Recipe: Skoleboller or Norwegian Cardamom and Custard Buns

skoleboller_putting-more-honey

As many readers of my blog know, I lived in Norway for a time. I don’t read many blogs where Norwegian culinary achievements are discussed, but I think that is kind of sad, because Norwegian food is very good, and quite varied. There is of course a lot of seafood and a meal wouldn’t be a meal without potatoes. But there are also a lot of lovely fresh tasting meals, and I usually cook up something with Scandinavian flair for Midsummer.

Of course, one of the shining glories of Norwegian fare are the baked goods.

Skoleboller is one of those pastries that you can get at any bakery in Norway – even the grocery store, convenience stores, train and ferry kiosks and of course coffee shops. The name literally means “School Buns” and are a very popular snack for school children, but because of its portability you often take them cross country skiing or on hikes. Sometimes you will just enjoy them with coffee. I ate them a lot when I lived in Norway because I am a huge sucker for custard and coconut, which are the flavors that go into these buns. Oh yeah, and cardamom, which is one of my all time favorite spices – and cardamom is a favorite spice among Norwegian baked goods. Basically Skoleboller are cardamom infused sweet buns (sort of like a Danish, but not exactly) and filled with vanilla custard, topped with coconut and a confectioner’s sugar glaze.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed Skoleboller very often when I lived in Norway, 15 years later, I had almost forgotten about them, that is until I came across the blog Transplanted Baker. *note* Unfortunately, since I wrote this post, Siri’s blog was mistakenly removed from the net :-( She is currently working on a new site that will be up soon!

Now Transplanted Baker is written by Siri who is a native of Minnesota, but lives in Norway with her Norwegian husband and children who cooks up Norwegian favorites as well as developing some of her own original baked goods. This is an awesome blog and I love reading it because it makes me very nostalgic, even though she lives in a different part of Norway than I did, and here are two official forms of written Norwegian…and writes in Nynorsk on her blog, a different official written language than the one I learned when I lived there.

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So onto the Skoleboller. I decided to take a Saturday and make these buns. There are several steps, but please do not let that discourage you – they are all fairly easy to accomplish and believe me, these buns are well worth it. I made the dough for the buns first and while it was rising I made the custard.

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Here is a note on the custard. I am kind of an egg freak – I eat a lot of eggs, and because of this it is important to me that they are of good quality. This means that the hens live a life a hen should live. I am not going to get into it more than that, but the quality of these eggs are clear. I mean look at the color of the yolks here, beautiful, sunny, deep yellow – and the taste is far superior to your run of the mill (quite literally) eggs. So if you are going to make a dish where the cornerstone is eggs, you might as well use the best available to make your dish all the better tasting.

Anyway, back to Skoleboller. Siri had good advice, she said you can make 12 regular sized Skoleboller or 24 smaller, weight watchers sized buns. So I decided to make the latter. I followed her recipe exactly, except that I embellished a little.

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Instead of using a confectioner’s sugar glaze, I decided to use some of the creamed honeys that I had from Honey Ridge Farms.

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I also added some nutella (as well as the custard) to a few, and on some I placed a fresh blackberry in the center before popping them in the oven to bake. All varieties turned out really good and by making 24, I had enough to eat, freeze and give out. So I would suggest making them that way – plus less guilt! :)
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The Ginger People: Ginger Snaps and a Contest

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Well, The Ginger People have managed to do it again…come up with another fantastic tasting ginger product. I have been the lucky recipient of various samples of their products, and they have done several giveaways and contests with us on The Foodie Blogroll.

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This time we tasted classic Ginger Snaps. I am a huge fan of ginger, and I especially love ginger cookies, and ginger snaps are my favorite. So I was excited to try their version. What I did not expect was to become so addicted to these lovely bite sized cookies! These Ginger Snaps are perfectly crunchy, with a wonderful buttery and spicy flavor that really packs a ginger wallop at the end. If you love ginger snaps that are full of crunch and flavor, you have really got to try these cookies! I promise you will not be disappointed! I ate about half of the bag, and am saving the rest to come up with a dessert recipe. I think that these cookies will make a great crust for a pie, or maybe even a cheesecake. We are going to have lots of people staying with us this summer, and so I am going to wait until we have more people around to enjoy this dessert. But keep your eyes out for a dessert recipe based on these amazing cookies.

PRODUCT INFORMATION:

Product Description:

Introduced to Sweden by 13th Century German monks, Ginger Snaps come from the Swedish word pepparkakor, which literally translates as pepper cakes. Baked to a perfect crisp, these wonderful mini cookies are bursting with flavor. Fresh from the oven, we give them a sprinkle of sugar.

Ingredients:

Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) cane sugar, cutter (cream), ground ginger, candied ginger (ginger, sugar), molasses, eggs, ginger juice, spices, baking soda, salt.

Currently the Ginger People have a contest going on, that many of you might be interested in entering!

America’s #1 selling ginger brand, The
Ginger People, announces its sponsorship of the 2009 Mambolicious recipe
contest. The Ginger People are calling on all cooks from culinary
professionals to at-home chefs to glaze, bake, broil and sauté their way to
becoming a 2009 Mambolicious contest winner. Winners in the different
categories will receive prizes from a year’s worth of The Ginger People
products or other goods from organic and natural food manufacturers.

As food costs continue to rise and consumers are focused on health and
sustainability, The Ginger People are offering their ginger products as key
ingredients to be used in the competition capturing the essence of healthful
living with great taste. Over the past 4 years, this contest has increased
in size with over 5,000 recipe submissions and over 20,000 votes for recipe
winners.

Consumers may enter in more than one category; however, each entry must
feature a different recipe and must be original. Specific contest rules with
category and eligible products are available at www.mambosprouts.com
.

Mambo Sprouts is the industry’s first and only quarterly direct mail coupon
and offer program created in response to a lack of educational materials and
discounts available to health and natural products consumers.

The Ginger People is the leading brand of ginger products in North America.
It is owned by Royal Pacific Foods of Marina, California. Royal Pacific
Foods was established in 1984. For more product information and
availability, please contact The Ginger People at 800-551-5284, ext. 225 or
email at info@gingerpeople.com.

On a personal note, I may be a little MIA on your blogs over the next few weeks. We are in the process of moving into a new place by June 1. We are just moving across the bridge to the island, and so it isn’t a far move, just time consuming with packing boxes. So I doubt I will be doing a lot of fabulously creative cooking for the next few weeks, but I will be around. :)

April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway: D’Italia!!!

Our second April Foodie Blogroll Giveaway giveaway has us teamed up with D’Italia
D’Italia is an awesome online Italian Grocer! Need some gourmet salami? How about some truffles to shave over pasta, or real Italian espresso? You don’t need to look any further than D’Italia! If you need to send a nice gift to someone who loves gourmet or Italian foods, they also have beautiful and delicious gift baskets! This is a great company owned by Vince DiPiazza – yes you saw that correctly, we share the same last name, but still have not chatted to see if we are related or not! LOL!

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We received several samples from D’Italia so far, and all were OUTSTANDING. We first got a fantastic salami trio, and we were ecstatic that not only did it taste amazing, but there were no nitrates in them! Something that is near impossible to find these days, much to our chagrin. Roberto loves salami, and I am big fan, so this totally made our day. We enjoyed the salami with some fantastic Olive Grissini (also from D’Italia) – which are crunchy Italian breadsticks. Grissini is usually what you get instead of a bread basket at restaurants in Italy, and again, my Italian taste tester said these grissini were to perfection. They were light and crunchy with just a hint of olives. Great to serve with an antipasto and Limoncello spritzer like we did! :)

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The winners of the D’Italia giveaway will be receiving a basket filled with incredible goodies:
Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Sicilian Sea Salt w/Fresh Blood Orange Zest, Parmigiano Reggiano Spreadable Cheese, Sapori Italiani Mix (Capers, Olives, & Oregano), Sicilian Green Olives and Olive Oil. Now who wouldn’t want that??? Please remember to to make sure that you are an active member of The Foodie Blogroll, and that you have the widget displaying correctly. This giveaway is available to members in the Continental USA.

If you would like to learn more about our contests and giveaways, and how you can be eligible, please check out the Contests and Giveaways Page on FoodieBlogroll.com
If you are not yet a member of The Foodie Blogroll, you are certainly going to want to join us for your chance to win these awesome gifts!

Remember, we still have 2 more weeks of the Flirty Aprons and FromtheFarm.com giveaways through the end of March! Plus the Patric Chocolate giveaway in April as well! :)

FromTheFarm.com: Koda Farms Rice and Leftover Chicken Soup

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So remember that chicken I roasted in a tagine last week?
Well, after we ate most of the meat heated up again, I decided to make a chicken soup from the carcass, as I always do. Homemade chicken soup is just amazing stuff and a really easy way to get even more out of your whole chicken. One whole chicken usually is 4 or 5 meals for us, including the soup, a pretty good deal, when a nice free range, organic whole chicken is about $7- $8 – making it about .75 cents a meal…

Well it just so happened that the same day I set out to make my chicken soup, I got another package in the mail from FromTheFarm.com , the awesome company that is sponsoring one of our March and April giveaways on The Foodie Blogroll . For details on this giveaway, click here

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This package was from Koda Farms, which is a family farm and the oldest continuously run rice farm and mill in California. All facets of production are managed by members of the Koda family from growing and harvesting to milling and packaging.

They are well known for their Heirloom Kokuho Rose – Japanese style, medium grain rice. To this day they maintain their own seed program to preserve the purity of this heirloom rice strain. It is slow to mature, low in yield and tall in stature, making it a true heirloom. To plant this strain of rice every year requires a three year commitment to merely produce the seed. Koda Farms is also known for their Sho-Chiku Bai brand – which is a sweet rice.

In their own words, “One could aptly summarize that rice is our life”. They can trace back their rice growing ancestry back to the 1600′s in Japan. So it is more than their livelihood, it is the continuation of a family legacy and the preservation of their cultural heritage.

They are big on quality control, making sure that even in the processing, the entire rice drying and milling facility is cleaned of rice grains whenever production changes from one rice variety to another. They are also certified organic and all products are also certified kosher.

Besides these two rice varietals I also received three varieties of Organic Nirvana Heirloom Organic Rice and Grains. Each box contains artisan blends of certified organic, all natural ingredients in which whole brown rice is combined with other healthy and nutrient-rich grains and seeds. These rice mixes are prefect for vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic diets. I wanted to add one of these rice and grain mixes to the soup. So I decided to use the California Whole Grain Goodness which contains heirloom brown rice, pearled barley, millet, oat berries, quinoa and rye berries.

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FromTheFarm.com: Poached Pears and Honey Balsamic Strawberries

So here is another couple of recipes that I made using wonderful products from FromTheFarm.com who will be sponsoring a Foodie Blogroll Giveaway during March and April!

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I received some lovely pears from EW Brandt & Sons. The Brandt family has been a part of Washington state agriculture since 1907. Located just south of Yakima, WA they grow, pack and ship premium pears, apples and stone fruit. This farming family strives to deliver the most flavorful and unique products that can be grown in their region. Through the years, they’ve added acreage, new packing facilities, and a nursery program that allows them to better coordinate their own tree development to diversify into various tree fruit varieties. And these are some beautiful and tasty pears. I really have never seen such lovely ones before – not a blemish on them, super smooth outer skin. Just gorgeous- and the taste? Like a pear should be – crisp and delicious!

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The first thing I did when I got a case of pears from EW Brandt & Sons was start asking around for wine poached pear recipes – something I had always wanted to make. So I went on Twitter and asked around. My good friend Peter, from Kalofagas had two recipes to share with me, (hereand here) and so I kind of took the method of how he did his and added my own twist to it.

from-the-farm_poached-pears_ready-to-eat

I had leftover mulling spices from the Gløgg I made for our Winter Solstice Cocktail Party and so I decided to use that in lieu of cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. I used Pumpkin Blossom Honey and Blackberry Honey Creme from Honey Ridge Farms to make the wine syrup.

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Honey Ridge Farms is a really fantastic company. When I read the materials they sent me with the package I was really happy to read this statement: “We are a long time bee keeping family (5 generations) who believe that honey is nature’s best sweetener”. I would have to agree. I am a huge fan of honey, and maple syrup – if I could figure out how to bake with them, that is all I would ever use…sounds like another good project for me…Anyway their artisan honey is minimally processed, gently warmed and strained, but not filtered. This retains all the complex flavors this honey has to offer. The Pumpkin Blossom honey we got has a sweet and spicy robust flavor – and the color is beautiful.

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I also received 3 Honey Cremes, and decided to use the Blackberry Creme in this recipe as it would compliment the berry notes in the Shiraz-Grenache wine I was using. Their honey cremes are blended with the finest fruits and spices and are never cooked – again retaining the natural goodness of the honey. It is delicious stuff and there is so much you could do with them – topping for ice cream, yogurt, on hot cereal, even spread on toast.

Anyway, I also decided to make a vanilla – maple cream to go with the pears – you can see the recipe after the cut.

from-the-farm_balsamic-strawberries

We got another interesting product from Honey Ridge Farms – Balsamic Honey Vinegar. I know, I wondered what it was too when I saw the bottle. So I got to reading labels and literature to figure out what it was. It is a balsamic type vinegar made entirely from 100% honey! This makes it sulfite free and really does have the flavor of balsamic vinegar. You can use it in place of grape balsamic in salads, marinades and sauces. Plus, Honey Ridge Farms donates a percentage of their profits on this product to fund research for maintaining bee colony health – which is very important.

Strawberries are in season here in Florida right now. I am not a huge fan of them, but I do enjoy them when they are soaked in balsamic vinegar. If you have never tried this, it may sound weird, but I promise you that the flavors work together like magic! The vinegar brings out the sweetness of the berries. So I chopped up some strawberries and added 1/3 cup of Honey Balsamic over the top. I also mixed in about a TBS of the Clover Honey Creme (also from Honey Ridge). I let that all sit in the fridge for about an hour or two – you could do it over night, if you can wait that long! It was really delicious over vanilla ice cream! I am also looking forward to having some over yogurt.

Please check out this post and The Foodie Blogroll’s Contests and Giveaways Page to see how you can be eligible to win one of our awesome giveaways we have going on.
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Tomato Salad and Roasted Chicken – In a Tagine

So of course after receiving all those wonderful products from FromTheFarm.com I was inspired to start experimenting with them right away.

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Santa Sweet Grape and Ugly Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes

Santa Sweet, the name of the company is also the name of the seed variety of this original grape tomato. The company owns the particular seed variety along with the Ugly Ripe heirloom variety seeds. Therefore they are the first company to bring the grape tomato to the United States. Any other company who sells “grape tomatoes” and are not Santa Sweet- their seeds are a cousin of the original. These grape tomatoes are super sweet and very pop-able. Children love their shape and taste. The Ugly Ripe tomatoes are reminiscent of a delicious tomato fresh from my grandfather’s backyard garden. They may be ribbed and bumpy, but their flavor is delicious and full of pure tomato flavor. Perfect to eat like an apple, or chopped in salads.

I live with a “tomato connoisseur” who just fell in love with both of these varieties of tomatoes. So much so, that all we really did with them was make wonderfully simple salads dressed with balsamic vinegar and and extra virgin olive oil.

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My favorite salad was these dressed tomatoes over a bed of spicy organic arugala, mixed with a nice ripe avocado and some smoked cheddar cheese. It was like summer in a bowl. We ate these kinds of salads for 3 days straight!

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FromTheFarm.com offers a Tomato Variety Pack that includes 6 Ugly Ripe tomatoes and 2 pints of Santa Sweet Grape tomatoes!

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Sierra Olive Oils and Spice Packets

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So everyone has been asking to see how I roast a chicken in my tagine. I love my tagine and I try to come up with as many uses for it as possible. I am a huge fan of roasted chickens, and I usually roast one or two a month and I always make soup from the carcass. So when I got my tagine as a present, I did an experiment and roasted a chicken in it. As with anything you put in a tagine, the chicken came out super tender and falling off the bone – with no basting or liquid necessary. You literally throw it in the tagine, and throw the tagine in a 350 F oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours. That is it!

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This time, I decided to rub my delicious organic roaster with Sundried Tomato and Basil Olive Oil from Sierra Olive Oils. The company had also sent me a variety of spice packets used for dips (which are not available yet, but will soon be), but I thought it would be fun to try one as a rub for the chicken, so I chose the garlic variety.

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I had some leftover fresh fennel that I stuffed the bird with. It came out perfectly delicious. Served with peas, it was a delicious and homey dinner, and almost too easy to make! :)

Hearts of Fire: Ginger People Valentine’s Contest!!!!

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This is a fun and sweet contest that we are running with The Ginger People right in time for Valentine’s Day called Hearts of Fire!

All you have to do is post here on The Foodie Blogroll/ Leftover Queen Forum what you think is the best use of the Crystallized Ginger Sweeties with a Valentine’s Day Theme :)

Aren’t they so cute? And delicious too! The perfect way to spice up your Valentine’s day!

Your idea could be a cocktail garnished with the sweeties, cookies, dipped chocolate covered hearts, whatever you can come up with. We will then chose a random winner on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, from the pool of posters!!!

The winner will receive a Ginger Sweet Treat Gift Basket including The Ginger People’s :

Ginger Sweeties
Ginger Chews (all 6 flavors)
Ginger Delight

All you have to do to be eligible is post your idea on this forum thread, be an active member of The Foodie Blogroll and have a valid US address to send the prize to.

UPDATE: I received an extra jar of Ginger Sweeties that I will be sending out to another random winner – who can be from any country!!!

Have a great time everybody and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Boxed Tomatoes: Spaghetti and Meatballs….Spaghetti Squash, a Tomato Sauce Extravaganza!

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Here is another post about a featured pantry item. This was not planned it just so happens that the last few times I cooked, I got so inspired by a key ingredient and just went off on different tangents with it. Which to me, is my favorite way to cook – when I am inspired and excited about ingredients – when they make me hungry and I can’t wait for the dish to be done. This post is going to feature different uses for tomato sauces, which I made from boxed tomatoes.

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Now I am putting a disclaimer out there that this isn’t my mom’s, my grandmother’s or probably anyone’s grandmother’s recipe for tomato sauce, or meatballs. Even though I grew up both Spaghetti Squash and Spaghetti and Meatballs, I don’t like making anything EXACTLY the same way every time. Since I like to use my leftovers, when I make a sauce or any kind of dish, really, I always do a tour through the fridge to see what needs to be used yesterday, and find a way to incorporate it. Usually this means we get extra veggies in whatever dish I am making, which is never a bad thing. But it also ensures that my dishes are always slightly different every time, making it more interesting.

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Here is the story of this Tomato Sauce Extravaganza! I bought a spaghetti squash with all intentions to make baked spaghetti squash with fresh mozzarella for dinner. Then on Twitter, I was chatting with some of my buds and Elle, from Elle’s New England Kitchen was making Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Peter, from Kalofagas was talking about garlic bread. So naturally, I started craving both things. So I decided to act on those cravings and just make everything all at once. So I made the tomato sauce so that it could go in my baked spaghetti squash dish and also be used the next day for the meatballs. I must admit both dishes were fabulous!

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Then I made garlic bread topped with parm and a little leftover blue cheese. It was the perfect accompaniment.
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