Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Scandinavia Christmas ~ Glögg

Glögg, or mulled wine, is a beverage of European origins usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins. It is served hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Glögg comes from a word meaning "burning ember." Here's my version:

1 bottle of sweet red wine
1/2 bottle of brandy or vodka (add more if you like!)
2 cinnamon sticks (broken in half)
1/2 orange peel (dried or fresh)
3 whole cloves
1/2 cup raisins
8 oz. sugar

Heat the wine and brandy, spices, and fruit in a medium sized pot over low heat. Don't let it boil. Allow the mixture to simmer 45 - 60 minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.

Strain through cheesecloth to remove all additions. Serve warm.

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Æbleskivers

Æbleskivers are traditional Danish pancakes which are cooked in the shape of a sphere. They can be made either sweet or savory, filled or unfilled. We made half plain and the remaining half filled with my home canned strawberry jam. A little dusting of powdered sugar adds just a touch of sweetness.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2  t. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup whole milk
2 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 t. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the bowl with with the flour mixture. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir until the ingredients are well blended. The batter will appear slightly lumpy.

In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat the eggs whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. When the beaters are lifted, the egg whites should hold a firm peak that droops slightly at the top.

Pile about one third of the beaten egg whites on top of the batter. Using a rubber spatula, slice down through the center of the mixture, then pull the spatula up along the side of the bowl and over the top, gently incorporating the two mixtures. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until the egg whites have been incorporated.

Repeat this folding action with the remaining beaten egg whites until no white streaks remain, taking care not to deflate the batter too much. Use the batter right away.

Heat the Æbleskiver pan over medium heat. Brush the inside of the wells with melted butter, when you smell a light nutty aroma, begin to carefully fill the wells with the batter. Watch for bubbles to form up through the batter similar to the way pancakes cook.

When the Æbleskivers begin to brown, gently turn them over and let the other side brown as well.  

Remove from pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

If you are using a filling, add a small amount of batter to the pan, then add 1/2 t. of jam/jelly, and then a little more batter.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Flæskesteg (Danish Pork Roast)

Flæskesteg, the Danish version of pork roast, is considered to be one of Denmark's principal national dishes with a tradition of over 120 years. The prep is extremely simple and while it roasts in the oven, you have plenty of time to prepare your side dishes. The main thing that sets the Danish pork roast apart is the crackling skin. Check with your butcher in plenty of time to order a pork roast with the skin on. It can sometimes be found in German or Mexican butcher shops.

For the roast:
4 - 7 pound pork roast with the skin on
2 - 3 T. butter
a handful of coarse grain salt
10 - 14 whole black peppercorns
6 - 8 bay leaves

For the sauce base:
1 t. beef base
1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
1 t. rosemary
1 t. thyme
8 oz. water

For the sauce:
1/4 pint heavy whipping cream
1 T. Danish blue cheese
1 T. red currant jelly
salt and pepper

Score the skin every inch or so. Be careful not to cut into the meat. Rub the skin with butter and salt. make sure to get it in all the cuts in the skin.  This will help to keep the skin crispy. Put the bay leaves and peppercorns in the cuts.

Put the roast on a rack in the roasting pan. Place herbs, onions, water and beef base into the roasting pan under the roast.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place roast into oven and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. The temperature of the roast should reach 167 degrees before serving. Check the roast every so often to make sure liquid remains in the pan.  You'll use it for making the gravy/sauce.

Just before the temperature reaches 167 degrees, pour the drippings from the pan into a saucepan through a strainer and boil the drippings for about 5 minutes. Let the roast stay in the oven. Set the oven to the highest temperature you can and start the broiler. The skin on the roast will bubble up and become crispy. Watch very carefully so that it doesn't burn.

Separate the fat from the drippings, don't use the fat. (The original recipe notes that the fat is good on rye bread with pickled herring. I did not test this theory.)

Add cream, blue cheese, and jam. Taste and add salt if needed. Thicken the sauce with a corn starch slurry (a little corn starch and water whisked together).

Slice roast and serve with the gravy/sauce.

From www.sweetandsavory.com

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Braised Purple Cabbage

The Danes Christmas meal is big on tradition. You won't see many variations on their holiday menu. Served alongside the roasted pork, braised cabbage is almost always present. Here's my version.

1 medium head purple cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, shredded
3 - 4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. white vinegar

In a large saucepan with a lid, add shredded cabbage and water. Over medium high heat, bring liquid to a boil, cover and let cabbage simmer for an hour or two until tender. Stir occasionally and don't let the cabbage boil dry. Add additional water if needed.

When cabbage is tender, add salt and pepper to taste and stir in vinegar.

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Pickled Cucumbers

I was surprised to see Pickled Cucumbers on recipe searches for Danish foods. During the summer, I almost always have a bowl of sliced cucumbers covered in vinegar and a little water in the refrigerator waiting for dinner time.

With the pork roast, a little bite of these cucumbers really cut the richness and added a perfect "opposites attract" element to the meal.

1 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
a few sprigs of fresh dill

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized/Browned Potatoes)

Simplicity.  No utensils were even needed to prepare this lovely side dish of caramelized potatoes. I served these alongside a pork roast and the combination was delicious. Use canned potatoes and make sure they are drained and dried thoroughly before beginning.

12 - 15 small new potatoes (found in the canned vegetable section, 2 - 3 cans)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 T. water

Drain potatoes and pat dry.

In a large skillet, cook the sugar on medium low heat until completely melted.  DO NOT STIR.

When melted and slightly darkened around the edges, add the butter and stir until it becomes kind of a syrupy mixture.

Add the potatoes and a little bit of water (if the mixture starts to stiffen and form lumps, turn the heat up and it will melt again).

Moving the skillet around, gently cover each potato in the mixture, continuing to cook for about 6 - 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

From Favorite Family Recipes

Scandinavian Christmas ~ Danish Kale Soup

This soup is filled with great vegetables such as leeks, potatoes, carrots, celery, and kale. A great plus for this one is that you can put everything in your slow cooker and about 5 hours later, you have a wonderful nutritious and healthy soup.  An extra bonus? Oatmeal!  Get those whole grains and vitamins in a comforting bowl of soup.

10 cups chicken broth
2 cups cubed cooked ham
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 4 - 5 medium)
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (3 medium)
1 cup thinly sliced leeks (3 medium)
1 cup sliced celery (2 ribs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 T. fresh thyme

In a 5 - 6 quart slow cooker, combine chicken broth, ham, potatoes, carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 - 10 hours or on high heat setting 4 - 5 hours.

Gradually stir in oats. Stir in kale and thyme. If on low heat setting, turn to high heat setting. Cover and cook 30 minutes more.

From Better Homes and Gardens

Scandinavian Christmas - Smørrebrød

I had never heard the term smørrebrød until I began planning our Danish themed meal. Very simply put, smørrebrød are simply open faced sandwiches which begin with a slice of dense bread, spread with a liberal amount of butter and then your choice of toppings. A firm rule is that you eat these delicious sandwiches with a knife and fork and you NEVER add a top slice of bread.

Marcus Schioler, the blogger behind Danish Sandwich, explains that smørrebrød ought to be "arranged in such a way that it looks nice, with more detailed texture and contrast than an ordinary sandwich." 

I chose Ezekiel bread which has no flour, but a lot of whole grains and seeds. I think it was a reasonable compromise. Next, to choose our toppings. A recurring theme in recipes I researched included smoked salmon and pickled herring. Remember to begin with a thick layer of butter and then have fun adding complimentary toppings.

Let's begin with the 4 o'clock position and go around the serving platter!

Sliced pears, blue cheese crumbles and chopped pecans
Thinly sliced roast beef, a little bit of horseradish and watercress.
Sliced boiled eggs, halved grape tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and fresh dill.
Quartered boiled eggs, a sprinkling of salt, diced red onion and watercress.
Thinly sliced roast beef, crumbled blue cheese
Sliced pears, blue cheese crumbles and chopped pecans
Quartered boiled eggs, a sprinkling of salt, diced red onion and watercress.
Thinly sliced roast beef, crumbled blue cheese
Sliced boiled eggs, halved grape tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and fresh dill.
Thinly sliced roast beef, a little bit of horseradish and watercress.
Sliced pears, blue cheese crumbles and chopped pecans 
And then in the middle of the platter, smoked salmon, diced red onions and fresh dill.

Beginning at 3 o'clock position:

Thinly sliced radish, sprinkling of salt, watercress.
Thinly sliced roast beef, blue cheese crumbles.
Smoked salmon, sour cream, diced red onions, fresh dill.
Boiled eggs mixed with sour cream, thinly sliced green onions, fresh dill
Smoked salmon, sour cream, diced red onions, fresh dill.
Thinly sliced roast beef, blue cheese crumbles.
And in the middle, smoked salmon, fresh dill.

The colors are just gorgeous, aren't they?

I could definitely see having a Smørrebrød party and let everybody mix and match their favorite flavors and make their own combinations.  These were a huge hit.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Dinner 2015 - Scandinavian Theme

This year I decided to choose a country and incorporate as many of their Christmas meal traditions as I could into our meal. One of my friends, who is a regular diner at these "experimental" dinners, has a strong Scandinavian heritage. That made the meal choice simple. With a hefty portion of Danish recipes, I undertook the challenge. I very seldom brag on my meals here, but this one was absolutely delicious. Plus, we beat our personal best time for an evening meal.....we began at 5 p.m. and ended at 10 p.m.  

I used a LOT of red and white in the table linens, the dinnerware and flatware and serving pieces. I hope you enjoy.

The tablecloth and napkins are from Kohl's.

These great (and perfect for this meal!) plates are Food Network brand purchased at Kohl's.

I used a free downloadable Nordic font for the place cards.

We had to have a bottle of Aquavit! The polar bear bottle topper is from Sur la Table.

The red Christmas trees and ornaments were found at Hobby Lobby.

I forgot to get a close up shot of the reindeer candle holders, but if you look closely you can spot them in the middle of the table. They're from Sur la Table as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Souffles au Chocolat

These delicate, super chocolaty souffles are sure crowd pleasers. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. It definitely makes a difference.

5 T. unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for ramekins
7 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (NOT unsweetened)
6 large egg yolks
1 T. vanilla extract
7 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
1/4 t. cream of tartar

Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of six 8 oz. ramekins and coat with sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Melt 5 T. butter and chocolate in medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; the bowl should be nestled in the pan but not touch the water. Stir occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks two at a time. The chocolate may look granular at first but will become smooth like a thick fudge sauce with continual whisking. Whisk in the vanilla. Remove the bowl from over water, let cool several minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs whites and a pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form Gradually beat in 1/3 cup sugar. Increase speed to medium high and beat until whites form stiff, shiny peas, 1 - 2 minutes.

Stir one-fourth of the whites into the chocolate (which may be warm) to lighten. Pile on the remaining whites and fold them n only until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter among prepared ramekins, filling to the rims. Form a "hat" in each souffle by running a thumb around the inside edge of ramekin to disengage batter from the sides. Space ramekins well apart on a large baking sheet. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead and refrigerated or frozen up to 1 weeks and thawed 30 minutes.) Bake until the souffles are puffed and wooden skewer inserted into the canter comes out clean, but moist, 10 - 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cranberry and Pistachio Madeleines

These are my favorite holiday Madeleine.  Featuring dried cranberries and pistachios the colors are so lovely for Christmastime.  This recipe makes 24 Madeleines.

3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 T. minced dried cranberries tossed in a sprinkling of cake flour
2 T. finely chopped pistachios 

Fill a small bowl with warm (but not hot) water. Place the eggs in the water and set aside to warm for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small heavy saucepan, heat the butter of low heat until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium speed while adding the sugar in a slow stream, letting the granules run sparingly into the eggs. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue whisking until the mixture triples in volume (about 5 minutes), turns a glossy pale yellow, and falls off the whisk in 1 - 4 inch ribbons that sit atop the mixture for a few seconds before melting in.

Position one rack in the upper quarter of the oven and another in the center and pre-heat to 400 degrees F.  Generously brush two Madeleine pans with 2 T. of the melted butter and dust with the all purpose flour, tapping out any excess.

Sift the cake flour over the egg mixture, while gently folding it in with a large rubber spatula.  Do not add more than 1 - 2 T. flour until the previous addition has been completely incorporated, or you will end up with deposits of flour encased in the egg batter.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter through a strainer into a small mixing bowl.  Scoop 1 cup of the batter into the bowl of the melted butter.  Using a small spatula, gently fold the batter into the butter until completely combined.  Gently fold the butter mixture into the remaining batter.  Gently fold in the cranberries and pistachios.

Spoon or pipe the batter into the prepared pans, filling each mold almost to the top. Bake, staggering pans so that the top pan is not directly above the lower one and rotating them back to front and upper to lower halfway through baking, until the edges have browned slightly and the center of the Madeleines spring back when gently pressed, 10 - 12 minutes.

Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 3 minutes and then, using a butter knife, gently turn out the Madeleines onto the rack and let cool before serving.

From We Love Madeleines by Miss Madeleine.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gourges (Cheese Puffs)

I've posted the recipe for these delicious little bites of bread several times. They are perfect to serve to guests with cheese and fruit, to munch on when you're sipping wine, to eat by themselves by the dozens........seriously.

From Chocolate and Zucchini

6 T. unsalted butter, diced
½ t. fine sea salt
1 cup flour, sifted
4 large eggs
½ t. ground cumin
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Combine butter, salt and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until well blended. Return the pan to medium low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Let cool 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition, until incorporated. Sprinkle with cumin and pepper and fold in the cheese. The batter will be thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to a day).

Preheat oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge and use two teaspoons to shape small balls of batter (about 1 inch in diameter) that you will plop onto the baking sheet leaving an inch of space between each.

Bake for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden. Do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes or baking or they will not rise well. Turn off the oven after 20 minutes, open the oven door just a crack and leave puffs in for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes and serve warm, or let cool and serve at room temperature.

Julia Child's Quiche Lorraine

Julia Child. Just typing her name makes me smile. This is a classic quiche with a lovely creamy filling. No cheese, however. If you MUST add some sprinkle a little grated Gruyere on top right before it goes into the oven.

Use your own homemade pastry for the crust or feel free to use a pre-made or frozen crust, just cook it for about 10 minutes before adding the filling.

3-4 oz. lean bacon (6 to 8 strips) cut in 1" slices
8 inch partially cooked pastry shell
3 eggs
1 ½ – 2 cups heavy cream
½ t. salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 - 2 T. butter cut into pea-sized dots

Preheat oven to 375  degrees. 

Put bacon in a medium pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Return bacon to pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain, then arrange on bottom of crust.

Beat eggs, cream, and salt together in a medium bowl and season to taste with nutmeg and pepper. Pour mixture into crust and bake until custard is puffed and golden and just set in the center, 30-35 minutes. Serve quiche warm or at room temperature, sliced into wedges.

Monday, December 21, 2015

French Onion Soup

One of my most favorite Christmas traditions is preparing a big pot of French Onion Soup. There are few aromas in the kitchen which match the heavenly scent of onions and butter simmering away on the stove top.

It's customary to ladle up the soup into oven safe mugs or bowls, place the toasted bread and cheese on top and slide it under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browned. But that can't happen with my good china! So I went to plan B, toasted the sliced baguette, topped with lots of shredded Gruyere and then slide the pan back into the oven. THEN placed the bread and cheese goodness on top of the soup to serve!

5 lbs. yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
few grinds of black pepper
1/2 t. sugar
3 cups sweet red wine
2 cans beef consomme
4 cups beef stock
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Over low heat, place onions, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar into a 5 - 7 quart Dutch oven. Stirring occasionally, let onions soften and begin to brown. The process of caramelizing the onions will take 30 - 45 minutes. Make sure the onions don't begin to stick and burn.

Add the wine, consomme, beef stock, and Worcestershire sauce and raise heat to allow soup to come to a gentle boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add the thyme and bay leaves and cover. Let soup simmer for several hours.

If you want to let soup cool and refrigerate overnight, it will taste better the next day. Skim off any fat that forms on top of the soup.

Gently reheat and ladle into bowls. Place a piece of toasted bread on top of soup and cover with grated Gruyere cheese. Place under oven broiler until cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Saturday Before Christmas Brunch - Appetizer Course

What better way to start the French themed brunch than with a selection of French cheeses, cheese puffs, fruit and nuts?

It's always nice to have different textures and flavors of cheese ranging from soft to hard cheeses such as Chevre (a goat cheese) which is very soft and spreadable. Next, a lovely Brie which was delicious with a drizzle of honey over the top. The blue cheese provided a great tangy flavor when paired with the sliced pears.  The Comté is a hard cheese and I sliced it into very thin pieces almost like matchsticks.

Tucking a few small bunches of grapes around the cheeses and the pears makes for a lovely presentation.  

For the pecans, I added a tablespoon or so of butter into a small skillet over low heat.  When it was melted, I added about 2 cups of pecans and a little salt and stirred continuously until the pecans were coated with the salted butter and were lightly toasted, about 4 - 5 minutes.

The cheese puffs, also called gourges, are simple to make and trust me, I don't care how many you prepare, it won't be enough!  There will be a separate blog post for the recipe for those.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Chambord Kir Royale

When I began planning the French themed brunch, I knew I wanted a beautiful deep red color in those glasses!

Place your champagne flutes in the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes before preparing drinks.

When ready to serve, add 1 - 2 T. Chambord to each flute.  Fill each flute with champagne and add a few raspberries if desired.  

Serve immediately.

The Saturday Before Christmas Brunch 2015

Last year I hosted the first ever Saturday before Christmas Brunch. God willing, this will continue to be a great tradition.  I chose a French themed meal for the brunch and everything thankfully paired well together and the brunch courses flowed smoothly. We began the fun a little after 10 a.m. and finished up a little after 2 p.m.!  I hope you enjoy the pictures and each menu item will have its own blog post with the recipe.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Kids' Christmas Table 2015

This year the youngest granddaughter has become quite interested in owls. I knew I wanted to incorporate them somehow into the Christmas decorating. I found the plates and mugs at Wal-Mart for about 2 bucks each and the hand crafted wood chargers made the perfect landing spot for them. A simple little Christmas tree with a few owl ornaments make a fun centerpiece. The silverware is from World Market.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter Forest Table Setting

Sweet Harold took a trip to Gander Mountain this morning to purchase a set of flatware that he spied in last week's sales paper. The flatware incorporates pine cones into the pattern. There were a wonderful buy with the sale that's going on for the next few days. And because he knows me well, he surprised me with new dinnerware to go along with the flatware! Before he could get the boxes open, I was already planning the table setting. I knew I wanted to use only browns, greens and off-whites. I think it really turned out well.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Celery Experiment

Thanksgiving afternoon when I began the chopping of veggies for the cornbread dressing. I remembered seeing an article on line about saving the base of a stalk of celery and placing it in water to sprout.

I thought I would give it a try. I sliced through the entire stalk and placed the base in a bowl about an inch larger than the celery. Then I added water about an inch up the stalk. I've been changing the water in the bowl every day. Today, I noticed it's beginning to sprout. Here's the result so far!

I'll post some more pictures to show the rate of growth. 

Here we are a week later.