How To Make Beautiful Baguettes

Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will know that I am a person that loves carbs, specifically bread, and for the last couple of years I’ve been searching for the right method of making baguettes. And I mean good baguettea that can rival or exceed the store-bought kind. For the last couple of years I’ve failed miserably… I’ve failed so incredibly bad that at one point I actually gave up.
So two weeks ago I decided to try again, and for some mysterious reason everything I’ve ever read about bread making just clicked and I succeeded in making some decent bread, and every attempt after got even better than the previous, until I got to this point where I managed to make baguettes that taste sooo much better than anything I’ve ever bought. IMG_8521-8
So follow this recipe, it will make you happy! (if you’re anything like me, where bread makes you happy)

Ingredientsmakes 2 baguettes
1 teaspoon of dry yeast
1 pinch of granulated sugar
2,5 deciliters of warm water, or 1 cup
2-2,5 deciliters of white flour, about 1 cup
1 deciliter of durum wheat flour, 1/2 cup.
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of a flavourless oil
This dough requires around 10 minutes of hardcore kneading, and it is a really sticky dough so I wouldn’t recommend hand-kneading it. Most of the dough will just stick to your hands, making it very(and honestly, I mean VERY) hard to knead, so you should use a kitchen aid or something of that nature, if you can.

So for the method go ahead and dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water, then mix in the flour, then salt and oil, and start kneading. If you have a machine doing the work for you, just walk away and leave it to work for 10 minutes or so. After that, cover your hands in oil(this is necessary to keep the dough from sticking completely to  your hands) and lift over to a bowl and cover with cling film, leave in a warm place(like in front of window getting sun) for 1 hour.
After the hour your dough should have doubled in size and is now ready to be shaped into baguettes. Again you should oil your hands for this step. Split the dough in two , shape into baguettes and leave to rise again for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, cut slits into the bread with an oiled blade and place in an oven, 250 degree celsius or 480 degrees fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. Brush with a water as soon as they come out of  the oven to crisp up even more. IMG_8495-5 IMG_8497-6

Crucial elements:
Water. Your water cannot be boiling. It has to be warmer than your body temperature, but not scalding hot. That will cause the yeast to die.
Kneading. You must knead for a very, very long time.
Oil. Cover your hands in oil whenever handling the dough, this will keep most of it from sticking to you. Because, this dough is STIIIIIICKY. I believe when Snoop Dog talked about “the real sticky icky”, he was in fact not talking about weed. He was definitely talking about making baguettes.

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So making bread is a bit tricky, but it is totally worth it. Every time.

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Poor Man’s Pesto

Hey guys it’s sunday and time for some inspiration to get you going for meatless monday!

Today I’d like to talk about pesto. IMG_8481-8
I love pesto. No seriously, I loooooove pesto. Ingredients are generally basil, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil but there are many variations on this. My problem is that when it comes to making pesto myself, the ingredients are quite pricey for a one time cost. For two to three portions of pesto you really do need to use up an entire plant, and to me that is just wasteful.  I didn’t just buy a plant to pluck it dry and throw it out did I? God dammit, no! I want to keep that thing on my window ledge and look all fanciful when I have guests! So for this reason I will share my secrets to making what I like to call Poor Man’s Pesto.

Ingredients:Portions
80-100 grams of frozen spinach
A handful of sunflower kernels
A handful of grated parmesan
3-4 tablespoons of canola oil
1 pinch of salt
A couple of leaves of basil, or 1 teaspoon of dried basil

So these ingredients might sound a little funky, but trust me when I tell you it tastes awesome. But let me go through them and explain.
Spinach is a great substitute for any leafy green herb or salad, and the reason I use frozen instead of fresh is just for prize purposes. A 500 gram bag of frozen spinach cost me less than buying 50 grams of fresh spinach or one small basil plant, so for me the choice is simple. Also spinach is super good for you, but lets disregard that today. This is about price!
Nuts: For my pesto I chose sunflower kernels, but you can go ahead and choose any nut or seed you have in the house. Any nut or seed that you can smash into a paste will work great for a pesto, thought I would probably not use almonds or hazel nuts since they have a fairly distinct taste. If you have pumpkin seeds at hand they are my number 2 option for pesto. Now, why do I choose these over pine nuts? Because I don’t know about where you guys live, but here in Stockholm pine nuts are SOOOO expensive. I honestly can’t justify buying them a such a high price just to mash them up, even if they are crazy amazing in salads. No. That’s a big no for me.
Parmesan: I wrote parmesan here but any cheese that is in any way  similar to parmesan cheese will be great also, but not like a swiss cheese or anything like that. It has to be a semi hard one. But just don’t skip the cheese. In fact, never ever skip cheese in anything you come across in your life.  Cheese is go(o)d.
Oil: Guys… Olive oil is expensive. You know what isn’t expensive and has a very neutral flavour that doesn’t take over? Canola oil. Invest in canola oil, it’s fantastic for baking, frying, searing, dressings. It’s good. Go get some.
Basil: It is pesto after all. You will need a little bit of basil in there, but since you already have a lot of spinach you can make do with some dried leaves of just a few fresh ones. Whatever you can spare.
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To make this pesto you must first defrost your spinach,  so do that.
Secondly you will need a pestle and mortar for nut bashing(it’s a proper cooking term, I promise. Or well, it is now anyway), so get that out. Bash and crush your nuts and/or seeds and then you have gotten them to a crumble texture you can add the basil, the parmesan and incorporate that into you nut and/or seed mixture. Then toss in the defrosted spinach and the oil, a little bit at a time and mix it up. Taste, and add salt as you want.

This pesto can be used for a lot of things, perhaps as a dipping sauce for vegetable or maybe just mix it up with some boiled and drained pasta(with a dash of cream possibly? mmm… ), or you can do what I did and use as filling for homemade ravioli.  Now I would never lie to you dear blog reader, so I will tell you flat-out that making ravioli can be incredibly frustrating. It’s not difficult in a way where it requires any real cooking skill, but it is a task for delicate hands and a mind that does not lack patients. So, fair warning. But, on the other hand it tasted great… So  you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this recipe and have a nice sunday!IMG_8475-6IMG_8477-7IMG_8417-5

 

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Malins Mini Meatloaf

Bacon wrapped, barbecue sauce-drenched, rosemary smelling delicious ground beef. Could you ask for anything else?

I came up with this dish thinking about the classic american meatloaf. Always thought it sounded like a good idea, but then the outcome seems to be a really dry log of ground beef and therefore it never appealed to me. Well, as I was letting my mind wander I figured why not make a meatloaf crossed with a bacon wrapped meatball? “Eh… I don’t know, that sounds awesome LETS DO THAT NOW!”, my mind instantly started yelling at me. So, this is what I came up with in my hungry hungry state, and I think it’s super tasty. It hits all the marks of tangy, sweet, savoury. Love it!

Ingredients: 2 portions
160 grams of good quality ground beef(grass-fed, come on. you know it tastes better)
4 strips of bacon
1/2 of a red onion
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of onion powder
1 pinch of black pepper
A few leaves of rosemary

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce
1 pinch of onion powder
1 pinch of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of water

Start off by finely dicing the onion and mixing that with your hands into the ground beef and the spices, then roll into 4 evenly sized balls. Cut the bacon strips  in half so you’ll be left the 8 shorter bacon strips and they layer 2 bacon bits per mini loaf like a cross on top.
Sear the mini loaves in a pan on medium-high heat on each side, just to make sure you render most of that bacon fat down and also it will make your loaves super crispy. Poor the sauce over the mini loaves and finish them in a 250 degree celsius oven for 5 minutes. That should cook them all the way but still leave a nice little pink center. IMG_8438-2

Crucial moments:
Make sure not to over-work the meat when mixing in the ingredients, if you push and knead it too much like a dough you will end up with kind of a dense loaf.  And we absolutely do not want that.
Rosemary has a strong flavour that I enjoy to an insane extent, but it can totally take over if you use too much of it. Just a few leaves(5-8) will be more than enough.

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Serve your mini loaf with roasted potato wedges and a beautiful gravy, or you can make the mini loaves ever more mini(like super tiny) and serve them as finger food at your next party.

 

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Three-vegetable Meatless Monday Inspiration

 

IMG_8399-3These are fantastic little vegetables patties that are very interchangeable depending on the food you have at hand. Super crunchy and savoury, but the broccoli also gives them a little sweetness that is just great. Also, this recipe gives you a use for the broccoli stalk that always tends to end up in the bin otherwise. Last time I made these patties I timed myself, and from start to finish this takes 16 minutes to make. For me, that’s just unbeatable. Everyone has got time for that!

So hopefully I’m going to start running with more meatless monday posts, and the plan is for  them to serve as inspiration for others. I know that it is hard sometimes to think of meals that don’t contain any meat, I find it especially hard when it comes to not adding bacon. Because, bacon is really really good with almost anything.
You might wonder why I wanted to do this(or not, either way I’m going to tell you :). After reading a very long, very extensive article about what a single person can do to help minimize the effects of global warming I decided that I and everyone in my household would participate in meatless monday. Now, you might read that sentence and think that I’m being ridiculous, because honestly… What could one person do to change things on a global scale? Not much, quite frankly. But I cannot sit idly by and do nothing while the planet I live on is slowing being destroyed. I might not be able to change anything, but I don’t have to help in speeding up the processes. So, not making a huge stand or anything. It’s just that meatless monday is not only good for you in terms of health, in eating more vegetables and what not, but also for the world. Pretentious,  possibly…  But I can live with being a pretentious ass, I’m totally fine with that.

So while these meals are meatless, they are not free from all animal products. They are vegetarian, not vegan. But when you choose produce like eggs, try to find eggs from free range chickens. The we treat chickens is fucking atrocious. And while I like a cheap egg and a bargain as much as the next gal, it’s not worth it when you look at the lives of those chickens. And from what I have heard this tends to even worse in American than here in Sweden, so I would advise caution and careful reading regarding where your food comes from.

So enough of this preaching and over to the tasty food!

Ingredients: Makes 3 patties, 1 portion.
1 potato
1 broccoli stalk
1 inch thick piece of  zucchini
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 pinch of salt

In a bowl grate all the vegetables. In terms of volume you are looking for the broccoli and zucchini to be about the same amount as your potato. So half potato, half green vegetables. Mix in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture feels a little  wet, don’t worry. It’s supposed to! What I tend to do is to form the mixture into 3 balls and when I put the in a pan I use the spatula to flatten them to a good size. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side on medium heat, then serve up with some cooked spring vegetables or a nice salad.   IMG_8420-2IMG_8379-2IMG_8389-3
Crucial elements:
1. Use a good amount of vegetable oil(rape seed is great!) in the pan, you are almost but not quite looking for a shallow fry situation here. (I know, I’m soo specific)
2. The patties should not be more than 1/2 centimeter thick. While broccoli and zucchini are good to eat raw, potatoes are not. Potatoes can actually be poisonous when raw so the thinner you make the patties the less you have to think about serving raw potatoes.
3. There is no 3, just enjoy the tasty food now!

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Spinach Soup

Healthy simple food is my jam, as you may well know. Spinach soup is probably the king of this category, and I know I say that about a lot of  things, but with the combination of being cheap this green godess soup is kind of unbeatable.  IMG_8221-2
So one key thing to stock up on if you are shopping on budget, which I as a new poor student obviously am, is frozen vegetables – specifically spinach and peas.  IMG_8205-2

Ingredients for 2:
250 grams of frozen spinach
100 grams of frozen peas
1/4 leek
2 cloves of garlic
1 cube of vegetable stock

Start off by slicing the leek and garlic, don’t worry about making it fancy, and get those in a pot on a medium heat. Sauté for a couple of minutes and then toss in the spinach, peas, stock and about 0.8-1 liter of water. Since you’re getting the water in at the same time as the frozen things you don’t have to bother with defrosting it either, for extra simplicity. Yay!
Bring your soup to a simmer and leave for about 15 minutes, after that it’s blending time!
Use a blender or a staff mixer and go on with your bad self until smooth.
Taste, and season to your own preference.

Now, look at this about text… That’s not a lot, barely any instructions. That should let you know how simple this is!
Fair warning though, this soup is not suitable for lunch boxes because the spinach tends to get a smidge discoloured after a while due to oxidation and what not. It doesn’t change its delicious flavour, but looks are everything so… This soup is for eating straight away. IMG_8229-2

Enjoy!

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The Perfect Pancake(and how to create it)

“Enough of the cats and knitting already!”
“We thought you were cool!”
“Where are all your recipes at?”

Yes, yes. I know.
Today is finally real recipe time!

Todays’ recipe is something I grew up on, ate for dinner and not until later in life found out that the rest of the world enjoys for dessert. Or breakfast. Basically anything except for dinner.IMG_8004-2-7
Today is pancake day here on the blog!

Rejoice! Pancake day is here!

My boyfriend and I tend to get into arguments over what goes on/into a pancake. He insists it is impossible to revel in the gloriousness that is a perfect pancake without:
1. Icing sugar
2. Chocolate sauce
3. Whipped cream
Optional 4. Ice cream.

Jeez, I say… How pretentious, I just give mine a nice spread of blue berry jam, roll ’em up and see how many I can fit in my mouth in one go.

I guess that illustrates the difference between Belgians(him) and Swedes(me, duh).

One more thing that is essential to know before moving on is that this recipes is for what I call pancakes, what others may call Crepes, or they might be called “thin pancakes”.
Since this is my blog, I decide that the proper name is simply PANCAKE.

The thick ones are “American Pancakes”.

Wueh, I’m glad we cleared that up. Now, what are you waiting for? Scroll down and get going on the cooking!

Ingredients enough for 2:
2 deciliters of flour(0.2 liters, 0.8 cups)
4-5 deciliters of milk(0.4-0.5 liters, 0.9-1 cup)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of butter

Into a medium-sized bowl, pour in your flower and about a third of your milk. Whisk together to form a thick paste and then little by little add the rest of your milk. The reason for doing this is a simple as: You are trying to avoid lumps of flour from forming. These lumps will sink to the bottom of you bowl and make your last pancake all yucky. Yes yucky, this is the scientific term.

Once you’ve mixed together the milk and flour(no lumps, right?) add all the other ingredients except for the butter and whisk thoroughly. Now, set your bowl aside in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, by I recommend leaving the batter over night to thicken up properly.

After leaving the batter for an appropriate amount of time, take it out of the fridge and get a 24-28  cm frying pan going to a high heat.
When making the swedish pancake, or crepe, you can only do one at a time which makes frying pancakes kind of a lengthy process, this is why I always use 2 frying pans. So, if you can I strongly suggest doing that.IMG_7990-2-3

So melt the butter in your pan/pans. Once melted, transfer that butter over to you batter and whisk that in.
If you’ve got fairly new pans, with good non-stick coating, this is the only fat you’ll need to add to you pans. And since there is butter in the batter, the pancakes will not stick.
The more butter in the pan, the wetter and soggier you pancakes will become.

So for the frying, use a ladle and ladle in a batter, about 1 deciliter per pancake. Obviously, this will vary greatly depending on the size of you pan, but this is the basic idea.
Grad ahold of your pan handle and swish(again, very technical and scientific term) the batter around so it covers the base of the pan.IMG_7991-2-4
After about 1 – 1.5 minutes, it’s flipping time! You can tell when it’s time because all the batter will have set and no longer runs(as seen in the above picture). If the batter has “set” but there’s no colour on the pancake, turn up your stove temperature and vice versa.  

So, with a spatula gently pry your way underneath,
lift up the spatula slightly,
and flip.

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If your batter has set on top properly, it will not matter a great deal if the pancake doesn’t land completely flat and it crumples up a little bit, this is easily fixable if you gently try to spread it out again with your spatula.IMG_8003-2-6

(ignore the hole in the pancake! it was insanely hard to flip them and photograph at the same time. )

Leave for 1 – 1.5 minutes,
take out of the pan and set aside on a plate
repeat, and start stacking your pancake tower!

That’s the basis for frying and making thin pancakes(THE REAL PANCAKE!)
Simple enough right?

Now for filling, the basic idea is that anything goes, how ever I will give you 2 suggestions that I personally love. But please feel free to experiment with flavours and texture, that’s the thing that makes pancakes fun!

So, my first and most decadent suggestion is to lay you pancake flat, sprinkle with a couple of pinches(or loads!!!!) of brown sugar, roll the pancake up and drizzle with honey. Yum!IMG_8011-2-9

The “lazy” suggestion is my personal favourite is the one I mentioned at the start of  this post, blue berry jam. The idea is the same as above. Lay the pancake flat, spread jam all over, roll up, shove into mouth.
Honestly, don’t even bother with cutlery. In fact, it’s better if you don’t use cutlery. I insist!IMG_8017-2-11

A variation on this would be a little bit of whipped cream on the side, to dip your pancake in. If you desperately feel the need to glam it up a little.

Try everything!
And never forget to have fun!

The picture quality this week is a little lacking, but unfortunately I live in the country of eternal darkness(kind of), so I have almost no natural light in my house. The sun sets at around 3 pm, and it’s tricky to get some photography done because that’s around the time I get home from school.
God damn you Sweden!

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The Story of a Cat

So today I’d like to tell you guys about something other than food for once.
Today I want to share something that’s very close to my heart.

This is the story of a cat, a cat called Rinke.IMG_8040-2

When Rinke was very young he was taken from his mother. So early in fact that he never got to learn basic skills like cleaning himself and socially interacting with other cats.
He was taken away and sold to men who abused him. These men shot at him with soft air guns and watched him run around the room terrified.IMG_8033-2

He was eventually thrown out and made homeless, living on the streets.IMG_8073-2

Until circumstances made it so he came to a place here in Stockholm called Kattstallet(The Cat Stable). They take in cats that have been mistreated, abused and/or are found by animal control.  They take in every single cat they can.
Rinke was found in a suburb to Stockholm called Rinkeby and when he came to Kattstallet, was named there after.
When he arrived he was scared and incredibly suspicious of humans, but especially of men. Quite quickly it was made clear that Rinke could not be around other cats during his rehabilitation, he got into fights frequently. Therefor it would be impossible for him to stay at the Kattstallet location.

So, one thing that Kattstallet does for these cats is to try to find temporary homes, kind of like foster families, have them live there with people who love and take good care of cats. These foster families do not get any compensation for this, other than the cost of food and kitty litter.

So this is where my brother comes in. He and his girlfriend decided to take in Rinke.
They could tell from the first moment they met him that he was very anxious to be around them, but still curious. In that way Rinke is conflicted. He wants to be around people and be scratched and petted, but he doesn’t trust them.IMG_8049-2

My brother and I are very close and also live about 15 minutes apart so I’ve been there to witness a lot of progress they have managed to make with him.
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It’s almost been a year  since he moved in and it’s incredible, seeing him go from hiding as soon as I walk into their house, to coming up to me and rubbing up against my legs.
From Rinke clawing at you and running away if you accidentally brushed his tail, to me being able to touch is tail, backside and stomach with him next to me purring and rubbing his head on my nose affectionately.
From him pushing himself up against a wall staring at you, to him sitting on top of a scratching post relaxed and looking out, being curious.

In two days Rinke is moving in to his permanent home. In a way it breaks my heart to never see him again(and I can’t imagine what my brother must be going through), and then I think how much my brother his girlfriend has done for him. How much he’s grown, and how his life is now compared to how it was.
Rinke is the most fantastic cat I’ve ever met and I’ll really miss him.IMG_8029-2

My point in writing this is to let you know how important places like Kattstallet are. They, and everyone who works for them, makes a difference in these cats’ lives every day.
Look up your local animal shelter and support them in any way you can! They need it.

If you live you in Stockholm and would like to support Kattstallet please visit their website and help them, they really need it, and they really help!

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