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Viking dessert

In late August, I attended a pot-luck gathering with a medieval theme (those readers who also follow my Dawn’s Dress Diary blog know more about this!) and for it I decided to pick two recipes from a Viking Age Norse cookbook. (Found online; I don’t actually have the cookbook, nor have I done any research to see if these recipes are well-documented.)

The cookbook can be found here. (PDF)

The first was honey-nut cake, and the second was wheat & hazelnut pudding.

Honey Nut Cake

The Honey Nut Cake

The Honey Nut Cake

I chose to alter the recipe as recommended, using both hazelnuts and walnuts. (the original had more egg, and no walnuts, and the poster said it was too thin). From what I’ve read, hazelnuts were grown in Viking Age Scandinavia, while they imported the walnuts. Shells of both have been found in Viking settlements, and walnut shells were also used as dye.

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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in South-West Calgary, Treats

 

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Golden beet salad

Beet, pecan, and feta salad

Beet, pecan, and feta salad

After trying the salt-roasted golden beet dish from Cibo’s Scodellina menu, I decided to give a whirl to dine on for dinner a week or so later. Finding the golden beets was a bit of a challenge, but I found them in the organic section of my grocery store. Although the original included toasted hazelnuts, I opted for pecans, omitted the saba ( a sweet grape syrup used as a dressing) and used a nice soft, creamy goat cheese much like their local goat cheese. With the super-creamy cheese, I didn’t need any dressing. We didn’t roast the beets in salt either, instead we boiled them, because it was a super-hot day and turning on the oven seemed like a really bad idea.

The result – totally delicious, both warm and cool!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in South-West Calgary

 

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Meringue cake, an Iceland treat

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

Ok! I’m back with more posts from my trip to Iceland! This time I’m going to tempt your sweet tooth with a lovely, light, sweet meringue cake.

Every little cafe and bakery we came across in Iceland seemed to have these lovely looking meringue cakes on display, looking rather gooey and messy, and sinfully delicious too!  In Reykjavik, at the Saga Cafe my companion wanted to try a slice. I’m not really much of a fan of meringue, so sharing a slice was a bit of a hard sell, but I finally relented and agreed to share.

This cake features a meringue bottom layer, topped with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and then topped off with another layer of meringue.  This flavor had a drizzle of caramel and chocolate too, though it looked like other flavours were common too. I loved the whipped cream (oh really, all of the dairy products!) in Iceland, because it was light and fluffy, creamy, but not super sweet like I find the whipped cream served here at home seems to be.

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

I might just be a convert….
I still thought the meringue was a bit too sweet for myself, though the texture (after absorbing all the moisture from the cream and strawberries) was delightfully chewy, and the mix of berries and cream made this a delicious dessert!

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

Meringue cake with chocolate and strawberries from the cafe at the Saga Museum

Sagamuseum – The Saga Museum / Café
www.sagamuseum.is/
Grandagarður, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 511 1517

National museum café

Delicious meringue Skor cake at the café

Delicious meringue Skor cake at the café

Well, after the strawberry cake at the Saga Museum, we were both interested in trying the delicious-looking Skor meringue cake in the café at the National Museum too. This one was a lot sweeter (splitting the cake before was probably a better idea than having one to ourselves) though the chocolate coating on top was fudgy and really good.  We were both glad for a sweet-cutting beverage to go along with our cake though! This time there was no fruit, but there was caramel mixed into the cream between each meringue layer.

National Museum of Iceland / Café
www.nationalmuseum.is
Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 530 2200

Recipe links

Just in case I’ve tempted your sweet tooth TOO much, I did a little search for cake recipes that look similar to the ones I’ve pictured here.

Check out the Strawberry Meringue Cake recipe from Iceland Cooking, Recipes, and Food – this isn’t quite like the strawberry cake I tried, but I bet it’s equally delicious! Try drizzling some chocolate sauce on top too!

Katja from Simbaco Food shares a version popular in Finland and Sweden with a cake base and a meringue top in her Rhubarb Strawberry Meringue Brita Cake Dessert.

If making a whole cake sounds a bit too tempting, how about trying these Icelandic “Sarah Bernhardt Cakes” from Mimi Thorisson’s Manger? These are small cookie-sized almond-based meringues covered in a coffee chocolate cream frosting, dipped in dark chocolate, and can be stored in the freezer – perfect when you just want one or two with cup of tea to feed your need for sweet instead of slicing up a full cake.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in Out of town - Europe, Treats

 

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Karelian pasties

“Karelian pasty (karjalanpiirakka) is a traditional Finnish dish made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg (eggbutter or munavoi), is spread over the hot pastries before eating.” – Wikipedia.

Karelian Pasty

Karelian Pasty

When I first tried a Karelian pasty in a hotel in Vantaa (the Bonus Inn), upon arriving in Finland, I honestly didn’t know what it was. I didn’t realize that it would be topped with anything, so I just ate it on it’s own.  In our hotel buffet, the pasty was slightly warm, which definitely made it better than the cold version I tried later on (also unaware of how it should be eaten…)

It struck me as a labour-intensive item, and everywhere I saw it, it appeared to look identical (just more or less browned) so I presumed it was a mass-produced item.

Lounge in the Bonus Inn

Lounge in the Bonus Inn

Although there are plenty of recipes available for making Karelian pasties, they’re also available ready-made from companies like Vuohelan Herkku Oy. They offer the pasties fresh and frozen, with both rice and potato fillings. They offer gluten-free, egg-free, lactose-free and soy-free alternatives for customers looking for a taste of Finland. You can also connect with Vuohelan Herkku Oy on Facebook (in Finnish).

Lounge in the Bonus Inn

Lounge in the Vantaa Bonus Inn

The pasties were really chewy, and the rye flour made them really dry.  As they were, I didn’t really care for them – but now that I know how they’re supposed to be eaten, I think I’d try them again the RIGHT way if given a chance.  (You know, on my one-day return trip to Finland!)

The Vantaa Bonus Inn was actually really nice, although we only spent one night there between the airport and other travels. The room was clean and efficient (efficient means small compared to American/Canadian hotels), the lobby was nice (although the front entrance would be difficult for anyone with mobility concerns – but the back entrance would be fine) and the buffet was great. I had hoped to check out the sauna while I was there, but with only one night and a fairly early departure the next morning, I didn’t get the chance.

Recipe

I don’t know if I’d try to make these at home, but if you are more confident in the kitchen than I am, here’s the recipe:

Karelian pasties (Karjalanpiirakat)

Ingredients:

1 decilitre water
½ – 1 tsp salt
2½ decilitre rye flour

Rice filling:

2,5 decilitre water
1 litre milk
2,5 decilitre rice
1 tsp salt

Rinse the rice and place it in boiling water. Simmer until most of the water is absorbed. Add the milk, lower the heat to a minimum, and partially cover the pot. Simmer until the milk has been absorbed and the rice has turned into a thick porridge. Season with salt and leave to cool.
Add the flour and salt to the water and mix into a solid, compact dough.
Form the dough into a strip and divide into 12 pieces.
Roll the pieces into flat thin ovals.
Spread some filling on each oval. Then fold the sides towards the center, pinching and making neat pleats along the edge.
Bake at 300 ºC for about 10 minutes.
Brush them well with melted butter or a butter and water mixture.
Place the pasties, separated with baking paper, in a bowl and cover with a towel to soften the crusts.
Serve warm with butter or egg butter which is made by mixing equal parts of butter, (cottage cheese) and chopped hard-boiled egg.

Taken directly from ThisIsFINLAND. Note, a decilitre is approximately half a cup.

Breakfast in the Bonus Inn

Breakfast in the Bonus Inn

I thought that the pasties looked very time-consuming to make, and this video illustrates how to make them, in case you are up for it. Don’t worry, there isn’t any real sound so you don’t have to understand Finnish!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Out of town - Europe

 

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Tasty Caprese Salad

While I love the elegant look of a layered Caprese plate salad, (like this example from What’s Cooking America) the other day I really was not in the mood for all that work – not sure how much salad my dining companion would want… so instead I did it rustic-style (and yes, I definitely use vinegar in my salad! The cheese soaks up the flavour so wonderfully!)

Tasty, easy dinner!

I used Roma tomatoes and mini cheese, and added cucumber into the mix too, just to add a little more to the salad to make it meal-worthy.  I served it with some garlic bread made from a gorgeous harvest grains banquette loaf, and yep, a glass of milk in the background.  I’m wild like that. ;P

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in South-West Calgary

 

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Cooked Tuna? On a sushi blog?

I loved the seared tuna sandwich I had when in Maui, that I wanted to replicate it – well, in my own way that is!

I had the furikake seasoning already which is probably the biggest challenge – so off I went to Safeway to pick up a nice piece of Tuna.  They didn’t have any in the display!  However the woman behind the counter sensed my distress as I tried to figure out if salmon would work instead… and brought out some frozen Yellow Fin Tuna from the back.  Hurrah!.  Next, to figure out how to work with frozen tuna instead of ‘fresh’ (ok… here in Calgary it’s fresh-from-frozen, but still…)

Tuna!

Apparently back in the day, people would have books to tell them how to do things.  Instead I used the sink method suggested by eHow to defrost the tuna…

While the tuna was defrosting, I started on the wasabi dressing.  I started out just mixing some powdered wasabi with mayo, (yes, I have wasabi powder in my spice cabinet.. don’t you?) but after a tiny taste I figured it needed something else.  So out came the recipe book – and by recipe book I mean the Safari browser on my iPhone and I grabbed the Wasabi Mayonnaise Recipe from about.com.  Frankly – I didn’t follow the recipe, but added a little lemon juice, and some garlic powder along with some sea salt to what I already had, then put MORE wasabi powder in, and mixed it all up.  Ultimately, it could have been spicier – my wasabi powder is old and perhaps has lost some of it’s potency.  Still, it was really good and a nice change.

When the tuna was mostly defrosted I rubbed it with the furikake seasoning, tossed it in the pan to sear it (actually I cooked it more than I personally would have liked because my dinner companion doesn’t like fish ‘undercooked’) while the foccacia bread toasted and the tomatos were sliced up.

I skipped the lettuce and put spinach on instead.  No butter on the bread – that’s what the wasabi mayo was for! Yum!

So, the result – not quite the same as what I had in Maui, but still really tasty, and a great way to enjoy cooked fish (which I normally don’t really like unless it’s coated in delicious and terrible-for-me batter…)  My companion thought it was a big disconnect though – the texture was fish, but she was eating it like a hamburger.  She said it was really good, but couldn’t quite get over the disconnect. *sighs*

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in South-West Calgary

 

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Two things I dislike = awesome together

You know your girlfriend’s boyfriend – the one you can’t stand?  He’s always making sarcastic comments and thinks he’s so amusing?  And tequila, ick… it tastes disgusting.  BUT… team your girlfriend’s boyfriend with some tequila and it’s a fantastic night, right?

Ok.. so this is the culinary equivalent. ;D

I don’t like brie.  I think it tastes bitter.  For all my love of cheese, there really aren’t a lot of cheeses I really like.  I also don’t like garlic.  Call it my inner vampire, but I generally avoid dishes that feature garlic as a major factor (with the exception of hummus.. that’s another weird one – I don’t like chickpeas, but I love hummus…).  So, brie- ick, garlic- ick, BUT brie+garlic=YUM.

I had this dish when I was down in New Orleans a few years back; baked brie with roasted garlic, apple chutney with mint, french bread and grapes.  Delicious.  This time I couldn’t find any apple chutney (and didn’t want to make it) so I picked up some mango chutney instead, used light brie, and rubbed the garlic with some olive oil and rosemary before roasting it.

So good together!

It’s insanely hands-on to eat (no sharing this dish with a sick friend…although the garlic could do them some good!) and a little messy with all that runny melt-y gooey cheese… but sooo good.

I only used a small round of brie, but it was almost too much.  I wish I had picked up some French bread as well, but instead I had some multigrain crackers to use.  It worked, but I think some toasted French bread rounds would have been even better.

Directions

Roasted garlic: Remove the papery outer skin (don’t peel the garlic or seperate the cloves).  Cut the top off the bulb.  Drizzle tiny bit of olive oil, and rub around garlic, sprinkle with rosemary.  Wrap in aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 425 degree oven.  It comes out soft and aromatic.  (aka, smelly.)

(adapted from Taste of Home cooking)

Baked Brie: Place round of Brie cheese on aluminum foil in a pie plate (making the aluminum into a little bowl to catch any runny cheese goodness) without cutting the edible white rind.  Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 10 minutes; the center will feel soft when pushed. (I actually just put it in with the garlic so it was actually at 425 for 10 minutes…) Serve warm – when you cut into it the gooey cheese will spill out of the casing, so be ready! (Hence the foil “bowl”.  It’s not pretty, but it saves scrubbing a dish if you’re feeling lazy!)

(time and temperature adapted from Baked Brie Recipes)

(n.b. my girlfriend’s boyfriend is completely fictional… I love all of the significant-others of all of my friends.  Yep, All of them.  Even the ones who make endless Monty Python jokes. Sure.)

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in South-West Calgary

 

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Photos or it didn’t happen

Most folks who know me well know that I’m not really much for cooking… but with some fresh salmon in the fridge and an avocado on the counter, I wanted to put something together…

Seared salmon

The recipe is loosely based on Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Remoulade from Simply Recipes.  Loosely, because I didn’t feel like using the blender/food processor for such a small amount of remoulade, I didn’t have any shallots so I used onion salt instead (and then skipped adding salt) – yeah.. I know they’re not even close to the same thing, but work with me!  I don’t like the olive oil we have (I ran out of the nice stuff I had before and haven’t bothered to get any more..) so I skipped that and added a teaspoon of mayo instead…  I also rubbed the salmon with fresh ground pepper, sea salt and dill before searing them too… which I REALLY liked.  WIll need to do that again! Gotta love Fleur de Sel!

And yah…I put the salmon on top of the sauce because it was so pretty… photos.. photos.. (even if it’s just an iPhone photo…)

So… proof – I really can cook!  (Hence the title of this post…)

Here’s the original recipe, minus all of my substitutions and alternatives:

INGREDIENTS
2 large avocados, cut and peeled
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (can substitute lemon)
3-4 Tbsp light olive oil (light refers to flavor and color, not calories)
1 Tbsp minced shallots or green onion
1 Tbsp minced parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of salmon fillets
Grapeseed or canola oil
METHOD
1 Put avocado pieces and lime juice into a food processor or blender and pulse until blended. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing, until you reach desired consistency of sauce. Add minced shallots (or green onions) and parsley, pulse just until combined. Remove to a bowl, add mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
2 Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with oil, heat on medium high until almost smoking. Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, carefully lay the salmon into the pan, skin side down. Cook the salmon until about medium doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Serve salmon with avocado remoulade sauce.
Serves 4.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in South-West Calgary

 

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Holiday Eggnog Cheesecake (Recipe)

For Xmas this year we went over to my uncle and aunt’s place. While he cooked the majority of the dinner, mum and I brought dessert.   I made an eggnog cheesecake for my contribution, and while I wasn’t sure how it would turn out – it was delicious!  The original recipe is from All Recipes.com, but I altered it a tiny bit (below). Mum was going to make something else, but ended up buying a Yule Log (from Co-op or Safeway) instead because after all of the work we’ve been doing, she was in no mood to cook.

The two desserts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Splenda sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Splenda sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Light eggnog
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white rum
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sweetener and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  5. In a food processor combine cream cheese, sweetener , flour and eggnog; process until smooth. Blend in eggs, rum and nutmeg. Pour mixture into cooled crust.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to 250 and bake for 45 minutes, or until center of cake is barely firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and immediately loosen cake from rim. Let cake cool completely before removing the rim.
  8. (Actually, since mum had me checking on it every 5 minutes because she was paranoid, I actually baked it for 45 minutes at 250 and then another 20 minutes at 200.  I don’t think that I needed to do this, and probably checking it constantly contributed to it cracking so much…)
  9. Make a star-shaped template and dust the top with a mixture of cinnamon, sweetener, and nutmeg.

The two desserts

My uncle gave me one of his older cameras (which I used for the photo at top). It’s still new to me, so I have some work to do adjusting the settings etc. The bottom photo I used my iPhone for.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in South-West Calgary, Treats

 

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Raspberry mint iced green tea

A while back I was thinking about making my own raspberry mint tea, and I finally got around to it a while ago. (Ok.. a long while ago – this is a scheduled post!)

I started off with just water, frozen raspberries from our neighbour’s garden, and mint leaves from our backyard.  Last year we planted a few different mint plants, and didn’t end up doing anything with them. We didn’t expect them to come back, but they did with vigor!  Unfortunately since we didn’t expect them to come back, we didn’t keep the little labels – so I don’t know what kind of mint we have!

lovely colours!

I heated it up, added some Splenda to cut the tartness of the raspberries, and muddled the mint and broke up the raspberries. The colour was fantastically bright, and it was interesting how the raspberry fruit became really pale as the juice went from the berries into the tea.

Finally I made up some green tea (‘matcha’ from the Asian grocery near my house), and poured the raspberry-mint ‘tea’ through the same strainer to create the raspberry mint green tea.  I decided to go with it iced instead of hot so it went in the fridge for a few hours, and done!

Done!

Overall, it was… ok.  I think it would have been much better with black tea instead of green tea – mostly because the green tea taste really was strong, and the mint taste not noticeable enough.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in South-West Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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