Newly harvested honey on flambéd fruit

Raw Honey

Raw Honey

Last night I tried out a few experimental recipes from various cookbooks I have in my kitchen library but it was my own dessert recipe, whipped up on the spur of the moment, that I got that 5 stars for.

The secret to this lovely sweet is the power of warmed, newly harvested raw honey. When I say raw, I mean honey that has not been preheated and remixed with sugar by the food industry. You can find it sold in the small boutiques and by beekeepers in your area.  As you know, I am a beekeeper, so it isn’t hard for me to find raw honey.

I had six very mature bananas resting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter, last year’s rosewater (liquid from aromatic rose petals immersed in brandy) and more jars of newly harvested honey than I can count, I set to work as follows:

Flambéd Fruit with Honey
Serves 4

4 mature (but not black) bananas peeled and halved lengthwise (it doesn’t matter if the bananas break into smaller pieces)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
50 g or 2 oz butter for sautéing
1 dl or 1/2 cup brandy, warmed
1 dl or 1/2 cup raw honey
Vanilla ice cream or whipping cream

Warm the honey in a small pan. Do not allow to boil. Whip the cream or remove the vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Place 4 dessert bowls on the counter so that it is easy to assemble the dessert quickly and serve.

Douse the newly sliced bananas in lemon juice. Sauté the bananas in a thick-bottomed pan in butter until lightly browned. Don’t over-handle the bananas as they will become mushy. Flambé the bananas for your dining audience by momentarily bringing the pan near the table, throwing the warm brandy over the bananas and setting it alight. As soon as the flame has died down, spoon the bananas into the bowls and top with one scoop of vanilla ice cream plus a generous drizzle of warm honey. Serve immediately.

As with all desserts, in fact all foods, please remember to stick to small portions. This is a lovely sweet to round off the meal, not the main feature of a second meal after the first meal!

Written by Admin in: Bananas,Desserts,Fruits,honey,Sweet Food | Tags: , ,

Chocolate Fruit Balls

Sweet Tooth's Healthy Delight

Sweet Tooth

Kids in Sweden love them. Adults in Sweden buy them at the shops without telling their kids. They are an energy bomb and are the sweet tooth’s delight. What are they? Chokladbollar or chocolate balls! How can I possibly think of including this in a health food blog, you may well wonder. Well, let’s see.

I’ve been working on ways to create this Swedish sweet-tooth’s dream with means other than the usual bomb of butter and sugar. I’ve worked out a version with oats and honey in the past, but that still includes butter. Chocolate balls do have the virtues that you can make them bite-size and they don’t include white flour. However, I’ve got to do better than that.

So here comes my solution: chocolate balls made with dried fruit. Some of us (including me) are sensitive to dry fruit and, in general, medical science is beginning to realize that different bodies have different tolerances for high quantities of fiber. So, choose a dried fruit that agrees with you. I love dried apricots, but my stomach growls when I eat more than just a touch of them, so I combine a bit of dried apricot with dried figs, dried apples and sometimes dried cranberries. The great thing about using dried fruit to make these delicious little sweet quenchers is that the moisture and sugar in the fruit allows you to skip the sugar and butter. A little added honey and you are away. Also, if you are lactose, gluten, milk or egg intolerant, this recipe meets your needs! Here is my suggestion which can be made in many variations.

Chocolate Fruit Balls (makes about 20-25)

2 cups or 5 dl nuts of your choice (a mixture of almonds, walnuts and cashew works well)
1 cup or 2 1/2 dl dried fruits of your choice
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsps honey
either 2 tbsps grated apple or grated rind of one orange plus juice of half an orange

1/4 cup or 1 dl dessicated coconut or unsweetened cocoa powder for dipping the balls in

Grind nuts and dried fruit in a food processor until they form moist clumps. Add remaining ingredients and blend until a smooth paste. Pour the dessicated coconut or cocoa powder into a bowl. Take a tablespoon of the paste and roll into a ball, dip in the coconut/cocoa and place on a serving plate. Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate fruit balls are not just a child’s delight. They are also an elegant finish to a nice meal, particularly if everyone is too full for a major dessert. Just serve them up with coffee or tea after the meal. Very elegant indeed served on a platter and surrounded with a bit of fresh fruit.


Honey Rye Sourdough Bread

Food of Love

Food of Love

I have to concede that I am what Swedes call a “höns mamma” (hen mother). On Valentine’s Day I want everyone at home with the unifying aroma of honey rye sourdough bread emanating from the oven and floating around them throughout the house. When we enjoy it together with the crumbs scattering quickly across the kitchen table as we laugh together in this most important of rooms, this bread feels like love itself. I’m without my bread mixer at the moment, you see. So, I have kneaded this bread by hand on a pastry kneading board that has been the birth place of great breads for the past hundred years or more . I have found that kneading is not an inconvenience if you really focus on it and don’t constantly think of the next thing. It is an act of love. However, if you’ve got a bread mixer, you need not look at it longingly as you knead (excuse my pun on words) for fear of not being able to deliver the same feeling to your family and love ones. Go ahead and use it!

Here is my best recipe for rye sourdough with a touch of honey to give it that lovely gentle flavor. A note about rye: it’s a good idea to try consuming more of this in your diet of grains or at least blending rye with wheat varieties of flour as this recipe does. Consuming rye flour breads has some clear benefits over eating mainly white flour breads as they include insoluble fibers which assist digestion and reduce blood fat levels.

The touch of honey that I’ve put into this bread has a dual effect. It helps the bread to rise and to become airy and elastic along with the sourdough and touch of yeast. It also gives the bread a smoother, more mature flavor compared with breads made with sweet baking syrup. Make sure you choose honey that is raw – meaning it hasn’t been heated. That way you preserve its yeasting qualities for the bread.

In this recipe I’m using the sourdough culture which you should make sure you’ve already got waiting for you in the refrigerator. Preparing it takes about a week of waiting (but not much work). Read about it in my entry for sourdough earlier this February.

Honey Rye Sourdough Bread
(makes two loaves)

5 dl or 2 cups fine ground rye flour
4 dl or 1 3/4 cups fine ground wheat flour
2 dl or 3/4 cup stoneground wheat flour or Grahamsmjöl
1 dl or 1/3 cup wheat germ
2 dl or 3/4 cup rye sourdough
25 g or 0.9 oz dry yeast for savoury doughs
2 tbsps honey
2 tbsps salt
4 dl or 1/3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 dl or 3/4 cup extra fine ground wheat flour for kneading (if you are using a bread mixer this can be used as extra flour if the dough is too sticky)

Combine flours, wheat germ and yeast in a mixing bowl or bread mixer. Add sourdough, honey and water. Knead into a smooth dough with one hand, keeping the other one free to add a bit of white flour and reduce stickiness. If using a bread mixer, blend at low speed for 2 minutes. If kneading by hand, scatter a bit of the spare flour onto a kneading board or wooden surface and knead the dough on this for about 10-15 minutes. If using a bread mixer, mix on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Add salt towards the end of the kneading process. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel and allow to rise for 6-8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat your oven to 250 C or 482 F. Split the dough into two, form into rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Cut a cross into the middle of the bread with scissors (for aesthetic purposes only – not a must). Scatter over a bit of extra stoneground wheat flour. Cover with the kitchen towel. Place near the warming oven and allow to rise for an hour or two. Reduce the oven heat to 200 C or 390 F and spray or sprinkle the dough with water just before sliding the baking tray with the bread rounds into the lower shelf of the oven. Allow to bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread is crispy and browned but not burned. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Enjoy lukewarm with a bit of butter or margarine and a hot cup of tea, coffee or drinking chocolate.

I love listening to the radio while I am kneading dough. It is a wonderful break from the hectic day! I like to partake in this unusual little relaxation technique before going to bed. That way the bread can rise while I am sleeping and be put into the oven to bake the next morning.

Happy Valentine’s!

Written by Julie in: Bread,Grains,Rye,Savoury Food,Wheat | Tags: , ,

Welcome to my kitchen!

My favorite Danish-designed kettle

My favorite Danish-designed tea pot

It would be an understatement to say that my kitchen is well used. I feed a family of four: a voraciously hungry husband and two rapidly growing ten-year-olds. Well, yes, there is Lucy my golden retriever, for whom hope springs eternal that something in my cooking pot will land in her pink dog bowl.

It’s not super-shiny and state-of-the-art and it probably needs a bit of a makeover, but this kitchen is a place that works; a place that everyone wants to gather in; a place that fills the house with mouthwatering smells and a place that inspires.

I came to this kitchen years ago with not much more than a poorly prepared Spanish omlette as my flagship recipe. In this kitchen over many years, I have experimented and learned from nature, from the tastes of my family and friends and from the simple repetition that eventually hones those skills and makes them sharp.

My husband isn’t a chauvinist. He can cook and he can do it very well when he puts his mind to it. However, during all of these years this kitchen has been mostly my domain because I have been determined to learn and develop in it (and because my husband rearranges the kitchen in ways that make me crazy when he cooks in it). It has been a place for me to express my creativity and to overcome the silly idea that there are things I cannot do. This kitchen has in many ways, been a therapy.

You are so welcome here and I look forward to sharing my weekly adventures, setbacks and discoveries in my kitchen with you.

Just a little note: All of the recipes in this blog can be found categorized under key ingredients in The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

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