Sunday, 20 January 2019

Breakfast pancakes with berries

Breakfast pancakes with berries · Lisa Hjalt

Although I created this recipe nine years ago in Denmark, and have since made some changes, it will probably always remind me of a Sunday morning in Bremen. Shortly after we moved here, when we were still drowning in cardboard boxes, I felt we needed to start the day with a family gathering at the table. I had raspberries in the freezer and decided to make breakfast pancakes, which we call American pancakes in Iceland (the ones in the photo have blueberries, hence the spots on the top one). In my memory this is the first cosy weekend breakfast in our new home. Usually the batter yields 10 pancakes, which I serve with pure maple syrup. The cardamom is a matter of taste and a pinch of it only adds a hint of flavour.
(Measurements: 1 cup = 250 ml, 1 tablespoon/tbsp = 15 ml.)


260 g white spelt flour or plain flour, organic (2 cups)
2½ teaspoons baking powder, gluten-free
½ teaspoon fine sea/Himalayan salt
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar, organic
a pinch of ground cardamom
2 eggs, free-range
280 ml milk (1 cup and 2 tbsp)
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
optional: frozen blueberries or raspberries

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites up with a pinch of salt until fluffy (not too stiff). Add the yolks, milk and oil to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Add the whipped egg whites and whisk gently. Keep the berries in a separate bowl.

Heat a pan over a medium heat after wiping it with oil. Ladle batter into the pan and use the ladle to spread it. Add some berries on top. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom, before flipping it with a spatula to cook the other side.

(The heat probably depends on your pan. Many start with a high heat and then lower it, but I cannot do it with my pan: if it gets too hot I cannot control it. When cooking on gas one can easily adjust the heat but now I have an electric hob and find it best to lift the pan off the heat when ladling the batter. In between I brush it with oil.)

Serve the pancakes with pure maple syrup or butter. If not made with frozen berries it's ideal to enjoy them with fresh berries.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

№ 18 reading list: Japanese literature II

№ 18 reading list: Japanese literature II · Lisa Hjalt

New Year, new Japanese reading list, finally. Some of you have been waiting for this one. I had nailed down the list but had to make a couple of adjustments, as two English translations of books I wanted to read now were unavailable at the library; they will be on the third one. The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon is, like The Tale of Genji which was on the first, a classic by a Japanese lady of the court, written around the year 1000, during the Heian period in Japanese history. I know of an English translation by Ivan Morris, published in 1967, but I'm reading a newer one by Meredith McKinney, published by Penguin Classics.

№ 18 reading list:
· The Pillow Book  by Sei Shonagon
· No Longer Human  by Osamu Dazai
· Scandal  by Shusaku Endo
· The Old Capital  by Yasunari Kawabata
· Quicksand  by Junichiro Tanizaki
· Death in Midsummer and Other Stories  by Yukio Mishima
· Lost Japan  by Alex Kerr

Translated by, in this order: 1) Meredith McKinney 2) Donald Keene 3) Van C. Gessel 4) J. Martin Holman 5) Howard Hibbett 6) Edward G. Seidensticker, Ivan Morris et al. 7) Alex Kerr and Bodhi Fishman (non-fiction)

The blog post title says Japanese literature but this time I had to add one non-fiction to the list, Lost Japan by Alex Kerr, originally written in Japanese. You may have seen it already on my Instagram. It was a Christmas present from my oldest, who also gave me Edward W. Said's Orientalism. She chose well, right? Most of the books on the list are relatively short - I have almost finished three - so you can expect me sharing another reading list in the beginning of February. Happy New Year!

This blog post contains affiliate links: The blog receives a small percentage if a reader's click-through results in a book purchase. The amount is used to buy books - thanks for your support.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Zanzibar-inspired Carrot and Coconut Soup

Recipe: Zanzibar-inspired Carrot and Coconut Soup · Lisa Hjalt

This Zanzibar-inspired carrot and coconut soup is delicious, creamy and tasty. My body literally screams for it in autumn when the new crop of carrots appears in supermarkets. The recipe is from a friend's cookbook, Sigrun of CafeSigrun (remember the fun I had when helping her with the manuscript?). Sigrun has travelled frequently to East-Africa and this soup was inspired by days spent on the island of Zanzibar: She was sitting with a bowl of carrot soup admiring the view of the Indian Ocean, the air filled with the aroma from the Forodhani Food Market, in the historical city of Stone Town. The soup is vegan, easy to make (you need a hand-held blender or a food processor), and it will provide you with essential vitamins and dietary fibre.


2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
a small piece fresh ginger
300 g organic carrots (2 cups)
150 g sweet potatoes (¾ cup)
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 organic vegetable stock cubes
750 ml water (3 cups)
150 ml coconut milk (5 oz)
½-1 teaspoon sea/Himalayan salt
optional: pepper to taste
optional: 7-10 saffron strands

Rinse the carrots (brush if needed) and peel the other vegetables. Chop everything coarsely. (Peel or scrape the carrots if they are not organic.)

In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and fry until tender. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few more minutes before stirring in the curry powder (I prefer hot but mild is fine).

Stir in the carrots and sweet potatoes. Add the water and vegetable stock cubes, increase the heat and stir. Bring to the boil and stir in ½ teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the coconut milk and saffron strands. Use a hand-held blender to purée the soup until you have a smooth texture. Be careful, the soup is very hot: Hold the blender straight up and down and press the button when the bottom part of the blender is in the soup (if using a food processor/liquidizer, allow the soup to cool slightly before puréeing it in batches).

Finally, reheat gently to simmering point and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the soup with freshly baked bread or bread buns.

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