Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spiced plum and blueberry jam

At the beginning of this plum extravaganza, Mette from Becauseitmatters and I fully intended to produce a full menu, entree, main and dessert using plumbs. But believe it or not, even with plums coming out our ears, we forgot to add them to the main course.

So today instead of a main dish, here is a really lovely and spicy plum and blueberry jam. This is not your traditional sweet jam, it is laced with beautiful spices that give it body and a definite edge over store bought alternatives.

Although this jam would be wonderful with sweet pancakes or scones, due to the cinnamon and star anise it has a very Christmas feel to it. As such, it would also be a great accompaniment to duck or roast turkey.


Ingredients
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, pods scraped out
  • 500 g sugar
  • 800 g plums, pitted and halved
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 300 g blueberries, both fresh and frozen can be used

Place all the ingredients except the blueberries in a pot and boil over medium heat. Once at a boil, remove the lid and let the fruit soften and the jam reduce to a thick syrup. Taste your jam to see if you have the right sweet/acid balance. Mette and I don't like really sweet jam so you may want to add a little more sugar than what we have.

Once the right consistency is reached - it takes about 20 minutes - add the blueberries. Cook for a further 5 minutes. We wanted to retain the shape of the blueberries, but if you want more of an emulsification and a smoother spread, cook for longer until the blueberries break.

Pour your finished jam into clean sterilized jam jars ready to enjoy!

P.S. Once again, these gorgeous images are by the very talented Martin Kaufmann

Monday, August 27, 2012

White chocolate and autumn berry galette with cinnamon spiced pastry


One of the things I love about cooking is that you can experiment. If you know the basics and don't go too crazy, you can come up with some unique and delicious combinations.

Mette from Becauseitmatters and I did just that when we came up with this white chocolate and autumn berry galette (or for the non-foodies, berry pie). We performed a mash-up of the best bits from two recipes and came up with this truly indulgent and extremely delicious dessert.

Sticking with our plumb theme, which this galette has plenty, we used all seasonal fruits picked from local fruit markets, two types of strawberries and sweet blueberries. But the best thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit you want and it would be just a delicious.

White chocolate and autumn berry galette with cinnamon spiced pastry

Cinnamon short crust pastry
  • 180 g cold butter
  • 1 large teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250 g flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 -5 tablespoons water

Rub the butter, flour and sugar together to form a fine crumble.

The dough can then be assembled easily with water. Beware you do not use too much (add it one tablespoon at a time) otherwise you run the risk of the dough being too sticky and impossible to roll out.

Let dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling.

Filling
Start by chopping the chocolate coarsely and then blend it little by little with almond flour. Once combined, stir in the two eggs to form a thick paste. 

Fruit
  • About 1/2 liters of mixed fruit, eg plums into quarters, strawberries in half and blueberries
  • 80 grams good homemade raspberry jam

Assembling the galette

Roll out the dough into a circle, approximately 26 cm in diameter. The easiest way to do this is between two pieces of wax paper. This helps with the upcoming challenge of moving the base onto the baking tray and also avoids having the pastry stick to your rolling pin.

Spread the jam over the bottom, leaving a boarder of about 5 cm. Add chocolate / almond paste on top.


Now put LOTS of fruit on top. During baking, the fruit juices causes the fruit to collapse reducing its volume, so don't be shy when piling it on. 
   

Finally press the free 5 cm dough gently on the fruit.

These gorgeous images are by the very talented Martin Kaufmann

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes.

The most delicious galette on the planet is now ready to serve. A good (homemade) vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla yogurt makes it even better.

Enjoy - we certainly did!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Plum, prosciutto and goats cheese salad

I love food... everything about it. I love cooking it, eating it, reading about it, talking about it and playing with it. So when I recently met Danish food blogger Mette from Becauseitmatters.dk I was really excited to work with her on some seasonal recipes and food styling. Mette's blog is in Danish, but I would really recommend checking it out and translating some of the delicious recipes. All of the amazing photos are taken by her partner, photographer Martin Kaufmann who was also on hand during our cooking session.

We spent all Sunday in the kitchen cooking up a storm using plums as our inspiration because they are in abundance right now. Although Wife and Baggage to Follow is not a food blog, I couldn't resist sharing our creations. I will be uploading them as a series, starting with entree...and yes it is a savory entree using plums.

Image by Martin Kaufmann: www.martinkaufmann.dk

Ingredients for 4 people
  • 1 small baguette
  • 8 plums
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 100 g goat cheese broken into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • Small lettuce leaves or endive
  • 1 small beetroot thinly sliced
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • Little edible flowers: we used small geraniums and horned violets

Start by cutting the bread into very thin slices and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Place on a baking tray and bake until the bread is golden and crispy.

Halve or quarter plums (depending on size) removing the stone. Cut thin strips of prosciutto and wrap around plum halves.

Slice the radishes and beetroot thinly using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler.

Stir oil and vinegar together and season with a little salt and pepper.

Arrange all the elements beautifully on a plate and drizzle over the dressing and garnish with flowers.

Other ingredients that would work well with this salad are figs, instead of plums, and if you don't like goats cheese, feta would be a great alternative.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to look like a Dane

This very amusing blog post from Copenhannah has been making the rounds on Facebook over the last couple of days among the Danish expats.

I couldn't resist re-blogging it for those back home and elsewhere to enjoy.

How to: Look like a Dane - @ http://copenhannah.tumblr.com/

So you want to look like a Dane? I don’t blame you. Danes are hot, so I’m going to tell you how to look just like them. I’ve taken The Meaning of Style for the last four months taught by a stylish Dane who I quote “feels uncomfortable” if he wears the same pair of shoes more than once in a month. Thus, I am qualified. Listen, learn, look Danish.

Step 1: Take your head and dip it in a bucket of peroxide.
Go ahead, throw caution to the wind. If you accidentally dye your eyebrows, it’s a plus! You can’t look like a Dane unless your scalp burns from too much bleach. All Danes are blonde, by birth or by bottle, it doesn’t matter.

This guy’s got it!

Step 2: If you are a girl, you must only wear your newly dyed hair in one of two ways. Lazy or lazier.
Lazy- Put your hair on the top of your head in the highest bun possible. You want people to stop on the street and ask, “Is it even gravitationally possible for her bun to be that high?” The key to this bun is to never look in the mirror after doing it. If there is bumps or chunks falling out, no sweat. You want to look like you spent all your time dying your hair and none of your time doing your hair.

I Googled “danish bun” and this wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but correct and delicious nonetheless.

The perfect height, the perfect messiness and even in black and white, the perfect bottle blonde. Bun Master!

Lazier- Do absolutely nothing with your hair. Wake up and go. At the most, part it down the middle. Your hair will look the right amount of messy and the right amount of awesome. Danes have truly magic hair.

This Dane woke up three minutes ago.

What I look like in the morning. Rough. Or should I say, meow. LOLZ ;) :D :) (remember if you are dressing like a Dane, you must also use emoticons like a Dane)

Now, hair for the men. If you want to look like a Danish man, you need to ignore everything I just said about the girls. You must make your hair look as if you spend a minimum of five hours doing it. Hair product is your best friend. Your hairstyle MUST convince onlookers that you skipped school in order to properly gel. The more unnatural swoops, swirls and spikes, the better.

 Nick Carter circa 1995 is a good starting point. You can’t go all out Dane the first day. You probably don’t even have that much gel in stock.

Oh yes. That height ain’t natural.

Now that you have your hair all big and rock hard to the touch, you can do one of two things: leave it the way it is or buzz the sides. The gelled hair MUST be gelled back in a very gentlemen like swoop, a very large swoop. Then you must take an electric razor and buzz short everything else on your head that is not considered part of the swoop. I searched and searched the internet and no pictures could do this ‘I can tell what country you come from even if I was only allowed to see you from the eyes up” hairstyle any justice. This Danish man is half-assing the hairstyle. Imagine more hair on top and much less hair on the sides.

And you call yourself a Dane?

Step 3: Put down the bag of chips that is currently in your hands as you are reading my blog in bed. Danes have Viking blood, for gosh sakes, and thus are naturally tall and ripped. You’ll need all the help you can get to fit into Danish skinny jeans.

But, if you ever do come to Denmark, disregard this rule and eat these chips. Imagine the best qualities of all your favorite chips combined in to one chip.

Step 4: Go to your closet, put everything that is not black into a bag and burn it. 
If you truly want to look like a Dane, you can never wear color again. Ever. When people look in your closet, you want them to be confused. Are you really a (insert profession here) or are you really, in fact, a ninja?

Is that a ninja? Nah, it’s just a Dane.

Step 5: This is definitely the hardest rule of all. 
You can never look like you are coming or going from the gym again. In layman’s terms: stop looking like a slob. There is not even a word for slob in Danish because it would never be used. No more ratty grey sweatpants. No more oversized gym clothes with stains in the armpits. And worst of all, no more UGG boots. (I didn’t just look at my outfit now and describe it or anything…) If you want to look like a Dane AND you want to go to the gym to get that hot Danish bod, your gym clothes better look nicer than a non-Dane’s every day clothes. Top of the line matching Nike or Hummel only, please.

Just a Dane (who did not follow step number one ) rocking out in head to toe Hummel.

Step 6: Now that you know the color scheme and the no sweat pants rule, what do you actually wear? 
Girls first. The goal is to make your legs look as long and skinny as possible. On the top wear a bulky sweater or a structured jacket and on the bottom wear tight black skinny jeans. Your legs will look like little matchsticks.

Boys next. Your goal is to look like Waldo from Where’s Waldo but instead of red, everything needs to be black. You need tight pants (your girlfriend’s skinny jeans will work), a striped shirt, hipster thick rimmed-glasses (whether you need a prescription or not) and a beanie for when you run of out gel.

I have to admit that I heard this Waldo thing from someone else, but it was such a perfect description that I couldn’t pass it up. Waldo is just missing a little five-o’clock shadow on his face and his trusty bike.

Step 7: SCARF. 
For boys and girls both, do not dare leave your house without a large and in charge scarf. Start wearing your scarf mid-August. Stop wearing your scarf mid-June. Go to scarf withdrawal therapy in July.

A little on the small side and not black, but overall pretty Danish.

Step 8: Shoe time
As a Dane, you have three options of footwear. Three and only three.

Black Converse or Black Nike Frees or Black Wedge Booties (If you are male and want to wear the wedges, Denmark is about as liberal as it gets…so go for it)

Step 9: I’m bending the rules a bit. 
You are allowed to wear one colored item and that item must be your backpack. Your Fjällräven backpack, to be exact. Go into a store and ask if they have Fjällräven. You’ll pronounce some word that is nowhere near correct and three Danes behind the counter will laugh for five minutes while they keep asking you to repeat the word just so they can hear it pronounced incorrectly over and over again. Not that it has ever happened to me, but just to be safe, maybe you should just order it online?

The more obnoxious the color the better because this is the only color you may see all day in Copenhagen.

Step 10: This is it guys, the last step to looking like a true Dane. 
Wipe that smile off your face and put on an ice cold stare. If you are a Dane, you need to look unapproachable and intimidating. Avoid eye contact at all times, whether in the train or on the street. And NEVER say hi or nod at anybody that walks by, as we do in Minnesota.

The look

Step 10 b: Once you have mastered the “Ice Queen” look, prepare to completely wipe it off your face once someone starts talking to you. Danes may not look approachable, but if you get the nerve to ask for directions or to just start a conversation, they are the freaking best. Danes are the nicest, funniest and happiest people I have ever met. (For real. Denmark is ranked the Happiest country in the world right now. The US is 26th.) So wear that death stare, but you better be all love underneath you if want to truly look (and act) like a Dane.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Le Tour de France


J is a keen cyclist and when we lived in Australia, every July meant a month of no sleep. That is because for that month the television would be moved into the bedroom and J would stay up to 3.00am watching the Tour de France (TDF).

So when we moved to Denmark we decided that this was our opportunity to have the holiday of a lifetime and go and watch the TDF live. We spent over a year saving and six months planning this epic adventure. We booked a Winnebago, otherwise known as a motorhome, mapped out our route and reserved campsites all over France.

It is hard to describe just how beautiful France is. We drove over 4,500 km and every town we came across was more gorgeous than the one before. Since I grew up in a country that is only 200 years old, it was amazing to me to drive through medieval towns with roads and houses that have not changed a bit. Although beautiful to look at, it did make driving very difficult - there were some moments where I was worried the Winnebago was going to get stuck down the narrow lanes. But that was all part of the fun and adventure.

The first day of the Tour also marked my 28th birthday. It might not be what all girls think of as a great birthday but I loved watching the riders race through the streets of Leige, Belgium during the prologue on a beautiful hot summers day, drinking belgium beer. The day was topped off with a fantastic dinner at a tapas restaurant in the old city.

There were so many wonderful experiences - we camped on the side of mountains and woke up to the local farmers milking their cows. We drove over misty mountain passes and could barely see the cows, horses and goats that were invariably standing in the middle of the road just around the next corner. We rode the historic mountains of the TDF like Alpe d'Huez, Mont Ventoux and the Tourmalet, giving us even greater admiration for the riders. We also ate crepes at 2000 meters above sea level and croissants on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

It is really difficult to sum up our month-long trip around this beautiful country, so I will let the photos do the talking.

Celebrating my birthday during the Prologue in Liege, Belgium

The finish line of Stage 2 in Tournai, Belgium

Gorgeous medieval village (Sederon, France) where we stopped and enjoyed the local markets

Moet & Chandon Epernay - the heart of the Champagne Region (L) and driving into the Pyrenees.

Enjoying dipping my feet in the Mediterranean sea near Perpignan, France

Very proud to reach the top at 2001m- Col de Pailheres in the Pyrenees, France

Lake Geneva at dawn, Switzerland

Enjoying Geneva, Switzerland

Our campsite on the Cole de la Croix de Fer
You can just make out our motorhome, it is the last one on the left next to the yellow car.

The finish of Stage 7 - this section was graded at 21%, the steepest of the Tour

The famous switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez

Cheering on the Aussies: (L) Col du Grand Colombier and (R) Bagneres de Luchon

The view from the Col du Glandon, France

We made it to Paris! The final stage, the Rambouillet on the Champs Elysees