Fastelavens boller (aka Norwegian semlor)

February 12, 2013 § 26 Comments

fastelavensboller 3fastelavensboller 1

aka Fat Tuesday buns, if you don’t know what any of those other things mean.

Yes, it’s Fat Tuesday, and while in some parts of the world this means shiny beads, and raucous parades with floats, and beignets, across Scandinavia, it means buns.  I don’t know the history of how this particular regionally specific way of preparing for Lent came to be (I mean seriously, why buns?  Why not, I guess.), but since I grew up with it, I’m awfully fond of it.

Basically, I wait for this day all year, just so I can eat these buns.

bolle dough risingboller unbaked

The best known of the Fat Tuesday buns are the Swedish semlor (the plural of semla).  Theirs are sweet cardamom buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream.  If you’d like you can drown them in warm milk before serving.  Danish and Icelandic Fat Tuesday buns are more like pate a choux, stuffed with whipped cream and jam and topped with chocolate (and here I must also admit that the Icelanders actually eat theirs on the Monday before, which they call bun day.  Those Icelanders, always trying to be different…). « Read the rest of this entry »

Molasses spice cookies (grain free)

December 17, 2012 § 13 Comments

molassess cookie and milk

Life is really crazy right now, friends.  I honestly can’t quite keep up.  There’s holiday hustle, and major, major work bustle, and there are current events and insanity and life, really.  It just is crazy.

But in the midst of so much action, so much feeling, so much, I keep having these moments where my breath catches in my throat and I almost suffocate from the enormity of the sense that I am so blessed.  So, so blessed.  These stresses and worries are privileges, each a reminder.

The packages to be mailed, the gifts to be made, the notes to be sent show that I have people I love and who love me, wonderful, meaningful relationships to attend to.

The work to be done, the daunting decisions to be made, the worried conversations about scenario after scenario at all hours of the day mean that we have work, we are taking risks, we’re in a position to take risks, we have each other to talk to about it, and so much enthusiastic support from others that it’s almost absurd.

The emotions, oh the emotions, the tears of sadness and fury at the state of the world remind me that I care, that I’m able to care, and that I don’t have to be complacent.

molasses cookies

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Poached eggs with sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts

December 12, 2012 § 14 Comments

poached eggs sweets and brussels 1

I have a major breakfast thing people.  It’s pretty weird.

I mean, I knew I had a breakfast thing before – I’ve brought it up more than a few times, for example every time I mention breakfast – but I don’t think I knew knew.  If you know what I mean.  You know?

But now I know.  When I commandeered the whole breakfast-making procedure at my best friend in Boston’s house – where I was the guest, mind you – and started turning out frittatas with arugula and over easy eggs with a brown butter vinegar sizzle, that’s when I really knew.

poached eggs sweets and brussels 2

It may be Monday or Thursday, I may have a meeting at 8 am, but still I find myself compulsively fixing breakfast for myself and whomever else I can shake out of bed.  Plates of migas, fried eggs with kimchi and orange aioli, potato cakes with smoked salmon, honey-avocado lassis, fresh baked corn bread with homemade ricotta.  I may not be able to plan out my lunch, potentially not even dinner, but breakfast is likely to be a minor masterpiece.

I’d say it was a problem, if it weren’t so delicious! « Read the rest of this entry »

Spiced cinnamon sugar breakfast puffs

December 20, 2011 § 24 Comments

On the off chance that your holiday breakfast plan is not yet inscribed in stone; in case you aren’t already bound and determined to have a strata, or frittata, or sticky buns, or perhaps puffy pancakes or spoon bread; or maybe you’d like to just add some icing to your giant, decadent, multi-course holiday brunch cake; well then dear friends, may I venture a suggestion.

I actually feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been holding this recipe from you for so long.  It’s a recipe that may, in fact, deserve a little shouting from the rooftops.  And, it’s a recipe with a history, which means stories.

I didn’t know any of the stories when I first started baking the original version (this is a wholly different iteration, but we’ll get to that later), I just knew that I had the recipe copied down on an index card from my friend, and I had labeled it “breakfast puffs.”

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Warm custard spoon bread

December 13, 2011 § 12 Comments

Does’t that just sound like the food version of cuddling on the couch in front of a fire?  Warm custard spoon bread.  Every word there is like a friendly little squeeze.  Every word there says to me, “I am unbelievably amazingly delicious and decadent.  You should probably drop everything and make me right now.”

I don’t know why but I am an absolute sucker for foods that have the word spoon in their title.  (I am a sucker for warm, custard, and bread as well.  But, those are more standard enticements than you’d expect an eating utensil to be.)  It’s like a short hand for something being so ooey gooey, soft, and tender that you have to eat it with a spoon.  Like Nutella right from the jar.

I have been actively yearning for this dish for a year now.  At least I have whenever it has been brought to my attention.  Then, as with most other things that are actually important to me to remember (as opposed to random facts and other people’s schedules which stick in my mind with remarkable fortitude), I promptly forget about it as soon as I am not looking at the recipe.  I don’t know why this happens, but I know I’m not the only one who does this.  I’ve heard from all sorts of people that it can somehow take months or years for them to get around to making a dish that they desperately wanted to try upon seeing it.

Maybe it’s a built in mechanism to allow us the great pleasure afforded by deferred gratification.  Maybe people did experiments on us when we were little, telling us not to eat the marshmallow in front of us, and this is the strategy we developed to succeed.  Most likely we’re just scatterbrained by virtue of the way the information stimuli in our society are fed to us. « Read the rest of this entry »

Orange scented sticky buns with olive oil dough

November 26, 2011 § 35 Comments

Thanksgiving is over.  Sigh…

Now let’s turn up the “Jingle Bells” and start preparing for Christmas!!!

Okay, just kidding.  I’m not ready to start decking halls and listening to Christmas carols quite yet, no matter what the advertising industry wants me to do.  Though the twinkle lights that have been appearing on the trees in the squares, making them look as though a little fairy has flown through and sprinkled holiday cheer dust everywhere, are bringing me a great deal of joy (thank you fairy and/or city decorators!).

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Crostini with squash and kale

October 21, 2011 § 7 Comments

Curse the design and marketing team at Crate & Barrel!  Curse them for being good at their jobs!  Here we are, still knee deep in October (arguably the best month of the year), and an idle flip through their latest catalogue has left me jonesing for Christmas (not only Christmas, but all sorts of related decorative elements that I truly do not need).

Christmas is, it must be said, my very favorite holiday and my favorite season (I have a major failing for twinkle lights and Christmas carols.  What can I say?  Character flaw, perhaps.), so it doesn’t take a ton to get me excited about it and chomping at the bit for it to come.  But, to do so to the detriment of appreciating fall, glorious fall, well that would be tragic.

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Lefse

December 31, 2010 § 48 Comments

I’m finding it remarkably difficult to write this post.  It’s always hard for me when I really, really care about something.  You see, lefse for me, and many of my friends, is not just lefse.  It’s so much more.  But, maybe for the sake of those of you who haven’t had it – or haven’t even heard of it – I’ll start with what it is.

Homemade lefse (particularly when fresh) is hands-down one of the best foods on the face of this earth.  Truffles, caviar, foi gras, lobster, you’ve got nothin’ on lefse.  It is an inordinately traditional Norwegian potato flatbread.  Simple.  Soft and supple, a bit like a tortilla, but almost lacy thin and seductively buttery.  Hot off the griddle, they are absolutely unbelievable.  Our favorite – and the most traditional – ways of serving lefse are either wrapped around a hot dog and ketchup (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!  You’ll never look back.) or spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar (brown sugar is equally tempting and adds a lovely caramel accent).  Really you could use them to wrap up just about anything, including, it turns out, the phenomenal combo of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.  They are so good, I can’t even begin to wax adequately eloquent about them.  I would have to be a bard of potatoes.

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Cardamom-currant snickerdoodles

November 29, 2010 § 9 Comments

It will come as a surprise to no one when I say that marriage, it turns out, involves negotiations.  Not the least of which is where to spend holidays.  We are lucky in that both of us really like both our parents and our in-laws, but in a way it makes it almost harder because both of us would love to spend the holidays with the others’ family while at the same time we’re each devastated by the thought of missing a holiday with our own.  It’s a win-win-lose-lose situation!  This year the solution is to spend Thanksgiving with Joel’s family and Christmas with mine (which does mean we’ll be missing the Chanukah party with the painfully inept magician.  Sigh.).  And we discovered this weekend that this also translates into getting to participate in the sparkles and lights of Christmas festivities twice!

I swear, we had no sooner wiped the crumbs of turkey and cranberry sauce from our lips and tossed our napkins onto the table with little groans of satisfaction, when a faint ring of jingle-bells began to tingle-lingle in the air.  And the soundtrack (yes, this would be the soundtrack in my mind) crescendoed until the strains of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” burst onto the scene.  The weather in Washington cooperated with gusto, dropping a foot and a half of snow over a couple of days, turning the city into a giant snow globe, and enabling us to cross-country ski through the streets, waving at the cheery red-cheeked neighbors and the children out sledding.  (Seriously, it was like someone decided we should spend the weekend in a Holiday greeting card.)  There were presents to be selected and given.  A chimeric Christmas-tree-Chanukah-bush to be cut down and trimmed.  Carols to be sung.  White Christmas to be watched.  And, of course, cookies to be baked.

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