Edradour

Yesterday was a dismal day here at the cottage. The fog hung thick around the walls and the newly prepped ski tracks were ruined by rain. There was nothing to tempt us to go outside and it was a challenge to find something to take photographs of.

However, it was a very good excuse to do nothing except snuggle up in a comfy chair and read a good book. In my case “From Plate to Pixel“. I am trying to get better at taking food photographs and found the book both inspiring and full of practical and useful advice. As today is “Fastelaven” (Shrovetide in English – at least that is the best translation I have found) I also wanted to make some buns. This Sunday is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent and traditionally it is also the last opportunity to eat well before the fast. Fattening yeast buns filled with cream are usually served sometime during the day.

When the children were small we often filled a basket with hot chocolate and buns and carried it off to Ulabrand, to sit there looking out over the sea on a cold and crisp winter’s day.  Buns filled with whipped cream in a basket and walking is not a good combination, so we created our own tradition by inserting a piece of chocolate in the buns. The challenge was to get to Ulabrand whilst the buns were still hot and the chocolate inside meltingly soft.

The recipe has gradually evolved, from using white flour and sugar, to using spelt and raw sugar. Yesterday it dawned on me that chocolate and orange is a lovely combination, so why not include orange zest in the recipe… The smell of baking orange filled the cottage and the buns turned out exceedingly delicious. If you would like to have a go, the recipe follows below.

Now what has all this got to do with Edradour? Nothing, except that a “wee dram” at the close of a mellow day was the perfect ending. In June last year we visited Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery. They only produce two barrels a day and everything is done by hand, including shoveling the malt. We bought a bottle of one of their most smooth whiskies and it is only brought out at very special moments. Yesterday, for some odd reason, was one of those. The ambiance in the cottage, the warm, snug feeling of sitting by the fireplace, with the dog at our feet – everything was the perfect setting for a wee dram.

The day drew to a close, you could nearly hear the angels whispering good night.

Chocolate and orange yeast buns

For 15-16 large buns you will need:

  • 350g cold milk
  • 100g cold butter
  • 100g raw sugar
  • 1tsp dried yeast or a peasized lump of fresh yeast
  • grated rind of one well washed orange
  • 550g sifted spelt (farro) flour and a little extra flour if you think the dough is too loose.
  • 15-16 pieces of good dark chocolate
  • A little flour for shaping the dough
  • 1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of milk for egg wash
  • A little rough cut sugar brown or white for topping

Use a Thermomix or a food processor to incorporate the butter in the flour together with the dried yeast if you’re not using fresh. If you are using fresh yeast dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the orange zest. Tip the flour mixture into the bowl and mix well. Cover, and let stand for 8-10 hours (or overnight) at room temperature. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for a minute or two. You may need to add a little more flour at this stage. Divide the dough into two parts and roll each piece out into a “sausage” which you cut into 7 or 8 pieces. Insert a piece of chocolate in to each and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. (You will probably need two baking sheets.) Let rise under a tea towel for 45 min.

Set your oven to 225ºC. Brush the egg wash on the buns and drizzle some sugar on top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. Keep an eye on them the last few minutes. You don’t want them getting too brown.

Serve warm with a cup of hot chocolate. Enjoy!

PS: I am thinking of replacing the milk with orange juice next time. I think they may become even more delicious.

PS for Thermomix owners: You may wonder why I don’t use the TM to knead the dough. This dough is a little sticky and I find it more of a hassle to scrape out the dough to let it rise in another bowl, than to mix it quickly by hand.

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Our Christmas and a recipe for “krumkaker”

 

Carolines art work!.jpg
Unfortunately it has been ages since I’ve been able to post. As for most of us, pre
-Christmas life has been very busy, but now we are settled in at our mountain cottage – ready to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Breads and cakes have been baked, shopping has been done, presents are P1020300.jpgwrapped, the tree is installed in the sitting room with lights on – waiting to be decorated this evening, whilst enjoying a mug of Christmas “gløgg”. The cured ham is slow cooking at 85ºC and the smells are beginning to waft through the cottage.

Christmas at this cottage is lovely. I really want to show you what it is like, so here are some pictures from last year

 

Christmas Eve morning we always serve a Christmas wreath with raisins and nuts. I set the dough the night before, roll it out in the morning and serve it freshly baked with hot chocolate.

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The birds sit outside the window, feeding and watching us.
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A month or so before Christmas I bake my version of  English Christmas cake, with all kinds nuts and dried fruits. The cakes are marinated with brandy and make lovely presents.

 

Red tulips and small branches from the fir trees outside add to the Christmas spirit.

 

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Hopefully the snow that came down last weekend will remain. At the moment the weather has turned milder, so it really is touch and go.

 

Traditionally in our house we always serve “krumkaker” with cloudberries and whipped cream for dessert. These are very thin cakes rolled into cones made from a thin batter which is baked in a special appliance. You also need a cone shaped wooden form to roll the cake around. I doubt many of my foreign readers will indulge in one of these, but it may interest you any how to see what the appliance looks like. The challenge is to get the cakes thin enough, but with my very own adapted recipe I usually am successful. The cakes should be golden brown and slightly lacy at the edges.

I have included my recipe below and with these pictures and the recipe
I wish you all a lovely and peaceful Christmas and everything you hope for in 2012!

Krumkaker

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  • 125 g melted butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g strong flour
  • 125 g Maisena flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml cold water
  • 50 ml brandy (Or any other alcohol you may have at hand. This year I had forgotten the brandy at home, so I used Pims instead. It didn’t seem to make a difference.)

Whip sugar and eggs until the mixture is foamy and light. Add the flours and blend well. Add in water and brandy. Let the mixture stand for at least 1 hour. Pour one table spoon or so into the hot krumkake appliance for about a minute, depending on the heat setting. The cakes should be light brown. Quickly roll them up into a cone with the cone shaper. Place on a rack to cool.

These are lovely served with cloudberries, other berries or ice cream. Merry Christmas!

 

Morning has broken …

This is the sunrise I woke up to this morning. Mornings are getting later and later and this scene did not show up until about 9 am. I am at our cottage, trying to catch up on Christmas preparations, as well as work that should have been done ages ago.

It’s freezing outside. Not so much due to the degrees, about -1ºC, but the wind chill factor really hits hard, as the wind coming down from the north is fast and furious. It seems to be wanting to take revenge on the mild weather we have had throughout October and November. The mildest weather during these months in fact for many, many years.

A few minutes later the sun shone through the trees:

I can see all this from my bed and it wasn’t hard to potter out to the kitchen, make a cappuccino and pick up two of Heidi’s Millet Muffins which I made yesterday. However, as  spelt grains agree with me more than normal wheat, and I dislike measuring sticky things in cups I have tweaked the recipe slightly. Also I am the lucky owner of a Thermomix, so if you own one you can follow the directions below. If not, you can find the directions in Heidi’s downloadable PDF brochure.

No - I didn't make them in this pan. They just fit well!

Millet Muffins with spelt flour
(makes 12 fairly large muffins or 16 smaller ones. Perhaps the muffin cups I normally get here in Norway are smaller than the ones you get in the US.)

  • 280 g fine ground whole meal spelt flour
  • 60 g raw millet
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 225 g plain yoghurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (I used 3 smallish ones)
  • 110 g barely melted unsalted butter
  • 170 g honey
  • Grated zest and 2 tbs juice from 1 lemon

Directions for making this in a Thermomix:
Preheat the oven to 205ºC. Melt the butter in the TM 40 sec/100ºC/speed 4. Place yoghurt, eggs, honey, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda in TM and mix briefly at speed 4-5. Put millet, flour and lemon juice in the TM and mix at speed 5 or 6 until you see that the batter is blended. Normally about 20-30 secs. Do not over mix.  Pour batter into the muffin cups to just below the rim. Bake in top third of the oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are browned and beginning to crack. Cool them for about 5 minutes before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy them warm as they are or with a pat of butter and some jam.

If you have never tried any of Heidi’s recipes, do explore her website and look out for her books, especially if you are a vegetarian. But even those who aren’t, find her food different, exciting and delicious.

Guess who had a nice half hour in bed with the muffins and the cappuccino, comfy under her duvet, busily planning her day and making lists? Enjoy your day, make the muffins and you too can have them for breakfast tomorrow. Can you possibly have a better start for a lovely day?

PS: See what nature made during the night. Isn’t it beautiful?

The last show …

Late afternoon – the sun is just about to hide beneath the horizon, but its last warm rays makes the few remaining roses in the garden glow. I am full of admiration for how the roses are struggling to keep their heads up, inspite of frosty nights and cold days. Some of them are not even clothed in leaves.

I spent a few hours late in the afternoon tidying up the garden before the snow blankets everything the other day. It was lovely, but cold. Knowing that a warm bowl of soup was planned for supper it didn’t matter that my fingers turned into icicles.

The original recipe for the soup was printed in the English version of Country Living, but me being me I had to adjust it slightly to our taste, adding both a tin of chopped tomatoes and some garlic. Served with home made focaccia, a small bowl of good olive oil to dip it in and good company it turned out to be a delicious meal.

Kale, chorizo and butter bean soup
(vegetarian if you drop the chorizo and use vegetable stock)

  • 225 chorizo cut into cubes or half slices
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 large rosemary stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150 g kale, finely sliced
  • 1 l chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tins butter beans, strained
Fry the chorizo on medium heat until it releases its lovely red juices. Increase the heat and fry until golden. Set aside. Reduce the heat somewhat and fry the onion together with the rosemary stalk and the bay leaf for about ten minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic the last couple of minutes. Add the stock, the tomatoes and the kale. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Mash half of the beans in a food processor or a fork. Add this and the remaining beans to the soup with the chorizo. Simmer another 3-4 minutes. Serve the soup in heated bowls sprinkled with some fresh chopped rosemary.
We had some lovely home made focaccia on hand, but a loaf of crusty bread would be just as good to dip in the soup.

Please do try to make the soup! I promise that it is delicious.

Come take a walk with me again … and the recipe for my saffron spaghetti with mussels and shrimp

We are extremely lucky to have a beautiful cottage in a very quiet area not too far from Oslo. Located at the foot of Hardangervidda, the area is dotted with marshes, beautiful rocks, moss and lots of pine and birch trees, which as you get up higher up in altitude, get more and more twisted and gnarled.

Sometimes I get the feeling of walking in a bonsai garden, looking ad the trees, the moss covered rocks and the water pools.

Hiking across the marshes yesterday we came across lovely thin ice formations, which were floating above the water, because of the water level having sunk after the ice had formed.

The beauty of the ice constellations hanging on to the thin straws struck a cord of wonder in us. Can you see the lovely ice feather that has been formed in the picture below?

After a 4 hour walk it was nice to get back to the cottage, where a sauna took away the chill of the icy winds. Pottering around the kitchen we created this meal which was enjoyed with a good bottle of Italian wine. Although the ingredients list is long, the meal takes a short while to make and is well worth the trouble!

Pasta with mussels and scampi and a hint of saffron

You will need:

  • 500 g spaghetti of choice, we prefer whole wheat
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 500 g big shrimp in their shells
  • 2 chorizo sausages (sliced chorizo works well too)
  • 2 handfuls of mini tomatoes
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, as preferred
  • 1/2 g saffron
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • 1 fat bulb fennel
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 good handfuls rucola salad
  • about 10 stoned and sliced black olives
  • salt and pepper

Cook the pasta al dente as the packet prescribes. Rinse in cold water to prevent further cooking. Clean the mussels and throw away any that do not close up when handled. Heat 1/2 dl water in medium sized pot. Place the mussels in the pot and cook gently for 5 minutes by which time they should have opened. Set aside. Peel the shrimp leaving tail on, slice the chorizo, the shallot thinly and the fennel (about 2 mm thick). Cut the tomatoes in half and finely chop the garlic.

Fry in the chorizo in a big sauté pane or large wide pot until it begins release some of its lovely red color.  Add the garlic, shallot, fennel, and tomatoes. Sprinkle the saffron on top.  Pour 1dl of the mussel juice into the pan together with the cream. Let simmer for about 5 min. Adjust flavoring with salt and pepper. Mix in the spaghetti and the mussels and heat gently until everything is warm. Lastly mix in the rucola and the olives.  Serve in warm, deep bowls together with some hot rustic bread.

Tip: Remove half of the mussel shells before mixing them into the spaghetti. Makes serving easier. Serves 4

Read more about Hardanger vidda and hiking there.

A very last reminder of summer

A quick peek in the garden last week made me run into the house to get my camera. The weather here has been quite cold the past week. We had woken up to frost several mornings in a row. And yet, and yet, a few small reminders of summer were still hanging on. Today, as I post this, they are gone.

The green grocer still supplies raspberries, blue berries and both white, red and black currants. But they certainly aren’t grown locally at this time of the year. Seeing the sweet peas and the berries in the store made me long for a summer favorite recipe, as a last fling before winter seriously hits.

So on Saturday I served this Chocolate Panna Cotta with a topping of fresh raspberries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 gelatin leaves
  • 250 ml cream
  • 40 gr caster sugar
  • 100 gr quality dark chocolate
  • 0.5 tsp powdered espresso coffee (optional)
  • raspberries for topping
  • powdered sugar

METHOD:
Cut gelatin leaves into smaller pieces, place in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Place cream, sugar and chocolate into a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring continuously until sugar has dissolved and chocolate has melted. You may need to whisk a little.  Remove from heat.  Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add it to the hot mixture. Whisk until gelatin is dissolved.  Pour into moulds or serving dishes/glasses.  Let cool in the fridge at least 4 hours until set.

Top with raspberries and a snow of powdered sugar.

Serves four if you have a good amount of raspberries. Serves two if serving the panna cotta by itself.

Note:  The recipe can easily be doubled. Use 0,5 gelatin leaves for each 100 ml.

Morning has broken … and a delicious crock pot recipe

On Saturday we woke up to the first really frosty morning.  The mist was hovering over the fields and the sun was just breaking through.

The scene was achingly beautiful …

As I stood there and watched, the sun danced over the clouds and the light was caught by the few golden leaves which were left on some of the trees. The yellow tinge of the straw on the fields glowed as it was covered by the warming blanket of sun rays.

A shivery day like this called for a rib sticking heartwarming dinner later in the day. The perfect recipe came to mind “Slow Cooked Sweet Potato Chili”. Thanks Angie for a delicious meal!  I had to do some personal tweaking as always, but I guess that is how it always is for creative cooks!

700 g tomat passata
400 g diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon stock concentrate or 2 stock cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder (more or less depending on strength)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
400 g kidney beans
400 g black beans
450 grams ground beef sirloin (optional)

Put everything in your crock pot, stir well and cook for about 10 hours until the sweet potatoes are cooked.

Serves 4 very hungry ones og 6 normal appetites.