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Simple, fast and with a fantastic taste!

You know how some people like to wrap everything in bacon? I like that too, but I never do it. Or rather do it very rarely. It is the bad wrap of bacon that sits in my mind (no pun intended) . Instead of bacon, I sometimes use smoked ham or air-dried ham (prosciutto). The food doesn’t get as greasy if you do that.

You need to just be careful with what it is that you cook, so that it doesn’t dry out and become really boring to eat.

One of my favorite “wraps” is fresh salmon wrapped in prosciutto,fresh basil and mozzarella. It is so easy. It is one of those dishes where you almost don’t have to add any spices. It is so very tasty itself with the freshness of the basil, the saltines of the ham and the absolute delight of the fresh salmon.

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You can serve it any way you would like.

I love couscous, so this time, that is what I did.  A vegetable couscous.

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Serves 4.

4 pieces of fresh salmon (About 3 oz or 1 1/2″ wide piece. No skin.)

20 slices of prosciutto or smoked ham. (Unless they are very big. Then you can use 16 slices.)

8 thinly slices mozzarella slices.

1/2 bunch of basil leaves.

2-3 tomatoes.

Salt & pepper to taste.

1 c. couscous & 1 c. boiling water. Salt & Pepper.

4 cups of chopped vegetables. Anything you have at home.

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Place the slices of ham or prosciutto on a cutting board. Make them overlap slightly. Use 6 pieces or 4 if they are big, per salmon.

Place the skinless salmon piece on top of the meat. Sprinkle with some pepper and very little salt (since the ham is salty).

Add 2 slices of mozzarella onto. Finish off with finely sliced tomatoes and basil.

While you start working with the wraps, let some water come to a boil.

Add the couscous and the boiling water together with salt & pepper into a bowl. Stir a little. Cover with a plastic wrap. Let it steam until done. This will happen while you keep working with the salmon.

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Fold over the ham/prosciutto so that the salmon and mozzarella is totally covered on the length.

Heat up a skillet on medium heat.

Fry the salmon in a little dash of olive oil or other prefered oil. Make sure to turn it all around. When the ham/prosciutto is nice and crispy, the  salmon is done.

But to be sure, feel a little in the middle of the salmon. If it feels a little firm to the touch, it is done. Please note, If it is too firm, the salmon is over cooked.

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While the salmon is frying, start with the vegetables.

Use any vegetables of your choice.

I just grab anything I have in the fridge.

About 1cup per person.

Use a medium hot pan. Fry the vegetables for a few minutes. Add the couscous.

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Just fold over the couscous and the vegetables. Make sure all is well mixed.

Plate the couscous mixture with the wrapped salmon on top. Decorate with som herbs or mini tomatoes if you have any.

Enjoy!!!

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A fabulous dish to do when it is hot out and you just don’t want to really cook something, is to make a nice and fully packed crab salad.

As I see it, it should be crunchy, spicy, having tons of good crab meat and also feel like a full meal.

A little watery crab salad with substitute crab meat doesn’t do it for me.

I saw one of my favorite master chefs make this avocado ball and after trying it a couple of times, I now love it. It is a little bit of drama in the presentation. Perfect if you are having people over for dinner, and want to impress them.

My husband can’t eat avocado, so I make the same thing for him but I use other “shells”. Anything from baked sweet potato to fresh bananas. Please note, if you use sweet potatoes, you have to finely slice them (preferably on a mandolin or something like that) and bake them in the oven on a medium low heat so that the strips don’t burn. Let cool down before using.

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Crab salad with Walnuts and Pears.

serves 4-8 (depending on how you serve the salad)

1 1/2 c. of good fresh lump crab meat.

(If you are making the avocado ball you need 4 nice and ripe avocados. Make sure they are still firm enough to slice. You need 1- 2 avocados per ball if you make them small.)

1/2 c. good mayo.

1/2 c. creme fraiche.

1/4 c. walnuts. Chopped and roasted. (If you serve the salad “open” not in an avocado ball, save a few whole walnuts as decoration for the top of the salad).

1/4 c.  Finely chopped celery.

2 nice and firm & sweet pears or apples. Finely chopped.

1/4 c. chives. Finely chopped.

1/4 c. dried cranberries. Chopped. (If you can’t get that, use raisins).

2 tbsp. of squeezed lemon or lime juice. (You could also use a little bit of the zest in the salad).

Salt & Pepper to taste.

A splash of hot-sauce (or 1/2 tsp. optional).

(1/2 tsp. old bay seasoning or any other seafood seasoning, optional. I don’t use this but it does give a little more “round” taste).

Directions;

Mix everything together but the crab meat. Make sure it is mixed well.

Gently fold in the crab. Make sure you still will have big lumps of the meat.

You can serve the Crab salad in many ways.

The most smashing way would be to make Avocado balls and hide the crab salad inside the avocado. This is a little labour intense and detail oriented. But is make a great presentation.

You could also take apple or pear slices. Dip them or brush them with some lemon juice and add scoops of the salad on top. Decorated with a walnut.

Another way would be to serve the salad in a lettuce leave, shaped a little like a bowl.

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Cut the avocado as thinly as you can.

Take some glad wrap and put on a cutting board. Brush with some of the lemon juice.

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Lay down the avocado slices on the glad wrap, creating a nice and totally covered circle.

Add a couple of tbsp. of the crab salad onto the middle of the circle.

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Gently lift up the avocado & crab salad only holding the corners of the plastic wrap.

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Start to shape a round ball.

Gently….

Twist the glad warp making the avocado ball nice and firm. Make sure nothing pours out and the plastic wrap doesn’t break.

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When totally round, add do a plate. Decorate with some of the chives.

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You could either leave it as a “mystery” avocado ball or just cut it open for people to see what it is that hides inside.

Enjoy!!!

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It has been so hot in New York.

We have had another heat wave. It was about 98F/36C degrees but  it felt like about 110F/38-40C.

How is it even possible to turn on the stove a day like that???

When it is too hot outside we turn to as much cold food as possible. Salads, sandwiches, cold soups…

A typical Swedish dish would be the Skagen sauce in a baked potato. The Skagen sauce can be changed up in so many ways. Traditionally, one is supposed to use cooked Greenland sweet shrimp, but I love switching out the shrimp for some smoked salmon.

You can add half a lobster tail on top, if you would like to make it a little more fancy. You could of course decorate with the salmon as well. Just as fancy and good.

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Smoked Salmon sauce on toast.

Serves 4.

6-8 slices of smoked salmon.

1 c. sour cream or creme fraiche.

2 lobster tails (optional). Cut in half,  length wise.

1/2 small red onion or white onion, finely chopped. You could also use 3 tbsp. chopped chives.

1 small jar of white or red caviar (optional).

Small salad leaves. Or salad mix.

2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill + 4 sprigs of fresh dill.

Small splash of hot sauce (optional).

Pepper to taste.

4 slices of a good hearty bread. Very lightly toasted.

1 lemon cut into quarters.

Directions;

Mix all of the ingredients together. Taste the mixture. If you need or want to add some other spice to do.

Toast the bread.

Place the salad on the toasted bread. Add the salmon mixture on top of the salad. Top with the lobster tail and a sprig of dill. Add a slice of lemon to the plate.

This is great together with a cold beer.

This is an ultimate summer dinner. I hope you will enjoy it.

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The flowers in the garden are blooming like crazy. The heat is beating them up but they are still hanging in there. This is such a nice time of the year.

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Didn’t you ever wish you could preserve that fragrant smell of your favorite roses?

I have this one rose that gives me the most fragrant flowers. Huge and radiantly hot pink roses. The first year I just got a few of them, the second a few more, and now the flowers are huge and bloom a lot. It also gives me flowers in the fall when it get’s a little cooler.

I have a hard time cutting my flowers off and taking them inside when I know they will last 6-8 times as long left alone in the garden. But I have gotten a new idea of starting making Rose Water when the flowers has bloomed for a while and are still super fragrant. I pick them early in the morning before they have been “beaten up” by the sun and the morning dew is still on them. There are a few ways you can do it. The long way is veeery long. Depending on how many roses you are using it can take many hours for it all to drip down.

Rose Water is such a versatile thing. People spray it on their skin as a re-fresher. It is also added to moisturizers.

I use it for cooking. You can add a more concentrated Rose Water into light cookies, meringues, for drinks, in light sauces.

I think the food or baked goods has to be light in both color and fullness. It doesn’t sit right with some Rose Water in very “heavy” food. But a little Rose Martini wouldn’t be bad.

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Rosewater.

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Rosewater.

Rose Petals.

Water. Some say to use distilled water but I use spring water or double filtered tap water since I use it for cooking.

Directions;

Pick the roses early in the morning so that they are healthy and strong. Make sure they still are nice and fragrant and not too bloomed out.

Separate the petals from the rose hip. Rinse the petals very lightly and let them dry off on a clean kitchen towel.

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Use a large and deep pot with a slightly shaped lid for making the Rosewater.

Put one gown upside down at the bottom center of the pot. Add a bowl on top of that.

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Pack down all the clean petals all around the bowl. Push them down so that they don’t reach over the bowl. Add a few cups of water. Make sure not to use too much but still have it be enough for the Rosewater making.

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Add the lid, upside down. Make sure it fits nice and snug. Let the water come to a boil.

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When it starts to boil, add a couple of cups of ice cubes to the lid to make sure the steam starts to build up nice and well. The Rosewater will now start to “drip” into the bowl in the center of the pot. This can take some time. Turn down the heat slightly but still high enough to be boiling. Add more ice if needed. Ever so often, pour over the rosewater into another bowl. Put the bowl back into the pot and let the ice start-up the condensation again.

Like I said, this takes time and could take up to a couple of hours depending on how much water and rose petals you are using.

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There is a faster way of making Rosewater but this way doesn’t stay nice and clear.

You add the petals to the water and let come to a boil. When it has come to a boil, turn it of the heat and let sit and “steep” for a while until it has a nice and rich rose sent (and taste).

If you let it boil to long, the Rosewater will become a little bitter. I usually use that as a cup of Rose tea at the end.

Above are Rosewater made in three stages creating three different colors.

Pour all your Rosewater onto nice bottles.

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I hope you will have success with making some Rosewater.

If you don’t use it for anything culinary, add it to a spray bottle and use it as a refreshing mist.

Enjoy!!!!

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Happy 4th of July!!!

Time do bring out all the red/white/blue, stars and stripes you can find in the house. No need to be modest. Go big for this holiday!

This is of course an American celebration, but I know that Americans abroad celebrate it just as much as a Swede living here in the States ( I wonder who I am thinking of…) would celebrate Swedish events and holidays.

We are making it simple for this holiday. Too much to do, too little time. Don’t I say that all the time?? Perhaps I am a very stressed individual since I always want to cook simple food. Who knows.

My priority this weekend is to relax, spend time with family and friends. Just enjoy myself. We will go to the beach, go to my mother-in-law’s for Curry Goat, BBQ in the garden, so many different things are going on for these 4 days… If I am really lucky, there will also be some time left over for me to have a date with a good book. I haven’t read a book in a very long time. What a shame.

So, we are doing easy stuff for the 4th. Basic BBQ food like , marinated chicken & pork tenderloin, burgers & hotdogs. Corn & salsa.

I will make my Mini Pies filled with strawberries, blueberries and apples. Basic desserts. A little bit of “comfort” food desserts. Well known and familiar but perhaps with a little twist at times.

It is very nice to make a whole bunch of small mini pies instead of making just one big one. This way you can pick and choose what you want.

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Mini Fruit & Berry Pies.

The rule is to use any fruit or berries of your choice. Besides that, there are no rules.

There are no real recipes for this. Since I like to be able to taste the actual produce, I keep it as fresh as possible.

So just make a pie crust or even buy ready made pie crust. For these ones, I use a basic pie crust.

I choose little nice looking ramekins. Since it is 4th of July, I used my star shaped ones.

Add the rolled out pie crust to the ramekins. Well pressed down into the bottom edges.

Add the fruit or berries. Keep them separate or mix them together.

Different combinations;

Blueberries– Use a splash of your favorite liquor.

Strawberries– Add finely chopped candied ginger.

Apples– Add your favorite liquor and some ground cinnamon. (And perhaps a little granulated sugar if you need for it to be a little sweeter).

Peaches– Toasted nuts and a pinch of brown sugar.

These are just some suggestions, you can really combine anything you like.

If you use hard fruits like apples, cut them finer and fry them in a skillet for about 15 minutes or so until soft. Add a little water so that they get some help from the water to soften up. Keep a lid on so that they really cook down faster.

Directions;

When you have added the pie crust to the ramekins pack down the filling well. Cut little stripes of the crust and add about 3 stripes per pie.

Brush some egg wash onto the crust and sprinkle some granulate sugar on top of it.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.

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Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

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You can serve some fresh berries on the side and also whip up some heavy cream spiked with some of your favorite liquor.

Add about 2-3 tbsp. per cup of heavy cream. Fold in some candied ginger.

Enjoy!!!

And again, have a great and happy 4th of July!!!

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There are so many ways to make a pizza. I prefer to make a more “grown up” version but the family still just wants to have plain cheese or cheese and pepperoni. What to do?? I end up making either “shared” pizzas (half & half) or individual ones. As you might know if you have been following my blog, my husband can’t stand when I make a big pepperoni pizza and make a 1/4 of it a banana curry pizza (my favorite) since he might get a little curry on one of his “sides”…

But I get it. If you like something you like something. And people shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. So, as you might suspect, I eat these myself. Good, more for me.

Lately I have been working on a food project and have had to come up with lot’s of different “comfort foods” that would work in the US. This is one of the dishes I contributed to the project. It is a challenge when you really would like to make it healthier and more “green” (as in more herbs & vegetables) but still make it the same way it always was made. Since I was not brought up on the typical fast food & comfort foods I flunk all the time. I manage to squeeze in the “wrong” ingredients.

“One” is not supposed to add curry (or any other crazy spices or herbs), fruits or berries to a pizza- A pizza should only have tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni  on it!” my little husband says….

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Orange Walnut Goat cheese Pizza.

Pizza dough.

4-5 small or 2 big yellow onions.

1-2 tbsp. butter.

1 c. goat cheese (the amount is not that important. One package of whatever size you find in the store is fine).

1 orange (grated & squeezed).

1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts.

Sprouts or micro greens for decoration.

1/2-1 tsp. crushed pepper.

Salt to taste.

Directions;

Slice all the onions finely, length wise (cut in half then cut length wise not across).

Fry in a skillet with the butter on medium low heat until caramelized (dark and translucent). This will take some time. You need to be watching the onions since they might burn the second you look away. When nicely caramelized, set aside to cool down.

Roll out the pizza dough into required size (one large round or smaller individual ones).

In a bowl, add goat cheese, orange zest, a splash of the squeezed orange juice,half of the crushed pepper and the crushed walnuts.

Mix well. Taste and see if you need to add more juice, any salt or more pepper.

Spread out all the caremelized onions evenly onto the pizza dough. Top with little dollops of the goat cheese. Bake in a 450-500 F degree (225-250 C ) oven  for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

When ready, add the micro greens or sprouts, they makes it fresh and “crispy”.

Enjoy!!

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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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This sunday is the American Mother’s day. In Sweden it is not until the last sunday of May.

At mother’s day, the lilacs are usually in full bloom at home. One of my favorite flowers. At my old country house we had a whole path way lined with Lilac trees and at the very end of the property, there was this one large white Lilac tree. It will always stay in my memory and I think I need to always have at least one little tree planted somewhere.

The same way that I love lilacs I also love Violets and Lily of the Valley. Beautiful flowers with strong wonderful scents.

Some of the first plants I planted in our current garden were a few Lilac trees. It took a while for them to bloom but this year they are absolutely fantastic. My dad came for a visit last year and was trimming all the trees. I wish I could have said it was my love and care but I know better. It was due to my dads green fingers that they are giving me the best spring experience ever.

I transplanted some violets from my old house. They are now taking over. Spreading like crazy. This year I FINALLY made Candied Violets.

It happens that I would like to use some Candied Violets. And every time I go on a big hunt for the, Every time I have come home empty-handed. It is really easy to make so why haven’t I made them before??? Beats me… I used to make candied fruits when I was younger. It is fun and the result is great. You just need to be a little detail oriented and have good tolerance the day you make them. This because the egg whites and all the sugar gets very sticky. Also note that since the Violets need to dry you have to make them ahead of time.

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Apple Cupcakes with Candied Violets.

Makes about 8-10 cupcakes.

1 stick of butter (125 gr.) melted.

1 c. of granulated sugar.

1 1/2 c. of flour.

2 tsp. baking powder.

2 eggs, whisked.

1 c. apple juice or apple cider.

For decoration;

Candied Violets or grated chocolate.

Whipped Heavy cream or your favorite kind of frosting.

Directions;

Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the butter. Add the flour and baking powder into a sieve. Sift into the bowl of butter and sugar and mix carefully. Add the eggs and pour in the apple juice. Again, mix carefully.

Pour into muffin pans.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool down. Decorate with the frosting or whipped cream. Finish off with the Candied Violets or some grated chocolate.

Enjoy!

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Candied Violets.

Egg white.

Very fine granulated sugar (I make it very fine by using my mortar and pestle.

Pick the flowers with a little bit of the steam still on it.

Spray gently with a water bottle. Let dry on some paper towel.

Brush some egg white on both sides of the Violets.

Sprinkle on the sugar.

Let dry on a piece of wax paper for at least 24 hours.

Store in an airtight container in one layer.

It takes some time but it is so much fun to have your own home made Candied Violets. Try it. You will be so happy to have them.

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