Jul
05
2011
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New discoveries with rhubarb

Full of new potential

Rhubarb season is past, but I cannot resist sharing with you a couple of excellent discoveries I made with rhubarb for a couple of early summer parties. You might still be in the mood for rhubarb, with its wonderful, tangy flavor, offering so much possibility but most often relegated to that good, but a little repetitive rhubarb crumble.

A good cheeseboard is always in need of a tangy, acidic fruit contrast. For a generous cheeseboard I laid out for an early evening cocktail party (in an outrageously beautiful setting – a green clearing on a cliff overlooking a lake), I offered a large, open jar of rhubarb and apple chutney. No one knew what it was but courageously dove in anyway and spooned dollops onto the top of the chunks of cheese on crisp bread. Rhubarb seemed logical to me with cheese and the apple was a little additive to reduce the sting of the rhubarb and make the chutney a bit smoother in texture – more comfortable, perhaps? My very own harvested honey made all of the difference – raw honey rather than sugar really makes this topping into the delight that it is.

Rhubarb Apple Chutney

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 medium-sweet, crisp apples, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
Juice of half a lemon
1.5 dl or 2/3 cup raw honey
4 tbsps water

Place all ingredients in a non-metallic pan (important to cook rhubarb safely in – read more!). Allow to cook for a half an hour over low heat, or until the rhubarb is soft enough for the blender. Place the mixture in a food processor and mix until smooth. Spoon into a clean jar and seal. Serve on a cheeseboard with celery that can also be dipped into this divine mix.

At one of my early summer dinner events, a number of the guests were vegetarians, and it struck me that making a curry with lots of wonderful fruits and nuts to scatter on top would be just the thing. The idea of making a curry with rhubarb as a base wouldn’t leave me and so I decided to make my guests guinea pigs and try it out. The outcome was striking – not sure I’ve ever enjoyed curry as much as I enjoyed this one.

Rhubarb Curry
Serves 4

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
4 medium-sweet apples, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 stalks of celery, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 cm or 1-1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsps curry powder
6 tbsps olive oil
1/2 liter or 1/2 quart vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps raw honey

Sauté the onions, crushed garlic, grated ginger and curry for 2 minutes. Add the celery and the rhubarb and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the apples and pour over the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add raw honey and adjust seasoning. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Serve with bulgur, couscous or brown rice mixed with sunflower seeds. Provide a smorgasbord of condiments: banana sprinkled with lime, dessicated coconut, cashew nuts, slivered almonds and whatever else you can think of that might up the flavor and texture experience!

 

Oct
16
2009
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Thin Apple Cake

It's October again...

It's October again...

October wouldn’t be October without an apple recipe. At Sweden’s smallest factory, which happens to be devoted to apple products, I tasted the most heavenly little apple cake with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I tasted carefully in order to record the ingredients on my tongue and recreate at home. Here is what I came up with and it is very good. The upside is that you can eat it in thin, small slices. The downside is that it does contain those bad boys, refined white flour, sugar and butter. This recipe contains no eggs.

Thin Apple Cake

4-5 tart medium-sized apples peeled and cut into slices
juice of 1/2 lemon
2.5 dl or 1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps vanilla sugar
2 dl or 3/4 cup sugar
1.5 dl or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
100 g or 3.5 oz. butter
4-5 dl or 1.5- 2 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 392 F. Grease a pie dish. Prepare the apples and toss in lemon juice. Melt the butter in a pan, remove from the heat and blend in milk. Start with 4 dl. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in them and pour in the butter and milk liquid. Blend with a hand-held beater. The batter should not be too stiff. Add milk if it is hard to mix with the beater. Pour the apples into the batter and mix into the liquid. Pour the batter into the pie dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Learn more about  Sweden’s smallest factory devoted to apples at Julie’s Nordic Island.

Written by Admin in: Apples,Cakes,Fruits,Sweet Food | Tags: , ,
Dec
03
2008
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Holiday Season Beverage

Flavors of the Holiday Season

Flavors of the Holiday Season

If you’re not keen on the red wine flavor of the usual glögg that is served at Christmas or if you are allergic to the tannins in it, you might want to try this delightful non-alcoholic alternative which has the benefit that it can also be served to children.

Apple Glögg
(makes 1 quart or 1 liter)

1 quart or 1 liter best quality ecological apple cider
3 tbsps sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole nutmeg
3 star anise
1 piece of dried bitter orange peel

Place all ingredients in a large cooking pot and warm up, allowing flavors to mingle.  Best served in small glass drinking cups with a handle.

If you want to add in a touch of alcohol for a more festive flavor add in 1/2 cup or 1 dl Calvados (apple brandy).

Written by Julie in: Apples,Beverages,Christmas,Fruits | Tags: , , ,
Oct
15
2008
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The Ultimate Fruit Salad

The Makings of a Great Fruit Salad!

The Makings of a Great Fruit Salad!

There are fruit salads and then there are FRUIT SALADS. I recently invited some friends over and one of them insisted that she must bring along her fruit salad: “I make a mean one”, she said. “O.K., O.K.”, I thought. Must let the guests participate.

My friend arrived here with several plastic bags full of fruit and promptly asked me for a large bowl. Within a short time, she walked in with the most luscious looking fruit salad that I have ever seen. Just the visuals were a joy to behold. The taste was out of this world. I was humbled. Never doubt the guests!

I asked my friend for her fruit salad recipe but she preferred to offer me a few principles which I share with you here:

Tips for the Ultimate Fruit Salad

1. Squeeze lemon juice into the bottom of the bowl.

2. Start with the apples – they are firmest.

3. Cut in small bit-sized chunks – no big challenging chunks!

4. Make sure you remove the peel – the secret to the softness of this delightful fruit salad.

5. Add in other fruits starting with firmest and progressing to least firm. Bananas always come last.

6. Don’t throw in any crunchy stuff – nuts, raisins, etc. – keep this a smooth affair!

7. Just prior to serving, pour over a fruit smoothie with a light color. Make sure you choose a high quality smoothie with low sugar and high fruit content. You can make this yourself or buy one from the supermarket.

8. Garnish with some decorative fruits such as physillis.

I warn you, if you do this right, it is an other-worldly experience!

Don’t forget to check the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for other great fruit recipes!
Oct
01
2008
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Apples, apples and more apples

Divine Aromatic Apples

Divine Aromatic Apples

If there isn’t something sweet available in the kitchen as the day wears on, I begin to hear a certain scrounging going on in the kitchen. Empty chocolate wrappers get frustratedly thrown into the garbage and family members begin to look around in the various little dried fruit jars and other “sweet” storage containers I have around the house. My family is rampant with sweet tooths!

Any doctor will tell you to cut out the sweets. Your body doesn’t need anything sweeter than fruit. Still, there is that longing for a little extra beyond the wholesome apple – so why not make something good with it that isn’t hard to prepare (with a little practice) rather than having everyone scrounging for those wrappers?

17th century map of the first Swedish Apple Orchards

17th century map of the first Swedish apple orchards

If there is something that is easy to come by in the autumn where I live, it is an aromatic apple. In a local newspaper article, I just noticed a very interesting historical fact discovered about apple growing in my vicinity: a newly-discovered map drawn sometime during 1630-1640 shows that Sweden’s oldest apple orchards were located near here in a place called Färingsö on Lake Mälaren. In the international apple world, Sweden has a reputation for most flavorsome and greatest variety. It’s got to do with our blissfully long summer days in which there is an intensive build-up of sugars, fruit acid and aromatic substances and our short nights in which those processes take a short break.

Steeped in history, I set about making something sweet for the family using the overflow of apples I have in my kitchen at this time of year. The result was pleasing – 4 out of 5 stars from the family. I used a bit of the leftover apple sauce I had prepared for visiting one-year-old twins this past weekend underneath the fresh cut apples on top of the pie with a tangy and lagom (a very useful word in the Swedish language unavailable in English meaning just right) moist result without loosing the crunchiness. Pie takes a little effort in the beginning but once you perfect the crust, it really isn’t a big deal. Remember – efficiency and convenience is often also about skill honed by practice! You can also go for the ready-made pie crust but it’s not as good and you don’t have control over ingredients which is an important feature of a healthy kitchen.

Lagom (Just Right) Apple Pie

For the crust:
2 dl or 3/4 cup wholemeal flour (grahamsmjöl)
1 dl or  1/2 cup white flour
1 dl or 1/2 cup wheat germ
100 g butter in cubes
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 392 F. Grease a 22-23 cm or 9-inch pie dish. Mix all crust ingredients together in a food processor until they wrap into a ball of dough. If the dough is too loose, add a tablespoon of flour. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface. Alternatively use my little trick of rolling it out in between two sheets of floured baking paper, making it easier to lift into the pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough. Cut away remaining dough (don’t waste it! line a mini-pie dish if you have one with what is left). Bake 7 mins. Remove from the oven and add filling.

For the filling:
4 dl or 1.5 cups apple sauce (preferably made at home with honey – see recipe)
4 medium-sized tart apples washed and cored (if you like a crunchier recipe, keep the peel on)
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 dl or 1/2 cup chopped almonds
A few small cubes of butter for the topping

Prepare the apples and slice into a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cinnamon and brown sugar, and toss.  Spread the apple sauce evenly over the pie crust. Place apples in a round arrangement sprinkle over the almonds. Place a few butter cubes on top of the pie (be sparing!). Bake 25-30 minutes, making sure that the nuts do not burn.

Honey Apple Sauce

4 medium-sized tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 dl or 3/4 cup honey
2 tbsps corn starch or other sauce thickener
a little cold water for mixing the corn starch into

Place all ingredients except for the corn starch and water in a cooking pan over low heat. Stir gently with a wooden spoon as the honey begins to melt. Allow to cook but not boil until the apples are soft. Test consistency. If thick enough, leave corn starch aside. If too watery, mix corn starch with cold water in a separate bowl and add gradually to the cooking pot until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. Purée if desired. Enjoy just as it is or in my lagom apple pie!

If I’ve just awoken your curiosity about apples (I sure hope so!), check out the archived articles Wisdom Tree and An Apple A Day and the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for more superb savory and sweet apple recipes.

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