Thursday, September 16, 2010

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Fall is slowly arriving even if we want it or not.  And I have many fall recipes to share with you. My first fall recipe is a Butternut Squash & Apple soup. If you did not know by now I am a huge soup lover. I eat soups all year around but when falls hits I make lots of them. 

For those that are new to Butternut Squash it is a type of winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine. I never knew what it was until i came to the US.

Now, this soup is very easy.  If you have chicken stock around then all you have to is put all these ingredients in the pot and let it simmer and then puree.  Could not be easier.  Make sure you use some tart apples for the soup.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Yields: 6-8 serving | Prep Time: 45 minutes

1 1/2 qt of chicken stock
2 lb butternut squash cut in small cubes
2 tart apples (peeled) cut into small cubes
2 shallots chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Prepare the chicken stock or heat it up if you had some stored away.  Add squash, apples, shallots, and herbs. Simmer covered for 30 minutes or until all vegetables are soft and tender.

Puree in food processor until the consistency you like.  Return to pan and add half and half. Add salt and pepper and simmer for a few more minutes. Taste for any additional seasoning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta”

Picture from

Today i am doing a guest post over at Designing Dna on Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta” in a Swedish Kitchen.  Colleen asked me to write a guest post with a Swedish recipe and also a little about Swedish kitchens.  I am so excited to write about this, my two favorite topics–kitchens and food.  To me Swedish kitchens are simple, sleek and usually light.  There are so many styles and versions out there.  But on the guest post are some of my favorites and you can read all about it on Designing Dna.    

Then for my Swedish recipes i decided to share a classic since the 1960’s, it is very uncommon in the US: Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta.” Basically, it’s a very large sandwich with lots of different sandwich ingredients and fillings–so many that it looks like a cake! 

Sandwich cake is usually built with several layers of bread with filings in between and then mayonnaise with other goodies on top.  Some of the most common fillings are: shrimp, smoked salmon, egg, tomatoes, cumber, and ham.  The Sandwich cake is served cold and cut up just like cake. There are many variations to filling and decorations, but here is one of my favorite sandwich cake recipes. 

Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta”

Yields: 10-15 people 

Prep Time:  About 60 minutes | Chill Time: About 2 hours 

2 loafs of two kinds of bread. You will need two kinds of bread. I usually use one light and one dark type.  French bread and something whole wheat.
1/2 cup roe (caviar)
3-4 tbsp chopped dill
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup soft cheese, Philadelphia or alike
1/2 cup smoked ham, chopped
3/4 cup liverwurst/paté (soft spread)
4 tbsp cucumber pickles, chopped
1 cup of mayoonaise    

For decoration:
Lemon slices

Mix 1:
About 1/2 cup roe (caviar)
3-4 tbsp chopped dill
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped    

Mix 2:
1 cup soft cheese, Philadelphia or alike
1/2 cup smoked ham, chopped    

Mix 3:
3/4 cup liverwurst/paté (soft spread)
4 tbsp cucumber pickles, chopped    

Mix each of the mixes together well, in separate bowls.    

Cut the bread in 1/2 inch slices and cut off the crust (the crust destroys the smörgåstårta). You need two slices of light and two slices of dark bread.    

Spread a thin layer of butter on both sides of the bread except the bottom and the top sides. Start with a light piece of bread and spread an evenly layer of the first mix on it. Put a dark piece on it and cover it with mix 2, then a light piece of bread and cover it with mix 3. Then you put a dark piece of bread on that.    

Cover the cake with plastic foil and press it together a little. Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours, but preferably the day before you’ll serve it. (You can also store it in the freezer for a couple of weeks, before you take it out to decorate it and serve it).    

Take out the cake and spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on it. Decorate it with the following: Lemon slices, shrimp, dill, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, ham or salmon. You can also cut the corners to make it look more like a tort.    

Serve the smörgåstårta with tossed salad. Smörgåstårta is perfect to serve at birthday parties, garden parties or as lunch, brunch or night snack. It works well with coffee, tea, cider, wine or champagne.    

Now if you haven’t yet go over to Designing Dna and read my guest post.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peach Shortbread

Are you tired of peaches yet? I think I have told you that peaches have been on sales and I have more peaches in the house than I know what to do with, so I have ended up making a bunch of peach recipes. Hopefully you like peaches or you are probably tired of reading about them.

This time I found a great peach recipe from Smitten Kitchen and actually did it exactly by the direction which is pretty unusual for me.  I really liked it, and I would make this again.  But I do like to experiment and next time I would probably make a thicker base, maybe add some flour and also more cinnamon.

I did brown the butter for the recipe and think that is a key to the recipe.  Still, you can make it with straight-up non-browned butter if you are pressed for time. Simply cut softened butter into the flour (instead of frozen brown butter) and increase the flour by two tablespoons, bringing it to three cups.


Print Recipe

Peach Shortbread

Yield: 20 squares

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes


Makes a 9×13 inch pan or you can hlve this and bake it in a 8 x 8 pan instead.

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp cups all-purpose flour (or you can measure 3 cups and remove 2 tbsp flour)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)


Brown your butter by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Peach Sorbet


Since peaches have been on sale I have had peaches around the house for weeks and been looking for all these peach recipes to make.  Well this was one of my favorite peach recipes.  In the past my sorbets haven’t been the best; too sour, too sweet, too icy or lumpy.  But this one was the best I have ever made and also the tastiest.  I do have to say this  base recipe was a key and I am just going to experiment with other flavors with this base from now on.

I found this recipes from The Kitchen they had a nectarine sorbet recipe that I just switched to peaches.  And it turned out much better than I ever thought.

The trick I learned to making a good sorbet is that you need to make a simple syrup to sweeten it, straight sugar won’t have a good texture.  Then the mixture needs a dash of alcohol to inhibit the freezing process, otherwise your sorbet will be a brick. This formula is very easy and it should work with any fruit, just be sure to taste the mixture for sweetness and acid.  

Peach Sorbet

Yield: One quart

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Ice Cream Maker Time: Around 2 hours

2 pounds (about 4 medium) peaches, skinned, pitted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp rum

Prepare an ice bath and put aside. Then in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup water; bring to a boil then lower heat to medium and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the syrup to a small metal mixing bowl set over an ice bath. Stir occasionally until cooled to room temperature.

Slice the peaches into chunks and place in a food processor with the syrup, lemon juice and rum. Process until smooth.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peach Tartlette – so simple!


Few weeks ago I won a Nordicware Platinum French Tartlette Pan from Gratinee and I have been wanting to use it but couldn’t figure out what to do.  And I have to say I love the pan.  This past weekend I used it twice and it makes these amazing bite size tartlettes.  I love it. So thank you for the gift.

One of the things that I made this weekend was Peach Tartlettes and they were Delishhh! 

I found this Peach Tart recipe on Alexandra’s Kitchen that I adjusted a little and made into Tartlettes.  But I do have to say that this dough recipe is excellent and I will use it again in the future.

You can really add any fruit you want into this tartlette I just happened to have these amazing sweet peaches around to use.

Peach Tartlette

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Chill Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes

Preheat oven to 400F

Galette Dough
Yields 24 tartlettes (double recipe to yield two 9-inch tarts)

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
8 tbsp  unsalted butter
¼ cup and 1 tbsp  ice water

Using a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt together and pulse.  Then cut butter into flour mixture and pulse again until the butter is completely incorporated.  Add ice water and continue to pulse until mixture comes together to form a mass.

Add more ice water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time. Gently form mass into a ball and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight. (Dough can be frozen, too.)

2 peaches, diced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together in a bowl and set aside

To Assemble
On a lightly floured work surface, roll one dough ball out.  Then take a round cookie cutter or glass and make circles out of the dough.  Enough to make 12 of them and add them to the tartlette pan. Then do the same with the other dough ball. Add peaches to each tartlette.

Cook in 400F oven for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden. Let cool for five minutes on tray.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Crayfish Party “Kräftskiva“

A Crayfish Party “Kräftskiva“ is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in Sweden, but has since spread to other countries.  Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to late summer. Today most people just celebrate some time in August, also to be able to keep the party outside due to the weather.  Usually you have special decorations, paper hats, paper tablecloths, paper lanterns (often the Man in the Moon), and bibs. As in Sweden when you have parties like this it is usually very custom to have drinking songs with your schnapps “snapsvisa.”

In Sweden it is really easy to get fresh or frozen crayfish but if you are in the US you probably have to go to your local fisherman and get some. If you get fresh ones the first thing you have to do is get the crayfish to “empty their guts.” Basically what you do is jut put them in cold water with some salt and let them sit in there for at least 30 minutes and rinse the water once at least too.  If you already get frozen or dead crayfish you can just boil them right away in the brine.

People have different traditions of what they serve with their crayfish. Traditionally you just server the crayfish with crispbread  “knäckebröd” i.e. Wasa Bread, and some schnapps.  But nobody got satisfied on that so today people add a few more things to their menu.  Most of the time you have different kinds of breads, different kinds of Quiches, usually Cheese Quiche or Quiche Lorraine.  Some will add Herring, Potatoes and Meatballs too. Most folks will do some kind of a sauce for the crayfish like Aioli, Rouille or Yogurt sauce with Dill.  Then for dessert most folks will make a Strawberry cake.

Either way it is always a good time!

Crayfish Brine

Serves: 4-6 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Brine Time: 3-24 hours

2 ½ lbs crayfish
2 ½ quarts water
¼ cup kosher salt
5 large stalks of crown dill

Boil the water, add the salt, and the crown dill.  Put in the crayfish one after the other with the head first and cook for 10 minutes.  Then let them cool in this brine in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours but some people recommend they sit at least 24 hours.

Before serving remove them from the brine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Best Minestrone

I love making soups.  I usually make a pot of a soup on Sunday and then I can have it during the week for lunch or dinner, and as the weather changes soups are great to keep you warm.  I even have dinner parties where all I have is a buffet of soups and people love it.

One soup I never understood was minestrone.  I don’t know why but I was never a minestrone fan, every time I ordered it at restaurants I got a broth with some vegetables in it and because of that I never made it at home.  That is until my husband said he wanted me to try to make a good minestrone sour.  Well I think I might have found my new favorite soup.  I am telling you this is the best minestrone I have ever had, not that I have lots to compare to but this is my new favorite soup right now.

Minestrone literally means “big soup,” it is an Italian classic packed with vegetables, pasta, beans and lots of other goodies.

I found this recipe from The Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups and made a few adjustments but it is their basic recipe.  I do have to say this cookbook is great if you are looking for a good soup book.

Take out some of the chicken stock you made last week and make this soup!


2 tbsp olive oil
1 ounce pancetta or bacon chopped (5-6 thin slices)
1 ½ cups chopped green cabbage
1 cup chopped onions (1 onion)
1 cup sliced carrots (2 carrots)
¼  cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped, drained, canned plum tomatoes
2 quarts Chicken Stock
½ cup peeled, diced potato (2 potatoes)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese rind
3 ounces angel hair pasta broken into 2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
½  cup drained chickpeas
½ cup drained kidney beans
1/3  cup basil pesto
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta/bacon and cook until the fat melts, 3-5 minutes. Do not brown.
Add the cabbage, onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté another 2-3 minutes.
Add the broth, potato, and Parmesan cheese rind. Bring to as simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain.
When the vegetables in the soup are tender, add the cooked pasta, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
Season the soup to taste with the pesto, salt and pepper.
Serve in bowl and sprinkle with cheese.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Basil Pesto

Do you have lots of fresh basil in the backyard and wondering what to do with it?  A great idea is to make pesto.  You can freeze it and use it through the year until your next crop. It only takes 5 minutes.

Here is a very simple recipe.

Read more…

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ice Cream Petit Fours

It is that time of the month again, here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I am not a big fan of the Baked Alaska, most place in Seattle have it on their dessert menu and I have tried it enough to know that I do not enjoy it.  I think it is the soft meringue that throws me off.  So for this challenge I decided to make the Ice Cream Petit Fours sprinkled with heath bar crunch.

Petit Four belong to a category of small fancy cookies, pastries, or confections called “petits fours”.  The name petit four seems to have originated from the name of the ovens (petit four  meaning ‘small oven’) they were baked in.   In the 18th century the ovens were made of brick and once the large cakes were baked, small cakes were placed in the ovens as they were cooling down.

Petits fours can be eaten in one or two bites and these fancy  pastries are further divided into “sec” or “glace”;.  “Sec” meaning “dry” and “glace”; meaning “iced or frosted”.  Petits fours sec usually refers to small biscuits (cookies) or pastries which have little done to them once baked.  Tuiles, macaroons, cigarettes, meringues, and ladyfingers are some examples. Commonly served with afternoon tea or with ice cream, sorbet, or custard.   Petits fours glace are pastries that can be filled with cream, chocolate, or jam and then covered, glazed, or dipped and decorated with marzipan, fondant, chocolate, or some other form of glaze or icing.  A miniature sponge cake filled with a buttercream and glazed with ganache is one example.   The petit four “sec” and “glace”; can be sponge or cake based, biscuit or cookie based, meringue based, marzipan based, fresh fruit or chocolate based.  They are traditionally served with afternoon tea or after a fancy meal (particularly petits fours glace accompanied by tea, coffee, liqueurs, or dessert wines. 

Ice Cream Petit Fours

Preparation time 
Ice cream – 45 min active time, ice cream rests/chills for 1 hour then overnight. Without an ice cream maker, the ice cream chills 2-3 hours and must be stirred every 30 minutes.
Brown Butter Pound Cake – 2 hours (includes cooling time)
Chocolate Glaze – 15 minutes
Assembly of Ice Cream Petit Fours – Ice cream must be frozen ahead of time several hours, then the cake and ice cream freeze overnight. After dipping, the petit fours freeze for one hour.

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups  heavy  cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 tsp if you are using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz

Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” square pan.

Place the butter in a 10”skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze
9 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract 

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Assembly Instructions

1. Line a 9”x9”pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.

2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

4. Make the chocolate glaze.

5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5”.

6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

Feel free to decorate as you wish. I dipped mine in heath bar crunch at the end.  These turned out delicious.  I would probably make these again some day.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rhubarb, Strawberry & Blueberry Crumble

Brown Betty, Buckle, Crumble, Crisp, Cobbler, Pandowdy, Grunt, Slump, so many choices and what are all of these things?  Let’s start with the basics:  Crisp – Same as a Crumble, except with a chunkier and more coarse topping. Crumble- Same as a Crisp, except with a smoother, more breadcrumb-like topping. Cobbler – Similar to a pie, but without a bottom crust. Has a biscuit-like topping. Biscuit dough looks like cobblestones. In the UK it is known as Crumble rather than Cobbler.  And if you want to read more about the differences head over to my glossary.

Back to the crumble that I made the other day with Rhubarb, Strawberry and Blueberry, if I could only add cherry in there then all my favorite fruits would be in this crumble.   Rhubarb and strawberry go well together and then strawberry and blueberry go well together but what about rhubarb and blueberry, I was not sure. So i just decided to try all three of them together.  It was Delishhh! Yes the blueberry takes over the color of the crumble but all the flavors go very well together.  It is more of a tart crumble but it is exactly the way I like it, not too sweet not too tart but just enough to make is very refreshing.  And if you add some vanilla ice cream on it, oh that is heaven.

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Blueberry Crumble

6 to 8 servings

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 cups strawberries quartered
2 cups blueberries
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping in a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

Prepare filling and toss rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, allspice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.


Don’t forget the Giveaway ending Friday 8/27!


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