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  That was in the 18th century, and later he was superseded by the “jultomte” with his read hood, long beard, and lantern in on hand and sack on his back.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:
cinnamon
sugar

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

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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:
Raisins
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 Dannesholk.se 

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 Wusthof.com

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 Natural.com
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!  

 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Perfect Gifts for Him & Her

It is the Holiday Season and we all need a few ideas of what to give to our friends, family and loved ones.  My lists are always related to Food and Kitchen.  Everything on my list(s) are things I truly like and can see myself getting.

Here are my top 10 gifts for Him & Her, something for everyone in every price range.

For Her:

  1. Miss Amy’s Preserves – $7 – Miss Amy’s Preserves are made and packaged exclusively by hand every week. They only use the highest quality fruits and vegetables and pure and natural ingredients. Great gift that one can enjoy every morning for breakfast.
  2. Salted Caramels from Jon Boy – $8.99. – These Seattle made caramels are amazing. They are made with local cream, organic sugar, fleur de sel and organic brown-rice syrup by former local Whole Foods employee Jonathan Sue and business partner Jason Alm, these little boxes of 15 or so caramels pack in a whole lot of happiness. Today they are only selling these locally in Seattle, but you can get them online, and let me tell you, you will not be disappointed.
  3. Italian Glass Bottles – $14 – I love these bottles.  They are useful for any liquid.  Sever your water in it or your summer lemonade. Or even use them for oil, countertop dish soap, an unexpected vase.
  4. Mini Holiday Spatulas – $16 – Everyone loves the spatula.  Why not have a holiday set as well.  Perfect stocking stuffer.
  5. Sexy Apron starting at $18 – I recently did a whole section on Kitchen Fashion.  Here is the best selection for you.
  6. Recipe T Towel – $19 – Screen-printed tea towel with a favorite winter recipe! Adorable!
  7. Black Lacy Tracy – $28 – So hip!  I love this little server tray.  Perfect to serve for your holiday appetizers.
  8. Recycled Windshield White Wine Decanter – $50 – Toast cool design with this sturdy and stunning white wine decanter featuring an open ice chamber that keeps wine cold without diluting it.  And it is recycled!
  9. Nespresso Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother $99 – I love m milk frother and use it every day for perfect frothed milk for my lattes.
  10. KitchenAid Pasta Press Attachment -$179 – You add add it to your KitchenAid stand mixer and make small and large macaroni, bucatini (thick hollow tubes), spaghetti, fusilli (corkscrews) and rigatoni (short ribbed tubes).

For Him:

  1. Scotch Candy Bar$15Single Malt Scotch Ganache & Chewy Caramel finished with Maldon Sea Salt. Enrobed in Dark Chocolate. This candy bar is bold enough for Scotch lovers and smooth enough for all chocolate lovers. The combination of Scotch, chocolate, caramel, and salt is unique and delicious.
  2. Outdoor Wine bottle holder – $15 – Picnics and outdoor parties should be about relaxing. They should not be about “How the heck am I going to get this wine bottle to stay standing up?”
  3. Recycled Record Coasters – $17.50 – Made of labels cut from the center of classic vinyl records, these hi-fi home furnishings will be a hit with any music lover. The discs are sealed so moisture won’t seep through to the surface. Perfect for the man room.
  4. All about Bear subscription – $19.95 – All About Beer magazine, which has been voted the “Best Beer Publication” 7 years in a row, entertains and educates beer lovers. Featuring the history and variety of beer. Including methods & traditions of beer making, and the political & social environment that affects the pursuit of beer pleasure.
  5. YourBars – Starting at $19.99 – Design a custom energy bar perfectly tailored to your personal taste and nutritional needs.
  6. Recycled Windshield Wine Goblet – $35 – Let your cup bubble over with textured goblets handmade from recycled car windows and windshields. Everyone will be asking about these glasses.
  7. Salt & Pepper Grinder – $40 – Y have two when one will do? This sleek salt-and-pepper grinder keeps your spices close and handy in a unique dual-chamber design. Very cool and contemporary.
  8. Cuisinart Electric Rotisserie -$199.95 – By locking in flavor and draining away unwanted fat and grease, this rotisserie provides one of the healthiest – and most delicious – ways to cook poultry, fish, roasts, shish kebabs and more.
  9. Krups High Performance Deep Fryer – $299.95 – Cooking platters of crispy fried chicken, egg rolls, doughnuts and French fries has never been easier, even for beginners, thanks to the incredible convenience and capacity of this innovative deep fryer. Perfect for family meals, it’s simple and safe to use.
  10. SousVide – $299.95 – The SousVide Supreme is the world’s first water oven designed to bring the sous vide culinary technique into both home kitchens and smaller restaurants. The term “sous vide” (pronounced soo–veed) is a French term, meaning under vacuum. Vacuum-sealed food is immersed in a water bath and cooked at a very precise, consistent temperature. Great gift for the chef in the house.

Still do not have enough ideas?  Here is my previous list from Father’s Day Ideas:

Here is my previous list from Mother’s Day Ideas:

Need more?  Here is a link to all my Gift Ideas from pervious posts.

Have other great ideas that are related to Food and Kitchen?  I would love to hear about them in the comment section.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brioche Cinnabun

Folks, if you have not yet determined what to make for Christmas morning then I have the perfect recipe for you right here.  This recipe is another one out of “Sweet Magic, easy recipes for delectable desserts” by Michel Richard and Peter Kaminsky.  And it is probably the best cinnamon roll I have ever had.  Somehow with the combination of the brioche, pasty cream, and marmalade it was a very delicious concoction.

**** If you haven’t signed up for the cookbook giveaway you can do that until 12/5 right here ****

This cinnabun recipe is from the northeast France where it is called “bolux.”  Also I doubt that the French version is made in the microwave but I love that Michel has us making the pasty cream in the microwave, you don’t see that very often in recipes.  Also supposedly the French version has rum in it but this does not.  I am sure you can add that as well if you wish.

The other half of this is Brioche, which is more of a bread dough than a pastry dough.

Brioche dough is very rich and airy and soft. Because the finished brioche needs airiness, you are supposed to use a high-gluten flour. Which stretches to create little air pockets in the dough as it rises.  However, I did not have this laying around and instead used regular all purpose flour and it might not have turned out as “airy” but it was just as delicious and tasty.  It also states to refrigerate the dough overnight, I only refrigerated for 2 hours.

A few other alterations I had to make was I used orange marmalade versus apricot jam and it was delicious, and another one is that I used golden raisins versus regular raising but that is because I prefer golden raisins.

Brioche Cinnabun

Yields: 8 servings | Prep Time: 45 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours | Cook Time: 30 minutes

Brioche Dough

Yields: 1 ¼ lbs dough

1 1/2 cups high-gluten bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
½ package (or 1 1/8 tsp) active dry yeast
1 pinch salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature

Place the flour in the center of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the sugar, yeast, and salt in three different places at the edge where the flour meets the bowl. Break the eggs into a small bowl and place it near the mixer. Pour 1 tbsp of the water directly on top of the yeast and start the mixer on low. Add the eggs to the mixer one at a time (they will “ploop” out of the bowl individually). When all the eggs are in, increase the speed slightly and slowly add the remaining warm water. When the water is incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and continue beating for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 2 minutes longer, until smooth.

Turn off the mixer and drop in all the butter. Start the mixer on low speed to incorporate the butter. Slowly increase the speed to medium, then high, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 2 minutes. Continue beating until the dough no longer sticks to the edges of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a bowl large enough to allow it to double in size, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. Use it within 3 days.

Filled Pastry

1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
¼ cup packed brown sugar, dark
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
1 set of Brioche Dough (1 ¼ lbs)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature to texture of mayonnaise
½ cup raisins
½ cup apricot jam

Icing

½ cup powdered sugar
About 1 tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Make the Brioche Doug first.

Then make the pastry cream by mixing the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon with a wire whisk in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for a total of 3 minutes, stopping the microwave after 2 minutes and whisking vigorously before cooking for the additional minute. Remove and whisk vigorously again. On a sheet pan lined with Silpat or parchment, spread the hot pastry cream in an even layer. Cut one or two large pieces of plastic wrap, place them directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming, and wrap the entire pan. Refrigerate the pan for at least 30 minutes.

Using all the softened butter, generously coat the inside of an 8-by-2-inch cake pan and place it in the refrigerator. Divide the brioche dough into a 10-ounce piece and a 6-ounce piece, and return the larger piece to the refrigerator. Roll the smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough circle inside the buttered pan and press it into the bottom and up along the sides. Refrigerate.

When the pastry cream has cooled completely, transfer it to a large bowl and whisk it vigorously. Spoon one third of the pastry cream into the prepared pastry bottom. Set aside.

Flour the work surface again and roll the large piece of brioche dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spoon the remaining pastry cream onto the rectangle so it covers the entire surface of the dough except for a 1-inch strip at a long edge. Dab a little water on this edge (this will allow you to seal the roll you are about to make. Sprinkle the raisins onto the pastry cream.

Starting from the long edge with pastry cream on it, roll the whole piece as if you were making a jellyroll, using the last inch the dough to create a seal. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut the roll in half, and then continue cutting the pieces in half until you have 8 equal pieces. Place the rolls, cut side up, in the pan on of the pastry cream. Put a roll in the middle and arrange the others around it, leaving an equal amount of space between the rolls so they have room to rise as they bake. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the pastry cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

Warm the apricot jam in the microwave on high for 45 seconds just until it becomes liquid), then remove the pastry from the pan and brush it with this glaze.

In a small bowl, whisk all the icing ingredients together until well combined. Add just enough milk to create an icing the consistency of maple syrup. With a spoon, drizzle the icing over the entire bun. Tear, cut, or otherwise separate the pastry into 8 buns.

Enjoy!

Other Similar Recipes:

Hanukkah Recipes
Christmas Recipes
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Doughnuts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies and Giveaway

Thanksgiving is past us and now comes my favorite cooking time of the year.  As most of you know I am Swedish and Swedish Christmas food to me is my favorite.  Not only do we make all kinds of cookies and candies in Swedish but we have a Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord as well.  Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord are filled with gravlax, herrings, ham, meatballs, red cabbage and all kinds of good stuff.  This will be first time I will be featuring this with you.  On top of that since I am married to a man that grew up with Jewish traditions I will also be featuring some Hanukkah recipes.

I am really excited for the month of December which will be filled with Hanukkah recipes, Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord recipes and all kinds of baked good and cookies and most of all I am excited to share it with you.

I am so excited that on top of the cooking I will also be featuring 3 cookbooks giveaways in the next three weeks.  Not only will I try the cookbooks with a recipe or two but give you my review as well.

Today I am featuring “Sweet Magic, easy recipes for delectable desserts” by Michel Richard and Peter Kaminsky.

If you are not familiar with Michel Richard, he is a chef-owner of Michel Richard Citronelle and Central Michel Richard in Washington DC.  Before made his first cÔte de boeuf or prepared his first foie gras terrine, he was a pastry chef. In Los Angeles, pastry lovers lined up outside his bakeshop on Wilshire Boulevard, waiting to enjoy the breads and treats they’d heard were the best in town, maybe even better than anything in Paris. Now, in this outstanding collection, the superstar chef returns to his first love, the food that made him famous—desserts.

I got this cookbook and started looking through it.  My first reaction was it has no photo’s. But that is my only negative comment. I am a huge food photo person and wished I had picture to each of these dessert.  But don’t let it stop you from getting this cookbook.  I loved it.

The cookbooks is divided into 3 parts.  First it is “My Sweet Dreams” which I believe features his favorites. Part two is “You can take the Frenchman out of France but…” and Part Three, “Made in the USA.”

It includes the fancy French dessert recipes but with easy ingredients and easy text, but also his own twist on the basic American recipes that are unique.  Definitely a great addition to your cookbook collection.

So many choices but I decided to make the Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies.  If I had to name this cookie I would call it the Chocolate and Hazelnut Graham Cracker Cookie.  And that is exactly how it tastes.

I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE fan of graham cracker crust.  So when I saw the ingredients of this cookie that it included NO FLOUR but only graham cracker crust I knew I had to try this out.

And let me tell you this is a keeper cookie, it is very different but delicious.

Also a few comments on this cookie.  Follow the instructions.  I had more than 6 cookies on some of my trays and they all touched into one big cookie.  The trays I had only 6 cookies were great.  Also let them cool on the rack just before you touch them, they are very delicate.  If you do store them do not store them on top of each other they will stick, I would store them with some parachute paper in between each cookie. I used chocolate chips for these and that was just fine. Last but not least these cookies are much better cold.  Yes I said it, these cookies are much better the day after cold with a glass of milk.   Huge hit!

I needed to include Michel’s intro to this cookie because it shows his thinking:

“This cookie is not meant as an improvement but more as an homage to the chocolate chip cookie. I was also inspired by another American delicacy, the graham cracker-so simple yet so crisp and with such depth of flavor. I was struck by what a nice crust it made for cheesecake, so I started to play with it, chopping up hazelnuts and dark chocolate to go along with it. Because the graham cracker is already baked, there is no opportunity for gluten to develop to hold the cookie together, so it is naturally crumbly, even though the eggs, salt, and sugar serve to bind it somewhat. Take care to pack the dough very tightly as descried below. The texture of these cookies makes me think of sand-not the grittiness of sand, but the way it is full of fine little grains. Try serving them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top-or use two spoons to shape the ice cream into oval “quenelle.””

Extremely Chocolaty Chip Cookies “Chocolate and Hazelnut Graham Cracker Cookie”

Yields: 24 Cookies | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Refrigeration: 4 hours | Bake Time: 20 minutes

1 cup hazelnuts
14.4 oz box graham crackers, crushed (about 4 cups)
8 oz dark or semisweet chocolate
½ cup dark alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder
1 ½  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar, dark
2 large eggs

Note: The cookie dough is rolled into a cylinder shape that can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months. Defrost it in the refrigerator before baking.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Place the hazelnuts on a sheet pan and bake them for 15 minutes, shaking them once halfway through. Transfer the nuts to the center of a kitchen towel. Fold the comers of the towel over and let them steam for 1 minute. Holding the towel, vigorously rub the hazelnuts inside to remove the skins. Don’t worry a little bit of skin stays on. Cool the hazelnuts completely.

Place the hazelnuts and graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and pulse to produce a fine powder. Roughly chop 4 ounces of the chocolate and add it to the food processor bowl, along with the cocoa powder. Process all together for 15 to 20 seconds, or until uniformly combined.

Using a spatula, mix the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and the contents of the mixer bowl and incorporate well.

Divide the dough into halves. Lightly wet your work surface, cut a length of plastic wrap about 24 inches long, and lay it on the damp counter. Place one of the dough balls in the center of the plastic. Take one edge of the plastic wrap and fold it over the dough. Tuck it under and roll the dough, forming a large sausage shape approximately 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches long in the process. Roll up the entire length of the plastic wrap around the dough two or three times. Next, twist both ends of the plastic very, very tightly. If you loosely pack this dough, it will crumble too easily. Fasten the ends tightly with twine or twist ties. Repeat the above steps with the other piece of dough.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until firm.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 F. Cut the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate into large “chips.” Line two sheet pans with Silpat or parchment. Slice the dough into ½ inch thick disks. Place 6 cookies on each sheet pan and press 6 to 8 chocolate pieces into the top of each. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes. They will be very delicate-let them sit on the pan for 5 minutes until they are firm and cool enough to remove with a spatula. Carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To enter the giveaway you need to do 3 things:

1. Subscribe to Delishhh in an RSS feed or by Email!
2. Become a fan of my Facebook page
3. Leave a comment telling me you did 1 & 2.

For additional entries:
4. Tweet about this giveaway.
5. Leave an additional commnet telling me you tweeted about it.

The giveaway ends on Sunday, 12/5 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. Winner will be selected from Random.org.

**** UPDATE ****

And the winner is. . . .

Megan!

Congratulations!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Le Crostata – Cranberry and Caramel Walnut Crostata

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

The November 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simone of Briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi Science in the Kitchen and Art of Eating Well.

A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more “rough” look, rather than a uniform, circular shape. The jams that are traditionally used as a filling are cherries, peaches, apricots, berries. The crostata can also be filled with pieces of fresh fruit and pastry cream (crema pasticcera), but then it is called torta di frutta. A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta.

The base of a crostata is past frolla, a sweet short crust pastry, made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Pasta frolla is versatile and you can put almost anything you want in it.

I was craving cranberries and remembered that caramel sauce I did for the Salted Caramel Brownies, so I decided to make cranberries with caramel sauce.

The tartness of the cranberries with the caramel sauce and the delicious crust was awesome.  I had to give the pie away to my neighbors right away or I would have eaten the whole thing.

Cranberry and Caramel Walnut Crostata

Yields: One 9 inch tart | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours | Cook Time: 30 minute

Pasta Frolla

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cool Time: 2 hours

½ cup minus 1 tbsp of superfine sugar ( you can use caster sugar or make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor  and letting it run until it is finely ground)
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of alt
Grated zest of a half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Empty food processor’s bowl onto your work surface.

Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

For the Filling

Prep Time: 15 minutes

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
1 ½ cup of fresh cranberries
1 cup toasted walnut

Turn the oven to 350F and toast the walnuts for 10 minute.  Remove them from the oven and let them cool.

In a sauté pan, heat the sugar over medium heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt, this takes about 5-8 minutes. Some of the sugar will harden into clumps, that is ok just keep whisking. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly pour in the heavy cream (it will foam up when first added). Continue to whisk until it forms a smooth sauce. (If your sauce is very lumpy and hard something went wrong.) When the bubbling stops, return the pan to a lower heat and stir well with a whisk to dissolve any caramel clumps. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and salt.  Add the cranberries and walnut and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Assembling the dough and the filling

Heat the oven to 375F.

Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in.  This can help rolling the dough and can help when transferring the dough to your pan.

Lightly dust the top of the dough.  If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.

Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8” thick.  If you used plastic warp flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered.  Peel away the plastic wrap. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thinness all the way around.

Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.

Pour the cranberry, caramel, walnuts mixture into the pie shell and bake the crostata until the cranberries have popped and the mixture is bubbling, and crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Remove the sides of the pan and slide the crostata on to a serving plate. Make sure the crostata is completely cool before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Other Similar Recipes:

Cheesecake Tartlettes
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Peach Tartlettes
Quiche Tartlettes

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry Orange Molds (Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Mold)

I grew up with Lingonberries which are very similar to Cranberries. In Sweden you have lingonberries with meatballs and some folks make dessert with lingonberries, there is also lingonberry “saft” which is a concentrated juice and you mix it with water.  You can actually find this in Ikea.

Lingonberries are very similar to Cranberries but mostly found in Northern Europe and cranberries are found mostly in North America. Both have the same nutritional value but lingonberries are smaller than cranberries but with a finer flavor.

However, since moving to the US I have moved on to cranberries and I love them.  

During the cranberry season I make all kinds of dessert with them, I love the colors, taste and tartness. But one of my favorite things is Cranberry Orange Mold. My uncle served me this first time for Christmas a few years back and I fell in love with it.  It was so good that I had to get the recipe and then make it at home, which I do ever year now.

I made it at home this week and I can’t stop eating it.  Not only is it delicious with turkey but I can eat it as a dessert.  As I am writing this I have had 3 small molds.

You can make this in a big bowl or small little molds and serve each guest an individual mold, which is just a nice little touch to the table setting.

Cranberry Orange Molds (Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Mold)

2 ½ cup (12 oz) raw cranberries
1 large orange
1 cup granulated sugar
1 package lemon flavored gelatin dessert
1 ½ cup hot or boiling water

Using the cuisineart add the cranberries into the mixer until crushed.  Put the cranberries into a bowl.  Then cut the whole orange into pieces including the rind and put into the cuisine art and mix it, put that into the bowl with the cranberries. Then take the hot water and add the lemon flavored gelatin into it and mix it.  Then mix the gelatin and cranberries and orange inside a bowl.  Once all mixed add the mixture into small bowls and add into the refrigerator over night.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes:

Cranberry and White Chocolate Streusel Bars
Turkey Stuffing
Butternut Sqaush Apple Soup

Butternut Squash Purée with Orange, Ginger, and Honey

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