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Archive for June, 2012

4th of July must be one of, if not the biggest BBQ weekends in the US.

Obviously not everybody knows what the reason for the celebration is, since I have been asked many times if we celebrate 4th of July in Sweden. What does one answer to that???

Anyway, So, I have not been celebrating this holiday more than in the sense of it being a day off from work, a bonus day.

I never liked fireworks. I know someone who blew off a couple of fingers as a kid, trying to make fireworks himself. Really scary but it made a lot of us not really like fireworks. If one looks at the bright side of that, I never have to rush to get a great spot to watch it. I could stand way in the back. No problem.

As I am getting older, 4th of July means something else for me than just a celebration. It reminds me of what it took for this country (America) to become what it has become. When I became a citizen, we had to study the history of the country and it made me more aware of things. I feel very lucky. Lucky that I am here, lucky that I was born in Sweden, lucky that I live now and not way back when…

This 4th of July we are going to BBQ. Our neighbourhood goes bananas for any opportunity to be out in the backyard and get those grills going.

I am breaking the holy rule of this weekend. I am making salmon/Mango burgers. My husband said “No, we should have real burgers, ribs and hot dogs and things.” Lucky for me, he changed his mind. We are going with the Salmon/Mango burgers.

To make the whole thing very “4th’y” I am going all out with the stars and stripes…

A little overkill of red, white and blue doesn’t hurt.

So here it is, my healthy and really delicious salmon burger.

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Salmon/Mango Burgers with Stars & Stripes Fries:

About 6-8 burgers, depending on how big you make them.

About 2 lb. fresh salmon.

1 Mango, cut up into small pieces.

2 tbsp. of toasted pine nuts (optional)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs. I used mint, thyme, dill, sage and chives.

1 hot pepper. Any kind. You can also use season pepper/ a mild pepper just to get that pepper taste.

Splash of hot sauce (optional)

1 egg. (to keep it all together since the mixture is very loose.)

Panko crumbs (or other kind of bread crumbs)

Salt & pepper to taste.

Some mango ketchup (optional You boil 1 diced mango, 2 tbsp. of tomato paste, 4 tbsp. of water or pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, salt pepper. Any other kind of herbs and spice you have in the kitchen. Boil it all down to a thicker paste. Taste and make sure you like it. Add anything you feel like. Blend with a hand mixer. Let cool.)

Directions;

Mix the salmon in a blender. Make it some what fine. You can leave a couple of “chunks” out and mix in them later, just to get a more interesting texture.

In a bowl, mix the mango that has been cut up into fine pieces, pine nuts, and all the other ingredients.

Pour Panko crumbs into a deep dish. Season with salt & pepper.

Shape the burgers. Dip into the crumbs. Turn and make sure they are well breaded. When done, place the burgers into the fridge to make them “settle” slightly before frying or bbq’ing.

Note that this mixture is very loose and you might want to fry on top of the stove unless you have a good grill.

Fry the burgers. Build the burgers on top of a good bun . I used an 8 grain bun from my bakery around the corner.

Add lettuce a little mayo if you like, the burger and some mango ketchup or regular ketchup. Top with a few slices of onions.Yum, Yum….

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The Stars & Stripes Fries are so easy to make.

If you have been following my blog, you know by now, that I think it is “wild and crazy” to use cookie cutters to do all sorts of things.

This time it is star-shaped fries and just regular cut fries, baked in the oven with a little salt, pepper and thyme on them.

To make sure for them not to be dried up due to the irregular shapes, I first boiled them for a few minutes.

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Varg tass (Wolf paw) is a very common drink at home. It is really yummy. You just take one part lingonberry juice concentrate (if you can’t find lingonberry juice use cranberry juice), 1 part vodka and fill up with seltzer water. I had to be a little particular for this drink, so I made my own shot glasses in ice. Now that is really overkill. I found these molds in a store and almost fell over of happiness. The Swedish “Ice hotel” serves their drinks in their “Absolute Ice bar” in ice shot glasses and I have always loved them. Now I can make my own. Lucky me.

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I was thinking of making this really crazy dessert, but I ended up making something I love and that is more of a summer thing. Frozen yoghurt. You could just as well make or buy ice cream, but I like to make it a little healthier (some times.)

Frozen Yoghurt with blueberries, strawberries and coconut.

A large container of vanilla yoghurt. I used Greek Vanilla yoghurt. You should use the kind you like best. Plain or Vanilla.

1 c. of mashed fresh Blueberries.

1/2 c. of mashed fresh Strawberries. 1 tbsp. of honey.

1 tbsp. of shredded coconut. I used large flakes that I soaked in water for an hour or so.

A couple of squares of dark chocolate.

Directions;

Use an ice cream maker or just mix it and freeze it.

Mix the yoghurt, berries, honey & coconut.

If you use an ice cream maker, follow the directions for the machine.

if you don’t have that, just put the mixture into the freezer. Keep stirring ever so often to make sure it freezes evenly.

You can make the frozen yoghurt ahead of time.

I used wafer cones from the grocery store. I just printed out an American flag on paper and cut out a “cover” for the cone. Very easy and it looks really cute.

Finally, I shredded a little dark chocolate over the top.

Enjoy and Happy 4th!!!!

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Happy Fathers day!!!!

In the US and many other places Father’s day is celebrated today.

I know some fathers that has a few complaints about this day. “People don’t care about us fathers. Shouldn’t it be just as important as Mother’s day? All the mothers in the world get a whole day of fun-filled parties while we get (in best cases) a card, a tie and pat on the back.”

Bohoo, I must say…. Poooor all you fathers. But I do agree, Mother’s day is more of a celebration. Father’s day doesn’t get the same attention.

So, I would like to make this day a real celebration with my favorite cake, the “famous” Swedish Strawberry Cake!! And why not throw in some flowers on top of that??

I was trying to remember if we ever celebrated this day at home. I am a little ashamed to tell you, I can’t even remember!! So I guess the answer is NO. No celebration really. Perhaps just a “Happy father’s day, dad!” was all my dad got. I hope this post will make up for it. At least a little bit.

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Swedish Strawberry Cake.

(Note that you could just as well use a regular sponge cake or angel cake for this Strawberry cake.)

4 eggs.

3/4 c. of sugar.

1/3 c. flour.

1/3 c. potato flour. (Can be bought in better assorted grocery stores.)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder.

Filling;

3/4 c. whipped heavy cream.

Berries or fruits. Any kind and any combination. I usually use one or two mashed ripe bananas mixed with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. You could also use canned mandarins mixed with seedless grapes. If you don’t have more berries that what you are going to top the cake with,  just use any kind of jam mixed with the whipped cream.

For decoration;

1 c. whipped heavy cream.

Strawberries or another berry that would look on top of the cake.

Shredded dark chocolate (optional.)

Kiwi fruits, sliced (optional.)

Directions;

Butter and flour a baking pan. Aprx. 10″ in diameter.

Whip the eggs and sugar together until very light. Mix flour, potato flour and baking powder together and mix into the egg & sugar mixture.

Pour the batter into the buttered and floured pan.

Bake in an 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.Place the pan in the lower or center part of the oven. Please make sure to check after 30 minutes. Some ovens bake faster than others.

When ready, take it out from the pan and let cool.

Cut into three layers. If you have a hard time doing this it is ok to do only two layers, but three would be the best. 

Whip the heavy cream. Set aside about half of it for the decorating.

Put one layer of heavy cream on 2 of the layers. Top with mashed bananas and/or berries. Add the cake layers on top of each other. Add the “lid” top layer of the cake. Cover with the rest of the whipped heavy cream. Be sure to cover sides as well. Just place the berries or whatever it is you are decorating the cake with on top and all around sides if desired.

This cake is great to make a few hours ahead of time. This makes the inside a little bit more juicy.

I would say, this cake is the most common cake at home.

We serve it for any occasion.

I hope you will enjoy it.

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I have many strawberry & wild strawberry plants in my garden. It is a “must” to at least have a few plants. I grew up with this and could not even imagine there not being any strawberries to pick.

My dad and I call each other and talk about our strawberries. My dad actually called yesterday and told me he just picked the first ones for the year. Yum.

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Happy Father’s day!!!!

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Midsummer, the second most celebrated holiday in Sweden (With Christmas being number one.)

I have always loved midsummer. For me, it is “the Swedish of all Swedish.”

Growing up, I used to spend my summers at this little cabin in the woods that my family rented. A primitive little house without running water or electricity. It was great.

On the morning of midsummer’s eve, I would run out into the forest to pick a huge bouquet of wild flowers.

My dad would take my sister and I, down to where the maypole was kept. It was prepared with birch branches so it was just for us kids to add all our flowers.

This was such a fun tradition for me. Together with fiddlers and people dressed it traditional Swedish clothing, we marched down to the “dansbana”= outdoor stage & party place. I remember being so proud holding on to the maypole with one hand, walking next to my big sister.

My mom used to make clothes for us. For some reason she always made exactly the same outfits for both of us.  I loooved it but my sister hated it. Midsummer was a bonus day for me, this was one of the very few days my sister would tolerate us being dressed alike.  I remember our red skirts with white knee highs and white blouses. Smashing!!! I would wear that outfit any time I could. I even received my sisters hand-me-downs. Lucky, lucky…

When the maypole procession finally reached the “dansbana” = outdoors dance floor, the men positioned the maypole in the center.  All night, people would dance around it and have fun. There was even a band playing. We call it “dance band music”. Really horrible if you ask me.

The grounds would have lot’s of food stands. For us kids, there were little fish ponds and things.

I really remember this being the most fantastic times ever. Lot’s of junky little toys from the fish pond, mosquito bites and full belly. Those were the days…

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Midsummer plate.

For midsummer, we would eat a lot of salmon and herring. It is very typical to put together a buffet or sampler plates.

I usually serve pickled herring, smoked salmon, boiled newly harvested potatoes (first of the year), some kind of cheese pie, a salad….. Of course we have our eggs and caviar on the table too.

This year, my midsummer would be sampler plates with;

Smoked salmon rolls;

Smoked salmon with a mixture of cream cheese, cut fresh dill, pepper, caviar and chives. All rolled up and cut into “sushi size”.

Pickled herring with boiled potatoes;

Since we don’t have the small fresh potatoes here, I just took regular potatoes and shaped them into little potato balls that I boiled with a pinch of salt and some fresh dill.

I made it easy for myself and bought the pickled herring from the grocery store. It used the one that comes in a vinegar sauce. It tastes just like the regular one I usually make. It is all about making it easy for one self.

Sour cream and caviar.

Caviar (fish eggs) can be bought in most grocery stores. Any color works.

Hard bread with a very sharp cheese.

Gruyère would be good.

“Gubbrora”;

A kind of deviled egg.

Hardboiled eggs with filling made of cut up hard-boiled eggs, sour cream, finely chopped red onion, a little anchovy (if you don’t have that, use anchovy paste), chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste.

 

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My table size maypole. (Thanks to my sister I actually have two of them.)

 This is from one of our Midsummer picknick’s. Lot’s of herring, caviar and miniature snaps bottles! Oops!!! What can I say, We do love our “snaps”.

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“Midsummer;

The celebration of Midsummer dates back thousands of years, and the holiday’s pagan origins predate Christianity. As is the case with many modern holidays, the Catholic church co-opted Midsummer celebrations by associating the date of the solstice, called Midsummer’s Eve, with the birthday feast of John the Baptist. In 1953, the actual date of Midsummer Day was changed to be on the Saturday that falls between June 20 and 26. In Sweden and Finland, celebrants dance around a maypole, and celebratory bonfires are lit in Denmark, Norway and Finland. In all countries where Midsummer is celebrated, traditional food and drink are consumed.”

Happy Midsummer!!!!!

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Crumbles are perfect little desserts.

They are easy to make and look fancy. They can liven up an ordinary day or save you if there are guests at the door. It’s really all about having cute little ramekins to make them in. I often use my creme brulee ramekins for individual crumbles or little fruit tarts.

You can prepare yourself by buying fruits or berries when they are in season. Clean & cut into perfect slices and then just portion pack and freeze them.

We eat very healthy all through the week. So, the times I make a dessert, I really don’t feel bad about it.

It is all about making the best choices and using the best ingredients.

You can make these little crumbles and still feel good about it. Just use whole wheat flour & light brown sugar. Be sure to taste the fruit so that you only use as much sugar as you really need.

If you are going to eat something outside your regular diet, make sure it is delicious!

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Peach & Plumb Crumble.

Serves about 4.

Filling;

6-8 fresh Peaches. Pealed and sliced. (Slices not too thick.)

4-6 Plumbs, Sliced. (Slices not too thick.)

1/2 – 1 tbsp. light brown sugar.

1 tbsp. of whole wheat flour. (Or regular flour.)

A splash of port wine or a delicious liqueur of your choice. (Optional.)

1/2 tbsp. of ground cinnamon. (optional.)

Crumble topping;

1/4 c. of light brown sugar or 2 tbsp. brown sugar + 2 tbsp. crumbled almond paste.  Note – If the fruit is very sweet it might not need much sugar at all.

1/4 c. whole wheat flour. (Regular flour get’s the same result.)

1/4 tsp. good salt.

3-4 tbsp. of unsalted butter or margarine. Note – If you need to, add a little more butter to “hold” the crumble together.

1 1/2 – 2 c. rolled oats/old fashion oats.

1/4 – 1/2 c. roughly chopped nuts. For example almonds, pecans or hazelnuts. (Optional.)

Directions;

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the fill ingredients together. Let them sit and “marry” for a while. You can do this a little ahead of time.

Mix the crumble part together in a separate bowl. Use a fork or your fingers to make sure the butter is well incorporated.

Add the filling to the baking dishes. Make sure the filling reaches well into the edges. Add the crumble on top. Keep the crumble in little “clusters” to get a nice “crunch”.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes. It all depends on how big the dishes are and the oven heat. Just make sure to take them out when they become golden brown and the filling is starting to bubble.

You can serve this with ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla sauce.

Enjoy!!

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I don’t know why, but Udon noodles are my favorite noodles.

It is to the point where I need to come up with something new to eat for lunch at work. It can get a little boring to eat the same thing (almost) all the time. Does it count as a different thing if I get it from a new place??? Ok, I know. Same thing. I was just joking…

At times, I make Udon noodles at home. It tastes much better and I can add anything I want. Here is a Beef Udon noodle I make quite often. It is light and yummy. And knowing my husband & I, it always ends up a little spicy in our version, but it is up to you, what level of heat you like and can stand.

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Beef with Udon noodles.

Serves 2.

2 packages of Udon noodles, fresh not dried. (If you use dried, follow instructions on the package.)

About 1/2 lb Beef, any kind but preferably a good cut meat. (If you would like more beef just add more…)

Miso paste. Any kind. About 3-5 tbsp.

2 tbsp. Soy sauce.

2 tbsp. Mirin.

Juice of 1/2 lime.

2 – 3  cups of water. (Depending on how “soup like” you would like it to be.)

1/2 hot pepper, any kind. For decoration.

2 tsp. lightly toasted sesame seeds.

About a handful per person of any kind of vegetables you like or have in the fridge, cut small. For example chives, spring onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, sprouts…

2 tbsp, finely Julienne (leaves rolled up and cut thinly, creating long strips) fresh basil.

1/2 stock cube. (I use chicken stock.)

1 tbsp finely cut fresh coriander.

A pinch of lime zest.

A splash of hot sauce (optional).

You can add any other kind of herb or spice you like.

Directions;

Cut the beef into strips. Marinate in the Mirin, Soy sauce and lime juice for at least 30 minutes to a couple of hours. If you don’t have Mirin you can use rice wine or cooking sake. When done, pad the meat dry on some paper towels. Fry in a skillet on high heat until done. It will just take a minute or two.

In a pan, boil the water with the miso paste & the stock cube. Add as much Miso as you like. I usually get the lighter Miso paste and use about 3-4 tbsp. (optional. Add the splash of hot sauce.)  Add the udon noodles. Let them just get warm.

Add all the finely cut veggies into the bowls. Add the udon noodles on top. Pour in the Miso liquid. Arrange the beef on top of the noodles. Sprinkle the coriander, basil, lime zest and sesame seeds on top. Finish off with the finely cut peppers.

This of course is just a guideline of what you can do. It works just as well with chicken, shrimp, pork or why not just the noodles with vegetables. You can also add small cubes of tofu to the noodles.

I hope you will enjoy it.

 

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