Monday, October 29, 2012

When in Rome...go to Rosie's

When I started writing this blog, while we were still living in Cork, I was really looking forward to trying out all of what Malmo has to offer; from bakeries and cafes to farmers markets and restaurants.  

It's taking longer than I had hoped it would.  Moving country is expensive.  We saved and saved for this adventure, knowing it would cost a pretty penny, and just about managed to make it last until Mountain Man's first paycheck came through the postbox (Yippee!).  Eating out, buying expensive coffees and gourmet treats hasn't really been an option, so I've been cooking and eating in a lot.  

On Friday night, we borrowed a friend's car (Thanks Lars!) and made our third trip to IKEA since we arrived here.  As tends to happen when you visit IKEA after work on a Friday, neither of us had eaten and realised on arrival that we might not make it to the cash desks if we didn't get some food into our bellies.  I use the word 'food' lightly here.  Maybe it's a rite of passage...I'm really not sure, but I figured 'When in Rome...' and queued up for an IKEA hotdog.  Never again.  I think it must be the most revolting piece of 'foodlike substance' I have ever put in my mouth.  Nasty nasty nasty.  I know it's IKEA and it's cheap, but this stuff shouldn't be called food.

On a happier note, a dear friend from home arrived on Saturday afternoon to visit for a few days.  Delighted to have an excuse to explore the city, yesterday we got her a rental bike and cycled around Malmö.  Before she left Ireland, her brother in law had begged her to find a little place called Rosie's Coffee & Wine, where they sell Coffee Collective beans from Copenhagen (he’s a bit of a connoisseur it seems). 

With a little help from Google we found it and cycled there after a lazy trip around Vastra Hamnen - Malmö's old harbour district which has been completely redeveloped and is well worth a visit, with views of the Oresund Bridge and Copenhagen.  

Rosie's is a hidden gem!  Canadian Jake explained to us how and why he spends, oh, at least 8 minutes making hand filtered coffee and how it is more like an aromatic cup of tea than the coffee most of us have grown up with.  I have never observed such ceremony associated with making coffee.  I was entranced. 

Jake also explained why Coffee Collective is so special - they visit coffee growers around the world, strike up a deal with the farmers and sell beans direct to cafes and retailers.  No coffee brokers, no middle men.  A fair price for the farmer and real fair trade in action, 25% more than the fair trade price in fact; we like.  Sadly, he had underestimated his coffee needs for that week and was only willing to part with one bag of beans for the brother in law (Other bags on the shelf had been roasted 2 weeks previously and were just too old to be sold as they would be sure to disappoint.  Holy moses, that’s dedication)

Along with a very tasty latte I had an incredibly good Croque Monsieur, which really wasn’t a Croque Monsieur at all, as it had tomato, leek and mustard as well as ham and cheese, but boy was it gooooood.  A beautiful side salad with fennel shavings, carrot, cherry tomatoes and salad leaves accompanied it, all for the price of 50SEK.  Not bad for a very filling lunch plus some coffee education! 

As far as I could tell, Rosie’s also sometimes sell organic veggies on the pavement outside, but on Sunday their focus was on coffee, tea, amazing cakes and buns and gorgeous savoury sandwiches and salads.  They opened in April of this year, so they’re still a fledgling business, but I, for one, will definitely be back.  Even if I have to cycle across town for the experience!  Find them on Beridaregatan 8, Malmö, Sweden.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Love Sprouts!

Yes, I do love sprouts - not brussels sprouts particularly (or at all in my case) but the kind of sprouts that you can grow yourself and at this time of year add buckets of nourishment to your meals, when locally grown fresh green veggies may be a little hard to get.

I brought a little bag of seeds for sprouting with me all the way from Ireland (mad I know) and last week decided it was time to get sprouting.  We won't have any more farmers' markets on Drottningtorget, so no more local organic veggies, SOB!  I figured I had better get cracking on my own supply...

In the bag is a mix of organic radish, broccoli, alfalfa & quinoa seeds.  This is a particularly tasty mix; the resulting sprouts are quite delicate and work really well in salads or added last minute to a stir fry.  That particular mix is also incredibly rich in nutrients, some of which have growing evidence to support a theory that they can fight or protect against cancer, support immune health are antibacterial and can help the liver to detoxify.  They're also good sources of protein, so are quite filling.  Impressive!

There is another advantage to sprouted seeds, beans and even nuts.  Naturally, all of these things contain enzyme inhibitors, which Mother Nature devised as a way to protect the bean, seed or nut from sprouting in the wrong place or at the wrong time and keeps them fresher for longer.  Enzyme inhibitors also make them hard to digest, but by sprouting them the enzyme inhibitors are deactivated, so you can unlock all the goodness and digest them easily.  Even more impressive is that sprouts increase in protein and decrease in carbohydrate as the seed uses the carbohydrate energy stored inside to grow. 

I have a personal preference for mung beans and lentils, as they're bigger and crunchier and are almost a meal in themselves.  They make great snacks if you're pushed for time and want some real 'fast food'. You can sprout almost anything, apart from kidney beans, which can be toxic when sprouted.  Once it's organic you can assume it hasn't been heat treated and should sprout for you.  You don't have to buy special bags of seeds or beans for sprouting, a bag from the supermarket or health shop will do.

Here's what you do:
Find a jar and a piece of muslin that will cover the top, plus an elastic band
Buy a sprouter - either the jam jar kind or the variety with different levels for more sprouts!  A. Vogel do a lovely range of different styles and sizes.  I have their glass germinator and it has a handy stand on the lid to make draining much easier

  • Put a few dessert spoons of the seeds/beans into the jar and soak overnight.
  • Drain off the water the next day and cover the jar with muslin, or a lid & leave on the windowsill all day.
  • When you get home from work, sometime before you go to bed, rinse the seeds/beans - so fill the jar with water or just run the tap over the trays you have bought and then drain off. 
  • Rinse your seeds/beans twice a day, morning and evening, until they start to sprout.  Rinsing is important as it prevents the sprouts from getting musty and mouldy.
  • Once they've sprouted, they're ready to eat.  You can give them a day or two to grow a bit more, whatever your preference is.
  • Keep them in the fridge for a few days, but the sooner you eat them the more nutritious they will be.
Yesterday I made a rather delicious sourdough ham, cheese, chilli and mustard toastie.  To balance out the nutrition and make it a bit healthier, I added a salad of rocket, sprouts, chopped fennel bulb and sliced carrot.  Fantastic for digestive function and took about a minute to make.  Sprouting seeds and beans might sound like a lot of work and only for die-hard hippie types, but this is the easiest thing to do and notches up your nutrient intake like nothing else. 

If you'd like to give this a go and have any questions, just post a comment below and I'll do my best to answer.  Happy Sprouting!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mojito for Dinner Anyone?

When we moved into our new apartment, Mountain Man made me a promise (or threat, depending how you look at it).  'If you don't cook from every single one of those cookbooks while we're here I'm burning them'.  Oh...oops.

The poor man carried them from our house in Cork into a van and then from the same van in Sweden into an apartment in Malmö and then, into and out of another van and up 2 flights of stairs into our new-new apartment.  In my defence, I gave away at least half of them before we left Cork and I have read through lots of them.  And fondled their pages, particularly the pretty ribbons that some of them have, but I can't say I have cooked that many dishes from them.  Point taken. 

Yesterday I pulled out one of my more recent purchases, Donal Skehan's Good Mood Food and selected 3 recipes I would cook from it this week.  The first appealed because it reminded me of the cocktails we had on our wedding day just over a year ago - sigh.  Lime & Mint Mojito Chicken.

What a gorgeous recipe and so easy to make.  Basically, you marinade 4 chicken breasts (butterflied for faster cooking) in the juice of two limes, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped (Donal said 1, but I like garlic) a handful of mint finely chopped and 5 tablespoons of Rum.  Bung everything in a ziploc bag and put in the fridge for the day.  When you get home from work (or in my case when I retired from working on my laptop at the dining table) put on some rice or cous cous and fry up the chicken breasts and more lime quarters.  The chicken developes a lovely caramely crust and the limes are turned into sweet juicy nuggets of gorgeousness. 

Serve with rice or cous cous or maybe some herby quinoa (I wasn't entirely happy with the rice I made, it was a bit boring) and a side salad.  Really quick and particularly delicious, even for plain old chicken breasts!  It is that simple.  Cooking takes, oh...about 10 minutes, so total prep time is as long as it takes to cook your rice/cous cous/quinoa and um...make a mojito to sip on at the hob.  Tough work this cooking business.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homesickness and Apple Pie

Today I am feeling a wee bit homesick.  Yesterday was the beginning of it and getting out of bed this morning was a struggle, though I managed to get around that by getting up at lunchtime.

I spent most of the day in my pyjamas and finally, the thought struck me - I know, I'll make my Mum's apple pie.  That'll cheer me up.

A skype chat later, with my sister, who gave me the proportions of butter to flour (I can never remember, even though I've made it a million times...maybe that's because I want an excuse to ask Mum?) and apple pie making began in earnest.

First, find a weighing scales.  If, like me, the battery in your weighing scales has run out and you can't find the spares you bought 6 months ago, then you can use cup measurements.

For the easy peasy-est pastry, do this:
Put 150g/1 cup of plain flour (or mixed wholegrain and plain, as I did this time) into a mixing bowl.  Then add 100g butter or margarine (I prefer butter for taste and health) straight from the fridge cut into walnut size chunks.
Do not cut them too small and don't handle them with hot hands.  I am blessed with cold hands so pastry making is a tad easier.  Then, add enough water to bring the mix together.  I'd suggest putting 100ml into a measuring jug and adding slowly, until the pastry is just coming together.  Stop adding water at this point.

I could hear my Mum's voice in my head as I did this 'Don't over work it! You only need a tiny amount of water for perfectly light pastry.'  Turn the mix out onto a floured countertop.  Roll it out, then fold into 3.  Do this 3 times, and finally, roll it out and fold into 4.   I have no idea why this series of rolls and folds are important, but it's how my Mum does it, so it's how I do it.
Your pastry is complete, leave it sit for half an hour or so and then make a lovely pie or tart with it.  I'm adding gorgeously tart local organic eating apples from the farmers market on Saturday.  Plus a handful of sultanas for some sweetness and a dessert spoon of rapadura sugar (the least processed sugar you can get, which still has lots of minerals and goodness in it and has a lovely caramely taste.
Grease a pie tin, or the lid of a pyrex baking dish and lay in your pastry, rolled out to about 2-3mm thick.  Cut around the edges.  There is a knack to doing this without making a mess.  If you hold the pie dish in one hand and trim the pastry with a knife in your other hand, turning the dish as you drag the knife along the edge, the excess pastry will just fall off.  Try to leave a bit more than you think is neccessary, as when you add the apples the pastry will settle a little bit.

Once that's done, fold (don't squish!) together the excess pastry and roll out again, to the same thickness.  Lay this pastry over the filled pie and trim as before.  Press the edges together with the tip of a fork and poke a few holes in the lid with your fork.  This allows air to escape while baking.

Bake for 30-40 mins at 180C until golden brown and smelling heavenly and allow to cool while you eat dinner, or tidy the kitchen.  I added 2 apples to this pie.  I actually forgot to add the sultanas & sugar and only realised after I had added the lid.  Oops. It was delicious nonetheless, so only add sugar if you're using cooking apples.
Serve on it's own or with ice-cream or cream and a cup of tea.  I realised as I ate mine that it wasn't the eating that soothed my homesickness, but the conversation with my sister about ingredients, making the pastry, rolling it out and hearing my Mum's voice in my head.  I do miss home, but following an afternoon feeling a bit sorry for myself I definitely feel less lonely and more prepared for what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Corsican in Malmö who speaks four languages

We moved house on Monday.  I started writing this on Tuesday and began to see double, so thought it best to wait.  We've moved house 3 times now in the the last year.  Boy am I tired of it.

I have learned a few lessons in the process though.  Probably top of the list for me is this one:
Never, ever attempt to cook the day or two before you depart House A & move into House B. It's not worth the stress of trying to find what you need, explain to your family why you need to hang onto that saucepan, that baking tray, those utensils for another day and then, more than likely, beating yourself up for abandoning ship and getting a pizza.

This time, I didn't even attempt to cook the night before we moved, or any of that day.  We found a gorgeous Thai takeaway down the road, which served us well for dinner and lunch leftovers on Monday.  At 7pm on Monday night, when we had been on the go for 10 hours, with another 4 ahead of us, we stopped for dinner.  Another wise move.  We drove our hire van into central Malmö and parked down the street from what has become our favourite pizza place, ModoMio on Stora Nygatan.

Didier owns and runs the place.  He bakes his own bread & makes the best pizza bases I've had in a while. He uses really high quality Italian ingredients, for his breads and pizza toppings and also creates what look like lovely fresh salads and pasta dishes all day (I've only ever seen them as they are whisked past my table to be served to someone else).

I'm a fussy pizza eater - I make my own, so rarely eat them elsewhere, but I make an exception for these pizzas.  I've learned from experience that, with pizza, less is more.  A light crispy base, with a selection of flavourful toppings that don't swamp the pizza and turn it into a puddle of juice and cheese is the way to go.  If that is done right, then there is very little left to say or do, except eat!  The pizzas at ModoMio are this, they are perfect.  

Didier is from Corsica originally, but has lived all over the place and speaks four languages - French, Italian, Swedish & English.  We learned all this on our first visit to his lovely little restaurant, when we shared with him our own woes about trying to find somewhere new to live (our landlord sold our first home before we had even moved in) and spending a small fortune on parking our car, while we waited to be registered in the Swedish system and get a resident's permit.  Didier listened, sympathised and even made suggestions on where to find a new home.  When his English failed him, Mountain Man asked him for the word in French and kept the conversation going.

Where else can you find service, good food and empathy like that?

I'm almost ashamed to admit, we tried pizza in a place called Mira Mare one evening before viewing an apartment to rent.  We were stuck for time and so, made a decision on where to eat with a hungry belly growling at us.  Needless to say, we regretted it after the first bite.  Fake extruded ham, cheese like glue, nasty old veggie toppings...yuck.  The pizzas there cost between 8-15 Swedish Krowns less than in ModoMio, but it's a false economy as they are almost impossible to eat.  We told Didier on our last visit that we believed his to be the best pizzas in Malmo.  He glowed with pride.  We then broke it to him that we had strayed from the path of good pizza and eaten elsewhere, but it hadn't measured up.  This stocky bull of a man almost shrunk at the news.  We had hurt him with our betrayal.  I think we have been forgiven though, it certainly seemed that way on Monday night.  This man takes his food seriously and if he fails, it's definitely personal.

Malmö truly is a diverse city, with nationalities from around the world providing a rich offering when it comes to food.  Now that we are in our new and hopefully permanent (for 2 years!) home I am looking forward to trying more of what this city has to offer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You say gula ärtor, I say gula delade ärtor?

Grocery shopping in another language, hmmmmm....

I know I've spoken about this before, but sometimes there are minor accidents in selection.  Mostly, there are ways around the error.  Sometimes it's hard to know what you've bought exactly and if will work at all.  Yesterday I did my first grocery shop without the car.  I cycled around town, bought from market stalls and health food shops as well as a good local supermarket and piled it into my basket - loved every moment!  Well...apart from the long minutes I spent in front of the legumes shelf, pocket dictionary in hand, trying to figure out what to select.  This is usually my area of expertise and I felt like a newby!  I could have asked someone, everyone here speaks beautiful English, but I was feeling stubborn and wanted to figure it out on my own.

I had a plan to make a Coconut & Lentil Soup, made with red lentils and split yellow peas among other things.  Split yellow took me a while, but eventually I found them.  Gula (yellow) ärtor (peas).  Fantastic.  When I got home and opened the packet I realised I had bought whole yellow peas, not split ones.  I guess the photo on the packet was a giveaway.  Oh.  Dammit.  Hmmm....will it work? Will they ever cook?  Will the skins come off the peas and turn to slimy gunk?  Will I end up wasting all the other lovely ingredients if it doesn't work?

An hour or so later, I was rewarded with the most delicious soup I have had in a while.  It had a dahl like consistency, but could easily be watered down a bit to make it less viscous.  The lentils went to complete mush, but the peas kept their shape and seemed to hold on to their skins too, which made it much more interesting and less like baby food (I'm not a fan of that texture)  The whole peas definitely took a bit longer to cook, maybe 20 minutes extra, but I just added a little more water to stop the soup mix burning and hey presto, perfect result while I did some light housework!  I served a few ladlefuls over some basmati rice and it was a meal in itself.  Recipe below if anyone fancies trying it out!  It will serve 4 hungry people or 6 light lunches.

What you’ll need:
1 cup / 200g yellow split peas (or whole ones for more texture!)
1 cup / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups / 1.6 liters water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 45g sultanas
1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 teaspoons sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Cooked basmati rice for serving (optional)

  • Put the split peas and lentils into a large saucepan and give them a good rinse - strain off the water and repeat a few times until the water runs clear.
  • Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. 
  • Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft. (Whole peas took about an hour)
    In the meantime, in a small dry frying pan or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is fragrant. Be careful not to burn it though, just toast it gently and set aside. 
  • Place the oil/ghee in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add half of the scallions, the remaining ginger, and sultanas. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another few minutes.
  • Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt.  (The smell of this mixture alone nearly sent me to aromatic and
  • Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. 
  • Serve with rice or on it's own if you prefer and sprinkle each bowl generously with coriander and the remaining green onions.  I like a bit more spice than Mountain Man, so I added a dollop of harissa to my bowl, feel free to adjust the seasoning/spice as you like.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food Orgasm in Salt & Brygga

It's been quite some time since I have experienced a meal like last night's triumph in Salt & Brygga.  Winner of numerous awards since it opened, this restaurant is a little bit special.  Most ingredients are local and organic, coffee is fair trade, organic and utterly delicious.  All of the waste produced by the restaurant is seperated for recycling and, get this, organic waste is ground down with compost mills, decomposing it and turning it into biogas.  You might expect the result of all this 'do-gooding' to be a bit earnest and um...dull, but it's not.  It's incredible.

We visited early on a Monday night, so the atmosphere was a little bit on the quiet side.  I was, admittedly, nervous about this, as I thought it had the potential to ruin the evening.  In the end I was so blown away by the food I don't think I would have noticed if there was a wild party going on around me.  

So, what did we have? Mountain Man and I both went for a set menu option, which started with 'Smoked wild duck from Skåne with sea buckthorn and pickled onions'. That description does not do this dish justice.  The duck was sublime, delicately smoked and tender.  The orangey blob in the middle of the plate is sea buckthorn sorbet.  Oh my God.  Somehow the chef managed to achieve a creamy sorbet that held together without melting all over the plate.  Wow.  Pickled onion slivers were a treat, but so too were the nasturtium leaves and delicate radish slices. 

Our main course was even better, if that is possible; 'Venison with lingonberries, preserved chanterelles and cider sauce'.  The smell seduced me all on it's own, as it wafted it's way to the table.  The menu didn't mention the incredible smoked turnip mash or the gorgeous edible nasturtium flower.  I savoured every bite of the perfectly cooked venison (not easy to achieve, I've tried and failed a few times at home, turning it rubbery and nasty) and our incredibly friendly and knowledgeable waitress recommended a dark, locally brewed beer 'South Plains' APA to complement the dish, which was perfect - rich, mellow and...6%

Dessert was the most unusual dish I think I have ever had.  For a 'modern style Skåne apple cake with apple sorbet'  I was expecting a slice of tart or cake, with a scoop of ice-cream or sorbet on the side.  How wrong!  Instead this little piece of heaven arrived at the table. I'm not sure how to describe this, but I'll try.  Close your eyes and imagine this...a collection of apple desserts - another non melting apple puree like sorbet, chunks of apple bread, apple ice cream, crunchy caramelised pieces of appley meringue and sugar and...I'm not sure how to describe the final element - a frothy dry appley foam that disintegrated in the mouth.  Oh my God...heaven.

The aforementioned fair-trade, organic and delicious coffee finished off the meal with a final whiskey for himself and a Baileys for me.  The only moment of disappointment was when we realised that while spirits are priced per 1cl on the menu, unless you specify otherwise, 4cl are served.  So, we thought we were getting an amazing bargain for our after dinner drinks and...we didn't.  They were about the same price as you would expect anywhere else.  Once we understood the system we were pretty impressed.  Imagine being able to order a quarter of the usual bar measure?  Clever.  As we headed outside to unlock our bikes and cycle home, we were already planning a return trip.

In fact, I think this place is more than a little bit special.  It is sublime.