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Archive for February, 2013

S:t Lucia is just now celebrating its 34th Independence day.

So, in honor of that, I would like to show you what a breadfruit is. Before I met my husband, I had no idea myself. Now it is one of my favorite carbs. Breadfruit is very common in the Caribbean but even more so in Asia. It is eaten as a “potato” to any meal. My mother-in-law has taught me how to buy it and cook it. You have to smell it in the store. It has the most fragrant smell ever. Just like a sweet perfume. To cook it, you can steam it, boil it, fry it, bake it & also roast it over fire. This is a  common way to prepare it in Jamaica. My Jamaican neighbor almost fell over the fence the first time she saw me roasting breadfruit on my BBQ grill in the back yard. She said, “I must call my friends and tell them that this Swedish girl next door is roasting breadfruit just like a Jamaican!” Ha, Yes and I also eat them like a true Caribbean girl!!! A treat for me is roasted breadfruit. If I can choose only one thing to eat for the rest of my life, this is a great contender. A Puerto Rican friend also taught me how to make tostones out of breadfruit. So there you go, try breadfruit if you are given the chance. It truly is so good. I never thought I would say this, but it almost beats potatoes (and I love potatoes).

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A beautiful Breadfruit.

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The breadfruit tree is usually a very large tree (unless you keep trimming it). The fruits themselves are very heavy and you better be careful walking underneath a tree.

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You need to cut out the steam and make a little hole so that the heat from the fire can penetrate into the center of the breadfruit. Keep turning it while roasting.

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Don’t be afraid of it charing. It is supposed to. When it is totally back, it is done.

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When cut in half, it is very beautiful. When you cook it, you must cut off the peel and also quite a bit of the center.

It is easier to do this if you cook it in “quarters/cut into 4 pieces”.

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Enjoy!!!

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During the 80’s, I had many favorite dishes that my friends & I made over and over again…

Baked Avocado with Shrimp was one of those dishes. It is more an appetizer than an entrée. You might think that avocado is something that should stay cold, but it is actually really good when it has been baked. Avocado is a great source of “good fat”. About 1/5 of an avocado is a portion size. That feels very little to me. I stick to half an avocado in this case (note that we are talking about small regular size avocados).

Did you know that you could even use this fantastic fruit (yes, it is actually a fruit since it has a pit/seed) as a fat source while baking??? I will, at a later date, post a brownie recipe that uses avocado instead of fat. Yum…

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Baked Avocado with Shrimp.

Serves 4.

2 avocados.

1/3 c. sour cream (or creme fresh).

About 17 oz (500 gr) cooked unpeeled shrimp.

1-2 tbsp. ketchup/chili sauce or spiced up tomato paste.

2 tbsp. tomato salsa or finely chopped tomatoes.

Chopped chives or a spring onion.

Splash of hot sauce.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Sprig of dill for decoration.

Directions;

Peel the shrimp. Cut up the spring onion/chives. Mix all ingredients but the shrimp together in a bowl. Make sure it is well seasoned. If you would like to add something else into the sauce, do so. Add the shrimp. Mix.

Cut open the avocados. Take out the pit. Cut a very small piece off at each bottom of each avocado half so that they can balance better when served. Divide the mixture into the avocados.

Bake in a 400 F (200 C) degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until you start seeing the sour cream bubbling and getting a little brown.

Decorate with a sprig of dill. Serve with a little bit of salad (If you want, you can add some left over shrimp on top of the avocado or around the plate).

Enjoy!!

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Sundays are perfect breakfast & brunch days.

I usually get up really early. I am the first one up. I get myself a cup of black tea with dried mixed flowery blends (tea that I buy a whole bunch of when I m home). I might have a sandwich just to hold me over until the rest of the group gets up and we will eat breakfast. At that time, we might have missed the breakfast spot and end up making a brunch spread instead. It is great to switch it up ever so often. It is said that eating carbs for breakfast is great because you have the whole day to burn it off. During the week I eat oatmeal and different kinds of porridge for breakfast. Lot’s of berries and eggs. But when the weekend comes around, we are all about bigger bolder foods. Lot’s of times we choose fish. Here is a great vegetable pattie stacked with salad and sardines. It is delicious. Sardines are not only great tasting and good for you they are also a great source of protein for that healthier breakfast or brunch.

This pattie is a vegetable version of a potato pancake.

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Vegetable Patties.

Makes about 4 patties.

2 potatoes.

1 carrot.

2 scallions (spring onions).

2-3 mini sweet peppers or 1/4 regular bell pepper. Any color.

1/2 zucchini.

1-3 large mushrooms. Any kind. I used king mushrooms.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Splash of hot sauce.

Pinches of your favorite herbs. Fresh or dried.

Directions;

Peel and shred the carrot and potatoes. Shred them and the zucchini on the fine side of a box shredder. Squeeze out the liquid. Finely cut/mince the peppers, scallions & mushrooms. Add all vegetables together with the spices and herbs. Mix well. Shape into 4 patties or if you rather have smaller ones make 6-8 small patties. Fry in a skillet on medium low heat so that they have time to get cooked all the way through and not burn. Fry in a little oil and a small dab of butter. 

Add some lettuce to the plate. Place the pattie on top. Stack the sardines and sprouts or whatever you would like on top of the pattie. 

Enjoy!!

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Wouldn’t it be nice if Valentine’s day would be an official holiday without work?

I personally would love for it to be a day off with nothing else to do, than to hang out with my husband.

I don’t need any grand celebrations. Simple is fine. I know I go a little crazy with a love theme every Valentines, but that is just how I am. I can’t help it. I love to prepare a great experience for others. I guess it comes from doing all that party planning through the years… But I must say that my other half is getting really good at it himself. The flowers he always gives me has gone from a pre-packed bunch from the grocery store to now being fancy coordinated bouquets with saran wrap and glitter . He is great. I am so lucky.

It is nice to have a day that means the same all over the world.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Love is love…

My definition of love is “how someone makes you feel”, so as long as one feels loved, all bells and whistles are not needed.

But after all that said, some good food never hurts.

For me, seafood speaks of love. It is light and delicious. It is a classic choice. But so are chocolates, a little bubbly, pinks, reds… chocolate covered strawberries……you know what I mean. The typical things we buy, eat and do for this day. I just try to do at least one new thing every year. Just to change it up a little.

So, for this Valentine’s day, I have made the ultimate decadent seafood pasta in white chocolate sauce. Could it get any better than that??

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Seafood ravioli with white chocolate cream sauce.

Wonton skins/wraps or pasta sheets (to “make” your own pasta. You can usually find the pasta sheets in the freezer section in the grocery store).

1 c. Raw shrimp Any size. Peeled. You could also use any other seafood such as scallops, lobster, salmon or any other kind of fish.

You can skip these steps and just use a store-bought lobster ravioli if you want to. It saves time.

1-2 scallions or shallots. Finely diced.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter.

1/2 c. heavy cream.

1/4 c. Good tasting (something you would love to drink) white wine.

1/4 c. fish stock/broth. You could also use a chicken or vegetable stock.

Splash of hot sauce (optional).

Salt & pepper to taste.

1 egg for an egg wash.

Directions;

If you are making the ravioli, take the peeled shrimp and run them in a food processor with a splash of heavy cream and hot sauce, salt and pepper. It should become a smooth paste.

Take the pasta or wonton wrappers. Put less than a tbsp. of the filling on each piece of pasta. Brush a little egg wash around the filling. Add another pice of the pasta and put on top of the filling. By starting in the middle, try to “squeeze” out the air around the filling. Press lightly around the edges. Cut out the ravioli with either a ravioli cutter or a cookie cutter. Make sure it is well sealed all around. Put the ravioli on a plate (don’t stack them on top of each other since they will stick together).

Fill a pan with water and let come to a boil (I like to boil all pastas and rice with a stock cube).

Put all the pasta into the water and boil on a medium heat for about 6 minutes. Taste the ravioli so that you are sure the filling is cooked all the way through. Drain the pasta when done.

In the same pan, add the butter and scallions and fry them for a few minutes. Let them just get a little translucent (they shouldn’t brown). Add the wine, heavy cream and broth/stock. Let simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure the tastes are balanced. If you would like a little bit more of any of the liquids, add it to the pot. Pour in the chopped white chocolate. Make sure it melts well it shouldn’t boil at this point. Stir well.

Plate the pasta and pour over the white chocolate sauce. Decorate with some greens ( I used some cilantro sprigs) and something colorful on top since it is so white and you need that color splash. I used a strawberry that I cut in half and shaped on top to look like a heart.

Serve some of the nice white wine that you just cooked with. A light salad would be nice to serve to this.

Enjoy!!!

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I used a heart shaped ravioli cutter to make my shrimp ravioli.

I used a heart shaped ravioli cutter to make my shrimp ravioli.

Swedish people eat a lot of "små godis" (Candy bought by weight). For Valentine's the different heart shaped candies are the most popularValentine's Day

Swedish people eat a lot of “små godis” (Candy bought by weight). These are some of the most popular ones for Valentine’s day.

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Happy Valentine’s day!!

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The hunt for a “Semla” is on. I actually was able to buy some in NY last year. There is a Swedish cafe in the city and they had baked some “Semla’s” around fat Tuesday.

A “Semla” is really just a wheat bun with cardamom and an almond paste filling with whipped cream. But, for some reason it is a slam dunk with the Swedish population. It used to be available only around fat Tuesday but now they start selling them right after christmas. I used to have my old design-studio right around the corner from this fantastic bakery. One year when I came home to Sweden, I actually pre-ordered some “Semla’s” for my family and I. They would make special orders if you bought a big enough order. And we did. Some of my American friends can’t understand the fascination with this somewhat plain wheat-bun over decorated with whipped cream. And besides that, they have an issue with eating them without getting powered sugar all over themselves. Well, I will tell you a secret, most Swedes also end up with powdered sugar on their noses. One has to have a technique to eat them. Take off the lid and use it to scoop up some cream. After that you dive into the bun.

Some people eat them in a bowl with hot milk poured around the “Semla”, making it a little soggy. It is called a “hot wall”. I don’t like soggy food so I never go to that much trouble to eat it. But my mom loves it this way.

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“Semlor”.

Makes 20 big or 40 mini Semlor.

Buns;

1 package of fresh yeast (or 1 package of dry yeast. Activate as description on package).

6 1/3 c. flour.

6 oz. (175 gr.) butter.

2 c. whole milk (1-2% works as well).

3/4 c. granulated sugar.

2 tsp. ground cardamom.

1 tsp. salt.

Filling;

7 oz. almond paste.

3 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream.

Top with powdered sugar.

Directions;

Melt the butter on the stove, add the milk. Warm until finger warm. (Not hot, it would “kill” the yeast.).

Crumble the yeast up into a bowl. Add the ground cardamom. If you are using dried yeast, follow the directions on the package to dissolve and activate it.

Pour the milk and butter mixture over the yeast.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add little at a time to the wet ingredients. Knead the dough until nice and smooth. 

If you have a food processor use that. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes.

Let the dough rise under a kitchen towel in a bowl for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

When done, put dough on a lightly floured counter. Divide into approximately 20 pieces (if big) or 40 (if you are making mini S).

Roll the pieces into round buns. Add to a lined cookie sheet. Let rise again. Be sure they double in size.

Some people brush the buns with an egg wash. It works just as well without.

Bake in a 450F  (225C) oven. Place them in the lower part. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool down on a rack. When totally cool, cut of a little “lid” of each bun. “Dig” out a little of the bun with a fork and put into a bowl. Shred the almond paste. Add to the bowl together with a few tablespoons of heavy cream (un whipped). Mix well.

Evenly divide all the almond paste into all the buns. Whip the heavy cream. Add to the buns. Use a pastry bag so that it is easier (& prettier) to distribute the whipped cream.

Add the “lid” back onto the bun. Just before serving, sprinkle over some powdered sugar.

Just beware…. One is never enough….

Enjoy!!!

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Since it is the National day of Pancakes today (in the US), I wanted to do a re-run of my favorite Swedish pancakes.

It feels as a little ‘treat’ every time I make pancakes. I guess it is because I like to “dress them up” with fresh berries and home-made syrups. They really are a feast for both eyes and stomachs.

I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

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pancake

Swedish pancakes.

Or “Svenska pannkakor” as we say at home.

Makes about 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk

1 cup of flour

1 large egg (if you only have a small egg add another one making it 2 eggs).

1 pinch of salt

Butter for frying (or oil if you don’t like butter).

1 1/2 cup of fruits or berries. Any kind.

1-3 tbsp. of brown sugar.

1 sprig of mint for decoration

Directions:

Mix the flour, milk and salt well in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the egg(s). Mix well. Put the batter aside and let it rest for a few minutes.

Take 1/2 of the rinsed fruits and berries. Add to a pan. Add the sugar. One table-spoon at a time.

Be sure to taste so that it doesn’t get too sweet. Simmer on low/medium heat. Let the fruit and berries “melt down”creating a syrup. This will take about 10 minutes or so, depending on what kind of fruits or berries you use. You can also prepare this ahead of time.

When done, take it off the heat. Strain it in a sieve to press out the last precious drops of your syrup. Use the back of a spoon to gently press down the fruit/berry mixture.

Heat up a frying pan/skillet on medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of butter to pan. Use butter/oil to every other pancake. Add one ladle full of batter to the frying pan. Pour it into the center of pan. Make sure the batter distributes well into edges. You do this by lifting the pan up and swirling it slowly. Some flour thickens up more than others. If you feel the batter is a little too thick, just “thin out” with a slightly bit of milk.

You know the pancake is ready when it is starting to “dry” on the surface and when the edges are starting to turn golden brown. Use a “turner” to lift up the pancake and flip it onto the other side. It takes less time to brown on the second side of the pancake. When ready, fold in half and then fold the half into a quarter. Lift onto platter. Decorate with berries or fruit. Poor on the syrup. Decorate with a sprig of mint.

Either serve the pancakes with whipped cream, berries with homemade syrup (or just bought one) or some great jam.

Enjoy.

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Here we go again…

Another Super Bowl game… I had planned to be prepared and know exactly what to serve this year. That didn’t happen. “Something with hotdogs” was the order for this years football finals. Again? Some of the things we did last year were “thin-bread rolls with hotdogs”.

We don’t really eat hotdogs that often since it is one of the most processed foods there is so I rather cook something else. I decided to go with mini versions of pizzas. Everybody loves that so it is an “easy” one. Since I decided a few years back not to fight it for super bowl and just make some home-made fast food my way, it is ok. I can live with it. I actually managed to squeeze in some whole wheat pizza dough for the pizza buns and lot’s of herbs in the crust of the calzones. One does what one can. It is like hiding vegetables from kids.

Instead of eating big slices that drip and are a little harder to handle, I make mini calzones and pizza “buns”.

The recipes are easy . The only “set” measurements are for the dough itself. After that, you just add the amount of topping you like.

Try these mini pizzas and Have a great Super Bowl.

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Mini Calzones.

Pizza dough.

Tomato sauce. A few tablespoons per pizza.

Cheese. I use a mixture of a few different kinds of cheese. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Gruyère or just anything you have in the house. About a handful per pizza.

Smoked ham or Canadian bacon. About a handful per pizza.

A pinch of Italian seasoning or dried Thyme and Oregano on the filling. You would need a little more if you add it to the crust.

Directions;

Take the pizza dough. Divide it into portion sizes (the size of a tennis ball or the size of your choice). Roll them out very thinly  (you can add dried herbs to the crust by pressing it in while rolling out the dough). Spread a little tomato sauce onto one half, a couple of tablespoons per pizza. Make sure not to go all the way out into the edge. Place some cut up ham as a “stripe” across the middle of the dough. Add a handful of cheese on top. End with the herbs or seasoning. Fold the “lid” over. Pinch the edges very tight so that the calzone can “puff up”.

Bake in a 450 – 500 F (225-250 C) oven. It will take 5-10 minutes. You should bake them hot and fast. If you have a pizza stone, use that.

Note that you can use any kinds of cheeses and fillings for this pizza. The amount is also up to you. Just don’t over stuff them. They need a little space to be able to “puff up”.

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Place the tomato sauce, ham and cheese horizontally across the dough. Fold over the “lid”. Pinch the edge well so that the calzone is nice and airtight.

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Keep them whole or cut them into halves.

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IMG_2868_2“Pizza Buns”.

Pizza dough.

Tomato sauce.

Pepperoni.

Cheese. I use a mixture of a few kinds. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Gruyère or just anything you have in the house. About a handful per pizza.

Directions;

Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangular shape. It should be about 1/4″-3/8″ (about 1/2 cm) thick.

Spread tomato sauce onto the dough as if you were making cinnamon buns. Cut the pepperoni into small pieces. Spread it evenly all over the dough. Use as much as you would like. Add the cheese. Start rolling up the dough from one end to the other (it must be tight so that the filling doesn’t fall out when it is cut up into pieces). Make sure to pinch the end very well so the roll stays closed. Place the dough with the end facing down into the counter. Cut pieces about 3/4″ (2 cm) thick. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 – 500 F (225-250 C) oven. It will take 5-10 minutes. You should bake them hot and fast. If you have a pizza stone, use that.

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Roll up the pizza dough with all the filling just as if you where baking cinnamon buns.

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Cut the pizza roll into pieces.

Basic Pizza dough.

3 – 3 1/2 c. flour.
1 tsp. salt.
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of honey or sugar (the honey/sugar is used to help activate the yeast).
1 package dry yeast (1/2 oz) or 1 package ( 1 1/2 oz) fresh yeast .
1 cup warm water (warm not hot since it would ‘kill” the yeast).
Directions;
Combine honey/sugar, water and yeast into a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast has dissolved).
Use a wooden spoon. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour yeast mixture and oil into well and stir in dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.
If dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 8 minutes or until smooth and firm.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled or 45 minutes to an hour.
* If you would like, it is smart to make a couple of batches of pizza dough at the same time and freeze it. If you use frozen dough, take it out the night or two nights before and let it de-frost in the fridge. This way the dough doesn’t become rubbery but nice and “giving”.

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Enjoy!!

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