Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
One of the attractions in the museum, besides the amazing array of old homes and the stave church, was the lefse-hut. Lefse are a traditional Norwegian flatbread made out of wheat and potato flour. Since it is a flatbread, it is not kneaded long and it does not have time to rise before it is rolled out and baked. The result is a chewy, mildy sweet bread. At the lefse-hut, girls in traditional garb made lefse after lefse for a line of hungry patrons. They made the dough, kneaded it, and baked it over a castiron pan sitting over an open flame. The girls brought the rolled out dough to the castiron flat pan using a stick. Using that same stick, they flipped the bread once and when it was done used an additional stick to slide under the bread in an x-shaped formation to carry the hot bread to the serving table. This cooking technique added a lovely crunch to the bread. The patrons can add all the butter they want to the hot lefse and they carry the lefse out to enjoy in the cool spring afternoon. The result, especially after the long wait, was heavenly. The bread was toasted and slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy and dense on the inside. The flavor was smokey and mildly sweet that complemented the salty richness of the melted butter. I must find a recipe for this lefse. In addtion to the recipe, I must also find a wood pit and a castiron flat pan.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
A few weeks ago, after a rough couple of days at work and my desire to treat myself to a nice meal, but not wanting to go through the effort of making an elaborate meal or dining out (after all, we are in a recession), I asked Kim F. (not to be confused with my other dear friend, Kim K.), who just happens to be a culinary expert, if she had any ideas (note - easy ideas) on how I could combine some orzo I had sitting in my pantry and my craving for fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. I was at a loss when it came to thinking of ideas for a dressing. What she suggested was fantastic. What I am calling, Caprese Inspired Orzo Salad, was not only easy and quick to make but tasted and looked great, and made great leftovers. What else could I ask for? Well, a lot, like those Easter Eggs from Kardinal Chocolate of Copenhagen, Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies, being a stowaway to Turkey, and the list goes on. But seriously, if I can do this without messing up at all, so can you. Trust me.
Caprese Inspired Orzo Salad
Recipe adapted from Kim F.
3/4 cup orzo
1/2 cup (or more) grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup fresh whole mozzarella, cut to the same size as the halved grape tomatoes
Handful of basil chiffonade*
5 tablespoons of lemon juice (substitutes: champagne, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp very finely chopped onion or shallot
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Generously season the water with salt. Put the orzo in the water and cook according to package directions. It should take no more than 6-7 minutes. Drain and place into a bowl.
2. While the orzo is cooking, combine the tomatoes and mozzarella, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. To make the dressing, mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Add salt/pepper liberally, to make sure that the vinaigrette is seasoned well for the salad.
4. To a serving bowl, add the tomato and mozzarella mixture and basil chiffonade. Re-whisk the dressing and pour about 3/4 of the dressing into the bowl. Toss it to coat. There shouldn’t be any excess of liquid from in the bowl. If the salad looks or tastes dry, add more dressing to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*Before beginning this recipe, be sure to wash the basil and set it aside to dry in a paper napkin. The basil will need a few minutes to dry out. While the orzo is cooking, take the basil leaves (making sure they are mostly dry), stack them up, and roll it into a tight roll. Slice the roll very thinly cross wise so that you have thin ribbons of basil.
I had this salad with French bread and EVOO (as Rachel Ray would say) seasoned with salt/pepper, and a glass (or many) of chardonnay. Because this meal was so simple, it’s great if you’re cooking just for one (or many). It’s a great meal to entertain with as well if you’re short on preparation time or dining with vegetarians, like myself. I had the pasta, served cold, the next day – just had to add some more salt. The leftover French bread, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, make a great caprese sandwich, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and seasoned with salt/pepper, for later in the week as well. Enjoy!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 rib of celery diced
Half red pepper diced
¾ c. diced cucumber
½ tsp salt
2 tbs golden raisins
Sliced almonds for garnish
Monday, April 6, 2009
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
Salt and pepper for the rack of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Arrange the rack bone side down in the skillet. Roast the lamb in preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. With a meat thermometer, take a reading in the center of the meat after 10 to 12 minutes and remove the meat, or let it cook longer, to your taste. Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Roasted Vegetable Dip
1 Lb eggplant, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 large tomato, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, diced into 1 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic smashed
5 tbs olive oil
1 tbs tahini *Tahini is ground sesame made into a thin paste – it provides a lovely, toasty, nutty flavor and depth in flavor*
2 tbs fresh lemon juice(I had to use lime and it was also very good)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F, 190 degrees C. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
Place the eggplant, tomatoes, celery, red pepper, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes onto the cookie sheet. Generously salt and pepper the vegetables. Drizzle the seasoned vegetables with the olive oil and toss well to coat. Place it into the oven for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and gently browned. When the vegetable are done, take the tray out of the oven and let it cool.
You can serve it up as it is drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and finely chopped parsley. Scoop it up with baked pita chips, crackers, or your own spelt crackers.
If not – you can layer it in a lasagna. Recipe as follows. This post is a two-for!
Chock Full o’ Vegetables Lasagna
3 cups of the vegetable dip (recipe above)
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
Enough lasagna sheets to line a small dish twice (Prepared by the package directions. I used a no-cook pasta)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 170 degrees C and set the rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8x8 inch glass baking dish with olive oil. The dish I used was slightly smaller – more like 4x10 inches.
Spread about 1 cup of the vegetable mixture around the bottom of the baking dish. Put one layer of the lasagna pasta on top of the vegetable. Spread another cup of the vegetable dip on top of the lasagna sheets. Spread ½ cup of the ricotta on top of the vegetable and spread ½ cup of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Put another layer of pasta on top of the cheese. Spread the remaining cup of vegetables on top of the pasta. Add the remaining ricotta as a layer and then the remaining layer of mozzarella. Cover the baking dish with a piece of foil and place dish in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, uncover the dish and bake for a remaining 10 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Dinner with girlfriends was as it usually is – chatty, giggly, and tasty. We all caught up with what was going on at work and at home and then dove into a conversation (with a mini workshop) on belly dancing. It was great fun and a good chance to bring two of my favorite things together – food and girlfriends.
Dinner Amongst Girlfriends Pasta
2 14 oz. cans (400 gr.) of diced tomatoes
1 lb dried spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
½ onion, finely diced
½ c. chopped fresh basil
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup roasted artichoke hearts, quartered *You can also sub out marinated artichoke hearts*
1/8th (up to 1/4th) tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbs toasted pine nuts for garnish
At the 30 minute mark, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until al dente. You don’t want the pasta to be too done as it will finish cooking in the sauce.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Fast forward 6 months, lunch at the office kantine. As a treat, the kantine prepared waffles (vaffels) for our enjoyment. Usually the waffles are eaten with jam (syltetøy) or that chalky, satly-sweet brown mess they call cheese. I watched my coworkers enjoy their waffles and slices of brown cheese and I was intrigued. The very next day, at the airport on my way to Trondheim, I was hungry and what did I find? Waffles and brunost! I gave that brunost a second chance and am really glad I did. What turned me off about the brunost initially all seemed to work with the mildly sweet waffle. The salty and sweet complemented it each other and the chalky texture was muted by the spongy waffle. It was delicious. After my trip to Trondheim, I found that I could not stop thinking about this ubiquitous brown cheese. After Trondheim, I saw it everywhere. Every bakery had brunost sandwhiches, brunost and waffles, brunost and crackers, brunost and brunost. I had to try it all...and I did. That brunost is fabulous!
This was an afternoon snack - meuslibrød, brunost, og kaffe. Translated: muesli bread, brown cheese and coffee. The Norwegians are pulling me in.