Archive for the fruit Category

Preserve Parade

Posted in eggplant, mango, preserve, tomato, vegetables, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2014 by oskila

Again, very erratic posting patterns. I’ve been planning for this post for about a week now and will try to type like the wind while baby’s asleep.

For some reason the project with the citrus marmalade set something off and I’ve been boiling stuff with sugar like crazy for some time now. These three were the main events so to speak.

Mango Chutney
Mango chutney is of course a classic. I just happened to have about 0.3 mangos in the fridge and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Added onions, mustard seeds, vinegar, chili, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and sumac. Boiled for a bit. Certainly looks like chutney to me.

chutney

Eggplant Marmalade
Eggplant may not be the most intuitive marmalade material, but I’m certainly not the first to do it – in fact, I’m quite sure I’ve eaten industrially produced eggplant marmalade. It may have been from Libanon. Mine contains finely diced unpeeled eggplant, a dash of vinegar (would have preferred lemon) and half the amount, by weight, of gelling sugar. Ordinary sugar is fine too, but the gelling sugar has some pectine added to it and thus gives better texture.

eggplant
Tomato Marmalade
After a burger night we found ourselves in possession of surplus tomatoes (mrs Nerdcuisine is allergic) so I made marmalade and gave most of it away. Once again I didn’t bother with any peeling. I don’t mind a bit of tomato peel and I think it adds flavor and probably pectin. Classic marmalade recipes usually use equal amounts of fruit and sugar, but that can be quite sweet, so in the eggplant recipe above I used only half as much. Even that proved too sweet with the tomatoes so I would have liked an emergency lemon to turn to, but we didn’t have any. This time I attempted to remedy the sweetness with a generous dose of vitamin C which is quite tart. For added excitement (and to go better with cheeses) I seasoned with black pepper and a sprinkle of chili flakes.

tomato

Well, that’s it for today. Make marmalade from anything, and remember that baby food jars are excellent for small batches of preserve.

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Long time no see marmalade

Posted in condiments, fruit with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2014 by oskila

My last post was in March. I’ve got a backlog of stuff that I’ve photographed that would take very long time to get up on the blog, but I’m doing new stuff instead, because making it felt exciting. My daughter takes most of my time these days since I’m on paternity leave, but I’m slowly learning to get stuff done in the window between her and my bedtime.

I’ve never made marmalade with oranges or any other citrus but suddenly felt a need to preserve. (I’ve also discretely been pickling cucumbers. A 7 oz. jar of baby food holds one sliced pickling cucumber). I’ve also seldom followed any recipes (except for the sake of consistency) and didn’t want to this time either, so I read a dozen and then made my own up. The important part is really to use equal amounts of fruit and sugar.

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Pot, sieve, tea-strainers, jam funnel, juicer, fruits, potato peeler, scotch, preservatives, knife, preserving sugar, muscovado sugar, granulated sugar. Who knew marmalade was so equipment-intensive…

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Also, jars. Lots of baby food jars for obvious reasons, but anything with a tight lid is good.

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Take the fruit – in this case five oranges, a red grapefruit, four limes and three lemons – and peel the rind off with a potato peeler or contraption of choice. Some recipes says to take care to get as little pith as possible, while others simply peel the fruit and slice the whole peel, rind, pith and everything. I found some sort of middle ground. The pith contains pectin which is desirable for a good wobbly marmalade and also causes bitterness, which is desirable in my book.

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Next, we slice the rind. It’ll take forever but turn out nice. Or you can make like a barbarian and have at it with a food processor.

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Juice extracted and then strained into the pot with the rind. Collect pits and pulp and put in tea strainers.

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Juice, rind, a dash of whisky, a pint of water and a small heap of dark muscovado sugar combined in a pot. Tea strainers full of pulp, pith and pits (the three Ps of marmalade??). Simpler and more economic recipes for citrus marmalade make use of the pulp in the actual marmalade, but I felt like giving the juice and rind only-path a go, if, perhaps, only for the nice translucent effect. Simmer for some time to get the pectin release going.

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Mixture boiled for some time, then carefully skimmed, then mixed with lots of sugar and boiled for some more time. About half my sugar was preserving sugar, which is a mixture also containing pectin, citric acid and a bit of potassium benzoate. Note the difference in cloudiness and stuff. There’s a million recipes for citrus marmalades out there, so I don’t feel a need to explain the finer points to marmalade making or what the marmalade test is.

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After arriving at an agreeable texture, pour the marmalade into cans that until recently were huddling in the oven at 100 degrees (C) to sterilize. Lids were boiled. Take care not to spill marmalade on your or anyone else’s person since it’s like napalm – it sticks to anything and burns for a long time. Dishing the rind out evenly between the jars can be tricky, but I tried.

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Apparently, if the marmalade is poured when scalding and one manages to get the lid on properly, the container will be vacuum-sealed in the morning (central bit of lid won’t ‘click’) which is good because it means longer shelf-life. Also, baking cups make excellent lid covers. Also, I worked for quite some time on a full color label (complete with table of contents) only to discover that the printer was all out of cyan and yellow.

That’s it for today! It’s good to be back and I hope it won’t be six months until the next installment!

Valentines Highlights

Posted in beer, cheese, fruit, ice cream, mango, pork, roast, salad, side dish with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2013 by oskila

Last year for Valentines my fiancée cooked dinner for me. This year she came down with a bit of a cold, so we cooked together instead. Here are some of the highlights.

fillet

A loin of pork covered in garlic cream cheese, biding its time in the oven.

kriek

The first kriek (belgian cherry ale) I’ve ever had that was drinkable. All other attempts at drinking kriek have been abandoned less than halfway through. This one a friend gave me for my 31st birthday. The picture is also, incidentally, sort of a self portrait.

salad

The real inventive masterpiece of the evening in my opinion – A salad of arugula, mango and pink grapefruit, dressed with a bit of olive oil and mango vinegar, along with salt, black pepper and chili flakes.

icecream

This is ice cream in the making. Vanilla and Oreos. Yummy. The fiancée’s idea. (It was also her idea to get an ice cream machine in the first place)

The French Adventure

Posted in cheese, french, fruit, shellfish with tags , on July 25, 2012 by oskila

Some may have noticed that NerdCuisine hasn’t updated in about two weeks. The main reason for this is that I’ve spent ten days in France, where I’ve spent more time pointing at stuff in menus than cooking, and gone online almost only for important stuff and only with an iPad. I don’t fancy writing and photographing whole blog posts with an iPad.

And now I’m back home, feeling a need to post something, anything, and thinking that the popular type of food blogs other than those with recipes is the kind of blogs where people simply tell their readers what they’ve been eating lately. That’s what I’m going to do now.

First of all I must say that I’m impressed with the French food stores that I visited. The sheer difference in selection is humbling. Needless to say, I had a ball every time there was food shopping that needed doing. Even the gas station supermarkets had more stuff than many medium sized grocery stores here in Sweden. I certainly don’t know about any gas stations here that offer foie gras or fresh mushrooms.

We spent large parts of the trip in the small village of Blauzac, about 10 miles north of Nîmes, in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. One of the more obvious features of the house was the fig tree in the courtyard.

I didn’t encounter a fresh fig until I was 23, and most figs I’ve ever seen in Sweden have seemed to be hours away from rotting and sold at 7-15 SEK each (about 1-2 USD), not to mention the dried ones, which I’ve never liked. Will look into the possibilities of pot-growing a fig tree on the balcony (might be too windy).

On the second day in France, I fell in love with Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes. I think they’re much more interesting than the more ordinary looking beef tomatoes we usually get in Sweden.

They turned out to be very good for grilling.

The next day was Saturday, which seems to mean market day in rural french towns, in our case Uzès, a short distance from Blauzac. The importance of the market is even more apparent when you consider that it was held as usual even though it was also Bastille day and the day when the Tour de France was going to zip through town.

Garlic is obviously important. This wasn’t even the largest pile.

Bought a piece of Gruyère-like cheese at the market to have something to snack on while waiting for the bikes. We had laid siege to a couple of café tables and ordered a steady stream of coffee in order to keep our seats without complaint.

After the spectacle had died down (see, the competing bike riders were harbingered by a continuous flow of more or less fanciful sponsor trucks, making noise and handing out free samples for several hours) I was glad to go home to Blauzac and finish off the cheese along with a fig.

This is probably the closest this post will get to a recipe. I was charged with the task of dessert. Figs with Brie, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. The vinegar came in a spray bottle. Very convenient.

Now I’m skipping a couple of days, not because the food wasn’t interesting, but because I didn’t take any pictures. We headed for the Mediterranean coast to have lunch in Bouzigues, a small town, but very big in the seafood business.

Huîtres gratinées – Gratinated oysters

Moules à l’aïoli – Mussels with aïoli

Moules farcies – Stuffed mussels

Not only did the restaurant we visited know very well how to make sure lots of molluscs hadn’t died in vain. They also were quite good at desserts.

Crème Catalane (which is quite similar to brûlée, only with milk instead of cream)

Fromage blanc au coulis de fruits rouges et yaourt – Quark with red fruit sauce and yoghurt

After the lunch in Bouzigues, we spent a few days in nearby Balaruc-les-Bains. Apart from an accidentally ordered starter of whelks, the food was good considering that we didn’t pay very much, but it wasn’t mindblowing either. Either way, I didn’t take any pictures since dinner often happens late in the day in France, and I didn’t want to use flash.

Having spent four nights in Balaruc, we headed back to Blauzac to settle down a bit before heading home again via Marseille. Cooking dinner at the house there is a collective effort since there’s often a lot of people to feed. We had previously provided a potato salad, grilled tomatoes and a brie and fig dessert but were completely in charge this time. We decided to grill some lovely merguez sausages and serve them with ratatouille and hand cut pommes frites/french fries/chips since the kitchen equipment included a deep fryer. I’ve eaten ratatouille on several occasions, but never made it myself before. It turned out rather nice, partly, I’d like to think, because of coeur de boeuf tomatoes.

The camera battery died before I could get a proper photo (which also happened a couple of minutes before the Tour bikes raced past us) so we’ll have to make do with a phone photo. The ratatouille pan and frites bowl looks a bit small in the picture, but they contain food for 12 people.

It’s only good and proper to also mention that while at the beach in Sète, near Balaruc-les-Bains, I asked my girlfriend to marry me, which she graciously agreed to do. Now you know, in case this and future posts are unusually silly or chipper.

Cheating at Pie

Posted in cereal, fruit, pie, vegetarian with tags on July 10, 2012 by oskila

The English language has a whole lot of words for different kinds of pie-related desserts, like cobbler, crumble, grunt and slump, while Swedish lumps everything together as pie or crumble pie (but one gets away with calling crumble pie just pie too). Most home-made pies I’ve encountered are definitely of a crumble persuasion though, which makes the British and American pie tradition intriguing to an inquisitive geek.

The reasons that I don’t make a lot of desserts or any sweet baking is that it usually requires lots of exact measuring and takes quite some time. So, I wanted to make a pie-type dish for once and needed to cut every possible corner. What I ended up with could be described as something somewhere in between a crumble and a pandowdy (I guess, because I’m not entirely clear about similarities and differences). Here’s what I did.

Half a lime (for the juice), an apple and a nectarine.

Slice fruit and arrange in a dainty manner in a greased skillet (this one I think was once owned by my grandmother. Built to last.) Squeeze the lime in and drizzle some treacle over the whole thing. Put in hot oven for a while to soften and infuse.

Meanwhile, crumble up some cereal – in this case special flakes, and mix with liquid margarine. Melted butter is probably even nicer.

Add lemon cake mix and stir like there’s no tomorrow. I borrowed the idea of using cake mix for crumble from my girlfriend, who in turn got it from her sister.

Spread the mix on top of the fruit and add another drizzle of treacle just for the hell of it. Put back in oven and bake until it looks nice.

In order to get a proper crunch it needs to cool for a bit.

Despite being made with lime juice and lemon cake mix, the final product was surprisingly sweet (in proportion to the amount of treacle), so I ate it with crème fraîche and some unsweetened berries to get some freshness in there. Ice cream or custard will of course be good too. Total cooking time, about 25 minutes depending on oven temperature.

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