Category Archives: Cook

Magasinet Hunger intervju: kökstång perfekt för fritering

Swedish food magazine “Hunger” interviewed me for this issue’s “The Favorite” column featuring my trusty tongs (kökstång)! From turning tortillas as a child in California to deep frying comfort foods in Stockholm, this American classic has served me well! Below the article, you can find the recipe for the “Panko Fried Eggplant” (“Panko Friterad Aubergine”) that I cooked for the magazine shoot: (In Swedish and English!)

Favoriten-Kendra-Valentine Hunger Magazine CROPPED

“Panko Friterad Aubergine”

Av Kendra Valentine

2 auberginer

3 ägg (blandat med lite vatten och chili peppar sås, om du vill)

1 dl vetemjöl

4 dl. Panko ströbröd (blandat med vitlök flingor)

1 l  rapsolja

 

Skär auberginen i ca. ¾ cm tjocka skivor och salta. Doppa skivorna i mjölet. Fortsätt därefter med ägg blandning, och tredje panko blandning. Lägg dem utspridda på en plåt eller bricka.

Låt dem ligga och torka medan du värma oljan i stekpanna eller kastrull. Värme till ca. 160 C eller level 7.  När en skärva panko fräser och flottör i oljan: kör.

Fritera tills de är gyllenbruna, ca. 2 minuter på varje sida.  Lägg upp på hushållspapper för avrinning.

Don’t throw away those celery leaves! (selleri blad)

Celery (Selleri)

Celery (Selleri)

I grew up eating many meals that started with a base of chopped celery, bell peppers (paprika), and onion. In cajun and creole cooking (Louisiana) this is referred to as the ‘holy trinity’ and the base of many dishes. However, growing up I had no idea about this history… my best guess is my mom picked it up from my grandmother (father’s mother) who grew up in Louisiana.  I don’t keep to this tradition as often as I could, but lately celery has been making a come back in my cooking… I just had one little issue:

I was getting annoyed with throwing out the leaves, as I had most often seen people do back home.

Especially when I have celery stalks with tons of leaves like the one pictured above. In north America the stalks often don’t come with so many leaves still attached in supermarkets. So I decided that I would figure out how to use celery leaves in my cooking: “Wasted not want not” right?

How to eat swedish plums (plommon) for dinner

plums (plommon)

Cute little Swedish plums

This friday, my lovely neighbor brought over a huge bag of cute little Swedish plums, to add to my huge basket of apples from the yard. First thought: “Pie” followed by…

“How original, sexy and exciting!”

The second thought was clearly sarcastic… I only make deserts when I’m in the mood. So, what will I do with a bunch of cute mini Swedish plums that isn’t desert? Well (2) things:

The first, is a way to not only use many of the plums, but to also use some of the several bottles of snaps we have leftover from midsummer(s). Every year, someone forgets the snaps (read: Swedish holiday emergency), so we have to go buy a new bottle, and then bring it back home to add to the collection… and I haven’t quite gotten the urge to ‘pair’ fine Swedish snaps with anything but marinated or fermented fish. BUT! perhaps this plum chutney can be my gateway drug:

Plum Chutney with Snaps Sauce

(Tip: Try this with pork tenderloin, duck breast or grilled haloumi!)

12 mini plums, cut into slices (plommon)
1 dl. (.5 cups) Light brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced ginger (ingefära)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf (lagerblad)
.5 dl (.25 cups) Snaps
.5 dl. (.25 cups) Water
Salt
Heat oil in a saucepan (medium heat.) Add ginger and cook, then quickly add brown sugar, bay leaf, and water. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Stir in plums and snaps. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium low and let simmer 20 minutes until thick. Season with salt.

The second way to use plums is a no brainer… and it sounds ‘oh so delighful’ to say! Try this viniagrette with a nice salad made with dark greens:

Expat Food Hack: Making REAL Buffalo Wings in Sweden

Amerikansk Buffalo Wings

Amerikansk Buffalo Wings

Dear Sweden:
Please, please, please stop making wings with sweet chili sauce, and then calling them Buffalo wings. It is misleading, and frustrating. I love you, but this I can not accept. We need to talk…

Buffalo wings are made with a tangy cayenne peppar and vinager based hot sauce, most popular is Frank’s Red Hot. Now, I know we can’t just go out and buy the original Frank’s Red Hot in stores here… but there is always a compromise better than sweet chili sauce… and finally I’ve found it in Stockholm: Piri Piri hot sauce.

Piri Piri Hot Sauce or 'Expat' Buffalo Sauce

Piri Piri Hot Sauce or ‘Expat’ Buffalo Sauce

Food Hack: Easy Mexican Queso Fresco

queso fresco & beans

Problem: I love making Mexican food, but can’t easily go buy queso fresco in Sweden… what can I do in a pinch?

Queso Fresco (“Fresh Cheese” in Spanish) is a popular cheese in Mexican cuisine. Although a tex mex style taco can do just fine with shredded cheddar, when you take the time to make a nice carne asada or carnitas and fresh corn tortillas for tacos, you want to use the good stuff: queso fresco.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have a well stocked latin grocer nearby… or want to buy it overpriced at a posh specialty store. But alas, there is hope.

Queso Freso is essentially fresh cheese from raw cow milk (or sometimes a combination of cow and goat milks), that crumbles nicely with a salty and creamy texture. You know what other cheese can be described the same way? FETA. Where I live in Sweden, not only is feta reasonably priced but you can find it in any store. The main difference with feta is that is make with goat and sheep milk exclusively.

If using the cheese as a garnish, then I doubt you can really mark a big difference…unless you are the “Rain man” of cheeses.

To hack your feta into queso fresco, all you need to do is this:

Let the feta block soak in a small bowl of cool water for 5 to 10 minutes… that’s it!

Just, wait to crumble the cheese until after you soak it.

Otherwise… try a recipe for making your own queso fresco… like this one.

 

 

 

Infographic: “Cooking with kids” (“matlagning med barn” undersökning)

Cooking With Kids - Survey Results

Cooking with kids UK survey by greatbritishchefs.

Mexican Refried Beans at home (Mexicansk friterad böner)

Mexican Refried Beans (Mexicansk friterad böner)

Mexican Refried Beans (friterad böner)

Cooking refried beans (Mexicansk friterad böner) is an essential skill if you have Mexican/Tex Mex food cravings like I do… living in Sweden I haven’t come across Pinto beans, but you can use many different kinds of beans: Cannellini and Borlotti beans are most similar to Pinto. And of course you can use black beans or even kidney.

Pinto beans alternative

Borlotti Beans (Böner)

 

Refried Beans Recipe (Recept):

1 Can beans (böner)
1/2 small yellow onion, diced (gullök)
2 cloves garlic (vitlök)
dash of cumin (spiskummin)
dash of ground coriander (optional)

1 teaspoon bacon fat (optional)

or

1/4 cube chicken bouillon and
1 dl. water (1/2 cup)

Plus: A little oil (if not using bacon fat), frying pan, and wooden spoon

1. Drain beans, and set aside 1/3 of the beans for later
2. Heat frying pan to medium heat and bacon fat (or oil), onion, and garlic. Saute until soft.
3. Pour in the can of beans, bouillon (if not using bacon fat), and water and mash with potato masher. It will be watery… then stir in the rest of the whole beans. (no more mashing)
4. Allow to cook down on medium heat, stir constantly. This is the frying part! Keep on cooking and stirring until it is as thick as you like your refried beans! Salt to taste if needed.

 

A snack for champs: Homemade Fried Pork Skins (Flashback)

Homemade Pork Cracklins (Fried Pork Skins)

How did I end up making homemade fried pork skins?

I recently made a trip to one of the most inspiring institutions created by modern man: The butcher. Living abroad adds another special dimension to such visits, since there is no uniform way to butcher meat… as the saying goes ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ well multiply that assumption when it comes to butchering a cow. (Unless you’re in some parts of India, then there is only one way to butcher a cow… more on that another day :)

 

I now live in a land where good old rib-eye is called entrecote and wrapped up small and boneless… a pleasant cut, but some days I need to go back to my roots and get a nice thick dry aged cut- bones included, just as nature intended.

 

That’s when I go to Taylors & Jones… it’s a British butcher shop on Kungsholmen , here in Stockholm.  Great product and service to match. This visit I went with some lovely pork chops, and of course a few of their popular house made sausages.

fried pork skins step 1

Pork chops and skin

 

Once I got home, I realized I had been gifted another treat I often forget about: a large strip of skin was left on the chops…. I had a flash-

Pork Cracklins were now on the agenda!

 

(If I was going to bake the chops I may have left the skin on to crisp up nice and flavor the meat: but homemade fried pork skins was too tempting.)

 

Fried Pork Skins may not sound so fantastic if you are not already well acquainted (but if you eat bacon you ought not judge), but for those who know- it’s a snack you grew up with… salty, savory and crunchy.

and to top it all off- I feel a lot better not throwing parts out to waste.

 

You find this snack all over the world, but from an American perspective its very southern. Back in the day, people cooked down the skins to render out the fat to make cooking lard, and fried pork skin was a byproduct of this process.

 

This is how I made my little bunch at home:

(If you are making a lot, I suggest cooking outside in a large pot over a fire, this can be a fire hazard.)

 

fried pork skins

Slicing Pork skins

1: I sliced the skin into strips and then chopped into rectangles… but you can cut as you like.

Gammalt Hällakakor? Gör Rostat Hällakaka till middag

Ber om ursäkt för min Svenska, jag är Amerikansk och nya till språket :) men nu kör vi, i alla fall!

Hällakaka från Polarbröd

Jag hade flera Hällakakor kvar som höll på att bli dåliga… så jag gjorde ett ’experiment’ för att få användning för brödet. Hällakakor är inte så dyr men jag försöker att alltid undvika att slänga mat, och jag gillar utmaningar att utnyttja mat… även Hällakakor.

Rostat Hällakakor

Rostat Hällakakor

 

Det vår enkelt: gör en krispgare rostat Hällakaka att ha till maten som sopa eller någon matträtt med sas. Jag också tycker om Hällakakor med jordnötssmör och sylt.

 

Hällakakor

Hällakakor

Gör så har:

Tända ugn till 175°C

Breda ut oliv olja över hela Hällakaka (båda framsida och backsida). Strö ut havssalt (även speciellt smaksätta havssalt!) Då hugga Hällakakor i fjärde och placera på bakplåten. Baka ända tills de vänder brun.

Hällakakor

 

Rostat Hällakakor

Rostat Hällakakor

It’s Cinco De Mayo! Let’s make some (mild) Hot Sauce!

Mexico to Sweden: “It’s Cinco De Mayo!”

My own pictures were erased: but this will work.

My own pictures were erased: but this will work.

 

Since I grew up in California, I know first hand the kind of fiestas that go down when Cinco De Mayo comes around. In honor of this year’s holiday, I decided I would be contrary to what’s popular and try cooking something non-traditionally Mexican since I’ve been on the “authentic” and “from scratch” wagon for awhile. I want to be a rebel.

So I decided to try making a homemade version of the mild hot sauce that comes in those little packets at Taco Bell: say what you will about Taco Bell, that sauce is golden. I know all my Slow Food friends will be knocked off their high horse right about now, but I have a conflict in my beliefs when it comes to Taco Bell, sorry.

After doing a little research online I decided to try out a recipe from Todd Wilbur as retold by the blog “cooking with Jack” and I have to say it was really close to the real thing! Pretty good either way- and easy. I think I will tweak the recipe a bit next time and use an different kind of vinegar and add a smoked chilli pepper of some sort for a little more complexity.

Here’s what you’ll need (be warned: this makes a lot of mild hot sauce):

3 cups (6 dl) water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 6-ounce can (175 ml. tube) tomato paste
3 tablespoons white vinegar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

(Watch his video for instructions: but basically, dissolve cornstarch into water in a pot. Turn on the heat and add all the dry stuff, then add the rest, bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 5 minutes- done)

I stored the sauce in jars and used it on tacos (of course), but also made a good enchirito (enchilada + burrito) with it… and anyone who knows me knows the trouble I’ve gone through to make enchilada sauce from scratch in Sweden. The sauce is a little thick for a hot sauce, so it works well. You could also use a bit in chili con carne or in a soup base. It is totally worth the effort…