Archive for December, 2008

Saffron buns - Brioche allo zafferano

December 24, 2008 - 6:54 pm 12 Comments

These sweet, soft and tasty saffron buns (Lussekatter) are eaten in Sweden from the beginning of december up until christmas. They are traditional fare on Santa Lucia day, 13th of december. The addition of saffron tends to dry out the buns after baking and make them go stale. Therefore it´s recommended to eat them the same day - or put them in the freezer after baking.

Swedish saffron buns

400 g milk
100 g cream
200 g butter
50 g fresh yeast
1 g saffron threads (crush together with some sugar)
180 g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1000 g white wheat, all purpose flour (around 1,6-1,7 liters)


1 egg, beaten

Put the yeast in small pieces into the bowl of your stand mixer (or normal bowl, if making this by hand). Melt the butter in a pan, then add the milk and the cream and heat until it’s around 37°C - it should just barely feel warm to the touch. Add the milk/cream/butter to the yeast and stir until it has dissolved.
UPDATE December 2009: Instead of melting the butter with the milk, a professional baker gave me the tip to leave the butter in room temperature so that it softens, and then add it little by little as the last ingredient. That is, spoon it into your working stand mixer AFTER having added the flour. This gives the brioche an even “fluffier” texture.

Put the saffron with a pinch of sugar in your pestle and mortar, and crush well. Add this to the liquid and mix well, then the salt, the sugar and most of the flour. Work well into a smooth and silky dough - it will be pretty sticky, so add the rest of the flour. If it´s still sticky - don´t worry. It’s supposed to be. Because of the relatively high fat content it won´t stick too bad to your fingers anyway.

Let the dough rise, covered, until it has at least doubled in size, 30-60 minutes depending on room temperature.

Time to shape the buns. Cut the dough up in equal portions (easy with a digital kitchen scales - I usually go for 50-60 grams). Roll out each piece of dough on the table with your hands to form a shape of a short rope. Then roll in one end of the rope towards the middle and stop halfway. Then take the opposite end and roll it the same way but in opposite direction. This should form something “S”-shaped.
Place the buns on parchment-lined baking sheets, stick a raisin in each “curl”, cover and let rise for 15-20 minutes. Brush with the beaten egg and put in a 200 degree oven for about 8-12 minutes.
Take good care to not cook the buns too long, they should be golden brown on top but still VERY soft in the center when they come out of the oven.



Lemon cod - Merluzzo, limone

December 18, 2008 - 12:15 am 1 Comment


It´s been quite a while since I last ate fish at home (it´s actually been a while since I´ve been EATING at home!), and since they say it´s good for you - for you brain and your heart with all those Omega 3s… I thought I would have a go at it. It came out very good - robust, powerful flavors playing against more subtle ones.

Lemon salted cod poached in swiss chard, truffle potato puree, cubed roasted onion consomme, raw julienne, matcha green tea and soy milk froth, mint.



E da un po che non mangio pesce a casa (infatti e da un bel po che non MANGIO a casa!) e come dicono che ti fa bene - per il cervello e il cuore con tutti questi Omega 3… Pensavo che era ora. E stato un successo - sapori robusti e potente che giocano contro quelli piu delicati.

Merluzzo salato con limone e bietola - cotto al vapore, pure di patate al tartufo, consomme di cipolla arrostita, verdure crude, spuma di te verde matcha e soia, menta.



12 years alone in a dark barrel

December 4, 2008 - 10:48 pm 1 Comment


Bowmore 12 y.o. Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Alla fine la decisione e stata presa e mi sono comprato questa bella bottiglia di whisky. Visto che sono gia leggermente dipendente delle cose “affumicate” mi hanno consigliato di optare per un whisky dell´isola di Islay. I whisky di questa isola hanno generalmente delle charatteristiche “affumicate”, secche e con dei profumi ricchi. Questo sopratutto dovuto a un processo chiamato “peating” - un tipo di affumicatura ed essiccazione dell´orzo, bruciando la torba sotto i grani. (Qui potete leggere piu della produzione del scotch whisky)

La scelta fra 12 y.o. e 17 y.o. e stata aiutata anche del prezzo, visto che 17 y.o. costa piu o meno il doppio.
In 5 anni, chiuso in un barile, un whisky puo cambiare un bel po, percio sara interessante assaggiare anche quello di 17 anni la prossima volta.

Questo whisky viene del paese di Bowmore sull´isola di Islay, al largo della costa occidentale di Scozia. Bowmore e una delle più antiche distillerie della Scozia ed e conosciuto per avere una selezione grande di diversi whisky e di presentare dei edizioni limitati. Essendo situato in una isola, il whisky durante l’invecchiamento in barile, è influenzato dal mare e sviluppa delle qualita simile - sale, iodio e alghe sono toni che uno puo trovare in questi whisky.

Aroma: Agrumi, vaniglia, diesel, tabacco, terra
Gusto: Fumo, sale, leggermente dolce, frutta, pepe

Com´e possibile che un whisky puo profumare di diesel ma avere un gusto divino di frutta e sale?


Finally the decision was made and I bought myself this lovely bottle of scotch single malt whisky. Since I´m already slightly addicted to all things smoked, I was advised to choose a whisky from the island of Islay. The whiskies from this island have generally a smoky character, are quite dry and have rich perfumes. This is mainly owed to the process called peating - a type of smoke drying of the barley, from burning the peat underneath. (Here you can read more about the process of making whisky)

The choice between 12 y.o. and 17 y.o. was facilitated by the price, as the 17 y.o. costs about the double.
In 5 years, closed in a barrel, a whisky can change quite a bit, therefore it will be interesting tasting the 17 y.o. the next time.

This whisky comes from the small town of Bowmore on Islay, off the western coast of Scotland.
Bowmore is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland and is known to have a wide selection of whiskies and to every now and then present limited edition special whiskies. Being situated on an island, the whisky during ageing in barrels, is influenced by the sea and develops similar qualities - salt, iodine and algae are some tones one might find in these whiskies.

Nose: Citrus fruits, vanilla, diesel, smoky tobacco, earth
Taste: Smoke, salt, slightly sweet, fruits, pepper

How is it possible that a whisky can smell of diesel and taste of fruits and salt?