Saturday, March 31, 2007

Oslo off the beaten track: Damstredet

A traditional house built from timber. Close by you find the stables housing the famouse horse Veslebrunen, belonging to one of the most famous Norwegian poets, Henrik Wergeland.

Oslo off the beaten track: Damstredet

Damstredet is a quiet small town, inside the Norwegian capital. It is basically one small street on a small hill, with small wooden houses, and occationally you find buildings built in brick, like this one.

This little gem is often missed by tourists visiting Oslo. Many of you end up in the tourist traps. Leave the beaten track, and explore these quaint streets.

Sights of Oslo

Off the beaten track - Damstredet

Damstredet is a small area with wooden houses, dating back as far as 1756 (Damstredet 1). Most of the small wooden houses were built in the period from 1810 to 1860.

Damstredet is a very charming area, easy to explore, and here you can find some charming restaurants too.

Damstredet on the Norwegian wikipedia site (Norwegian only)

How to find Damstredet - map


I wake up every morning at 5.30 and walk to work, 6.30 AM. At this point of year it is sunrise. This picture is taken from Kjærlighetsstien (Lovers Lane), and looking east.

Spring in Oslo

It is spring in the Norwegian capital. These croci are budding in the yards of the old University as the first signs of spring.

This time of the year is probably the most beautiful of seasons in Scandinavia. Past spring equinox, as the days grow longer and longer daylight reaching its peak at St. Hans Aften (Saint John's Eve) third week of June - also known as Summer Solstice.

Yesterday I brought my camera around in town, on my way to work and on my way to a meeting. Let me give you some snapshots from the Norwegian capital during these beautiful days of late March.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Giving old dinners new life

Recycling leftovers - potato soup, leftover style

This was the dinner the evening after, the morning after, the evening before (Monday after work). Still stuck with some potatoes dauphinoise and chicken leftovers.

I had never used potatoes dauphinoise this way before. It was a whim really. I thought starch and cream, meaning thickener - ideal for a creamy potato soup. I had made some stock from 2 pints of water and 2 stock cubes. I added a leek, the creamed potatoes, and blended in until smooth. Tasted with some sugar and herbs. sliced the leftover chicken and heated it through.

Presto! Dinner!

Giving old dinners new life

Recycling leftovers - lasagna, leftover style

I expected my American cousin back, and had invited a friend for dinner - and had a hangover. What was I supposed to do? Use the leftovers you jerk!! And I did!

I loose my ability to lead you in the land of leftovers, as there are no recipes here. You have to use your imagination on you quest for the right taste to develop and wait for the right consistency to appear. I had some chicken stock, around a pint, and some frozen vegetables. Well, I visited my Turkish vegetable market, bought some celery, onion, two cans of italian plum tomatoes, and started.

I chopped a few medium sized onions, some celery and garlic, fried them in a little hot oil, and added some leftover bacon. Then I poured the two cans of tomatoes, the stock and the leftover vegetables in the pot. Added (much) sugar, provence herbs and a bay leaf. If there had been some leftover wine (there rarely are) I would have used that as well.

Then I went back to bed as the tomato sauce simmered over a very low heat for an hour or a little more....... Remember when you make tomato sauce to use much sugar, to take the bitterness out of the tomatoes. But restrain yourself and taste, as you do not want to end up with a pudding!

I used some ready made Mornay sauce that I had bought in Copenhagen, around 1 pint. Great to use. Found a large baking dish (a foot by five inches, and 3 inches deep). Poured a little olive oil in the bottom. Placed lasagna sheets on the bottom until they covered, poured over half the sauce. Then some cheese on top before I pressed on the next layer of lasagna sheets. Poured half the Mornay sauce over and added another layer of cheese. Then another layer of tomato sauce, cheese, lasagna plates, mornay sauce. Then I use a generous amount of cheese on the top, before I placed the lasagna in a fairly hot oven (180-200 C/360-400F), for 30-40 minutes.

Ann and Laila loved the lasagna, by the way. They did not know that I had been to the land of leftovers that day!!

The afternoon before the morning after

The dinner - Chicken filet Cordon Bleu with oven roast vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise

And here you see the dish, ready to be eaten.

The afternoon before the morning after

The dinner - Chicken filet Cordon Bleu with oven roast vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise

This is a slightly different version of the Cordon Bleu, as I do not use bread crumbs to coat the chicken breasts and I use Irish cheddar for the filling. Crumb the chicken, and use swiss cheese for the authentic version.

2 large chicken breasts
six slices of cheddar
2 large slices of boiled ham
Olive oil

Make an incision in the breasts in order to make a pocket for the filling. You can also use a mallet to flatten the breasts and make them easier to fill. Spread mustard in the pocket, then add ham and cheese. Roll the breasts together. Pour a little olive oil over the fillets and season. Place in dish, and bake on a very low heat (100C / 215F) for 2-2 1/2 hours. Then increase the heat to 200C / 400F for 15-20 minutes to crisp the skin.

Use 500 grs / 1 lbs frozen vegetables. Mix with oil and seasoning. Allow to bake with the chicken. Stir on and off.

Giving old dinners new life - recycling leftovers

The morning after the evening before. The food was great, the wine was even better. The best memory, besides the most obvious effect of the gluttony, are the leftovers in your refrigerator.

The easiest thing is to chuck them away. Well, you may not, if you know what to make from them, and nearly everything may be recycled into the most delicious dinners. Well let me show you. But as leftovers go, the coming recipes are based on what was left from some meals. But the most important is to use your imagination and improvise.

Leftovers - some basic rules

Make a good stock!
I often use both raw, fresh or frozen and roast chicken. When I remove bones and the carcass, I either make a stock while preparing the other dish, or I freeze them for later use. You can use both the bones, and vegetable peel from e.g. onion, carrots, or potatoes. Add herbs and the right amount of stock cubes for flavour. After you have boiled the stock and cooled it down, you may peel off the meat left on the bones. Use the stock for stews, sauces or soups. You can even freeze it down for later use. But remember: Do not refreeze raw unprepared ingredients after they have been thawed.

Tough meat gets tender when boiled for a long time. I earlier told you about the disappointing episode with the lambroast that was tough as leather. Well, the best thing to do, is to dice the undigested leftovers, make a stew and boil over a low heat for four to five hours. If you use red wine, tomato paste and other leftover vegetables you can make the most delicious meal for the next day.

Boiled or baked vegetables may be turned into the most delicious soup! Do not throw them away. Boil some stock from some water and stock cubes. Throw the vegetables in the stock and allow to warm through. Then put the stock and vegetables in a blender and blend until smooth. Add some cream and some leftover meat - presto, dinner!!

Some leftovers that may be used as thickeners. Rice, cold puff-pastry, or leftover mashed or dauphinoise potatoes. These leftovers contains starch. Cold puff pastry is basically butter and flour and is great to thicken soups, as potato dauphinoise, creamed potatoes with cream and starch. Great for potato soup. Put your leftovers with some stock and other ingredients in you blender and you get the smoothest soups you can ever dream of.

Well it is time to give some examples.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Allesverloren Touriga Nacional 2005

The wine of Gods

This wine is definetely the best wine since I had the privilege to open a bottle of Castillo Ygay 1968, a few years ago. The old wine brought tears to my eyes, and had so many different aromas that my little head worked hard to digest the impressions. The Allesverloren producers, once again brought tears to my eyes. The Touriga Nacional 2005 competes with the best wines from Spain and the great amarone wines from Italy. But I think it is even better.

It is made from Touriga Nacional, a portuguese grape used to make ports. It is a strong wine with an alcohol content of 15%. It has the deepest ruby colour I have seen, and when taking your first sip, your pallet can absorb the richest and softest aromas of forest berries, and herbs and a distinct oak character. This is the wine of Gods. Maybe the best of them all. This is the wine for game, roasts as it may overpower other, lighter food. But this is the wine for the most seductive moments, as well!!

You pay under €20 for this wine. Enjoy Food & Travel recommends it, it is a bargain, so buy a few bottles. You will not regret it.

Il Castello Gancia Chardonnay, Brut

Great Italian bubbly

This is good sparkling wine, dry with a freshness of lemon and apples. Great served as an aperitif. I served it with Spanish lobster paté. A perfect combination

Les Moulins Fendant du Valais 2006

A Swiss wine experience

My friend Øyvind Hansen gave me this Swiss wine, bought on a ski vacation. It tasted very different from other white wines I have ever tasted.

It is produced in the Canton Valais in Switzerland, situated in the south of the country bordering Italy and France. It is produced from the fendant or chasselais grape, the oldest grape variety known, cultivated for 5500 years, and originating from Egypt.

Actually this wine was different from other white wines I have tasted. Very dry and fresh, with a distinct flower aroma. The producer recommends it to fried fish and chicken, pasta and cheese.

Di Majo Norante Terra Degli Osci Sangiovese 2004

A good table wine

It is hard to make an impression when enjoyed after the Allesverloren Cabernet Sauvignon. Still this was a decent table wine.

It is made from 100% sangiovese grapes. It has a wonderful ruby red colour, and it has a light fruit and vanilla character. But drink this wine to the right food, as pasta, chicken, and other light dishes.

Allesverloren - Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

A great wine - but not the greatest

My expectation to the Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from Allesverloren may have been to high, as the other wines I have tasted have been exceptionally good. The cabernet sauvignon 2004 was good, but this was the less exceptonal of them all.

Do not misunderstand. This wine is exceptional compared to other wines in the same price range. But it has not the oak character as I love in the other Allesverloren wines. Still it has a wonderful bouquet of berries and spices, and rich tastes of red fruits, prunes, and chocolate. I do not hesitate to recommend this wine for red meats and game.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

2006-2007 - Sights from A-Z

Aamodt Bridge, Oslo
The Abbey of Saint Victor, Marseille
Akerselva (Aker River), Oslo
Akerselva waterfall, Oslo
Akershus fortress, Oslo
Alexandra township, Johannesburg
Arch Episcopal Palace, Trondheim

Baklandet Skydsstation, Trondheim
Barker Tavern, Scituate MA
Barceloneta, Barcelona
Barri Gothic, Barcelona
Basilique Sacre Coeur, Paris
Beach, Durban
Bergenhus fortress and castle, Bergen
Birth Place of Edvard Munch, Løten
Bishop Nicolas Chapel, Oslo
Bishop's fortress, Hamar
Bispegården, Oslo
Black Madonna, Montserrat
Botanical Gardens, Oslo
Bryggen, Bergen

Casa Milà, Barcelona
Castle Hill, Tønsberg
Cathedral, Barcelona
Cathedral, Bergen
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui
Chinese Masonic Lodge, Boston MA
Christiansborg Castle - Folketinget, Copenhagen
Church of Old Aker, Oslo
Church of St. Clement, Trondheim
Church of St. Hallvard, Oslo
City Hall, Copenhagen
City of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, Soweto - Johannesburg

Damstredet, Oslo
Drakensberg Mountains, Kwazulu-Natal
Draw Bridge, Fredrikstad
Dunkejohngården, Fredrikstad

Ebenezer Hancock House, Boston MA

Fortifications protecting Le Vieux Port, Marseille
Founders Stone, Scituate MA
Freedom Trail, Boston MA

Gamle Bybro (Old City Bridge), Trondheim
Gamlebyen, Fredrikstad
Gamlebyen kirke, Oslo
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Boston MA
Grand Place, Brussels
Grave of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Oslo
Grave of Henrik Ibsen, Oslo
Grave of Henrik Wergeland, Oslo
Grave of Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken, Løten
Gråbrødretorv, Copenhagen

Hamar medieval cathedral, Hamar
Helligaands kirke (Church of the Holy Spirit), Copenhagen
Hjula Væveri, Oslo
Hornemansgården, Trondheim
L'Hôtel à la ville de Courtrai, Brussels
House of Hønse-Lovisa, Oslo
Håkonshallen, Bergen

Infantry Barracks, Fredrikstad

Jewish Cemetery, Oslo

Kings Chapel Burial Ground, Boston MA
Kongens Have, Copenhagen
Kongsten Fort, Fredrikstad
Korskirken, Bergen
Kringlegangen, Copenhagen

Leprosy Museum, Bergen
Løten old church, Løten

Mahatma Gandhi statue, Pietermaritzburg
Mangelsgården, Oslo
Marais, Paris
Mariakirken, Bergen
Montjuic, Barcelona
Montserrat, mountain and monastery
Musé Max Fournet de’l Art Naïf et Primitif, Paris

Nicholas Flamel House, Paris
Nelson Mandelas home, Alexandra
Nelson Mandelas home, Soweto
Nelson Mandela Yard Interpretation Centre, Alexandra
Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim
Nonneseter Convent, Bergen
Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Egyptian Collection), Copenhagen
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Palm Garden), Copenhagen
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Roman Collection), Copenhagen

Olavsklosteret, Oslo
Old City Hall, Fredrikstad
Old North Church, Boston MA
Old State House, Boston MA
Old town, Tallinn
Oslo Hospital, Oslo
Oslo Ladegård, Oslo

Palau Albeniz, Barcelona
Palau Nacional, Barcelona
Palm House, Oslo
Parc Guëll, the Gingerbread House, Barcelona
Parc Guëll, the Hall, Barcelona
Paul Revere House, Boston MA
Paul Revere Statue, Boston MA
Pieche-Hichborne Building, Boston MA
Pilestredet 30A-B. the home of Edvard Munch, Oslo
Placa Reial, Barcelona
Place des Vosges, Paris
Provianthuset, Fredrikstad

Quarterdeck, Scituate MA

Royal Palace, Oslo
Rebecca and Abigael Bates House, Scituate MA
Rundetårn Observatory, Copenhagen

Sagrada Famila, Barcelona
St. Jørgens Hospital, Bergen
St. Jørgens Hus, Trondheim
St. Jørgens Church, Bergen
St Mikaels church, Rokoberget
NEW: Sand sculpture and the surf, Durban
The Sankt Nikolaj church tower, Copenhagen
Satuit Brook, Scituate MA
Scituate lighthouse, Scituate MA
Slaveriet, Fredrikstad
Stadsporten, Bergen
Stiftsgården, Trondheim
Stjerneborg, Ven
Strøget, Copenhagen
Suncoast Casino and Entertainment, Durban

Telthusbakken, Oslo
Tøihuset, Fredrikstad
Tøyen Hovedgård, Oslo

uKhahlamba caves, Giants Castle
Uranienborg, Ven

The island of Ven, Sweden
Vennehåbet, Fredrikstad
Victoria House, Oslo
Voldportvakten, Fredrikstad
Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady), Trondheim
Vår Frelsers gravlund (Cemetery of Our Saviour), Oslo

Ye Olde Union Oyster House, Boston MA

Øresund Bridge, Denmark / Sweden

Hotels from A-Z - August 2006 - November 2007

Aintree Lodge, Pietermaritzburg (BBBB+)
Hotel Alizé, Marseille (Unrated)
Hotel Sunotel Aston, Barcelona (BBB-)
Hotel Atlantis, Barcelona (BBBBB-)

Bluewater Hotel, Durban (BBBBB)

Clarion Collection Grand Hotel, Bodø (Unrated)
Hotel Colonnade Summit, Boston MA (Unrated)

Irving House, Cambridge MA (Unrated)

Hotel La Santa Maria, Sitges (Unrated)

Hotel Maschotte, Marseille (Unrated)
Hotel Metropole, Brussels (BBBBB)
Melville House, Melville Johannesburg (BBBBB)
M/F Pearl of Scandinavia, Oslo-Copenhagen (BBBB+)

Hotel New York, Hilton, New York NY (BBB)
Hotel Nicolo, Paris (BBBB-)

Park Inn Alexanderplatz, Berlin (BBBBB)

Quality Hotel Edvard Grieg, Sandsli (BBBB+)

Radisson SAS Hotel, Fredrikstad (BBBBB-)
Hotel Romàntic, Sitges(Unrated)
Hotel Royal Sonesta, Boston MA (BBBBB-)
Royal Windsor Hotel Grand Place, Brussels (Unrated)

Skinnarbu høyfjellshotell, Rauland (BBBB-)

2006-2007: Recipes from A-Z

Asparagus and broccoli soup with German Bratwurst

Barbeque pork chops with Ah-So sauce
Bean soup with chicken
Bearnaise sauce
Beef tenderloin
Beef stew from Burgundy
Beef stew with beer
Boneless long roast chicken with tabbouleh and cheddar cheese
Breakfast croissants with ham and mustard
Breakfast croissants with mozarella and spanish chorizo
Breakfast croissants with mustard, spinach, ham, and bluecheese
Bruschetta with pesto genovese and parmeggiano
Bruschetta with red pesto and gorgozola

Cannelloni with meat ragout and bechamel sauce
Cannelloni with spinach and cottage cheese
Cheddar chicken, The famous
Chicken aspic with peas and asparagus
Chicken breast stuffed with blue cheese and sundried tomatoes
Chicken filet Cordon Bleu with oven roast vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise
Chicken korma with gratin dauphinoise
Chicken noodle soup
Chicken risotto with ceps and spanish chorizo
Chicken roulade with franco-italian filling
Chicken roulade with ricotta and pesto
Chicken roulade with spanish filling
Chicken roulade with spinach and feta cheese
Chilimarinated tenderloin of pork à la Wellington
Chocolate Mousse
Chorizos in sherry
Crayfish terrine with a spicy crayfish salad
Creole Chowder
Crispy Italian bruschetta
Crispy Italian Triple Dekker
Cup Cakes from Heaven
Cup Cakes reincarnated

Danish night-snack
Dim Sum dumplings
Dim Sum dumplings
Duck breast, how to prepare a perfect and succulent

Eastman (secret) fish chowder
Eggplant Parmeggian

Forty little piggies
Fried mackerel with sour cream sauce
Fried seafood

Garlic bread to keep the Devil away
Grandmas Norwegian teabread
Grandmas "profesorer"

In caprese bites
Irish corned beef

Klot og duppe

Lamb ragù
Lasagna, leftover style
Le Suprême de Blancs de Volaille au Foie de Canard
Lobster Terrine
Long roast chicken with stuffing and oven roast vegetables
Long roast duck-thighs in orange and thai chilli

Making a good stock
Mashed potatoes
Manchego cheese with spicy orange marmalade
Marinated long roast lamb with vegetables
Meat Roulade with Roasted Peppers and Taleggio Cheese

New England fish pie with asparagus
Norway Lobsters

Pesto-marinated halibut with bacon
Pete McDonnells Fish Pie
Pinxtos with paté of venison and black truffles
Pinxtos with salmon mousse
Porcini tagliatelle with creamed mushroom and sherry sauce
Pork ribs with crispy cracklings
Pork Rib with crispy cracklings 2007
Pork tenderloin with cider roasted onions and baked asparagus
Potato soup, leftover style
Potato and asparagus soup, leftover style
Prawn soup with fennel and red pepper
Puff pastry calzone with red peppers, salami, and mozarella

Roast duck with stuffing

Roast of lamb, with oven roasted potatoes and asparagus and morel sauce with cognac
Roasted chicken with garlic, pepper and lemon

Salmon with mustard and lime in puff pastry
Salmon mousse with herbs
Salmon and Tuna mousse with sweet chili
Salmon nibbles with sweet chili
Scandinavian open sandwich with egg and anchovis
Scandinavian open shrimp sandwich with salmon
Seafood in spicy olive oil and white wine
Shrimp and Asparagus Salad with Saffron Mayonnaise
Skagenrøre (Shrimp salad from Skagen, Denmark)
Smoked salmon with lime and pink peppercorns
Smooth dark chocolate mousse with Cointreau
Spanish langoustines in garlic
Spelt toast with cheese, turkey breast and Thai chili sauce
Spaghetti with butter, parmeggiano, and black truffles
NEW: Spaghetti with tomato sauce
Spinach soup
Stuffed quails with wild rice and warm figs

Tagliatelle with a creamed tomato sauce with raw Spanish chorizos
Grandaunt Sonjas turkey roasted in a paper bag
Todays soup
Tomato and onion soup

Vol-au-vents with mushroom and sherry sauce, with wild rice and asparagus

Wonderfully easy chicken noodle soup
Wraps with Spanish serrano ham and cream cheese with chili

Spring equinox: The changing seasons

Spring in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, is the most beautiful part of the year, as the first season flowers bloom, the days are getting longer. I will the coming weeks share the progress of spring, here in the far north.

One of the sights of Oslo in spring. King Karl Johan on his of Sweden and Norway on his horse, in front of the Royal Palace, in bright sunshine! And the flag tells that his Majesty, King Harald V and Queen Sonja is home!

Spring equinox - The changing seasons

Last week was spring equinox.

March 21st, at 12.07 AM, we reached the spring equinox. From that point the days will be longer than the night, leading on to the summer solstice, June 21st - the longest day of the year.

Oh - I am sorry - I forgot the Biltmores!!

On my way back from Boston, February 28th, I took the commuter boat from Rowes Wharf in Downtown Boston to Hingham. This is a great way to get out of Boston, as you can, on your way, see Boston harbour and the beautiful coastline leading south.

And there I met the Biltmores, or rather one of them, Georg Baxter IV, and he told me about his band - the Biltmores. Named after the Biltmore hotels, or rather the Bilmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. He even gave me their first CD, The Biltmores, and told me about the plans ahead. And the music is great!!!

So good luck guys!!

Visit the bands websites and read more on the band and its music!

Return trip over Island, the bridge from the US to Europe

Another snapshot.......

Return trip over Island, the bridge from the US to Europe

And I would like to conclude my stories from the US with a few images taken over Island. I highly recommend Icelandair as a cheaper and less exhausting crossing over the Atlantic.

Seeing this picture, I think I will consider a stopover at Iceland the next time......

Homecooking in Salisbury MA

Saturday, March 3rd - Pete McDonnells Fish Pie, step by step

Serve the pie with boiled potatoes and vegetables, e.g. broccoli.

Homecooking in Salisbury MA

Saturday, March 3rd - Pete McDonnells Fish Pie, step by step

And here you have the end result. Deliciously crisp cracker crust on the top, and fish and lobstermeat baked to perfection.

Homecooking in Salisbury MA

Saturday, March 3rd - Pete McDonnells Fish Pie, step by step

Melt the butter and pour it over the crumbs. Place in a hot oven (350-400F / 175-200C) and bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Homecooking in Salisbury MA

Saturday, March 3rd - Pete McDonnells Fish Pie, step by step

Smash the crackers, and mix with cheddar cheese and dried herbs. Place the ritz and cheddar crumb mix on top of the fish and lobstermeat.

Homecooking in Salisbury MA

Saturday, March 3rd - Pete McDonnells Fish Pie, step by step

This is a seriously good dish, and may, if you live outside New England where lobsters are found in abundance, be very expensive to prepare. But you can easily substitute lobstermeat with scallops or shrimps and get an equally good result. But do remember, do not add salt, as the ingredients used are already salty!!

1 kg /2 lbs of white fish e.g. cod or haddock
1/2 kg /1 lb of frozen precooked lobstermeat
1/2 package of Ritz crackers, made into crumbs
100 grs / 4 oz of cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 tbsp of dried thyme or other dried herbs
125 grs / 4 oz of melted butter

Place fish in deep baking dish. Place lobstermeat on top. To be continued......