Merry Christmas everyone

So, the day we’ve been anticipating and preparing for for days, weeks and months, is finally over. It’s all so strange, I think. All that work we put down in baking, buying presents and carefully wrapping them, ends in one day. Well, I know Christmas isn’t only Christmas Eve, but that is the main part after all. I always feel a little empty when it’s over, but it only lasts for a little while, and then I realize there are more days off work to wander around the house in comfy clothes, eating cookies and candy, and go for a walk to get some air and work up some appetite for next meal!

Christmas was perfect. I celebrated with my parents, my two sisters, my brother in law, my overly cute niese and my grandmother. And we had a white snowy Christmas, which is not the case every year. And I got a lot of nice things, many food-oriented items, of course. I’m a foodie, after all. So here’s some of it:

1: Turron and nougat-ish chocolate from Spain. My sister is currently studying in Valencia, and brought home these delicious sweets. I know it’s good, cause my other sister has been living in Spain and introduced me to this. So thanks sis!

2: Gingerbread cutters and porcelain pie form. I wished for gingerbread cutters and got what I wanted. 3 sets of cutters… So I should be more than ready for next Christmas! The pie pan I got from my mother in law, and I know that will come in handy as I looove pie – in any shape. And I only had a small one from before.

3: Crème brulée kit; including heart-shaped ramekins, a blow torch and gas. Crème brulée here I come!
Thanks sis! (my other sister)

4: Tea, Cinnamon-flavoured coffee and pepper & chili jelly! Also from my little sister.

I also got a toaster from my mother and exclusive chocolate from my best friend! All in all, great presents!

Advertisements

Vørterbrød (Wort bread)

Vørterbrød is the Norwegian name for wort bread, apparently. I really didn’t know how to translate this, or what to call this bread, until now, that I found a definition of what vørter beer, one of the main ingredients, is.

Vørter beer (wort beer) is a non-alcoholic, unfermented drink produced through the carbonation and sterilisation of wort made from malt, hops and water. It is thus, per definition, not a beer and should not be labelled beer, but was given a dispensation to this in the Norwegian Beer Act of 1912 regarding production and taxation of beer. The reason for this is found in the history of Vørter beer.

Vørterbrød is a type of the traditional Christmas bread with raisins like panettone, stollen and other variations that seems to be part of many different Christmas cuisines around the world. Here in Norway there are two kinds: Christmas bread and wort bread (or cake, as some call it) The Christmas bread is made of wheat, raisins and sometimes succades.

Wort bread, one the other hand, is made of part wheat, part rhye, raisins and spices like anise, ground cloves, cinnamon and pepper. All good Christmas things into one. It has a much richer taste, and maybe it takes some getting used to, because it tastes a lot more than the ordinary Christmas bread. More spices, more syrup, more dense, more of everything and a lot better in my opinion! I love it. And the smell…..Oh, the smell. Lovely licorice-like and a dark brown colour from the rhye and the syrup.

You have to try it. Warm thick slices straight from the oven with a thick layer of good quality butter. Or a slice of Norwegian brown cheese – gjetost, if you’re into that. I’m not, but a hear this is the perfect combo. Well, what do you know. I’m back from my divine lunch, and I have a confession to make. I’m a brown cheese convert. That wasn’t bad at all. It was delicious. I, a non-brown cheese eater, can recommend brown cheese on wort bread. It’s delish. The bread is quite spicy, well not spicy, but filled with spices and flavour. And the cheese is very sweet, so together: A match made in Christmas heaven.

I found a recipe on the net that I was going to use. For some reason, I started to flip through the pages of one of my breadbaking-cookbooks from the bakery Åpent Bakeri, and found a recipe there. To simplify, meaning not having to write down the recipe from the net or dragging the computer into the kitchen, I decided on this recipe instead. And when the dough was done and I was done kneading, it hit me: The wort beer! I forgot it! I read through the recipe to check, and to my surprise, no wort beer in the wort bread recipe… That is strange. Well, at least I didn’t do nothing wrong. So I guess I’ll have to use it next Christmas. Or sooner. Or else: One more year in the fridge. (yes, I had some left from last year.)

Vørterbrød
250 g raisins
5 dl water
600 g wheat
400 g rhye
10 g (2 ts) sea salt
100 sugar
50 g yeast
100 g syrup
0.5 ts ground pepper
0.5 ts cinnamon
0.5 ts ginger
0.5 ts ground cloves
0.5 ts ground anise
50 g butter

(You’re supposed to soak the raisins for one day, but I didn’t and it tasted fine, so you can leave that part. I also left out ginger and pepper. Didn’t have any and it was too snowy outside…)

Directions

Add sugar, egg, butter, salt, cardamom and 2 cups flour; mix well. Stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Use as little flour as you can, the dough should be a little sticky. Place in a big bowl covered with clingfilm. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each portion into breads. (I made one bread and the rest buns. Of course you can make only buns too, if you prefer) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the breads with one whisked egg.

Bake at 200 degrees C or 395 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve while still warm with butter, cheese or jam. Have yourself a merry little Christmas moment.

Chocolate pistachio fudge

Christmas is here and I’m all wrapped up in gingerbread, presents and ornaments. To me, as to so many others, Christmas and advent is so much about the food. Gingerbread, cookies, breads, sweets and other things that will fill the house with that lovely Christmas smell. Somethings are already baked: The gingerbread house me and my boyfriend constructed, still stands (hurray!), looks good, but smells even better. That’s my number one reason to make gingerbread – instant Christmas smell! I also like to give away edible presents, so I preserved some plums when they were in season and some pears as well. And last week, I had my girlfriends over for a little workshop, and we made different kinds of sweets. Homemade sweets for Christmas is both fun to give and receive. I had seen this recipe on Nigella Express, and it looked so good, I had to try it. And quite easy to, which we all like in this busy time of the year.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge
350g chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids, chopped
1 can condensed milk (397 g)
30g butter
pinch salt
150g unsalted pistachios, shells removed

Place everything apart from the nuts in a heavy-based pan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined. Place the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into some large and some small pieces. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into a 23cm square tray, smoothing the top with a wet palette knife.
Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate until set. Cut into small pieces.
Once cut, the fudge can be kept in the freezer – there’s no need to thaw, just eat straight away. Or give some away!