Christmas traditions – Risgrøt

So.. In Norway there’s this tradition of making rice porridge – risgrøt – around Christmas. We have it for dinner (! I’m sure lots of you find that weird 😉 ) all through the year really – usually on Saturdays – but it’s something special for Christmas. Traditionally people on the farms all around Norway would make a bowl for the “nisse” for Christmas so he’d be happy. Many still do! We have a rice-porridge based dessert after Christmas dinner in my family (my favourite!) and so do very many other Norwegians on Christmas Eve. Usually you make a big batch on December 23rd, have it for supper and then use the rest to make dessert!

I won’t be making dessert around here, but I made some today! Yum!

300 ml water
150 ml short grain rice
700 ml whole milk
1tsp vanilla sugar
pinch of salt

First you bring the water to the boil along with the rice and let it simmer until the water is absorbed. Add the milk and simmer at minimum heat for 40-60 minutes until the porridge is just pourable in consistency – it should not be stiff/lumpy but not watery either. Stir in salt and vanilla. Traditionally it’s served with a sprinkling og cinnamon and sugar and a little knob of butter in the middle.

Look -a “nisse”gang is preparing for Christmas on the milk carton.

Boiling my porridge!
All done! I eat my “risgrøt” with sugar only.. I’m generally a bit weird, so I don’t do it the regular way.. He he.. But it should preferably be served with a red, berry-flavoured drink (and I really mean something actuallly made of fruit…).

And Bajas get to lick the bowl. He always does, so he knows when I’m having this.. LOL!


MomDay Cooking – Caramel Candy!

Okay.. So this isn’t anything like dinner.. LOL! I brag about making the best chocolaty caramel candy. They’re soft, chewy and soooo good. I gave out the reciepe at this forum I’m at the other day.. And ended up just having to make some for myself. I usually make these for Christmas.

You need:
100g/3,5 ounces butter
130g/5 ounces golden syrup
170g/6 ounces cream (or condenced milk)
170g/6 ounces marsmallows
3,5 ounces 70% chocolate (or another good, dark chocolate if you prefer but a high content of cocoa is best)

Oh my… all that sugar and fat in one picture. LOL!

Put all ingredients except chocolate into a big, wite pot and bring to the boil. Then keep at a simmer for aprox. 35-45 minutes until it’s nice and thick and golden brown. It’s really important to keep the temperature as low as possible, if they’re boiled at a high heat they will become hard instead of soft. Test if it’s done by dropping a little of the mixture into a cup of cold water. If you can shape it into a ball, it’s done.

Then stir in the chocolate (broken into pieces) and pour it onto a small tray or similar to cool off.When cool it’s nice and soft – as you can see – and the easiest way (in my opinion) is using a clean pair of scissors and just cut it into pieces.

The easy way is to use some sandwich paper/waxy paper to wrap them in – the pretty one for gifts is cellophane.

A few years back a friend and I made almost 2,5kgs to give away as Christmas gifts… (Never again.. LOL.. that took forever!) Wrapped in red cellophane and put in transparent cellophane bags with handmade tags it all turned out rather pretty, though.

Thank you everyone for sending purrs and thoughts to my little kitty. He’s seemed a little better yesterday, but still had quite a bit of yellow gooey stuff in his eyes this morning. He’s happy and playing and eating and that’s the most important thing!


Baking bread/rolls

Eduardo’s Mom asked for the reciepe I used for the rolls in the previous post. I’ll be getting to that, but first I’d like to say something about the myth about baking. It’s supposed to be difficult – among other things because you have to measure and be excact. I’m not saying this is not true with certain cakes etc, but for your regular rolls/breads you’re pretty free to experiment!

What you need for a basic bread is simply
– flour
– yeast
– water

That’s it. In addition you can add pretty much whatever you like in there – seeds, nuts, cheese, youghurt, dried fruits… you name it. If you get some weird idea – just try it! (But you might want to make a smaller portion so you don’t have to throw out loads of it if it doesn’t turn out very tasty.)

This is what I used for my rolls (if you’re making for a family or large eaters you should probably double the amounts!)
6 dl plain flour
0,5 dl seeds (pumpkinseeds, sunflowerseeds and flaxseeds)
0,5-1dl rolled oats
1 dl yoghurt
3 dl water
ca 0,5 packet of dried yeast
pinch of salt

I put yoghurt in this because I had some that had just crossed the magical “best before” date and because I like to use it when I bake. I use it in Indian Naan bread (where it’s supposed to be) and in my very yummy muffins. It’s not neccessary at all – but if you have some I’d try to toss it inn. Natural yoghurt of course (but if you’re of the adventurous type there might be flavoured ones that would taste good, too!)

So – mix the dry ingredients together (you could of course use fresh yeast, but I’m not much of a planner, so I tend to leave it in the fridge too long and hence dried is what I use the most). Add yoghurt and/or a splash of melted butter og oil if you want and the lukewarm water and mix it all together. If it seems a bit sloppy you just add a bit more flour or rolled oats – but remember the flour will soak up some water while it’s resting. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for as long as you like, aprox. one hour. Then you shape the dough into rolls, place on a baking sheet and cover with cloth to rise for another 30-45 minutes. Place in the oven at about 225 degrees celcius for 12-15 minutes. Then let them cool off on a rack. Enjoy!

TIP 1: do you want nice, freshly baked rolls for breakfast, but don’t want to get up early to prepare? Mix the dough the night before, but reduce the amount of yeast by half (or more, a little goes a long way!). Cover with plastic and place it in the fridge over night! With the cooler temperature the dough will raise more slowly and be perfect by morning. The same can be done before going to work and you’ll have dough ready for when you come home. This works great with pizza dough, for instance! You could use the same dough for pizza, but I’d skip the seeds and just add some more rolled oats. That make the pizza more filling! You might add some of your favourite spices, like a bit of basil or some garlic, to the dough as well!

TIP2: you can roll up anything you like in the dough (just roll it out to a rectangle, place filling, roll it up and cut into slices and place these on the baking sheet)

Here are a few I’ve tried (lousy pictures as they’re taken with a cellphone).

Tandoori chicken – dough made with turmeric and onion seeds added for extra flavours. Then I added smal pieces of tandoori marinated chicken like I’ve shown you before. Yummmm!

Here’s what it looked insdide (well.. sort of anyways..) Yellowish dough and pink pieces of chicken. LOL..
Ham and cheese!

Whole wheat dough with pizza filling. I placed these in a muffin tray. I like that shape!

Now that should be MORE than enough on this subject.. Sorry..

MomDay Cooking – vegetable soup

This is what I just had for dinner – warm and filling vegetable soup. It’s very simple to make, healthy and cheap so there’s really no excuse not to make this one. 😉

You need

ca 1/2 litre of (soup) stock (there’s no exact measurements here so don’t get stressed by me being metric)
1 potato
1 carrot
1 small wedge of cabbage
1 slice of swede/rutabaga
1 dl corn
a little (frozen) spinach
1 dl bulgur wheat (this is optional, but sooo good)

This is for the soup I made today.. I like root vegetables and stuff that stay pretty firm as I’ll be reheating this once or twice at least. If you’re cooking for a family and will be eating all at once broccoli, cauliflower etc would be great too – and generally I’d just say you could use any vegetable you like!
I use a soup stock cube – I generally use that all the time that I need stock (I don’t have space to make my own and we don’t get cans of stock like I know many of you can buy so that’s my best option). The important thing is that it’s not too salty – you’ll be eating it later..

The cabbage is chopped up and left with the frozen corn and spinach until the soup is almost done.
I start out with the stuff that take the longest time to cook – in other words the bulgur wheat and the diced potato. Then carrot, swede and after 10-15 minutes I add the cabbage, corn and spinach.

Cook until the bulgur wheat and the potatoes are soft. I like a bit of crunch to the rest of the vegetables the first time – as I mentioned I’ll be reheating this and then it’ll be all soft anyways.

Fill up your bowl and enjoy! This is a very filling soup, and I’m always impressed how tasty the broth becomes when all the vegetables are cooked in it.

MomDay Cooking – Chana Masala

Here’s a bit more of the Indian flavours for you! I tried to make an Indian sauce from scratch the other day and it turned out great! And it was soo much simpler than I imagined.. (I should have done this ages ago!)

Chana Masala
1 can of chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 onion (really.. I didn’t have any and just skipped it without any problems)
1 carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 minced chili
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp (ground) cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp Garam Masala
1/2 lemon – juiced
1 can of chick peas (400g)
rice and/or naan bread and sallad!

I cooked my carrots in the sauce and they “vanished” when I used the hand blender in the end. Because of this I didn’t bother to finely mince/grate the ginger. You could replace the carrot with other veg you like (or just add some more). I forgot to add the garlic to the picture!

The spices – I used some chili flakes and some tabasco to heat things up as I didn’t have any fresh chilies.

Brown your onion and garlic and add ginger and the tomatoes and carrot pieces. Add the spices and leave to simmer for 20 minutes or so.

The chick peas – I cooked my own but canned work just fine if you don’t bother. Here you see the dry one on the right, then a soaked one (10hours) and a boiled one on the left. I cooked my sauce and my soaked chick peas for an hour!

Then I added the juice from half a lemon to the sauce, whizzed it up and tasted – it was really yummy and I only added a little more tabasco. I don’t have any plated pictures of this as I didn’t eat it right away but brought some to work yesterday and some for lunch today. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of my lunch. LOL! I have one more portion in my freezer and then I gave the rest of the sauce to PA and he brought it home and had this for dinner yesterday too (and gave it his approval).
I’m looking forwards to lunch! (“,)

MomDay Cooking – Tandoori Chicken

I love Indian flavours.. You can of course make your own tandoori paste, but I’m going with the pre-made stuff. It takes a little while for the chicken to marinate, but other than that it’s really easy! And soooo good!

a whole chicken in pieces – or your piece of choice (I generally use a skinless chicken breast)
tandoori paste
cumin seeds
(jasmin) rice
salad/veg of choice

Get the yoghurt and tandoori paste the night before or the same morning (preferably – a couple of hours on the counter will be pretty good, too!)
Mix up a couple of TBS of the paste with a similar amount of yoghurt and a TBS of vegetable oil in a plastic bag. Score the chicken a bit – but never all the way through – and get it in the bag and give it a quick massage. Then put it in the fridge until dinner time.
Turn on the oven to about 225degrees celcius (or if you’re able to it would be great to grill the chicken insteda!) Then get your rice. I love jasmine rice.. There’s no other rice as flavourful in my opinion, but you can use the rice of your choice! In this case we’re flavouring it even more, too!
In adition to the rice we’re putting in some cumin seeds and a bit of turmeric.
Heat a little oil in the pot you are going to use(optional you could dry fry the seeds and rice as well – I’m very inconsisten on this and do either) and toss in about half a tea spoon per dl of rice. Add the rice and fry it until it becomes translucent (the change is not very apparent without oil, so if this is your first attempt I’d use oil!) and then add a tea spoon of turmeric and the water. I bring it to a boil (happen pretty much right away since everything is hot) and turn off the heat leaving it on the remaining heat – if you’re cooking with gas you might want to leave it at a very low heat instead.

Let’s not forget the salt.. (I tend to do that..)

Adding it to the yellow rice water…
I cook my chicken in the oven (usually – I also use this marinade for chicken to barbecue in summer). Place it in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes while the rice finishes cooking.

Plate up with some nice veg and you’re ready for a yummy dinner.

MomDay Cooking – Tomato sauce!

Somewhat stealing Joe Stain and Tanner’s Mom’s idea I’m letting Mom do some food blogging on my blog. Now food is always i good theme, right? So, here goes!

Homemade Tomato sauce
You get lots of good, pre-made tomato sauces. But when you make your own you know exactly what actually goes into it. The secret to a yummy sauce is cooking it for a long time – you’ll have to start making this before you get hungry. But make lots, and keep it in the freezer for the next time!

You need:
– a large pot with lid
– a couple of tins of tomatoes
– extra virgin olive oil
– an onion
– a couple of carrots
– a couple of cloves of garlic (more if you’re one of them garlic junkies)
– a glass or two of red wine
– basil
– oregano (or whatever spices you prefer)

Fry the onion off in some olive oil. You can use vegetable oil, but the olive oil lends a good flavour. I use my beloved hand blender on the sauce in the end so I chop the onion up rather roughly.

Toss in garlic and carrots… and then the wine. I used some really good ecologic wine. It tasted yummy, but I didn’t finish it last night so I thought making tomato sauce would be a good idea! I’m not fond of sauces tasting like wine, but when we cook the sauce for hours like this, it gives such a good flavour in the end!

Add the tomatoes and a handfull of dried basil and dried oregano…

You’ll have to let the sauce simmer for no less than an hour, preferably several hours. I generally cook it for like six hours. This make the flavour very concentrated sooo good. Then I wizz it up with the hand blender and make a lovely, creamy textured sauce. Taste and add more spices and a touch of salt or sugar if needed.

My beloved hand blender! I don’t know what I’d do without this thing… (I prefer my sauce smooth, pieces in my sauce make me freak.. *blush*) If you like chunky sauce you can just use choppet/crushed tinned tomatoes and chop you additional ingredients a bit finer than mine. Or very rustic if you’d like that of course!

Use some of your sauce for today’s dinner and ladle the rest into containers. It’ll keep for a day or two in the fridge. Maybe you’ll use it for pizza today and spaghetti sauce tomorrow? Making this with no added fluid other than the wine(and you could skip that if you want to) make this sauce real thick and cramy and perfect for pizza. Cheaper, tastier and healthier than the pre-made stuff.

TIP: If you, like me, generally cook for just one person freezing some of it in an ice cube tray/bag make it real easy to just thaw a little sauce to make a one serving pizza.

I fried some lean ground beef, chucked in some of the sauce and some frozen corn and served with some cucumber and whole wheat spaghetti.