Nordic Style Pine Wreaths

‘Decemeber 19th, The simple beauty of a pine wreath’

I wish I could portray smell through writing at the moment… as it lingers of fresh pine and buttery sag in the kitchen. As I sat here making the wire base for the wreaths, I’m drinking warm glögi and indulging in figs, my favourite December fruit. These plump figs have been simply cooked in butter and fresh sage topped with toasted pine seeds with a touch of salt. Luxurious and elegant, just like these understated pine wreaths. Even though the kitchen is an utter mess after making these wreaths, it really is worth it at the end of the day as they spread so much festive joy in the easiest way. Now, I don’t think I need to craft another tutorial for this post, as my blog already has a fare amount of wreath/flower crown guides. So if you are interested, scroll back and make sure you have a good selection of thicker and thinner floral wire before you get started.

Last week, I picked up lots of excess pine branches when we were chopping down our Christmas tree and wanted to take advantage of the beautiful branches. As I do every year, I made wreaths this time purely from traditional and a mixture of silver pine. You can essentially make wreaths from any material, such as natural evergreens, straw, pinecones, and eucalyptus. Since our forests are filled with blueberry and lingonberry branches, they also make a durable material for wreaths.

Wreaths are made to celebrate the cycles of nature to showcase the beauty of the current season. I don’t know is it because of the tradition of making wreaths than comes from my mother, or is it so that I love being crafty with my hands and always find beauty in the simplest of floral arrangements. A minimal Nordic style wreath is an elegant addition to Christmas decorations; it looks stunning on the front door and windows or even incorporated into a table setting. There is so much more meaning when you creative something yourself as you have to put much more effort into it than simply just buying something readymade.

December 1st: Blackberry Cocktail & Beetroot Tartar

‘It is the anticipation of Christmas what makes it the most magical time’

The first of December is finally here; it is the season for craftiness, late night cooking, and dark candle light evenings that make a home cosy and warm. My hubby and I have watched a few festive films already and soon it’s time for us to go pick up a tree. Allow yourself not to get pulled into a Christmas rush by being one step ahead of your calendar and make sure to enjoy the days leading up to the 24th, as it is the anticipation of it all what makes it the most magical time. Today I wanted to share a cocktail and appetizer recipe that will without a doubt kick this festive season off beautifully. Hopefully it will spark some inspiration for your Christmas table and give you a little holiday spirit.

Winter Blackberry & Rosemary Cocktail

A simple blackberry and rosemary champagne cocktail is a beautiful way to start any winter evening. The deep burgundy is a sophisticated undertone for any December get together, or simply if you are looking for a little way to treat yourself by escaping the ordinary. Working greatly to our advantage, the blackberry syrup can be made ahead of time, which makes it exceptionally handy in terms of preparation. Additionally, you could switch up the blackberry to any berry you like and for instance, use thyme instead of rosemary. The cocktail looks wonderfully elegant in a 20s inspired crystal glass of different styles, to give that much desired vintage champagne boat, with delicate thin-edges.

Cocktail Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • ½-1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 twig of rosemary
  • Butter & brown sugar for rimming the edges of the glasses
  • Sparkling wine/champagne
  • Garnish: long rosemary twig with fresh blackberries poked through stem

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients (water, sugar, blackberries, rosemary twig) to make the syrup. Bring to boil and reduce heat and cook for under 10minutes so the blackberries start to mush. Stir occasionally and let the mixture intensify into a red colour. Remove from heat, strain and allow to cool. Once cooled, place the syrup into an airtight maison jar and store in the fridge for up to a few weeks.

Rim each champagne glass with a bit of butter between your fingers. Then place some brown sugar onto a plate and press each glass rim into the sugar so it coats all around.

To make the cocktail; add some blackberry syrup to the glass, some ice and pour over some champagne or sparking wine. Give a little mix. Garnish each glass with a bare rosemary branch (except for the ends for visual impact) and pierce a few fresh berries through it. Allow it to gently rest on top of the glass. Enjoy.

Beetroot Tartar

Beetroot is a fantastic earthy compliment to a winter menu that is rich in flavour and colour. This winter root does not need much to be classic, simply paired as a salad with blue cheese, figs and walnuts is all you need to make it refined. However, a layered beetroot tartar is an exciting dish to serve at a dinner party, as it tastes wonderful. I have made beetroot tartar before (see recipe here) but this version is much different. The filling is basically made from a beetroot puree and cream cheese that has some blackberries and spinach in between. You could defiantly incorporate slices of cured salmon and play around with the dimensions of flavours. For this recipe, I made the beetroot puree from scratch, but I suppose you could store by this as well.

Beetroot puree

  • 5 large roasted beets (place in an oven dish, with oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven (200c) for an hour until soft)
  • 1 sweet potato roasted (place into same oven dish with beetroots to roast)
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • Butter for cooking
  • About 1 dl cream

Directions

Begin by roasting the beetroot and sweet potato. Once ready, peel the skin off and roughly chop into smaller pieces.

In a large saucepan, add a generous dollop of butter and grated garlic. Stir and add in the chopped beetroot and sweet potato. Cook for about 7minutes and add in a splash of cream. This part can be left out if you prefer not to use cream, but it does a lovely taste. Let it gently cook so the cream reduces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pulse with a handheld blender into a puree. It does not need to be silky smooth, as it needs to be thick to hold its shape. Place into a bowl and leave it to cool. Refrigerate the puree for an hour before using so it becomes denser.

Tartar ingredients (you need a cooking mould for this)

  • Beetroot puree
  • 1 tub Cream cheese
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Fresh blackberries
  • Danish style sweet rye bread
  • Garnish: pistachios & fresh blackberries

Directions

Press the tartar mould into the rye bread so it cuts out a circle. Leave the rye bread slice into the bottom of the mould, place on a small plate and start adding layers on top. Add a spoonful of cream cheese on top, then a spoonful of puree. Press the mass down and make sure to keep the layering straight. Add baby spinach, then a mixture of cream cheese and puree together (so it forms a lighter colour), halved blackberries, cream cheese, puree etc. Place the mould into the fridge for a good 3 hours to set. Once ready to plate: take the mould out of the fridge and place onto your serving plate. With a knife, go around the edges of the mould and with the help of your hand, press the mass down while you pull the mould up. It doesn’t matter If the surface looses a bit of shape, you can always fix it after by smoothing it with a knife. Garnish the top with fresh black berries and pistachios. Add a sprinkling of Maldon salt and black pepper.

Christmas Beetroot Tartar


‘December 8th & easy beetroot tartar’


Beetroot is a great winter root that makes great festive dishes with its vibrant purple colour and earthy sweet flavour. This tartar is such an easy appetizer full of gorgeous texture from the feta, garlic and pistachio. This starter looks pretty & if you wish to add some protein, it suits a slice of roast beef or gravlax.

Tartar ingredients

  • 4 Boiled Beetroot (peeled & chopped)
  • 1/2 cup rich feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon strong dijon
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1-2 garlic cloves grated (alter the strength with the amount)
  • Pinch of salt/pepper
  • 1/2 cup pistachios chopped

Garnish: Black pepper, chopped pistachio, chili flakes, parsley

Directions

In a bowl, add the mayonnaise, dijon, lemon juice, olive oil, grated garlic and feta cheese. Mix well into a paste. Chop the cooled, peeled and boiled beets into small pieces and place into a bowl as well. Mix together, add a pinch of salt and black pepper, cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour to marinate all the flavours.

Ready to plate: After an hour take out with bowl from the refrigerator and mix in the chopped parsley and pistachio. With the help of a tartar mold press some beetroot into it, to get a little tower. Garnish with more pistachio, chili flakes and chopped parsley.

Christmas Magic

 

Christmas Eve,

We couldn’t have been more luckier with the sunny weather on Christmas Eve, the golden rays light up the forest as we took our traditional walk early morning. The frost coated the ground a pale white and the fresh crispy air gave us a real Christmas feel. We were greeted by three deer in the woods and enjoyed the exercise before the two-day feasting began!

During noon time it was time to ruffle up into a gucci-inspired floral outfit and head over to my brothers and sister-in-laws house where we decided to have the dinner this year. My parents came much later along with my hubby who was spending some time with his family first! The table was set to perfection, my little nephew was taking a nap and P & M were doing cooking preparations and eating rice porridge. We wished each other ‘Merry Christmas‘ and cracked open a bottle of champagne and put on some christmas tunes! As the hours passed we did some preparations, took pictures and played some with little B who was obsessed with his new toy lambo police car. As the sky started to fade into a dark night, dinner was served with the tree twinkling in the background and the fireplace flickering with ease.  All the foods were just amazing and once again I ate so much that I was about to explode!  We started the feast that was primarily fish based; all sorts of paté, moussé, grav-lax, chili shrimp, roe and assortments of smoked fish, herring that were all sourced from a small local business and then for the main some ham, beets, potatoes etc. For desert there was a choice between chocolate glögi cake and a lingonberry tart and naturally, I gobbled on both!  We ate so much that I had a 15 minute food coma that I thought I wouldn’t recover from but a little running behind little B made it so much better! We watched him open gifts and Mr. N’s and my little toy (all the way from Tropea) was a major hit! The evening ended with some trivial as the twinkling starlight sky blessed us with a wonderful evening.

On Christmas day, our easy morning began with coffee in bed and just relaxing before our round two of dinner started at my hubby’s parents place! We spent a wonderful evening basically with the same format as the night before so today on boxing day, it has been all about the pj’s! I hope everyone has eaten well and enjoyed the time together with their loved ones. Today is a day for leftovers and a lot of cuddles in bed! Christmas was truly magical and I’m feeling very blessed for it all.

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Merry Christmas, the gift of time ♥

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7.30am

Good morning, it’s Christmas eve today! I decided to wake up early today to avoid any rushing as I wanted to start the day with a comforting rice porridge that is baked in the oven. The sweet flavours take over your body, so a little bowl is enough to start the day. The bitter pomegranate pearls compete for crunch with the almonds while the gooey prunes complement the decadent figs that are essential for our christmas mornings.

There is darkness outside at this hour and the only lights in the house are from the christmas tree and candles.  There is a calm feeling in the air, it seems as if everyone has finally slowed down from yesterdays last-minute rush. I managed to capture a little light in my photography by being close to the window when the sun began to rise just as our breakfast was ready to be served.

Early christmas mornings have become a little bit of a tradition for my husband and I as it’s a moment that we have together before all the family festivities begin. It’s never too late to start your own christmas traditions, whether it’s with your loved ones, friends or even a little special time to your self. Our favourite routines on the 24th include a forest walk with Bella, that we will soon go on. I prefer setting the alarm on before Mr. N wakes up as I want that christmas silence to gather my thoughts for the day. I light some candles instantly after I’ve woken up and make myself a cup of piping hot tea. We usually prepare something more special to eat, such as little blinis with smoked salmon or figs with roquefort or some form of porridge.

This year Christmas is going to feel even more special as my nephew is 1 year older so it will be great watching him run around the tree and open presents. For me, Christmas is all about spending quality time with people who are very special in your life, making them smile perhaps with a small thoughtful gift, but most importantly making memories that become even more important as you grow with age. Less commercial, more thoughtfulness. Money is not required for making a truly magical Christmas, it’s the feeling you create with a little bit of creativity at hand. I’m so blessed for my family and the bond we have between us. Another year has gone by and I’m grateful for all our healths and the experiences this year as given us. I’m beyond happy our senior dogo argentino Bella of 12 years is still going strong and spending a Christmas with us. I hope everyone has a safe and amazing Christmas, cuddle up, eat glorious food (without counting calories) and watch as many festive films as possible. It’s the season to be grateful, not complain and give to others. I thank my family, my husband of 1 year, to my irreplaceable friends across the globe and to my readers who have been such a support this past year.  You could say that I still believe in the magic of Santa. He may not be the one that puts the presents under the tree, but its his presence that works through us each time we give freely without expectation and each time we spread joy, love and light. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Baked Christmas Rice porridge ( serves 5-6)

Ingredients

  • about 1 litre pre-cooked rice porridge
  • 2dl whole milk (or 1dl oat milk/ 1 dl whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
  • 70g almonds (I used whole ones with skin on)
  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dollop of butter

*optional : you could substitute milk for vanilla sauce for a more sweeter version

Garnish

  • figs
  • prunes ( heat in a small saucepan with cinnamon, a few drops of water and cardamom until soft and gooey)

Directions

Begin by preparing the rice porridge as that takes easily up to an hour. For this you need rice porridge, a pinch of salt and milk. Let it simmer gently until cooked.

Preheat oven to 200 celsius degrees. Once your porridge is cooked in a pot, to this add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, milk, nutmeg and almonds. Mix together and pour into a baking tray. Add the sliced bananas on top, sprinkle more cinnamon and place a few sprinkle a few dollops of butter on top. Add a pinch of salt if needed. Place into the oven for 30-45 minutes until lovely and golden.

Serve with figs, pomegranate seeds +juice and heated gooey prunes

 

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Homemade Wreath & White Mink

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December 17th,

Yesterday we took a forest walk at our golf course and I decided to take advantage of the material in the woods to make a wreath back home. I picked lots of juniper branches that were filled with green and blue berries that make the most beautiful table decorations. The little gin tasting berries are golden in stews and pair elegantly with wild game. Juniper branches look beautiful with flowers for example with tulips and eucalyptus if you’re looking to make a festive bouquet.

I’ve got a new mink coat and it makes me feel like cinderella as it’s so warm and beautiful and overly cozy with the large lynx fur hood. I have to say this is my favourite fur because of the rare pale natural colour making it a one of a kind. With the fancy fur, I’ve dressed down into comfortable woolen sweats, uggs and a large knit and drinking english breakfast as we scavenger around the woods. I love taking in the beauty of the nature and we even captured a glimpse of a pink sky and saw some deer.

First thing bright and early this morning, I made myself some green tea and started with the wreath-making preparations. I gently played some christmas songs in the background as my hubby was still sound asleep and made smoked salmon cream cheese crackers to set the Christmas mood. This is what I call a cozy sunday morning! 

How to make a larger wreath:

(you need: Scissors, thick and thin wire & leafy greens from forest such as juniper, lingonberry/blueberry twigs, pine branches, heather. You can also get eucalyptus from the florist)

/Begin by making the base

If you live in Scandinavia and have access to a forest, pick some blueberry branches as they are bendy and leafless this time of year and our forests are filled with them. They make the perfect circle without snapping in half.

1. Take a few branches and braid them into other to make a thicker “twig”, as you see in the below right picture. This image is taken from the backside of the base. The main stem has lots of little branches sticking out but you bend or twist them into each other as much as you can and sealing them together with the help of wire.

2. Make another thicker twig, as you did in step 1  and attach the two together into a circle tightening them with wire. This base is perfect for a bigger wreath but if you are making smaller ones, you only need to bend one twig into a circle. If you do not have access to blueberry branches, then use thick wire to make a circle.

/Little bouquets around the wreath

This is the fun visual step where you make the body for the wreath. You basically make little bouquets around the base of the wreath that again, are attached with the wire. I used a thinner wire to wrap the little bouquets and used the thicker wire to attach them to the base. See right picture below for a close up

The wreaths will last longer if you store them outside in damp air. I often store them on the balcony before taking them in for Christmas or closer to some festivities as this way they are more fresh. When kept inside, pine branches tend to be more brittle than lingonberry, that happens to be incredible durable.

1. Gather a small bunch of greens (such as lingonberry leaves, pine twigs, juniper twigs, heather) and seal the middle part with wire to make a little bouquet. Leave the twigs at the end as they make the wreaths base look thicker. Taking another piece of wire, wrap the little bouquet around the base. Repeat the process mixing the material you have. There is no rule to this,  just keep playing around with the branches and see what you think looks good.

2. You can add ribbon to it if you please or make the body of the wreath more thin or thick depending on what style you are after. The simple dainty wreaths are typically modern Scandinavian but the thicker ones are timeless and classic.  These wreaths look lovely hanging from the window/ door or laid flat as a centrepiece on the table with candles around it. Smaller wreaths look beautiful on gifts or utilized as napkin holders in a table setting.

On the left you can see part of the base made from blueberry branches and a half made wreath. Next to the wreath in both pictures you can see “the little bouquets” that you need to make that will then be attached to the base of the wreath with wire.

and here we have the final product…

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Dreamy Christmas Inspo

December 15th,

Let’s start the weekend with a little christmas inspiration… These images are full of rustic charm, layers of feeling, Scandinavian subtilty, dreamy treats and festive drinks to get you in the holiday spirit!

Original source of all images is found via my pinterest ” Dreaming of a white Christmas” board

Christmas Swirl Pavlova & Clementine Curd

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December 12th,

Are you looking for dessert recipes for the holidays? Perhaps you need a show stopper for the Christmas table or New Years or you want something easy but elegant for when your friends/family come over during the holidays? As Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I would share this easy pavlova recipe that will solve your dessert solution!

This time around I’ve made smaller pavlova that can be served per person but you can just as easily make one large base or even a wreath shape that is quite beautiful for Christmas. The reason why this is your Christmas saviour is because you can make both the curd and pavlova the day before and you are just left with the garnishing on the day of the event. Furthermore, pavlova is very festive and pretty to look at that can be garnished with your seasonal favourites like pomegranate, candied almonds, figs/berries or caramel.  You could use rosemary or thyme, sugar mint leaves for a bit of green or then make a clementine/lemon curd that is infused with christmas flavours topped with fresh passionfruit. I love this combination as the curd and fruit gives the marshmallow sweetness some acidic balance. The meringue also has a chocolate swirl for extra delicious flavour and to give it that lovely colour effect. Ps. For a red swirl, blend some fresh strawberries instead of chocolate and fold it into the meringue.

Hopefully this recipe will give you a little seasonal inspiration and release some christmas stress if you are on a tight schedule!

Chocolate Swirl Pavlova ( serves about 8-10) prep time about 60 min

4 egg whites (save the yolks for the curd), 2dl sugar, 1 teaspoon corn starch, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Whisk the egg whites with an electrical hand mixer  until they form stiff peaks. 

Add the vanilla extract, cardamom, sieved corn starch and sugar into a small bowl. A little at a time being in whisk the sugar mixture into the meringue so it looks glossy. lastly, whisk in the vinegar.

100g Dark Chocolate
Place the chocolate pieces into a heatproof bowl and over a small saucepan that has a bit of water in it. Let it gently simmer until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Once cooled, gently fold the chocolate into the meringue so it creates brown-coloured swirls into the egg whites.
Pre heat oven 125 Celsius degrees

“circulation air mode”

(place the pavlova in the middle of the oven)

Place some parchment paper on a baking tray and spoon meringue into little piles (about 10cm diameter), using the marked circle as a guide. Make sure to leave enough space between they as they expand a bit in the oven.

You can also make one large base or a hollowed circle to represent a wreath. For example you can use a small spatula to form little peaks around the edge of pavlova.

Place into oven for 1 1/2 hour

Garnish: Clementine curd, Passionfruit, icing sugar
Ready to serve: Once the meringues have cooled, generously place some curd on top of each one along with the flesh and seeds of a passionfruit. Lastly, sprinkle some icing sugar on top

Christmas Clementine Curd

1dl juice of clementine, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp clementine zest
Grate the lemon and clementine. Squeeze the juice of the clementine and lemon and sieve the seeds and pieces of flesh away.
5 egg yolks
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl that can be placed over a water-bed. Add in the lemon/clementine juice and zest
3dl sugar, 80g butter, 2 star anise
Mix the ingredients into the egg yolks and place over a saucepan with water and continually keep on mixing for about 15 minutes. make sure the bowl does not touch the water and let it simmer on a gentle heat
The consistency should begin to thicken a little by little. Once the curd begins to thicken, I actually poured it into another saucepan and put it directly on the stove on gentle heat to speed the process. Once the texture is lovely and thick, let it cool. Make sure it does not turn into scramble!
Refrigerate curd
Once the curd as cooked in the saucepan, pur it into a jar with a lid and refrigerate it over night to deepen the flavour. Leave the star anise in the curd for a few hours before removing them.

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas ♥

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time to slow down that gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us. It allows us to look back on the year we’ve had and prepare us for the upcoming one. It is about being grateful for all the small things around you, the spirit of giving without a thought of getting, the laughter of the people close to us and forgetting self and spending time with loved ones. I’m thankful for where my life has taken me, I feel comfortable in my own skin and blessed for all that has happened. It all comes down to a long christmas dinner spent with your closest and discarding the meaningless and remembering true values.  Christmas is a feeling, a day that holds all time together. We celebrated at my parents house yesterday and today similarly at my husbands parents. It was just perfect, it was my nephews first Christmas and he was cuter than ever and we were blessed to have one of my closest friends join us this year as well. This morning we slept in longer than usual and made some traditional rice porridge with pomegranate, baked fresh coconut and sprinkled cinnamon on top. A warm cup of apple glögi and just relax doing nothing. We are going to enjoy these lazy Christmas days and gather energy for the new year. I must say, the best of all gifts is the presence of my loved ones. Merry Christmas and be safe, kind and grateful for it all. 

Nordic Christmas Table Decor

On Friday Mr. N and I had a dinner party and I managed to snap a few pictures before it became all dark in the kitchen. I just love to mix old and new elements into a Christmas table decor, lots of candle light of different heights and harmonies light textures. My favourite tones are light grey, white and a light oat. The table has a definite Scandinavian feeling to it, the simplistic setting that is clean and minimalistic despite all the decor. I love the hyacinths in different pots of tin, glass or terracotta and a touch of Mediterranean from the thyme. I’ve thrown in a blanket and lamb fur on some of the chairs that make it a touch more cozier and great for long slow nights around good food. This style of table setting would work wonderfully on Christmas eve, so hopefully it has given you some inspiration! Today we are off to chop a Christmas tree with all our family members… have a great sunday!

 

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