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Archive for the ‘Holidays & Special Occasions’ Category

Another cold Thanksgiving has approached us in New York.

We are battling really cold weather here this year. It makes me worried for the winter…

I am so happy that we are only going around the corner (almost) to my mother-in-law’s house. Since this is “her Holiday” I am not allowed to cook. I can do decorations and centerpieces for her house but she want’s to do all the cooking. That is ok with me since I have the Christmas. We take turns.

But I do cook alternative thanksgiving meals, leading up to the holiday. There will be a lot of “brought forwards” as she (my mother-in-law) calls left overs. I will be doing a lot of turkey meals “re-invented” after the holiday. That is actually one of my favorite things to do.

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Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Pumpkin Mash.

Serves 4.

4 big  Portobello Mushrooms (or 8 small).

1 medium yellow or red onion.

1/4 c. chopped nuts. Pecans or walnuts.

2-3 tbsp. port wine or regular wine. Since I can’t drink red, I use white wine.

2-3 tbsp. of chopped fresh herbs. I used thyme, sage & rosemary. (if using dried herbs, take 1-2 tbsp.).

Olive oil or just a good oil.

Salt & pepper to taste.

1 c. marinated garlic (you could also mix in some marinated pearl onions).

1 of your favorite kind of pumpkin. I often use Acorn pumpkins.

3 mandarins, zest and juice.

1 lime, zest and juice.

Directions;

Start by heating up the oven to 425 degrees F.(200 C.).

Finely chop the onion. In a medium hot skillet, start to caramelize the onions in some olive oil. Cook them medium on slow so that they don’t burn.

Cut up the marinated garlic (and pearl onions). Add to the skillet and cook together for a few minutes. Add the nuts and 1 tbsp. of the fresh and finely chopped herbs and 1/3 of the mandarin juice.

While the onions are frying, prepare the mushrooms.

Take off the stems. Scrape off the bottom of the “hat”/the gills of the mushroom. Place in a lightly greased oven proof dish or on a cookie sheet. Drizzle a little oil over the mushrooms. Sprinkle over salt and pepper.

When the onion mixture is done (golden brown) fill up the mushrooms.. Make sure that the filling is evenly distributed. Sprinkle over salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until starting to bubble.

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To bake the pumpkin, first cut them into halves.

Scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Brush olive oil or another good oil to the cut part of the pumpkin.

Place the halves onto a baking sheet with the cut side down.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the skin has started to blacken or until you see that the pumpkin has started to loose its shape.

Let cool down slightly until you can handle them.

Scrape out all the pumpkin “meat”. Add a splash of oil, the rest of the herbs, another 1/3 of the mandarin juice, salt & pepper. Mix until fluffy.

Plate the pumpkin mash. Add the baked mushrooms and serve with a little cranberry jam & some greens.

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Baked pumpkins can be used to so many things. I often bake a couple at the same time (since the oven is going) and keep it in the fridge. It is great to have on hand. You could also freeze the already baked pumpkin.

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I have started to scrape off the gills of the  mushrooms underneath the “hat”. The “meat” becomes less “dark” in the taste and color.

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Cranberry Sauce.

Use fresh cranberries. Pour into a pan with just a couple of tbsp. of water at the bottom of the pan.

Add brown sugar (or regular granulated sugar. I just prefer the brown sugar). About 1/2 c. per 3 c. of berries. I like it tart. You might want to add more sugar. Taste along the way so that you get it as sweet as you prefer.

Add the rest of the juice from the mandarins and lime. Almost all the zest as well. Save some to decorate the plates.

Boil down under a lid until nice and soft on a medium low heat. Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.

Cranberry sauce is great to use as a side to many dishes. I also add it to my yoghurt in the morning.

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Marinated garlic is really a great staple to have in your fridge. Usually I make it myself, but this time I bought it all done. You can find it in most grocery stores by the olives and things.

Marinated garlic is also great to use in sauces or just as it is as a side.

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Traditionally it is collard greens but you could use any green such as spinach or kale. I just steam the greens with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg until very tender. Then I just add some olive oil. It is very tasty.

If you don’t want to do a vegetarian version, just add some butter instead of oil.

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A couple of friends of ours has to spend Thanksgiving apart. I told them, that you can celebrate thanksgiving any time any day! It doesn’t have to be the day of. It is all about being together when you can.

Besides, aren’t we supposed to be grateful and give thanks for what we have, where we are and for our family all the time? Luckily, I can stop in the middle of everything and realize how fortunate I am. Life is good.

Thanksgiving is one of the only non-religious holidays in the US. I love that it celebrates across all nationalities and people. It is all about celebrating the bounty’s of the harvest and the settlers.

And since we all are settler or descendents off settlers, one way or another,we should take some time out and reflect on this.

Happy Thanksgiving.

And as I always say;

“Eat a Turkey, don’t be one!!!”

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Happy 4th of July!!!

Time do bring out all the red/white/blue, stars and stripes you can find in the house. No need to be modest. Go big for this holiday!

This is of course an American celebration, but I know that Americans abroad celebrate it just as much as a Swede living here in the States ( I wonder who I am thinking of…) would celebrate Swedish events and holidays.

We are making it simple for this holiday. Too much to do, too little time. Don’t I say that all the time?? Perhaps I am a very stressed individual since I always want to cook simple food. Who knows.

My priority this weekend is to relax, spend time with family and friends. Just enjoy myself. We will go to the beach, go to my mother-in-law’s for Curry Goat, BBQ in the garden, so many different things are going on for these 4 days… If I am really lucky, there will also be some time left over for me to have a date with a good book. I haven’t read a book in a very long time. What a shame.

So, we are doing easy stuff for the 4th. Basic BBQ food like , marinated chicken & pork tenderloin, burgers & hotdogs. Corn & salsa.

I will make my Mini Pies filled with strawberries, blueberries and apples. Basic desserts. A little bit of “comfort” food desserts. Well known and familiar but perhaps with a little twist at times.

It is very nice to make a whole bunch of small mini pies instead of making just one big one. This way you can pick and choose what you want.

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Mini Fruit & Berry Pies.

The rule is to use any fruit or berries of your choice. Besides that, there are no rules.

There are no real recipes for this. Since I like to be able to taste the actual produce, I keep it as fresh as possible.

So just make a pie crust or even buy ready made pie crust. For these ones, I use a basic pie crust.

I choose little nice looking ramekins. Since it is 4th of July, I used my star shaped ones.

Add the rolled out pie crust to the ramekins. Well pressed down into the bottom edges.

Add the fruit or berries. Keep them separate or mix them together.

Different combinations;

Blueberries– Use a splash of your favorite liquor.

Strawberries– Add finely chopped candied ginger.

Apples– Add your favorite liquor and some ground cinnamon. (And perhaps a little granulated sugar if you need for it to be a little sweeter).

Peaches– Toasted nuts and a pinch of brown sugar.

These are just some suggestions, you can really combine anything you like.

If you use hard fruits like apples, cut them finer and fry them in a skillet for about 15 minutes or so until soft. Add a little water so that they get some help from the water to soften up. Keep a lid on so that they really cook down faster.

Directions;

When you have added the pie crust to the ramekins pack down the filling well. Cut little stripes of the crust and add about 3 stripes per pie.

Brush some egg wash onto the crust and sprinkle some granulate sugar on top of it.

Bake in a 350 F degree (175 C) for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.

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Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on the stars. They taste like little cookies.

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You can serve some fresh berries on the side and also whip up some heavy cream spiked with some of your favorite liquor.

Add about 2-3 tbsp. per cup of heavy cream. Fold in some candied ginger.

Enjoy!!!

And again, have a great and happy 4th of July!!!

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The egg is the “king of the Swedish Easter table”. In the old days they used to save all the eggs, milk, heavy cream & butter during the Easter fasting.

When Ester finally arrived, they got all those goodies out of their food pantries and started cooking up a storm.

Most of the time, the food is served buffet style as a “smörgåsbord” as we call it. For Easter we eat lot’s of eggs, pickled herring, Quiche, salads, lamb, salmon, caviar …Did I mention eggs and pickled herring??? I love it. It is also one of my year round fast fix dinner. Luckily, my husband loves it as well. If it is for dinner I usually boil a couple of potatoes as well.

I always try to come up with a new little “chick” made out of an egg for the Easter table. I saw these little ones somewhere and wanted to add them to my herring plates. You just boil the eggs (hard boil) cut out a thin slice from a peeled carrot. Cut out little v-shapes on one side. Cut a slit in the top/pointy part of the egg. Insert the “rooster comb”. I inserted 2 pieces of wild rice for the eyes. They really are super cute.

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Herring tray.

* Pickled herring with a mixture of sour cream, mayo, dill & black pepper.

* Egg halves with caviar.

*”Gubbröra”. “Old man’s mixture”…not sure of the translation of this egg anchovies mixture. You need hardboiled eggs, anchovies, a little finely chopped red onion, finely chopped dill, finely chopped chives, Creme Fraiche. Usually this is served on hard or dark bread.

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Our Easter table is always a display of spring. Lot’s of  yellows and greens… I like to give my guest a little something on their plate.

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Isn’t it wonderful when the flower shops starts to sell tulips & daffodils with all those vibrant colors. There is a great flower district in New York. I go there a lot, it makes me happy. If any of my friends are a little down I always suggest a trip to the flower district. It is the busiest early in the morning. My visits usually takes place between 7 or 8am, I have loved flowers as long as I can remember. I always buy flowers and make everything from little bouquets to bigger arrangements. A dream is to have a country house with some land where I would grow all sorts of flowers and vegetables. One day…

If you can, bring some flowers into the house. It really makes it lively. Even a potted plant will do it. If you have a garden, get a potted plant that you eventually can plant outside. Many of my hyacinths and tulips started out as house plants. Anything from christmas arrangements to summer flowers. They all go into the ground. Easter is the “kick off” for my garden. This year it has been such a harsh winter that the daffodils and tulips are taking their time. The only thing blooming are some mini daffodils I planted after easter last year.

Happy Easter!!!

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St Patrick’s day is here again.

We went to my mother-in-law for the yearly Corn Beef and Cabbage dinner. I never cook it myself since it has become a tradition for her to cook it.

Instead, it has become my challenge to come up with left-over ideas for all the food we get with us home. This year I decided to make Corned Beef and Cabbage Enchiladas. They were delicious. It is easy to come up with “left over” dishes. You just need to have an open mind to what is allowed or not. This year, it snowed like crazy in New York, just when the big parade took place on 5th avenue. But the Irish are troopers. No amount of snow can get them to back up their kilts or bagpipes. The show will go on…

I Always get a special feeling when there is anything Irish to celebrate. This because of my special Irish friends and families… (You know who you are….)

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Corned Beef and Cabbage Enchilada.

4 small enchilada’s.

4 tortilla’s (any kind but on the smaller side).

1 onion, finely sliced.

1 c. chopped cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage,

2 tbsp. taco spice.

1/2 c. tomato sauce or finely chopped tomatoes.

1/2 c. water or stock (I used chicken stock. It is my usual “go to”).

1/2-1 c. shredded cheese. Mixed or just one kind.

Splash of hot sauce (optional).

Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions;

Fry up the onion. Add the chopped (and cooked) Corned Beef and Cabbage. Add the taco spice. Let cook for a few minutes. Mix well. Add the water, tomato sauce (or stock). Add the hot sauce, salt & pepper to taste. And any other spice if needed.

Spray an oven proof pan. Add the tortillas. Spoon up the fried Corned Beef mixture and divide into the tortillas. Fold over and “secure” with a tooth pick. Add the shredded cheese. Bake in a 450F (225C) degree oven. Bake until golden brown. It will take about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with rice, guacamole/avocado, beans or salad.

Enjoy!!!!

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Happy St Patrick’s day!!!!

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Wouldn’t it be nice if Valentine’s day would be an official holiday without work?

I personally would love for it to be a day off with nothing else to do, than to hang out with my husband.

I don’t need any grand celebrations. Simple is fine. I know I go a little crazy with a love theme every Valentines, but that is just how I am. I can’t help it. I love to prepare a great experience for others. I guess it comes from doing all that party planning through the years… But I must say that my other half is getting really good at it himself. The flowers he always gives me has gone from a pre-packed bunch from the grocery store to now being fancy coordinated bouquets with saran wrap and glitter . He is great. I am so lucky.

It is nice to have a day that means the same all over the world.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Love is love…

My definition of love is “how someone makes you feel”, so as long as one feels loved, all bells and whistles are not needed.

But after all that said, some good food never hurts.

For me, seafood speaks of love. It is light and delicious. It is a classic choice. But so are chocolates, a little bubbly, pinks, reds… chocolate covered strawberries……you know what I mean. The typical things we buy, eat and do for this day. I just try to do at least one new thing every year. Just to change it up a little.

So, for this Valentine’s day, I have made the ultimate decadent seafood pasta in white chocolate sauce. Could it get any better than that??

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Seafood ravioli with white chocolate cream sauce.

Wonton skins/wraps or pasta sheets (to “make” your own pasta. You can usually find the pasta sheets in the freezer section in the grocery store).

1 c. Raw shrimp Any size. Peeled. You could also use any other seafood such as scallops, lobster, salmon or any other kind of fish.

You can skip these steps and just use a store-bought lobster ravioli if you want to. It saves time.

1-2 scallions or shallots. Finely diced.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter.

1/2 c. heavy cream.

1/4 c. Good tasting (something you would love to drink) white wine.

1/4 c. fish stock/broth. You could also use a chicken or vegetable stock.

Splash of hot sauce (optional).

Salt & pepper to taste.

1 egg for an egg wash.

Directions;

If you are making the ravioli, take the peeled shrimp and run them in a food processor with a splash of heavy cream and hot sauce, salt and pepper. It should become a smooth paste.

Take the pasta or wonton wrappers. Put less than a tbsp. of the filling on each piece of pasta. Brush a little egg wash around the filling. Add another pice of the pasta and put on top of the filling. By starting in the middle, try to “squeeze” out the air around the filling. Press lightly around the edges. Cut out the ravioli with either a ravioli cutter or a cookie cutter. Make sure it is well sealed all around. Put the ravioli on a plate (don’t stack them on top of each other since they will stick together).

Fill a pan with water and let come to a boil (I like to boil all pastas and rice with a stock cube).

Put all the pasta into the water and boil on a medium heat for about 6 minutes. Taste the ravioli so that you are sure the filling is cooked all the way through. Drain the pasta when done.

In the same pan, add the butter and scallions and fry them for a few minutes. Let them just get a little translucent (they shouldn’t brown). Add the wine, heavy cream and broth/stock. Let simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure the tastes are balanced. If you would like a little bit more of any of the liquids, add it to the pot. Pour in the chopped white chocolate. Make sure it melts well it shouldn’t boil at this point. Stir well.

Plate the pasta and pour over the white chocolate sauce. Decorate with some greens ( I used some cilantro sprigs) and something colorful on top since it is so white and you need that color splash. I used a strawberry that I cut in half and shaped on top to look like a heart.

Serve some of the nice white wine that you just cooked with. A light salad would be nice to serve to this.

Enjoy!!!

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I used a heart shaped ravioli cutter to make my shrimp ravioli.

I used a heart shaped ravioli cutter to make my shrimp ravioli.

Swedish people eat a lot of "små godis" (Candy bought by weight). For Valentine's the different heart shaped candies are the most popularValentine's Day

Swedish people eat a lot of “små godis” (Candy bought by weight). These are some of the most popular ones for Valentine’s day.

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Happy Valentine’s day!!

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Since it is the National day of Pancakes today (in the US), I wanted to do a re-run of my favorite Swedish pancakes.

It feels as a little ‘treat’ every time I make pancakes. I guess it is because I like to “dress them up” with fresh berries and home-made syrups. They really are a feast for both eyes and stomachs.

I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

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Swedish pancakes.

Or “Svenska pannkakor” as we say at home.

Makes about 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk

1 cup of flour

1 large egg (if you only have a small egg add another one making it 2 eggs).

1 pinch of salt

Butter for frying (or oil if you don’t like butter).

1 1/2 cup of fruits or berries. Any kind.

1-3 tbsp. of brown sugar.

1 sprig of mint for decoration

Directions:

Mix the flour, milk and salt well in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the egg(s). Mix well. Put the batter aside and let it rest for a few minutes.

Take 1/2 of the rinsed fruits and berries. Add to a pan. Add the sugar. One table-spoon at a time.

Be sure to taste so that it doesn’t get too sweet. Simmer on low/medium heat. Let the fruit and berries “melt down”creating a syrup. This will take about 10 minutes or so, depending on what kind of fruits or berries you use. You can also prepare this ahead of time.

When done, take it off the heat. Strain it in a sieve to press out the last precious drops of your syrup. Use the back of a spoon to gently press down the fruit/berry mixture.

Heat up a frying pan/skillet on medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of butter to pan. Use butter/oil to every other pancake. Add one ladle full of batter to the frying pan. Pour it into the center of pan. Make sure the batter distributes well into edges. You do this by lifting the pan up and swirling it slowly. Some flour thickens up more than others. If you feel the batter is a little too thick, just “thin out” with a slightly bit of milk.

You know the pancake is ready when it is starting to “dry” on the surface and when the edges are starting to turn golden brown. Use a “turner” to lift up the pancake and flip it onto the other side. It takes less time to brown on the second side of the pancake. When ready, fold in half and then fold the half into a quarter. Lift onto platter. Decorate with berries or fruit. Poor on the syrup. Decorate with a sprig of mint.

Either serve the pancakes with whipped cream, berries with homemade syrup (or just bought one) or some great jam.

Enjoy.

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♩♫♩♩”Ja må de leva, ja må de leva, ja må de leva uti hundrade år……”♩♫♩♩

There are lot’s of birthdays to celebrate right now. My husband is turning….well he is having a birthday. And another very important one is that my blog is turning 1 year!! I can’t believe it already has been a year since I started blogging. It has been so much fun. I really enjoy sharing my favorite recipes with all of you and also come up with some new ones. Your feedback is great. And the support I have gotten… Thank you so much. It is so exciting every time one more person is “following” me and my blog. It is so inspirational and it really keeps me going. I just love it.

Since we are having all these important birthdays, let’s just enjoy them with the best birthday cake there is. Princess cake.

Princess cake is my absolute favorite cake. It is probably one of the most common cakes at home (if you don’t count the regular strawberry cake of course). It is served for any occasion or holiday. Luckily it is also my husbands favorite. It is a light (not light as in low calorie…sorry. Light as in fluffy and airy.) The only hard part is to roll out the marzipan “lid” very thinly. You can buy already made marzipan in many specialized grocery stores (you just add some food coloring). If you can’t find that, just do your own. When I was younger there really was just one version. A pink cake with a pink rose on top. Now you have them in pink, green and white… Perhaps even more colors. The filling can vary slightly but it ( in my opinion) should have a raspberry jam on the bottom layer, vanilla creme on the second layer and whipped cream for the top layer under the marzipan “lid”. Ok, enough of this teasing…. I better just cut to the chase and give you the recipe.

Here is the world-famous Princess cake.

Happy birthday Älskling and happy birthday to my blog. “And many more….”

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Princess cake.

Serves 10-12.

The cake;

4 eggs

1 c. granulated sugar.

1/2 c. flour.

1/2 c. potato flour (potato starch).

2 tsp. baking powder.

(If you rather use your favorite sponge cake recipe that is ok to use for this cake.)

Marzipan “lid”:

About 4 oz. of marzipan.

Food coloring of your choice.

Powdered sugar.

Filling:

1 cup vanilla cream or vanilla pudding.

1/2 – 1 c. raspberry jam.

1 1/2 c. whipped cream.

Directions;

Butter a spring cake-pan (10-12″) and add a little flour that you shake around in the pan, making sure all of the pan is well buttered and covered in flour. This is instead of breading with bread crumbs.

Whip sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients with sugar & butter. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake in a 350F (175C) degree oven for about 40 minutes. Place the cake in the lower parts of the oven. When done take the cake out of the pan and let cool completely.

Mix the marzipan and food coloring. Roll it out until very thin (and as perfectly round as you can). Roll it out on a piece of wax-paper so that it doesn’t stick as easily.

Cut the cake into three layers with the top layer being the thinnest one. Add the raspberry jam onto the first layer. Make sure the jam reaches all the way out to the very edge (this applies to all different fillings and layers).

Place the second layer on top of the first. Add the vanilla cream/pudding. Make it a little thick so it is well saturated into the cake. Add the third layer. Whip the heavy cream. Spread on the cream. Make sure it is a nice and thick layer.

Add the thinly rolled out marzipan “lid”. Make sure it is well centered.

Straighten out any fold at the very bottom of the lid. It is ok to have a few folds. It makes it look home-made. Cut off any unevenness from the bottom of the marzipan.

If you would like to, make a little flower out of any left over marzipan. Roll out a little piece and place a rose-leaf onto it, pressing it down to make an imprint. Cut around with a small knife (sprinkle with some cake glitter or light food safe coloring/powder- Note that it is optional).

Sprinkle over some powdered sugar all over the cake “free hand”with a sieve or use a stencil for a pretty pattern.

Enjoy!!!

 

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Press some rose leaves or any other kind of leaf into some marzipan. Cut around the leaf.

Press some rose leaves or any other kind of leaf into some marzipan. Cut around the leaf.

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Marzipan flowers and leaves are easy to make.

Roll little balls/marbles of the marzipan. Press them flat with your fingers. Shape into leaves. Put them together into a flower shape. Cut off the bottom part that becomes a little “clumpy” when you add all the leaves together.

For the leaves I have just flattened out some of the marzipan and then pressed down some rose leaves to create an imprint. Cut around the leaf and take off access marzipan.

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As a final touch you can brush them slightly with some cake glitter or coloring. Usually these flowers are colored by food coloring, but I think they are really pretty in their “natural” color.

Enjoy!!

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