Lussekatter 

You know those foods that take you back to your childhood? Especially foods that were reserved for special occasions? Lussekatter, or Lucia buns as my mother always called them, were such a food for me.

In Sweden the eldest daughter is selected to act as Santa Lucia on the 13th of December. The origin being tied to something about Santa Lucia providing food for Christians hiding in some catacombs, but the celebration does occur near the winter solstice and is a celebration that brings light in winter to make it less bleak. If you want to geek out with me, check out sweden.se’s explanation of the holiday and make sure you watch the video, the music is a crucial part of the holiday (plus it’s quite cheeky).

Having dressed as Santa Lucia myself, in the 1st grade mind you, and after years of attending Swedish camp in northern Minnesota where I participated in the rounds of delivering early morning hot chocolate and lussekatter to the other campers, the songs are ingrained in my head. And the buns, well, it’s just not December without them.

In years past my mom made the buns for our family, but as she’s gotten older, I’ve taken up the staff and roped my own kids into making them with me. It doesn’t take much convincing because they love to eat them as much as I do.

Lussekatter

Ingredients

  • 2 (14-oz.) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups milk, heated to 115°
  • 2 tsp. saffron, lightly crushed
  • 34 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 6 12 cups flour
  • 34 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter,cut into 12” cubes, softened
  • Canola oil, for greasing
  • 64 raisins, for garnish

Method

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together yeast, milk, saffron, and 1 tsp. sugar; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining sugar, along with the flour, salt, and 2 eggs. Mix on low speed until dough forms and gathers around the paddle.
  3. Replace paddle with dough hook and add butter; knead on medium-high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour.
  5. Divide dough into 32 pieces and roll each piece into an 8″-long rope. Form each rope into an S shape and then roll each end into a tight spiral. (See Shaping Saffron Buns for illustrated step-by-step instructions.)
  6. Place shaped dough pieces 2″ apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. Heat oven to 400°.
  8. Uncover the dough pieces and place a raisin at the center of each of the spirals. Lightly beat remaining egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush each bun with egg mixture. Bake until buns are golden brown and cooked through, 16 minutes.
  9. Transfer buns to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Ok, so this isn’t totally recipe related, but it is hilarious. I was still pretty cute in 1978, and I doubt I was as pissed as I look, but who knows, that plastic wreath on my head probably wasn’t that comfortable.

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Banana Bread

Today’s project brought to you by Molly Katzen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus a little extra for the pan
  • 3 medium bananas, very ripe
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda


Method

  1. Let butter stand at room temperature to soften about an hour before you start.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  3. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan
  4. Mash bananas in a bowl until they form a mostly smooth pulp, then switch from mashing to mixing as you drizzle the buttermilk directly into the bananas. (You can use the fork or a whisk.) Keep mixing until the mixture is completely blended, and then set this aside.
  5. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times during this process. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat for another minute or two, until everything is well combined.
  6. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add about half of this dry mixture to the butter mixture, stirring it in with a wooden spoon. Then stir in about half of the banana-buttermilk mixture. Repeat with the remaining dry mixture, followed by the remaining banana-buttermilk mixture, stirring from the bottom of the bowl after each addition, just enough to thoroughly blend without overmixing.
  7. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, taking care to scrape all of it in with a rubber spatula. Then use the spatula to spread the batter evenly. Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted all the way into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing it. (The best way to do this is to rap the pan sharply on the counter a few times to loosen the bread, and then let it slide out onto a cooling rack.) To avoid crumbling, wait at least 20 minutes longer to slice and serve.

Savory Bread Pudding

Whether you’re looking to use up some leftovers, or starting from scratch, this is a great way to perk up your breakfast routine. It scales easily so you can make a little or a lot depending on your desires.

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Savory Bread Pudding

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c sautéed onions (fully caramelized is fine, I like a little oniony bite myself)
  • 2 slices cooked bacon
  • 2tsp softened butter for your dish
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 2 T creme fraiche
  • 2 T whole milk
  • 1/3 c crumbled feta
  • one slice of crusty bread
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. pull all ingredients out of the fridge to allow them to temper
  3. julienne 1/2 an onion, sauté over medium heat in oil and a pinch of salt until starting to brown, stirring frequently
  4. turn off heat, stir occasionally while preparing other ingredients
  5. cook bacon (I like to bake mine at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes), chop into 1/2″ pieces
  6. cut bread into small pieces, shape is not important
  7. layer bread pieces on bottom of dish
  8. layer onions and bacon over bread
  9. whisk eggs, creme fraiche, milk, with a pinch of salt and pepper
  10. pour custard over bread
  11. top with feta
  12. bake 10 minutes, if bottom sets, but top isn’t quite cooked, put under the broiler for a minute

This recipe has a lot of room for variation. Skip the meat, add mushrooms or summer squash, whisk shredded parmesan into the custard, add spices to the custard, top with fresh herbs…and of course it’s more delicious when made with eggs from your own chickens!

Same Food, Different Incarnations

Our hens finally started laying, we’re giddy with excitement here at our house. So now that I have fresh eggs, what to do with them? Well, frying and scrambles are big hits here so that’s the basis for these two dishes. The other component is leftover roast that became slow cooked shredded beef.

Cooking eggs requires a well seasoned pan, luckily I have a carbon steel pan that my husband and I have lovingly seasoned into our egg pan and gets used for nothing else. Some of my culinary school instructors would be appalled, but a fried egg to me (thankfully that’s how we cook them in the restaurant where I work!) has a crispy bottom. If it’s not, I’d rather just eat them poached. So, sauté pan over high heat, some oil-I’m using safflower at the moment, but I also like avocado oil-then gently slide the eggs into the pan. I tend to be pretty thoughtful about how I treat ingredients, but I’m finding the preciousness of having them come from your backyard amps up that feeling of needing to be gentle. Reduce the heat a little, and continue to adjust as needed, the bottom should be golden and crispy and the white just set, make sure your yolk is still runny as this becomes the “sauce” for any dish you add it to. This photo is take just before the whites were done, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist it.

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For the final dish, I layered the following; basmati rice down, then slow cooked kale and sweet onions, shredded beef, homemade sauerkraut, then topped the bowl with a fried egg. IMG_2220.JPG

Of course I can’t get enough of the egg, beef combo, so for breakfast I heated corn tortillas on the griddle, topped with shredded beef, cheddar cheese, and slices of sweet onions. I scrambled some eggs and topped the whole thing with sliced tomatoes and homemade creme fraiche.

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Delicious Creations

 

Sometimes the things that get made in a kitchen by chance, are the most delicious creations. Today I needed to make a quick lunch so I thin sliced two russet potatoes and layered them into a well oiled cast iron skillet on high heat. I topped that with half a julienned onion and a generous amount of salt, added a little water, covered it, and cooked it for about 7 minutes (I was in a hurry and to be fair didn’t really time it). Once the potatoes were soft I took the lid off and let the potatoes crisp up on the bottom. Then I topped it with some minced garlic, smokey paprika, tinned sardines, well aged gouda and romano cheeses (you could use anything here, something dry would be best), and threw it under the broiler until the cheese started to caramelize. I gave it a dash of sherry vinegar and minced parsley from the garden and ended up with something I was shocked was so delicious, seriously it was really good, amazing in fact. Yay for happy accidents!

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Tuna Butter

This is a thing, a thing that should be in everyone’s back pocket for all sorts of occasions. It’s quick and easy to make and elevates crackers or toast to a much higher level than plain ol’ butter or other spreads. Quantities in the recipe are more like guidelines, you can add or delete things to your own taste. Keep in mind though, it is butter and thus should be used accordingly-although really that’s up to you.

Tuna Butter

Ingredients

  • 1c cooked tuna (canned is fine, poaching fresh tuna is also simple, experimenting is fun!)
  • 3 oz softened whole butter (cultured butter would work great here too)
  • 1 garlic cloves, rough chop
  • 1-2 scallions, rough chop, or 1/2 shallot
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • chopped fresh dill and parsley–start with about 1T of each and add more TT
  • TT salt and pepper
  • optional ideas(not necessarily all together)-paprika, cilantro, mustard, sherry vinegar, caper, olives, there is loads of room for creativity here

Method

puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth (a little texture is nice)

keep refrigerated

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Scones

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for the basis for this recipe, although as usual I changed things a little. I added a tsp of vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp of almond extract, and a pinch of nutmeg. I wanted to add 1 tsp lemon zest, but didn’t have any on hand, orange would be lovely as well. If you use the zest omit the extracts.

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Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) ap flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Method

  1. preheat oven to 425°F
  2. combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
  3. use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.
  4. stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form
  5. knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball
  6. roll out dough with a rolling pin, folding into thirds 3 times (this will create flaky layers), cut into desired shape
  7. place scones on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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I love lemon poppy seed muffins, as does my daughter, resulting in this morning’s breakfast. The Joy of Cooking has a fabulous recipe, I like to use the yogurt version instead of milk.

Baker’s note:It’s important to temper your eggs and yogurt (or milk) when baking. Why? When using the muffin method, you are adding melted butter. If you add a warm thing to a cold thing, the warm thing is no longer warm. In the case of your melted butter what was a solid became a liquid and will become a solid once more when cooled, resulting in butter lumps. It can also result in a cooked egg if your butter is too hot so be wary of that as well. In this case tempering your egg simply mean leaving it on the counter for about 30 minutes before you use it. I sometimes pull mine out before I go to bed if I know I’m using it for breakfast. 

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, from The Joy of Cooking, 1997

Ingredients

  • 2 c ap flour
  • 1T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c plain full fat yogurt
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 8 T butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method

  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. melt butter, set aside to cool
  3. prepare your muffin tins–use paper liners or coat with butter then sprinkle with sugar to create a non-stick surface
  4. combine dry ingredients–whisk well to make sure everything is incorporated
  5. combine wet ingredients–add butter last and pour in slowly, alternately you can add a small amount of the other liquid to the egg to get both to the same temperature
  6. combine wet and dry ingredients–do not over mix, batter should not be smooth (you will get hockey pucks instead of fluffy muffins if this happens)
  7. baking time depends on the size of your muffins, minis take about 12 minutes, larger muffins can take up to 25
  8. remove from oven, allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, remove from tins and allow to cool 15 more minutes before devouring