Sunday, February 17, 2013

Veggielicious Quinoa Burgers

Yummy veggie burgers with chickpeas, quinoa and kumin 

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals while I was watching tv. He was making some kind of black bean "happy cow" wooptido veggie burgers or something, and I thought, I gotta make that! Although, I didn't really want to make his veggie burgers .. no, I wanted to invent my own (veggie burgers Olivia-style). Since I really enjoy falafel, especially when it's really really fresh I decided to have that as my inspiration for my veggie burgers. The combination of chickpeas, parsley and kumin is fantastic. I had some quinoa left over in the fridge and I thought, "hey, why not, you can never go wrong with quinoa"! So my veggie burger mix ended up containing pretty much a bunch of left overs from the fridge, but the result was sooooo yummy, probably 10 times better than Jamie's happy cow burgers. 

2 garlic cloves
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 red chili pepper
2 carrots, grated
1/2 tbs paprika powder
1 tbs kumin powder
lemon juice (half lemon)
1 can of chickpeas
1 cup bolied quinoa seeds
a handful of finely choppad parlsey

How to do it:
Start off by chopping up the garlic, chili pepper and onion. Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan, toss in the garlic and cook for a minute or two (just don't burn it), and then add the onion and chili pepper. When the onions are golden, add the grated carrots, and the paprika and kumin powder. Mix well, and add a little water to let it boil and soak in all the flavors. While the mixture is cooking for a few minutes on the stove (medium heat) poor the chickpeas in a blender with a little bit of water. Blend until it becomes a paste. Poor it into a bowl, add the 1 cup of pre-boiled quinoa and mix well. Take the onion and carrot mixture off the stove, let it cool and then add to the chickpeas and quinoa. Squeeze out the juice of half a lemon, add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper (whatever suits you). Refridgerate the mixture for about 2 hours prior to cooking. When the mixture has been refridgerated, form into veggie burgers, and brown them on each side in olive oil.

Serve the veggie burgers on top of your chioce of bread with avocado and tomato, on a salad or just as it is. It really doesn't matter how you eat them, they're so damn good that you'll enjoy them any kind of way. 

Happy days! :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandma Judy's Molasses cookies

Crunchy chewy cookies with a hint of Christmas

Let me tell ya, this is a hell of a cookie. The person that usually bakes these is my grandma Judy. When it comes to making perfectly chewy cookies, she definitely has talent. Today I tried to make molasses cookies just as my grandma makes them, but of course, they never turn out as crispy, thin, chewy nor flavorful as my grandmother's. It could be because of the fact that she uses Crisco (the quite unhealthy, trans fat packed shortening that people use for making kentucky fried chicken) in her cookie batter. But I mean, if that is what it takes to produce the ultimate molasses cookie, then I should perhaps buy myself a big jar of Crisco to bring back home to Sweden. 

3/4 C shortening (crisco) or butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 C sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 C molasses

How to do it:
Cream together the shortening/butter and the sugar. Add the molasses and the egg. Beat the mixture well. Sift together the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, flour and baking soda and then add to the wet mixture. Mix well and chill in the refrigerator. After about an hour, take out the dough and form into 1 inch balls, roll them in granulated sugar and placed on  a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, 375˚F/190˚C.
If you want them chewy, take them out a little bit earlier and let them cool on the cookie sheet before placing them on a cookie rack.

These cookies with a big glass of milk is the perfect treat on a cold winters day ;) Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mexican Wedding Cakes

A classic Benson family christmas cookie

These cookies have been a family favorite even before I was born. Whenever we are together for Christmas, in Sweden or in the States, we always make sure to bake Mexican Wedding Cakes. The reason why I love them is because they just melt in your mouth. They have the perfect balance of sweet and salty and by using toasted walnuts and pecans, it adds a wonderful flavor and texture to the cookies.

1 C butter
1/2 C confectioners sugar (florsocker)
1 tsp vanilla paste/vanilla sugar
2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C pecans and walnuts 

How to do it
Toast the nuts in the oven (make sure they don´t burn). Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Sift the flour and salt and add to the creame mixture, blending thoroughly. Chop the nuts and add them to the mixture. Mix well and form into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven (325 F/165 C). Bake 15-20 minutes, until delicately brown. Let them cool completely before rolling them in powdered sugar.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saffron buns with gooey vanilla filling

Swedish christmas bread

Believe it or not, but saffron is more expensive than gold. This flavorful red delicacy is definitely not a cheap spice, but the good thing is that you only need small amounts of it when baking or cooking. For a long time it's been a Swedish tradition to use saffron in the baked goods that we usually eat around christmas. Instead of making "kanelbullar" (cinnamon rolls) for fika, we make "lussekatter" (saffron bread). We also use other exotic spices around christmas such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon. To make a batch of outstandingly delicious saffron buns like these, you will need 1,5 grams of saffron. It takes about two days to make these babies, but don´t worry, it will undoubtedly be worth it. Especially if you´ve never tasted anything like this before ;)

1. Preperation-dough (1 day before baking)

1,5 g saffron
650 g cold 2 % milk
900 g all purpose flour
75 g fresh yeast 

Mix the saffron with the milk, and then mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover up and place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours in 4-8˚ C.

2. Dough

175 g butter
175 g sugar
20 g salt
125 g eggs
100 g high fat buttermilk (kesella)
1 tsp ground cardamom 
500 g all purpose flour

Take out the pre-dough from the refrigerator. It should have doubled in size over night. Mix the dough together with all the remaining ingredients (butter, sugar, salt, eggs, cardamom and flour). Work the dough in a kitchen aid for 15-20 minutes on medium speed. When the dough is done it should be elastic and shiny. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator to rise for at least 1 hour. 

3. Vanilla filling

200 g butter (room temperature)
110 g sugar
100 g almond paste (mandelmassa)
20 g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1tbsp real vanilla bean paste or
1-2 tbsp vanilla powder
1 pinch of salt

To make the vanilla filling, just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Make sure it tastes good :)

4. Make the buns

Divide the dough into 2. Take one piece of dough and use a rolling pin to flatten it out (so it becomes a rectangle, about 1 cm thick). Spread half of the filling evenly on half of the rectangle, and then fold over the other half. Cut 1-2 cm wide pieces using a knife. Cut each piece in half, leaving one part of it still attached. Twist both of the ends and form into a nice not. It´s a little tricky, but I usually just wing it and it always turns out good ( it should look a little bit authentic). Do the same with the remaining dough. Place the buns on a non stick baking sheet, cover and let them rise for 1-2 hours in room temperature. Turn the oven on 230˚ C/450˚ F. When the buns are finished rising, brush them with some whisked egg, sprinkle on some sugar (pärlsocker) and put them in the oven. Bake for 12-14  minutes until golden brown. 

Enjoy these baked treats with a cold glass of cold milk, hot cocoa or a cup of traditional "glögg" (spiced warm christmas wine that we traditionally drink around christmas in Sweden). 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A soft Swedish flatbread

It was one of those breads that my sisters and I used to eat as we were growing up. After school we´d all come home and gather around the table to have our afternoon "fika" with fresh bread, butter, cheese, ham and marmalade. It was probably one of the best moments of the day... eating moms freshly homemade bread with the family. 

So, what makes these round Swedish flat breads so special? Well, I can start off by telling you that in the authentic recipe for Hönökaka, there is a combination of 3 spices that is common for a lot of Swedish breads. To some this might seem crazy but the recipe actually calls for 1 tsp of ground fennel, anise and cumin (brödkryddor/breadspices). It gives the bread a unique flavor, and is definitely worth trying if you want to step out of your bread baking comfort zone.

Makes about 12 hönökakor
50 g fresh yeast
100 g butter salted
0,5 litre of 2 % milk
1,5 tsp salt
4 tbs sugar/corn syrup
1 tsp finely ground fennel, anise and cumin
4 dl graham flour/whole wheat flour
6-7 dl of high protein flour (King Arthur)

How to do it:

Start off by melting the butter. Add the milk and warm it until lukewarm (37˚C/ 98˚F). With fresh yeast, you need to crumble it into small bits in a bowl. Add the lukewarm milk and butter to the yeast and mix well. Add the salt, sugar, spices and flour and mix well, either manually or in a bread dough mixer. When the dough starts to release from the sides, but is still a little bit sticky, sprinkle some flour on it, cover it with a towel and put it someplace warm to let it rise for 1-2 hours. When it is done rising it should have doubled in size.

Turn the dough over on a floured surface and kneed it until it has a nice, flexible consistency. Divide it in half and cut each half into 6 pieces. Use a rolling pin to get each piece of dough flattened out until about half an inch thick. When done with this, use a fork to poke holes all over the surface of the dough. Otherwise it will fill up with air in the oven. Turn the oven on, about (275˚C/530˚F). Let the flatbreads rise for another hour before cooking in the oven. When I cooked my flatbreads in the oven I used a pizza stone, in order to get the nice golden color on both sides. 3-4 minutes is all it takes to get the flatbread soft on the inside and nice, golden brown on the outside.

Best way to enjoy a Hönökaka is to eat it warm (preferrably fresh out of the oven) with butter on it. The butter melts and the Hönökaka soaks up all the juiciness. It is insanely good :)

Fika (pronounced "fee-ka") is a social institution in Sweden, which most commonly means taking a break with one´s colleagues/familymembers in the afternoon to have coffee/tea with smörgåsar (open faced sandwiches), cookies or kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls). 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pot Stickers
Chinese dumplings with pork filling

Yesterday I decided to use the wonton-dough that I had in the freezer. I bought it last fall, thinking I was going to throw a bad ass asian dinner party for my friends, but instead I ended up making it for me and my sister last night for dinner. This was the first time I ever made these little dumplings and it did indeed take a lot of time, precision and most of all... patience! I didn't have all the cool asian ingredients that I needed at home, so I ended up making my own recipe for the filling and the dipping sauce. As long as you use your creativity and think asian it's fine!

Ingredients for filling
250 g ground pork
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 carrot
1/3 of an apple (my little touch)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 shallot
1/2 tsp ginger (fresh or powdered)
a package of wonton dough
1 cup of water, pinch of salt

Ingredients for sauce
soy sauce
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil
teriyaki sauce (just 1 tsp)

How to do it:
Start with the pork filling. Finely chop the shallot, carrot and apple. Add to the ground pork. Mix in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger. When I had mixed it all together I did a test by rolling a little ball of pork and cooking it in a pan. It's important to taste it to make sure that all the flavors are right. The pork filling should have plenty of flavor (so if it needs a little more soy sauce or sesame oil, go ahead and add a tad more). When the pork filling is done it's time to fill the little wonton dough squares. Wonton dough is very thin, but still easy to handle. Place a little more than a teaspoon of filling on each wonton square. Brush the sides of the wonton dough with water and simply squeeze it together to form a pocket. Make sure they are sealed tight, so the filling doesn't end up falling out. The pork filling will make about 20-25 dumplings, depending on how much you fill each one. 

Heat up a little bit of canola oil in a cast iron skillet (medium-high heat). Place the dumplings next to each other in the pan and fry for about 2 minutes or until you see that they are nice and golden brown underneath. Add the salted water, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and let the dumplings simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan and let the water burn away. Pot stickers tend to stick a little bit to the pan (therefor the name) but don't worry, you'll get them out of there. 

For the sauce:
This is the easiest part of preparing this dinner. Just combine soy sauce, sesame oil, a hint of teriyaki and rice wine vinegar in a bowl and stir. Taste if it has the flavor that you like. I always kind of "wing it" when I make any kind of sauce. You can always add a little more of something and adjust until it's right where you want it to be. 

Pot stickers are normally served as an appetizer but it really doesn't matter, considering they're quite filling and satisfying as a main course as well. I also made chinese pickled cucumber to complement this dish. Adding something fresh, tangy and crunchy to this meal just tops it all off!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Almond butter
with a hint of pecan and walnut

This is my new favorite thing to keep in the fridge. Almond butter. It's packed with good stuff like nutritious fats, vitamins, fiber and proteins. I can do nothing but just LOVE this thick, sticky, slightly crunchy nutty butter. As for me, making home made almond butter from scratch instead of buying it in the store is simply the best! 

Whipping up the almond butter is an easy task, but if you don't have a really good blender it might take you some time to get the alomnds ground up and eventually into a paste. It took me almost a whole day to get the almond butter just the right consistency that I wanted (also because I had the worst stick blender to work with). 

2 cups of almonds
1/2 cup of pecans
1/2 cup of walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
a couple pinches of sea salt

How to do it:
Start off by toasting the nuts in the oven. It's a good idea to keep an eye on them while they're in the oven, if they are left in too long and roast too much the toasty flavor gets overpowering. After they've cooled down and gotten dry it's time to start grinding them up. I used a blender. Don't do all the nuts at the same time, it can get tough for the blender to mix it all. What's great about making almond butter is that you don't just have to stick to almonds. Dumping in some pecan, walnuts, macadamia or why not sunflower seeds is a prefect way to give the butter a different but subtle dimension in flavor and consistency. I love how this almond butter turned out, with a hint of the pecans and walnuts in the background. Adding vanilla sugar also gives the almond butter a round and cozy flavor that goes perfectly well in combination with the different nuts.