Since today is the day for making toasts - and resolutions don't begin until tomorrow - here's a second toast to accompany my earlier blog ( "A Skagen Toast to the New Year"): here's to Gjetost! Norway's hallmark brown cheese, packaged in the U.S. under the "Ski Queen" label, is delicious when sliced thin and placed on toast (or crispbread). Yet it also lends itself beautifully to creating this non-alcoholic gjetost fondue, perfect for dipping meatballs, apple slices, chunks of rye bread, and roasted potatoes.
Nordic Nibbles image & copy; 12/31/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
Looking for the ideal New Year's "toast"? Forget the speeches and offer your guests Sweden's classic Skagen Toast instead. Developed three decades ago by Tore Wretman, famed chef at Stockholm's Riche restaurant, this concoction of baby shrimp, crème fraîche, caviar, and dill is simple, elegant ... and just the slightest bit salty - everything the perfect toast should be.
Toast Skagen image & copy; 12/31/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
When making merry as we ring in the New Year, it's always a good idea to offer a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to accompany a selection of festive appetizers. Need ideas for a few "Nordic"-themed "hard" and "soft" drinks? Here are 8 very festive beverages sure to appeal to a wide range of preferences ( from non-alcoholic Skål Ya'll Fruit Tea to Julmumma (Swedish Christmas Beer), Icebar Stockholm's famous Wolf's Paw cocktail , and Northern Lights (a.k.a. "Greenlandic") coffee. Drink responsibly, stay safe, and have a very blessed 2013!.
8 Festive Nordic Beverages image and copy; 12/31/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
What an adventurous year 2012 has been! It was a banner year for me, of course, because of Adams Media's publication of my first cookbook, The Everything Nordic Cookbook. Yet perhaps the best part of this project was that it encouraged me - in alignment with the tenets of the "New Nordic Cuisine" movement - to heighten my focus upon planning our meals around ingredients that are seasonal, fresh, and local. Who knew that dandelion greens tasted so good? Or that it was so easy to make Icelandic skyr at home? Inspired by this list of 2012's Scandinavian Food highlights, I can't wait to see what 2013 holds!.
2012 highlights image and copy; 12/30/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
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One of my primary resolutions for 2013 will be to more consistently follow the Swedish cooking proverb, "Man tager vad man haver"- to take what I already have on hand, using leftover ingredients to create new dishes in the interest of making sure that nothing goes to waste.
Fortunately, I've found that using leftover ingredients often results in the creation of secondary recipes that are even better than the original dish. A great example is this moist glogg cake, bursting with the dried fruit, citrus, and almonds that I used to flavor my holiday glogg.
Let's raise a glass to second helpings!
Glogg cake image ©2013 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
With Advent soon upon us, I have - like Santa - begun "making my list." Although I haven't gotten to the point of checking it twice yet, I'm fairly sure I've already stocked up on everything included on last year's list of Favorite Nordic Holiday Host/ess Gifts. For 2012, though I'll be adding a new "favorite" kitchen tool of mine: cookie stamps (which work beautifully with recipes like Lemon-Cardamom Cookies). Now all I have to do is round up the reindeer ...
Favorite gift list image & copy; 11/30/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
The entire season of Advent is a time for fellowship in Scandinavia - a sure way to light up December's polar darkness. In Sweden, it's a sure sign that holiday get-togethers are in the making when people start to prepare knäck - Swedish toffee filled with almonds. Look here for instructions for making this traditional sweet both on the stovetop or in the microwave..
Knäck image and copy; 11/30/2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
If you're lucky enough to attend any one of the many Scandinavian holiday bazaars that are being held among Scandinavian-American communities this season, you're sure to find this delicious almond cake on sale. Baked in a special ridged pan (primarily made - gasp - in Germany), Scandinavian almond cake is a quick and delicious item to have on hand when friends and family show up for impromptu holiday visits. This cake, like most Scandinavian baked goods, freezes beautifully. You can often find the pans (commonly under the Bethany Housewares label) in specialty cooking stores, on eBay, or you can order them online from distributors like Ingebretsen's or The Wooden Spoon.
Scandinavian almond cake photo & text © Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
If the rich folk of 18th-century Norway commemorated their families by commissioning special, personalized irons on which to bake goro (sometimes translated as "affluent") cookies, the poorer classes created a baking legacy that has ultimately secured a more lasting presence in Scandinavian kitchens: fattigman (or "poor man" cookies). Although the ingredients' lists for these two types of cookies are virtually identical, fattigman are cut into diamonds, twisted into knots, and quickly fried before being sprinkled with sugar and served warm. You don't need to be a poor man to enjoy these yummy treats - but eat too many of them, and you may well become a fat one!
Fattigman image ©2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.
One my my favorite holiday cookies are Norwegian Goro - delicately imprinted cookies that are prepared on a special cookie iron, flavored with cardamom, and have a texture that's a unique cross between a cookie, a cracker, and a waffle. Like most Scandinavian cookies, Goro can be baked ahead in quantity and frozen, making it easy to include them as part of the seven-item cookie plate that is traditional in Norwegian and Norwegian-American households during the holiday season.
Goro image ©2012 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.