Friday, August 31, 2007

Recipe from Summer Food: Spicy croquettes

Serves: 4.
Prep time: about 20 minutes.
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Do not freeze.

500 g starchy potatoes
4 eggs (2 raw, 2 hard-boiled)
2 onions, grated
100 g mild block cheese, grated
1-2 slices cooked ham, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
Salt and pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Breadcrumbs for coating
Oil for frying

Peel the potatoes, cut into pieces and cook in lightly salted water until cooked through*. Drain, dry and mash. Hard-boil 2 eggs and chop finely.

Mix together the mashed potatoes, 2 raw eggs, the boiled eggs, onions, cheese, ham, parsley, butter, flour and spices to taste. Cool the paste so it will be easier to work with.

Make small, sausage-shaped croquettes from the paste. Roll in breadcrumbs and fry in deep oil (or deep-fry), a few at a time. Turn often and fry until they are lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. While you fry the remaining croquettes, keep the cooked ones warm on a serving dish in the oven at 85°C.

Serve with cooked vegetables.

*I never, ever peel potatoes before I boil them. I would simply cook them whole and peel them afterwards.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Recipe from Summer Food: Cauliflower pie

Serves 6-8.
Prep time: about 25 minutes
Cooking time: up to 45-50 minutes.
Oven temperature: 200°C
Do not freeze.
Pie pastry:
150 g butter
Salt, pepper, paprika
2 eggs
Ca. 300 g (500 ml) flour
Melt the butter and allow to cool a little. Mix in 1tsp salt, a dash of white pepper and 1 tsp paprika. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture foams. Stir in the flour, a little at a time, until the pastry is smoth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
1 medium head of cauliflower
300-500 g sausagemeat or minced meat
1 onion, grated
2 bunches parsley
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 lemon
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 tbs flour
200 ml cooking cream
50 g cream cheese with herbs (use plain and add some herb seasoning if you can't get it)

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While the pastry cools, divide the cauliflower into small florets, wash and simmer in lightly salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain well and keep the cooking liquid.
Mix the egg, grated onion, 1 bunch finely chopped parsley, juice and grated peel of 172 lemon, salt and pepper, into the sausagemeat/mince.

Roll out the pastry and line a pie dish (about 22 cm in diameter) with it, bottom and sides. Prick the pastry well. Cut out a strip of aluminium foil wide enough to cover the rim of the pastry and cover the rim with three layers of foil. Bake at 200°C for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and let the pie crust cool a bit. Smooth the sausagemeat over the bottom of the crust and lay the cauliflower florets on top. Melt the butter, and over low heat whisk in the flour and add the cream and cream cheese and enough of the cooking liquid from the cauliflower to make a smooth sauce. Sauce shoult be thickish. Adjust the flavour with lemon juice, finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the pie filling.
Bake at 200°C for 30-40 minutes until the cauliflower and meat is done through. Serve with crusty bread and a fresh salad.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Recipe from Summer Food: Cold cucumber soup

Serves 4.
Prep time: up to 20 minutes.
Cooling time: about 1hour.
1 large cucumber
3/4 to 1 litre vegetable stock
2-3 small onions
300 ml plain yogurt
1/2 lemon
White pepper
1 bunch parsley

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Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. Cube the cucumber, sprinkle with salt and let stand for about 10 minutes.
Peel the onions and dry the cucumber pieces well. Purée the onions and half the cucumber pieces and the lemon juice in a blender. Mix the stock and yogurt into the purée and adjust the flavour with the spices. Refrigerate. Mix in the remaining cucumber pieces before serving and sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recipe from Summer Food: Golden Delicious Apple-white wine punch

Serves 6-8.
Prep time: about 15 minutes
Standing time: about 1 hour

4 sweet apples
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
85 g (100 ml) sugar
The juice of 2 lemons
1 bottle semi-dry white wine
1-2 bottles mineral water (presumably fizzy)

Wash and peel the apples (keep the peel) and remove the center and seeds. Cut into thin sections. Put the apple sections, the peel and the vanilla pod in a punch bowl. Sprinkle the sugar over them and add the lemon juice. Pour in enough wine to just cover the apples, cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and refirgerate for about 1 hour.
Remove the apple peel and add the rest of the wine and ice-cold mineral water.

Non-alcoholic version:
Replace the wine with apple juice and reduce the sugar.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cookbook of the week #4: Hjemmets Kokebokklubb: Sommermat (Summer Food)

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This cookbook comes from a series published by Hjemmet, which I think also publishes the womens' weekly magazine of the same name. I have this book in the original Norwegian, and several others from the Icelandic edition of the series. The theme is "summer food", i.e. picnic food and dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients, cold drinks and fruit and berry desserts. Since summer is showing definite signs of ending soon, I decided to test this book before autumn sets in, although I generally don't cook different dishes in the summer than I do in the winter, formerly seasonal ingredients now generally being available year round.

Here are some of the recipes I would like to try:

Apple-white wine punch. I would try to make it into a cocktail.
Barbecued pork kebabs with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. I can almost taste them…
Cauliflower Pie. I like baked cauliflower, and this looks like the next step up.
Spicy potato croquettes. These would be nice served on the side with the kebabs.
Cold cucumber soup. Sounds very refreshing.
Rhubarb tart. I love rhubarb and I have some of last year's crop still in the freezer.
Glazed fruit tart. I love these, but have never tried making one.
Chocolate ice-cream. I always make vanilla and then add extra flavour by using sauces and liqueurs, but I would like to try making chocolate ice cream for once.
Strawberries Romanoff. I think these would be quite nice as a dessert after the kebabs.

I think I have a meal planned already :-)


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Recipe of the week, part 2: Murg Vindaloo (Chicken Vindaloo: Goan vinegar curry)

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1 roasting chicken, about 1,5 kg (3 lbs), or equivalent weight in mixed chicken pieces
4 tbs oil for frying
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Curry paste:
2 tbs cummin seed
1 tbs black mustard seeds
3 tsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tbs chopped ginger
1 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup vinegar (this means regular white vinegar, not any of the flavoured kinds)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Cut the chicken into small serving pieces: drumsticks, thighs, and divide the breast into four parts.

To make the curry paste, grind the cummin seeds, mustard seeds, chilli (if using), ginger and garlic in a blender with the vinegar. The spices should be finely ground. Add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. The pan should be steel or enamel, not iron, because it can react with the vinegar (aluminium would be too light). When the oil is hot enough to cook with, remove the pan from the heat and add the curry paste. Stir for a few seconds to heat the paste (it will not blend well with the oil, so don't try), then add the chicken pieces to the pan and stir to coat well with the paste. Let stand for an hour or longer to marinate (although Solomon doesn't mention it, do refrigerate the chicken. You don't want to risk getting food poisoning).

After an hour or more of marinating, return the chicken to the cold pan and bring to the simmering point over low heat, add salt and pepper and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender. Stir from time to time to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan.

Serve with plain white rice.

Alterations and substitutions:
I only used half the amount of chicken given in the recipe, but made a full recipe of spice paste to ensure I had enough. I used chicken wings instead of a whole chicken. I cut the wings into three parts and discarded the tips, as these have very little meat on them.
I had to use brown mustard seeds because I couldn't find black.
Neither substitution should matter where taste is concerned, as the chicken is supposed to be chopped into pieces anyway and brown mustard tastes very similar to black.
Instead of 3 tsp of chilli powder, I put about 2 tsp of cayenne pepper.

There was one ooops! moment: I made up my mise en place before starting and didn't keep the little bowl of salt and pepper separated from the rest, so I accidentally added it to the paste (it's not good to be absentminded when working in the kitchen. At least there was no blood this time). This shouldn't matter much, except pepper tends to lose its kick when cooked too long, so I added a little more near the end of the cooking time.

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Recipe review:
Knowing the tart taste of vinegar, it can be daunting to start using it as a cooking ingredient, but millions of people the world over can hardly be wrong, so I decided to give it a try.

The spice paste smelled lovely when ready, and I could not smell any trace of vinegar. When I put the chicken in the pan, the paste was so thick that it looked as if it would immediately stick and burn to the pan once it got hot, but after a few minutes of simmering, the juices started coming out of the chicken and the spices and juices formed a sauce in the pan. At the same time, the spices would slip off the chicken and sink into the sauce, so I stirred the chicken well every few minutes to make sure every side of the pieces got to soak in the sauce and absorb its flavour.
I cooked the chicken for 30 minutes, which is enough for wings, but would give it another 15-20 minutes if mixed chicken pieces are used.

The end product was tender and spicy, but not too hot. While I like the taste of chilli in food, I prefer it not to be very hot, because I want the rest of the ingredients to be more than just texture, i.e. I want to be able to taste them. 2 tsp of cayenne was just right, but think I would like to try making the recipe with no chilli at all, just to taste the full richness of the other spices. There is a slight sharp aftertaste, no doubt due to the vinegar, which gives an extra flavour note to the dish.
Serving it with plain white rice was good, as the clean taste of the rice made a good compliment to the spiciness of the chicken.

P.S. It is even better cold.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Recipe of the week, 1: Pakoras

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This week I chose two recipes as the recipe of the week. The first, Pakoras, I have already tested. The other I will try tomorrow. Here is the recipe:

Pakoras (vegetable fritters)

3/4 cup besan (chick-pea flour, also known as gram flour)
3/4 cup self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup flour + 1 tsp baking powder)
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
Approx. 1 cup water
2 medium potatoes
1 medium aubergine (eggplant)
1 medium onions
A few fresh spinach leaves
Oil for deep-drying

Mix together besan, flour (baking powder, salt), garlic, salt, garam masala, chilli and water and beat until smooth and light. The batter should be about the thickness of pancake batter. Cover the bowl and set aside for at least an hour (don't refrigerate).
Peel the potatoes and cut into thin slices. Drop the slices into cold water so they will not turn brown. Remove and pat dry just before frying. Wash but do not peel the aubergine and cut into thin slices. If it's large, cut it into bite-size pieces. Peel the onions and cut in half lengthways. Then cut into thin slices lengthways, leaving a bit of root at the end to keep the slices together (looks a little like fan). Wash and dry spinach and tear into pieces.

Heat the oil in a wok, karahi, a deep frying pan or deep-fryer. Dip individual pieces of vegetables in the batter, let the excess batter drip off and drop into the hot oil. Only fry a few at a time to keep the frying temperature high (if the temperature is too low the pakoras will be tough and oily). Pakoras should be light and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and serve warm with a fresh chutney or raita for dipping.

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Omissions and changes to the recipe: I used only half an aubergine and substituted the other half with half a zucchini, I only used half an onion, and no spinach, as I would have had to buy a huge packet in order to get the few leaves the recipe calls for. (Another time, I might use arugula instead of spinach).

Recipe review:
Most recipes for Pakoras I have seen instruct the user to make the batter and use it right away, with no standing time. I assume the standing time in Solomon's recipe is to give it time to start fermenting so it will puff up more.

The batter required more (about 1/4 cup) than the given amount of water to get to the right thickness. When dipped into the hot oil, it puffed up nicely and turned a lovely golden colour. Using the given amount of spices (garam masala, garlic and chilli) and salt, it has, when cooked, a mild spice flavour and could, in my opinion, use double the garlic and chilli and a little more salt, but of course I ate them without a dip and perhaps the recipe takes into account that they would be served with dip. I could not detect a difference in taste from a spiced Orly batter, meaning that I probably could have used double the given amount of flour and left out the besan.

I sliced the vegetables into slices about 5 mm (1/2 cm) thick, which turned out to be just right for the aubergine and zucchini, but too thick for the potatoes which were a little short of being al dente by the time the batter had turned golden. The onions were mostly perfectly al dente. It was difficult to slice a half onion into even-sized fan slices, and next time I will probably just quarter the onion and slice the quarters and when I'm done frying the other ingredients I'll mix the onion slices into the batter, give it a good stir and drop it into the oil by the spoonful.

The fritters were crisp and not too greasy, but as I mentioned before, the batter was somewhat lacking in flavour. The fritters are good cold as well as hot, but the batter loses it's crispness as they cool and the juices from the vegetables penetrate the batter. And while I didn't make a chutney or a raita or indeed any kind of dip, I think that when served as party snacks it would be best to serve these pakoras with a choice of several different dips, for example something sweet, something tart and something spicy.

I imagine it would be very good to chop all the vegetables into small pieces and mix everything together to make mixed fritters. This batter would, I think, be excellent for shrimp and fish fritters. I also think that bell peppers (capsicums), mushrooms, cauliflower and julienned carrots would make excellent pakoras, not to mention jalapeño peppers.

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Indian recipe: Badam Kheer (creamed almond; Uttar Pradesh)

4 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 tbs ghee
1 cup almonds, skinless
6 tbs sugar
1/8 tsp saffron strands
2 tbs boiling water
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Garnish (optional):
Flaked almonds
Edible silver leaf

Put milk, cream and ghee into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. When it starts to boil, turn the heat to the lowest temperature that will keep it simmering and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you need to remove the skins for the almonds you must blanch them (I buy them skinless so I can skip this step): Put them in a small saucepan with some water and cook for 2-3 minutes, drain and plunge into cold water. The skins will then slip off quite easily.

Slice the almonds very thin, using a vegetable peeler. If they are soft from being blanched this is easier to do. Alternatively, grind the almonds in an electric blender. Add almonds and sugar to the milk and cook, stirring. Pound saffron strands in a mortar and pestle, dissolve in the boiling water and add to the milk. Continue cooking until it is the consistency of custard. Remove from the heat, stir in the cardamom and pour into a dessert dish. Cover and chill before serving. If you like, you can garnish the pudding with a few flaked almonds and silver leaf.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More Indian food: Blogs and websites

Here are some interesting websites and blogs I have found that offer Indian recipes (and sometimes more than just Indian). The links will open in new windows.

Indian vegetarian recipes. A collection of Indian recipe suitable for vegetarians.

Indian Food Kitchen. A website with a collection of Indian recipes. The advertising is a bit annoying, but the recipes are worth the annoyance. There is also a blog.

Indian recipes. This blog appears to have gone static, but the recipes have not.

Mahanandi. Gorgeous food photography and heaps of recipes.

Indian food & Andhra recipe. This blog has interesting recipes and beautiful food photography.

Food recipes, Indian food recipes. This blog seems to have gone static, but it has some nice recipes with photos.

Indian recipe: Alu Mattar Rasa (potato and pea curry, Utter Pradesh style)

1 large onion
1 fresh red chilli
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 tbs oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 cup shelled peas
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
500 g potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbs yogurt
1tsp garam masala

Peel and roughly chop the onion. Seed the chilli and remove the stalk. Purée together the onion, chilli and ginger, adding a little water if necessary. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the purée, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric and coriander and fry a little longer. Add the peas, hot water and salt, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes. If the peas are very young and tender, they can be added with the potatoes. When peas and potatoes are half-cooked, add the tomatoes and continue cooking for a few minutes more. Tahe the yogurt and stir with a little water until smooth, then add to the vegatables. Simmer until the cooking liquid thickens. Sprinkle with garam masala and stir gently to mix. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro (leaf coriander).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Indian recipe: Machchi Do Piaza (Bengali curried fish)

500 g (1 lb) firm white fish fillets
2 tsp ground turmeric
Lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbs chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 large onions
1/4 cup mustard oil or other vegetable oil
4 fresh green chillies, seeded and sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Wash the fish and rub with half the turmeric and lemon juice and set aside. Put remaining turmeric, chilli, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and one roughly chopped onion into a blender and purée. Slice the remaining onion very finely.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the sliced onion, stirring frequently, until it is golden. Remove from pan and reserve. Put the spice-onion purée into the pan along with the chillies. Stir over medium heat until the colour of the paste darkens and the oil separares from the paste. Add the fish, salt and water and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Do not stir, so as to not break up the fish, but shake the pan occasionally. Add the fried onions after 10 minutes. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Indian recipe: Dhal Mulego Thani (South Indian lentil mulligatawny)

The Tamil phrase "Mulego Thani" translates as "pepper water" in English.
This is a soup.

1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
2 medium onions
1 tsp sliced garlic
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
6 cups water
1 tbs ghee or oil
6-8 curry leaves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala (see yesterday's recipe)
1 cup coconut milk (optional)

Wash the lentils well and soak for about an hour. Drain, put into a saucepan with the water, 1 onion (chopped?) and 1/2 tsp garlic, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, cover ans simmer until lentil and onion are soft. Strain through a sieve, mashing the lentils and discarding the spices.
Slice the remaining onion very thinly. Heat ghee or oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and curry leaves until the onion is dark brown. Add the lentil liquid, salt and garam masala and simmer for a couple of minutes. For a richer soup, add the coconut milk at the end of the cooking time and stir until it is heated through.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Indian recipe: Seekh Kebab (minced meat on skewers) and Garam Masala (spice blend)

750 g (1 1/2 lbs) finely minced lamb
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garam masala (see recipe below)
2 tbs roasted chick peas, ground, or besan (chick pea flour)
2 tbs ground almonds
2 tbs finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbs yogurt
1 tbs lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, mix and knead together until smooth. Divide into six even portions and shape the portions of mince into long sausages around the same number of flat barbecue skewers. Barbecue or grill until browned on all sides and cooked through. Serve with rice, naan or chappatis.

Smaller portions make excellent finger food.

To make garam masala:
4 tbs coriander seeds
2 tbs cummin seeds
1 tbs whole black peppercorns
2 tsp cardamom seeds (roast pods and remove seeds, then measure)
4 x 7,5 cm (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg

In a frying pan, roast the spices separately: coriander, cummin, pepper, cardamom pods, cinnamon, and cloves. The spices are roasted when their smell begins to rise from the pan. After roasting, peel the cardamoms and discard the pods and only use the seeds. Put the spices into a blender or spice grinder (not a pepper mill) and grind to a fine powder. Grate the nutmeg finely and add to the mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cookbook of the week #3: Charmaine Solomon's Indian Cookbook

I love Indian food, from the meat dishes of the north to the hot vegetable dishes of the south. My favourite ethnic restaurant in Reykjavík is an Indian/Pakistani place called Shalimar which serves authentic Indian food, both meat and vegetarian dishes.

Cardamom Chai (spiced milk tea), Lassi (buttermilk drink with flavouring), Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower dry curry), Rogan Josh (red lamb curry), and a spicy chick pea dry curry for which I don't know the Indian name, are part of my kitchen repertoire. I know how to cook chappatis, and I have cooked various other classic Indian dishes, such as Aloo Mattar Samosas (potato and pea-filled deep fried savoury pastries), Tandoori chicken, Koftas (meatballs in yogurt sauce), several different Dhal (lentil) dishes and Raitas (yogurt dip), the westernised Chicken Tikka Masala (possibly the world's most popular curry) and the Anglo-Indian Kedgeree, which I have never been able to stomach as a breakfast dish like the British, but will happily have for lunch.

On the other hand I have never made a Pilau or a Biriani (I'm not even sure what the difference is), Naan bread, Balti dishes, chutney of any kind, Indian kebabs (except a kebab version of Tandoori chicken), and the only Korma dish I have made is the abovementioned Koftas. I have never even tried Pakoras, Vindaloo dishes or an Indian fish or pork dish of any kind and I have only tried one kind of Indian sweet, which I had to eat for the sake of being polite while very sick, so I don't remember what they were like. (I do like halwah, but have never tried a specifically Indian kind).

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This book offers recipes from all over India, plus a handy guide to common ingredients and spices, a guide to cooking methods, and recipes for several common spice mixes used in the dishes. While my dream Indian cookbook is Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking, this one (and the two others I have) will do just fine until I get my hands on Sahni's book.

The possible recipe choices:

Pakoras (vegetable fritters). I don't know why, but I never tried these snacks while I was travelling in Pakistan and India, perhaps because I had developed quite an appetite for samosas. A strong contender for recipe of the week.
Thosai (South Indian lentil and rice pancakes).
Rajasthani Pilau (spicy rice).
Mattar Pilau (rice and peas, Uttar Pradesh style).
Moti Pilau (spiced rice with meatballs, Uttar Pradesh style).
Alu Mattar Rasa (Utter Pradesh-style potato and pea curry).
Cho Chori (Bengali spicy dry vegetables).
Dhal Mulegoo Thani (South Indian lentil soup (the basis for Mulligatawny?)).
Machchi Do Piaza (Bengali curried fish).
Jhinga Kari (Keralan hot prawn curry).
Chingri Kari (Bengali prawn mustard curry).
Tikka Kebab (North Indian chicken kebab, the basis for Chicken Tikka Masala).
Murgh Vindaloo (Goan chicken vinegar curry).
Shami Kebab (minced lamb and lentil patties, Uttar Pradesh style).
Seekh Kebab (North Indian minced meat on skewers). I first tasted minced meat kebab in Iran, where I didn't catch what it was called, but when I later tasted the Indian seekh kebab, I realised it was basically the same dish. Whatever its name or nationality, I love it but have never got round to trying to cook it, so this is a strong contender.
Kid Josh (Maharashtran Parsi-style curried lamb with cashews and coconut milk).
Tabak Maaz (Kashmiri spiced lamb ribs).
Badam Kheer (Utter Pradesh-style creamed almonds).

Recipe of the week: Birds' Nests

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I decided to make the Birds' Nests for various reasons, not the least of which is that I have never made pastries topped with glazed fruit before, and I love them. It is also by far the fiddliest of the 6 recipes. You can get excellent ones from the Danish bakery which is located a couple of streets away from where I live: little bowls of pastry filled with vanilla custard and topped with glazed strawberries. I have a clipped recipe somewhere for those, but the Birds' Nests will be good practice. As to the other recipes, I have put them on my To Do list, especially the Napoleons which I want to make for my mother (who loves them) the next time she visits me.

Written as each stage was completed.

I began yesterday by making some pastries. It didn't start well: I nearly burnt them. Marzipan pastry should ideally only be baked to a light golden colour, retaining a chewy, almost raw, centre inside a crisp shell, but I ended up with brown ones. Fortunately they don't smell burnt and are not hard through. This is entirely due to a little bit of carelessness on my part: I started doing the washing-up while the pastry was baking and lost track of the time. This wouldn't have mattered so much if I had a regular oven, but I have a temperamental convection oven where seconds can decide whether baked products will turn out just right or too much. I lowered the temperature to 180°C, as you don't need quite as high temperatures when using a convection oven, but forgot the time and at 13 1/2 minutes the pastries were darker than they should have been, meaning that 12 minutes at that temperature would probably have been about right. Lesson learned for next time.

Next time being today: I only made a half recipe yesterday, but I wanted to do this just right, so today I made another half-recipe of pastries. As yesterday's pastries were a bit larger than the recipe states and also somewhat uneven in size, I made circles of the right size on the baking paper with a pair of compasses and piped the dough inside the circles to get even sized pastries. These turned out much better, although they were unevenly coloured, which I blame on the convection oven. Since the dark patches were on the sides this could not be fixed by turning the cookie sheet around in the oven. Just as well they will be covered with icing and chocolate.

A pastry base:
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The butter icing had a somewhat raw sugar taste when ready, so I added a little vanilla which gave it a smoother taste. It was still too sweet for my tastebuds, but I figure the chocolate will temper the sweetness.

The chocolate stage went well for the most part, except the chocolate didn't hold very well onto the icing so there were little pockets of white icing showing through here and there. I tried redipping one pastry, but then part of the previous coat of chocolate slipped off, so I didn't bother with the rest. I quickly had 19 pastries covered and cooling in the refrigerator.

I ended up using canned mixed fruit in light syrup to top the pastries. Unfortunately there were only 2 cocktail cherries in the entire can, so 17 pastries only have whitish, orange and yellow fruit pieces on them (pears, peaches, pineapple) but no splash of red to give them a bit of ooomph, but this is only an experiment so it will do for now.
I had my usual problem with the gelatine: I thought it would never gel, but when it finally did it happened so rapidly that I had problems getting it to cover the last few pastry toppings evenly, but it worked even if it was a bit bubbly from my vigorous whisking.

These are not the prettiest pastries I have ever made but all in all I think they turned out rather well for an amateur's first attempt. Of course the taste test is left. I'm off to visit some friends to get a final judgement.

My friends pronounced the pastries "very good", and I agree. They are a bit oversweet with preserved fruit and we agreed that fresh strawberries and darker chocolate would improve them. You really only can eat two or three in one sitting, and I strongly recommend serving coffee with them to counteract their sweetness.

Now for how I would change the recipe for future use. Firstly, I would make the rim of the nests from piped pastry, not icing, and make them a bit deeper. Then I would cover the rim in chocolate and fill the nests, not with icing, but with custard or vanilla pudding, top with fresh strawberries or peach slices and cover with a glaze made from sugar syrup rather than fruit juice. They could still be called Birds' Nests, since the shape would be retained.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recipes 5 & 6: Chocolate-Nut Roll & Chocolate Roll with Daim Filling

Chocolate-Nut Roll
Time: about 35 minutes + cooling time. Makes 1 roll.

3 eggs
150 ml sugar
50 g ground hazelnuts
100 ml flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Whip together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture. Mix well and then fold in the nuts. Cover a cookie sheet with baking paper and smooth the batter into a single solid layer on top. Bake at 250 °C for about 5 minutes, or until firm. Turn over onto a sugar-sprinkled piece of baking paper and peel off the top layer of paper. Let cool under a damp tea towel.

100 g dark chocolate
100 ml whipping cream
50-75 ml sugar
2 tbs finely chopped preserved orange peel

Melt the chocolate and sugar in the cream over a water bath. Begin with 50 ml sugar and then add more if you want it sweeter. Cool a little. Smooth filling over the cake layer and sprinkle the orange peel on top.

Roll up the cake and pack into baking paper and refrigerate.

Ca. 50 g white chocolate
A couple of drops of cooking oil
Hazelnut flakes

Melt the chocolate with the oil over a water bath. Take out the roll. Make a cone from baking paper, put in some melted chocolate, cut off the tip of the cone and let the chocolate leak out of the bag onto the roll in a zig-zag pattern and sprinkle the hazelnut flakes over it before the chocolate stiffens.

Chocolate Roll with Daim Filling
Time: about 35 minutes + cooling time.

2 eggs
150 ml sugar
100 ml flour
50 ml cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Follow the instructions for making the previous cake.

100 g butter, soft
200 ml icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 coarsely crushed double Daim candy bar

Mix together the filling ingredients and smooth over the cake. Roll up and cool for a couple of hours.

About 50 g dark chocolate
2 tbs chocolate sprinkes

Follow the instructions for making the previous decoration.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Recipes 3 & 4: French Waffles & Napoleons

French Waffles
Time: about 35 minutes. Makes about 20 pieces (or more if you make them smaller)

1 package frozen puff pastry (one packet contains 425 g), or make the same amount from scratch
Granulated sugar

Thaw out the puff pastry and roll out each sheet until it has about doubled in size. Use cookie cutters or a glass to cut out round pieces, about 7 cm in diameter (or smaller). Sprinkle sugar on top of some wax paper and lay the dough pieces on top of the sugar and roll out each piece until slightly oblong (I would just press down on them with my hand). Only one side should be sugared.
Cover a cookie sheet with baking paper and put the dough pieces on the baking paper with the sugared side up. Prick each piece well with a fork. Bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

Coffee filling:
100 g butter, soft
75 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
50 g chocolate, grated
1 sheet gelatine (3/4 tsp)
100 ml strong coffee, warm

Soak the gelatine in cold water. Meanwhile, mix together the butter and sugar in a mixer. Add the egg yolk and grated chocolate. Melt the gelatine in the warm coffee. Cool. When the coffee-gelatine begins to set add it to the butter-sugar-egg-chocolate mixture a little at a time.

Smooth a layer of creme on half the waffles and sandwich them together with the rest of the waffles. Allow to set before serving.

Excellent with coffee.

Time: about 45 minutes. Makes about 15.

1 package frozen puff pastry (one packet contains 425 g), or make the same amount from scratch

Thaw the puff pastry. Cut each sheet into three even-sized pieces. Put them on a cookie sheet and bake on the center rung of the oven for about 20 minutes (the original recipe gives no temperature, but my guess is 180°C). Cool on a cooling rack.

2 eggs
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs cornflour
250 ml milk
1/2 vanilla pod

Slice the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Whip together the eggs, vanilla seeds, sugar and cornflour. Put the vanilla pod in the milk and warm to the boiling point in a saucepan. Remove the vanilla pod and whisk the milk into the egg mixture. Pour the creme back into the saucepan and warm up to the boiling point, whisking constantly. Cool.

150 g icing sugar
1 tbs rum or water

Raspberry marmalade or jam
250 ml whipping cream

To make the glaze, stir together the icing sugar and rum/water. Split each pastry puff horizontally into two about equally thick pieces. Put a thin layer of marmalade on the bottom piece of each pastry. Add a spoonful of creme and top with the other piece of the same pastry. Add a thin layer of glaze on top of each pastry. Whip the cream, put in a pastry bag with a fluting nozzle and decorate the pastries.

Recipes 1 & 2: Birds' Nests & Honeycake squares

Birds' Nests
Time: about 70 minutes + cooling time. Makes approx. 20.

Almond layers:
200 g baking marzipan (almond mass)
8 tbs sugar
2 egg whites

Grate the marzipan and mix with half the sugar. Whip the egg whites until stiff and add the remaining half of the sugar to them, a little at a time. Add the egg whites to the almond mass a little at a time and mix into a smooth mass.
Put the almond mass into a pastry bag and squeeze with a circular motion into individual portions about 4 1/2 cm across (it doesn't say how thick, but 1 1/2 cm should be about right. These cakes do not expand during baking) onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake at 200°C for 12-15 minutes. Pick the baking paper up with the cakes still on and put on a rack to cool.

Butter icing:
100 ml sugar
3 tbs water
2 egg yolks
125 g butter, soft

Cook a clear syrup from the sugar and water and cool. Pour over the egg yolks and whip until light and fluffy. Put the butter in a mixer and add the egg mixture a little at a time until you have a smooth paste.
Remove the pastries from the baking paper and smooth a little icing on top of each pastry. Put the rest of the icing in a pastry bag with a small nozzle and pipe a rim all around the edge of each pastry. This rim will hold the fruit pieces so they don't slip off. Refrigerate until the icing is firm.

125 g dark chocolate
2 tbs coconut oil

Melt the chocolate over a water-bath and add the oil. Mix well. Dip the icing-covered part of each pastry into the chocolate, to coat. Cool the pastries before adding the topping.

Preserved fruit, for example mandarin orange sections, pineapple and red cocktail cherries
200 ml liquid from the preserved fruit
3 sheets of gelatin (about 5 g)

Remove the fruit from the liquid and keep the liquid. Drain the fruit well. Cut the fruit pieces into smaller pieces if necessary and put three pieces of different fruit into each "nest".

Soak the gelatine in a little water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine and melt it in 2 tbs of the fruit liquid (heat in a saucepan over low heat and beat gently with a whisk). Add the rest of the fruit liquid and cool in a cold water-bath, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to stiffen. Brush a thin layer over the fruit on every cake and refrigerate.

Honeycake Squares
Time: about 100 minutes. Makes approx. 20 pieces.

250 g honey
100 g dark brown sugar
100 g butter
2 eggs, beaten
300 g flour
2 tsp hartshorn powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
12 tsp ground ginger
Grated peel of one orange
50 g coarsely ground almonds
2 tbs preserved orange peel, chopped

Warm the honey, brown sugar and butter in a saucepan, stirring constantly until mixed. The mixture must not boil. Cool until lukewarm. Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time. Mix together flour, hartshorn, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and grated orange peel. Add to the honey mixture and mix well. Add the almonds and preserved orange peel.
Line a small oven-pan or shallow square baking pan with baking paper and put in the dough, smoothing it well. Bake at 165°C for about 45 minutes. Cool a little, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Chocolate glaze:
75 g dark chocolate, grated
75 g sugar
3 tbs boiling water

Melt the chocolate over a water-bath. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water and add to the melted chocolate. Stir over the hot water-bath until smooth and well mixed. Glaze the cake squares.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cookbook of the week #2: 100 fristende konditorkager

Danish, Swedish and Norwegian women's weekly magazines are quite popular in Iceland, especially among the older generations of women who grew up before English became the Icelanders' foreign language of choice. These magazines feature true life stories, interviews, crafts, horoscopes, columns of all sorts, and recipes. Several times a year they will include a free gift, often a small recipe book or booklet. This is one such, included with a copy of the Norwegian Sunday edition of Ugebladet ("The Weekly"). Most of my Scandinavian recipe books came with similar magazines, most of which were collected by my grandmother, but a couple I bought myself, either for the recipe book or quilting or crochet patterns.

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This is a difficult book to read. Every recipe is mouthwatering, and it doesn't matter if it's read before, during or after a meal, it induces hunger – or rather, it gives one an appetite for something sweet. The chapters cover small cakes, oven-pan cakes, layer cakes, rolls, tarts, choux-pastry, meringues and marzipan cakes, and cookies, all of them something you might expect to find in a fine bakery or served in a fancy café, and, as a matter fact, the title translates as 100 tempting pastry-chef cakes.

There are a few old friends here, like Sarah Bernhardts and Sachertorte, as well as creations I have never heard of. I would have loved to make just about everything in the book, but finally I narrowed it down to half a dozen recipes:

The first is called Bird's Nests. These are small individual pastries in four layers: one of baked marzipan, then a layer of butter icing, then melted chocolate over the icing, and a decoration of small pieces of gelatine/fruit juice glazed tinned fruit on top. If I make these, I think I will use fresh fruit.

The second is Honey-cake Squares. This is a spicy oven-pan cake with honey and almonds and chocolate icing. The cake is cut into small individual cakes before being glazed.

The third contender is Napoleon Cakes or simply Napoleons. These are little layered cakes made from vanilla custard sandwiched between pieces of puff pastry with a layer of raspberry marmalade, and topped with rum icing and whipped cream. According to Wikipedia they are known as Vanilla or Custard Slices in Britain and are a variation of Mille-feuilles pastries, which are similar but have more layers of both pastry and custard.
I have never tasted these, but my mother speaks of them with much nostalgia as a childhood favourite and has asked me to find out if they are sold in any bakeries in Reykjavík. Unfortunately I have yet to find one, so this is a strong contender. I would love to surprise her with Napoleon cakes the next time she comes to visit me.

The fourth is a Chocolate-Nut Roll. This is a log or roll (obvious, really). The cake is made with nuts and cocoa with a chocolate-orange cream filling and decorated with white chocolate and flaked hazelnuts.

The fifth is a Chocolate Roll with Daim Filling. This is a chocolate roll filled with buttercream into which has been mixed crushed Daim candy, and decorated with dark chocolate and chocolate sprinkles. For those unfamiliar with Daim, it is almond brittle covered with milk chocolate and if there is an IKEA store near you it is sold in the food section.

The sixth is French Waffles, puff pastry sandwiches filled with coffee-cremé. I love these, but I like them better with vanilla buttercream, so I would probably make half with coffee-cremé and half with vanilla buttercream.

Since there is not a problem with copyright here (I translated the recipes into English and whatever copyright there may be therefore belongs to me – not that I forbid anyone to copy them), I am going to showcase all six recipes, two per day, starting tomorrow, and then decide which one I will make. I have plans to try all of them eventually, but I will only test one now (or perhaps two if I'm in the mood).

Monday, August 13, 2007

This week's recipe: Rice with leeks and mushrooms

Cup and spoon measurements in this recipe are for American size cups and spoons.

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2 cups rice (white or brown)
4 1/2 to 5 cups hot vegetable stock, chicken stock with the fat skimmed off, or water
1 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
4 leeks with most of the green removed; split lengthwise, rinsed well and sliced crosswise into 5 mm (1/4 inch) slices
2 cups sliced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make vegan: use veggie stock or wate, leave out the butter and increase the olive oil by 1 tbs.

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Put rice, 4 cups of the stock/water, and the salt in a thick-bottomed saucepan, cover and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. When the stock/water boils, reduce heat to medium low. Cook rice as indicated on packaging. It should be cooked to the al dente stage (firm but fully cooked).
While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pan or skillet. Add the sliced leeks and sauté them for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Add the mushrooms and toss to mix with the leeks and sauté for about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup stock or water and adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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When the rice is cooked, add it to the pan/skillet with the vegetables and toss well. Add what's left of the stock and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.
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For variety, the authors recommend using 50/50 rice and wild rice, using chanterelles or morels instead of button mushrooms, and/or adding a little wine (white or red) to the stock near the end of the cooking time.

As I live alone and the recipe serves 8 persons and I hate seeing food go to waste, I made it smaller. I halved the amount of olive oil, butter, leeks and mushrooms, and used 1/4 of the given amount of the other ingredients, as I was going to eat the dish as a main course and felt the ratio of rice to vegatables was too big. (Sometimes I just can't help changing recipes). I used vegetable stock, as I am not fond of chicken stock.
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The outcome was a dish which would have been indistinguishable from a risotto if I had used Arborio rice instead of Basmati. Using Basmati lent the dish a slightly nutty flavour that complemented the leeks. The taste of the leeks was rich but not overwhelming, even with double the amount of leeks to rice from the original recipe. While I can not say I tasted the mushrooms pieces much, the mushrooms did lend an extra dimension to the cooking liquid and texture to the dish. Both rice and mushrooms turned out perfectly al dente, while the leeks ended up so soft that they melted on the tongue. I did use what some might say was a little too much pepper – I like pepper but must remember to be careful when I make the dish again, as it will in all likelihood be for company.

Yes, it was that good. Next time, though, I am going to take Dille and Belsinger's advice and use wild mushrooms and add some wine to the broth. I am undecided whether I will try it with a different kind of rice, as I liked how the nutty flavour of the Basmati combined with the leeks.

While I did change the proportions in the recipe, I think the dish will be just as good using the original proportions, but more suited as a side dish than a main dish.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cookbook of the week #1: The Onion Book by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger

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This small theme cookbook is one of those little gems that not only contain a collection of recipes, but also information about the theme ingredient. This book is specifically about bulb onions, shallots, leeks and scallions. The authors have already covered garlic and its related species in another cookbook that I am itching to get my hands on. Besides recipes, there is information on the history of the onion, how onions can benefit our health, why they make us cry when we cut them, how to prepare them for cooking, and last but not least how to grow and store them. The recipes are not many, only 38, but they cover a number of onion species and different types of dishes and ways of using onions in cooking.

I don't remember ever having seen sweet onions like Vidalias or Mauis in the vegetable section of any Icelandic supermarket, which is a shame because there is a mouth-watering recipe in this book for an upside-down cake that uses sweet onions instead of the usual fruit or rhubarb.

I can get yellow, white and red onions, shallots, pearl onions, leeks and spring onions (scallions), so there is still plenty to choose from. I have chosen a simple recipe for rice with leeks and mushrooms. Unfortunately the recipe serves 8 people, but it can be reduced down to 2 servings, which is good because I have no intention of eating this dish for a week, however good it may turn out to be. Of course I am aware that reducing or increasing a recipe has its risks, but this one is so simple that it's going to be hard to mess it up.

Here is a sample of some of the other recipes in the book:
Green Onion Foccacia
Maui Onion Tart
Leek and Chick-Pea Soup
Onion Family Soup (with 3 types of onions)
Onion Tomato Pie
Steak Smothered with Balsamic Onions
Baked Onions
Orange and Onion Salad
Pickled Onions (I may try this one later)
Grilled Onions (yummmm!)
Sweet Onion and Poppy-Seed Loaf

I have already bought leeks and mushrooms, the rest of the ingredients are stuff I always keep in stock in my larder, and tomorrow I officially start the challenge.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My recipe and cookery book collection

This is a list of the cookbooks and cookery books with recipes I could find in my collection.

First comes the title (with English translation when necessary), then the author(s)/editor(s) or publisher where no author or editor is mentioned, then language (when not obviously English) and then theme/cuisine (e.g. baking, Greek cooking, chicken recipes, etc.), and finally, if I think it's necessary, a note on the book.

So as not to bother anyone who might subscribe to this blog by reposting this post whenever I finish another book, I have put the list on the sidebar (below the archive links) and will delete each book from it as soon as I have reviewed it.

100 fristende konditorkager (100 tempting bakery cakes) by Birgitte Vanges & Gyrite Brennum. Danish. Fancy cakes.
21 kaffeborde by Thorkild Becks Forlag. Danish. Cakes and sweet breads. This seems to be a translation, but from what language and who the original author was I have not been able to determine.
40 frábærir fiskréttir. Self published. Icelandic. Fish dishes. My media studies class published this as part of the fundraising we did for our class trip to the USA. I still have a few left and occasionally give them as gifts to those I think will appreciate them.
75 opskrifter med klassiske desserter by Hendes Verden. Danish. Desserts. Hendes Verden is a Danish women's weekly magazine and they often include books, calendars or other gifts, of which this is one.
A Taste of Fuller Pond Village by Cookbook Publishers. Recipe collection.
Ábætisréttir og kökur by Henriette Schonberg Erken. Icelandic, translated from (probably) Danish. Desserts and cakes. Original title: Stor kokebog for större og mindre husholdninger. A future bookbinding project that should look nice on my kitchen bookshelf, bound in leather.
American Cookery 1796 by Amelia Simmons, updated by Iris Ihde Frey. American cookery. This is an updated version of the very first known published American cookbook.
Around-the-World Cooky Book by Lois Lintner Sumption & Marguerite Lintner Ashbrook. International cookie recipes.
The Big Ready Steady Cook Book by BBC. Recipes from the popular BBC TV show.
Borg Memorial Home Auxiliary Cook Book. Privately published by The Borg Pioneer Memorial Home, Mountain, North Dakota, USA. This is a special book, as is the other Borg cookbook in my collection. I visited the Memorial Home with my grandmother some years ago and found it interesting to meet senior citizens there who had never been to Iceland, yet spoke beautiful Icelandic, unchanged since their grandparents or great-grandparents immigrated to the USA back in the 1800's and early 1900's. The books were given to me by my cousin whom we were visiting.
Charmaine Solomon's Indian Cooking by Charmaine Solomon. Indian recipes.
Cocktails by Mogens Boman. Danish. Mixed drinks.
Complete World Bartender Guide by Bob Sennett. Mixed drinks.
Confident Cooking (series): Yum Cha & Asian Treats by Könemann. Asian snack dishes in the Chinese Yum Cha tradition.
The Cooking of Scandinavia by Time Life. Scandinavian cuisine and recipes.
Den gule dessertbog by Torsleffs Husmoder Service. Danish. Desserts.
Det nordafrikanske kokken by Hilaire Walden. Danish. Recipes from North-Africa. Original title: North African Cooking.
The Diner's Club Cookbook by Myra Waldo. Restaurant recipes.
The Dove's Nest Restaurant by Cindy Burch. American cookery from the Texas restaurant of the same name.
Easy Fish and Seafood by Delphine de Montalier. Fish and seafood.
Fabulous Fondues by Dorothy H. Becker & Nancy S. Wallace. Fondue recipes.
The Friends of Borg Cookbook. Privately published by The Borg Pioneer Memorial Home, Mountain, North Dakota, USA.
Gerbakstur by Kvenfélagasamband Íslands, Kristjana Steingrímsdóttir, ed.
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. Recipe collection. One of three American recipe collection books I have that were published during World War 2.
Grænn kostur Hagkaupa by Sólveig Eiríksdóttir. Icelandic. Vegetarian recipes. The author runs one of my two favourite vegetarian restaurants.
Grilla och gratinera by Lars G. Weise/Nilsjohans Provkök. Swedish. Grilled food and gratins.
Hall's Potato Harvest Cookbook by The Hall family. Potato recipes. The Halls are American-Icelanders who produce potatoes in North-Dakota. The recipes were collected from friends and family members.
Heilsuuppskriftir Hagkaups by Ágústa Johnson & Hrafn Friðbjörnsson. Icelandic. Health food recipes.
Hjálparkokkurinn: Hversdagsmatur by Almenna bókafélagið. Icelandic, translated from Norwegian. Every day cooking.
Hjálparkokkurinn: Lambakjöt by Almenna bókafélagið. Icelandic, translated from Norwegian. Lamb recipes.
Hjálparkokkurinn: Ofnréttir by Almenna bókafélagið. Icelandic, translated from Norwegian. Oven-baked dishes.
Hjálparkokkurinn: Pastaréttir by Almenna bókafélagið. Icelandic, translated from Norwegian. Pasta dishes.
Hjemmets kokebokklubb: Sommermat by Hjemmets forlag. Norwegian. Summer dishes.
Hollt og gott by Bókaforlag aðventista. Icelandic. Vegetarian recipes.
Hot Food by Murdoch Books. Recipe collection. Food that can be described in some way as "hot" whether it be spicy or merely served sizzling.
Hungarian cuisine by J. Venesz. Hungarian recipes.
Indisk mad by Roshi Razzaq. Danish. Indian recipes, low fat. Original title: Indian low-fat cooking.
Indversk matreiðsla by Naomi Good. Icelandic. Indian recipes. Originally in English, title unknown.
Kager og desserter by Birgitte Bruun. Danish. Cakes and desserts. Original German title: Kuchen, Torten, Süsspeisen.
Kaldir réttir og smurt brauð by Helga Sigurðardóttir. Icelandic. Cold dishes and open-faced sandwiches. As I mentioned in the notes for Matur og drykkur, Helga Sigurðardóttir was Iceland's answer to Mrs. Beeton.
The Kitchen Library: Entertaining by Wendy Godfrey. Party dishes.
Kökur og kökuskreytingar by Jill Spencer. Icelandic. Cakes and cake decorating. Original title: Hamlyn all Colour Book of Cakes and Cake Decorating.
Krydderier & krydderurter by Anne Skovgaard-Petersen. Danish. Spice and herb recipes.
Learn to cook: Wok by Susan Brazel. English.Wok cookery.
The Literary Gourmet: Menus from masterpieces by Linda Wolfe. Recipes from famous literary works.
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. Recipes for food mentioned in the books.
Ljúffengir hátíðaréttir by Björg Sigurðardóttir & Hörður Héðinsson, ritstj.. Icelandic. Special occasion cooking.
Macrobiotic Cooking by Michele Cowmeadow. I think the title speaks for itself.
Matarlyst by Mjólkurdagsnefnd: Benedikta G. Waage & Dómhildur A. Sigfúsdóttir, eds. Icelandic. Dairy recipes.
Matreiðslubók Iðunnar by Anne Willan. Icelandic. Kitchen encyclopedia with recipes. Original title: The Encyclopedia of Cookery and Cooking Techniques.
Matreiðslumeistarar og Mastercard by Mastercard. Icelandic. Recipes by famous Icelandic chefs.
Matur og drykkur by Helga Sigurðardóttir. Icelandic. Recipe collection. One of Iceland's kitchen bibles. Helga Sigurðardóttir was Iceland's Mrs Beeton.
Mexikanske specialiteter by Roger Hicks. Danish. Mexican recipes. Original title: Mexican Cooking.
Mine 100 bedste opskrifter: Sund og Slank by Mona Giersing (editor or translator, it doesn't say) and Norma MacMillan (recipes or editor? of the original English edition). Danish. Healthy and slimming food. Original English title: Slimming. I think this must have slipped into my collection through the back-door when my grandmother gave me a couple of bags full of recipe brochures and cookbooks. I certainly would never have bought this for myself because every time I have tried something that's labelled as both healthy and slimming, I have ended up with something with either a nasty taste or a nasty texture, or sometimes both.
Modern Greek by Andy Harris. Greek recipes, many of them traditional with a modern twist.
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook by Terry Pratchett (text), Stephen Briggs & Tina Hannan (recipes). Recipe collection. How could I forget this one – my favourite. The recipes are Roundworld editions of food mentioned in Pratchett's popular Discworld fantasy novels. Brilliantly illustrated by Paul Kidby.
The Onion Book by Carolyn Dille & Susan Belsinger. Onion recipes.
Potetmesterens kokebok by Potetmesteren. Norwegian. Potato recipes.
Pottarím by Sigrún Davíðsdóttir. Icelandic. Recipe collection.
Recipes from the Kraft Klub Kitchens. Privately published. This was published by a club my cousin's mother-in-law belongs to.
Sælkerasafnið: Fljótgerðir úrvalsréttir by Vaka. Icelandic. Quick dishes.
Sælkerasafnið: Góðgæti úr ofninum by Vaka. Icelandic. Oven-baked dishes.
Sælkerasafnið: Kartöflur og rótarávextir by Vaka. Icelandic. Potato and root vegetable recipes.
Sælkerasafnið: Ljúffengir brauðréttir by Vaka. Icelandic. Dishes with bread in them.
Sælkerasafnið: Matbrauð af bestu gerð by Vaka. Icelandic. Bread baking.
Sælkerasafnið: Matseðlar fyrir gestaboð by Vaka. Icelandic. Menues for parties.
Sælkerasafnið: Ódýrt og gott by Vaka. Icelandic. Cheap dishes.
Sælkerasafnið: Salatréttir by Vaka. Icelandic. Salads.
Sælkerasafnið: Smáréttir við allra hæfi by Vaka. Icelandic. Small dishes.
Sælkerasafnið: Svepparéttir by Vaka. Icelandic. Mushroom dishes.
Sælkerasafnið: Þurrkað saltað og fryst by Vaka. Preserved foods.
Savouring the East: Feasts and stories from Istanbul to Bali by David Burton. Asian cooking and food journalism.
Schwartz: Cooking with Herbs & Spices: Healthy Eating by Schwartz Spices. The title speaks for itself. I think this booklet came with my mother's old spice rack.
The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins. Collection of recipes used at the Silver Palate gourmet food shop in New York.
Small Food by Murdoch Books. Small dishes of every description.
The Spice Cookbook by Avanelle Day & Lillie Stuckey. Spice-themed recipe collection.
Spices of the world cookbook by McCormick prepared and tested by Mary Collins. Spice themed recipe collection.
Step by Step Moroccan Cooking by Murdoch Books. Moroccan recipes.
Stóra kínverska matreiðslubókin by Jillian Stewart. Chinese recipes. Original (presumably English) title unknown.
The Super Chicken Cookbook by Iona Nixon. Chicken recipes.
Súkkulaði: Það besta frá Nóa-Síríus: by Marentza Poulsen, ed. Icelandic. Chocolate recipes.
Súrt og sætt by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir. Icelandic. Traditional Icelandic recipes.
Sweet Food by Murdoch Books. The title speaks for itself.
Tertur og formkökur by Annette Wolter ed. Icelandic. Cakes. Original German title: Kuchen und Torten.
Unga stúlkan og eldhússtörfin by Vilborg Björnsdóttir & Þorgerður Þorgeirsdóttir. Icelandic. Home economics book with recipes. The title translates as The Young Girls and the Kitchen Tasks and was published by the Icelandic State School Book Publishing in 1967, back when only girls got to take home economics classes. I also have the modern version, The Young People and the Kitchen Tasks, but my mother appropriated that one and refuses to give it back because there are several recipes in it that she uses regularly.
The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book by Ruth Berolzheimer, ed. One of three American recipe collection books I have that were published during World War 2.
Woman's Home Companion Cook Book by Willa Roberts, ed. One of three American recipe collection books I have that were published during World War 2.

Foodie books with recipes I may try:

Garlic and sapphires by Ruth Reichl. A memoir with recipes. Included because some of the recipes are mouth-watering.
The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten. Food journalism with a few recipes.
Matarsögur by Salka. Icelandic. Food-related tales with recipes by Icelandic women.
The Raj at Table: A culinary history of the British in India by David Burton. What the title says. Some recipes included.
Tender at the bone by Ruth Reichl. A memoir with recipes.
Val og venjur í mat og drykk by Conrad Tuor. Food service, wine service and bartending, with a couple of pages of cocktail recipes. Original French title: Aide-Mémoire du Sommelier.
Villtir matsveppir á Íslandi by Ása Margrét Ásgrímsdóttir og Guðrún Magnúsdóttir. Icelandic. Guide to edible wild mushrooms in Iceland, with recipes.
The World of Food by Eva Medved. Home economics and food science textbook, with a few recipes.

Not listed are a number of foodie mysteries that I may or may not try recipes from, foodie books without recipes and several reference books that are useful in the kitchen or when ordering in restaurants but contain no recipes. I may list them later as I have found them useful and I'm sure others may find them so too.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I named this blog Matarást, or Love of Food, because it is a very descriptive and also somewhat humorous Icelandic word. These days, many people simply use it in its surface meaning: Love of Food. But the original meaning is “the love you have for someone because they feed you.”

(I think there is hardly a better word for describing the relationship between humans and cats).

Welcome to my new food blog

If you came here from Icelandic cooking, recipes and food culture you will already know what this is about. If not, here’s the deal:

I recently made an inventory of my books and realised I had many cookbooks I had never tried as much as a single recipe from, although I have read most of the shorter ones and looked at the pictures in the longer ones. While doing so I have often thought I should try this or that recipe, but rarely acted on it. I then got to thinking about my cooking habits and realised that in the last five years or so I have only tried maybe half a dozen new recipes a year, most of them found on the web. Before that, I used to try a couple of new recipes every month, many of them from cookbooks or my grandmother’s collection of newspaper recipe clippings. While I do think it’s okay to collect recipe books one never uses for anything other than reading or looking at the photos, I still feel a little guilty for having them, because I originally bought them or was given them with the intent that they should be used. Therefore I am starting a challenge for myself that will not only justify my owning all these recipe books, but also get me into the kitchen to make something new every week.

I set myself these simple rules:
• To try at least one new recipe every week until I have tested at least one recipe from each of my recipe and cookery books. Weeks when I'm away on holiday or because of work are excepted.
• The recipe must come from a different recipe book each week, but additional recipes can be from books I have used before.
• I will publish the results in this blog, complete with recipes, notes and reviews.

Additionally, I will write about other food-related subjects that don’t fit in with the theme of Icelandic cooking, and I will also delve into my collection of recipe brochures, newspaper clippings and thousands of recipes I have saved on my computer. It is about time I got them organised anyway.

I will not start the challenge until after the weekend, as I will be away from home until Monday and need some time to organise myself and choose the first few recipes, but I will post my cookbook list sometime during the weekend.