havrekjeks

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Oats are easy to find in Norway. Havregryn (or rolled oats) comes in small and large varieties, havregrøt (oatmeal) is a common breakfast – the kind I like has cardamom to boot! Havremelk (oat milk) is a common non-dairy substitute, and my grocery store even carries an oat-based non-dairy creme fraiche. And then there’s havreflarn and havrekjeks, different types of cookies made from oats. Since making the havreflarn med choklad from Fika, I’ve been experimenting with oat cookie recipes, and now I’ve had one published in the Norwegian American Weekly.

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My havrekjeks are thin and chewy, with chocolate chips. I never was a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies, but oats and chocolate is a combo I can get behind. You can find the full recipe for these over at na-weekly.com.

snow day waffles

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I finally bought myself a proper Norwegian waffle iron a week or two ago. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve actually owned one, though I’ve enjoyed Norwegian vaffelhjerter (waffle hearts) many times. It seems a bit frivolous to say it, but this is a Big Deal for me. It’s hard to overstate the significance of these thin heart-shaped waffles here in Norway – in my head, vaffelhjerter are to Norway as Swedish pancakes are to Sweden and æbleskiver are to Denmark (perhaps it’s because they go so well with Norway’s brown cheese, gjetost). Where events or info booths in the U.S. or would entice students to stop by with promises of free pizza, Norwegians promise free waffles. In the summer, my favorite way to eat them is with a slice of gjetost and strawberry jam, made from Norwegian strawberries (which are the best strawberries I’ve ever had).

My new waffle iron has already gotten a lot of use, and as we’ve had a winter storm blowing through today, I decided to make snow day waffles! I don’t have many photos, since I made them in the late afternoon and it was already getting dark, but I enjoyed them with some hot cocoa and they were delicious.

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The recipe I used was one from my friend Daytona, of the fantastic Scandinavian food blog Outside Oslo. You can find a link to the recipe right here, and I recommend you go over and read the accompanying story, even if you don’t plan to make the waffles. The recipe was her great grandma Josephine’s, so it’s one with a strong family history and connection, which is my favorite kind. Daytona’s touch is a little bit of added cardamom, and you absolutely can’t go wrong with that.

As written, the recipe is capable of whipping up a waffle breakfast for quite a crowd – I halved the recipe and still got seven or eight waffles out of it. I’m sure whether or not you use an electric beater for the eggs makes a difference in that regard.

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You can find the recipe for these delicious waffles over at Outside Oslo.

plómukaka

Yesterday I baked a plum tart.

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Sundays in Norway are perfect for baking. Most places with the exception of a few coffee shops or corner stores are closed, so you can take advantage of a little time off. This might mean a day out and about hiking (or at this time of year, skiing), or it might mean a slow home-y day, which for me usually involves some quality time in the kitchen. I went out walking for a few hours on Saturday, so I decided to take it easy yesterday and mostly hang out at home.

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I had picked up some beautiful red plums at the grocery store earlier this week, which I’ve been enjoying, but it was becoming apparent that I wasn’t going to finish them all before they started to go soft and overripe. Not wanting them to go to waste, I sat down with my baking books a few days ago. I found a recipe for an Icelandic purple plum tart in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book that looked simple and delicious, and so yesterday I whipped one up, very successfully putting the pound of plums to good use.

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As I often do with Beatrice’s recipes, I made a few little changes. She instructs you to quarter the plums, though I went ahead and sliced them into eighths, since the base of the tart is rolled out pretty thin and I find them easier to arrange when smaller. I’ve made a few notes for myself for next time, too: I could do with less flour all around (flour is always such a good argument for measuring by weight instead of volume) and the quantity of crumbly topping to go over the plums was too much as well (I didn’t use it all).

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The tart turned out delicious nonetheless, and I was able to make it with ingredients I had on hand which is always a plus – aside from the plums, all that was needed was flour, butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. The end result was something like a thin-tart version of a German pflaumenkuchen (and indeed if you Google “plómukaka” you get a string of results for “Þysk plómukaka”, or German plum cake). And while the recipe called for purple plums, the red plums were just fine as a substitute (and just as beautiful, too, as the color of the skins starts bleeding out into the fruit and the tart itself).

You can find the recipe for this tart in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas.

na weekly: sweet & savory

I got a bit behind with things last fall; I had two recipes published in the Norwegian American Weekly’s Taste of Norway and I never made time to mention them here. Better late than never!

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In September we were right in the middle of autumn in Tromsø, and it felt like a great time to do a Nordic take on the classic grilled cheese & tomato soup combo. Norway isn’t known for its amazing tomatoes, however, so I did my grilled cheese on rye bread and paired it with potato leek soup. This has been one of my favorite meals all through winter. You can find the recipe here.

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In November I did a cookie recipe on the heels of the paper’s craft month, which was October. They’re simple spritz cookies but the decoration packs a punch: sprinkles are used to recall traditional patterns from embroidery and knitting. I had a lot of fun making these. Find the recipe here.

havreflarn med choklad

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I’m back in Tromsø after spending Christmas break in Seattle, but it was such a busy month with so much work and (literal) housekeeping to do that I didn’t have time to do any Christmas baking (boo). It’s been quite cold in Tromsø since I got back, however, which is the perfect excuse to be baking – nothing warms up the house like a hot oven, you know?

Since moving to Norway I’ve become rather obsessed with a certain local company’s havrekjeks – that is, oat cookies. They’re the perfect crisp and crunchy consistency with chocolate chips and I love them. I thought it’d be fun to find an oat cookie recipe to try from my Nordic cookbook library (so that I don’t spend all my money on Bakehuset’s cookies).

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I picked out the havreflarn med choklad from Fika, the book I introduced in my previous post. Unlike Bakehuset’s havrekjeks, these cookies don’t have chocolate chips, but they do form a cookie sandwich with a chocolate filling.

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This was a very straightforward recipe, with a few prep steps (my rolled oats needed to go through the blender for a minute to bring the size down, and the chocolate for the filling has to be melted once the cookies have cooled) but mostly instructions along the lines of mixing everything together and dropping dough on the cookie sheets. I made my cookies too big at first, which took me a little while to realize. I also stacked up my baking sheets in the oven, which meant that the cookies on top achieved the idea crunchy crisp consistency I was going for while the cookies on the baking sheet below stayed a little softer (still crisp, but with a softer texture, if that makes any sense). In the photos, the cookies that were on the bottom rack have a smoother texture with larger bubbles.

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The wild card in this recipe was that the chocolate filling contains ground ginger. I love ginger, but after making these cookies, I don’t know if I love ginger with chocolate. I feel like I might swap the ginger for cardamom next time I make these. Or perhaps I’ll skip the chocolate filling altogether and throw chocolate chips into the dough instead! Ginger aside, this was a really great basic recipe for oat cookies that I’ll happily make again in different iterations in the future.

You can find the recipe for these cookies in Fika by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall.

fika: kardemummakaka

Here’s a book I’m excited about:

Fika, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall. My friend Daytona told me about this book earlier this year and I ordered a copy shortly before we packed up our container in May for the Norway move. I was so excited to get it, but I opted to put it in one of the moving boxes so that it’d be here in Norway once we flew over in August. So I had a few months to wait before I really got to sit down with it! Fortunately, it was worth the wait.

As you might assume, this recipe book is all about fika, the beloved Swedish custom of the daily coffee break (with treats). I love the size of this book and I love the aesthetic, too – instead of photos, the book features adorable illustrations. It also features a lot of great background info, like exactly what fika’s all about, a history of Swedish coffee, pantry staples you’ll want to have on hand for the recipes, and so on. It’s straight up my alley.

I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to make first, but in the end I settled on a cardamom cake. I love cardamom (don’t we all?) and I guess I was craving a cake. This one ended up being a lovely breakfast treat for a few days (it goes well with coffee, after all). It’s simple to make, and the end result isn’t too fancy, but it’s delicious and elegant enough to make for a special occasion, as well.

The recipe called for a bundt pan, which I didn’t have, so I just used a normal cake pan. I quite like the result. Inside, the cake was spongy and fragrant, sweet but not too sweet. Just right. To keep it unfussy I topped it off with a dusting of powdered sugar. A bundt pan would definitely dress this simple cake up, but it’s nice to know it works well as a simple shape, particularly as a fika treat.

I’m very much looking forward to baking more things from Fika and with the weather cooling off in Tromsø, I’m sure there will be lots more baking in the near future.

Here’s to kitchen number seven!

the norwegian american weekly & moving to norway

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Hi, hello! I have a couple of pieces of news today!

I’m very pleased to share that I’m one of several new contributors to the Norwegian American Weekly‘s food section, Taste of Norway. I’m incredibly grateful to the food editor Daytona (of Outside Oslo) for giving me a chance to be included, for I do love writing about food. Unlike this blog, I’ll be contributing actual recipes; much like this blog, I’ll be writing rather conversationally in my own voice and taking my own photos. My first recipe for the paper is in this week’s issue (the June 5th issue) and can be found online here. I’ve come up with an almond cookie recipe with celebratory occasions in mind: the kransekake provided some inspiration, and the recipe itself is based on one of Ojakangas’s that I’ve made several times, unsurprisingly (though I’ve made several changes to suit my taste).

At this point I’ll most likely only be contributing every couple of months or so, so I’ll post here whenever I have a new story/recipe up.

This piece of news is one of two things I’m hoping will help revitalize this blog, as well. The other piece of news is something I made passing reference to in my last post – I’m moving to Tromsø, Norway this summer to begin a master’s program at the University of Tromsø in the fall. I wrote about that decision on my other blog, but needless to say, I’m incredibly excited. One of the things I’m hoping to bring into my pieces for the Weekly when I can is my experience with exploring food culture in Tromsø. I am really only a fledgling cook, but eating out in Norway is very expensive, and I’m hoping this will be a motivator to do a lot more cooking in the kitchen (particularly when there are so many wonderful Nordic cookbooks coming out at the moment).

I’ve also been thinking about ways to keep this blog going a little bit more… regularly. It wasn’t started with the intention of being a regularly active blog, necessarily, more just a place to document what I baked out of The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, but in the nearly five years (what?!) since I started this blog, my Nordic horizons have expanded quite a lot. I’ve actively worked on my Norwegian, I visited Denmark and Sweden for the first time, I visited Norway and Iceland for the first time (and then went back, and then went back again, and again, and…). I fell in love with the Norwegian coffee scene. I started actually reading quite a few more food blogs. And then there are the new Nordic cookbooks, coffee books, and baking books that are coming out… I’ve picked up a few and found myself itching to write about them – and really, what better place is there than this? There was a time where I was unlikely to bake anything Nordic that wasn’t from Beatrice’s book, but that time has definitely passed (and in fact I think it passed a few years ago, which is why this blog has seen so few posts in the last year or two). It seems to follow that starting to include other sources in this blog makes perfect sense, and so I plan to do that bit by bit.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Taste of Norway section in the Norwegian American Weekly – I think the quality of the stuff Daytona has brought in is really excellent and it’s so exciting to see the whole section revitalized.