Monday, January 26, 2009

Tea time with sick daughters, Santa Sunniva Cookies

None of us got much sleep last night, up in her bedroom in the attic, Marta was coughing badly, down in the basement Ingrid's coughing was even worse. Today they have both been home from school, and as it often is with choughing, it is better in daylight. Fortunately.
Both girls slept long and then they spent the morning planning dinner and starting their own blogs. Marta is an easy learner, so when Ingrid was busy preparing the food, she found the white table cloth I usually use for my food photographing, unwrapped it just like I do, and took series of photos. Both girls are laughing. For years they have teased me for my blogging and for my food photographing, now they are both walking in my footsteps :-)
Not long ago I bought several packets of dates at the grocery store. Left overs from Christmas, still soft and sweet. I love dates, but there certainly is a limit of how many I can eat at a time, so I had to find other ways to use them. Sick daughters are in need of comfort food, even though they feel well enough both to cook and to blog, so I decided to make a plate of cookies. The smell from freshly bakes cookies is always a very good medicine
The dates gave the cookies a very nice, sweet taste, and to make them even better I added some Norwegian Santa Sunniva Liqueur, therefore the name; Santa Sunniva Cookies.

Santa Sunniva Cookies
5dl white flour
1 1/2 dl sugar
200gr salted butter
cut the butter into small pieces and knead the dough together by your hands
add about 20 sliced dates and an egg cup of liqueur
make round cookies
press them down with a fork
bake at 200C for about 15 minutes


My choice of music this time is a little different. Not any of the old classics, but charming Josh Groban with a collection of evergreens. Not a music I listen to every day, but for a cookie baking night it filled the kitchen perfectly :-)


By the way, here is Marta's blog

and here is Ingrid's

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cod Paella, risotto med torsk

One of the pleasure is life is to visit fishmarkets. We don't have one like the Rialto market here in Trondheim, still the one we have is a nice one with quite a good selection of choices according to the season. When Terje and I visited Ravnkloa (the fish market here in Trondheim) yesterday, I was looking for fish for a paella, and the cod filets looked perfect.
I have a favorite restaurant out at Murano (in Venice) where I have discovered a marvellous risotto with fruits from the sea. Unfortunately you have to be two to order the dish, I remember one time Terje and I had it, we almost licked the plates at the end, the taste was too good to let go. I was not able to create the same juicy taste in my paella, but I am on the right way. Give me some more practice, and I am there.
cod paella

dice the cod filet into small pieces
fry in an extravagance of extra virgin olive oil
add salt and pepper
cut an onion and a green sweet pepper
fly in more olive oil

fry the rice in the leftover oil in the pan
add fish bouillon and white wine
add the fried fish and let boil for about half an hour
add the onion and the sweet pepper

serve with olive bread dipped in olive oil, the one we had is baked in Lom, sold in the delicatessen at the fish market.


I fist fell for Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 because of the beautifil painting on the cd cover. The music is just as beautiful, and suits well on an icy, wintry Sunday morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yoghurt, orange and chocolate

I am in need of some comfort food today, as I am home taking care of a cold. Wrapped in a huge Indian wool shawls, music on the cd and a stack of book from and about Venezia accompanying me, I almost felt tempted to greet the cold as a good, old friend :-) Some days are almost meant to be stay at home days.
The Venezia book on top of my pile is Toni Sepeda's Brunetti's Venice, Walks through the novels. Being a Donna Leon and a Comissario Brunetti fan for many years, this book met me like a long waited for friend, when I found it at an airport bookstore a couple of weeks ago. We are planning to visit Italy and venezia again in June, and then I'll make sure to find room for a Brunetti walk.

The Blue Café is supposed to be a food blog, but I can't resist the temptation to talk about books, and you all know that I can never resist the temptation to talk about music as well. The Venezia mood I am in this morning, took me to the Verdi part of my music collection. Nabucco is not my favorite Verdi opera, but a good kind of different choice from time to time. And the dramatic music is a good curtain for the easy, comfort food I am enjoying

No recipe, just a small bowl of plain yoghurt topped with dark chocolate.
A red plate of juicy slices of orange.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Pizza with anchovy and aubergine

Fridays are pizza days, and days when we usually eat our dinner late. I still remember when pizza came to my Norway, some time in the mid-70ies. The thick American pizza, rich with melted cheese. It didn't take us long to know that we loved this food, and it soon became something everybody ate. Many, many years l learned about another type of pizza, the thin Italian one, crispy, salty and with a number of toppings I'd never dreamed of. I will never forget my first pizza eaten in Roma. I was there for the first time in my life, it must have been in 2001. The purpose of my trip was studying the diaconia, and at the same time my brother was there with his orchestra and his viola. We met for lunch hour, sat down at a small outdoor café not far from the St.Peter's Cathedral and ordered a pizza. I will never forget the thin salty dream I got, topped with mozarella.
After visiting Intaly several times a year since 2001, I have learned to make alot of different pizzas, and I have learned to make them with whatever I can find in the fridge. Last week I couldn'r resist a fat, tempting aubergine when I was shopping for groceries. The aubergine spent a few days in a basket in the kitchen untill Friday came, and I decided it was time to use it in a pizza. In the fridge I had some leftover anchovy since Christmas and the topping was all set. The result was a perfect crcisp, salt pizza.
pizza with anchovy and aubergine
for the pizza dough:
25g yeast
olive oil
white flour
for the topping:
a sliced aubergine, salted for about an hour
cheese (I used Edamer from Norway)

Andrea Bocelli's music is perfect for pizza.
My choice this time is his Verdi cd where he sings with Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
(let the choice of archestra be my prayer for peace in the Middle East)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grønnsaksuppe, red vegetable soup

Sunday dinners are family dinners here in The Blue Café. The boys know that extra plates are set for them around the table, and today my parents are also coming. I love making food for alot of people, as I also love to prepare meals for only myself of for me and my husband. It is not always easy to plan what to grocery shop though, as we seldom know on Saturdays how many we will be around the table for the next day's Sunday dinner. Today Ingrid had to go to work (7-eleven) and would not be here for dinner. "Oh mamma, can you make something for lunch or an early dinner before I leave", she asked this morning. In my mind I went through the fridge and the pantry, what could I possibly make without shopping? I also knew that the chicken we have bought for dinner might be a little short for 7 people, may be I could combine something?
Of course I could. There is always vegetables around, and the solution was easy. "Ingrid, what about some red vegetable soup and some homemade bread?" "Perfect mamma, you are an angel" The soup is made, late breakfast for Marta which slept long this morning and was not hungry when she wake up, lunch for Ingrid and there is still enough for a starter before the chicken for the rest of us.

red vegetable soup
slice two onions and fry them in olive oil
add three sliced carrots and fry some more
add 1 1/2 liter water
four tomatoes cut into boats
let boil smowly for about 15 minutes
serve with homemade bread


I have a Tivoli Ipal radio in the kitchen and with a cable I am able to connect my Ipod to this radio. So since the livingroom was busy with family members watching sports today, I could still have my own music in the kitchen through the radio and my Ipod.
Enjoy with me Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Opera and a bread baking day

Once a week I have a bread baking day. Sometimes just the ordinary grain bread we always eat, sometimes I have more time at hand and can bake different types. During the winter these days are perfect to make the house warm, with the cosy smell of fresh bakery.
At our cabin we don't have electrisity and I dream of an outdoor oven where I can bake our breads. The minus with no electricity though is that we don't have a freezer, only a small room in the gas fridge where I could put a couple of breads, but would it be worth warming up a whole bread oven for just two or three breads? Well, my dream is still there, so I'll wait and see what we do with it.
Here at home we have a big fridge, and as long as I bake once a week, there is always room for the extra breads there.

I am not good at following recipes. When making our everyday bread, four pieces of big loaves and 15 small ones, I start with a mixture of differemt types of flour. I add salt, oil, 100gr fresh yeast and 1,8l of water, mix it, and then add white flour untill I have a smooth dough. I let it raise for about an hour, make the breads, let in raise some more and it is ready for baking, 240C for about 15-20 minutes for the small loaves, 220-200C for about one hour for the big ones.

The small baguettes was made of white flour, water, salt, olive oil and fresh yeast. In half of them I added dates, they were so cheep at the grocery store this week, and these baguettes are perfect with cheese.


During my baking days I play opera. Give it a try, opera goes perfect with breadbaking :-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Marinert torsk, marinated cod

I went to the local fishmarket downtown after work yesterday. Down near the harbour the fishmarket has been situated for ages, I remember it from my childhood, though they did a great restauration some years ago. I try to go there at least every second week, and always find temptations. I sometimes make plans for what to buy, or what to look for before I go, more often I go with an open mind, to see what they have, to see what tempts me.

This time my eyes soon found the marinated cod, but it was only a few pieces left. No problem, fishmonger Ketil said, I'll make you some more, and soon I had five good pieces. Ketil grew up in the same neighbourhood as I did, and we always get a good chat when we meet. Mostly fish stories and how to make the best fish dishes.

I baked the cod filets in the oven, 200C for 40 minutes, and served them with small potatoes and a paprika salad.


I have connected music to my food for almost thre weeks now. I would like to hear from my readers what you think of this. Music plays a very important role in my life and it feels natural to combine it to my cooking, and I love to share it with you. Now I am curious to hear your responce.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four half tomatos and a piece of bread

Marta made pancakes for dinner yesterday. They were ready when I came home from work, warm, delicious and with sweet blueberry jam from the freezer. A perfect meal made by my 12 year old chef. She phoned me when I was on my way home from work; "Mamma, I don't think there is enough milk for the pancakes." I was tired and didn't want to go grocery shopping on my way home, so I had to think fast. "Look in the fridge Marta, there should be some creme fraiche there, add some of it and use water instead of milk, and your pancakes should be all right".
They were!

I seldom eat anything for supper, but with an early pancake dinner I felt a craving for a treat in the night. I had a couple of tomatoes threatening to become too ripe and I had some leftover white bread threatening to become too dry. How could I combine this?

Easy. I baked the tomatoes in the oven for about one hour, first half an hour on 200C, then the rest of the time on 150C, with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil, and let the bread, dipped in olive oil, bake with the tomatoes the last 15 minutes. A glass of water with a slice of lemon and some Claude Debussy music...........a perfect night.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some thoughts on food

The Newspaper had an article yesterday about the female handballplayers of our local star team Byåsen. To play better, they are now focusing on what they eat, and one of the questions the player got from the interviewer was if they now have changed hamburgers with fish and vegetables. It was almost hard to believe their answers. One of the players laughed and said "Fish, I never eat fish. Well, I remember my father prepared fish from time to time when I was a girl, but......."
Another tale. Marta often has friends here after school, and we always invite them to eat with us. Fish is on the menue here in The Blue Café several times a week, and I remember one meal some years ago. Two young girls were here, but when they heard that I was serving fish, only one of them wanted to eat with us. The other one sat down in the livingroom to wait while we ate. The one "who was brave enough to eat fish" took some bites, loved the taste and then picked up her cell phone to phone home; "Mamma, guess when I am doing! I am eating fish!" I asked her, "Do you never eat fish at home?" "Oh yes," she replied" we eat fried fish sticks from time to time" She smiled and helped herself to a second serving of fresh trout.

I wonder why so many children believe that they don't like fish. And I wonder why so many parents walk the road they believe is the easiest one, a road with pizzas, hamburgers, chips and junk food (I call pizza junkfood because I find many of the readymade ones so, though I love, love, love homemade pizza and serve it at least once a week)

I would love to hear your thouhgts on the fish topic. Do you like fish? How often do you eat it? Do you order fish when you eat at restaurants? How can we help the young generation to eat more fish? Do you have a fish recipe to share?


Music? Schubert's Trout Quintet of course.
Take a look here and here for other fish stories

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday Wreath

We have more or less emptied the boxes with Christmas cookie, and I can't say it makes me sad. Christmas cookies are great, but they have their limits, and when mid-January comes I feel that the limit is reached as well.

So when friends announced that they would be coming for coffee Sunday afternoon, I had the perfect excuse to bake a yeast wreath (as if I need an excuse to bake.......)

Marta and I shared the dough between us, she made buns, I made what we in Norway call "klippekrans", which can be translated into a cutted wreath (I use the scissors to cut). All Norwegian children learn to make this in school. Usually the wreath is filled with butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins. I used marzipan instead of sugar and raisins, as I always have so much left over marzinpan after the creamcakes at this time of the year.

klippekrans / sunday wreath

300gr butter

1l water

75-100gr fresh yeast

2dl sugar

ca 1,5kg white flour


melt the butter, add water and make sure it get a lukewarm temperature

add the yeast and stir rill it kind of melts

mix everything, stir well

rise in warm kitchen for about one hour

make the wreath from half of the dough, buns of the rest, or make two or three wreaths. The one I made rised very well and turned out almost too big

bake in oven, 200C for 25 minutes


The guests have left, the leftover wreath is cut into two pieces and are sleeping in the freezer. Will be as good as fresh later when warmed up in the oven.

I anjoy a tidy, warm, quiet livingroom with Schubert on the cd-player.

There can never be too much Schubert........

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gratinert løksuppe, Gratinée des Halles

I have a huge blue book about French cooking. Yesterday morning I started to look though it in search of recipes, or rather in search of inspiration, as I seldom follow the recipes when I cook. I am more a find the way as I walk person. I was going downtown later in the day and was making a grocery list. But the more I looked, the more tempted I was of French cooking, and almost booked a ticket to France :-)..... Well, in the end I decided to go for a very simple, very tasty gratinated onion soup, Gratinée des Halles.

Again and again I discover that the best food is often the simple food. With few but the best ingredients, where each item added shows off her best. Onion soup is a very good example. We had this soup as a starter last night, and it felt rich enough to be a full meal.

Løksuppe / Gratinée des Halles
one onion
5dl water
extra virgin olive oil
slice the onion and fry it in the olive oil. Add the water and let it boil for 30 minutes
add salt and pepper
fill two soupbowls, top the soup with 4 pieces of small slices of toast and cheese
put in hot oven for about 10 minutes


After the New Year's concert from Wien I discovered that I did not have any Johann Strauss in my music collection. With amazon it was easy to do something with that, and last week Die Fledermaus came in the mail.
The onion soup tasted even better with Gabril von Eisenstein, Rosalinde, Alfred, Adele and the others from Die Fledermaus singing in the background :-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Breakfast with lemon and honey

Saturday morning, the rest of the house is quiet, the sky is pink with the promise of a bright new morning. I got a box in the mail yesterday. I had been away all day, five hours on the train, a long meeting, and was tired when I finally reach home, so I didn't even open the box, just went to bed. But this morning I woke up fresh, and the first thing meeting me was the box. I opened it, and found......a small jar of honey, fresh from Betsy's Fork Creek garden. I opened the box and smelled summer, I made breakfast and tasted summer :-)

Two pieces of homemade bread is my typical breakfast. Usually with black currant marmelade from The Blue Garden, or with brown cheese. Today was a special treat, two pieces of bread with Betsy's very special honey. The perfect darkness. The perfect sweetness. And a cup of tea with lemon.


I had my ipod with me on the train yesterday, and enjoyed Urs Joseph Flury and Concertino Veneziano. Bought on a whim in Venezia a few years ago. played again and again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

When icy roads say no to grocery shopping

If you read Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods, you know about our challenging weather right now. With yesterday's drive home from work in mind, I put a cookbook in my backpack this morning, with the intention of reading recipes on my way home from work, and hopefully decide what to make for dinner. Plans changed though. My husband phoned me at work to tell me that because of the road situation in our city, he had to work some extra hours. I took the bus home, and a crowded bus filled with wet people is not a good place to read recipes. And as my dear neighbour and very good friend came onto the bus the stop after mine, I didn't miss the cookbook at all.

Ok, I said to myself. I will make a late dinner. I can make a grocery list when I am home and then go shopping. Anyway the grocery store is only a few minutes from our house.

Finally at home I knew that there would be NO grocery shopping. It was raining cats and dogs, it was blowing and the roads were too slippy. The only option was to make dinner from what I could find in the cupboards. Not an easy task, believe me, but after searching high and low, I ended up with some spaghetti, a lemon, half an onion, some leek and a few cherry tomatoes. After I took the photo I even found a few walnuts and I realized I had a bright green basil in the window sill. Women have made dinner on less.

25gr fresh yeast, salt, sugar, 3dl lukewarm water and some white flour even made the most wonderful foccaccia. Marta and I feasted, though she hardly had time to come in to eat, it is too much fun to play (read jump from the carport roof) out in the snow.
Marta was not too happy about the walnuts. I think they made the dish!
I cut all the vegetables and fried them in olive oil, added a little salt.


Good food needs good music. While reading Vikram Seth's An Equal Music some time ago I discovered Bach's The Art of Fugue. Bach's music is among the best music ever written.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spring colours in the snow

The snow keeps on falling. Day in and day out. I love to sit here in my studio where I have the window right in front of my face. I love to watch the beauiful snowcovered trees, the falling snow, the silence of a white world. I do not love to struggle with the snow to and from work. It drains my energy and my dreams seem to find a way to fly south to the summers of Italy. I am craving for spring colours, and a good way to make some colours with the taste of spring is to make a green salad. I even believe the greens give me some energy for my snow fights.
And if dinner is healthy enought, we can have a cup of coffee and a piece or two of some leftover cake in the afternoon.....
This pastasalad is very simple.
iceberg salad
extra virgin olive oil
With Italy in my mind day and night (almost), it is easy to end up with Italien music when I look through my cd collection. Venezia and Vivaldi go perfectly together. Some time ago I discovered some Vivaldi music which was new to be (I am NO music expert), and it soon became among my favorite cds.

Concerti e Cantate

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trettende dag jul, 13th Day of Christmas

It is the 13th day of Christmas and the holiday is officially over. I started last night to put away my creches, and have continued today with the angels, the snowmen, the cds, books, stockings and all my other collection. It feels sad and empty and at the same time it feels good. The house is back to normal and it is tidy. Instead of a basket filled with Christmas books I have now filled the same basket with garden books. It is still snowing, will it ever stop(?), but I have a dream of spring somewhere far ahead.

To celebrate "trettende dag jul" or epiphany, we have eaten the last lussekatter from the freezer. Warmed in the oven, and they are good as new.

You find the recipe for lussekatter through this link


When I was pregnant with my second son, 25 years ago, I had to stay in bed for several weeks. During that time I discovered Misa Criolla, and since then it has been among my favorite music. I am playing it tonight while having coffee and lussekatter, and a very nice fire in the hearth.
And I am reading today's mail. Nice letters and cards from friends around the world.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back to more greens.

After a long Christmas vacation with alot of food and alot of sweets and calories, it is time to go back to a more normal everyday life. Holidays and time off are blessings, but the older I get the more I appreciate the everyday routine with my job and my time off.
My first workday after almost two weeks off was today, and to kind of get into the healthy mood, I made myself a very simple green salad for lunch yesterday.

Green everyday salad

iceberg salad
cherry tomatos

sprinkeled with balsamic vinegar
followed by a long walk in the snow


After all the recent Christmas music, it is nice to be back to "something else", like Beethoven and a few of his symphonies.
What about no 5 &6?