Sunday, October 26, 2008


I hardly ever cook when I'm on my own. It just seems so pointless somehow, not being able to talk to anyone while eating, not sharing your day over the meal. But man cannot live on porridge and porridge alone, so today I did some Proper Cooking (tm) -- pan-fried plaice with oven-roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips! (Yes, Ilva at Lucillian Delights sort of inspired me...) It's dead simple, and incredibly delicious!

Ingredients, serves 2

300 g plaice
Coarsely ground rye flour

400 g potatoes
3 big carrots
3 small parsnips
Olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/ 390 F.

Prepare the vegetables:
Scrub the potatoes, peel carrots and parsnips. Quarter the veg, and douse in a good amount of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in an oven-proof dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until soft and edible.

Prepare the fish:
Pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and coat with the rye flour. Salt and pepper on both sides. Place a generous knob of butter in a hot skillet, and fry on both sides until golden brown. Serve as is, or with dill-flavoured sour cream, or some more butter.

I don't have any pictures to show you of the food (my man moved to Bavaria, and took the camera with him. Bastard.), so here's a picture of a dog on a sofa instead.

voffe i soffa

Friday, October 17, 2008

Deep Fried Cauliflower

Munich went from early autumn warmth to late autumn chill overnight, as it does. The Bavarians can't be bothered with four seasons, two are plenty--one where you sit outside in beer gardens at night and drink beer, and one where you huddle up with Glühwein (mulled wine) or go skiing in the alps. They may be right, but for those of us who grew up in Stockholm, where any particular weather tends to linger long enough for you to get to know it by first name, it can be disconcerting to be able to see your breath just a day after you were out walking in a t-shirt and shorts.

When the cold season comes marching in, the thoughts of a foodie naturally turn to heartier fare: oven roast, potato gratin, anything with lots of cream and butter... As any ringed seal could tell you, the best way to fortify yourself before a cold winter is a decent fat layer, and so we enter Butter & Beans' territory. Of course, you'll also be needing your vitamins and minerals when the sun doesn't shine, so vegetables are essential.

The combination of vegetable and fat is a time honoured tradition in most countries. We've recently visited France for a potato gratin, and today we're taking a look in the general direction of India, although the recipe is courtesy of a resident of the Indians' former colonial masters, namely Jamie Oliver. The recipe, deep fried cauliflower with spices, is from his Jamie at Home series/book.

Like most people, I long ago realized the almost magic ability of deep frying to bring out the full delicious potential of food, and ever since, I've longed to be able to clog my arteries with my own creations. I've owned a few deep fryers since, but somehow the results were never really good. Then one day, this spring, I decided to try my hand at deep frying "by hand", with just a pot, some oil, and a little piece of bread as a temperature indicator.

And you know what? It finally clicked. I think it might partly be that my old fryers didn't really have the heat capacity to keep the oil hot enough, but mostly I think it's that I finally really focused on the process; looked at the oil, smelled it, placed my cauliflower in it by hand, looked at it as it changed colour, and extracted it piecewise with a slotted spoon. So, if like me, you've been somewhat challenged in this area of your cooking, try it once with just the pot!

Well, let's put our recipes where our mouth's are, shall we?

Deep fried cauliflower
Inspired by Jamie Oliver.

1 cauliflower head
200 g self-raising flour, or 200 g flour + 10 g baking powder
1 bottle of beer
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp spices, suggestions: turmeric, chili, pepper, caraway
oil for deep frying
lemon to serve

Pour oil into a large saucepot and put on high heat. Trim the leaves off your cauliflower, cut off the largest parts of the stem, then break down into small florets. Sprinkle the cauliflower with some flour, and set aside. Grind the spices with a mortar and pestle, combine with salt and flour in a bowl. Whisk in beer until the batter reaches the consistency of thick cream, then mix in the cauliflower pieces.
Check if the oil is hot with a thermometer (180 °C / 350 °F), or simply place a piece of bread or raw potato in the oil. When it surfaces and goes golden quickly, the oil is hot enough.
Place little batches of the cauliflower, piece by piece, into the oil--drop them away from you! Fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until the batter's gone really golden and nice. Remove with a slotted spoon, let drip off a little on kitchen towels, then sprinkle with salt, and serve with some lemon to squeeze over.

If you want to, you can also dip some parsley branches in the batter and fry them for 30 seconds. A nice little garnish.


Oh, and don't take pictures of them with a flash, or they'll look nasty, like the fries that have been lying around all day in a 24/7 kebab place, and not crunchy and delicious, like these will be.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Daily Bread


I found the recipe for this particular loaf of bread late last autumn, when I had a pot of Chili con Carne on the stove and decided I wanted bread to go with it. It is a kind of faux French country style bread, where the sourdough is replaced with regular yeast, making it quicker and a tad easier to put together. Although this bread may not as flavourful as when baked with sourdough, it still tastes great, and since it's ready to be eaten in just a few hours, it's perfect for those days when you just don't have time to bake all day long.

We had the bread alongside a wonderful soup I'm sure Daniel will be telling you all about soon, but it's also really great toasted and eaten with some butter.


Faux French Country Style Bread, from (a Swedish newspaper's online edition)
Makes two enourmous loaves.

900 ml lukewarm water
50 g fresh yeast (half the amount is more than enough if your yeast is so fresh it's almost wet -- I could hardly get the dough to stop rising!)
2 tsp salt
1,5 litres wheat flour
700 ml rye flour

Place yeast and salt in a huge bowl. Dissolve in a small amount of the water, stirring until done. Add the remaining water, and stir a little bit more.
Add the flour and knead well (if you have a machine to knead the dough, be careful as rye requires a bit more sensitivity than wheat), until dough is shiny and doesn't stick too much to the bowl.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1,5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250 C/480 F, with either your baking stone or oven tray inside.
Knead the dough one last time, then divide it into two parts, and shape in whatever fashion you see fit -- mine turned out quite round. Flour your hands if necessary.
Place the loaves on a floured baking sheet (if you're using your bread stone, and want the loaves to slip onto it easily) or silpat, and let rise one last time while the oven is heating up.

Cut a deep cross into the loaves before placing them in the oven. When inside, spray them with a bit of water.
After 20-25 minutes, turn the heat down to 175 C/350 F and spray them once again.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust has a nice colour, and when gently tapped on the bottom, the loaves sound dull and kind of hollow.

Let cool off for few minutes before cutting them.


By the way, if you live in a cold or drafty building, or if your yeast is a bit on the old side, you can always use my fool-proof dough-rising trick:

Yup, that's me, my dough and my laptop all in perfect harmony. Works quite well, actually.

For all of your bread needs, check out YeastSpotting over at Wild Yeast!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Potato Gratin or Gratin Dauphinois

Autumn happened early this year, we've had a couple of months of gray skies, rain, temperatures around 10-15 °C and general misery. It's not been all bad, though. There's been some mushroom hunting, a Swedish crayfish party (kräftskiva), and some really good stews in equally good company. Not to mention the beer tastings.

Okay, all in all, it's been alright. But it has been autumn, and with the colder weather comes a longing for hearty, filling comfort food, and what comforts better than a potato gratin?

Potato gratin is a dish with a bad reputation among the health freaks, so we opted to call it a gratin dauphinois. That's French, and as everyone knows, mediterranean cooking is very healthy indeed. We have a serious attitude about healthy food here at Butter & Beans, what with our family histories of heart disease and all.

Potato Gratin Dauphinois

800 g floury potatoes
3 cloves of garlic
300 ml whipping cream
50 g butter
150 g cheese that melts nicely (cheddar, gruyère, emmentaler)
salt, black pepper

Slice your potatoes to a thickness of about 1 cm. Finely chop the garlic.

Place them in a large pot, or even better a large oven proof cooking vessel which can also be used on the stove.

Season with a generous amount of salt and black pepper, and mix well.

Now get your cream. This Swedish whipping cream is only 40 % fat...

... so make sure you get it all in there. Don't worry, this will be our secret. Your personal trainer does not need to know.

Add a few knobs of butter (this too will be between just you and me), and place on a plate. Bring to the boil, then quickly lower the temperature, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are just about done, and the cream has thickened. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 °C / 390 °F. During the last couple of minutes, melt most of the cheese into the mixture.

If you didn't have an oven and stove proof dish, now is the time to transfer everything to an oven dish. Then, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and bake until a nice golden crust has formed.

This is a delicious side dish for a pot roast, or steak. It also goes great with lamb (add some rosemary!), which is especially nice during the autumn.

Like I said earlier, we take healthy food seriously here, so we gathered up a panel of some of the finest cardiologists in a nation, and asked them what they thought of our gratin. The results? This: