Archive for February, 2009

Tastes Good, Looks Crappy

Once again I have baked something incredibly delicious, but revoltingly ugly. I guess that is why this is not a cooking blog, because then I would have to call it FUGLY BUTTER LACED FOOD or something. But this is OK here is Sweden because I am cooking for people who have never heard of 90% of the food I make. No Swede cares if my chili lacks actual chili or my tamales are not made with real masa, because these things are either not available here or they have been Swedified into blandness. To Swedish people my food is very spicy, which makes me laugh considering all the times my Indian friends served me food that burned my tongue while they complained it wasn’t spicy enough. My roommate recently complained that my mixture of garlic and chilis that I was sauteing was “burning her eyes” and “could I please turn on the fan.”

When I get homesick I often crave American staples, which is always a challenge given that some ingredients that we take for granted are impossible to find here and I have to convert to metric. I make do and often end up with new skills. A craving for cornbread has turned into a passion for polenta, which makes a fantastic meal when garnished with spinach, parmesan, and sundried tomatoes.

I finally learned how to whip up a good buttercream icing for some cupcakes I made. Swedes don’t usually eat icing on their cakes, because most are rich enough without it, so my boyfriend had never eaten buttercream. Lets just say that the bowl of buttercream was soon empty. It didn’t matter if the buttercream was slathered haphazardly on top of the cupcakes one bit because he had never had one.

Today the victim was New Orleans King Cake, a favorite of mine.

Of course the shape was all lopsided and I had forgotten to purchase the colored sprinkles, but the minute I bit into the cake and tasted the lemon and nutmeg, I could have been back home for all I knew.

Stockholm

I recently got a Stockholm Moleskine, which has all kinds of wonderful maps and room for writing. However, these maps made me realize how much of the city I haven’t seen. I’m in Stockholm very often because someone special lives on the island of Södermalm, which I know pretty well. However, we don’t head out to the other islands very often I guess because it’s cold, the subway is expensive, and well…everything is expensive. But as the weather gets better I hope to see more of the city, because nice days = picnics and the city’s parks are beautiful.

Tortured Scones from the Abyss and Filmjölk

I know I am bad at food photography, so it didn’t surprise me that the picture I took of some scones I made ended up looking like a tortured soul from the abyss.

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Yogurt Scones from Chocolate & Zucchini. These scones were OK, but they were more like low-fat muffins than scones. Maybe it’s because I used Filmjölk instead of yogurt. Filmjölk is pretty similar to yogurt, but it’s thinner and because the bacterial culture is different, it can taste a little fizzy or sour like Kefir. There are many kinds using different cultures and they all taste a little different. Most Americans claim to not like Filmjölk, but I say that they just haven’t tried the right kind. I’d say that the best is the blackcurrant flavored åfil (pronounced sadly, like o-fil, which doesn’t sound so great), which has the perfect balance of fizziness and sweetness.

The eyes of the “tortured” scone are red currants that I picked wild and froze in September.

Hoar Frost

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More Madrid: Cider

One of the coolest places I visited in Madrid was little cider bar called Casa Parrondo Luarca Sideria. Asturia is a northern region of Spain that is famous for its cider.

The cider I had was sparkly and perfectly dry…which is the way I like it. Most Swedish ciders are heavy and overly sweet. Asturian cider is traditionally poured by holding the bottle up high over the glass, which adds more carbonation.

Oh, and of course, like every other drink, the cider came with a tapa: patatas bravas, delicious crispy potatoes cooked in Spanish smoked paprika. The next day I picked up some of the smoked paprika, which is known as pimento. However, I knew I had some sort of negative association with the word “pimento.” Upon Googling I realized that pimento is also the name for a type of Southern sandwich which includes two things I really hated as a child: pickles and mayo. I hadn’t thought about them for a long time and I didn’t even know they were a Southern thing.

Upon investigating the tapas case, we came upon some strange brownish lumps. Nancy asked the bartended what they were and soon after we were treated to Cabrales, an Asturian blue cheese with a typical blue cheese bite and a wonderfully sweet cinnamon-like finish. The music in the bar also intrigued us…why were they playing Scottish bagpipes? Turns out bagpipes aren’t just Scottish, they are an Asturian specialty as well, which makes sense considering the Celtic-Iberian connection. The bar was my favorite that we visited and I hope to visit Asturia some day.