One of things I most look forward to when going to Norway is being able to enjoy all the delicious chocolates. There simply isn’t any chocolate in the world better than the rich, creamy, light chocolates of Norway. Whether it’s the superior milk there or their secret recipe, I am not sure, but during every visit I overdose on all and any type of chocolate I can get my hands on. It’s as if I have to make up for lost time, “suffering” through the rest of the year among the American chocolate found in the grocery isles here. I secretly feel sorry for American kids who think a Hershey bar is the best thing ever. They don’t know what they are missing!
One of my old time favorites is Daim. This toffee candy is crunchy and creamy and covered with the most delicious milk chocolate, and has now become more widely available (thank God) in other countries as well. I love it because it offers different textures and seems lighter than other chocolates, but still contain so many layers of flavors. There now is Daim in all forms: Streusel (to put on top of ice cream, cakes and other desserts), bite size Daim, ice cream bars, and Daim biscuits among other things. Clearly people love this product, and will invent any excuse to add Daim into any and all foods if they can!
Last week I was fortunate to have tasted a homemade Daim ice cream cake made by one of my sister’s friends, and although it has now become quite the classic in Norway, served at confirmations, christenings, weddings and holidays, I was simply astounded once again by how delightful this cake is. With the weather reaching record temperatures in Norway this past week and it certainly has started getting balmy in NY as well as we move towards summer, I thought it fitting to include a recipe for this cool dessert.
This recipe is stuffed with Daim chocolate – a sort of super charged Daim ice cream cake made for someone who just can’t get enough of this flavor. Because you can never have too much of a good thing, right? Try it out and let me know! Maybe it will inspire you to make other desserts with Daim as well, I know I certainly have been bitten by the bug and will most likely post another recipe featuring this mouthwatering ingredient soon! P.S. No ice cream machine needed!!
DAIM ISKREMKAKE (Daim Ice Cream Cake)
For the meringue bottom:
4 egg whites
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
4 oz almonds
*2 large Daim chocolates (or roughly 1 1/2 cups chopped)
For the ice cream:
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cold strong coffee
*2 large Daim chocolates (or roughly 1 1/2 cups chopped)
6 1/2 oz milk chocolate (if you can find Melkesjokolade with Daim – perfect)
*see note at bottom for where to purchase Daim chocolate
Daim streusel (if you can’t find this, just grind up some regular Daim chocolate)
To make meringue:
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 10 inch spring form cake pan and line with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg whites and confectioner sugar until stiff peaks form. In a food processor, place the Daim and almonds and grind them up (not super fine but like coarse meal). Fold it into the egg white mixture. Pour into cake pan and place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool cake on a rack, and carefully remove the spring form around it and clean it.
To make ice cream:
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and airy. Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form and fold into egg mixture. In a small bowl, mix the vanilla extract together with the coffee. Chop up the Daim chocolates and add into the egg-cream along with vanilla-coffee liquid. Melt the milk chocolate carefully in a bowl placed on top of a pot on the stove filled with a little simmering water, and when cool fold into the ice cream mixture. Place the spring form pan around the cooled meringue, and pour the ice cream mixture on top of the meringue. Place in freezer. Decorate with the Daim streusel or chopped Daim when the ice cream cake has been in freezer for a couple of hours and have been able to set. Serve with a good, strong cup of Norwegian coffee!
*Note: You can purchase Daim chocolate at the following online stores:
Ingebretsens – http://www.ingebretsens.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Daim
Here you can even find the milk chocolate with the Daim pieces in it!
Scandinavian Specialties – http://www.scanspecialties.com/proddetail.php?prod=D10
Nordic Deli – http://nordicdeli.com/chocolates/chocolates.htm
Sockerbit – http://sockerbit.com/productdesc.html?id=157
Pentecost, or “pinse” in Norwegian, is an official holiday weekend in Norway, and is celebrated the seventh Sunday, or the 50th day following Easter Sunday. The name “pinse” stems from the Greek word “pentekoste”, which means the fiftieth.
Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church, because during this time, the Holy Spirit visited the apostles to give them strength and words to go out and spread the word of Jesus.
Pentecost was originally a Jewish autumn festival, also called the corn fall festival, when Jews from all over the world went to Jerusalem to take part in the Pentecost celebration in the temple.
Norwegians observe the second Pentecost day (the Monday after the Pentecost) as well, making it an official holiday. This weekend, pinse fell on the same weekend as the May 17th celebration, which makes it an extra long holiday for the lucky Norwegians. Many people go away, either to their cabins in the mountain or away on a hotel vacation for the extended weekend. My niece told me last week that in the month of May, there is a public holiday every single week…. so why am I not living in Norway? There seems to be more vacation days than working days, and although Norwegians aren’t particularly religious, they sure find a way to observe all the religious holidays
With this largely “unknown” holiday, the choice of celebratory food is not as set in stone, and you can really get more creative and experimental than on other more traditional holidays. As this year, the pinse holiday becomes an extension of our National Day, I still felt it was important to keep it somewhat typical Norwegian. As we move into summer in Norway, berries are starting to come into season and the red currant berries are something I always think of as very Nordic. As I’ve mentioned before, berries are some of the few fruits that are able to thrive in our cold climate. We use to grow tons of redcurrants in our backyard when I grew up – my dad even made wine from red currants, or “ripsbær” or “rips” as we all them in Norwegian.
When I was at home last week, I tasted this wonderful red currant dessert called “ripsfromasj” (red currant mousse) that I wanted to try and recreate for the weekend. After the huge smorgasbord and all the cakes, ice cream, hot dogs and other heavy foods on Constitution Day, a light mousse dessert seemed appropriate. Colorful and tasty – it will brighten up your table as well as your mind when you taste it! The tangy flavor of the red currants makes this dessert really refreshing, and not overly sweet. Try it out when you have some red currants handy, it may become your new favorite dessert!
RIPSFROMASJ (Red Currant Mousse)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
8 sheets of gelatin
1 cup red currants + additional for decoration
Place the gelatin sheets in cod water for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light yellow and fluffy. Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form, and fold into with the egg-sugar mix along with the red currant. Strain the cold water off the gelatin sheets and place them in 1/3 cup hot water to dissolve them. Pour the gelatin into the egg-heavy cream mixture. Pour the mousse into a glass bowl, decorate with red currants and “pikekyss” (meringue candies).
When you ask a Norwegian what the typical food they serve on this very special day, you are likely to get a wide variety of answers, depending on what region of the country you’re in. There seems to be as many opinions and customs as there are people in Norway, but the common foods you may hear repeated are hot dogs, ice cream, rømmegrøt (sour cream porrdige) with “fenalår” (cured leg of lamb) and our well known “koldtbord” (similar to Sweden’s smorgasbord) with many delectable cold dishes. This day is perhaps the biggest celebration of the year for our country, where the unity of the people’s nationality is marked and the Norwegian flag is seen everywhere. This is also when we wear our national costumes, the “bunad”. Here I am in my “Sunnmørsbunad”:
The 17th of May is our Constitution Day and a day of enormous pride for the Norwegians. The constitution was signed on this day in Eidsvoll in 1814, which declared Norway to be an independent nation, despite that the nation was still under the rule of Sweden, and the king of Sweden actually forbade the Norwegians to celebrate this day for many years. Not until 1836 did it become a national holiday and this is when the Parliament officially celebrated 17th of May.
Here’s a more current photo of the huge parade on the main street of Oslo, Karl Johan:
The first official children’s parade took place in 1870, and initially consisted of only boys. Girls were included from 1889, and in 1906, our royal family started the tradition of standing on their balcony greeting people walking in the parade on Karl Johan.
Because Norway’s history of always being under another country’s rule or in a union with their neighboring countries as well as being under German occupation during World War II (when celebration of May 17th was forbidden), this day is particularly special for the Norwegian people. While many people may look at waving their flag is nationalistic and not necessarily a positive thing, there is a completely different sentiment in Norway. This is a day of happiness, sense of belonging and community, and of course… FOOD!!
Since I have already written about a lot of the traditional foods in previous posts, I’ve selected to include a recipe for an incredibly delicious cake I tasted last week in my niece’s confirmation in Norway called “Ari Behn kake”. Ari Behn is a Norwegian author, and is also married to the princess of Norway. Since this day includes our royals, I found it fitting to incorporate this cake, also because cakes are such an important food when Norwegians celebrate anything or get together in a crowd.
When I asked the lovely woman who made the cake why it is called Ari Behn cake, she did not have a clue, and neither did anybody else I attempted to ask. The quest for more info continues! In the mean time – enjoy making this cake, as it is incredible! Thanks to my sister’s amazing, beautiful friend and talented cake maker, Unni Haram, for contributing this wonderful recipe!
ARI BEHN KAKE
250 grams (9 oz) hazelnuts, toasted lightly on a dry skillet and chopped
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Fruit of your choice (sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celcius).
In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until a rough chop. Add in the baking powder and set aside. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar until stiff peaks, and fold in the hazelnuts. Pour into a 13 x 9 baking pan (spray it first) and bake in oven for about 50 minutes. Cool and divide in half.
Meanwhile, mash up the bananas in a bowl, crumble up the Dajm or Skor chocolates and add to the bananas along with half of the whipped cream. Spread the mixture on the first cake half, place the other half on top and spread the remaining whipped cream on top. Decorate with your favorite sliced fruits and serve! Look how pretty! Hurra for 17.mai!!
As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, I must devote a post to Mexican food, even though this blog largely centers around Norwegian food. Not only is Mexican food one of my all time favorite foods, but I have a close connection to this country and its cuisine. During my time in culinary school I also had an opportunity to assist the amazing Diana Kennedy, who, despite being a native of the United Kingdom, is largely considered the authority on Mexican food and cooking (she has lived in Mexico since 1957). In one of her books she comments, “Mexican food is earthy food, festive food, happy food, celebration food. It is in short, peasant food raised to the level of high and sophisticated art.” How true that is!
My first encounter with Mexico was through my very first roommate in college, Andrea, who is Mexican- Norwegian. Yes, that’s correct! Faith had it so that we would meet and live together, despite our vastly different backgrounds. A true friendship was created, and we are still close friends to this day. I spent my first Christmas ever away from Norway in Oregon, where her parents lived at the time, and they would observe Norwegian traditions like prepare lefser and lutefisk. Andrea’s Mexican father would douse the lutefisk with about half a gallon of hot sauce, commenting “It’s the only way you can eat this stuff!” Not a fan myself, I silently agreed with him but was simultaneously impressed he would even go near this gelatinous dish.
One summer, Andrea and her family graciously invited me to Andrea’s father Raul’s homeland of Mexico, where we would spend three weeks divided between Raul’s tiny hometown, Tlaquiltenango, Mexico City and Acapulco. I truly had the best time of my life there, experiencing the authentic culture of this extraordinary country, and of course… enjoying the most amazing food. The smell of fresh, home made corn tortillas that greeted me in Andrea’s grandmother’s kitchen every day has forever imprinted in my mind. The meat for dinner were literally being butchered in the back yard, and later transformed into the most wonderfully aromatic stew that would fill the entire house. Eating at Mexican restaurants in the U.S. following this trip never quite became the same, and it was during this summer I truly fell in love with Mexico; its food, its beautiful people, stunning scenery and incredible history.
Andrea and I in Acapulco back when:
Later on in life, faith struck again, as I met the love of my life; my husband Mark, who so happened to be Mexican-American. Born and raised in Texas, and a chef by trade, he was the only one who could replicate the tastes I so vividly recalled from my summer with Andrea’s family. After we married, we ran a catering company together up until last year, and we would also participated in local farmer’s market where we would sell Mark’s fabulous tacos. This must be the most brilliant food ever invented – so simple but so flavorful – a food that truly exhibits the love and care of who prepared it. Today I want to share our recipe for pulled pork tacos – a best seller at all the markets we did. I have a hard time limiting the post to one recipe because let’s face it: Is there another country in the world who can match Mexico’s culinary diversity? I have a hard time thinking of any. Rest assured I’m not referring to the Americanized burritos, chimichangas and quesadillas!
This food is not about fancy tricks and new twists, it’s about simplicity and being able to taste the authentic flavors of Mexico. We top our pork tacos with green sauce (salsa verde), chopped onion and cilantro and a nice slice of avocado. That’s all this dish needs! Start the dish a couple of days before you will serve and eat it – the meat needs time to marinate and cook slowly in order to extract as much flavor as possible. The time it requires will more than worth it in the end! Happy Cinco de Mayo!
PULLED PORK TACOS w/SALSA VERDE
1 x 8 lb pork butt shoulder
*Taco Seasoning (you can buy this in the store but see below for a recipe to make your own)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3-4 tbsp smoked paprika
To prepare pork:
If the pork as a very thick fat side score it. Rub the pork generously with kosher salt, Taco Seasoning, smoked paprika and brown sugar. Place in a bowl in refrigerator and let sit overnight or at least 5-6 hours.
Place in slow cooker with about 1 cup water and cook for about 12-15 hours. Once done, let cool slightly in the juice and the pull the meat.
*Taco Seasoning Recipe
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
3 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a jar, shake well and reserve until using.
3 lbs tomatillos
2 onions, cut into 2 inch thick slices
1 bunch cilantro
Juice of 2-3 limes
salt to taste
pinch of sugar
First, place the tomatillos in a bowl of water – this makes it easier to remove the husks.
Next, place the tomatillos on a sheet tray in one single layer and roast them in the oven at 400F or alternatively place them in the broiler, for about 30 minutes or so until they are charred and soft:
Alternatively, you can boil the tomatillos - place them in a large pot of water and cook for about the same time (3o minutes). This produces a bit of a different flavor – my husband seemed to prefer them boiled at one point but you can experiment with both methods!
Simultaneously, place the onions and jalapenos on a sheet tray, coat with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and roast in oven for 30 minutes until charred.
In a blender, place the tomatillos, onions and jalapenos (be careful if they are piping hot, don’t fill it all the way to the top), and puree for a few seconds. Add in a handful of cilantro, season with salt and a dash of sugar and lime juice and puree again until fairly smooth. Do this in batches until everything is done. Cool and quart up the sauce.
1 vidalia Onion, diced finely
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1-2 Haas avocados
1 pack corn tortillas (I like the Guerrero brand – if you don’t want to make your own)
Mix the onion and cilantro together and place in a container.
To assemble tacos: Heat up tortillas on the gas grill and char them lightly on both sides, place in a towel to keep them warm. Place a handful of pulled pork in taco, top with salsa verde, then onion-cilantro mix and an avocado slice on top and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Serve with a slice of lime and watch people gobble these up!!
Later this summer I will share my recipe for skirt steak tacos with home made pico de gallo made from heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s markets! Follow me on Facebook!
Whenever I’ m home in Norway, I’m always horrified at how expensive chicken is at the store. The Norwegians will disagree, who think that $8/lb is cheap. All is relative, I suppose… Regardless, I don’t see chicken represented as much in Norwegian cuisine as elsewhere in the world. A theory I have is that Norwegians, traditionally big fish eaters, prefer a lot of flavor once they turn to meat, and go for a big, juicy steak or their beloved lamb or mutton.
Chicken fricassee, or hønsefrikasse as we call it in Norway, is an exception, and despite the French sounding name, this truly is a classic in the Norwegian kitchen. It is no secret that Norway is influenced by the French, especially in restaurants – both when it comes to food and wine. When I visited Burgundy a couple of years back, I learned that the Burgundians were in fact vikings who emigrated from Scandinavia! No wonder we feel the connection, their wines are my favorite in the world.
Hønsefrikasse consists of portioned chicken, carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes, cooked in a roux of butter and flour with chicken broth and finished with a little cream. Thick and creamy with mild, pleasant flavors so characteristic of Norwegian cuisine, the chicken is the star here. Hønsefrikasse is what I call “Norwegian soul food”. One cannot help but feel sheer happiness eating this dish, and the challenge is to not go back into the kitchen and sneak additional spoonfuls while no one is watching!
It should be mentioned that the proper bird for this dish should be a “hen” (høne), meaning a female chicken - hence the word “hønsefrikasse”. The taste is better than regular chicken and so if you can find a hen – go for it!
This is definitely another one of those dishes that will be remembered as being served when visiting your grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner; old fashioned in style but possess those rich, satisfying flavors that bring out the most wonderful memories from childhood. Sometimes referred to as “husmormat” (housewife food), the dish is not nearly as popular as it used to be, which is sad to see because this truly is one delectable meal! I have seen some chefs bring back this classic, updating it and lightening it up to become more of a broth like soup, which is also nice but I still prefer the original recipe.
Below is an absolute gorgeous recipe for chicken fricassee, as classic as you can get it. Decadent flavors with a rich mouth feel, this will soothe your soul while being gentle on your wallet. I have added in some additional herbs because I feel this will add some depth of flavor and make your tummy even more satisfied! Make this for your guests on a casual night and I guarantee they will leave your house impressed – and full!
HØNSEFRIKASSE (Chicken Fricassee)
1 whole chicken
4 bay leaves
6-7 fresh parsley sprigs
1 Vidalia Onion, peeled and quartered
green tops off one leek, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
60 grams (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
50 grams (1/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1-2 sprigs fresh sage or 3-4 sprigs thyme
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch circles
2 large parsnips (or rutabaga), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch circles
5-6 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 1 inch cubes
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Portion the chicken into 8 parts. Place in large pot, add the quartered onion, bay leaves, leek tops, carrot, peppercorns and parsley sprigs along with a bit of salt. Pour enough water to sufficiently cover the chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer for about 2 hours. Skim off fat throughout.
Pull out the chicken and let cool on a platter. Strain chicken stock and reserve. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, dice into nice bite size pieces.
In a heavy pot (cast iron is great), melt the butter over medium high heat, add in the fresh herbs (rosemary/thyme/sage) and leeks, carrots, parsnips/rutabaga and potatoes.
Saute for a couple of minutes and add in the flour make sure it’s incorporated, then add in the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes or so. Add in the chicken and cream, combine and simmer for a couple of minutes to let flavors blend. Season with salt and pepper again to taste. Add in the chopped parsley and garnish with a parsley sprig.
Note 1: It may also be good to add in a squeeze of lemon to brighten up the flavors. For more depth of flavor you can add in some white wine to the dish also – after you add the flour on the vegetables, pour in 1/2 cup of wine and reduce before you add in the stock. You can also add in peas if you’d like – after tasting it, I think it may have been really nice with an addition of green peas.
Note 2: If you don’t feel confident butchering a whole chicken and/or don’t want to spend time cooking it – you can always buy a rotisserie chicken and pick it, and buy store bought chicken stock. I do prefer the home made version though !!
Spring is definitely here, and with that comes bounties of those gorgeous red and pink bunches, so versatile it can be made into both sweet and savory dishes. Rhubarb reminds me of summer in Norway – my mom would have a small area behind our stabbur (outhouse) where rhubarb would grow like crazy. Rhubarb thrives in a northern climate, and is one of the few fruits except berries we can successfully grow that far north. As kids, we were happiest just eating the rhubarb stalks picked straight from the ground, dipped in a big bowl of sugar. An instant dessert, it was a thrilling feeling to be able to create this treat ourselves, with no help from mom and no trip to the store needed!
Rhubarb has a very tart taste, making it necessary to add a sufficient amount of sugar to whatever you are making to offset the acidity in the plant. While rhubarb is considered to be a vegetable, in 1947 it was decided in the U.S. that it should be counted as a fruit, because of the way it was used.
In Norway, the plant arrived in the 18th century from its original home of central Asia. Norwegians initially utilized rhubarb as a medicinal plant. The root was the most important part, and was dried for use both externally and internally. Rhubarb was additionally used as a decorative plant; it was only in the 19th century it entered the Norwegian kitchen. The stalks were sometimes dried and preserved, but when fresh, they were diced into pieces and placed in mason jars with cold water. Rhubarb was also boiled or cooked, and sweetened with honey or sugar or mixed with sweet berries and fruit, and canned. Rhubarb today is a popular ingredient in wine making ! Since Norway’s climate is too cool to grow grapes we have to turn creative in our quest to make wine, hence utilizing berries, rhubarb and other fruit is very common. This is another large topic that I will reserve for a future post, but doesn’t that sound delicious??
There are many different varieties of rhubarb, and as mentioned above, it can thrive during cool, wet summers (which is often the case in Norway) and is also a very productive plant. The red stalks have a lower acidity level than the green stalks, which can be helpful when picking your rhubarb at the farmer’s market or in the store. Norwegians make jam and “saft” (juice) from rhubarb, as well as putting it in cakes, compotes, puddings and even porridge. In more recent recipes, I’ve seen sauteed rhubarb be served with pork and duck dishes, for instance – a nice substitution for tart cherries which is the more traditional condiment.
Rhubarb porridge used to be one of my favorites – served with milk it’s deliciously sweet, tart and creamy (recipe to follow in upcoming post):
Photo Source: Matprat.no
The season for rhubarb in this part of the world is mid-to late spring, while rhubarb can grow year round in warmer climates. In Norway, we enjoy rhubarb more in the midst of summer, as the temperature is on average much cooler this time of year than in the U.S. and the plant needs the summer to come into full bloom. I love the seasons and am happy to live in a place where we have fruits and vegetables available at different times of the year. This gives me a chance to miss them and look forward to when they come back at the farmer’s market. There is no doubt I get excited when seeing these colorful stalks pop up!
Photo Credit: Baloncici
While most commonly seen in pies and crumbles, where it is often combined with strawberries and other sweeter fruit, there are endless possibilities of how to use the rhubarb in your cooking. I have a fantastic recipe for a refreshing soup I thought I would share with you – this is something you will see often in Scandinavian cooking and is very popular. I have a feeling I will be back with many other recipes throughout the summer featuring this wonderful fruit – so stay tuned and be sure to follow my FB page as well for additional tips, stories and pictures!
2 quarts of water
750 grams (1 1/2 lbs) rhubarb
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of one half lemon
Strawberries and fresh mint leaves for garnish
Sour cream (optional)
Using a potato peeler peel off the outer layer of the rhubarb (sometimes this gets stringy, just like celery). Cut the rhubarb into 1-2 inch pieces, and place in a soup pout along with the water and sugar and cinnamon stick. Cook until the rhubarb is soft. Discard cinnamon stick, and puree mixture in blender until smooth and add lemon juice and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with sliced strawberries and mint leaves and/ or a spoonful of sour cream that has been mixed with a little cinnamon. Serve room temp or cold.
* Note 1: Some people like to add potato starch (or corn starch) to the soup to thicken it a bit. If you want to try that, mix 1 1/2 tbsp of potato starch with 1 1/2 tbsp of water, and add to the soup once it has been pureed. Pour into a sauce pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the soup thickens.
* Note 2: You will see many people prefer to not puree the soup but leave the pieces intact in the soup. This is perfectly fine – if you prefer to have something to “chew” on, just eliminate the step where you process the soup in your blender.
Tip: You can also serve the soup with a dollop of vanilla ice cream in the middle – particularly delicious and decadent!
Image source: Matprat.no
Ok, so carrot cake may not be from Norway, but it sure is an extremely popular cake in that part of the world. Besides, dishes seem to transcend to different countries, with slight variations of ingredients, methods and flavor profiles. The cake is said to have originated in Sweden, but it is not known for sure. Carrot puddings were enjoyed by people in Europe all the way back to medieval times, as carrots were used as sugar substitutes in sweet dishes. Regardless of its origins – sometimes you just need that easy, fool proof recipe that everyone is going to be ooh’ing and aah’ing over – and this one is definitely it!!
There are probably as many recipes as there are opinions about carrot cakes out there; some insist to include raisins and nuts, some think that is sacrilege, some like to add different spices, others like the carrot cake to be plain, while some think there should be no sugar in the cake, because the carrots are sweet enough and the list goes on.
My recipe is one I received from my sister, the best baker I know of Norwegian cakes and other goodies. I’ve altered it slightly, just adding some spices to it and also added in a little sour cream in the frosting. Incredibly juicy, aromatic and flavorful, it is light and airy and makes it simply impossible to have just one piece. This is my chef husband’s favorite cake, he claims I make the best one he’s ever tasted. I happily take the compliment, since he is not typically a fan of sweets and it’s hard to get him to be excited about cakes. His birthday was this past Thursday and of course I had to whip up my famous carrot cake! I also brought it to a get together this afternoon where it disappeared within an hour - it was such a huge hit I’ve been asked to make it at an upcoming birthday party for a group of people.
I think the frosting is just as good as the cake here – tangy and sweet flavors intermixed, just delicious!
Got you curious about how wonderful this cake is? There’s only one way to find out – test it out and let me know if you agree!!
KRYDRET GULROTKAKE (Spiced Carrot Cake)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 lb (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled (preferably carrots from the farmer market)
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
For the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool
300 grams (10 oz) confectioners sugar
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and adjust oven rack to the middle position. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Combine flour, salt, vanilla sugar if using, and spices in a bowl. In a food processor, shred the carrots (you should have about 4 cups).
With the machine running, pour in the oil slowly. Mix until combined and pour into a large bowl. Fold in the dry ingredients and the carrots, combine until no streaks of flours remain.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. Process the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in clean food processor until combined. Scrape down as needed, before adding the confectioners sugar. Process until smooth, a few seconds.
Run a pairing knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a wire rack. Peel off parchment paper, and move cake onto a serving tray. Using an offset spatula, spread the cake with the frosting. Cut into serving pieces and serve!
I’m always looking for new recipes or different ways to cook proteins. Living in the U.S, I find that most people under utilize fish, as I sometimes think that people find it a bit intimidating to cook it. Preparing fish is the easiest thing in the world and so tasty, not to mention healthy. I miss my weekly fish dinners I grew up with in Norway and my goal for the remainder of the year is to cook more of it, not just to get more variety in my diet but also because it’s incredibly nutritious and flavorful! Fish is delicate, so the idea is to be gentle with it, so as to let the mild flavors and soft texture shine. You can certainly play around with spices and seasonings, just make sure that whatever fish you pick will be able to hand it. Heartier spices can be used for meatier fish like salmon and swordfish, for instance, while lighter fish such as pollock, and cod would taste best if using milder spices.
The fish market in Bergen (Fisketorget):
Plukkfisk is a classic Norwegian dish which consists of pieces of fish, potatoes and onion cooked in a bechamel sauce. The dish is originally from Hordaland county, on the west coast of Norway and the home of the second largest city in the country, Bergen. Cod is traditionally used as the fish, but you can use any white fish you like. Some people like regular cod or klippfisk (dried cod) instead of lightly salted cod, while others swear pollock is the best. Regardless of what you decide, the common denominator of this dish is that it is incredibly delicious and satisfying. When mentioning this dish to many of my Norwegian friends, they get a sort of dreamy look on their face, followed by “oh my, my mouth is watering by just you mentioning the name plukkfisk!” Today this dish is enjoyed all over Norway, so we certainly thank Hordaland for coming up with this delicacy!
“Plukk” means “pick” in Norwegian, and refers to the fact that you pick the fish and the dish is served in small pieces. Plukkfisk has been likened to that of the French “brandade”, and I’ve seen international varieties of this dish served with mashed potatoes, garlic and olive oil, which is also quite tasty.
Image from morgenbladet.no
Back when I grew up in Norway, it wasn’t uncommon for families to serve fish two, three, even four times a week. As kids we weren’t exactly jumping up and down about this, but plukkfisk seemed to always be a popular dinner. Perhaps because of the white sauce, the hearty potatoes and the bacon that went with it, it was less “boring” and packed a lot more flavor than many other dishes. A very popular weekday dinner choice, it’s also easy to put together. Today you find people serving serrano ham or prosciutto with the fish as a fancy alternative to the bacon, but in general, the dish is not as common as it used to be. Many Norwegians probably recall getting plukkfisk served whenever they visited their grandparents. It’s also one of those dishes that were made of leftovers which is why it has also been referred to as the fish version of lapskaus. As with many classic foods however, I see this becoming trendy among the younger population once again, and many restaurants and chefs have created updated, more sophisticated recipes using klippfisk as inspiration.
There are many variations of klippfisk, and as always – you will find a myriad of sides to go with it. Grated carrots in form of a slaw is also nice, mixed in with a squeeze of fresh orange juice. When making this though, remember that butter is the most important ingredient. Don’t be afraid to use a little extra in this dish, as it is considered to be the most important flavor. The below recipe is inspired from a recipe I saw on matprat.no – you can use this as a foundation to build your own dish or follow it precisely. Like many dishes in the Norwegian cuisine, this dish as a great taste but may look a bit “pale” , so it’s nice to garnish it with some green, fresh herbs in addition to the bacon to liven it up a bit.
PLUKKFISK MED BACON
1 1/2 lb of cod, cleaned and picked of bones, cooked
10 Yukon gold potatoes
2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
white pepper to taste
For the bechamel sauce:
5 tbsp butter
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
12 slices thick bacon
Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water, until almost done (some resistance when piercing them with a fork or cake tester). Let them cool and dice into cubes.
To make the sauce, gently heat the milk in a small saucepan. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat, add in the flour. Let it form a roux (but not brown) and start gradually adding in the warm milk while constantly whisking. Season with salt and pepper and let cook for about 10 minutes. The sauce should be relatively thick.
In another large sauce pan, melt the butter and saute the onions and leek until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the cubed potatoes, bechamel sauce and pieces of fish and let simmer on low heat for a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Saute the bacon in a dry pan until crisp. Serve the plukkfisk topped with the crispy bacon, additional sliced leeks or chopped chives, and a dollop of butter and flatbrød or regular bread.
Photo Source: http://www.dinmat.no
This dessert is Norway’s answer to France’s creme brulee or Italy’s panna cotta. Kalvedans is made from raw milk from cows that have just given birth, from the first, second and part of the third day following the arrival of the baby calves. Technically this is not really milk, but a nutritious secretion from all mammals following birth, before regular milk is produced. This liquid is particularly high in protein (15%) , but low in lactose (milk sugars). It also has a higher content of vitamin A than regular milk. Because the milk- like liquid is so rich in protein, no addition of eggs is necessary because the milk coagulates when heated. Now you might think “ew this doesn’t sound appetizing”, but in the old days, it was important to use every bit of the raw ingredients available. It was vital for the economy, but it also gave people creativity to make exciting (and delicious might I add) products and dishes. Besides, this is where you really can understand the close connection people had to their food! I think it’s great to carry this tradition on.
This raw milk dessert was hence named “kalvedans”, which translates into “calf dance”. Not sure the calves were dancing as much as the humans after having tasted this deliciousness, however it makes for a fancy name! A much richer flavor than any creme brule I’ve ever tasted, it relies on the complexity and freshness of the raw milk rather than the sugary sweetness of the caramelization that creme brule goes through.
My favorite aunt, Gudrun, lived only a stone’s throw away from us in my home town of Sykkylven, and she along with my uncle Nils had a farm with many cows, chickens, horses and other animals. Aunt Gudrun was widely known as the number one cook in town, she cooked everything from scratch and was like a lexicon when it came to old, traditional dishes and how to make them. She was one of the few people I had heard of that regularly made kalvedans, and it was in fact in her house I tasted it for the first time. Later on, my mom learned to make it and she would get the milk from aunt Gudrun. I vividly remember the excitement I felt when I learned that aunt Gudrun’s cows had given birth, as I knew that was synonymous with upcoming kalvedans. There was something magical about this dish, not like any other dessert out there. The flavor cannot be replicated anywhere else, it epitomizes the flavor of a specific place, almost like wine mimics its terroir. I feel so fortunate now thinking back to my childhood, and how I grew up eating foods that originated from around the corner. There were no processed foods (with the exception of the rare product here and there), everything was made from scratch and the animals that so generously produced the foods we enjoyed were respected and honored.
To this day, I regret not spending more time with my aunt on my regular trips to Norway, not only to to learn old techniques from her, but to listen to more of the stories she had from growing up. She died a few years ago at the age of 92, the oldest of five children, and she is dearly missed.
The recipe calls for one third raw milk, and two thirds regular milk. One is to use the first milk from the cow after the calves are born. If the second or the third milk is used, the regular milk portion has to be reduced. Almond extract or cinnamon and a bit of sugar is added to the milk, and the mixture is placed in a hot water bath, where the temperature is carefully watched so that the milk doesn’t boil. The pudding is baked for about 1 hour, and enjoyed with additional cinnamon and milk. Other names for this dessert could be “råmelkspudding”, “kjelost” or “spannost”.
Naturally, raw milk is extremely hard to get a hold of these days, but perhaps you can develop a relationship with your local farmer and ask him or her if it would be possible to get access to some. Technically not legal in the U.S. as all milk has to be pasteurized (the same goes for cheese), I always feel sorry for people who never get the opportunity to discover the true, rich flavors of raw milk products.
I’ve supplied a basic recipe for kalvedans in this post. You can enjoy it either warm right out of the oven or chilled – either way is tasty. Try this for a true taste of rural Norway!
3 cups raw milk, mixed from the 1st and 2nd day
1 cup whole milk
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 300F.
Combine all ingredients and pour into a deep ovenproof, flame proof pan (a loaf pan would work). Fill a deep tray with hot water that reaches half way up the form, place in oven and bake for about 1 hour. Check to see that the pudding is firm before removing from oven. Can be served hot, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Many people serve it chilled topped with a raspberry or strawberry sauce, but in my house we ate it with cinnamon and poured milk over it. Alternatively, if you want to serve it more like a creme caramel, you would pour melted, caramelized sugar over the top before placing it in the oven.
Who knew Norway had French toast? Pieces of white bread dipped in milk, eggs, cinnamon and sugar, then fried in a pan until golden brown and topped with jam. The epitome of a decadent dish made with inexpensive ingredients. What’s not to love? The french actually call this dish “Pain Perdu”, while in Germany they call it “Arme Ritter” . In England it is referred to as “eggy bread” while the Scottish probably take the medal for the coolest name with “Gangsta Bread”. In Sweden the term used is “Fattiga Riddare” and in Denmark and Norway, the dish is called “Arme Riddere”. This translates to “Poor Knights”. Why the name? If knights ate this dish, I certainly don’t feel sorry for them. There doesn’t seem to be an exact story behind the reason for the name, but “poor” would most likely refer to the fact that this is a cheap dish to make. Finding use for bread that has gone stale and making it into a delicate and tasty meal, suggests that the dish has a long history and some researchers suggest it dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. Where the knights come in seems to still be a mystery.
Arme riddere is an incredibly easy dish that qualifies for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack anytime of day. Using leftovers and any ingredients you have in your fridge or cabinets, this makes for a classic go-to meal not just in Norway, but everywhere in the world. This dish is also something Norwegians would refer to as “restemat”, Norwegian for ‘leftovers’. Coming up with a new recipe with leftover ingredients is one of my favorite things to do, there is a certain feeling of creativity and achievement that arises from this that I don’t get otherwise.
There are a million different varieties of Arme Riddere, not just sweet versions. One of my favorite Norwegian websites to visit for ideas is matprat.no. I like that they have a mixture of both classic and more modern recipes. Not living in Norway, I love keeping up to date with how Norwegians come up with spin offs of traditional dishes, making them more current, and in some cases, more decadent. So props to this website for doing a great job and inspiring me to create my own!
So what type of arme riddere can you make? There is of course the classic version, as mentioned above. Pieces of toast dipped in a standard egg-milk-sugar mixture, fry it in a pan and top with your favorite fruit jam:
If you have day old bread and feel like making an easy dinner or snack, you can always add some cheese and ham, and top it with an egg, sunny side up. Delicious!
Some people choose to call this dish “Rich Knights” (Rike Riddere) because it can end up being quite rich, like this version, where sponge cake is substituted for regular toast, and is topped with whipped cream, red currants and crushed pistachios. You can also add whipped cream, bananas, or fruits of your choice, perhaps drizzle it with chocolate sauce if you want to be extra naughty.
Below is a basic recipe you can use, and the toppings I will leave to your imagination, or you can take some inspiration from the suggestions above. By the way, there is nothing wrong with using whole wheat or whole grain bread should you wish, this might be a good option for breakfast, in particular. I hope you’ll have some fun with this dish, and add it to your repertoire this weekend! Don’t forget to visit my Facebook page for more tips, fun facts and posts on Norwegian cuisine http://facebook.com/forkandglass
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
6 pieces of day old bread (white)
butter for sauteing bread
Mix eggs, milk and seasonings together in a shallow bowl. Dip the pieces of bread thoroughly in the mixture. Add butter to a saute pan over medium heat and place pieces in the pan, saute on each side until golden brown. Top with your favorite jam or drizzle with maple syrup and dust with confectioners sugar. Alternatively, if you want a savory dish, top with sliced ham, turkey or chicken and/or an egg, sunny side up.