26/11/2011

Skyr brulée

Ages ago I promised to find a recipe for skyr brulée – well I finally found one!

The recipe comes from a chef: Steinar Þór Þorfinnsson of the restaurant Einar Ben.

I haven’t tested it, but here goes:

Skyr- and white chocolate crème brulée with blueberry schnapps

Skyr-crème brulée:
100 g cream
100 g pure skyr

40 g egg yolk
40 g sugar
80 g white chocolate
The juice of 1/2 lime
1 vanilla pod

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and put in a saucepan with the cream. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add the skyr.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and add to the warm skyr mixture.

Stir together the egg yolk and sugar and add to the skyr mixture along with the lime juice. Put into crème brulée ramekins and bake in a water bath at 120 °C for 30 minutes. Cool.

Sprinkle with demerara sugar and melt the sugar with a crème brulée torch.

P.S.
Before making this, please take a look at the review in the comment.

Blueberry schnapps:
125 g puréed blueberries
500 ml water
125 g sugar
0,5 dl vodka

Cook together the sugar, water and blueberry purée untilt he sugar is melted and syrup is slightly thickened. Cool and add the vodka. Freeze. Just before serving, purée the frozen schnapps in a blender to a slusky consistency and serve on the side with the brulée.

05/09/2011

Rowanberry jelly

European rowans (Sorbus aucupari, sometimes called European mountain ash) grow well in the Icelandic climate and are common garden trees. In the autumn after the first frost and thaw you can see thrushes feasting on the berries and getting quite drunk on the fermented juice.

Humans also eat rowan berries, especially in jams and jellies (raw berries will cause indigestion, so don't let the lovely colour tempt you to try them uncooked).

The slightly bitter flavour makes rowan preserves an excellent match with strong cheeses and game, such as wild goose and reindeer, and it's also good with lamb.

If I can get enough rowan berries from a non-polluted source I plan to try making this jelly:

2 litres rowan berries with stalks
500 gr apples with skins (Jonagold is recommended as being flavourful and rich in pectin)
750 ml water
900 ml sugar for every 1 litre of juice

Pick the berries and freeze them overnight. This removes the worst of the bitter flavour of the berries.
Bring the water to the boil in a cooking pot and add the berries, stalks and all, and the coarsely chopped apples with skins and cores (only remove the seeds and stalks). Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Mash the stewed berries and apples with a potato masher and strain through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth, or use a fruit press to extract the juice and then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure the juice and add 900 ml of sugar for every 1 litre of juice.

Return to the cooking pot and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until a drop of the liquid sets when dripped on the back of a cold spoon. Pour into sterilized, hot jars and seal immediately.

Preservative may be added.

01/09/2011

Sourdough rye bread

This bread relies on fermentation for both rising and sweetness. I have not tested this recipe.

2 kg. rye flour
1 litre of water or a 1:1 mixture of water and whey
1 tsp salt

Put the rye flour into a large bowl. Warm the water and add the salt and then add the water to the rye flour and mix well together. Turn out onto a floured table and knead until smooth and free of cracks. Rub a little bit of cooking oil on your hands and form the dough into a loaf. Put the loaf into a well-oiled container - Icelanders often use tins, but a cooking pot or a casserole dish may be used as well. It has to fit inside another, larger container. The dough must not fill the container as it will rise (the genius who wrote the recipe book unfortunately does not say by how much).

Put a damp cloth on top of the container and leave to rise in a warm spot overnight. When the dough has risen, put baking paper on top of it and then close the baking container (with a lid, or if that‘s not available, with aluminium foil). Now put the baking container into another container that is both deeper and wider, with a rack or metal trivet in the bottom so the water will flow under as well as around the bread container. Pour water into the second container until it reaches the middle of the first one. Close the second container tightly.

Cook over low temperature for 3 hours, or bake at around 120 °C for the same amount of time. After 3 hours, remove the bread from the container, turn it over and return to the container, close both containers tightly and return to the heat/oven for 3-4 hours. Remove and cool.

29/08/2011

Stone bramble jelly

Stone bramble berries have a somewhat bitter flavour that goes well with lamb and all kinds of game, for example reindeer and wild goose.

I can usually only get a very small amount of them, but I often mix them with redcurrants to get a very nice, beautifully red jelly.

Pick stone bramble berries. It takes a considerable amount of berries to get a good amount of juice, but I can't tell you exactly what amount of berries will yield what amount of juice.

Flush the berries with cold water and put in a cooking pot. Bring to the boil on low and cook gently until the berries burst and release their juice. Pour the berries and juice into a cheesecloth strainer and strain away the juice. The cheesecloth may be squeezed to extract more juice.
 
Measure the juice and put it in a cooking pot and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add 1 kg of sugar for every litre of juice (if it’s less than a litre, then add 100 grams of sugar for each 100 ml of juice). Stir to dissolve the sugar. The juice must not boil after the sugar has been added.

Pour into sterilised jars while still hot and close the jars immediately.

Preservative may be added.

16/06/2011

Holiday notice

I am going on holiday on Friday and will be back on the 24th. Until then I will not able to reply to any e-mails or comments, but send them in anyway and I will look at them when I get back.

06/06/2011

Rhubarb drink

This is somehting I plan to try when the rhubarb is sufficiently grown for harvesting:

1 kg rhubarb stalks
1,8 ltr water
450 ml sugar
Juice of one big lemon

Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and cook in the water for 15 minutes. Don’t stir it. Strain and throw away the rhubarb pulp.

Add the sugar and lemon juice to the rhubarb juice and bring to the boil. Cool and bottle. Keep refrigerated. Serve cold and thin with water as desired.

30/05/2011

Stewed angelica

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is the most highly regarded medicinal plant growing in Iceland, considered more potent than even yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica). It has been used to fight infections (bacterial, fungal and viral), as a local anaesthetic, to strengthen the immune system and as an aid to digestion and recent research has show it to be effective against cancer cells.

Abroad it is used to flavour alcoholic drinks such as Bénédictine , Chartreuse, Vermouth and Dubonnet, and locally the root is used to flavour schnapps (Hvannarótarbrennivín). As a medicine it is most often made into a tisane or a tincture, using leaves, root or seeds. It is also a food plant. Here is one recipe:

Take fresh, young angelica stalks, peel off the outer layer and wash the stalks in cold water. Cut away any spots. Pour hot water over the stalks, then cook them in salted water until they are soft. Drain carefully, and serve with whipped butter. May also be stirred into white sauce and served as a side dish (the recipe book doesn’t say what with).

Disclaimer: I have’t tried it, but if I do I will report back.

P.S. Take a look at the comment below - there are instructions for angelica jam in there that sounds heavenly.

25/05/2011

Fried fish Orly

I have had several requests for this dish, so I decided to post the recipe. Apparently it was a favourite with American servicemen stationed at Keflavik airport and some of them still remember it fondly.

I'd be the first to admit that this isn't a specifically Icelandic dish, but you can buy it in many diners and restaurants all over the country.

Fried fish Orly with cocktail sauce and salad

Orly batter:
300 ml (10 fl.oz.) light lager or water
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt (the original recipe says 1 tbs, but this must be an error)
1 tbs cooking oil (the original recipe says 1 tsp, but this must also be an error - there needs to be more than 1 teaspoon of oil in the batter)
1 egg yolk
flour
1 egg white

Mix together the lager or water, sugar, salt oil and egg yolk and thicken with flour until the batter is the thickness of pancake batter. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature. Whip the egg white stiff and fold into the batter just before you use it.

May be used to coat fish, scampi/langoustines, shrimp or vegetable fritters.

To make fish Orly:
Haddock fillets, boned and skinned, or other white fish – cod or sole is good and anglerfish is divine
flour for dredging

Cut the fish fillets in pieces about 3 by 2 inches. Pat the fish pieces dry, season if you wish and dredge in flour. Dip to coat in the orly batter and fry in a frying pan or a deep-fryer (set temperature at 180 to 200 °C (355 to 390 °F)) for 2-3 minutes. Batter coating should be golden when cooked.

Generally served with chips/fries, cocktail sauce and coleslaw.
I also like to serve it with rice, salad and sweet-and-sour sauce.

Notes:
  • Stir peeled Arctic shrimp or finely chopped vegetables into the batter and drop lumps of it into hot oil with a tablespoon. Makes great finger food.
  • Cut fish fillets into finger-sized strips, batter and fry. Another great finger food.
  • Cocktail sauce, garlic sauce, sweet-and-sour sauce or sweet chili sauce make a good dipping sauce for food in Orly.

20/04/2011

Pineapple pudding - Ananasfrómas

A decorated pineapple fromage
Light and frothy cold puddings made with egg and thickened with gelatine are known as "frómas" in Icelandic and as "fromage" in Danish. Those who know their French will realise that this is the French word for "cheese". How it underwent the change in meaning from French to Danish is not known.

This recipe is in all likelihood originally Danish. This is a popular dessert in my family that my mother makes  for special occasions. With a bit of adjustment, it can be adapted to other kinds of flavours. For example, I adore the lemon version.

Ingredients:

250 g sugar
5 eggs, whites and yolks separated
12 sheets of gelatine
2 cups double cream or whipping cream
2 small cans (8. oz.) pineapple rings in juice, cut into small chunks (retain 2-3 rings for decoration)
Pineapple juice from the can
juice from 1 lemon

Method:
In separate bowls, whip together the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks, and whip the egg whites until stiff.

Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes, remove and squeeze out the water. Put about 200 ml (4/5 cup) of pineapple juice in a saucepan and add the gelatine. Over low heat (or in a water-bath) melt the gelatine in the pineapple juice, stirring well to eliminate lumps. Cool to room temperature (plunge the bottom of the saucepan into cold water to speed up the cooling process). Pour through a sieve into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring constantly and carefully to mix. Add the lemon juice and stir in carefully. Fold in the cream and then the pineapple pieces. Finally fold in the whipped egg whites.

Pour into bowls and allow to set. These can be either a couple of big serving bowls, or individual serving bowls or dessert glasses. Decorate with remaining pineapple rings and whipped cream. Red cocktail cherries can be added for a bit of colour.

Serve cold, with or without whipped cream.

This pudding makes an excellent filling for sponge cake. To use, allow to set enough to be spreadable without running, and smooth on top of one cake layer, allow to set and top with another cake layer.

13/04/2011

Date cake with caramel sauce - Döðluterta með karamellusósu

My friends call this cake "that heavenly date cake with the caramel sauce". It is apparently an old recipe, but someone must have rediscovered it recently, because it has been served a lot at birthday parties and ladies' handicrafts clubs lately.

I haven't got a clue where the recipe originally came from, but in Iceland it's known either as döðluterta með karamellusósu, which simply describes what it is, or as Dillonskaka or Dillon's Cake, which could suggests Irish or British origins. However, it might, and this is supported by information from some older ladies I know, be named after Lord Dillon, a British aristocrat who came to Iceland in 1834, fell in love with a local woman and built a house that he gave her before he left the country. It was a famous scandal at the time, as they had a child out of wedlock and were prevented from marrying by his family. She ran a guest house in the house he gave her and sold meals there for many years. Today the house stands in the Árbær museum and is a café.

Cake:
235 g (8.3 oz.) stoneless dates and a little bit of water
1 tsp baking soda
120 g (4.2 oz.) butter, soft
5 tbs sugar
2 eggs
300 ml (approx. 1 1/4 cup) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 tsp baking powder

Put the dates in a saucepan and pour in enough water to barely cover the dates. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes.
Add the baking soda to the saucepan and stir well. Dates should come apart into a thick paste.
Whip together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one by one. Add the dry ingredients and vanilla and mix well. Finally add the stewed dates.

Bake in a well-greased springform pan, for 30-40 minutes at 180°C (356°F).
Remove from oven when done, let cool slightly, then remove from pan and serve warm with the sauce on the side.

Caramel sauce:
200 g (7 oz.) butter
200 g (7 oz.) brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
200 ml (1/2 cup + 1/3 cup) cream

Put all ingredients together in a saucepan and cook together over slow heat, stirring continuously for 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Pour into a jug or sauce boat and serve warm on the side with the cake or pour directly over the cake and serve. This sauce is also excellent on ice cream.



06/04/2011

Danish pastries, part 3: Long Danish

Now its time for the "long Danish" I mentioned in the previous post. You will need the dough, prepared as in the previous post, but rolled out into strips, about 15 cm wide and slightly shorter than the cookie sheet you will bake them on. The thickness of the dough should be about 5 mm.

You will also need:
Almond paste (recipe in the first post) and thick jam, e.g. strawberry or raspberry OR egg custard
Pearl sugar
Flaked almonds
Icing

Spread the jam down the centre of the strip of dough and spread or pipe the almond paste on top. Fold the sides into the centre so they overlap slightly and press together. Gently transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg, milk or water, sprinkle the pearl sugar and flaked almonds on too, and bake. This is called an old-fashioned Danish in Iceland.

If you prefer custard to jam, you spread the custard down the centre of the dough strip instead of jam and leave out the almond paste. Brush with beaten egg, milk or water and sprinkle the pearl sugar and flaked almonds on top.

To bake:
Arrange on a cookie sheet, about 5 cm apart. Let rise at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, then bake at high temperature (225°C) until a light golden colour (should take about 12-15 minutes). Let it cool and then pipe icing in a zig-zag pattern over the pastry and allow to set before serving.

30/03/2011

Danish pastries, part 2: Spandauers

The most popular types of Vínarbrauð in Iceland are the "lengja", which you could simply call a "long Danish", and the type known in Scandinavia as "Spandauer", which is a one-portion squarish Danish with custard or jam centre. In Iceland, depending on where you come from, you either call them "sérbökuð vínarbrauð" (individually baked Viennese pastries), Dönsk vínarbrauð (Danish) or "Umslög" (envelopes). Today's instructions are for Spandauers. The most popular filling for Spandauers is custard, but jam or fruit are also good.

To put it all together:
Prepare the pastry dough as given in the last post. Cut the dough into even-sized squares. For 10 cm squares put 1 tbs of custard (or thick jam, e.g. raspberry) in the middle of each square. Fold one corner into the middle, then the opposite corner, then repeat with the other two corners. Do not crimp or overlap, as the corners are meant to pull back from the middle while baking.

You can also make pinwheels:
Cut slits into each corner, about half-way to the middle, put in the filling, then fold in every other point of the pinwheel. Press together the points.

Arrange on a cookie sheet, about 5 cm apart. Let rise at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, brush with beaten egg, milk or water and bake at high temperature (225°C) until a light golden colour (should take about 12-15 minutes).

Remove from the oven and cool. Use a piping cone with a narrow point to make even zig-zag streaks of icing on top of each pastry. Serve.




23/03/2011

Danish pastries, part 1: The basics

I got my first request for Vínarbrauð several years ago, but somehow I never got round to posting a recipe until now. I am posting this in three parts.

The pastries known to most of the rest of the world as Danish pastries are called by a name that means "Viennese Bread" in the Nordic countries. In Icelandic it's Vínarbrauð. The story says that Danish bakers learned to make a type of leavened flaky pastry from Viennese bakers, perhaps similar to croissant pastry, and made it their own, Here is a longer version of the story (the article also contains images of a few of the possible variations). These kinds of pastries are very popular in Iceland, and you can buy them in every bakery and many supermarkets. I am going to give recipes for the three most popular types of vínarbrauð: Spandauers and two varieties of what are called "lengjur" in Icelandic.

For the pastry you will need:
500 g flour
ground cardamom to taste
50 g margarine
50 g fresh yeast
50 ml water
50 g sugar
1 egg
250 ml cold milk
200 g margarine or butter

Sift the flour and add cardamom (sorry, no amount is given in the recipe. The one time I made this I used 1 tsp). Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml lukewarm water. Take the 50 g of margarine and crumble into the flour. Add the milk, dissolved yeast and egg. Knead until smooth. Rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Roll out into an approximately 35 cm square. Take the 200 g. butter or margarine, which should be firm but not hard (my Danish recipe book say "soft enough not to tear holes in the dough and hard enough not to melt the dough" - guess it's a matter of practice), and cut it into thin slices. Using a cheese-slicer will ensure an even thickness. Arrange the margarine slices to cover 1/2 the dough square. Now fold the unbuttered half over the other one. Roll out gently into the original size. Repeat this folding and rolling process 4-5 times (or use the method in this video)

This process is called laminating. The dough can now be cut into the various shapes these pastries can take.

Other recipes you might need, depending on which pastry you intend to make:

Custard:
1 egg
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs potato flour or cornflour
250 ml milk
vanilla essence or other desired flavouring, to taste

Heat the milk to boiling in a large saucepan. Whip together the egg and sugar until light and fluffy, sift in the potato flour, mixing well and gradually add the hot milk (a thin, slow stream is best). Put the custard into the saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until the mixture starts boiling. Then remove from the heat, add the flavouring and cool. This custard should be very thick and should be completely cooled when put on the pastry.

Almond paste:
100 g almonds
100 g icing sugar
1-2 egg yolks


Blanch and peel the almonds and chop them very, very finely (or grind them in a coffee grinder, not quite to flour consistency). Coconut flakes may be used instead of part of the almonds. Mix in the sugar and gradually add a half-whipped egg or egg yolk while stirring the mixture. Stop adding the egg when the mixture is fairly thick but still spreadable.

Icing:
300 g icing sugar
50 ml hot water
Optional: A couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder for cocoa icing, or a few drops of red food colouring to turn the icing pink (there are often two colours of icing used, usually either white and cocoa, or white and pink.

Stir together until smooth.

Finally, until next time (when I give the instructions for Spandauers), here is an article about Danish pastry from Saveur magazine.

16/03/2011

To Rosemary


My reply to your e-mail bounced, so I'm posting my reply here in the hope that you will visit the blog again and see it:

Hello Rosemary,

I hear from time to time from people who have been stationed in Keflavik or who have accompanied their spouses there, and it's always interesting to see what foods they miss (usually the fish and the hot dogs, but also miscellaneous other stuff).

As it happens, both Gunnars mayonnaise and smoked lamb can be ordered on-line through the website nammi.is. The following links will take you to the right pages: for mayonnaise: http://nammi.is/mayonnaise-250-ml-p-1398.html
and for smoked lamb: http://nammi.is/ss-smoked-leg-of-lamb-13001700-gr-p-391.html
.

However, you should check if there are any import restrictions either product before you order.

Best regards and I hope you get the chance to visit Iceland again.
 
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with nammi.is and do not get paid for mentioning them here. I have never used them myself and don't know what kind of service they give, but I have never heard anything bad about them.

09/02/2011

Brúnkaka/brúnterta II - the brown sugar version

This is a big recipe, enough for 6 cookie sheets. You can use it to make 1 1/2 cake or a six-layer cake. It is hard to make it smaller and still retain the correct thickness of the dough.

Ingredients:
11/2 kg flour
900 g brown sugar
6 tsp baking soda
9 tsp ground cloves
10 tsp ground cinnamon
8 tsp ginger
900 g butter or margarine
6-7 eggs

Buttercream:
600 g butter, softened
900 g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2-3 tsp vanilla essence

Rhubarb jam

Instructions:
  •  Mix together all the dry ingredients on a clean, dry table and crumble the cold butter/margarine into it until well mixed. (Use your hands to squish it in, or use a pastry cutter).
  • Make a mound of the mixture and make a hole in the centre of it. Add the eggs and syrup and knead until well mixed. (This does not as much kneading as bread, only just enough to get everything well mixed).
  • Divide the dough into six parts. Dust each with flour and roll out into even-sized portions onto well greased cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 180°C/350°F (convection oven) for 13-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and remove the cake layers immediately from the cookie sheets and lay onto baking paper that has been sprinkled with sugar. Cool completely before going to the next step.
  • Layer the buttercream evenly onto all but one layer and assemble the cake. Some prefer to spread a thin layer of jam on top of each layer of buttercream, while others will make two buttercream layers and one jam layer, and others will skip the jam entirely.

To make the buttercream:
Whip the butter and icing sugar together until light and well mixed. Add the egg yolks and vanilla essence and mix well.


Once the cake is assembled, it is best to wrap it in a slightly damp cloth (very slightly damp - wring it as well as possible) and pack it tightly in a plastic bag and leave it overnight to soften so it will not crumble as much when cut. To serve, trim the edges of the large cake and cut into smaller, rectangular pieces, then slice them, or leave each piece whole and let people serve themselves.

08/02/2011

Brúnkaka/brúnterta I - the syrup version

Brúnkaka" simply means "brown cake" in Icelandic, and the alternative name, "brúnterta" means the same, although "terta" comes from the same root as the English word for "tart". In Icelandic "terta" is a fancier alternative to calling a cake "kaka".

Unlike the "Lísu brúnterta" recipe that I once posted, this one gets its colour not from cocoa powder, but from syrup or brown sugar and spices. I am posting two recipes, one today with syrup and one tomorrow with brown sugar, as some people may not have access to golden syrup.

My grandmother makes these year round, but this Christmas season I discovered that for two of my friends, this cake is closely linked with Christmas from them.

Here is the syrup version:

Ingredients:
1 kg flour
500 g white sugar
5 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cloves
5 tsp ground cinnamon
900 g butter or margarine
500 g golden syrup (Lyle's is the brand most Icelanders use)
4 egg

Buttercream:
450 g butter, softened
600 g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla essence

Optional:
Rhubarb jam or stewed prunes

  • Mix together all the dry ingredients on a clean, dry table and crumble the cold butter/margarine into it until well mixed. (Use your hands to squish it in, or use a pastry cutter).
  • Make a mound of the mixture and make a hole in the centre. Add the eggs and syrup and knead until well mixed. (This does not need as much kneading as bread, only just enough to get everything well mixed).
  • Divide the dough into four parts. Dust each with flour and roll out onto well greased cookie sheets. Each portion should just about fill one cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 180°C/350°F (convection oven, so adjust temperature for regular oven) until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and remove the cake layers immediately from the cookie sheets and lay onto baking paper that has been sprinkled with sugar. Cool completely before going to the next step.
  • Layer the buttercream evenly onto all but one cake layer and assemble the cake. Some prefer to spread a thin layer of jam on top of each layer of buttercream, while others will make two buttercream layers and one jam layer, and others will skip the jam entirely.

To make the buttercream:
Whip the butter and icing sugar together until light and well mixed. Add the egg yolks and vanilla essence and mix well.

Once the cake is assembled, it is best to wrap it in a slightly damp cloth (very slightly damp - wring it as well as possible) and pack it tightly in a plastic bag and leave it overnight to soften so it will not crumble as much when cut. To serve, trim the edges of the large cake and cut into smaller, rectangular pieces, then slice them, or leave each piece whole and let people serve themselves.

21/01/2011

Traditional foods for the Þorri midwinter feast

It's the first day of Þorri today, a day called "Bóndadagur" in Icelandic. It originally meant "farmer's day" but has the additional meaning of "husband's day", which is how modern Icelanders interpret it. On this day it has become a tradition for wives to do something extra special for their husbands, like bring them breakfast in bed, give them flowers or take them out to dinner. The husbands then do the same on "Konudagur" ("wives' day" or "women's day"), which begins the old month of Góa. Thus you could say we Icelanders celebrate two Valentine's Days, although that hasn't stopped florists and chocolate producers from trying to get us to celebrate that as well.

Another tradition for Þorri is for us to look back to the nation's past and dine on some of the old traditional foods that were daily fare for our ancestors. Below is a link to my Þorri post, which in turn has links to all the Þorri recipes I have posted. I am trying to preserve the comments, so I will not be bringing it back to the top. If you want to leave comments, please leave them by the original post.

Þorrablót/Thorrablot