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Greek Stifado


(Norsk oppskrift: Stifado, gresk gryterett)

Stifado is a flavorful Greek dish that is perfect for winter. There are lots of flavor in this lush stew, and it feels extra warming due to the exotic spices. Did I mention that it tastes great?

16683959_10154669508181622_3818800733083276496_n-002Stifado, 4 servings:

  • 800 grams stewing beef
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 2 chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil for frying
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole cinnamon
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Cut meat into cubes (2×2 cm). Brown the meat in two rounds with garlic and onion in a pan with oil.

Add the tomato puree into the pan and cook for a few minutes. Add the red wine, canned tomatoes and whole spices. Simmer under a lid for 1-1 ½ hours, or until meat is tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar.

Serve with pasta, salad, tzatziki, roasted potato and / or good bread.

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dav

Hungarian Goulash soup


(Norsk oppskrift: Gulasjsuppe )

A lot of Danes start their winter vacation this weekend, and some of them go to Norway to ski and enjoy the snow, as do the Swedes and the Norwegians. Whether you are going to a cabin in the mountains or staying at home, you are going to love this recipe I am sharing today; a big pot of delicious beef and paprika-soup – the Hungarian Goulash soup! This soup is the perfect winter food: so warming, so tasty, so filling, so satisfying!

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Goulash Soup

(Mind you, the recipe sais beef, but if you have venison lying about, go ahead and use it! If you use very lean meat – then increase the amount of bacon in the soup.)

Goulash soup (6 servings):

  • About. 600 grams beef shin
  • 100 grams of bacon
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter or oil for frying
  • 3 onions
  • 10 smallish potatoes
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or 2 tablespoons regular paprika if you don’t have the smoked)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3-4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1.3 liters beef stock (or water and stock cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the beef into cubes of 3×3 cm and cut bacon into small pieces.

Cook the meat in butter or oil over medium to high temperature in portions so that it gets a golden brownish color. (Don’t add all the meat to the pan at once, the temperature will drop and the meat will not brown.) Place the meat after every round into another pot or casserole dish. When you finish frying the meat, do not forget to “cook out the pan” with some water to gather up all the flavor at the bottom of the pan. Just pour this liquid over the meat.

Heat a large saucepan to medium temperature. Cut the peppers into strips and chop the onion. Sauté the onions in butter / oil. Add the paprika and sauté for five minutes.

Add the bell peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, caraway and the cayenne pepper if you choose to use it. Then add the browned meat and pour over beef stock until it is all covered by liquid. Bring to the boil and let it simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour.

Peel the potatoes, but keep them whole, and add to the pot, put the lid back on and let it simmer for another 45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and the meat is tender.

Serve the soup piping hot with good bread and just enjoy! If this soup doesn’t warm your wintery cold body, then nothing will.

This soup is so good that the only criticism will be of the positive kind 🙂

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Tasty Fish and apple


(Norsk oppskrift: Fiskeform med eple og karri)

With those three key ingredients; fish, apple and curry powder – you just know this is gonna be good!

16473801_10154627005816622_3066505810348229758_nFish, apple and curry

  • 400 grams fillet of cod or other white fish
  • Butter
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 large sour apples
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 300 ml milk
  • 200 ml Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 grams grated cheddar cheese
  • Parsley for garnish

Cut fish into large cubes.

Roughly chop the onion. Remove cores from apples and cut into thin wedges (leave the peel on)

Sauté onion and apple quickly in a little butter, and sprinkle with curry powder.

Evenly distribute fish, onions and apples in a wide ovenproof dish.

Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour. Add milk and yoghurt until you have a thick sauce. Stir while you bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a couple minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and pour the sauce over the fish, onions and apples. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven at 200 degrees C for 40 minutes.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with potatoes, pasta, vegetables or salad.

 

dav

Exotic Corn Chowder


(Norsk oppskrift: Spennende Maissuppe)

I think it is quite rare that I present a vegetarian main dish like I do today. Normally I would fry up some bacon or chorizo to sprinkle on top of the soup, but I had no such thing to cook with. When I do meatless dinners, I do try to incorporate some shiitake mushroom, as that gives me the umami that I miss. So, there’s a tip for my fellow meat lovers, a lil’ shiitake makes the veggie-dishes oh so exquisite.

You can change the coconut milk for cream if you prefer, but I rather like the flavor the coconut milk adds to the dish. Also, no harm in topping the chowder with bacon, chorizo, friend chicken, crab meat, prawns or whatever your heart desires, devastation amongst your non-veggie guests are then easily avoided.

sdrCorn Chowder (4 servings)

  • 600g frozen corn (or 4 small boxes)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 chili
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon powdered paprika
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil (or 2 teaspoons dried basil)
  • Pepper
  • 0.5 to 2 dl vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the thawed and drained corn and cook until they start to golden and «pop» a bit. Stir in salt. Take off a couple of tablespoons of corn and set aside (to be used as garnish).

Stir in minced garlic, finely chopped chili, grated shiitake mushroom and paprika and fry for a minute. Add the coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes. Add the basil and parsley and purée the chowder in a blender until you have a smooth, thick soup. Adjust to wanted consistency with vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the corn you set aside, and enjoy.

dav

dav

Chow-Chow curry


(Norsk oppskrift: Chow-chow, retromat )

Do you remember the popular curry Chow-chow from the 70s and 80s? Probably not, as I do believe this is a Norwegian thing. The Chow Chow you remember, might be a relish? This is not that, a relish. What I am sharing with you is a retro curry, served with sliced banana, cucumber, and peanuts on the side.

(And no, no hairy dogs with blue tongue is being cooked and served in my kitchen. You might want to specify that on your dinner invitation… I have no idea where the name comes from.)

dav

Chow-chow (4 people):

  • 600g pork
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons curry (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 dl liquid (from the mushrooms can, pineapple can and water)
  • 1 can diced mushrooms
  • 1 can of pineapple in chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 100 milliliter cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Cut the meat into strips and chop the onion. Brown quickly small portions of meat in the butter in a pan. Boil the pan with a bit of liquid between every round of browning and pour it into a pot.

Brown the onion and add to the pot. Season with curry, salt and pepper and the rest of the liquid (not the cream). Simmer under lid for about 30 minutes, until the pork is tender.

Add the mushrooms, pineapple, bell pepper, celery, tomato puree, soya sauce and the corn starch that you have stirred out in the cream.  Bring to the boil.  Season with salt, pepper, and curry.

Serve with rice, sliced banana, pickles, peanuts and a green salad or steamed vegetable if you prefer.

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Do you want to build a snowman?


(Norsk tekst finner du her: Har du lyst å lage snømann?)fb_img_1449352590569

I started a tradition with the Karate Kid when he was young in making gingerbread men, houses and what have you. We have a vast collection of those things you stick the figures out of the dough with. We now have so many shapes, that we need to double an all ready large recipe to get through them all. It takes a whole fragging day to roll, cut and bake the gingerbread men, and the whole next day to decorate them.

The Kid is now 15 and can’t be bothered to make gingerbread men with his old mom anymore. Thank goodness! So, this year I thought up something quicker, but equally creative. Yup, I made melted snowman cookies! And what do you know – both the Kid and Sir Nerdalot came lurking and wanted to help. I just love the result, some are looking sad and moody, others angry or deformed. So funny!

Now, these are sooooooo easy! Just use your favorite recipe for sugar cookies, mix up a batch of royal icing, open a few bags of sweets like licorice strings, marshmallows and mini smarties for eyes, head and buttons and let your creativity come to life.

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Pointy hats and Devil Cats


Today we celebrate surviving the year’s most dangerous night with a St. Lucy procession and homemade saffron-buns (Devil Cats). Have you ever tried one of these saffron-flavored Lucia buns? No? Here is your chance, the recipe will follow at the bottom of this post. First, we need to find out why do we put saffron in buns, and who was Saint Lucy?

15380306_10154463986941622_5885234601998451094_nThe Feast of Saint Lucy is a Christian feast day commemorating Saint Lucy, and is observed by Lutherans and Catholics. Of course, us Northerners add our own twist to it. All that is really known for certain about Lucy is that she was a martyr in Syracuse (a historic city in Sicily, Italy) during the Diocletian Persecution of 304 AD. Her veneration spread to Rome, and by the 6th century to the whole Church.

Per the traditional story, Lucy was born of rich and noble parents around the year 283. Her father died when she was five years old, leaving Lucy and her mother without a protective guardian. As she grew older, Lucy consecrated her virginity to God, and hoped to distribute her dowry to the poor. Her mother was suffering from a bleeding disorder and feared for Lucy’s future, and not aware of Lucy’s promise, she arranged for her daughter’s marriage to a young man of a wealthy pagan family.

In hopes of a cure, the sick mother made a pilgrimage to Saint Agatha, whom had been martyred 52 years earlier during the Decian persecution. Her shrine at Catania, less than fifty miles from Syracuse, attracted several pilgrims and many miracles were reported to have happened through her intercession. While her mom was on this pilgrimage, St. Agatha came to Lucy in a dream and told her that because of her faith, her mother would be cured, and that Lucy would be the glory of Syracuse. Upon the return of the mother, all cured and healthy, Lucy took the opportunity to persuade her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor.

15492079_10154463987321622_1535681339358521543_nLucy’s betrothed was all kinds off pissed off when he heard what was happening to the dowry and the riches of his future wife, so he denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse. Paschasius ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor’s image, which she of course refused, and thus she was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel. The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, but the fire did not touch her. Finally, she met her death by the sword.

In the 15th century a new twist to the story first appears; before Lucy died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the speedy end of the persecution, adding that Diocletian would reign no more, and Maximilan would meet his end. This so angered Paschasius that he ordered the guards to remove her eyes. Another version has Lucy taking her own eyes out to discourage a persistent suitor who admired them. Miraculously, when her body was prepared for burial in the family mausoleum, it was discovered that her eyes had been restored. The eye gauging-story might have come into play because Lucy’s Latin name, Lucia, shares a root with the Latin word for light, lux. Therefore, she was named as the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. In paintings and artwork St. Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate, and also the palm branch – a symbol of victory over evil.

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Now, why do we celebrate this day in the Nordic countries? When the Nordic countries were Christened, the “missionaries” carried with them the commemoration of St. Lucy, and this story of a young girl bringing light in the darkest period of the year might fit in nicely with the Scandinavian folklore which is centered on the annual struggle between light and darkness. Of course, in this region, the extreme change in daylight hours between the seasons might be what owes the tradition its popularity.

Our pre-Christian holiday of Yule (jól), was the most important holiday in Scandinavia, and was originally the observance of the winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun. Some of the practices of Yule remain in the Advent and Christmas celebrations today. We even kept the pagan name of the holiday!  The Yule season was a time for feasting, drinking, gift-giving and gatherings, and the season of awareness and fear of the forces of the dark.

Worth mentioning is that St Lucy’s feast on Dec 13th, used to coincide with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, this is because the Julian Calendar was used at that time. When the Gregorian Calendar was employed, they kept the old date for St. Lucy’s feast and it no longer fell on the longest day.

In Nordic folklore, the night we just woke up from is called Lussi Langnatt (The long night of Lussi). On this night and onwards to Yule, all kinds of goblins, orks, trolls and evil beings were thought to be active outside. It was believed to be particularly dangerous to be out during Lussi Night. Per tradition, children who had done mischief had to take special care, since Lussi could come down through the chimney and take them away, and certain tasks of work in the preparation for Yule had to be finished, or else the Lussi would come to punish the household. You were also not supposed to do any work on this night, or else you would get punished. Lussi is a female demon like goblin/ork/which who ride through the air with her followers, called “Lussiferda” (this itself might well be an echo of the myth of the Wild Hunt, or “Oskoreia”). There is also a theory that Lussi might have come from a mix up between the holy Lucy (“Light”) and the devil name Lucifer (“light-bearer”)

Lussi represents the unseen beings, the trolls, the goblins, the Huldufolk, the demons. There are several tales of her being Adam’s first wife and matriarch for the night creatures, just like Lilith in Jewish folklore. I will not get further into this, even though I do find it fascinating. (This might be food for a future blogpost, but if you are interested and simply can’t way, then check it out for yourself by comparing the two different reports on the creation of the woman in the bible, you find them in Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:22)

Legend also has it that farm animals talked to each other on Lussinatten, and that they were given additional feed on this longest night of the year, and there are similes to the modern tradition on Christmas Eve, where farmers put bowls of porridge out in the barn for the goblins and make sure the animals have an extra treat.

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The Karate Kid in the Lucia-procession in daycare.

As you will see, the way we celebrate St Lucy today is a mix of folklore and religion from all over the place. In preschools and schools a child is dressed up as Santa Lucia in a white gown and with a crown of candles on her head. She walks at the head of a procession of white clad children, holding candles that symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucy’s life when she was sentenced to be burned. They also sing a traditional Neapolitan song, Santa Lucia, where the Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucy overcomes the darkness.  Boys taking part of the procession are also dressed in white, but often have a cone shaped hat decorated with golden stars, also an old Nordic tradition that has been brought into the St Lucy veneration.

That we mix and match traditions is not just a Nordic phenomenon as this example from some regions of North-Eastern Italy where St. Lucy is also popular among children: Here St. Lucy is said to bring gifts to good children and coal to bad ones the night between December 12 and 13. Per tradition, she arrives in the company of a donkey and her escort, Castaldo. Children are asked to leave some coffee for Lucia, a carrot for the donkey and a glass of wine for Castaldo. They must not watch Santa Lucia delivering these gifts, or she will throw ashes in their eyes, temporarily blinding them. Does this sound like someone else we know?

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The Karate Kid is two and a half years old here.

Back to the Nordic way of doing it: The procession of singing, white clad children holding candles, often hand out a special baked bun, the Lussekatt, made with saffron. An older Swedish name for these baked goodies is Devil Cat. This tradition is said to come from Germany in the 1600s. The devil, in the form of a cat, would give the bad children a beating, while Christ, in the form of a child, would hand out buns to all the good children. To keep the shady Devil away, the buns are colored with saffron to make them yellow and representing the light the devil doesn’t like.

There you have it – this is the reason I greet you today with Lussekatter, these bespoke festive buns. You are welcome! (The way shorter and simpler reason is that I like Lussekatter and just wanted to make them.)

I promised you a recipe, mind you that this recipe also give the best buns and cinnamon rolls, but change the saffron for a teaspoon of cardamom if you are making something other than the Lussekatter.

Recipe Lussekatter

  • 1 liter milk
  • 300 grams butter
  • 250 grams icing sugar
  • 1 gram saffron
  • 100 grams yeast
  • 1500 grams flour
  • 1 egg
  • raisins

Add milk, butter and icing sugar in a pot and brink to a boil. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the saffron (if you are using the saffron strings, then place in a mortar and pestle with a teaspoon of sugar and grind to a powder). Let the mix cool to body temperature (37°C).

Stir the yeast in the mix, and add the flour. Knead the dough well. It is not necessary to proof the dough before making the buns in the shape of Lussekatter, but you can if you want. (see below for shaping-tips)

Place the shaped buns on greaseproof paper on a baking sheet and leave to proof for an hour. Decorate with raisins and dab lightly whisked egg on top of them to make them shiny.

Bake on 230°C for 7-10 mins on the middle rack. Keep an eye on them, you are using high temperature and you do not want the buns to burn on top.

Here you can see five different ways of rolling the buns. This vid is in Swedish, but you do not need to understand the narrative at all to see how to roll them.

Now, this is a rather large dough, and after rolling and shaping about half the dough, I got fed up by it all and decided to make something I call Christmas rolls with the rest. Simply roll out the rest of the dough with a rolling pin. Take a big chunk of marzipan out of the fridge and grate it over the rolled-out dough. Then roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls, cut discs with a knife and place them on a baking tin. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle chopped almonds and sugar. Supergood! The marzipan works great with the saffron.

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Pickled Herring with Mustard and Apple


15317786_10154456595761622_5135254287891355178_n(Norsk oppskrift finner du her: Sennepssild med eple)

Oh, glorious Christmas with good eats, decorated trees, family fun and more good eats. must admit, in my family it is all about the food, and most of it holds long traditions in Scandinavia. Like Pickled Herring.

Pickled herrings have been a staple in Northern Europe since Medieval times, being a way to store and transport fish, especially necessary in meatless periods like Lent. The herrings would be prepared, then packed in barrels for storage or transportation.

15492193_10154456596876622_6936669129180691598_nNowadays it is a treasured food for the X-mas breakfasts, lunches, buffets, and tapas’. You simply cannot celebrate a real Christmas without herring at this neighborhood. And it is delicious!

There are lots and lots of readymade pickled herrings to be bought, but the very best is the one you make yourself. Now, I do not do it completely from scratch, meaning I buy the cured herring, and take it from there.

This recipe is with mustard and fresh apples. I am not used to apples with my herring, but I must say they added a very nice crunch and freshness. There will be apples with my mustard-herrings from now on!

In the recipe below you’ll see that I put a lot of onions and apples in my herring, simply because I like it that way. Feel free to use less if that is what you prefer.

15439715_10154456596031622_6101263783700620759_nPickled Herring with Mustard and Apple (yields two large glasses)

  • 300 grams cured herring, sliced
  • 2 green apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • A bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons coarse mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 0.75 dl sunflower oil
  • 6 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Stir together the mustard, sugar, vinegar, oil, crème fraiche dill. Fold in apples, onions, and herring. Season. Put it into airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

The Danes use rye bread, but if you’re not keen on that then any type of bread will do. Or perhaps cooked potatoes, or flatbread? Also, very common to enjoy Aquavit with the herring. Skål!

(The herring will keep in the fridge for about a week.)

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Festive sides: Lingonberry-Apple Chutney


(Norsk oppskrift, følg linken: Tyttebær-Eple Chutney)

Since we already put some efforts in preparation in festive foods for X-mas and New Year’s, maybe it’s also worthwhile to put a lil extra effort in the accessories as well – especially in those things that can be made well in advance. This aromatic, little jam will elevate your meal for sure!

It is excellent with turkey, X-mas ham, and any dish you would normally serve with cranberries. And yes, you can certainly switch the lingonberries with cranberries in this recipe. The spices are perfect for the Holidays, but it can be used year-round of course.

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You just must try it with deep fried Camembert, or how about on Melba toast with cream cheese?

This recipe yields a rather large portion, so why not put some of it in a pretty jar and give away as a present?

Well, let’s get on with it, shall we? Here is the recipe:

15232066_10154425390996622_5977085041121755224_n-001Lingonberries-Apple Chutney

  • 500 g fresh or frozen lingonberries
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 onion
  • 300 ml sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 200 ml sultanas
  • 100 ml soft brown sugar
  • 50 ml cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 100 ml walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Rinse the lingonberries and peel and slice the apples and onions into small cubes.

Place sugar and water in a heavy-liter saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Add the lingonberries, apples, onions, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices and give it a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chutney is very thick. Stir occasionally.

Cool and stir in toasted walnuts. Put in a clean glass with a tight lid and it will keep in fridge for a couple of weeks.

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Festive

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Carrot Pachadi


(Den norske oppskriften finner du her: Gulrot-Pachadi)

Pachadi is the South Indian word for yogurt-based side dishes, and thus it goes well with biryani, curries and other spicy dishes as yogurt softens the sting from spices.

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Carrot Pachadi

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dried chilies
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 300 ml thick yoghurt
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and chili. Replace the lid until the seeds begin to pop. Remove the pan from heat and stir in curry leaves.

Whisk the yoghurt to make sure it has no lumps, and mix in the grated carrots and coriander. Take the chili out of the spiced oil, and mix into the carrot-mix. Season with salt.