swedish scones

If you actually read this blog you’ll know I made English scones for the first time in August when we had a birthday afternoon tea fika for my mum. I was pleased with how they turned out, and though I like English scones sometimes there’s just that craving for a Swedish one. Swedish scones are nowhere near as dense as English scones, and they’re usually (at least among my family and friends) made as a bigger but flatter round shape which is scored with a cross in the middle – creating four tear-apart triangles when baked.

The Swedish scones also, for some reason, feel a lot easier to make – but I guess maybe that’s just because I’ve grown up with making them? In any case there’s only four ingredients and whipping them up takes almost no time. You just need to have the patience to wait for them while they’re in the oven – and even that is only about 10 minutes!

On Monday last week I had no food at home and really didn’t feel like cooking something for that night. I was tired after a week of bad sleep because of my pulled muscle (it’s getting much better by the way) and having gone to bed at 2:30 am after coming home from London and landing a bit after midnight. I had planned to throw something into the slow cooker to make food for the remainder of the week, but I didn’t feel any inspiration or want for dinner that night. But then when I was browsing recipes online I saw a post for scones and the craving hit me like walking into a brick wall. It was all I felt like then.

So I went to the supermarket and got my beef stew ingredients, whipped up the scones, whacked them in the oven, chopped up all my stew ingredients and threw them in the slow cooker, and then sat down in front of the tv to enjoy my still slightly warm scones with jam, cheese, and a cup of tea. It was heaven.

Now the recipes for scones usually say that the quantities below make for 4 servings. As I’ve shown they can clearly also make for one. I have to say that I don’t agree with the four though, unless you have a lot of other things that you’re serving too, because they make rather small triangles. Instead I’ve opted to say it makes 2 servings. If you want to make more (I didn’t becasue I knew I would eat them all) you can easily double or tripple the recipe.


Ingredients (2 servings)

100 ml flour

1 tsp baking powder

25g butter

100 ml milk

a pinch of salt


Mix together baking powder, salt and flour.

Add butter and ‘crumble’ until it’s a fine mixture without big lumps.

Add milk and stir together to a slightly sticky dough.

Press the dough out into a round shape. The bigger the round, the thinner the scones (obviously).

Score with a cross through the middle and bake at 250 degrees Celsius for 8-12 minutes (depending on how thick).

Enjoy with jam, cheese, butter, or whatever else tickles your fancy!


The texture of these really is so much fluffier, and even if you decide you don’t like them you should at least try them once.

/t

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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

gravlax with beetroot and gin

No Swedish Christmas dinner is complete without gravlax. Chances are you might have come across it, at least if you’re in Europe, because it’s actually quite popular in other countries too. It’s basically cured salmon – traditionally just sugar, salt and dill – and for you English people out there it’s similar in texture to the Scottish smoked salmon you can buy in M&S etc.

It comes from the times when we had to cure our food in order for it to keep beyond a few days and originally it was made by placing it in a hole in the ground – so it was really more fermented than cured.

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Gravlax (or gravad lax) is one of those foods that is really easy to prepare, but very time-consuming (not the preparations but the curing). To make proper gravlax you need to buy the salmon at least three days in advance – six if you want to be on the safe side (three for freezing and three for curing). When I told my brother I had made my own gravlax for our Christmas dinner and that it took three days he told me I was mad. But like I told him; once you’ve put it in the fridge 90% of the job is done, if not 95%.

As for the freezing thing, the Swedish National Food Agency used to recommend that all fish that was to be consumed raw should be frozen for at least 48 hours before consumption to kill any parasites. And since you need to defrost the salmon before you can cure it that would add three days to the “cooking” process. Nowadays, however, they only say that you need to freeze wild caught fish (i.e. not farmed) and apparently 98% of the salmon sold in Swedish supermarkets is farmed, so if you’re in Sweden you should be fine. I still froze mine though – better safe than sorry.


Ingredients

1 kg salmon

100 ml sugar

50 or 100 ml fine sea salt

2 pcs beetroot

3 tbsp gin or vodka

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To get the most out of your salmon, the best bit to get is the middle bit. If you get a tail bit, the thinner part will cure faster and may not be very nice to eat. Unfortunately I had rather slim pickings, so I ended up with a tail bit anyway.Take your piece of salmon and place it skin down on a plate or in a dish. Pour over the salt and sugar.

Now there are two schools to the curing – the one that does half salt to sugar and the one that does the same amount. The recipe I followed used the half-method, but I wish I had used the equals-method instead. It depends on your tastes I guess – the half-method is obviously a bit sweeter.

Pour the gin or vodka over the salt and sugar mix and try to spread it out evenly. I used gin because we had an open bottle at home (I didn’t want to open the vodka just to take 3 tbsp for cooking) but the original version is beetroot and vodka.

Grate your beetroot and spread evenly over the sugar and salt mix.

Again you can choose how you want to do it here. Either keep the salmon on the dish and cover with cling-film or a plastic bag, or move the salmon into a plastic bag. I kept my salmon in the dish overnight and then transferred it to a bag. The reason I did it that way is that if you have it in a bag it feels like the juices that come from the curing cover it better.

Either way, place the salmon (still skin side down) in the fridge and leave it there to cure for 2-4 days, turning it a few times during that time (at least once per 24h). I cured mine for three days and turned it three times I think.

To keep the salmon as nice as possible, keep it in one large piece and only slice as much as you’re using at the time. It’s better to have to go back and slice up more than to slice up too much and try and keep the remaining pieces.

If you want to make the more traditional version, remove the beetroot, replace the gin/vodka with a splash of water, and cover with fresh dill.


See, I told you it was easy!

/t

crumpets

Crumpets are a joy I haven’t known very long. They don’t exist in Sweden (well you might be able to buy them in specialist English shops, but I’ve never seen them), so I discovered them when I was living in the UK. I don’t really know how to describe them, but a Swedish recipe online said they were “a mix between a pancake and bread” which I feel is a terrible description!

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A crumpet is easily identified by its large holes on top and pancake-looking bottom. It’s cooked on a griddle – which explains the pancake-looking bottom – and mainly on one side. Apparently the first reference to a crumpet was in 1382, but it wasn’t until the Victorian era that yeast was added and they achieved the height that makes them different from pancakes (though apparently Scottish crumpets are much more pancake-like than English crumpets, which are cooked in a round metal ring to keep their shape).

Now I don’t like butter (I know – gasp!) so I don’t enjoy crumpets in the traditional English way. S on the other hand, does. That is to say he takes at least a teaspoon of butter and spreads onto a hot, toasted crumpet, making the butter melt into the holes. If you do like butter, I’d trust his judgement in that it’s really nice.

 

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So what I do is I eat them with jam –enough to almost completely fill the holes. And whether you like butter or not, trust me when I say that’s really nice too.

When I first tried crumpets I liked them, but I don’t think I went head over heels for them. Now that I can’t (easily) get them though, I get real crumpet cravings. So much so that I asked S to buy some and bring over for me.

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There are of course crumpet recipes out there (e.g. Paul Hollywood’s very own), but I don’t know if I could do it without a griddle. I don’t really know if I want to try with a normal pan, or if I don’t want to get my hopes up only to fail. It’s not a very complicated recipe though (although I don’t like working with dry yeast) and some recipes say you can use a frying pan.

Maybe it is worth a try?

/t

 

strawberry and mango smoothie with oats

You know what I thought of the other day? I can’t believe I haven’t done a strawberry and mango smoothie yet!

I also felt that I haven’t done a quark smoothie in a while. I tend not to use quark as much when I don’t use frozen berries or fruit, and lately I’ve mostly used fresh fruit and spinach. The fresh smoothies are very nice and feel very energizing, but there’s something to the creaminess of a quark smoothie that can’t really be beaten. And often the quark smoothies stay cooler – given that they have more frozen stuff in them.


20160920_072439 (2).JPGIngredients (1 portion)

100g strawberries

100g mango

1 orange

100g quark

3 tbsp oats

150ml oat milk


20160920_072825 (2).JPGI somewhat adapted this from a recipe I found online, but in hindsight I think I should have used two oranges instead of one. I had to add the oat milk as it was too thick at first, and I think another orange would have eliminated that need.

/t

green smoothie à la coffeehouse by george

On Friday last week I was having a rough day. I had a really bad headache and the morning was packed with work – no time to breathe! – and by lunch time I was exhausted. By 2 pm I was feeling in desperate need of a fika, so I went to Coffeehouse by George (a Swedish café chain) and bought a chai latte and a biscotti. I really needed that!

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My fika 🙂

While I was waiting for my latte, I was looking at the smoothies they had placed in a bowl next to the till. The contents of one read ‘spinach, apple, kiwi, grapes, orange’ and I thought that sounded nice. I already had grapes left after my grape smoothies, an apple after my Granny Smith smoothie (I haven’t posted that yet) and kiwis since they were on offer in Ica the other day. Spinach is now such a staple that I always have some in the fridge or freezer, and I just replaced the orange juice with water.


20160919_072308 (2).JPGIngredients (1 portion)

50g spinach

1 Granny Smith

2 kiwis

100g grapes

water


20160919_072834 (2).JPGI think it turned out nice, if somewhat thick. Next time I would probably reduce the amount of spinach slightly, and use the juice of one large orange (plus water if necessary).

/t

 

oat pancakes

I feel like many of my posts begin like this – but I love pancakes! In Sweden we don’t just have pancakes as dessert – like people seem to in the UK – but you can have them (with sweet toppings) for lunch or dinner as well. S thinks I’m crazy when I say I want pancakes for dinner, haha.

We also don’t do this sugar and lemon thing. Oh no. Pancakes deserve real toppings. Different jams, apple sauce maybe, sugar and cinnamon, or, if you’re really feeling it, fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice-cream. And don’t get me started on Swedish waffles.

But, pancakes are not the most healthy lunch/dinner, and when I got the craving last weekend, I was thinking that I should try swapping my milk for oat milk. That in itself doesn’t make any difference really, but then I thought someone must have made pancakes with oats in them. So I Googled, and found a recipe where they’d replaced the flour with ground oats. So I thought why not try it.


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Ingredients (2 portions)

200 ml oats (ca 70g)

200 ml oat milk

2 pcs eggs

0.5 tsp salt

butter (to fry)


Start by putting the oats in a blender and blending until you have a flour-like texture. Mix oats and salt with milk and then add the eggs.

Fry in butter on a high heat.


First of all, yes, I ate two portions. With apple sauce. And it was delicious.

Second, you don’t want to make these too large, because they don’t hold together as well as regular pancakes, so they might break when you try to flip them. I got six pancakes out of this mix, and they’re slightly thicker than normal ones.

As for the healthiness, they do have slightly less calories than normal pancakes, where 200 ml (120g white flour) contain 423 kcal, 200 ml (70g) oats contain 258 kcal. So the calorie count is slightly lower, and the fibre content higher. If you want the most health benefits from these pancakes though, you should fry them in as little butter as possible and enjoy them with fresh fruits. Or possibly just a pinch of cinnamon.

/t