Saturday, January 31, 2009
Considering I have only started exploring the many possibilities of eggs in the last 8 years, I'm playing some catch up with all the other people who've been enjoying eggs their whole lives. I only just learned how to make proper scrambled eggs. The trick is to put the heat to medium and stir the eggs, turning it to slowly cook the eggs. Perfect scrambled eggs cannot be rushed. Older people are right: You do get wiser as you get older.
Scrambled eggs are kind of like fried rice. Not making the connection? Like fried rice, you can put leftover ingredients into the eggs to create a very hearty breakfast (or lunch or dinner). Some of my favorites are onions, ham, bacon, cooked orzo and fresh herbs. This is my new favorite way to make a very simple scrambled egg dish. Great for a hearty breakfast with a slice of toast.
Scrambled Eggs, Upgraded
2 green onions, sliced very thinly
1/8 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup of shredded cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbs oil
Whisk the eggs with the onions, milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with the oil. You don't want it too hot, just at about medium heat. Place the eggs in. Let the eggs sit for about a minute. Using a rubber spatula or a spoon with a wide bottom, scrape the bottom of the pan starting from the outside in. This allows the raw egg on top to make its way to the bottom of the pan and slowly cook. Repeat the scraping motion all around the pan. This will take a bit of time, stirring occasionally. It's worth it. The eggs are tender and moist. When the eggs are done to your preferred dryness (we don't like our eggs too dry), plate the eggs and have it with some toast.
The eggs are tender, wonderfully savory with the addition of the green onions and cheese, and the cheese is melty. Deeee-lish!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Since I had no camera, I have no pictures of the rest of the new year feast. You will have to rely on my skills of description to get a mentally visual and taste-ural (I'm sure there's a real word for it) idea of what we had.
On new year day, it is tradition for my family to eat the remaining half of the chicken from the day before. I'm not sure why we do this. I've done this for every year of my 30 years on this earth and when you do everything that long without thinking about it, you don't analyze why it's done. I made a mental note to task my mom the next time I call home. Perhaps it has to do with continuity? I don't know - I'm grasping at straws by this point. In addition to the chicken, we have the leftover soup made from pork, bean curd sheets, dried scallops, dried shitakes, and water chesnuts. On new year day, we made the addition of napa cabbage, or Chinese cabbage to the soup. Again, I'm not sure why we do it, but I think the Chinese term for napa cabbage is reminiscent of a prosperous word. Lastly, we had a vegetarian dish that I often see at Chinese restaurants called "Buddha's Delight." I'm not sure if this dish delighted Buddha, but it delighted Boyfriend. This dish for CNY is made of 8 or 9 ingredients. 8 is a number for good luck for the Chinese as the word for 8 sounds just like the word for "prosper." 9 is also lucky for much the same reason - though I'm not sure what auspicious word sounds like 9. My Chinese is not so...thorough. I made my dish out of fried tofu, bean curd sheets (the same from the soup), sugar snap peas, glass vermicelli noodles, sliced shitake mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, and enoki mushrooms. The result is a jumbled but tastetastic mess of noodles and various other items of different sizes, shapes and textures. At home, we have other ingredients that sound like prosperous words. The one that comes to mind is a type of sea kelp (it's either seaweed or a mushroom) that looks just like a bunch of little worms. In Chinese we call it "Fat Choy" or "hair vegetables" because they are dark brown, very thin, and look like hairs or worms. Their texture is slightly crunchy and it's got an earthy taste to it. I personally love it. That is all over CNY dishes at home. "Fat" (pronounced "faht") being a word similiar to prosperity or success. Are you catching on to the theme?
The day after new year is officially the first day of the new year. We get together as a family and eat dinner together, symbolizing the opening of the new year. As we say it at home, "hoi neen" or literally: open the year. On this day, we eat either chicken or pork. If it's chicken, we get a new chicken and do not eat the leftovers. I have enough chicken for many dishes to come. As is normal around this time of year, I'm up to my eyeballs in chicken and am contemplating vegetarianism. Knowing that I'd be sick of chicken, I pre-emptively purchased a piece of fatty pork to roast. Roasted pork is called "siu yuuk." The word "siu" is to inspire what? That's right, boys and girls - prosperity and luck! Lucky for me, the Norwegians eat pork. Even more lucky for me, they value the inherent flavor and texture of pork skin. I found a small piece of side pork that had a segment of the pig from the rib all the way out to the skin. The ribs, or ribbe as they are called locally, were fatty and the skin was scored. It was perfect. I made a rub and let it marinate for a couple of days. On the first day of new year, I roasted the ribbe. We ate our deliciously roasted pork with sauteed iceberg lettuce. The word for lettuce is "sahng choy." The literal translation is "raw vegetable" because you can eat it raw. But it also sounds like another good luck word. It's a word usually associated with procreation and children. Being the children-focused culture that the Chinese are, of course it's a good luck word. All of our meals were had with steamed white rice.
Siu Yuuk Ribbe (How's that for fusion?)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp 5-spice powder (fem krydder pulver)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs maple syrup (corn syrup will also work)
1 tsp soy sauce
Sprinkle the rub around the ribbe. Try and create a light, even covering of the rub on all exposed areas of meat. It is easy to oversalt it (I did) so just remember to go easy on it. Rub the salt and spices into the meat. Sprinkle the salt on top of the skin. This is where you can go a little more generously with the rub. If it's scored (score!) try and get some rub into each cut. Let the meat marinate at least overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit, 220 degrees celsius. Place the meat in a roasting pan and cover it with foil. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and let it bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the maple syrup and soy sauce in a bowl. When the 30 - 35 minutes is up, remove the foil and brush the skin with the maple syrup mixture. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees fahrenheit, 250 degrees celsius. Let the meat roast, uncovered, for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, turning the meat around occasionally to get an even browning of the meat. You will need to monitor the meat and so that it does not burn on top. If you choose, you can make another brushing of sauce during the final baking process. The result will be a moist pork rib with crispy, salty, slightly sweet pork skin on top. In a word - succulent. I was pretty damned proud of that pork. It's great plain but I love roast pork with Chinese hoisin sauce and hot white rice. Comfort food and lucky to boot!
I apologize for the lack of pictures but I hope the write up has inspired you to maybe try some CNY food next year or try your had at some by making Siu Yuuk Ribbe. I guarantee you, it's a winner.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
First off, work bites my butt. I can't tell if it's God or the VP who heard my bored sighs during my first few months here, but someone decided to do something about it. I really wish they hadn't. I was just starting to embrace the boredom, fill my time with other rewarding work and social activities. Instead of shopping for new ingredients, making a shitstorm out of my kitchen, and dreaming up new recipes, I was babysitting egos, cleaning up other people's shitstorms, and dreaming up new, creative ways of extracting myself from long and painful meetings. I resent this work and this responsibility, now. But wait a second, who is this person? This person is a person who questions whether Corporate America (or Norway or any other country) is her bag of beans.
As part of the job, I once again was on a plane and this time to Stavanger - the Houston of Norway. There's actually not too much to say about my trip to Stavanger. The ride into the city made me seriously vomitty; the air around Stavanger is notoriously windy and rainy. The nausea lasted throughout dinner, throughout my presentation, and even into the next morning. The only actual reason I share this story of bumpy plane rides, Houston II, and nausea is because this trip took 10 hours of my day and that ate into the time I spend cooking at home. See the comment about resentment in the previous paragraph.
So what did I eat during this week? I can barely remember. I had whole wheat bread with a slice of brown cheese (I will dedicate a post to this ubiquitous brown cheese soon - it merits its own post). Once I had leftover, failed aloo gobi with curd rice but usually, dinner was eaten out - most of it pretty unremarkable. But I will make remarks anyway as it is a sad day when I no longer have my opinions.
Bølgen og Moi, Briskeby - I met my friend, The Italian Rabblerowser, for drinks and dinner after a long day of idiocy and an after-work course on a new software tool. I needed the drink. We decided to meet in our neighborhood and have pizza at her favorite pizza joint. She's Italian, I trusted her. As luck (or God or that wily VP) would have it , the restaurant was packed and had no space for us. Instead, we made our way up to Briskeby to a restaurant we've both been to before. The Italian Rabblerowser has been for burgers in their casual cafe and I'd been once before for their prix fixe menu in the quieter, modern-design dining room. We both enjoyed our past meals so we were hopeful for our night of much needed good food, good wine, and good conversation. Bølgen og Moi fulfilled 2 out of 3 of our goals. The dining room was quiet enough to hear ourselves speak but not so quiet that we felt hushed. The waitstaff, like the waitstaff all over Norway, was pleasant but gave us our space. It was a good sign that I saw a man rolling out pizza dough to order so we both decided on made-to-order pizzas with our glasses of Ripasso. After placing our order, we were brought an amuse bouche and table bread. The amuse bouch was a cream of celeryroot soup. It was rich and playful in its presentation. The little bit of creamy soup was served in a miniature cappuccino, frothed on top, and with a sprinkle of nutmeg to inspire a casual coffee amongst girlfriends. The table bread was a chewy, crusty bread with a lovely, garlicky spread to spread on top. Dinner started off well enough. Then after an extraordinarily long time, our pizzas came and the disappointment in them was immediately evident on our faces. The Italian Rabblerowser ordered a pizza topped with ham, artichoke and sun-dried tomato. From my vantage point at the table, I could not immediately recognize the artichoke and the ham from the sauce and cheese. I may have also been distracted by The Italian Rabblerowser unhappily tapping her knife at against the overly crispy, charred crust. I ordered their take on the classic margherita pizza. A margherita pizza is simple: tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil. My pizza came with a dressed salad on top. The not-so-fresh-mozzarella cheese was waxy and melted all over the top of the pizza. The dough was overdone and a little too crispy for my personal preference. The dressed salad of lettuce and corn was just an anomaly. I didn't understand it - were they trying to make a statement by switching out the basil with a lettuce leaf? And what was with the corn? I got about 2/3 of the way through the pizza before putting down my knife and fork. The hand holding the fork was red and sore from grasping my fork so tightly as I sawed into my pizza. I was done. My review in short: Definitely go to Bølgen og Moi, have their prix fix menu, have their burgers but save your money and avoid the pizza. Their wine list is pretty nice, too.
Real, homemade Indian Dinner - Remember how I said that most of what I ate this week was unremarkable? This dinner was the exception. A friend, another recent transplant, invited me and a few others over for a girl's dinner at her house. After arriving late (thanks to that damned job again), I was immediately sucked into the makings of a good dinner amongst new girlfriends. A half empty bottle of wine was on the table and the girls were already hooting with laughter. I stripped out of my winter armor as soon as I could and jumped right in. I had seriously considered not going, not wanting to hold up dinner and making my way to a new neighborhood alone but I was so glad I did. It also helped that my friend's doting husband picked me up from the T-Bane station. Soon after I sat down, I was served a plate of homemade chaat. HOMEMADE! Chaat is the umbrella term for the roadside, savory snacks served in India. I've never been to India but I've been to Artesia in Southern California and I'm told that's a close second. And I've had good chaat. It's hard to find chaat in Oslo, like it is to find any truly authentic dish. We have some decent Indian food here, but it's the stock curries and naan. No chaat. Not until tonight. The hostess made each and every component of this type of composed salad. She layered diced, boiled potatoes, boiled chickpeas, cilantro (coriander), diced onions, dahi vada (fried balls of lentil flou, soaked in yogurt), crispy homemade chips, and a tamarind chutney. It was heaven. The flavors of the chickpeas, the yogurt, the cumin, onion, cilantro and sweet tamarind were distinct yet played in harmony. Texture, which is a big thing for me, was varied. There was the starchiness from the potatoes and chickpeas, crispiness from the chips, smoothness from the yogurt and a hearty meatiness from the vada. One of the best plates of dahi chaat that I've had in a long time. Dinner was no less extraordinary. The hostess made homemade naan, a thick bread usually cooked in a tandoor. We used the naan to sop up the curry from a red bean stew. It was just barely spicy but fantastically fragrant and flavorful. In addition to the curry, we had mutter baingan, a saute of eggplant and peas. We also had bindi masala, a dry dish made of okra (bindi), onions, and ginger. In addition to the naan, the hostess made a cumin fragranted rice. The table was silent for the first time all evening. We stopped sharing dating nightmares, gossip, and all conversations about Obama - we were focused on the food. For dessert, we had a homemade gulrotkake (carrot cake) and cream cheese frosting. I was so full I could have rolled myself down the hill to the car. This dinner in all its hard work, vibrant flavors, colorful conversation was the highlight of my week.
So, a summary of my week in review: work bites my butt, I didn't have enough time to cook and write about my cooking, but thanks to my girlfriends it still ended on a happy note.
Stay tuned...Chinese New Year is coming up and I intend to celebrate it here in Oslo by cooking what my mom makes at home.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Protein - I have personally tried this with ham, beef slices, chicken slices, scallops, and shrimp. All very good. Just remember to cook the raw stuff.
Vegetables - You can use any vegetable you find on hand. Sprouts, spinach, broccoli, gai-lan, carrots, turnips, peas (though they might be hard with chopsticks), snow peas, and rucola. Really - ANY vegetable.
Don't want to use the MSG-laden flavor packets? Sub out the water with chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetable broth.
Don't want to use the deep fried noodle pellets from the package? Use fresh egg noodles or dried egg or rice noodles.
You have no excuse not to try this for quick dinner.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I did until we walked into A this afternoon. A - I wonder what it could stand for? Asians? Availability-of-near-impossible-goods? Awsomeness? First off, this place was large. At first glance, it looked like the size of a small 7-11 but then you round a corner and there's a whole other 7-11's space to be explored. This market was stocked with the standards - oyster sauces, more than one brand of soy sauce, fermented tofus, black beans, and fish in various jars, and instant noodles in glittery, cellophane packages. That they had these items was nice but what made it great was the variety in brand names for each item- I no longer had to make do with what I could find. They had rows, rows, of fresh vegetables. Fresh, Asian vegetables. True, all the vegetables were neatly wrapped in cellophane bags or in individually plastic wrapped to foam trays but they were there and fresh if not free for me to go through, but beggars can't be choosy. I found different varieties of eggplants, 2 types of ginger, bok choy, gai-lan, choi-sum, and a whole bunch of other vegetables I can't even name! Here's a picture of one of the cases of fresh vegetables. Look at this! It's dao-mieu, the young vines of a bean plant. These vegetables are tender and so lovely quickly sauteed with a little bit of garlic and salt.
I even found this little cherub! This, for those who don't know, is a durian. As you can see, the durian is a large, spiky fruit that is green and unwieldy. What you cannot see from this picture is its unmistakeable smell. Some might even reach so far as call it a stench. I think it smells like garbage. Not fresh garbage; garbage that's been sitting out in warm weather for a few days garbage. However, I am told that if you can get past the smell the taste is wonderful. Something that is sweet and with the consistency of a custard. Despite the fact that there is a fruit that tastes and feels like a custard, I still haven't been able to gather up the cojones to try it. And here it is in Oslo, sitting like a little orphan left alone in its tiny little cradle/shopping cart asking me if I'll take him home. Someday...someday.
After a quick perusal of their impressive noodle collection (I even found fresh egg noodles), I meandered over to the frozen food section. I found a lot of frozen fish, both whole and and cutlets, clams, muscles, tiger shrimp, crab claws, and meat. In a different case, I found premade dim sum items such as this har gao (shrimp dumplings), shiu mai (pork dumplings), and egg rolls. I also found these ground shrimp wrapped around a sugar cane, a staple Vietnamese appetizer. It was a fun freezer case to peruse.
It was a great little trip through the slush down to Ethnic Town. I didn't buy too much, just a little bit of lentils to make dal, some semolina for polenta, a couple of potatoes for aloo gobi, and some vegetables for a healthy week. It was more gratifying to see what was available to me should the mood strike to make an authentic Chinese meal. It was gratifying to see that I had options.
For dinner tonight, in celebration of finding fresh Asian vegetables, was some bok choy and some boiled taro. Taro is a root vegetable that looks completely unappealing. It's small, and dark brown, kind of like poo pellets but hairy. The inside, depending on its variety, can range from purple to paste grey to a pearly white. Cooked, it has the viscosity that okra has when you cut into it. Sounds not so pretty, right? If you like potatoes and all lovely things that are starchy, you will like taro. Taro also comes in different sizes, again depending on its variety. The ones featured here are the small type. My favorite way is to boil them whole, peal and then salt them. Sometimes to switch it up, I dip it into soy sauce - but only on my wild days. I've also had them in an Indian curry and it was so delicious.
Simple Bok Choy
1 bunch of bok choy, washed, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup broth, usually I use chicken but since I had that boatload of frozen ham stock I used that.
1/2 cup water
Smash the garlic and remove the skin. Bring the broth, water, and garlic to a boil. When the water is at a hard boil, add the bok choy and simmer until they are tender. It won't take very long, depending on the amount of bok choy
Friday, January 16, 2009
Due to my travels, I ate an orange and a handful of trail mix for dinner – nothing really blogworthy. I was cranky last night after getting home so late and I was tempted to post: I hate the world. Go find your own damned food. But that would not have been very nice.
Stay tuned for tonight – I’ll either write a review on a pizza restaurant in Frogner that I’ve heard great things about or I’ll do a post featuring more leftovers. Guess which one I’m leaning towards?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:nocoupons
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 176 degrees Celsius. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
1. When whisking in the flour, don’t worry about getting all the lumps. You just want to make sure the flour is mixed into the batter. Overmixing will make the cake tough and chewy.
2. Before pouring the syrup over the warm cake, make 6 small holes into the cake with a cake tester/meat thermometer for better absorption of the lemon syrup.
3. The cake must be completely cooled and the syrup mostly absorbed before putting the icing on the cake. I know 1 cup of powdered sugar to 2 tbs of lemon juice seems like a lot but don’t mess with the ratio too much. You need that much sugar for the icing to set. You want a drizzly consistency so that the frosting drizzles thickly off the spoon. If it’s too thick, add a couple of drops of lemon juice and mix well before trying again. A little liquid goes a long way.
Great with a black or green tea.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Stewed Pumpkin with Pork Slices
Courtesy of Mom
1 small pork chop, sliced into bite sized pieces. It should yield about a cup of sliced pork.
1 Small, green pumpkin - peeled, de-seeded and diced into one inch pieces
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs canola or corn oil
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
drizzle of sesame oil
1 1/2 tbs black bean garlic sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1. Mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and pork slices in a small bowl. Set aside and let marinade for 15 - 20 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a deep saute pan or a non-stick pot. Saute the onion slices in the oil at medium-high heat until the onions are fragrant and just starting to soften. When the onions ready, add the pork slices to the pan and saute until the slices start to brown. Take out the browned onions and pork slices and set aside. There's no need to cook the pork all the way through as the pork will finish cooking at the very end of the cooking process.
3. To the hot pot, add the pieces of pumpkin, black bean sauce, and hoisin sauce and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the water to the pot and turn the heat up to high. I say to add about a cup and a half of water, but all you really want is enough water to cover the pumpkin. Scrape the bottom of the pot to de-glaze any of browned bits of pork and onion. Let the pumpkin and water come to a rapid boil and bring the temperature back down to medium-high.
4. Let the pumpkin mixture boil pretty rapidly until the pumpkin is tender. Depending o the pumpkin, it will take about 10 minutes. Once the pumpkin is tender, add the pork slices back into the pumpkin and mix well. The pumpkin sauce should not be dry but it should not be watery either. The water will have reduced a bit and the pumpkin will have thickened the sauce just a little.
5. Depending on the starch content of the pumpkin, the sauce may or may not thicken. If you find the sauce is still too watery, the trick of all Asian mommies is to mix about a teaspoon of cornstarch with about 2 tbs of cold water. Mix the cornstarch and water well and add it to the boiling pumpkin, stirring the pumpkin while you add the slurry. You want to stir the pumpkin as you add the thickener to ensure you don't have a lumpy sauce. Add just enough cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency.
Confused about the consistency? If the sauce looks like a broth and is very watery, you will need to add the slurry. If the sauce is very dry, lumpy, or thick add a little bit of water to loosen it up. To check for the consistency you're looking for, if you're uncertain, take a spoon and dip it into the sauce. If the sauce coats the spoon, then it's thick enough.
6. Plate up! At home, we eat it family-style so I always plate it up into a big bowl.
Don't eat pork? This dish works equally great with sliced chicken or sliced beef. I'd avoid fish as fish tends to fall apart.
Don't eat meat? Leave it out! It still tastes great.
Can't find my pumpkin? Use a different type of squash. I would recommend butternut squash, kombacha, even sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are a bit more watery so you'll need less water. It would even work well with starchy root vegetables such as potatoes or taro.
Boiled Chinese Broccoli
1 bunch of Chinese Broccoli (Gai-lan), washed and trimmed
2 tsp sugar
1 - 2 tbs Oyster sauce, or to taste
2 tbs canola or corn oil; you want an oil that is very mild in flavor and has a pretty high smoking point.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the sugar to the boiling water. Add the gai-lan to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 - 5 minutes depending on the amount of gai-lan. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan until it shimmers. When the gai-lan is tender, take it out of the boiling water and plate. Drizzle the gai-lan with oyster sauce. Drizzle the hot oil over the gai-lan and oyster sauce. BE CAREFUL. The oil is very hot and will pop and sizzle when it comes in contact with water. I use a spoon and drizzle the oil very gingerly over the vegetable. The hot oil finishes the dish and heats up the oyster sauce.
Gai-lan has a slightly bitter flavor that is very similar to broccoli rabe. The sugar is added to the boiling water to balance out the bitterness of the vegetable. When purchasing gai-lan, look for stalks that look vibrantly green and tender. I also always check the bottom of the stems to make sure there are no holes cracking the stem, indicating a not-so-fresh product. The flowers sprouting at the very top of the vegetables are entirely edible and delicious.
This dinner is great with steamed white rice and it's healthy, to boot! I do hope you try it. Chinese food is a lot easier than the bad Chinese restaurants lead you to believe (and a lot tastier!). When you make this at home you know there's no MSG!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I made some sweet-spicy nuts from a recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs: Smitten Kitchen. I brought the nuts to a friend who was meeting me for lunch and I could tell it was a hit when she took the baggie of nuts out after our meal to have with our coffees. I could further tell it was a hit when Boyfriend tipped the small bowl of nuts directly into his mouth. So, this recipe is a winner. Also, as Smitten Kitchen suggests, it'd be so pretty as a hostess gift. Given the cost of nuts in this city, it'd be just a little more expensive than bringing a bottle of wine.
Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts
Inspired from: Smitten Kitchen
1/3 cup dark-brown sugar (I used light and it was still delicious)
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (It wasn't hot at all. You can definitely up the pepper. I will likely try it next with 1/4 tsp...if not more)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole pecans, unsalted
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, unsalted
1 cup whole cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup whole, unpeeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water, cold
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, 150 degrees Celsius.
Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. It's important to break them up while they're cooling. If you try when they're fresh out of the oven, the sugar is still molten and will A. hurt you and B. just stick together again. When it's too cool, it might be a little hard to break up. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Today, we made our way to ethnic town for 2 things. 1 - We wanted to try a Chinese restaurant we'd heard a lot of very good things about: Taste of China. This was our second attempt to try this restaurant and much to our frustration we were disappointed to find that they still haven't returned from their holiday and were still closed. That was a bummer. Then I suggested we try a fairly authentic Vietnamese restaurant just up the street. That too was closed. It was the absolute monarch of bum-smackers because I was starting to get pretty hungry and everyone who knows me knows I'm not nice when I'm hungry. Boyfriend, in full panic mode, suggested the first restaurant we saw: a less-than-clean kabob place. By this point, I was already disappointed and likely to dislike whatever I had for lunch so I agreed. We each had a lamb schwarma plate that wasn't so bad except it was covered in Pink Mayonnaise Sauce. But, onwards and upwards to the other fine points of Ethnic Town. The second reason that brought us east was a restaurant supply store I'd visited when I first arrived in Oslo. I didn't find what I was looking for (there seems to be a theme to my day) so we headed to the Asian market. Finally, I was happy amongst the shelves of fish sauces, fermented tofu, black bean sauces, pickled vegetables and instant noodles. I loaded up on the fresh Asian vegetables I can't find at my local grocer and day-dreamed about elaborate Chinese meals I'd cook at home. Stay tuned...
While in the area, I picked up a little snack for dinner. What I picked up is called Banh Reu, small steamed cakes made from rice flour and topped with yellow mung beans, dried shredded pork, tiny fried shrimp, egg yolk bits, and green onion. Each little cake is dipped into the oh-so-pungent and oh-so-delicious fish sauce. The result is a chewy and crispy bite combining the flavors of shrimp, salt, sweet, and deep fried onion. Not as good as what I got at home, but I am thankful I get some at all. Here's a picture of what these banh reu look like.
And for dessert, we had baklava and an assortment of other flaky, nutty, syrupy pastries. Go big or go home.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I really like this meatloaf recipe that I have adapted from the classic meatloaf. I don’t like the flavors of Italian sausage so I omitted it entirely from the recipe. The other classic meatloaf is to mix 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork, and 1/3 ground veal but I couldn’t find ground veal at my grocery store so I decided to test it out using only ground beef –and guess what? It’s delicious! It’s a little leaner than the original meatloaf as I used a very lean ground beef found here in Norway. I tried to infuse additional moisture by use of the vegetables. I think this is especially important if you are using very lean meats or poultry. My very favorite part is the ketchup baked on top.
To dress up the dinner a little bit, I quickly sautéed rucola with a very little bit of olive oil and garlic and I made mashed potatoes with garlic infused cream and parmesan. Of course, if you’re looking for ways to cut calories (especially in this post-holiday season of resolutions and detox) you can always boil the potatoes in just enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes and mash that all together into a lighter, healthier side.
1 lb of ground beef, I prefer to eat one that is not so lean but for health purposes, I buy lean and it works out fine. Chicken and turkey can also be used.
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used sourdough)
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated onion
1 tbs grated garlic
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tbs butter
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 large eggs, slightly scrambled
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper
¼ c. finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 176 degrees Celsius.
In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, and scallions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover the skillet for another 3 minutes until the carrots soften. To the mixture, add the salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and the 1/3 cup of ketchup and mix well. Let it cook for an additional 1 minute and then turn the heat off and set it aside.
In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, vegetable mixture, bread crumbs, eggs, and parsley. I choose to mix it by hand because I like getting as dirty as possible when cooking. Also, I believe there is no better utensil suited for this job than your hands.
You can form the meat into a loaf pan and cover the loaf with the remaining ketchup. What I chose to do was to use my floppy silicone muffin tins and make individual meatloaf muffins for each person. Just fill each muffin tin with enough meat so that it mounds just a little on top. Cover each little mound with a brush of ketchup. You don’t really need to grease the pans as the meat will shrink and pull away from the sides making it very easy to pull out with tongs or a fork. This recipe makes about 10 small meatloaf muffins.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
7. Do your friends accuse you of being anal retentive? Do you NEED to get every last bit of batter or frosting out of the bowl or else it just eats you up inside? If the answer is yes, then you must get a really good rubber spatula. My favorite is from Williams-Sonoma in the US but any good rubber spatula will do...it will change your world.