Sunday, 30 September 2007

Daring Bakers Cinnamon Buns

It was with great pleasure that, at the end of last month, I became a Daring Baker (note the capital letters). I had been reading about their baking exploits on various blogs for a while, and I finally got my act together and figured out how to join them. The recipe set for my inaugural exploit was buns - your choice as to whether to make them of the cinnamon or the sticky variety, as chosen by Marce at Pip in the City. Cinnamon buns have always been a weakness of mine (I confess, especially the Pilsbury ones), and since I'm not a person to resist my temptations, cinnamon buns it would be.

I followed the instructions very much to their letter; I didn't want my first Daring Baking experience to be a wash-out, and the rising of the dough had me vaguely nervous since yeast doesn't always comply with my wishes.
Following the initial mixing of ingredients, the instructions called for either a mixer to knead the dough, or 15 minutes of strenuous hand-kneading. As I sadly don't have a mixer, I had a quarter of an hour of hard graft. And I learned that although 15 minutes of kneading by hand *sounds* like a long time, 15 minutes of kneading by hand is, in fact, a horribly, strenuously, wrist-numbingly long time. I did my best to practice my Alexander Technique breathing and posture along the way, but I was watching those seconds on the timer tick down like a desperate woman waiting to be released from prison.

I took the promising-looking rising of the dough as a sign that a) I was doing well with the recipe and b) I could take a break while the dough did some work. To off-set some of the calories to come, I used the 2 hour rising period as a time for Mr A&N and me to take a Sunday stroll. However, when he began getting ideas about stopping in the local pub and having a nice pint of bitter (and inevitably whiling away the rest of the day there) the cinnamon buns suddenly mysteriously began urgently calling us home to tend to them. Curious.

The rest of the bun making went very well, and the buns did come out looking like proper, store-bought creatures. I do think I erred at one point, however, and I would minorly adjust the recipe in one place if I were to do it again. First for the error: when rolling out the dough, I labored a bit to make the rectangle nice and perfect and evenly rectangular. After creating my rectangle I read on further, and saw a warning not to overwork the dough during rolling otherwise the buns might turn out tough rather than soft. Well, that was my punishment, because the buns were slightly on the toug
h side. The adjustment I would make to the recipe would be to increase again by half the amount of cinnamon sugar called for. I do have quite a taste for cinnamon so that may be influencing my thoughts, but I also found that the lemon flavoring in the dough battled with the cinnamon for pride-of-place - and these are called 'cinnamon buns', after all.

My first daring baker challenge is done, and I really enjoyed doing it, as well as eating (and sharing...grudgingly) the results. Roll on more daring baking.

Cinnamon Buns, from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Makes about 1 dozen large buns
  • 6 1/2 Tbs / 3.25 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 1/2 Tbs / 2.75 oz shotening, unsalted butter, or margerine
  • 1 L egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon extract or 1 tsp grates lemon zest
  • 3 1/2 C / 16 oz white flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/8 - 1/1/4 C whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 C cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 Tbs sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • White fondant glaze:
    • 1 C powdered sugar
    • 1/4 tsp lemon, orange, or vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 Tbs - 1/8 C warm milk
  1. Cream together sugar, salt, and shortening/butter, either using a blender with paddle attachment on medium-high, or by hand.
  2. Whip in egg and lemon until smooth.
  3. Add flour, yeast, and milk, and mix on low/stir by hand until mixture forms a ball.
  4. If using a blender, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium for 10 minutes, or knead by hand for 12-15 minutes. Dough should be 'silky and supple, tacky but not sticky'. Even texture out with flour or water, as needed.
  5. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil, and place dough ball in the bowl, rolling around so it's lightly coated.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until double in size.
  7. Clean and prepare a counter top for rolling out the buns. Lightly mist with oil so the dough will not stick.
  8. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough so it forms a large rectangle, about 12 in x 14 in, and is about 2/3 inch thick. Don't over-roll or make the dough too thin, or the buns will be slightly tough.
  9. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the rectangle.
  10. Roll up the dough moderately tightly, forming a cinnamon-sugar spiral.
  11. Cut the dough into about 1 3/4 in thick slices for large buns.
  12. Turn the buns on their side, so the cinnamon spiral is facing upward, and spread out on a baking tray that is already covered in cooking paper. Buns should have about 1/2 in inbetween each other.
  13. Allow to proof at roof temperature for about 1 1-1/2 hours, until they have nearly doubled and are almost touching.
  14. Pre-heat oven to 175 C / 350 F, with the wire rack in the middle of the oven.
  15. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  16. Cool the buns for about 10 minutes, and then streak with the fondant glaze. (For fondant glaze: mix the sugar, extract, and minimum amount of milk together, adding more milk to make the glaze thick but able to drizzle easily).
  17. Place buns on a cooling rack, and allow to cool another 20 minutes before serving (if you can resist).

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Food Blog Round-Up

I want to join in on more food blogging events; the few I've done I've really enjoyed, and found got me motivated to do things I had long intended to do by just kept forgetting about. This 'keep forgetting' thing is a recurring theme, though, since I also keep forgetting to actually join in on even more events. I have at least joined the Daring Bakers (which still has me very excited) and succeeded in baking my little heart out for them; blog post about that is imminent. Since I've missed the boat on these other challenges, I'll simply post about some of the entries I wish I had made/eaten.

  • Running with Tweezers hosted a Super Soup Challenge. I'm a soup sucker, especially now that the weather is turning cold again. There were many tempting soups, but my favorite sounding entry was Red Wine and Garlic Lentil Soup over at What Kim Ate - very cold-weather friendly.
  • Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice hosted the last Sugar High Fridays, with the central ingredient being figs. I love my figs however they come, and there were a huge number of figgy things to tempt me. The cake that most made me taste fig and feel sugary goo on my fingers was a Fig Preserve Cake made by Lis at La Mis Cucina.
  • I've just missed the deadline for the latest Hay Hay It's Donna Day event, held by the Trini Gourmet (ok, the deadline is today. But I ain't gonna make it). The theme is tarts, and I've seen some lovely ones cropping up around the place. The one that has most caught my eye is this Chocolate Ganache Tart with little polka-dots of white chocolate from Linda Kovacevic. It's so pretty, though, I'd feel bad eating it. Maybe.

Enjoy your weekends!

Thursday, 27 September 2007


After having a few friends recommend it to us, we recently got our act together and went to Arbutus. It has won some awards and accolades in the year it's been open, and considering lofty heights the food seems to be positioned toward, the prices are quite fair with a pre-theater deal on the offer as well.

I was told to seek out the pig cheek among the starters, and I was happy to oblige by ordering it (I do like my 'interesting' foods). It was a generous serving, with sweet onions and pickled gherkins and bits of lentils and sauces coming all together to help cut through the very rich tasting pork (it's hardly a fat-free cut of meat). All the starters were a healthy size, with a terrine so large that you would normally expect to work your way through it in a month; it had to be shared among the four of us just to polish it off.

Mr A&N's lamb chop main was, without a doubt, the most tender lamb any of us had ever had. It was a dream cut of meat, with perfect redness and an amazing meltiness to it. Although the rest of us had thought we were enjoying our dishes, after tasting the lamb we all realized that the lamb was the real winner. If the waiters had been truly good wait staff, they would have whispered a word to the rest of us and told us not to bother with our piddly sea bass and bouillabaisse, and just brought us the lamb despite any protests we might have offered.

The was never a doubt among us that we wouldn't have a dessert, so the question was only which dessert it would be. Three berry clafoutis and one floating island with pink pralines later, and no need to think hard on which dessert had us all entranced. The floating cloud was an ice cream-y frozen thing, sat atop custard and with crumbled nuts on top. I didn't have a taste of that one since dairy and I don't always have the most cordial relationship, but the report was that it wasn't only visually curious, it was also a delicious combination of sweetnesses and textures.

I'm not a fan of overly fussy food, or meals that are obligingly expensive because the restaurant has gourmet aspirations. I was worried Arbutus might fall into those categories, but it stayed on the right side of the line for me. It wasn't a flawless meal - some of the dishes were simply good while others were excellent - but on the whole it was a very good dinner, and a place I would recommend to others; in fact, I already have.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Wrapped Monkfish and New Potato Salad

Whenever he sees monkfish on a menu, Mr A&N’s eyes light up and he begins muttering statements whose main intelligible noises consist of ‘Mmm…good...monkfish…mmm’. We rarely think of cooking it at home though, mainly because the fishmonger by us doesn’t feature it. While driving around looking for tile shops this weekend (the kitchen renovations live on) we came across a Morrisons; Mr. A&N being a Northern-type suggested that we do our shopping there, during which we found that their reputation for having a well-stocked fish counter is deserved. They had some of the freshest fish I’ve seen in a supermarket, and some great monkfish filets that prompted Mr A&N to start making his noises and guaranteed that that fish would be coming back with us and winding up in our bellies.

We tend to split the cooking about 50/50 (alternating nights rather than working together – god forbid, that way madness lies), but from the start I knew the monkfish would be his project. He decided to do it classic style, wrapped in prosciutto and with some herbs, garlic, and lemon. On the side would be his new potato salad, again heavy on the herbs and with capers for some nice saltiness. I voted for flash-fried garlicky spinach on the side, and to use the remainder of our garlicky plum sauce (made with duck stock and stewed plum juices) if anything wanted saucing up. End result of all this garlic, of course, producing a stinking happy duo.

I’m not as frequent a monkfish connoiseur as my other half, and I expected the fish to be as strong in flavor as it was in body. I hadn’t realized that though the flesh is very firm and meaty, the taste is more delicate and the flesh absorbs a good deal of the flavors around it. I really enjoyed the slight crispness of the prosciutto and how it passed the saltiness on to the fish, and am also being won over to the powers of the ugly-but-good monkfish.

Prosciutto wrapped monkfish (serves 2)

  • 2 monkfish tails
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 slices of prosciutto or speck or other cured ham
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, or several leave of sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  1. If you’re feeling confident, remove the bone from the monkfish tail. You can leave in, but it will be slightly more fiddly when eat. Make sure fish is cleaned and patted dry.
  2. Squeeze the lemon over the monkfish tails and allow to marinate for about 15-20 minutes while you prepare other things.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/380F
  4. Layout the ham so that 3-4 pieces evenly overlap each other (the pieces should be placed width-to-width); make sure the overall width is wide enough to wrap up the tail. Repeat this with the other slices of ham for the other piece of fish.
  5. Lay out a handful of rosemary or sage and half the garlic along the overlapping ham slices. Lay this out in the direction that the fish will run.
  6. Place the monkfish along the edge of the ham, and roll the fish up in the slices.
  7. Place the fish in a oven-safe tray, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the fish is firm to the touch.

New Potato salad – an approximate recipe (enough for 2 hearty eaters)

  • 300 g new potatoes
  • 1 Tbs full of capers, rinsed and chopped
  • Handful of fresh herbs, chopped – parsley, mint and basil is our preferred trio
  • 2-3 spring onions, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Dash of vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice the potatoes in half, then boil them (skin still on) until they’re tender enough for a fork/skewer to go in.
  2. Remove and drain, and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Toss the potatoes with capers, herbs, spring onions, and enough olive oil and vinegar/lemon juice to make it moist. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss together well.
  4. Balance out the flavor with more herbs, capers, oil, salt, etc depending on your tastes.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Squid Paella

I don't often see fresh (and nice-looking fresh) squid on sale, but when I do I usually buy it. Having squid on hand as well as a bit of risotto rice in the cupboard presented me with an obvious answer: squid risotto. I checked my cookbooks and found a nice looking twist on a risotto, a squid paella using risotto rice from Neil Parry that has some appropriate Spanish-sounding touches to it. The main way the paella differs from the risotto is in the stirring; risottos should be almost constantly stirred, where paella's should just cook down until the rice is tender and the liquid gone, which (hopefully) forms a nice crusty bottom on the paella. Hopefully, this isn't a radical enough departure from a risotto that it disqualifies me from the Risotto Relay held over at the Baker and the Curry Maker.

I had hoped to salvage some black ink from the squid to make the dish enchantingly gothic, but hardly any ink came out when I cleaned them. I was tempted to use black food coloring for the effect, but that temptation lasted for only a handful of seconds before I decided it wasn't Halloween and I wasn't a child, and I should just let nature have its way.

The squid was very tender since it had been braised in all that liquid for a good amount of time, and I thought leaving the risotto rice to boil down in the liquid rather than constantly stirring it worked really well. I had cooked a pot-full of chicken pieces to come up with all the stock for the rice, and wound up mixing in some of the shredded chicken from that since I do like my protein and it made the venture more tasty. Sadly, it didn't form a crunchy crust as the recipe hinted at (I used a large frying pan rather than risotto pan but don't think this made the difference), but it was an easy enough dish to make that I intend to try again until I get that crunch.

Squid Ink Paella, adapted from Neil Parry

  • 450 g/1lb paella or risotto rice
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • 8 small squid tubes, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp smoky hot paprika
  • 2 Tbs squid ink
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 5-7 C chicken stock
  • 1 C shredded chicken (optional)
  • 4 Tbs chopped parlsey (optional)
  1. Heat a large paella pan or large frying pan, along with a good dash of olive oil
  2. Add onion, garlic, and a bit of sea salt and cook for a couple of minutes
  3. Add squid, stirring occasionally and cooking for 3-4 minutes
  4. Add chili flakes, paprika, squid ink, and tomato paste, and stir
  5. When mixed, add rice and chicken stock at the same time
  6. Stir and bring to a simmer, and leave to cook for around 25 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated, taking care not to stir while cooking (My note: I added only 5 cups of liquid due to the size of my pan, and still needed to cook for around 30 minutes; the rice was perfect, though)
  7. Remove pan from heat and cover with towel, allowing to sit for 5 minutes
  8. Sprinkle with parsely and a bit of pepper, and some of the shredded chicken. Serve so that everyone gets a bit of crunchy crust (if you're lucky to get that result!)
  9. Optional: Neil Parry recommends serving this with aioli.

Prestat Chocolate

I have recently discovered Prestat chocolates. Granted, this isn't a discovery on par with Scott of the Antarctic, but my taste buds are thanking the explorer in me for being tempted by the ornate packaging of Prestat and giving a chance to the chocolate beneath.

It helps that Prestat is sold at Liberty; in other stores, it looked like another expensive chocolate but when housed within Liberty, it shimmered and shined and called out 'Buy me, eat me' (because, you see, whatever is sold within Liberty, I covet). Dark chocolate is my preference, and both the thin dark chocolate wafers (hand-made, and physics-defyingly thin) and the dark chocolate with orange bar were the kind of dark chocolate I most enjoy. Clean and rich with only slight bitterness, and pleasant, smooth after-taste. The milk chocolate I tried (again wafers, this time with ginger) was also rich tasting without leaving your mouth gummy or full of too-chocolatey sweetness.

The assorted chocolates are less to my taste, mainly since I haven't yet seen the virtue of violet or rose creams. Maybe it's something I'll acquire with age, but for now I like my assorted chocolates to have your populist caramels and nutty things.

These chocolates are an indulgence, for both my eyes and my taste buds. They aren't of the highest end of chocolatiers (your Paul.a.Young's of the world charge £50+ for tastings) nor are they your Cadbury's. Until their spell over me is broken, they're my chocolate of choice when I'm feeling just that little bit flush.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Food Blog Round-Up

I've some how made it through my first week of work back from holidays, and it since it's student induction time it's usually the busiest week there is for my department. A great way to battle the jet lag, I tell you.

So this week's round-up is simply covering things that make me want to eat them. The recipes and the stories I'm currently coveting, and are helping me to escape mentally back to simpler times, back to the time (just a week ago!) when I was on vacation...

  • Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking reminds me of the pleasures of having an apple tree (sob!) and of making apple-based treats to eat. I do have one jar of apple sauce left which might come into service for this recipe...
  • Chubby Hubby has re-created some restaurant-grade macaroni and cheese. There is never a wrong time to covet macaroni and cheese and this one is simply drool-inducing.
  • Cook and Eat has made some lovely little almond plum cakes in ramekins, which look both simple and fantastic.
  • Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice has dredged up childhood memories of my Italian neighbors and their pantry dedicated to home made tomato sauce by announcing that it's her family's weekend to make their sauce. It's this time of year that I wish I were Italian.
I'll be spending my weekend baking, rummaging through cook books, and buying tiles for my new kitchen. Not quite holiday, but it's the best I can think of to perk up the spirits.

Enjoy your weekends!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

A Vegetarian Day for the Good of Animals Everywhere

I'm an avowed carnivore, very (very) happy to tuck into hunks of meat, whether it be traditional or more exotic fare. I do also believe in good animal welfare, and try my best to make sure the meat I eat has enjoyed a good life before I consumed it.

I'm not adverse to the occassional bout of vegetarianism, and I'll be having a vegetarian few days to celebrate and promote World Animal Day. World Animal Day is October 4th, and a good friend who happens to be quite devoted to animal causes *also* happens to be a professional singer, and will be putting on a charity concert for the event. Details of the concert can be found on the World Animal Day website; I'll be there quaffing my animal-friendly wine and vegetarian nibbles, and anyone else tempted to go is encouraged to make the trip to Gipsy Hill.

In the meantime, tonight's vegetarian meal happens to be at Rasa, a Keralan Indian restaurant that makes being a vegetarian a rather tasty experience. They've grown from their Stoke Newington origins so that there are now a few around London, easy to spot with their BRIGHT pink color scheme. I think I'll be having my favorite, the Bagar Baingan: aubergines in an onion/chilli/tamarind/coriander seed/yogurt/cashew nut paste. It's like nothing else you've tasted and lives in memory as one of those eye-popping mouthfuls of flavors that you didn't know could exist together so nicely.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Summer Holiday Part 2 - New York

Although the trip to New York is a once-a-year requirement, it's sometimes hard to see it as a holiday. Visiting family and friends can be tiring when juggling everyone's needs, and to return to the same place each year when you're already pretty familiar with it doesn't lead to much travel frisson. Lucky for me then that New York does have its fair share of things on offer.

My parents live far out on Long Island, and we tend to do our own cooking when staying with them. I love going to the giant supermarket near them, in the same way I sometimes love watching horror movies. The produce aisle brings on the first moment of fear in me: uniform and perfect shiny red red apples which my x-ray food vision sees as dripping with pesticides and wax, mushy in the middle and tasting of nothing. The produce has gotten better in recent years and now features some organic goods, though variety is still minimal despite its huge size. I next love to visit all the sugar-based aisles since these are the foods I grew up on: sugary cereals, cookies, drinks, snacks, pre-mixed baking goods. I've curbed my ways so these are more of a fascination than a temptation to me now, though I did still walk away with a giant tub of peanut butter (and our suitcases were already at their weight limit - that peanut butter led to the airlines ordering us to reduce our weight or pay £50, and Mr A&N being very disappointed in me).

Sadly, we didn't make it to a Mets game this year, though it may be due to the 'rule' I set up during our last Mets game, in which Mr. A&N, my brother, and I each had to sample a different junk food every three innings. A hamburger, chicken in a basket, and hot dog later (and that was just my share) and we were in a very bad way; thank god the game didn't go into extra time or that extra Italian sausage might have pushed me over the edge. Ah, those are good memories...

But I digress.

Into Manhattan, and and the real eating can begin. Mr. A&N is fond of saying that we've never had a bad meal in NYC (I'm including the outer boroughs), and with the help of my brother and my good friends, Megan and James (and the biggest gourmet in their house, their golden retriever Daisy) this is entirely true. My brother sought out Counter for our first night, an upscale organic vegetarian place; he was quite intent on helping us eat local and seasonal food (knowing that's something I consider important) which caused mild mental stress on his part but which I thought was a very lovely gesture. He also treated us to an evening at his favorite shochu bar (locally produced, not so much), which we had already acquired a taste for thanks to my brother; if you've never tried the liquor, it is highly recommended for its clean. whiskey-like taste. Megan and James led us to Bao, a Vietnamese place with Thai touches, after having read about my quest for good Vietnamese in London. The general standard of food in NYC is very high (I think it's a combination of plenty of competition forcing places to be top of their trade, and a ready pool of diners who can't cook/won't cook due to long working hours), and our record of never having a bad meal in New York remains.
We also wandered through both the Union Square Farmer's Market, and the food hall within Grand Central Station, both of which proved a nice antidote to the big anonymous supermarkets. The Grand Central food hall was filled with specialty stalls, and the variety of nice meats and cheeses and other goodies was impressive. The Farmer's Market was running over with beautiful bounties of vegetables and fruit, all of which I wanted to take home with me like some would a stray kitten. Tomatoes seemed to be the particular showpiece, with piles of gnarly purple, yellow, orange, and mundane red ones spilling forth from nearly every stall.
I'm a simple girl, though, and my greatest New York eating pleasures come from bagels and pizza. My favorite pizza place is gone so I'm cast adrift a bit on the pizza seas, but I think you'll all be reassured to know that my last stop before getting in a cab and heading to the airport was to buy a dozen and a few bagels from the daddy of bagel places, David's Bagels on 1st Ave and 14th Street. They were, naturally, fresh from the oven, and I had them bag the onion ones seperately so I could stick them in my hand luggage and they wouldn't infect the others with oniony-ness (I'm so savvy, me). They caused a bit of a stir at the x-ray machine, looking like suspicious god-knows-whats, but when the bag was opened the staff sighed at the scent and tried to negotiate buying them off us. Those little onion blessings saw us through the next 24 hours of travelling as we made our way from New York to Sweden, back to London and to home. The other bagels are now safely in the freezer and I shall be rationing out one a month for the next year, until I can return and buy more. My friends and family think I return to New York to see them, but really, it's the bagels.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Summer Holiday Part 1 - Sweden

My trip to Sweden for the first half of my summer holiday was as much due to desire as it was necessity; we needed to go to New York, and since direct flights were too pricey we combined a week-long layover in a country we wanted to visit, followed a flight to New York. Two trips for the price of one, and I got to dip into a country and cuisine I hadn't yet experienced. As ever, the most exciting part of travel for me was the food: eating in local restaurants, seeing the wonders of foreign supermarkets, and in Sweden's case, foraging for wild berries.

We spent two days in Stockholm (where our restaurant-going was anticipated) and 5 days in the country (where the lingonberries came into the equation). With so little time in Stockholm, I tried to gather food recommendations for traditional Swedish places, and thanks to bloggers like Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking I went armed with some solid-sounding choices. I realize that 'traditional' might not equate to current cuisine: proof of this is in Britain, where traditional cooking can mean something a bit dull but the modern take on traditional is a delight. With more time in the country, I would have liked to branch out further and seek out modern Swedish cooking, but I did feel like I needed to first acquaint myself with the basics, served to me from somewhere other than Ikea.
Our glimpse at traditional food did reveal some solid, meaty comfort food which would clearly help get you through the winter. We supped on a bit of reindeer (gamey and steaky at the same time while still being tender) and Swedish meatballs, plenty of herring, and a nice breakfast smorgasboard with some wonderful cinnamon rolls. Vegetables weren't abundant but Vitamin C was represented by lingonberries in the form of jam, sauce, and pudding.

Lingonberries were further on hand when we moved out to the country, by Sweden's biggest lake. There were plans afoot to swim and fish and hike while spending more wild moments picking fruit, though these were slightly scuppered by (in order) it already being too cold to swim, us not catching any fish, having difficulty finding good berry picking, and me being ill. We eventually found some fine berry troves at least (after much walking through wild and windy woods - that's me holding up some of the bounty, below), and used them in our own savory meat sauce as well as in a lovely crumble filled with other 'found' fruit, apples and plums.

I remained intrigued by cloudberries and though we didn't find any of those to pick, I did find some cloudberry jam. I was warned that the taste and smell of them might be an acquired pleasure; indeed, sniffing the jam made me wonder more if it had gone sour than if it would be the most tasty mouthful I had ever experienced. But after the first slightly medicinal hit, they did become sweet and vaguely yogurty. So although we didn't get to experience any modern Swedish cuisine in Stockholm, I created my own modern, fusion food when I sampled my first spoonful of cloudberries atop my hard-won bagels, brought back from New York. Now that's fusion, folks.