anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Archive for the ‘Food + Recipes’ Category

How to Plan a Swedish Midsummer Dinner

with 2 comments

Swedish midsommar is the celebration of the summer solstice, a time to honor the endless hours of daylight.

I often get asked what to do for midsummer. There’s no one “right” way to celebrate midsummer, although there are a few common foods and activities that tend to be involved (like putting up a midsummer pole and singing and dancing).

Above all, midsummer is a celebration of the season, a time to take a break, be with friends, indulge in good food and honor the beginning of summer days.

For me, food is at the center of midsummer. It’s a time to showcase seasonal abundance; strawberries, fresh herbs and produce. If you’re looking to host your own midsummer dinner this year (the main event is midsummer eve, this year on Friday June 22nd), here are a few tips and food ideas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Written by Anna Brones

June 21, 2018 at 09:18

Posted in Food + Recipes

Strawberry Cardamom Cordial

leave a comment »

Making cordial is the perfect way to use up all of those slightly mashed strawberries that tend to be leftover when you have bought a few more than you can eat in a couple of days. In fact, that’s how this recipe came to be.

I add cardamom to basically everything, but the spice pairs particularly well with strawberries. You can mix this cordial with straight water, sparkling water, or even combine with other libations for a summer cocktail.

This makes about a cup and a half of cordial, so scale up if you would like to make a larger batch.

Ingredients:

About 17 ounces/500 grams of strawberries, rinsed and cut in half

1 cup (240 milliliters) water

3 teaspoons cardamom seeds, crushed

1/2 cup (3.5 ounces, 100) grams of sugar

Juice and zest of half a small lemon

Preparation:

Place the strawberries, water and crushed cardamom seeds in a saucepan. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every once in awhile with a fork or spoon and using it to crush the strawberries.

Once the strawberries have fully broken down, remove from the heat and let sit for about half an hour.

Strain the strawberry pulp out, using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.

Measure the liquid. You want to add in about half that amount of sugar. Measuring by weight is more precise, but you can measure by volume too (i.e. with a cup).

Pour the liquid into a clean saucepan and place on medium heat. Slowly add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean bottle or jar.

Written by Anna Brones

June 20, 2018 at 16:08

Camp Cooking: Coconut Ginger Vermicelli Noodles

with one comment

This weekend marks the fourth annual Swift Campout, a global call to get people out for a night and bike camp, hosted by Swift Industries. And what do you need for a good bike camping trip? Good food.

This recipe for Coconut Ginger Vermicelli Noodles is one that I originally made for the MSR Summit Register blog. It’s a recipe that’s perfect for an overnight trip as you can prep a few of the ingredients at home and then throw the whole thing together at camp.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Anna Brones

June 19, 2018 at 10:30

Happy Birthday Fika!

leave a comment »

Three years ago today, Fika The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break came into the world. Over the last three years, it has been so much fun seeing all the places that this book ends up. I love hearing from readers when they bake a recipe or give the book as a gift to a friend. I think we could all use a little more fika in our lives, and I am happy to see so many of you doing exactly that.

In honor of Fika‘s third birthday, I am doing a special giveaway of signed copies of both Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break and my latest book, Live Lagom Balanced Living the Swedish Wayas well as an original fika-themed papercut (unframed).

This fika papercut was done as a sample for some new templates that I made for Paper Artist Collective (if you’re in the mood to try your hand at papercutting, you can snag them here) and I think it deserves a space on someone’s wall!

How to enter? All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll draw a random winner next Friday, April 13, 2018 so you have a week to get yourself signed up and entered.

Written by Anna Brones

April 7, 2018 at 04:00

Win an Original Papercut

leave a comment »

I’m sending Issue 7 of Comestible to the printer this week, and to celebrate the release of the new issue I am giving away this original asparagus papercut.

Everyone who has a 2018 subscription will be entered, and one random winner will be chosen to receive the signed papercut along with Issue 7. All you have to do to enter is subscribe to Comestible by April 16, 2018. Comestible is 100% reader supported, with no advertising. Every issue features essays and artwork about food, the places it comes from and the people who produce it, as well as seasonal recipes. It’s all made possible by readers, so every subscription helps ensure that the publication stays in print.

Written by Anna Brones

April 4, 2018 at 15:55

Sliced Rye and Almond Pepparkakor

with one comment

Growing up, we always made a recipe out of the classic Swedish baking book Sju sorters kakor, called Franska pepparkakor, French gingersnaps, for Christmas. Why they were French I am not entirely sure. I have lived in France and never encountered anything similar.

A more apt name is skurna pepparkor, sliced gingersnaps. I like making these because they take much less time than rolling out and cutting traditional pepparkakor but still use the same iconic seasonal spices. This year, I adapted the recipe to be a little less sweet and also be made with 100% rye flour. I like making whole grain cookies, because they are far more robust in flavor than baking with traditional all-purpose flour.

These cookies are great on their own, but also pair very well with a little blue cheese. And a mug of glögg of course.

Sliced Rye and Almond Pepparkakor

Ingredients:

1 cup (5 ounces, 140 grams) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces, 225 grams) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces, 50 gram) sugar
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) molasses
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons cardamom
2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups (8.75 ounces, 250 grams) rye flour

Preparation:

Chop the almonds and set them aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and molasses, then mix in the spices and orange zest until well blended.

Mix the baking soda with the flour, then add to the wet ingredients. Work the dough together (it will be quite sticky).

Form the dough into cylinders, about 12 inches long and wrap in parchment paper or a tea towel. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Note: the dough lasts for a few days in the refrigerator so if you don’t get around to baking them right away it’s totally fine.)

Grease a baking tray and cut dough into thin slices. Place the slices on the tray and bake at 375ºF (180ºC) for 10 to 12 minutes.The cookies don’t spread out very much, so you can put them pretty close to each other.

Written by Anna Brones

December 22, 2017 at 07:36

Making Glögg

with one comment

“When I first moved to Washington, you couldn’t buy grain alcohol without a prescription…. so I asked my dentist if he could write me one.”

A couple of years ago, a 90-year-old family friend was sharing this anecdote of her glögg making experience (a leftover prohibition thing). Of Swedish heritage, her recipe was one that had been passed down by her father. It always involved grain alcohol, and she insisted upon making it the same way he did. There was no other option. Which is why this sweet woman was in the dentist chair asking if perhaps she could illegally get her hands on some.

This isn’t a story of alcohol, but a story of tradition.

When we attach to a certain recipe, a song, a book, an activity, what we’re really attaching to is a regularity that ensures nostalgia. Tradition is a fixed point on our life journey, one that we can always turn to. It’s also one that shifts with time, evolving as we do, much like a recipe; the origins stay the same, yet we adapt based upon our personal preferences, modernizing along the way, keeping the idea of tradition but at the same time turning it into something new.

Every family has a holiday pastime of some sort. A friend recently shared with me the story of her favorite Nutcracker experience; the classic ballet wasn’t seen at a theatre, but on a television screen in a community hall in a town where she was passing through. And if we don’t have traditions, we often find ourselves making new ones. What we drink, what we eat, what we listen to – these are all things that are imbibed with memories, and memories to come. Traditions tie us to culture and history. They are what keep us alive.

This is not to say that tradition can’t be broken. Certainly, there are times that call for breaking with the norm and creating something new in the process. But I am convinced that it’s not the actual thing that we make or do that is the important part, it’s simply the act of doing it.

***

One of my holiday traditions is glögg. In my family, we don’t drink glögg (i.e. Swedish mulled wine) until the first of advent, and making it is an important affair.

There are many variations of glögg out there. My father makes his with vodka and madeira, and of course, the family friend mentioned above still insists on grain alcohol for hers (the last time she brought a bottle of glögg to a gathering it was in fact in an Everclear bottle, “glögg” marked clearly with a Sharpie marker on a piece of masking tape).

I think tradition is important, because it gives us something to look forward to, something to celebrate. In my home, glögg is a reminder of the season. The smell of spices fills the kitchen, giving a sensory cue to commence the holidays.

If you’re interested in making glögg a part of your own holiday traditions, I’ve got two versions for you: an alcoholic one and a non-alcoholic one. As always, there are many renditions out there, and these happen to be the ones that I make in my kitchen. My basic glögg is strong and sweetened only by the addition of dried fruit. If you like yours a little sweeter, consider adding port, sugar, honey, or even a little freshly squeezed orange juice.

Everyone deserves the chance to make their own traditions. What are yours?

Glögg

1/4 cup chopped figs

1/4 cup raisins

Zest of one orange

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons whole cloves

5 whole green cardamom pods or 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon anise seed

1 cup whiskey or aquavit

1 bottle red wine, full-bodied

Optional:
1 cup port or Madeira (this will bring a little additional sweetness to the glögg)
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

Garnish:
Blanched almonds
Raisins

Directions:
Place the dried fruit and spices in a glass jar, cover with the alcohol, seal with the lid and let sit overnight (or at least a few hours if you are pressed for time).

Strain the spices and pour the alcohol into a large saucepan along with the red wine (and port or madeira if you are using it).

Heat on medium/low heat until warm, but not simmering. Strain out the spices, then serve warm. **If you want a slightly spicier glögg, then leave the spices in and remove once you have heated it.

This glögg tastes better as it has sat for a bit, so ideally, make it the day before you want to serve it. Once you have heated it, let it cool, and place it in a cool, dark place. When ready to serve, heat it up (but don’t let it boil), pour into small glasses and garnish with blanched almonds and raisins.

If you are entirely short on time (this is the holidays after all!) and in the need for “quick glögg,” add the dried fruit, spices and whiskey to a saucepan and place on medium heat until the alcohol warms up and you can really smell the spices. Add the wine. If you need to sweeten the glögg, stir in a little port, brown sugar, honey or freshly squeezed orange juice.

Non-alcoholic Glögg
Note: This one doesn’t use dried fruit in the base since usually the cordial or juice is sweet enough on its own. Up to you if you want to add more sweetness!

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoons whole cloves

5 whole green cardamom pods or 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon anise seed

Zest and juice of one orange

1/2 cup water

About 3 cups fruit cordial or juice, ideally something tart like lingonberry or black currant, or even a grape juice that isn’t too sweet

Garnish:
Blanched almonds
Raisins

Directions:
Place the spices, orange juice and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover and let sit for at least half an hour. Overnight is good too!

Strain out the spices, then pour the liquid back into the saucepan along with the juice. Heat and serve, or heat and let cool, then bottle until ready to serve. When ready to serve, heat the liquid and pour into small glasses, garnish with blanched almonds and raisins.

This story/recipe originally appeared in my 2017 digital advent calendar: 24 Days of Making, Being and Doing. Want to receive it in your inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter. Want more Swedish recipes? Check out my books Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break and Live Lagom: Balanced Living the Swedish Way,.

Written by Anna Brones

December 8, 2017 at 06:00