December 30, 2005

Wild chicken and beetroot cake

I have folkdancing as one of my hobbies and yesterday we had our annual dinner with some dance friends. One of the friends live in the same building as me and A and she and I had a lovely time yesterday planning, shopping and cooking with the snowstorm howling outside. We chose a favourite - wild chicken casserole- as main course and for dessert we whipped up a new and exciting variety of the common carrot cake with cream cheese. The recipe is from a new cookbook, Två systrars söta (Two sister´s sweet), and the authors, Lisen and Monica Eisenman, are two American-Swedish sisters who run the Cookbook Café in Stockholm. This cake is heaven, and it is beatiful with the beetroots inside and the thick shiny glaze. Our guests really liked both the chicken and the cake, even the youngest (aged 2) cleaned her plate and asked for more! I can really recommend the chicken, it is very easy to pull together and the taste is great. The sauce gets a little runny though so you can thicken it if you want to.

Wild chicken
Serves 4
4 chicken breasts, skinless
100 ml concentrated blackcurrant syrup (saft)
200 ml chicken stock
200 ml creme fraiche (I use the light bot not the very light)
10 crushed dry juniper berries
2 tbsp chinese soy
a pinch of dried thyme

Cut the chicken in smaller pieces and fry them in as little oil as possible until they have a nice colour.
Mix syrup, chicken stock, creme fraiche, juniper, soy and thyme in a skillet. Bring to a boil.
Add the chicken and let simmer on low heat for about ten minutes on low heat, with a lid on.
Garnish with thyme and blackcurrants and serve with potatoes and steamed vegetables, for example carrots or cauliflower

Beetroot cake with saffron glaze
400 ml plain flour
350 ml caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
150 ml canola (raps) or sunflower oil
3 eggs
300 ml grated beetroots
300 ml roughly chopped walnuts

oil or butter and breadcrumbs for the baking form (use one with releasable sides)

1 gram of saffron, crushed in a mortlar with a little pinch of sugar
200 g cream cheese
200-300 ml powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Peel and grate 2-3 beetroots. Prepare the baking form. Mix the dry ingredients for the cake in a large bowl and stir in oil and eggs. Add the beetroots and walnuts. Pour it in the baking form and bake for 45 minutes in 175C/347F, it should be dry inside. Let it cool on a rack, covered with the form.

Mix the ingredients for the glaze, easiest with a handheld mixer. Spread it over the cake and serve. Next time I will try and garnish the cake with grated beetroot...

December 28, 2005

Leftovers and a food challenge

I just froze the last piece of my gravlax, and all the remaining meatballs, and the small sausages, and tonight I will also freeze the remaining ham. Christmas food is great, but there´s definitely a limit to how much of it you can eat whithin a single week. This way we can enjoy it all January - also the month when most people, including us, maybe doesn´t exactly own heaps of money after all Christmas shopping... Do you know, I think I will challenge myself. No food shopping in January - except milk, potatoes and fresh vegetables. No frozen things, no tins, no rice, no new exciting flours or sugars. And I will try not to buy any meat, fish or chicken either. Once a week, tops, and nothing before I have used the shrimps and pork and stuff from the freezer. One of my favourite non-food bloggers gave herself this challenge when they were moving abroad and I wanted to try too. Now the time has come! Let´s see how long I can manage without my beloved food shopping... Join me if you want to save money and do something about bulging cabinets and freezers!

I talked about gravlax before, this star, this crown of the Christmas buffet with its delicious creamy sauce. Here´s the recipe, suitable not only for Christmas and Easter...

Serves at least ten people on a buffet table.

1 kg salmon, preferrably the middle part. It is recommended in Sweden to freeze the fish for at least 48 hours to kill parasites
2-3 teaspoons of whole white pepper
4 tbsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
a large bunch of fresh dill, roughly chopped

Fillet the salmon and take away the bones. Leave the skin on. Crush the peppercorns and mix with sugar and salt. Rub the salmon with the mix, especially the meat sides. Put the fillets together with a lot of dill in between (meat sides together) so the thick part on one comes on the thin part of the other. Put everything in double plastic bags, seal well and put in the fridge for 48 hours. Turn the bag now and then so the juices spread evenly.
Take out the fillets and carefully scrape off the sugar/salt/dill mix. The salmon is now firm, shiny and all pink with a delicious taste! Serve in very thin slices with some mustard sauce, in flakes on egg halves, with shrimps or whatever you can think of. The salmon keeps for about a week in the fridge and often I simply fry the last part in thick slices and serve with potatoes. It is also delicious to grill this salmon! You can freeze gravlax for a couple of months too.

Swedish mustard sauce
2-3 tbsp sweet mustard
1-2 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp of white wine vinegar or similar. I always use apple cider vinegar
100 ml oil, rapeseed or sunflower or corn
2-3 tbsp finely chopped dill
salt and white pepper
Mix the mustard, sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Put the bowl on a damp dishcloth so it doesn´t jump around. Then add the oil carefully and stir, stir, stir! The mustard mix should absorbe the oil and become thick and creamy. Spice to taste with salt and white pepper and stir in the dill.

December 25, 2005

Lemon pickled herring

The thing I love most on the Christmas table is pickled herring, and the herring I love most of all herrings is this one, lemon pickled herring. The recipe comes from my grandmother and we have had it for Christmas and Easter for many years. I am not celebrating with my family this year and hence had to make my own - without lemon herring no Christmas. It turned out perfect - fragrant of lemon and dill and the moist herring is accompanied by crunchy veggies. For Easter it is perfect to serve with boiled eggs. Traditionally pickled herring is made with distilled vinegar, ättika, but in this recipe you use lemon juice. For those of you who can´t get hold of salted herring I guess you can substitute with ready pickled herring which you let sit in the veggie/lemon mix for 24 hours... Otherwise the herring should sit for 3 days before eating.

Lemon pickled herring
1 tin of salted herring or 200-250 grams of salted herring which you rinse in water and let soak over night.
Zest from half a lemon, the most beautiful way to do this is to use a potato peeler and then slice the peel thinly by hand. I used a lemon zester this year and the zest got so thin so you can´t see it which is part of the experience
Juice from three lemons
300 ml caster sugar
400 ml water
1 bag of herring spice or 8 crushed allspice corns, 4 crushed white pepper corns and 1 bay leaf
1small leek, thinly sliced
2 carrots, in toothpicks
1 red onion, very finely sliced
1 bunch of fresh or frozen dill, roughly chopped

Use a large bowl! Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice and add the spices. Add the water. Stir in all the vegetables and the herring cut in bite size pieces. Cover the bowl with plastic or tin foil and let sit in the fridge for three days. The herring keeps for three/four days but I bet you will eat it all up before that. And don´t forget to eat the veggies too, they are totally delicious. Enjoy!

December 23, 2005

Janssons frestelse

The day before the Day, at least for all of us who celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve... All food is done, almost all the presents are fixed and the Christmas tree is glowing in a corner of the living room. The Christmas tree on the photo is not mine, but my family´s a couple of years ago when it was really snowy where I come from in southern Sweden. I was out in the forest with my sister, brother and father and we found this fine tree, cut it down and brought it home standing upright (the tree, not us) in my sister´s open car boot - I will never forget how strange it looked. But my parent´s home is in the countryside and nobody saw us.

Today A made the last essential Christmas food, Janssons frestelse and risgrynsgröt, and now the fridge is full of goodies. I couldn´t stand Janssons when I was little, and really the taste and texture is a little original - something not all children will like. But now I love it!

All Swedish knows what Janssons is, but here´s the short version. Raw potatoes cut in toothpick shape, anchovies and cream baked in the oven and served with all the meatballs and ham on the buffet table. Not only for Christmas but also for Easter and other festive occasions. The risgrynsgröt is porridge made from round rice, served with cinnamon and sugar and milk and maybe a little butter.

Now I will return to my rhyming on the gift tags for my presents for tomorrow and leave you with this recipe for your own Janssons! Note the vegetarian version with cinnamon! I got the tip many years ago from a friend and even though it sounds crazy with cinnamon in this it really gives almost the same taste as anchovies!

Janssons frestelse
(serves 4)
8-10 potatoes
2 yellow onions
8-10 fillets of anchovies in brine (save the brine!!!)
about ¾ cup of milk or a mix of milk and a little cream
1 tbsp of fine breadcrumbs
1 tbsp of butter or margarine
Peel the potatoes and onion. Cut the potatoes in matchsticks and chop the onions very finely. Fryt it for some minutes if you want.
Layer the potatoes, onions and anchovy fillets in a buttered ovenproof dish. Start and finish with potato. Pour over half of the milk and some brine from the fillets. Put the butter on the potatoes in small dots and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake in oven in 425 F/225 C for 45 minutes. When it is nearly done add the rest of the milk around the edges.
Serve as it is with a salad or with meatballs or…
If you want it vegetarian replace the anchovies with ground cinnamon.

December 21, 2005


Freedom! I am finally off work and can do what I want all day, i.e. cooking, baking etc. These strange brownish-greyish things are my first home made knäckebröd ever, and I will present some of them as a Christmas gift for my in-laws. (And don´t ask how I am going to wrap them because I don´t know yet.) I got the beautiful wooden container this weekend as a Christmas gift from my grandfather who is a skilled craftsman and has this kind of containers as his specialty.
Ordinary knäckebröd (and those of you who doesn´t know knäckebröd: it is hard bread and comes in different sizes, shapes and flavours - a Swedish staple) is a bit boring I think, especially the rectangular ones they fed you with school lunch. At home we always had the big round cakes which you break a piece of yourself, but I am not very fond of that either. When I on occasion buy knäckebröd I go for the really old fashioned versions - VERY hard, uneven, rough cakes with a distinct rye taste. And these cakes of mine turned out just according to my taste, I am very pleased! A little fussy to make, but not worse than gingerbread and absolute bliss comparing to the truffles. I dont have the time right now to translate the recipe but I can tell my Swedish readers that I found it in the reliable Bonniers kokbok. It is rye, wheat, water, salt and fresh yeast. That´s it. And what a feeling to sit down, put some butter on the fresh knäckebröd and eat it while you stare into the oven on your next project for this day, the biscotti I found chez Oslo foodie yesterday. I followed the recipe exactly, only substituted the cocktail cherries with some dried cranberries I found at Hötorgshallen. You should all try it, they are fantastic (and also a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law who won´t get any chilli-chocolate truffles this year.)

And the gravlax (sugar-salted fresh salmon with loads of dill) is prepared now, and the lemon herring....

December 19, 2005

-11C/12F, lutfisk and knäck

When I woke up today we had -11 outside but no snow so far... Hope it will come soon! I have spent the weekend mostly dealing with food in different ways. Cooking (mustard, dinner, knäck), shopping (ham, salmon, stuff for the mustard, dill und so weiter) and planning (realizing that perhabs I can´t sleep in in the mornings during my three free days before Christmas). And having a fantastic lutfisk dinner at my aunt´s and uncle´s on Saturday! Lutfisk is something you either love or hate. The hardcore cooks make it from scratch, which is a dried piece of fish. You soak it in water for several weeks, then cook it. Anyway, you can buy it ready. Lutfisk is white and wobbly and has a very delicate taste. It is also extremely healthy. You enjoy it (if you are in the lutfisk fan club) with potatoes, white sauce, melted butter, green peas and ground allspice. Some people also like some bacon with their lutfisk, I have never tried it but am tempted because it sounds good (not healthy though).

Yesterday I made knäck, on my to do-list for Christmas one down, fifteenhundred to go... I used the recipe from Bonniers kokbok and happened to boil it a little too long so I got what I wanted, very hard candy! But it was a little tricky in the end to pour the toffee in the small paper cups...

makes about 60

200 ml cream
200 ml golden syrup
200 ml sugar
50 g peeled and chopped almonds

Combine in a thick-bottomed skillet (preferably non-stick) and let simmer until it reaches 122 degrees C or about 250 F, it takes 20-30 minutes. If you don´t have a thermometer pour some drops in cold water and try to roll it to a rather firm ball. If you succeed it is time to add the almonds and pour it into the small cups you beforehand has placed on a tray nearby... I use a small can or teaspoons.
If you like a quicker recipe I saw one at Anne´s...

December 17, 2005

Don´t try it at home...

I have had a real kitchen debâcle this week making these truffles. Truffles, apparantly, is nothing for me. The first round was fine. I dragged home immense quantities of chocolate and rummaged the cabinets for nuts, poppy seeds, lemons and pear brandy and whatnot. Then I whipped up three different truffles. White chocolate with lemon and poppyseeds, dark chocolate with blackcurrant and the big number: chocolate with pear purée (I bought baby food) and pear brandy. I found the recipes in my newest cookbook, Godis by Maria Öhrn, and on the picture they looked gorgeous. And as always I thought that mine would look exactly the same, and that I would present them as a special gift for a friend yesterday, in a nice box. And later I would make more truffles for my sister-in-law and my family. Well well.

To make a long story short. I left the truffles in the fridge until thursday when I was supposed to roll them and dip them and decorate them. After a rich Christmas dinner I started off, nine o´clock in the evening. At eleven o´clock I had reached the following result:
  • The white truffles was just fine and dipped, but they were not round but with a funny little skirt in the bottom
  • The blackcurrant truffle first refused to be rolled and then refused to be dipped in the chocolate with my new special fork. They wanted to slip off and bathe and melt in the chocolate. So I only made a few which looked like - well - blobs?
  • The pear truffle refused even to be cut in pieces and I just threw all the crumbles (very tasty by the way) in a plastic container in the fridge - I guess I could make a cake or something with it. Suggestions please!
  • Quite a few "student candy" was made from all the high quality melted chocolate (white and dark) which was left. I just poured the chocolate into little round islands and decorated with cashew, pistachio and walnuts, and green raisins. The white rounds I decorated with candied orange peel. A real life-saver for an unsuccesful truffle maker!

And I didn´t find any boxes and had to make do with plastic bags, but in the end they turned out rather nice I think. But I think I will stay away from truffles in the future - and certainly not try to dip them in anything. Humpf.

December 15, 2005

Doggy bag

I have folk dancing as one of my hobbies and tonight we in our folk dancing group had a little Christmas dinner for dance teachers and others. The Swedish smorgasbord is known here and there in the world, and the Christmas smorgasbord is the best! (Well, maybe second best after Easter smorgasbord - I love eggs so much - but that is another story.)

One of us runs a catering firm and she was in charge today for a slightly unusual Julbord. There was some classic things, like ham and red cabbage, but also a pie, a brie cheese, and some other goodies. Everything was so delicious and beautifully presented - I didn´t bring my camera though. We ate and ate but there was a truckload of food left anyway so we had the pleasure to take a doggybag home! This was my selection.

On top of the potatoes a lettuce leaf with a mix of gravlax (salmon "cooked" with a rubbing of salt and sugar), orange, avocado and some dressing. Mmmm, love it. Then two skewers with mince beef spiced up with cinnamon and cloves (instead of the classic meatballs). The dark thing beside the potaotes is red cabbage cooked with spices and raisins. The thing tipped on its side to the right is a slice of brie cheese. She had "shaved" off the top mould layer with a sharp knife and sprinkled the surface with dried apricots, plums, raisins and pine nuts. Beautiful and very very tasty, I will definitely steal that idea! And last of all on the bottom of the box a delicious pie with rocket salad and sundried tomatoes. Sorry about the poor picture!
The doggybag will come in very handy for A. tomorrow night when he is home alone - I am going to a nice little glögg party with a good friend. And then my friends I will spend my weekend in the kitchen - well, a lot of the weekend anyway.

December 12, 2005

Happy Lucia!

December 13th, Lucia, is an important day for me and many others - time for beautiful music and people roaming the streets in long white robes. (A tall teenage boy in a white dress and pointy white hat is really endearing!) At school it was even more important, at least for me who likes to sing and always has been in the school choirs. This is an old photo from playschool. I am six years old and has a four year old brother and a baby sister. Even at this young age, I was already an experienced Lucia celebrator and had played all the important roles; as maid of Lucia, Santa´s little helper and whatnot our teachers could come up with to suit every little boy´s and girl´s taste. In playschool everyone who wanted could be Lucia, then the number decreased slowly to three and then to one in high school and gymnasium. I guess this is the last time I was Lucia, then I was forever a maid because I didn´t have long blonde hair. *Dramatic sigh* Anyway, it was the singing I liked best!

And for those who still doesn´t know which of the girls is me, I´m the dark and curly one to the right with the crown on the loose. Rather sweet, I must say, with these three little Lucias. (We seem to have gobbled up our gingerbread and lussekatts already, or are we waiting for it? The napkins look pretty spotless.)

Have a nice Lucia!

December 10, 2005

Mission accomplished!

Our new family member The Dough is gone from the balcony and lies in different boxes instead. I spent some hours baking gingerbread today, the cookies aren´t beautiful at all but tasty. I made hearts, stars, men and women and goats or whatever they are called? More cookies to come next weekend, but gingerbred is the worst to make I think. Not my cup of tea to stand there for hours on end rolling and cutting and fiddling, but I like to eat them.

I can also report from a successful shopping tour to a middle-east grocery store, we have a large assyrian/syrian population in my home town so I knew where to go in quest for my much desired unsalted pistachios... What a foodie place! The place was full of different kinds of nuts, wine leaves for stuffing, exotic sweets, oils, spices and cheese. I returned home not only with 200 grams of fine pistachios but also with a tin of wine dolmadas (my favourite), green raisins, cashew nuts and some more things. Oooh, they also had pomegranates the size of footballs (almost) and I bought the smallest one and had it today with our festive hot shrimps to celebrate the Nobel Prize. I got the recipe once from a friend´s mother.

Elisabeth´s hot shrimps
(I don´t have the exact quantities)
500 g shrimps
peppers in different colours or other veggies
1 chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic (but I don´t use garlic when A is supposed to eat it)
1 tub of creme fraiche, about 1 cup
Tomato paste
Curry powder
cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons of concentrated orange juice

Fry the onion until shiny and a little soft. Add the other veggies. Powder over curry and fry some more, then add in the creme fraiche and spice to taste with cayenne and orange juice. Let simmer for a few minutes, add the shrimps and heat it up bot don´t boil. Serve with rice.

December 09, 2005

What´s cooking?

A. just came home and said happily "Oh, it smells like Christmas ham". But it is not ham, it is another part of the pig - the leg. The delicious leg, which is simmering with white pepper, allspice and bay leaves since 1.5 hours. The delicious leg, which is to be served with swede and potato mash and some mustard tomorrow. (Although it is Nobel Prize festivities tomorrow and on such a night maybe I should present something more fancy for dinner.) The delicious leg, which I will spare you the sight of...

What´s cooking?

A. just came home and said happily "Oh, it smells like Christmas ham". But it is not ham, it is another part of the pig - the leg. The delicious leg, which is simmering with white pepper, allspice and bay leaves since 1.5 hours. The delicious leg, which is to be served with swede and potato mash and some mustard tomorrow. (Although it is Nobel Prize festivities tomorrow and on such a night maybe I should present something more fancy for dinner.) The delicious leg, which I will spare you the sight of...

December 06, 2005

The Dough

We have a new family member. It is brown and lives on the balcony and we simply call it The Dough. Oh, and I see on the picture that it looks rather unappetizing. Wasn´t there some food blog contest somewhere about the worst picture? Maybe I should participate...

Anyhoo, this is much more tasty than it looks. I know, because I just tasted a lump of it. And then some more. And just a little bit more. Gingerbread dough is really really good! This one is firm and creamy, with lots of taste from cloves and cinnamon. This weekend we will transform it to stars, hearts, gingerbread men and maybe grissini, like Anne has done. And then we will have pepparkakor all year! Nice.

You know you are in possession of a good man when you on a lazy monday evening says: "shouldn´t you make gingerbread dough, so we can make cookies on saturday?" And he says: "Good point!" and rise from the comfy couch and goes to the kitchen for half an hour blending, mesauring, melting and pestle-ing (we didn´t have ground cloves at home so he had to use the mortlar), and bellowing for that matter "where´s the cloves? where´s the baking soda? do we have orange peel? we don´t have any flour! (in the cabinet, in the cabinet, no, oh yes we do behind the old bag")

So I have nothing to do with the making of this dough, but sure will help in the weekend!

December 03, 2005

Good-for-you pie

After a crazy week I have finally had the time to do something about the flat. We had dirty laundry everywhere, old newspapers lying around, dust crawling on the floor and nothing nothing nothing done on the Christmas front. Now we have a glowing, neat and lovely home again. Complete with a star in the bedroom window and the electric candleholder in the kitchen!

I also had time to cook, which was very nice. Nothing´s like a clean kitchen with lots of groceries in the cabinets and fridge. Aaah! For dinner we had this very tasty pie, made with some brussels sprouts I had on hand, carrots and bacon and some more things. For a savoury pie I prefer a crust with less fat and more taste.

Clivia´s good-for-you pie
Serves 4-6

2/3 cup or 1.5 dl all-purpose flour
2/3 cups wholemeal wheat flour (grahamsmjöl)
75 grams butter
a little less than 1/3 cups or 3/4 dl cottage or curd cheese (kesella)

Chop this toghether to a dough, by hand or in food processor. Put in a pie form (you don´t have to grease it) and put in the fridge for 10 minutes. Then bake it in the oven for 10 minutes in 200C/400F.

Then take what root vegetables you have on hand and chop and slice them in bitesize pieces. I used 15-20 brussels sprouts, two small carrots and half a leek. I didn´t boil the brussels which I should have because they came out a bit too chewy... I also fried some bacon, that is of course optional but hey, it is saturday! Put everything in the crust, mix it around, salt and pepper... Then grate some cheese and sprinkle over.

Whip up 3 eggs and 1 cup (2 dl) milk, I had a large pie form so I doubled the batch today. Pour over the veggies and bacon and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. It should have a nice colour and not be runny in the middle. Serve with Estonian beer (optional) and a salad.

A hidden treasure

On one of my lunch walks several months ago I discovered a nice-looking tea house, Chaikhana, behind German church in Old town. Yesterday I finally made it and went for tea with my friends S&A. After a crazy week it was so nice just to sit down and enjoy afternoon tea and start off the weekend! You could choose french or english afternoon tea and if you wanted much or a little less. We went for the big english! First we got three delicious small sandwiches; salmon, cucumber and indian cress and ham and cheddar cheese. After that we got two scones each with two kinds of marmalade and whipped cream (you can´t get clotted here). Then we could choose what we wanted from the dessert trolley. S chose a glögg (mulled wine) cheesecake which she liked very much and I chose a mousse tart of which I have been thinking now for almost 24 hours. Mango mousse (with little fruit pieces in it) enclosed in another mousse of tea (!) and a little chocolate. I am not exaggerating when I say that was the best dessert I ever had. I have good table manners, which stopped me from licking the plate but otherwise I would have done it. With all this we drank tea of course. I had some black tea I don´t remember the name of and S had a green jasmine tea which she claimed tasted and smelled like wild strawberries. All this cost 140 SEK which is not cheap but definitely not overprized for this wonderful afternoon treat. Above all the tearooms was wonderful: peaceful and beautifully set. They also have a little tea shop.

Now I have two questions: when can I go back and how on earth do you make that mousse tart?

If you are in Stockholm, go find it! It is hidden behind German Church, just 5 minutes walk from Stortorget.

Chaikhana, Svartmangatan 23

December 01, 2005

Overheard on the subway

The winter has come and the snow is falling. I am on my way to work and get off the subway in Old Town. I walk behind a little boy, maybe 3 years old, who is dressed in a thick overall, boots and mittens and the whole lot. He holds on tight to his father´s hand and talks talks talks...

Boy: Daddy, it is snowing and the snow comes down the chimney
Father (looking like he has not had coffee): Uhuh
B: What if you are cooking and the snow comes down the chimney, then the snow will come into the food
F: Mmmhhmmm
B: But what to do if the snow comes down the chimney and you are cooking
F (looks desperate, thinking hard on what solution to present to this snow-in-the-food problem): Ahem???
B: Snow in the fooooood. What to do? What to do? When it comes down the chimney.

An so on.