Archive for the ‘Scandinavian’ Category

Happy Waffle Day! I know…it sneaks up on me every year too. This Swedish holiday coincides with the annunciation – that’s right, Christmas is exactly nine months away. What do waffles have to do with a virgin in the Middle East that got pregnant two thousand years ago? Nothing actually, other than they are spelled similarly in Swedish, which may be how the two got confused. Vårfrudagen is Our Lady’s Day and Våffeldagen is Waffle Day. Close enough for me.

I love any and all waffles, but these thin, heart-shaped waffles are the ones that I most associate with my Scandinavian roots and make year-round. I associate them more with Norway, where my relatives serve them with sweet, brown goat’s milk cheese, called gjetost, as a midday snack. Or with jam and cream for dessert after lunch or dinner.

Egg Waffles

120 grams (a scant cup) flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, separated
2 1/12 deciliters (1 cup) whole milk
50 grams (about 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

In a small bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder and set aside. With an electric or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until soft and foamy, nearly to the soft peak stage. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and milk together. Add flour/baking powder mixture and beat until smooth. Don’t over mix. A few little lumps are OK. Add the melted butter in a slow steady stream and mix until incorporated. Fold the egg whites into the batter until no more white appears. The trick is to not deflate too much of the air from the whites. Be gentle.

Using a heart-shaped waffle iron (like this one) cook the waffles until golden. Serve warm or cold, topped with jam & whipped cream. Or cheese.

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I am excited to be participating in an important fundraiser this Saturday, November 20th: Will Bake for Food. It’s a bake sale to benefit Northwest Harvest and you’re invited.

Bring non-perishable food and/or cash to University Congregational Church between 10am and 2pm. Your donation will score you tickets that you can exchange for baked goods. There will be breakfast pastries, pies, cookies, and more.

Started by a couple of local food bloggers, Will Bake for Food has united local food bloggers in the fight against hunger. As someone who writes about food, reads about food and enjoys food a great deal, this time of year always serves as an important reminder that not everyone is as fortunate, and that many in our area go to bed each night hungry.

What am I baking?  I wanted to bake something delicious but also something that could easily be individually-wrapped. It had to be something unique, since I didn’t want to duplicate anything another blogger would be bringing. And, it had to reflect my personality and blog. I decided on Choklad Biskvier. These are a Swedish cookie with an almond, macaron-style base, topped with chocolate buttercream and glazed with semisweet chocolate. If you can’t pronounce the name that is OK. You can just call them “Ridiculously Delicious Cookies” You won’t be the first!

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Seattle is filled with whiners. This summer when temperatures broke 100 degrees for over a week, they whined. This week, temperatures have barely risen above freezing during the day. And guess what? Seattleites are whining again. What am I doing? I’m drinking.

OK. That didn’t sound quite right, but it is in fact what I am doing to combat the cold. Just like I made ice cold daiquiris this summer and retreated to our blissfully cool basement, I have been making warm drinks this week and curling up under a down comforter. Let’s call it S.A.D. – seasonally affected drinking.

Warm drinks on a cold winter’s night are traditional in Northern climates and where my family comes from, Glögg is the drink of choice. Other countries have Glüwein or mulled wine, but in Sweden, it’s Glögg. They are all pretty much the same: steep some spices in wine, heat and serve.

I’ve tried several recipes over the years. A favorite comes from a dear familiy friend, John Swedstedt, who adds Vodka to his Glögg. This year however, I wanted to try out some new recipes. That’s not to say I didn’t want Vodka in my Glögg, I just needed an updated recipe.

In a pinch I’ve used the bottled Glögg concentrate from IKEA. It works, but I find the spices to be kind of flat.

I heard Marcus Samuelsson on the radio a couple of week’s ago. He’s an Ethiopian born Swede that now lives in America. His restaurant – and cookbook – Aquavit, had just what I was looking for. A little more online research and cookbook consulting and I think I’ve found a recipe to call my own.

3 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 Tbsp cardamom pods
2-3 small pieces candied ginger
Grated zest of 1 orange
6 whole cloves
1/2 cup vodka
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine. I like Zinfandel
1 cup port
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins

Crush the cinnamon and cardamom using a mortar and pestle or smash on a cutting board. Put them in a small glass jar and add the ginger, orange zest, cloves, and vodka. Let stand for 24-48 hours. Strain the vodka into a large saucepan and discard the spices.

Add the red wine, port and sugars and heat over medium heat just until bubbles start to form around the edges. Do not boil.

Add a few almonds and raisins to the bottom of each mug and pour the hot Glögg over the top.

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For as long as I can remember, my mom and I have been making Choklad Biskvier at Christmastime. There is a Swedish Christmas tradition of making seven kinds of cookies – sju sorters kakor – and these cookies are one of the 7 (or 8 or 10) kinds of cookies we make every year. I have recently discovered though, that Choklad Biskvier are just as enjoyable the rest of the year as they are at Christmastime. It sounds kind of stupid to say I just “realized” this, I know, but do you ever make pumpkin pie in March? I didn’t think so.
Part of the reason I started making CBs year-round is because the recipe calls for three egg whites. You may remember that I love eggs and that I have a ongoing supply fresh chicken eggs. Since Gavin’s “new” favorite dessert is poundcake, I often have leftover egg whites to use up, and this recipe is perfect for using them up. These cookies also store well in the freezer, where they wait for you until you need them to serve guests, bring to a party or just eat by yourself while you lie on the couch watching reruns of 30 Rock with a glass of Malbec.
Since these cookies have been in heavy rotation, I have been spreading the love. I have brought them to meetings at work, exchanged them for the aforementioned fresh eggs and taken them to parties. Since Choklad Biskvier is not easy to remember or pronounce, my friend Robin just calls them “those ridiculously delicious cookies.” I often just refer to them as “those Swedish chocolate cookies.” If you can suggest a better name, I am accepting ideas.

I’ve been asked for the recipe dozens of times, but have always declined to share it because this is kind of graduate level baking. Consider yourself warned. Having said that, I have tried to provide as much detail (and photos) as possible into the recipe below. I even shot a little video. A video! Gavin warned me against posting it because it is one the geekier things I’ve done recently, so er…consider yourself warned, again.

Ridiculously Delicious Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
4 oz. blanched, slivered almonds
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I use Progresso brand)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
8 oz. semi sweet chocolate – chips or chunks
6-8 Tbsp unsalted butter
Prepare and bake the cookie
Grind the almonds in a food processor until fine. Like so:

Whisk the egg whites for a minute in a stand mixer. Add sugar and whisk on high for 3-4 minutes, until a stiff meringue is formed. Like….so:

Stir in bread crumbs and almonds and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

Smooth a mound of filling onto the flat side of each cookie. Place them in the freezer for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the glaze.

Make the glaze and…watch the video
In a double boiler melt the chocolate and 6 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Stir until smooth. It should be the consistency of Hershey’s syrup. If needed, add more butter. As you glaze the cookies, you may need to reheat the glaze if it begins to stiffen.

Drop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (I use a little dosing scooper for this). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove with a metal spatula so they don’t crumble and cool on a wire rack, flat side down.
Prepare the filling and frost the cookies
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together onto a flexible mat or piece of wax paper. Cream the butter on high until lighter in color and smooth. On slow speed, add the sugar/cocoa mixture until combined. Add the vanilla and mix on medium until smooth.

The easiest way to apply the glaze is to dunk the chocolate half of the cookie into the pot of glaze. I can’t really describe in words how to do this so, as promised, there is a video demonstration. It’s over on my old blog – checkitout.

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Consolation Prize

Although our dreams of a Mexican Christmas were dashed, I have to say that a small part of me was thankful to be home for some Scandinavian traditions.

We managed to make it over to my parents house for Christmas Eve dinner – a feast with all the Swedish and Norwegian specialties. We got to take home some leftovers and some tasty cookies, but my favorite was some of the cooking broth leftover from cooking the Christmas ham.

One of the traditional Swedish dishes is Julskinka (Christmas ham). Nowadays you can purchase the ham finished, but traditionally it took several days cure it in salt. On the day before Christmas Eve, the ham is boiled for several hours. The ham is then left in the broth overnight in the fridge. On Christmas Eve, the ham is dried, painted with a coating of egg and mustard, sprinkled with bread crumbs and baked.

The salty, flavorful broth does not go to waste however. After skimming off the fat, you warm the broth and everyone gathers around with bread to dopp i grytan (dip in the kettle). Traditionally, this was done on Christmas Eve. My mom has always saved the broth until Christmas morning (or any other morning, since the broth can be stored in the freezer for several months). You warm the broth and simmer the Swedish crispbread for a minute or two until it is soft. Then, pull it out with a slotted spoon and serve it slathered in butter.

As the snow started falling again this afternoon, I poured myself the last from our beer reserves and made myself up a plate of tasty, salty, hammy comfort food.

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What better way to follow-up a Scandinavian-themed dinner, than to have a Scandinavian breakfast.

Seattle’s Swedish Cultural Center offers a Swedish pancake breakfast on the first Sunday of every month. For $7, you get pancakes (3 to start, plus more if you like), ham, juice & coffee. These thin, light pancakes are more crepe-like than pancake like. They are the perfect vehicle for jam & whipped cream (syrup is available too).

Go early and expect a crowd.

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