Category: Culīnaria

Omelette et sausage, home basics


Home made “hotel breakfast” with all ingredients
locally produced and all sourced at the Passion for Food Festival 2013.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

In a world that becomes increasingly complex and contradictory by the day it is sometimes gratifying to go really local, while keeping a global perspective.

One of the things I love most with the Passion for Food Festival is that so many international small quality producers are putting so much effort into introducing themselves to the western Swedish consumers.
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A European wine odyssey at Passion för Mat 2013

With Zdenka and Martino (pictured) Oliboni of Italian Wine Bar.
When I asked which Amarone they thought should I have for the evening, the bottle I had in hand was politely removed and replaced with this bottle of Villa Crine Amarone Classico 2008.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Sunday 3 March was the last day of the Gothenburg Passion for Food Festival 2013. The winding down hours, or the final rush, depending on your disposition, found me at the Italian Wine Bar with Martino, his wife Zdenka and their colleagues. Trade fairs, as much as they are for marketing and doing business is for me a meeting point to catch up with old friends and make new ones. In these closing hours I had just one thing left on my wish list, a glass of Amarone.

Seeing that Zdenka and Martino were busy, I began browsing their assortment of red wines. But I didn’t have long to ponder my choice since as soon as they spotted me, various bottles were promptly brought forward and just as long lost friends, we picked up chatting from where we left off last year.

The Italian Wine Bar

The Italian Wine Bar they represent is an Italian company they own jointly with the purpose of introducing a little piece of Italy to Sweden. They source wine, beer, grappa and various delicatessen (such as panforte from Antica Pasticceria Masoni) from their local friends and neighbours in Tuscany, just in-between Florence and Siena which is a pretty significant place in the regional history. In fact Eva and Gino Vettese live within viewing distance from San Gimignano, which I had the pleasure to visit just a few years ago. Their own olive oil is also sold via the Italian Wine Bar. It is fun to notice that what I was looking at today was specifically that kind of olive oil I was advocating already by then:

When it comes to olive oil, there are different qualities beyond “virgin” and “cold pressed” oils. What you want is something better than extra virgin olive oil in flavour. The oil to look out for is from those that hand pick their olives and have them pressed on a daily basis. Although this kind of quality olive oil is difficult to source

With their minuscule yearly harvest, it was no hard decision to pick up a few bottles at once.
Continue reading “A European wine odyssey at Passion för Mat 2013”

Lesvos olive oil: from the Aegean Islands to the Swedish west coast

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Lambriní Theodossious (right)
at the
Passion for Food Festival 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

What I love about traveling is the adventures and the new experiences that come with it. My favourite souvenirs are new food ideas, and where possible, I love bringing home local produce of the region coupled with recipes of places I’ve visited and of dishes I loved. Eventually I will also synthesize the experience, mix and match with things I already know and make the experience my own.

Meeting with Lambriní Theodossious who owns her own olive plantation on the islands of Lesvos in Greece at the Passion for Food Festival 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, was another one of those wonderfully unexpected experiences. She brings her efforts of love in the form of dark bottles of unadulterated olive oil which she produces herself with some help of local farm hands, from Greece to Sweden. Its called the Todora Olive Oil, named after her grandmother Theodora.
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“Enjoying good food with open senses” – a Fredrikssons approach to marmalades

“[A]tt nyfiket njuta av god mat”. With Christer and Mona Fredriksson of Fredrikssons Marmalde, who have their base on the east coast of Sweden, at Öland.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Naturally there are different things that people say they ‘cannot live without’, but one of the first things I do at these Food Festivals, is to walk right up to Mona and Christer Fredriksson and their stand with quality marmalades from Öland, and bag a generous helping of jars to last – if not till next year – so at least a couple of months into the summer.

It was also fun but not entirely unexpected to hear that the jams and chutneys from Fredrikssons made it to the recent Nobel festivities, the Nobel Night Cap 2012 in Stockholm.

Business processes are sustainable with use of the highest grade raw produce available.

An absolute favourite, the Apple and Calvados marmalade.

Their home and plant is in Kalmar County, at the island of Öland, located almost directly across Sweden, from Gothenburg at the Swedish east coast.

Standing at this fair with the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg, resting at the quay just outside, I can’t help thinking of how connected things are in this world. It was just a few years ago since I visited the Kalmar Nyckel ship replica that docks in Wilmington, USA. The Kalmar Nyckel was a pioneering emigrant ship that left from this very place to the New World in 1638, leaving its passengers there to establish the first permanent European settlement, the Colony of New Sweden in present-day Wilmington, Delaware.

A somewhat unrelated jump in thoughts perhaps, but now marmalade from Kalmar is nevertheless delivered to the quay side, where the Götheborg III Ship lays bundled prior to high summer season, for us to pick up at will with no complicated sailing involved at all. See here the wonders of modern trade.

A nice bottle of wine, some good cheese and my favourite choice of marmalade and I think I’m pretty much set for a perfect evening with friends, or a good book.

Link: Kalmar Nyckel ships replica, Wilmington

Highlights from Passion för Mat 2013, March 1-3, Gothenburg, Sweden

Finally the long awaited Gothenburg food festival Passion för Mat (Passion for Food Festival) has opened and is currently ongoing from 1-3 March 2013 at Eriksbergshallen, Gothenburg.

Being invited to bypass the crowds on the opening day, we had the pleasure of joining the exhibitors in the early morning hours as they put in the last touches at their stands. As with previous years, we completely enjoyed strolling around the market area on our own, making new culinary discoveries and meeting with old, as well as new friends.

Last year, in 2012 Sweden’s Minister of Agriculture, Eskil Erlandsson, named Gothenburg the Culinary Capital of Sweden 2012 in recognition of its rich natural produce, not the least because of its long time focus in various seafood, but also because of the many new various food companies specializing in high quality and gourmet food from all over the world setting up businesses here. Being an internationally small city, its culinary footprint is quite large with several Guide Michelin star chefs and quite some significant prize winnings and notifications at global food events (ref. Gothenburg Culinary Team).

Below, some picture highlights from the first day of this food festival.

At Eriksberg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Having a relaxed morning coffee at Hotel 11, to the sounds of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, Op. 3, Concerto No. 8 in A minor for two violins and strings, RV 522.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Jonas Wickstrand of Öckero Fisk explaining the flavours of this tray of smoked salmon paté hors d’oeuvres or tapas.

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Bitter orange peel gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies with bitter orange peel, just because.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2013

I was over at a friend’s place recently, where in Sweden, gingerbread cookies make an abundance of appearance at coffee tables in various shapes during this time of year. Most store-bought gingerbread cookies are made with the basic ingredients of flour, sugar, syrup and spices, where they are generally a tad too sharp in sweetness for my liking, the reason why the ones served at the table on this occasion at my friend’s place intrigued.

The cookies were lighter in colour and more voluminous than the standard dark gold, thin flats of gingerbread cookies bought off the shelves at the grocery stores. And they tasted, different. I enquired after their source and her lighthearted answer was that they came from an artisan bakery shop just down the street where she lived, and no, they didn’t come off the shelf from the grocery store, her eyes just barely flinting in horror.

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A Christmas table at the old Swedish East India wharf, 2012

In the old Swedish East India Company wharf that is today, Sjömagasinet.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, D Neikter Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

This spacious wooden log house that today houses the restaurant, Sjömagasinet, was once a wharf belonging to the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813). The restaurant has in the past years seen a change of hands between Guide Michelin Chefs, from Leif Mannerström to Ulf Wagner, where no doubt, the personalities of each at the helm comes right through to the dining experience.

What Wagner has done with this Christmas table is to challenge the very idea of which traditional Swedish foods make it to the julbord and how those dishes were presented, up to and including making a symphonic combination of tastes in sections of food. So as long as you stayed within the same general area at the table, any dish within arm’s reach would complement each other in flavour. As such, self-serving guests would not ruin their own meals unsuspectingly by adding something out of the place to their selection. How the complementing and sophisticated flavours from the various dishes could be blended over from one dish to another within reach was one of the remarkable features of this Christmas Table.
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Santa Lucia saffron bread, Sweden

Santa Lucia saffron bread / buns or as the Swedes call them, Lussekatter.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In Sweden the 13th of december is called the night of Lucia. The name is connected to the Sicilian saint of St Lucia through the Catholic past of Sweden however the actual celebration itself is that of the longest night of the year, the antipode of the Midsummer Night celebration.

In its Nordic context it was thought that this, the longest and darkest night of the year was filled with so many spirits and generally unholy workings that one had better stay awake. And to this end, till this day the night is often spent partying and in the morning, white clad girls with candles in their hair with friends visit teachers and elderly relatives. The girls with the candles in their hair signify the coming of light and the lengthening of the days again till Midsummer’s.

Today, Swedes around the world delight in celebrating Lucia on 13th December with song and dance, much like Christmas caroling in churches of the Roman Catholic faith. A beauty contest of sorts to find the year’s “Santa Lucia” queen often begins in early December across various regions of Sweden, a girl who heads the choir specifically for this celebration, crowned with a ring of lit candles on her head.

On the culinary front, a golden yellow saffron bread with the most delicate of aromas, made out in various shapes familiar to Nordic folklore is baked for this occasion, one where I find difficult to resist not in the least because of its aroma or colour, but in its lightest of texture of breads dotted with raisins.
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Dark ginger orange stollen

Dark ginger orange stollen – a variation of the Swedish julbröd or vörtbröd.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

Stollens are one of my favourite festive foods at year end, together with the British inherited version of dark brandied fruitcake / fruit pudding mainly because I find so exotic and comforting at the same time, the blend of flavours from the butter, the spices and dried fruits.
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The beckoning of the Nordic Advent

Fruitcake, to be soaked at will with any liquor of choice.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

Even before this Advent weekend in Sweden, the long winter nights in the Nordic sphere had already beckoned people to put up their Christmas lights by the window, soon to be complemented by shiny tinsel Christmas decorations indoors. Out in the streets, Christmas lights adorn walkways and street lamps in anticipation for the Swedish Christmas markets to open their doors or rather, unfold their outdoor stalls.

As traditional Christmas food comes in numerous dishes, I thought I’d begin this festive season early with items I liked most. In perfect keeping with my preference for desserts, desserts before mains, desserts instead of mains, I thought I’d begin the culinary festivities with a fruitcake.

Though I seem to like all sorts of fruitcake, from light to dark, crumbly to sticky puddings, in the past several years I’ve come to settle on the preference for a lighter textured fruitcake, sans liquor soaked. But preferences differ and the majority of friends and family who stop by over Christmas seem to love either brandy or cognac soaked versions of the traditional Anglo-Saxon rich, dark fruitcake. What I’ve made here is a variation of the Swedish korinter tårta that is less dense compared to the English fruitcake or Christmas fruit pudding and where the liquor is added prior to baking so that the alcohol burns off and what is left is the taste of the liquor per se.
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At Los Caracoles Casa Bofarull, Barcelona, Spain

At Casa Bofarull, Los Caracoles Barcelona, Spain.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

If you hear that this restaurant is a challenge to find, that would be an accurate observation, especially if you don’t turn at just that left exit along La Rambla that leads you minutes down the lane to the restaurant, when walking from Plaça de Catalunya towards Rambla del Mar, but instead navigate from within the Gothic quarters of the city, or elsewhere.
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The tranquil at W Singapore, Sentosa Cove, Singapore

At W Singapore, Sentosa Cove.
W Hotels Worldwide are known for their luxurious interiors.

Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

Having grown up in Singapore, I’ve had the opportunity to observe Sentosa transform from a relatively quiet and exotic city getaway with accessible beaches that you could drive up to, park and picnic if you so wished, to one filled with attractions today such as Universal Studios alongside Resorts World that have both locals and visitors gather by the hundreds over the weekends for some fun.

This time my curiosity was piqued about the American W Hotels Worldwide’s newly opened W Singapore hotel and residences located at Sentosa Cove. A place targeted as part of the Singapore government’s efforts at building exclusive residential areas, this one in particular being currently the only seaside marina residential area in Singapore.
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Durian Cake, Singapore

Durian Cake.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

Part of my culinary adventures is to combine bits and pieces of knowledge and inspirations picked up from one context and transfer that to a different context, in anticipation of the results. Besides which, I didn’t think I could get away being back in Singapore without cooking or baking with the family.
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Catalunya Singapore, a touch of Barcelona, Spain at the waterfront

At Catalunya Singapore, The Fullerton Pavilion at Collyer Quay, Singapore.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

If it were not for a kind Samaritan I met along the way who pointed out directions to the Fullerton Pavilion in Singapore, I would have taken much more time before landing at the day’s lunch venue – Catalunya Singapore.

Coming in from the scorch of the mid-day tropical sun, it took a few seconds for the eyes to adjust to the dimmer interior of the bar and restaurant, though the line of sight didn’t need to venture farther than the reception to find a touch of Gaudí’s influence in the gleaming white broken mosaic pieces that clung to the columns of the dining interior. This influence of Gaudí would also continue, as I found, through the dining experience in the shapes and motifs of the plates and utensils on the table. Not two steps into the place, I was surrounded by individuals who spoke Catalan and Spanish, déjà vu and I felt right back in Barcelona again, and felt right at home.

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Dining across cultures and the Chinese mid-autumn festival, in Sweden

In celebration of the autumn equinox in Chinese tradition in Sweden, mooncakes. In the background, crème caramel.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

This weekend marked the mid-autumn festival celebrated most notably by the Chinese and Vietnamese cultures in Asia, in conjunction with the autumnal equinox and autumn harvests. Associated with the full moon, what makes part of this festival fun is the varieties of mooncake available as culinary adventure.

I read and viewed with interest, CNN’s story on the modern Mooncake by Ramy Inocencio, where I couldn’t help but notice how the three featured modern mooncakes were in themselves, a result of a fusion of culinary cultures, from using sweet white wine with custard to incorporating salty Itailan parma ham with sweetened nuts in another version of the hand moulded mooncakes.

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Lemon custard polenta cupcakes

Lemon custard polenta cupcakes.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

Polenta is etymologically Latin for the hulled and crushed grain of barley meal. It is today the English borrowing of the Italian word to refer to coarse ground cornmeal had been eaten as porridge or gruel since the times of the Roman Empire, before it was generally introduced in Europe in the 16th century. Because of its accessibility and easy preparation, polenta had mostly been conceived as peasant food through history and up until the 1940s to 1950s, it was still considered “poor man’s fodder” even in Sweden, prepared through boiling in water and eaten with a little salt, anchovies or herring.

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A rustic version of the Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake

For anyone with an adventurous mindset, I would like to share my take on a rustic version of the Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake, made with unblanched almonds, topped with almond-vanilla icing.

My vesion of the Eurasian almond pastel de sémola de rústica, served with the grated zest of a lime atop the almond-vanilla icing glaze.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

As a little Eurasian girl growing up in Singapore, I can remember Almond Sugee / Semolina Cake from a very early age. In my family it was also my father who carried the Eurasian heritage forward and who had baked the cake in the family well before I was born.

My grandmother, Dorothy Yap, and me in 1978.

To all appearances this cake might well have a long history stemming from Medieval Europe where we can find numerous variations of similar semolina cakes today. Some googling around, shows that in the Middle Eastern countries, they have variations of Revani (an orange semolina cake), Namoura (without eggs) and Basboosa (with coconut and yoghurt). In south Europe, Italy has its own variations of torta di semolino made with lemon or orange, and from India to Southeast-Asia, there are variations of the sugee / sooji cake made with essence of rose or rose syrup poured over the cake after baking and cooling.

The recipes also vary with regards to the use of semolina, with some recipes using pure semolina flour and others calling for a mix of semolina and plain flour.
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Sémola bizcocho de almendras – the Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake

Dorothy Cordeiro, my grandmother. Photo from the late 1990s.

For some reason, history is hard to hold on to in Singapore. The pace of life is fast, the landscape continuously sculpted by new and evolving technologies. It somehow seems like everything new is immediately better than anything old.

The Eurasian community in Singapore is small and memories are fading fast, which is one among many reasons why I have put some effort into reconstructing my own grandmother’s, Dorothy Cordeiro’s recipe of the Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake.

While my grandmother managed to cut a svelte figure throughout her life, I have the fondest memory ever from my earliest childhood of her mother (my great-grandmother) being one of the rotundest women I have ever seen. So, go easy on this cake, if you get to try it!

The aroma of my grandmother’s cake was so tantalizing that my grandfather Aloysius, could hardly wait for them to cool before stealing a few slices for his own cup of afternoon tea, to be enjoyed in the company of his chirping caged birds.

The Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake from a recipe by Dorothy Cordeiro.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In my earlier blog post on “Blueberry Muffins Intellectual Property“, I have mentioned that the secret to good cooking is not only knowing the recipe but knowing how to put it together. Therefore, no two individuals will produce the same result even with a shared recipe.

I have personally stood beside master chefs, recipe in hand, observing and absorbing as much information I could and still ended up with something different once at home. Then I have seen other chefs recreating dishes from memory, from entirely different raw produce, but still getting very close.

So with this said, in keeping with the belief that recipes are meant to be shared, if not evolve, here is as close as I can get it, Dorothy Cordeiro’s traditional Eurasian Almond Sugee Cake.
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Coconut cookies

Coconut Cookies
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

I grew up with colourful homemade coconut candy and have been so accustomed to the thought that the recipes for most coconut related foods would contain Asian influences, I was surprised to have found a coconut cookie recipe in the Swedish cookie book, Sju sorters kakor that was labelled a “traditional” Swedish recipe!

Of course Sweden already began trading with the Far East since the 1700s, and would have had access to a variety of tropical spices and food types, so on hindsight, it was perhaps the realization that these coconut cookies were a favourite sort of the household that came as a pleasant discovery.
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Chocolate mousse indulgence

Chocolate mousse made with trinitario cacao beans, covered with raspberry whipped cream and drizzled with wild blueberries.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

Mousse au Chocolat is probably as signature a dessert to France as Tiramisù is to Italy. And like good wines and premium olive oils, chocolate comes in a variety of textures and flavours derived from its cacao bean and the soils in which they are grown.

As non-consequential as this might seem, I’ve learnt that when it comes to using chocolate in cooking, the very character of the chocolate dessert depends upon which type of chocolate bar you melt into it. This version of chocolate mousse is made from Valrhona’s Caraïbe that is 66% cacao from Trinitario beans. The Trinitario cacao tree grows mainly in Central America and makes up about 5% of the world production. The result – a bitter sweet earthy tone that lingers on the palate, best complemented with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux.
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Muzzi’s Nero Nero chocolate ice-cream

This exquisite creation makes divine just about any chocolate fix need! Nero Nero or Double Black 99% cocoa chocolate bar from Pasticceria Muzzi with origins from Foligno in Perugia, the Umbrian region of Italy.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2012

There’s no excuse for chocolate addiction. And I’d be fibbing if I said it was because of the summer scorch in Sweden that I’m craving chocolate ice-cream since I still crave chocolate ice-cream even in the cold Nordic winters.

The more bitter than sweet of a high content cocoa chocolate bar varies from brand to brand, most a variation in taste akin to the native Indonesian black nut known as buah keluak (pangium educe). This particular chocolate bar from the well established Pasticceria Muzzi in Italy is less bitter than some other more than 90% cocoa organically produced chocolate bars, perfect for those who prefer a softer / milder taste to high content cocoa bars.

Muzzi confectionary has a long history in Italy that began in the small town of Foligno in 1795 by Mastro Tommaso di Filippo Muzzi. With plenty of fantasy and passion for the product still reflected in the Muzzi tradition of today, Tommaso di Filippo Muzzi began by producing small confetti hearts infused with star anise, a delicacy that had been a celebrated favourite of the town and perhaps even the region since the fifteenth century. Foligno is situated in central Italy in the province of Perugia, in the region of Umbria that borders the beautiful Tuscan region to its west. The town has an important railway station, Stazione di Foligno that opened in January of 1866, as part of the line between Rome and Ancona. This railway line helped set the Muzzi family’s distribution possibilities for products early on, where today, their outlet in Rome stands testament of their history in the trade.

In accordance to family tradition, generations of fathers and sons have produced candy confections of all sorts, the first born son of the family continue to this day, to be named Tommaso or Filippo.

Packaged and wrapped beautifully in a textured black envelope – a seductive invite to touch and open in itself – you’ll find the texture of this central Italian made chocolate bar in contrast to its envelope. Soft and smooth, this bar of decadence threatens to melt between the fingertips in the process of unwrapping, the beginnings of the making of this home made chocolate ice-cream.
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Back for lunch at Valentino’s, Singapore

With Valentino Valtulina in his wine cellar that in quick glance, shows his passion for remarkable passito wines such as Amarone and rare Italian specialties.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

I have often written about Italian hospitality and how their spontaneous generosity has the ability to grab and wrap you as a warm blanket. Just a few days ago I found myself back at what I have to admit is one of my all time favourite Italian restaurants in Singapore, and was hardly out of the taxi when I met the first of the Valtulinas outside of their restaurant at Jalan Bingka.

In an instant I was properly greeted Italian style, and promptly whisked into Perla Valtulina’s next door pastry boutique for a peek at her latest creations for their upcoming new restaurant and pastry boutique, to be located at 200 Turf Club Rd (#01-19) in Singapore.

Having not been back in Singapore for a while it felt I had missed quite some happenings on their side, not in the least that there is now a sit-in dining possibility at the pastry boutique – an option I thought brilliant for a chocolate addict such as myself – with the equally delightful possibility of takeaway gelato.
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Rock Cookie – a pebbly variation for the Swedish summer

These ‘rock cookies’ were made lightly compressed in paper cupcake forms.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

My first encounter with the Rock Cookie – if it wasn’t also the first thing I learnt to bake – was actually in Singapore in a cooking class in the all girl Convent in which I grew up.

The name of the cookie derives from the appearance of the cookie itself, the roughened shape resembling a rock. In line with going back to basics and using the simplest of ingredients, the original recipe for this cookie contains just five ingredients – flour, sugar, eggs, raisins and a pinch of baking powder.

Traditionally, butter and sugar are beaten till smooth in consistency, eggs added into the mixture and then flour and baking powder, with raisins following last. The cookies are then spooned onto baking sheets, with not too much fuss about the form of it, since part of its charm was for them to look artfully misshapened.

What I’ve done here in this variation of mine was to cut in the butter into the flour, drizzle sugar thereafter without having the sugar thoroughly mixed into the dough, leave out the baking powder instead adding a pinch of sea-salt. This mixture was then lightly pressed into paper cupcake forms and baked for about 15 minutes on 175C, where the melting butter and sugar are left to naturally bind the mixture together whilst baking.

What results is a light crumbly version of the original Rock Cookie, the surface shape of the cookie resembling pebbles on sand.

The ingredients are:

300g plain flour
120g butter
80g brown sugar (add more if you wish for the cookies to be sweeter)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
80g raisin

The cupcake forms help keep the shape of the cookies if you need to transport them to a picnic outdoors. Otherwise, they can just well be removed from the paper forms and served as is, with coffee to that Swedish summer’s afternoon.

Enjoy!

Just apple Apfelstrudel

Filled with just apples and cinnamon, Apfelstrudel.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

Apples are generally a late summer harvest in Scandinavia, where in west coast Sweden, Signe Tillisch and the Red Ingrid Marie are varieties that can be found in plenty of home gardens.

There are many recipes to apfelstrudel in cookbooks and the internet on what goes into such an excellent creation, where finding your favourite combination of recipes for your perfect strudel is a matter of search and retrieve at your fingertips. This here is mostly a photo blog on the making of apfelstrudel with, just apples.

The trick to Phyllo pastry is to get it paper-thin. This here is almost there, with more stretching of the dough to come.

I contemplated between using puff pastry or phyllo pastry, where in this making of apple strudel, I tried with phyllo. It was a single large sheet of unleavened flour dough that was subsequently rolled around the apples to create layers.

The apple sauce was made with at least two varieties of Swedish apples. On top of the apple sauce, some green Granny Smiths dusted over with cinnamon.

A cheese cloth or linen helps in the rolling.

Brushing over with butter, to help in the browning.

Vents, to help in the baking and the decorative look of the strudel.

Once baked and out of the oven, a dusting over of icing sugar.

For afternoon tea.

This strudel was baked for about 45 minutes in a Bertazzoni at c. 175C. I wanted time enough for the cut apples to soften and the apple sauce a little of a smother over the phyllo when served.

A completely different palate of taste compared to the phyllo pastries for triangularly shaped curry puffs back in Singapore, but there again it was those curry puffs, these days sold only in spsecific coffeeshops in Singapore, that had first led to my love of phyllo pastries, the result of which was this prelapsarian apfelstrudel.

Barcelona revisited – Sunday sopa de llenties

Spanish lentil soup, a keepsake from Barcelona.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

My favorite souvenir to bring back from places I have visited is actually the food.

Not only all the local specialties I can fit into my luggage and hope will survive the trip back, but the smell, the flavours and that particular piece of memory and history they contain, that could so easily be revived over and over again at the stove back home.

This weekend I was thinking about Barcelona, that will always have a special place in my heart.

If you walk down La Rambla from the Placa de Catalunya and resist the temptation to turn left into the Barri Gótic just for once, to get lost in the myriads of picturesque back alleys and squares that endlessly lead you round and around in the search for the perfect xocolata you had yesterday, just somewhere around here … and instead carry on, down past the familiar facade of La Boqueria wet market, and turn right, about there, you will soon find yourself inside the bohemian turned pretty posh quarters of El Raval.

There, immediately before you hit the open area of Rambla del Raval, you will find Casa Leopoldo.
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From west Sweden to northwest Italy: Swedish Mussel soup with a touch of Italian Vermentino from Liguria

Creamy west Swedish blue mussel soup laced with Vermentino an Italian white wine – a toast and celebration of the friendly relations between Sweden and Italy – whether at a Swedish Royal gala dinner for trade or in more politically shared interests regarding developments in the Middle East organized at the Second Aspen Bosphorus Dialogue Conference by the Aspen Institute Italia, 2-3 March 2012.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

It was after work and I had my mind on the topics covered at a recent seminar held at the Aspen Institute Italia on Leadership, Globalization and the Quest for Common Values held earlier in March 2012 in beautiful and panoramic Cernobbio nonetheless, where ideas were exchanged on leadership for the twenty-first century. Just 40 km north of Milan, Cernobbio is the city that is home to the luxury hotel Villa d’Este that sits along the shores of Lake Como. The city was also host to a seminar that allowed for various interpretations to be heard on the complexities of leadership in the modern, globalized world and how tensions in leadership could be addressed.

Half absent in mind at the wet market, I scanned flittingly over the different types of raw seafood that west Sweden is so well known for when my eyes came to settle on some very lovely blue mussels.
Continue reading “From west Sweden to northwest Italy: Swedish Mussel soup with a touch of Italian Vermentino from Liguria”

A personal luxury – Raspberry Cardamom ice-cream

The first ice-cream of the household for 2012 in Spring – Raspberry Cardamom.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

If there ever were a reflected change in values from one generation to the next, in my life, I can find no better example than that of the attitude towards cooking.

In the hierarchic familial structure of the Asian society, the activity of cooking was invariably bound to the social pecking order in the family. Either the eldest, the youngest or the ‘least favoured’ of children was often given the task of cooking for, the usually, large family. Cooking could also be parceled out as a kind of punishment to children, to be ‘kitchen bound’, instead of being allowed to go outdoors to play with your friends after school or worse, on weekends.
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From ground up – the basics of cream and olivine

Long, smooth and in the intense colour of the gem olivine – extra virgin olive oil from Marina Colonna of Italy, over fresh basil, Langherino and cherry tomatoes.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

The idea of a ‘fantastic meal’ often conjures images of a decadently large dish of warm, juicy cuts of meat with an appropriate full bodied red wine.

But take this plate of sun ripened cherry tomatoes laid with a generous slice of Langherino from Piedmont Italy, a cow and goat milk cheese that matures into a creamy softness. On top of the cheese in golden olivine, an award winning olive oil from Marina Colonna. Continue reading “From ground up – the basics of cream and olivine”

El Pedregal Porcelana Venezuela, chocolate ganache muffins

To oblige your senses – a batch of El Pedregal Porcelana Venezuela chocolate ganache muffins.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

It was meant to be a rudimentary mid-week chocolate fix, where this batch of chocolate ganache filled chocolate muffins were made from what I had in my kitchen pantry for chocolate.

But as the kitchen filled with the aroma of the fruit tones of the melting Porcelana chocolate and the swirled spices of cinnamon and cardamom, I soon realized not all chocolate muffins are created equal.

As a crowning sensation of the senses, this batch of muffins were filled with Valrhona El Pedregal Porcelana for chocolate ganache.
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Kokaihop Lounge, Passion för Mat 2012

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro with Anders Jacobsson of Mat.se and Kokaihop.se, the lounge at Passion för Mat 2012.

In as much fun and excitement any trade fair entails, there comes a time in the hours spent when you’d rather find yourself away from the masses, gathered to your own, if even for just a moment.

This year at Passion för Mat 2012, that place would be the Kokaihop Lounge at Hotel 11 that is just across the street from Erikbergshallen where the main fair is ongoing.

Set in a different premise altogether, this private lounge area is a relief of quiet and serenity from the humid and crowded indoors of Erikbergshallen, especially at mid-day.
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Passion för Mat 2012 – Highlights

L-R: Ronny Spetz, Team Leader of the Gothenburg Culinary Team that took home the Silver Medal for Sweden in the Culinary World Cup 2010 (ref i and ii); Dan Berntsson (ref i and ii), Sweden’s leading expert on Potatoes; Leo Sieradzki, Publicity Consultant for Passion för Mat and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

It’s hard to tell what I like the most with Passion för Mat 2012 (Passion for Food) at Eriksbergshallen in Gothenburg, but is has certainly made its way into my calendar as one of those must do events of the year.

Perhaps ultimately it is the socializing and meeting with all these people who love what they do, that cumulates in the air to a warmth and electric feeling of warmth and happiness that you rarely experience otherwise.
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All out Italian passion at Passion för Mat 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden

The Burrata experience from Aldardo in Gothenburg, at Passion för Mat 2012.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

There are no words to describe the sensuous experience of cutting into the buttery softness of a genuine Italian burrata cheese – seemingly made in heaven on earth, that is Andria in Murgia in southern Italy.

Made from cow’s milk, rennet and cream, the burrata was first made in the early 1900s. After a hundred years of finding its way around the globe outside of southern Italy, it is still considered an artisan cheese because of its contradictory status of being a popular rarity that it is best consumed within 24 hours after its production. Something that adds to its air of an exclusive invitations only experience.

After having tried it in Singapore for the first time, just about two years ago with the Iannone family (ref. La Braceria i and ii), I have personally in vain searched for the burrata in Sweden. In Singapore, the popularity of the burrata has increased considerably. The fine dining restaurant No Menu for example sells 40 kgs of it a week.

And while Singapore has Giorgio Ferrari to thank for bringing in the first import of burrata (together of course with other Italian fineries of food and wine) into a country with an utmost challenging climate nonetheless, Gothenburg now finally has Aldardo.
Continue reading “All out Italian passion at Passion för Mat 2012, Gothenburg, Sweden”

Gothenburg Food Capital of Sweden 2012

Spices such as these that are a staple in Swedish homecooking today, were once brought back to Sweden from the Far East on the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III during the 1700s that sailed from Gothenburg to Canton, China.
Text and Photo © Ted Olsson, JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In the past five years, the height of the food scene in Gothenburg Sweden, apart from the more glamour filled annual prize giving ceremony and gala dinners held by the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy (2010, 2008) is the Passion for Food (Passion för Mat) tradefair held in the city at Erikbergshallen, that is right next to the docks of the Swedish East Indiaman Gotheborg III.
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Wine Bar at Soup ‘n Bagles

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Svante Boberg who is owner of Sou''n Bagel and Sandra Lam Carlsson.

An evening of open wine testing at Soup’n Bagel. In the middle, owner Svante Boberg and to the right friend and colleague Sandra Lam Carlsson.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2012

In from the biting cold of winter that is still in the air in Sweden, I thought the cozy, dimlit interior of Soup’n Bagel by night in the city of Gothenburg set the perfect calm and mellow atmosphere for an evening of wine tasting and long conversation amongst good friends.
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A magical evening with Ulf Wagner at Sjömagasinet, in Gothenburg 2011

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro with house elves at jultide, Sjömagasinet 2011

Restaurant decoration at Sjömagasinet. In Swedish folklore well managed farm houses was looked after by their own house elf or elves. They were quiet and mostly invisible but kept themselves informed from the animals if everything was done right and proper. The house cat was their eyes and ears during daytime. If the people were good, the elves would help take care of the house and the family that lived there. Eventually these elves merged in Swedish lore with the later idea of a Juletide Tomte that brings the Christmas gifts.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson and T Eliasson, 2011

In the past years, we’ve dined enough at Sjömagasinet in Gothenburg (2009a, 2009b, 2008, 2007) to feel quite at home at what was once the old outfitting warehouse for the Swedish East India Company (1731-1813). In the 18th century their ships made round trips from Gothenburg to China and back where each trade voyage took about two years, bringing back immense fortunes for the participants.

During their many voyages these ships would dock at various ports around the world including Cadiz in Spain, to pick up silver and Batavia in Indonesia for spices, before reaching Canton in China. Besides tea, silk and spices they contributed significantly to the cultural exchange of knowledge between Sweden and Asia and brought back many important influences, not the least within the medical and culinary field that is so intriguingly interconnected. In this wharf equipment were stored such as sails, masts, spars and all things you might imagine being needed on a wooden ship about 50 meters long. The spirit of these adventures is still felt in the very walls of this building.
Continue reading “A magical evening with Ulf Wagner at Sjömagasinet, in Gothenburg 2011”

Christmas Eve morning at Saluhallen in Gothenburg at 09:01 hrs

Going to the market, is just … going to the market, isn’t it? So mundane a task that it’s hardly a concept to be discussed by most. But come Christmas in Sweden, and come the darkest days of the year, the Swedish Christmas markets that glow a warm orange and red whether they be outdoors or indoors become central gathering nodes for the people of the city.

Christmas Eve morning at Saluhallen 2011, chairs.

And all was apparently still on Christmas Eve morning as the doors to the marketing heart of Gothenburg that is Saluhallen was opened.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro and JE Nilsson 2011

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, in the morning at Saluhallen in Gothenburg, Christmas market 2011

The early morning calm didn’t quite stop me gushing in haste when my eye caught a table decoration I so wanted at home at our Christmas table!

Everyone has a Christmas foodlist for their own Julbord to tend to, making Christmas Eve marketing all the more festive. And amidst waiting in queue for your number to be served, you can hear the hearty exchange of Christmas recipes amongst those waiting in line for baked ham, pickled herring and roasted spare ribs that gives a heartwarming preview of what others are about to have this evening at home.

In my number of years in Sweden, I’ve visited these Christmas markets year after year, with Saluhallen and Haga in 2010; 2009a, 2009b; Kronhuset in 2009; a compilation of Saluhallen and Haga in 2008; Haga in 2007, to which I’ve always found something new in my explorations and visits.

This year’s visit is a slight variation, an authentic visit to a market on Christmas Eve for some Christmas marketing, instead of visiting a ‘Christmas Market’.

Continue reading “Christmas Eve morning at Saluhallen in Gothenburg at 09:01 hrs”

Jultide traditions in Sweden

GUSEE Julbord 2011 - Sandra Lam-Carlsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Jenny Yu.

An office Julbord 2011, Sweden.
L-R: Sandra Lam-Carlsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Jenny Yu.

Text and Photo © PO Larsson, CM Cordeiro, JE Nilsson 2011

In line with the underlying ideals and innovative thoughts in the culinary field from this year’s Prins Bertil Seminar 2011 at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, that raised the level of consciousness about food in general, from farm to restaurant table and how the best dishes can be had from simply using the freshest ingredients and not necessarily the most fancy and exclusive of raw produce, we thought we’d put a little bit of rustic into the jultide table traditions at work, in Sweden.
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Second Sunday in Advent

coffee

Lussekatter, usually makes its appearance on St. Lucia which is 13 December.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2011

There are definitely some things more than just tradition when it comes to cooking and preparing during the Advent weeks that lead to Christmas. It’s in the air, a solemn feeling of silent expectation.

In all of this, I find it very much soothing to the busy mind, all too often kept spinning by the daily transactions, to relax and just spend the whole day baking.
Continue reading “Second Sunday in Advent”

Chicken liver Pâté and Cumberland, a precurse to Julfika

patett

Oven baked chicken liver pâté served on toasted white bread, with cornichons and a slice of orange.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

Part of our Christmas tradition in Sweden is to prepare and subsequently feast upon, the many dishes that go into our the traditional Swedish Julbord or Christmas Table. In reality the dishes are so numerous that it would be impossible to sit down and enjoy them all in one sitting as a grand jultide smorgasbord as intended. So, we have found it better to start well in advance and use the dark months ahead of the mid-winter celebrations for various cooking experiments.

One of those many dishes that just came to mind was various pâté to be served with a wonderfully fruity cumberland sauce. When it comes to liver pâté there are lots of recipes on line. The traditional ones ask of you to mince and mix the ingredients first and then bake the pâté in a water bath in the oven. The more modern ones if one might say so suggests that you can fry the ingredients first and then just put all of it in a blender and voilá, pâté. Both methods work and the blender method is of course faster. It also gives the benefit of better control of how much you cook the liver, since liver doesn’t benefit from over cooking. Really tasty and flavourful liver should hardly be cooked at all or at least as little as possible. Then again the slightly browned crust you would get from oven baking is also delicious so, I have done both and if I have the time, prefer to bake the pâté.
Continue reading “Chicken liver Pâté and Cumberland, a precurse to Julfika”

Autumn mushroom crepes

crepes_136

Autumn mushroom crepes.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

If there was a culinary disadvantage to be named whilst growing up in an almost mono-seasoned (you could optimistically consider wet and wetter to be two different seasons coming with the monsoons) equatorial climate, it would be that you hardly have the distinct seasonal food groups that come with a Nordic climate. Coconuts and bananas for example, seemed always in season when I was young. So now when the leaves on the trees in Sweden are turning from a vibrant green to shades of mellow gold and red in our garden, serving up some creamy mushroom crepes to an autumn themed meal felt just about right.
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With a penchant for olives

With a penchant for olives

Making your own tapenade – the French Italian classic olive paste – is quick and easy.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

Weekends are the time when I read, plan for the work week ahead, and cook. Besides all other good things that could be said about preparing your own food, I find the sometimes long winded and perhaps monotonous preparation of food very calming. It lets your mind wander in any direction it might, encouraging the formulation of new ideas, where you find yourself combining familiar things in creative ways both in your mind as well as in your pots.

By what you cook, you can also revisit places you wish to see again that right now are inaccesible for such mundane reasons as that your work lets you travel, but to a different continent.

This weekend I revisited the South of France and the North of Italy by means of a black olive tapenade and a generous slab of home made ‘Ciabatta’ style bread.
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A Swedish-French Onion Soup

Onion Soup

Onion Soup.
Photos © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2011

French onion soup evokes memories of those student days where you wanted to see your friends at your own place for some home cooked food, and the most of what you could offer was hospitality and friendship but not so very expensive food. And while everybody else’s task was to see to that they brought their own wines and beers, your task was to come up with the food.

During such events, catering was always an option but it gets boring in the long run, besides which, showing off some cooking skills was always fun? Well, at least if the dish worked out well and the guests in general approved of the food served.

However much you progress in your career, your history continues to remind you of your previous success and failures. And these days, what I have at work are Tuesday breakfast meetings to cater to, on a rotating roster.

So, what comes to mind is

French Onion Soup.
Continue reading “A Swedish-French Onion Soup”

Happiness in a paper cup

Raisin muffin I

Paper petal.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

In a busy and often complicated adult life, I often wonder if happiness and bliss can’t sometimes come by the simplest means with little need for preparation and effort. Like a wish to embrace the moment in childhood for example, where happiness is a collection of colored stationary, some really cute erasers and a whole set of pens and pencils in all the colors of the rainbow.

So in all the rush of things to do, people to meet, events to plan and execute… sometimes what I really want are just plain – unembellished – raisin muffins. No fuss. The simple dough, stirred in with good handful of plump raisins and voila… a little bit of magic in a tiny petal paper cup. Perfect to round off the day!
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Tångbröd, from Grebbestad, Sweden

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro and Ola Dahlman of Tångbrödsspecialisten, Grebbestad Bageri AB, Sweden.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, with Ola Dahlman of Grebbestad Bageri in Sweden.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

It was back in the early 1990s that I was first introduced to Nordic hard-breads or crispbreads in Singapore, where I found them most unpalatable, having had no clue what those crispbreads could be good for if not as complement to soups or generously lathed with butter (not margarine) before biting into.
Continue reading “Tångbröd, from Grebbestad, Sweden”

Ten minutes in the life of a pear

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, autumn pear picking 2011, Swedish west coast.

After work and back home, pear picking in the garden this autumn, 2011, where they sat happily bathing in the autumn rain just a few weeks ago.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

Pears. They never featured prominently in my repertoire of non-tropical fruits when growing up in equatorial Singapore. In the markets they were often pushed aside, their presence at supermarkets and fruit baskets overwhelmed by the lush appearances of its more juicer alternatives such as sun ripened mangoes, mangosteens, chikus or creamy custard apples etc.

In Sweden the situation is different, the tone of voice among the fruits are calmer and everyone gets their say during the autumn harvests. While the apples this year were far from abundant, the plums and for the first time, the pears came along very nicely. While I have had my eyes directed towards finding someone having quincekvitten in Swedish – in their garden and being at a loss about what to do with them (fat chance), our own pears were a more viable option for today’s harvesting.
Continue reading “Ten minutes in the life of a pear”

Cushions on the ceiling

Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg

Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Photos © CM Cordeiro 2011

I confess, I love space and clean, free straight lines that invite your eyes to peruse and absorb the dimensions of the room the minute you step into it. At Restaurant Familjen in Gothenburg, it was more a full-stop when entering the door, where you are almost forced to halt your senses the minute you step in, cautious, else you bump into someone immediately in front at the bar, situated just as you enter the restaurant at after five on a Friday.
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Mazariner rustico – Swedish almond tarts, country styled

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Swedish Mazariner, revisited.

Making Swedish Mazariner.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

A while back in May 2011, I spent the weekend putting together some Swedish signature Almond Tarts / Cakes called Mazarin (mazariner for plural), giving a brief description of the Italian-French heritage and etymology of the word, the tart made popular in large part to Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661).

Today, these attractively shaped morsels, usually round or oval, capped with a white icing lid are a standard staple on the tea biscuits menu in just about any café in Sweden. If there is a café, in Sweden, there are Mazariner. Simple as that.

It was at the time interesting to discover the stunning difference in the flavour between the homemade ones and the sad samples usually offered for sale in the cafés. The ready made ones are just nothing near in fullness of texture and flavour to what you could produce yourself at home in just under an hour’s efforts. To make your own Mazariner is like reviving a lost art, giving life to a tradition in Sweden that perhaps not many think about these days. Consistency, flavour well the whole idea with the cake is different, if you make them yourself.
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Chili chicken

chicken_1

Chili chicken with whipped cream and cashew nuts.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

Chicken is one of the most versatile fowl dishes there is. It is also a stable on our table. The meat is tender with a soft texture and a warm, mild flavour of its own. I find that chicken is also one of the easiest things there is to cook. Some butter and soy sauce, a dash of black pepper and salt, and then into the oven until done. Delicious.

Chicken also lends itself to all kinds of flavouring. In Sweden you probably can’t help but be introduced to a popular dish called ‘flying Jacob’. This just so happens to be a prize winning ‘child friendly’ chicken recipe that made its way to eternal fame (in Sweden) a few decades ago. Basically it is an oven baked chicken in cream and chili sauce, flavoured with bananas, bacon and peanuts. Me, not being too interested in flavours that are too sweet in general, turned out this variation a few days ago which I don’t mind sharing.
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When things get perfect…

Lingonberry jam and pancakes.

Swedish pancakes, with homemade lingonberry jam.
Photos © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011

I believe Swedish pancakes served with lingonberry jam, a dish now made globally popular by Ikea, to be one of the first few dishes I was introduced to when I landed in Sweden for the first time, about twelve years ago. Yet, it was only yesterday that something said click! in the learning process and for the first time, ever, I managed to make the perfect Swedish pancake, the ones with little bubbles in the middle and a crisp brown frilly edge.

Swedish pancakes are much like French Crepes though I believe the proportions of the milk to flour and eggs would be slightly different. From what I gather, you’ll have more eggs and less milk to flour in French Crepes compared to Swedish pancakes.

To get these pancakes, it was 500 ml milk to 150g (or 2.5 dl) flour, just one egg and a pinch of salt to taste. A brisk stir and you’ll have the batter ready in a zip! Finding the combined aroma of warmed cinnamon and cardamon intoxicating, I added to this batter a dash of both spices. Traditionally, these pancakes were fried in lard. I used butter in this case, and lots of it!

As for the jam, it was simply to boil the fresh berries together with castor sugar, the proportions of which are half sugar in weight to the total weight of the berries. The boiling process should take no more than twenty minutes, let cool and pour into jars for keeps. Lingonberry jam was the single Swedish import I found in the Singapore grocery shelves long before I had even arrived in Sweden. I grew to love this sweet-tangy jam after a couple of tries, having it mostly with filmjolk or the Swedish version of ‘sour milk’. After a decade or so being here, I find it highly rewarding to finally be able to make my own lingonberry jam from fresh berries, almost ribboning the red berried jars as they go into the fridge for storage.

Cooking this dish on my part, has taught me that perhaps learning processes take time in themselves and are best left, unhurried. When you live and breathe the environment, the food, the culture and the people, things will somehow, one day fall in place. And like the last piece of jigsaw puzzle that slides neatly into the larger picture, after much experimentation, pondering and fixing, you get… perfect lingonberry jam and pancakes. A classic for lunch or dinner, or why not with a dash of whipped cream or ice cream for that afternoon fika.

Enjoy!