Category Archives: Reviews

One Pot to Rule them All? Le Creuset

Le Creuset ‘fo ‘sho: The dutch oven to rule them all!

Photo from cookingequipment.about.com

Photo from cookingequipment.about.com

 

My Le Creuset Dutch oven pot was the best kitchen tool investment I have made to date. I use it for everything: from deep-frying to tomato sauce to wonderful slow cooked stews and braises (gryta). If you cook, this item is essential. Forget the price: it has a lifetime guarantee.

Now that fall is upon us, slow cooking on Sundays is on the agenda. Not only is it easy to throw your ingredients into the pot to let it cook on low for hours while you get on with your day; but flavors are like none other.

PLUS: If you cook a lot of meat, you can use the leftovers in a couple of dishes during the week, making your weekday meals not only easier but also a lot more luxurious.

Basically, your braise will consist of protein + spices + liquid + vegetables. The trick is to brown your meat, bring all you ingredients to a light boil and then turn down the heat and cook on low for hours until the meat falls a part. If you cook with high heat the meat will be tough and chewy. I like to start on the stove top and then slow cook on low in the oven. Here is a good article on the basic tips for braising from my favorite magazine Bon Appetite: 4 Simple Rules For Braising Anything.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to play with:

Meat: Chicken breast (Kycklingfilé)/ Pork shoulder (Fläskkarré)/ Oxtails

Base: Onions/garlic/shallots/Carrots/ Chipotlé chili/ Smoked paprika/ Bay leaves/ Lots of spices and herbs

Liquid: Chicken broth (bouillon)/ Wine/ Beer

Want some recipes for inspiration? Visit my slow cooking Pinterest page to see some glorious photos, recipes and resources!

A HORSE of Course! Horse Meat in Sweden (Gustafskorv)

GustafskorvYou’re eating Horse?!? Nehhhhhh!(In my best Mr. Ed impression)

When it comes to regional food I never turn my nose up on something large numbers of peoples eat… no matter how cute it was in its living state. Sorry but I’ve been that way since learning what veal was when I was a kid… after that, it was like “hot damn, well if everyone is doing it….” But alas we come to the meat in question: horse meat sausage or Gustafskorv.

Why? Well, as my companion in Dalarna (county in central Sweden) put it:

“Why not? What’s the difference between a horse and a cow?”

Okay, riding a cow is neither practical nor romantic, but for all intensive purposes, they are pretty close hooved amigos. Now, I’m not advocating adding My Little Pony to the little pictures on the ‘ideal diet’ chart, especially since it wouldn’t replace any meats we already over consume…. but as much as I like the idea of better meat practices, I also believe in eating local: and in Dalarna “Gustafskorv” (Horse Sausage) is as local as it gets!

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.

Here’s “Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex” kids book to celebrate (U.S) National Taco Day!

Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex Book

Recently published on the Amazon Kindle store: “Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex” a kids ebook on the simple task of cooking a taco: Tex-Mex style. The book is really approachable for even the youngest readers and taco obsessed grown ups alike. If you don’t have a Kindle (I don’t) you can read on any device with the Kindle app, as well as right on your computer.

Here are some pages from the book, although the detail looks better on ipad! (Check out Amazon for reviews and more info)

Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex Book cook meatTaco! Taco! Tex-Mex chop lettuce

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

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.

 

EAT BUTTER: I knew America was coming around! (Time Magazine)

Time Magazine Butter Cover

So there I was, wadding through my usual Sunday tasks when I got a text with an image of this week’s TIME magazine from my best friend stateside:

“Eat Butter.”

I stopped in my tracks and let out a huge “YESSSSSSS! I called it!” Exactly 2 years ago, actually almost to the day, I stood in front of a panel at London Business School pitching a business plan for an innovative butter product I developed. When asked the usual question about intended market, I stated something along these lines: ” The initial market for the product will be Sweden, as butter is a large part of the diet here thus allowing us to go directly to educating the consumer on usage, whereas in the U.S we would have the setback of prevailing ‘Anti-butter’ food culture. However, I predict that attitudes are changing, and the market will be prime in about two years time, making it the ideal time to launch on the U.S market, tapping into this new niche…” They further asked me what qualified my assumption, and the dance of doubt began… And there I was, 2 years later starring at the literal manifestation of my prediction. I’m no stranger to calling a foodie fashion trend before it comes, but this was an exemplary example… I look forward to what lies ahead, and implore anyone who wants to jump on the business bandwagon to message me. I have a plan!

Lesson of the day: Trust your intuition

Flashback: Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland

Bakesale Betty's Chicken Sandwich

Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Sandwich, Oakland California. Kendra Williams-Valentine.

This month’s Bon Apetit arrived, and behold, emblazoned on the front cover: A crispy chicken sandwich with fresh slaw- I instantly knew that somehow, someway, the Bakesale Betty gospel had reached the east coast, and now the nation for sure.

The perfect chicken sandwich

The Bon Apetit magazine cover that set my memories in motion: Bakesale Betty’s!

It was August 2011 when I visited this lunch-spot supreme. I was in Oakland, working with La Wanda from CocoaDiva for the month of August. She, aware of my culinary sensibilities (read obsession) wanted to take me to the new hot lunch-spot for a “Fried-” I instantly interrupted with a “yes!” eyes wide with anticipation. I regained my composure, apologized, and let her finish with a laugh: “fried chicken sandwich…but really really good, and fresh”. I have to admit, when she said “fresh” I was thinking “fresh out the fryer” so I was not expecting the glory that awaited (Although freshly fried was also true, she was referring to the fresh slaw in the sandwich). So what does two hard working women do on a hot summer afternoon in the middle of prepping for a food event? Ride over to the other side of Oakland to wait in line for a sandwich, that’s what (I’m in Cali baby, what do you want?).

Starbucks in Stockholm?!?

Starbucks billbord

Look what I found in Stockholm!

This morning, I was woken up with a phone call: “You’re not going to believe it, there’s a pop up store of one of your favorite places…. Starbucks! Right next to the castle!(Literal castle, this is Stockholm)” Me: “No way… no way, oh snap! Merry Christmas to me!”

So, I gathered up my snow gear and went over to check out the situation, and indeed found a contingent of Starbucks ‘workers’ next to the castle, however it wasn’t the unimaginable portable Starbucks cafe complete with pastries I like to look at but never buy, I had tried to imagine… it was a promotion. A promotion for a cold latte product for sale in stores.

Starbucks Discoveries Latte

My free sample of the retail product: Starbucks Discoveries Latte

That’s right, cold Starbucks for a cold winter day… funny, funny. But who am I kidding, I indulged, after all it was free. I didn’t earn my Starbucks Gold Card from passing up on the goods.

Howard Schultz, if you get this: Please save me airfare by opening a real Starbucks in Stockholm. Me love you long time.

A happy Starbucks promotion worker

A happy Starbucks promotion worker: I think she would be happier inside a real warm Starbucks ;)

Glögg Mat: Cooking with mulled wine- Pork Tenderloin

Leftover bottle of Glögg

Here is the Glögg or spiced mulled wine that I used in my cooking.

Its Christmas time, and in Scandinavia that means time for cups of warm Glögg (mulled spiced wine) at parties. Last year, I had a lot left over from the holidays, so I decided this year the holiday drink should pull double duty and I should think of a couple of ways to use it in my cooking.

The first great opportunity came last Weekend, I was making a pork tenderloin. I crusted the tenderloin with freshly coarse ground peppercorns and allspice. As we all know, pork goes well with a bit of sweet and spice, so I instantly though of using some leftover Glögg for a sauce. You can tweak the flavors any way you like, but using the things I had on hand I made a reduction using:

Pan drippings from tenderloin

Glögg

Dijon mustard

Apple cider vinegar (tiny splash)

Ginger ale

Agave syrup (or honey)

A dash of salt

I started with the Glögg on high heat to scrape pan drippings from the pan and then turned the heat to medium high. I added the rest of the ingredients, in about the same order as listed, allowing each one to blend into the sauce before adding the next. Just use a bit of each ingredient, keeping ratios about the same (except the vinegar, just a small splash and the Gløgg should be double the amount of the other ingredients combined) You can always taste as you go, and tweak the ingredients to your taste. To finish, I reduced the liquid down, cooking until I had a few spoonfuls of a glossy sauce. Done.

Pork tenderlion, Jul mat, Kendra Williams-Valentine

Peppercorn & Allspice crusted Pork Tenderloin with Glögg Agave reduction