Dec 17, 2009

it was a sad day

this was my ever-so-favourite coffee mug...

it fell, it broke, i'm sad, i can't part with the broken pieces. i got it from the gift shop on top of the empire state building when i was in nyc with my older niece in -07, snif. i so need to go and get a new one. how do i now drink my coffee? from this?

hmm, maybe from this one?

or this, eventhough it's starting to get little faded with age

or maybe this one?

or the 2 other ones at the cottage with yellow taxicabs on them? it's not that the other cups won't do, the pink one was perfect. i will miss it

Dec 15, 2009

how shall i put it?

let's call this a fish week, shall we? what can i do, i still had some fish left from my trip to cottage... namely cold smoked salmon. i do enjoy it as it is, dipped in soya sauce, but i felt that a proper dish was in order.

i did something that i'm dead set against and bought not one but two 500 gr bags of frozen potato-onion mix. yes, these frozen mixes are quite handy and quick if you have to feed a herd in a hurry, but that so doesn't apply to me. i'll call it "checking" the enemy, see what i'm up against. let me tell you, it's very hard to go back to chopping your veggies... i will keep on doing it, right after my wrist is better...

this dish was super easy and i guess you could substitute the salmon with almost any other fish or meat, or leave it out and mix curry paste to the cream that goes in later on. i started by pouring down the first 500 gr of frozen potato-onion mix onto oven dish. if you want to be a good girl, you might spread butter or oil on the dish, i wasn't ('cause i forgot) but it didn't matter in the end

i had approx 300 gr of cold smoked salmon that i sliced thinly and spread out evenly on the first layer of potatoes

plenty of crushed black pepper on the salmon, no salt as there is some in the fish

i spread the other 500 gr of potato on the fish, poured in 4 dl 5% cooking cream, put it in 200 C oven for an hour, here's what came out

had to do some quality control, this will make nice lunch tomorrow

i was already rather #!?#"&%! about the cranberry vanilla coffeecake that i baked at the cottage last week, it still wasn't quite right. also, as it was very cold (-14 C) i took the opportunity to defrost the freezer as i could take whatever was in it out to the balcony. the cranberries, and let me tell you there are plenty of them, were laughing at me as i was going thru the stuff i have in the freezer. i had to bake another cranberry vanilla coffeecake, i so needed to get it right. just once, then i can just not never make it again...

i ran across the street to get butter and eggs, thawed some cranberries, made the topping and started to fix the cake pan... (you remember, the cranberries are out to get me) i have not a one single cake pan at my apartment! how bad is that?! i had been very good up until that point, had everyhting mis-en-place ready and i was not certainly going to let the cranberries have this round! fortunately i found 2 jumbo size muffin tins and i figured that those had to work, as this was an emergency.

tried to eyeball the batter so that there would be enough on the bottom and some left for top as well. almost got it, one got a lot of topping instead of any cake batter on top. spread the batter slightly up on edges so the berry juices wouldn't run

divided the cranberry-sugar mixture evenly and topped that with some more cake batter

this time i had the sense to wet my fingers so i was able to spread the batter on the berries without making a mess

topping crumbs (i'm seriously thinking of omitting this topping, however, it's better you don't know how bad it is...)

after all the cranberry vanilla coffeecake disasters, i was very happy to take these out of the oven. i had to adjust the temperature and time a bit, baked them at slightly lower temp and shorter time than the recipe calls for

i got 11 beautiful mini cakes, this poor thing broke in half (i wish you could have been there to taste it warm, aah)

now i have a problem, what to do with these beautiful cakes... might have to take them to work to be disposed of

oh, today i called the hospital where i was supposed to have the surgery on my wrist, they didn't have my name on the list, great. they did tell me that i might be on the list in another hospital, so i called there... where they told me that yes, i'm sort of on their list and have been for 3 weeks but that unfortunately no doctor has read my file and that has to be done before i get to their actual list. complicated? i thought so. the nurse tried to patch up and say maybe someone will read my file this week and then they can send their whatever papers to me. my patience is being tried and i ain't enjoying it.

ps. i still need to make another cake, in a proper cake pan...

Dec 14, 2009

not done with fish yet...

i have another soup (what a surprise!) for you, this time with fish. the nets were doing their thing at the cottage and dad pulled out a big burbot along with the pikes. you know burbot, the ugly fish, that hasn't got scales but skin? the ugly bugger was frozen at the cottage.

basic fish soup ingredients: fennel, shallots, potatoes (i used 4 for this soup), dill and some leek that didn't make it to this picture

i started by adding water to barely cover the pieces, in went whole peppercorns and little salt, this was simmered for 10 mins after which i got the fish out and strained the stock

fennel, leek and shallots finely chopped. i gave them a minute alone to wilt on the kettle before adding the potatoes and pouring in the strained stock

veggies were left simmering for 15 mins, meanwhile i deboned the fish and returned the pieces back to kettle for the last 5 mins

after the potatoes were done, i turned the stove off, added 1 dl of cooking cream, some dill and left the kettle on the hot stove for 5 more mins, very nice with rye bread

somehow, while i was away, the mailman had brought a package to me. after i discovered the pioneer woman and knew of her cookbook, i knew i had to have it

i had thought of making every single recipe of a cookbook even before i saw julia/julie, but had not managed to decide which one (they're all so thick...) perhaps it was amount of cooking and inevitably making something that would be tossed because (confession time) i do have my culinary inadequancies (liver comes to mind first, followed very quickly by kidneys). anyways, i was showing this book of cakes to certain someone and half jokingly saying that i would bake every cake on this book in 2010. he looks at me and asks "are trying to make me fat? do you realize you'd be baking a cake almost every fourth day? who's going to eat them all?" i answered i was going to sell them cheap to the neighbours, but he does have a point, that's a lot of cakes...

this one seemed like it has very simple asian recipes, maybe i'll cook all in this book...

i've made jim lahey's no-knead bread a few times, i first heard about it on the martha show. the no-knead bread really is easy to make and requires very little hands on work on the dough, however, you need to plan ahead as the first rise takes up to 24 hrs. i got his book to try the variations of no-knead, and i think i really should start baking more bread if i'm ever going become any good at it

hope you all are keeping warm, my thermometer's showing -14 C right now, brr!

Dec 13, 2009

fish, pike II

yesterday i was set out to make fishballs with rest of the pike filees. as i had never done fishballs in my life, i had no recipe for them. i looked at some cookbooks and web-sites and decided that these were what i needed to make pikeballs:

750 gr pike filees (or any other fish)
½ slice country bread (or 1 dl bread crumbs)
4 cm piece of leek
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tbsp minced dill
1 egg
2 dl 4% fat cooking cream
1 tsp or to taste, salt (yes, i really used salt this time)

here's the bread and leek

i roughly removed the crust from the bread before putting it into the food prosessor with the leek. i guess you could do this recipe by hand, provided you have a lot of patience to chop and mince forever. my wrist thanked me for taking the easy way and using the food prosessor

did have to do some manual labor, namely grate the lemon peel. if you haven't tried microplane graters yet, it's time. they're so handy, just mind your fingertips...

i cut the pike filees into 2 x 5 cm pieces before placing them in the prosessor on top the bread, leek, salt and lemon peel. most of the bones were gone when the fish was fileed, there were some left in the meat, but the machine took care of those. i guess i could have minced the dill before adding it to the mix, but i thought that the machine could do the work for me (it did)

a minute or so later (by which time the dog had gone hiding under a table in another room) the mix looked like this. i then added the egg and cream and let the machine do it's thing. most fishball recipes mentioned lemon pepper, i've never been a fan of lemon pepper so i don't have it in the pantry. i thought about using white pepper but left that out in the hopes that the leek and lemon peel would do their magic

as i had no idea how the mixture should be looking, i first thought that it was a bit too wet. i tried to make a "ball" out of it in my hands... well, there was no way i was going to make balls with it. i took a big spoon, scooped a spoonfull and slid that onto a buttered pan on medium high heat (yes, there was real butter on the pan, but other than the butter on the pan, there wasn't much fat at all, pike being a very lean fish, and i used only 4% cream) and hoped for the best

few minutes later, look how gorgeous!

most of the recipes i looked at before starting, mentioned cooking the fishballs in the oven. as my "heaps" were a bit on a thick side, i wanted to make sure they were cooked thru, i placed the fried balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment and baked them in 200 C oven for 10 mins. they came out perfect, cooked thru but still slightly moist inside. i did try to make mashed potatoes, but that's all you're going to read about it

dad, you really ought to give pike a chance, these were really good. a sour cream and dill sauce might have been nice, but not necessary. these would be nice in fish-burgers if you made the patties a bit bigger.

public service announcement: warnings of the sharp blades in food prosessors are there for a very good reason, they ARE sharp and can accidentally slice off some of your finger!

take care of YOUR fingers...