Spring is here and so is my sandwich cake.
It was actually news to me that there are people out there that find sandwich cakes  funny. Umm.. it's like a giant well-organised sarnie that has been fancied up a bit.





Smoked chicken and rocket smörgåstårta.
Serves 6 to 8

20 slices of toast

Chicken filling
260g smoked chicken (roast chicken works just as good)
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp Caesar salad dressing (yes, the creamy stuff from a jar)
3 tbsp sour cream

Rocket filling
two big handfuls of rocket
a sprig of basil
chives
200g spreadable cheese
35g butter

Garnish
20g butter
Leafy salad mix
Cheese-filled ham rolls
Finely chopped herbs (frozen ones are good too)



Start by making the fillings.
To make the chicken filling, simply process the chicken in a food processor together with mayonnaise, sour cream and Caesar sauce to a homogeneous paste.

To make the rocket filling, bring butter to room temperature and blanch rocket and herbs in boiling water for a minute, refreshing in cold water. When cooled, lift out of the water, squeeze dry and place into a food processor with the cheese. In another bowl, cream the butter. When the herb and cheese mixture is pureed, add it to the butter, bit by bit. Taste to see if it needs salt or pepper (some cheeses are salty whereas others are not).

Divide the toast into five piles, all consisting of four slices. Cut the slices into triangles. Take eight triangles, arrange as a pinwheel, trimming the outer tips, to make a circle. That is one layer.
I seem to prefer round cakes.

Place the first layer of toast on a platter, spread with one third of the chicken filling and top with another layer of toast. Now spread these with one third of the rocket filling. The filling should be thicker than what you'd normally put on your sandwich.
Continue to stack and spread until you run out of toast but should be left with one third of rocket filling (the last third of chicken filling goes on top). Mix the last third of rocket filling with the 20g of butter (to make it firmer) and stick in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Then use it to cover the sides of the cake all over with rocket butter. Sprinkle with finely chopped herbs.

Just before serving, cover the top with salad leaves and ham rolls.
Vintage lenten buns.

The recipe for this year's lenten buns comes from an old cookbook. Dating from 1908. But the recipe itself is even older.





The bun

120ml warm milk
15g fresh yeast
2 tbsp rose water
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp spirit, 80 proof
260g flour
75g sugar
50g butter

Dissolve the yeast in warm milk with a spoonful of sugar. Wait till it starts to foam.
Now add the rose water, spirit, cardamom, salt and three-quarters of the flour. Knead well.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
Cream soft butter with sugar until pale and fluffy, mix into dough. Add the remaining flour and knead well.
Cover and let rise again.
Knead the dough briefly and form into eight round buns, leaving enough room between them on the baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and let the buns rise until doubled in size. Bake in a 200c oven for about 10 minutes. Brush hot buns with egg wash once more, this prevents them from drying out while cooling.


For the filling (*a more common version)
bun crumb
100g marzipan
130ml double cream
vanilla
25g sultanas

Cut off the bun tops, set aside. Using a paring knife and a small spoon, scoop out the crumb, creating a good-sized cavity. Place all of the crumb into a bowl, mixing it with marzipan. Heat the cream with vanilla and sultanas. When cool enough to handle, mix into the crumb. Make sure it is an even, smooth paste and fill the buns.


To serve
400ml double cream
4 tbsp icing sugar

Whip cream with sugar and pipe a mound on each bun. Cover the buns with the reserved tops and dust with icing sugar.


*The book lists a second, more elaborate filling as well, which I will probably tackle next year.
Roast pork a la confit.


85C roast pork. Cooked in fat.

Probably the easiest yet tastiest method for meltingly tender roast pork with a killer crispy crackling.
There is no marinating, browning, turning, mopping, basting, checking, probing etc. You just take the meat, season it, put it in the oven and then forget about it until you're ready to eat.

It does take time so it's not for a speedy lunch but excellent for dinner parties or Sunday lunches. The process takes about 12 to 14 hours, ideally overnight, but there is practically zero chance of burning the meat or drying it out. I've done this more than ten times now and it never fails.

It might seem scary but it isn't. And no, there is no obligation to eat all that fatty liquid. The oil and melted pork fat will rise to the surface of the meat juices after resting. Then ladle it up and use the meat juices for a tasty gravy.



about 1.6 kg pork, skin on
sea salt, approximately 2 tbsp
8- 10 peppercorns
4 fresh sprigs of rosemary
handful of fresh sage leaves
4 fresh sprigs of oregano
4 bay leaves
rape seed oil

My preferred dish for this is a classic cast iron pot but a good stainless steel loaf tin also does a good job.
It is best to use a piece of pork the same shape as the tin, since the meat must sit very snugly in the tin leaving very little space between the meat and the tin. The fewer air pockets the less oil you need to use. Oil is poured on top to keep the meat from drying out. In a way, this is like confit.
It is also important to not put a too big chunk in the tin since you want the edges of the tin to rise above the meat (and not the other way round) to keep all the liquids in. Otherwise you might end up with a bit of a puddle.

Start by bringing the meat to room temperature and turning on your oven, 85C. The temperature is approximate, it just has to be above 80 and below 95C. You do not even need to wait until it is fully heated, just proceed as you go.

Score the skin. Season the meat all over with sea salt. Sprinkle a good amount of salt in the tin as well. Toss in some peppercorns. Place half of the herbs in the tin, spreading them around, then put the meat on top with the skin upwards. You've really got to use your hands here and make it fit well, filling all the corners but keeping the meat level on the surface. Now take the rest of the herbs and tuck them between the pork and the sides of the tin.
Take the oil, pouring it all over the meat. Tilt the tin and make sure the oil fills all the cracks and cavities. If you've tucked the meat well, it should take only about 100ml. Sprinkle some salt on top.
Place the tin in the oven, uncovered, close the door and forget about it for the next 12 hours. It can even sit there in the oven for 18 hours without any problems so don't take it out too soon if you're not ready to eat yet.




My dad just popped a 3 kilogram pork roast in the oven. Same method, just a bigger pot. That will be our dinner tomorrow, on Christmas Eve. Eaten together with sweet and sour stewed cabbage, boiled potatoes and spiced marinated pumpkin.

But it can be served in so many ways. Between two slices of rye bread with pickles. In a bun with salad and sauce. Shred it into a noodle soup. Any way you you like.
Can also use the meat juices as a base of a soup.