Jeanette - Off The Cuff

My photo
Blogger at: http://offthecuffhome.blogspot.com and http://offthecuffcooking.blogspot.com -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Smoked Salmon Pasta a la Greta Garbo


Greta Garbo-- star of the silver screen, one of the most iconic faces of the Golden Era of Hollywood, well known for her roles in Anna Karenina and Camille -- was also famously Swedish, which means she shared her heritage with yours truly.  Okay, so we're not related that I know of, but we do have that DNA overlap.  Allegedly, this is her favorite pasta-dish, culled from one of my mom's Swedish cooking magazines, and I would like to imagine that on those days when she "Vanted to be alooone" she curled up in a cozy wool blanket with a big bowl of this stuff. 

This is another one of those stand-by dishes my mother has made since I was a little girl, and in fact, here is the original recipe that Dad scanned for me from Mom's cut-out recipes in a binder.  It is really quite quick to make, and something like elegant comfort food!

The heading there says "Celebrities' favorite recipes".  Even if you have no idea who this mega-star of the 1930s was, make this dish, and pour up a glass of crisp white wine...

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb smoked salmon, cut into small chunks -- (Also, please note that the type of smoked salmon that I use is the "hot smoked" salmon that is more firm, and crumbly, and still has skin on that needs to be peeled off.  The cold-smoked salmon that still looks more like Lox and still can be sliced into thin strips is not the kind I would recommend in this recipe.)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
2-4 ripe, red tomatoes, such as plum, Campari or Roma (or one can diced tomatoes)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, (you could also use basil or oregano to sprinkle)

Pasta -- enough for four servings, preferably a thick toothy kind, like linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, or fettucine

DIRECTIONS:

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds until skins split.  Set aside and cool to touch, and then peel off the skins. 

Cut up salmon and tomatoes, and mince garlic.  Start with one clove, add more if desired....

Heat the oil in a skillet or sauce pan at medium, and then stir in tomatoes, garlic and salmon.  Stir over medium heat for a minute or so to heat through, and then pour in cream.  Reduce heat, and let simmer, while pasta is cooking. 

Drain pasta, drizzle with more olive oil, if desired, and ladle into bowls, and top with salmon-sauce.   Sprinkle with grated parmesan if desired, and sprinkle on fresh parsley (or basil or oregano.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Official Off the Cuff Tutorial on Kitchen Organization

An organized kitchen makes cooking more fun, and far more efficient
LONG POST AHEAD.  I'll try to break it up with my sardonic humor, and photographs. 

I have been tossing this around in my head for a while, and decided to create a separate blog post on how to organize your kitchen area and make it as functional as possible.  Cooking is a complete drag if you feel like it's a chaotic endeavor that requires a lot of running around.  And, of course, I have now finally come to a point in my life where I have lots of cabinets, an ample kitchen island and a spacious work area.  So lest I come across as condescending, talking about how to organize a kitchen, when many of you have tiny apartments and/or rickety old cabinets and lack of functionality, I just want to assure you that I have also lived in places with small kitchens and lack of counter-space.  My goal here is to provide you with as much useful information for making the best of what you *do* have. For someone endeavoring to make use of this kitchen organizing session, I would set aside a whole day, and remain flexible to tweak things after the fact, if you find that you under-assessed some of your needs.


Ultimately, cooking and maintaining your kitchen will be easier and more fun when there is a good groove and flow.  (Groove and flow.  Sounds like some new sub-genre of electronic music, doesn't it? First it was Drum and Bass, Jungle, Trance, Techno, and now it's Groove and Flow.  So on that note, crank up some good music and let's get to it.)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Oven Pancake

Happy New Year...

I get busy-- as you can tell it's been almost 3 months since my last entry, but I made a quick "Oven Pancake" last week, and managed to take one (not very good) photo of it right before I devoured it.

Oven Pancake, or Ugnspannkaka as we call them in Da Ol' Country, is also similar to Dutch Babies, or German Pancakes, but the ratio of flour, eggs and milk is a little different.  Traditionally, a Swedish Ugnspannkaka (Oongs-pun-KA-kah) is served slathered in melted butter, topped with lingonberry preserves, and sides of crispy bacon.  It sounds like it should be a breakfast meal, and honestly, I don't know why it couldn't be, but we have always eaten it for dinner growing up.  I didn't have any bacon that night, but I did have some homemade frozen pork-sausage patties which were delicious on the side as well.

INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
Butter for  greasing baking dish, and for spreading on top
Cranberry or lingonberry preserves (or other fresh fruit, or other preserves of your choice)

[Could that list of ingredients be any easier? You probably have all of that on any given night.]

DIRECTIONS: Beat all ingredients in a bowl, until well blended and a little bit frothy at the top.

Pour into a buttered baking container of some sort. (A small lasagna pan, for instance, or an oven proof cast iron skillet would also work as long as there was plenty of butter in the bottom of whatever it is to keep the crust from sticking.)

Bake at 375-400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  (If your oven tends to run hot, go for 375.  You don't want the top to burn.)  The Oven Pancake is done when it's browned on top, bubbling and fluffed up around the edges and the center is firm to the touch.