gratinated bean tortillas

I was supposed to post this last Friday (had it all set to go) but then the unspeakable happened and posting anything didn’t feel possible.

Sadly I’m not shocked that we had a terror attack in Sweden. I’ve talked to people several times about the fact that it wouldn’t be a question of if, but a question of when – and many others have said the same thing. And the fact that we feel that way is horrible. I was sat in my office when I got a message from S saying “Are you ok?” and with a screenshot from Swedish Radio’s Twitter-feed saying a lorry had just crashed into Åhléns department store in central Stockholm – 600 metres from my office. No one on my floor had heard the news yet, but they soon spread and we all turned on various live reports. Everyone’s phones were ringing – friends and family trying to make sure you were ok. The police closed down the entire underground system and all inner city buses, and people were ordered to stay inside their offices. Shoppers were locked into shops for their safety.

What I have to say I was wrong about though is our response. Despite the obvious – that they have security warnings out and train for these kinds of horrors – I didn’t think they would be this well-prepared. They have done a fantastic job, they responded quickly and forcefully, were quick to send out a picture of the suspect to the media and arrested the driver that same evening. My mum always said she was worried about me living in London because it’s a big terrorist target and I always replied I would be more worried about it in Stockholm – but I am glad to say that I believe the police force has surpassed the whole nation’s expectations. And we have shown them how much we love them for it.

I don’t think I’ve quite processed it yet though. It was only two weeks prior that I was worriedly texting my friends in Parliament hoping they were ok and thanking whatever powers may be that S had only worked a half day that day. I had worried calls from my family asking was he ok, and was trying to process that a spot where I had frequently walked at exactly that time on exactly that weekday had been subject to a terror attack. Hearing from my friends who were on lock-down in their offices in Parliament and who couldn’t leave to go home until 6-7 hours later. And then it happened again. But this time in my town. On a road that I frequently walk down and very well could have been on a Friday at 3pm. But at least this time I knew that if everyone was where they were supposed to be, I would be the only one of my close family and friends near the attack.

No doubt it will all sink in soon enough. There are many emotions tumbling around inside me right now, but at the moment the strongest of them all is still pride. Pride in our police force, pride in the love we as a people have shown them (if you haven’t seen the police cars overflowing with flowers it’s a beautiful sight) and pride in our response as a nation. I have never seen so many people gather at Sergels Torg as they did for the vigil on Sunday afternoon. The flowers that were put on a fence by the place of the attack had to be moved because the fence was beginning to collapse.

So right now we are a country in mourning but we’re trying to go on as normal, if only with a little more love for one another.

***************************************

Something I’ve discovered I really like, which surprised me a bit, is bean chillies. It started out before we were getting married when I decided to try 5:2 to help me get in better shape. Not being the kind of person who could eat only once a day I would have to split my 500 kcal intake between lunch and dinner – which obviously isn’t the easiest thing to do. But to my rescue came M&S and Eat. Eat had a really nice Pho noodle soup which was only about 220 kcal and a side-order ham hock and egg salad which was big enough to work for lunch and which, including the dressing I never ate, contained about 270 kcal. M&S had a range of salads and soups too, but they also sold these little one-portion tins of three bean chilli in their Count on Us range. One tin was 200g and had, I think, 214 kcal worth of food and I would sometimes eat several each week. On fast days I’d eat them either with just a small amount of added sweetcorn, or with those ‘zero calorie noodles’, and on non-fast days I would eat them with sweetcorn and cheese on top of a baked potato. I actually still have a few that came with me to Sweden, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell them in most M&S shops any more.

So when I got my slow cooker and was thinking about what to make first it was only natural that the three bean chilli with sweet potatoes became my fist course. And now that I feel like trying to eat more vegetarian it’s only natural that I turn to beans again. Because working out 3-5 times per week, and wanting to add muscle rather than just lose weight, I still need my protein.

I like black beans and kidney beans (and chickpeas – do they count as beans? I’ve read that they can also be called garbanzo beans) but I’m not as keen on white beans. I think it’s the ‘white beans in tomato sauce’-associations that put me off them. With the success of my three bean chilli, I’ve wanted to make something else bean-centred, but haven’t quite known what until last week when I was browsing Ica’s recipe bank for vegetarian mains and found their “gratinated bean tortillas” recipe. Seeing as I love enchiladas I was thinking this would be a good substitute, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

I think the dish was ok – but it was too sweet. Using normal tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce (rather than enchilada sauce) meant that it lost those enchilada-associations I was hoping for, since there was very little spiciness. Having looked for enchilada sauce sold separately in the supermarket (for another recipe I want to try – a slow cooker enchilada quinoa casserole) but not having found it, I have instead found a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that looks fantastic. So next time I make these bean tortillas (and there will be a next time because other than the sweetness they were very tasty) I will make sure I have a batch of that homemade enchilada sauce to go with it instead of the tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce.

In case you want to try this recipe as it is anyway, here it is.


Ingredients (8 tortillas)

1 tsp oil

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp tomato purée

390g tinned, crushed, tomatoes

380g kidney beans

380g black beans

300g sweetcorn

8 medium tortillas

390g pasta sauce with chili

100g cheese


Chop up the onion and fry in the oil. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir.

Add tomato purée and crushed tomatoes and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse the beans and add them and the sweetcorn to the pan.

Put the tortillas in an oven dish and fill with the bean mixture. Top with pasta sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 225 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.


Serve with guacamole or salsa and sour cream.

/t

Advertisements

slow cooker mexican shredded beef burritos

When I worked in London we didn’t have a lot of nice lunch places around the office. Most often that meant having just a ready meal or sandwich from a local supermarket or something from the office restaurant (which was always a, shall we say, interesting experience…). But sometimes when the weather was nice and I didn’t feel stressed I would walk over to Embankment and treat myself. Some days that meant getting a Katsu curry at Wasabi, other days it meant getting a fully loaded Mexican Burrito from Wrap It Up!. The burritos were so good – huge and filled with shredded beef or chicken, rice, black beans, salad, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Freshly wrapped up in foil, with the cheese melting with every step, I’d carry it back to the office and tuck in.

Lately I’ve felt a bit been-there-done-that with many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve been looking at since pretty much all I’ve had this autumn and winter have been soups and stews. I also had a real craving for Mexican (or European Mexican shall we say) food, and being in London over the weekend made me remember the cheesy, spicy burritos I sometimes had for lunch. So I went looking for slow cooker beef burrito recipes online and came about this Mexican shredded beef recipe. Often the pulled pork/shredded beef/chili recipes require lots of different ingredients that I don’t have or can’t that easily get hold of – especially since they’re often American. This required some spices I didn’t have at home but that I knew I could get at my local supermarket, so I decided to give it a go.

I don’t think it’s very often when you try and remake something you’ve had when eating out that the result exceeds your expectations, but this time it really did. It was exactly what I was craving and it really did feel like I was eating one of those Wrap It Up! burritos. I first had it for lunch, reheated in the microwave, with guacamole and when I bit into that first bite with the melted cheese and the spicy beef I knew I had found something good.

I should warn you though that this recipe makes a lot of beef ! And I mean a lot. Especially when you add rice, sweetcorn and beans like I did. I used 4 portions of rice, 200g sweetcorn and 380g (one box) ready to serve black beans. This mix is very beef-heavy, so if you want a more equal mix between your beef and the rest I would probably recommend using the same amount of rice, sweetcorn and black beans, but halving the beef (or cooking all of it but using half for something else). Unless you’re cooking for an army, in which case feel free to double the rice, sweetcorn and beans.

I would also recommend actually letting the sauce reduce down for at least 10-15 minutes, as it says in the original recipe. I didn’t have time to do that since I was doing the last bits in the morning before going to work, so mine only simmered for about 5 minutes. This unfortunately meant that the flavour of the sauce wasn’t as intense and there was way too much of it since burritos can’t be too liquid – or the tortilla will just become sloppy. Apart from that the result really was fantastic.


2017-02-21-14.21.57.jpg.jpg

Ingredients (many portions)

Spice Mix

1.5 tbsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp All Spice

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

black pepper

Beef

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

1.5kg beef brisket

5 garlic cloves

1 onion

0.75 cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

400g crushed tomatoes

500 ml beef stock

Burritos

4 portions long grained rice

200g sweetcorn

380g black beans (cooked/ready to serve)

grated cheese

soft tortillas

guacamole and/or sour cream


The original recipe recommends cutting the meat up into three similar-sized pieces, but I chose to keep mine in one large piece, since I’ve learnt my slow cooker seems to make the meat drier than some others.

Combine all the spices for the spice mix in a bowl, then sprinkle a few teaspoons over the beef and pat it in.

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the meat on high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and add to the slow cooker.

Fry the garlic and onion on medium heat until soft.

Add the orange juice and lime juice to the pan, then add the remaining spice mix.

Pour the contents into the slow cooker together with the chopped tomatoes and beef stock. Your beef should be mostly covered, but if it’s not – add water until it is.

Cook on low for 6-10 hours – the bigger the piece(s) of meat the longer the cooking time.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks. Set aside.

Pour the sauce into a pot. Simmer on the hob until thickened enough for your liking (at least 10-15 minutes), then pour as much as you like over the beef (though not all!).

To make my burritos:

Measure out four portions of long grained rice and cook according to the instructions.

Drain the black beans and rinse thoroughly.

Mix the rice, sweetcorn and beans into the beef.

Put a good-sized dollop of burrito filling in the middle of a tortilla. Top with as much cheese as you feel like, then fold it and wrap it up in foil.

Serve with guacamole and/or sour cream.


This is one meal I’ve made that I won’t grow tired of having both for lunch and for dinner several days in a row.

/t

your body can stand almost anything, it’s your mind you have to convince

I’m one of those people who you (if you don’t like to exercise) probably find really annoying, because I actually really like exercising. Of course I don’t like all kinds of exercise – for example I find running very boring – but I’ll try anything you throw at me at least once, and often find myself surprised that I like (sometimes even love) it. I’m guessing this has something to do with the fact that I was basically raised in the gym, with the weekends spent in the forest.

My mum started working as a group training instructor a few years before I was born and before I started going to kindergarten she would often bring me along if she had a class. Back then the gym didn’t have the babysitting facilities they have today, so I would be playing outside the hall while the receptionist kept an eye on me. (To this day if I go places with my mum I still meet people saying “I haven’t seen you since you where this small and were crawling around the gym!”. I’m almost 30 now.)

I find this sign very annoying..

We often spent our weekends at different sporting events, be it football games, orienteering competitions, or other running competitions my mum was participating in. I played football (soccer to you Americans) and did horse-riding for ten years, but I also tried my hand at basketball, orienteering, and street-dance. Adding to that, we would go ice-skating on the frozen lakes and go skiing/snowboarding in the winters, and obviously had to try out a load of different sports during our school’s PE-lessons. So I guess it’s not that odd that I turned out a relatively sporty person.

The thing is that really liking exercise doesn’t always make it easier to continue doing it – unless you love running because then you don’t need much to be able to do it. So what happened in my case was that I moved to Italy to be a nanny and basically stopped exercising completely. There wasn’t a gym I knew of anywhere nearby and it was really difficult for me to make friends since the Italians barely spoke English and I didn’t speak Italian. So I got demotivated and fell into the trap of Italian fast-food; pasta, pizza and ice-cream. I gained about 5-6 kg (11-13 lbs) in weight and felt quite bad about it.

I then worked in two more families, worked in Sweden for a year, and went to uni. I became somewhat of a yoyo-dieter at this time, with shortish periods of feeling good about my weight and longer ones where I wasn’t satisfied. Apart from getting a lot of ‘everyday exercise’ from working in a shop (10-15,000 steps per day average) I didn’t do much exercise at this time, because it just wasn’t very convenient. I did get back into it the last two years at uni, because I lived near a hotel that had a good gym. But moving to London after uni then undid that for me. At first I managed quite well and I went to the gym several times a week, but once we were married (my goal I was working towards) and I was working longer hours all motivation just drained out of me. I’d managed to get down to my ‘happy weight’ for the wedding, but afterwards I gained it all back, and a few additional pounds. I think that was the heaviest I’ve ever been.

What’s difficult for me about going to the gym is not the being there but the getting there. Especially when it’s cold and dark out, or if I get home late. Once I’m at the gym and working out I always feel happy (well ok, sometimes the happy feeling doesn’t come until I’m done and no longer feel exhausted!). So now I’ve taken to going to the gym straight from work. I bring a backpack with my gym clothes and then either leave work and go straight there, or go to somewhere nearby and have a look around the shops – depending on the time and the location of the gym. It really helps a lot, because not stopping at home in between keeps me from crashing on the sofa and looking out thinking it’s too late/dark/cold/whatever. And I’m always happy, if tired, when I get home.

Since I got my membership here in Sweden at the end of May I’ve been to the gym 118 times – for 126 hours in total. That’s an average of one workout ever other day, or around 32 minutes per day. And that includes a ten day hiatus over summer and a week long one over Christmas. One of the things that helps as well is that my ‘new’ (can you call it new if it’s been almost eight months?) gym has a great selection of classes, which is what I prefer to do. Also, if you don’t cancel an hour before the class you get a ‘point’ in the system if you don’t show up, and if you get points you can’t book classes online for a while. When classes book up full within five minutes of being able to book, that’s quite a hassle.

So what’s keeping me at it now is partly that I don’t have anyone waiting for me at home – meaning I’d rather spend time doing things away from home so I don’t feel so lonely – and partly the fact that I’ve found a few classes that I want to do every week. My favourite is a 90 minute long hot yoga called Hot Mojo, which is performed in a room that is 38 degrees warm (Celsius) and has a minimum humidity level of 60%. Unfortunately there’s only one 90 minute class in the entire city and the instructor is on holiday at the moment, so for the next two weeks I have to make do with the 60 minute class.

This post has gone down a different road than what I was thinking when I started out, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you’re raised sporty and like to exercise, it’s not always easy to find the motivation to get there. We all need a little help now and then.

/t

honey roasted parsnip soup

My first Christmas working in Parliament – which for the record was three years ago – we went for lunch in the Members’ Dining Room. Staff members are not usually allowed to have lunch there, but we were allowed to book a table for our Christmas lunch.

It was a very funny lunch, at the time were six staff members – five full-time and one part-time, though mainly because of the comical mishaps and misunderstandings, such as one of our group shouting ‘no’ quite loud at the waiter because s/he thought he was going to pour red wine in the glass of someone who wanted to drink white. Let’s just say that in a somewhat subdued and rather serious atmosphere that turned some heads.

Now an English Christmas lunch is nothing like a Swedish one. We don’t even call it ‘lunch’; we call it Julbord – which means Christmas table! The English ones I’ve been to have had menus with three or so options per course, and most of them have been Christmassy. In Sweden you pay a set price per person and it’s a massive, and I mean massive, buffet. One table with just cold food, one table with just hot food, and one table just for sweets, biscuits, and desserts. A Swedish Julbord is the kind of thing where you should skip breakfast and still won’t need any dinner. This can become quite difficult if you’re going back to work afterwards though, so unless you’re doing it on the weekend, most people have a Julbord at dinnertime rather than at lunchtime.

20161024_213746 (2).jpg

But the English lunch has its charms, (one of them being that you don’t grow tired of eating the same food before you have to do it again on Christmas Eve) and when we went in the House I decided to try a honey roasted parsnip soup for my starter. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of parsnips, but I wasn’t too excited by any of the other options, so I went for it. My indifference towards parsnips soon changed though, and I’m pretty sure this was the turning point because I really liked that soup. So much so that almost three years later I still remember it.

I think my thinking that I wasn’t a big fan of parsnips came from when my dad used to make potato gratin when I was little. He would often make potato and parsnip gratin (with lots of onion!) so I would bite into what I thought was a lovely, soft potato – and it wasn’t. That has then followed me through life making me think I didn’t like parsnips, until I moved to the UK.

Now I’ve realised that I actually love parsnips, and being in my soup mood I’ve been thinking about this honey roasted parsnip soup I had in Parliament – especially since parsnips were half price in my supermarket last week. I started Googling for a recipe, but mainly came across regular parsnip soups. So I took a roasted parsnip soup recipe I found on BBC and combined it with my honey roasted parsnip recipe, and tada!


20161024_214328 (2).jpgIngredients

500g parsnips

70g butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp honey (2 + 2)

1 onion

2 vegetable stock cubes

750 ml hot water

750 ml milk

salt

pepper


Peel your parsnips and cut them into smaller pieces. Then melt the butter, brown sugar, and 2 tbsp of the honey in a pot. Pour the honey-mixture over the parsnips and toss them around to make sure they’re well-coated.

Roast for around 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Chop of your onion and fry in a little bit of oil or butter (your preference) until it goes somewhat translucent. Add the parsnips, making sure that you get all the gooey honey-mixture into the pot with you.

Add the stock cubes, water, and milk, and bring to boil. Then leave to simmer for around 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp of honey, then blitz the soup in a blender or with a hand blender.


20161025_175224 (2).jpgI had very high hopes for this soup, and I was not disappointed. It was not quite as sweet as the one I had for our Christmas lunch, but with four tablespoons of honey I think this was probably sweet enough. If you really want it to be a bit sweeter (or you want to make it look more appealing to your guests) you can always drizzle some honey on top.

I got about 4.5-5 portions out of this recipe (last portion was a bit smaller than the other 4), and again, a nice slice of bread with it is not wrong.

/t

sweet potato and carrot soup

It’s getting very wet here. Until last Friday, October had been cold and very grey, but not very wet – but Saturday bought an end to that!

I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in weeks. Every day as I sit and look at the small square of sky I can see from my office window, I see a thick, grey cloud cover which never seems to let up. It’s been chilly, but not so cold you need to bring out your winter jacket and has mercifully, up until now, not been raining very much.

This was the first weekend this month that S wasn’t here, so to spend the time I signed up to go to the gym. On Saturday morning I was signed up for 90 minutes of yoga in the city, and thought I could hang around in town after and browse the mid-season sales or so. (Side note: since when are there so many sales all the time?) As I was leaving I was running a bit late, and just grabbed the first jacket in the wardrobe without checking the weather, so when I came out and it was 3 degrees Celsius instead of the 7-ish it had been all week, as well as raining, I got a bit of a shock. No time to go back up and change though, so I ran down to the tube, but as I was walking around town after the class I was so cold. Luckily I had an umbrella in my handbag (if my time in London has taught me anything it’s to always carry a small umbrella in your bag), but the scarf I had on is a loop one that has been too stretched, so it leaves a gap around your throat – thus defeating the purpose of a scarf. Before long though, my mum WhatsApped me and said did I want to come hang out with her.

Anyway, what I was going to say was that on Saturday it started raining and it hasn’t stopped since. The weather websites are claiming that it will be dry tomorrow, and even bright sunshine and 7-9 degrees on Friday and Saturday, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I don’t mind the cold, I don’t (really) mind the fact that the sun is soon going to set before I leave work, and I don’t even mind (that much) if it’s grey out. I just don’t want it to rain. November is a bleak enough month as it is, and with climate change or whatever it is making the winters hotter, there’s not even the promise of a white December to get you through it. All you can do is hope.

20161019_223339 (2).jpg

Because of this bleak weather I’ve been in a real soup mood. I have a faint memory of writing somewhere in here – possibly in the blueberry post – that when I was little I didn’t like soup. Any soup. But having discovered that soup could be something other than the dreary, often lumpy, things we got in school, I’ve now come to expect these soup cravings this time of year.

My first soup of the season was a roasted red pepper and tomato soup which I unfortunately was quite disappointed with. It was too liquid and didn’t have the depth of flavour I was expecting, so I won’t put that recipe in this post.

Next up, however, was something much better. I was browsing soup recipes online and came across a carrot and sweet potato soup on BBC Good Food. I really like sweet potatoes, but the thought of putting them in a soup had never hit me. I immediately thought it was a good idea and decided to try it out.

This recipe is so easy, and takes very little effort. It’s a thick, earthy, autumnal soup – in other words everything I wanted it to be.


20161021_203539 (2).jpgIngredients

500g sweet potatoes

300g carrots

2 onions

4 cloves of garlic

1 litre vegetable stock

100 ml crème fraîche

oil

salt

pepper

paprika


Start by peeling your sweet potatoes and carrots and chopping them up into smaller pieces. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Then roast for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. You want the pieces to be ever so slightly darkened (read burnt) around the edges.

While your sweet potatoes and carrots are in the oven, chop up the onions and some garlic. I used 4 cloves, because I love garlic. Fry the onions on medium heat until they start to look translucent. Then add the garlic and fry for a minute or two, before adding the stock. Bring to boil and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the carrots and sweet potatoes to the stock and blitz with a hand blender (or, if you don’t have one, add the carrots and potatoes and then the stock mix to a normal blender). After I had blended to soup so it was smooth, I also added about 2 tbsp paprika. The original recipe didn’t call for this, but I think it complemented the flavours well.

Add the crème fraîche and stir until it’s completely blended in with the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with some additional crème fraîche on top, if you want, and a nice bread roll.


This was exactly the kind of feeling I was looking for when I was making the roasted red pepper and tomato soup, which is why I was disappointed when I didn’t get it. I ended up with three servings from this – but my servings are probably around 500ml each, so they’re quite large.

Next up is a parsnip soup I amended to turn it into a honey roasted parsnip soup. See you then!

/t

kanelbullar

They say home is where the heart is. But what if your heart – or rather, the person holding your heart – is in the wrong place?

It’s been almost seven months now and I don’t miss living in London. I miss London, but not living there. It’s a great city to be a tourist in – the culture, food, shopping, and sheer size of it – and a great city to live in while you’re young. But I was getting to the point where it was no longer the city I wanted to live in, a point where I needed to break free from the bustle. I love coming back to visit family and friends, the fact that I still feel like a local when I’m there. I love the bustle of London when I’m a tourist and know that it’s no longer my day-to-day life, my daily commute. I will always love London and London will always be a part of me, but I was born and raised in Sweden, and Stockholm is a larger part of me.

After what has essentially been eight years living abroad, Stockholm was calling me home. I’m one of those people who genuinely love my hometown – whether that makes me naïve or patriotic I don’t really know and don’t really care. I love walking around the city centre and still being surrounded by water everywhere. I love how you are always close to nature. And after three years on the Jubilee line I even see the Stockholm underground in a different light (though it does run much less frequently).

I walk around my city now, feeling the chill that comes with autumn – you know the one that gently bites your cheeks and makes them all rosy – and hearing the crunch of my steps as I walk through the fallen leaves, and I feel excited. These butterflies and this warmth in my chest is something that only Swedish autumn can bring. The beauty of the colourful leaves, the chill’s promise of snow, and the thought of knitted socks, big scarves, thick jackets, and cinnamon buns and hot chocolate – which will eventually be replaced by saffron buns, gingerbread, and mulled wine. All Saints’ Day at Skogskyrkogården, Lucia, Advent, and Christmas. (And then a few grey and miserable months before the budding blooms and an explosion of flowers in spring.)

Physically I feel better in Stockholm. I’m working less overtime, I’m going to the gym more often (having 46 branches instead of three certainly helps, and so does being able to leave the office at 5-5.30pm!), I eat better, and I stress less.

But (and it’s a big but) I’m not as happy as I know I could be, and the reason is of course that S is still in London. These past few weeks he’s been coming over almost every weekend, which has made the weeks easier to get through (and made them feel like they passed a lot quicker), but it’s also made it more difficult because it makes it even more noticeable that he’s not here during the weekdays (and let’s not even talk about the weekends where he then hasn’t been here). It’s like a double-edged sword – I get to see him a lot, but I feel even lonelier when he’s not here because I get to see him a lot. (I would obviously always choose that option over the other one though!)

So this is why I’ve been feeling down recently. I’ve lost some of my motivation to do things and felt slightly caught in a rut. I’ve been eating a lot more pick and mix than I should, and cinnamon buns too, but at least I’ve still been good with making my own lunch. That’s really more of a money question than a motivation question though. But I haven’t had the energy to write down the recipes and take pictures – it’s also getting more difficult to get ok pictures since it’s getting so dark out! – or make smoothies in the morning. I’ve still gone to the gym every week though – if only twice instead of four times, and I’m happy I’m still keeping that up somewhat. Last week and the week before I went three times, and this week I’m scheduled in for four. So at least I’m not letting my lack of motivation and feeling sorry for myself become an excuse for quitting the gym again – which I did in London. I did work much longer hours there though, and I wasn’t tied up for a year, so it was much tougher to work up the energy to go when you come home at 8-9pm and haven’t had dinner.

Anyway, I thought I’d pull myself out of my blogging dry-spell with my cinnamon buns I made a week and a half ago, and then I have a really nice pork and cider stew I made this weekend (if I can get some good pictures). I also have a tomato and roasted red pepper soup I made two weeks ago, and a pasta. So keep checking in – I promise I won’t abandon you just yet.


20141002_214629-3

Ingredients (36-40 buns)

150g butter

500 ml milk

50g (1 pack) fresh yeast

100 ml sugar

0.2 tsp salt

(2 tsp cardamom)

approx. 800g flour

1 egg

150g butter

100 ml sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

pearl sugar


First things first: Swedish cinnamon buns have cardamom in the dough. S doesn’t like cardamom, so I make mine without.

Second, I always use fresh yeast when I bake. I can’t stand dry yeast. If you don’t know where to get fresh yeast (in London you can get it at Scandinavian Kitchen which is about 5-10 minutes from Oxford Circus) you can use dry yeast, but I don’t think the dough turns out as nice.

Ok, on to the good stuff!

First, crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk. Leave on the heat until it reaches 37 degrees Celsius. The easiest way to judge this if you don’t have a thermometer is to put your finger in it. If it feels neither hot nor cold then it should be good to go.

(While you cut the butter, leave 150g to soften in a bowl at room temperature.)

Pour some of the liquid over the yeast and dissolve. Add the rest of the liquid and then the sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir until the sugar dissolves somewhat.

Measure out the flour and add slowly to the liquid, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Once all the flour is added, work the dough for at least ten minutes, until it’s smooth (five if you’re using a machine). Cover the dough and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

20141002_202636 (3).jpg
The risen dough

In the meantime, take the other 150g of butter, add 100 ml sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon and cream together until completely mixed.

Once 30 minutes have passed, tip out the dough on a floured surface. Cut into two equally sized pieces and set one aside. Roll the first piece out into a rectangle, about 0.5 cm thick. Take half of the spread and use a butter knife to spread over the dough. It is important that the butter is really soft here, or the dough will break. Roll up the dough on the long end, and cut into 1-2 cm thick slices (depending on how large you want your buns). Place on a baking tray in a cinnamon bun case (like a large cupcake case with lower sides) – if you don’t have cases you can also place them on a baking sheet.

20141002_203202 (2).jpg

Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.

Cover the buns and leave them to rise for another 40 minutes.

Brush the buns with a beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (Again, this is available at ScandiKitchen.)

20141002_212302-3

Bake for around 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius (slightly longer if they’re huge).


Enjoy!

/t

strassburgare

So as you read in my cinnamon biscuits post yesterday, these didn’t turn out like they were supposed to. And they didn’t survive the trip to London. But hey – at least they tasted great!

20160919_215931-2

Next time I guess I’ll make sure that the butter is even softer than it was this time. And there has to be a next time, because now I’ve realised how easy it is to make that dough I’m going to try and make one of my favourite biscuits that I always used to share with my mum when I was little. It’s made using a Viennese dough and splitting it into two – keeping one natural and flavouring the other with cocoa powder. One vanilla strand and one chocolate strand are then piped next to each other so that they attach when they bake. You then sandwich together two of these combined biscuits using melted chocolate – making sure that the vanilla and chocolate are on opposite sides on the top and bottom, so that if you split it in half where it’s attached when baking, you have one of each. I know that if I brought that home to my mum she’d be so impressed!

 


20160919_215935-2

Ingredients

100g butter

50 ml icing sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

125 ml flour

100 ml potato flour or corn starch


Take the butter out of the fridge a while before you want to make these, so that it’s really, really soft.

Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla sugar to an even dough.

Add flour and potato flour and whisk – preferably with an electric whisk. Then use a piping bag to pipe your preferred shape.

Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes.

While your biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Dip the biscuits and place on a baking sheet overnight to set.


If you wanted to decorate the biscuits with jag, you would instead make a dent in your biscuit and put a small bit of firm jam in it before you bake them.

/t