Hi! I'm taking a little break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back soon! :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

E.A.T World - English Crumpets, Lancashire Hotpot, and Bakewell Tarts!

WARNING: The following blog post will be narrated in an extremely bad posh English accent.

Greetings from the land of Jane Austen! Yes! My fifth E.A.T World entry takes place in Jolly Old England, and I have really been looking forward to this one! Let's dive right in and have some tea and crumpets! How could we not?

E.A.T World: England - Crumpets

So my crumpets aren't round. They are rectangular. Call them crumpet pop-tarts. Or crump-tarts! I used this recipe from Planet Veggie (with whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose). I tried preparing the skillet three ways: once with cooking spray, once with a little canola oil, and a couple of times with Earth Balance buttery spread. The Earth Balance version was by far the best. The first time I ate crumpets I thought they were the spongy work of the devil! But that was my own fault because I didn't make the batter soft enough, now crumpets and I are BFFs. Crumpetty tip: The batter should be just barely thicker than pancake batter.

Not in the mood for tea or spongy stuff? May I interest you in a Lancashire Hotpot instead?

E.A.T World: England -  Lancashire Hotpot (with lentils)
Don't ask me what's going on with the neon potatoes here. I don't know!

Traditionally, the Lancashire Hotpot is a baked stew made with lamb or mutton, potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions or leeks, and covered with thinly sliced potatoes. Mmmm mutton. Not! The hotpot sounded great, but I needed to get rid of the meat. First I tried this recipe that calls for barley instead of meat and it was very tasty. Then I tried this recipe that calls for beans or lentils instead of meat and it was delicious too. Now I make my own version using whatever I have in the fridge and the pantry, and I always make them with lentils. Lancashire Hotpots are great for using up straggler veggies that need to be eaten ASAP.

E.A.T World: England - Lancashire Hotpot (with lentils)

For dessert? Bakewell Tarts! I made two mini tarts for our wedding anniversary, and they were deeeeelicious! According to the interwebs, the Bakewell Tart was named after the town of Bakewell (duh!) in Derbyshire, when an air-headed cook at the White Horse Inn accidentally messed up a recipe for a jam tart in 1820. It was one of those fortunate mistakes. After such lucky buffoonery the Bakewell Tart became a very popular dessert at the inn. I think the dude was just winging it! :)

E.A.T World: England - Bakewell Tart

There is a Bakewell Tart and a Bakewell Pudding, I am still a little confused about that but I am 99% sure that the one I made is the tart. Honestly, I don't really care too much, as long as I get to eat them you can call them Fred if you want.

From Wikipedia: "The tart version consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with jam and covered with a sponge-like filling enriched with ground almonds (known as frangipane). They may also be covered with nuts such as almonds and peanuts. Alternative flavours, including blackcurrant, strawberry and apple are also produced."

For the crust I used the same shortbread crust recipe that I use for all my sweet tarts and pies, and you can find it here. The fruit filling is blueberry jam (1/4 cup per mini tart) which was very tasty, but next time I will make a chocolate ganache filling instead, just for kicks. The best part of the tart was the frangipane topping. Oh. My. Tart! I had never made frangipane before and I had no idea what it was, but Shellyfish came to the rescue with this awesome blog post and frangipane recipe! I only needed half of Shelly's recipe for two small tarts. Raise your hand if you miss Shellyfish! *overwhelming number of hands raised*

Bakewell, Home of The Tart :)
Photo via Wikipedia

You know what else is in Derbyshire? Pemberley! Mr. Darcy's home! Well, not really. Pemberley and Mr. D. were a product of Jane Austen's imagination, but Mr. Darcy's digs are believed to have been based on Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Chatsworth House was even used as Pemberley for the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. Here she is:

Photo via Wikipedia

Well, even though there is still so much to see and taste here, it's time to leave England and move on to my next destination. I found some new E.A.T World participants through google reader and a google search, but please do let me know if you're participating because I don't want to miss out on any fabulous world cuisine! This challenge has been so much fun, and it has shown me that I have been sheltered and narrow-minded, and stuck eating the same foods and using the same cooking methods for years. So many new ingredients! So many new cooking techniques! So little time!

Check out a few impressive entries from some fellow E.A.T World'ers:

DJ's awesome Chinese food post will give your salivary glands a good workout. Mini pink rabbit buns, anyone?

Krys' made some rockin' Jamaican food that will have you wishing you could lick your computer screen and taste it (don't forget your sunscreen lotion!)

Mike has really been to the Czech Republic and he's treating us to some delicious goodies! Drinks are on Mike!

Cassie hit three spots in one imaginary trip! Brazil, Bolivia and Botswana! That is some serious E.A.T World butt kicking! Awesome!

Stef has become a sauerkraut convert only after her first E.A.T World entry! Score! Her trip begins in Germany.

Sophia hit Thailand, Pakistan, China, and Portugal, all in one post! So much goodness in harmonious perfection!

See you next time, it may be time for another crafty post!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

E.A.T World: Fastelavnsboller and Rugbrød (Denmark)

Welcome to Denmark! Can I interest you in some Fastelavnsboller?

What in the world is that?! Apparently, these delicious Fastelavnsboller are a traditional Fastelavn treat in Denmark. From Wikipedia: "Fastelavn is the name for Carnival in Denmark which is the either Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday... This holiday occurs seven weeks before Easter Sunday and is sometimes described as a Nordic Halloween, with children dressing up in costumes and gathering treats for the Fastelavn feast. The holiday is generally considered to be a time for children's fun and family games..."

Cool! It looks like the festivities involve eating tasty treats, some very cool and colorful parades, children dressing up in costumes, and some weird parent-flogging activities. Hold your horses! What?! Yes, apparently kids fake-flog their parents to wake them up on the morning of Fastelavn Sunday. There is a hilarious image in my head of a snoring father, fast asleep and drooling, being harshly awaken by the fake-flogging of an over-excited five year old kid on a Fastelavnsboller sugar high!

Anyway, these amazingly delicious Fastelavnsboller (Fastelavns buns) are filled with almond paste, then baked, then cut in half and filled with whipped cream. View from the top...

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

Honestly, I only made enough cream (very soft buttercream really) for one bun, and left the rest of them naked. The whipped cream filled ones are very tasty, but I prefer the simplicity of the less-fattening ones, not that I give a flog about fat, but the almond paste filling really shines as the main character here.

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller
My naked buns (oh, the naughty google searches that will lead to this post!)

The main recipe that I used for guidance is this one (scroll down a bit), but I deviated a lot from it and ended up with this version:

Fastelavnsboller - Makes only 4 buns (Adapted from House of Denmark)

Ingredients for the buns:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp active-dry yeast
1/2 cup milk (I used oat milk)
2 tbsp Earth Balance or another non-hydrogenated margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

If you are a proper yeast proofer, then you know what to do. If you're a lazy non-proofer like me, then stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Measure the milk in a glass measuring jar or bowl and add the Earth Balance. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the temperature of the milk is 110-115 degrees F. (I have an inexpensive meat thermometer that is my BFF)

Pour the milk and Earth Balance mix on top of the flour mix and stir until well combined. If you use a different type of milk or flour you will probably have to adjust the amount of liquid. The dough should be workable but not too sticky.

As a lazy non-kneader, I like to knead my yeast doughs inside the same bowl where I mixed the ingredients. So I don't really knead the stuff properly, and I really don't care. Just long enough until the dough is pretty smooth. If you're a proper kneader, then you know what to do.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 45 minutes. The dough won't rise much at all. While you wait, prepare the almond filling.

Ingredients for the almond filling:

2 oz almond paste
1 oz Earth Balance
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

To prepare the almond filling, combine the almond paste and Earth Balance in a small glass bowl and microwave on high for a few seconds at a time until the Earth Balance is melted. Whisk or stir until the almond paste and EB are combined and stir in the vanilla extract. Refrigerate until you're ready to shape the Fastelavnsboller.

After you let the dough rest for 45 minutes, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and divide the dough into four equal parts. Roll each part into a ball between your hands.

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a flat four inch circle. Scoop 1/4 of the almond paste mix right on the center of each circle.

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

Now you have to wrap the dough around the almond filling, which is tricky. I tried several methods, and I think the one that worked best for me was to bring all opposite sides of the dough up over the filling, much like a cheese danish, and then seal up all all the gaps by pinching the dough with my fingertips.

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

When all the gaps are closed, roll it between your hands to shape it like a ball again.

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

Make sure there are no big gaps left unsealed and place the buns smoothest-side-up on your baking sheet. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Brush some agave or maple syrup all over the buns and let them rest for 30 minutes.

Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes or until the tops look golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. If you left any big gaps unsealed, this will happen while they bake...

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

Not good! That's OK, that was just my first time, the second time I baked these there were no almond explosions.

I like brushing some cold water all over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. It keeps them soft, but if you want them crusty you don't have to do that. And if you want to go for the whipped cream version, just let the buns come to room temperature, then cut the tops off and fill the buns with your favorite whipped cream or soft buttercream. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top for good measure.

Extreme close-up!

E.A.T World: Denmark - Fastelavnsboller

One more Denmark delight before I hop on a plane to my next destination: Rugbrød (Danish rye bread)! Oh. My. Rye!

E.A.T World: Denmark - Rugbrød

This is quite odd, because I've never liked rye bread. I think the problem was the sourdough, not the rye itself, because I used this non-sourdough recipe (with flax seeds instead of caraway seeds) and now I am hooked! Oprah is to blame for this addiction, because she raved about Rugbrød on her show and I just had to try it. The woman brought home a gazillion loaves from her trip to Denmark. Did she leave Stedman's luggage in Denmark so she would have more room to bring home some carby goodness? Can't blame her!

E.A.T World: Denmark - Rugbrød

By the way, I created an E.A.T World Flickr Group for those of us who have decided to expand our culinary horizons. You are more than welcome to join and add your own E.A.T World pictures.

One last thing: Krys from Two Vegan Boys and Andrea from Andrea's Easy Vegan Cooking gave me an Honest Scrap award, which basically means that they enjoy my blog! *GLEE!* How awesome! Thank you so much for my award, and thank you times a gazillion for letting me know that you enjoy my blog. It means the world to me to know that there are people who actually appreciate my ramblings and silliness, especially when I think I've lost my mojo. You ladies rock! :)

See you guys from my next destination! A hint? Pemberley! :)