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Ginger&Bread by Ginger - 3M ago

Being all health conscious and environmentally friendly – or, at least, trying to – we get a weekly fruit and veg box. The good thing is it’s seasonal and mostly locally grown, but the downside of this is that you end up getting fruit or veg you’re not too keen on.

Like pears.

Although I eat them hidden under muesli or in a fruit salad, nobody else in the house seems to like them very much. But with a little coaxing (the pears, of course, it doesn’t work on the kids) you can turn them into a subtly sweetened and fragrant little tarte, perfect for an elegant dessert or on its own, accompanied only by a cup of tea. One tarte to eat straightaway and another one to freeze, ready for spontaneous visitors.

To bring out the peariness of the pears I lightly poached them first, simmering them in syrup, enhanced with star aniseed, cinnamon and, well, a dried pear. Cooled down they are arranged on a bed of sponge and covered with a few almond slivers. After baking, I glazed the pears with some of the remaining syrup and dusted the tarte with icing sugar, to bring out the lovely colours.

Quick, easy and elegant, this is going to be my answer to future pear gluts. Now I just have to come up with something for all those swedes …

Pear Tarte 

makes two 20cm / 8in tartes

  • 5 pears (ca. 750g)
  • 6 tbs caster sugar
  • 2 star aniseeds
  • 1 cinnamon bark
  • 1 dried pear or 4 dried prunes, quartered
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 200g plain flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a handful of almond slithers
  • icing or confectionary sugar to dust

Peel the pears, quarter and slice them.

Dissolve the 6 tbs of sugar in 1 pint of water and bring it to boil. Add the spices and dried fruit and simmer the pears in 2 or 3 portions for 8-10 minutes at the most: they need to be fully covered by the syrup and become slightly softened. Drain and cool. Leave the syrup to simmer lightly over a medium heat to reduce it to 50ml or 1/8 cup.

While they’re simmering away you can heat your oven to 180C / 350F and grease two 8in fluted tins.

In a medium sized bowl using a hand mixer or similar, beat the butter until fluffy before adding first the sugar, then the eggs and finally the vanilla and lemon zest. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and keep beating until you have a smooth dough.

Spread the dough thinly over the bottom of the forms before arranging the pear slices on the top.

Sprinkle the almond slivers on top and bake for 35-40 min until golden brown.

Reheat the syrup and glaze the hot tartes. Leave to cool. Dust with ta little sugar before serving.

Enjoy!


Pear Glut Tarte
 
Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
40 mins
Total time
1 hour 40 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: cake
Cuisine: European
Makes: 16 slices
Ingredients
  • 5 pears (ca. 750g)
  • 6 tbs caster sugar
  • 2 star aniseeds
  • 1 cinnamon bark
  • 1 dried pear or 4 dried prunes, quartered
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 200g plain flour
  • scant ½ tsp baking powder
  • a handful of almond slithers
  • icing or confectionary sugar to dust
  • Peel the pears, quarter and slice them.
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the 6 tbs of sugar in 1 pint of water and bring it to boil. Add the spices and dried fruit and simmer the pears in 2 or 3 portions for 8-10 minutes at the most: they need to be fully covered by the syrup and become slightly softened. Drain and cool. Leave the syrup to simmer lightly over a medium heat to reduce it to 50ml or ⅛ cup.
  2. While they're simmering away you can heat your oven to 180C / 350F and grease two 8in fluted tins.
  3. In a medium sized bowl using a hand mixer or similar, beat the butter until fluffy before adding first the sugar, then the eggs and finally the vanilla and lemon zest. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and keep beating until you have a smooth dough.
  4. Spread the dough thinly over the bottom of the forms before arranging the pear slices on the top. Sprinkle the almond slivers on top and bake for 35-40 min until golden brown.
  5. Reheat the syrup and glaze the hot tartes. Leave to cool. Dust with a little sugar before serving.
3.5.3229

I’ll be bringing these delicate little tartes over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog party which I am co-hosting this week, together with the wonderful Julianna of Foodie on Board. Both Angie’s and Julianna’s blogs have been favourites of mine from the start of my own food blogging almost exactly four years ago, making this a very special Fiesta for me! Do pop over and have a look at the wonderful bloggers and recipes that come together on a Friday, or, better even, why don’t you join in?

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Sometimes you just need to have your cake and eat it. 

The other day I stumbled across the picture of an apple cake, which Christie of A Sausage Has Two had posted on her Facebook page. I absolutely had to have a slice ofChristie’s Omi’s apple cake, and pronto.

The quickest and easiest type of German cake is the Rührkuchen, literally  ‘stir cake,’ a type of sponge cake made from flour, butter, sugar, eggs and baking powder and whatever else you fancy. You stir it, bake it and eat it. We usually enhance Rührkuchen with vanilla sugar and lemon zest, and occasionally cocoa powder for a chocolate version. Adding fruit adds another dimension to it, as do the ground almonds I have started using to give myself the illusion that I am feeding my children a healthy and balanced cake diet.

For this recipe, I grind the whole almonds, this gives the finished cake an earthy and more ‘mature’ edge than the skinned ground almonds you can buy in the shops. The only ‘real’ effort are the apples: you need to de-core them and slice them, but there is no need to go quite as thin as I did, especially if you’ve got a perfectionist streak! Those incredibly instagrammable rose-patterned apple cakes are a right faff as you need to steam the slices beforehand to allow you to roll them up, and my test-run led to strongly worded comments regarding the limited chewability of the pretty pink apple peel.

My team of testers were all under 7, which is hardly a representative sample. You might as well go for it.

All in all it’s a fail-safe and reasonably healthy cake, moist and not too sweet. An apple a day and all that …

Apple and Almond Cake

makes one 9″ cake

  • 3-4 cooking apples (ca. 600g)
  • the juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 100g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla essence
  • a few raisins (optional) (soaked beforehand in a little rum – you’re worth it!)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
  • 30g almond flakes
  • 1 tbs apricot jam (optional)

Peel, de-core and slice the apples as thinly as you feel comfortable with, sprinkle the lemon juice over the sliced apples to prevent them from browning.

Grease your baking tin carefully, perhaps sprinkling a few breadcrumbs onto the butter to prevent the cake from sticking to it. Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F.

Mix the ground almonds with the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and the vanilla essence until it comes together in a soft smooth batter. Spoon the batter into the tin and spread it out evenly, then add the raisins if your children don’t object to them.

Mix the cinnamon with the spoonful of sugar and sprinkle it over the apple slices before laying out the apples across the surface of the cake. Leave a bit of space around the rim and don’t push them in too deeply: the dough will raise and fill the spaces between the slices.

Sprinkle the flaked almond slices over it and bake for 70 min on the bottom shelf.

When the cake is baked, remove it from the oven. In a small pan, heat the apricot jam with 5 tbs of water until the jam is fully dissolved. While the cake is still very hot, brush the jam thinly over the apple slices to give them a lovely finish.

That’s it – the cake is ready, and hopefully as delicious as Christie’s Omi’s!


Quick and Easy Apple and Almond Cake
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
70 mins
Total time
1 hour 40 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: German
Makes: 12 slices
Ingredients
  • 3-4 cooking apples (ca. 600g)
  • the juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 100g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla essence
  • a few raisins (optional) (soaked beforehand in a little rum - you're worth it!)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
  • 30g almond flakes
  • 1 tbs apricot jam (optional)
Instructions
  1. Peel, de-core and slice the apples as thinly as you feel comfortable with, sprinkle the lemon juice over the sliced apples to prevent them from browning.
  2. Grease your baking tin carefully, perhaps sprinkling a few breadcrumbs onto the butter to prevent the cake from sticking to it. Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F.
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For every festival in the German calendar, it seems, there is a specially shaped bread or cake. We have a special pretzel for the New Year, the Neujahrsbrezel, for Easter it’s a yeasted plait, Hefezopf, and in the run-up to Christmas we bake cinnamon stars, delicately carved Springerle and even gingerbread houses. And if there’s nothing else on, we’ll have a pretzel. The technical term for these breads is Gebildbrote, literally ‘image breads,’ and the basic rule is that if you can shape it, you shape it.

Many of our traditional Easter symbols, interestingly enough, seem to predate Christianity with their focus on fertility, which symbolically turn the Resurrection of Jesus Christ into a re-birth, celebrated with fertility symbols such as bunnies and eggs. Our Easter brunch – the prolonged breakfast on Easter Sunday which usually follows our hunt for the chocolate eggs and presents the Easter Bunny left for us in the garden – naturally demands Easter-specific yeasted breads, such as these adorable, slightly sweetened brioche bunnies.

The recipe is very simple to follow and perfect for those of you who are worried about working with yeast: the dough is smooth and simple to shape, and as long as you keep it out of a draught you’ll be rewarded with a whole litter of delicious brioche bunnies. You can even prepare them the evening before, resting the dough overnight in the fridge. In the morning, you simply heat up your oven, glaze the bunnies and bake them. Kid’s play, literally!

Easter Bunny Brioche Buns

makes 10

  • 200 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 100g cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g caster sugar
  • the zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 24 raisins
  • pearl sugar or sprinkles (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the remaining ingredients and knead vigorously for a good 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes if you’re using a mixer. The dough will become smooth and elastic and start coming off the surface of the bowl. Cover it with a tea towel and place it in a warm and draught-proof place, such as a cold oven. Rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

After the resting period, take out the dough and split it into 16 equal pieces. Keep one of these aside to form the tails. Roll out 10 of these into 30cm / 12 in long sausages. Cut the remaining 5 pieces into half and roll them into ovals, like a football or rugby ball, to form the heads.

Now you assemble the bunnies: roll the sausages into spirals; using a sharp knife or similar, make an incision along the length of the oval-shaped rolls to form the ears, then place each of them nest to the spiral to make a head. Split the remaining ball into 10 pieces and form tiny little bunny tails. Sorry for the terribly blurred picture … it’s not you, it’s me!

For the eyes, press the raisins deeply into the finished bunnies, then cover the trays with the tea towels and leave them to rest for another 30 minutes or until they have risen noticeably. If you’re preparing them the night before, slip the trays into a plastic bag and leave them to rest overnight in the cold fridge.

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F. For the glaze, mix the whole egg with the milk and glaze each bunny evenly with the mix. If you’re using sugar, sprinkle it over the bunnies and bake them for 15-20 minutes.

Serve still warm, with butter and jam.


Easter Bunny Brioche Buns
 
Prep time
2 hours
Cook time
15 mins
Total time
2 hours 15 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: German
Makes: 10
Ingredients
  • 200 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 2½ tsp dry active yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 100g cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g caster sugar
  • the zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • Glaze:
  • 1 egg
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As the country is gripped by a Siberian cold wave (cue the muffled sound of real Siberians chuckling at the comparison), we crave calories. Ignore health warnings and a looming obesity crisis, our bodies tell us, forget your good intentions and instead have a slice of cake.

My friend Anita’s answer to this dilemma is not to cut out indulgent food, but to layer it with goodness. Almonds are high in fat, release their energy slowly, boost brain power and – incidentally – seem to reduce your appetite. What’s not to like? For this recipe I’ve substituted some of the flour with ground almonds, skins and all, for that extra goodness.

The result? The deliciously earthy almond flavour is subtle enough not to raise any suspicions with the kids, who resent obviously healthy ‘alternatives’ to their favourite treats. I particularly loved the crunchy texture: it makes the dough slightly more difficult to work, and you have to be careful not to overwork the crumbles, but the result is so convincing that I can’t wait to try it with other pâte sucrée-based recipes such as my red currant cake or apple cake.

For this cherry crumble you will need the most German of ingredients, pitted sour cherries in a light juice-like syrup. You can find these in many Eastern European markets or in Lidl and Aldi stores. Unlike Amarena cherries, the syrup is much lighter and less sweet, a bit like fruit juice. My mum used to make tons of these preserves every summer: for each pound of pitted sour cherries you mix a pint of water and a cup of caster sugar and bring it to boil. Add the cherries, fill them into air-tight jars, sterilise them and they’ll be ready to use whenever you feel like it.

If you can get hold of the cherries, give this cake a try – the tartness of the fruit creates a wonderful contrast to the nutty crumbles, whilst the almonds are quietly boosting your brain … or so I hope!

Cherry and Almond Cake

for a 6″ round cake tin

for the Pâte sucrée:

  • 50g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 egg

For the cherry filling:

  • 1 jar pitted sour cherries (ca. 680g)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbs corn starch

For the almond crumbles:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g plain sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla essence

Grind 100g of whole almonds very finely. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 of the ground almonds with the remaining ingredients, ideally using a spatula or similar to avoid the dough being overworked:

Shortcrust pastry or pâte sucrée must not get warm to retain its lovely texture; it doesn’t matter if your dough is not completely smooth, simply form it into a ball, wrap it in cling film or tinfoil and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Grease your cake tin (I used a fluted quiche tin) and pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F.

For the filling, decant the liquid through a sieve into a small saucepan, then pour 1/4 of it into a cup or similar and set aside. Bring the remaining liquid to simmer. Mix the syrup in the cup with the corn flour until it is completely smooth. When the syrup in the saucepan reaches boiling point, add the cinnamon and then the cornflour-mix, stirring continually until it thickens. Add the cherries, give it a good stir and remove the saucepan from the heat to let it cool down.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it is fully melted, remove the saucepan from the hear and set it aside. Mix all the dry ingredients for the crumble thoroughly before adding the vanilla essence.

Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out the cold dough. I actually roll it out between two lightly floured sheets of baking paper, which makes it much easier to handle the delicate dough. Place the dough into your cake tin and press the pastry into the sides. Cut off the extra dough and prick the bottom with a fork. Fill the base with the cherries.

Pour the melted butter over your crumble mix and crumble it up with your fingers. Work quickly and don’t overdo it: the almonds are slightly crumblier than plain flour and you don’t want to end up with crumbs! Crumble the mix over the cherries and place the cake on the bottom shelf of your oven. Bake for 45 minutes.


Cherry and Almond Cake
 
Prep time
2 hours
Cook time
45 mins
Total time
2 hours 45 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: German
Makes: 10 slices
Ingredients
  • For the Pâte sucrée:
  • 50g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • For the cherry filling:
  • 1 jar pitted sour cherries (ca. 680g)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbs corn starch
  • For the almond crumbles:
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g whole almonds, finely ground
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g plain sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla essence
Instructions
  1. Grind 100g of whole almonds very finely.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ½ of the ground almonds with the remaining ingredients, ideally using a spatula or similar to avoid the dough being overworked: shortcrust pastry or pâte sucrée must not get warm to retain its lovely texture; it doesn't matter if your dough is not completely smooth, simply form it into a ball, wrap it in cling film or tinfoil and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Grease your cake tin (I used a fluted quiche tin) and pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F.
  4. For the filling, decant the cherry liquid through a sieve into a small saucepan, then pour ¼ of it into a cup or similar and set aside. Bring the remaining liquid to simmer. Mix the syrup in the cup with the corn flour until it is completely smooth. When the syrup in the saucepan reaches boiling point, add the cinnamon and then the cornflour-mix, stirring continually until it thickens. Add the cherries, give it a good stir and remove the saucepan from the heat to let it cool down.
  5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it is fully melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside. Mix all the dry ingredients for the crumble thoroughly before adding the vanilla essence.
  6. Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out the cold dough. I actually roll it out between two lightly floured sheets of baking paper, which makes it much easier to handle the delicate dough. Place the dough into your cake tin and press the pastry into the sides. Cut off the extra dough and prick the bottom with a fork. Fill the base with the cherries.
  7. Pour the melted butter over your crumble mix and crumble it up with your fingers. Work quickly and don't overdo it: the almonds are slightly crumblier than plain flour and you don't want to end up with crumbs! Crumble the mix over the cherries and place the cake on the bottom shelf of your oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
3.5.3229

How are you coping with the cold? Have you any fail-safe recipes to help you stay warm? Are you stuck indoors like us, hiding from the Beast from the East? My cure for cabin fever is Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog party: great company, lots of delicious food, practically calorie-free (unless you’re inspired to make the recipes yourself) – and all from the comfort of your own sofa.

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With Fat Tuesday, literally Mardi Gras, Christians all over the world realise that the good times are over: Lent is nigh. Forty days of penance and fasting beckon, to commemorate Jesus’ journey into the desert. Practices vary, but the complete cutting out of all animal products seems to have been a common feature in the past –  hence the clearing out of eggs in form of Pancake Tuesday in Britain. 

In Sweden, the food traditionally associated with the period is the semla. Semlor started out as simple wheaten buns, which were increasingly served soaked in milk, and eventually hollowed out and filled with a range of dairy-based concoctions. The current form – with a marzipan and whipped cream filling –  is ‘only’ 200 years old, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.

The combination of a lightly sweetened, cardamom-infused yeast bun with the indulgent whipped cream and a sweet marzipan centre is simply irresistible. No wonder that in Gothenburg, the sale of semlor used to be restricted to Fat Tuesday only. In the 1950s, a local baker was even taken to court for selling them over a few more days…

These days, semlor are on sale from after Christmas until Easter, which gives you a generous 40 days to give them a try!

Semlor – Swedish Cream Buns

makes 16

  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • 2 generous tsp easybake yeast
  • 500g plain flour
  • 75g soft unsalted butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 60g ground almonds
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 drop of rose water (optional)
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla sugar

Glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs milk
  • some icing sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast before adding the remaining ingredients. Knead until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl – it’s quite sticky, so you might better use an electric mixer. Cover and leave to rest for half an hour.

After that time, cover two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Divide the dough into 16 portions and roll them into small balls. Place them onto baking trays, cover and leave for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 230C – 450F. Beat the egg with the milk and glaze the buns evenly before baking them for 12-14 minutes.

Once your buns have cooled down, cut off the tops and hollow out the buns using a small knife.

Hold on to the crumbs and put them into a blender, add the ground almonds, sugar, rose water and milk, and whizz until you’ve got a smooth paste. Using a small spoon, scoop the mix back into the hollowed out buns.

Now beat the cream until it begins to thicken:

When you get to that stage, add the vanilla sugar and keep beating until the cream begins to firm up – don’t over beat as you’ll end up with butter…

Using a piping bag, fill the buns generously – very generously! – with the whipped cream, close the lids and dust with a little icing sugar before serving.


Semlor - Swedish Cream Buns
 
Prep time
1 hour 20 mins
Cook time
12 mins
Total time
1 hour 32 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Makes: 16
Ingredients
  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • 2 generous tsp easybake yeast
  • 500g plain flour
  • 75g soft unsalted butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • Filling:
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 drop of rose water (optional)
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla sugar
  • Glaze:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs milk
  • some icing sugar
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast before adding the remaining ingredients. Knead until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl - it's quite sticky, so you might better use an electric mixer. Cover and leave to rest for half an hour.
  2. After that time, cover two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Divide the dough into 16 portions and roll them into small balls. Place them onto baking trays, cover and leave for another 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat the oven to 230C - 450F. Beat the egg with the milk and glaze the buns evenly before baking them for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Once your buns have cooled down, cut off the tops and hollow out the buns using a small knife. Hold on to the crumbs and put them into a blender, add the ground almonds, sugar, rose water and milk, and whizz until you've got a smooth paste. Using a small spoon, scoop the mix back into the hollowed out buns.
  5. Now beat the cream until it begins to thicken:
  6. When you get to that stage, add the vanilla sugar and keep beating until the cream begins to firm up - don't over beat as you'll end up with butter.
  7. Using a piping bag, fill the buns generously - very generously! - with the whipped cream, close the lids and dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
3.5.3229

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It’s that time of the year again – Karneval, Fasnacht or Fasching, traditionally the celebration of the end of Winter. Kids (and adults) are getting dressed up to attend parades and parties, and cakes are fried to empty the cupboards for the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

Over the years, I have ignored the trend for clean or even lean food and brought you recipes for Berliner doughnuts,

 

as well as for the traditional Mutzenmandeln of the Rhineland, where the Carnival season begins officially in November.

In our defence, making greasy cakes to celebrate the arrival of Spring is not restricted to Germany. If you haven’t heard of Casadielles before, these walnut-filled pastries can be found in Northern Spain – accompanied by costumes, floats and general mayhem:

 

This year we’re having a traditional Southern German doughnut, the curiously named “Nuns’ Farts.” Although there are various stories trying to justify the name – invariably involving nuns – name is probably a corruption of the Medieval German ‘made by nuns’ or similar. Personally, I prefer to believe it’s to do with the farting noise the dough makes when it hits tho hot fat, which made the nuns blush.

No, I did not make out any particular farty noise. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story?

 

Nonnenfürzle – Nuns’ Farts 

makes ca. 35 donuts

 

  • 120 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp easy-bake yeast
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt

 

  • 1l frying oil
  • icing sugar, to serve

 

In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the milk and a pinch of sugar. Once it is dissolved, add the remaining ingredients and beat in into a smooth batter. When it starts forming bubbles it is ready: cover it with a tea towel and leave it to rest for an hour in a warm spot.

Place a few layers of kitchen paper in a flat dish to drain the donuts. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Use a wooden spoon to check the temperature: when it starts forming bubbles it has reached the right temperature. Keep an eye on the temperature throughout: if the fat is not hot enough, the donuts end up soaking it up; if it is too hot, you’ll end up with donuts that are burnt on the outside and raw in the centre.

Now comes the tricky bit: using two teaspoons, form small portions of the batter and drop them into the hot fat. You can do a few of them at the time, but watch that they all brown evenly. They will turn by themselves once they’re slightly browned!

Nuns’ Farts in the making – putting the fat back into Mardi Gras! #donuts for #mardigras

A post shared by Ginger (@gingerandbread) on Feb 10, 2018 at 7:23am PST

Drain off the excess fat before dusting them with icing sugar.

Nonnenfürzle - Nuns' Farts
 
Prep time
1 hour 15 mins
Cook time
3 mins
Total time
1 hour 18 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Makes: 35
Ingredients
  • 120 ml milk, at room temperature
  • ¾ tsp easy-bake yeast
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1l frying oil
  • icing sugar, to serve
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the milk and a pinch of sugar. Once it is dissolved, add the remaining ingredients and beat in into a smooth batter. When it starts forming bubbles it is ready: cover it with a tea towel and leave it to rest for an hour in a warm spot.
  2. Place a few layers of kitchen paper in a flat dish to drain the donuts. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Use a wooden spoon to check the temperature: when it starts forming bubbles it has reached the right temperature. Keep an eye on the temperature throughout: if the fat is not hot enough, the donuts end up soaking it up; if it is too hot, you'll end up with donuts that are burnt on the outside and raw in the centre.
  3. Now comes the tricky bit: using two teaspoons, form small portions of the batter and drop them into the hot fat. You can do a few of them at the time, but watch that they all brown evenly. They will turn by themselves once they're slightly browned!
  4. Drain off the excess fat before dusting them with icing sugar.
3.5.3229

Have a great carnival season because, you know, come Ash Wednesday it’s all over!

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My mother-in-law finds European Christmas rather depressing. The darkness, the cold, the muted colours – it’s anything but Christmassy! In Chile, Christmas marks the height of the Summer: bright decorations, a few artificial pine trees as a reluctant nod towards its European roots, and a massive BBQ is all you need!

Instead, in our German pietist household she gets a few candles, no jumpy neon-coloured flashlights and definitely no endless Jingle Bells on a loop. It’s Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium all the way, with a few stray carols from King’s thrown in, for good measure. I get the feeling that you would have more fun at a Chilean funeral …

Although I have relegated the jumpy neon stuff to the front garden, I am embracing these delicious empanadillas. Traditionally they are filled with slightly spiced pears, which makes me think of them as the Chilean alternative to mince pies – I’ve even filled some of them with the home-made vegetarian mince from our neighbour. The dough, enriched with pumpkin puree, is lighter than traditional shortcrust pastry but it holds its own beautifully against the rich filling.

Fill these delicate empanadillas with mince if you can’t get hold of any of the traditional fillings: dried pears are not that easy to come by in the UK, nor is Cabello de Angel, a typical Spanish jam made from spaghetti pumpkin, which would make empanadillas the perfect biscuits to bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas …

Whether for a belated Thanksgiving or an early Christmas, give empanadillas a try – whatever the occasion!

Empanadillas – Sweet Chilean Pastries (makes ca. 50)

for the dough:

  • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 375g plain flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes.
  • 1 egg to glaze

for the pear filling:

  • 250g dried pears
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg

If you’re planning to fill the empanadillas with the pear filling, place the pears and the sugar into a small saucepan and cover them with boiling water and leave them for around 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, boil the squash in very little water until soft. Either blend it in a blender or push it through a sieve. How much this will yield depends on your squash, but you will need scant 3/4 cup of the pureed squash for the dough.

Sieve the flour with the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt and the cubed butter and quickly mix it with your hands – don’t overdo it as you don’t want the butter to melt. Add the squash and the eggs and mix it quickly into a soft dough. Cover and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, blend the pears to a fine puree. Add the the spices and place the pan on a medium heat. Keep stirring the puree until it becomes quite thick, like jam. Using the end of the handle of a wooden spoon, draw a line across the bottom of the pan. If the fruit puree covers it straightaway you’ll need to simmer it for a little longer. When it has thickened, the line will stay clear for a little and your filling is ready to go. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 180C / 360F and prepare 2-3 baking trays with baking paper. Roll out portions of the dough on a lightly flured surface to a thickness of around 2-3mm / 1/5 in and cut out circles of  9cm / 3 1/2in.

Fill them with a little of the filling, then moisten the edges with a little water and close them very firmly, using a fork or similar, to ensure they are not going to open up in the oven. If you’re using a variety of fillings, remember to mark them, with a little pinch or similar, to avoid disappointment …

Place the empanadillas on the baking sheet, use a brush to glaze them with the beaten egg mix and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Empanadilla - Sweet Chilean Pastries
 
Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
1 hour 20 mins
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: cookies
Cuisine: Chilean
Makes: 50
Ingredients
  • for the dough:
  • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 375g plain flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes.
  • 1 egg to glaze
  • for the pear filling:
  • 250g dried pears
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
Instructions
  1. If you're planning to fill the empanadillas with the pear filling, place the pears and the sugar into a small saucepan and cover them with boiling water and leave them for around 20 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, boil the squash in very little water until soft. Either blend it in a blender or push it through a sieve. How much this will yield depends on your squash, but you will need scant ¾ cup of the pureed squash for the dough.
  3. Sieve the flour with the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt and the cubed butter and quickly mix it with your hands - don't overdo it as you don't want the butter to melt. Add the squash and the eggs and mix it quickly into a soft dough. Cover and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, blend the pears to a fine puree. Add the the spices and place the pan on a medium heat. Keep stirring the puree until it becomes quite thick, like jam. Using the end of the handle of a wooden spoon, draw a line across the bottom of the pan. If the fruit puree covers it straightaway you'll need to simmer it for a little longer. When it has thickened, the line will stay clear for a little and your filling is ready to go. Set aside to cool.
  5. Heat the oven to 180C / 360F and prepare 2-3 baking trays with baking paper. Roll out portions of the dough on a lightly flured surface to a thickness of around 2-3mm / ⅕ in and cut out circles of  9cm / 3½in. Fill them with a little of the filling, then moisten the edges with a little water and close them very firmly, using a fork or similar, to ensure they are not going to open up in the oven.
  6. Place the empanadillas on the baking sheet, use a brush to glaze them with the beaten egg mix and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  7. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.
3.5.3228

I’ll be bringing these to Angie’s Fiesta Friday party, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. I wonder how Christmassy Fiesta Friday #199 is going to be already …

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Swabians, the people living around Stuttgart, have a bad reputation in Germany. We speak with a ridiculous accent (and are regularly subtitled on TV) and we are known for our stinginess. When it comes to Swabian weddings, however, it seems that no expenses are spared. Fair enough, you might get a cheaper dress and opt for fewer guests than you’d have liked to, but you will certainly not cut any corners when it comes to the food! This stuffed breast of veal is a perfect example: a substantial cut of tender meat, filled with, you guessed it, more meat. The pièce de résistance of any wedding. Apart from the bride and groom, I guess.

Getting hold of a veal breast requires a bit of planning in that you’ll probably need to order it in advance. It’s not cheap, hence you might want to save it for a special occasion. Veal breast is in fact the junior version of beef brisket, and for this dish you need to ask your butcher to remove the ribs that are attached to it –  but do keep them, as you’ll need them to prepare the gravy – and to cut it with a pocket for the stuffing.

A word of warning: the preparation is not easy and you’ll need a decent trussing needle for the sowing up of the meat, so it is perhaps not a dish to be tried out by a complete novice. You can take the stress out of it by preparing it the day before, leaving you only with the actual baking and the preparation of the side dishes.

We serve this glorious dish with Spätzle or potato salad and fresh lettuce. It tastes delicious hot or cold and the individual slices can be frozen and reheated in minutes.

Is it all worth the effort and cost? Absolutely! You’ll be rewarded with tender meat, delicately flavoured stuffing and a very happy crowd.

What’s keeping you?

Stuffed Breast of Veal 

serves 8-10

  • 2-3 kg veal brisket, ribs removed, cut with a pocket for stuffing (ask your butcher)
  • butcher’s twine and trussing needle

for the stuffing:

  • 350g dry white bread, crust removed and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 200g smokey bacon, either minced (if your butcher will do this for you) or very finely diced
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 30g butter
  • a generous handful of chopped parsley
  • 3 eggs
  • 400g finely minced veal or beef
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt, pepper, to taste

for the gravy:

  • 1-2 lb veal bones or beef bones, with bits of meat still attached and cut into 2-3in pieces
  • 30g butter
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 celeriac
  • 1/2 parsnip
  • 2 onions
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut sideways in half
  • 2 tbs concentrated tomato purée
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs peppercorns
  • salt, to taste

Warm up the milk a little before pouring it over the bread cubes. Cover and leave to soak for 20 minutes.

 

Sauté the onions and the bacon in the butter for a few minutes on medium heat. Leave it to cool before adding it to the bread, together with the parsley, the mince and the spices. Don’t clean the frying pan just yet – you’ll need it to  check your seasoning.

Separate the eggs and beat the whites until firm. Add it all to the mix, season with salt and pepper, generously, and mix it all lightly.

I cannot bring myself to try the raw filling, but if you’re happy to do so, go for it and adjust your seasoning. If raw meat isn’t your thing, simply heat your pan again and fry a small portion of the filling, say, half a meatball, until it is cooked. That way you get a good idea of whether you need to add salt or pepper.

Now lay out your brisket on a flat surface and season it generously with salt and pepper, inside and out. Get your needle and thread ready, as well as the stuffing. Carefully fill the pocket with the stuffing, then sew it all up, making sure the stuffing cannot escape.

Place the meat in a large roasting tin, cover it and leave it to rest while you prepare the gravy. If you are planning on cooking it the next day, leave it in the fridge overnight or until you’re ready.

For the gravy, cut the vegetables into 1-2 in chunks. Heat up the butter in a medium-sized pot and roast the bones for a good 5 minutes before adding half of the vegetables (the other half is going to roast with the meat in the oven). Add the tomato purée and keep stirring for a further 5-10 minutes or so, until the vegetables begin to caramelise. Pour the glass of wine over it to deglaze it, then add a generous pint of water, the bay leaves, peppercorns and some salt. Leave it to simmer fairly gently to allow the water to evaporate, leaving you with a concentrated gravy.

Around 3 hours before you want to serve it, heat up the oven to 180C / 360F. Add a little butter to the roasting tin and lightly brown the stuffed breast from all sides on the hob before placing it into the oven, together with the remaining vegetables.

Leave it to roast for a good 2 1/2 hours, turning it regularly and basting it with a little more wine or water.

When the breast is ready, remove it from the oven and from the tray and place it on a warmed serving dish. Cover it with tinfoil to keep it warm.

Using a fine-meshed colander, sieve the remaining liquid from the bones as well as the juices from the roasting tin into a small pot. Heat it up a little and season to taste.

Cut the breast into 1/2 inch slices and serve with a side salad, some Spätzle or a warm potato salad. And that delicious gravy!

Stuffed Breast of Veal - Gefüllte Kalbsbrust
 
Prep time
2 hours
Cook time
2 hours
Total time
4 hours
 
By: Ginger&Bread
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: German
Makes: 10 portions
Ingredients
  • 2-3 kg veal brisket, ribs removed, cut with a pocket for stuffing (ask your butcher)
  • butcher's twine and trussing needle
  • for the stuffing:
  • 350g dry white bread, crust removed and cut into small cubes
  • ½ pint milk
  • 200g smokey bacon, either minced (if your butcher will do this for you) or very finely diced
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 30g butter
  • a generous handful of chopped parsley
  • 3 eggs
  • 400g finely minced veal or beef
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • for the gravy:
  • 1-2 lb veal bones or beef bones, with bits of meat still attached and cut into 2-3in pieces
  • 30g butter
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • ½ celeriac
  • ½ parsnip
  • 2 onions
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut sideways in half
  • 2 tbs concentrated tomato purée
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs..
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Meatballs, patties, hamburgers – small balls of meat, stuck together with egg and breadcrumbs, are part and parcel of most European childhoods. The difference is not so much what you put into them but how you serve them! In Sweden, as, incidentally, in most Swedish furniture chains that specialise on cheap and cheerful flat-packed furniture, meatballs generally come in a light gravy and with a side of mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. Despite there are being no official guidelines, this is definitely what most non-Swedes imagine Swedish meatballs to look like. And why not?

I am sure that many Swedes today get their meatball fix from the frozen section of their supermarket. A few pricks with a fork and – voilá! – the microwave will have whipped up a decent version. But seriously, nothing beats homemade, especially when it is that easy.

In terms of meatballs, feel free to use your own tried-and-tested version: I’ve replaced half of the dry bread I would normally use with oats, to give the meatballs a slightly more earthy taste, and replaced my usual chopped parsley with some dried thyme and a pinch of allspice. It’s almost Christmas anyway, at least according to our local supermarket. There’s no stopping you from frying them in more fat for a neater finish, or baking them in the oven for a healthier version.

For the sauce you’ll need some stock. Beef is my favourite, but chicken will do. Start reducing it before you begin with the meatballs as it gives the finished sauce a stronger flavour. Trust me,  it’s so much nicer than any of the ready-made stuff!

The final, magic ingredient are the lingonberries. You can get them in said furniture warehouse or in various other Scandi-inspired shops and they’re well worth it: tart and sweet, a bit like cranberries, and cranberry sauce would work just as well.

Köttbullar – Swedish Meatballs

serves 4

for the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 slice of dry white bread, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 500g minced beef
  • 250g minced pork
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs (medium)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch of allspice
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tbs cooking oil, to fry

for the sauce:

  • 250ml beef or chicken stock, reduced from around 350ml
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 60ml water
  • 80ml single cream
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 punch of parsley, chopped
  • Lingonberry sauce
  • mashed potatoes

To reduce the stock, simply pour it into a medium-sized pan and bring it to boil. As it boils, the liquid evaporates and leaves you with a concentrated and intensively-flavoured jus. Keep an eye on it because you don’t want it to evaporate completely!

Soak the oats and the bread in the warm milk for 5-10 minutes. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients lightly, using your hands, adding a little milk or more oats if necessary. Don’t overmix: you want your meatballs to be light and springy!

Preheat your oven to 80C / 180F and warm up a serving plate.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. I form them as I pop them into the pan, which makes it slightly more complicated to brown them evenly but it saves me washing up more plates. Once they are nicely browned and cooked through, remove them from the pan and place them on the serving plate in the oven. Cover with aluminium foil and keep them warm.

Pour out any surplus fat before adding the concentrated stock to the pan and bring it to boil: you need to keep stirring to incorporate all the bits of meat still stuck to the pan, which will give your sauce the necessary depth. After a few minutes, pour the liquid through a fine sieve into a smaller saucepan ans bring it to simmer.

In a small bowl, mix the flour with the water until you have a smooth mix. Add this to the stock and keep simmering it for a few more minutes.

Add the cream and season, then pour it over the meatballs and serve, adding a little of the chopped parsley to make it look more healthy. Oh, and don’t forget the lingonberries and the mashed potatoes!

I’ll be bringing these meatballs over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, which I am co-hosting this week, together with the wonderful Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen. If you haven’t visited Fiesta Friday before, head over and see the wide range of dishes the different guests bring along. Or even better: join us by adding your link.

Don’t forget to link your post to FiestaFriday.net and our blogs, so we can feature you. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Hope to see you over there – Happy Fiesta Friday!

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This summer saw my childhood dream come true: visiting Sweden, home to Astrid Lindgren’s wonderful children’s books such as Pippi Longstocking, the Emil series and Karlsson, who lives on a roof. Like many Europeans, I had grown up following Lindgren’s anarchic characters on their wild adventures. Things have changed, though, and nowadays I like to keep anarchy at bay, preferably without missing out on an adventure or two!

Even if you’re not familiar with Pippi Longstocking, Sweden is a great place to visit with children. For a start, it’s one of the safest countries in the world and the impressive infrastructure makes it easy to explore the length and breadth of it. Museums, castles and parks are plentiful, and whether you’re in the city centre of Stockholm or on one of the tens of thousands of islands spread around the coast, the great outdoors are always just around the corner.

The only drawbacks are that, like in the whole of Scandinavia, everything is dreadfully expensive and the weather can be, well, a little challenging. But, as the Swedish proverb goes: Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläderthere is no bad weather, there’s only the wrong clothes. So plan ahead and bring a range of waterproofs. And arrange for an overdraft.

1 Visit Stockholm 

The capital Stockholm is scattered around fourteen different islands, loosely connected by bridges, ferries and all sorts of boats. And if that is not enough, Stockholm’s archipelago, which connects the city with the Baltic Sea, comprises another 30.000 islands, spoiling you for choice.

Gamla Stan, the old town, is the touristic centre of the city. Its beautifully painted houses date back as far as the 13th century and the medieval flair is best explored in the early hours of the morning, before everybody else gets up to do that. We’re not exactly early risers so we simply stayed in the middle of it, in one of the quieter side streets of Gamla Stan:

From Slussen Kajen with it’s fabulous bakery you can catch a ferry to Djurgården, where you find some of the most famous landmarks of Stockholm: the Skansen open-air museum, which allows you to take in the whole country in one leisurely stroll, and without even leaving the city:

The nearby Vasa Museum was built around an over 300-year old warship that had sunk at its launch, which explains the ship’s excellent condition. Over several floors you can explore the boat as well as many of the artefacts found at the bottom of the harbour:

With smaller kids, it helps to pretend it’s a pirate ship, and to send them on the quest to find the skeletons of the pirates. The remains of a handful of the people thought to have sunk with the ship are on the lower ground floor, providing you with a glimpse of what life was like in the 17th century. No need to let the little ones know that they weren’t really pirates…

Our favourite museum in Stockholm, however, was the Tekniska Museet, the museum of science and technology, which lies beyond Djurgården but can easily be reached by bus. We spent an entire afternoon there, exploring the science behind winter sports by competing on virtual cross-country skis against a group of elderly Finns who knew a thing or two about biathlon. Unlike us. A brilliant space for the whole family!

2 Visit Birka

Dotted around the centre are several boat companies trying to get you out of the city. And here’s why you should:

Just around 20 miles or two hours away via boat is Birka, a Viking settlement dating back to the 8th century. From this island in Lake Mälaren, Viking traders went out as far as Baghdad, establishing Birka as an important trading centre.

Although the excavations have all been covered protect them and the artefacts are displayed in Stockholm’s Historiska Museet, Birka is still worth a visit. For a start, the island is breathtakingly beautiful and there’s plenty of time to walk around and enjoy the scenery. A small museum gives you a good insight into Viking life and guides give tours or introduce you to the finer details of the origins of nordic cuisine:

Should the day turn out to be nice, there’s even a little beach for you to go for a swim in Lake Mälaren. Or not.

3 Explore the Stockholm Archipelago

When in Stockholm, do as the locals do and leave the city by taking a Waxholmsbolaget boat and head eastwards. Astrid Lindgren’s Seacrow Island describes an idyllic summer on one of the thousands of islands that line the passage from the capital to the Baltic Sea, with endless adventures, tame seals and a cottage with a leaking roof.

Like the Melkerson family on Seacrow Island, we had booked our a beautiful little cottage beforehand. Unlike theirs, ours was fully rainproof. One boat, a ferry and a short bus trip later and we were in paradise:

We spotted deer, woodpeckers and various fish, all at close range, and we caught glimpses of giant cruise ships making their way around the islands from the Baltic to Stockholm. The water was warm enough to swim in, or at least pleasant enough to look at.

All over the archipelago, regular buses and free ferries make island hopping easy, and the Waxholmsbolaget boats reach even the remotest islands.

4 Go Self-Catering

The downside of self-catering holidays is that you end up spending a lot of time cooking and washing up, but this is easily outweighed by the fact that you don’t have to sell one of your kidneys to be able to afford a holiday in Sweden.

To not miss out on the local cuisine, I had collected a couple of easy and child-friendly meals beforehand, using Bronte Aurell’s beautiful ScandiKitchen Cookbook and the internet for inspiration. Just reading about the foods made my mouth water! I decided on specific ingredients I wanted to try, such as pickled sprats and frozen reindeer, made a note of the recipes and measured out and pre-packed the necessary dry staples such as  breadcrumbs to avoid having to buy unnecessary quantities once there. A few teabags, sugar and cocoa powder did also come in handy as our hosts provided the essentials.

That way we were able to make the most of the local produce without having go out every night for a meal. Having a range of recipes ready means you don’t have to worry about planning meals or navigating foreign supermarkets, as you can make a note of the ingredients you want to buy in situ. Don’t forget to look up the Swedish words, such as the difference between whipping cream (vispad grädde) and sour cream (gräddfil), before you head to the shops…

And with that view, who wouldn’t mind..

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