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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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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!

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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!!!!

 

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It has been so hot in New York.

We have had another heat wave. It was about 98F/36C degrees but  it felt like about 110F/38-40C.

How is it even possible to turn on the stove a day like that???

When it is too hot outside we turn to as much cold food as possible. Salads, sandwiches, cold soups…

A typical Swedish dish would be the Skagen sauce in a baked potato. The Skagen sauce can be changed up in so many ways. Traditionally, one is supposed to use cooked Greenland sweet shrimp, but I love switching out the shrimp for some smoked salmon.

You can add half a lobster tail on top, if you would like to make it a little more fancy. You could of course decorate with the salmon as well. Just as fancy and good.

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Smoked Salmon sauce on toast.

Serves 4.

6-8 slices of smoked salmon.

1 c. sour cream or creme fraiche.

2 lobster tails (optional). Cut in half,  length wise.

1/2 small red onion or white onion, finely chopped. You could also use 3 tbsp. chopped chives.

1 small jar of white or red caviar (optional).

Small salad leaves. Or salad mix.

2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill + 4 sprigs of fresh dill.

Small splash of hot sauce (optional).

Pepper to taste.

4 slices of a good hearty bread. Very lightly toasted.

1 lemon cut into quarters.

Directions;

Mix all of the ingredients together. Taste the mixture. If you need or want to add some other spice to do.

Toast the bread.

Place the salad on the toasted bread. Add the salmon mixture on top of the salad. Top with the lobster tail and a sprig of dill. Add a slice of lemon to the plate.

This is great together with a cold beer.

This is an ultimate summer dinner. I hope you will enjoy it.

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The flowers in the garden are blooming like crazy. The heat is beating them up but they are still hanging in there. This is such a nice time of the year.

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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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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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When I first moved to New York from Sweden, there were a lot of things I missed from home.

It is so funny to me now, thinking back of how I ran around looking for Caviar at “Dean & Deluca” and “Hard bread” at the little specialty shop in the Village. Lingonberries at the German deli “Schaller & Weber” on the upper east side and Shrimp from Coney Island’s Russian districts. Of course there were many more items and places to go to… I think I went to all of them. Come all holidays I was able to have a spread that any Swede would be jealous of. Not many things were missing.

I must say though, there still are things I am longing for. I am so fortunate that my family & friends usually brings those things for me when they come here. So life is good. I have my pantries full of “goodies from home”.

For example, It was a little crazy how I dragged herring filets from home to pickle myself when the pickled herring in vinegar in any grocery store is just as good. I now buy that and just make new sauces for the herring. Thank god I finally came to my senses and now know how to substitute one item for another and make it taste exactly as I “remember” in my taste buds. Like the “so very Swedish Rice porridge” we eat for christmas. I now use the short grain Korean rice I buy in Korea town. It tastes just the same as the short grained “porridge rice” I used to drag from home or buy online. A funny note on that is the first time I made it for my husband and mother in law. I told them it was sooo fantastic and different. A”swedish treat!!!”. When it finally was done, my mother in law said “Oh, you made Rice pudding. It tastes just like the one at home!” Hm…

One of those favorite dishes that I had bad cravings for was the Skagen Baked Potato. A very simple dish. It is just a baked potato with a shrimp sauce. I think that people make lot’s of different versions of this sauce. I don’t use Mayo, some do. I use hot sauce in mine, most don’t. So if there is something you think would be perfect in the sauce, add it.

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Shrimp Skagen Baked Potato.

Note that this is a cold sauce to the hot baked potato.

Baking potatoes. As many as you need for the amount of people you are serving. I prefer Idaho potatoes.

Per one potato;

Shrimp. About a small handful peeled shrimp. Use Greenland or Canadian sweet shrimp or just salad shrimp. Note that it must be pre cooked. You could also use any fresh shrimp that you boil in a little water, salt and dill. (And a small splash of beer if you have some at home.) Let cool before adding to the sauce.

1 tsp. chopped fresh Dill.

3 tbsp. Sour cream.

1 tbsp. mayo, optional. (I don’t use this in my Skagen sauce.)

A little finely chopped tomatoes. Optional.

1 tsp. chopped chives or 1 tsp. finely chopped onion.

A small squeeze of lemon or lime.

Hot sauce or pepper to taste.

Caviar. To taste. I use 1-2 tsp.I love white caviar but it is one of those items my family always brings for me from home… You can still use any other kind. Black or red. The only thing is since this kind of  caviar has been dyed, just put it on top at the end since it will have the color “bleed” if you mix it in.

Directions;

Bake the potato. The old fashion slow way is to bake it in the oven. I want to cut corners so I do a half and half. First I put the potatoes into the microwave for about 6-10 minutes depending on how many I am making. I would say about 8 minutes for 2 regular sized baking potatoes. Just note that it will take longer the more potatoes you cook at the same time. Transfer them all to the preheated oven to finish baking.

450 degrees for about 10 more minutes or until the flesh is all soft. Don’t under cook them. There is nothing worse (ok, a few things perhaps…) than an undercooked hard, baked potato!

Meanwhile, mix the sauce.

Peel the shrimp if they have the peel still on.

Mix all the ingredients together. Make sure to stir well so all the dill is well-distributed. Add the shrimp.

This is very forgiving so you can add or use less, as much as you want.

Decorate with a sprig of dill and a few lemon slices.

Enjoy!!

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