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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A peanut butter pie for Mikey

August 12, 2011 § 9 Comments

This is a peanut butter pie for Mikey.

He was somebody I didn’t know, but he was the beloved of a cook I admire as much for her generous spirit and vivacious energy as for her cooking.  At her request, a number of us are all making peanut butter pies today – his favorite – to honor his memory.  This is what we do, we create, and we share with those we love.

Life is full of so much darkness, and so much light.  I guess the only thing we can really do is create all the light we can, to shine through the darkness.

I don’t know what else. « Read the rest of this entry »

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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A perfect cup of hot chocolate

December 22, 2010 § 15 Comments

As we drove from the airport up to my parents’ house, sparkling fat snowflakes swirled through the headlight beams and across the road.  Sure, it wasn’t ideal driving conditions, but it didn’t matter because everything else about it was perfect.  Home for Christmas, a white Christmas, what more could you want?  We woke up to a soft, luminous world freshly blanketed in snow.  Perfect for snow angels, and skiing, and plain old flopping into snowdrifts.  Which was pretty much the entire agenda for the day.  And will be the agenda for tomorrow as well.  That, and drinking hot chocolate.  Oh boy is it ever hot chocolate time!

Being a devoted daughter of Mother Winter and Father Snow, hot chocolate and I go waaaaaaay back.  We have an incredibly close and special relationship.   A little too close, potentially.  I can’t even keep milk around because if I did I would drink far more hot chocolate than my system could possibly handle.  I have memories of one of the first times I ever had a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream.  I couldn’t have been more than about four, but I remember taking a sip and entering into a reverie as I tasted the warm darkness of the chocolate contrasted by the sweet cool cream, and that amazing, unctuous foam of the whipped cream as it melted.  Good hot chocolate is downright other worldly.  And in my opinion, it really needs the counterpoint provided by the whipped cream – no one can sell me on marshmallows, I’m afraid – in fact, I keep adding new layers of whipped cream as I make my way down through the mug.  That borderland where the flavors and textures mingle is the best part! « Read the rest of this entry »

Strawberry shortcakes with creme fraiche whipped cream

June 20, 2010 § 5 Comments

Hurrah!  We finally went strawberry picking (after being thwarted last weekend)!  And it was, of course, everything I was hoping for.  If there is anything in this world that tastes more marvelous – or looks more beautiful – than a rotund, juicy, crimson strawberry, warm from the sun, plucked and eaten right there in the field, well then I’m feeling hard pressed to figure out what it might be.  The darling little flavor-packed, mixed variety of strawberries available at peak season on farms and in farmer’s markets should make us feel ashamed that we even call those ginormous, watery things that are shipped around the country most of the year, “strawberries”.  They’re just not the same thing at all (though, in the spirit of full disclosure I’ll admit they can be kind of good on occasion, and if someone gives me one dipped in chocolate, I’m afraid I’m not saying “no”).

For me, scrambling around on hands and knees in the dirt, searching for the jewel red berries, as if collecting treasure, sends my gatherer instinct into hyperactive mode.  And eating the berries themselves.  Well, now that is the really good part.  A ripe strawberry needs nothing else.  It defies my standard food writing vocabulary, even the most flowery stuff I can muster, and sends me searching for some deep extended metaphor, or something, to convey my feelings.  Maybe a spiritual metaphor, or a relationship metaphor.  I picture myself telling them “Strawberries, you are absolutely perfect just exactly as you are.”  And isn’t that all any of us really want to hear in a relationship, and believe about ourselves? « Read the rest of this entry »

Rhubarb compote and whipped cream (rabarbrasuppe med pisket krem)

April 20, 2010 § 8 Comments

At this point in my life, pie and crisp may be the first things that come to mind when I think of rhubarb.  And sure, it’s what I just wrote about.  But, this wasn’t always the case. I think that I didn’t actually try rhubarb crisp for the first time until I was in late childhood when I had it at a neighbor’s house.  Rhubarb pie came even later!  My first experience with eating rhubarb was one of the simplest possible, and one I still love.  You just take a freshly picked and cleaned stalk of rhubarb (leaf removed!) and a small cup of sugar.  Dip the end of the rhubarb in the sugar, then take a bite.  The sugar hits you first and softens the blow of what you’re about to experience.  But, the sweetness of the sugar can’t shackle the true nature of rhubarb.  The amazing, almost biting, sour flavor bursts through the thin veneer of sugar to fill your mouth, making you pucker your lips and squinch up your eyes.  Then you dip again and go back for more!   It’s the kind of eating experience that gives you an adrenaline rush.

But, if you’re not quite up for that, the other way I remember having it was as different from this as could be, wonderfully sweet rhubarb soup – topped with whipped cream of course.  This is a pretty standard dessert soup in Norway, as is rosehip soup actually.  Andreas Viestad, the wonderful (and cute – I got to help him make some desserts for a talk once and totally developed a crush, hehe!) Norwegian food writer and cookbook author says he hated rhubarb soup when he was little because his family made a really sour version.  This one does not run up against that problem.

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Creamy Chocolate “Mousse”

January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

When I was little, chocolate mousse was by far and away my favorite dessert.  This is because I’ve been pretty much obsessed with whipped cream my entire life (I actually have to work really hard to control this love affair by not buying cream too often!  In college my roommate and I would make vanilla whipped cream and eat it straight almost every night, yikes.)  Chocolate mousse, seemed to me basically rich chocolate whipped cream that you could then top with vanilla whipped cream, just for good measure. « Read the rest of this entry »

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