flatten them into hamburger-like patties. If grilling, you will need to make the burgers before placing them on the grill. fry, or grill, til the juice runs clear. Serve with your favourite condiments, such as tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, lettuce and dressing. Don't forget to heat your hamburger buns. I popped mine in the toaster for about ½ minute.

På svenska
Harissakryddad kycklinghamburgare

Monday, 15 June 2009

Friday treats #2

It was a little runny, but oh so good!! Maybe if I had used a little more mayo and a little less sour cream...oh well, maybe next time. This dish is called "Västkustsallad" in Swedish. Translated into English- "West coast salad". In England we used to call it "The prawn thing". It's made from sour cream, mayo, prawns, button mushrooms, dill, and lemon juice, salt & pepper.

We ate this with baked potatoes on Friday night. I don't know why, but I always have trouble getting my baked potatoes perfectly cooked. They are always real hard in the middle, no matter how long I have them in the oven for. Unless I microwave my baked potatoes, of course. Then they come out perfect, but then I have to put them in the oven to crisp up the skins... What a hassle!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


I used to love pizza. I can't remember when I had my first bite, not like I do with my first candy-experience (but that's another story for another day). However, I do remember what we used to call pizzas in my house. I think it was my dad's -may God rest his soul- idea and it kind of stuck with the rest of us. He used to call it "en rund en"- "a round one". Probably not the most inventive nickname, but I think it's cute and it became like a secret word in my family. I think dad was pretty proud of his nickname, his very own contribution to the family dictionary.

My favourite pizza growing up was called Mexicana. This pizza had a thin spread of super-hot minced meat and a slight sprinkle of cheese. I loved it, I still love it. And you can get a variety of it almost everywhere in the world. Another kind of pizza that I love is "Kebab pizza". However, this pizza is very hard to come by anywhere else in the world, except for in Sweden. I have been to a number of corners of the world and have never come across a satisfying kebab pizza. Why is that, I wonder?

Anyways, here's my attempt at a Calzone, my brother's favourite pizza. However, he likes it stuffed with ham and cheese, only.

Makes 2 pizzas

Pizza dough
25 g fresh yeast
2 ½ dl finger warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
7 dl all-purpose flour

meat from one rotisserie chicken
1 can crushed tomatoes with basil and oregano
1 small can button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, grated
1 medium onion, cut into pieces
½-1 tsp hot chili powder
salt & pepper
4 dl shredded cheese

Set the oven to 230 C.

1. Crumble the yeast into a small bowl. Pour over some water, and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add the rest of the water, oil and salt. Put the flour in a bigger bowl. Make a small well in the flour, add in the yeast-mix and by using your hands, make a dough. Add more flour if needed. Cover with a cloth, and set to rest in a warm place until the dough had doubled in size.

2. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients, except for the cheese, in a bowl.

3. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a flour-dusted surface (preferably a piece of parchment paper). Kneed the dough for a bit, knocking the air out of it. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Keep one covered while working with the other. Roll out the dough into a large disk. On half the disk, spread in layers the cheese, and the filling. Flip over the top half and press the two edges together using your fingers or a fork.

4. Place the pizza on a warm pizza stone, or a warm oven tray and bake for 13 minutes or until the dough is golden and the cheese has melted.

På svenska

Thai Red Curry

Thai Red Curry
Serves 4

500 g boneless chicken (I used pork), sliced
1 generous tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp sugar
5-6 lime leaves, shredded
1 can sliced bamboo shoots
400 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

1. Pour one cup of coconut milk into a wok, bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Add in the curry paste and stir until red oil appears at the surface.

2. Add in the meat, simmer until cooked.

3. Add in the rest of the coconut milk, lime leaves, and bamboo shoots. Also stir in the sugar, and the fish sauce. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes.

4. Serve with rice

(As always I didn't use the exact ingredients. This time I used my trusty frozen wok vegetable mix instead of just the bamboo shoots)

- You can make this with other kinds of meat, or with no meat at all, but you will then have to add mushrooms or aubergines or something similar to make it a bit "meaty".

På svenska:
Thai Röd Curry

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Salami- and feta cheese tart

Don't look at a recipe and go "oh no, I don't have all the ingredients to make this, so I can't make this today". Instead, go "what ingredients do I have that can replace the ones I don't have at home right now". I never go "oh no", but go "ok, let's be creative". Admittedly sometimes you can't substitute one thing for something else, then you just have to deal with it, and either not cook that particular dish, or go grocery shopping. But most of the time it really pays off to go creative.

I am always quite 'oh well' when it comes to recipes. I don't always read them through thoroughly and it is not uncommon for me to somewhere down the line realize I have missed something and will have to go rummaging through my pantry for this particular thing. But I almost never discourage, except for the other day when I tried making naan bread and ended up binning the whole thing as the dough kept crumbling..., anyway, I almost always pull through and come up with something inventive way of saving the "day".

Like yesterday. I had planned on making Salami- and feta cheese tart. I had had my eye on this particular recipe ever since I saw it in one of those free recipe folders I picked up at the supermarket the other day. I mean, doesn't it sound delicious?! Salami- and feta cheese tart. (Gosh I hate that word, tart... pie sounds so much better).
I didn't have salami, or spinach, or black olives at home. So what did I do? I used chorizo, button mushrooms, and green olives instead. Not the most off-the-wall substitutions, but still.

Here's the original recipe:

Salami- and feta cheese tart
Serves 4-6

Pie crust
3 ½ dl all-purpose flour
150 g margarine, or butter
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp water

100 g fresh spinach, or 50 g frozen
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
100 g feta cheese
8 cherry- or cocktail tomatoes, cut in halves
10 black olives, pip removed
50 g pepper- or regular salami, cut into strips
1-2 tsp dried oregano
3 eggs
3 dl Low fat Creme Fraiche

1. Make the crust by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor, or by hand until you have a solid but pliable dough. Set to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Press the chilled dough into a round, loose-bottomed mould (24-26 cm) allowing the pasty to come up around the edges about 5 cm. With some aluminum foil, cover the edges so when you bre-bake it the edges will not collapse. Pre-bake the pastry for 10 minutes in a 225 C hot oven. Remove the foil.

2. Wilt the spinach in a hot pan, season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, and salami to the baked crust.

4. In a bowl, mix the eggs and the creme fraiche. Season with the oregano. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

5. Bake the pie, on 200 C, on the bottom rack of the oven until the filling has set nicely and the top has turned golden.

(My tart came out a little loose, don't really know why).

På svenska:
Salami- och fetaost paj

Monday, 8 June 2009

Harvesting the garden

Not much is ready to be eaten yet in my miniature garden, except for the occasional Arugula leaf, and these bright red jewels. Aren't they just beautiful?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Garden visit # 3

Sugar snap plant.

Wild strawberries. I picked these plants in the forest the other week. Some seem to be coping really well with being relocated, while some are taking it rather badly, and I am afraid to admit it, but I don't think all of them will survive.

Radishes, soon ready to be enjoyed in salads and as a snack. Can't wait!

Flat leaf parsley, looking good!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Chicken curry, "Indian" style

Walking through my local supermarket earlier today I picked up a bunch of free recipe folders, you know the kinds that different brands make to show you what fantastic dishes you can make by using their products. I love these little free cookbooks! I can never afford to buy my own cookbooks, they are way too expensive, and anyway I usually get one of two new ones to add to my collection for my birthday and for Christmas, so really, there's no reason for me to buy cookbooks. No reason other than that I love cookbooks. But the truth is I very seldom cook anything from them, especially not if the cookbook's got a glossy cover and a nice picture on the front and are not adapted to everyday cooking. Normally I find most cookbooks too complicated, and quite frankly, quite uninspiring. This, I know, is very contradicting. What I love about cookbooks is the sense of knowing that I have them, that if I one day fall down and hurt my head and on a whim decide to cook something utterly complicated I have cookbooks to back up my crazy idea. You know what I mean? I also love reading them, I love looking at all the pretty photos, and I love seeing them on my shelf. (Without my Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Tina cookbooks I'd be lost).

Ok, let's get back on track... where was I? Oh yes, the free recipe folders I picked up at the supermarket today. In one of them, "Så enkelt - og så godt!" from Tine, I found the recipe for today's dinner - Chicken curry. Actually, the original recipe calls for shrimps and some other things I kind of over-looked at first glance, which resulted in my adaptation of the dish. (I did not over-look the shrimp/chicken thing, but some other stuff- I'm not that absent-minded!)

Oh yes, this recipe did not only give me the best food experience I have had in a while, it also taught me how to cook with yogurt without it curdling.

This is how you prevent the yogurt from curdling when added to hot food:
For every 3 dl of yogurt, add 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour. Mix it together by using a hand blender. This will make the yogurt more watery, but it will also keep the yogurt from curdling, which is the main thing.

Now to the main recipe.

Chicken curry
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 ½ tbsp spicy curry powder
10 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
100-150 g frozen wok vegetables
2 dl water
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 dl yogurt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ketchup
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sambal oelek, or spicy chili sauce

1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pan, or wok. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Stir in the curry powder, and allow to heat through. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, wok vegetables, water and the chicken. Cook until the chicken is almost done

2. Mean while, mix the yogurt with the flour, as described above. Stir in the mix little at a time to ensure further that is does not curdle. Also add in the salt, ketchup, sugar, and sambal or chili sauce.

3. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and some freshly ground pepper.

4. Serve with rice, naan-bread or poppadoms/papads, and a dollop of yogurt, if it's too spicy for you.

På svenska
Kyckling curry på "indiskt" vis

Dim Sum

Dim sums are one of my favorite Chinese dishes. I tried dim sums for the first time when my Chinese friends Ruby, Vivi and Shirly made them for me one night at uni. Up until then I had always thought they looked kind of slimy. But watching my three Chinese friends make them from scratch with such speed and dedication, impressed me to the point where I had to try them for myself + they looked pretty darn tasty. And they were tasty, oh so tasty! The girls served the dim sums with a dipping sauce, and three sides (spicy cucumber salad, fried shredded potato, and steamed egg rolls filled with chicken).

Dim Sum
Makes lots

4,5 dl all-purpose flour
1,5-2 dl cold water

Put the flour in a bowl. Mix in a little water at a time until you have a smooth dough that does not stick to your fingers or the side of the bowl. Cover with a damp towel, and set to rest in the fridge. You can also use ready made store bought wonton wrappers, - very convenient!

300-350 g minced meat, chicken, pork or beef
1/5 (about 10 cm) leek, chopped
1 cm root ginger, finely chopped or grated
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 cm red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seed oil
salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Dipping sauce:
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar, rice- or white wine-
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
2 cm leek, chopped
1 cm root ginger, chopped
a pinch of sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a small serving bowl.

Making the dim sums:
Take the dough from the fridge. Kneed it for 5 minutes. Cut the dough in two, and cut then each
half in half. Take one piece of dough, set the other three pieces aside under the damp towel. Using a rolling pin, roll the piece of dough into a large, very thin, square. Using a mold, I made a mold (9x9 cm) from a piece of paper, and used a glass jar Ø 9 cm, cut out squares and circles. Put 1 tsp of the filling in the center of each sheet. Fold the dim sums like this 1) or 2).

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Drop in 1/4 of the dim sums into the water. When the dim sums float to the surface, cook for another 5 minutes. Take one out of the water, cut in half to check that the meat is cooked. Take cooked dim sums out, and tip in the next load, until all the dim sums are cooked.


Monday, 1 June 2009

Filled mushrooms

I haven't made filled mushrooms since I don't know when. It's not the most healthy thing out there, but it's so delicious. Try it!

Filled mushrooms
Makes 10

10 button mushrooms
50 g butter
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried or fresh basil
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 spring onions, chopped
salt & pepper

Mix the butter and herbs in a bowl. Remove the stem form the mushroom. Fill the cavity with the butter. Grill or place in a 210 C warm oven 'til the butter has melted.

Any left over butter can be frozen.

Fyllda champinjoner

Chicken hamburgers

Yet another day of blue skies and blazing suns. It's been absolutely lovely, I've spent the day in a chair on the patio, reading the book Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. Can it get much better? It's been a perfect day.

Due to lack of inspiration, and possible heat stroke (no, not really), I felt like grilling some hamburgers for dinner. I make my own hamburgers, I hate the ones you buy ready made at the supermarket. Home made is always much tastier, and you can decide yourself what you want to put in them, no unnecessary additives! And let me tell you.... Yum! This was really, really, really delicious!

Chicken hamburgers for lazy days
Makes 4

450 g ground chicken
1 onion, grated, or finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
50 g Parmesan, or other cheese, (or no cheese,) grated
3 cm red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Set to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Make four hamburger patties, and fry or grill 'til done.

På svenska:
Kyckling hamburgare