Orange rice pudding – an old school Norwegian dessert

Since Easter is around the corner, and orange sales in Norway at this time of year typically go through the roof (Norwegians love to eat oranges when skiing- go figure) , I found it fitting to write about a dish that includes this fruit. While warm weather fruits like this certainly don’t grow in the northern part of the world, it’s nonetheless a very appreciated food and is utilized in many creations.

appelsiner

One of my favorite desserts growing up was  “appelsinris”-  orange rice in Norwegian.  A rice pudding served cold with bits of fresh orange in it,  it  is refreshing, not overly sweet but very satisfying.  I have posted about the popularity of various porridge dishes in Norway, among others our classic rice porridge (risengrynsgrøt), topped with cinnamon, butter and sugar.  The orange rice dessert was created to use up any leftovers of the rice porridge from the day before, and folding in some whipped cream, vanilla sugar and orange slices magically turned it into a delicious dessert.

vaniljesukkerkremflote

This dish was also standard curriculum in our home making classes in elementary school (skolekjøkken) growing up, and for many  this was the first dessert they ever learned to make. I don’t even know if this type of class exists anymore  in schools today, but I definitely enjoyed it! My older sister even went to a school called “husmorskole” (literally “House wife school!”) after high school, to learn how to bake and do household chores. Can you believe there was such a school? My dad used to say it was wasted money to have sent her there, because after six months she still didn’t know how to boil an egg.  Luckily she has more than redeemed herself, and today, thirty years later, she is one of the best cooks I know.  Here’s an old photo of a ‘husmorskole’:

husmorskole

We have a similar dessert to appelsinris called “riskrem”, made in the same way without the orange slices in it, and it’s accompanied by a raspberry sauce. I will cover that in a separate blog post. For now, here’s a quick and easy recipe for appelsinris– if you are not going to have risengrynsgrøt for dinner (or breakfast!) the day before, not to worry- you can make it from scratch like this:

APPELSINRIS    (Orange Rice Pudding)

2/3 cups (1 1/2 dl)  long grain rice

1 1/4 cup (3 dl) water

1 1/4 cup (3 dl) heavy cream

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp vanilla sugar

3-4 oranges, peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks

Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Place the water and rice in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and place a lid on pot.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain the leftover water and rinse the rice with cold water.

Whip the heavy cream along with the sugar and vanilla sugar.   Fold the whipped cream into the rice along with the orange chunks gently. Garnish with additional orange bits.  Alternatively, you can also add some chopped dark chocolate in the dessert or shave some chocolate on top.  Velbekomme!

appelsinris

Image source: nrk.no

Traditional Norwegian Easter foods

As  a Norwegian having lived abroad for 20 years, I often have to re-examine my own culture and traditions when asked by Americans what is typical Norwegian foods for different occasions.  What seemed natural is no longer so, as  I have  adopted my own way of life and ways of eating here in the U.S.   Christmas is probably the easiest holiday to explain, because most people will prepare our cured and salted mutton (“ribbe” or “pinnekjøtt”) or pork belly with the various accoutrements.   But what about Easter?  This holiday gives people a little more freedom as to what to eat, and you will find a variety of dishes throughout the country.  The tradition isn’t as strong as at Christmas when it comes to food, more experimenting will go on, perhaps  even modern and international dishes will find its way to the table.  Most Norwegians will first think of oranges and chocolate when Easter is mentioned, particularly the Norwegian Kvikk Lunsj  (pictured below and similar to the American Kit Kat but much better of course!)  as this is standard “snack fare” to bring along in your backpack when going skiing in the mountains.

kvikklunsjogsjokolade

Most Norwegians take off an entire week to up to 10 days to celebrate Easter, where they go to their cabins and spend the days skiing, taking in some sun, then eat and drink well for the rest of the day.  This is a time to take off from the hustle and bustle of every day life, to gather family who may otherwise be spread all over the country and take moments to enjoy the outdoors and our beautiful nature.

påskeliv

A popular meal of the day is the breakfast during Easter, and eggs play an important role. We love our eggs soft boiled, and we eat them along our open face sandwiches, cereals and yogurts.  I like to put salted soft boiled eggs on top of a piece of toast that has been spread with raspberry or strawberry jam- the sweet and savory combination is delicious!

blotkoktegg

(photo: cesarastudillo Flickr)

What is the way to cook perfectly soft boiled egg? Place your egg in cold water in a pot, when the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and let the eggs sit  in the hot water for exactly 10 minutes. Drain in cold  water, and you have a perfectly soft boiled egg!

Another egg dish that belongs on the breakfast table is our special curdled eggs called “eggerøre”.   You will see this on most buffet tables-smorgasbord in Norway in hotels, or when being invited to someones home for special occasions or parties.  Mild flavored with a nice texture, they are the perfect companion to salty meats or fish.  Here’s a quick, standard recipe for these delicious eggs:

EGGERØRE

adapted from dinmat.no

Serves 2

4 eggs

4 tbsp water

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped finely

1 tbsp butter

Whisk the eggs, water, salt and chives together (for a more luxurious version, substitute water for heavy cream).  Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat, add the eggs.  Stir lightly, lift up the sides and let the liquid run under as the eggs start to curdle/cook.  The eggs shouldn’t be completely dry, but still be somewhat soft. Garnish with extra chives and salt if necessary.  Let it cool a bit before serving (many eat it cold as well).

You can put eggerøre on pieces of toast with some smoked salmon and sliced cucumber,  or have it with cured meats like our fenalår (cured leg of mutton) or even prosciutto, salami or other charcuterie.

eggerore

(Photo Credit: dinmat.no)

For dinner, we often see leg of lamb (sometimes smoked) as the standard dish, served with root vegetables and potatoes and today, most Norwegians will enjoy a good bottle of red wine (aquavit might sneak in later in the evening along with cognac and other hard liquor).  As some of you, who are familiar with my blog or Norwegian cuisine in general,  know- Norwegians are big sheep lovers. We eat mutton and lamb in all varieties and at all occasions.

lammelar

(Photo credit: P4.no)

In additions to lamb, Norwegians may also repeat Christmas dinner and have the salt mutton or even ham with potatoes au gratin.

Soups are also popular, particularly green pea soup cooked on ham hock, or even chicken soup, deliciously warming and tasty after coming back from a long, cold ski trip.  Here’s a quick recipe for a traditional pea soup to try out, and you can of course add your own spin on it!

ERTESUPPE

1 piece of ham hock, lightly salted

1 cup yellow peas

1 sweet onion, finely diced

1 small celery root, diced finely

2 carrots, sliced thinly

1 leek, sliced finely

2 bay leaves

2 quarts water

half a bunch of fresh thyme

Parsley for garnish

Soak the peas in cold water overnight.  In a large sauce pot, add some olive oil, add the sliced leek, carrots and carrot, season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5-8 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the water, ham hock, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, place a lid on the pot and simmer for 3 hours, skimming off the soup as you go.  Towards the end, take the ham hock out of the soup and pick the meat off the hock and place back into the soup.   Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley and serve with flatbrød (flat bread) or a nice, crusty loaf and good butter.  A nice cold, Norwegian beer would be a nice companion to this soup. Perfect cabin food!

ertesuppe

Photo Credit:  Matprat.no

And dessert? Well, the options are endless here, but you can never go wrong with chocolate in all forms. I think I will save that one for later in the week though.  God påske!

Porridge; the new trendy Nordic food

Porridge is the oldest type of food we have in Norway.  Barley was considered the main ingredient in porridge back in the day, as it was the grain most often used during the Viking Age. Healthy and nutritious, it was a very central part of our diet, barley is probably also the oldest cultural plant in the world.

byggryn

The word graut or grøt  (porridge in Norwegian), comes from the Norse word “grautr” which means coarse-grained or coarse ground.   This is because in the old days, porridge was based on very coarse flour, and the consistency was much coarser than the porridge we know today.   The consistency improved after the year 300, when manual mills were introuced.  A woman who didn’t know how to make porridge, was not considered good wife material and had no hope of getting married.

Here’s a beautiful “grautspann” (porridge vessel) from the old days:

grautspann

Image source: digitalmuseum.no

Around  1340, the rice porridge came about, but at first, this was a dish reserved only for the wealthy.  This was because rice was scarce, and most people would still eat mostly oatmeal, barley and rye porridge.   Looks like these kids enjoyed their porridge, regardless of which grain it was based on!

grautgammelbarn

Today we see four main different porridge types:

1) Oatmeal porridge (used mainly for breakfast), rice porridge (cooked  with  milk and water), which is the classic Christmas meal in Norway, sour cream porridge (sour cream, flour and milk) which has a long tradition and served during festivities such as 17th of May and jonsok, and finally “vassgraut” or water porridge – as the name implies, cooked with water only. This was regarded as poor man’s food, and often fed to the servants.

barleyporridge

As I have mentioned in a previous post, Christmas in Norway is not the same without rice porridge. Dressed  with a dollop of good butter and cinnamon , it is what we feed Santa Claus to make sure he has strength to deliver all the presents for the children around the world on Christmas Eve.

julegrot

 

The sour cream porridge is the richest, most delicious porridge I know- a bit tangy but sweet, it is enjoyed with the same topping as rice porridge, but also a side of salty meats (charcuterie).  We eat this  porridge for dinner by the way, not breakfast!  Many Norwegians today enjoy oatmeal as their breakfast, but this was not that common when I grew up.

Many non+Norwegians who have not grown up with porridge, might look at this food as unsophisticated, unattractive looking or perhaps  not the most exciting dish in the world. But what I find so enticing  is the long history this food has, how engrained it is in our culture and how important it has been in our cuisine.   With the current Scandinavian trend of taking ancient ingredients, dishes and traditions and updating them to bring about a more current look and flavor, I  am now excited  to see that this is happening with porridge as well.

The Nordic  food revolution has come full circle, and the first “porridge bar” opened in Copenhagen in 2011, called GRØD.  Iin addition to porridge based on a plethora of different grains,  they also experiment with dessert varieties, risotto and Asian rice porridge.  Here is a photo of a porridge taken from their FB page, inspired by the Stone Ages -which includes cauliflower cooked with vegetable broth and cream, topped with fresh chervil, green cauliflower fresh apples and  black pepper.

grodbolle

How about pear porridge with a licorice cream foam? Or amaranth  porridge, three grain porridge with beet juice or Asian rice  porridge with sauteed hoisin-marinated duck  breast,spring onion, peanuts, coriander  and sesame oil?

They are located at Jægerbordsgade 50 tv in Copenhagen for those of you who would like to look them up and taste their fabulous porridge dishes!

There is also World Championships arranged in porridge making, as this food really has become a huge success among the younger population in Scandinavia.  There is a specific technique and talent required to make the perfect porridge.  The contestants are judged on taste, consistency, creativity, base ingredients and look of the dish.  Porridge has thus become not  just a dish for the morning hours, and certainly not only for “poor” people,  but for those  seeking inspiration in ancient dishes,  experimenting with a wide variety of grains and flavor profiles.  Could porridge become the new soup??  If  Scandinavians have their way, it very well might be, and perhaps you will see a porridge bar popping up on your neighborhood corner soon!

risengrynsgrot1

Image Source:  http://www.nytnorge.no

There are endless varieties  of porridge that you can experiment with made from different grains, flour, seeds and so on. Vary the liquid between water, milk, buttermilk, rice/almond/coconut milk, etc. and the ingredients and toppings are endless.  Sweet, savory, crunchy, and soft; a mix of everything is often very successful.

Here is a recipe as a quick example for a barley porridge you can try out; add spices, toppings and condiments as you wish.   Make sure you use good quality barley- the recipe might look simple but the ingredients are to be top quality so you can taste the clean flavors of each food.

Healthy, quick and tasty- this is Scandinavian fast food!

BYGGRYNSGRØT  (Barley Porridge)

1 cup barley

1 quart milk, rice milk or water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp light brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

Applesauce, jam or macerated berries of your choice (Fresh berries stirred with sugar and a bit of lemon juice)

Soak the barley in cold water overnight.  In a sauce  pot, bring the milk/water to a boil with the salt, add the  barley. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Stir every so often.  Add the butter and sugar in the end, and serve with macerated berries, chopped nuts and/or honey.

byggrynsgrotfjordland

Image source: http://www.fjordland.no

Fjordland has some of  the  best barley meal from the area of Sjåk in Norway. The barley is grown in an area with little rainfall, and watered with water from glaciers and the mountains, giving it extra nutrition and a sweet, full taste.  Fjordland also sells ready to cook barley meal porridge.

Norwegian Salt Cod Au Gratin

Salt cod, or “klippfisk” as we call it in Norwegian, is probably one of the hottest foods right now in Norway that is experiencing a type of renaissance when it comes  to modern, hip eating.  A traditional food from the old times, this has taken on a new life both in people’s homes, in restaurants and eateries across Norway.   There is even a klippfisk museum in Norway! Read more about the history of salt and dried cod in my previous blog post here.

klippfisk

Image source:  dinmat.no

People love klippfisk in all forms; pan fried, grilled with tomato and garlic, in soups, salads, made into patties,  and of course in the ever famous bacalao.    There is a popular restaurant in my neighboring town  of Ålesund called XL, specializing in a myriad of different bacalao recipes.   Home cooks and professionals alike have been inspired by this  phenomenon, and experimenting with different cuisines from all over the world, keeping one ingredient consistent:  the klippfisk.  Coconut dishes from Brazil, olive oil and beans from Portugal, garlic from Spain and Italy, and Norwegians will add in king crab and shrimp, products that shine in our country. The results are exciting and delicious, and so the recipe tasting continues… Klippfisk really is very versatile,  healthy and quite reasonably priced in the stores I’ve seen it available in this country.

klippfisk2

A few years back  I had it in a gratin, covered in a bechamel sauce and topped with cheese, mixed in with nice, earthy vegetables and herbs. So incredibly tasty! I decided to share a recipe with you today that is a mix and match of different recipes I have tried out  through the years.  I like the combination of  the salty fish with the creamy sauce and rich  cheese, mixed in with the smoky bacon and some nice texture from the vegetables.

This recipe is also great because you can make it ahead of time, and just pop it into the oven right before your guests arrive.  Stress free, but makes an impressive and delicious meal. Try this out the next  time you are in the mood for a baked dish and want to try something different!

GRATINERT KLIPPFISK  (Salt Cod Au Gratin)

2 lbs dried cod

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes,  sliced into 1/4 inch rounds and parboiled

2 large carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds and parboiled

1 large leek plus 2-3  cloves garlic, thinly sliced and lightly sauteed in butter

150 g bacon / 10 good slices, diced, sauteed and rendered

For sauce:

60 grams  (1/2 stick) butter

60 grams / 1/4 cup) all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups (3 d l) whole milk

1 1/4 cup (3 dl) heavy cream

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1tbsp fresh thyme, minced (or other fresh herbs such as tarragon, oregano or basil)

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp or so)

250 g (1 cup) shredded Jarlsberg cheese (or cheese of your choice)

Place the cod in fresh cold water and leave over night up to four nights before to draw as much salt out of the fish as possible.  In a large pot of boiling water, place the fish into the pot turn off the heat, and pull the pot away from the stove. Let it steep for about 15 minutes, drain and remove skin and any bones,  slice into 2-inch pieces.

Note: To parboil, means to boil the vegetables in salted water until halfway done or ALMOST done, about 5 min for the vegetables above since they will be fairly thin.  Be careful not to overcook or they will turn to mush in the oven (you still want some texture to them after the gratin is baked). Drain and set aside. You can do this even a day before if you’d like.   When you parboil vegetables before they go in the oven, they bake beautifully, instead of burning on the outside and being raw on the inside (if you were to add them in to the oven raw).

Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, and place all the  vegetables in a layer on the bottom.   Pour the rendered bacon fat and bacon on top of the vegetables, then top with the fish pieces.

Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit (200 celcius).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat, whisk in the flour until well integrated.  Heat the milk and heavy cream gently in a separate saucepan, and slowly add into the roux while whisking. Add in the nutmeg, herbs, salt and pepper and stir constantly until sauce thickens (a few minutes), and pour over the fish and vegetables.  Top with the shredded cheese and place in oven and bake until nice and golden, about 20 minutes.  Serve with some good, crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Klippfisgratinert

Photo Credit: Synøve  Dreyer

Aniskringler – a Norwegian grandmother’s special recipe

Aniskringler is what most people  would associate with traditional baked goods from the good old times in Norway.   Many people will recall that their  grandmother used to make these, especially in the county I’m from.  They evoke the kind of memory of sitting around in your grandparent’s home on a Sunday afternoon smelling the comforting scent from the kitchen and then being served these mouthwatering pretzels (kringler= pretzels), gently spiced with anise seeds that pair  perfectly with the sweet dough.  I’m not sure of the reason why anise seeds were added into the dough, but since anise seeds has the flavor of licorice, many people thought it tasted sort of like “candy” 🙂  Don’t think about the kind of salty pretzels you get in this country- they are quite different, more delicate and not salty at all.  Delicious on their own,  they also taste wonderful with a dollop of good butter and some brown cheese (gjetost) or strawberry jam.

I don’t see aniskringler represented very often at modern bakeries or in homes today, which is why I find them even more enticing.  These are simply too good to be forgotten. I would love to start an “aniskringle revolution” to bring these mouthwatering creations back!!

The below recipe produces incredibly fluffy, sweet and aromatic kringler.  What makes these pretzels  so unique is the flavor of the anise seed. Make sure you use fresh spices- not something that has been hidden in your cabinet for years. I buy my spices often from Kalustyan’s in New York, my favorite local spice shop-  and I rotate them every other month or so.  Don’t substitute ground anise, it is not the same, and you want the texture of the whole seed.

aniseseed

Warning: when making these, be prepared to eat the entire tray in one sitting!!  And don’t even think about starting an anisekringler bakery business, I’ve patented the idea! 🙂

MORMORS ANISKRINGLER

Makes about 25 kringler

6 dl/2 1/2 cups milk

225 /2 sticks unsalted butter

50g fresh yeast (or 2 packs dry yeast)

2 1/2 dl 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp cardamom

2 lbs flour (hold back a little initially and add in as needed)

4 tsp whole anise seeds

1 egg for brushing the pretzels

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a small saucepan, heat up the milk and butter to about 37C. Pour into the dry ingredients and knead until a smooth dough forms. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot and let rise until double in size, about 1 or 2 hours, depending on your yeast and kitchen temperature.

pretzeldough

Divide the dough into 20 parts, and roll out into about 12″ /30cm thin links.

pretzelpieces

Shape into pretzels. Place them on baking sheets, cover and let rise again for another 30 minutes.

pretzelsunbaked

Preheat oven to 450F. Brush the kringler with the egg wash and place them in oven and bake for about 15 minutes until nice and golden brown.  The kringler taste best when eaten warm, straight out of the oven but you can also freeze them for a later occasion.

pretzels1

pretzelplate

Nøgne Ø – a Norwegian microbrewery with international success

Beer has always been an incredibly popular drink in Norway, and has an important role in our history and traditions.  In a previous post on this blog I described how Norway used to punish those people who didn’t brew their own beers by law, either by fining them or they were ordered to give up their farm or even go to jail.  So vital was this drink to most, so it’s not surprising to see the continuous popularity of this drink today.

olbrygginggamledager

Microbreweries are popping up everywhere at rapid speed in Norway. Whereas we only had 2 breweries ten years ago, today we have over 30 breweries in the country. More and more people are preoccupied with selecting local beers when ordering beers out, seeking out specific producers, much like with wine. There is a pride in knowing how and where your beer was made, and plenty of beer enthusiasts are experimenting with brewing their own beer at home.

Nøgne Ø is a brewery located in Grimstad, and probably our most famous artisan brewery.  The name means “naked island” and was, according to the website,  a poetic term used by Henrik Ibsen to describe any of the countless stark, barren outcroppings that are visible in the rough sea off Norway’s southern coast.  This brewery has won numerous awards in the beer industry and continues to impress with their new releases.

nogneobryggeri

All their beer is unpasteurized, and contains wild yeast.  This provides a long shelf life and a fuller beer which continues to develop in the bottle.  No gas is added, all the carbonation is created from a secondary fermentation happening  in the bottle.

nogneobeers

Another interesting fact about Nøgne Ø is that they are also Europe’s only sake producing brewery. They make a junmai, Yamahai Motoshibori and a YK-70 sake –  I will reserve the details for another blog post since I want to focus on beer in this post.

I first discovered Nøgne Ø in the U.S. at one of my local watering holes in downtown NYC, and boy was I surprised to see Norway represented on the drink menu! I have loved it every since.  Nøgne Ø are now readily available in many shops, restaurants and bars in New York as well as other locations in the US.

nogneobeers2

Nøgne Ø started out brewing in a garage in 2002, and last year they doubled their sales from the year before, totaling over 37 million kroner (approximately $6 million).  In addition to seasonal beers and special brews,  here are some of their outstanding beers in my opinion:

DARK HORIZON

16% alcohol

This is an ale, but also a wine and a coffee drink, according to Nøgne Ø.   On the nose it has that sweet roasty malty smell coupled with charred wood and leather. Almost madeira or sherry like. Chocolate, coffee and licorice on the palate,  but also black and dried fruits.

nogneodarkhorizon

RED HORIZON

17% alc

This is an interesting beer as they use sake yeast in the brewing process.  They use the famous sake yeast no 7 from Masumi Sake in Nagano, Japan.  The other ingredients are local water from Grimstad,  malted barley, malted wheat and hops. The result is a deliciously fruity beer with impressive alcohol.  On the palate I get caramel, spices, passion fruit, orange and lemon. Impressive beer that could almost be compared to a whiskey or cognac, and has a lot going on.

red-horizon

IMPERIAL STOUT

9% alc

This beer spends one year in Cognac oak barrels.   Aromas of dark chocolate and espresso, with some yeasty notes.  The palate is also chocolatey with hints of plums and raisins, but has a nice bitterness as well.  Dry and long finish, with a nice complexity and good balance.

nogne o - imperial stout

TIGER TRIPEL

9% alc

Belgian ale. Aromas of hops, yeasty bread, malt, citrus peel and apples.  Big and full on the palate with a  nice acidity, slight spice (nutmeg and pepper), long and rich finish.  Watch out – at 9% this doesn’t taste that alcoholic, and could be dangerous as you’ll be tempted to drink more than one, or two, or three! 🙂

This is one of my favorites, I get it at my local specialty beer store regularly.

Nogne O Tiger Triple

INDIA PALE ALE

7.5% alc

Very aromatic, blackcurrants and grapefruit on the nose. Medium-full body with flavors that mimic the palate as well as some spices and herbs.  Long and bitter finish.  Great for food pairings, to help with digestion.

NogneIndiaPaleAle

TWO CAPTAINS

8.5% alc

Double IPA – grassy aroma with hint of citrus zest.  Aggressive bitterness on the palate but also nice malty flavors, and the mouth feel is nice and creamy.  With a huge hoppiness balanced by the sweet malty flavors, this is a very well balanced beer and one of my favorite IPAs!

twocaptainsnogneo

I could go on and on about their other beers, but to limit the length of the post, I will just include that other beers include a porter, imperial brown ale, bitter, blonde, amber ale saison and double IPA as well as many others.  What impresses me the most about these beers, is their ability to be paired with many types of food where wine might not do the food justice.  In Norway we have a lot of salty and smoked foods, as many of you know, and these beers make wonderful companions to our cuisine.

Ask for Nøgne Ø at your local shop, and if they don’t already have it, chances are they could probably order it from their distributor! Skål!

Norway’s Dark Secret

While I don’t have any juicy stories here as the headline might imply, Norway does have a wonderful dessert called “Mørk Hemmelighet”, which translates into “Dark Secret”.  A wonderful mousse cake covered in an outer layer of chocolate pudding, it has bits of tropical fruit, nuts and raisins inside, a perfect match with the chocolate.

My aunt Gudrun, who no longer is with us (she passed away at the age of 93), made the most delicious Mørk Hemmelighet, and I always had to go to her house to have it, as this was a dessert my mom didn’t (frequently,if ever) make. It was always such a thrilling surprise to see it on the table, as it  was the type of dessert where I couldn’t  just have one, but two or three servings of, as it is incredibly light and not too sweet. Plus, I had to make up for all the time I wasn’t able to eat it, clearly!!

Searching for recipes or information about this dessert online and in my Norwegian cookbooks, proved incredibly difficult, as only one or two sites had them listed and none of my books, so I’m not sure if this cake is known by another name in other regions of Norway, or if this is just not a very common dessert. It certainly brings back a lot of childhood memories for me, and I absolutely had to include it on my blog.  While it may sound peculiar, I think it’s a unique cake that is worth trying.  It’s also a wheat free dessert for those that are gluten intolerant.  But the mystique of it certainly had me wondering why not more Norwegians have discovered this little gem. Maybe I will start a trend??? 🙂

Here’s a recipe for you all to try out – as always, I welcome feedback either here or on my FB page!

MØRK HEMMELIGHET  (Dark Secret)

Serves 6

2 1/2 cups whole milk

8 oz good quality dark chocolate (70%), broken into pieces

5 sheets unflavored gelatin

4 sheets unflavored gelatin

2 generous tbsps granulated sugar

1 x 15 oz can pineapple or mixed tropical fruit, drained (Reserve liquid) and diced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup heavy cream plus more for decoration

Line a 10″ cake pan or springform pan with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 min.

darksecret1

Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat up the milk and chocolate until dissolved.

chocolate

Soften the five gelatin sheets in a bit of cold water (you can get these at the grocery store, located in the baking isle) then squeeze out the water from the sheets, place in the pot and let it dissolve in the hot chocolate/milk mixture (the mixture must not boil).

darksecret2

Pour the chocolate into the cake pan and place it in the fridge. Once it starts to stiffen up, swirl the pan to get the sides of the cake pan coated with the chocolate as well. (I was too late and the chocolate had already stiffened up by the time I checked it -0h well, better luck next time!)

gelatinsheets

Place the 4 sheets of gelatin in a little bit of cold water and soak for about 15 min.  Bring the reserved liquid from the pineapple/tropical fruit can to a boil, remove from heat, squeeze out water from the gelatin sheets and add into the liquid,  stir to combine.

darksecret3

Let it cool to room temperature (Should still be liquid form).

gelatine2

Whisk the heavy cream with the sugar, add in the gelatin liquid, the chopped nuts, raisins and pineapple and combine carefully.

darksecret4

Pour over the chilled chocolate in the cake pan.

darksecret5

Let sit in fridge to chill/cool and seize up for a couple of hours or overnight.  Invert the pan onto a serving tray/cake tray , carefully remove the plastic wrap, and decorate the top with whipped cream and additional walnuts.

morkhemmelighetstykke

morkhemmelighetkake

Discover Trønderrose – a baked wreath with a secret ingredient

I’ve always been a sucker for baked goods, more particularly yeasty ones from Scandinavia. Our fluffy, aromatic cardamom buns, cinnamon and almond cakes and our version of crescents filled with ham and cheese, come to mind as food I could eat every day!  I was looking around in my cookbooks and found a recipe for Trønderrose – a fluffy wreath that is filled with cinnamon, sugar, butter raisins and almonds, then twisted together into a round or oval ring and it ends up looking almost like a rose. I will admit that I’ve never tried making this until now although I’ve enjoyed eating it in cafes in Norway, but here is what it’s supposed to look like:

tronderrose

Image source: tine.no

The name of this tasty dish stems from the word “trønder” ;  trønder is a person who comes from the counties of Sør-Trøndelag or Nord-Trøndelag.  “Trøndersk” is also the name for the dialect spoken in this region, and I think it sounds lovely!  The “rose” part of the name, is exactly that, a rose.  The name came about because in the flag of the city of Trondheim (located in Sør-Trøndelag)  there is a rose, and you also find it on the city’s Middle Age seal.  The rose, with its eight petals is a symbol of the city and the city’s name “Nidarrosen”  or “Trondheimsrosen”.  Nidaros was the medieval name of Trondheim.  Trondheim is the 3rd largest city in Norway with about 107,000 inhabitants, and borders my own county of Møre og Romsdal.   The city is known for its University of Science and Technology – in fact, my brother attended this school for a year before he decided engineering was not for him and switched to business school.  When we went to visit him in college, this was my first encounter of this beautiful city and I’ve been in love ever since.   Trondheim was actually the capital of Norway during the Viking age until 1217 and has a lot of history and much to see and discover. Definitely make it a stop during your trip to Norway!

The city also has a beautiful cathedral, called “Nidarosdomen” and is the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway.  This is a majestic building that was built in 1070.  It was ravaged by several fires since, however there are still some old parts in existence from the 12th century.  Impressive building, don’t you agree?

nidarosdomen

nidarosdomen3

What makes the trønderrose so delicious, is the addition of the secret ingredient: lemon zest. Refreshing and flavorful,  the lemon gives it a little extra something. Separating it from other similar baked goods and adds a somewhat savory note, which, depending on how you look at it could be good or bad, because you’ll want to reach for another piece, then another piece… without it getting too sweet!   While it may take me a few tries to get it esthetically perfect, it still tastes amazing, and to others, it will look like an impressive piece.  When I baked my trønderrose earlier today, the kitchen smelled so wonderfully of cinnamon, yeast and lemon, even the neighbor stopped by and asked me what I was making (the window was open), and nearly invited himself in. Who am I to say no? 🙂  Baking this wreath is a good way to stay on your neighbor’s good side, and make new friends indeed 🙂

Here’s an easy recipe for you to try out – trønderrose is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon, and a great offering when having guests over!

TRØNDERROSE

1 cup milk

1 1/2 packet dry instant yeast

2 eggs

120g /4 oz granulated sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

1 stick (113g) butter, unsalted

500g/1.1 lb all purpose flour

Filling:

100g/3.5 oz butter, room temperature

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

100g/3.5 oz granulated sugar

1 cup raisins, plumped up in hot water and drained

1 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pot, add the milk and mix together. It should reach a temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius/98 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix in the yeast, and the egg.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar and lemon zest.

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Add the wet ingredients into the dry and knead for a couple of minutes (do not over-knead) until a round, smooth dough forms.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 hours or until doubled in size (depends on the temperature of your kitchen).

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Roll out the dough until about 1 m/40 inch long link and 25 cm/10 inches wide.  Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon for the filling in a small bowl and smear evenly on top of the dough surface and sprinkle with raisins and almonds.

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Roll together into a thick sausage starting from the longest side closest to you,  and divide in two lengthwise, then braid the two links carefully together with the cut side up, and shape into a circle.

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Place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes, covered by a towel.

Brush the wreath with some egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water) and sprinkle with a few more sliced almonds.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, remove from oven and let it cool before slicing into it and ENJOY!!

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Fabulous Norwegian women and some history of food on the farm

Today is International Women’s Day, and for some reason this day makes me want to research about how we used to be in the old days.  While Norway has always had strong women and started practicing equal rights for men and women much earlier than in many other places in the world, things were still pretty traditional not too long ago, with women tending to most household chores. This was because as a land of fishermen and coastal workers who were gone at sea for major parts of the year, women were forced to become self sufficient on the farms and took care of everything from cooking, taking care of the house, farm animals,  and paying bills.  As a result, today’s Norwegian women are perceived as being extremely strong, capable of taking care of themselves in every way.  They are just as able to change tires on their cars as they are cooking a meal for their family.  Relying on a man to do anything? Foreign to most – no offense to all the wonderful Norwegian men out there! 🙂

women

A few years ago I received a brilliant cookbook about women from the villages of my county, Møre og Romsdal,  describing the village food culture throughout the years with plenty of interesting recipes to go with it. There is a chapter about daily life versus the weekends, detailing the way of life in the old days and what types of food which was typically made and consumed.  Since I firmly believe history is the reason for much of what and who we are today, I am always interested in digging in to our background and maybe even bring back some old traditions to our every day hectic, modern world.  The below is an excerpt from the book, translated to the best of my abilities. Hope you find it as interesting as I did!

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Daily life was dominated by a lot of hard work and long days.  Many hours were spent out in the field, because both the weather and the light had to be maximized.  The weekends were reserved for resting, and only the most necessary work was done at this time.

During the week the meals were plentiful, in accordance with the huge amount of work done. The most common meals around the farms were as follows:

5-6 am:           Pre-breakfast, in Norwegian called “førebit” (pre-snack or appetizer)

8-9 am:           Breakfast, “åbit” “me’morgas” (A dialect word from Sunnmøre where I’m from)

12pm/noon:    Dinner, or in old Norwegian “dugurd”

4-4:30pm:        Nons – this Norwegian word is thought to have stemmed from the Latin word “nona”, which means the 9th hour of the day, around 3pm, a description of a meal that was consumed in the middle of the afternoon.  More recently, this meal has now turned into our dinner in modern Norway.

8pm.                   Evening snack (kveldsmat)

Both the pre-breakfast and breakfast were meals consisting of bread with coffee.  Sweet and sour milk was also added when  available.  In addition to whole wheat bread, a potato cake and “hyllkake” were also served. Hyllkake (glohopp, aslabb, kleppaskake) was a bread dough that was baked on top of the stove.  Toppings would be syrup, gamalost (special stinky cheese), gjetost (brown goat cheeee) and sønnost, a type of white cheese.

grovbrodbrunost

Dinner varied according to the season and access to ingredients. It was apparent that the sea was an important source for food along with what was produced on the farm. Herring in all varieties dominated.  During herring season, fresh herring was served. Otherwise, it was salt herring with potato and flatbrød (flatbread), accompanied with a soup based on water and barley meal.  To add flavor, they added sour milk, and this soup was called “syrsuppe” (sour soup).  Salt herring was also used for the potato dumplings so famous in Norway (ball or “komle”), and the dumplings came in different shapes. The round dumpling was stuffed with bacon, while the longer dumplings had no stuffing.  With a side of potatoes, kohlrabi and bacon, the meal was both cheap and satisfying.  Today, salt herring, or “spekesild” as we call it, is often served with beets, horseradish cream or some type of sour cream, and boiled potatoes.   I know of no other Norwegian /Scandinavian dish that taste so authentically delicious!

spekesild

As herring was widely prepared everywhere and an easy to get ingredient, it was added to other dishes, and “sildgryn” was one dish especially popular, a soup where meat was substituted for herring.   Regular fish such as cod and haddock were prepared fresh or salted, with mashed potatoes.

Meat was also utilized, but much less common.  Meat based soups and ‘lapskaus‘  were common as less meat was required to make these dishes.  Many old people refer to meat soup as “kjøtgryn” (meat grain), as they would use barley to add volume to the soup.

When veal was slaughtered, they took the innards and meat from the head, boiled it, cleaned it and it was ground up.  Barley, spices and flour was added – and this dish was called “veal porridge”.  Leftovers were sauteed for dinner the following day.

While the women washed dishes, the men took an afternoon nap. After about an hour break, they had a cup of coffee with a piece of bread, a piece of loaf cake or just a sugar cube before another work session.

For the “nons” meal, porridge was often served, but it could also be bread.  Oatmeal cooked with water, was a standard menu item. Sometimes they would have newly churned butter with it, when available.

grøt

The last meal took place after the barn had been tended to. Often times, porridge was the meal here as well. If  there were leftovers from the porridge meal earlier in the day, this was used. Warm milk broken with sour milk, was poured over the porridge leftovers. The same procedure repeated the following morning if there were leftovers from the night before. Do we sense a pattern here? Nothing was wasted, and the women really knew how to get the most of what food they had on the farm.  Sometimes I wish we had more of those talents today, where we waste way too much food….

The biggest difference between the weekdays and the weekend was that there was no work on the weekends, except cooking.  The meals were not as plentiful as during the week, and sometimes an additional delicacy was added.  Meat was more frequently placed on the dinner table, as well as a special baked treat along with the coffee, since it was Sunday.

No matter what day of the week it was, everybody had their special seat at the table. The man of the house sat at the “high seat” (which I assume was at the end of the table). Children and women sat furthest away.  The housewife had to sit so she could easily see everyone and make sure they were fed.   This made me remember the times at the formal dining table at our house when I grew up and we entertained guests. My dad, a very traditional man, would smile and signal to all the girls at the table with a nod, after we finished a course, that we could now remove the plates and switch the setting.  He was raised on a farm in the late 1920s/early 1930s, so he grew up with all of the above traditions.  I think he did it more as a joke, but there is no doubt that my mom had the task of taking care of the house, while he was at work (he was a dentist with his own practice).  Still, my mom is one of the strongest women I know, with a personality as huge as a cruise ship….She was secure in her role and secretly ruled the household, all the while they respected each other.  And of course she is a hell of a cook – which we all know, is the way to a man’s heart!!  My father is no longer with us, and I miss him dearly… but I thank him for his role in supporting his girls and making us who we are today!

Veiled Peasant Girls – a dessert from the land of the Midnight Sun

Yes, what a strange name it is… in Norwegian, we call this dessert “Tilslørte Bondepiker” and consists of breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon, whipping cream and apple sauce, layered in individual drink glasses or in a trifle or glass bowl, topped with chopped nuts of your choice. Incredibly simple, but most often tasty food does not need a million ingredients. Rather, this light and fluffy sweet ending incorporates different flavors of sweet and tangy,  with soft and crunchy textures which and results in an  incredibly satisfying ending to a meal (or beginning, if you wish!). In Sweden, the dish is called “Anglamat” (Angel’s Food), while Denmark is in some places credited with inventing this dish, but that discussion is ongoing…  Below is an image of Anglamat made with cloudberries and chopped chocolate:

anglamat

Photo Sourced from http://www.hd.se

This dish was introduced before ice cream, and has a long history in Norway.  While I see it less and less these days, I think this dish deserves a comeback, because it truly is refreshingly light and tasty.  So what is the story behind the curious name of this dessert?  Nobody really knows for sure. One theory has it named by  the famous Norwegian poet and philologist Ivar Aasen (who by the way, hailed from my part of the country – as all good ones tend to do:) – who was deeply in love with a peasant girl that made this dessert.  He supposedly proposed to her several times, but she always turned him down. One day, the girl asked Ivar if he would like to taste her sweets… meaning her dessert but obviously Ivar was thinking about something completely different… when he discovered she meant food, disappointed, he decided to name the dessert “veiled peasant girls”.

Ivaraasen

Below is a classic recipe for the traditional Veiled Peasant Girls.  These days, several variations have popped up of this dessert, substituting the apples with sauteed peaches, passion fruit, plums, berries and other fruits.  You can also use crumbled up cinnamon graham crackers or even macaroons instead of regular bread crumbs for instance. I’ve also seen some people add in sour cream to the whipped cream, as the tangy/sweet combination has proven especially delicious. Play around with it while using the general frame of the recipe. The key is to get the proportions correct; heavy cream to breadcrumbs to applesauce, and also to flavor the applesauce with enough sugar/cinnamon so it’s not too tangy, and also making sure the breadcrumbs are nice and crispy and not heavy and soggy.  This ensures a delicious dessert and also one that won’t weigh you down!

bondepikertradisjonell

Photo: Inkognito, frukt.no

TILSLØRTE BONDEPIKER  (“Veiled Peasant Girls”)

Serves 4

3 apples, peeled, cored and diced

7 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup apple cider (from the farmer’s market is best)

3 tbsp butter

1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade from stale bread, put through the food processor)

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of cardamom

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted.

In a small saucepan, add the diced apples with 5 tbsp of the sugar and apple cider. Bring to a boil and cook until the apples soften and break down. Set aside and cool down.

Melt the butter on low heat along with the remainder 2 tbsp of the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small saute pan, and add the breadcrumbs, saute until fragrant and toasted to a golden brown color.

Whip the heavy cream (add 1 tbsp of vanilla extract, a pinch of cardamom and 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar for added sweetness/flavor if you’d like).

Layer the applesauce, bread crumbs and heavy cream in individual glasses or in a glass serving bowl, top with the chopped hazelnuts and serve.

Tilslortebondepikermatprat

Photo Sourced from:  matprat.no