Thick Oven Baked Pancakes

Mr Smith gets in the kitchen to cook Thick Oven Baked Pancakes or more correctly, Tjockpannkaka from Sweden.

It was about time that Mr Smith started to road test The Nordic Cookbook from Magnus Nilsson.  It is definitely a tome of food and techniques of Nordic cuisine, something that Mr Smith loves.

Cheese & Bacon Tarts

Mr Smith cooks Cheese & Bacon Tarts.  Yes I do cook, love it and love eating it even more.  This is the first of an occasional series of recipes I have made up or tried.  These were nice and simple little Cheese & Bacon tarts.

I had a roll of pre made puff pastry in the fridge that I needed to use so after hunting round and stealing a few ideas I came up with these little tarts.

  • 1 Roll of ready made Puff Pastry, good quality
  • 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 Leek, white and green parts – Chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli – finely chopped
  • 4 rashers of good quality bacon – Chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 90ml Milk – I used Semi Skimmed and it was fine – You could use half milk and half single cream if you wanted them a little richer
  • 50g good quality cheddar – Grated – You can use any type of hard or soft cheese but something like a cheddar works well or even a soft goats cheese, something that will melt
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
You need to have some muffin cases, or a muffin tray and a round pastry cutter of about 8cm.  I used silicon muffin cases so no need to do anything to them, but if you need to oil your muffin tray only do it very lightly as the pastry contains fat and would hopefully not stick, but that depends on your equipment.
Roll out the pastry, if needed (if ready rolled just go with that) and cut out as many rounds as you can from the roll.  Make sure you re-roll so as not to waste any left over, you should have enough filling for 10-12 tarts.
Place each circle in to a muffin case and gently push the pastry down.
When all complete place them in the freezer for half an hour to relax and firm up a little.
While the pastry is in the freezer you have the perfect amount of time to prep the rest.
Add your olive oil to a pan on a medium heat.  When it has warmed add the chopped leek and chilli and saute for 10 minutes, making sure they do not burn.  When they are cooked turn them out on to a plate to cool.
Now turn on the oven to preheat to 180c (fan) or the equivalent.
Next, add the chopped bacon to the pan and fry for 5 or 6 minutes to cook and crisp a little.
When done turn out on to some kitchen paper to drain.
Finally you need to prepare the filling.  Put your egg yolk in to a bowl, add the milk (or milk and cream) and cheese with a little salt and pepper.  Whisk them together and then add both the leeks and bacon to the egg and milk mix.  Mix again to ensure leeks and bacon are incorporated.
Get your pastry out of the freezer and with a tablespoon put the filling in to each of the cases, making sure you distribute evenly between them, better to under fill and top up than to over fill.
When all filled put them in the oven, sit back, relax and have a cuppa (or wash up if you are so inclined).
Allow them to cook for about 25 minutes, but check after 20.  The pastry should be just going dark and the filling set.
Now the hard part, get them out of the oven and leave them alone for 5 minutes to cool a little.  When cooled, turn them out of the muffin mould and enjoy.  They are also fine when cooled completely but better warm from the oven and perfect with a nice cup of tea

Try Swedish

I stumbled across an event on Twitter, called Try Swedish.  As someone that has been to Sweden a couple of times and would love to go a lot more, I had to check it out.  It turned out to be an evening hosted by Gizzi Erskine and all about Swedish food, specifically from the West of Sweden.  At that point I was sold and bought myself a ticket.

This was a solo adventure for Mr Smith, but anything to do with food is fine on my own.  I never object to food events alone as there is common ground with everyone there and there are always people to talk to.

So, along I went to see what it was all about.  I walked from work across London to find the venue and headed on in.  It was a very warm welcome and the pictures will lead you through the journey of the evening.

The purest ice I have ever known.  It is so clear and dense it takes a long time to melt, which makes the drinks so nice, and yes they did bring their own ice over and I found out that it was river ice.
I am not normally an oyster fan, but as I was there and offered one it would have been rude not to try.    If only all oysters tasted like this.  My mind said that they should taste of the sea, but the over riding impact on my palette was one of total freshness and a clean taste.  I even managed to chew a couple of times as well.  I know that if I get to the West of Sweden I will be having oysters again
After the oyster I was presented with a delicate looking dish which turned out to be a Canape of Raw Reindeer with a quails egg and bleak roe.  This just goes to show how delightful food can be without cooking.  Relies totally on the quality of the ingredients but these were stunning, I could have had loads of them, but was resisting as I knew there would be more food to try
The evening was being hosted by Gizzi Erskine +Gizzi Erskine along with Try Swedish and the West Sweden Tourist Board.  We were having a talk a the beginning of the evening when the fire alarm went off.  Evacuation happened and so as not to loose out on some of the time the talk and explanations of Swedish food continued outside.  It turned out it was something to do with a contractor working on another part of the building, not one of the chefs burning something 🙂
The Swedish Chefs – For those of a certain age that might put a smile on your face
It was a hands on workshop where we all watched what was happening and also helped out.  I was on pea puree stirring duty, getting it up to heat and making sure a good chunk of butter melted through it
All hands on deck with the serving.  As well as the prep of the puree I was also the one that plated it.  I need to work on my smear technique!
The cheese being grated over the Char
The good news was that there were drinks to go with the food.  The bad news for me was that there was a beer.  I have never been a beer drinker, but in the spirit of trying new things I gave it a go and to my surprise (and those that know me) I finished it off.  Must be something about Swedish beer that I like, we had Gustafs Finger!
The finished dish, Smoked Char with my per puree, brown butter, grilled lettuce & maximus cheese.  I love this sort of food and this was exactly what I expected it to be, delicious!
And now for some more raw food.  Tartar of langoustines & oysters with mussels (cooked) & apple.  The flavours were amazing.  Sadly not everyone could eat it, the people next to me could not bring themselves to eat raw fish, not good for them, but great for me as they offered me theirs to finish 🙂
All 3 dishes on the tray waiting to be polished off
The table learning about Swedish wine.  Yes, I did say that, Swedish Wine!  I was not aware that it was produced but I have to say it was surprisingly good
Mmmmm, cheese!  My biggest food weakness is cheese and these were great and served with pine needles in a syrup
And finally, caramelised apple with salted caramel.  That hit the sweet spot 🙂

Sadly that was it, it was then time to head home, but I was heading home with great flavours in my mouth and the desire to head to the West of Sweden to go and hunt out some of this amazing food

Christmas Food

Christmas in the ‘Smith’ household is not quite the stereotype.  It is normally a quiet affair as there is only a very small family, so with that in mind the food is tailored on that basis.  Also, the food celebrations are mainly on Christmas Eve, but there is a lot of food over a couple of days.

It is just myself and my Mum, but that does not stop me doing some nice food.

It started with lunch the day before Xmas eve.

Apologies again for the pics.  There was a problem with the camera, as although it was on a tripod it seems to have had the shakes on the long exposures for the low light.

It was a nice light lunch to start with, just a little cheese with some pork pie.  In the oven was some soda bread and sausage rolls and also on the table was a home-made liver and chorizo pate, which turned out really nice and pretty easy to make.  If any one wants the recipe I can post that another time

After a nice relaxing afternoon, waiting for the storm to really kick off, it was time for pulled pork.  This had been in the oven from the moment that the lunch time bread had come out.  My first attempt at it and it did pull!  Also tasted lovely and served on a bit of sourdough with sticky beetroot in balsamic vinegar

After a night of sleeping off the food and listening to the storm ripping things apart around the area, it was time for breakfast.  I had made some homemade baked beans, which were lovely with a bit of spice.  They were served on a bit of sourdough, with some duck egg scrambled eggs and homemade bacon.  This was a bit of a revelation and so easy to do.  Ideally it should have been a boneless pork belly joint, but I had slices.  Just mix some smoked paprika, salt and pepper together, rub all over the pork and then wrap in lots and lots of foil, put in the oven at 90c for 3 1/2 hours and then turn off and leave it there for a couple of hours.  Chuck it in the fridge and then fry or grill the next day for breakfast.

As I used slices the rub was all over them so possibly a bit spicier than it would be if you did a joint and then sliced after cooking, but I loved them as they were

Now for the main event of the Xmas meal, these were a couple of blinis served with a rhubarb chill chutney with cured British pork loin and smoked salmon with creme fraiche.  I had an issue with the cream fraiche as I put it on the blini to quick and the first lot melted all over the plate, which is why it is a mess

Then it was the @TomKerridge inspired main course.  It was the roast duck with honey and soy, served with braised lettuce and his carrots cooked with star anise.  Additionally I did some duck fat roasties and parsnip mash, delicious!  Carrots are definitely going to be added to my list of staples

Finally, and I will confess that this was not home made, we had a Sticky Toffee Pudding.  This was from Cartmel and it is stunningly good.  Just to make it even healthier it was served with double goats cream and a vanilla ice cream from Green & Blacks.  The drink on the side was a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc

Finally, it was time for the Christmas Day breakfast.  I did a quick duck hash dish, served with the baked beans again, accompanied by a fried duck egg and crispy duck skin, which I took off the leg and put between to trays in the oven to crisp up and keep it flat
So that was Christmas over and I am now just working my way through all the left overs 🙂