I loves me some rhubarb. We had a bunch of fresh rhubarb from Camilla's garden and I'd been happily consuming rhubarb muffins. We were getting ready to go away for a little vacation though and I wanted to save all that lovely rhubarb, so I did a little poking around and decided that turning it into sorbet would be a perfect little treat that keeps well. I was gleefully shoveling some of it in my mouth the other day and tweeting about it (because, well, I tweet everything). Some folks asked for the recipe, so I've finally gotten the time to sit down and translate it. This is another recipe from Claus Meyer's Almanak cookbook, so the original is in Danish.
One of the first really Danish foods I fell in love with was flæskesteg. Flæskesteg translates simply to pork roast, so there isn't anything particularly crazy about it, but the Danes leave the skin on the cut so you get an incredibly yummy, crispy pork rind with every slice. I like pig, and I like crispy pig. Sold! Anyway, it isn't surprising that it was one of the first Danish meals I wanted to learn to cook. I cracked open my Claus Meyer Almanak cookbook to see what he had for me and he had yummy yumminess awaiting. (By the way, he is like the Danish food god and Almanak is one of the Danish food bibles.) I made Sommerflæskesteg med nye kartofler (Summer pork roast with new potatoes) and it really was great. It is a classic flæskesteg, but stuffed with herbs and lemon.
Right now we are at the height of ramsons season here in Denmark (ramsløg in Danish). I'd never encountered them before, and I assume it is because it is native to Europe and so not generally found in the US. They are quite fashionable in Danish kitchens these days. Ramsons are a member of the Allium family, kin to garlic, onions and chives. The flavor is a great blend somewhere between garlic and chive, and you can eat the whole kit and kaboodle: leaves, bulbs, and flowers. We've been using them in various ways from simply adding them as salad greens, to making a pretty kickin' pesto. They are great in a omelet as well. I've also heard tell of making ramsons capers from pickling the flower buds, which I'm dying to try out since I have a deep, deep love of capers and garlicy ones sound divine. I'm hoping to go bud picking this week since the buds are just starting to come up.
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Of course, in my normal fashion, I decided to not use the recipes provided but to make one up and just use the guidelines for the wrapping and cooking. I've never made dolmas before, so this was a fun one to just make up as I went. However, I did pay attention to the cooking directions, though not quite as well as I should have....
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale. I didn't decide to do anything locale-specific but since it is a beautiful summer here, I opted to make mine with fresh fruit, as a dessert pierogi. I'd never seen or heard of a dessert pierogi but it sounded like a fun little challenge.
I had a little bit of an advantage on this one because Camilla made her challenge for dinner for us before I got around to doing mine. That gave me an opportunity to assess the general pierogi-making experience and things to keep in mind in my go.
I'm on to my second Daring Kitchen challenge, which is on the baking side of things. The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. This has a few moving parts so it was recommended to do the challenge over two days. I'm no masochist so that's what I did, and I'm glad. First you need to make a swiss roll, then two flavors of ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Once the various components are ready you have to assemble it into a bombe. This was a good challenge for me since I haven't made a sponge cake swiss roll since my childhood days helping my mom make Bûche de Noël for Christmas, and I have never made ice cream before.
I love fresh-baked cookies. A lot of people do. I'm particularly stuck on the fresh-baked aspect and regular cookies which have been sitting around for a day or more are, well, just less interesting to me. I may poke at them out of boredom if I'm having a sweet craving. Store bought cookies in particular can sit on a counter for weeks without raising my interest. So I make my own cookies and gleefully eat them right out of the oven, but I also don't need to be wolfing down two dozen fresh cookies in one sitting. Years ago when I was in this quandary of how to make small batches, I decided that actually mixing up small batches was stupid and frustrating, so I turned to the master of food longevity: the freezer.
Last month I joined the Daring Kitchen. It is a site for cooks to come together and try to cook the same challenge recipe, then report back on their blogs. They have two kinds of challenges, one for Bakers and one for Cooks. I signed up for both, since I love both of those adventures in the kitchen. I love the idea of having a goal to accomplish and being presented with things that I might not ever venture to cook, either through uncertainty or just not knowing or thinking of it.
This is also a great way to challenge my nomad kitchen. I move around and rent places as I go. I don't have my own kitchen, and I'm limited to what my rentals give me. The only kitchen tools I pack with me are my Mac chef's knife, a sharp paring knife, a digital scale, a Flavour Shaker, and US measuring cups and spoons. So cooking recipes that are often designed for someone in control of their own kitchen can be quite fun. I do love the challenge though, and I'm excited about being a part of the Daring Kitchen now too.
My whole life a pancake was a pancake. There might have been other pancake-like objects, like crepes, but they most definitely were not pancakes. As I've traveled though, it is clear that the definition of "pancake" is regional and American pancakes are their own, special thing. They are also very delicious and something of a novelty over here in Europe. Generally in Europe a pancake is very thin and large in diameter. In Ireland they are served up one at a time by sprinkling lemon juice and sugar on them and rolling them up. Here in Denmark they are totally a dessert and never for breakfast. Then again, the dessert/breakfast line is verrrry fuzzy for me and Americans tend to have a lot more sugary sweet for breakfast generally. But I digress. The main point here is that American pancakes are fluffy, eaten stacked, and are most definitely a classic breakfast. They also seem hard for people to master who haven't been exposed to them their whole lives. I have a number of Danish friends who are quite frustrated but determined to make American pancakes.
I am pretty big into baking. I love to start a day off with some fresh scones or whip up jalapeño cornbread for dinner. I do make yeast breads, but I spend most of my baking time making "quick" breads, those baked yummies that rely on baking powder and/or soda for leavening rather than the full action of yeast. One thing that I make everywhere I go is pancakes, which, while not baking, certainly relies on the same technique for getting that fluff. I have a basic recipe that just lives in my head and I can pull it together just about anywhere if I can get at the ingredients. When I first got to Ireland I was given pause though, because the flour in the kitchen was self-rising flour. I frowned. I'll mix my own leavening, thank-you-very-much. So, I went down to the store to get some "regular" flour and I discovered that in Ireland, self-rising is the norm. Whoa. I had to hunt around for anything that didn't say self-rising, and even when I did find that, I needed to read the ingredients because they would still have baking soda in them.