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My husband just celebrated his 50th birthday.

He is a very lucky one because this birthday has been celebrated a bunch of times at this point. The first time was when we were home in Sweden a while ago, the second time was a big birthday party for a whole bunch of family & friends (this also took place in Sweden) and the third and last time was this week when he had his actual birthday.

My sister with family and one of my brothers and his family gave my husband an overnight stay at this most fantastic Japanese spa “Yasuragi” in Stockholm. I was also a lucky recipient of the present.

It was the most fantastic experience. A little bit like a cult when you first looked at all the people walking around in the same robes and slippers, but what a different experience. It was all about eating, relaxing and doing a whole bunch of nothing. Just the way I like it.

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yasuragi

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My family had chosen Teppanyaki as dinner for us.

Teppanyaki is food prepared on a huge griddle or iron plate in front of a small group of dinner guests. It is clearly a visual as much as a taste experience. “Teppan” means iron plate and “Yaki” means grilled. So, it was a huge griddle. The chef prepared different smaller dishes for us. A reindeer fillet, dumplings in a broth, grilled kale, lobster, sushi and so much more.

There was one thing that really stood out. They had a marinated garlic that was absolutely marvelous. It had been marinated for 2 years. They heated it up on the griddle and folded it into some rice. Wow! What a taste memory that was. I am about to make this myself. I asked them for the recipe and they gave it to me gladly. Really easy actually. The problem is only to wait for it to be done… It will be a long 2 years wait.

marinated garlic.

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Marinated aged Garlic;

Good garlic, if possible, organic.

Equal parts Mirin

& Soy sauce. Preferably organic as well but a good Soy & Mirin will also do.

Water for blanching the garlic cloves in.

Directions;

Bring water to a boil. Add the peeled garlic cloves to the boiling water and blanche them for about 3-4 minutes. Let the garlic cloves dry off & put them into a dark glass canning jar (or other jar) with a tight-fitting lid. Pour over equal parts Mirin & Soy. You reach the best result if you fill the container to the very brim. Make sure the lid is tightened well. Let the jar sit in a dark place for 2 years.

At the spa, the chef told me that they are making new batches of marinated aged garlic cloves every year. It is one of their staples in the kitchen.

 

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One of the vegetables they prepared for us was fresh kale, well cooked on the griddle with garlic slivers.

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raindeerlobster

 

 

 

 

 

 

full force

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The whole meal was a perfect display of cooking and showmanship. Perfectly pared with different kinds of drinks such as aged Sake.

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japaneese dining room

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A more traditional Japanese dining room.

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hot springs*

The outside hot springs were fantastic. Even though it was below freezing outside when we where there, we didn’t feel the cold since the different heated springs kept us nice and warm. We ended up staying there for hours. Some of my friends that has visited the spa told me they had spent time in the hot springs looking at the snow falling.

sauna

 

Scandinavians loves their saunas. At the spa, they had one called the “Panoramic Sauna”, overlooking the water. We sat there late at night in the dark, looking at the cruise ships going to Finland. I must say it was the first time I ever have liked these ships.

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viking line

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They were even nice to look at during breakfast in the morning….

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room

Part of our room.

robe

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And my little husband in his “yukata”, Japanese robe.

 

 

I can have cravings for a plate of a good old spaghetti and meat sauce, served with parmesan and a cold beer! A plate of something old fashion, “everyday meal”. Something your mama used to make.

I think that many of us has pasta as a “go to” or a “fast fix” meal. For me, one of the easiest sauces to make is a meat sauce. You can switch the meat out for anything else that you would prefer. Perhaps some tuna, pulled pork or just keep it vegetarian if you prefer that.

I don’t measure anything. I just take a little of this and a little of that. Whatever I have in the fridge will be the base of it all.

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Good old Meat sauce.

Serves 4.

10-16 oz. Ground beef.

1 medium or large onion. Any color.

1-3 cups of chopped fresh vegetables. I usually use a mixture of fresh mushrooms, peppers, carrots, celery.

1 medium can of crushed tomatoes. If you are lucky and have fresh tomatoes, cube those up and use those instead.

Lot’s of garlic. I like it a lot so for me, it will be about 6 cloves but if you only want one, that is good enough.

3-4 tbsp. of tomato paste (or ketchup if you don’t have tomato paste).

Any kind of fresh or dried herbs. About 1-2 tbsp.

Salt & pepper to taste.

A splash of hot sauce in my case but that is optional as always.

Milk or heavy cream. You could also use creme fraiche. If you don’t want to use dairy, just use a broth.

Directions;

Chop or shred your vegetables while you fry up the ground beef in a skillet on medium high heat. When the meat is done, pour over to a bowl. Fry the chopped onions and the vegetables in the same skillet. When the onions are getting a little translucent, pour in the fried meat. Add the tomato paste or ketchup. Start with half the amount since it is easier to add than take out. Let the garlic fry with the veggies and meat just a few minutes so they don’t burn. Add the crushed tomatoes  and the milk/heavy cream/ broth or whatever liquid you prefer to use, to the skillet. Let boil down for anything from 15-30 minutes. It all depends on how much liquid you have added. I add about 2 cups of liquid. If it gets to “dry” before I get a loose and soft sauce, I just pour in more milk. Salt & pepper to taste. Add the herbs the last few minutes.

I serve this with any kind of pasta. This is such an easy weeknight dish. The trick is to cook a lot of sauce and freeze it in badges. You just take it out the night before and let it defrost in the fridge over night. boil the pasta when you get home and heat up the sauce. Super fast. Just the way I like it. And that cold beer is just the crowning of this easy, basic dish.

Add some shredded parmesan and call it a day.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New year. I am happy for that. A New Year brings new possibilities and expectations.

We all try to start off being better & healthier. I want to make better choices for myself this year. On all levels. With that said, now it is up to me to execute it. Oh boy… I better stick to it all this year.

We decided to just take it easy on new years eve. A pajama party of sorts. A tradition that my husband grew up with, is to hold rice and some money in your hand when the clock strikes midnight. I wanted to “up the odds” so I was holding a couple of extra bills and as much rice as my hand could hold. Now we just have to wait and see.

The new year is showing its nice side. The sun is shining and it is nice and fresh outside. The morning has been slow and gentle. How could you start the new year better than this?

We had the usual lobster meal on for new years, but this time we didn’t even finish it all. That is unusual. That gave me an opportunity to make a nice individual Lobster Omelette with some vegetables for breakfast. Delicious and the first healthy meal of the year.

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Individual Omelette’s with left over Lobster.

Serves 2.

4 large eggs.

4 tbsp. milk.

6 mini peppers or 2 x 1/2 bell peppers, different colors. Finely cut.

6 asparagus. Finely cut.

1/4 – 1/2 cup left over Lobster or any other seafood. Cut in semi big pieces.

1 tbsp. shredded basil leaves or any other fresh herbs.

Salt & pepper to taste.

1 Lemon or lime.

Hot 450 F/ 225 C oven.

Directions;

Whisk the eggs well, together with the milk, salt & pepper.

Heat up mini frying pans or if you only have a regular sized pans, do one big omelette.

Pour in the egg/milk mixture. Fry for a couple of minutes, scraping the edges into the center so that it cooks evenly.

Fry the finely chopped vegetables. Turn off the heat. Let sit in the pan.

Put the mini omelettes into the oven. Add the seafood into a oven-proof bowl and warm slightly.

Finish off the omelets and make them “dry” on the top. It will only take a couple of minutes.

Take them out, you will see that they have puffed up a little bit, just like a soufflé.

Add the vegetables and the seafood on top. Shred over the basil or fresh herbs.

Squeeze a few drops of lemon or lime over the omelette.

Serve with some fresh fruit.

Enjoy the New Year!!!

 

Happy continued holidays or “God fortsättning” as we would say.

Breakfast after the celebrations all through the holidays, consists of the best sandwiches.

Breakfast after the celebrations all through the holidays, consists of the best sandwiches.

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Christmas is celebrated for many days in Sweden. People take as many days of vacation as they can. We usually call all the days in between the holidays “squeeze days”. These are mostly given off to the staff as bonus days but at some workplaces they have to use vacation-days. Some years one can really get lucky and have 2- 2 1/2 weeks off. Other times it can be only a week. This year, many of my friends and family has been able to take a whole lot of extra days. How lucky. Here in the US we are only off on Christmas day. The rest has to come out of that oh so important vacation day pot. So since I just had a late year vacation, I am not having any days off in between.

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I always change the Christmas table up from year to year. The decorations are important but can really be anything & everything.

I always change the Christmas table up from year to year. The decorations are important but can really be anything & everything.

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Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. The food, the lights, the family & friends. It all comes together in a blend of “wonderfulness”.
We decorate the house with all the old Swedish little “tomtar” (gnomes), fruits, candles, straw ornaments, flowers and much more.

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The highlight of course, is the food. The Christmas buffet is a very typical and non-changing event. In my family, we keep having the Christmas ham, salmon mousse, warm smoked salmon or any other smoked fish, cold smoked salmon, Jansson temptation (potato & anchovy gratin), meatballs, cocktail sausages and much more on the table. No Christmas is complete without these dishes.

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Warmsmoked salmon or in this case, Whiting and cold smoked salmon.

Warm-smoked salmon or in this case, Whiting and cold smoked salmon.

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We celebrate Christmas eve. The following days of Christmas we make all sorts of leftover dishes. For breakfast, you could almost guarantee that people would eat meatball and beet salad, ham & cheese- & other versions of Christmas sandwiches. They are the best sandwiches ever.

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Dark

Sides & Red beat salad, olives, pickled cucumbers, sour cream, sweet-mustard sauce, lingonberries, mustard and much more.

Sides. Beet salad, olives, pickled cucumbers, sour cream, sweet-mustard sauce, lingonberries, mustard and much more.

God Jul!! Or Merry Christmas!!

God Jul!! Or Merry Christmas!!

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I keep telling my husband when he says that Christmas is only one day, that Christmas lasts until the beginning of January. So, keep on celebrating and keep eating versions of that fantastic Christmas buffet!

We are coming to the end of the Midsummer weekend. What a wonderful weekend we have had. Lot’s of food, rest, friends and family. That is just the way I like it.

Midsummer is the second most important holiday for us Swedes (christmas being the most important one). We just love to celebrate the longest days of the year.

It is very common for families or groups of friends to go out to someones house in the country. If you have a garden at home, that would be a given place for a midsummers party as well. We don’t care if it’s cold out. We just bundle up and drink another “snaps”.

It is very important to have a traditional dinner (or lunch). Most of the time, a long table is set up in the middle of the garden with white table cloths, wild flowers picked earlier that day and lot’s of food.

We would not cook many intricate dishes as much as we would assemble food on plates. This is really a true “smörgåsbord” opportunity. It is a day of fish (typically salmon), shrimp, all kinds of pickled herring and many more things.

I must have warm smoked and cold smoked salmon, caviar & herring on my midsummer buffet. It really isn’t midsummer without it.

Of course we would traditionally have our “snaps” as well, but this year we took it a little easy. The summer is still young though… There are more chances for some “snaps”.

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“Gubbröra” (Matjes herring mixture).

Makes about 1 1/2 cup.

3 hardboiled eggs.

3-4 oz. Matjes herring. (or anjovis if you can’t find mates herring).

1/3 of a nice tasting apple, finely cubed/chopped.

2 tbsp. chopped chives.

1 tbsp. chopped dill.

Pepper to taste.

Cut all into very fine pieces. Mix well.

Spoon onto bread or into egg halves. You could also fill a wrap with the mixture. Roll it up (very tight) and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces.

Enjoy, and Happy Midsummer.

 

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Warm smoked salmon or warm smoked Whiting would be a regular on the midsummer table. Little "crusader" (pastry cups) with herring mixtures or cold smoked salmon mixture.

Warm smoked salmon or warm smoked Whiting would be a regular on the midsummer table.
Little “crusader” (pastry cups) with herring mixtures or cold smoked salmon mixture.

Pickled Herring, Canadian sweet shrimp.

Pickled Herring, Canadian sweet shrimp.

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My husband sets the tone in the garden. The swedish flag goes up.

 

Happy midsummer!!!!

 

A record cold Arctic blizzard blasting winter has been playing with us in the US. Here in NY we have had a really cold and long winter. Down to -14-15C/8F almost every time a cold spell hit us. And it has been snowing off and on all through the winter. We still have snow in the garden and now they warned for yet one more little snowfall. But this time I think it will be very minor and it will not stick to the ground.

The really strange thing is that back in Sweden, it has been a more warm winter, not too much snow & not too cold. Actually no winter at all for the longest time. Some people said they missed the winter others didn’t.

I just reminded a friend, that the good thing with a super deep freeze is that all mosquitos, tics and other horrible little creeps all dies. They have to start from scratch with their colonies.

So all is well with the deep freeze during the winter for me. But one does not have to overdo it. All over the US temperature records are broken. They said that we in NY have had the 7 coldest winter since they started keeping track of temperatures. Now that is crazy.

And all this really has made us “drink soup” as they call it in the West Indies. And lot’s of it, all through the winter.

I make sure to always have a few different kinds in the fridge & freezer, because it really is one of the best ways to defrost after being outside.

I usually make some pumpkin soup, potato & leek soup, some clear broth for noodles, my favorite simple and classic vegetable soup, corn chowder or some other soups.

But come the weekend, we do a little bit of a fancy soup or chowder.
Here is an easy seafood chowder. Super good, tasting and fragrant.

 

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Seafood chowder.

Serves 4.

About 1/2 lb. of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined.

6oz. of fresh salmon cut into 1″ cubes.

1/2 c. of finely cut leek or 4 medium shallots, chopped.

4 c. of fish stock or vegetable stock.

1- 1 1/2 c. of heavy cream (if you do not want cream use more stock).

A handful of corn kernels & shelled edamame..

1/4c. white port or good white wine.

1.8 oz-2 oz. saffron.

Fresh herbs like thyme, basil or chives as decoration.

1/2 tbs. butter for frying (you could use olive oil if you only have that).

Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions;

Start with melting the butter in a soup pot on medium heat. Fry the shallots to a translucent color. Add the saffron, corn & edamamde. Fry for a few minutes.

If the shrimp is really big, you can split them lengthwise.

Add the white port or white wine. Let boil for one more minute before you add the peeled and deveined shrimp & the salmon. Let come to a boil and add the cream and let come to a boil again and simmer for a few minutes. The seafood chowder is done when the shrimp is turning pink. You can add either salt & pepper to taste or just stick to the fresh herb that you chop up and sprinkle over the chowder. You can of course also add hot sauce if you like just as well as any other of your favorite ingredient that you feel is missing in your version of the seafood chowder.

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Stay warm and enjoy!

I can’t believe that another year has passed. When I was younger, “they” all said that when you get to a certain age, life is just spinning faster and faster. “You better pay attention and live to the fullest!”

I guess it is because all of a sudden you see the “goal line”. I never reflected on this until a few years ago, when I realized that I had lived over half of my life. I actually started to feel a little stressed. Am I on the right path? I better shape up and just “go for it”. I am not worried about my age. That is something I can’t change. I am turning 52 next year.  I am embracing it, grateful for another year. It really is just a number. I know lot’s of young people, at least half my age as well as people who are a generation or so older that I am, who really don’t define their age groups. I think that when you just let go of the fear of getting older, you will feel younger.

Ringing in the new year is always a time of expectations. I am not making any New Years resolutions. I rather look at it as expectations and deadlines. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. It is much easier to just set up a bunch of partial deadlines that you would work with through the year.

As you might know, my husband loves his lobsters. The challenge this year is what to make for new years eve? I was thinking of making lobster rolls… Or perhaps some lobster ravioli?

I finally settled on The same old same old… That means a steamed lobster with all the trimmings.

But for an appetizer, I made a cold lobster roll salsa with a little mashed potato & parmesan “nest”.

To that I served a spiced snaps (vodka with a few slices of fresh ginger).

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Lobster Roll inspired salsa.

Serves 4.

1 cup of coarsely chopped boiled lobster meat (about 1 large lobster or 2 small).

1 chopped medium ripe fresh mango.

1 stalk of celery, preferable one of the more inner stalks, finely chopped.

1/2 orange, squeezed.

1/2 lemon, squeezed.

1 tbsp. chopped cilantro or mexican cilantro (recao).

1/2 -1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger.

1/2 cup. steamed shelled edamame (optional).

1 tbsp. mayo.

1 tbsp. Mirin.

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

1 cup of good white wine mixed with gelatin, for decoration.

Directions;

Prepare the white wine and gelatin. Let it stiffen up in the fridge.

Chop up the lobster meat in larger chunks. Mix all ingredients together. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes to “marinate”.

Divide the mixture into 4 small cups. Pack it all very well. Make sure not to spoon up the liquid, you can discard that.

Take the gelatin white wine and scrape it with a fork. This creates “crushed ice”.

Pour up the lobster mixture on a small plate. Decorate with some of the “crushed ice” gelatin around it.

You could serve it either just like that or add some greens or as I did, a little nest of baked potato mash, mixed with some grated parmesan & freshly grated ginger.

Enjoy!

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