Category Archives: Cook

Wasabi Ranch Dressing

A classic fresh buttermilk ranch dressing with a twist: wasabi! the wasabi gives a peppery kick to the dressing, perfect to use as a dip or nearly anything else! Salads, onion rings, fries, fresh veggies…  plus it’s a good way to use that wasabi it the fridge leftover from that one time you tried to make sushi :)

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup (2 dl.) buttermilk (filmjölk)
  • 1 cup (2 dl.) sour cream (gräddfil)
  • 1/2 cup (1 dl.) mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tablespoons wasabi
  • 3 tablespoons yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, fresh, minced
  • 1/2 cup (1 dl.) fresh parsley, minced or chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 dl.) fresh chives, minced or chopped (graslök)
  • salt

Tip: Let the wasabi ranch dressing marinate for a few hours to get the best flavor. Avoid adding the usual black pepper or vinegar since it might mask the nice peppery flavor of the wasabi.

10 facts about Soul Food

When you live abroad, you often think about your heritage in new ways. Thus I’ve been doing a lot of research on “Soul Food” and found some interesting stuff. I figured I’d share it in a fun video!

1. Soul food is niche within American southern cuisine.

Let’s start with figuring out, what the heck soul is to begin with since the distinction between soul and southern cuisine are hard to make. In the 1969 Soul Food Cookbook, Bob Jeffries summed it up well by saying: “While all soul food is southern food, not all southern food is ‘soul.’ Soul food cooking is an example of how really good southern Negro cooks cooked with what they had available to them.”

2. The term soul food didn’t even exist before the 60s.

With the rise of the civil rights and Black Nationalism movements during that era, many African Americans sought to establish their cultural legacy. So terms like “soul music” made way for “soul food” to describe the food that their ancestors had been cooking for generations.

3. The traditional West African diet was mostly vegetarian!

If you think soul food came from a tradition of cooking a bunch of hog maws and piles of fried chicken, think again! For thousands of years, the traditional West African diet was mostly vegetarian, centered on things like millet, rice, okra, hot peppers, and yams. Big portions of meat were for special occasions!

4. The transatlantic slave trade brought many foods to the Americas from BOTH Africa and Europe.

Rice, sorghum and okra were West African staples while foods like cabbage came from Portugal. Read more about the slave diet here.

5. Only around 4% of all African slaves traded during colonial times went to North America.

Did you know that the largest population of African blood outside of Africa is Brazil? Depending on who you ask, as little as 4% of African slaves went to North America… Brazil absorbed by far the most future soul brothers and sisters. By the way , ‘collard greens’ are called ‘couve’ in Brazil and in Portugal.

Classic Beef Stew!

A classic old-fashioned beef stew is an easy and inexpensive way to get a simple comforting Sunday meal. You can vary this beef stew to what you have on hand: I’ve used beef chuck (grytbitar), potatoes, carrots, green beans, and leek. I also share a few tips on making a flavor base for cooking.

 

You’ll need:

  • Beef (Grytbitar)
  • Tomato paste
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Organic beef bullion
  • Flavor base veggies (I used onions, celery, and garlic)
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Seasoning (I used bay leaves (lagerblad), Thyme, and salt)

What’s a flavor base?
These are the ingredients you start your dish with to get deeper more complex flavor, and when you are talking about comfort food this is mandatory! In many cuisines, starting off with garlic and onion is very common, however there are trends according to where in the world (or even your country) you learn to cook. For example, I have memories of my mother and grandmother starting with onions, bell peppers, and celery. If you’d like to learn more about classic flavor bases, I recommend looking up Soffritto, Mirepiox, and Cajun Holy Trinity… it’s really interesting!

Cornbread: Southern Skillet Recipe

Cornbread is classic Southern (U.S) eats! It goes with everything from soup, to stewed greens, to rice & beans: the prefect compliment to any dish with a little juice! Jiffy boxed mixed is popular, but you pay extra for a premix using low-quality ingredients, and a long list of preservatives: this is the upgrade!

 

You’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup (1.5 dl.) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (1.5 dl.) yellow corn meal (polenta)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cream or milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (optional)

Tip: What’s that nice flavor Jiffy flavor come from?
Jiffy has HYDROGENATED LARD. A low grade way to get good flavor. Lard is rendered pig fat, and is not as bad for you if it’s unprocessed… unlike shortening or hydrogenated oil. I use bacon fat (plus butter.) It’s like lard but with a salty smokey flavor: this is a plus in my book.  However, if you’re not a fiend like me and don’t save bacon fat, then just stick with the butter.

Faux Pho: Fast Vietnamese Noodle Soup!

When I was younger, I used to eat pho up to 3 times a week! Now, when I’m craving pho, I want it fast! So I came up with a solution and call it “faux pho” GET IT??? Actually the flavors are right on! The most important part of the recipe: use beef consommé or stock: NOT BROTH! Watch the video to learn why…

You’ll need:

Makes 2-3 Bowls

  • 5 cups (1 L.) Beef consommé or beef stock
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon allspice (kryddpeppar)
  • 1 chunk ginger sliced in half (ingefära)
  • 4 thin slices of yellow onion
  • 200g or (1) medium sized steak (I like entrecote/ribeye) or sirloin or lövbiff
  • 200g rice noodles

Toppings (All optional, take your pick! For me, bean sprouts and coriander are mandatory):

  • Bean sprouts
  • Coriander (or cilantro: see the bog header!)
  • Spring onion
  • Sweet Thai Basil
  • Lime
  • Red chili

Sriracha on the side!

Tip: The difference between beef broth, stock, and consommé… told simply:

These terms are somewhat, but not completely, interchangeable. I keep track this way…..

Broth is the liquid that remains after meat, seafood, or vegetables have been cooked in water. It may be served alone or used as the base for a light soup. You can also call this bouillon… bullion cubes are condensed & dried broth. And not nearly as rich and delightful as a liquid broth.

Stock is more intense than broth, cooked slowly to extract as much flavor as usually from BONES. A stock is used as an ingredient or base, not served alone….

Beef consommé is if you take stock one step further, and get fancy. Beef consommé is a clear and deep flavored and you get it by clarifying homemade stock.

For our soup, we want deep beef flavor to start and then we will add the specific flavors we want, so stock or consommé is best. Beef broth would not have a much beef flavor and would already have spices in it that don’t match the flavors we want…

Classic Macaroni & Cheese!

This is how you make a quick macaroni & cheese! This recipe is somewhere between the boxed macaroni & cheese and the old fashioned baked version… quick & easy but still gooey and delicious. The ultimate comfort food!

You’ll need:

  • 2 servings macaroni pasta (elbows, shells, cavatappi, or ziti)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup (2 dl.) milk
  • 1 cup+ (2 dl.) shredded cheese (I used cheddar, gräddost, feta, and Parmesan)
  • parsley (optional)
  • a little cornstarch (majsmjöl)

Tip: Having a hard time getting your cheese sauce to melt smoothly? This is often the case with cheddar cheese. A little trick is to mix in a sprinkle of cornstarch into the shredded cheese. This helps to keep the shreds from clumping together when they melt!

You can use nearly any kind of cheese, but if mixing different cheeses try to use something sharp (like cheddar or Monterrey jack), something that melts well (like Gruyere, provolone, or Gouda), and something salty (like feta or Parmesan).

New to cooking? Check out my kid-friendly cooking instructions in this blog post: “Happy Birthday Mac & Cheese!”

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Thai red curry might be the easiest and fastest dish I’ve ever cooked. Seriously. I was furious that never tried to do this before, and instead thought I needed secret take-out wok skills to pull this off with ease- I was wrong.

You’ll need:

  • Thai red curry paste
  • Coconut milk
  • Chicken breast meat, sliced
  • Veggies, fresh or frozen (green beans, baby corn, bell peppers,etc.)
  • (optional) sliced red chili
  • (optional) Some cilantro or coriander- see my blog header!

Baked Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

These baked cheese stuffed jalapenos have extra flavor & a garlic twist so you don’t need a special dipping sauce. Jalapeños are the most used chili pepper in America, and jalapeño poppers are one of my favorite things to eat! Great snack for a party or with a nice beer on the weekend.

You’ll need:

  • 10 Jalapeño chili peppers
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • feta cheee
  • marinated garlic (or lightly cooked in oil)
  • crackers (about 2 handfuls, old are fine!)
  • Oil for hands
  • sour cream (optional)

Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos

I’m like always eating tacos, but these chili chicken tacos are kinda my specialty: Juicy slow-cooked chicken breast that just shreds apart. Plus! You could use this meat for a lot of different Mexican dishes!

You’ll need:

  • chicken breasts
  • onion
  • garlic
  • bay leaves (lagerblad)
  • tomato paste
  • beer or water or chicken broth
  • vinegar
  • smoked paprika!
  • cumin (spiskummin)
  • chili powder
  • oregano
  • whole dried chilies (New Mexico, red chili, chipotle, etc.)
  • salt

For the tacos:

  • corn or flour tortillas
  • ‘queso fresco’ cheese (or the feta hack)
  • quick pickled radish (splash of red wine vinegar & salt)
  • red onion
  • cilantro (which is coriander! See blog header)

Queso Fresco hack:

When you make a nice slow cooked meat, you want to use the good stuff: queso fresco. But it’s hard to find where I live… SO! here is a little food hack using feta cheese as a substitution: Easy Mexican Queso Fresco Food Hack

Simple Winter Salads

If you eat seasonally, the winter can be a little tough when it comes to vegetables. Here are two ideas for everyday salads that are also winter friendly. Some dark greens, hardy veggies, nuts or seeds  and a good vinaigrette will get you far!

You’ll need:

  • winter greens (I use baby spinach, arugula, and kale often.)
  • nuts (I often have walnuts and sliced almonds handy)
  • seeds (pine nuts are good)
  • croutons
  • cheese (I love goat cheese, feta, and Parmesan)
  • carrot (These keep in the fridge a long time!)
  • red cabbage (That is actually purple, go figure)
  • cranberries (Nice and tart!)

For the vinaigrette:

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Dijon (optional)
  • Salt & pepper