Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Christmas came and went very quietly around here. Just the way we wanted it. We have watched movies and eaten good food. Relaxed and played games. And we've gotten to just enjoy our beautiful house without the pressure of always having to work on it. 

We got the tree from a farm down the road, a big fat one this year.

Ham with mustard crust
Jansson's temptation (potatoes au gratin with anchovy)
Cured salmon with mustard dill sauce
prince sausages and meatballs
At least 3 kinds of herring
Salty cucumbers
James' deviled eggs

On Christmas day we opened presents and enjoyed leftovers.

I decided to make Swedish Christmas candy this year. My mom always makes marzipan rolls and I never did cause I can never find good almond paste. So this year I made my own. I even boiled the almonds and shelled them, like we used to do. About 200 grams worth. Then I mixed them with 1 deciliter of sugar and 1 deciliter of confectioners sugar in the blender. A splash of cream and I was ready to make chocolate rolls. I made rolls from the almond paste, melted dark chocolate and brushed it on real thick. 

I also made market chocolate. We call it that because you always buy baggies of it when the markets are in town, the biggest one in my hometown is around my birthday, January 25th and it is a big deal. It always seemed to coincide with the COLDEST days of the winter, but that didn't matter. You'd head in to town after school and walk for hours buying trinkets and market candy. I had to look it up and I found out that this particular market, Hindersmässan has been going on in Örebro since 1300 and it was the iron trade that kicked it off.

Whoa. That was some tangent. I get a little homesick around the holidays...

Anyway, the chocolate is so easy to make.

Put about 1/2 cup of shortening, 2 1/2 dls of sugar and 1 dl of water in a pot and boil till it all dissolves. In a bowl sift in 3 dls of flour, 2 dls of confectioners sugar and 1/2 dl of cocoa. Pour the mixture in the pot over the dry ingredients and mix good. Spread it out on a baking sheet and put it in the fridge. When its hard cut it into squares.

The cottage is coming along nicely. The siding is all done except for one side. This one...

Which makes for an excellent before and after opportunity.

Wouldn't you want to live here? You can. Starting February 1st...

We plan on painting the trim the same color as our house.

Board and baton detail.


We gutted the bathroom and Brian is laying a whole new shower in there which is going to free up a lot of room. We are doing subway tile in the shower and a checker board tile floor. 

A quiet christmas was followed by even quieter squeeze days. Partly thanks to this guy.

A dog on loan. Weasley comes from down the street, Little Dog Orchard. His parents went out west to visit family for a week and the little guy moved in with us. What a perfect excuse to stay in for New Years and to stay close to home. 

He really is the perfect little dog. So so mellow and lovey and fun to take for walks. The only thing he seems to like more than going out is coming back inside. 

When we can get back to this. 

So we made New Year's special by coming up with a 3 course dinner for ourselves.

Skagen toast for an appetizer. Which is toast with shrimp, sour cream, roe, red onion and dill.

Steak Frites with Bearnaise.
I made frites in the oven, tossed them in oil and seasoned salt and broiled till they were crispy.
I got nice thick petite sirloin steaks and rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I seared them for a minute on each side and then let them rest. After that I think we did about 5 minutes on low heat on each side.
We cooked the Bearnaise together with fresh tarragon. It really came out fantastic.

The next morning I made scrammies with onion and cut up left over frites. Served with steak and sauce again I think it was almost better the 2nd time around.

For desert I wanted my favorite desert of my childhood Maräng Svisch! so in the afternoon I made meringues.

It worked out well because I needed 3 yolks for my bearnaise and 3 whites for these guys. So 3 whites, 2 dl sugar and a splash of vinegar. Whisk whisk whisk and then in the oven for 1 hour at 260 degrees F.

Then you have to make chocolate sauce. Combine 1 1/2 dls of cream, 1 dl sugar, 4 tbsp of cocoa and 1/2 tsp vanilla in a pot and let it all simmer together. When it's thick take it off the heat and melt 1 tbsp of butter into it.

So that's all the SVISCH is, crushed meringue, ice cream and chocolate sauce. The best.

The Christmas ham has become a tradition here and so has the left-over-christmas-ham-pea-soup. When we get sick of it about 3 days into it I boil it down for stock.

Add an onion and some thyme and this time, a can of baby food carrots, per Rosemary, it gave a little sweetness to the soup and enriched the color like crazy.