Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Breadbaking Days.

The Blue Café has breadmaking day at least once a week. Bread is an important part of the Norwegian diet, bread for breakfast, bread for "matpakke"-lunch and bread for supper, so one breadmaking day a week is not enough for the bread we need. Which means we have to buy bread as well. But nothing tastes like fresh, homemade bread, especially when it is strill hot from the oven, the crust crisp.
The recipe I use is something which is inherited in my Norwegian stubborn genes I think, it is written only in my mind. For 4 big breads and 15-20 small ones I use 1,8liter fingerwarm water, and as mucg flour as needed to get the right consistence on the dough, 2 packets of 50g fresh years, salt and "some" oil.

Yesterday I made 4 breads and 15 small rolls as usual, the rolls just disappeared during supper - enjoyed lukewarm with butter and brown cheese or honet, the first bread during breakfast this morning.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chicken with orange and honey.

I often have different periods with different favorite dishes in The Blue Café, and right now chicken has high priority. And with that I want to try new recipes. Like so many other lovers of foodmaking I have a huge collection of cookbooks, and looking through a few of them I found a recipe I wanted to try;
Chicken in honey and orange sauce.
I needed chicken filet, olive oil, onions, salt, paprika, pepper, orangejuice, honey, lemon juice, ginger, nutmeg.
Fry the chicken in the olive oil for about 15 minutes. Put the chicken in an ovenproof tin together with the onion which is cut into rings, spread the spices on top and then the juice and honey.
Roast at 200C for about 45 min.
We ate the chicken with rice decorated with slices of oranges.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Violet potatoes.

The dinners in the monastery were quite simple, though they tasted heavenly :-) Most of the days during my week there we ate vegetarian food only, but the last day was a special feast day, and the food was thereafter - delicious violet potatoes, lamb and vegetables, served with a sweet Bourgogne, eaten while learning about old saints from Father Anthony.
In my "House in the Woods" I will tomorrow tell my special story about my astonishment when being served these violet potatoes. I couldn't understand how they got their colour, but now I have learned that such violet potatoes really my inkbottle has nothing to fear.
Sorry, I don't have a recipe on how to make this meal, so let the photos speak to you, use your imagination, and just enjoy! And find a book about the saints and read about their exciting lives.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sweet pastry comfort food, kringle.

As long as I have yeast in the fridge, I always prefere fresh yeast to dried though I have a couple of packets of dry yeast in the cupboard for emergency, my day is okay. Sweet pastries, breads, croissants.....the variations of goodies to bake are endless. As I have written about before, January is very much a month of leftovers after Christmas in our home, and in the fridge I had several small containers filled with marzipan leftovers after all the cream cakes I made during the season. Small pieces of marzipan can be eaten as treats, but not too much, bombs of calories as they are. My solution was a marzipan filled pastry, in Norwegian called Kringle or Klippekrans. Krans means wreath, klippe is cut with scissors.

Kringle or Klippekrans.
5 dl milk
50g yeast
150gr butter
1dl sugar
ca 1,3l flour
Mix the yeast with the sugar in the baking bowl (I love to bake in my old Egersund fajanse bowl) and let it melt. Melt the butter and mix with milk, let the mixture be fingerwarm before you add it to the yeast and sugar. Add flour and knead till the dough is smooth. Let is rest under a cover till doubble size.

Bake out and form a kringle/wreath. This is difficult for me to explain in English - what about some Norwegian :-) Well, knead out a flat long retangle and fill with bitter, cinnamon and marzipan, roll together and form a circle, cut and form the "klippekrans" as seen on photos.
Bake in oven at 200C for about 25-30 minutes. Best eaten hot from oven, leftovers, if any, can be frozen.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Avocado as a starter.

Our everyday dinners are usually quite simple. Coming home from work we are hungry and want to eat, and there is not much time neither for creativity in making new dishes, nor for preparing starters. But some days shall be different, and while grocery shopping one day I couldn't resist the avocados. I knew I had creme fraiche and a raspberry sause at home, so it was easy to make a starter for me and my husband.
We were three around the table, but our youngest daughter is not a fan of avocados. Instead I surprised her with a plate of what I know is a favorite of hers, salted Ritz biscuits and grapes.

I am back from my retreat and look forward to keep on my new foodblog.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Away on retreat.

I will be away on retreat till next week-end. Untill then - Bon Apetite!

Bread and tea for breakfast

Some nights I don't sleep well and last night was one of them. I woke early, and decided to not feel desperate about all the sleep I didn't get. Fighting my tiredness I went into the kitchen and decided I could give the rest of my family the cosy feeling of smell of fresh baked bread when they woke.
Favorite Sunday pastries in our family are these ones we call "horn", a traditional name they have got because they are shaped like the horns of a he-goat. They are easy to make and delicios when eaten still warm from the oven. And also perfect for the freezer waiting there for next Sunday morning's breakfast.

Frokost horn/ breakfast pastries.
16dl white flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons sugar
200gr butter
6 dl milk or water
100gr fresh yeast
Melt the butter and mix with the milk/water to a fingerwarm mixture. Add the yeast and whipe till the yeast has melted. Mix it with the flour, salt and sugar. Knead to a smooth dough. Let the dough rest in a temperate place for half an hour.
Cut the dought into four pieces and roll out to a circle like shown in the photo. Cut each circle in 6 and roll/form the pieces to horns. Let the horn pastries rise while you heat the oven to 220Celsius. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
We drink tea for breakfast, coffee is for later in the day. I have a special corner in my kitchen where I keep my tea and coffee supplies. Yesterday the tea collection was extended with some special tea bags from Equador sent me by Risa which hosted an online teaparty some time ago.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rice porride for Saturday lunch.

It is an old tradition here in Norway to eat rice porride for lunch on Saturdays, and so it is in our family. I have posted about this tradition before in my House in the Woods, but since it is Saturday today and since I want to make this a food blog where I post about Norwegian traditions, I am repeating it here.

Risengrynsgrøt (rice porridge)

2dl rice (special porridge rice)

4dl water

1liter milk.

Boil the water with a little salt, and the rice. (We buy rice specially prepared for porridge here in Norway, I have never tried making the porridge with the rice we usually eat for dinner). Let the rice boil nn a moderate hot oventop till most of the water is boiled into the rice. Add the milk and heat to the point of boiling. Let the rice boil on low temperature for 45 minutes.

Another way of preparing the porridge is to make what we call Dynegrøt or Quilt Porridge. Follow the description abow untill the rice and the milk has started to boil. Remove from oven and wrap the casserole in a quilt. Leave in there to sleep for 3-4 hours, add a little milk and heat till the point of boiling, and the porridge is ready.

We eat the rice porridge with a dash of butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Frittata with a touch of friendship.

Do you remember my Friendship Fruitcake from yesterday? The one we got in the mail right after Christmas? My daughter also got some food goodies in the mail, from good friends in France. Having difficulties in deciding what to give a 17 year old girls with her very own taste, they decided to go for a box of goodies where each family member put in a favorite treat (a great idea I plan to adapt for gifts for friends abroad).

My daugher was thrilled, and right away had a feast with her younger sister.

I am home this week, with the rest of the family busy with work and school. Which means I make lunch only for myself, and I have alot of time to do so. Everyday lunches in Norway is actually quite a boring affair, we have the so called "matpakke" - foodie bag, with a couple of pieces of bread with cheese or ham. It is okay when you are hungry enough, which I always am at 11.30am, but nothing to stimulate your appetite :-) - remind me that I must make a "matpakke" blog entry here one day.

But back to my solitary lunches. Yesterday I became hungry as usual around noon, and decided I wanted to make something more creative than a couple of pieces of bread with "brunost" (which is brown goat cheese, sweet and very, very Norwegian). Chasing the fridge I found a few leftover mini salamis from my daughter's gift, and decided to use them in a frittata.

Hence: Frittata with a touch of friendship.

I cut the salamis into small pieces and friend them in the pan with virgin olive oil, leek, garlic and onion. After a few minutes of frying I let this stuffing rest in a bowl while I made the frittata of two eggs, salt, pepper and paprika. Carefully not to burn it I fried the frittata on both sides. When finished I put the stuffing on top, folded the frittata in two, fried a few pieces of French bread and ........... Solitare lunch in The Blue Café was ready.

Friendship and Food.

Friendship and food are strongly connected. I have a good friend in Austria, Dagmar. She lives in a huge dairy farm with her family, and in February last year I was invited to come and visit. Dagmar and I took the train down to Venice together for a wonderful week at the carneval, and I spent on week at the farm in Austria, starting the book I am writing about Lent. Enjoying family life with Dagmar, har husband and their four kids.

I will never forget all the great and tasty homemade food I got during this week. Dagmar has a huge countryside kitchen, a kitchen also used as a family room where she gathers the family around her. I spent hours sitting down at the huge table in this cosy room, watching Dagmar create one of her traditional dishes, chatting with the youngest daughter, learning to make Tiramisu from one of the grown up daughters, meeting Dagmar's parents, being part of the family circle during meals........Memories which will stay with me.

The week after Christmas we got a huge box in the mail, delayed because of customs. A box with Christmas gifts from Dagmar and her family. Among the gifts and treats inside the box was a Christmas fruit cake. Beautiful to look at, a heavenly taste. Almost as soon as the box was opened, I made a pot of coffee for Terje and myself, and we sat down to enjoy the first two pieces. Mmmm. We both love it! The cake is filled with figs, and has a very rich taste. And as you all can see, it looks beautiful. I have sms-ed Dagmar to ask if the cake has a special name, but she just calls it a fruit cake. For me it has become The Cake of Friendship.

I wish I could share a piece of Friendship with all of you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fresh vegetables - wok!

I love to cook, I love to bake, I love the sight of fresh vegetables. But i have never been fond of grocery shopping. I guess this is the reason why I am so fond of feasting in leftovers :-). I can browse the fish market in Venice for hours, I can walk for a long time to visit the pasta bakery in Terracina, I find the food markets along the roads in Laos excotic. But the local grocery stores here in Trondheim just bores me!
But yesterday I had to pay a visit to my local store. We wanted a wok for dinner, and the fridge did not hide much vegetables I could use. It turned out to be one of those not so bad visits at the grocery store though, may be because I wasn't in too much of a hurry. And I came home with a nice palette of vegetables.

We love wok, and even more because it is a good way to treat vegetables without killing their freshness nor their vitamines. It is fast and easy to make, and at the same time you get this good feeling of a home made slowfood dish.

Chicken wok palette.
Fry garlic in olive oil. Add chicken meat cut into dices.
Cut a colourful palette of vegetables into dices and add into the wok pan. (almost all vegetables can be used, depending on season, on your mood, on the palette you want to create.....)
Fry for some time, till the vegetables have become smooth (but still al dente). Add salt and pepper.
Rinse preboiled wok noodles in cold water, add them into the pan together with a wok sauce or just some plain soya souce. Fry till everything is hot.

We put the wokpan on the table, and eat and eat and eat and.........

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Foccacia with olives.

It is Sunday morning, and my time to recover some energy after a busy week. I have several ways to recover. Terje, Marta and cousin Mathilde are out cross country skiing, yes we've finally got enough snow for that. I could have gone with them, but decided to use the opportunity to enjoy a quiet house. I have an opera playing, Mozart's Don Giovanni, I am making a cream cake for a party in the afternoon, and I have just taken a foccacia with olives out of the oven. The nice smell is filling the house.
For the foccacia I used the same recipe as I gave you a few days ago, Foccacia Dolca con Mandorle, but instead of sprinkling the dough with sugar before baking, I used a small glass of marinated olives.
A rich foccacia doesn't need anything else, but taste the best eaten plain, still hot from the oven.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I've been travelling.

When I started this food blog I was hoping that I could post every day. What I forgot then though was that my life is often very busy with travels, and during many of my travels I don't have my laptop with me.

I have been away for two days now, with no time for cooking and no time for blogging. But now matter how busy you are you have to eat, and herb marinated salmon, vegetables, a sweet and sour cucumber salad and a heavenly white sauce is worth travelling for:-)

I got mine at the small island of Tautra in the Trondheim Fjord where I spent Friday. I am planning a seminar there in June, and went there with two colleagues to do some planning. After dark and wet days the weather god gave us a perfect, low winter sun, and the earth covered in a thin film of snow. Tautra has a monastery with Cicterciencer nuns, and I am going back there in a week to stay for five days. Will be living in the monastery's guesthouse, following their prayers, walk, read and write.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to transform a cauliflower

Our oldest son has been to the dentist to pull out a troubling wisdom tooth, so for a couple of days now all he can eat are soups. I've been busy at work and not able to make him anything home made. But today I bought a cauliflower on my way home from work. And a "blomkålsuppe" (cauliflower soup) was made.

I really am no good in translating recipes, nor in explaining in English how I cook. I am actuelly not very good doing it in Norwegian either, as most of my cooking are made from recipes filed in my head only. But I'll give it a try.

Melt a tablespoon of butter and mix it with two tablespoons of flour.
Stir and let it be warm all through.
Add milk and then water from the cauliflower which you are boiling in a separate pot, just a little at a time.
Stir well.
For my soup I added about 2dl milk, then 5dl of salted water.
Add salt and pepper, small dices of sausage, and cut the boiled cauliflower in small pieces and add.
Let the soup boil for a few minutes. Serve warm with bread and water.

Let me know if my explanations are good enough. And please give me better English works if I mix up words here :-)

Enjoy the blues.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Going nuts.....

Last Christmas I started a Nutcracker collection. I was reading The Nutcracker, and in my blog I wrote about my wish to have one or more of these charming erect uniformed men. The blog world is amazing, and a few weeks after I wrote my blog, three Nutcracker had found their way to my House in the Woods.
Together with this collection I have another very special nutcracker though, a bird (is it a swan?), made by my father in law some years ago. Quite a charmeur this swan, isn't he:-).
Well, Christmas is over, but there were still nuts left. I usually bring all the leftovers out to the bird feeder where the squirrels will find them. But before doing so this year I decided to make a Foccacia Dolce using a recipe I've found in Ilva's food blog. I had never tasted a foccacia dolce before, but was eager to try. And believe me. This one was really worth "going nuts" for.
You'll find the recipe for Foccacia Dolce con Mandorle over in Ilva's beautiful food blog.
Blogging here at the new blogger/blogspot is still quite new to me, and it behave different from typepad. One of the things I've discovered is that I usually don't get your e-mail addresses when I get your comment in my mailbox. At Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods I try to respond to most of the comments I get, by writing an e-mail back, but this is almost impossible here. What I will do instead is to come back to the special "comment box" here from time to time to give responses.
A couple of you have asked about the recipe for yesterday's ice-cake. I don't have it at hand right now, but will see if I can come back to it later.
Happy cooking and eating.

Christmas is officially over.

Today is the day we undecorate Christmas in The Blue Cafè and in my House in the Woods. Officially we should have done it the 12th Day of Christmas, on Epiphany, which was on Saturday. But we had guests both Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so for us it has to be today.

The last Christmas cake I am making this holiday season is an icecake, still only with leftovers of course:-). I crunch some Christmas cookies and spread them in the bottom of a Spode Christmas Tree bowl, then I make the cake using eggs, sugar, cream cheese, an orange and whiped cream.

The cake will have to spend the night in the freezer, and oh, la la, the next day you have the most yummy dessert. And Christmas is all dreams and good memories to live on untill next year.

Monday, January 8, 2007

January is for leftovers.

January is the big leftover month. A month when we can live cheep on what we already have in stock, and save our money for the travels we dream about taking later in the year - Venice in April, Rome/Terracina in July.
I didn't use all the turkey yesterday, so when I came home from work today I cooked some pasta and made a cold turkey salad. A turkey salad can contain alot of different ingredients, use what you have and mix it with your creativity. Mine consists of turkey, cold pasta, celery, cucumber, an apple, green salad, salt ( I still have some left from what I bought in Malta the summer of 2005) and good virgin olive oil - my favorite for the moment is the French D&CO.
Serve the salad in an antique "Egersund fajanse" bowl, use some nice dinner plates (always treat yourself good on a Monday), fry some "day old" bread in olive oil, and drink alot of fresh water. Enjoy a perfect dark Monday in January meal!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Potatos, always potatos.

Here in Norway potatos have always played an important part in the kitchen. When I was a girl there was hardly a dinner without a casserole with boiled potatos. Nowadays pasta, spaghetti and rice are becoming more and more popular, but potatos still play an important role in my kitchen.

Christmas is over and the freezer, the fridge and the coldroom in the basement are filled with leftovers, calling for my creativity to make new meals. A challenge I can't resist. Yesterday it was time for leftovers from the New Year's turkey, and I decided to make a dish with potatos baked in cream and cheese.

Cream and cheese potatos.
8 potatos, peeled and sliced
Pieces of sliced onion and celery

Cover with a mixture of cream and milk. Bake in oven, 225C for half an hour. Cover the dish with cheese and bake for another 20 minutes.

Opening of The Blue Café Blog

After blogging for two years, first here at blogger for a few months, then at typeped since April 2005, I realized that more and more of my blogging was about food. I will keep on blogging about daily life in Norway at Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods so the solution I came up with is to start another blog, focusing on food blogging from the view of a Norwegian family.
My first "real" food blog will be up tomorrow, so you are welcome back then.