Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Habana Yumminess

I have a guest restaurant in New York. Yes, the one restaurant I always take guests to because it's not too expensive, it's delicious, and kinda hip.

It's Cafe Habana in Soho. The dish that fills up your senses is the grilled corn on the cob laced with crema or mayo, cheese, cayenne pepper, and lime. Though grilled corn is hard to come by if you don't have access to a barbecue, or if you're a tad lazy like myself and stoking the coals isn't always the first thing that comes to mind, then this is the recipe for you. Almost all of the zing without the trouble:

Chile Lime Corn Salad

1/2 bag of frozen corn or corn cut from a fresh cob
1 T butter
1/2 lime
a dash cayenne pepper
small knob of Parmesan Reggiano or Queso Cotija
a smidgen of green onions and cilantro cut finely for garnish and color

In a saucepan, warm 2 T of water with 1 T of salted butter. Add the frozen corn to the pot and stir and let it come to room temperature. Squeeze lime over corn, add a dash of cayenne pepper, and sprinkle with the grated or crumbled cheese and garnish.

It's a great side dish for any Tex-Mex or Mexican inspired meal. Hm, I wonder how they say "Eat up" in Spanish?

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Whole Fish + Microwave = ?

In terms of derring-do, there is probably not a more surprising presentation than fish prepared by dishwasher (the key is to wrap them up tightly in foil packets) which I have never tried myself.

However, yesterday, O and I attempted what not many others would attempt. Preparing Chinese-style steamed fish ... in a microwave. I knew this wasn't an impossibility. My own mother lives and dies by a salmon fillet recipe which steams the fish in the microwave too. Although, domestic salmon is famously fatty and it takes a lot of overcooking to ruin it compared to leaner fishes.

But, when we stopped by the market yesterday and saw the Arctic Char at a good price we rose to the challenge. I didn't know it was called Arctic Char until today when I found out that röding, or loosely translated to the "red one," was char. Arctic Char is somewhere between a salmon and a trout, but this recipe will work on any firm fleshed whole fish.

So, for the impatient and unwilling to do many dishes:

Ginger Soy Steamed Chinese Fish


1 whole fish scaled and cleaned
3- inches of ginger finely julienned
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 a red fresh chili pepper also finely julienned
4 stalks of green onions sliced in 3 inch segments
a glug of rice wine or sherry
salt and pepper to taste

plastic/saran wrap


4 T soy sauce
3 stalks of green onion
2 T sesame oil
3 t sugar
1/2 a red fresh chili pepper finely julienned
2 inches of ginger finely julienned

Make sure the fish is clean, pat it dry, salt and pepper the flesh inside and out. Cut three slashes on each side of the fish.

On a plate you can fit into the microwave, place half of the herbs on the bottom of the place, and half on the herbs inside.

Add a glug of rice wine or sherry or sake if you've got it, and cover with with saran wrap but poke a few holes in the plastic wrap.

Microwave from anywhere between 5-9 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. This is purely a trial by error process, so err on the side of caution because the fish will also steam itself ready in the last two minutes sitting on the counter.

For a 2 lb fish, we approximated 8 minutes on high in the microwave.

While the fish is steaming in the microwave, in a pan heat the soy sauce and sesame oil together with the sugar. When the mixture is hot add the ginger, scallions, and chili.

Pour sauce over the ready fish. There is another step you can do which is heat regular oil over the stove and then blister the top of the steam fished with the hot oil, but I haven't quite mastered it yet. I'll write in an update when I manage to buy another whole fish again.

We enjoyed this dish especially with some stir-fry broccoli and garlic and white rice. The broccoli recipe will have to wait for another entry!

When the whole fish is on the table, the presentation is actually amazingly elegant, and the colors of the green scallions and red chili are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the taste buds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ever had Czech food before?

Me neither, until I went to Soldaten Svejk. My review of the restaurant is out in the Spring issue of the Swedish Bulletin. Where does one find a copy? Hotels and embassies, apparently!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blue Milk & Cereal?

I'm not sure if I've featured it before, but I love Kashi Heart-to-Heart, but barring those (especially because I cannot privately import a whole stock for myself), multi-grain Cheerios have finally come to Sweden and so I can eat one of my favorite breakfasts which includes both the American and the Swedish -- in one bowl!

It's cereal with blueberry soup and skim milk. Swedes often eat rosehip soup with a drizzle of milk and crushed almond cookies, so this is ostensibly my take on the Swedish classic.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Camille Bloch Ragusa Noir

I don't know about you guys, but I grew up reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I guess this is a good time to talk about chocolate since Easter is coming up. My absolute childhood favorite Easter candy is the Whopper's large malted eggs with speckled candy covered shells. Yum.

However, as an adult for an off-the-rack buy (meaning, not jetting off to Belgium to pick up some fresh pralines), this dark chocolate truffle bar is the best. We don't even try to buy any other kind these days as much as the Lindt bars which keep morphing into extra special creme brulee/chocolate cake bars (chocolate cake bars!?!).

Nope. Camille Bloch has the formula. The Swiss do know their chocolate ...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Which news would you like first?

The good news is that on Friday, the sun was shining, I had gone and eaten delicious nouveau Czech cuisine at the Czech embassy (including an intriguing spin on goulash with chicken breasts and blanched almonds) the day before, and I was due for a glorious walk around Stockholm's harbor with a friend and his baby.

I had mixed up the time, so I jumped on the T (T is for tunnelbana), and arrived in Gardet, but to my disappointment, the bakery Solsidan is a catering company. However. The Germany embassy sent me yet another lead, but this time I'm going to call ahead because I'm still waiting to get my City Bikes season card despite ordering it ages ago, and since the weather is so nice, I feel like I should be biking around town instead of hopping on and off the awfully well-oiled machine that is public transportation here in Stockholm. I'm serious! It's a model for other countries to follow.

So, there was no Prinzregententorte, but I did have a delicious carrot cake with tangy cream cheese frosting at Blå Porten which is a very old and distinguished lunching place on Djurgården.

I feel badly there is no recipe of the day, and this seems somewhat more like an update on an earlier post, but here goes nothing:

slow poached eggs are fant-bloody-tastic.

Do you remember? Boil the water, throw the eggs in with some vinegar and a spin and happy things happen while you wait. The key is also to make enough boiling water proportionate to how many eggs you're making. I've seen the light. Slow plus Poached Eggs = SANT which is the way Swedes writes Adam + Eva = <3 (heart), or more so in Swedish "true love."

This technique will come in handy on Friday when it is my duty to wake up him on his birthday with his favorite breakfast -- Eggs Benedict.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bavarian Delights here I come?

The lovely Germany embassy did deliver one address to me, in the same afternoon:

Konditori Solsidan
Brantingsgatan 33
115 35 Stockholm

I could call and check, but this wouldn't be half as adventurous as going there tomorrow afternoon. Let's hope the sun is shining brightly as it was today.

Bless those Bavarian bakers ...

Last year I traveled through Munich on a layover back from the States. Like anyone with curiosity for local cuisine on a long interim, I combed the airport for something delicious and different.

And behold:

The Prinzregententorte!

The waitstaff at the Dallmyr cafe/restaurant were very understanding. They didn't blink an eye when it appeared that I had fallen in love at first sight with a piece of cake.

Never had I eaten such a decadent and elegant cake before in my life. And I've eaten a lot of cake. I am ashamed to admit that two-thirds of the way into a slice of this luxurious cake, I gave up the ghost.

According to the Bavarian website, it was named after Prince Regent Luitpold by the Court Confectioner Julius Rottenhöfer. What a swanky job! Making cakes and sweets for the royal family.

Although, a cake of this magnitude cannot be solely dedicated to one man. Oh, no. Apparently it was simultaneously dedicated to the state of Bavaria because it's like the American flag -- where the stripes stand for the original thirteen states? The eight layers represent the former eight governmental districts. Clever confectioner.

I will unabashedly admit that I have no desire to actually try to replicate the cake at home. If I did this, first of all I would need 7-8 cake pans when I'm the proud owner of exactly one. Second of all, if I made this cake I would probably become the size of the state of Bavaria. No, I think this is best left to the masters, as the Bavarian websites quotes, "Cake shops and experienced housewives make the Prinzregententorte." Hum, yes, people who own eight cake pans.

I think that I will have to take this mission to the street! I am determined to find a Germany bakery in Stockholm. We have, after all, a German school, and embassy. I can't be the only one who appreciates the delights of a Prinzregententorte.

**Update! I called the Germany embassy here in Stockholm. Through a mixture of German-accented Swedish and my half Swedish/English replies, the query has been suitably taken up by the researching efforts of the Germany embassy, and if there's anything Germans are known for, it is thoroughness! I'm crossing my fingers. My German friend has suggested I jet to Berlin for some cake. Not an entirely bad idea ... planning a whole vacation around cake.

If you have the need to bake something bombastic, here's the recipe below taken from the Food from Bavaria website.


The Sponge:
six eggs
160-180 g sugar
160-180 g flour (half cornflour, if desired)
a pinch of baking powder
a small packet of vanilla sugar or grated lemon rind
1 tbsp water, optionally 80 g butter (the cake layers can also be made from sweet shortcrust pastry instead of sponge)

The Chocolate Butter Cream:
250 g butter
150-180 g icing sugar
2-3 egg yolks
100 g dark chocolate (softened and cooled),

Coating: dark chocolate (chocolate glaze).

The cake bases are made first. Separate the egg white from the egg yolk. Beat the egg yolk first with water and then with 2/3 of the sugar to form a foam. Now add the vanilla sugar or lemon peel as flavourings. Stir in the butter (optional). Beat the egg white to form a stiff foam. Fold in the remaining third of the sugar and add this mixture to the egg yolk mixture. Sieve the flour and baking powder over it and mix everything together. Divide the mixture into eight and bake eight thin layers (200°C, six to eight minutes) in a well-greased spring form (diameter 26 cm) until golden brown. Remove them from the spring form immediately after baking and allow them to cool.

To make the filling, warm the chocolate in a bain-marie until it is liquid, and then allow it to cool slightly. Beat the butter until it is fluffy and then fold in the icing sugar and the egg yolk alternately. The mixture should be very fluffy. Gradually fold in the softened chocolate drop by drop. Add extra sugar or chocolate to taste if necessary. Spread the cream on seven of the cake layers and place them one on top of the other. The eighth cake forms the top of the cake. Smooth a little cream over the edge of the cake.

To make the glaze, melt some dark chocolate and thinly and evenly cover the whole of the cake with the chocolate glaze using a brush.