Swedish Christmas

Just got back home a couple of kilos heavier after three days of Christmas celebrations with family. 

Swedish Christmas is mainly celebrated on ‘Julafton’, which is Christmas Eve the 24th of December. The day is usually started with some kind of Christmas breakfast. Then many people watch the 3 pm Disney’s Christmas or “Kalle” (from Kalle Anka, meaning Donald Duck). So did we, but this year we substituted the glögg (mulled wine) and gingerbread cookies with champagne and Skagen mix on Finnish rye crisps.

After ‘Kalle’ and exchanging Christmas gifts it’s time for the main event, which of course is the traditional Swedish julbord (literally Christmas table). The julbord is a buffet (smorgasbord) of various Swedish Christmas foods. We served gravlax salmon, meatballs, mini ‘prince’ sausages, cream sauce, creamed kale, red cabbage, Jansson’s temptation, pickled herring, potato salad as well as a couple of Finnish vegetable baked ‘casserolles’, since my family originally is Finnish. With this we had Christmas beer, red wine and a soft drink called julmust. For dessert a British Christmas cake as well as chocolates and Christmassy candy. On the 25th of December you basically do it all again with the leftovers.

Now it’s time to reload before the upcoming new years celebration and give heart and liver some time to recover.

Swedish Christmas recipes

If you need some Swedish Christmas recipes, visit my old Scandi recipe site Scandinaviafood.com.

God jul (Merry Christmas)!

Dinner at Gaggan Bangkok

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Gaggan Anand is an Indian native that established Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok in 2010. The restaurant serves molecular style food based to a large extent on Indian cuisine. It has been named the best restaurant in Thailand as well as in all of Asia. 

We went to Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok last year (and Nahm which I’m hoping to write about too) and it was spectacular. Given the low price compared to a similar (probably less good) experience  in say Europe, Gaggan is almost a must if visiting Bangkok and enjoying (amazing) food. Gaggan was an experience in both terms of food and fun. Clever and creative dishes mixed with some good old tastiness made our dinner there one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
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Indian street food bites. For instance you ate the whole bag, plastic and all, of nuts. Then you realised that it wasn’t actual plastic even though the first bite made you think and feel so. Instead the “plastic” evaporated in our mouths and elevated the spiced nuts. So good, and so clever.

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“Say cheese”: Hot soufflé of cheese and crispy rice cereals, green chilly oil. Probably my least favourite dish of the night. Still good though.
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Sandwich: Foié gras mousse, onion water baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy.

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Keema Pao sliders.

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Down to Earth: Summer vegetables (asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes) with a 62C egg yolk and truffle chilli.

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Charcoal: “Be surprised! We wont tell you what it is.” (It was seabass)
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River king: fresh water prawns grilled in the tandoor with  curry leaf infusion and mango chutney. This dish was great, despite that the manager came and fed me a part of the prawn that I’d missed. Shame on me, I guess.

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Angry bird: slow cooked country Thai native chicken in an Indian style curry. Maybe the most ‘ordinary’ dish of the night. But still so good.
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Made in Japan: Matcha tea cake with wasabi.

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“Magnum”: homemade icecream cake pops.

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And of course, no “coffee candy” without dry ice show off when at a fancy ‘molecular’ restaurant.

All in all as mentioned above, a really fantastic experience. Well worth a visit in my mind. Visit Gaggan’s website for reservations and menus.

Recipe for perfect spaghetti cacio e pepe

One of my favourite pasta dishes (okay I admit that most pasta related dishes are my favourites) is the simple yet delicious Roman dish’cacio e pepe’. Cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper, and that is pretty much the dish, with the addition of spaghetti and a splash of cooking liquid.

Despite being a quite simple dish in terms of ingredients and time comnsumption, it’s kind of hard to get that perfect silky coating of cheese ‘sauce’ around the spaghetti. My previous versions have been a bit “lumpy”. But recently I fortunately learned a great trick: mix the grated cheese with cold water before mixing with the pasta.

Ingredients

Spaghetti (I use Martelli or De Cecco)

Pecorino cheese (in emergency use parmesan, but won’t be the same)

Black pepper

Cooking water

Salt

Preparation

1. Set pasta water to boil. Add lots of salt.

2. Mix about 2/3 of the pecorino cheese with a little bit of cold water to form a thick “paste”.

3. Cook spaghetti quite al dente (will cook some more in the sauce).

4. Drain spaghetti, but save a deciliter/half a cup or so of cooking water.

5. Combine the drained cooked spaghetti, a splash (maybe half) of the cooking water, cheese mix and a proper amount of black pepper in the cooking pot. Add heat and stirr (I use a kitchen tong) until most liquid has evaporated and the spaghetti is coated by a velvety, ‘glossy’ sauce. If needed, use the back up cooking water.

6. Serve immediately topped with remaining cheese and extra black pepper.

Fancy kebab at Meat on a Stick in Stockholm


Finally paid a visit to semi-posh kebab joint “Meat on a Stick” in Stockholm. The place was founded by a kebab lover that’s been traveling the world eating lots of kebab trying to find the perfect one. That, generally positive reviews and my own love for kebab brought me there yesterday for an early dinner.

We arrived maybe five minutes past their opening time (on a Friday) 17 o’clock, and were immediately seated by a friendly waitress. When we left an hour later the place was almost full. The restaurant is pretty small, so it fills up quite quickly.

As for the food, I opted for the most “standard” choice according to me, with an “Ararat” featuring a mixture of lamb and veal meat, sliced döner-style from a rotating spit of meat. There was also a garlic creme, jalapeno sauce, a tomato based sauce, pickles, lettuce and onion. The kebab was generally very good. The meat had great taste, the pita-style bread withstood the meat’s juices almost all the way and started breaking only when I nearly had finished. The vegetables added a nice freshness, the pickles some acidity as well as crunch, the sauces heat, and, of course the to Swedes important sauciness. 🙂 The meat had a bit more bite to it than your regular street food kebab, but it was still quite tender.

My dinner companion tried a “Hanoi” which is a Vietnamese inspired chicken kebab with coriander, Sriracha mayo, radish, cucumber and carrots. Also a very nice if quite spicy kebab (the waitress warned us when ordering).

We also tried their fries with truffle dip which was a really nice addition to the kebabs. A glass of South African red worked really well with the above Ararat. A nice place for a tasty, fancy-yet-affordable kebab dinner.

Price

Price: 120 kr for an “Ararat”, a glass of red from 95 kr, fries with truffle dip 30 kr.