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 »

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Roasted chicken with dill and leeks

September 22, 2012 § 16 Comments

I think I have mentioned it before (yup, I have – just checked), but there was a lucky day once when I was home from college on winter break when I got to cook with the Norwegian food writer, cook, and TV personality Andreas Viestad.  Ok, it’s not Anthony Bourdain or Jamie Oliver, but for me it was pretty dang close.  Even better, actually, being the cooking and writing obsessed Scandophile that I am.

He was giving a book talk and signing at our church, accompanied by a cooking demo.  Our family friend and cookbook author Bea Ojakangas recruited my mother and me along with another friend to help with the food preparation.

I’m pretty sure, when it comes down to it, we were asked there more for our Norwegian language skills than our cooking skills, but I wasn’t concerned, I still felt special.  From the experience I took away some cooking pointers, a minor crush, and a signed copy of Viestad’s cookbook.

It’s a beautiful book.  One I have loved as much for the beautiful landscape pictures that reminded me of all my childhood summers in Norway as for the simple, flavorful recipes.  After break, I brought the book back to share with my college housemates as I excitedly told them about getting to cook with the cute Norwegian chef.  Soon, everyone in our house – boys and girls alike – referred to Viestad as the “cute Norwegian chef” rather than by name, and a number of recipes from his book had become regulars in the rotation of our household meals (we cooked for each other and ate together 5 nights a week). « Read the rest of this entry »

Jorrun’s rhubarb torte

June 1, 2012 § 17 Comments

If you page through my spiral bound notebook stuffed with recipes, you will almost certainly notice that it is spattered and worn and nearly fallen apart.  If your eye is particularly of the sort that seeks out patterns, however, you may also notice that somewhere in the realm of 75 percent of the recipes in it are attached to someone’s name.

Beth’s chicken, Peter’s pancakes, Daim cake from Caroline, Liz’s shirley bars, Judy’s scones, Peach’s cardamom bread.  And I’m fairly positive that, all around the world, many cooks have similarly labeled recipes, this one from grandma, that one from an old friend, and this one from that lady who used to live down the street.  Remember her?  She always made the best…

Even some of my cookbooks by acclaimed chefs contain recipes attributed by name to someone else –  Lindsay’s sugar cookies or Rob’s famous coleslaw in Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Sally Schmitt’s cranberry and apple kuchen or Eric’s staff lasagne in the French Laundry.

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Baked rice pudding with rhubarb sauce

May 17, 2012 § 26 Comments

Gratulerer med dagen!  Happy birthday!  To Norway.

Yes, as I’m sure you realized the very moment you woke up today and had your first conscious thought of the morning, it’s Syttende Mai, and it is a day for celebrating!  I’m doing a little flag waving and national anthem belting, and I’m sure the bottle of aquavit will come out for a small nip this evening.  But, for the second time ever in my life, I’m neither attending nor hosting a party.

(The first time, I was in fifth grade, and I was stuck on a week long camping field trip.  We did a lot of outdoor education at my school.  And, though it probably would seem to an outside observer that it would be fun to be camping for a week in May, it is, in fact, not at all fun if you are a)missing one of your favorite holidays and b)under an unbelievably aggressive siege by bloodthirsty  wood ticks.  They were crawling all over our tent.  When I got home I picked over 30 off my body.  It was nightmarish.  It could have been one of the plagues.  Goodness knows why I continued to love the out of doors after that.)

Anyway, it feels extremely odd.

The reason I’m not hosting a party this year is several fold.  Partly it is because we are in the midst of another round of data collection this week and the timing couldn’t be more difficult for party planning.  But, that on its own wouldn’t stop me.  It is mostly because I have a slew of visitors coming in a little over a week, and I’ve been putting all my spare time and energy into crafting an epic, but belated, celebration for all of them to attend.

I like to amuse my guests in style.  Particularly in heavily embroidered woolen style. « Read the rest of this entry »

Skolebrød + 2 years old!

August 24, 2011 § 34 Comments

5 & Spice is two years old (two years young?) today!  Admittedly, in the scheme of blogs, that’s not very old yet.  But, to be perfectly honest, when I first started writing, I’m pretty sure I expected that by the end of two years, I wouldn’t have anything left to say.  Instead, I feel like I keep having more to say, more that I’m excited about, more I want to share with you.

It’s like one of those conversations where, each time it starts trickling off and you think maybe it will end, instead a new and even more exciting topic comes up, and you keep talking, until finally you look up and notice that the sun is rising, you’ve been talking all night, and you can’t think of any other way you would rather have spent your time.

I’m not one of those people lucky enough to have discovered early on that they have a calling (to those of you who do, I am way jealous!), however, having stumbled into this little world of developing, photographing, and writing about recipes (okay, okay, and writing about my random thoughts and stories), it feels suspiciously close to one.  It’s more of a persistent beckoning, perhaps, than a “haloo-there” call.

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Veiled farm girls, with pear

February 1, 2011 § 12 Comments

Oh dear, I feel like such a bad influence posting two desserts in a row.  I’m usually not like this, I swear. 😉  But, this one is simply too lovely not to share.  And, I’m going to go ahead and justify it by arguing that, if you replaced the whipped cream with yogurt then it would be almost healthy (though not nearly as fun!).  Considering that the cooking boils off the alcohol from the white wine in the pear compote, you could even eat it for breakfast.  So there we go, justification accomplished.

Veiled farm girls, or tilslørte bondepiker, is a very traditional and equally delicious Norwegian dessert.  Personally, I think it is a classic example of how a few simple ingredients, ingeniously combined, can result in something dazzling – it’s the gestalt theory of cooking!  In the classic version of veiled farm girls you just layer applesauce with cinnamon breadcrumbs and whipped cream, and voila, dessert is ready!  It’s almost too simple and too delicious to be true.  Sadly, I was deprived of this wonder for many years as this is actually not one of the desserts I grew up with (though we sometimes had a dessert of similar spirit and simplicity we called krem bananer og rik rak, which was banana slices with whipped cream and chocolate shavings…yum.).  I didn’t get to try tilslørte bondepiker until I was in college, but when I was introduced to it, it was in a most spectacularly legitimate fashion.

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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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