Monthly Archives: August 2009

Swedish crayfish party!

The evening's raison d'etre

The evening's raison d'etre

Last night I hosted a Swedish crayfish party.  It involved me doing no work at all because a Swedish friend handled all of the food and drinks.  In addition to the crayfish, we had pickled herring in cream fraiche (not bad), pickled herring in mustard sauce (not so good), priest cheese (I think this loses something in translation), reindeer sausage, crispbread, rye bread, and boiled potatoes.  And of course – schnapps and Swedish beer.

My favourite part (besides the songbooks, which were hilarious)?  It all came from Ikea.  Who knew they sold booze?

– Anna

My garden, decorated with crayfish.

My garden, decorated with crayfish.

"Piraten" schnapps.  Evil stuff.

"Piraten" schnapps. Evil stuff.

The Swedish contingent models the hats and bibs

The Swedish contingent models the hats and bibs

Perfect crayfish extraction

Perfect crayfish extraction

Homemade bagels

To get a bagel in London, you basically have to go to Brick Lane.  And whilst the salt beef is excellent, the bagels themselves are frankly a bit underwhelming.  Also, the limited availability of bagels means that my cream cheese consumption is curtailed.  I mentioned to Eve that I wanted to try baking bagels so I’d have an excuse to eat cream cheese and smoked salmon, and she sent me a recipe she’d seen online and volunteered her services.

It worked!  We made bagels!  And ate cream cheese!  Here’s how we did it:

1) Mix 4 cups of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1.25-1.5 cups of warm water (however much you need to make the dough combine) in a bowl.

2) Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it’s smooth.  If you’re pathetically out of shape like Eve and I are, this will hurt. But push through, it’s worth it in the end.

3) Divide the dough into 8 balls and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Dough balls

Dough balls

4) Roll the dough into a foot long dough snake

Dough snake.  And Eve.

Dough snake. And Eve.

5) Wrap the ends around and press them together.  Now you have bagel-shaped dough.  Let them rest for 20 minutes and put water on to boil in a big pot.  Also preheat the oven to 425f or 220c and grease some cookies sheets with vegetable oil.

My first bagel

My first bagel

Eve's first bagel

Eve's first bagel

6) Boil the bagels a few at a time for a minute on each side.

Eve's bagels were sinkers.  We're not sure why.

Eve's bagels were sinkers. We're not sure why.

7) Take the bagels out of the water, and press them into a topping if you’re using one.  The garlic we used didn’t want to stick but the poppy and sesame seeds were fine.

Seeds waiting for a bagel.

Seeds waiting for a bagel.

bagels and lamb 036

8) Bake the bagels for ten minutes on each side, then enjoy with cream cheese, smoked salmon, or whatever your little heart desires.

Our first batch, fresh from the oven

Our first batch, fresh from the oven

Chive cream cheese, YUM

Chive cream cheese, YUM

My perfect bagel - chive cream cheese, smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon juice, and fresh ground black pepper

My perfect bagel - chive cream cheese, smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon juice, and fresh ground black pepper

All in all, a great success!  We did have one bagel fail, it’s after the jump.

– Anna Continue reading

More peanut butter ideas!

The Kitchn was inspired by Mark Bittman’s peanut butter article too, and asked its readers how they use peanut butter.  I have a feeling some of their ideas are going to really turn Stefanie’s stomach.

– Anna

Grilled lamb and vegetables with lemon herb dressing

I’m feeling too lazy to write a proper post about this, so I’ll tell the story in pictures instead.bagels and lamb 005

First, I marinated some onions in red wine (the recipe wanted Zinfandel, I blanked on the name of the Italian varietal (Primitivo. Thanks, Google!), so I used Merlot instead.bagels and lamb 006I also marinated courgettes (zuchinni, for our American friends) and red peppers in herbs and oil.  They made a pretty vegetable tower.  I skipped the squash the recipe wanted because I could only find butternut, and that seemed wrong.bagels and lamb 010After about three hours and almost asphyxiating my neighbours with smoke (sorry!), I grilled the veggies.bagels and lamb 012They were joined by the lamb (which you last saw here).bagels and lamb 015After some lemon herb dressing and a sprinkling of feta, dinner was served.

Mmm, meat.  Meat closeup:bagels and lamb 014It was yum.  And also delicious cold the next day.  Oh, and all of the herbs were from my garden, so I felt proud.  Yay for not killing every plant I come in contact with!  Recipe here.

– Anna

I suck

I shouldn’t be on this blog, I’m an embarrassment.

I present Evidence A:

DSC02892

Rice a la Stefanie – nice and crunchy. I wasted 30min on this.  In case you’re wondering, I can’t make rice, the second attempt was a mushy mess.  I hate rice, why can’t I make it? Probably because I have an attention span akin to a goldfish, I make a class of 4-year olds look focused and persistant.Also, hot -cold hot cold, what is up with that. First make it boil, then simmer, then not too much water, but not too little.  I hate rice…

Evidence B:

Lo and behold the disaster muffin – I can’t even bake anymore.

Disaster muffin

Disaster muffin

Things that went wrong: a) attention span again, because if I had one I would have paid attention to that smell indicating these muffins are well done, but oh no, I was too busy looking for other muffin recipes to notice that they were heading the toasty way. There’s a lesson somewhere in there about living in the moment, I know.

b) My oven is too hot, something I should have known, it smacks too much of a pathetic excuse, right? Right.

c) And even if they were a bit toasty, too much nutmeg. It was meant to be a yummy banana muffin after a recipe I found on the BBC. And I was suspicious of the nutmeg in it… and of course..the whole muffin tasted of nutmeg.  I retire, I ain’t a-bakin anymore. MPFH.

Punishment for this inadequate performance? Austere dining (because let’s not forget:I would have had chicken with this sad broccoli and overcooked rice, but I got carried away with the defrosting rendering my chicken inedible).  So there, that’s all get.

At least it's kind of healthy

At least it's kind of healthy

So, I rest my case and hide in shame….

– Stef

No-cheese pizza

Last Friday, I found myself in a familiar quandary: working from home, unshowered, wearing jimjams, and with an empty fridge.  Lunch was inspired by a conversation I’d had with Eve a few days earlier about cheese-free pizza in Naples, and assembled from the depths of the freezer.  I had pizza dough, caramelised onions, and frozen spinach in there, and the fridge contributed the dregs of a jar of passata.  bagels and lamb 016Hey, I guess it’s healthier than normal pizza (though I did do a Jamie Oliver and drizzle olive oil over it once it came out of the oven).

– Anna

Peanut butter: letting the professional explain

Two hours after trying to explain peanut butter to Stefanie, I find Mark Bittman has done it in this Sunday’s New York Times.  Over to him.

– Anna