Category Archives: Food

Oracle Beehive course: The trip

A couple of weeks ago, one of my bosses came into my office with a curriculum description for a course on Oracle Beehive. He asked me to go it over, and tell me what I thought about it. After a quick flick through it, it seemed like a nice course to get some more information on the product, as it’s something we have been thinking about deploying. My boss asked me if I was available to go, March 9th through 13th. To California.

I left home at 3:00 on the 8th, where a nice friend of mine had agreed to look after my car for the week, meaning I could drive to the airport, and not have to get a bus there in the middle of the night. It turned out I was there rather too early, but early is better than late in these cases. So at just around 6:00, I was able to board an airplane for the very first time, for a quick hop to Amsterdam.

Yes, that’s right, I’d never flown before. And the flight didn’t start out too well, with what felt like rather a bumpy ride. The cabin crew seemed cheery enough, so at first I thought it was probably just normal, and wondered how I’d survive the trip across to the US – but then the captain turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, and mentioned that due to all the turbulence, he’d requested permission to fly a bit higher up. Phew! It turned out flying was a lot more comfortable than my first experience had shown, and we got to Amsterdam before time, at around 7:30.

Amsterdam airport, more correctly known as Schiphol, seemed like a nice place to be. It was certainly a lot nicer than Billund, and as I later found out, nicer than San Francisco Intl. After a couple of hours wandering about and using the wireless there (at €12/90 minutes) they finally let us board the plane – after a security check right at the gate, which seemed a very silly place to put it.

The plane for the second, much longer, half of my journey was a newly refurbished KLM MD-11. I was seated in economy, which didn’t bode well, but the plane was only about 2/3rds full, so almost noone had to sit directly next to anyone, meaning a bit more room to move about ones arms. The seats had screens in them, and once we’d gotten airborne and on the way, they were completely individual “entertainment systems”, capable of showing movies, episodes of tv-series, playing music, audio books or games, or following the in-flight tracking system.

I watched Quantum of Solace and WALL-E on the way, and enjoyed the food, snacks and drinks the very polite cabin crew were serving. The food wasn’t exactly excellent, but it was very decent, and we even got proper metal cutlery to eat it with. Sleeping wasn’t very easy, but I did manage to fall asleep for a couple of hours or so, before landing at San Francisco Intl. at about 14:25, only a short time after we’d taken off at 11:10. Okay okay, there was the small matter of the time difference on top, making it around 11 hours total … yawn.

The hotel, Sofitel San Francisco Bay, were nice enough to pick me up in their shuttle and save me the $30 cab ride, which was a nice touch. The hotel itself was very nice, and while my room wasn’t a lagoon-facing room, it still had an excellent eastward view of the sunrise over the mountains in the morning, and a by my standards huge King-size bed. Everything was nice and clean, and I even managed to unpack and hang my clothes before slipping into a more coma-like sleep.

Tiramisu for my colleagues

When you have colleagues like mine, taking a photograph of the tiramisu before it was eaten isn’t a suggestion that’s likely to be accepted – so you will have to contend with a picture of what was left:

They did all enjoy it, and all my hard work yesterday wasn’t entirely wasted.

Recipe

The amounts are for about 12 people, and they can probably be multiplied. You could probably halve it as well, but making much less than that is an affront to the recipe! 😉

Ingredients

  • 8 dl espresso (or strong coffee)
  • 2 dl amaretto or marsala – I like amaretto
  • 500 grams lady fingers (savoiardi) (or more or less, depending on the tray you use)
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 8 egg yolks, pasteurised
  • 8 egg whites, pasteurised
  • 750 grams Mascarpone cheese
  • Vanilla
  • Cocoa powder

I used 750 grams instead of the 1000 grams recommended in the book I adapted it from (Spise med Price, DR Forlag 2008). I liked the result, though some more of the cheese might be nice. It wouldn’t have fit in the tray I used anyway.

Method

Brew the coffee, mix it with the amaretto and leave it to cool.

Mix the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla – I just added more to taste later – and whip until light and fluffy. This will take a while. Mix in the Mascarpone. Whip the egg whites and fold them in, to make the mixture lighter.

Pour the coffee mix in a flat-bottomed container, and dip the savoiardi sugar side up, so the mixture almost reaches the sugary bit – lift them up right away, and place sugar side down in the tray. Cover the entire bottom of the tray this way.

Cover with a layer of the egg-cheese mixture, about 1 to 1.5 cm thick. Use about half of the amount you have. Add another layer of savoiardi, and another layer of the mixture, making sure to level it out nicely.

Cover, for instance with aluminium foil, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours – I had mine in the fridge for 18 before serving.

Right before serving: Dust with cocoa powder – not the sugary stuff used for making drinks, but pure cocoa. Enough should be added that it looks like a dry layer on top of the tiramisu (in my opinion, anyway).

Probably stores well, but there’s not going to be much left anyway 😉

Depending on how long you dip the savoiardi, the tiramisu will taste more or less of coffee, and be more of less mushy. Finding the right balance can be a pleasurable job, as you need to make a new tiramisu each time 😉 There’s a bit of work in making a tiramisu, but it’s lots of fun, and it tastes great. It may not be too healthy to eat it all oneself, though.

“Real” tiramisu?

I’ve been looking to make some tiramisu, and for that I’ve decided on a recipe. It’s from “Spise med Price”, a Danish cookbook made to accompany a TV show of the same name. This recipe uses – for 6 persons – 4 egg yolks beaten with 100 grams sugar, with Mascarpone mixed in (500 grams), lightened with 4 beaten egg whites. Easy.

However, when I went to get the ladyfingers to use for the recipe, it had a different recipe. This called for – for 5 persons – 3 egg yolks, sugar and only 250 grams Mascarpone. Still the same with the egg whites.

Curiosity now piqued, I looked at my new Joy of Cooking for a recipe – and lo: 12 servings needs 5 egg yolks, half a cup whipped cream(!), and about 400 grams Mascarpone. This is quite different, since it uses whipped cream instead of the egg whites – and doesn’t seem to need as much amount of filling as the others.

I decided to press on and look at my Italian cookbooks, namely one called “Culinaria Italia” and one called (in Danish) “Italy – temptations of the Mediterranean”. The first calls for 4 egg yolks, a cup whipped cream and 500g Mascarpone, while the second (for 4 people) uses 2 egg yolks and whites and 250g Mascarpone – same proportions as the original one I looked at.

To sum up: To make tiramisu, you need a number of egg yolks and some Mascarpone, between 30 and 80 grams per person, and either whipped cream or beaten egg whites to lighten it with. And I haven’t even started to look at whether to use Marsala, Amaretto or other sorts of liquor for the ladyfingers…

What’s your favourite way to make tiramisu?

Sigfreds Kaffebar: Good coffee in Århus

Writing a post like this in English might seem a little strange – but at least it will be readable for foreigners who may want to visit Århus: I’ve found a nice place for coffee in Århus. It’s Sigfreds Kaffebar.

For anyone who knows Århus, it probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Sigfreds is known as a place of good coffee, and even though we have the Starbucks-style Baresso around here as well, producing somewhat consistent quality coffee, Sigfreds is just a different league – and a wholly different atmosphere. It’s a lot more cosy and café-like. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture to place here, but I think I’ll be going back tomorrow and might get one.

I had a cortado, basicly a double espresso with about the same amount of steamed milk in it, for 32 kroner. It doesn’t come with any accessories, apart from an optional glass of water, but it didn’t need any: The taste was great. Freshly ground beans, and judging by the videos on the website and the behaviour of the barista, a very keen attention to hygeine and cleanliness. Thoroughly recommended.

Chocolate coated pineapple rings

I’ve come up with a plan. A masterly plan, to leave me independent of the chocolate store near where I work: I am going to make my own chocolate coated pineapple rings.

The first attempt is in my fridge now to cool down – some might say that choosing a day with my kitchen at 30-some degrees celsius as the day to test out my idea wasn’t smart, and I’m inclined to agree – tempering chocolate, when the ambient temperature is higher than the level you’re trying to cool to isn’t easy.

Not giving up that easily, I decided to follow David Lebovitz’s instructions for tempering chocolate, albeit not with quite the care I might do in the future. Looking in my fridge now, it seems I didn’t succeed – partly due to my thermometer being too slow, and partly due to not having the patience to wait for the temperature to go down. I’ll have to do a bit more work on this in the future.

The biggest problem was probably the unexpected viscosity of the chocolate: Pouring it in a way to coat the pineapple rings was far from as easy as I’d thought. Perhaps that’s a problem with temperature, but it seemed that the chocolate I was using didn’t really want to be poured, as much as it wanted to sit in a thick, smooth but unmoving mass. I’ve looked a bit at some websites about additives in chocolate, and I think the answer may be trying out adding some lecithin, a soy or egg yolk extract used as an emulsifier to make chocolate pourable. Perhaps making an improvised mould for the rings would make things a little easier

Pineapple rings are rather wet when direct from the tin, which also created a bit of a problem. I was prepared better for this, though, and patted them dry with some kitchen paper – perhaps other methods might be employed with more success.

There’s no pictures this time, since I didn’t really expect to succeed, but when the weather cools down I’ll try again for a slightly more serious attempt. I’ll be sure to add some tasting notes later, though, when I can’t hold myself back any further.

Edit: The results

I’ve just tasted one of the pineapple rings I made earlier, and I have a few observations. First of all, the chocolate wasn’t tempered at all. In fact, it melted almost seconds after being removed from the fridge, so I guess I’ll have to eat them all myself 😉

Secondly, the insides were too wet. I had suspected this, and come my next try, I’ll have to figure a way to dry it out. I suspect the ones used by professionals might be soaked in a light syrup, to make it a bit more candy-like. Might try that out.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the taste: I liked it. I am still very fond of the combination of pineapple and chocolate, and with just a bit of practice I’m sure I’d be able to cure some of my addiction to the local chocolate shop.

The greens have arrived!

I’ve signed up to receive a box of vegetables from a Danish company called Aarstiderne every other week. Today was the first delivery, and I was quite excited to get home and see what was in it:

Fruits and vegetables from Aarstiderne.com

The contents are all organic, and even though they’re trucked around, Denmark is a small enough country that a lot of it counts as “local”, anyway. The box I got contained:

  • Emmerys malt rye bread
  • Voelkel grape juice
  • Vivani milk chocolate with almonds
  • Babyleaves – of some leaf vegetable of unknown origin as of yet 😉
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 5 plums
  • 7 apples
  • 10-or-so carrots (one gone already, yum!)
  • a box of grapes
  • a bunch of (5) leeks (edit: these are supposed to be spring onions. They’re bigger than the ones I’m used to…)
  • a head of broccoli
  • a cucumber
  • a courgette

Costs me 223kr, which is about £24 or €30.

Now I have to figure out what to use all that stuff for.

Slow bread

After buying some really nice bread at a nearby bakery, at the to my mind quite expensive price of 42 kroner for a loaf (about £4.50), I decided to bake some myself. I found a recipe on the net, and followed it pretty closely, this being the first try.

Ingredients

  • 12.5 grams cake yeast – or I am guessing, a quarter of a packet
  • 300 ml cold water or milk
  • teaspoon of salt
  • teaspoon of sugar
  • 350-400 grams high-protein flour
  • 100 grams wholemeal flour

Method

Step one, basically mix it together and knead. Okay, perhaps dissolve the yeast first in the water, and add the flour little by little. But get it mixed together, and knead well. I kneaded until my wrist started hurting, and then a bit more since it didn’t feel quite right yet. This isn’t no-knead bread.

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An update, slightly delayed

Now, some time ago I expected I’d be updating my blog every 10 days with news about my moving plans, which would make for a good few posts – but I wasn’t home when the time came to post with 30 days left, and I didn’t really have anything to write.

I called up the landlord on Tuesday, and inquired as to whether I could move in on June 27 instead of on July 1, which I was might be possible, though entirely dependent on whether the builders were done yet. If they were, it’d be no problem, though I’d naturally have to pay the few days extra rent. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks.

Furniture shopping is at a standstill, since I seem to have figured out the style of furniture I’d like, but I’m not sure whether I’ll have the room for it nor money to buy it. I know for sure that I’ll need a bed, but everything else is a bit more optional, ranging from simple things like “a nice lamp” through “a table and chairs” to “a complete Wegner lounge”. I don’t really think I can realistically buy any of it before I move.

The first exam of the year is on Tuesday, and is in “Technical Project Management” – that is, management of technical projects, and not the technical aspects of managing projects. We’ve been using a book called Applied Software Project Management, which is decent, but as one of the other students in the course pointed out, it isn’t really up to date with agile methods, and the level of some of the advice given approaches the trivial, for example by spending most of a chapter introducing Subversion.

Procrastination has set in, and I’ve resorted to reading food blogs. Some time ago, I was trying to find a recipe for Heston Blumenthal’s oxtail stew, and instead stumbled upon someone who’d actually tried to cook it. Intrigued by the writing style, and the whole subject of a food blog, I’ve spent a couple of hours reading Becks & Posh, as well as a bit of time at Hedonia, especially having fun with the Eatsdropper posts. Recommended.

Quick raspberry ice cream

Ingredients

  • 1 blender
  • Frozen raspberries
  • Icing sugar
  • Cream
  • Optionally: Chocolate

Blend food-type ingredients in blender. Serve right away. The frozen berries cools the mixture to be like soft ice cream.

Suggested mix is 200g raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2½ dl cream, and some chocolate.