Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rye Bread – Swedish Limpa

Limpa is probably one of the most known Swedish Breads.  Growing up I remember limpa as every day bread.   I think today you can find all kinds of recipes for this bread, with anise, orange peel, syrup, molasses etc.  But I like it to have it as my regular bread and not sweet.  It is a really solid bread and very simple to make.  I don’t think you can mess this bread up.  But it is delicious, easy to freeze, and holds fresh for days if you keep it in foil or plastic.  This recipe makes 3 loafs, I usually freeze two of them.  Also I do not use a bread pan for this only a cookie sheet.

For the picture above I only used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, but the original recipe calls for whole wheat and rye flour mixture.  I have done it both ways and both ways are great.  It just usually depends what i have available.

Rye Bread “Swedish Limpa”

Yields: 3 loafs | Prep Time: 3 ½ hours | Bakes: 1 hour

4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp margarine
2 tsp grated orange rind
2 packages of quick dry yeast (4 tsp)
6 cups all purpose flour
4 cups whole wheat and rye flour mixture (60% whole wheat 40% rye flour)
2 tsp salt (to be added after 1st rising)

In a saucepan boil water, sugar, caraway, fennel, butter, orange rind for about 3 minutes.  Then let cool until lukewarm.  Once that is lukewarm add the yeast and stir thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix the all purpose flour and the whole wheat flour.  Using a mixer add 6 cups of the flour into the mixer and then pour in the yeast mixture.  It becomes a soft dough.  Once that mixture in well mixed place it in a buttered bowl and let it rise until double in size, about 1 ½ hours.

After it has doubled in size punch down on the dough and work in the rest of the flour and salt either using your hands or a stand mixer.

Once that is mixed in well enough put it back into a buttered bowl and let it rise again until it doubles in size.

After that on a powdered kitchen counter start kneading the dough until smooth, and form into 3 loaves that you can place on a cookie sheet with parchment/wax paper underneath.  It is fine if they are all next to each other.  These will not fit very well in a bread pan unless you make them into smaller sizes.

Let them rise again for about 30-45 minutes.  They will be touching each other at this point but that is ok.

Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour, you may have to cover them with foil for the last 15 min if they do get too dark.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best Recipes in 2010!

Favorites 2010

This is the first year of Delishhh and I have had a blast!  It has been so much fun writing and creating this blog and there is more to come.  But first thank you everyone for being very supportive and giving feedback and comments.  You guys make it fun!  Here is the “Year in Review” of recipes.

The first ten recipes are the recipes that received the most traffic with #1 being the winner.

1. Salted Caramel Brownies

2. Swedish Chocolate Balls “Chokladbollar”

3. Swedish Birthday Cake – Strawberry Cake “Jordgubbstårta”

4. Swedish Brownie ”Kladdkaka”

5. Swedish Cinnamon Buns “Bullar”

6. Butternut Squash Apple Soup

7. Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing

8. Swedish Pizza Salad “Pizzasallad”

9.Asparagus Soup with Bacon “Sparrissoppa”

10. Swedish Pancakes “Pannkakor”

The second list of the ten below are my favorites recipes of the year that didn’t make the cut of the top 10 list but that were some of my absolute favorites this year.

1. Steamed Chocolate Pudding

2.  Honey Ice Cream

3. Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars

4. The Best Minestrone

5. Pumpkin Brownies

6. Chicken Piccata

7. Swedish Christmas Glögg (Sweet Christmas Wine)

8. Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

9. Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”

10. Cheesecake Tartlettes

I am looking forward to an exciting 2011 filled with some Global Recipes and Tasty Ideas! I am always open to hear what folks would like to read more about.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rack of Lamb and Swedish New Years Traditions

Many countries do strange things on New Years to make sure their following year is a good and prosperous one.  Here are some from Sweden:

–  A wife has to give her husband something beautiful she has made herself.  No stockings, because that meant an unhappy marriage.  A man had to give his wife something he made as well.

– What ever happened the first day of the year was a sign for the New Year.  If one received money, it was going to be a good year. If you got mad, it was going to be a dreary year.  But if one wanted to have good health during the year one was supposed to get up early and eat an apple.

– Fortune telling using lead and tin was very popular when I grew up.  The metal was melted and then poured into a bucket of water to set. If the metal was smooth and shiny, you could expect to stay healthy; if it had a rough surface the health outlook wasn’t too good.  If the metal was the shape of a cross, that was bad.  If it looked like a grown that meant marriage.

New Year’s celebrations in Sweden today aren’t much different from the rest of the world. Most or Sweden celebrate at home or out with a more formal dinner with their friends.  There are many things folks make but one very common food item is lobster and shellfish.

However, just like Christmas Eve, there is no getting away from the television.  I know, crazy Swedes, we have another show that we watch every year.  This time it is not cartoons but, “The countess and the Butler” also called “Dinner for One.” An English sketch about a drunken servant who has to act the part of a number of guests drinking to the health of his countess.  Nobody seems to understand quite why this black and white sketch remains such a hit.  But it is hilarious, and I love it.  I decide to share it will all of you so you can watch it.

Then at the stroke of midnight, fireworks go off, popping of champagne and everyone says “Gott Nytt År”

What are your new year’s celebrations or traditions?

One of my favorite meats is lamb and for me cooking lamb is a treat.  Why not cook lamb for New Years Eve dinner?  I know for some lamb sounds intimidating but it does not have to be, it can be really simple.

Rack of Lamb

Yields: 4 people | Prep Time: 15 minutes

1 ½ – 2 lbs rack of lamb
4 strings of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika

First you need to marinate the rack of lamb, to do this make a rub.  You can really do any rub you want but this is my favorite for the lamb.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade add the garlic, rosemary, soy sauce, paprika, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Pulse until combined. Pour in olive oil and pulse into a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops and let them marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow the chops to come to room temperature; it will take about 20 minutes.

There are several ways to cook the lamb my favorite is on the grill but these instructions work both in the grill and oven.

The cooking time depends on how big your rack of lamb is, and how rare you want it cooked. Rack of lamb should be cooked rare, or at most medium rare. The instructions are for a rack 1 ½  – 2 lbs big. If you have a smaller roast reduce the cooking time from 7 minutes to 5 minutes on 400, and use the lower end of the cooking time given at 300.

Preheat oven or grill to 400°F.  Score the fat, by making sharp shallow cuts through the fat, spaced about an inch apart. Place the lamb rack bone side down (fat side up) on the pan or grill. Wrap the exposed ribs in a little foil so that they don’t burn. I usually but down foil if I am doing it on the grill just so the ribs do not get too burnt from the oil drippings.

Roast at 400°F for 7 minutes, then lower the heat to 300°F. Cook for 7-15 minutes longer (depending on the size of the lamb rack) until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat 125°F on a for rare or 135°F for medium rare. Remove from oven or grill, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cut lamb chops away from the rack by slicing between the bones. Serve 2 chops per person.

Other Similar Recipes:

Bulgogi – Korean BBQ
Chicken Piccata
Thai Chicken with Plum Ginger Sauce
Popovers with Cinnamon Butter

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stollen Wreath ”Christstollen”

It is that time of the month again, here is the next Daring Bakers challenge.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen a very traditional German Christmas is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.  Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless “bread” to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.

When i heard about this month challenge i had low expectations, i am not a fan of any kind of Christmas fruitcake, bad memories.  But this was nothing like that.  It was moist and delicious.  I loved it.  I did not use the cherries and instead used cranberries which i think was a good call.  I think this is definitely something i will make again.

Stollen Wreath ”Christstollen”

Yields: Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Prep: 1 hour first stage, then rest overnight or up to 3 days, 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration, 15 minutes shaping, 2 hours proofing,
Bake: 30-45 minutes  baking

¼ cup lukewarm water (110º F)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1 oz of fresh yeast.
1 cup milk
10 tbsp unsalted butter
5½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp orange extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¾ cup mixed peel
1 cup firmly packed raisins
3 tbsp rum
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Soak the raisins. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

To make the dough. Pour ¼ cup warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and 10 tbsp butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit, cranberries and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly, the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.  Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle.

You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.

Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.  Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.  The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Other Similar Recipes:

Brioche Cinnabun
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”
Popovers with Cinnamon Butter
Swedish Cinnamon Buns

If you enjoyed this post, I’d truly appreciate a Comment, Tweet, Stumble, Facebook share, whatever you like!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka” and Swedish Christmas Eve “Julafton”

So at last it had come around, the most longed-for day of the year, Christmas Eve! Every Swede has a Christmas Tradition of some sort, they either start with a light or heavy breakfast depending on when the “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord is served.  There are 3 main things happening on Christmas Eve 1. Julboard  2. Donald Duck 3. Open Presents.

Some folks have their julbord before Donald Duck and some do it afterwards.  Many start their big Christmas smörgåsbord around noon.  Everything has to be included on the julbord, nothing can be forgotten.  I think the julbord on Christmas Eve is as close as we Swedes get to the American Thanksgiving Dinner.  On Thanksgiving it is important to have the entire accompaniment for the turkey on the table and all the family gathered around.  That is the way with Christmas Eve in Sweden and the julbord.

Then the second thing, at three o’clock everyone, adults included, sit down in front of the TV. For those that have never been to Sweden on Christmas Eve, the whole country comes to a standstill at three in the afternoon.  That is when they show Donald Duck on TV, a traditional that dates back some 30 years.  The same Disney excerpts are shown every year, including Jiminy Cricket, the chipmunks, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Santa’s workshop, Ferdinand the Bull sniffing at his cork oak (my favorite), and Mickey Mouse on holiday.

After four o’clock Sweden returns to normal and the Swedish people go on with their Christmas celebrations.  The third most important part is Santa’s visit. He comes walking with a sack and a lantern.  He comes through the door (not the chimney) and asks if there are any good children around.  Once Santa left you could start opening your gifts.

Merry Christmas!  God Jul!

Soft Gingerbread “Mjuk Pepparkaka”

Yield: 1 loaf | Prep Time: 20 minutes

5 Tbsp (75g) butter
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup (3 dl) sugar
1 1/3 cup  (3 dl) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking power
2/3 cup (1 ½ dl) sour cream or crème fraiche
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cardamom

Turn on the over to 350F.

Whip the eggs with the sugar until mixed well.  Pour in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.  Mix well and then pour in the sour cream or crème fraiche.  Pour into a buttered bread form.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Swedish Christmas Series:

Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter” and Lucia
Swedish Christmas Glögg (Sweet Christmas Wine)

Rice Porridge “Risgrynsgröt” and Swedish Santa “Jultomten”

“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes:

Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”
Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar”
Pickled Red Beets
Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions

If you enjoyed this post, I’d truly appreciate a Comment, Tweet, Stumble, Facebook share, whatever you like!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rice Porridge “Risgrynsgröt” and Swedish Santa “Jultomten”

Swedish Santa is a cross between St. Nicholas and the Swedish “farm-tomte,” a gnome, a imagined miniature spirit who used to help out on the farms in the old days.

St. Nicholas was a Turk. At least, that is where a modem map places his native Patara, where he first saw the light of day in 270.  Patara at that time was a Greek trading town.  Today only ruins remain.  After studying in Egypt and Nicholas eventually became ordained priest, then bishop of the city of Myra, just south of his native town which today also remains only as ruins.

During his lifetime, and after his death, Nicholas performed many miracles, such as stilling the waves of the sea to rescue ships in distress.  He soon became the patron saint of sailors, invoked by them in time of trouble and recompensed with the donation of a coin to his church in Maya.  Italian merchants, realizing what a treasure Myra was sitting on, went there to collect the remains of  St. Nicholas.  Despite fierce resistance from the citizens of Myra, they managed to carry off most of the relics of the saint, which were then re-buried in Bari, Italy.

Sailors weren’t the only ones who worshipped St. Nicholas.  School boys did too, in honor of his resurrection of three small boys who has been brutally murdered.  They celebrated his death day on the 6th December. On that day an adult would dress up like St. Nicholas, in Episcopal robes and long beards, and dole out presents to the pupils who had done best. Unsatisfactory students were instead given a taste of the Devil’s broom, which no doubt ensured that they did better next term.  Nowadays, Santa Claus leaves good children presents in their stockings.  This is a custom that never really caught on in Sweden.

St. Nicholas caught on in the Netherlands, Germany, Britain and the USA, but in Sweden, at first he was conspicuous only by hi absence.  Which is not to say that there were no presents.  At first they were given out on Christmas Eve by no-one in particular.  But then, a half-moon face began knocking on the doors of cottages and handing over various gifts.  That was in the 18th century, and later he was superseded by the “jultomte” with his read hood, long beard, and lantern in on hand and sack on his back.

Drawings by Jenny Nyström

There were already signs in the early Middle Ages of people believing in supernatural beings who live on the homestead and had to be kept happy. But the Swedish “farm-tomte” gnome didn’t seem to have all the much to do with Swedish Christmas celebrations. At the same time, it was important not to forget the “farm-tomte” when Christmas was coming, a time when you had to be extra generous to people and animals and give out presents.  You mustn’t overdo the presents either, because then the “farm-tomte” might get lazy. You had to keep in good term with “farm-tomte” otherwise he might get the idea to head out elsewhere, taking your good fortune with him. The “farm-tomte” kept an eye on the farm work, made sure that everything was neat and tidy and guaranteed prosperity.  Those who have seen the “farm-tomte” said he looked like a gnome. And it was a requirement to leave rice porridge for him on Christmas Eve. If you didn’t you had no idea what would happen to your farm.

No one really knows how the Swedish jultome evolved but he seems, in any case, to be a mixture of the Swedish “farm-tomte” and his colleague St. Nicholas.

To this day I love the “farm-tomte” and have little gnomes in my house on Christmas.

Rice porridge “Risgrynsgröt”

Yields: Serves 4 to 6 | Prep: 50 minutes

3 cups water
1 1/2 cups short-grained rice
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp butter
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 cinnamon stick

For Serving:

Boil the water in a heavy bottomed pot, add the rice and salt. Stir once, cover. Turn heat down to lowest setting and simmer 20 minutes without removing cover. When rice is done, pour on half the milk and cinnamon stick.  Simmer over a low flame, stirring carefully after about fifteen minutes.

Continue to simmer, gradually adding the rest of the milk and cream stirring every now and then to keep the porridge from sticking.

Mix in the butter and sugar, add salt to taste and add more sugar if required.

After cooking for about 40-50 minutes, the porridge should be a creamy consistency.  Add more milk if needed.

Remove from heat.

Pour into serving bowl, sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar in a cross-hatch pattern on top, serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.

If you need to reheat the porridge you can add more milk to the porridge and reheat it in a pot.

“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes:

Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”
Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar”
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions

If you enjoyed this post, I’d truly appreciate a Comment, Tweet, Stumble, Facebook share, whatever you like!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swedish Christmas Glögg (Sweet Christmas Wine)


Around the first Sunday of Advent, the glögg parties move into high gear in Sweden.  Everyone loves the idea of warming themselves with a glass of hot glögg.  It is my favorite warm drink after tea that is.  What is glögg? Glögg can we compared to the German Gluhwein.  But what makes glögg is its spices, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar, some also add gloves and orange peel.  Then raisins and almonds are always the standard accessories poured into the cup with the hot glögg itself. 

The tradition of drinking glögg at Christmas goes back more than hundred years.  It those days you added spices to conceal the bad wine.  In addition due to other diseases spices were added to help cure them. 

The actual name glögg some from an old method of making the drink: you “glowed” it. First you put a sugarloaf on a closed-mesh grille, over a cooking pot containing the mixed spices, and then over this you poured wine and spirits.  When the sugar was saturated you struck a flame, were upon the spirit caught fire and the sugar melted. 

Then there can be no glögg party without the Swedish Pepparkakor “ginger snaps,” the spices for which are very much the same as those in the glögg. Today you can find “ginger snapps” in almost all grocery stores. 


Swedish Christmas Glögg (Sweet Christmas Wine)

Yiels: 1 bottle of red wine | Prep: 15 minutes 

1 bottle of red wine
5-7 whole cardamoms, peeled
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 small piece of fresh ginger (about the size of a quarter)
1/2 cup of sugar
Few orange peel pieces
Vodka or dark rum (optional) 

For Serving:
Chopped almonds 

Pour wine into sauce pan, on low to medium heat, do not bring to boil. Stir in sugar and whisk lightly until sugar is dissolved. Add spices and orange peel and bring almost to a boil. Pull off heat and let cool overnight. Best results if you let it sit for 3 days. 

Remove spices, and if desired, add vodka or dark rum to taste.  Reheat (do not boil!) and serve in cups with raisins and almonds. 


“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes: 

Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”
Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar”
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d truly appreciate a Comment, Tweet, Stumble, Facebook share, whatever you like!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Red cabbage ”rödkål” and Swedish Christmas Traditions


A  Swedish Christmas is a long-drawn-out affair, starting with Advent at the beginning of December and not ending until Hilarymass on the 13th of January, when people “dance out the Christmas” and throw out the Christmas tree.  To me Christmas has been the highlight of the year, because it’s tome of fixing and making, decorating and baking. Every day has its particulate tasks, so that everything will be ready by Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve is the biggest day of the whole festival in Sweden.  That’s when the whole country watched Christmas Cartoons on TV, then eat a huge “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord and then Santa Claus arrives with a sack full of Christmas presents. 

In Sweden Christmas comes knocking at the door on the first Sunday in December, and some year on the last Sunday in November (like this year). This is the first Sunday of Advent, when the countdown to Christmas Eve begins.  The advent candles are brought out.  They have a very special design and hold four candles, one of which is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second and so on, right down to Christmas Ever. 

Picture from 

The first day of December also marks the beginning of the advent Calendar, which was also a German invention . At the beginning of the 20th century, a young boy called Gerhard Lang kept pestering his mother to tell him how many days were left until Christmas Eve. Eventually she hit on the idea of baking 24th buns, numbered from 1-24.  Later on, Gerhard, now a businessman, recalled his mother ingenious way of shutting him up. Using two sheets of paper, he constructed a calendar which has 24 little flaps with figures hidden behind them.  That was in the 1920s.  As a kid I always had an advent calendar of all kinds but the most enjoyable for them was the Swedish Television Advent Calendar, a special series which featured a new episode every day, based on whatever was hidden behind the “flap fo the day.”  Even today, Swedish kids will not miss their Advent Calendar on television for anything. 

Picture of Barbros adventskalender 

From First Advent to Lucia which I told you about on Monday.  There is more coming on Swedish Christmas and every post until the 24th I will post a food from the “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord.  Also there are two more giveaways coming before the 24th stay tuned. 

Red cabbage ”rödkål”

Yields: serves 6-8 

3 ½ lbs red cabbage
2 tbsp butter
½ cup corn syrup
3 apples
3 tbsp red vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup red wine 

Cut the cabbage into very fine strips.  Melt the butter in a pot, add the cabbage to the pot and sauté and stir.  Add the corn syrup and stir. 

Peel, core and cut up the apples into small cubes.  Add the apples and vinegar to the pot. 

Add salt, pepper, and red wine. 

Cover and simmer the cabbage for about 1 hour. 


“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes: 

Cured Salmon “Gravlax” and Mustard Sauce “Hovmästarsås”
Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar”
Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”
Pickled Red Beets

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

December 13th is Lucia in Sweden or St. Lucia Day and traditionally you have saffron bread on lucia “Lussekatter.”

What is Lucia?

There are a lot of different version of stories and theories of this.  The Lucia tradition can be traced back both to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. It is said that she consorted with the Devil and that her children were invisible infernals. Thus the name may be associated with both lux (light) and Lucifer (Satan), and its origins are difficult to determine. The present custom appears to be a blend of traditions.

In the old almanac, Lucia Night “winter solstice” was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.

The last person to rise that morning was nicknamed ‘Lusse the Louse’ and often given a playful beating round the legs with birch twigs. The slaughtering and threshing were supposed to be over by Lucia and the sheds to be filled with food in preparation for Christmas. In agrarian Sweden, young people used to dress up as Lucia figures (lussegubbar) that night and wander from house to house singing songs and scrounging for food and schnapps.

The first recorded appearance of a white-clad Lucia in Sweden was in a country house in 1764. The custom did not become universally popular in Swedish society until the 20th century, when schools and local associations in particular began promoting it. The old lussegubbar custom virtually disappeared with urban migration, and white-clad Lucias with their singing processions were considered a more acceptable, controlled form of celebration than the youthful carousals of the past. Stockholm proclaimed its first Lucia in 1927. The custom whereby Lucia serves coffee and buns “Lussekatter” dates back to the 1880s, although the buns were around long before that.

Picture from Swedish Newspaper

Today, Lucia is a ceremony where a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle “Lucia Train.” The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Santa Lucia song describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness.

In the Lucia procession at home the oldest daughter brings coffee and saffron bread to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter wears the candle-wreath.

If you are even in Sweden during this time you will see the competition for the role of Lucia. Each year, a national Lucia is proclaimed in one or other of the TV channels, while every town and village worth the name chooses its own Lucia. Candidates are presented in the local newspaper a couple of weeks in advance.

Saffron Buns “Lussekatter”

Yields: 36 buns | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Raising Time 75 minutes | Bake Time: 12 minutes

1/4 tsp saffron
2/3 cup butter
1 ¾ cup milk
50 grams of fresh yeast (note: I use 2 packages of  0.6 oz)
1 egg
¾ cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
6 ½ cup all purpose flour
Raisins for decorating
Egg white to be brushed on before baking

Use a mortar to grind the saffron to textured powder. Melt the butter and add the milk, making sure that the mixture is a little bit warmer than lukewarm (98 F) and add to a bowl.

Then crumble the fresh yeast into little pieces and add. Then add the rest of the ingredients, adding the flour a little bit at a time until the dough is loosening from the bowl. It should stick together nicely without sticking to the bowl.

Let the dough rise in its bowl (cover with kitchen towel) for about 45 minutes.

Add the dough to a working area (countertop, large table). Knead it lovingly and start rolling it out with a rolling pin. Cut strips of dough, about 10″ long and ½ ” in thickness, and shape it by rolling it between your hands into a sausage. Alternatively just take a piece of dough and roll it into the above mentioned proportions. Form traditional Lussekatter by creating two opposite spirals. Let the Lussekatter rise for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 440 F.

Decorate each individual spiral with a raisin in the middle and brush with beaten egg.

Bake the Lussekatter in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 440F.

Other Similar Recipes:

Sandwich Cake “Smörgåstårta”
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Popovers with Cinnamon Butter
Christmas Recipes

Friday, December 10, 2010

What’s Cooking in your Kitchen – Dara at Cookin’ Canuck?

Today I will be going into the kitchen of Dara from the Cookin’ Canuck blog. I discovered Dara’s blog over a year go and love to read it.  Cookin’ Canuck has a vast variety of recipes, everything from Challah Bread to Spicy Stir-Fry Bok Choy with Giner & Soy Sauce and you will love to look at her large amazing picture as you drool over them.

Not only does Dara have an amazing food blog but she is also a consultant for families who wish to set up intensive behavioral programs for their children with autism. Very inspiring! I really enjoy reading her blog and hope you do too.

How long have you been cooking and who was the person who encouraged you to come into the kitchen and learn about food?

I have always been interested in food, particularly eating it.  When I was in my teens, my parents set me the task of making dinner one time per month.  This inspired me to start looking through cookbooks and experimenting with different recipes.  However, they eventually had to ban me from making my go-to meal of baked potatoes with an array of toppings.

My mum is a wonderful, instinctual cook who likes to use ingredients from around the world.  She grew up in Jamaica, and she and my dad lived in Malaysia for the first few years of their marriage.  As a result, I was exposed to a lot of different flavors at a young age.

Why did you start a food blog?

My friends were always telling me how often they ate out at restaurants and, when they did cook, how they found themselves cooking the same dishes over and over again.  So, I decided to put some recipes on a blog to give them some ideas.

While my blog is still packed with easy, weeknight recipes, it has changed somewhat.  I love to play around with different ingredients, flavor combinations, and techniques.  The best part is sharing the resulting dishes with my family and friends.  


Like me, you seemed to have lived all over the world.  I am Swedish but lived in Asia and now in the US.  When I have cravings for some good food it is 99% of the time Asian and I think it is due to my upbringing there.  What about you, how does your international upbringing equate to your food cravings?

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada; lived in New York City for several years; and now live in Salt Lake City with my husband and two boys.  So, I don’t have too much experience with living in varied places.  However, I have been lucky enough to do a fair amount of traveling – Europe, Africa, Australia.

Growing up in Vancouver gave me the opportunity to be exposed to many different cultures.  Vancouver is the home to North America’s third largest Chinatown, plus there is a bustling Indiatown.  Everywhere you turn, you find ethnic markets and restaurants.  From the influence of my mum’s cooking to the availability of international ingredients and cuisine, I became hooked on flavors from different countries and cultures.

From all the places you have lived, how did you end up in Utah?

My husband and I have a consulting business in which we treat children with autism.  We were living in New York City and, as much as we loved it there, we found that we really missed being closer to the west coast and our families.  We had a lot of clients in Utah, so we made the move.

Do you have a signature dish? What is it and how did you come up with it?

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

Porcini & Crimini Mushroom Orzo “Risotto” Recipe

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

Spaghetti with Creamy Mascarpone Sauce & Italian Sausage

Picture from Cookin’ Chanuck

Sweet Potato Noodle Spring Rolls

I can’t say that I have a signature dish, but some of the things I cook regularly are risotto, pasta with a mascarpone cream sauce (my comfort food), and Korean sweet potato noodles, rolled up with chicken and vegetables in spring roll wrappers.  That idea came from a Korean friend of mine.  As much as possible, I try to cook with ingredients that are seasonal.  A couple of years ago, my husband built a raised vegetable bed.  My two boys love helping us plant and harvest vegetable.  It’s a challenge to get to the cherry tomatoes before my 6-year old has pops them all into his mouth.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

Picture from

I’m not really a gadget person, but there are two things in my kitchen that I simply cannot do without.  Really good, sharp chef knives (I use Wusthof knives) and All-Clad stainless steel pans.  These things alone make cooking so much more enjoyable for me.

With the holidays coming up – is there something special that you make each holiday that is sentimental and you always have to make?  What is it and why?

Picture from Cookin' Canuck

The Family Crockpot Applesauce Recipe

As you can imagine, I do a lot of cooking and baking for my blog.  We have some new favorites, such as Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt.  However, there are a few family dishes that we make every year without fail.

The first is my dad’s bread stuffing. On Christmas Eve, many years ago, my mum was curled up in bed, with a bad case of bronchitis. The next night, we were due to host the annual family Christmas feast and neither my dad nor I had ever cooked anything more complicated than sandwiches or scrambled eggs. I walked into the dining room to find my dad surrounded by open cookbooks, diligently searching for a holiday-worthy stuffing recipe. He looked like a college student hunkering down for a long night of cramming for a tough exam. That diligence produced a stuffing that has become a family classic.

From my husband’s side of the family, there are a few “must-have” treats.  We make several batches of my mother-in-law’s wonderful crockpot applesauce every year and serve it alongside the Christmas turkey.  Also, it would not be Christmas without the spritz cookies, in the shape of wreaths and Christmas trees.

What are three things people don’t know about you?

Picture from Flickr hiestand24's Photostream

Uh-oh.  Is this full confession time?  First off, I am someone who likes to take risks on occasion.  I have bungi-jumped two times, one of them being a 350-foot drop from the bridge by Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The other day I promised my eldest son that I would skydive with him when he is old enough.

The second thing is that I’m an only child.  For me, this means that I have a very close relationship with my parents.  The other thing it means is that I enjoy my alone time.  Even if it means stealing away for ten minutes to read a book, I need that time (several times each day) to recharge my mind.  If I don’t get that time, look out – my crabbiness comes out.

Thirdly, I am a pile-maker…paper piles.  Much to my husband’s annoyance (though he’s really very patient with me), I have piles of paper in various locations of the house.  What’s in them?  Random notes I’ve written myself, cooking magazines, my kids’ school work – you name it, it’s there.  I haven’t told my husband this yet because I don’t want to get his hopes up, but I think my New Year’s resolution will involve dealing with those piles.  I’m sure to find all sorts of important information that I thought I had lost!

What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it prepared?

Picture from Cookin’ Chanuck

This is an easy one.  Mushrooms…in any form…as often as possible.  My favorite way to prepare them is to sauté them until slightly caramelized, then toss them with a little soy sauce.  I can down a whole bowl of mushrooms prepared that way.

What makes you drool when it comes to food?

Picture from Really
Salt.  I am a savory kind of gal.  If as dish has soy sauce, chiles, or herbs, then I’m happy.

Describe your death menu. (Last meal before you die)?

Picture from Flickr Vacationtime Photostream

Going along with the salt and soy sauce theme, I would have to say sushi.  Preferably provided by Tojo’s in Vancouver – melt in your mouth fish, innovative flavors, and beautiful presentations.

What advice would you give to other food bloggers?

First of all, you have to love what you do and what you’re writing about.  If you don’t, you will become bored or frustrated very quickly.

When I first started blogging, I became aware of how many food blogs there are, and the prospect of making my blog stand out in the field was daunting (still is).  As I visited more and more blogs, I started to ask myself what qualities made me come back repeatedly.  The formula, in my opinion, is three-fold – innovative recipes, great photos, and entertaining, honest writing.  While I still have a long way to go in each of these areas, I have concentrated my efforts in making strides forward in each of these areas.

Thanks so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog!

I wanted to thank Dara for letting me in her kitchen! Thank you!  



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