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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Lemon curd parfait, sans sous vide

Lemon curd parfait.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2018

This astronomical Easter [1], I found myself falling in love with lemon curd. Well, actually, I’ve been reading about at lemon curd recipes for some months now, how to make variations of it, and how to use it further in other recipes. I remember that in 2012, I had tried my hand at lemon custard cupcakes. The lemon custard recipe I used then was alright, but not something to totally fall in love with, especially if you are a fan of kaya, the Southeast-Asian screwpine/pandan leaf coconut marmalade found most notably in Singapore and Malaysia. Yesterday, I came across what looked like the perfect lemon curd recipe published by ChefSteps in 2014 [2], made sous vide. I had to give it a try, albeit sans sous vide.

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Spanish orange almond cake to Easter, Styrsö, Sweden

Spanish orange almond cake, with orange crème anglaise, a variation of the Eurasian almond sugee cake. Topped with meringue.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

One of my favourite things to do when back in Sweden is to bake, and oddly enough, go back to cooking Straits Chinese / Peranakan dishes. Easter culinary traditions (as with Christmas, weddings etc.) however, are most often influenced from my Portuguese / Spanish heritage. This year, I thought to bake a variation of my father’s mother’s Eurasian sugee cake, a Spanish orange almond cake [1], layered with orange crème anglaise and topped with meringue. David Lebovitz has a brilliant recipe to orange crème anglaise to which anyone can refer/use [2].

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Seafood pâté. A conversation behind this not quite otak otak.

Seafood pâté made with cod and shrimp.
A variation of the Southeast-Asian otak otak that uses fresh lemongrass, red chillies, galangal and turmeric.

Photo & Text © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

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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.
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