Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheese puffs and soup of Jerusalem artichoke

Here is a dinner I cooked the other night for someone who I felt deserved something good. Sometimes a set of events, or ingredients, accidentally converge into something extraordinary. Here it starts with Saturday shopping, accidentally stumbling over a box of nice looking Jerusalem artichokes. My grandmother always used to make artichoke soup, and the recipe below tries to be as faithful to her recipe as possible, straight from memory. Another coincidence was when I a few days later stumbled over a blog post about Pate a Choux, on Michael Ruhlmans blog. Long time no see, I thought, as the evenings menu was taking form. But the starter and dessert were still absent. I knew I had some celery that needed to be used pretty soon, and so did the cucumber. Add a Grammy Smith apple and some leftover aïoli, and the rest came pretty much by itself: The Incomplete Waldorf salad. When thinking of dessert, three ingredients accidentally converged; I had an opened box of mascarpone cheese, some eggs that wanted to be used and incidentally, a box of Lady's Fingers taking up cupboard space. Enter a bottle of Marsala wine, and the stage was set for Lorenza di Medici's heavenly tiramisu cake. I'll write about it in a later post, it's too elaborate for this already long post. Need I say it was a beautiful evening?

Chees puffs
2 dl wheat flour
2 dl water
100 g butter
2-3 eggs
1 block Chevré , rind removed
salt to season
Grated Parmesan cheese to top

This recipe is based on a normal Pate a Choux.
Put the butter in the water and bring to a boil. Add the cheese, cut into small pieces. Toss in all the wheat flour and mix like mad. Keep on low  heat for 5 min,  and dry the dough. Take of the heat and mix in the eggs one by one, until a suitably smooth thick batter has formed. Pipe small piles onto a baking sheet, top with the Parmesan chees. Bake initially at 200 C for 5 min, lower the temperature to 170 and bake until golden, approximately 20 min.

Soup of Jerusalem artichoke
500 g Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and cleaned
1 big yellow oninon
2-4 cloves of garlic
100 g butter
1 can white asparagus
2-3 dl milk
salt to season

Heat the butter in a casserole, add the chopped onion and saute until transparent. Add the cubed artichoke and the garlic, and saute for a little while. Pour in the liquid from the asparagus and top with water. Let the soup boil slowly under a lid for 15-20 min, until the artichoke is quite tender. Liquidize the soup and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Dilute the soup with milk until it has a nice, smooth consistency. Season with salt and bring back to a boil. Add the chopped asparagus, and serve.

Incomplete Waldorf
1 apple
2-3 sticks of celery
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
toasted pine kernels

2 -3 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsb Dijon mustard
black pepper

To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients well and adjust the ratios until it's good.
Cut the apple, the celery and the cucumber into roughly equal sized smallish cubes, and cover well with the sauce. Sprinkle with the pine kernels.



  1. I've just found your blog via a search for info on cooking whale meat. I'll be bookmarking this to spend more time reading it. Shared interests, foodwise. (Though do you have any tips on internal temps for whale? It seems to be a well-kept secret!)

  2. Hi Vandy! Nice that you found my blog :) I try to update it regularly, but I'm in a constant lack of time... Regarding whale; I really, really like fresh whale, but I'm not a great fan of the frozen stuff. Something dramatic happens to whale meat when it's frozen, and it becomes dry and tough compared to the very tender and juicy fresh meat. It's also important to select the right pieces of meat, but since the Norwegians don't pay much attention to this, it's hard for me to say which part of the whale is the best ;) I avoid the darkest and blackened meat and select pieces which are deep red and lighter in color, as they tend to be less gamy with less fat and connective tissue. This is also the kind of meat the Japanes use for sushi. Regarding cooking whale, I usually simply make stakes which I marinate with a bit of lemon, oil, garlic and possibly thyme or a bit of rosemary. I grill the stakes to maximum medium rare-, but personally I prefer whale rare but not blue. If cooking it in the oven I'd use low cooking temperature (max 100 C) and aim for a core temperature of 62 C. Hope this helps! Jonas.