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Archive for October, 2012

Did you know, that in the US, Halloween is one of the bigger celebrations of the year???

People spend an enormous amount of money on decorations, costumes and candies. There are parties where people compete on who has the best costume.

Halloween is another one of those celebrations that I didn’t grow up with. I never used to bake “finger cookies”with fake blood or make faux”eye ball dishes”. Yikes…. I have also always been afraid of people in masks. I guess the fact that you can’t see who is behind the mask was so scary that I never really tried to adapt to Halloween.

I have created my own Halloween tradition, my family and I carve pumpkins. It is so much fun. We skip all the costumes and candies and stick to the carving. It is a little messy and crazy in the kitchen when we start, but it is so much fun. When done, we place them on the steps in front of the house with a lit candle inside.

So instead of giving you a recipe of some scary food or dessert I am giving you the best cheesecake ever!!!! Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger/Pecan crust!!!

It is just so smooth,light and fantastic and it gives you a little teaser for the holidays to come.

Halloween Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger/Pecan crust.

Ginger/Pecan crust;

1 c. flour.

1/4 c. chopped candied ginger.

1/4 c. chopped pecans.

1 stick of unsalted butter (113 grams).

1/4 c. brown sugar.

1 tbsp. cold water.

Pinch of salt.

Directions;

Mix flour, ginger, pecans, sugar & salt in a food processor. Make sure all is very finely ground. Add butter and water. Mix until it becomes a crumbly “dough” .

Take the dough and press into a lightly buttered pan (about 3″ high & 9″ in diameter).

Wrap some foil around the outside of the pan. Bake it in a 350 F degree oven (175 C) for about 25 minutes or until it starts to lightly brown.

When done, let cool completely on a wire rack.

The Pumpkin filling;

1 c. pumpkin puree (any kind. Bake it in the oven and scrape out the “meat” when done or just use canned pumpkin puree. I baked an acorn squash.)

1 1/4 lb. good cream cheese (aprx. 550grams).

1/2 c. heavy cream.

4 large eggs.

1/2 c. granulated sugar (white sugar).

1/2 c. light brown (or dark) sugar.

2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla sugar.

1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

1/2 tsp. ground ginger.

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg.

1 tsp. potato flour or cornstarch.

Rind of a clementine , orange or satsuma (optional).

1/4 tsp. salt.

Directions:

Whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract or sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon & nutmeg & salt. Set the mixture aside.

In another bowl use a hand mixer (or if you rather use a stand mixer) to soften the cream cheese. Add the sugars. Mix well. Add the potato flour or cornstarch & the eggs, one at a time. Add the clementine rind at this time. Combine the two parts of the filling. Mix well.

Pour the batter onto the crust. Put the pan in a water bath (oven proof pan with water reaching aprx. 1″ up on the foil covered cheesecake pan.) Bake in the middle of the oven in a 325F degree ( 160C) for about 70-80 minutes or until done. The center of the cake will be slightly wobbly but it will set as it cools down.

To prevent the cake from “cracking”, run a paring knife around the sides of the cake. Let cool. You can let it cool over night in the fridge as well.

Serve with some whipped cream. It makes it a little heavy but it is yummy. If you would like to, you can add some clementine zest or juice to the whipped cream. Another way to “spike” the whipped cream is to add a little ground ginger to it while whipping. This gives it a little “bite”.

You can dust a little ground cinnamon over the cake as well.

Enjoy!!

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In Sweden, we have something called all saints day (Allhelgona). We light candles at gravesites or memory groves. This to pay our respect to the dead loved ones. These candles are special “grave candles” that burns non stop for about 3 days. It is so beautiful and peaceful to travel trough Sweden during Allhelgona.

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I try to always grow some kind of pumpkin in the garden. This year, we grew these little miniature ones.

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Our carved pumpkins on the steps to our house.

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Happy Halloween!!!

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When it is getting dark & cold, I have a habit of doing beef stews and things that needs to cook for a long time. There are so many versions of a beef stew. Of course there is the traditional French way of making it but why do we always judge food after the French way of cooking??? I grew up on it and I am sure people all over the world have their own versions. It doesn’t even have to be beef, could be lamb, pork or something else.

So, here is mine. I do slight variations of it but the basic theme is the same. And I don’t use any strict recipes. It is all about feelings and what you have at home.

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My Classic Beef stew.

1 1/2 – 2 lb’s of Beef. Cut up into 1″ cubes. (This is perfect for a cheaper cut of meat.)

I onion. Sliced.

1 carrot, cut in “coin size” pieces or 1/2 c. of baby carrots.

1/2 bottle of good red wine.

Beef broth.

1 Bouquet garni (rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, parsley. Note- you can add other herbs such as basil, anything goes. All herbs should be tied up in a piece of cheese cloth.) If you rather use any herb or spice of your choice that is also fine. I like to see the boiled down spices in my food so it is not needed to have the herbs tied up and taken out from the stew at the end. 

1/2 hot pepper (optional).

Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions;

I like to cook my beef stew in a dutch oven ( large cast iron pot). 

Take the meat and brown it on a semi high heat in a frying pan. Don’t put all in at one time since that would force the juices to come out from the meat and start boiling instead of browning. So, fry a little at a time. When the last part is done pour over the carrots and onions and add in all the fried meat. Let the vegetables fry down for a few minutes. Add the herbs and the pepper. Add the red wine and beef stock. Make sure it just about covers the meat and vegetables. 

Let all come to a boil and then take it down do a very low simmer (slow cooking). Let it boil for 2-3 hours. Perhaps even longer, depending on what cut of meat you have used and how big you cut the meat. I would say, that I usually plan on cooking it for about 3-4 hours. 

Check ever so often to make sure you don’t cook it so long, that the meat falls apart. 

If the liquid is too thin you can thicken it with either some arrow-root, potato flour whisked together with cold water or use any other thickener. Another way is to boil a finely sliced potato together with the stew. The starch in the potato will thicken the stew.

Serve the beef stew with some home-made mashed potatoes and some salad or lettuce. 

Enjoy!!

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We just went to the Atlantic Antic in Brooklyn. It is the best street fair ever. It doesn’t feel as commercial, just more like a family and neighbourhood party. Parts of Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn gets closed off and all the stores and restaurants move out to the street.

The street fair is very eclectic. One of the attractions is a large stage with belly dancing. Old men sitting in the back playing traditional Arabic music and all these famous and not so famous belly dancers takes turn performing. What a treat! There are many other little make shift stages with different performances. So much fun.

But, what makes this street fair better than any other that I ever have been to, is the variety of food vendors. You would only find a very few of those “tourist traps” . You could find everything from home-baked goods to the very best fried sardines or steamed lobsters. We always look forward to the fried sardines and the Paella at the Spanish restaurant “La Mancha”.

We keep planning on participating with a both, but end up not doing it. But, there is always next year…

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A crazy amount of people!!!

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One of the great vendors that year after year, sells steamed crab legs and lobsters. Yum.

I have actually stopped steaming my lobsters & crab legs. I let them do that in the fish store. Much better. They do it better and I don’t have to deal with the mess.

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The star attraction. Fried Herring or Sardines as they call them here in USA. They sell like hot cakes. The lines go on forever and ever. But it is worth the wait.

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You can easily do this at home. Just sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them and fry them in a grill pan. Squeeze some lemon over them when they are steaming hot.

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