A Strawberry Shortcake To Welcome Summer

strawberry shortcake

Most people who have experienced biting into a big, red, juicy strawberry while in Norway agree that Norwegian strawberries are in a league of its own.  Wild strawberries have been known in Europe since the Roman era, but they were not commercially grown until the 19th century.  Strawberries were used as medicine; its juice was rubbed on old wounds along with salt.

Norwegians are known for the record amount of strawberries they consume:  Every Norwegian eats a total of four kilos (around 9 lbs) per year! Filled with antioxidants and containing fewer pesticides than strawberries found in other parts of the world,  the berries are first and foremost so tasty because they get picked when they are fully ripe, not a bit before, as is the case with imported berries (to guarantee longevity when transported).  Additionally, the conditions in Norway are ideal with long, light filled days combined with a cool climate that lengthens the ripening period, allowing the berries to develop great flavors.

strawberries

I was lucky to grow up with a big backyard and a big fruit and vegetable garden with rows of strawberry plants, and had the luxury of being able to put my flip flops on when waking up in the morning, go in the back and pick ripe, juicy berries right from the ground and bring back for breakfast. Of course, as a young girl, I preferred eating them for dessert – just thinly sliced and covered in cream and a sprinkle of sugar…

Here I am photographed in my early teens in front of our vegetable garden at home in Norway:

sunnyveggarden

Due to the very mild winter Norway experienced this year, the strawberry season this year is the best in many years.  I’ve been reading tons of articles about strawberries in Norwegian papers and was inspired by the many recipes that have popped up as a result of this fabulous season.  Naturally, living in New York, I seek to combine my two cultures; Norwegian and American, and felt a desire to create a dairy free strawberry shortcake.  An American classic and family favorite, it’s hard not to love this dessert, and with this coming Friday being the first official day of summer, it is the perfect seasonal dish!

I’m happy to say my version turned out perfectly and although I wasn’t fortunate enough to have Norwegian strawberries on hand, I found some pretty amazingly flavor packed ones at my local farmer market this past Sunday.  The light biscuits get a nice lift and fresh taste by including some lemon zest in the dough, and instead of traditional heavy cream I whipped up coconut cream which added just that extra exotic and exciting flavor to bring the dish all together.  If you can’t find tasty strawberries where you are this time of year, feel free to substitute with any fresh fruit of your choice, it will still taste delicious!

I urge you to try this recipe and compare it to your traditional way of making them – I bet you won’t miss the dairy! :)

strawberry shortcake1

SUNNY’S NORWEGIAN STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

3 cups hulled strawberries, sliced in half

1/2 cup sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp grated lemon zest

6 tablespoons chilled vegan butter or firm coconut butter, diced

1/2 cup almond, soy or other plant based milk

1 x 14 oz full fat coconut milk *

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

Start by macerating strawberries: Combine strawberries in a bowl with the 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice, stir and set aside in fridge.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare batter: In a food processor, pulse together the remaining sugar , flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt until well combined.  Add the vegan butter or coconut butter, pulsing until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. With the machine still running, add the non-dairy milk alternative gradually, until the dough just begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and pat into 8 small round biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with sugar, and bake about 18-20 minutes, or until golden. Allow the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet.

To prepare coconut cream: *Place can of coconut milk in fridge overnight so that the coconut fat of the milk gathers on top.  Carefully open the can and remove the solid “lid” of fat and place in a bowl (you want to whip only the fat/solid mass). Save the coconut juice at the bottom for another time. Add the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar and whip in a stand mixer until fluffy and thick. Set aside in fridge until ready to serve.

To serve, slice the cooled biscuits in half, spoon some of the strawberry mixture on top of one half, and place a dollop of whipped coconut cream on top and place the other biscuit half on top. Now you’ve got the taste of summer on your plate!!

strawberry shortcake

 

 

 

Sunny Foods for Easter

Today marks the start of Easter in Norway – Palm Sunday is always an exciting day, as Norwegians look forward to the week ahead when they trek to the mountains in search of snow, sun, skiing, and of course… great food!  The Easter holiday is huge in Norway, and always makes me homesick as I never get the same feeling of this celebratory time in my adopted country of the United States.  Work always seem to take center stage here, while the opposite might be said to be true in my native country.  Life is a little more than your career – it is enjoyment, spending time with family and friends, traveling, getting away from the hustle and bustle and preparing special foods to ring in the holiday.

påskeliv

Food with the color yellow is always popular around Easter. Think Easter eggs, yellow flowers, the color of the sun (which have reappeared this time of year after a long winter) and oranges, which could be said to be somewhat yellowish too.   Norwegians eat oranges like they are going out of style for Easter – it is a popular snack food to bring along in backpacks when going hiking or skiing in the mountains.  Of course, a little chocolate is appropriate too most likely the brand “Kvikklunsj”, literally translated to “quick lunch” and is reminiscent of our Kit Kat bars, but only ten times better :)

I recently came to think of the delicious pastry called “Solskinnskringle” – or “Sunshine Kringle”, shaped into a wreath or like a pretzel, filled with orange marmalade, almonds and vanilla custard and drizzled with confectioners sugar. Ever since having adopted a vegan diet, I was curious as to how I would ever be able to eat vanilla custard again, one of my favorite delicacies in pastries.  I was so relieved to come across a recipe using cashew nuts that, when soaked and pureed in a blender, turned into a creamy, custard like mousse, and with the addition of vanilla beans, tastes just like the real thing.  Below is my interpretation of a dairy free, egg less sunshine kringle – perfect to bake early next week in preparation for Easter weekend! Enjoy everyone!

SOLSKINNSKRINGLE  (Sunshine Kringle)

1 stick  margarine or 3 1/2 oz coconut butter or oil

1 cup almond milk

25 grams or 1 oz fresh yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Vanilla Custard Filling:

2 cups cashews, (soaked in water for 2 hours or more)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

1/2 cup melted coconut butter or il

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Add cashews, water, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, and sea salt to a high-speed bender. Blend until smooth and creamy.  Place in the freezer to set for 2 hours. Your vanilla custard is ready for use!

vaniljekrem2

3 1/2 oz shredded marzipan

1/4 cup orange marmalade

Confectioners Glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit (210 Celcius).   Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Heat the almond milk in a small pot until warm to the touch, around 98-99F/37C.  Crumble the fresh yeast into the milk and mix until combined.    In a large bowl, add the salt, sugar, cardamom and flax seed mixture.  Pour in the milk-yeast mixture, and start gradually adding the all purpose flour.  Combine and knead until you get a smooth dough.   Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 1 hour.

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 25 x 10 inch rectangle (60×25 cm).  Using a spatula, spread the vanilla custard over the dough and sprinkle on the marzipan. Pour dollops of orange marmalade on top.

From the longest side closest to you, roll up the dough like a swiss roll.  Shape the dough like a kringle  (or pretzel) and place onto the  prepared baking sheet.  Bake the kringle in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.  Cool on a rack.

While the kringle is cooling off, prepare the confectioners glaze.  Whisk the confectioners sugar in a bowl with the added fresh lemon juice until smooth and relatively thick.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  You can add the glaze to a piping bag or just drizzle the glaze over the cake with a fork.

Now you are ready to celebrate  Norwegian Easter!

solskinnskringletine

Photo Source:  Tine.no

Spring Into the Season With A Delightful Asparagus Tart

Spring has  been my favorite time of year ever since I was a little girl.  Growing up in Norway, the winters were harsh, long, freezing cold and dark, which made people a bit depressed and not very social.   Having day light only for about five to six hours a day will do that to a person. But when the snow started melting, the days slowly were getting lighter and longer and I saw the first snowdrop flowers (“snøklokke” in Norwegian) pop up on the ground and the birch trees blooming,  I always turned cheerful and excited for warmer weather to come.

Synonymous with the change of season, came the new produce available to cook with.  I’ve always associated asparagus with spring; the bright green,  succulent and tender stalks offer a vibrant color signifying that nature is alive yet again,  and provides a wonderful taste and texture to any dish.  Besides being tasty, asparagus is also nutritious, low in calories, helps digestion, is rich in fiber and has anti-cancer benefits. Asparagus has been prized as an epicurean delight and for its medicinal properties for almost 2000 years. Only in season from April-May (in some areas through July), make sure you take advantage of picking up some bunches at your local market and hopefully you will want to try out my delicious asparagus tart – recipe below!

asptart2

SPRING TART WITH ASPARAGUS, WHITE BEANS AND PESTO

1 whole wheat tart dough * recipe to follow

1  15 oz can cannellini or white/navy beans

1/4 heaping cup raw cashews

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp pesto * (recipe to follow, or use store bought)

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp almond milk or soy milk

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 large Vidalia / sweet onion, sliced thin

Extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing

1-2 garlic cloves

To make bean filling:

Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the clean bowl of a food processor. Add the cashews, pesto (see recipe below), salt and lemon juice. Pulse the food processor, stopping to scrape down the sides and pulse again. It should look like a rough paste.  Pulse a few more times, then sprinkle in the almond milk while the machine is running, helping to further smooth the paste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  See further down how to make asparagus/onion topping.

To make whole wheat tart dough:

I chose to use whole wheat here for a healthier dough, but you can substitute regular all purpose flour if you’d like.  I love how easy this dough comes together, and with only three ingredients (not counting salt and water)! I use this as a base for many of my savory tarts as its healthy, easy and super delicious.  Use a scale to weigh your ingredients when baking, it’s always more accurate.

wholewheatpastrydough

 

About  9 oz /250 grams whole wheat flour

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup cold water

Grease a 9 inch tart pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.

Mix the flour, sea salt and fresh herbs in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add in the extra virgin oil and mix with a fork. Add in the cold water and knead lightly until it comes together in to a ball.

wholewheatdoughball

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, large enough to fit your tart pan.  Carefully transfer the dough into your tart pan and line it neatly. Trim the excess dough off the edges and place the pan in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

wholewheattartdough

Blind bake the crust: Prick the dough with a fork, then cover with foil and place either dry beans or as I did, decorative rocks (!) on top to keep the dough from puffing up.

tartblindbake

Place in oven and blind bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove beans/foil.  Meanwhile make the pesto.

To make pesto:

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

1/2 cup walnuts, almonds or pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp nutritional yeast (I use this in place of parmigiano cheese)

salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, nuts, and garlic in a food processor – pulse to combine until mixture is coarsely ground. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper, pulse a few more times until combined. Scrape out into a container and set aside.

pesto

 

To make topping:

In a large saute pan, place 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with a clove or two of smashed garlic over medium high heat, then add sliced onions, season with kosher salt and saute for 15 minutes or so until caramelized. Remove from pan and add asparagus stalks. Season with salt and saute over high heat for about 5 minutes or so until they begin to soften. Set aside.

caramelizedonions

 

asparagus2

To assemble tart:

Spread the white bean/pesto mixture over the tart dough:

wholewheattartbeans

Then top with caramelized onions and asparagus.

asparagustartbef2

 

Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until tart is cooked through.  The tart is equally tasty warm right out of the oven or at room temperature. Serve with a nice green salad and your favorite full bodied white wine – this is absolutely mouthwatering and tastes just like spring!!

asptartsliced asptartpiece

 

 

Mamma’s Cauliflower Soup With a Twist

cauliflowersoup1

Although cauliflower is a winter hardy vegetable and is in season for most of the year here, it is summer time I associate with cauliflower soup growing up in Norway.   While cauliflower tastes good all over the world,  international cookbooks talk about the vegetable growing particularly well in  Norway  where has a milder taste, due to the abundance of day light it receives during the summer time.   Cauliflower thrives in Norway where it has been grown since the 17th century, and such has a long history there. In fact, Norwegians think of it as a “Norwegian” vegetable, although its origins are from the Mediterranean.

blomkal

Cauliflower even comes in purple!

cauliflowerpurple

At my house, my mom would harvest cauliflowers from our garden and make the best, creamiest and simplest, but most flavorful soup that we would enjoy for dinner with store bought “loff” (white baguette).   This white “exotic” bread was  considered a treat in my house, since my mom always made hearty homemade bread from whole wheat (typically only had at breakfast).  Cauliflower soup was considered a “light” dinner for my dad, and while he wasn’t always happy (he was such a meat and potato guy) it always brightened my day when I saw this on the table, and remains one of my fondest culinary memories from childhood.  Today, cauliflower soup is a traditional dish at confirmations and other celebratory occasions.

Having gone through culinary school and traveled the world, I sought to spice up my mom’s (mamma) soup a bit to make it a bit more layered and interesting flavor-wise.  Since I no longer use dairy products in my cooking, I chose a thick coconut milk in place of cow’s milk or cream, and I also added curry powder to the mix for a bit of a kick.  Super simple to make, this soup packs a ton of flavor and is easy to make ahead and easily freezable as well.  Try it out and let me know what you think!  Velbekomme!

BLOMKÅLSUPPE MED EN VRI (Cauliflower Soup With a Twist)

1 large head cauliflower, cut into thin florets

1 large sweet/Vidalia onion

2-3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tbsp coconut oil

1-3 tbsp medium hot curry powder (depending on how spicy you prefer it – or you can omit this all together)

6 cups vegetable broth

1 x 15 oz can coconut milk

juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat and add the onion and garlic.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.   Add the cauliflower florets and coat with the oil and season again with a bit of salt. Add the curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Cauliflowersaute

Add in the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Spoon the soup mixture in batches into a blender and puree until smooth, alternatively use a stick blender in the pot and puree.

cauliflowerbatch

cauliflowerpuree

Add the pureed cauliflower soup back into the soup put, add the coconut milk along with the lime juice and heat through.  Season with salt and pepper, garnish with some fresh mint (Or any other fresh herb you prefer) – and serve!

cauliflowersoup1

Fastelavn: Fat Tuesday Norwegian style

I’ve previously covered Fastelavn, the Norwegian word for Shrovetide, or better known as Fat Tuesday, and how we celebrate it, which you can access here.   This day is celebrated all over Scandinavia and has been an event since the 16th century; and  is synonymous with one thing: Fastelavensboller,  translated as sweet cardamom buns filled with vanilla whipped cream and jam, made from either strawberries or raspberries.  In Sweden, they have similar buns, called “semlor” or “semla” (singular) , where they stuff the buns with marzipan and cream.  The Danes take this day perhaps the most serious of all Scandinavians,  organizing party games for both children and grown ups, dress up, sing and fill the table with all kinds of goodies.

In addition to the delicious fastelavensboller,  this day also includes the widespread tradition of the birch twigs, fastelavnsris.   Even before Norway became a Christian country, there existed superstition around the birch twigs.  The belief was, that birch twigs that still had not grown leaves, had the power of fertility in them.  Farm fields, cows and humans were “spanked” (ris in Norwegian) with the twigs to ensure a fertile year.  Young girls and childless people especially were treated to the spanking. . When a young man met a young woman on the road, he gently spanked her with the birch twigs.  It was also common for couples to spank each other, and it was children’s right to spank the grown ups in the morning. The price for the spanking was always a cardamom bun – and here comes the tradition of “fastelavensboller”.    People will decorate their houses with colorful birch twigs around this time.

fastelavnsris

As you can read about Fastelavn in my previous blog post I won’t repeat more of this information again, but I was, however, particularly excited to develop a dairy free recipe (these cardamom buns do not require eggs either).   The toughest part seemed to re-create whipped cream, but was delighted to discover that all you need is some coconut cream, whip that up along with some vanilla extract or vanilla sugar (the more vanilla will cover up the coconut flavor of the whipped cream in case you don’t care for this flavor).

The more I bake without dairy, the more I wonder why I ever included this ingredient, as I seem to be able to create better recipes without it, and at the same time eliminate all the bad health effects of dairy.  This recipe turned out just the way I envisioned it: light, fluffy and packed with incredible flavor.  the coconut cream will be denser than dairy cream but in return, packs a ton more flavor.  I can’t think of many other dishes that are more delicious.  I hope you can limit yourself to eating just one of these- it was definitely a challenge for me!

FASTELAVNSBOLLER

Makes 8 buns

550 grams or about 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

100 grams or 1/2 cup sugar

50 grams (2 oz) fresh yeast or 1 pack dry yeast

2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)

1 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 cup almond milk or soy milk

100 grams or roughly one stick of vegan butter (margarine)

almond milk or water for brushing buns

For filling:

1 can chilled coconut cream

2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Strawberry jam or jam of your choice, or 1 cup freshly sliced strawberries mixed with 1/2 cup sugar and the juice of 1/2 lemon

To make the buns:

Heat up the almond milk and butter until about 82F (27 degrees celcius).  crumble in the fresh yeast in a stand mixer bowl.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients with 3/4 of the all purpose flour. In a stand mixer, slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid, and add in the last of the flour and mix for about 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth dough and the dough releases from the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, 1-2 hours.

Remove dough from bowl and knead it a little bit on a working surface, and divide into eight equal parts. Roll them into nicely shaped round buns and place on a sheet tray sprayed with Pam.  Cover with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.

fastelavnsbollerise

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 420 Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celcius).

Brush the buns with a little almond milk or water, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden on top. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

fastelavnsbollerprecream

To make the whipped coconut cream:

Open the can of coconut cream without shaking it (you can chill the can overnight in the fridge). You want to scoop out the top layer of the thick cream in the can, this is what you will whip. You will have about 1/2 cup of clear liquid left in the can – save this for other recipes where you want some coconut flavor – it also makes a great coconut syrup! Whisk the coconut cream with the vanilla sugar/extract and confectioners sugar until firm, thick and fluffy.

Divide the buns in half and fill them with a big dollop of whipped coconut cream and spoon over a little strawberry jam or macerated fresh strawberries.   Dig in and enjoy!!  (I omitted the confectioner’s sugar topping on mine because I think these are sweet enough)

fastelavnsbolle

 

Scandinavian Burger: Where Beet, Not Meat, Is The Star

The beet is an old cultural plant that has been grown in Europe for over three thousand years but likely arrived in  Scandinavia  in the 15th of 16th century.  Both the red beet and sugar beet stem from the beach beet, which grows wild along coastal Europe.   Beets can be round, oval or cylindrical, but more commonly seen is the round shaped beet.  Beets come in red, yellow or orange colors –  my favorite dish is to make a colorful salad which include all the different types roasted, toss them with some good olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, drizzle a little good quality red wine vinegar over them and sprinkle with some fresh dill.  Norway on a plate!

beets

Beets are used in a variety of dishes in the Nordic countries, as it is a traditional root vegetable with a long history in the Nordic kitchen.  Beets are served both warm and cold, the latter regularly in salads, and then there is of course red beet soup; borscht.  Cooked, chopped beets are often added to ground meat,  boiled beets are served with new potatoes with a dab of butter, and perhaps the best known way to serve these are pickled; either as a condiment to fish or as a topping on open faced sandwiches.  I’ve also seen them pureed  with butter and whipped into a cream, and with their bright red color, this not only tastes great but adds beautiful color to your plate. Besides beets being incredibly versatile and healthy with their low fat, high calcium, fiber and iron content, they are also amazingly tasty if you know how to prepare them to maximize their sweetness and underlying earthiness.

Beets are in season from May to November, when they are smaller in size and nice and tender,  but they will keep well through the winter, which is why they are so popular in Norway.    Regardless of the time of year, avoid selecting the very large beets, as they may not be as sweet and sometimes have a woody center.  The leaves on the beet stalks are also very nutritious, and can be chopped up and sauteed with some olive oil and garlic for a delectable side dish.  Don’t throw these out!

Since  I no longer include meat or fish in my diet, I wanted to create a dish that would taste “meaty” without the meat, and much better!  I have seen beet burgers on menus in restaurants before, but more often than not, the beets are boiled, then pureed and mixed with whatever other ingredients and fried on the flat top, much like any other burger. The result is generally a mushy mess in the center with an undesirable texture, reminiscent of baby food.  The way I decided to do mine, is shred the beets while raw into thin pieces, then saute them on the pan, almost similar to hash browns.  The result is a crispy exterior with a firm texture that better replicates the meat version. Simply perfection! When I had my catering company, Fork and Glass, we would make these and sell them in to- go containers at local farmer markets, and we could never make enough of these to serve everyone!

I love using a mixture of golden and red beets in the burgers for both taste and presentation.

shreddedbeets

I dare you to serve these to your meat eating friends or someone who has exclaimed before how much he/she hates beets – and see if they won’t change their mind next time they think of burgers!!

ARCTIC BEET BURGERS

2 cups raw red beet, grated

2 cups raw golden beet, grated

about 1 1/2 cups-2 cups oatmeal

2 tbsp flax seed mixed in 6 tablespoons of water

about 1/2 cup-1 cup sweet rice flour (you can use AP flour if you prefer)

3-4 large shallots, o4 1 large Vidalia Onion, sliced and sauteed/caramelized until soft and golden brown

5-6 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp canola or olive oil, for sauteing

Place the grated beet in a bowl, season with salt and squeeze out any moisture. Add the rest of the ingredients, season generously with salt and pepper, and let rest in fridge for about 1 hour.

Prepare a couple of sheet trays lined with paper towels.  Scoop out 1/4 cup of the beet mixture and shape into a flat cake with your hands.  Place them on a separate tray.  Heat the oil in a skillet (I love using cast iron skillets) over medium heat and fry the cakes until golden brown on both sides.

beetsinpan

Transfer the beets to sheet trays lined with parchment paper or  paper towels until you finish the entire batter.

beetburgers

Besides serving them in the traditional burger bun, these are delicious accompanied with a grain salad or a green salad – topped with vegan dilled sour cream or a horseradish sauce.   You can make these cakes the day before and reheat them in the oven.  Who needs meat??

Heart Food; In More Ways Than One

For Valentine’s Day I thought it  appropriate to post about one of Norway’s more popular and well known  foods: our beloved heart shaped waffles. Soft and sweet, these are not eaten for breakfast, but rather as an afternoon treat or served with coffee at night (0r any time of day) when guests come over.  There is something magical about these waffles; they don’t fill you up quite the way Belgian or American waffles do, they are more dainty and elegant, as if they belong at a proper English high tea.  Simultaneously, they are incredibly casual and inviting;  I guess you could say they are just irresistible all around, and everyone I’ve served these to have been ooh’ing and aah’ing and conversations have been known to go on forever about these creations. You see the waffles served everywhere in Norway; at cafes, bazaars, on the ferry crossing the fjord  from one town to another, and if you ever visit a famous Norwegian  “seaman’s church” outside of Norway you will see them  offered for free with a cup of coffee, as a way to comfort Norwegians abroad by providing a familiar and typical flavor.

I’ve posted about our waffle traditions in more detail before, and you can access that post here.

Since I’ve changed lifestyles in 2014, I wanted to post a recipe that omitted dairy and eggs in the waffles, and I’m happy to report that you won’t miss this at all in this batter. I’m always amazed at how fluffy and light batters are when not including eggs, and the additional benefit is that by omitting diary and eggs is that you greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease ,diabetes,  cancer and heightened cholesterol.

Try this incredibly easy recipe that is packed with flavor – I love the addition of cinnamon and cardamom to the batter. To bake these you’ll need a special heart shaped waffle iron – luckily these are easy to come by and you can buy one on Amazon for instance, although it may be difficult to come across an old school one like the one I have:

waffleiron

Don’t despair – your waffles will taste just as good in a more modern iron!  I love dabbing some coconut oil or butter on top of them if I don’t have any jam… sooo delicious and sure to please your Valentine!  Hope you all enjoy the day and feed your loved one something special tonight… how about these Norwegian hearts???

HEART SHAPED WAFFLES

1 1/2 cup soy milk

1/2 cup rape seed oil or vegetable oil (not olive oil)*

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsps sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Combine everything in a bowl and let rest for 1/2 hour before baking according to your waffle iron’s instructions.

wafflesecretingredients

waffelsbaking

Serve warm right away topped with butter,  jam, plant based cheeses or cheese of your choice or my favorite: (vegan) sour cream and strawberry jam!

wafflesfinished

*If you want a light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice and has experienced a surge in popularity since around 2008. Although technically the same as canola oil, what you see in stores today sold as canola oil has been tampered with and blended with other kot so great oils, somtry to purchase true rapeseed oil from a health food store. Rapeseed oil Is produced from the bright yellow rape plant that grows freely in Norway. Best cold -pressed, the oil can then be used drizzled as salad dressing, or heated to fry or bake. It’s low in saturated fat, so has been hailed for its health benefits and also has other nutritional bonuses – it contains omegas 3, 6 and 9, which reduce cholesterol and help to maintain healthy joint, brain and heart functions. As it is high in mono-unsaturated fats, it is one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to a high frying temperature and not spoil its antioxidants, character, color or flavor. Homegrown rapeseed oil has been heralded the ‘Norwegian olive oil’ but its flavor is more earthy and nutty than fruity.

Sjokoladekake – A Cake That Will Please Everyone

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Chocolate cake is the most baked cake in Norway. The reason might be that it’s easy to put together, using ingredients everyone most likely have in their cabinet already.   Recipes vary, and there are countless versions with different fillings or ingredients, like chopped chocolate, nuts, jam etc.  Some choose to glaze their cake, while others just keep it simple and eat it plain, almost like a mix between a cake and a cookie.   A lot of times Norwegians choose to bake their cake in a 13X9 inch pan, called a “langpanne” in Norwegian – and the cake is cut into squares, and sometimes topped with a chocolate glaze and coconut flakes (one of my favorites!).  This is also easier when baking for kids, as it’s easier to hold on to and less messy.

Regardless of what recipe you choose to do, it is hard to go wrong when deciding to serve a chocolate cake to your guests.  Most everyone I know, light up when they see chocolate, and the dark chocolate in this cake also has some health benefits (ok, that’s a long stretch, I know – but who needs excuses to sink your teeth into this one??)

sjokolade

What makes this cake just a tad  more delicious than the average chocolate cake, is the addition of the typical Norwegian vanilla sugar; a vanilla flavored, powdery confectioners sugar that just makes all baked goods so much tastier than when using the more artificially tasting vanilla extract.  The second ingredient in this cake is the slight touch of cinnamon which I think go really well with the dark chocolate.   If you are not crazy about cinnamon (like us Norwegians), you can of course choose to leave this out of your batter.

I personally find that the glaze is what completes the cake, and while it doesn’t have to be super decadent, it has to be smooth and at the right consistency.  This one is incredibly easy to work with. Play around with different versions – and try my vegan version below that produces a rich, juicy cake, you will be amazed that the recipe does not contain any dairy or eggs! :)

JUICY CHOCOLATE CAKE

2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tablespoons freshly brewed, strong, black coffee

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cups hot water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Glaze:

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 stick vegan butter (about 100 grams)

2 tbsp freshly brewed, black , strong coffee

1 tbsp soy milk (optional)

about 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a springform or 13 x 9 inch baking pan with a little oil and coat with a little flour.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Combine well and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the coffee, brown sugar, water and oil.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk quickly until a smooth batter forms.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in middle of oven for 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clear.

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Cool the cake on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

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In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter.

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Add in the optional soy milk if needed, and whisk in the confectioners sugar until a smooth glaze forms.  Spread the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the chilled cake.

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Keep chilled or in a cool spot until ready to serve.

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Optional:  You can divide the cake in two and double the glaze recipe and add in chocolate creme in the middle too for an extra, decadent cake!

Honoring the Sami People on their National Day

Sunny:

Had to reblog this beautiful post by Experience North Cape, in honor of the National Sami Day which is celebrated today, February 6th. The Sami people are our indigenous people who live across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and they have their own language and music genre (the joik). These two videos showcase how beautiful it can sound!

Originally posted on experiencenorthcape:

Today, the Sami People celebrate their national day.  To honor their heritage and culture, I thought I’d share a couple of beautiful joiks sung by a Swedish/Sami artist, Sofia Jannok.  For those of you who have never heard this music genre, you are in for a treat!

The following song, Aphi (Wide as Oceans), addresses the struggle over Sami land, culture, identity and the future – issues indigenous people worldwide have in common.  It moved me to tears.

View original

Kanelboller – part of a Norwegian diet

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You’d be hard pressed to find a Norwegian who doesn’t absolutely LOVE cinnamon.  One could say 3 out of 4 pastry recipes in Norway includes this delightful spice (exaggerating here and there) , and kanelboller, or kanelsnurrer as some call them (in English we know them as cinnamon buns) is one of the most popular of Scandinavian baked goods.  Perhaps it is the warming and comforting sensation one gets from cinnamon that is so appealing to northern people – after all, we spend over half the year being cold.  Cinnamon adds a little exotic element to what is otherwise a straightforward cuisine, using what is at hand to create a meal.  I am unable to count how many versions I’ve had of kanelboller; in friends and family’s homes, in cafes, at functions and everywhere else you can imagine food being served, and there have been very few I’ve actually disliked. The key is to get them light and fluffy and moist – the rest will fall into place, because how can you go wrong when adding cinnamon to a recipe?? Spoken like a true Norwegian.

Last year there was a huge uproar among Scandinavian cinnamon lovers, as the EU’s regulations stipulated restrictions of the use of cinnamon, citing the dangers of over consuming the spice due to its content of coumarin, a fragrant organic chemical compound in cinnamon, suggesting it to be moderately toxic to the liver.  Bakers all across Scandinavia fumed, citing to their history of using cinnamon in their breads and pastries for over 200 years. The Swedes circumvented the regulations, citing that kanelboller were “Tradition food” and were allowed a higher dosage in their food. I find this to be quite funny, but also shows Norwegians and our fellow Scandiavians’ attachment to this popular spice.

I’ve covered cinnamon buns in the past here at Arctic Grub, but I wanted to develop a dairy free and egg less recipe since I decided a few months ago to no longer include these products in my diet.  If you think eggs or dairy are needed to make a gorgeous dough – boy,  will this one prove you wrong!! In fact, dare I say that this is perhaps the best recipe for kanelboller I’ve come up with to date?? You be the judge.

I would highly recommend using fresh yeast in this recipe. There is something magical about the scent and consistency of dough made with fresh yeast – something that truly reminds me of being in Norway in someone’s kitchen while yet another delightful pastry is baking away.  While I am fully aware this is harder to come by in the U.S., I am lucky enough where my local market’s pastry department will sell  me their fresh yeast by the pound.  I suggest you ask the bakery department at your grocery store or bakery – many people are happy to make a few extra dollars selling their base ingredients!

The dough for these kanelboller  is truly light and airy- a dream to handle!  Another mention is  that the spread in the middle should not be excessive – just a thin, even layer is enough. Remember, these aren’t super decadent cinnamon buns as we’re used to in the U.S. where both the fat and glaze is dripping and one bite seems enough before we deem it “too much” and “I can’t have anymore”. This is a bun that is not too sweet but that you (unfortunately??!) could eat three or four of in one sitting! :)

DAIRY FREE KANELBOLLER

For dough:

1 1/2 cup soy milk or other plant based milk

100 grams or 1/2 cup vegan butter

50 grams fresh yeast (or 1 packet dry yeast)

500 grams or roughly 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

100 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

113 grams (1 stick) or 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened

60 grams (1/4 cup) light brown sugar

60 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar

Additional vegan butter (melted) and sugar for brushing and sprinkling on buns

Directions:

In a small pot, heat up the soy /plant based milk and butter until luke warm, around 98.6 Fahrenheit (37 Celcius).  Crumble in the fresh yeast  or dry yeast if using. In a large bowl, combine half the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast milk mixture and add the rest of the flour until a firm, smooth dough shapes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients to the filling in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celcius) and spray two baking sheets.

Punch down the dough and roll it out to a rectangle about 15 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm). Spread the filling thinly all over the dough and start rolling from the widest and closest edge until you have a “sausage”.

kanelbollesmor

Using a dough cutter, divide into about 15-20 pieces and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet.

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Cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes.

kanelbollerforheving

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Brush the buns with melted butter and sprinkle some brown or regular granulated sugar on top.  Place in oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until nice and golden.   Note: If you are a fan of glazed cinnamon buns, you can mix a bit of soy milk and confectioners sugar together until you achieve a thick but runny consistency and spread the buns with these after they have cooled down.

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