darkest day of the year

100 % Swedish

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Candle light and festive white color on the evening of St LucyFFB 052

Children count the days impatiently from the first of December until Xmas. Luckily the mornings are sweetened by the little chocos (getting from their Advent calendars) but probably to lighten the awaiting time (specially for the children) the day of St Lucy was invented, which happened to fall out on the 13th of December.

According to the Gregorian calendar that day was regarded as the shortest and darkest day of the year. So it was almost necessary to invent something in order to dispel the darkness. Thus St Lucy’s day was born. But how did it become one of the few saint church feast days observed in Scandinavia? They took over from the Italians (Santa Lucia- luce means light in Italian) and nowadays Sweds celebrate the day with such a remarkable enthusiasm, surpassing any Italian festivities devoted to the same lady: In Scandinavia on the St Lucy’s day a procession is headed by one young girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each. (St Lucy or Lucia, Luca’s day is also celebrated in other Scandinavian countries and as well as in Italy, Hungary, Bavaria, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Lucia etc).

FFB 047Glögg punch for adults, grape juice for children, both enriched with winter spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. The celebration of St Lucy’s day begins with story telling for the kids in a comfy nook of the house then on the late afternoon all the rooms are lightened with candles and the culinar part of the day starts with the Swedish buffet: Roasted herring, self made bread, Schnaps, Advent ham, covered with roughly grated cloves, salmon carpaccio with horseradish just a few delicacies among the excellent dishes. The table is decorated with sylvan branches, wild plants (are found in the forest), candles, pineals, wreath, windlights, palmsprigs, small reindeers (made of wood) are also highlight the day.

garden fest 030On the buffet table

Cream soup with smoked Shellfish

Ingredients: 1 onion, 30 gr butter, 300 ml fish broth, 350 gr smoked shellfish, 200 ml milk, 200 ml cream, pepper and dill

Chop the onion fine, soaté in the butter. Add fish fond, 150 gr shellfish to it then pour over milk and cream. 10 minutes to cook. Purée soup in a blender, flavor with pepper. Scoop soup into glasses, add rest of the shellfish cut into small pieces and scatter some dill on top.

Marinated salmon and St Jacob scallops

(prep time 20 minutes), ingredients: 400 gr marinated salmon (mustard, honey and dill), 4 big scallops, salt and pepper

1 Granny Smith apple, 100 gr celery, peeled, 2 tbsp sunflower oil, 1,5 dl hazelnut oil, 3 tbs sherry vinegar, one pinch of brown sugar

1. Cut the salmon into four slices, wash the scallops thoroughly. Salt and pepper. 2. Peel the Granny Smith apple and the celery, chop them finelly, mix the sherry vinegar with arachide and hazelnut oil, salt and pepper to taste and add a pinch of sugar. Pour oil and vinegar mixture over vegetables.

3. Cook scallops in the butter for 2 minutes on each sides. Serve with the marinated salmon and with the vegetables. Offer some wine such as Sancerre 2001.

Tunefish with beetroot and califlower espuma

Prep time 1 hour and 24 hours rest

Ingredients: 500 gr tunefish filet cut in four, salt, pepper and sesame seeds

For the carpaccio: 2 beetroots (cooked), juice of one lemon, juice of one orange, 200 gr grape oil, 1 pinch of brown sugar, salt and pepper

for the cauliflower espuma: half of a cauliflower, 200 gr milk, 3 oysters, 1,5 dl sour cream, pepper and salt

Shred the beetroot into very fine slices. Squeeze lemon and orange juice, add the oil of the grape, sugar, pepper and salt to dressing. Pour over beetroot. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

Cook the cauliflower in milk and a half chicken stock. Add 3 oysters to vegetable and pour over the sour cream. Salt and pepper. The mixture must have a thick consistency! Season with nutmeg and pour into creative whip machine. Before serving shake it vigorously. Cool for at least two hours. (You can serve in a glass as a vegetable dip).

Cook tune fish for three minutes on each sides add salt and sesame seeds. Serve the tunefish on the beetroot carpaccio and alongside with the oyster cauliflower espuma.

Nymphenburg Verdi 021Swedish advent bread

Ingredients: 400 gr rye flour, 100 gr carrot syrup, half liter of water, 75 gr butter, 75 gr yeast, 1 tbsp anis, 1 tbs carraway seeds, 1 tbs fennel seed, 550 gr flour (Type 550), 50 gr figues, 75 gr raisins…

Melt butter, pour over half liter of water and carrot syrup. Pour this over rye flour. Dough batter with hands. Put yeast in 100 ml water. Mix the two different flours, flavor them with the spices, add yeast and water mixture to batter. Chop figues, cut raisins and add to batter. Divide dough in two portions. Let them stand for 1 hour. Heat the oven for 190 grades, place batters on baking sheet and let them bake for 50-60 minutes. Wait until cool.

Saffron bun

In the Lucia procession the oldest daughter brings coffee and the St. Lucia buns (flavored with saffron) to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter can wear the candle-wreath.

In Swedish the bun is called lussebulle or lussekat (Lucia’s cat) and it is a rich yeast-leavened sweet bun. The Swedish saffron bun is not flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg as the Italian Lucia’s cat, and there is also an other difference: in the Swedish bun raisins are used instead of currants. The buns are baked into many  shapes, of which the simplest is a reversed S-shape. They are traditionally eaten especially on December 13th (and also during Advent)

Ingredients: 300 ml milk, 1 g saffron, 50 g baker’s yeast, 150 g sugar, 125 g butter or 125 g margarine, 700 g all-purpose flour, 1 egg, salt, raisins

Melt butter or margarine in a pan and add the milk and the saffron. Warm the mixture to 37 C (100 F). The correct temperature is important! Use a thermometer! Pour the mixture over the finely divided yeast; then add the remaining ingredients (except for the egg and the raisins), which should have a temperature of 21-23 C (72-75 F). Mix into a smooth dough. Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead the dough, divide it into 25-30 pieces and form each piece into a round bun. Let the buns rest for a few minutes, covered by a piece of cloth. Form each bun into a string, 15-20 cm long then arrange the string in a suitable shape, e.g. an S or double S. Regardless of the shape, the ends of the string should meet. Press a few raisins into the dough. Cover the “Lucia cats” with a piece of cloth and let them rise for 40 minutes. Whip the egg together with a few grains of salt, and paint the “Lucia cats” with the mixture. Bake them for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 250 C (475 F) until golden brownish yellow.