Archive for the ‘fruits’ Category

Pears, beer and ice-cream

March 11, 2008

Yes, I know. It sounds like a funny combination, doesn’t it? The thing is, that lately – well maybe not that lately, more like for quite a while now – I’ve been cooking with beer trying to keep up with the ever so popular and trendy Nordic cuisine trend. I’ve baked, stewed and tried to sneak in a little beer where ever I saw fit. A month or so, I ventured into beer ice-cream, or to be more precise: Vanilla ice-cream with a little beer added at the end for flavor and that touch of Nordic’ness, that seems so right, these days. And was it nice? Indeed!

In stead of using a porter, as the recipe called for (I turned to everpresent Claus Meyer, for Danish speakers, check out his homepage for the original recipe), I used a stronger, darker and umpf’er imperial stout from the magnificent Norwegian brewery, Nøgne Ø. The result was great, but I thought it could be better. I wanted to stress the caramel tones and hints of dark, unrefined sugar. Making a beer-pear syrup did the trick. Pears are pretty much over and out this time a year, but if you’re lucky enough, like me, to get your hand on a couple Doyenne de Comice. Don’t you hesitate – slice ’em up and bath them in beer!

By the way, this is not the place to cut down on sugar, cream or egg yolks. They all need to be there to balance out the bitterness of the beer.

Pears in dark beer
Peel and pit a couple of pears, then slice then into 1-2 cm slices. Meanwhile heat half a bottle of dark beer (I used Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout) with 150 ml moscovado sugar and 50 ml of ordinary light cane sugar. (Using two kinds of sugar provides you the zing of ordinary sugar and the deep, dark aromas of moscovado; please note, that different beers might need different amounts of sugar.) When the mixture is boiling, add the pears and simmer gently until cooked. They don’t take long, and you don’t want mush but texture. Remove the pears and reduce the liquid into a syrup.

Ice-cream with beer
150g sugar
8 egg yolks
500ml full fat milk
250ml cream
1 vanilla pod

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. In a small saucepan combine milk, cream and the pod and seeds of the vanilla and bring to the boil. Discard the pod and slowly and while whisking, pour the mixture over the eggs. Return to the saucepan and gently (VERY gently!) simmer until it thickens. Using a thermometer might do your nerves a world of good: when it reads 84 C pour the mixture into another bowl to stop it cooking. Let the cream cool in the fridge and add as much of the syrup as you like. Start out with 50ml or so.

Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker and enjoy on a windy, cold night. Luckily, they are almost outnumbered now, but better to be on the safe side and keep a little ice-cream in the fridge. Besides, it isn’t bad in sunshine either.

Medjool dates

December 15, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I stumpled on some rather scrumptious looking organic Israeli dates at my local super market. They looked like something I absolutely had to buy. So I did, initiating my little date enlightenment project. My relationship with dried fruits are fairly new so the discovery that there exist different varieties of dates sort of took me by surprise. I did a little research and discovered that actually, there’s a whole lot of different dates around.

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I soon realized that what I was after was the medjool date. Also known as King Salomon these babies are the king of dates. Just the name pretty much did it for me invoking all the smells and sights of the Middle Eastern cuisine. Of course I found them at my favorite green grocer, just known around town as The king. This guy was voted the best green grocer in the country last year and how can anyone compete with going to Rungis, the Paris food mecca, every week for fresh deliveries of French garlic (he stocks three different kinds!), extravagant Spanish navel oranges etc., and at the same time carrying phenomenal regional produce, among other things my favorite apple quinces. Of course The king carries medjool dates, so I walked away happily awaiting if they would live up to my expectations.

Oh, did they ever! The Israeli ones (I don’t know the varietal name) were great, no doubt about that, but the Medjools were even better. Not overpoweringly sweet, more along the lines of moscovado sugar with its hints of caramel and spices, butterlike in consistency and big enough to constitute a substantial snack. I was hooked and might just have to stock up on these for the Holidays.

Apple mash

November 15, 2007

I had totally forgotten how yummy it is! Apples cooked with a little water, sugar and vanilla topped with preserved cowberries. It’s one of those everyday things you whip up in a couple of minutes but brings you bundles of joy. There really isnt’t much to it. Peel one and a half apple per person, remove the pit and chop roughly. Put in a saucepan with a splash of water, one tablespoon of sugar depending on how sweet the apples are. Add vanilla to taste, I like it specked with little black dots all over! Cook until the apples are tender and mash it up with a spoon or fork until a fluffy mash is formed.

I used Belle de Boskoop apples, great for cooking, not for eating.  Together with the vanilla, the apples are just plain ol’ comforting on a cold November night!

The topping is preserved cowberries. The berries are sour as h…. but preserving them with sugar make them an all time favorite and stable in our house. Use equal amounts of berries and sugar, mix together and let stand for 5 or so days at room temperature until the sugar has disolved. Mix every now and then. Put in sterilized jars and keep at a cool temperature. The preserve is great on the apple mash, on yoghurt, with preserved pears etc.

Spiced apple chutney

November 6, 2007

Day two of my paternity leave. I haven’t exactly been cooking all day, that would be great, but there are other good reasons for my two months off work than stirring risottos and the like. That said, I have been fairly productive in the kitchen, largely because the main and real reason for being at home on a regular Tuesday, i.e. Jakob, just got his high chair. He now loves sitting in the kitchen with a big wooden spoon in his small hands listening to the radio and wondering what his dad is up to now.

Today I was up to a couple of things: a spiced apple chutney great for giving everyday meals a little extra umpf, and a equally spiced cranberry concoction – more on that another day. The apple season has been great this year despite global warming and the like, and if you’re lucky enough to get hold of properly grown local apples you’re in for a real treat. Old varieties like cox orange are great for just picking out of the bowl and eating straight up, but once in a while it doesn’t hurt doing a like more. I hunted a recipe for chutney down in one of my trusted cookbooks (Ælle bælle frikadelle) of Danish cooking matron extraordinaire Camilla Plum, and as always with her recipes it turned out great. Sweet from the apples and sugar, hot and spicy from chilies and spices. It went great with dinner, tonight that included meatballs, a salad of shredded apples and beets dressed with olive oil and apple vinegar, roast potatoes and gurkins. Traditional with a twist.

And what did Jakob eat, I hear you ask? A boiled meatball mashed with potatoes and pumkin. No chutney yet!

Spiced apple chutney (adapted from Camilla’s recipe)
500g cox orange apples
1 large onion
150 ml apple cider vinegar
150 ml water
175 g sugar (depending on the apples)
2 tbls mustard seeds
1 tbls coriander seeds
garlic
1 stick of cinnamon
half a nutmeg
2 chilies

Combine everything in a saucepan exept the apples and bring to the boil. Meanwhile roughly dice the onions and prepare the apples by cutting out the pit – do not peel – and cut into chunks. Put the apples into the saucepan and return the mixture to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer untill the apples are soft and the chutney thickened slightly.