Feb
11
2012
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New Reasons for Rose hip

Be good to yourself! Drink rose hip.

Rose hip reduces “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. That’s the latest from a study conducted at Lund University in Sweden on mice, the results of which were so interesting that the study was extended to overweight patients at Skåne’s University Hospital. The results from this extended study showed that just 5 dl (a little over 2 cups) of rose hip drink per day over a six-week period resulted in a noticeable improvement in cholesterol and blood values.

If you’ve been reading nordicwellbeing.com and this blog over time, you’ll know that we’ve been pro rose hip for some time, not only because of its very many health benefits but also for its tangy and remarkable flavor.

In Sweden rose hip “soup” consumed as a drink is a staple food and one favored daily by children as a pick-me-up in between meals. Nypon soup is one of those things in the collective memory of a culture that brings automatic comfort when a child (or adult!) has a cold. Now, it seems, there are very good reasons to continue with that habit and perhaps share the secret with people in other parts of the world.

Rose hip has an unfair reputation for being “difficult.” Yes, the prickly bushes make picking prickly and there is a little handling to do. Yet, if you live in an area where they grow, they are usually available in great abundance and, with a little knowledge and technique, handling doesn’t have to be more challenging than with any other fresh fruit or vegetable.

Here’s raising our glasses to and filled with rose hip soup!

Rose hip soup
(for daily drinking)

Rose hip purée (prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer, see below)
Water
Corn flour
Sugar or honey
Twist of lemon

A recipe for preparing rose hip mousse is provided on this page. This is the classic technique. Here I’d like to suggest a technique which is ‘modernized’ to suit our tight schedules and which just produces an unsweetened purée. Rather than removing all of the seeds and fibers from the inside of the fruit before cooking, cook the whole fruits and then pass/press all of the fruit through a fine sieve.

Blend the purée with water over low heat with a manual beater. Blend corn flour with a little cold water and add to achieve the desired slightly thick, but still drinkable consistency. Add sweetening and twist of lemon for flavor. Allow to cool in the refrigerator. Store in a container that can be shaken before drinking.

 

Written by Admin in: Berries,Beverages,Fruits,Rose hip | Tags:
Oct
24
2011
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Rose hip in stews

What can you make with rose hip other than rose hip soup?

As I was picking the fruit of the thorny rose hip this autumn out on my island I kept wondering whether there was anything else simple – other than the usual rose hip soup – I could do with these fantastic vitamin-C rich fruits of the season. There are so many excellent flavor and health benefits of rose hip that it had to be possible to find other uses for them.

While preparing the spicy red cabbage stew (see Paavo’s Danish or Swedish red Christmas cabbage) we were going to enjoy as a vegetable dish with the season’s local lamb and boiled potatoes, it occurred to me that I might try throwing in a few rose hips and see what new flavor experiences might await. Removing the top and and many seeds can be a little bit of a challenge, but if you have some good music or your favorite radio program on in the kitchen, it is just a pleasure.

I am happy to report that the flavor addition was outstanding. After this experience, I can heartily recommend that you use rose hip in any one of a number of your autumn stews (vegetarian or not), which you would like to add a tangy flavor element to. Add the rose hip in the last 20 minutes or so of cooking. Simmer gently!

 

Aug
04
2011
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Salmon with Zing & Berries

Black currants make the meal right

As the summer season wears on, the traditional salmon, dill and new potatoes can start to feel a little mild. Particularly, as the nights begin to clear in August, and the air sharpens, it feels like time to get a little zing into that salmon dish.

During a recent dinner I found a way to do this by preparing the salmon with some of the sharper spices of the East and by serving it with a salad of tangy berries that gave the whole meal a warming, pre-autumnal flavor. Black currants have a salty flavor and therefore fit well with savory dishes.

The entire meal is a plus for health, although you’ll want to give attention to issues concerning salmon – see The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook under S.

Salmon with Zing & Berries
Serves 4

For the salmon:

700-900 grams or 1 ½ to 2 lbs of salmon fillet with skin on
4 cm or 1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 length of chili, seeds removed and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Sprig of fresh coriander, chopped
3/4 dl or 1/3 cup olive or canola oil
Salt/Pepper

For the salad:
4 cups well-rinsed fresh spinach leaves
1 cup black currants
4 tbsps olive or canola oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
Salt/Pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C or 390 F. Rinse the salmon fillet and place, skin down on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix together the spices in the oil and spread evenly over the fillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, place the spinach leaves in a salad bowl and toss over the black currants. Sprinkle over oil and vinegar. and season with salt and pepper. Toss before serving with the salmon.

Jul
05
2011
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New discoveries with rhubarb

Full of new potential

Rhubarb season is past, but I cannot resist sharing with you a couple of excellent discoveries I made with rhubarb for a couple of early summer parties. You might still be in the mood for rhubarb, with its wonderful, tangy flavor, offering so much possibility but most often relegated to that good, but a little repetitive rhubarb crumble.

A good cheeseboard is always in need of a tangy, acidic fruit contrast. For a generous cheeseboard I laid out for an early evening cocktail party (in an outrageously beautiful setting – a green clearing on a cliff overlooking a lake), I offered a large, open jar of rhubarb and apple chutney. No one knew what it was but courageously dove in anyway and spooned dollops onto the top of the chunks of cheese on crisp bread. Rhubarb seemed logical to me with cheese and the apple was a little additive to reduce the sting of the rhubarb and make the chutney a bit smoother in texture – more comfortable, perhaps? My very own harvested honey made all of the difference – raw honey rather than sugar really makes this topping into the delight that it is.

Rhubarb Apple Chutney

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 medium-sweet, crisp apples, washed, peeled and chopped into large chunks
Juice of half a lemon
1.5 dl or 2/3 cup raw honey
4 tbsps water

Place all ingredients in a non-metallic pan (important to cook rhubarb safely in – read more!). Allow to cook for a half an hour over low heat, or until the rhubarb is soft enough for the blender. Place the mixture in a food processor and mix until smooth. Spoon into a clean jar and seal. Serve on a cheeseboard with celery that can also be dipped into this divine mix.

At one of my early summer dinner events, a number of the guests were vegetarians, and it struck me that making a curry with lots of wonderful fruits and nuts to scatter on top would be just the thing. The idea of making a curry with rhubarb as a base wouldn’t leave me and so I decided to make my guests guinea pigs and try it out. The outcome was striking – not sure I’ve ever enjoyed curry as much as I enjoyed this one.

Rhubarb Curry
Serves 4

Fistful of rhubarb, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
4 medium-sweet apples, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 stalks of celery, washed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 cm or 1-1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsps curry powder
6 tbsps olive oil
1/2 liter or 1/2 quart vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps raw honey

Sauté the onions, crushed garlic, grated ginger and curry for 2 minutes. Add the celery and the rhubarb and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the apples and pour over the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add raw honey and adjust seasoning. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Serve with bulgur, couscous or brown rice mixed with sunflower seeds. Provide a smorgasbord of condiments: banana sprinkled with lime, dessicated coconut, cashew nuts, slivered almonds and whatever else you can think of that might up the flavor and texture experience!

 

Mar
20
2011
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Spring Nutty Cake

Use dried fruit rather than refined sugar to sweeten desserts

As everyone indulges in mounds of cream sandwiched in huge buns consisting primarily of things that really aren’t going to do us much good (white flour and sugar), it’s time to think anew. I know that I am a party-pooper when it comes to the annual semla-fest, a Swedish tradition which is also practiced in other Northern European cultures, which originated in the need to pack in the calories before the 40 days of fasting decreed by the Catholic Church at Lent.

These days most of us do not fast anymore and the on average 4-5 gigantic semla buns that Swedes consume annually are in a continuum with all of the other calorie-rich foods that continue to be consumed on a regular basis. It’s one of those familiar things that provides a short feel-good experience and then leaves you feeling a bit, well, bloated. As you know from this blog, I’m not against cream, I just find that the increasingly wide-spread consumption of foods such as semla, which are no longer limited to the time frame of tradition (that is, you can in fact consume a semla at just about any time of year), is unfortunate. 

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time for the good news. You don’t have to abstain from a sweet, even with a dollop of cream, to be healthy. Inspired by the many unused packages of dates I received as gifts at Christmas mingles, I decided to see whether these fruits, which have a strong natural sweetness could be used in making something tasty to consume with a cup of tea. Since I always have a wide range of nuts and dried fruits stored away in my kitchen cupboard, I decided to experiment with a few of these to make a cake, without refined flour and sugar.  The result was a divine, light cake with great texture that everyone in the family enjoyed, and all made without the use of refined flour and sugar!

Spring Nutty Cake

200 grams or 7 oz. ecological dates (you can also use figs)
1 dl or 1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 dl or 1/2 cup almonds
1 dl or 1/2 cup walnuts
1 dl or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
6 egg whites
vanilla essence or vanilla sugar

Preheat your oven at 175 C or 347 F and line a baking tin with baking paper. Run the dates through the food processor so that they are chopped very fine. Add nuts and dessicated coconut and process, one deciliter or half  cup at a time. Whip egg whites until stiff , adding vanilla sugar. Gently fold the dried fruit and nut mixture under the egg whites until a batter forms. Empty the batter into the lined baking tin and bake for 45 minutes. The cake should not be baked dry and should retain some moisture inside. If you have that whipped cream craving, don’t hesitate to add a dollop to your slice of spring nutty cake.

Written by Admin in: Cakes,Dried Fruits,Fruits,Nuts,Sweet Food | Tags: , , ,
Jul
17
2010
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Using Gooseberries

The perfect balance between sweetness and tartness

My fingers are feeling tender, but they are certainly worth picking. Is there a berry with a more perfect balance between sweetness and tartness than the hard-to-get gooseberry? When they have reached a state of perfect ripeness, I find that quite a few do not make it to my kitchen counter. They are shamelessly devoured right at the bush which is of course the most healthful way to enjoy them. Gooseberries have more vitamin C in them than most fruits and they are rich in antioxidants which protect against a wide range of modern-day diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

However, for those that do make it to the kitchen counter, I’ve got a couple of good ideas. The first is one that my husband reminds me of each year when the gooseberries ripen. “Grandmother made a wonderful cold gooseberry soup with whipped cream,” he reminisces. Of course, I have no idea exactly how grandmother made her gooseberry soup and unfortunately I cannot ask her since she took her recipe with her to heaven some decades ago. Here is my best guess which is tried and tested, and makes a superb dessert or a light lunch on a hot summer’s day.

Gooseberry Soup
Serves 4

1 liter or 1 quart gooseberries, hard ends removed
Water (as per preparation instructions)
Contents of one vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 lime
Honey or sugar to taste
4 tbsps cornflour blended with a bit of cold water

Place the gooseberries in a cooking pot and pour in enough water so that the gooseberries are not quite covered by the water. Add vanilla pod or vanilla sugar. Cook over medium heat so that the berries soften – ensure that the mixture does not boil. Remove from heat and add honey or sugar to taste. Once blended, add the cornflour mixture and allow to thicken over low heat. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into a serving bowl and grate over the rind of 1 lime. Serve with the option of whipping cream.

Recently I discovered that gooseberry makes a delicious sauce for roast chicken (and I am sure turkey). Everyone at the table, particularly my children, agreed. Take about 2 dl or 1 cup of gooseberries and pour over 2 dl or half a cup of water. Allow to cook over low heat until the berries have softened. Add a little sugar and a pinch of salt and blend so that the berries are crushed. Don’t make the sauce too sweet – remember this is a savory topping. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Serve at the table in a pitcher as an option with the roast chicken. Don’t serve anything spicy with this dish – perhaps a few roasted or boiled vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and parsnips – so that the wonderful gooseberry flavor can be allowed to stand out.

Written by Admin in: Fruit Soup,Gooseberries |
Oct
16
2009
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Thin Apple Cake

It's October again...

It's October again...

October wouldn’t be October without an apple recipe. At Sweden’s smallest factory, which happens to be devoted to apple products, I tasted the most heavenly little apple cake with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I tasted carefully in order to record the ingredients on my tongue and recreate at home. Here is what I came up with and it is very good. The upside is that you can eat it in thin, small slices. The downside is that it does contain those bad boys, refined white flour, sugar and butter. This recipe contains no eggs.

Thin Apple Cake

4-5 tart medium-sized apples peeled and cut into slices
juice of 1/2 lemon
2.5 dl or 1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps vanilla sugar
2 dl or 3/4 cup sugar
1.5 dl or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
100 g or 3.5 oz. butter
4-5 dl or 1.5- 2 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 392 F. Grease a pie dish. Prepare the apples and toss in lemon juice. Melt the butter in a pan, remove from the heat and blend in milk. Start with 4 dl. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in them and pour in the butter and milk liquid. Blend with a hand-held beater. The batter should not be too stiff. Add milk if it is hard to mix with the beater. Pour the apples into the batter and mix into the liquid. Pour the batter into the pie dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Learn more about  Sweden’s smallest factory devoted to apples at Julie’s Nordic Island.

Written by Admin in: Apples,Cakes,Fruits,Sweet Food | Tags: , ,
Oct
05
2009
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More plums…

A real winner

A real winner

Now you’ve been very patient, waiting for me to test that plum sauce and see whether it works with savory foods. The good news is that a) it does and it is superb and b) you get an extra recipe for plums which cropped up in the process!

I served the following plum sauce over pork served with braised apples and red cabbage, and boiled potatoes. My children couldn’t get enough of it which should give you the heads up. It has the advantage that it is much more health conscious compared to the better known plum sauce from Asian kitchens.

Savory Plum Sauce

1 liter or 1 quart plums, halved and pitted
3 dl or 1 1/3 cups dry white wine
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
3 tbsps honey

Cook the plums covered on low heat in dry white wine and vinegar.  Once the plums are soft, allow to cool and press through a strainer. Place the plum liquid into a clean cooking pot and add honey. Allow to cook on low heat uncovered until the volume of the sauce has reduced by half.  Serve warm or cold over pork, potatoes or other.

Making the sauce didn’t exactly take care of the copious quantities of plums I had picked from my tree. I even needed a friend to help me pick them and suggested she take a basket home. We both came to the conclusion that the best thing to do in order to bottle this sunshine was to make some plum jam. This recipe is divine:

Bottled sunshine

Bottled sunshine

Plum Jam with Lemon & Cinammon

1 liter or 1 quart plums, halved and pitted
500 grams or 1 lb sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp natrium bensoate

Clean glass jars with tops for bottling

Combine all jam ingredients in a pot and blend with a wooden spoon, cover and cook over low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved and the jam is gently bubbling, remove from heat and skim away the ‘foam’ at the surface of the jam. Blend the natrium bensoate in a spoon or two of jam and add to the pot, blending thoroughly. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Pot the jam immediately.

Aug
07
2009
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Newly harvested honey on flambéd fruit

Raw Honey

Raw Honey

Last night I tried out a few experimental recipes from various cookbooks I have in my kitchen library but it was my own dessert recipe, whipped up on the spur of the moment, that I got that 5 stars for.

The secret to this lovely sweet is the power of warmed, newly harvested raw honey. When I say raw, I mean honey that has not been preheated and remixed with sugar by the food industry. You can find it sold in the small boutiques and by beekeepers in your area.  As you know, I am a beekeeper, so it isn’t hard for me to find raw honey.

I had six very mature bananas resting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter, last year’s rosewater (liquid from aromatic rose petals immersed in brandy) and more jars of newly harvested honey than I can count, I set to work as follows:

Flambéd Fruit with Honey
Serves 4

4 mature (but not black) bananas peeled and halved lengthwise (it doesn’t matter if the bananas break into smaller pieces)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
50 g or 2 oz butter for sautéing
1 dl or 1/2 cup brandy, warmed
1 dl or 1/2 cup raw honey
Vanilla ice cream or whipping cream

Warm the honey in a small pan. Do not allow to boil. Whip the cream or remove the vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Place 4 dessert bowls on the counter so that it is easy to assemble the dessert quickly and serve.

Douse the newly sliced bananas in lemon juice. Sauté the bananas in a thick-bottomed pan in butter until lightly browned. Don’t over-handle the bananas as they will become mushy. Flambé the bananas for your dining audience by momentarily bringing the pan near the table, throwing the warm brandy over the bananas and setting it alight. As soon as the flame has died down, spoon the bananas into the bowls and top with one scoop of vanilla ice cream plus a generous drizzle of warm honey. Serve immediately.

As with all desserts, in fact all foods, please remember to stick to small portions. This is a lovely sweet to round off the meal, not the main feature of a second meal after the first meal!

Written by Admin in: Bananas,Desserts,Fruits,honey,Sweet Food | Tags: , ,
Apr
28
2009
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Black Currant Cake

Black Currants

Black Currants

As the black currant bushes around my town home and out on my island begin to sprout the first aromatic leaves, I realize that it is time to use up my frozen berries from last year’s harvest. Black currant is regarded by many nutritionists as a wonderfood due to its high antioxidant content (meaning that they offer protection against free radicals which can damage cells and cause disease). The only question is how can you use them aside from in the standard, albeit wonderful, jam pot? Black currants have a strong flavor and can be more difficult to figure out how to use in bakes, etc.

Recently I discovered a recipe for a black currant cake in one of my cookbooks, but I had to hesitate. Mounds of sugar, butter and white flour were required in order to produce this delicious-looking black currant creation. I summoned my courage and decided to make the cake with alterations. The result was divine and everyone liked it without exception.

Here we go:

Black Currant Cake

For the cake:

3 eggs
2.5 dl or 1 cup raw sugar
3 dl or 1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
For the topping:

4 dl or 1.5-2 cups black currants (frozen or fresh)
50 g or 2 oz butter cut into thin slabs
2 dl or 1 cup slivered almonds
0.5 dl or 1/4 cup raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 175 C or 347 F. Grease a regular-sized pie dish. Blend the eggs and sugar until creamy. Add the flour and remain cake base ingredients. Blend. Pour into the pie dish.

Scatter the black currants evenly across the top of the cake base. Follow with a layer of nuts. Scatter the sugar across the top and finally distribute the slabs of butter evenly.  Bake approximately 30-35 minutes. The cake should not be entirely firm and retain some moisture in the middle.

Allow to cool and enjoy in small pieces with tea or coffee. Remember that quantity and physical activity are key in being able to enjoy your desserts well!

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