Tag Archives: food I miss

Food shopping from Norway

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Back in Rome after some days in Norway, with a suitcase laden with Norwegian food. I know, Italy has absolutely fantastic food, but sometimes it is just nice to have food from home, and not necessarily the gourmet kind….. This is the infamous tubeost, squeezy cheese in a tube. Not as terrible as it sounds, honestly! Here are some with bacon, with blue cheese and whiskey, with shrimp, and a bacon-pepper one. Norwegian supermarkets have shelves and shelves of these. 20130901-150000.jpg
Gooseberry jam made by my mother, Toro tomato soup with macaroni (so retro but so good), rye flour and barley flour, raspeball mix (for potato-rye dumplings), flatbread, dark syrup, marzipan and honey. 20130901-150008.jpg
And the chilled goods: cheese with caraway, sweet dark goat cheese, liver pâté, and kaviar, salted smoked cod roe. Oh, and a spreadable chorizo-parmesan cheese, very exotic. 20130901-145954.jpg
Smash chocolates, salty corn covered with chocolate. And two new akevitts to try, with wild caraway and one with wild caraway and apple.

Having unpacked all this, I must say it is still really nice to be back with fresh Italian fruit and vegetables. The peaches are still nice, the zucchini are green and shiny, there are piles and piles of fragrant cherry tomatoes, and I think a nice vegetarian curry might be on the menu tonight. Our local pasta shop (just downstairs – I could almost lower a basket to them with cash and get pasta sent up….) is still on holidays, otherwise we would be enjoying a plate of fresh ravioli with ricotta and spinach. Mmmmmmm…… Good thing the pasta shop re-opens this week. After a week of salmon, meat and potatoes up north I feel a definite pasta deficit creeping in.

Almost like my mother’s bread: Norwegian-style semolina sourdough bread

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Going to dinner at the house of friends, I will often bring an oven-warm sourdough loaf, rather than wine. A crusty boule, slashed, with imprints of the banneton; fragrant and artisanal. (If the bread fell flat, I bring wine….) I love baking with sourdough, and experimenting with ratios. Sometimes, however, I just feel like having plain, assuming bread. At home in Norway, bread baking is not necessarily anything fancy, it’s just something you do. You bake a big batch, and freeze some loaves in the obligatory massive chest freezer (for blueberries, fish you’ve caught, a quarter of a moose from last year’s hunt, some cinnamon rolls to defrost in case of company, and probably a few frozen pizzas).

My mother bakes bread regularly, with yeast and assorted flours.and I’ve been craving a slice of her hverdagsbrød, everyday bread, with salted butter and some thick Norwegian honey. I will not be going back for a while, but thought I’d try to emulate it: not architectural and airy, but good solid bread for a cheese sandwich, one you can spread jam on without it dripping through. This was inspired by Tartine’s Semolina Boule, but as you can see, it is absolutely nothing like that beautiful creation. However, it was close to what I had in mind, so I’m happy with this.

This recipe is good for baking straight from the fridge in the morning. To bake in the morning, start the dough the night before.

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Norwegian-style semolina sourdough bread

250 g rye sourdough starter, 100% hydration
650 g + 30 g water (room temperature)
400 g semolina flour
400 g plain flour (00)
165 g wholewheat flour
Handful of sunflower seeds (optional)
10 g salt

Stir the sourdough starter with 650 g of water: you will need a large mixing bowl, this makes two half-kilo loaves. Add the flours and mix well till incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add salt dissolved in remaining 30 g of water and the sunflower seeds. Mix well.Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in volume. Before going to bed, divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts and partition the dough into prepared loaf tins of your choice. I used two medium loaf tins, and one small one, all lined with baking paper. (You might want to shape the dough first for better spring; I just spooned it in.) Cover the loaf tins with plastic, and put them in the fridge overnight.

The next morning: heat your oven to 250C. Slash the dough, put the bread in (yes the 2-3 tins together if you have room) and bake at 250C for twenty minutes, then 230C for 25-30 minutes more, until they look done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45-50 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

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One loaf for us, one for our freezer (not the chest kind, alas), and the third smaller loaf went to a friend over cappuccini this morning.

Notes: these were not slashed right before baking, so they cracked slightly on the side. Next time, I’d add more seeds, or soaked wholegrain wheat.

Expats and food shopping – London

food from LondonAmazing as Rome is, sometimes you just want some non-Italian food. It is getting easier to find many things here (sour cream, flour tortillas) and we make a lot from scratch, but two things are certain when I travel: a) if abroad: please, no Italian restaurants, and b) we will be exploring local food shopping. Last trip was Budapest, where I found poppyseeds, fresh horseradish and spicy cured Mangalica sausages. Tasty!

Last weekend we were in London, as you can see here. Thank goodness for BA and those 23 kilos of checked luggage. What did we get? Crumpets and potato farls, chipotle paste, butterscotch Angel Delight (instant pudding, terribly 70’s), the new Pimm’s with Elderflower & Blackberry, prawn crisps, Thai sweet chili crisps, curry paste, stir-fry sauces, dry yeast, flour mixes for the bread machine – oh, and giant couscous, which I have been looking for here. Plus the Heston plain and chocolate popping candy, which should be fun to try.

Thai supermarket shopping

From the Thai supermarket in Putney: spinach egg noodles, fresh turmeric (anyone know what to do with it? Will have to investigate this), curry paste and more stir-fry sauces, plus a mystery package of spicy black beans. In Rome I normally I explore Asian shops near the Piazza Vittorio market (fresh coriander!), those are also good for slightly more exotic ingredients. Half the fun is woking out how to cook some of it.

kaviar from NorwayLastly and very kindly provided by a family member traveling from Norway, whom we met in London: lefseklenning and kaviar from home. Not the fancy kind of caviar, this is everyday food Norwegians get very homesick for. Technically it is creamed smoked cod roe paste; it is great on bread or with a boiled egg; for me it’s essential for a fried egg sandwich. IKEA here used to have Swedish kaviar in their gastronomia svedese section, but it’s been missing the last few times we’ve gone. At least they still have pickled herring there, which is a good consolation.

Nice to get back to proper coffee and sunshine though!