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.