Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donald Duck's Time Christmas Treat - Gingerbread Cookies


Ok next up, Gingerbread Cookies! What's Christmas without it in Sweden? They even have ready made dough you can purchase for about 4 SGD which is what I've used. Yes, I've taken the shortcut haha but if you really want to make it from scratch, which I promise I will next year, here's the recipe that came with the funny dough, which appropriately was titled *already been chewed.

Gingerbread man ingredients

Fred's famous ABC* cookie recipe
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup molasses warmed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons warm water
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Part 1 - The Work
  1. Combine the flour, spices and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening with sugar, then beat in the egg and molasses.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in warm water and add to the molasses mixture, beating until smooth.
  4. Gradually add in the flour mixture, cover and chill for 24 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius.
  6. Grease two baking sheets, then on a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  7. Use the cutter to make shapes in the dough, (Try not to eat too much of the raw dough)
  8. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until they are brown around the edges.
pepperkaker moulds
Part 2 - The Fun 

If you like, you can decorate the cookies with frosting and put them on a decorative plate in plain view. Watch people investigate their newly-baked goodness, notice the bite marks, and then move along. Then, eat all the cookies yourself!!

half eaten pepperkaker

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Treats for Donald Duck's Time- Swedish knäck

knack 1

Sorry for the absence, I've been moving apartments over the weekend (still moving stuff over). The new and old apartments are about 600m away but it's a world of difference! For one, I got a nicer and bigger kitchen so I'm very happy because I have at last space to store all my cooking gadgets :)

Anyway, its just a few days before Christmas and I've been busy preparing some snacks for the family's annual Donald Duck time on TV.

You didn't know? Apparently the Swedish has this custom on TV that Donald duck (and Mickey mouse) cartoons are shown on on Christmas eve around 3pm for about an hour every year, without fail. So I call this Donald Duck's Time and this year the family is coming to our new apartment to watch it on our soon-to-be-replaced TV and I made some snacks to help make it more festive.

This is a classic made by my father-in-grace every takes the skill of one who knows how to operate the microwave and high heat. Anne's food blog documents a few versions but here's one that's been tried and tested by my dear father-in-grace :). They all have the instructions for making it when you buy the little paper cups but some might differ.

50g sliced blanced almonds (means those without the brown skin)
1.5 tablespoon butter
2dl castor sugar
2dl light syrup
1.5dl whipped cream
(1 dl =100ml)

Steps - Before you start, lay out the little cups on a plate, as many as you can, because when the mixture is ready to be pour out you need to be fast about it otherwise it will harden.

Version 1 

  1. Mix everything together (except the almonds) in a deep glass container so that the sides doesn't boil over.
  2. Put it in the microwave on the highest setting for 2-3 minutes at a time. You need to keep a watch on it and you might need to take a few rounds to get the right consistency.
  3. Be careful when taking it out, take a drop of the mixture and drop it into a bowl of ice-cold water, feel it with your fingers that it can be formed into a ball, but still remained chewy. When you are satisfied with the consistency, add in the almonds and quickly pour them into the little paper cups.

Version 2

  1. Mix the butter, sugar, syrup and cream in a thick-bottomed, deep pot
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat, taking care not to let it boil over for about 30 minutes until 1 drop of the mixture in a bowl of cold water can be formed into a ball.
toffee or fudge

Stir in the almonds and pour them into the little paper cups. Let it cool and harden, store in airtight container.

Christmas candies

Note: I used version 2 this time round, it took quite a long time and I have to take it off the heat once in a while to prevent it from boiling over. The end result was a bit too soft for my liking but I used some maple-flavoured pancake syrup instead of the light syrup which I suppose is similar to corn syrup. Will try again next year! Remember, these can be ADDICTIVE! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saffron bread with almond filling - Lussebullar med mandel massa

Its 13 December today and its Santa Lucia day here in Sweden. The swedes take this day quite seriously and there's always a choir on TV singing the hauntingly lovely song to get everyone in the mood. They also have saffron bread, which normally starts on 4 Sundays before Christmas, they call it 'advent' here. Today is the third advent and they will lit up 3 candles at one time, with the fourth being lit up altogether on the fourth advent day. If you are ever in Sweden during this time, you will also see many stars and electric candles being displayed and lit up in the windows. I love it, and especially with the short days, it just makes the long nights a little magical with Christmas coming up soon!

It snowed today! Well, just a little bit, we are hoping it will keep up and we may have a white Christmas. We made some Christmas candies at my parents-in-graces place last week, I especially like one call 'Knäck', will try it out and post up the recipe soon, its very easy!

I tried out saffron bread yesterday, after craving it for so long and I think my mother-in-grace makes the best and this year was especially good! However, all the recipes was in her head so she wrote down the bare basics and I tried to figure out the rest of the steps from Anne's blog on pistachio buns and saffron buns.

This is very delicious and freezes well too, just let it cool down before you freeze, and before serving, just microwave it to heat it up and it will be perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

With almond paste filling

Ingredients - This makes 2 large loaves

500 ml milk, finger warm
100g butter, melted
25g fresh yeast, or equivalent of dried yeast
150ml kesella (or quark) or cooking cheese
1 whole egg
0.5grams of saffron (this is very expensive!Here, they come ready in packets of 0.5grams)
1 teaspoon of cardamon powder
1-1.5kg of plain flour (You really have to vary this depending on the absorption of the flour)
150g butter and 400g almond paste
Almond slices and pearl sugar for decoration
Egg wash with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water

  1. Warm up the milk, and using about 100ml of it, dissolve it with the fresh yeast. Remember to have it fingerwarm otherwise you might 'kill' the yeast. Add it to about 1kg flour, kesalla, egg and cardamon powder mixture.
  2. Pour in the melted butter with the rest of the milk. Add it gradually to form a very soft dough, add in the saffron and gradually add the rest of the flour until you get a nice and soft dough.
  3. Cover with a towel and let it proof for about 30 minutes in a large mixing bowl.

    Proofed and ready saffron dough

  4.  Divide the dough into halves, take each half and roll it out with your hand until it forms a large rectangle. Make sure your surface is well floured to prevent it from sticking.
  5. Using a cheese slicer or butter knife, slice and lay out the almond paste and butter evenly on the rectangular dough.
  6. With the length of the dough facing you, fold a third of the dough inwards from left to center, and the remaining third of the dough from right to overlap the center portion.
  7. Using a baking sheet that covers the length of the dough, flip it over gently so the folded sides should be at the bottom, resting on the baking sheet.
  8. Take a pair of scissors and cut along the surface of the dough to make a pattern. Decorate with almond slices and pearl sugar, and brush a layer of egg wash over. Let it rest for another 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius, and bake it for about 10-15 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Keep a watch on it after 10 minutes.
  10. Let it cool before slicing, or freezing. Enjoy!
Saffron bread with almond filling

Mandel Massa mellan

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baked Beef Tomatoes

Topped with slices of mozzarella cheese

We saw these giant tomatoes in the supermarket one day and my husband had the idea to put beef bolognaise into them and baking it. I'm sure everyone has their own version of bolognaise but I think my husband's is the best one ;).

Anyway, since it was the first time I was making anything like this, I did some google searching and they all had some versions of it, some with couscous. We recently bought this pasta which resembles rice. So I thought I will try a variation of it by mixing the bolognaise with rizoni (or risoni or rizzoni or orzo).

Serves 2
2 Beef tomatoes (they can be as large as your palm can hold them)
200ml cooked beef bolognaise
1 mozzarella cheese
200g rizoni

 Rizoni - pasta which looks like rice

  1. Scoop out the fleshy part of the tomatoes, leave a thick rim all round. If you are cooking the bolognaise from scratch (I will put up the recipe soon), you can chop them up and add it to the mix to cook.
  2. Drain any juice from the tomatoes, wrap the bottom half with aluminum foil like a bowl.
  3. Cook the rizoni according to instructions from the package until its al dente as you will be cooking them further in the oven when you bake the tomatoes.
  4. Mix the bolognaise with the pre-cooked rizoni thoroughly, then scoop them into the cavity of the prepared tomatoes until it is filled.
  5. Shred the mozzarella cheese (especially when you buy them into individual packages which comes in the form like a ball) and layer it over the mixture.
  6. Bake it (with the top of the tomatoes placed to one side) for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees celsius, or until the top is browned.
  7. Serve hot!

Rizoni with beef bolognaise

Baked beef tomatoes with bolognaise rizoni

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Carrot Cake (Chinese Style) or Fried Chai Tow Kway

Here's the Chinese version of carrot cake - very different since it is more of a savory item than dessert. You probably came across the pan fried version of it when you are at dim sum restaurant. In Singapore, we call is Chai Tow Kway, and I especially like the dark version which is fried with sweet dark sauce.

Fried Carrot Cake with Black Sauce

I first tried making this with glutinous rice flour, which was a huge mistake since I ended up throwing them away. Glutinous rice flour is too sticky, and more suited for sweet dumplings soup. So make sure you get the plain rice flour!

Makes one 15-cm round portion.

500g Daiko or white radish - finely shredded
Half a red carrot - finely shredded
200g rice flour
70g tapioca starch
810 - 850g room temperature water (Ratio should be 3:1 of rice flour to tapioca starch, water should be 3 times the total flour mix, adjust accordingly if you want a firmer or softer product)

 Rice Flour to Tapioca Starch to Water

1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
Dash of white pepper
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
Half a Chinese sausage

  1. Heat up about 2 tablespoon of oil and fry the dried shrimps and Chinese sausage till they are fragrant. These are optional.
  2. Squeeze the water out of the radish and mix in the shredded carrots. Add to the pan and stir fry until they are slightly soft, this should take around 10 minutes or so.
  3. Pour in the flour, starch and water mixture, stirring constantly using low heat for a few minutes. Add in the seasoning. The mixture will be quite thick and sticky. Add more water if desired if you want a looser mixture, but it should not be too watery otherwise it will be too soft to use.
  4. Pour into an oiled shallow metal dish which you will use for steaming. I used a 15cm disposable aluminum shallow bowl.
  5. Steam over medium heat for about 35 minutes. Pour away any water that might have condensed on top and let it cool completely before cutting.

    Midst of Steaming

    Steamed Carrot Cake

  6. If you want to pan fry it after dipping it in a beaten egg, cut it into thick squares.
  7. If you like the dark version, cut them up into small bit size bits, start with frying up some minced garlic, add the carrot cake, then the beaten egg, season with sweet dark sauce and fish sauce. Sprinkle spring onions and a dash of white pepper over the dish before serving.
Pan fried Carrot Cake dipped in beaten egg