Swedish Birthday Cake

Swedish Birthday Cake

I came across this recipe from a Swedish friend of the family, Margitta.  She is well-known for her culinary skills and my daughter, Emily,  spent a week in Stockholm with Margitta in May, so I felt inspired to make this cake for my birthday. It is deliciously different from our North American perception of birthday cake, easy to put together, and classy in it’s presentation. It uses an odd sized pan — 12×4 inch loaf pan –I picked one up at a kitchen store for $10, but if your feeling brave, try it in your regular 9×5 loaf pan and let me know the result.  It is 3 layers of strawberry/banana/whip cream in a vanilla cake, and it’s absolutely delicious. It will serve 8-10 people, so  try it at your next birthday celebration – the recipient will feel extra special and  everyone I served it to -and  I’ve made it twice so far — loved it.

Swedish Birthday Cake

from Margitta Wendin

serves 8-10

For the cake:

3 large eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup cream or milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (holding paper to pan with a few dabs of butter). Spray parchment with non-stick cooking spray. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Beat butter and sugar until combined, then add eggs, one at a time, and mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix until combined. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add to sugar/egg mixture alternately with cream, ending with flour. (Flour = 3 additions, cream = 2 additions). Mix until well combined.

Pour into prepared pan, bake 40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan, and let cool on rack. When fully cooled, slice into 3 even layers using a serrated knife.  Make filling and topping. Assemble. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

cake baked but not filled

slice into 3 layers with serrated knife

For the filling and topping:

500ml 35% whipping cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup strawberries, mashed, or strawberry jam (I used freezer jam)

1 banana, grated

a few sliced strawberries or some mandarin slices for garnish

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and vanilla, continue to beat until firm peaks form.

Place first layer of cake on platter and top with mashed strawberries or strawberry jam and spread with about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Top with second layer. Grate banana into about 1 cup of whipped cream. Mix and apply to second layer. Top with 3rd layer. Cover completely with remaining whipped cream, top with sliced berries or mandarins.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy! Excellent cake when strawberries are in peak season.

strawberry jam, banana, cake, whipped cream. Easy and delicious.

apply berries and cream to first layer

mix grated banana and whipped cream, apply to second layer

top with third layer, then apply whipped cream all over.

top with berries, finished product

layers of awesomeness

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil

yellow pepper soup with smoked paprika oil

If you’ve been missing soup lately because of all the barbequing, this is just the soup to fill the void, make you happy and soothe your soul. The title makes it sound complicated, but it’s as easy as hell.  * Smoked paprika is a Spanish form of paprika (made from red peppers) which has a smoky flavour and is (widely) available in sweet or hot. Try a specialty store if your grocery store doesn’t carry it.

I was wondering what to do with a few big yellow peppers I had and am so glad I made this. The soup is a nice, bright, summery colour; the drizzle of smoked paprika oil makes it look gourmet — and you won’t believe how amazing it tastes!  The soup itself is mildly flavoured with a nice texture, but the smoked paprika oil (which takes about 4 seconds to make) totally blew me away with the intensity it added. A smoky and spicy ‘pop’ in your mouth with every bite.  I absolutely loved it and even the picky people in my life enjoyed it. We ate it in small bowls for lunch for a few days with a salad – perfect. Try it — I know you’ll love it. Then, at your next dinner party, serve this as an starter – I’m going to, it’s that good. (and super easy to make). Keeps well for 3-4 days in the fridge, and I thought it tasted even better the second day.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil

adapted from foodnetwork.ca

makes 6-8 servings

For the Smoked Paprika Oil

1 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet– I used hot and it was great)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the Soup

3 large yellow peppers, halved and cored

1 large onion, diced

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

For the Smoked Paprika Oil

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the paprika, mix and remove from the heat. Set aside. Pour into a small bowl.

For the Soup

  1. With the rack in the top position, preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the peppers cut side down on the cookie sheet. Brush with oil and broil until the skin blisters and blackens, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with foil. Let cool. Pull off the skin and cut the flesh into cubes.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook  the onion in oil until softened. Add the broth, peppers and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a blender or with an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with smoked paprika oil.

    roast, peel and chop peppers

    peppers, potatoes, onions and broth

    puree with immersion blender or use a traditional blender

    smoked paprika oil

Lemon Quinoa Salad with spinach, feta, caramelized onion

quinoa salad

I’ve been cooking quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) quite a lot lately and we really love it. It’s easy to prepare and similar to rice in it’s cooking method. I look at it as a high-protein carbohydrate that is ready to be flavoured however you like. This salad is a good example. It can be made ahead a day, is a great traveller for a picnic/bbq, and just tastes damn fine. So why not try it as a way to start using quinoa? Make sure you rinse the quinoa well before cooking and buy organic if you can.

Lemon Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Feta and Carmelized Onion

adapted from Dish Entertains

serves about 8

1 cup of quinoa (uncooked)

1/4 cup of butter or ghee

2 red onions (white onions are fine if you don’t have red, but red looks better in the salad), sliced thinly

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced feta cheese (1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes)

6 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped coarsely

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and cook quinoa according to package directions. When done, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and cool.

Heat a large pan over medium heat, and melt butter or ghee.  Add onions, sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Put in more butter if it gets dry.  Add minced garlic and continue to cook until onions are golden brown – about 15 more minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, feta, lemon zest and spinach. Add 1/2 a cup of Simple Vinaigrette (recipe below) and  season with salt and pepper. Serve cool or at room temperature.

*I used preserved lemons in the recipe which work well also

Simple Vinaigrette

makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup vinegar (your choice – I used balsamic)

juice of 2 lemons (that you already zested for salad)

2 tsp maple syrup or honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

2 tsp dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients.

carmelize the onions and garlic

assemble ingredients

carmelized onion, lemon, feta, spinach