Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes

Today I was on a mission to find some reasonably priced cupcake essentials. Baking shops failed; I was able to find extremely fancy cupcake liners for a billion dollars each or extremely crappy white ones.

After an hour I finally found some pretty ones at a reasonable price in a computer shop!? Then I found a cupcake tin I was happy with at a kitchen shop. Unfortunately there was an elderly couple buying a wedding gift for their grand daughter. They were not happy with their grand daughters gift registry choices; "a travel mug, what kind of stupid wedding gift is that!". I actually have to agree. So I waited forever to buy my silly cupcake tin.

The ridiculous amount of time I spent buying a tin, and some coloured paper were made up for by these cupcakes. This recipe is from New Yorks Magnolia Bakery on Bleaker street. It's their famous vanilla vanilla cupcake recipe which came to fame in the 90s; velvety vanilla sponge and sherbety vanilla buttercream icing . I found out about these from Alex who works at the amazingly sinful Sherbert cupcake shop in Perth. They use the same recipe. It is also very important to point out that these cupcakes were featured on Sex and the City!!! If they're good enough for Carrie and Miranda they are definitely good enough for me.

Click more for the recipe and more photos

More giant seagulls plus some pigeons

Monday, May 30, 2011

Street Stavanger: week 2

Perfect late afternoon light on the neighbours house, Stavanger's crazy bike lady (pretty sure every town has one), a yellow door, the Queen Mary 2 taking up the whole Stavanger harbour and a yellow flower.

A real Norwegian Sunday

Yesterday my Aunt, two of her friends and myself went for a walk known as 7 nutsturen or the 7 hills walk. It's a 17km mountain walk up 7 different hills. We packed ourselves a sandwich, some hot chocolate and some cookies and set off into the woods. We encountered hail, rain, serious wind and some lovely thick mud which managed to coat most of my legs and the insides of my shoes. Although the mud and the slippery rocks weren't my favourite the views and the nature were beautiful, I would happily do the walk again. It was however a luxury to go home, have a hot shower and eat a big bowl of moose soup for dinner. 

Saftkveld på dagen fjelltur edition :)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Sandwiches. Bread with topping. Probably the worlds most famous convience food. They can range from super simple to ridiclously complicated. What I love is that everywhere you go in the world, you will find a  different version. In Spain I ate potato omlette "tortilla de patatas" on crispy white baguette and in Australia my favourite was chicken, cheese, avocado and cranberry on rye bread. In Norway you simply can't go past crackers "knekkebrød" with raspberry jam and brown cheese, as you can see modelled by Alex and Sigrunn is the photos above. The strange Norwegian combinations don't stop there.

Nico with his " manwhich"
Chicken liver paté, pickles, beetroot and mayonnaise 

Johan and his "manwhich"

Here are some of the new sandwhich topping combinations which I have been introduced to while in Norway.

My new favourite: Chicken liver pate, pickled cucumber, beetroot and mayonnaise
Ingrid's favourite; Tinned mackrel in tomato sauce
Sigrunn's favourite; Brown cheese and jam on knekkebrød
My grandmother's favourite; Cottage cheese and jam
Nico's favourite: The "manwhich"- every topping on offer in a sandwich
The average Norwegian's boring favourite: cheese, ham and paprika (lame if you ask me)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Giant seagulls

One of my first observations of Stavanger was that the seagulls are flamin' enormous. These photos don't even really show how big they are, but they are at least twice the size of Australian seagulls. Probably because they eat reindeer meat instead of fish and chips. Seriously they're bloody monsters! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Let me introduce you to my new friend taleggio. I first came across this cheese when I was working at the Greenhouse in Perth. I had never heard about it but was instantly intrigued by it's name and it's taste. As soon as I got home, I read everything I could find about it on the internet. I was in love. When I stumbled apon this glorious cheese again at Food Story a café in Stavanger, it was time to write about it.

So Ta-leeee-ggio. First of all the name. It rolls off the tounge like a drop of olive oil rolling off a sexy Italian mans chin as he eats bruchetta. I think the name is beautiful, I could easily name my son Taleggio. Second attraction of taleggio is its history.... It is named after an Italian valley, and has been produced in the rolling foothills of Northern Italy since the 9th century. Taleggio is made from the milk of tired cows in la
te autumn and winter. The cows of Northern Italy traditionally spend the summer walking across the alps into different pastures. By winter they are totally exhausted, but their milk is nice and fatty and acidic; perfect for making taleggio. In 1988 taleggio received a "Presidential Decree" which sounds fancy and means that the president recognised the cheese as have an own entity. Like champagne having to be made in the the Champagne region of France, a true taleggio it must be produced in one of seven Northern Italian provinces.

But most importantly; it tastes like heaven. It's not quite as soft as brie, but is has a beautiful full milk (48% fat), earthy, yeasty flavour. It's perfect for using in toasted sandwiches, on crackers or fresh crusty bread. It melts nicely into a creamy cheese, so it would also work well as a fondue, souffle or melted over a grilled chicken breast. It's flavour isn't overpowering, it's buttery and melts in your mouth. It's just bloody delicious. Eat it with a glass light red wine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring Street Stavanger

Delicious homemade pizza

Man, homemade pizza dough is SO easy and SO good. I never realised it was so simple. I literally took me two minutes to make the dough and is a thousand times better than pre bought pizza bases. Homemade pizza sauce is just as easy and super tasty. Totally gonna bust out some made from scratch pizza more often.

Bake @ 260 degrees for 15 minutes

Pizza dough
1 packet/ 12g dry yeast
450 g flour
3 dessert spoons olive oil
1/2 ts sugar
1/2 ts salt
300 mls luke warm water (at body temperature)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Kneed into a dough. Set in a warm place to rise, for an hour or so. Cut dough in two, kneed again, and roll out two pizzas. Roll thin for a thin pizza or keep thicker for a thicker base. Place on a oven tray generously oiled with olive oil. The oil and the high temperature of the oven made for a beautiful crisp base.

The topping possibilites are endless but I used:
-Yummy homemade pizza sauce with 1 tomato, a small jar of tomato paste, a tea spoon of oregano, a sprig of rosemary, a pinch of chilli powder, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of honey, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. Blended together with a hand mixer.
-Red onion

Serve as the Norwegians do with some sour cream or tzatziki.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Awesome person I know: Ingrid

The first time I met Ingrid I noticed her edgy haircut and denim jumpsuit and thought she was way too cool. After going second hand shopping together, we found we share the tendency to be a little grandmotherish. We have therefore spent the last year drinking hot chocolate, eating microwave popcorn, Ingrid playing tetris while I knit socks, taking trips to the library, walks around the lake and watching late night episodes of sex and the city. 

On the not so grandmotherish side Ingrid is skilled at creating a party atmosphere. When we felt like staying in she managed to get us out on the town. Ingrid is the holder of the best way to get rid of sleazy guys in nightclubs. She lures them in to dance with her, but when they get to close she starts dancing in a way that nicely replicates an epileptic fit. They don't come back. It's hilarious.

Among other talents Ingrid is a skilled scrabble player, portrait drawer, lyrical dancer, poem writer, table tennis slayer, rebel, and a simply awesome friend. I will never forget all the amazing times we shared together at Folkehøgskole. I hope she becomes a french ambassabor, learns how to make porridge, keeps putting vanilla cream in her coffee, gets the world tetris high score and keeps being the beautiful person she is.

Kjempe glad i deg Ingrid!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dreaming of rosettas...

Might sound ridiculous, but one of the things I have missed most while in Norway is our coffee machine. I even got a kilo of coffee beans for christmas to try and dampen the coffee lusting. Still I can't wait to get back and start pouring some sweet sweet rosettas, trying out different beans and maybe doing some roasting of my own using the popcorn machine.

Some examples of Norway's incompetence. Don't get me wrong I still love Norway.

Norway has only just discovered the flat white. About fricken time Norway! The photo above is from a café advertising it's flat white "finally in Norway". No shit. All milky coffee in Norway before 2011 was a cappuccino or a latte.

I have had a couple of practice shifts at a cafe the last couple of days. The standards in coffee making are disgraceful!!! When I tried to suggest adjusting the (clearly way to coarse) grind, the boss patted me on the shoulder and told me the grind was perfect. "If the grind is finer the coffee will go through the filter basket"?!?!?! He had had 22 years experience. BANANASTICKS! Think he needs to get with the program.

Cappuccinos are served with cinnamon instead of chocolate. Ok actually not a bad idea. But...A cappuccino costs at least 35kr about $7. Actually insane. How can they do that to peoples wallets!

The local coffee shop as in "shop that sells coffee beans" keeps all their beans in clear crates which are not air tight. The whole city must be drinking stale coffee.

Miss you long macchiato,
xxx Hannah

budding berries

If there is only one thing wrong with the climate in Perth, it is the inability to grow sweet, juicy berries. Here in Stavanger the berries are starting to bud, and I'm excited to watch them grow. The mild springs of Norway let berries grow slowly allowing maximum time for the sugars and juices to develop. I am sure going make the most of strawberries, raspberries, red currants, black currants, blueberries, cherries and any other berries I can get my hands on when they make their grand entrance in the summer.

Here are the sour cherries, red currants and blueberry budding in my aunts garden.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kransekake: Norwegian wreath cake

My dear mother often makes this cake for special occasions such as Christmas, Norwegian national day and birthdays. I love it for three reasons. Firstly it looks spectacular, secondly is very typically Norwegian and unique and thirdly it tastes superb!

So this Norwegian national day my aunt Åse and I made one. It was heaps fun. Here is the recipe:

500g almonds
500g icing sugar plus extra for decorating
4 egg whites

1) First blanch half of the almonds (250g). It only takes a minute or so in boiling water for the skin to come loose. Then dry the blanched almonds in a warm spot over night or for up to a week.
2) Then grind all the almonds, preferably using a hand grinder to get an uneven result. Otherwise use an electric mixer, an aim for a meal which is a little courser than sand.
When the almonds are ground, fill the sink with water and add a pot to the water bath.
3) Put the almond meal in the pot and add the icing sugar then the egg whites one by one.
4) Knead the dough in the pot, making sure not to splash in any water from the water bath. The heat from the warm water is supposed to do something magic to the dough, not really sure what. But it works!
5) Leave the dough to rest in room temperature over night.
6) The next day cut the dough into chunks and roll it out into thin sausages.
7) Fill up the kransekake cake forms (this recipe makes enough for 18 rings) or cut the sausages into fingers. Make sure the sausages are not to thick as they will swell while cooking.
8) Bake for 15 minutes at 150 degrees.
9) Cool the kransekake, then place them in tins overnight with some pieces of bread. The kransekake will soak up moisture from the bread making them nice a chewy.
10) Mix icing sugar with water to make a thick paste. Put the paste into a piping bag and use it to glue the rings together. A wavy pattern is always appealing to the eye.
11) Decorate the cake with small chocolates, flags or ribbons.
12) Enjoy and impress your friends!

If your making kransekake fingers, you can dip them in melted chocolate. Add a little chilli powder to the chocolate for extra punch. It's delicious!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Norwegian Constitution Day

Yesterday was 17. Mai,  the Norwegian national day, and that means PARTY TIME. 

After icing the cake and putting on our finest clothes we began the day family brunch. Lots of amazing food was in store; scrambled egg, smoked salmon, cheeses, prosciutto and even beer before midday. This was followed by three different cakes; enough to feed us for at least a week, keeping in mind that we were only 6 people. Then we headed into the Stavanger city centre where we saw the graduating class of 2011 (known as Russ) parade through the streets acting stupidly as is expected of them. The city was packed with people dressed in national costumes, eating ice cream and hot dogs, waving flags and celebrating jollily. Then family went for a midday coffee before finding a place on footpath to watch the "peoples' parade". In the peoples' parade there were over 100 different organisations from all over Stavanger who waved, marched, played instruments and danced. Among them we saw the shooting club, diving club, firemen, scouts, dancers, tennis players, karate, marines; pretty much every organisation possible! To finish off we had dinner with friends, and continued the celebrations. It was a fantastic day, but very tiring. Congratulations Norway!

En SUPER påske med Dr Vurn

This easter I was lucky enough to travel the west coast of Norway (the best part) and stay with my best friends from folkehøgskole. It was very chill. We slept to midday most days, ate pancakes, drank beer, played tetris and went for walks.

First Sigrunn and I visited Ingrid in Sogndal.
Highlights include:
-Flying into Sogndal and being amazed by the snow capped mountains and the stunning fjord.
-The night we were a little bored and dragged out Ingrid's dress up clothes and played scrabble in them. But before we knew it had taken off and turned into an 80's dance party for three.
-When we hit the town and went to the local nightclub (keep in mind that Sogndal only has 9000 inhabitants) it was hilariously sleazy, and all Sigrunn and I could to was to mock it and start dancing as sleazily as we could. I had a blast playing air guitar and doing the chicken dance.
-Visiting the Lerum cordial and jam factories. At school we have a club known as saft kveld på dagen where we drink cordial, so it was cool to see where the best cordial is made.
-The carrot cake
-Going to a football match and singing along to all the chants with the locals

Then it was to Sigrunn's hometown, Ane also came along for the last weekend.
- Falling in love with the local salami
- Getting treated to amazing meals cooked by Sigrunn's dad everynight
- Watching the most riduclous reality tv programs
- The huge easter egg
- Meeting all of Sigrunn's friends that she has talked so much about, and have seen everyday hanging on her bedroom wall
- Being the only ones under forty at a 80's band reunion concert
- Dancing with Sigrunn's friend Tone who I had never met before but had been friends for months on facebook with. Tone is the BEST dancer!
- Being woken up the next morning by Tone and Andreas and being asked how I liked my eggs
-Driving on the right (wrong) side of the road in Hildur's awesome purple car.
- Making pizza from scratch 
- Climbing a mountain; especially the part on the way up Ane dropped her jackets in a river and the part on the way down when Sigrunn faceplanted in the snow