Saturday, January 31, 2015

Semmelkladdkaka or Cardamom-Almond Blondie


Semlor is all the rage in Sweden this time of year. Let's do a short recap: It's a yeasted bun, flavored with lots of cardamom, and filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Just what you need during a cold and dark Swedish winter, to be sure. It's what we eat on Shrove Tuesday, rather than pancakes. Semlor are sold in every Swedish pastry shop from January to March, basically. (I refer to this post to see a good picture of what they should look like.)


There's rarely much variation. You see a vanilla creme filled semla here, or a chocolate cream one there, perhaps swapping the bun for a saffron bun, but most people stick to the original. Then this year, Mattias Ljungberg of T�ssebageriet hit a home run with the wrap-semla (pictured above). It's a raging success and it's all over social media. It's pretty damn smart - it's the same, but the dough is rolled thinly and baked into a wrap rather than a bun. Much easier to eat on the go and AWESOME. However, not super easy to replicate at home.

Enter the Semla Blondie, or the semmelkladdkaka as it's already known in the Swedish blogosphere. I stumbled upon it via Dagmar, who posted a photo on Instagram.

The same flavors are there - cardamom and almond - and it's definitely very reminiscent of a semla, but with hardly any of the work. Do give this one a try - anyone can do it, and it's delicious. I promise! I started with the recipe found here and played a little with it. My version is slightly less rich, although still plenty full of fat and sugar. Perfect for the winter, like I said.

Semmelkladdkaka or Cardamom-Almond Blondie
10-12 slices

140 g butter, melted
2 eggs
225 g sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1-2 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
120 g flour
100 g almond paste, grated

Start by melting the butter, and let it cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla sugar and cardamom. No need to beat, just stir. Add the flour and the butter, and mix until uniform. Finally add the almond paste and fold together. Pour into a buttered springform pan (about 24 cm in diameter). 

Bake at 175�C at 18-20 minutes. It should still be a little sticky in the middle, but mostly set. Let it cool before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Berries would be nice too, but would take away from the semla-likeness - but go ahead and try!
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Superbowl snacks on CBC's Weekend Morning Show!

 This morning I had the pleasure of presenting the following dishes for CBC's Weekend Morning Show, on the theme of tomorrow's Superbowl.  Host Terry MacLeod also makes chowder with mussels but PEI is not in the Superbowl.  :)

Seattle Seahawks Coffee wings
2 lbs chicken wings & drumettes, frenched*
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled
1 cup of water
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon espresso grounds
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
2� tsp spanish paprika
1� tsp garlic powder
1� tsp dried thyme
1� tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp ground sage
� tsp. cayenne
2 Tablespoon maple syrup*  Optional:  Trim chicken wings & drumettes of excess fat. I prefer them "Frenched" which just means removing the excess cartilage & skin from the 'handle' of the drumette. It is easy to do with a small sharp nice, but not necessary.
Optional:  Trim chicken wings & drumettes of excess fat. Frenched which just means removing the excess cartilage & skin from the 'handle' of the drumette. It is easy to do with a small sharp nice, but not necessary.
Place wings in a bowl and add brewed coffee, water, 2 tablespoons of salt and bay leaf. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 6 hours to overnight.
Mix remaining ingredients, except maple syrup, in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings as preferred (i.e. more or less heat)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain and rinse wings. Pat dry with paper towel. Toss lightly in spice mixture ensuring wings are evenly coated.
Arrange wings on baking rack (with lined drip pan underneath) and cook for 15 minutes.
Baste lightly with maple syrup and then cook an additional 10 minutes.
Baste a second time lightly with maple syrup and then broil for an additional 3 -5 minutes to caramelize sugars.

New England Clam Chowder (Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, 2001)


8 pounds small quahogs or large cherrystone clams, scrubbed and rinsed, opened clams discarded
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
3 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled potatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 1/2-teaspoon pieces
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped chives or green onions


In a large stockpot bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, quickly stir clams with a wooden spoon. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer (this will depend on the type and size of clams you are using), or until most of the clams are opened.
Use clam juice from bottles, your own stock (fish or chicken) and drain tins of whole clams for broth.

Transfer the clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain the broth twice through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, being careful to strain out the sand. (You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.) When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.

In a large heavy pot cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Pour off all bacon fat except 2 tablespoons. Add the butter, onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves, and cook until the vegetables are thoroughly wilted, about 3 minutes, being careful not to brown. Add the potatoes and reserved clam broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth thickens slightly and the potatoes are very tender. (If you like a thicker broth, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.) Remove from the heat, stir in clams and heavy cream and season with pepper and salt, if necessary.

Set aside for 1 hour, covered, to allow the flavors to marry. Place the pot over low heat, and slowly reheat, being careful not to bring to the boil. Serve hot, garnished with 1 or 2 pats of butter, parsley and chives.
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chocolate Truffle with nuts and seeds


A fantastic christmas candy - or anytime candy, actually! It's a creamy and rich dark chocolate truffle, studded with all sorts of good-for-you goodies. I use figs and apricot, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin and sesame seeds. You can, obviously, vary this as you see fit. I bet a good variety would include dried sour cherries, blueberries, hazelnuts and coconut.. perhaps with white chocolate instead of dark?

Chocolate Truffle with nuts and seeds
300 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
240 g cream (full fat)
10 g butter
100 g almonds, toasted
100 g walnuts, toasted
60 g pumpkin seeds
50 g dried apricots, cut small
50 g dried figs, cut small
30 g sesame seed

Prepare all the ingredients. Put the chocolate in a fairly large bowl, and prep a 20 cm square tin with some some sort of easy-release paper or silpat. I use a special non-stick foil for this.

Heat the cream and when almost boiling, pour over the chocolate. Stir until melted. Add the butter and all the mix-ins - reserve a little bit of pumpkin and sesame seed.

Stir well, and pour into your prepared tin. Top with reserved seeds, if you want to. Cover with plastic foil and chill until completely firm before cutting. Keep cool.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Turkish Beef and Bean comfort stew on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

Tomorrow on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with Host Terry MacLeod I will be presenting this Turkish Beef and Bean dish, Etli Kuru Fas�lye.

Turkish Beef with Beans (Etli Kuru Fas�lye)

2-4 lbs beef (inside or outside round, chuck, etc.), cubed
2 cups cooked pinto beans (can also use white navy beans or black eyed beans)
1 globe eggplant, cubed and roasted
1 tin unsalted chopped tomatoes (use fresh in season!)
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs dried oregano
2 tbs Turkish Baharat (optional but fuller flavour if used)*
� tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet optional)
� tsp ground cinnamon
� - 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
Salt, to taste

*Available at Pollock's Hardware Coop.

Saut� onion on medium heat in a large pot with the olive oil until translucent and starting to caramelize.  Turn up heat to medium high and add cubed beef with minced garlic to brown.  At this point, I like to add the cinnamon and oregano as well as other spices to put flavour into the meat and remove the smell of blood.

When the meat has browned, add the roasted, cubed eggplant.  This will add a rich and smoky flavour to the dish.  Add remaining spices, tomatoes and cooked beans.  In Turkey, the ratio of beans to beef is much higher than Canadian expectations so you may use a lot more beans to this dish as well. 

Add red wine and season with salt.  Let simmer for up to an hour or a few hours in a slow cooker.

Serve as a main dish or as you would serve chili. 

Afiyet olsun  (Enjoy your meal!)
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13 courses for (almost) Twelfth Night 2015

It's that time of year again - we always have a fabulous dinner with our friends at the start of the year. We get together to make a large tasting menu, in total, 13 dishes. This year, we had the dinner a little early.  and we were also a couple short since Dagmar and her husband has recently moved. We hope they'll join us again next year!

We had a lot of ideas for themes but in the end, decided not to have a theme at all. It turned out to be a varied meal, and everything was delicious. Each couple made four dishes, and I added a small snack and a drink, as usual.


Our first course was a drink - Bellini Frutti which was basically sparkling wine with a pur�e of peaches, pink grapefruit and strawberries - and a caraway-spiced crisp bread topped with Dutch Prima Donna cheese and a fig compote.

Next came a spicy gazpacho with a mint ice cream. Different and very fun!

Erika and Micke made a lovely (but hard to photograph) r�sti from sunchokes and potatoes. It was served with crisp bacon, raisins and a caper sauce. I loved it.

My starter was rice crisps - you simply deep fry spring roll wrappers, very fun! - with a mango salsa. I was planning to put lobster on top of this but it smelled a little funky so I didn't dare. It was certainly good on its own! It's also topped with a little bit of soy mayonnaise.

Micke and Erika made what might have been my favorite dish this evening. Arctic char with a beurre blanc and asparagus.

For my main course, I wrapped pork tenderloin in spinach and Parma Ham, and served it with  fantastic cognac-laced mushrooms and a lightly pickled salad.

We also had duck, with a sweet grape sauce and a garlicky potato mash.

The final main course was a classic Beef Wellington from Lena. It was really pretty so I wish I had a better photo of it. The sauce was fantastic!

This dish - deep-fried dumplings -  was so weird I first wondered if it had been included in the cookbook (Dumplings all day wong by Lee Ann Wong) as a joke. The filling has white chocolate, wasabi and pretzels and on its own, it was pretty horrible. But as it turned out, it was really good! The dumplings took a lot of work, since the pretzels are sharp and prone to poke little holes, so I did a lot of patching.

This was so good it should be illegal. Chocolate dipped bacon with toasted almonds. Try this!

Erika and Micke made individual cheesecakes with raspberry coulis, awesome!

My own dessert was a repeat - fried pineapple with caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and salted peanuts. Yum!

Finally, our very last dish. Limoncello parfait with a raspberry coulis. The perfect to end to our wonderful meal.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Warming Soups on CBC's Weekend Morning Show

Yesterday on CBC's Weekend Morning Show with guest host Laurie Hoogstraten, I presented the following two warming, rich and healthy soups for winter.  The first, Dhal, is a traditional lentil soup that you can make thick or thin, according to taste.  The second, made with my Ras el Hanout spice blend, is also up to your tastes.

Soup is something from which you should demand great flavours.  It is so easy to prepare stocks or broths from what you have on hand already in most kitchens and then you control the salt and fat.  Both of these soups freeze well to have on hand or for lunches (regarding some New Year's Resolutions to bring your own healthy lunches to work).  Depending on the quantities and ingredients, each lunch can cost between $0.10 - $0.50.  Compare to buying lunch every day ($10 - $20!)


2 cups red lentils
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbs curry spice blend
2-3 tbs olive or vegetable oil
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
~ 4-6 cups water
~ 1 cup yoghurt
salt, to taste
optional, 1 tbs brown sugar to round out taste and cut acid

In a larger pot, bring lentils and water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat oil and saut� onion until translucent. Add spice blend and cook until softened. Add ginger and garlic and be careful not to burn. When the water in the lentil pot is boiling, add hot onions and spices to the pot and stir. Simmer and add vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in yoghurt and test for salt.


Kitchen offerings soup (aka, what do you have on hand?)
 I made a vegan soup with my Moroccan spice blend, Ras el Hanout.  It is spicy and has red cabbage, parsnips, tomatoes, carrots, porcini mushrooms, and squash.

1-2 onions, sliced
1-2 tbs olive oil
2-4 tbs Ras el Hanout
1 Kabocha squash, in large dice (depending on the squash, you can leave the skin on!)
3 parsnips, in coin slice
1/2 red cabbage, cored and fine slice (use green if you don't wish a dark red colour of soup)
3-4 carrots, in coin slice
a few cauliflower flowerets, rough chop
small amount dried porcinis, crumbled
stock or water, to cover for a thick broth
salt and pepper, to taste

Saut� onions in olive oil in large stock pot.  When translucent or caramelized, add ras el hanout and cook until soft over medium heat.  Add vegetables and stir to incorporate.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft.  Season to taste.


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Friday, January 2, 2015

Lamb Burgers with Saffron Bulgur and Sour-sweet tomatoes


This was the first meal of the year to be cooked in my kitchen and wow, what a meal it was. So very flavorful and truly delicious. I really like tomatoes with saffron, and the sweet caramelized onions work so well with the acidity of the sauce. I strongly recommend those two elements together. The lamb burgers were great as well, but you could switch those for some other protein if you'd like.

Lamb burgers: 
500 g lamb mince
3 garlic cloves, minced
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 egg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp water
salt, pepper, pinch of dried oregano

Mix everything together and shape 12 even-sized balls. Heat some butter and fry - a few at a time. I like to get a little bit of color on one side, then turn them upside down and smash down hard. This makes nice, juicy patties. Then fry as usual, until they reach the right level of doneness (I always, always used a thermometer, but I realize most people probably don't.)

Saffron bulgur
500 ml lightly salted water
300 ml bulgur wheat
0,5 g saffron
1 tsp olive oil

Bring the water to a boil. Add the bulgur and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the saffron about halfway through. Finish with a little bit of olive oil.

Sour & Sweet Tomatoes
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

Melt the butter and fry the onions on medium heat until soft. Sprinkle with sugar and let the onions color a little bit. Add the sherry vinegar and the tomatoes and let the whole thing reduce for a few minutes. Season with salt.

To serve: thick yogurt, toasted hazelnuts

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Peanut Cocoa Candy


This isn't raw food because of the salted peanuts, but it's along those lines. It doesn't have any sweetener and is, as far as candy goes, pretty good for you. And good - very, very good. Do give it a try - it'll take all of five minutes.

Peanut Cocoa Candy

100 ml salted peanuts
20 dates, pitted
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil

Grind the peanuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until you have a grainy mass. Turn it out, and knead it a little bit to help bring it together. Press into a small lined tin or box, and place in the fridge to firm up.

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