Rocky road with honeycomb

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Rocky Road is one of those simple recipes where the sum of the parts are greater than you expect it to be. Every single thing that goes into rocky road is nice in it’s own way, but together you have these amazing crunchy, soft, sweet and salty clusters that are just to die for.

I altered the recipe I normally use when I made it in December for my Christmas drinks party and, I must say, the addition of honeycomb was just genius. I love honeycomb as it is, but I often find it a bit too sweet, so here where the buttery sweetness gets to mingle with salted nuts and semi-bitter chocolate it really comes together.

I usually use Scandinavian Dumle toffees (which you can now buy from Ocado) but they were sold out so I opted for Reisen instead. They’re a bit harder (so be careful of your teeth) but not as sweet, which worked well with the other ingredients.

Rocky road with honeycomb, makes 20-25

100 g marshmallows, cut in 4

135 g Riesen toffees, cut in 2

150 g roasted and salted peanuts

1/2 batch honeycomb, in pieces

200 g dark chocolate

100 g milk chocolate

snowflake sprinkles and edible glitter  

Line a square 20 x 20 cm tin with parchment paper. Melt both types of chocolate together in a bain marie. In a bowl, mix marshmallors, Riesen, peanuts and honeycomb. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well, making sure everything is coated with chocolate. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and smooth it out. Scatter with sprinkles and glitter and leave to cool. Let it set in the fridge. Cut into cubes and serve. Keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.  

Christmas Eve 2015

 

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In Sweden Christmas Eve is the big day. Christmas day is for going clubbing (no thanks!), early sales (again, no thanks!) and just chilling (much better).

In my family we open the stockings on Christmas Eve morning. Christmas stockings are not a Swedish tradition, but my family thinks it’s nice and cosy. But we only open a few presents in the morning as Father Christmas always comes by in the evening with a sack full of gifts (no chimney action in Sweden).

Then at 3pm, the whole country is glued to the television watching Donald Duck and other Disney cartoons. It sounds silly, but it’s one of the fundamentals of a Swedish Christmas Eve.

Then in the evening, probably after coffee and cake while watching Donald Duck and then glögg and gingerbread a bit later, it’s time for dinner. In most families this comprises a julbord; a smorgasbord with lots of  Christmas food, like herring, smoked salmon, cooked ham, meatballs, sausages, cabbage, sprouts, Janssons temptation, patés, ribs etc etc).

We took an alternative route this year, stepping away from the traditional heavy food, and instead enjoying, a still festive, and a little Christmas-y, menu.

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Our evening began with prosecco and these lovely parmesan biscuits, then Toast Skagen as a starter followed by halibut and boiled potatoes, cooked peas and the most heavenly sauce for fish for mains.

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For pudding we had the same as we do on Christmas Eve; Ris a’la Malta. A cold rice porridge with a lot of whipped cream folded in, served with a berry sauce, but as this dessert is seriously rich we served it in individual bowls. (It’s usually served in a large bowl it an almond hidden in the porridge and you try to eat as much as possible to secure the almons and receive a gift. )

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This alternative approach to the Christmas dinner suited my family perfectly. It felt festive (more festive than ham, cabbage and meatballs actually) and even though the food was still on the heavy side it’s nothing compared to the julbord. 

 

This year’s Christmas drinks party

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I had some of the girls over for Christmas drinks the first Saturday in December and it was so much fun! Last year I had a larger gathering with both girls and boys, but this year I just didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare something big, but rather than not organising anything at all I preferred to scale it down. I do hope I have more time and energy last year for a proper Christmas party with lots of canapés, but I’m not making any promises.

To start with we had prosecco (and quite a lot of it!) and savoury canapés, starting with warm crisps with browned butter, grated comté, lemon juice and cress. I love these so so much! I know it’s making crisps even unhealthier, but it is so worth it. I mentioned the browned butter right?!

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Thereafter I put out a little DIY project with crostinis. I had a large bag filled with crostinis and three jars on a silver tray with different spreads to put on top; bean spread with sage, hot smoked salmon spread (the girls favourite!) and a new version of chicken liver parfait (recipe to follow soon) and cornichons.

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After that I passed around a board of prosciutto parcels filled with cream cheese mixed with chopped sunblush tomatoes. It’s the easiest recipe ever (three ingredients!) but always goes down well.

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We then moved on to the hot food. First up were these puff pastry squares with mushrooms, grated cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. IMG_7468

Then the mini Janssons frestelse that all my London friends adore! Janssons frestelse is like a creamy potato bake (with grated potato) with anchovies. It sounds rather odd I know, but everyone who’s ever tried it loves it, I promise!

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Having finished the savoury canapés it was time for the sweets and glögg! I put it all out on the table at once to people cook pick and choose. The rocky road I made this year is probably the best one yet (recipe to follow), mainly because it has honeycomb in it and it really works!! I also tried to pretty them pieces up with snowflakes (which I tend to use on everything this time of year!) and edible glitter.

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I also served gingerbread with blue cheese, but this time I substituted Stilton for St Agur, which works even better.

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I also made these mini saffron pannacottas that I like to make every year – I’m so lucky my friends are happy to eat! 

 

 

Pre-Christmas drinks (and nibbles)

IMG_9132The month of December was busy to say the least. So much so that I didn’t have time to update you on the blog on what I was up to.

One Sunday I had a bunch of friends over for drinks and canapés, some Christmas themed, some not. Some of my friends have dietary requirements that I catered for and it was a bit of a challenge to cater for a vegan, a coeliac and pregnant ladies all at the same time, but I seemed to pull it off!

We started with prosecco (and alcohol free alternatives) and savoury canapés. One one table I had made a little blini buffet that my guests could help themselves to whenever they liked. That way I wasn’t too stressed sending out trays of canapés. At the blini station I had proper homemade blinis, glutenfree pancakes and vegan pancakes as well as lots of toppings (cured salmon, creme fraiche, caviar (not the fancy stuff), chopped onions, aubergine ‘caviar’ and marinated beetroot).

IMG_9141The first savoury canapé was these rolls with cream cheese, sunblush tomatoes and basil. So easy to make ahead of time.

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Next up was baked aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds.

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Vegan truffled mushrooms on crostinis – recipe to follow later.

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And lastly, warming pots with Jansson’s temptation, a classic Swedish Christmas dish consisting of grated potatoes and onions, anchovies, cream and breadcrumbs on top. I love that all mu non-Swedish friends adore this. Most of my guests had two each!

IMG_9163In the transition from savoury to sweet I replaced the blini station with gingerbread (regular, vegan and gluten free ones) with Stilton, sweets, chewy chocolate cake (including a vegan and gluten free one that didn’t turn out very well). Jenny brought some vegan mince pies with filo pastry that were put out too, they were delicious! And of course, we had some homemade glögg (sweet mulled wine) with the gingerbread.

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Lastly I brought out rice pudding the way we eat it on Christmas Eve; cold and mixed with whipped cream. I served it with defrosted berries mixed with some icing sugar.

I had so much fun at this gathering, and I hope my friends did too! Preparing most of it ahead of time meant I could mingle and drink prosecco like every body else.

Saffron cheesecake

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This saffron cheesecake would be considered christmassy in Sweden, where we use saffron mainly for the holiday season (apart from in fish soup), however in the rest of the world it would probably just be a nice cheesecake with saffron, which is why I’m posting it post-Christmas (well that, and the fact that I didn’t have time around Christmas).

Saffron cheesecake, serves 10

Base:

200 g digestive biscuits

100 g melted butter

Filling:

400 g cream cheese

100 ml milk 

115 ml caster sugar

1 tsp gelatin powder 

1 1/2 tbsp saffron strands 

1 egg 

Mix the digestives into crumbs in a food processor, add the butter and press onto the base of a Ø 20-25 cm springform and pre-bake for 10 minutes at 150 C.

Meanwhile mix the cream cheese with caster sugar in a bowl. Heat up the milk with the saffron and add the gelatine. Leave to cool a little and mix in with the cream cheese. Lastly, mix in an egg and pour the filling into the tin. Bake for 20 minutes in 150C oven. It should still be quivering in the middle but set otherwise. 

Christmas 2014

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I had two weeks off work during Christmas and it was wonderful spending that much time back home in Sweden. There was a lot of food involved as we entertained and saw friends often for a meal.

At the moment I’m more in the mood for soups and vegetables than three course meals (who knew I would ever utter those words), but I fondly look back on all the nice meals we had during the Christmas break.

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We only had traditional Christmas food on Christmas Eve, and we decided that was the perfect amount for our family. The traditional dishes are all rich and stodgy so one day is enough! In the evening we started with a smörgåsbord of cured and smoked salmon, meatballs and sausages, Jansson’s temptation, Christmas ham, brown and red cabbage, bread and cheeses. Thereafter we had salted ling with a warm mustard sauce and boiled potatoes (although I had cod instead) and a seriously rich rice pudding (Ris a’la Malta) with plenty of whipped cream and berry sauce to finish.

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The other days we enjoyed whatever we were in the mood for. Mummy made this gubbröra on toast as a starter one day. It’s chopped eggs, anchovies, dill and onions in butter. Very yummy! (Recipe to follow).

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We actually had a lot of fish, like this gratin with plaice fillets and prawns.

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But also a lot of meat, sauce and potatoes. Above seriously tender wild duck cooked by mummy with Hasselback potatoes and Brussel sprouts but we also had rib-eye and bearnaise sauce as well as roasted chicken.

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While entertaining we of course had puddings too, like this favourite tarte tatin with ‘raw’ custard. The oven cooks a bit unevenly and we forgot to move it around, hence the colour difference, but it was still very delicious!

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One of the last days we had some more fish as not much can beat fried Arctic char fillets with boiled potatoes and the best sauce for fish ever!

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A few days before Christmas and New Year we even had snow, and although I’m not a fan of icy roads and cold temperatures, the garden looked rather pretty clad in white.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break. Happy New Year!