julskinka (chistmas ham)

In the UK, the star of the Christmas dinner is the turkey. Everything else (well, apart from the rice pudding) is just an accompaniment really, a side dish. In Sweden I wouldn’t say that there’s that one centrepiece. Since Swedish Christmas dinners often have the three parts – fish, cold cuts and hot food – each part has their own pièce de résistance. (I should probably add a disclaimer that this is just my personal opinion.)

But if I were to choose the nearest Swedish counterpart to the turkey it would have to be the ham. I have always loved Christmas ham (there’s something special about it just coming from it being called ‘Christmas’) and it’s one of those leftover foods you don’t mind having every day until New Year’s.

I also can’t think about Christmas ham without thinking about my mum. Pretty much every Christmas we’ve spent at my grandparents’ the story about when my mum tried to make Christmas ham has come up. My mum – not having the slightest interest in cooking really – didn’t realise you need to boil the ham, so all she did was cover the raw joint in the mustard mix and breadcrumbs and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. I guess this sets the prelude to why she some years later told her friend they should bring a grilled chicken to a barbecue, hehe. (You know I love you mum, even if you can’t cook.)

Anyway, I’ve never made my own Christmas ham, since my grandma or aunt always makes it, so as we were doing Christmas at ours this year (well, last year technically) I thought it would be the perfect time to try out the new slow cooker my MIL had given me as an early Christmas present. However, the smallest joint they had in the shop was 2.5kg, so it didn’t even fit in the slow cooker! I had to use my 6 litre stew pot and even then I had trouble fitting enough water in to cover the whole joint. A bit of the top was left above the water, but it worked out ok in the end.

In comparing my slow cooker recipe with the regular recipe I noticed that all of the ‘condiments’ were missing. The regular recipe just called for the ham joint to be covered by water and left to boil, where the slow cooker recipe added spices and vegetables to the water. Because I’d already bought everything, and because I thought it sounded nicer, I still added the condiments to the water despite not using the slow cooker – so if you want to simplify this you can remove all the spices and vegetables and just cover the ham with water and boil as specified below.

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Ingredients

2.5 kg ham

1 carrot

1 yellow onion

1 tsp whole allspice

1 tsp whole white pepper

2 bay leaves

0.5 tsp salt per litre water

 

1 egg

2 tbsp mustard

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp sugar

100-150 ml breadcrumbs

corn flour or maize starch


Rinse the ham joint in cold water (leave the netting on) and stick a meat thermometer in it. Place it in a large pot.

Chop up the carrot and onion and add to the pot with the allspice, pepper, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the ham, and then 0.5 tsp salt per litre water.

Cover the pot with a lid and bring to boil. When it starts boiling, bring it down to a simmer and leave to cook until the thermometer shows 70-75 degrees Celsius. The estimate is 1 hour per kilo of ham – so in my case that was 2.5 kg.

If you instead want to use a slow cooker, cook on low heat for 9 hours.

Once cooked, leave the ham to cool down before taking off the net and cutting off any excess fat you don’t want.

Then mix together the egg, two mustards and sugar. Put some starch or corn flour on the top of the ham (this helps to keep the mustard mix from sliding off too much) and cover with the mustard mix.

Pour the breadcrumbs over the mustard mix, then grill in the oven at 225 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes.

 


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Again, this is a Christmas recipe that isn’t very difficult. It just takes a bit of time. But since you’re going to serve it cold it’s perfect for making a day or two in advance – if you can keep your hands off it in the meantime – so you don’t have to stress on the day.

My Christmas was actually very relaxed cooking wise. I had made the gravlax and the ham in advance so they were ready to serve. I got up around 9 am to roll up some meatballs to be ready to fry later, and then just boiled some eggs and potatoes, fried the meatballs and sausages, and cooked the sausage meat and pigs in blankets (S’s additions) in the oven. The bread and cheese and ready-bought sauces obviously didn’t need any preparations. So the only thing that was a bit of a hassle was the rice pudding, and that was mainly because I’d picked a bad recipe since I’d never made it before – so I had to make a second batch following another recipe, which turned out much better.

/t

kale green smoothie

I can’t believe I’ve put two trends in one smoothie! And the day after I made the acai smoothie I posted about earlier as well. What’s happening to me?

Kale – or, you know, green cabbage – is another one of those super-trends I’ve felt like I’d rather miss out on. I’m not a big fan of cabbage in general (pak choi being the exception to the rule) and it’s just one of those foods where I feel like people have been eating it for ages – what’s with the recent hype?

Coconut water: also not a fan. I’ve tried it once when they were handing it out in the supermarket for free, but I didn’t like the taste of it. I bet you’re starting to wonder why I even made this smoothie!

Despite my adversity to kale and coconut water, I thought this smoothie could be nice since it has a tropical hint. To ensure that I did really get that tropicalness, I doubled the pineapple. But I still couldn’t taste much of it actually.


20160930_070916 (2).JPGIngredients (1 portion)

35g spinach

20g kale

0.5 avocado (ca 50g)

10 cm cucumber (ca 100g)

100g pineapple

330 ml coconut water


20160930_071709 (2).JPGI thought adding kale to a smoothie would be similar to adding spinach to a smoothie, but I was very wrong. The kale (obviously) has a completely different texture, which leads to the smoothie being a different texture too. I don’t necessarily know that that negatively affected it, but the combination of the fact that I could mainly taste the flavour of the kale and feel that texture of it wasn’t good. So the smoothie went in the sink after just a few gulps.

The coconut water on the other hand I think I could use in a smoothie again – and if I reworked the quantities to remove the kale, I could probably even try making this again. I’ve just cemented the fact that I really don’t like kale. So what am I now going to do with the remaining 100g+ that’s in my fridge?

/t

acai smoothie

 

Just as I sat down to write this, I realised that I inadvertedly doubled the pineapple in this recipe. Woops. It tasted very nice though, so I don’t think it was too bad!

Açaí (I’m only going to do this spelling once) is another of those ‘super foods’ that I’ve been a bit sceptical to. This is not to say that I doubt the health benefits – most fruit, berries and vegetables are full of them – but I’m sceptical to the cult-like following it has gained. Acai bowls, acai smoothies, acai everything. A year or two ago acai was barely around in Sweden and now it’s everywhere!

According to a Swedish company that imports it, acai is “known as the king of the super fruits. It is completely ecological and grows wild in the Amazon forest. It contains the most antioxidants of all fruits and berries, and also contains omega fats, iron, and 26 other vitamins, minerals and fibre”. It’s got it all, so to speak, but with the Amazonian import need comes a quite hefty price tag. It is by far the most expensive fruit/berry in the frozen section of my supermarket, and I’ve long felt uncertain that it would live up to the price (i.e. why not just use lovely Swedish blueberries instead).

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But I am running out of different smoothie mixes that are not too similar to each other – so I caved. I found a recipe for this on BBC Good Food, and since it had mango and pineapple and orange I figured that would mask the acai enough if I didn’t like it. I’ve had the Absolute Vodka Acai Berry before, but obviously didn’t know whether acai vodka and acai smoothies taste alike, lol.

The recipe called for ‘frozen acai pulp, thawed’, so I set out to find acai in the frozen section of my supermarket. After having scanned all the fruits and berries, I couldn’t see it, but I knew there was a health section and thought maybe they’d have something there. I headed over and found acai powder, but that was quite expensive and I felt that the bags were too large – in case I didn’t like it. So I ventured back to the frozen section, thinking I could replace the acai berries with blueberries, and when I picked up the blueberries I saw a sign for acai. I started digging around and there they were. So you’re getting an acai smoothie after all! (And after this you’ll get three more, because there were four ‘portions’ in each bag.)


20160929_072047 (2).JPGIngredients (1 portions)

100g acai ’pulp’

100g strawberries

100g pineapple (50g if you follow the recipe)

2 oranges


I was actually pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if it was the added pineapple, but it was quite sweet yet a bit earthy. I think it would make a great compliment to blueberries otherwise.

The only thing I’m not sure I agreed with is that the recipe said to defrost the pulp before making the smoothie. This made it really, really runny, and adding the juice form the two squeezed oranges was quite a lot (the recipe says 250ml orange juice – which is roughly the same depending on the size of your oranges).

It’s got a dreadful colour though – hasn’t it?

/t

strawberry, raspberry and cherry smoothie

What do you do when you don’t know what smoothie to make and don’t have that many ingredients left in the fridge? Why you throw together the little bits of what you do have left and make due!

During my cherry-phase this summer (I told you I was writing some of these posts very late!) I found one day that I was out of inspiration one day. I was about to go food shopping, so didn’t have much left in the freezer, and not enough cherries to make a cherry smoothie. I actually didn’t have many cherries at all – I don’t know why I just use them all in the previous smoothie!

Anyway, what I did have was a few cherries, a few raspberries, and some strawberries. I figured that goes well together, so I mixed it with the other thing I had – which was oat milk.


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Ingredients (1 portion)

125g strawberries

75g raspberries

35g cherries

300 ml oat milk


I think it turned out nice, but I should have probably used water instead of oat milk. I don’t feel like the oat milk added anything (but calories) to it. It turned out nice and big though, and definitely tasted nice. Very summery.

/t

blueberry smoothie with oats

One of my favourite things from childhood is blåbärssoppa, which means blueberry soup. It’s obviously not like a food-soup, rather more like a drink. It can be served hot or cold, and is given out to people who do Vasaloppet – a Swedish cross-country skiing race. For me it brings back those winter days out skiing or ice-skating with my mum and my brother.

The reason I liked the look of this smoothie was because it reminded me of blåbärssoppa. The picture on Ica’s website looks like a thick, blåbärssoppa-like smoothie. And though it was not quite like blåbärssoppa, it was good. I shouldn’t have halved the recipe though!


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Ingredients (1 or 0.5 portion)

125g blueberries

300 ml oat milk

0.5 tsp cardamom

0.5 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp oats

1 tsp vanilla sugar


I would have liked maybe a slightly creamier texture, so I would suggest replacing some of the milk with quark or natural yogurt. Maybe vanilla flavoured natural yogurt, to remove the need for the vanilla sugar?

/t

granny smith smoothie (aka ‘green lemonade’)

I need to get a lot better at writing these posts when I make the food, because I’m almost forgetting what they were like before coming back to write! But that’s a luxury problem I have because I’ve been making so many ‘new’ smoothies – and one that is doomed to die out once I have to start repeating myself.

Anyway, I saw this recipe on Ica’s website and they called it ‘Green lemonade’. I thought that sounded refreshing and nice, and wanted to try something else apple-centred after the slight disappointment of the apple and cinnamon smoothie (picking the wrong colour apple and using too much cinnamon, if you remember).

I cut the original recipe in half and removed the celery. I don’t like celery, but I know that many green smoothies use it, so I will at some point crawl to the altar and use it. Just not this time.


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Ingredients (1 portion)

1.5 Granny Smith apples (ca 150g)

100g mango

0.5 lemon

1 cm fresh ginger


I think it turned out really nice and it was very refreshing – but I would maybe add a little more lemon, to get that lemonadey feeling they obviously want. I can imagine it being perfect on a sunny summer day though, laying on the beach with a good book in your other hand.

/t