Thursday 13 May 2010

västerbottenostpaj - swedish cheese pie

It’s a little known fact that Sweden produces some spectacularly delicious cheese (ost in Swedish).

Herrgardsost is a very popular cow’s milk cheese with a slight grassy flavour, full-bodied tang and soft texture.

Hushållsost, which just means “household cheese” is a typical farmer's cheese being semi-soft and mild in flavour. It’s easily for sliced and melted which makes it good for cooking and eating.

My personal favourite is prästost, meaning "Priest Cheese" in Swedish. Apparently the name comes from the days when farms gave a tenth of their produce to local clergy. Prästost is strong, biting, moreish and reminiscent of tangy, soft Cheddar. It’s wonderful, and another cow’s milk product.

But we’re here to discuss Västerbottenost, the so-called emperor of Swedish cheeses, being reserved for the most special of occasions. It’s produced in huge wheels and aged for almost a year, making it hard, crumbly and strong. Its flavour is similar to a young Parmigiano Reggiano (which makes a good substitute) and it’s perfect eaten on its own as a decadent nibble.

Jonas made this pie and it was AMAZING.

It’s not healthy, so don’t even pretend. But it does taste wonderful.

On Easter Sunday we were hit with our first taste of winter’s cold winds and torrential rain. It was enough to make us retreat into my dad and stepmum’s cosy home to enjoy a slice of the fabulous pie followed by some sticky Middle Eastern Orange Cake and an excess of Lindt chocolate.

If you don’t have access to Sweden’s wonderful Västerbottenost, just substitute with a combination of parmesan and taleggio.

Västerbottenostpaj (Västerbotten Cheese Pie)
Jonas’ very own recipe. Serves 8.
250g västerbottenost (or 200g parmesan and 50g taleggio)
1 brown onion
3 eggs, beaten
200ml thickened cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Butter, for frying
20g extra västerbottenost (or parmesan), for garnishing
Prepared pastry shell, as per below
1. Preheat oven to 180’C.
2. Dice the onion very finely.
3. Heat the butter in a frying pan then cook onion until translucent and a little golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Whisk together the eggs and cream.
5. Add the salt and pepper, onion and cheese and whisk to combine.
6. Pour into the prepared pastry casing and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until set.
7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
8. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Note: The pie can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight. The next day simply reheat and serve.

Savoury Shortcrust Pastry
Jonas’ very own recipe. Makes 1 pastry case.
1 teaspoon salt
125g butter, chilled and cubed
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons hot water
1. Preheat oven to 180’C. Grease and line a springform tart tin.
2. Blend the ingredients in food processer until it forms a ball of dough.
3. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
4. On lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 5 mm thick.
5. Line the pastry tin and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Monday 10 May 2010

moroccan cucumber & mint salad

This fresh, juicy salad is good to munch on for a snack or as an accompaniment to roast lamb or dishes like Libyan spicy fish or Iranian walnut & pomegranate spatchcock.

Moroccan Cucumber & Mint Salad
Recipe by Family Circle. Serves 6.
5 Lebanese cucumbers
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon orange flower water
Ground pepper
1. Finely peel cucumber and slice thinly. Put in a bowl and add mint.
2. Combine lemon, oil, orange flower water and pepper in bowl / jar and whisk / shake until well combined.
3. Pour dressing over cucumber and mint and mix well. Serve immediately after dressing.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Marija from Palachinka.

For more information on the theme ingredient, cucumber, check out my previous post covering its history and health benefits.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

flan napolitano de queso

Hola everyone, it's Cinco de Mayo!!!

The 5th of May, although not Mexico’s national holiday, is the day celebrated around the world as the symbol of Mexican heritage and pride. And this year it also happens to be the 30th birthday of my sister Shamu!!!

It’s hard to believe that little Shamu is 29+1, and even more scary to think I’m not far behind her . . . .

Happy 30th Shamu! I hope you have a whale of a day.

To celebrate her birthday, here's a delicious, rich Mexican cake made with cream cheese and flavoured by a sticky caramel top. Another great recipe from Robot and Tia.

This recipe also concludes the week of Mexican cooking, with:
1. Tamarind Margarita - tangy cocktail
2. Salsa de Chipotle y Tomato - smoky, sweet sauce
3. Conchinita Pibil - citrusy pork roasted in banana leaves
4. Sangrita - tomatoy drink to sip with tequila
5. Budin Azteca - layered tortilla casserole
6. Chiles con Queso - chillies drenched in cheesey sauce
7. Flan Napolitano de Queso - steamed caramel cheese cake

Flan Napolitano de Queso (Steamed Caramel Cheese Cake)
Recipe by Tia Bicky & Robot. Serves 6-8.

6 eggs
375ml evaporated milk
375ml sweetened condensed milk
250ml (1 cup) milk
250g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup of sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180'C.
2. Carefully melt the sugar in a saucepan and allow to brown gently to form a caramel. Pour into a cake tin or flan mould.
3. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a blender.
4. Add the blended ingredients into the tin on top of the caramel, then cover tightly with aluminium foil.
5. Place inside a bain-marie in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or when an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.
6. Leave to set in the refridgerator for at least 2 hours.
7. When cooled, turn upside down and serve with luscious cajeta.

If you have a unique take on a Mexican classic or can recommend a special Mexican dish that isn’t very well known, please leave a link in the comments section below. Let’s share the love of Mexican food around!

Now here’s some brilliant ideas from the rest of the net:

Agua de Sandia (watermelon drink)
Agua de Tamarindo (sweet tamarind drink)
Agua Fresca Cítrica (citrus drink)
Agua Fresca de Pepino y Limón (cucumber & lime drink
Champurrado (thickened hot chocolate)
Chico (tequila & blackberry cocktail)
Horchata (almond & rice drink)
Michelada (spicy beer cocktail)
Ponche (fruit punch)
Piña y Menta Fresca (pineapple & mint cocktail)
Prickly Pear Margarita
Rompope (Mexican eggnog)
Spicy Hot Chocolate
Tamarind Margarita
Tepache (spiced, fermented pineapple drink)

Chocolate Mole
Pecan Mole
Salsa de Chipotle y Tomato
Salsa Verde (tomatillo sauce)
Salsita de Chile Habanero (habanero sauce)

Snacks & Salads
Beef Empanadas
Cabbage, Jicama & Cucumber Salad
Chicken, Olive & Chorizo Empanadas
Elote (grilled corn)
Ensalada de Nopalitos (cactus salad)
Esquite (corn snack)
Jicama-Pineapple Salad
Oaxacan Eggplant Spread
Pickled Jalepeños

Caldo Tlalpeño (chipotle, avocado & lime broth)
Frijoles Negros con Chochoyotes (soupy black beans & dumplings)
Menudo Rojo (red chilli tripe stew)
Pozole Rojo (pork & hominy red stew)
Sopa de Fideos (noodle soup)
Sopa de Flor de Calabacín (squash blossom soup)

Main Courses
Arroz Verde (green herb rice)
Acorn Squash Quesadilla
Baja Fish Tacos
Camarones en Pipian (prawns in almond & chilli)
Cemita Strata (leftover bake)
Chilaquiles (bean & tortilla bake)
Chiles en Nogada (chillies in walnut sauce)
Chiles Rellenos (stuffed chillies)
Chile con Carne
Conejo en Mole Rojo (rabbit in red mole sauce)
Guisada de Guilota (quail braised in tomatillo sauce)
Huevos Motuleños (Motul-style eggs)
Huevos Rancheros (ranch eggs)
Huitlacoche Quesadillas (corn fungus toasties)
Mixiote de Carne (beef baked in banana leaves)
Mole Negro Oaxaqueño (Oaxacan black mole)
Pescado a la Veracruzana (Veracruz-style fish)
Pescado Almendrado (fish in almond sauce)
Pescado con Salsa de Acuyo (fish with Acuyo sauce)
Quesadilla Cake
Salpicón de Camarónes (Veracruz-style prawn cocktail)
Tequila Chicken
Tongue Tacos

Arroz con Leche
Black Bean, Chilli & Chocolate Sorbet
Calabaza y Camote (candied squash & sweet potatoes)
Capirotada (bread pudding)
Chocolate Fritters w Dulche de Leche
Cinnamon & Chocolate Flan
Leche Quemada (burnt milk fudge)
Lime Margarita Ice Cream
Pan Dulce (sweet buns)
Pastel Tres Leches (three-milk cake)
Pepita Brittle
Polvorones (Mexican wedding cakes)
Rosca de Reyes (sweet bread for Epiphany)
Spiced Sweet Potatoes & Guava in Syrup
Torta del Garbanzo (sweet chickpea cake)

Tuesday 4 May 2010

chiles con queso

This is a seriously delicious recipe of oozing hot cheese and spicy chilli.

It's not healthy, so forget about your diet, but it's great party food.

This is recipe 6 out of 7 on the countdown to Cinco de Mayo!

Chiles con Queso (Chillies in Cheese)
Recipe from Mexican by Jane Milton. Serves 4-6.
4 fresh green chillies (fresno recommended)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
5 cups grated, medium strength cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 firm tomatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon reposada tequila
Tortilla chips, to dip
1. Put the chillies in a dry frying pan, over medium heat, turning frequently until their skins blister and darken.
2. Place the chillies in a strong plastic bag and tie the top to keep the steam in. Set aside for 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, cut the tomatoes in half and scrape out the seeds. Slice into thin strips.
4. When the chillies have steamed, carefully peel off the skin. Slit them and scrape out the seeds, then cut the flesh into thin strips.
5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for around 5 minutes until softened.
6. Add the cheese, crème fraîche and cream. Stir over a low heat until the cheese metls and the mixture becomes a rich, creamy sauce.
7. Stir in the chilli strips and tomato pieces.
8. Just before serving, stir through the tequila and transfer to serving dish.
9. Serve warm with tortillas for dipping.
Note: the original recipe called for Monterey Jack cheese, but it’s not sold widely in Australia.

Monday 3 May 2010

budin azteca - mexican vegetarian casserole

This great vegetarian casserole is a spicy Mexican lasagne made from layers of tortillas, cheese and chopped vegetables.

It's the fifth recipe in the seven day lead up to Cinco de Mayo!

Budin Azteca (Aztec Casserole)
Recipe by Tia Bicky & Robot. Serves 4-6.

12 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup corn kernels
3 finely chopped zucchinis
1 cup chopped buttons mushrooms
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 can of poblano chillies (or 2 fresh char-grilled poblano chillies)
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
1 vegetable stock cube
1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, then fry all filling ingredients (except coriander) until soft. When finished, stir in coriander.
2. To make the sauce, in a blender process the sauce ingredients together. Add more chillies to the sauce to taste.
3. Preheat the oven to 180’C.
4. Heat the sauce in a saucepan to thicken slightly.
5. Quickly fry the tortillas in oil to harden slightly. This prevents them from falling apart in the casserole.
6. In an ovenproof baking dish assemble layers of filling, sauce, grated cheese and tortillas, as you would prepare a lasagne.
7. Finish with a layer of grated cheese on top.
8. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until well heated all the way through with the cheese melted and bubbly on top.
Note: Add shredded chicken to the filling for a non-vegetarian version. If poblano chillies are not available a salsa verde or spicy tomato based salsa could be substituted.

Sunday 2 May 2010


This tangy tomato drink is sipped alternately with high quality tequila, made to savour.

It's great aperitif to any meal, alongside dips and salsas.

This is recipe 4 out of 7 on the countdown to Cinco de Mayo!

Recipe from Mexican by Jane Milton. Serves 20 shots or 8 glasses.
450g ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 small green chillies, seeded & chopped
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of 3 limes
½ teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Tequila, to serve
1. Score the tomatoes on the bottom and place in a heat proof bowl and cover. Sit for 3 minutes.
2. Remove the tomatoes and plunge into a second bowl of cold water. The skins will start to peel away.
3. Remove skins then cut the tomatoes and discard seeds.
4. Chop the remaining tomato flesh and combine in a food processor with onion, chillies, orange juice, lime juice, sugar and salt.
5. Process until smooth then chill for at least one hour before serving.
6. Serve in a shot glass alongside a shot of tequila.
Note: (good quality) aged or golden tequila are recommended for this drink.

Saturday 1 May 2010

cochinita pibil - citrus roasted pork

Cochinita Pibil (also known as Puerco Pibil) is a traditional Mexican recipe using recado rojo, or achiote, a paste made from ground annatto seeds. The paste itself is pretty flavourless, but its real value comes from the vibrant, natural red colour it gives to food.

Cochinita Pibil is basically pork that’s been marinated in orange juice then slow-roasted in banana leaves to lock in the moisture while cooking.

It's from the Yucatán and the traditional recipe uses bitter oranges. The orange juice gives a really interesting, fresh flavour to the rich meat.

The Mayan word "pibil" means "buried" and “cochinita” means “suckling pig”, so perhaps technically my version is “Puerco Pibil” (puerco meaning pork). But since Cochinita Pibil is the more common term, no matter what kind of pig you're cooking, I’m sticking to it!

Like many of my recipes leading up to Cinco de Mayo, this one comes from my Mexican pals, Tia Bicky & Robot.

Cochinita Pibil
Tia Bicky's adaptation from Mexico: The Beautiful Cookbook. Serves 6-8.

1.5 kilos of cubed pork
50g recado rojo (achiote paste)
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
2 teaspoons of salt or more as required
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 2 oranges
Squeeze of lime
Fresh Banana leaves
1. Dissolve the achiote paste in the orange juice using your fingers, add vinegar and salt.
2. Marinate the pork in the juice. There should be enough liquid to coat all of the pork in excess, otherwise add more juice mixture.
3. Marinate overnight or at least 6 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 180’C.
5. Prepare the banana leaves by heating them over the flame very briefly on the stove top until the oil starts to come out of the leaves.
6. Line an ovenproof dish with banana leaves crosswise so that you can wrap the ends over the top after adding the pork.
7. Mix the pork with a lime squeezed over the top and 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or more to moisten).
8. Fold the banana leaves over the pork completely and cover tightly with aluminium foil.
9. Cook in oven for at least 90 minutes or until the meat shreds easily with a fork, but ensure the pork remains moist.
10. Shred the pork completely before serving. Serve with rice or tortillas, orange pickled onions and other accompaniments such as black beans, guacamole and salsas.
Note: oranges in Australia are much sweeter than Mexico so lime juice is added. You can omit the lime if you’re using Mexican oranges. Also, the original recipe uses pork lard instead of olive oil.

Orange Pickled Onions
2 red onions finely sliced
Orange juice
Lime juice
habanero or jalapeño chiles, finely sliced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Mix the finely sliced onions with juice, vinegar, salt to taste and chillies. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.
Notes: Traditionally the recipe uses habaneros but they can be too hot for some people so Tia uses pickled jalapeños instead.
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