Making mince pies – part one, the “meat”

mincemeat

So, Christmas is coming up. YAY! Love it. 😀

As I was sitting eating my lunch yesterday, watching it not snow outside, my mind started going to Christmas and what I am going to make. My, by which I mean my brothers (if that seems confusing, read the post linked here and you’ll probably get a better idea, no promises), vegetable flan seemed obvious, it’s a staple after only one Christmas. Roasted and “griljerad” (a coating with mustard, spices and breadcrumbs typically done for Christmas ham in Sweden) celeriac, definitely, since that turned out yum.

Then my phoned buzzed with a mail from national express reminding me about the booking I still haven’t completed, they’re adamant, it’s like the third reminder. I will at some point, though. And immediately, my mind went to Brighton and Christmas there, and mince pies. Thus it was decided, this Christmas I’m making mince pies. As I’m in Sweden, mincemeat isn’t the easiest to get a hold of, sure I could order it online, with varying, but expensive, shipping. Sure, I could go to the English store in Stockholm. But, meh. I can, however, make it. In my googling of how to acquire mincemeat in Sweden I found multiple recipes, all stating how simple it is to make your own and not worth the trouble of buying. Yeah, sure, like I’m going to fall for that.

Well, I did. I found a recipe that resonated with me, wrote down the ingredients so I could buy them on my way home. Left the note somewhere, and went shopping. I forgot some things, they didn’t stock others. But luckily, I live two minutes from two different grocery stores. Neither stocking “brandy-essens” which apparently is a thing. A thing I was interested in, seeing as brandy is not my thing and it felt ridiculous to buy brandy for just 6 tablespoons. Found that you could, reasonably switch brandy, and its essens, for white grape and/or apple juice. They didn’t have white grape juice so I’m sort of set on apple, and lingonberry, for that sour bitter yum. Also a touch of Sweden, because why not.

And just now, I looked at the hawthorn mulled wine, that I got yesterday, and the girl didn’t even ask for my ID, I bought alcohol without showing ID! I mean, I know that I’m usually perceived as older than I am, I know that there was a lot of people at the grocery store and that me buying mulled wine wasn’t maybe the top priority. But she could’ve asked and faked glanced, that’s common curtesy as to avoid age-issues. I’m not that old, am I? I’m just two years over the required age to buy alcohol here. Two years ain’t obvious, is it?

Age paranoia aside, I think that’s a potentially awesome idea, the hawthorn, not the ID-checking or lack thereof. Anyways, apparently mincemeat is something that takes time. You leave it, and then you leave it , and then you leave it some more, and then its best to wait. Yep, every fiber in me wants to speed it up, a moment in the freezer surely equals a while in the fridge. Luckily, perhaps, I did the first step right before bed last night. Prepare yourselves, because the actual recipe is about to start.

mincemeat
Just look at it, yum! This is pre-oven but post-fridge. All these smells just combine beautifully and stir up memories. And just amazing color. Look at it. Seriously. Look. Worth it!

After having run to the store, again, because apparently my kitchen scale needed a new battery, who could have known that a battery driven device would eventually need a new one… I weighed up roughly 350g of raisins, put them on the chopping board and just went over them quickly. Since I’m not a fervent fan of raisins I didn’t love the thought of big lumps of raisins, chopping them slightly spreads them out more. Lots of smaller bits is better than less bigger ones. I think, maybe. I thought, anyway. I put them in a large bowl along with 200g of succade plus 50g ish of candied orange peel, I’m sure you could use the same amount of mixed peel if you can get your hands on it, I couldn’t at the time.

I had (slightly) thawed 225g of blackcurrants, and put the butter in the freezer a while ago, good tip by the way, do that now and I’ll explain later. The currants along with 200g of sultanas mixed with cranberries, probably about 100g of each not quite sure though, went in with the rest of the fruit. Then I chopped almonds, shredded according to the recipe, but I chopped cause who has the time to neatly shred 50g of almonds. Chop, chop, and done.

Grate 2 oranges and 2 lemons. I used three lemons, because they were so tiny, compared to the non-organic ones at the store. Juice the oranges and mixed them and the peel with the rest of the fruit. I then juiced the lemons but left the juice aside for awhile. Because now you’re going to chop the apples neatly. 450g of chopped apples (green ones, you want that sourness), leave the peel on but don’t chop up the core. As I chopped and put the apples in the bowl I poured on some of the lemon juice so as to coat them and stop them from browning, at least slow them down. With all of the apples and lemon juice mixed in, I took out the butter from the freezer.

Now I know, avid recipe reades, you’re supposed to use suet, but as a non-red-meat-eater, I instinctively feel sick at the thought of it, part of the reason I was swayed, by myself,  into making and not buying mincemeat. I also know that there’s some vegetable-based alternatives that’s better to replace with than butter, but I didn’t have those around so butter it is. Frozen butter is a lot easier to grate than non-frozen. Grating the butter makes it easier to mix evenly throughout. Non-lumpy. Grate about 225g of it and mix in. Magic. It’s thawed and soft instantly.

Spices. Lovely, Christmas-y spices. 4 teaspoons worth of a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. I took a tiny bowl, put in roughly slightly less than a teaspoon of each, mixed it up, measured it as I moved it to the fruit, made some more and thus 4 teaspoons. While you’re creating your Christmas-spice mix, you’re going to add additional half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg into the fruit, because apparently those two are slightly more important than the others. I compensated with using a tiny bit less of those two in my spice mix, so I might have messed that up, or fixed it. Also I’ve lied to you, and I’m about to fix it here, and not the actual fault, so I hope you are one of those who read the recipe to the end before starting it. I did not mix the spice directly in with the fruit. Before that, I had measured up 350g of muscovado sugar, I used muscovado because of the spicy flavour, it’s nice. Most of the sugar I had poured onto and mixed in with the fruit. The rest I left in the measuring-bowl, in which I poured my spices when I’d measured them up. I mixed all the spices with the sugar and then mixed that in with the fruit for a, hopefully, more even spread compared to what I would’ve gotten if I’d done what I wrote.

After all of this. You leave it. In the fridge. For 12 hours. 12. Hours. This why you do it, right before going to sleep, because then you work off most of those hours sleeping. Makes it easier.

After suffering through the 12 hours, you’ve probably forgotten about the mincemeat and as you open the fridge you’re reminded of that you were supposed to do something more with it. See the brandy hasn’t come up yet, right? Here it comes. Soon. Just wait some more. Bare with me.

The oven is 110*C exactly. Or just somewhere in between the 100*c and 125*c markings slightly more towards the 100 than the 125. You’ve now dashed again to the store, because you’re supposed to use foil to cover the oven proof dish that you’ve put the fruit in, the dish that you stored it in the fridge in. I did mention that, right? I have now. Hehe… oops…

When you’ve acquired the foil, or if you already had it. I’ve quite recently moved and have not gotten around to getting all of those things that you assume you have, like foil and batteries. I’m still waiting for a light bulb to go. Cover the oven proof dish, that you now have definitely got the fruit in, with foil and put it for 3 hours in the oven. Three hours. Three.

There was no leakage of lovely smell to remind me so mine might been in slightly longer. But roughly three hours. After which you stir, and stir, and stir as it cools. Then you go to continue writing the blog post and at times remember that you were supposed to stir so you jump up, stir for a bit and then come back. When it’s cooled, or cool enough, you stir in the brandy, or the brandy-replacement. Which for me has added up to three tablespoons of mixed apple and lingonberry juice and three tablespoons of hawthorn mulled wine.

When it’s eventually, actually, cool, store it in containers. Properly sealed and sterilised jars means that it will last a lifetime. Or something like that. I’m not set yet on how I’m going to store it, sterilised jars it aint. Probably just going to put it in my food containers, lunch boxes and such and make mince pies some time this week and make sure to eat up or use up the rest before it goes off. Because otherwise I’m going to have to, yet again, run to the store and get jars to store it in. Did I mention that you get quite a lot of mincemeat from this recipe. Well, I have now. Over 2 kg according to the blog I got the recipe from. That sure is quite some mincemeat. Hehe… Oops… You can also find a recipe for the pies themselves on the blog, “Bara brittiskt”, which I used for the mincemeat, it’s in Swedish though, or you can wait and see what I come up with.

‘Til next time, set yourself up to make something instead of just buying it finished. The making’s where you add the spirit whether it’s a scribbled note, a meal or something else.

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Banana-nana-na pancake?

This morning, I woke up, got out of bed, got dressed with the stuff I’d layed out the eve before, and… Well, I woke up. While staying under the covers, so soft and warm, and lovely in every which way, I slowly developed what became a plan. It’s Saturday morning, and my one day off this week, I wanted a really nice breakfast, something extra weekend-y. I decided to make banana pancakes, it filling and delicious. But, I didn’t want to stand by the stove frying them, I also wanted to go for a run. It’s been too long since the last time and I could feel how I just wanted, needed to run that extra energy, stress and anxiety off. So, I tried a twist, oven-banana-pancake.

I mashed three bananas, added in some cottage cheese, and mixed in eggs. Then I added some oat-flour (you can simply take  steel-cut oats and put them in a blender until they’re finely ground if you desire), and a little bit of wheat flour, for that extra bind.

The whole mix turned not so delicious looking and more dough-like, so to combat that I splashed in coconut milk, right in line with that banana-tropical feel. I also at this point remembered to put the oven on as well as taking out an oven proof dish.

I put some butter in the dish and let it melt in the oven while I finished up with the batter. I added a bit of baking powder, for that extra lift, and then stood a minute debating whether or not to put in some dessicated coconut like I usually do in the banana pancakes. But, ultimately, I decided not to. I took out the dish, poured in the thick-ish batter, and mixed in some of the melted butter. Instantly, it smelled mouthwateringly delicious. In the oven it went and out I ran.

The weather was just right, and I realized how much I’ve missed running this last few weeks when Life has gotten in the way of mine. That brain-dead quietness, no thoughts except breathe, remember to breathe. Feeling that smile coming on, that smile that isn’t just on your face, but from your soul, from every bit of you.

I eventually found my way home again, having gotten lost as I usually do, and was greeted at the door by the most amazing smell. In I went and out it came. I dug out a slice, added a dash of Greek yoghurt and topped it with the fresh strawberries I had in the fridge. Served it with some french press coffee and wow. Talk about nice breakfast, worthy of a day off.

‘Til next time, make sure you do that one thing that makes you really truly smile.

Go-to, quick, easy, awesome, and just amazing spinach pea pasta

HOW can I not have told you about this one, it’s a staple. It should be, it’s that one thing you do if you want comfort, if you want food now but nothing in your fridge looks appetizing, if you’re craving it, if you look in the fridge and see some feta cheese.

It is, spinach pea pasta. Simple as that. Really. Simple as that. And just so utterly tantalizingly mouthwatering-ly delicious. It’s mind blowing how something sooo easy can be this good. But it is, in it’s simplicity, it shines.

So, step one, locate pasta and get it cooking. So simple I even gave you a step to follow. Don’t expect a second one. That’s asking too much of me. You’ll also need olive oil, if you don’t have it than find some other cooking oil or butter will do or margarine if you feel like it. While you get the oil heating you add in frozen spinach and put a lid on. I usually do this in a pot, I’d recommend it, it’s easy. When the spinach is sort of semi-thawed I tend to pour in some peas in peace. Bwahahahahaha. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I’m more than quite tired. Which is a great time to be blogging, right?

Where was I? Peas. yum. I need to make mushy peas some day, I miss that. Note to self. Put the lid back on. That’s back on track, i.e. you should put the lid back on the spinach and pea-pot. When it’s all thawed and lovely I open up the lid a bit and let the liquid steam away. It’s already smelling delicious. Mmmmm. yum. Now, locate basil pesto. Or if you’ve got time on you’re hand and feel like it find the original recipe for this, since I’ve sadly forgotten where it came from, (wherever, whoever it came from I can never repay you)  and find a recpie for basil pesto, I remember that much, the original recipe maker made their own pesto. I thought, but why, when you can buy it ready made. If you’re making a quick cosy meal, you don’t want to start making your own pesto. Or do you? Maybe I do. I do. That’s daydreaming though. Sidenote, is it still daydreaming if you’re daydreaming at night? Huh?

Anyway, add basil pesto to the spinach and peas, that are dryer but not dry now. The exess fluid from thawing has cooked away. I don’t even understand myself, but hopefully we’ll all figure it out one day. Having added the basil pesto I typically chop up some feta cheese and mix in, because yum. Yum!!

If you, unlike myself, are not allergic to tomatoes, I have a strong feeling that adding sun-dried tomatoes to the mix isn’t wrong. Use that tidbit any way you desire. Sometimes, I chop some carrots and add in, just for a few minutes, not enough for them to go soft, but enough for them to get slightly warm and pick up the spinach and pea awesomeness.

Also, don’t forget the pasta from step one. Now you should’ve finished that, it should’ve been boiled and the water pour out, you should have a pot with boiled pasta minus the boiling water. capishe? Yes, you should also have a second pot with some green stuff. Otherwise this would be an even worse recipe for cooking pasta. But it isn’t. One of the final steps (feel free to fill in an adequate numeral of your choice: five, ten, fourteen, five hundred and seventy one, to name a few), mix the pasta with the peas. Then if you’re feeling fancy, serve it in some bowls and put some fresh basil on top for even fancier fanciness. Enjoy. Have seconds, and enjoy some more. Also, how good is basil?! It’s so basil-ish. yum.

’til next time, know that even the simple basic recipes can shine.

Risotto or not

I’ve for a long time wanted to have risotto, but haven’t gone out and got some at a restaurant, no I wanted home-made. I was on a date and at one point the person I was on the date with mentioned that they’d been trying to learn how to make risotto and had only recently succeeded, was quite proud of the fact, rightly so. My interest piqued, sadly, perhaps, it was for risotto and not the date. Time has flown by and I still haven’t had risotto, not even attempted it, thought about it, but more like some elusive dream that’s never going to happen. Well, it did happen. I made risotto today. Or risotto-ish at the very least.

I was in the grocery store earlier today and was suddenly craving mushrooms, yum. So, naturally, I bought some having no idea of when and how or with what I was going to use them. I needed to have them around, just in case. But later on, I was thinking about risotto like the elusive dream that it was, and then decided that today was the day. I was going to catch that dream. I was going to have risotto. Step one, find a recipe that doesn’t make it look insurmountable. Alas, I didn’t have any risotto rice, because why would I. But then as the experienced ingredient swapper that I am, I wondered if you really needed to have risotto rice, wouldn’t some other rice work? My first googling attempts turned up nothing. Then I remembered the pudding rice we have left over from Christmas. Surely, that can work, it’s risotto-like, no? It’s round-ish, round-er than basmati definitely. I googled, and success! One of the first hits was for a mushroom and parmesan risotto made with risotto or(!) porridge rice! YAY!

I had the mushrooms, and now I had a plan. And the recipe also happened to make it seem like it was a piece of cake, nothing hard really. I know there’s plenty of different ways of doing it and I’m sure the results are equally varied and great, but for a first risotto attempt I needed something easy, basic. And this was it. I didn’t have the right amount of mushrooms, how could I have known how much I’d actually eventually need, but I wasn’t short by that much so I figured it would do, the recipe calls for 300g of mushrooms, I used the box of 250g of chestnut mushrooms, which for me is sort of the epitome of mushrooms. When I think of mushrooms it’s chestnut that I think of and crave. Yum. I sort of diced/sliced them, I didn’t want too big or too small pieces, I wanted them to blend in with the risotto without standing out or disappearing. Then I put them to one side as I finely chopped first one small onion and then after some hesitation another. The recipe calls for one onion, but the ones I had I picture as somewhat smaller than the “standard” thus, after a bit of doubt I took them both. Put them in a pan with some olive oil, and turned up the heat, I added the mushrooms shortly thereafter.

When the onions and mushrooms have softened you add in the rice, 3 dl, as well as 1 tbsp of thyme. Stir that around for a bit, 1 minute according to the recipe in case you want to keep track of time, letting the flavours blend. Meanwhile bring some water to boil, about 1 litre and add in vegetable stock.

Then you should, apparently, pour in just enough to cover the rice, let it boil whilst you stir, and then as it dries out you add more until you’ve got the right goo, about 20 minutes. I read “add the water” did so, the whole litre, then read the rest of the sentence and realised my mistake. Whoops. But, I think, it might have worked, for a while it looked quite similar to a really weird soup, but then it turned for the better. Whilst it’s boiling and you’re stirring and wondering if it’s really going to work or if you’re now making soup instead, look in the fridge to see if you have any parmesan, any at all. I did, and first found a little bit that had come to life, soon the eyes would have opened up, which was chucked quite rapidly. Then I found the right bit of parmesan, for while I thought it was less than I needed and therefore quite bothered by the bit that was evolving on its own in the trash. I could have used that bit, had it stayed parmesan. Turned out there was no need, when shredding it I realised it was plenty enough.

When the risotto looks risotto-like enough, which since I’ve never made risotto before and can’t really remember if I’ve ever really had it, had no real clue of, but the picture in the recipe. So when it was looking sufficiently goo-like and it looked almost like it was the same consistency like in the picture, possibly. I was hungry enough, anyway. I quickly stirred in a bit more than 1dl of shredded parmesan and served it.

Yummy yummy yummy! Risotto is no longer the elusive dream, it’s a thing I do. Maybe. According to me anyway.

‘Till next time, do that thing that you’ve always wanted but deemed improbable to happen, try at least, it might go better than you think. 😀

 

Cosy winter Thai-ish, not really Thai, stew(?).

The first time I did this it was the first week where the cold weather really got to me, which was quite early on, I’m not sure how I’ll survive this winter, but still. I was craving that warming feeling from the sight, smell and taste of this stew(?). Feels wrong to call it a stew, stew brings up all the wrong connotations for me, but I don’t know what else to name it, so stew it is… You know how certain flavours and ingredients just warm you up. This is full of those. It’s not hot, spicy, it’s not warming because it’s been heated, but the flavours, the colours, the smell. It’s that cosy warm blanket just wrapped around you while you sit with a cup of tea in the sofa while reading a really good book, or watching something warming on the telly and your watching the snow falling outside and its glistening and beautiful and your sitting by the fire and it’s…

Understandably, I’ve made this more than once, since that first time. But because I was in some dreamy warm-frenzied inspired state while I made it the first time, I have no real recollection of how I ended up actually making it. But I know I was thinking Thai-food. Now, I don’t know anything about cooking Thai-food so I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s not Thai. Not at all. Probably quite far away, but, what do I know? And it doesn’t matter, cause I ended up with something pretty great. And all later attempts at achieving that same meal has come close enough and I change it every time, by necessity because I never plan to make it, I just suddenly need it, so I tend to be lacking something I want to put in.

Let me try to write down the “recipe” for you, and me. Here goes. So. Well, start by erasing all knowledge of cooking Thai food and just Thai-food in general, but keep the connection between warm food and Thai food, then know that Thai food is what you need right now, to survive. Then start! Go! That’s it! That’s not Thai, that’s Indian, isn’t it? Really? Oh. Oops. Why not, have some more of that. If it says Thai something or other on the label, it’s sure to be Thai right? Great! “Cosy winter Thai-ish, not really Thai, stew(?)” is complete. Ta-daa!

‘Til next time…

No? Hm… All right. Let’s try something else. To start off, I use soy bites or chunks or what you might want to call it. I’m sure chicken is fine to use as well, I might at some point, I just haven’t felt the need when I have soy bites. Now during my repeated attempts at making this I’ve found it’s best to cook the bites first, on their own, with a touch of butter or margarine, or oil, or whatever you want to use. Add some ground black pepper by the time they’re starting to brown.

Now I tend to go a bit overboard on the veg side of this dish. Feel free to change it up, but trust me it’s fantastic. I chop bell peppers, last time I ended up using roughly 1 3/4, so don’t be shy. I wanted to add in some leek, didn’t have any last time, but I’m sure I’ve had some before. So by all means. This time around I also added in some celery, and that was a new hit. Definitely doing that again. I pour in one tin of sweetcorn (I checked, that’s 140g of sweetcorn, not that that is a huge help for anyone since we have nothing to put that in relation with, but since I have that detail I decided to provide it. We’re welcome), one tin of water chestnuts and one of bamboo shoots (that’s two tins of 227g out of which 142g is either water chestnuts or bamboo shoots. Again, probably quite worthless info, but, we’re welcome).

I’ve now also acquired bean sprouts, and next time around I’m planning on adding it. Yum. Not sure of the outcome of that yet, though, so try on your own peril. While I make sure to stir continuously so it cooks evenly I add spices, now here’s the interesting and weird aspect. Yes, so far, I consider it to have been quite straight forward. I use Thai sweet chili sauce, obviously it’s Thai, it speaks for itself. Don’t be too shy with it, I don’t like spicy hot food, but since you’re going to be adding other things and coconut milk they’re going to milden it. Then I add in mango chutney. Here’s the probably not Thai part. Mango chutney isn’t Thai, right? I add an “oops, too much, stir quickly and no one will notice” amount of ground ginger. Every time… I’ve sometimes added paprika, but if I’ve already added red bell pepper I tend to go easy with the paprika or not have it at all, as the red is plenty flavourful on its own.

Then I always pull out the drawer where we keep the ground spices and stare and open random spices and smell and consider the possibility, because at this point I tend to feel that I’m missing out on that one thing that would just … But the answer is always different, and I can’t remember what I end up with, now this last time it was the ground ginger. But before that? Then I add in the coconut milk while I try to figure out what I want. What it is that I can’t remember. So, when the coconut milk has mixed in, I tend to dip the handle of a spoon in the pan and then pick out a spice, smell and combine the taste with the smell in my head, see if it matches, if it blends, if it contrasts beautifully or if I should move on.

Last time I ended up pouring in some lime juice, I tasted slightly panicky wondering if I’d just destroyed it, couldn’t really tell that I had poured in the lime, so I shrugged my shoulders, poured in some more and put the lime juice back in the fridge. After that second more generous pouring, I could definitely taste the difference. For me, it worked this time. Do what you want with that info.

At this point I tend to realize that I’ve got nothing to serve it with, so I put on some pasta. I’ve mixed bean pasta with “normal” pasta, I kinda like it that way. Now the last time, when I was going to drain it, I messed up and well lost most of it, pretty much all of it. But luckily, I’d also made my rye sourdough bread so I served it with that along with the now really pitiful amount of pasta. The best thing with forgetting about making something to serve alongside until you’ve finished combining everything in the pan is that now the stew can be left to simmer and it will just become better and better and better, trust me. As long as it doesn’t burn, it will just improve, so no worries.

Now feel the lovely warmth spread as you devour it, feel the cosiness spread. Maybe winter isn’t so cold and bad after all.

‘Til next time, find out what’s your comfort cosy warm food.

Finally Carrot Soup!

I’ve been wanting this soup for almost a week now, probably more. Since for ever! Anyways, I decided today was the day. Not going to wait any longer, I’m making it today. Today carrot soup is being served. I remembered it in a dreamy delicious haze and wanted it once more.

In a slight panic I browsed through the photos on my phone, I had to have had saved it somewhere, somehow. Eventually I found it, and was struck with surprise, it’s quick and easy. Why have I denied myself this soup for so long. Why have I turned it into some daunting project when it’s one of the easiest soups. Seriously, done within half an hour. Boil and blend. Simple. Yet so delicious.

Carrot.
Carrot. Kinda cute if I may say so myself, feeling slightly proud.

It’s a carrot soup. You’re going to need carrots. One kilo of those. Peeled and sliced. In a pot. Okay? That’s 1 kilo carrots that you peel, slice and place in a pot. Along with 1 red onion peeled and chopped, or in my case two small ones that probably actually added up to just over one normal one or just under a big one. Add 2tbsp of Olive Oil. I don’t know why I capitalized the oil, it’s like I value the Olive Oil as something more than a simple oil, it’s an entity worthy of highest regard. I like it, I mean a good olive oil can make a meal, take some fluffy white bread that’s just yum and dip it in olive oil and wow. Anyways, I did it by accident, went with it and then made it a thing. Moving on.

Gently cook the carrots and onion, according to the recipe you want to soften them, but I have yet to find that they turn soft. I just eventually figure enough time has passed and get on with it, I can’t wait forever. When they’re soft enough, add 1 litre of water along with 2 vegetable stock cubes. I tend to boil the water and mix in the stock cubes before I add it to the carrots, just to make sure that the cubes actually dissolve. And it also speeds up the cooking! (Which seldom is wrong) You also need to add 1 tbsp of dried tarragon, 2 dl of double cream, and black pepper. Then let it all boil for 15 minutes. And again the recipe speaks of this dubious softness, it can boil for 15 minutes or until soft. Hmm…

When you decide the 15 minutes is up or they’re soft enough take out the blender and blend! I use a hand blender, and I always expect a splash and bang. The carrots can surely not be soft enough for this little blade. But nothing yet, go easy and sure enough it blends. Now it doesn’t blend smooth, well it’s smooth but with smooth lumps. Yeah? It’s not chunky. Definitely not. But saying it’s smooth is not 100% true.

Serve it with some sunflower seeds that you sprinkle on top of your bowl. Yum! Now the recipe also has a seed crispbread thing recipe that you can make to serve alongside. The first time I had a seed crispbread thing that I had bought earlier so I used that, and it’s not wrong. It’s great. But it’s not needed. It doesn’t seem hard to make either, but I’ve just not gotten around to trying it. Will let you know when and if that changes. Because maybe this soup will be so much more if you do the bread as well.

But this soup is really yum. Really. It’s smooth, it’s chunky, it’s warm, it’s deep orangey-yellow, it’s perfect.

I found this recipe in a cookbook called “Vego – Vegansk mat för alla tillfĂ€llen” (vegan food for every occasion) by Mattias Kristiansson, it’s a new found love. I mean it, I borrowed it at the library and wasn’t all too happy when I returned it, I need it in my life :/ It’s vegetarian food, easy and delicious. No fuss, no judgement, better for you or not. Also fun side commentary, and personal touches, it’s not just recipes up and down, it’s an inviting personality that wants to share it’s greatest treasures with you. It’s great, you look at the pictures and you want it all. If you can, find it, look in it, and realize that you immediately need to try at least something from it.

‘Til next time, cook that one thing you really want, that makes you smile and go yum at the very thought of it.

Sourdough mania part two – baguettes

I started writing this, oh so long ago, it’s actually, truthfully months ago. I got asked today if my blog was still alive, and while I answered truthfully that it’s currently half-alive, I was struck not only by “oh wow, someone besides mom and some wordpress users read” – not that I don’t appreciate all readers, I do, my heart skips a beat everytime I get a notification that someone likes my post and even more so when someone follows it, I get over the moon and beyond stupid happy. So, thanks! – but I also realised, that I love writing this and I’ve missed it. I do love it, I’m a quiet person among most, but here I speak endlessly, and when you loose focus, I don’t notice, I don’t have to doubt myself or your interest in me and it’s liberating. I think too much, and here I let it all loose. ALL. Sorry. Thanks. I have all along considered this blog alive, very much so, and thus I’m setting myself to work, I’m finishing this post that I apparently started 1 month and 28 days ago. Sorry it took so long. But also not sorry, life happens, and I don’t want any pressure to write. I want to feel the love and enthusiasm and passion. I want to write with a smile on my face as I’m currently doing. I believe it’s for the best. And on a side note, let’s just note that I’m currently also baking sourdough bread. My monster is very much alive.

Thanks for reminding me about one of the things I love in my life! Here follows the rest of the post. What most of you are probably waiting to get to.

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Having “perfected” the bagels my bagel-mania had piqued and started to fade, and Baguettes took its place. Apparently my sourdough mania follows an alphabetical order, who knew. I certainly didn’t, here I thought I was inspired in a flash as I browsed through a kitchen supply store, drooling over various things I want and need and will have at some point in the future, like a completely normal person does. What I saw was baguette pans and I just knew that baguettes was the missing link in my life.

No, I didn’t spur of the moment, love of my life, necessary for my survival, invest in the baguette pans. Sadly, or sanely, but I still want them, no, need them. Because the baguettes were crazy good and devoured in a flash, even when I did four times the recipe and ended up washing out a plastic box in the shower, and then hand kneading on my knees, at times laughing hysterically, at times manically, and at times wondering how my life came to this. If you read the last post you might see a pattern. Quadruple batches is not for a normal kitchen.

But let’s get to the recipe, and for yours and my sake I’m not going to give you the quadruple measurements and amounts, if you want to try that, which I strongly suggest you don’t, you can quadruple on your own. Also, make sure you’re not alone when/if you quadruple it. A quadruple batch of dough is not only heavy to knead it’s absurdly heavy once you’re mentally and physically worn out, laughing hysterically and tiredly, and having support, if only mental support is good. But I’ll get back to that part later first you need a dough. So let’s start with that, get your rye sourdough monster out of its nest and (for 1 batch, about 6 small-ish baguettes (just FYI, I mean why make only 6? small. You could double it, easy)) put 100g of your monster into a spacious (if quadruple, ridiculously spacious) bowl. Now for the feed you need 100g of rye flour and 200g of strong wheat flour along with 350g of lukewarm water. Mix and cover with cling film and let it sit and ponder over night, preferably somewhere slightly warm and cosy.

My entire hand, gone. This was just before I came up with the stupid idea of using both hands to knead and thus getting utterly stuck.
My entire hand, gone. This was just before I came up with the stupid idea of using both hands to knead and thus getting utterly stuck.

Next day yet? Good. Now you remove the cling film from your sourdough and add 300g of water and 700g of strong wheat flour and mix for about 8 minutes if you have a “dough-kneading-machine” (I just can’t figure out the word right now), but you don’t. I don’t. So I knead it by hand, and that works just fine, normally… When you quadruple the batch it gets out of hand. It’s insane and beyond, slightly terrifying, but I sort of pushed it around. I usually lean in to the dough as I knead it, to get more power and energy, but here I more than leaned into it, I became part of it. Now for the oh so fun thing, now when you’re tired and almost all out of kneading power, now you’re going to add about 20f of salt, I used slightly less, and work it in for about 2 min if you have a machine to do it. But slightly longer if you don’t, about until you simply can’t move your hands, when you’re closer to petting than kneading the dough, stop.

Now you, obviously, have a plastic box with a lid that you have greased with rapeseed oil (according to the origninal recipe you grease it with an oil that doesn’t leave a taste. But I used olive oil, because yum!), that you can simply move the dough into. This is where you need support if you’re making a quadruple batch, I had managed at this point to get my brother to come in and help and between the two of us we eventually managed. But it wasn’t easy and would’ve been impossible alone. Now if you make a double batch moving the dough isn’t that hard. Simply slip it over, close the lid and leave it be for 3-5 hours. Clean up.

Oh and during those 3-5 hours while it’s supposed to double in size you need to open it up and fold it 2-3 times, the first time after 1 hour, then after every 30 minutes. If you have slightly wet hands, the dough won’t stick as much, if you’re lucky, not at all.

When it’s doubled in size you need to start shaping them. The first round of shaping, your going for round dough-balls. You take a lump of dough, fold the edges in and under and then you spin and stretch the surface. Now the recipe book I had showed great step by step instructions. And in Swedish there’s a word for the technique, “rundriva”,  but I’m stumbling at finding a way to clearly describe it for you. A google search later, I found many hits from websites and videos showing the technique, but instead of giving you a link that will ultimately stop working. I find linking outside your own website is almost always going to haunt you, because the link disappear and then you have to find a replacement and such (it’s hard enough to link internally, cause you’ll change and remove stuff without realizing the consequences 😉 ). So if I can help it, I won’t, but google “baking shaping round” and you’ll probably get similar hits, or add to the search to find the right video or website. I gave you the basic what to look for above, fold in and spin and stretch, look for that.

Let them rest for a bit and then shape into baguettes, by flattening into an abstract rectangle, folding in the top part slightly below middle, press and then fold the bottom slightly above the seem. Then roll from the top to the bottom, so the seem is somewhere in the middle of the whole thing. Place the new seem underneath, make the seem the bottom. I’m sure you’ll be able to find better instructions for this too, it’s very easy to do, I assure you, but it’s not as easy to explain without showing. If you could see my hands as I wrote this you would’ve understood without a problem, as I’ve just folded the air multiple times whilst trying to think of how to explain it.

Let the baguettes rise for 1-2 hours. Turn the oven on to 275*c and put in a baking tray for the baguettes. When the baguettes have risen, slide them onto the baking tray and add in an oven dish or something with a splash of water in it for steam. The baguettes are done after about 15-20 minutes, but after 10 you should open up the oven and let the steam out, then re-close.

Ta-daa! Hopefully you now have at least 6 baguettes! Celebrate and devour. Then make more and more and more until you make too much. Then don’t do that again. Know your limits. So you know to have help within reach when you push the boundaries the next time 😉

I found the recipe in Martin Johansson’s book “Surdegsbröd”, and I’m already set on trying out the crisp bread recipe from the same book. Hoping it’s as good as this one.

‘Til next time, make something you love, whether it is baking baguettes or something different entirely. Have fun!