May 30, 2007

Another Swedish cheesecake

Today´s Swedish word: ost. Means cheese.

I have written before about Swedish cheesecake, different types and recipes. When we were up north last weekend we passed the absolutely stunningly beautiful landscape Hälsingland and layed our greedy hands on a large piece of cheesecake the Hälsingland way. Here it is, slightly warmed and served with a nice spoonful of cloudberry jam. We bought it at a regular food store in Järvsö, 30 kilometres north of the place where my mother grew up.

I won´t give you the recipe at the moment, I have never made it myself and those who knows things say that making Hälsingeostkaka is much harder than Smålandsostkaka. But since A is really pissed off that I just stole the last piece like this I guess I will have to start experimenting in the kitchen...
This cheesecake is more smooth than the Småland cheesecake, and a little bit chewy - like halloumi but not salty at all and not that solid. I guess (but have never tried) that you could try and slice it and fry in butter, cinnamon and sugar! Mmmmm.
Next time we´ll have Hälsingeostkaka is at my cousin´s wedding in July, and next time we´ll have Smålandsostkaka is at my sister´s wedding in just over two weeks!

May 24, 2007


Today´s Swedish word: trevlig. Means nice.
If you have plans on vacation in Stockholm I know a place where you can eat. Well, I know a lot of places but until now it has been quite hard to find something decent in the very heart of our beautiful capital. There are good places in the south, north, east and west - and Gamla Stan - but if you are hungry around Sergels torg there are mostly fast food restaurants and boring cafés.
Go to Café Bolero at Klarabergsgatan, right across the street from the large department store Åhléns. I was on my way to Burger King some Fridays ago with a severe dip of blood sugar after a shopping round (dress for my sister´s wedding) when I suddenly recalled the
Swedish food blogger Alice Brax writing about some place in the city and turned on the heel to go there instead and wait for my equally low-blood-sweet boyfriend.
After a fantastic salad with beef, lettuce, olives and parmesan cheese for me and a grilled chicken sandwich for him we were both nice and sweet again, our wallets only slightly lighter (i.e. reasonable prices) and our bodies very relaxed after sitting on a soft couch listening to nice latino music.
Go there!

May 16, 2007

A thousand shades of green

Today´s Swedish word: grön. Means green.

One of the reasons I love the month May is that the trees are so beautiful when the leaves starts to come. For a couple of weeks the forest you see from the train, the road or from our windows come in thousands of different green colours, from the lightest green birches to deep green pine and spruce. Here and there you also see clouds of flowering blackthorn towards the green. It is so beautiful, you cannot stop looking at it. During the summer all the trees are the same green, but then in September-October you get lots of different colours again.

I think of the trees when I look at my newest sewing project, the effect on this quilt reminds me of what I see outside the window right now.

A dear friend of mine got a baby boy in February, and since I liked sewing the quilt for little G I decided to make another one for this little L. This time I went for all fabrics green and nature-related since his father is an biologist and his mother works with environmental issues and I must say I am very pleased with the way it came out. The photo is terrible, we really have to get more pixels soon, so you may not be able to see all the frogs, grass, leaves, forests, farms and dragonflies....

I am looking forward to 4 days off now, due to Ascension day. This afternoon we will probably (if A gets a good deal at the hotel) set off for Sundsvall, a very beutiful town up north where we have a good friend to visit. This trip comes on rather short notice but while we still don´t have kids or any pets we can be spontaneous!
Have a good weekend, you too!

May 10, 2007

Free gourmet food

Today´s Swedish word: gratis. Means free.

Farmers must be careful with money and every saved krona can be put somewhere else where it is more needed. A classic saying from my father is "Un-bought, that is the best thing there is!" When he finds something for free, or when he can fix something that is broken not having to replace it he smiles pleasantly and says it, with a certain glow to him.

As I am very much my father´s daughter, last weekend these little stingy darlings made me glow. Nettles, true gourmet food. Tasty, very good for you and best of all: they are free. Well, apart from a few drops of fuel for the car that is. We decided to go and pick a good bunch of them while they are still fresh and delicate, for freezing and using later on. The only downside is the stingy part of the business, even if I wear thick gloves I always seem to get burned somewhere, picking or preparing.

We used some of the nettles for soup and some for a frittata, and froze the rest in small bags for soups and pies later. Pick as many small, delicate, fresh nettles as you want and put them in a large bowl or the wash basin in the kitchen, with lots of cold water. Stir and work with your hands (they don´t burn in water if you are careful) very carefully so the sand sinks to the bottom. Pick out grass, leaves, bugs and woody stalks and scoop up the nettles into a large pan. Bring to the boil with water and let simmer for abot 15 minutes. Strain the nettles (save the stock for soup!) and pack into plastic bags or chop them and use for example in a...

Nettle frittata
Serves 4

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
olive oil for frying
about 100 grams parboiled nettles
150 ml grated cheese, I used some "ordinary" cheese and some parmesan
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
4 eggs

Put the oven on 200C. Fry the onion in the oil until soft and shiny. Add the chopped nettles and stir in. Whisk the eggs and add the onions and nettles, stir in the cheese and spice to taste with salt and pepper.
Grease a small ovenproof dish or line it with greaseproof paper. Pour in the egg batter and bake until settled, about 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, tepid or cold with for example smoked salmon.

Recipe from Swedish TV chef Maud Onnermark, originally with green kale but I have used both spinach and now nettles.

May 08, 2007

DBP: potato gratin with olives

Today´s Swedish word: ugn. Means oven.

A. called this Saturday from work (Ericsson is busy these days, keep their employees busy all week round!) to tell me he was really really up for a potato gratin of some kind and I took out my mandoline for slicing the potatoes. (You really have to try and make the best of these last days of winter potatoes, don´t you? Soon you will find nothing but new potatoes in the shops here, and that is the way it should be, by the way.)
Anyway. Before I had the mandoline I was afraid of the knife for my food processor. Then I was afraid of the mandoline, but when I discovered how practical it is and that I really can use it without slicing myself open somewhere (knock on wood) I started to really loving it and now I am afraid of my new Tupperware onion chopper instead. It is this little round container with a rotating lid and a blade inside, so sharp that my hair just stands up when I see it. Ouch.

As I stood there slicing potatoes and carrots with my mandoline and contemplating different flavourings for the gratin I came to think of half a jar lemon-filled green olives in the fridge and said onion chopper. Hmm, I could finish those olives and practise on the chopper!

This gratin came out really, really tasty! I haven´t got a recipe but simply slice some winter potatoes and a carrot, and a small fresh yellow onion. Layer them in a greased dish with chopped green olives, salt and pepper. Pour over fluids of some kind to almost cover, I used milk and creme fraiche whipped together because that was what I had on hand - and bake on medium heat (175-200 C) until the potatoes and carrots are soft and with a nice colour. You can add some grated cheese on the top towards the end if you like to.
We had the gratin with seared fillet of beef, top Swedish well-hung quality, and a salad, on the balcony. Life is sweet sometimes if you try and embrace your very sharp kitchen tools. Now, I could imagine having one of those microplane graters to be afraid of next...

May 05, 2007

First salad dinner of 2007...

Today´s Swedish word: kyckling. Means chicken.
I made this salad a couple of weeks ago when we had some friends over from the dancing group. It was one of the first really spring-like days and I felt like cooking something light, but still a little warming and filling.

The starter was served on the balcony: Anne´s very very tasty pitta chips with hoummos and feta cheese dip. I cheated and grated the cheese into a tub of ready hoummos, and mixed with some finely chopped red onion. I cannot recommend those chips enough! Very easy to make and super tasty. I spiced mine half with ancho chili powder and half with an Indian spice mix called Panch Phoran which I got from a friend and haven´t figured out how to use. For this it was perfect!

The recipe for the salad is from my trusted cooking guru Anna Bergenström and her book (written together with her daughter Fanny) Kärlek, oliver och timjan.

Bulgur salad with chicken and pine nuts
Serves 6-8

300 grams bulgur wheat
700 ml water + 1 tbsp olive oil
1 cube chicken stock
salt and pepper
4-5 tomatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
1 finely chopped red onion
1 large bunch rocket salad
1 small cucumber, diced
mint or basil (I used basil)
toasted pine nuts
Chicken: about three fried chicken fillets, 1-2 ready grilled. I used a bag of chicken legs which I simply cooked in the oven and cut in pieces.

zest + juice from 1.5 lemon
4-5 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring the water and olive oil to the boil and dissolve the chicken stock in it. Stir in the bulgur wheat, lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Stir a couple of times. Put aside with a lid on and let it sit on a wooden board for 10 minutes. Stir it up, mix the dressing and stir in. Let it cool.
Prepare the chicken as you like it, you can shred the meat or just leave the pieces whole.
Mix the bulgur wheat with veg and shredded meat, or put the meat on top. Arrange on a platter and put pine nuts over it.

I served a dressing on the side, from the same book. Very very tasty as well!

Yoghurt dressing
300 ml plain yoghurt
pinch of coarse salt, I use Maldon
black or shite pepper
1 tbsp vinegar, I used apple cider
1/2 tbsp runny honey
small pinch of herb salt
dried thyme or tarragon
1/2 pressed garlic clove
Finally, for dessert my trusted vanilla yoghurt panna cotta with blackberries. We finished the dinner in a very good mood, trying out Latvian and Estonian liqueurs and singing nasty Swedish folk songs. A nice start on the spring!