Lamb, Dinner

I’ve spent pretty much all of Sunday cooking and cleaning the flat in preparation for my wee mum coming over to visit from Sweden for a week from tomorrow. The weather has been lovely here today and I would’ve rather spent it outside, but it’s supposed to be just as good tomorrow so fingers crossed! Fortunately, for once I was smart enough to plan ahead and made this tagine for dinner yesterday, so all I had to do was cook the buckwheat.

I wasn’t sure about adding Nordic flavours to the tagine, but I had cloudberry jam left over from the waffles yesterday and dried chanterelles, so I decided to give it a go. The lamb gives it lots of flavour, but the other ingredients add a mild sweetness to it that I really like. Toasted buckwheat is another new food ticked off my list - it has a nice nutty flavour and I'll definitely be using it for salads and other such things again. Anyway, back to tidying the flat!

Lamb tagine with Nordic flavours:

Serves 6

2 tbsp vegetable oil

900g lamb shoulder, diced (I used bone in and left it in while cooking for flavour)

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 apple, diced

400g chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp cloudberry jam (can be substituted with orange marmalade)

100 ml beef stock

1 cinnamon stick

10g chanterelle (dried)

Spices:

½ tbsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cardamom

Salt and pepper to taste

Buckwheat:

300g buckwheat

2 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve:

Sour cream, spinach, pomegranate

Add the spice mix to the lamb and rub it in, making sure the lamb is evenly coated. Heat the oil in a pan and sear the lamb until browned on all sides. Add remaining ingredients, except chanterelles, along with the lamb to a slow cooker* and cook on LOW for around 5 hours. When one hour remains, add the chanterelles.

For the buckwheat, cook it for around 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet, leaving it to dry. If you’re short on time you can pop them in the oven at 150c for 10-15 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan and toast the dry buckwheat until browned and crispy.

*I used a slow cooker, but of course a tagine should really be used, or alternatively you can use a casserole pan.

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Dessert, Ice cream, Breakfast

Happy waffle day! As un-Swedish as it may sound, I’ve never been a big fan of waffles, especially not served in the traditional way with whipped cream and jam. I think I started changing my mind when I realised you can actually serve waffles as a savoury dish rather than a dessert, something that was pretty much unheard of in my childhood. Of course, the variants I’ve made here don’t strictly adhere to the Nordic waffle-type anyway, being made in a waffle iron bought here in Scotland, but the recipe is similar to something you would get in Sweden for frasvåfflor (crispy waffles).

The first recipe makes for a delicious breakfast or lunch. You can’t really go wrong with a fried egg and seriously, try this green sauce, it’s delicious! It’s actually inspired by a medieval recipe my friend cooked for her dinner a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve made a couple of other changes to it as well, which adds a bit more flavour to it.

Basic waffle recipe:

Makes 4-6 small waffles

20g butter, melted 100

200 ml plain flour 500

½ tsp baking powder

100 ml double cream 450

150 ml sparkling water

Pinch of salt

Mix all the dry ingredients together and stir in the sparkling water. Whisk the cream until foamy and stir it into the mix along with the melted butter. Ladle batter into a preheated waffle iron until crispy and golden.

Green sauce:

1 bunch of parsley

10 mint leaves (or to taste)

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 lemon, juice

½ tbsp vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

Salt & pepper to taste

Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor. Serve with waffles and a fried egg.

I’m finally getting around to make a recipe with the namesake ingredient of this blog – cloudberries! Such a lovely berry, but very rare in Scotland, and virtually impossible to find fresh here. For this recipe, I’ve used cloudberry jam brought over from Sweden. Since I don’t own a Nordic style waffle iron over here, I felt that serving them this way added a touch of Sweden. Cloudberries and brie are a tried and tested combination, both for desserts and savoury dishes, so this is a spin on other similar dishes. It could be eaten either as a dessert or starter. If you don’t want to make the ice cream, the waffles are delicious served with sliced, melted brie.

Cardamom waffles with brie ice cream and cloudberry jam:

Makes 4 waffles

1 batch of basic waffles with ½ tsp cardamom, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp honey added

2 tbsp cloudberry jam

pine nuts and rosemary to serve

Ice cream:

150g brie

250g ricotta

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp double cream

Cube the brie, removing the rind. Blitz it in a food processor along with the other ingredients. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and let it mix until thickened. Alternatively, freeze directly in a Tupperware container, stirring every couple of hours until frozen. Serve the waffles warm with the ice cream, cloudberry jam, pine nuts, and finely chopped rosemary.

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Baking

Who said spring is here?! The weather here is Glasgow has been miserable the past couple of days, with snow yesterday and plenty of wind and rain today. Despite being a sturdy contraption, my umbrella is starting to get pretty beaten up. It’s days like these that are perfect for curling up on the sofa with tea and scones! Dates are a great substitute if you’re not a fan of raisins, but still want something different going on and the honey gives it just the right sweetness. I don’t think I’ve actually baked scones over here in Scotland before, so it’s nice being able to serve them the proper way for once, with clotted cream (something we don’t really get in Sweden) and jam.

Honey and date scones

225g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

50g butter

1 tsp vanilla

140 ml buttermilk

50g honey

50g pitted and chopped dates

20 ml milk (for glazing)

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg. Cube the butter and add to the mixture and work it with your hands until a coarse, crumbly texture is formed. Combine buttermilk, vanilla, and honey and gradually work it into the butter-mixture. Fold in the dates. On a floured surface, roll out the dough around 3 cm thick. Use a cutter or any round shape to press out rounds. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with milk. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes at 220c.

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Vegetarian, Pasta

I spent most of the day yesterday going on a place-names walk in Aberdour up in the Kingdom (Fife) with the fiancé and other place-name researchers from the University. We had a great time and with the walk, tea, and dinner we got home quite late. If you’re ever in Scotland, it’s well worth a visit and you’ll get a fantastic view of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth.

I had originally intended to make a lamb tagine for today, but being away most of Saturday, the weekend has just disappeared and I didn’t have time to make it, hence why I decided to make this much quicker option for dinner. I used to resent kale, finding the flavour bitter and unpleasant, but once I gave kale crisps a go I completely changed my mind. I thought it would be a good idea to give a kale pesto with coconut oil a try and change it up by using part pistachios. I think the key is getting just the right amount of salt and coconut oil – the kale needs the additional flavour, but I tend to put just a bit too much salt in my food, so I had to be careful when making this.

Kale and pistachio pesto:

Makes enough pesto for 8-10 servings

100g kale, lightly blanched

50g pinenuts

50g pistachio

4 garlic cloves

100g parmesan cheese, grated + extra to serve

100 ml coconut oil, melted or 100 ml olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon + zest

A handful of basil

salt & pepper

linguine to serve

Super easy to make – just throw all the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor and blitz together. Store leftover pesto in the fridge for up to a week. Cook the pasta and stir in the pesto. Top with extra parmesan and pistachios. 

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Baking, Dessert, Chocolate

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Since I don’t have a ceilidh or other such events planned, I’ll have to make do with cake – not that I mind! I’m not a huge fan of the glaring neon-green type desserts you often see for St. Patrick’s so I went for something a bit more toned down with these stout chocolate squares. After all, what’s a better combination than chocolate and booze to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint?

On a different note, the little things really can make your day – I bought a new spice rack earlier this week and I’m probably way more excited about it than I should be, but it really is a lovely shelf and I no longer need to climb the kitchen counter to reach my spices which were previously stored on the top shelf. In fact, it now has a dual purpose since I’ve turned it over temporarily and am using it as the backdrop for the photos in this post.

Stout chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and candied hazelnuts:

Cake:

100g butter, melted

250g brown sugar

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla

175g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp baking powder

25g cocoa powder

150ml stout

50g dark chocolate with sea salt

Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Melt the chocolate gently in bowl over a water-bath. Add the chocolate, vanilla, and stout to the mixture and combine. Combine flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder, then add it to the batter. Pour into a tray lined with baking parchment. Bake in the oven at 180c for around 30 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting:

225g cream cheese

65g butter, softened

125g icing sugar

1tsp vanilla

Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar carefully. Leave in the fridge to chill.

Candied hazelnuts:

30g hazelnuts

100g sugar

1 tbsp water

Blanch the hazelnuts and peel them. Stick the end of sharp wooden skewers into each hazelnut.

Mix together sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat. Leave to caramelise without stirring until golden brown. Remove from the heat. Dip the hazelnuts into the syrup when it is thick enough to leave a thin strand of syrup and hang them over the counter (make sure that you put some newspaper on the floor!).

Slice the cake into squares and pipe frosting onto each square. Finish with the hazelnuts.

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Vegetarian

I’ve taken a short break in thesis writing to post this recipe I made a couple of days ago. I love these tartlets – the walnuts and Strathdon blue cheese go really well together and the cream and cottage cheese give them a perfect texture. I made a dish similar to this one before Christmas, but with kale instead of spinach and a single large tart rather than several smaller ones, so this is a seasonal variation of that. The first version went down really well and we devoured the whole thing with a couple of friends in one sitting, but I think these ones are even better!

Tartlets:

Makes around eight 10 cm tartlets

Crust:

125 butter

200 ml flour

100 ml rye flour

2 tbsp water

Mix together butter and flour then add the water. Press the dough into individual tart shells, prick with a fork and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Pre-bake them in the oven at 200 c for ten minutes.

Filling:

300g spinach

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp oil

3 eggs

100 ml double cream

100 ml cottage cheese

100g blue cheese

50 ml chopped walnuts

Heat the oil in a pan, add onion and garlic, and cook until softened. Add the spinach and stir together, leaving the spinach to wilt and until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the spinach mix with eggs, cream and cottage cheese. Crumble blue cheese over them and finish with walnuts. Bake in the oven at 200 c for around twenty minutes.

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Dessert

Well, last night provided some unusual excitement. One of my close friends who has done a lot of research on historical food for the past years threw a medieval feast and invited some friends over as test subjects, serving up enough delicious food to feed an army. This week has also been quite eventful work-wise so it’s a joy to have food and cooking to keep me grounded and take my mind off things. Although I love my research, cooking for me provides a welcome distraction, especially during the weekends.

I’ve been trying to cook more vegan food lately which is why the crust is dairy-free. I cook a lot of vegetarian food, but am generally fairly dependent on eggs and dairy so these tarts have been an experiment in vegan pastry-making. I used cream for the filling, but this could potentially be replaced with coconut cream, something which I have yet to successfully make. I used hazelnuts rather than some of the more common options like almonds or cashews since they go well with the rhubarb and which, I think, is a bit underappreciated.

Rhubarb and hazelnut tarlets:

Makes around six 10 cm tartlets

Crust:

120 ml desiccated coconut

300 ml hazelnuts

Pinch of sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

50 ml coconut oil

Filling:

100 ml rhubarb curd*

150 ml double cream**

Blitz the nuts and coconut in a food process until fine crumbs are formed. Add the dates and melted coconut oil mix until well blended. Press the pastry into individual tart shells and leave to cool for at least an hour. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and stir in the curd. Spoon the mix into the shells and top with chopped hazelnuts and fine mint leaves.


*Lemon curd would also work well.

**This mix will give you a very pale pink colour. If you want it more intense, you can cheat and add a couple of drops of red or pink food colouring.

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I’m just about to run off to catch a train to Edinburgh for a seminar on beliefs in Viking Scandinavia, but thought I’d post this first. This is a great way to use up the leftover preserved rhubarb from last week. The curd has a lovely coconutty flavour with a bit of tartness from the rhubarb and has a lovely creamy texture. I'm trying to experiment more with vegan substitutes and, although I doubt I'll go completely vegan, it's a good step towards more sustainable food habits. The two-stage process of making this by preserving the rhubarb first might seem like a bit of a hassle, but it’s absolutely worth it. I’ll be using the curd later in the week to make filling for tartlets.

Vegan rhubarb curd:

Preserved rhubarb:

400g rhubarb

200 ml sugar

200 ml water

Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat once the sugar has completely dissolved. Cut the rhubarb into 10 cm chunks and spread out on a baking sheet. Brush with the syrup and bake in the oven at 150c for around 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has softened, but still has texture. Once cooled, put them in glass jars and pour the remaining syrup over, covering them completely. Leave to cool before putting them in the fridge.


Rhubarb curd:

250 ml rhubarb juice (to make, blitz the preserved rhubarb and syrup in a food processor until completely blended, then sieve it to produce the juice. I used about half of the preserved rhubarb.

125 ml water

100 ml sugar

4 tbsp cornstarch

Pinch of salt

100 ml coconut cream

2 tbsp coconut oil

Mix rhubarb juice, water, sugar, cornstarch and salt together and bring to a boil in a saucepan, continually whisking it. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and leave for a minute without stirring. Take off the heat and stir in coconut cream and coconut oil. Pour into jars and leave to cool.

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Ice cream, Dessert

Monday blues and back to reality, but still planning out new dishes during breaks in thesis writing. I mentioned previously that I managed to get my hands on some early spring rhubarb, most of which has now been turned into ice cream. I coated the rest in a syrup and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes, then put them in jars and poured the rest of the syrup over them, planning to make a rhubarb curd with it later in the week.

Seriously though, what a delicious treat for dessert this has turned out to be – homemade rhubarb crumble ice cream with mint and pistachios. The spring rhubarb is the first tender stems of what seems to be a lot more popular here in Britain than it is in Scandinavia. You’d be hard pressed to find rhubarb anywhere in Sweden at this time of year, but since it’s force grown here early in the year, the first rhubarb season starts much earlier. I’ve recently bought my ice cream machine since I managed to break my old one after about two uses. I have been warned that once you get started making ice cream, you’ll be stuck, so here I am! If you don't have an ice cream machine, you can make it without one by gently stirring it while it's freezing every hour. Might sound like a bit of a hassle, but it's worth it.

Rhubarb crumble ice cream:

Custard:

200 ml sugar

600 ml double cream

6 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

Rhubarb:

600g rhubarb

200 ml sugar

Crumble:

35g flour

35g oats

50g butter

50g brown sugar

For the custard, bring sugar and cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the egg yolks and continue to stir until the custard thickens. Leave to cool.

For the rhubarb, wash and roughly break into pieces. Put them in a large pot with a splash of water, bring to a simmer, add the sugar, cook for around 15 minutes until the rhubarb is cooked through. Blitz to a purée in a blender and leave to cool.

To make the crumble, mix all the ingredients together with your hands until it has a crumbly texture. Spread out on a tray and bake in the oven for around 10 minutes at 190c.

Once everything has cooled, mix the custard and rhubarb together. If you’re using an ice cream machine, church it for around 15-30 minutes (depending on the machine). If you don’t have one, you can pour it into a container, put it in the freezer, stirring the regularly while it freezes. When the ice cream is almost ready, add the cooled crumble and let it mix in properly with the ice cream.

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Pork

This might be the last lingering remnants of the cold weather, making it a perfect time for a crock pot stew. Most people seem to automatically opt for the beef stew option, but I’m a die-hard pork fan. It’s cheaper and honestly, at least most of the time, tastier than beef in a slow cooker. The oranges and spices make this stew absolutely full of flavour and very tasty. I made it yesterday, leaving it to cook while we went to Lanark, a place with lots of farm shops and the like, in search for some early spring rhubarb (we found it!). We’re having the stew for Sunday dinner tonight along with the soda bread from yesterday – yum!

Pork Stew:

900g pork joint (shoulder or leg), sliced into 3 cm chunks

1 tbsp oil

2 chopped onions

3 bayleaves

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp mustard

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

400 g chopped tomatoes

500 ml beef stock

2 oranges, peeled and cubed

300 g potatoes, quartered

Mint, parsley

Seal the pork in a pan with the oil and transfer it to the slow cooker. Add the next nine ingredients and cook on low for around six hours. When about half an hour remains, turn to high and add the oranges and potatoes and cook until the potatoes are ready. Top with plenty of chopped herbs.

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