Recipe: Kale quiche with almond slivers and mature cheese

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Already in November I celebrated Christmas the Scandi way with the book club. It’s a nice little tradition and this year we outdid ourselves with carol singing! It was so much fun and the perfect way for me to get into the Christmas spirit.

We started the evening with the loveliest mushrooms salad on crostini, plenty of prosecco and my epic Christmas playlist.

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Then we moved on to the main meal of Jansson’s frestelse (grated potato baked with onions, anchovies and cream), two types of meatballs, a salad with pear and walnuts and this kale and almond quiche with Swedish Herrgård cheese.

But the pièce de résistance was Mary-Louise’s pecan and almond pie for pudding. So lovely and timed well as it was around Thanksgiving!

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Kale and almond quiche with Herrgård cheese, serves 8-10

Pastry:

120 g softened butter

300 ml plain flour

1/2 beaten egg

Filling:

500 g kale, trimmed, rinsed and parboiled

50 g almond slivers

200 ml matured Herrgård cheese, grated (matured cheddar works as well) 

3 eggs

100 ml cream

200 ml milk

salt and pepper

Pinch the pastry together and coat a pie dish with it. Use a fork to make small holes in the pastry. Pre-bake it for 10 minutes in 180C. Leave to cool.

Squeeze the water out of the kale and chop it. Add salt and pepper to the kale and place in the the tin. Scatter with almond slivers and add the cheese.  

Beat eggs, cream and milk. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Pour into the tin and press the filling down so it’s all covered with the egg mixture. Bake in 180C for about 40 mins (until set and golden brown). 

 

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Recipe: chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle

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The last couple of years I’ve had a standing brunch around Christmas time for some of my Swedish friends and their families. As their brood is getting bigger brunch seemed like the ideal concept; there is something for everyone and you don’t have to sit down to eat at the same time.

Sadly, this brunch in December will probably have to be the last one as there’s now too many of us and apart from cooking for a large amount of people there is quite a lot of furniture carrying required to make it happen. But we’ll see, maybe I can work out a way to make it easier… Any ideas welcome!

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The concept has been more or less the same every year; people arrive at midday, and I provide both savoury (always eggs, bacon, different types of bread with toppings such as cheeses, jams, paté, ham etc. – we love our open-faced sandwiches in Sweden as you know) and sweet (usually two types of cake) dishes, and we eat and chat and eat and chat and play with the children.

This year I substituted the usual brunch eggs with my take on shakshuka (recipe to follow) and mum made an large omelette with creamed mushrooms on top as well.

Although people always love the savoury element I seem to have gathered a group of friends with very sweet teeth so I always try my best to come up with something super yummy on the sweet side.

This year I was quite pleased with my efforts of serving madeleines (best recipe ever!) straight from the oven and just lightly dusted with icing sugar. And although people liked them, this chocolate cake was the star of the show: chocolate cake with pieces of white chocolate dispersed like little surprises, covered with a white chocolate truffle and colourful smarties (although you can of course decorate it however you like). The texture is quite dense and chewy (in a good way – just don’t expect a fluffy cake) and rather filling, so one cake could probably feed 10-12 people, but as my friends love sweets I thought it safer to count 8-10 people per cake.

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It’s (sadly) not my own concoction at all, but I know I can always trust fabulous Annika and her reliable recipes.

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Chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle, serves 8-10

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe.

The cake itself (without the truffle) freezes well and can be made ahead of time. Defrost slowly and add the truffle and decorations a few hours before serving so it has time to set.

2 eggs

240 g golden caster sugar 

2 tbsp vanilla sugar or 4 tsp vanilla 

1/2 tsp salt

100 g melted butter

4 tbsp cocoa

90 g plain flour

100 g white chocolate, broken into 1 cm large pieces

Truffle:

150 g white chocolate

50 ml double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 175 C. Line the bottom of a springform with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the edges of the tin. 

Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Stir in the melted butter. Sieve cocoa and flour and fold into the batter. Pour the butter into the tin and press down the chocolate pieces.

Bake in a low oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool and cover the tin and let it set overnight. 

Truffle:

Heat up the cream in a saucepan. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the warm cream. Mix slowly until smooth. Leave to set, then spread it onto the cake. Keep in the fridge until just before serving. Decorate with smarties or other sweets, sprinkles, chopped nuts etc. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

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. 

 

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.

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!

Christmas indulgence

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We didn’t host Christmas Eve this year, so I haven’t got a single picture of what we ate that day. Instead I left the camera at home and just focused on being in the moment.

Besides, traditional Swedish Christmas food is not my favourite type of food. I love Jansson’s temptation (the potato bake with anchovies) and meatballs with allspice but am happy to skip the herring, Christmas ham and cabbages.

This post will instead focus on what we ate all the other days around Christmas. Staying with my parents for two weeks was a great excuse to indulge in lots of eating and cooking. Most of the food was quite festive and a little something extra, but we also squeezed in some everyday food.

We also made very good use of mother’s Christmas china service with the the words ‘God Jul’ which means Merry Christmas in Swedish; it features on most pictures. jul6

Charkuterie board: smoked sausage, cured ham, parmesan and crema di balsamico, olives.

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Wild duck breast, peanut fingerling potatoes, port sauce, broccoli and rowanberry jelly.

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Fresh crab, prawns, mayonnaise, bread and salad.

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Almost as important as food – bubbly and candles

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Poached halibut, boiled potatoes, lovely creamy sauce and carrots

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Creme brulee

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Weekday food: Christmas meatballs (seasoned with allspice) and creamy potato mash with extra butter

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Fried shallots and carrot matchsticks, scallops and wild garlic oil

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Classic Lobster Thermidor

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Swedish pizza and coke on New Year’s Day

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Lots of nice cookies made by mother (favourites are the chocolate ones and the crispy rolls)

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Fish soup with prawns, aoili

It was a lovely Christmas last year!

Christmas 2013

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This past Christmas was a great one for me. I got to see my wonderful friends back home in Sweden, try some new restaurants, spend time with my dear parents, celebrate Christmas the traditional way with the relatives and meet some newly arrived babies for the first time. And – this is the kicker – I had enough time to enjoy every moment.

Usually I feel like a hamster in a wheel spinning out of control when I go to Sweden for a longer trip. So much to do, so many people to see and never enough time to do it all. Sure, I still have a guilty conscience about not being able to see people as much as I (and hopefully they) would have liked, but I had a great time and had a lot of quality time with great people.

Thanks Christmas of 2013 – you were great!