a sandwich for friday

The nice thing about an essay-writing day is that I have an excuse to stay at home and make a nice lunch.

Between reading a book by Afua Cooper and writing a paragraph about myself in Swedish, I ate a sandwich. And what a sandwich it was! I have never been much of a sandwich person, but if I get into the habit of baking brioche regularly and buying fresh shrimp all that may change.

Cucumber and Spicy Shrimp Brioche

a few fresh shrimp
(my local fiskvagen has delicious shrimp that are conveniently already cooked)
fresh chives
creamy dijon mustard
me fraiche
a few squeezes of a lemon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a generous pinch of sea salt
black pepper
thinly sliced cucumber
mixed greens
a few slices of brioche, day old is best

Toast a few slices of brioche. Mix mustard, creme fraiche, and lemon juice. Add fresh chives, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and then add shrimp and mix well. Place mixed greens and cucumber on brioche and then add the shrimp and the remaining sauce.


apples in autumn

Apples are the ultimate symbol of autumn. They hang ripe from trees. They fill up barrels and baskets at local markets and grocery stores. They get turned into pies, crumbles, jellies, jams and even butter. A few weeks ago I made apple butter and have been waking up to it ever since. Apple butter is lovely served on whole-wheat buns, pancakes, or even mixed with some oatmeal.

Apple Butter


a nice mix of apples (I used about 8 medium to large apples)
unrefined sugar (I used about 1 1/2 cups)
juice of a lemon

Peel, core and cut apples into medium sized chunks. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to boil and then cook at a simmer until apples are soft and easily punctured by a fork. Drain apples and then mash (by hand or by machine, as you wish and as you have). Return apples (now resembling apple sauce) to pot and cook over low to medium-low heat. Add sugar, spices and lemon juice to taste. Cook until apples thicken and darken. This can take several hours (around 4 or so) depending on the heat of your stove and your patience. Stir frequently. When apple butter is close to ready, sterilize a couple of jars in boiling water. Add apple butter to jars, seal, and return to boiling water for about ten minutes. This will preserve the apple butter so that it can be stored in your pantry for months. Skip the last step if you are planning on eating it pretty much all at once (which is desirable, of course). Guten!


postcard from berlin

I have a postcard addiction.

It is true, I just cannot have enough. I am always trying to get more. This translates as always being on the hunt for unusual and beautiful postcards. The usual hunting locations include flea markets, second hand stores, museum gift-shops, and my grandparent's basement. However, my most prized postcards come from a rather unsuspected location: Schuhmacherei Sprecht.

In Kreuzberg, in Berlin, is a shoemaker. In the front of his shop is a bicycle and a small dog that usually naps in a basket. In his shop are old leather shoes that he makes look new again. There are also two racks of postcards made in Berlin in the 1980s and 90s. The first time I entered his shop I came with a pair of sad boots that needed new soles. He took one look at them and made sounds of pain, the pain that I had caused my poor boots. Feeling guilty, I let my eyes wander off and there I saw the postcards. My favourite capture just a fragment of a Berlin building plus a very, blue Berlin sky.

Berlin, ich vermisse dich.

Schuhmacherei Sprecht,
Bergmannstra├če 52


squeezing lemons

By day I study critical theory that deconstructs museums, their histories and their mission statements. By night, I bake until my tummy is full and my hands are sore.

I remember my first year of university when after handing in a paper I had one day to read Dante's Inferno and then discuss it. After the introduction, I was inspired by his map of hell. I decided to celebrate it by baking a chocolate cake, listening to Tom Waits, and imagining what hell would look like if each level corresponded with a different musical note. Seven layers of hell and seven musical notes, perfect.

Since then, between reading books and writing papers I can be found chopping chili peppers, melting dark chocolate and sifting flour.

As of late, I have been rather fascinated by preserves. A good friend of mine's family has a farm on Vancouver Island with a basement that is both an ode to and a shrine of preserves. It is rather magical. This summer I made pickles for the first time and ever since I look at mason jars with much more interest.

Today I got busy squeezing lemons. In three weeks or so they will be ready to be served with tagines. After all, winter is coming soon to Sweden. I better be prepared.

Preserved Lemons


organic lemons
coarse sea salt
one sterilized jar

Sterilize one jar in boiling water. Wash lemons well. Cut off ends and cut lemons vertically in four slits, as if you are about to quarter them. However, make sure the lemon stays intact and the pieces attached. Generously pack the cuts with salt. Cut lemons over a bowl and save the juice. Put a few tablespoons of sea salt in the bottom of the jar. Add lemons one at a time, squeezing them gently, and add salt in between lemons. Once jar is full, add a few more tablespoons of salt and then lemon juice reserved from slicing the lemons. Leave at room temperature. After a few days, the lemons should be submerged in juice. If not, add more lemon juice. The preserved lemons should be ready to eat in about three weeks. They will then keep for a year. Refrigerate if you please.



autumn's reflection

The light in autumn is different. Its softness teases my camera and entices both of us - camera and I - to chase it until it disappears. I need to borrow from my childhood a butterfly net, or a glass jar large enough to catch a ray or two of the autumn light.


when Pumpkin met Brownie

In Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris writes about the forbidden love affair between a squirrel and a chipmunk, as well as other tales of animals who deal with bureaucracy, prejudice, addiction, and love. Inspired by his style, I wonder what the first meeting between pumpkin - hard-shelled and tough - and brownie - soft and sweet - was like.

Perhaps Pumpkin met Brownie in a queue at the grocery store. Pumpkin was buying a prepared meal after a stressful day of hearing about a cousin who was battling an addiction problem with growth hormones (some pumpkins can just never be satisfied with their size, always wanting to be bigger). And Brownie was buying nice cheese and fruit for a dinner party with close friends. Pumpkin was grouchy and Brownie was cheerful. Brownie had a basket of things and Pumpkin had a single, plastic-wrapped meal. Brownie offered Pumpkin to go ahead in the queue. Then Pumpkin blushed. It was lust at first site. However Pumpkin met Brownie, they are quite the pair and what better recipe to show this off than pumpkin brownies.

I usually try to bake with spelt or whole-wheat flours, but sometimes one just has to indulge. And Thanksgiving is an ideal time for just that. A friend and I were so excited upon seeing this recipe we decided that we needed a reason to throw a dinner party and make these brownies. This was November last year. Canadian Thanksgiving had already passed and so we decided that we would celebrate American Thanksgiving in late November. So we threw an American Thanksgiving dinner just as an excuse to make pumpkin-brownies. These are that good.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
from the l.c.b.o. autumn 2009 magazine


Pumpkin Swirl

30 g. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar, raw
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, organic
2 tbsp pastry flour, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


175 g. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar, raw
2 tsp. vanilla extract, or vanilla bean
2 large eggs, organic and at room temperature
1/2 cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a baking pan. For pumpkin swirl, stir cream cheese and sugar. Add pumpkin and mix well. Blend in egg, pastry flour, vanilla and cinnamon. For brownie, place chocolate and butter in a metal bowl of a pot of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, then vanilla and one egg at a time. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Put half of batter in prepared pan. Dallop pumpkin onto brownie and then brownie on pumpkin. Swirl. Bake about 30 minutes.



postcards from munich


savory biscotti

I have always been smitten with fall.

I look forward to red leaves, fresh apples, ripe pumpkin, and warm scarves. I look forward to cashmere sweaters, sharpened pencils, fall sunsets, and warm soups.

Savory biscotti is meant for fall. Dip in a tomato or carrot-coconut soup. Pack for a fall picnic. Or, like I did, just eat them straight out of the oven.

Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Biscotti

Savory biscotti inspired by the Minimalist
Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan inspired by the fall and my pantry

2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour (I used half spelt, half all-purpose)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
a generous pinch of sea salt
a generous pinch of cayenne, or to taste
a hand-full of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
a hand-full of fresh basil, chopped

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Mix together eggs and Parmesan until thick. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Move dough to a floured surface and knead until until it holds together. Shape into a log, 8 to 10 inches and flatten ends and surface. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until firm. Remove and let cool ten minutes. Cut into half-inch slices on the bias. Lay slices on the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Flip and repeat.

You might want to double the recipe. These are that good.


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