Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Norwegian Baked Cheese Omelette

I have visited Norway a few times and each time I have been met with delicious food and hospitable people.  I never did eat this omelette there, but I can imagine eating it in one of the cafe's my friend took me to during my stays with her.  I have long dream of a cafe of those ranks in the U.S.  It was set on the shore of one of the waterways which lead to Oslo.  Just out of the distance on the water, you can just imagine Oslo there.  From this town as well you can take a ferry into Oslo, which we did take once.  The view in the morning from the cafe is crisp and clean in October, but on that weekend day, the cafe was filled with friends and family who were enjoying each others company while eating a sandwich or a pastry with coffee.  This omelette recipe also comes from Scandinavian Feasts by Beatrice Ojakangas.  Try it out and share with friends and family as I did when I served it...Hot from the oven with bread, juice and friends.

Norwegian Baked Cheese Omelette

4 eggs
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 whole green onions, sliced
1 cup cooked diced ham
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped thinly
8 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes

Preheat oven to 400F.  Whisk together eggs, milk and salt.  In a frying pan, melt the butter.  Add the ham, onion, and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the onions are bright green and the pepper is hot.  Pour the egg mixture over the sauté and sprinkle with the cheese cubes.  Bake for about 20 minutes until the egg mixture is set and cheese is melted.

Makes 4 servings

Danish Rye Butter Buns

When I was young, my family lived on the same street as my grandparents.  I loved to go to my grandma's on Saturday morning when she was in the kitchen baking.  The kitchen always smelled so good!  I was able to sit at the kitchen table and play cards with my great-grandma while my grandma baked away.  When I got a little older, my grandma let me bake with her.  One the the things that I learned from my grandma was how to cut bread.  She let me make a small version of whatever she was making.  One day we were baking cinnamon rolls.  I remember her large pan ready for rising while she showed me how to cut my small roll into individual rolls.  She gave me a piece of string and watched me pull it through the bread for a gentle, but effective cut.

As I grew older, I tried to make bread several times and it never quite turned out for me, so I quit making bread from scratch.  It always bothered me because friends and family who know me, know I like to bake and cook everything I can from scratch.  I wasn't going to let yeast things scare me anymore and started this year with artesian bread which turn out wonderful, delicious and not difficult to make at all.  These rolls also come from Beatrice Ojakangas' book Scandinavian Feast.  The name is right on as there are 5 sticks of butter used in this recipe, but it will be difficult to actually stop eating these rolls.

Danish Rye Butter Buns

2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110F)
1 cup warm milk (About 110F)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups rye flour
4 cups white flour
3 sticks cold butter
1 stick butter, softened

In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in water.  Add the milk, sugar, and salt and let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast foams.  Beat in the eggs, melted butter and 1 cup of the rye flour.  Measure the remaining rye and white flour in a large bowl.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Pour the yeast mixture over the flour mixture.  Carefully fold the two mixtures together until just moistened.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at minimum 4 hour and up to 2 days.

When ready to shape the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured board.  Knead gently to get rid of any air bubbles.  Divide the dough into four parts.  Roll the dough out to make a 15 inch circle.  With a butter knife, spread the surface of the circle with 1 tablespoon of the soft butter.  Fold the circle into thirds and roll it out into a 24 inch square.  Fold into thirds again to make a square about 15-16 inches wide.  Spread the surface with another tablespoon of the softened butter.  Roll up the dough (Jelly-roll style).  Cut into 8 pieces and place seam side down onto a baking sheet to rise.  Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).  Preheat oven to 400F.  Brush the buns with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a coarse salt.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and crusty.  Remove from oven and cool on racks.  Serve warm or cooled.
Makes 32 buns

Vanilla Cream Sauce

Every since my trip to Finland this summer I have become obsessed with Scandinavian food.  I have been reading several Scandinavian cookbooks, including Scandinavian Feasts by Beatrice Ojakangas.  It is soon going to be part of my cookbook collection/obsession.  The first recipe I tried from this cookbook was a simple berry recipe for a vanilla cream sauce.  It is like a delicious vanilla pudding, but not so sweet so it compliments fruits very well.  If only I had discovered this earlier in the year when my raspberries were coming in, but fortunately there are still great tasting berries available in the grocery stores in addition to my strawberries which have no desire to stop blooming and growing.

Vanilla Cream Sauce

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
2tablespoons corn starch
3 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a saucepan, heat the beaten egg, vanilla sugar, cornstarch and milk together over low heat.  Stir constantly until it is simmering.  Simmer 2-3 minutes, until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Cover and chill.  Serve with berries.  Makes about 8 servings.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Soba Noodles

Sometimes I just buy a cookbook because someone told me it was a good one to buy.  Sometimes I get them from the library to be sure I would like to cook from it before I actually buy it.  I don't think I would regret buying one even if I never cooked from it, but in the past few months I have been trying to cook my way through the books I have not cooked from, which is why you have seen more of a variety of different recipes.  I like to read cookbooks for fun, but some like Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty makes me feel like I am eating my way through the cookbook.  This recipe for Soba Noodles is based on his in Plenty, but oh how I would love to eat in his restaurant to taste the food from this marvelous cook.

This dish is refreshing to eat when it is hot outside as the cucumber just adds that coolness to the food that doesn't make you feel too full when you eat it.  Besides, it just looks great to eat!

Soba Noodles
2 large cucumbers
2 teaspoons salt
300 g soba noodles
70 grams toasted sesame seeds
30 g coriander leaves, chopped
25 grams mint leaves, chopped
50 g sprouts

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Zest of a lime
60 mL lime juice
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 green chilies, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 garlic clove, pressed
¾ teaspoon salt

Shred the cucumber with a grater, then add them to a collander.  Sprinkle with the salt and stir well.  Let them drain for about 30 minutes.  Put the noodles in a pot of boiling water and cook as directions say.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.  Let them sit aside and dry.

Add the cucumbers to the soba noodles.  Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together and add to the noodles and cucumbers.  Stir gently.  Add the sesame seeds, coriander, mint and sprouts.  Stir and taste.  Add more salt, vinegar or sugar if needed to get a sweet tart flavor.  Serve in bowls and garnish with sprouts.