Wednesday, September 30, 2009


No, it's not a city in England, or district, or county. It's a Nori (toasted seaweed) Sandwich.

Sometimes, when you've got all the right ingredients, magic happens. I had totally forgotten about my favorite onigiri (rice ball with filling) from Shibuya. It was a nori-sandwich with teriyaki chicken, and lo and behold, last night I made soy sauce chicken.

I also had bought some toasted seaweed called kim -- it's Korean style toasted seaweed brushed with salt and sesame seed oil. I had leftover rice, leftover teriyaki style chicken, Japanese mayonnaise, slivers of pickled mustard greens and salad.

Teriyaki Noriwich

1 sheet of nori or kim
1/2 c cooked rice at room temperature
1/4 c teriyaki chicken in pieces
a drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise
a drizzle of teriyaki sauce (optional)
slivers of pickled mustard greens (also optional)
several leaves of salad

I just laid out the ingredients as shown above and then closed it more like a pita and cut it into three sections. Lamentably, the noriwiches were not the most stable. I think using regular sushi nori is more stable, but kim is more flavorful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Did you know sprouts are healthier than the actual vegetable or bean, in this case, that springs from it?

I remember countless late afternoons where my mom made me snap the ends off the mung bean sprouts. The bottom of the mung bean sprout is where the root used to be settled in the earth and a slight brown color. "Why do we have to do it?" my sister and I used to complain.

"Because," replied my mother, as many weary mothers will easily identify with not needing to explain their actions.

Turns out, when you blanch your mungbeans as in this recipe, the brown parts look translucent brown instead of the very pleasant translucent white.

Now blanching vegetables is very simple. The basic idea is to quick-cook them. So first you immerse them in boiling water for the proscribed amount of time (varies from vegetable to vegetable), and then you put them into a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Both steps are essential. You kinda wonder why even bother when mung bean sprouts are so crispy and fresh tasting on their own. In this case, blanching them lets the marinade soak into them much better. In other kim chi recipes they have had me salt them, but I think I might try blanching them next time as well.

Fantastic Mung Bean Sprouts tossed in Rice Vinegar and Sesame Oil

1 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
1 drizzle of sesame seed oil
1 t sesame seeds
1 1/2 inch (approx 1 cm) coin of ginger peeled and in slivers
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar

Snap off the roots of all your mung bean sprouts. Children are especially useful for this task. Boil water and place mung bean sprouts in a bowl and cover them with boiling water for one minute. Drain the sprouts in a colander and run cold water over them.

In a bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and toss the sprouts in them.

The fantastic thing about this recipe is that it can be served as a starter or a vegetable side dish. You don't have to worry about it cooling because it's supposed to be served at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Parisian v Sicilian smackdown

After acquainting myself with as many foodie recommendations possible, my boyfriend and I went to Paris for a long weekend.

I cajoled him into visiting Berthillon. I had already my flavors rehearsed too, salt caramel and chocolate. What is this salt caramel craze sweeping Paris? I don't know, but I like it!

While standing in line I also saw that they had Mirabelle plum sorbet -- Mirabelle is a particularly adorable tiny yellow and blush variety of plum that is exceedingly sweet. So I asked my boyfriend to order that one separately.

And lo and behold, the couple in front of us asked for their luxury French ice cream ... in a giant macaron! Having had the same phenomenon happen to us in Agrigento (they asked for their gelato in a brioche), I made my boyfriend order the sorbet in a pistachio macaron.

The results? Turns out that the macaron ice cream sandwich was merely pleasant, not as fulfilling as a brioche with gelato, but that might have been the flavor combination choice. Next time I make macarons, I'll try again. I could think a nice raspberry flavored one might work, or a chocolate macaron with chocolate ice cream. It's a hand held treat.

However, the salt caramel ice cream was every bit as good as promised. Once you get to the tiny isle that Berthillon, walk past every single one of the cafes which say they have Berthillon ice cream (glaces) because the Berthillon shop is farther down and has the widest assortment of flavors. I almost missed out on salt caramel ice cream because we were deceived and it was a hot sunny day in Paris.

In other Parisian notes Laduree needs no further recommendation, but the salt caramel macarons were also divine!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Food has fads too, you know. You can scarcely go out anywhere without some cauliflower puree peeking out from under your meat of choice.

Fall has come around the corner, and though we're enjoying a bit of an Indian summer, the evenings are quite chilly.

That is to say ... cauliflower plus soup = perfection. Give cauliflower a chance!

For one of the easiest and comforting soups, (and fastest) look no further.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower chopped
1 leek chopped using only the white and pale green parts
4 small potatoes peeled and large diced
6 cups chicken or vegetarian broth (I normally cover with water and add two broth cubes)
1 T butter
1 bay leaf
1 t dried thyme or 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
1/2 c cream or whole milk

salt and ground freshly ground white pepper to taste

an immersion blender

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the leeks. Saute until the leeks are softened and add the chopped cauliflower, and potatoes along with the bay leaf and thyme. Combine and stir for a moment, and then add the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour. Use the immersion blender in the pot until all is creamy, and add the cream or whole milk, and then season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Serve with the best levain/crusty sourdough bread you can find.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Golden Plum Jam

There is scarcely a better pleasure in the world than a fresh sun-ripened golden plum eaten right off the tree. I find them superior to the purple ones, but haven't had the pleasure of a Mirabelle plum to compare it to. I have had, on the other hand, Mirabelle plum jam and it is divine. They must do something secret to it.

In the picture you can see that I also love Swedish butter so much I don't even bother to spread it correctly or wait until it softens. I just make my peace with unevenly spread butter, it's still fantastic.

However, this plum jam I made from the excess plums has that fresh plum taste in every mouthful! It's incredible ... there is jam, and then there is jam!

The other weekend we had been booked to go to a wedding, but I still insisted we spend the day before going out to the country house because I knew all the plums would be ready. And they were a bit over-ready. Though hesitant to make jam with very ripe plums (there had been a lot of rainfall too hence the chanterelles), I went ahead anyway.

What I wanted to keep the most was the golden color. It's so pleasing to the eye. I peeled and pitted all the plums and even squeezed some lemon juice on them to try to keep the color fresh. Then I blended them with a immersion blender, and boiled them for about five minutes with some "jam sugar" sugar that already has pectin in it. The ratio for low sugar jams is 2:1 (fruit:sugar). However, I just added sugar until I was satisfied with the taste. (Note, if you want the color to stay yellow, don't add any browning parts!)

I sterilized my old jars and lids with boiling water, but I'm a bit paranoid so they're all going into the fridge.

The jam turned out slightly like a jelly because of the high water content, and in the future I'll try to make plum jam a week earlier before they start getting overripe, but, all in all, I am pleased to discover that jam making is actually quite easy. It does take time to peel and pit all the plums, but, it is a bit meditative. And though nothing beats eating golden plums off the tree on a sunny day, a spoonful of this jam is like all of that concentrated in one delicious bite.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Some people have started to ask me about mushroom hunting tips. However, when it comes to chanterelles it's both visual acuity and a propensity to hide your treasure trove and not telling *anyone* where it is.

Chanterelles are these lovely fragrant mushrooms which are easily positively identified. When it comes to mushroom hunting, only positively identify. Most mushroom species are poisonous or inedible so unless you're a mycologist the hobby hunter only needs to learn a handful of the best tasting mushrooms and ones that might be mistaken for them.

Chanterelles are highly prized for their taste. They're also such a visually beautiful mushroom, in my eyes.

With chanterelles, they often come back every year in the same spot. Imagine my delight when I found a very well hidden secluded spot for chanterelles. There are fall and summer chanterelles, so there's no use checking back in former spots out of season.

I had been hesitant, but optimistic, when I went out to check my super secret spot to which I've only told my boyfriend because he hates mushrooms, and there was my bounteous crop. I can't wait for the next rainfall to check again.

He asked me this morning if they tasted better than chanterelles I've bought at the market, and the answer is, of course!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Life's Little Luxuries

There are two luxuries I've been recently introduced to at two separate restaurants -- Lux, the Michelin star rated restaurant on Lilla Essingen, and Rolfs Kök on Tegenergatan 41. One costs $129/lb and one costs free, kinda.

Lomo iberico bellota is made from acorn-fed Iberico pigs with an exquisite taste that is both delicately smokey and sweet. At Rolfs Kök you can order 30 grams of the stuff. It melts on your tongue. They presented it as wafer thing slices. This makes me believe I need to drive down to Spain and do some private importing myself!

Photo by Sean Dreilinger

The second is something you can find for free. Fresh hazelnuts. They sprinkled them over a dish we were eating and the light crunch of the hazelnuts was so heady. I had never tasted a nut that was so fresh before. Hazelnuts grow on bushes here in Sweden, and I've had them pointed out to me before, but I'm going to have to investigate if such a delicacy grows wild for the taking.