Sunday, September 28, 2008

Organic Creamy French Potato Salad

Summer is definitely over in Sweden now but we took advantage of a sunny day recently to have one last barbecue on the terrace. I love homemade potato salad and I have always used my mom's recipe but since I really committed myself to buying only organic ingredients that has been a little tricky. Things like organic mayonnaise and pickles are not widely available over here (no Whole Foods in Sweden yet but we do have Goodness) and anyway I'm just not happy buying things that I can make from scratch at home.

To make it easy I didn't stop to make mayonnaise or pickles but just combined all those good flavors right in to the potato salad and it was ready in less than 30. M had these yummy organic chorizos (from Swedish Änglamark) grilled to perfection by then. Bon appétit!

Organic Creamy French Potato Salad

Set your chopped potatoes (peeled too, if it pleases you) to boil in well-salted water and get an egg ready to throw in for coddling with them during the last 5 minutes or so of cooking.

While you wait for the potatoes to cook, mix diced red onion and cucumber with a big generous soup spoonful of a really thick and creamy, Turkish-style organic yogurt and another of organic french wholegrain mustard. Splosh over olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. (If you live in Sweden you can get all of these ingredients delivered to your door from Mossagården or pick them up Goodness in Helsingborg.)

Rinse your potatoes and the now soft-boiled or coddled egg in cold water. Drain the potatoes. Peel and chop the egg up a little and put it all together in the bowl of dressing ingredients. I like the egg yolk to still be slightly gooey, making for a very creamy dressing with a beautiful lemon yellow color. Pretty power works on food too!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NY Times: Time to Save the Croissants

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Organic Chocolate Marshmallow Cream Cupcakes

Vive les cupcakes! These darlings are my contribution to Sugar High Friday and are inspired by sweet Miss Fanny over at foodbeam who posted the deadly delicious and "so horribly fluffy" s'mores cupcakes last week. My version is made from 100% organic ingredients (and fair trade sugar and espresso) and it also takes a tiny shortcut by putting the chocolate into the lovely little cakes themselves (along with a few other mini-tweaks) but I still slathered on the wonderful marshmallow cream.

Preheat oven to 170°C. For twelve smallish normal cupcakes, first mix 150 g flour, 10 g really good dark cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp good sea salt (less than fanny's recipe since I used lightly salted butter), and 1 1/4 tsp baking powder in a bowl.

In another bowl cream 60 g butter with 85 g raw sugar, then beat in one egg plus one egg yolk (left over from separating the white for the marshmallow cream), a dash of vanilla, a couple tsp good espresso to deepen the chocolate flavour and 160 g milk. Now mix in the flour mixture until just combined, fill your buttered cupcake tin or paper cups and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, make your marshmallow cream - for this I followed Fanny's recipe to the letter except that I used raw sugar instead of caster sugar. Beat one egg white with a pinch of salt to soft peak stage. Leave them for a moment and in a saucepan, bring the 2 tbsp water and 75 g raw sugar to a boil and let it reach 115°C. Now continue to beat the egg white while slowly pouring in the sugar syrup and keep going until the bowl starts to cool to the touch, watching with delight as the mixture becomes glossy and gooey and wonderful. Spoon a good dollop onto each little cupcake and smooth to the edges with a spatula.

Thankyou Fanny for the tastiest, easiest recipe for marshmallow cream ever. I just love finding homemade solutions for things you typically have to buy and now I will never buy marshmallows again - this is going to top my hot cocoa forever more. Bon appétit my friends!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Classic Tarte Tatin with Organic Apples and Soft-Whipped Vanilla Cream

Authentic Tarte Tatin is one of the many delicious French 'accidents' that has gone on to become a classic favorite. Our thanks go out to the sweetly scatterbrained Stephanie Tatin who, in 1898, botched a recipe for a proper apple tart and served the result to her guests at Hotel Tatin in Beuvron.

Start by making the pastry crust and, need I say it, use all organic, locally produced ingredients. Mix 1 cup wheat flour and 1 tablespoon raw cane sugar in mixer or food processor and add 6 tablespoons of real butter (lightly salted kind), one at a time, mixing well after each. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of water. Make the dough come together in a soft ball and wrap and chill while you prep the apples and caramel sauce - about 20 minutes.

Now combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet/pan (no plastic handles allowed - this is going into the oven soon) and cook while stirring over medium heat for about 10 minutes until almost chestnut colored and nicely smooth and caramelized but not burned. Remove from heat but keep stirring for a few more minutes until the pan begins to cool. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) and let the caramel mixture cool in the pan while you peel, core and slice your apples (4-8 depending on size) into wedges.

Finally, arrange apple wedges in any pattern that pleases you on top of the caramel sauce in the pan, roll out the pastry and drape it over the apples, tucking in the edges, and bake for about 45 minutes in the oven. The crust should be golden brown and the juices should be bubbling at the edges. Let it stand for 5 minutes or so before inverting it onto a pretty platter and then serve warm with soft-whipped cream that you've spiked with a dash of vanilla, sugar and maybe even a squirt of good single malt...bon appétit!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sofiero Garden Show 2008

Sofiero Castle is the former royal summer residence with exquisite gardens in Helsingborg and last weekend they opened the castle gates to their annual grand Sofiero Garden Show.

The sun was shining on blooming artichokes and dahlias, herb gardens framed by low apple-tree hedges, apple trees trained up trellises, the fairytale juniper-hedge maze and a lovely maiden playing a harp in the ravine.

Local organic food and Mediterranean gardens seemed to be the strongest trends of the show. The best foodie gems were Boels Blå, a gold medal creamy blue cheese from Holmana Organic Dairy Farm in Halland, a champagne and tapas tent, and perfectly ripe apples and squash galore from Fredriksdal's traditional kitchen garden and orchards. With whitewashed stone walls, rosemary bushes, fig and olive trees and cicada-song soundtrack, the Mediterrean show garden below seemed to effectively raise the perceived temperature of the day by least 10°C.

Photo by: Sven Olof Larsén

Lately named Sweden’s most beautiful park, the grounds of Sofiero play host to flower festivals, art exhibits, rock concerts, Shakespearean plays and classic car shows during the spring and summer and is an utterly tranquil haven for autumn and winter walks.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Bon Vivant Calendar ~ September

What's in season?
Get out to an organic farm and pick bags and bags of sweet corn, apples, pears, plums, squash in all colors, shapes and sizes, onions, leeks, eggplants, carrots, beets, chard, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, nectarines, peaches, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes, fresh horseradish, lettuces, bell peppers, rose petals, mint, potatoes, sorrel, cress, basil, scallions, ornate romanesco cauliflower and great glistening clusters of grapes.

The forests are still jeweled with blackberries, blueberries, elderberries and wild mushrooms - especially plump ceps, delicate oyster mushrooms, and fragrant chantrelles. Feast on autumn delicacies from land and sea this month, especially wild duck, grouse, partridge, rabbit, venison, crayfish, oysters, lobster, crab, mussels, scallops, shrimp, trout, wild salmon, bass and eels.

Our kitchen is stewing with big batches of applesauce, carrot soup, corn chowder, and mushroom risottos. The freezer is full of newly picked corn. And I am experimenting with my rather ambitious purchases of pumpkins and squash by filling ravioli, enchiladas and lasagnas, and planning to consume unseemly amounts of squash tempura, veggie pizzas, squash frittatas and rich, moist squash bread.

Great excuses for celebration
Monday, September 1st: Labor day for all Americans and Canadians ... unfortunately they don't celebrate here in Sweden so I am off to work. But they can't stop me from barbecuing tonight!

September 6th & 7th:
Ekorundan is here again! Fourteen organic farms around my home province (Skåne) hold open house.

September 5th to 12th
is the annual New York Fashion Week that reveals the designer's spring collections. This year that even includes eco-fashion houses (HOORAY!) like John Patrick ORGANIC, Ekovaruhuset and EKO-LAB. On the 4th, The Natural History Museum is hosting the BeEcoChic launch party for the latest organic, recycled and/or vintage based collections from Carmen Marc Valvo, Chado Ralph Rucci, Christian Cota, Del Forte, DKNY, Edun, FORM, Laura Bennett, Nicole Miller, Red Carter, Sean John, Levi’s, Thread Social, Maggie Norris Couture, Vena Cava and more.

On September 13th, 30 Danish wineries around the country will hold open house and tastings and both Lars Hagerman's winery Domain Aalsgaard and Sven Moesgaard's winery Skærsøgaard Vin are worth a special trip. If you haven't tried Danish wine before you will be pleasantly surprised by these two.

September 13th & 14th
: Sofiero Castle hosts the annual Sofiero International Dog Show in Helsingborg. Toto (my JRT) will be in heaven.

Also on September 14th, honor the Asian Autumn Moon Festival by gathering with loved ones to eat pomeloes and mooncakes by the light of the moon and your colored lanterns.

September 20th: Oktoberfest opens in Munich today so don your best dirndl, break out some beer steins, tap into a keg of organic dunkel or weissbier and fry up some organic bratwursts to celebrate.

September 22nd marks the autumnal equinox this year and the official start of the fall season, heralding harvest festivals, shorter days, fall colors and time to gather with friends to share the bounty of the harvest, to open a bottle of wine together and toast to the summer now past and the jolly times ahead. Here in Helsingborg, we will welcome the last ship of the summer cruising season, The Black Watch and her 800 passengers, for a day of sightseeing.

On September 27th & 28th head straight to Kivik for the annual Apple Market for a weekend of live music, apple tasting, apple identification, tours of the cider press and unveiling of the world's largest apple "painting" which will stand on view in the town until circa mid October.