Saturday, January 24, 2015

Baked Stuffed Butternut Squash

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been a little obsessed with squashes lately.  The last post for butternut squash was just the beginning.  Here is another recipe for a stuffed butternut squash.  It is based off a recipe from Scandinavian Cooking, but I didn't have the right ingredients for the stuffing.  I really wanted to make the butternut squash so I figured I could come up with something for stuffing from my cupboards and refrigerator and use up some ingredients as well.  So here is my creation.

Stuffed Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash
4 oz. neufchatel cheese
1 oz. emmentaler cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds.  Place the halves onto a baking sheet.  Mix the stuffing: mix together the neufchatel and emmentaler cheeses.  Add the 1/4 cup of toasted hazelnuts.  Divide into two and stuff each butternut squash half with the cheese and hazelnut mixture.  Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the two halves.  Season with pepper (and salt if desired).  Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked throughout.  Check after about 35 minutes and cover if the cheese mixture is becoming too dark.  Serve hot.  This also reheats well, so make a lot so you can eat it now and later.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Butternut Squash soup with meatballs

This was one among many recipes I decided to focus on in my new Scandinavian Cooking.  I had previously posted that I wanted to try to cook as many recipes from this book as possible, but I would like to amend that goal.  Since I received several new cookbooks for Christmas and would like to cook from all of them, I am going to pick a new cookbook each month on which to focus my energy to ensure I give them a good test and not just a couple of recipes.  Since my cookbook collection is quite extensive this will be a good way to get to know more of them and keep the variety in which I love to cook.  Since I know many of my cookbooks well, I can usually name the book that has the ideas, flavors or guidelines (aka recipes) that I want to create or use as a basis for something else.

This recipe does come from Scandinavian Cooking which I will continue to focus on through the month, but I look forward to cracking into some of the other cookbooks that I have on my shelf for the flavors that I have been craving.  Recently, I have been loving squashes which I never really liked as a child.  This is just one of many recipes I have been making with them.  This one throws in meatballs which I like as something different than just a vegetable soup, which I love as well.

Squash Soup with Meatballs
1 butternut squash (on the small to medium side), peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion (yellow), diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 parsnip
1 can coconut milk (14 oz.)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon (juiced)

1 pound ground lamb
4 oz. neufchatel cheese
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1 teaspoon salt

Put a soup pot on high with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Quickly fry the pumpkin, onion, garlic and parsnip.  Once quickly fried, add the coconut milk, about 2.5 cups of water, and salt (1 teaspoon).  Turn the heat down and simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Mix the soup with an immersion stick blender.  Season with the pepper and lemon juice.  Mix the meatball ingredients together.  Shape into meatballs and add them to the soup.  Simmer until down, which should be about 10 minutes, but will vary depending on the size of the meatballs.  Serve hot.  I also love to eat with fresh crusty sourdough, but any crusty bread will do.  Makes about 4 servings.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lucia Bread (Saffron Rolls)

If you know a little about Swedish culture around Christmas, then you probably have heard of St. Lucia Day.  These saffron rolls are baked and eaten for St. Lucia Day.  It is technically on December 13th, but I baked these for my brunch on the 14th.  They were pretty easy to make and turned out very nicely.  A word to the warning though is that they stale very quickly and should be eaten on the same day as they are made.    You can add more raisins to the dough if you like, but I just used them on top as the decoration.  (This recipe is based on a recipe in The Great Scandinavian BakingBook by Beatrice Ojakangas.)  The picture above also shows Danish Rye Butter Buns.
Lucia Bread (Swedish Saffron Rolls)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (between 105-115 F)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands ground in a mortar and pestle
2 eggs
48 raisins (or more if desired)
4 cups flour

Glaze for bread rolls:  (Beat together)
1 egg

In a mixing bowl for a counter top mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add a little of the sugar (about a tablespoon to feed the yeast).  Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy.  Add the rest of the sugar, butter, cream, saffron, and eggs.  Beat well.  Stir in the flour, about 1 cup at a time until the dough is smooth and slightly shiny.  All the flour should be mixed in at this point.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).  When you remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide dough into 24 pieces to then form into a S shape (see pictures).  (There are other shape variations you can make as well.  You can also divide into three and make one large loaf.)  Place a raisin on each end.  Brush with the glaze for the bread rolls and place in a warm place until doubled.  Preheat oven to 375F and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Swedish Meatballs

If there was one thing I can associate with growing up eating Swedish food, it has to be Swedish meatballs.  My grandma used to make them frequently.  After she no longer made them, my mom started making them.  She even has made them several times when she came to visit...with extras so I could freeze them for later.  So with being spoiled that so many people made them, I had never made them before the Scandinavian brunch that I had.   I would quite please with the results and resolve to make them more often.

Having enjoyed cooking Scandinavian foods, I am going to try and cook a bunch from one cookbook this year.  This means that I won't have quite the variety as I usually do, but I will still be cooking other things as well.  Last year my goal was to post 52 times throughout the year, but I made.  To revise that goal a bit will be to post regularly instead of sporadically.  So my two goals are to explore one cookbook in depth and to post once a week.

Swedish Meatballs
2 pounds ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bunch parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder

Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.  Roll into 1.5 inch meatballs.  Seal with water if they are not sticking together very well.  Fry in olive oil or butter or a combination of both.  These reheat well in the oven.

Serve with ligonberries and cream sauce.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Aebleskivers (round Danish pancakes)

I have a serious love of breakfast.  I like savory eggs and bacon, egg in a hole, savory french toast.  But I love a good sweet breakfast too.  Just a slightly sweetened pancake batter with blueberries, pancakes with quinoa, waffles that I can tear apart with my hands to dip into real maple syrup.  The list goes being that it is one of my favorite meals, I have a lot of specialized equipment which I don't use too much for regular cooking.  I have a Belgium liege waffle iron, a regular waffle iron, a juicer so I can have fresh squeezed orange juice with all the delicious things I make.  So this year, with my Scandinavian brunch in mind, I purchased a Danish Aebleskiver pan.  To great thing about these are that they are small and bit sized, but have many variations as you can stuff them with a teaspoon of jam or make them savory with cheese and scallions.  Here is the basic recipe which came from Nordicware's Breakfast cookbook which is sent with the pan.  I haven't have much time to try many variations, but I dream about the different ways they can be made and I long to crave another sweet day to knock out more....I think peanut butter and chocolate chips may be high on the list.
Danish Aebelskivers
Makes 21-35 aebelskivers

3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk

Butter for greasing the pan

Beat egg yolks with sugar and salt.  In another medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.  In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter gently.  Heat the aebleskiver pan over medium heat.  Brush a little butter into each well and add about a tablespoon (or until about 2/3 full).  Cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Turn with a chopstick and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove when browned on both sides.  Place in a dish in a low heat oven to remain warm until serving.  Serve with jam, syrup or your favorite topping.

Krumkake (crumb cake)

My grandma on my dad's side was 100% Swedish.  It was because of her cooking traditional Swedish goods for Christmas which inspired my Scandinavian brunch this year.  So when having brunch there must be a couple of sweets.  While these are not very filling, nor too sweet, they are a part of my Scandinavian Christmas memories.  Each year my grandma would make tons of these to give to us to share for Christmas.  The good part is that it make a lot!  I think there were 4-5 dozen for this recipe.  They also cook up really quick so in an afternoon you can make a batch which will last a while.  So if you want to add a little Scandinavia to your Christmas, I think this is a delightful way to do it.  The irons have traditional designs on them which add to the atmosphere of Christmas.  Enjoy!

This recipe came from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas, a Minnesotan cookbook author.  While there are not many photos which many people always desire, I have never had a problem following her directions.  Everything I have made has come out beautifully.  If you are going to attempt Scandinavian cooking, I recommend having a look at her books.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
water to thin if needed

In a medium sized bowl, cream sugar and butter.  Beat in the eggs until the mixture is light yellow colored.  Beat in milk and flour until smooth.  Let the mixture stand for at least 30 minutes.  Heat krumkake iron.  (I have an electric one from my grandma so it gets hot quick.)  Spray iron with nonstick cooking spray.  Add about 1 tablespoon batter to each side of the iron and close.  Cook for about 30 seconds.  Roll off of iron with a wooden stick.  (My iron came with two cone shaped wood sticks to make the cone shaped krumkake in the photos.)  If they are too dark cook for 5 seconds less each time.  In a very hot iron, mine cooked for just 20 seconds.

Lamb Stew

The first time I remember eating mutton was when I lived in New Zealand.  Since there is an overwhelming number of sheep there, it is pretty certain that people there would be raising and eating them.  Most of the lamb is exported which leaves the less desirable mutton in New Zealand.  However, like most things, you can figure out a way to make it delicious.  While this recipe uses lamb, you can use any kind of stew meat you would like.  That being said this is a simple recipe with a ton of good tasting vegetables which combined with the meat add all the flavor to this stew without much work on the part of the cook other than cutting everything up.  You can increase or decrease the size of this stew easily as well.  Since this was part of my Scandinavian brunch, the idea is from Scandinavian Christmas.

Lamb Stew (for about 6 servings)
1.5 pounds lamb cut into stew sized pieces (about 1.5 x 1.5 inches)  (You can substitute for any other stew meat)
Olive oil (for searing)
1 leek (you can use a small onion if you don't have a leek), well washed and cut into thick pieces
About a pound of potatoes, peeled and cut into similar sized cuts as the carrots and parnips
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red chiles, roughly chopped
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
2 tablespoons tomato paste
black pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan (or into a large stock pot) and sear the lamb until brown on all sides.  Add the vegetables and garlic to the lamb and saute for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the chiles, apricots and tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper; then pour in 1-2 cups of water.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour.  Taste for seasonings again and adjust as needed.  You can simmer this for several hours, but at least for an hour.  I made mine a day in advance, then cooled and refrigerated it over night.  The next morning I brought simmered it until it was hot throughout and then served.