A pumpkin bread recipe for when you want to impress

For someone who isn’t a huge pumpkin fan to begin with, this is a pretty big statement which I hope will catch attention.  Because your gustatory experience will depend on it. 

It’s not often I even get tempted by anything “pumpkin” and as a native of Norway, I never understood Americans’ obsession with pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin casserole, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cakes… the list goes on. 
 
But as I had received two good looking pumpkins from my CSA share a couple of weeks ago that were just standing on my kitchen counter, I decided to make use of them other than turning them Halloween decorations.
First I started with making my own pumpkin puree, because honestly – every canned version I’ve ever bought tastes god-awful.  Bland, boring and everything I will not allow in my food. I will include a super simple recipe for it here as well, it will be so worth it!
I shared in a previous blog post that pumpkins weren’t traditionally very common or popular in Norway, until just the recent years when Norwegians have felt compelled to start celebrating Halloween, although that was never observed when I grew up in the 70s and 80s.   In 2011, 250 tons of pumpkin were sold, compared to 900 to 1,000 tons in 2014. So the trend is absolutely increasing.
You can also read more details about pumpkins in Norway and get a recipe for vegan pumpkin spiced cookies that have previously passed my taste test here.
 Why eat pumpkin after all? A few reasons:
1. It’s healthy, and provides only about 12 calories per 100 grams.  Pumpkin also contains a lot of fiber, which is great for the colon and the digestion.  It’s rich in vitamin A, which helps maintain good eye sight and healthy skin.
2.   There are tons of exciting varieties, like blue, red-orange, cinderella, cheese and ghost white. Check out this article for more info.
3. Pumpkin is super versatile, you can use them to make savory soups and stews, as well as in desserts and baked goods like the pumpkin bread I’m sharing with you today.
4.  You can bake it, saute it, puree it, boil it and pickle it! Endless ways to change up the texture and flavor.
5.  You can use the entire vegetable for so many things. The flesh can be used in savory and sweet dishes,  dry out the seeds and toast them, and add them to salads, soups, oatmeal, yogurts, etc. for a snack that can serve as a healthy fat source, and the actual skin can be carved out and used as a lantern for Halloween.
So are you convinced yet to give pumpkin a go? I don’t think Americans need a lot of convincing, but if you were even the slightest bit of a skeptic to this vegetable or to vegan baked goods, after you’ve tried this recipe you will be converted for life.  Big statement, I know, but I wholeheartedly believe this will be one of the best things you will make this fall!
With that, I wish you happy baking and a wonderful, flavorful fall period!

THE BEST EVER VEGAN PUMPKIN BREAD

adapted from Averie Cooks

 

Streusel Crust
1/4 cup (half of 1 stick) vegan butter slightly softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
about 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour,

Bread
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (homemade – recipe below)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup coconut oil melted (you can sub vegetable or canola oil)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or other plant based milk, at room temp
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan  with oil or vegan butter and dust with a little flour.

For the Streusel Crust

In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and toss with a fork until mixture combines and crumbs and clumps form. This is a moist streusel, but if yours seems very moist and is paste-like, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons flour, as needed to dry it out. Set aside.

For the Bread

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients through nutmeg, and whisk to combine. Using room temp milk will prevent coconut oil from re-solidifying, but if it does, a few small white clumps are okay.

Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined, be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter out into the prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the top, using your fingers to break up large clumps if necessary

Bake for about 40 to 44 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.

Allow bread to cool in pan, on top of a wire rack, for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto the rack to finish cooling completely.

Slice bread with a serrated knife in a sawing motion, careful to not compress the loaf. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week  wrapped in seran wrap and stored in a ziplock bag. Bread will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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PUMPKIN PUREE

1 large pumpkin, halved, seeds scooped out

dash cinnamon

dash clove

dash nutmeg

sprinkle of salt

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).   Linke a baking sheet with foil.

Season pumpkin halves with the spices and place cut side down. Roast for about 1 hour until flesh is soft.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before scooping out the flesh, add to a high speed blender and puree until smooth. Let cool, refrigerate in an airtight container. Keeps for up to 1 week in fridge, you can also freeze it!

pumpkinbread

P.S. Don’t forget to follow my page on Facebook, Arctic Grub, where I post daily about food and culture from Norway!

Celebrate Apple Season With This Simple Norwegian Apple Cake

I’ve written about eplekake, Norwegian apple cake, a couple of times before on the blog, but it’s one I could write about multiple times over.   There are endless variations, such as a vegan version filled with marzipan which I shared here, and before I went vegan there was a vanilla custard variety here.  I’ve yet to measure up to some of the biggest food bloggers in Norway, one who can brag about having over 50 different recipes for apple cake alone! This will tell you how popular this is….

It’s the middle of apple season here in the gorgeous Hudson Valley of New York, and fall is the most magical time of year, in my opinion.  The leaves are turning and displaying gorgeous colors, the air is cool and crisp, and it’s all of a sudden ok to turn to comfort foods like creamy soups, stews, casseroles and baked goods again.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, and right around the corner, but that’s for another blog post..

In Norway, there are signs of apples being in existence since the Stone Age (around year 850).  54 apples were found in good condition; a sign they were highly valued.  But it was the monks who started planting apple trees and made it commonplace.  They quickly discovered that Hardanger in the southwestern part of Norway was the most ideal place to grow apples, and since they have been planted all the way up to the county of Møre and Romsdal, where I’m from, as well as further north.  The difference is that the apples in the south are for commercial sale, whereas the ones found in the northern parts of Norway are for personal consumption.   The juicy varieties we have in Norway today, is a result of a long history of cultivating and perfecting them.

The most important Norwegian varieties are Summerred, Aroma, Rød Gravenstein, Rød Aroma, Julyred, Åkerø, Discovery, Rød Prins/Kronprins, Lobo and regular Gravenstein.

The apple cake is a very traditional cake in Norway, and most people have some type of relationship to it.   It’s the epitome of an autumn cake, and I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like it!

Most of the Norwegian apple cakes are super decadent, containing tons of eggs, sugar and butter and while I certainly have enjoyed a piece or two hundred in my lifetime, I wanted to prove that no eggs or dairy is needed to create the same wonderful gustatory experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the VeganEgga product made by the company Follow Your Heart, as I set out to re-create one of my favorite foods; a Spanish tortilla layered with potatoes and caramelized onions.  As a side note I’m happy to report that the result was fantastic, with my egg-loving husband giving it a big thumbs up.  But this week I wanted to try the egg in baked goods to see how it acted.  I’m thrilled to announce that the cake ended up  as juicy, rich and flavorful as the one I grew up eating in my mom’s kitchen!  I’m typically not a fan of using ready-made vegan products, but in this instance, I’m going to be making a regular exception, the results were that good.

Of course there are plenty of options should you not have the VeganEgg available to you in stores where you live.  Combining a tablespoon of either ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tbsp of water will equal one egg, or you can also used mashed bananas, apple sauce, cornstarch and/or nut butters. In this instance, I would naturally choose apple sauce, to go with the flavor profile of the cake.   Remember, eggs only serve as a binder in baking,  so as long as you find something that can bind the batter/dough, you are good to go!

I hope you will try this version of eplekake, it comes together in no time – I use a small mandoline to slice the apples, much faster and you get uniform sizes, ensuring even baking.  If you are a fellow cinnamon lover (if you are Scandinavian I won’t have to ask), you can go a little over the top on the cinnamon-sugar mixture that you toss the apple slices in for extra enjoyment!

Happy baking and as we say in Norway: Velbekomme!

 

NORVEGAN EPLEKAKE

 

7 oz /200 grams vegan butter, room temperature (just shy of 2 sticks)

7 oz /1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp VeganEgg powder whisked together with 3/4 cups (180ml) ice cold water

7 oz/200 grams/1 cup all purpose flour

2 1/2 tbsp /40 grams/1.5 oz potato starch

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup/100 ml plant based milk

Topping:

2-3 large apples, cored and sliced thinly

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp vegan butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius). Dress a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Add the vegan butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, and with the paddle attachment, whip it until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in the VeganEgg mixture.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, potato starch and baking powder.  Add slowly to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and combine until no traces of flour are left.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, and add the apple slices to it and coat well.  Carefully arrange the apple slices on top of the batter, stuffing the apples mid way down the cake batter in a circular pattern.

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Dab the 2 tbsp of butter over the top and bake in oven for about 50-55 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Serve with some whipped coconut cream or your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream!

eplekake3

eplekake14

eplekake9eplekake12

Vegan cardamom scented cinnamon buns in celebration of Cinnamon Bun Day on Oct 4th

I’ve long been trying to perfect a vegan cinnamon bun,  or “kanelboller” or “kanelsnurrer” as they go by in Norwegian.  Luckily it’s not hard to veganize them, as they don’t need eggs nor dairy, and omitting these ingredients will not affect neither the flavor nor the consistency.

Nothing makes me as happy as when Cinnamon Bun day comes around every year on October 4th. As if we really need another excuse to whip up a batch of these gorgeous creations… but when in Rome…

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about cinnamon buns, you can find my previous posts (and recipes) here, here and here.   I will therefore not go into the well known love us Scandinavians have for cinnamon and baked goods in general in this post again. I of course welcome any questions in the comment section!

I regard these delightful, fluffy and flavorful pastries a vital part of the Norwegian (and Scandinavian) diet, and there are few things I find as enjoyable to eat.  Equally suitable for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even a post-dinner evening delight (us Norwegians drink coffee at all hours of the day), they serve as a decadent, yet familiar pastry on Scandinavian tables.  I think it’s safe to say that if you don’t get served pastries made from some type of yeasty cinnamon flavored dough when you’re visiting a Norwegian home, it would be an unusual experience – they are that widespread and popular!

In Norway we have a saying called “kjært barn har mange navn”, which loosely translates to “a dear/special child has many names”, and this is true about the cinnamon bun.  It goes by “kanelboller”, “kanelsnurrer”,  “kanelknuter” or “kanel i svingene” (cinnamon in the turns) interchangeably and there are as many recipes for them as there are inhabitants in Norway, I believe.  I have to say I’ve rarely met one I didn’t like, so you can safely attempt this recipe and expect decent results!

In this recipe I also have added ground cardamom to the dough in addition to the cinnamon spread, I find that this adds an even more authentic touch to the buns and I hope you’ll agree with me.  Fluffy and light, you may not want to share this batch with anyone (and I won’t tell).

Wishing you a happy Cinnamon Bun Day and a fun time baking!

NORVEGAN CARDAMOM SCENTED CINNAMON BUNS

Makes about 18 buns

1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) dry instant yeast

1 stick (113g) vegan butter, melted

1/2 cups (about 350ml) plant based milk (I used almond)

about 4 cups (500 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (120) grams granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon sugar spread:

heaping 1/4 cup (or about 4-5 5 tbsp) brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

about 1/4 cup melted vegan butter

In a small pot, melt the butter on low heat, then add in the plant based milk.  Carefully heat mixture up till about 110-120 Fahrenheit, make sure it’s not too hot or you will kill the yeast.

Pour the butter-milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast in with a little bit of the sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes until you see the yeast starting to foam or bubble. If it doesn’t, it means your yeast is dead and you’ll have to do it over.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients; flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt.

Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook and on low-medium speed, start adding the flour mixture gradually.  Beat on medium for about 5-10 minutes until you see a smooth, firm dough forming and that should leave the edges of the bowl (you may or may not need to add a little more flour).

Shape into a firm ball and leave in bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

In the mean time, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the spread, and melt the butter.

Punch down the dough, then using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to  a square that measures about 20 inches  (50 centimeter) on every side.

cinnamonbundough

Brush the dough with the melted butter and spread the cinnamon sugar evenly across the dough.

cinnamondoughspread

Fold 1/3 of the squared dough towards the middle and the other 1/3 against the middle slightly overlapping the edges of the first fold and roll out again to a smooth square.  With a dough cutter, cut the dough diagonally into about 1 inch strips (2 1/2 cm).

For a visual tutorial on how to form the cinnamon knots/buns, check out this link.

Place the finished buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20-30 minutes.

cinnamonbunspreoven

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celcius).

Bake the cinnamon buns for about 10 minutes until golden up top.

Enjoy with a strong cup of black coffee with good friends and family!

cinnamonknots

cinnamonknot1

The magic of Norwegian plums + a cake you will want to make!

There are few fruits as exquisite as Norwegian plums. They taste far better than any imported plums, yet the season in Norway is super short with availability during the month of August and September only.

Norway has planted plums since the 18th century (possibly earlier),  so we have a long tradition utilizing plums in our cooking. Plums are regarded as one of autumn’s most delightful harvests, and there are a number of different varieties available.   The ones most known are Edda, Mallard, Riis, Jubileum, Opal and Victoria.

Side bar and fun fact: According to the newspaper Bondebladet , 2017 is inching towards holding a record for plum production with over 1400 tons harvested nationwide. Most of the plums come from Hardanger.  Norwegians are demanding more Norwegian grown fruit like apples, cherries and plums, than ever before, as eating local and seasonal is increasing in popularity. 

I remember the enormous plum tree my parents had growing right in front of our verandah that stretched over two floors.  I couldn’t wait for plum season, and ran straight out to the tree after school to snag a handful of delicious, huge blue plums to snack on.  There seem to be a never ending supply, but I also recall being impatient for them to ripen before the season hit.

My mom would begin a huge canning process of the plums we weren’t able to eat fresh, so we could enjoy them through the winter.  She served them up with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert after dinner on weekdays, because in my household, dessert was expected every day (by my dad mostly – he had a big sweet tooth!),

In addition to canning them, other popular ways of cooking with plums in Norway include making jam, porridge, compote and chutney.    I think the most delicious way to enjoy them besides eating them straight from the tree, is to make a cake.  Plommekake is a fun variant of the traditional Norwegian “eplekake” (apple cake) and a great way to use any leftover plums you might have.

The recipe really is very simple; flour, sugar, baking powder, a couple of spices along with milk and vanilla extract. The traditional version has eggs in it, but I’ve used apple sauce, as it functions just as well in this cake.  Remember, eggs only act as a binder, there is nothing more magical about eggs than that.  You can elect to add in a some ground up nuts as well, I’ve omitted them in my recipe to please those that may have nut allergies or want a lighter cake.

Hope you will try my vegan version of plommekake out – this is not overly sweet, as the tanginess from the plums balance out the sweetness of the batter.  I served it to my local businesswomen group earlier today and got rave reviews!

Remember to follow my FB page Arctic Grub for daily updates on Norwegian food, culture and other fun posts on Nordic content!! I also love hearing from you so comment below if you have any questions when it comes to Norway and /or Norwegian food!

NORVEGAN PLUM CAKE

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 heaping teaspoon of cornstarch

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of salt

5 tablespoons of vegan butter – room temperature (I use Earth Balance brand)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup apple sauce

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup of almond milk

4 large black or blue plums – sliced into 1/4 inch slivers

2 tablespoons of chilled vegan butter

1/4 cup of brown sugar

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350° F (180C).  Coat a 9 inch spring form pan with the 2 tablespoons of chilled butter and sprinkle the brown sugar in.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.

Whip the vegan butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl on a high speed until completely combined.

Add the apple sauce and vanilla extract and  stir in well.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to mixing bowl while going on a low speed until mostly combined. Add 1/3 of the almond milk and blend.  Continue adding the flour and milk in 1/3 increments.

Arrange the plum slices in the buttered and sugar coated spring form pan.

plommekakeforbaking1

Pour the batter evenly over the plums and smooth until the pan is evenly covered.

Bake for 50-60 minutes – place spring form on a baking sheet to prevent spillage.

Let cool completely before removing from and inverting the pan.

plommekake13

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Recreate a Norwegian breakfast or lunch with rundstykker

What is ‘rundstykker’? These ’round pieces’ (=rundstykke) of bread are buns made with various cereals and grains, and are popular all throughout the Nordic countries, particularly in Norway and Denmark.   As bread lovers, Scandinavians love to play around with different versions of baked goods, and rundstykker are some of the more unique creations I’ve been unable to find a true equivalent of here in the United States.

While rundstykker are now enjoyed for both breakfast and lunch every day,  growing up in Norway in the 1970s and 1980s, they were a more decadent affair.   Today they can be found in ever home,  but when I was a teenager, you would mostly buy them in bakeries or cafes.

My niece recently shared a memory from her childhood of my sister making rundstykker and hot cocoa after they had been to swim class in the winter.  I recall my mom buying them at the bakery when she had her friends over from the charity she was involved with, and “dressing them up” with special cold cuts and neatly cut cucumbers, sliced salmon, scrambled eggs and curly parsley, or cheese and paprika.

Today you can even buy rundstykker half baked in the grocery stores, and just throw them in the oven and they are ready in no time,  but tasting like you baked them from scratch.   Rundstykker also go by the name “tebriks” – here are some examples of packages available in stores:

tebriks

Of course, I no longer eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs, so I was having a bit of fun the other day veganizing both the buns and the toppings.  Many original rundstykke recipes are already vegan – no eggs are needed and water is often used in place of milk.

I hope you’ll enjoy my recipe, these buns will turn out soft, light and airy and produces a fabulous dough that is easy to work with!     You can top the buns with any kinds of seeds, or leave seeds off and make them plain.  Spread them with butter and jam, or as I did the other day: a lettuce, tomato, peppers and avocado sandwich with vegan mayo:

avorundstykker

 

NORWEGIAN RUNDSTYKKER

Makes about 14 large rundstykker

1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast

2 3/4 cups plant based milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 stick (113g) of vegan butter (Earth Balance)

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water)

3 cups (700g) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (110g) rolled oats

1 cup (200g) whole wheat flour

melted vegan butter for brushing top of the buns

For topping on buns:

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp flaxseeds

1 tbsp pepita seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat on stove. Add in the milk and heat up to bring mixture to about 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until it starts to foam.

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  While the machine is running, pour in the butter-milk mixture, then the flax eggs. Knead on medium for about 10 minutes until a smooth dough forms.  Add more flour towards the end if it is still sticky.

Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for about one hour until dough is doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease two baking sheets with a little oil or baking spray.  Combine all the seeds in a small bowl

Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean work surface, turn the dough onto table, roll out to a log and divide into 14 equal pieces.

rundstykkedeig

Shape into round buns and place onto baking sheets, cover with a towel and let rest once more for about 30 minutes.

Brush top of buns with melted vegan butter and sprinkle seed mixture on.  Bake in oven for about 14-15 minutes until golden up top. rundstykker7rundstykker5rundstykker3

 

Tilslørte Bondepiker; veganizing and elevating a classic Norwegian dessert

I’ve been having so much fun transforming traditinal Norwegian dishes into plant based alternatives these past few years, and while some have not turned out the way I had hoped or envisioned (I have high standards), others come out so much better than I had ever dared imagining. Today’s blog post is one of those.

“Tilslørte bondepiker”, the name of this sweet dish, loosely and directly translates into “veiled peasant/farm girls”.  It is a layered dessert with mashed apples or applesauce, breadcrumbs sauteed in butter and whipped cream.  Typically it is served in a glass bowl or some time of drinkware.   Tilslørte bondepiker was popular before ice cream in Norway and has a long history there.  You can find the dessert in various forms, made with different kinds of fruit and toppings like shaved chocolate and citrus rind.

About 4 1/2 years ago before I was vegan, I wrote about this old, classic dessert and the story behind its peculiar name. You can read about that here. 

Today I wanted to share the amazing vegan version with all of you and to let you know that anything you want to eat, you make eat plant based! There are no boundaries to creativity amongst vegan cooks and chefs, this is what makes plant based cooking so incredibly exciting!   There are “tuna” sandwiches made from chickpeas, crab cakes from hearts of palm, pulled “pork” sandwiches from jackfruit and the other day I saw somebody making “calamari” from grilled corn on the cob!

If you’re stuck around how you can remove dairy and meat from a classic dish you’ve grown up to love, comment below and let’s see if can come up with something delicious made from plants! 

The classic version of this dessert is in fact plant based, with the exception of the whipped cream.  In place of heavy cream, I used a can of full fat coconut milk that I left in the fridge overnight. What that does, is solidify the cream on the top, and this is the only part you use to whip up the cream (discard or save the liquid for later use).  Make sure you buy full fat (14grams and higher, preferably) and not low fat, as the latter won’t work.

coconutcream

Use the whisk part of your Kitchen aid not the attachment in the picture, I just couldn’t find mine, but it worked out fine anyway!   Make sure your bowl is cold (I put mine in the freezer an hour or more before using it) which will ensure a really fluffy, firm cream. You can season it with confectioners sugar and vanilla extract or sweetener of your choice, to bring out the flavor of the cream some more.

coconutwhip

Instead of plain breadcrumbs sauteed in butter, I made my own granola from scratch which I can also use for breakfast and a mid afternoon snack.  I have provided the recipe, inspired from the Cooks Illustrated Baking book.

I used local and organic apples, because I find the flavor of local and organic produce far surpasses any other.  Either way, make sure you use some type of red crispy apples like Gala, Red Delicious or Cortlands.  I find the combination of sweet and acidic perfect in this recipe. If you want, you can leave some of the peel on, which will then create a more pinkish color in the sauteed apples and apple sauce.

You can make a syrup if you like from brown sugar and some apple sauce to drizzle on top, but I find the sweetness of the apple sauce and sauteed apples are sweet enough for me.  Homemade apple sauce is a must – while it might seem extra work, it’s really not that big of a deal. While the apples cook down you can whip up the granola. The end result will come out so much better than if you use a store bought version.

Hope you will like my example of Tilslørte Bondepiker, happy cooking!

TILSLØRTE BONDEPIKER (vegan)

For the applesauce:

4 red apples, like Cortland, Red Delicious or Gala, peeled, cored and diced into 1-inch pieces

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)

1/2 cup water

For apple layer:

3 red apples, like Gala or Red Delicious

1/2 cup (100ml) homemade apple sauce

1 vanilla bean pod, split and beans scraped out (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

1 cinnamon stick

For the whipped cream:

1 x 14.5 oz can full fat coconut cream, placed in fridge overnight

1 tbsp confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup homemade granola* (*recipe listed below)

To make the applesauce:

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pot, place over medium heat and cook down, about 30 minutes until apples start to dissolve. Throw the mix in a high speed blender and puree until smooth. Set aside to cool.

To make the sauteed apples:

Place all ingredients in medium sauce pot, place over medium heat and cook until apples are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

To make the whipped cream:

Scoop out the hardened cream part of the coconut can (discard liquid) and place in a Kitchen aid or a bowl and whisk until fluffy and it stiffens up, a couple of minutes. Add in the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract and combine well.

To assemble dessert: 

Using a pretty glass bowl or individual drink glass such as a small mason jar or whatever you have, layer the sauteed apples, granola and whipped coconut cream and sprinkle top with additional granola.

HOME MADE GRANOLA:

recipe adapted by Cooks Illustrated

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten free oats if you want recipe to be GF)

1 cup sliced or chopped almonds

3 tablespoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar of choice

2 tablespoons ground flax

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 vanilla beans, scraped or 1/2-3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla bean powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons smooth natural almond or peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, sugar, ground flax, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the wet mixture to dry mixture and stir well until everything is thoroughly combined. The mixture will be a bit dry at first but keep mixing as it will eventually come together.

Place granola on the baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer.

Bake for about 15 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden, rotating the pan half-way through baking. Be careful not to burn. Allow the granola to cool for about 30 minutes on the baking sheet, or until completely cool, and then break it apart into clusters. Store the granola in an air-tight container for a few weeks, or it can be frozen for 1 to 2 months.

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10 Things You May Not Know About Norwegian Waffles

If you are a fan of Norwegian waffles, you know that they are heart shaped, thinner and softer than the American version.   We also don’t eat waffles for breakfast, rather we enjoy them with a strong cup of black coffee in the afternoon or evening, preferably in the company of good friends and family.  The easiest and most widespread food to whip up when you have guests come over, is, in fact, Norwegian “vafler”!  We love them slathered with butter and strawberry jam, or for a more decadent version; sour cream and strawberry jam which is a delicious combination of tangy and sweet.

For more history about the Norwegian waffle, you can go HERE to a previous blog post I did on this topic.

So while the above mentioned points might be common knowledge to “Norwegianophiles”,  you might not haven known the following:

  1. There are few foods that exists that have as many different recipes as waffles.  The first recognized recipes for waffle batter in Norway appeared in the early 18th century in Stavanger at the Kielland family library.  The batter contained wheat flour, sugar, butter and eggs, as well as ground cardamom, mace, cloves, anise seeds and ginger.  Today, many of these ingredients still show up in waffle recipes.

2.   One variant that is not as widespread anymore is making waffles from porridge leftovers.  It was commonly used by the farming community, because their daily diet consisted of  porridge.  Porridge leftovers often ended up in waffle batters along with flour, water or milk, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and eggs.  The ingredients depended on what kind of porridge was included and how nice of a waffle batter one desired to make.

3. “Lompe”, bread of waffel?  I refer to lompe as the ‘tortillas of Norway,’ you can read my blog post about them HERE.    The classic combination is to serve a hot dog in lomper, but in the Norwegian town of Moss, serving hot dogs in waffles is a culinary classic. You’ll find this combination sold at soccer games there.  The tradition is said to have started in the 1960s when a man by the name of Eyvind Hellstrøm ran out of lomper when he worked at his uncle’s hot dog and ice cream stand.  His solution was to combine the waffles with the hot dogs.

4.  Today, waffles in Norway are associated with “hygge” or cozy times throughout the year, but in the 13th century waffles were spoken about as a romantic meal in the churches of Paris during Easter celebration.  Waffles were also used as a meal to break fast.  According to author Kristin Solli Schøien,  waffles stem back to the monasteries during the middle ages.  Un-soured bread were baked during communion,  and the alter breads were so tasty that they started making something they called apostle cakes for special holidays.  These are said to be the predecessors to the waffles served at Norwegian seamen churches across the world today.

5. For Norwegians abroad, waffles are a symbol of both homesickness and a heartwarming treat, according to the Norwegian Seaman’s Church.  For more than 150 years, the heart shaped waffles have served as a special trademark for what you can expect when you stop by the church.  Every year, the 31 seaman’s churches all over the world compete over who makes the best waffles.  In 2012 they made and handed out 27,500 waffles combined.

6. Waffles is a continuous symbol of thoughtfulness, also at home in Norway.  Volunteers set aside time weekly to hand out free home made waffles to homeless people  on the streets. The initiative from “Vaffelgutta” (The Waffle Guys) started in Oslo, but has quickly grown.  Today they are providing free waffles to people in the cities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.

7. Despite how un- Norwegian International Waffle Day sounds, the tradition stems back to our neighboring country, Sweden.  The official explanation is that on March 25th, virgin Mary received the message from the angel  Gabriel that she was to give birth to baby Jesus exactly 9 months later.  This day was celebrated by eating cakes both in Norway and Sweden. Later on it become customary to have waffles.

A more creative explanation is that the day Mary got the message,  was named “vårfruedagen” in Sweden (Our Lady’s Day), which got muddled into “vaffeldagen” in Swedish among the people…

8. No waffles without a special waffle iron. The particular checkered pattern of the iron stems from the 13th and 14th century and is said to be made by following a model for bees wax cakes in the beehives.  The tradition of baking ‘cakes’ in this way stems back to the Greeks, according to Henry Notakers’ “Appetittleksikon” (Appetite Dictionary).  The actual waffle iron was invented by the American Cornelius Swarthout and was patented on August 24th, 1869.

9.  It’s actually not impossible to feed hundreds of people with just one waffel!  The biggest waffle in the world was measured to be about 98 cm or 38.5 inches. The Guinness record from 2011 is held by Norwegian Joar Mortveit from Skjold.  This record big waffle was baked in a gigantic waffle iron weighing 250 kilos  (551 lbs).  For every waffle, 10 liters (2.5 gallons or 42 cups) were used and each waffle took 20 minutes to bake.

10.  If you live in the United States, you don’t have to necessarily visit seaman’s churches to eat waffles. The internationally known and successful Norwegian fashion company Moods of Norway have become known for selling their clothes and accessories worldwide, inspired by Norwegian traditions.   They have also marketed Norwegian waffles by creating a waffle iron in the shape of a tractor. Below you can see how the waffles look after being baked in their iron.

moodsofNorwayKristerSørbøVG

Photo Credit:  Krister Sørbø/VG

I hope you found these facts interesting, because I sure did!  They are translated from the site godt.no and sourced from a variety of people and institutions.

I bet you are getting hungry for some Norwegian waffles now !  I’ve included a SUPER simple recipe below that you can throw together in a couple of minutes and the only kitchen equipment besides a waffle iron needed is a blender (or a food processor).

wafflesblender

This recipe is both vegan and gluten free, but it tastes so decadent you wouldn’t believe that it’s a healthy version!  Instead of eggs, I’ve included a banana, and oats take the place of wheat flour.  I’ve subbed maple syrup for white sugar, though you can use any sweetener you’d like for a very similar result.

I hope you enjoy this quick and delicious recipe ! If you try it let me know in the comments what you think! Velbekomme!

SUPER SIMPLE AND HEALTHY NORWEGIAN WAFFLES 

about 3 cups (700ml)  old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/4 cup (300ml) water

1 1/4 cup (300 ml) plant based milk (I used almond milk)

1 large ripe banana

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp maple syrup

melted vegan butter (I love Earth Balance)  for greasing the waffle iron

Throw all the ingredients in a high speed blender, alternatively use a stick blender or food processor, and puree until smooth.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Heat up the waffle iron and bake according to the manufacturer’s direction.

Serve spread with butter and  strawberry jam, or top with bananas, fresh berries, extra maple syrup or even plain! (Coffee optional, but that’s extra Norwegian:)

heartshapedhealthywaffles2

 

Råkostsalat; a true Norwegian vegan dish

Having just returned from a week in London, I definitely feel a tad heavier after too much restaurant food and wine.   The Brits sure like their share of booze and heavy food… I do try to eat as healthy as possible while I am on vacation, but I also subscribe to the theory that you should also go for the experience and allow yourself some foods you wouldn’t normally eat.

Today’s recipe then was inspired by me craving a lighter meal and more vegetables. I wanted to create a cold meal because the temperatures have been soaring to 90 degrees here in New York for the past few days, which doesn’t make it very tempting to be standing over the stove.

When I first started veganizing my blog,  I went into a state of panic.  How on earth could I write about Norwegian food if I didn’t include smoked salmon, mutton, eggs, milk and butter?  Thankfully the vegan world has some very creative cooks who have managed to recreate both shrimp, fish, meatballs and cream cakes using plant based foods.

But what about original Norwegian dishes containing only vegetables and fruit?  They certainly are far and few in between but some exist.

Enter “råkostsalat”,  literally translated as “raw food salad”.  This simple dish is often served with ‘fiskekaker’, or fish patties, but is also enjoyed on its own when people want to lose weight or even just find a way to add more vegetables to their diet.   The Danish are also fond of this salad, and you will find even more variations there.

A funny fact about råkostsalat, is that it used to be a classic recipe students would have to learn to make when they entered a school called “husmorsskolen”.   This word translates to “housewife school” but more correctly defined, is a home economic school that was established in the late 19th century and were popular until the 1960s and 1970s.  A type of technical school for the domestic arts, its purpose was to provide specialized instructions in domestic subjects.   They were developed simultaneously with the agricultural schools that popped up around the country and were meant to teach mainly food preparation and housework.

Hence, in order to become a proper “housewife” you had to master making the råkostsalat!   Times sure have changed…

Here is a picture of a husmorskole class around the year 1913:

(photo credit: Romerike.no)

husmorskole

husmorskoledigitalmuseum

(Photo Credit: digitaltmuseum.no)

Råkostsalat is still popular today, and is a perfect food for the summer, because it is, as the name suggest, all raw, so very cooling, refreshing and filling at the same time. Providing lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber,  easy to make with beautiful colors ,  this should be on your repertoire too, whether you are vegan or not!

There are as many recipes for råkostsalat as there are mountaintops, valleys and fields in Norway,  so I encourage you to play around with a variety of vegetables and other ingredients.  We typically use vegetables that are readily available in Norway such as root vegetables and apples, and I find these keep well too.  I use my food processor to shred all the vegetables, but you can also use a box shredder and do it manually if you like additional work 🙂

I like to serve this salad with my vegan crab cakes made from hearts of palm (you will have to stay tuned for that recipe later!), or some beans and whole grains like quinoa or farro.  It can also serve as a healthy snack between lunch and dinner – this dish gives you so much energy and does your body a whole lot of good!

If you feel like whipping up a colorful plate this weekend that is healthy, pretty,  inexpensive and easy to make – this one’s a winner!

RÅKOSTSALAT

2 large carrots, shredded

1 red apple, cored, peeled and shredded

1/2 small red cabbage, shredded or sliced finely
1 small red beet, peeled and shredded
1 small yellow beet, peeled and shredded
1 small rutabaga, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup raisins
juice from 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp maple syrup or other sweetener
handful of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the shredded vegetables and raisins in a large bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and maple syrup and pour over the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper and let sit in fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend together. Serve topped with fresh parsley or other fresh herbs.

 

raakostsalat1

Forget about the prom; here’s how Norwegians celebrate the end of high school

Today’s blog post was inspired by my niece Synne, who is graduating high school this month and is pictured in the feature image (she is the lovely young woman on the very left).  Seeing her photos made me reminisce back to when I was celebrating finishing school in Norway and having fun being a “russ”.    Even though the American tradition of prom has somewhat seeped into the Norwegian culture, it’s the “russ” time that still dominates at home.

If you’ve ever found yourself in Norway around the national Constitution day on May 17th, you may have seen huge parades of people marching on the street.  Intermixed in the crowd, you might spot a number of tired, ragged looking teenagers dressed in red or blue overalls with writings all over them.   Who are these people and why are they dressed like this??

This a phenomena called “russ”,  a nationwide term that describes high school graduate students and has been a country wide celebration for over 100 years.  Historically the word is built on a Danish tradition stemming all the way back to the 18th century where university students called themselves ‘russ’ or ‘rus’.  Back then, Norway didn’t have their own universities, and Norwegian students who were interested in educating themselves further, would have to travel to Denmark.  To be able to begin the studies, one would have to pass an initial exam, called examen artium, and when the exam papers were handed in, students were given a horn to wear on their forehead.  Only when the results of the exam came back and students passed, was the horn removed from their forehead, and they went from “wild animals” to civilized students.  The word “russ” stems from the Latin term “cornua depositurus”, which means to ‘to put away the horns.’

Examen artium was later moved to the high school and the term ‘russ’ followed along with it.

Initially, the russ celebration were for the upper class, elite population and their children only.  In 1905 only 300 students graduated and completed their exams, while today over 40,000 high school students graduate.

Image from wikimedia of the russ celebration in the 1940s:

Russefeiring i Trondheim 17. mai / Avgangselever ved Katedralsko

The russ culture has always been dominated by the idea of breaking with society’s norms and rules.  It’s when young adults get a ‘carte blanche’ in many ways to act out, be a little crazy and do things out of the ordinary.

While the tradition is present both in Denmark and in Sweden, the Norwegian celebration is definitely unique and much grander than in their neighboring countries.

Customarily students dress in red overalls,  make up new names for themselves based on their individual personalities, group together to buy red vans they drive around in during this period,  make their own “business cards” they hand out to younger kids and others,  gather at big events throughout the country, party and stay out late or all night during the entire month of May (and then some),  create and organize a comedic play they act out on stage and invite friends and family to attend, put together a special newspaper with articles and description of each student that will be published and sold on May 17th, come up with special rules and ‘dares’ to accomplish to collect items in the tassels of their hats corresponding with their deeds, and so forth…

Speaking of the latter, a lot of these dares and rules historically involved a lot of alcohol related ‘tasks’, some of which potentially were really dangerous so they have been cracked down on . Other rules have involved illegal actions, hence they have garnered a lot of criticism in the press and among people.   A few examples include:

  • drink 24 bottles of beer in 24 hours (you get a beer cap in your tassle)
  • drink a bottle of wine in 30 minutes (you get a wine cork in your tassle)
  • run naked down the street
  • walk into a store and ask for condoms without speaking
  • stay awake for 24 hours without sleeping
  • go swimming in the ocean before May 1st (you get an ice cream pin)
  • stand up every 5 minutes during class at school and yell “cheers!”
  • walk around for an entire day wearing loaves of bread for shoes
  • sit in class wearing only underwear for an entire hour
  • make out with a freshman in high school
  • spend the night in a teacher’s yard or hallway/entrance

Plus a lot of other rules that may or may not offend the reader… ha!  There is also a group of students who elect to be “kristen russ” (i.e Christian russ), who don’t participate in drinking alcohol or sexual games.  They are often referred to as “krussen”.

Why does alcohol have such a prevalent part of the russ celebration?

During the early 1900s ,the children of the elite would protest against the temperance movement  by drinking publicly during the 17th of May celebration. Even then the russ were obsessed with breaking society’s rules.  Today, alcohol is still an important part of the festivities;  it creates community and fun among students,  and serves as an ‘excuse’ to experiment with your identity, social relations and cultural boundaries.  The act of drinking is also a visible symbol of removing yourself from the label as a child and student to entering adulthood.

The russe period very much signifies the transition from child to adult, much like a confirmation.  The beginning of the celebration begins with a baptism; where each ‘russ’ student is baptized and given a new name, and removes all outer characteristics such as individual clothing and style, and replaces it with the overall and cap.   The students then move into a phase where everything is legal and rules are there to be broken.

Oh, and each year the russ have an official song.  You can listen to this year’s song HERE.

Here is a photo of one of the earliest russe vans:

russebilgammel

(Photo from dagsavisen.no)

And here is how it has evolved, this is from the 1980s:

russebil

Shops and businesses will sponsor the students’ vans if they get their names and details listed on the cars, which is a great way to pay for the van. Today the buses can be a whole lot bigger and more luxurious, here’s a snap of what one may look like inside:

russebilinne

(Photo from midtsiden.no)

So what about the very peculiar clothing?

The russe cap was first introduced in 1905, when red graduation caps were worn by graduates of higher schooling in Kristiania.  The hats were initially only worn by boys, who again were inspired by German students who wore red caps when visiting Norway in 1904.   The overalls and buses/vans didn’t arrive until the 1970s and today are highly influenced by clothing manufacturers and commercial equipment companies.

Why overalls?

It was meant to show solidarity with the workers, symbolic of the radical times in the 70s. The students will wear their overalls and caps every single day for the month of May until graduation, which happens right after May 17th, which officially marks the end of the celebration.

Now doesn’t this sound a whole lot more fun than stressing over getting a date and buying the perfect dress /gift for prom??  Comment below and let me know what you think!

 

Leverpostei; another Norwegian classic reinvented

Liver pate, or leverpostei, is as common in Norway as smoked salmon, the brown cheese and that caviar that comes in a tube when it comes to spreads for open face sandwiches Norwegians eat for breakfast and lunch.  Every kid grew up eating leverpostei, perhaps with some sliced cucumbers or if you were a fan of pickled beets, those would be a perfect addition too.

As children in Norway, many were familiar with and saw this canned guy on the breakfast table every day:

leverposteigul

The can comes with different faces on it; the first face was of Per Andreas Christensen which was released 63 years ago.  Christensen was the son of the owner of the Stabburet factory in Fredrikstad, and was the cover of this liver pate until 1972.   Since, only five other faces have had the honor of being pictured on the package, according to a Norwegian press release.

This leverpostei was easy to keep, cheap (about $4) and super smooth (aka processed) – makes me really wonder what was in it, though!  It is estimated that over 50,000 cans of pate is being sold daily in Norway.

There are several reasons why you would want to make your own pate.  While leverpostei has been touted as really healthy and rich in iron, it depends what kind of pate you are eating. Commercial “leverpostei” is generally of really low quality; from additives and sugar, bad quality raw ingredients, over processed ingredients, excessive salt, nitrates and unnecessary conservation methods just to mention a few.  Making your own spread you have full control of what goes into the product, and wouldn’t you rather know what you’re eating?!

My mom would make her own liver pate for us when I was a kid, it was much more coarse in texture, almost like a French pate, with much more depth of flavor.   She made it especially for the Christmas holiday,  which is a tradition in Norway, as that is when our breakfast table became way more decadent than the rest of the year.   Her version was my inspiration for today’s recipe. Although hers was baked, mine requires no time in the oven – just a few hours in the fridge setting up.

Of course a major difference between the traditional leverpostei and mine, is that I don’t use animal products to make it. Typically the classic version uses some type of livers from animals like chicken or pork, but I chose to use lentils instead, along with mushrooms. You’d be amazed at how this combination can mimic both the texture and flavor of meat!

The pate will last about 5 days in the fridge, but you can also freeze it should you happen to have leftovers – it will hold up well in freezer for about 4 month.  Spread it on crackers or home made Norwegian style bread, served with pickles, cucumbers, or pickled sliced beets with fresh dill or other herbs. Really delicious and also lower in fat than its original, so you can have more!

I choose to call my version LEVEPOSTEI, omitting the R in the first word lever (Norwegian for liver), which turns the word into “Living Pate” because no animals were harmed in the making of this pate! 🙂
Velbekomme!

NORWEGIAN LEVEPOSTEI  

2 cups mixed mushrooms such as button, portobello and maitake, cleaned and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan unsalted butter
1 small Vidalia onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups (400g) cooked green lentils
1 cup (140g) toasted walnuts or pecans
freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 heaping tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
optional: 2 teaspoons Cognac or sherry
teaspoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5-5  minutes. Remove from heat.
In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, parsley, Cognac or sherry (if using), brown sugar, and cayenne.  Process until completely smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if needed.
Pour the pâté into a serving bowl or small terrine and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

IMG_2578

Serve on homemade Norwegian style bread – I topped mine with sliced cucumbers, red onions, pepper and dill:

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