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Smörgåstårta – Sandwich Cake

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Smörgåstårta

Smörgåstårta, which means Sandwich Cake, is typical party food in Sweden. It’s like a large sandwich with a lot of creamy filling, just like a cake, and it is served cold. The smörgåstårta consists of several layers of bread slices (most common is toast bread) with different delicious creamy fillings. It is then decorated with mayonnaise, sea food and vegetables. The sea food smörgåstårta on the photo was made by my mother for my brother’s 40th birthday and it has two layers of creamy yummy filling. I don’t know exactly what she used, but among other ingredients there were mayonnaise, boiled eggs, crayfish tails, shrimps, asparagus, caviar and dill leafs. Delicious but far from fat free….

Smörgåstårta can be made with all sorts of fillings, but I have always prefered the sea food one that my mother makes. It’s great party food as it can be prepared in advance, it looks beautiful and it’s rather easy to make. Just use your imagination when combining fillings, but don’t forget that a dry sandwich cake that don’t have enough filling is a bad sandwich cake! :-)

Pille at Nami-Nami made a lovely Ham Sandwich Cake for New Years Eve, read her post here.

My Polish Wigilia

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Fresh fruit and other goodies
Fresh fruit and sweets at my mother’s.

(Click on the photos to enlarge).

Fredrik and I never eat Christmas Eve Dinner together. Why, you may ask. Well, Fredrik prefers Swedish Christmas food with his family and I prefer Polish Christmas food with my family :-) In the morning we eat breakfast together (te and gingerbread cookies) while we open our Christmas presents. Then we separate go to our families to celebrate with them. This year (or actually last year as it’s already January), thanks to our rather new mobile phones, we had video calls during the day in which we were able to see each other and our families. Fredrik’s grandmother who’s over 90 years old was thrilled over the video calls and had a lot of fun.

In Poland the Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia, begins when the first star – Gwiazdka - appears on the sky. Normally this occur around 3-4 P.M. The dinner table has always an extra place set for an unexpected guest, which I think is a lovely custom. The table is set with a white tablecloth and under it there should be a thin layer of hay in memory of the Godchild in the manger. However in my family we have always omitted the hay for an unknown reason. Before the dinner starts we pray by the table and then we share Opłatek with each other. Opłatek is a Christmas wafer, very similiar to the altar bread in the Roman Catholic Church. The Opłatek that we share is stamped with beautiful ornaments and it is always sent from my dear aunt in Poland. Everybody takes a piece of the Opłatek and then breaks it with each person present while wishing each other health, love, happiness and other more personal wishes. I always have a hard time during this moment as I get very emotional.

Uszki
Uszki, the beetroot soup Barszcz will be poured over them in just a while.

The dinner then continues with the first dish, which is the beetroot soup Barszcz. On Christmas it is served clear without any pieces or vegetables. The soup is very hot and normally my brother Sebastian always does the very last seasoning before it is served. This year he celebrated Christmas with his parents-in-law, which means that we had to put the last touch ourselves but we managed well :-) The Barszcz is served with Uszki which means small ears. I guess that you can say that it’s a kind of small stuffed tortellini with mushrooms that my mother makes. This year, when I started eating the Barszcz and the uszka I just couldn’t stop smiling and my mother laughed at me. But it was so divine and I was really happy to eat it as we only eat it once a year.

Barszcz z uszkami
Barszcz z uszkami (Beetroot soup).

Before I continue with describing the food I just want to mention that the Wigilia is a meatless dinner. Long time ago the Roman Catholic Church decided that meat on Christmas Eve was forbidden and that a strict fast should be observed. Nowadays the Church laws have been revised and permit meat on Wigilia but most of the families continue with the meatless dinner, my family would never dream of changing this old tradition.

Ruskie Pierogi Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami
Ruskie Pierogi and Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami.

After the Barszcz we continue with the Pierogi, my favourite dish. Pierogi is a kind of Ravioli or dumplings, stuffed with goodies. There are a lot of differents variants, but my favourite is the one with quark cheese and potatoes called Ruskie Pierogi (Russian Pierogi. Don’t ask me why they are called like that. I suspect that they don’t have anything to do with Russia at all). Luckily for me, the ones we eat for Christmas are always Ruskie Pierogi and also Pierogi z kapustą kiszoną i grzybami (Pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms). So know you know my favourites, Barszcz and Ruskie Pierogi, but there are other dishes as well. So let us continue.

Śledzie w śmietanie
Śledzie w śmietanie, pickled herring with Crème Fraiche.

Śledzie , pickled herring, is another great dish. This year we only had one kind of herring, Śledzie w śmietanie, which is pickled herring in cream or actually Crème Fraiche and onion. Earlier years we’ve had pickled herring in a kind of oil as well, but each year we tend to eat less food and it’s no use waisting it so nowadays we only prepare our absolute favourites. The Polish pickled herring differs from the Swedish one; there’s no sugar and the taste is much better even if I can appreciate the Swedish one as well.

Chrzan Buraki
Chrzan and Ćwikła.

Another typical Polish dish is Ćwikła, very finely grated beetroots with horseradish. Delicious and hot, perfect as accompaniment to other dishes. Then there’s also Chrzan, finely grated horseradish that we always get ready from Poland in some way. It’s really hot and perfect as a strong accompaniment just as the Ćwikła.

Vegetable salad Crayfish tail salad
Vegetable salad and Crayfish tail salad.

Another dish on the Christmas table is vegetable salad with potatoes, green peas, carrots, onion and mayonnaise. There’s also a salad with crayfish tails and eggs, among other things. And there’s also smoked salmon and fried fish. I didn’t take any photos of the “non-typical” Polish dishes as I wanted to place emphasis on the traditional Polish food.

As I wrote earlier, we don’t make as much food for Christmas as we used to do as we ended up with too much left-overs. When I was a young girl we, among other dishes, always had Carp - the traditional Polish Christmas fish. The Carp was bought alive (!) at Saluhallen by my mother and then we had it in the bath tub for a few days before the poor fish was killed by my father. Understandable, I wasn’t at home at the terrible points of time. And most important, I never ate the Carp. Never. This doesn’t mean that my parents were cold-murdered Carp killers. Buying an alive Carp and having it in your bath tub is a typical Polish tradition and everyone does it, or at least did it earlier. Luckily Carps are not allowed to be sold alive in Sweden anymore. The whole Polish Carp tradition is a big issue that has attracted attention among many, so read more about Polish people and their Christmas Carps here.

Tort Jagodywy Tort Czekoladowy
Blueberry Cake and Chocolate Cake.

After dinner, it’s time for the Christmas presents. Just as last year I was announced Santa and had to wear a Santa cap while handing out all Christmas presents from under my mother’s white (!) Christmas tree. We had a great time and after a while we were enough hungry to start with the cakes and the coffee. Traditionally Polish people eat Sernik (Polish baked Cheesecake) and Makowiec (Poppy Seed cake) on special occasions, but otherwise also. This year my mother made a delicious Blueberry Cake while I did a Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Oblivion Cake that I’ve blogged about earlier, originally from 101 Cookbooks. I also made an extra Chocolate Oblivion Cake for Fredrik’s family which they appreciated very much as their dessert had strangely disappeared. Actually the main ingredient for their dessert, Ris à la Malta ( a delicious kind of creamy rice pudding that you eat in Sweden as Christmas dessert), had disappeared so they were extra happy for the lovely Chocolade Cake which they ate instead.

I hope that you also had a wonderful Christmas with your dear ones. I had a lovely time and this year, after moving to Stockholm, the Wigilia will mean even more to me as I won’t be able to see my parents as often as today.

(Click on the photos to enlarge).

The Nobel Banquet

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

Today, December 10th, is the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Since 1901 the Nobel Prizes have been presented to the Laureates at ceremonies on this day. I will not write about the Nobel Price here, but you can read about it on the official homepage. But I will mention a few words about the Nobel Banquet that follows the ceremonies.

The Nobel Banquet is held for about 1300 guests, among them the Nobel Laureates with their families, Their Majesties the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family of Sweden. There are of course other important guests there as well. The Nobel dinner is luxurious and the menu is not revealed until 7 p.m the same day as the Banquet is, and that was just a few minutes ago. You can read this year’s menu further down in this post; it is always presented in French but an English translation is added as well.

The responsible Banquet staff consists of 280 people: 156 waiters/waitresses, 52 wine waiters, 33 chefs/pastry chefs/cold buffet manageresses, 18 washer-ups and 5 head waiters. The Nobel Banquet demands careful organization as all 1300 guests have to get their warm food at the same time. It takes the staff 6 minutes to carry out the food from the kitchen to the guests!! The different dishes are started to be served at very specific times: the starter is served at 7.18 pm, the main course is served at 8.20 pm, the dessert is served at 9.21 pm and afterwards the dancing begins at about 10.30 pm. I don’t know about you, but it’s amazing that the staff manages to serve all their 1300 guests in such a short time as 6 minutes.

The first Nobel Banquet in 1901 was attended by 113 male guests. The first female guest didn’t appear until two years later, in the shape of Polish Marie Curie who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing it with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel. During the years the guests have increased, but as long as the Nobel Banquet will be held in the Stockholm City Hall they won’t increase as there is no more space.

    Menu from the Nobel Banquet 2005

    Pannacotta d´écrevisses avec omble chevalier,
    coquilles Saint-Jacques et langoustines

    Poitrine de perdrix des neiges
    en robe forestière et sa garniture,
    gâteau de pommes de terre,
    sauce Normande

    Mousse citronnée garnie de framboises,
    coulis de framboises arctiques

    VINS
    Pommery Grand Cru Vintage 1995
    Champagne

    Penfolds RWT 2001
    Barossa Valley

    Le Dauphin de Guiraud 2002
    Sauternes

    Café
    Remy Martin VSOP
    Cointreau

    Eau minérale Ramlösa

    Translation in English:

    Crayfish panna cotta with fennel-baked Arctic char, scallops and Norway lobster on baby lettuce

    Ptarmigan breast baked in horn of plenty mushrooms with caramelised apples, poached onions and broad beans, served with Calvados sauce and potato cake

    Lemon and yoghurt mousse with Arctic bramble marmalade, fresh raspberries and raspberry-Arctic bramble sauce

If you want your mouth to water even more you can read all earlier menus starting from 1901 here. And more information about the Banquet can be found here.

To this day no cat has been invited to the Nobel Banquet which is a pity as my cats would love some Crayfish panna cotta. But I guess that we’ll just watch the whole Banquet on TV, because it’s a really big event and thus shown live on Swedish TV.

Gingerbread Toffee

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Gingerbread Toffee

More toffee? Has the girl (or cat) gone crazy? Well, I just had to try this recipe. And the result? It tastes like Gingerbread dough, yummy! You’re probably wondering why I just don’t eat Gingerbread dough instead if it tastes the same, but raw cookie dough probably isn’t good for your stomach. Not as good as sugar!!

    Gingerbread Toffee
    (makes about 30-40 toffees)

    100 ml double/whipping cream
    50 ml golden syrup
    100 ml sugar
    1 tsp Gingerbread spice (or just mix ground cloves, ground cinnamon and ground ginger. Just make sure that you get 1 tsp in total.)
    1 tbsp butter

    Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and boil without lid for 15-60 minutes, until the toffee batter is 122-125 ° C. If you don’t have a thermometer you can do a ball test: at that temperature a drop of the batter should solidify in water and be possible to be rolled into a little ball. On my stove this batter took 15 minutes to cook on a rather low temperature.

    Put greaseproof paper on a baking sheet and grease it with unsalted butter. Pour the toffee carefully on the greaseproof paper and let it cool. Cut in pieces with a scissor and wrap each toffee individually with greaseproof paper.

    This recipe makes a small amount of toffee and your baking sheet will probably be too large for this amount of toffee batter. To avoid getting too thin toffees just do like I did: I folded edges on my paper, making a kind of form. Then I poured the toffee batter into the greased paper form.

Christmas Toffee

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

Chocolate and Lemon Toffee

Time flies and today it’s already second Advent, thus 2 candles of 4 should be lit. I finally managed to find the Advent candlestick but I had to put it away during the week as we had a photographer here to take photos of our home for our appartment ad. And now, of course, I can’t find it again. But at least the appartment is really neat and clean :-)

It’s only 20 days left to Christmas Eve and in Sweden it is very common to make toffee before Christmas. I never did that when I was a child, we didn’t have that tradition in my Polish family. But we did toffee at school and I recall that everything got really sticky. Anyway, yesterday I did Chocolate toffee and Lemon toffee, which both turned out really delicous. I found the recipes at a forum that I read regularly, but they can be found anywhere on the internet or in Swedish cookbooks.

    Lemon Toffee
    (makes about 70 toffees)

    300 ml double/whipping cream
    200 ml golden syrup
    300 ml caster sugar
    2 tbsp butter
    juice and zest from 1 lemon

    about 70 small toffee paper forms

    Put the toffee forms on a tray.
    Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and boil without lid for 15-60 minutes, until the toffee batter is 122-125 ° C. If you don’t have a thermometer you can do a ball test: at that temperature a drop of the batter should solidify in water and be possible to be rolled into a little ball.

    Pour the toffee carefully into each paper form. Repeat with all toffee batter. Store the toffee in a tin with greaseproof paper between each layer.

    Chocolate Toffee
    (makes about 30 toffees)

    100 ml golden syrup
    200 ml caster sugar
    4 tbsp butter
    4 tbsp cocoa

    about 30 small toffee paper forms

    Put the toffee forms on a tray.
    Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and boil without lid for 15-60 minutes, until the toffee batter is 122-125 ° C. If you don’t have a thermometer you can do a ball test: at that temperature a drop of the batter should solidify in water and be possible to be rolled into a little ball.

    Pour the toffee carefully into each paper form. Repeat with all toffee batter. Store the toffee in a tin with greaseproof paper between each layer.

First Advent

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Star

Christmas is slowly approaching, and today is already first Advent. The word Advent is derived from Latin and means arrival, the arrival of our Lord . First Advent is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year and the time while awaiting the arrival of Lord Jesus Christ and Christmas. The tradition is to light one candle on the Advent candlestick, adding on a candle for each following Advent Sunday until all four candles are lit. I didn’t find our Advent candlestick today ( which is hidden somewhere in our cellar) so we just lit some normal candles instead. Yesterday we had my brother and a friend over for some Adventsfika, and we ate newly baked Gingerbread biscuits (Pepparkakor) and Saffron buns (Lussekatter). We also drank warm mulled wine (Glögg) which is very typical before and during Christmas. Glögg is served in small small mugs and if you want you can add some almonds and raisins to your mug. I will provide you with the recipe for Lussekatter in a few days, so you also will be able to bake these typical Swedish Christmas buns.

Glögg - Mulled wine

A mug of warm Glögg with almonds and raisins.

Pepparkakor, almonds and raisins.

Pepparkakor, behind them are the almonds and the raisins.

Lussekatter - Saffron Buns

Lussekatter, Saffron Buns.

The whole table

The whole Advent table, with the Glögg heater in the center.

SHF/IMBB Cookie-swap Party!

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

Pepparkakor
The Groke, Little My and Moominmamma as Swedish Gingerbread biscuits

This is my entry to Sugar High Friday’s and Is my blog burning’s joint virtual cookie swap. Jennifer and Alberto have asked all food bloggers to share their favourite cookie recipes, creating a big virtual cookie swap. I want to share two recipes, both tried this week but already loved. The first one is ordinary Pepparkakor (Swedish Gingerbread Biscuits) which I baked today and the second one is Sunflower Seed Cookies which I made a few days ago. It was my first time baking Pepparkakor from scratch, and it was so much easier than I thought. Yesterday I prepared the dough and today I baked the cookies. The recipe is simple and you get an immense amount of delicious cookies, perfect now when Christmas is approaching. The Sunflower Seed Cookies are just delicious and they are so easy to bake. The cookies are chewy with a light taste of caramel; delicious delicious! Bake them now, you won’t be dissapointed!

Pepparkakor
Pepparkakor

    Pepparkakor

    200 ml water
    200 ml golden syrop
    425 gr brown sugar
    250 gr butter
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 tbsp ground cloves
    1,5 tbsp ground cinnamon
    1 tbsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cardamom
    1 tsp ground Seville orange/bitter orange/pomerans (can be omitted if you don’t have it)
    1 kg wheat flour

    Bring the water, syrup and sugar to boil. Pour the mixture over the butter and let everything dissolve. Add the remaining ingredients. At this point the dough is very sticky, but it’s supposed to be like that. Let the dough rest in the fridge overnight.

    The next day you take as much dough as you need and roll it out on a floured surface. Cut out cookies and then bake in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for about 8 minutes. Repeat, repeat and repeat as the dough will never end… :-) I made quite a lot cookies today, but I still have an enormous amount of dough left in the fridge so now you now what I will do tomorrow….

    When the cookies are cool, you can decorate them with icing sugar and a small small amount of water and a smaller amount of lemon juice (to keep everything white and nice).

Sunflower Seed Cookies
Sunflower Seed Cookies

    Sunflower Seed Cookies
    (adapted from Två Systrars Söta by Lisa Eisenman and Monica Eisenman)
    makes about 17 cookies

    200 gram room temperatured butter
    250 ml caster sugar
    4 tbsp golden syrup
    250 ml wheat flour
    200 ml whole wheat flour (grahamsmjöl)
    1 tsp baking powder
    2 tbsp vanilla sugar
    150 ml Sunflower Seeds

    Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Combine butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the syrup. Combine the dry ingredients and mix everything until you have a flexible dough.
    Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. On a floured surface, roll out every part of the dough to a length almost as long as your baking sheet. Transfer the 3 lengths to your baking sheet, leave space between them as they will expand. Sprinkle some extra sunflower seeds on the lengths and then flatten them slightly. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. When a bit cooled, cut the lengths into diagonal cookies. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Plättar

Monday, August 8th, 2005

Frying small pancakes on the kitchen table

Swedish plättar are basically pancakes, but small ones. We use a special pancake pan, called plättlagg. It looks just like the picture to the left (taken from Scandinavian South as I don’t have any of my own). But what I do have is an electric one, to be placed on the kitchen table so everyone can help out and have a fun time while frying plättar. I really dislike frying pancakes or plättar all by myself at the stove. With my “electric frying machine” (I have to admit that I don’t now what it’s called) it’s much more fun and the pancake frying becomes a social event.

Plättar (for 2 persons)

2 eggs
200 ml flour
400 ml milk
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar

Beat the eggs and add the flour and milk gradually along with the sugar and salt. Fill each indentation on the plättlagg or the electric one with batter. Cook until golden brown. Eat, fry, talk and be social if using the electric frying machine, otherwise stand alone at the stove and feel like a pancake slave… :-) Serve the plättar with jam.