Monday, April 30, 2007

Nettle soup.

The nettles are growing steadily though the weather here in Norway is still quite cold. Terje was out to remove all he saw the other day, but before he started his work I was there before home, with garden gloves on, saving a few for a nettle soup.

The soup was easily made. I gave the nettles a short boil and while waiting I made the base for the soup melting butter, mixing in some white wheat flour and adding a little milk and salted water from the boiling nettles. After the nettels had boiled for a few minutes I sliced thwm and added them to the soup. Then added more salt, some pepper and some nutmeg.

The left over water from the boiling of the nettles was used to water the tomatoplants. Nettles is known to be good for arthritis.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bread with variations.

After I started food blogging I give myself new challenges all the time. In planning what to eat, in preparing the food, and may be most of all taking care when it comes to the photographing. It is so much fun finding the right china and tablecloths to fit my food. The plate I use today, I bought in Assissi some years ago. It is a single one, so when I prepared bread with marinated herring for me and Terje for lunch today, I served the bread on two different plates. I got the Assissi one, Terje got the one with "thank you"-written in alot of different languages. Both of them were perfect with the bread :-)
Bread plays an important part in the Norwegian kitchen. I used to bake most of ours, but lately my work has kept me too busy for that. But I am on my way back to the kitchen more and more, and nothing can be compared to the homemade ones. Today is Saturday, and the only things we have planned for the day is gardening and playing in the kitchen. So I knew it when I woke up this morning that I wanted to bake bread.

I don't have a specific recipe for my baking - 1,8 liter finger warm water, 50g yeast, different types of flour (not too dark), olive oil, salt, and today I added sunflower seeds. The piece of bread on the photo is with a thin layer of salted butter, sliced hardboiled egg, marinated herring (ready bought) and sprinkled with fresh chives from the garden. Both Terje and I had been out gardening, so each of us had three pieces of bread :-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Are fishballs boring?

Since my childhood fishballs have been on the menue for dinner. "Fiskeboller i hvit saus" - fishballs in white sauce. It sounds so boring, and is traditinally often made quite colourless. It is a cheap dish though, it is healthy and in many way quite tasty. Especially if you take care and use some fantasy when you make it.
I like to make the old traditional dishes in The Blue Café, and when I found that the fishballs were on sale today it was easy to go for them.

They are served in a white sauce made by butter, flour and milk, salt, pepper and curry. And I also added spring onions and chives. The chives in the garden are growing fast now, and i love to use them generously.

To give some extra taste to the dish, I added shrimps together with the fishballs in the white sauce.
Traditional side dishes are potatos and carrots with sugar, lemon and raisins.

No! Fishballs are not boring!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blue China.

Blue china plays an important part in The Blue Café, and every time I travel my collection is growing. This blue cup was bought in a small workshop in Cannaregio in Venice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Orange chicken.

I am lucky to have friends who know my style, and for my birthday I got this pie plate sent over from a good friend in Canada. The Blue Café was full yesterday, today I and Ingrid were the only two to eat dinner, and I decided it was full time to use the plate for the first time. Ingrid wanted chicken for dinner, so during today's busride home from work, I came up with this idea:

Orange Chicken.
The pie plate was glazed with olive oil and on top of the oil I put a layer of sliced oranges. Two chicken filets, which was marinated in a garlic and herb marinade and braised slightly, was laid on the oranges, and finally my filet was covered with a blue cheese. Ingid is not fond of this cheese, so I left hers plain.

Baked in the oven, 200C for about 30 minutes. Served with basmati rice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Something simple for a Monday.

In Norway most people eat dinner as soon as they are home from work. For us this means sometime around 4.30 - 5pm. Usually when I come home from work I am starving and spending too much time on preparing the food is almost impossible. So I play with my recipes and "chef-cooking" during the week-ends and make something simple during the week.

Walking home from the busstop takes my steps past our closest grocery store, and it is easy to stop and shop for dinner. And the bus ride home from work gives me the perfect time for planning what to eat.

Today was one of these days when I knew I wanted to make something fast and simple. I was hungry, and I wanted to go out in the garden as soon as we had eaten. A Swedish sausgae called "falukorv" was the solution. Diced and braised in olive oil with a red, sweet paprika and fresh green spring onion - fast, simple and delicious. And some macaroni we bought in Italy was perfect with the sausage.

And knowing my kids I was smart enough to buy an extra sausage. Marta had two friends at home who were hungry for dinner, Ingrid and her friend came home during our meal, starving after a long run.

The Blue Café is always busy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The first rhubarb

As I wrote about in The Blue Garden yesterday, spring is earoly here this year. Even though I posted some snowphotos from the garden a couple of days ago. Yesterday, Sunday, we were invited to my parents for dinner. We had coffee in church and didn't feel for a heavy lunch when we came home. But seeing the first rhuburb come up in the herbgarden, tempted me to make the first rhuburb porridge of the year;
Rhuburb porridge with yoghurt
I cut a few stalks of rhuburb and boiled them in water and sugar. The stalks were so tiny they needed boiling for just a few minutes. I took the pot away from the heat and added "potetmel" (sorry, I can't find an English name for this floour made of potato starch?) stirred in cold water. I stirred the porridge, put it back on the heat till it almost started to boil, and........finished.
Before eating I topped it with a couple of teaspoons with plain yoghurt, left over from the other day.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sole fruitsalad.

Home alone a Saturday night. I can't remember last time that happened. Marta is spending the week-end with a cousin at my parents house, Ingrid is out with friends and Terje are celebrating the 50th birthday of a good friend. I was also invited of course, but with the aftermath of the flu I decided it would be best for me to stay at home - with my operas, with my books, with my writing, and with something good to eat.

Usually, when all of us are at home on Saturdays, we (i.e. I) make a nice family dinner in the night. I didn't feel for a dinner alone today (though I love to cook for just one), so I decided to make a fruit salad.

Sole fruitsalad

Dice one orange, one banana, a pear and a few green grapes. Whipe cream with a little sugar and mix it all together. Top the salad with chocolate and the first fresh mint leaves from the garden.

Eat the salad while enjoying Händel's Rinaldo.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Venetian artichokes

When we are in Venice we stay in Nati House, a small flat with a small kitchen. Staying in a flat instead of a hotel means that we can cook our own meals. Grocery shopping and visiting the food markets have become a favorite way of spending time in Venice, bringing home to Nati House kitchen ingridients which I seldom find at home.

When I spent Easter in Italy last year I learned to know that Easter means time for the artichokes. I tasted them at restaurants last year, but this year my goal was to use them in my own cooking.

On our way back home to Nati House one day we passed a vegetable market where the seller was peeling artichokes. "Wait", I said to Terje and Marta. "I have to check out this." The seller knew just a couple of English words, I know just a couple of Italian ones, but both of us interested in artichokes he was able to tell me how to cook the artichoke hearts with the help of salt, fresh garlic and some other greens.

I went home to Nati House feeling like a real chef, cooking a perfect meal for my little family.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yoghurt Blues.

Seems like both my flu and old Mother Winter have the same resistance. I am up from the bed but with very little of my normal energy to dance the days, though looking out the window my eyes meet dancing snowflakes which do their best to cover the tiny little plants finding their way from the newly frozen soil.

When I need some kitchen inspiration, my favorite place to go it over til Ilva at Lucullian Delights. The other day she posted a healthy yoghurt spiced with honey and puffed quinoa. I have never heard of quinoa, so I couldn't exactly copy Ilva's yoghurt. But it made me see that I could make my own, not just buying premade fruitflavored yoghurt at the grocery store.
I sent my oldest daughter out shopping, though she was quite hesistant:
"Plain yoghurt, you mean with vanilla?"
"No, I mean plain, just plain."
"Vanilla is the plainest yoghurt I have heard about mum....."
"Well, take a look in the shelves then, and see what you get!"

She came home with a perfectly PLAIN yoghurt, a mango and some dark chocolate. And from that I made a wonderful mango and chocolate yoghurt just in time for Marta when she came home from school.

Why is it that I have never flovoured my own yoghurt before? Thanks Ilva for the inspiration.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Craving colours

I am sorry that I have been neglecting The Blue Café for so long. First we spent Easter at our cabin, then we travelled to Venice for a week of vacation. When I came home I had travels to do for work, and now I am down with a flu. Being sick means that I have nbo appetite, and at the same time the body need vitamins at its most then. And not only vitamins, it also needs colours. So a carrot stew sounded just perfect for me today. a white sauce made of butter, flour, lwldtover water from boiling the carrots, salt, pepper and greens from what you have in your herbpots.
I will be fully back here soon.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Cabin Carbonara

It is Easter break in Norway and we have spent the first part of it at our cabin. Our favorite retreat when we need to charge our batteries. Had a great time cross country skiing on our way there on Saturday, then Sunday, with no Palm Sunday service in the local church, we decided to spring clean the cabin. Had some pancakes with blueberry jam for lunch, and late in the afternoon I was starving for a real, salty meal. I hadn't planned anything, grocery shopping was sceduled the next day, and we don't keep much food in the cabin over winter. But doing a search in the cupboard and the small propan fridge we have, I ended up with ingridients which I could transform into a:
Cabin Carbonara

I boiled spaghetti enough for three people. While waiting for the spaghetti to finish, I braised three left over hotdogs from skiing the day before, one onion, selleri and chives from the cabin garden. A sauce was made of melted butter, an egg and some leftover cream (which I had packed with the rest of the food because I knew it would be spoiled if I left it at home over our holiday).
I mixed it all, and sprinkeled with sellery leaves.
It was too cold to have dinner out on the terrace, but I couldn't resist a photo.