Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Food for Christmas

Two years ago I wrote in The House in the Woods about a traditional Christmas Eve in Norway. Very little has changed:

At 1.30pm we will eat rice porridge for traditional Christmas Eve lunch. There will be one single almond hidden in the porridge, and the one who finds it will be given a gift, a marzipan pig :-) At 4pm we'll go to the local church for a Christmas Carol, and then home to eat the huge, traditional Christmas dinner - salted and dried rib of mutton. The best meal of the year :-) The mutton is damped on birch sticks which Terje finds in the garden, and eated with potatoes, carrots and swede. For dessert we have tradidionally had a cloudberry cream, but as the kids don't fancy that, we will this year make a rice porride cream (another trad. Norwegian dessert) with strawberries. After dinner it is time for the opening of gifts, which always takes a long time of course, and then the night goes on with phonecalls to all our close family, walking around the Christmas tree singing all the traditional Christmas carols, coffee and ALL the different Christmas cookies which have been baked the last weeks, a board game or two, starting to read the newest books, listening to the newest tapes and so on.

We are now back to normal, everyday life.
A bread dough is set to rise, we have had breakfast, Terje has been out skiing, I've done my excercise on the exercise bike down in the basement, some leftover sweet foccasia is put in oven to get soft and warm and I am brewing a cup of coffee. Ski jumping from Germany starts in the TV, and I have a pile of books to enjoy.

And I am making plans for how I want The Blue Café to
develop in the coming year.
Next week-end The Blue Café is celebrating its first anniversary.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recipe for the cream cake

(from yesterday)
4 eggs
120gr sugar
120gr white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix eggs and sugar well, add flour and baking powder carefully
Bake for about 30 minutes at 190C
Be carefull not to burn the cake
Cut the cake in two and add milk, jam and whipped cream between the layers.
Add milk and whipped cream on top.
Roll out marzipan and cover the cake.
Decorate the top using your creativity.
Yesterday I used some fairtrade chocolate hearts I got for Christmas and a branch of holly

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Family Tradition

I grew up in a big family, and my parents always had an open house. In 1971 they realised that there were not enough days during Christmas to invite everybody to our home. My granddad was a school master and for one night every Christmas mum and dad hired the gym at the school where my grandparents lived. The gym was big enough to invite our huge and fast growing circle of friends and family.
8 years in a row my parents hosted their huge Christmas party there. Then my granddad died and no party was held.
20 years ago the next generation took up the tradition again, and now we come together every year during one of the Christmas days.
The annual party has been celebrated several different places, but last night we were back in the same old gym at the school where my grandparents lived. Where I spent so much of my childhood. Some of the buildings were gone, new had come, but the old gym was just the same. And the row of paintings of the old school masters was still there, granddad Johannes the nicest among all the old men.
Photos: we all bring food to share at the party. The 4 photos show the creamcake I made.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dirty Sunday traditions.

Alot of my time is spent in the kitchen these days, cooking old traditional meals, creating new traditions. Father in law has come to stay for the holidays, sons have come home for Christmas and they bring friends at all times, family and friends are coming to wish us Merry Christmas, and we love sharing time around the table. Last night we had pizza on the menu, followed by a game of scrabble. I had my camera ready and was going to take photos of the pizza for The Blue Café, but as often happens I was too busy taking care of food and guests to remember my camera. Just like today. I started with very good intentions to take photos of our traditional lutefisk dinner, but ended up with photos only of the unfinished meal.

Not even did I only end up with photos of the unfinished meal, I never even finished this Dirty Sunday blog post. I was going to write about the tradition we have created over the past years when we invite a few family and friends over for lutefisk on "lillejulaften" (little Christmas Eve - ie the night before Christmas Eve). But The Blue Café has been so full and busy the past week, I have had no chance for food blogging. I have kept my main blog alive with a daily entry, but that took all my computer energy. I still struggle to focus on food blooging, but decided to post these photos and words anyway just to keep my food blog alive. I promise to be fully back soon.......

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

I send you my Christmas greetings with this Christmas car filled with gift.
As our tradition is, we decorated our tree yesterday, on "lille julaften" (Little Christmas Eve). We always do this together as a family, using ornaments we have collected through our 28 years of marriage. Most of them are handmade, and the girls find them a bit out of date. This year they had a wish - "Mom, can we decorate the tree with more modern stuff? You are always so old fashioned, sometimes we wonder if you were born before God!"
Now I have been to the Salvation Army's shop and bought 50 shining red baubles, and everyone loves the tree.

We are preparing for breakfast now. For lunch we will have rice porridge with one almond hidden and a gift for the one who finds the almond. Later comes church and home to the traditional Christmas dinner, opening of gifts and dancing around the tree singing the old carols. The day will end with all of us wrapped up in comfort blankets around the fire with new books and cds.
I almost live in the kitchen these days, enjoying cooking and baking traditional food. I had plans for alot of posts here, but with the house filled with people who gather around the table at all times I havenever found the time.
I will be back though :-)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pages from my book

- the book will be only in Norwegian (though of course if you all write to IKO (my publisher is the second one), they might think otherwise
- it is my first book
- it is hardcover and in full colour print
- it can be ordered from IKOs webshop in a couple of weeks
- the title of the book is "40 dager - fra karneval til oppstandelse" (40 days - from carneval to the rising )
- yes, I have started my second book......more about that later

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Delfiakake, joy and activity

Our house is brimming with activity, joy and happiness these days. Torgeir is home from Australia, father in law has travelled 1000kms to celebrate Christmas with us, Øystein comes home for meal and chatters, Ingrid's boyfriend has not yet left to spend the holidays with his family, friends of Marta frequent the kitchen........
Terje and I gather our energy, count our blessings and feel thankful for every precious moment. I know I will be exhausted when January comes, but believe me, it is worth it.
My soon to be 85 years old father in law is the best cook I know, and he never wastes a chance to pass forward his talents. Sitting in my studio writing this, I have the door open, and from the kitchen downstairs comes the enchanting fragrance of fresh cookies. He, Marta and Marit are baking "brune pinner" ("brown sticks").
The Blue Café is busy these days, but there is always room for one more around our table.

The photo shows my "delfiakake",
made from the same recipe are the puffed rice balls.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas herring from Huseby

After work today it was time for some mother alone shopping. I have a long list of things to buy and came about halfway through it. That's okay though, tomorrow is another mother alone shopping day, and then I will first meet a friend for coffee and excanging of gifts and chatter. Usually we eat dinner around 5pm, but because of me being away, and my husband taking part in a Christmas lunch at work ,we didn't eat untill two hours later today. So it was late when I finally had the kitchen ready for some "making food for Christmas". Stuffed with spaghetti carbonara I was happy that I had not planned more sweets. Instead I had Christmas herring on my list.
Herring in a sweet and sour sauce is perfect on home made bread, and can be eaten any time of the day. I always make alot, fill glasses and have several Christmas presents ready at once.

Christmas herring from Huseby
2dl vinegar
2dl ketchup
6dl sugar
1dl water

heat untill the sugar has melted,
add 2dl olive oil

let the sauce cool
dice 10 herring filets
cut 4 onions into small pieces.
Mix everything and fill glasses.
make a cup of tea,
cut a slice of homemade bread,
spread herring on top,

And while enjoying your tasty bread you are welcome over to Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods. But be careful so you don't spill sweet and sour sauce on your laptop.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Yes, I know, The Blue Café is too sweet for the moment. A sweet small fills the house and we are all a little more happy. I flip through my handwritten cookbook which is just as old as my marriage, several times a day making plans for what to bake next, writing lists for grocery shopping. Yesterday I phoned my mother to ask her about her "krumkake" recipe, hers is better than mine. When she lifted the reciver the first thing she said was: "Britt-Arnhild, I was just going to ask you if you want me to make krumkaker for you" My answer to her question was a smiling yes :-). One of the traditions my g\husband has brought with him from his childhood is to make what we call "flesk". What can I call this in English? Turkish Delight? Jellies? I have no idea why we call them flesk in Norwegian, flesk actually means fat or pork, and these sweets ar as far from pork as you can imagine. I am sitting in my studio tonight, and while I worked on a post about Øystein's Angels, Marta came running up the stairs to give me a taste of what she and dad had been making. My mouth feels quite sweet now, and my smile is broad. Do you want to make some flesh for Chrismas as well? It is quite easy.
1 kg sugar
3dl water
3 more dl water
4 pkg of white gelatine
Warm sugar and water till the sugar has melted.
Melt the gelatine plates in water.
Boil all for 15 minutes
add red colour (and a little lemon)
Pour the liquid into a roasting pan and leave it cold over night.
Dice the flesk and roll it in sugar.

The flesk taste even better when made my young fingers:-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Never too much chocolate

Our Christmas preparations go on. I should have spent all aftenoon today writing cards and letters, but first I wanted to create some nice smell in the house to set us all in the right pre Christmas mood. I have a sweeth tooth and can always manage one more chocolate, and of course nothing tastes like some home made ones. I wish I could teach you all some Norwegian today, as I am not sure if I have an English name for all the ingredients needed to make these rice balls. But I will try :-)
Puffed rice balls
300g dark chocolate
4tbsp dark coffee
250g coconut oil
2 eggs
3tbsp sugar
puffed rice
Melt the chocolate in the coffee. remove from the heat and add the coconut oil, let it melt. Mix egg and sugar and add to the chocolate.
Add puffed rice
Form the chocolate covered rice till balls.
Can you understand my recipe?

When I made coffee for the rice balls I mad a whole pot, and in the mail today I got the December issue of Food and Travel. Letters will have to wait.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kokosmakroner, Cocos Macarons

The house fills these days, with Christmas colours and with fragrances of the season. I don't bake as much as I used to, life has taken other turns, but still several traditional cookies are made to fill our red and green tins. My husband and youngest daughter made gingerbread figurines Saturday morning, but before they startet I claimed half an hour in the kitchen - that's how long it takes to make these "kokosmakroner"- Oh, so simple, oh, so tasty. At least tasty for those who love cocos. Not my cup of tea, but the rest of the family can't have enough of these cookies.
250g cocos
180g powdered sugar
3 egg whites

mix the egg whites till they are totally stiff
add powdered sugar and cocos and stir carefully
use a spoon to make small cookies on the baking plate
bake at 180C for 10 minutes

My visitor counter tells me that I have quite alot of visitors here, but so few comments are left.
I would love to hear from you.
Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share?
Do you have a food blog?
Or another type of blog?
Where do you live?
How do you celebrate Christmas?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lussekatter for Santa Lucia Day

13th of December is Santa Lucia day. When I was a girl we did not celebrate this day in Norway, but during the past 20 or so years we have adapted the Swedish way of celebrating. We started when the boys were small (they are now 25 and 23), but our celebrations became real traditions when the girls were born and we could start Lucia morning with the youngest girl in the family walking from badroom to bedroom singing the Santa Lucia song, serving lussekatter and hot chocolate. I am dreading the day when Marta says that she has outgrown the dressing up part, and was a little anxious when I asked her this year what she would do. She was quiet for a few seconds, but then proclaimed that she wanted to dres up in her old white Lucia dress, wear the light crown and wake up her siblings. Two of they are at home right now. Ingrid still lives at home, Torgeir are just back home after finishing his studies in Australia and lives at home till he gets a job and his own flat.
Safron is needed to get the right yellow colour of the lussekatter. Usually I buy it at the apotech and it costs a fortune for the half gram I use. But right now I have several grams which my sister in law bought in Greece last summer. I use the same dough as I use for sweet rolls + a little saffron for the yellow colour. The rolls shall be formed in different ways, every form has its own name according to different Lucia attributs.

300g butter
1 liter water
100g fresh yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3dl sugar
1,5kg white flour
1/2 to 1 g saffron

Melt the butter and add water to have a fingerwarm fluid, add the yeast and let it melt.Mix flour sugar, salt and saffron, and add the fluid. Knead well, I use an kitchen aid. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes.

Form the lussekatter or roll them out. Let rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake in 225C for about 12-15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My traditional fruitcake

Baking for Christmas has finally started in The Blue Café, and as always, first out is my traditional fruit cake. I have baked it every year since 1988, some years I have made several to give away as Christmas gifts, but this year it will be only one I think. The name fruitcake can be a little misgiving, as the fruits are mostly figs, though this year I also used a special nut which is called "paranøtt" in Norwegian - my dictionary can't help me with an English name.

Terje was busy in the kitchen most of last night, making fruit juices (from berries from the freezer), so it was late when I finally could start baking, and the cake was finished just before I went to bed. Too late to taste it then. But this morning I had a piece for breakfast, with "brunost" (brown goat cheese - we Norwegians almost live on goat cheese,LOL)

Why is it that Christmas cakes always taste better before Christmas?

200g butter
200g suger
3 eggs
200g white flour
1 tsp baking powder
(a small glass of liqueur - I used cherry)
250g figs

Mix butter and sugar well, Add one egg at a time and mix well. Mix flour and baking powder, and the liqueur and diced figs.

Bake at 175C for about one hour.


Do you have a fruitcake recipe to share?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spaghetti with "falukorv"

I am going to buy a new lense for my camera, to get better close up photos. My food blogging has taught me that such a lense is needed, and as soon as the lense is here I know I have alot of ideas on how to improve my photos. My cooking will be very much the same though, simple, colourful and tasty, mostly using what I have on hand, some days combined with grocery shopping from my shopping list or from bits and pieces of whimsy. I have had the house filled with guests for lunch today, so dinner, which we normally eat around 5pm, had to be simple. Then spaghetti is often my solution. And mixed with onion, cellery and the Swedish sausage "falukorv" braised in olive oil and flavoured with salt and cream - a Tuesday dinner feels like a feast.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Book Corner. Guestblogger Julius Elefante

Thanks, Britt for having me as your guest this week.

Baking from my Home to Yours by Dorie GreenspanProlific baker and cookbook writer Dorie Greenspan was once told by Julia Child that they got on very well because they were both home cooks. This is of course believd by Ms Greenspan's culinary pedigree - she has been in the kitchens of the great chefs Pierre Herme, Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud. Her numerous collaborative and solo works are multi-awarded and tend to favour stylized Parisian pastries. Her newest outing, Baking From My Home to Yours, published last year and now widely embraced by bloggers all over, is perhaps the tome that many occasional bakers will find to be the most familiar and accessible. It has become my one favourite baking cookbook.Leafing through the gorgeously photographed pages, I honed in on her Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. I set out to bake a batch:
True enough, these are exquisite enough and deserve being called the "best." They are moderately thin, crunchy around the edges but substantial and chewy at the centre. They are also very of the moment: lately, I have been noting that high-end bakeries are retiring their puffy, chewy, doughy cookies in favour of these thin, craggy-edged beauties. Ms Greenspan provides the recipe for these cookies on her website.
Once in a while, one may want a treat but without all the fuss associated with making a cake. The Dressy Chocolate Loaf is as easy as it is delectable.

After creaming butter, sugar, and eggs, one adds sour cream and the sifted dry ingredients. I counted three, maybe four, steps. Follow this up with an even easier sour cream ganache, then you'll have something that is the epitome of beautiful simplicity. Which is probably why Ms Greenspan loves this recipe - it appears in another of her cookbook as "Chocolate Midnight." A recipe can be found in Cooking the Books.Of course, what good is a cookbook without its show-stopper cake? Without a doubt, the one cake to trump them all is her Devil's Food White-Out Chocolate Cake. This is shown on the cover of the book, and here is my rendition of it:

Thanks Julius for being my guest blogger.
I have already put this book on my wish list.......and Christmas is right around the corner......

You can visit Julius at his blog:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cucumber salad

When Torgeir phoned us from Australia before starting his very long flight home to Norway, I asked him what he wanted me to make for the homecoming dinner. I was so sure he would say taco, I almost didn't ask. And yes, without hesitation that's what he said. But then he continued: No Mam, wait a second, I think I will have something more typical Norwegian, what about salmon?

Salmon suited me perfectly, and being a lover of traditions I must confess that I rather go for salmon than taco, which is not Norwegian at all, but a dish our kids have loved for years :-)

More about braised salmon or braised trot, which I make the same way, can be read here, so what I will do here today is to post a recipe for our cucumber salad.

Cucumber salad the Blue Café way
peel two cucumbers and slice them into very thin slices (I use a traditional "ostehøvel"
mix vinegar and olive oil with a little salt and quite alot of suger to get the bitter sweet tast

pour the fluid over the cucumber slices
perfect with creme fraiche
served to many of our fish dishes

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chocolate cake for Torgeir.

As I have already mentioned, our oldest son came home from Australia Saturday night. I prepared a salmon dinner, which I plan to blog about tomorrow, and my husband made his speciality, a chocolate cake. We got the recipe from my father in law at least 25 years ago, and it has been among Torgeir's favorite cakes ever since he was born. I am the one who make most of the food in our kitchen, mostly because I love to cook and bake. But this spesific cake is always made by my husband. Something he does many times a year. But not too often, the cake is quite heavy and fat. I am off work today and have just had my morning coffee and a piece of the cake, so now is the perfect time to share it with you. In our handwritten recipe it is called "Mocca kake", so that's the name I am using here as well.
Mocca kake
150gr butter/margarin
300g sugar
mix butter and sugar till it looks almost white

Add two eggs and 75gr dark chocolate melted in 1/4 l milk,
and also 300gr white flour and 3 tsp baking powder

Bake for 45 minutes in 180C

Cool the cake and cut it into three layers.
Between the layers you spread mocca cream

Mocca cream:
200gr butter
300 gr powdered sugar (icing sugar)
50gr dark chocolate melted in 5 tblsp strong coffee