Tag Archives: Johan Kohnke

Sofi’s Caramelized Rhubarb Jam

Currently I’m in Sweden taking care of an old house in the countryside. It’s as beautiful and lovely as its sounds. In the garden there is rhubarb, stinging nettles and leeks. The strawberries are flowering which shows that there will be delicious and fresh treats to pick in a couple of weeks . The deep red poppies are surrounded by bumblebees and the fish are jumping in the pond.

This weekend I had some dear friends over for dinner. I had successfully baked sourdough bread which we enjoyed with dried sausage, aged goat cheese and olives while my friend Johan Kohnke prepared the rooks that was one of the sensations of the evening. The rooks are a delicacy similar to quail. In this part of Sweden there is an old tradition for farmers to hunt them as the birds often collect the seeds from the new seeded fields. Instead of just feeding them to the pigs, my friends and I had the pleasure to enjoy them with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce spiced with plenty of wine and herbs from the garden.

For dessert my Sofi Meijling made a Cardamom Panna Cotta with a jam she cooked with freshly picked rhubarbs from my vegetable plot. The panna cotta was made with both heavy cream and Greek yogurt (about 50/50) which gave the pannacotta a slight sour flavor (see example of other panna cotta recipes below). Sofi used about one teaspoon crushed cardamom to flavor this evening’s final dish.

This rhubarb jam was such a great reminder of how much I love having a vegetable garden. You don’t really need mush to make something so simply delicious.

Sofi’s Caramelized Rhubarb Jam
(for about 4 people as topping to pannacotta or ice cream)

About 6 rhubarb stalks
2 tablespoons regular sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (Sofi used Swedish farin which is a similar sugar type)
1/3 cup water

Melt the sugar in a pan together with the water and let it cook for awhile. Keep an eye on the sugar so it doesn’t burn and stir a little now and again. You may need to lower the heat to medium. Clean the rhubarb and cut them into one inch long pieces. When the sugar is thick and sticky add the rhubarb and let them simmer until soft but not totally mushy. Set aside to cool before serving.

If you think this jam is too simple you can spice it up with either ginger, cardamon or licorice root.

The jam is also great together with aged cheese on bread but then I recommend you make a larger batch (just add more of everything).

Here are some Pannacotta recipes:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes Yoghurt and Vanilla Panna Cotta

Jules Clancy makes Panna Cotta with Mascarpone and serves it with pot roasted pears.

Ilva Beretta spices her Panna Cotta with lavender.

This article was originally published at EcoSalon on 16 June 2012.

Vanilla Ice Cream (guest post)

This summer a friend asked me what was the maximum temperature that egg yolks should reach while making ice cream. He was a little upset as many ice cream recipes aren’t clear about that. He’d just experienced what happens when you heat up the eggs too high! It separates! As it was a shamelessly long time ago that I made my own ice cream I couldn’t answer him. A few days later when I was reading Johan Kohnke’s Vanilla Ice Cream recipe (below) I was happy to see that he very carefully described every step.
With this guest post I think its time for me to start making ice cream again. I especially love vanilla ice cream, but this recipe can be a fantastic base to add other flavors to. I will definitely make my other favorites: fig, pistachio or salt-licorice. Thanks Johan!

(damn good) Vanilla Ice Cream
by Johan Kohnke

100 years ago,  ice cream (and chocolate) became more common in Sweden.  Ever since then, the Industry has made efforts to cultivate the taste of ice cream and make it more economically. Still, there are few things in life that beats ice cream made at home. Home-made vanilla ice cream contains cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla bean.
At Savoy Hotel, Malmö (Sweden) they always have a bucket of their own vanilla ice cream. It’s served in simple silver bowls. To sneak a scoop from the cold-buffet manageress was the absolute prime joy of the day. You can play with flavors endlessly but I stick to just plain vanilla ice cream. If there are no fresh or frozen berries to serve warm with the ice cream, then a simple chocolate sauce is super. It’s the simplest thing in the world: Mix together one dl sugar, one dl cacao, one dl water. Bring to a boil and let cook to a just thick enough consistency. You can make the sauce any time but the ice cream needs at least two days to be really good.

Vanilla Ice Cream
(about half a liter)

5 dl half & half (or 50 milk and 50 heavy cream)
115 gram egg yolk (grrr so complicated: use about 5-6 egg yolks if you don’t have a scale)
125 gram sugar, (1.75 dl)
17.5 gram honey, (one large table spoon)
one half or a whole vanilla pod (depending on the size and the taste)

Whip sugar and egg yolks until the sugar has dissolved and the batter feels airy.
Scrape out the beans from the vanilla pod and place pod and beans together with the half & half in a saucepan. Heat the cream mixture to just about 100ºC. The liquid should just simmer and not boil. Add the honey.
I have a digital thermometer to specifically control the next step. Pour in the sugar and egg yolk batter. Whip like crazy and let the temperature just reach 82ºC. (Any higher temperature and the ice cream mixture will be wasted!!!) Cool the whole thing immediately in a water bath in your kitchen sink. The temperature should reach 8ºC before placing in the fridge for 8 hours. Its no good skipping this part, I have tried! If you do, you just better buy ice cream instead! The fat in egg yolk needs time to swell, end of story!
Before you run the batter in an ice cream maker, fish out the vanilla pod. Store in the freezer and you have simple vanilla ice cream at hand for your special treats.
The recipe is adapted from the Swedish confectioner Mikael Palm’s ”gräddglass” recipe.

See other posts by Johan Kohnke here on Kokblog.


The Count and the Vegetable Garden (guest post)

My first male guest here on kokblog is Johan Kohnke. Johan is a trained cook and worked for Restaurant Savoy in Malmö for some time. Today Johan has left professional cooking behind him and works with refugees. As Johan still likes to cook he often involves cooking in his job as a way for people from all over the world to get to know each other. Johan and I met years ago through my brother but never really got to know each other until Johan got me some rooks* this summer. The summer had just begun when he showed me his impressive summer project; a 225 square meter vegetable lot.

The Count and the Vegetable Garden
by Johan Kohnke

Divorced, rebooted in life, everything was piss! Desperate! But I found a home through blocket.se (like a Swedish Craigslist), a laborer’s cottage attached to a manor house, a place with history, people and lots of farming. The requirement to move in was that you had to be interested in gardening.

–  ”I’m more than interested, my thought was to grow vegetables in the park”.
–  ”No, dammit”, my new landlord, the count answered.
The lawn is treated meticulously by the count himself. He cuts the grass several times a week using three different grass-cutters.
– “Come here I’ll show you!”
The count thought it was more appropriate – a 100 meter patch behind the pigsty.
– ”Am I in heaven?”
Against the stable wall hung wires that used to hold up blackberries, pears, peaches, that previously were growing along the entire wall. The former gardener used to grow artichokes and had vegetable beds for melons.

I went there with my shovel intending to hand-dig the assigned plot!
– “Come with me, there is a plough in the barn! “
In the barn stood a Massey Ferguson 135 with a plough attached.
– “But I can’t drive!”
Okay, then I got a short lesson that was faster than you can read this sentence. The soil had been neglected for years, but probably because it was fun to drive a tractor, it took two hours to work the soil!
– “Would you like manure?” asked the count.
– “Well, damn yes!”
Old pig manure that had been left in the stable and newly “burnt” pig manure was driven out to the plot. Up in the tractor again and now it took just an hour for me to plough down the whole thing. The count looked damn pleased with the earth, when he squeezed a handful of soil in his hand.
-“This smells really good, it will be great, here it will grow”.
And it has been growing! Before my vacation I almost lost control over the plot, but I didn’t. The reward for all the hard work are my own potatoes, carrots, corn, radishes, dill, onions, spinach, beans and beets in decent quantities. Next year I will double the plot. Then there will be more of everything.

Baked Vegetables
Potatoes are served best cut into quarters, rinsed in a bowl with plenty of water, let it run or change the water a few times so the starch will drain away. Then place the potatoes in a colander to dry. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Peeled carrots and parsnips can be baked in the oven for 20 minutes. Split in half and place on a baking sheet. Dab with olive oil and rosemary before baking.
Splitting a whole garlic in half, brushed with olive oil, is a luxurious treat. Make sure that everyone gets at least half a garlic head each. Beets takes the longest time. According to the rulebook, they should be baked on a bed of salt for almost an hour. It’s tasty!

You can also bake all the vegetables in one go. Trying to cut all the vegetables to the correct size so that they are ready at the same time is almost impossible. But worth a try.
Cut the potatoes into small wedges, slice peeled beets into pennies and halve the parsnips and carrots. Get all the root vegetables mixed together with plenty of olive oil, thyme and rosemary. Bake at 225ºC (440ºF) until the vegetables are baked through and have a great golden brown color (about 30-45 minutes). Fresh summer produce need much less time in the oven than vegetables you buy in the winter. Instead of burnt BBQ-ed meat, when the baking sheet is out of the oven it will be the centerpiece of the table!
Serve with a simple tsatsiki or a ”lazy” mixture of creme fraiche, freshly pressed garlic and salt. Or a piece of plain butter that will melt nicely with the cooked vegetables on the plate.


* The bird rook is an almost forgotten culinary specialty of South Sweden! If cooked together with shallots, celery and wine – it becomes an unforgettable treat.