Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Okejdå, Fastlagsbullar

February 22, 2012

varning: may contain svengelska, nostalgi, and poor grammar

För två sedan (var det sååå länge sedan?!) kom jag på att det vore kul att översätta Semlor receptet till engelska, eftersom jag lyckade inte hitta en bra och enkel version på nättet. Jag och några kompisar hade nyss lagat hembakat semlor och så tog jag receptet vi hade använt och skissade ut det så bra som jag kunde på amerikansk engelska. Det var faktist första riktiga ‘sv–>en’ översättningen jag hade försökt.*

Nyfiken? Hittar du receptet här 🙂

Nu har två år gått förbi: jag bor såklart inte längre i Sverige och har själv inte ens ätit en semla i år… men ändå är detta recept som jag översatte i 2010 bloggens mest besökta inlägg…of all time.  Jag får kolla statistiken och det står att 68 hungriga och semla-på-engelska-sökande själar har tittat på just detta inlägg under de senaste dagar! Det kanske inte verkar vara så mycket egentligen, men, trust me, 68 personer räknar som massor när det gäller den här liten, liten blogg.

Vad jag blir glad när jag ser att så mycket folk kollar receptet och antagligen bakar sina egna semlor, ändå på engelska! Det kan tyda bara att det är dags resa tillbaka i tiden och baka lite kalifornienska semlor här hemma. Tyvärr är det inte lätt att hitta mandelmassa i USA…men man kan väl försöka!


Translation: It’s Fat Tuesday, so bake some Semlor y’all.

Curious: Find you the recipe here 🙂


*Och så firar jag första översättningen med att lägga upp första inlägget skrivit nästan helt på svenska. Tänkte köra nåt nytt bara, och det högst troligen kommer inte hända igen 😛 Rätta mitt språk om ni vill! Jag var aldrig duktig på grammatiken…

Où est le fromage?

February 9, 2012

I’m not quite sure why I find this so ridiculously hilarious. Possibly it’s the author’s gushing (oozing?) enthusiasm for cheese, something I find delicious but otherwise mundane. Possibly it’s the fact that his descriptions of cheese often teeter dangerously on the edge of, well, I don’t know what.  Possibly it’s the necessary inclusion of the word ‘cheese’ in every other sentence. At any rate, it is a book of Bible-thickness entitled Cheese Primer, written by Steven Jenkins,  “The first American to be awarded France’s prestigious Chevalier du Taste-Fromage,” and it recently found its way into my hands.  What is possibly most comedic of all, however, is the fact that I, in this interim stage of semi-unemployment, have somehow managed to convince myself that it is worthwhile to siphon out the best quotes from the aforementioned cheese book and blog about them. Ahem, we shall begin with Le France:

“France, for me, is a glorious wonder. But what astounds me most–French history, custom, and style aside–are the cheeses. I have worked with French cheeses virtually every day for the last 20 years. I coddle and caress them, occasionally inadvertently abuse them, but mostly, I am in awe of them.”

Dude, Puuh–leease. Is it just me or does his relationship with French cheese seem mildly inappropriate?  And then there’s Italy:

“But when it comes to cheeses, no one is ore adulatory and protective than the Italians, who are, I must add, equally dismissive about all cheese that is not Italian.”

Personally, I just love how close the word ‘adulatory’ is to ‘adultery.’

Switzerland is priceless:

“Switzerland’s cheeses are big, hard-rinded, rugged ones that are much less fragile. Their physical configuration matches the topography of the mountainous area where they originate. The most famous–Emmental and Gruyére–are dense textured and massive in size, so they must be hewn into smaller segements with double-handled knives. These sturdy cheeses evolved to meet the need dictated by the weater (long, cold winters*) and terrain (remote pastures high in the Alps).”

Of course, I had to read the section on Gruyere. This cheese was after all, much to my waistline’s dismay, probably my primary source of protein last summer.

“Gruyere (grew-YAIR or gree-AIR) hails from the canton of Fribourg, an area north and east of Lake Geneva…the longer I am in the business the more I realize the importance of Gruyére and the more forcefully I am stuck by it’s supremacy, it’s majesty.”

Vive le Gruyére! Forcefully majestic, indeed.

And then there’s sodden Merry ol’ Britain….

The British Isles are a dairy wonderland of common climate, temperature, elevation, and pasturages.”

While French and Italian cheeses take up well near half the book, Scandinavian & Germanic Cheeses are wedged together in a shorter section about less fine products. On Scandi varieties:

“As a group, these cheeses are simple and economical…like most factory-produced cheeses, their quality is constant, varying little from batch to batch–the result of modern facilities and scientific technology, much of which is actually imported from the US.”

This is hilarious because it quite nearly encompasses the general stereotype about everything Scandinavian.** Unfortunate, really.

Germanic stoicism at its cheesiest:

“German cheeses, while standing tall in aroma and flavor intensity, fall short when it comes to depth and nuance….Strong German and Austrian cheeses are often only that–strong

And the reviews get only worse from there, on Greece and the Balkans:

“[The Balkan countries] offer little of the cheese variety and romance of Western Europe….Were it not for Feta, this area wouldn’t figure on the cheese front at all, except in the not inconsiderable ethnic markets.”

You may have thought that was harsh, but truly, it’s our*** friendly neighbor to the north that gets no love from Jenkins. Canada warrants a mere two pages in his thick cheese-bible, and the section opens with the fatalistic proclamation:

‘Though one would expect that a country as big as Canada would be home to a great many cheesemaking facilities and a prodigious quantity of cheese, it is not. Curiously, Canadians are not big consumers of cheese. I find that baffling.”

I find this entire book baffling.


*Long winters, which I am currently (fortunately?) missing. 21 C in February, Heck Yes California.

**Ok, so Skandinavia: I did read the Sweden section, which was very short and consisted of two cheeses I had never heard of. I therefore will submit to Mr. Jenkins my suggestion for the addition of Prästost to the list.


Prästost, like nearly every other cheese in Sweden, is a white cheese with small holes in it. It is tolerable on crisp bread or skorpor, especially if you lather on the butter first and/or top with fish eggs in paste form, herring, or jam. The name Prästost, means “Priest Cheese” and comes from a time long ago when the people of a small village had no money to pay the tithe to the Priest, and instead paid in cheese. It is this story, and the lack of anything better, which makes Prästost the best common cheese in Sweden. If you are in the US, and if you are lucky, it might be available in an IKEA near you. 

***His section on American cheeses is pretty interesting and comprehensive, though notably less hilarious than his representations of European countries.  The gist is: most American cheeses are milder, mass-produced copies of their European originals. Regrettably (or…mercifully), he makes no mention of Cheezwhiz.

Semlor Recipe, in English

March 3, 2010


Hi everyone reading this! I am trying to get your attention. Well, hopefully that worked. Anyway, this post is my blog’s most-read post, probably because I think this is one of the very few Semlor recipes in English that exists on the internet. As my blog statistics meter tells me, several people visit this post each week (especially now since it is actually time to make semlor again) even almost a year after I posted it. I am curious: Who are you guys? Where are you from? Why are you making Semlor in English? Please leave me a comment, I’m interested to know 🙂 Thanks for reading, and enjoy your semlor!

Tack snälla!


Well, Fat Tuesday has long since passed. Sadly, you are technically not allowed to eat these semlor (aka fetttisdagsbullar or fat tuesday buns) any longer, as it is now fasten, or Lent. That being said, here is my English translation of the recipe, just to tempt you.


75 gram or 3/4 stick butter (or margarine for vegan)

2.5 dl or  a bit less than 1 (.85) cup milk

2.5 dl or about 1 cup sugar

25 gram fresh or 3.5 tblspn dry  yeast

7.5 or  3 cup white flour

teaspoon cardamum


300 gram or maybe 2? cup Mandelmassa (almond paste, or I think Marzipan would work too)

3 dl or 1 1/4 cup whipped cream.

Powdered sugar!

Gör så här: Do the following:

1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add in the milk and warm to “fingervarmt”, or around body temperature.

2. Dissolve the yeast in ab0ut 1/4 c water. Mix until the thick mixture is homogeneous, let sit for 10 min.

3. Add the rest of the dough ingredients: the salt sugar, cardamom and the majority of the flour. Save a little bit of the flour for forming the buns. Knead the dough until it is smooth and shiny, about 10-15 min. Place the dough back in the bowl and let rise for 40 min in warm, dry, place.

4. Take out the dough onto a flat surface. Form the buns by rolling circular shapes with your hands. They should be around 1.5 inches in diameter, but you can make them however you want.
5. Place the buns on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Let them rise for 30 minutes more. Heat the oven to 430 F (225 C)

6. If you want to, you can brush the buns with an eggwash or with soymilk. Set in the oven and bake for 10 min or so until done.

7. After then buns have baked and cooled for around 5 min, cut the top off each bun, about 1/4 inch down the bun. Pull out a bit of the warm bread-flesh from inside the bun. Add the extracted bread-flesh to a bowl with the (chopped or otherwise shredded) mandelmassa and stir them together.

8. Add the mandelmassa mixture to the empty spot in each bun. A top each mandelmassa, add a dollop of whipped cream. Set the tops back on each bun, and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, like snow.

9. Eat them, and then say ten “Hail Marys” and five “Our Fathers”. Repent, my child.

Based on the recipe from:

Spinning and Semlor

January 25, 2010

God, I wish this was my bike.

Yesterday, I realized I had been two weeks off the bike. Riding the crapcycle (doesn’t shift, makes scary noises, that cable that was wrapped around the pedal finally tore off) up to Kemicentrum every morning simply doesn’t count. Jogging outside is nice, but if you go too fast your face freezes off. After enduring two weeks of cycle-less desperation, I finally doled out the $72 dollars for a semester gym pass, and attended my first spinning class in Sweden. Little did I know it would be the best spinning class of my life.

I handed in my spinning ticket to the instructor a, middle aged man named Arne, and walked into an airy, open room with likely about 100 swedes on stationary bikes. So, so unlike the terribly small dungeon/raquetball court that is used for spinning in Berkeley! Even before I got on the bike, I was smiling. Can you imagine enormity of my excitement and amusement when the first song the instructor played was “Mamma Mia”? So, so much more enjoyable than having Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and the likes blasted in your face for 45 minutes. Can you imagine how hard I started pedaling when Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” came on? And, can you imagine how good it felt to have 60 minutes of intensive exercise after almost two weeks of a semi-sedentary lifestyle? I’ll give you a hint: it felt good. Really, really good.

The rest of the day made it even better. Johanna and I visited Lena- a really cool girl from Uppsala who studies Human Ecology- in order to bake Semlor, the delicious marizpan and creme-filled buns eaten in Sweden before Lent. Lena lives in an all -female building, a place that reminded me a lot of my beloved Sherman Hall. Movie and theater posters adorned the walls, along with some cutout pictures from Pride and Prejudice, Twilight, and other girly things. I’m not usually one to out and call myself I girly-girl (I mean come on, I study physics, ride bikes, and worked as a maintenance manager), but living with all boys these last two weeks (a whole ‘nother post to look out for) has made me realized how much I truly valued the strong female community that I was immersed in at Sherman Hall. Being at Lena’s for even a couple of hours made me feel  so much  at home here.  Maybe it was the baking. Ah, yes…the baking:

Good lord, these are delicious. Maria from Malmö joined our baking party, and a couple of other ladies dropped in from time to time to enjoy a semla. I think we each ate two of them. There was a lot of good Swedish conversation, a dice game called dados, and a bit of svengelska/swenglish (the swedish version of spanglish). After semlor we watched a Swedish historical comedy about Gustav Vasa…the king who kicked out Christian the Terrible (sorry I’m in Sweden now, he is no longer Christian the Great, as he is called in Denmark.) The point of the series, called “Nisse Huld,” is to show an alternate, comedic interpretation of historical events. For example: Apparently, according to the film, the original Vasaloppet was done in the summer time. Who knew? Of course, it’s a bit harder to ski when there is no snow.

En trevlig helg- a wonderful weekend- to be sure. But it’s back to KEMI now-which is mentally trying in many ways, but still, less frustrating than Quantum. So far. There’s nothing like struggling with the language to make you pay full, direct, unwavering attention to a two-hour lecture at 8 in the morning. I’ll update you on that as soon as I master molekylar växelverkan.

Oh, and I promise I will try to be a regular Julia Childs and translate the Semlor recipe into English for those of you who would like to try it at home.

Not Bread: Polenta- Fruit Pancakes

August 9, 2009


Have you ever woken up and thought to yourself: I want Polenta. In pancake form…? I’m not going to lie. I have. Today in fact. So I made these up. And surprise! A recipe that isn’t bread. Pancakes don’t count as bread, right?

It is eggless, so it can easily be made vegan, by the simple substitution of soy milk. It also is made with whole wheat flour, so not only is it delicious, but it has the appearance of being somewhat “healthy”

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup water

1 cup milk (soy for all you Vegan kids)

1.5 cups dry polenta (cornmeal)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons veggie oil

Fruit topping-I’ve done blueberries, blackberries, figs, and thinly sliced pears.

Butter or Spray (or fancy pan) for non-stick

Start off by cooking the polenta. I did it by covering the polenta with boiling water, letting it sit for a few minutes, and then microwaving it for 15 secs. You could do it however you want…in the microwave, in a saucepan, whatever. As long as it turns out soft and fluffly.

Combine, flour, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon and milk and water. Mix until combined and a thick but pour-able batter has formed. Then add the cooked polenta. Mix it well, until the polenta is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Taste it, it’s good.

Grease up your pan, and set it over a medium flame. Once the pan heats up, spoon the batter on there. I like to make mine really big and fluffly, almost like a real cake, but any size will do, depending on your preferences. Place the berries or thinly sliced fruit on top. Cook and flip like a normal pancake, except when it is ready to be flipped, there will be fewer bubbles than a normal pancake wold have. But you’ll get the hang of it.

Serve them with honey, real maple syrup (not that fake stuff!), jam, or just plain. I like them plain.

And there you have it. Polenta Pancakes.


Bread: A Sourdough Story

July 25, 2009

Two bags of flour. eleven days. One goal: Sourdough Starter.

If that sounded very much like of the opening lines of the formerly popular TV reality show “Survivor” to you, then pat yourself on the back. You got my stupid joke.

But here’s what this is really all about, for the last twelve days, I have had a secret project on my shelf in my room. A cup of water and a cup of flour sat there festering, bubbling, rising and falling, taking my nightly feedings with glee. No, it I am not talking about some alien flesh-eating plant that I bought in China Town. I am referring to the king of all bread-making experiences: the creation of a sourdough starter. And finally on Day twelve it was ready to bake.

Here’s how it looked on day three:

And here’s what came out of the oven, on day twelve:


Golden delicious!

Here’s how I did it (based on the cheeseboard recipe!):

Day 1: 1 cup Rye flour, one cup water, in a ceramic or glass bowl. cover with an old cloth (I use a t-shirt). let sit at room temp, in a dry place.

Day 3: Feed your baby 2/3 cup water and 1/2 a cup of white flour. stir with a wooden spoon. Recover, let sit.

Day 5: reserve a quarter cup of the mixture, throw the rest away. return the 1/4 cup of reserved starter to the bowl and feed that voracious little monster 1/2 cup of water and 2/3 cup white flour. stir. recover let sit. (watch out for mold… eww)

Day 7: repeat day 5. Name your starter. Mine’s named Sherman Audrey III.

Day 9: repeat day 5

Day 10: repeat day 5

Day 11: You’ve made it! If you’re gonna bake right away (which of course, you’re gonna do), add 1.5 cup flour and 1 cup water, mix and let sit for 12 hours. Then you can use it for any recipe that calls for sour dough starter! but remember save a quarter cup and replenish a la day 5.

Cheeseboard says you can keep your starter in the fridge for ever, keeping it alive with monthly feedings (like the ones on day five). The older, the better, I’ve heard.

Bread: Sweet Potato Rye

July 11, 2009

After salvaging five sweet potatoes from the dying produce section of Berkeley Bowl (for a total cost of 49 cents!) I naturally found myself in possession of an abundant amount of sweet potatoes. In trying to decide what to do with them (they really were on the verge of dying, action needed to be taken) I naturally tossed then in a pot of water to boil. And after they were boiled, I decided to invent a Rye bread recipe based on sweet potatoes, naturally.

This was to be the first bread recipe I had invented on my own. Standing at the threshold of my kitchen, I felt a surge of reckless adventure, as if I was sailing out into uncharted waters (aboard a viking ship, of course, since it was to be rye bread that involves boiled potatoes). Oh, the sagas of bread-making.

Here is what I came up with: IMG_2850

Indeed, the image is sideways and blurry. But you get the idea, right? I have gotten requests for more description of the bread-making process, so here goes:

Here’s what I used:
1 Medium Sweet potato
1 ½ tablespoon dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
¼-1/2 cup sugar (maybe add more or use brown sugar!)

¼ cup Molasses

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cardamom

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups rye flour
4+ cups whole wheat flour
extra water and flour for kneading

and here’s how you make it:

Start that potato a-boiling. let it boil until it is soft all the way through. When it is done, you should be able to pull it out, scrape the skin off easily, and mash it up. But leave a few small unmashed chunks in there, they are rather nice in the bread.

In a large bowl, dissolve the dry yeast in the 3 cups of lukewarm water. Don’t use water that is too hot, or else you’ll kill the little yeast-ies that are at work in there. Let the mixture sit for around five minutes until there are little bubbles in it. At this point, add the sugar (you may want to add more if you want sweeter bread, but I prefer it not too sweet) molasses and cocoa and spices. Mix well until all of these delicious ingredients  have combined. Add the mashed Sweet potato, and combine ingredients.  Next, add the two cups of rye flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. Yes it must be a wooden spoon. don’t ask me why, that is simply the rule. Continue to add in the 4+ cups of Whole Wheat flour (you can used all-puporpuse if you desire, but when making bread in general I usually prefer WW flour). You may need to add more flour in order to allow the mixture to form a soft dough. At this point you should use you hands to mix the dough. Really, it is the best way. When you can form it into a small round ball, do so. Place it back in the bowl, cover it with a cloth, and set it in a warm (but not hot!) place to rise for about 45 min to one hour. Use that hour to read twelve pages of “The Brothers Karamazov”. Yes, it very well may take you that long.

After the hour has passed, return to your bread. It should have grown a bit bigger, noticeably so, but nothing too dramatic. Spread out some flour on a flat clean surface, and plop the bread dough down on it. Add a half a cup of WW flour here and there, depending on how much the dough will take. It seems to vary every time. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. Return to the bowl and let it rise again, this time 30-45 minutes. Read six pages of Dostoevsky.

Return to your bread. It is time to shape the loaf, my favorite part! The way I personally did it was by rolling out the dough, separating into three strands, braiding then and the fitting the whole thing into a loaf pan. This makes a coherent loaf with a top that has a pull-apart quality. But you can do it however you want. If you are using a loaf pan, don’t forget to put some sort of anti-sticky agent (read: butter or PAM) in the pan. You won’t regret it. Bake at 350 for 50 min to one hour, until the top of the loaf is just slightly browner than the rest of it. Let it cool off (or eat it right away, which it what i usually do. That usually lands me with a burnt tongue.)

Enjoy with butter, peanut butter (highly recommended, by the way) or chocolate. I may also one day try this with raisins baked inside of it. Yum. Happy baking.

From the Photo Vault: the giant strawberry

July 9, 2009


I would like to take this opportunity to introduce a new feature on my blog, (as it has an sort of journalistic direction to begin with) called ‘From the Photo Vault’. In this feature, I will post an interesting but completely random photo from the days before I had a blog and I could force innocent passerby to look at my amateurish attempt at photography.

And so I give you ‘The Giant Strawberry”, from about a year ago. Yes, it was so big you could eat it like a hand-fruit. Yes, after taking this picture, I ate it like a hand-fruit, whatever that means. And Yes, it was delicious.

Bread: Gammelsurbrød, round 2

July 6, 2009


This was my breakfast. The all rye-meal gammelsurbrød that I thought I had killed eventually turned out to be pretty good. Very sour. I mean, it really put the “sur” in gammelsurbrød. It is likely the most potent rye I have made throughout this entire arbitrary obsession. That’s because it had a long time to ferment—this bread was over 24 hours in the making—and the dough smelled pretty much like alcohol when I put it in the oven.

Bread starters are semi-frightening because they are very much alive. They get all bubbly-like and ferment-y, they rise and fall (like breathing), and they sometimes can learn to recognize simple words and phrases. Basically, they develop the intelligence level of a human infant, or a really dumb toddler.

While the last part of that paragraph was utter nonsense, it is true that bread starters are finicky things. Like I said, I almost killed mine. I added too much flour and it didn’t rise overnight. So I added and extra tablespoon of yeast and some warm water, re-mixed it, and let it rise all day (hence the extra time for fermentation). Thankfully, it revived itself and I was able to bake it at night, and enjoy with fried egg the next morning.

For this bread and other Danish recipes, check out:

But I think that you should add less rye meal during the first rising. And remember, patience is key. Let that bread dough get totally raunchy and semi-alcoholic. And don’t forget a fried or boiled egg. yum.

Pizza Madness

July 5, 2009


Pizza madness: one of the several good kinds of mild insanity. We spent around $25 and fed around 10 people, with a lot of left overs. And as you can see, it was freaking delicious. Too good not to brag about.

Crust: Cheeseboard recipe (whole wheat. all whole wheat)

Topping: home made marinara sauce, store-bought pesto, mushrooms, olives, caramelized onions, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and chevre goat cheese.

Pizza making music that we listened to while chopping stuff: The Chieftains (this is the secret ingredient.)