Christmas Eve

Even though it is the beginning of January already, I want to go back to Christmas Eve and share some photos from the evening. We spent the eve at my brother’s and sister in laws house, which is magical in the outskirts of town. We were lucky and got a white Christmas this year, the air was crisp and chilly, cosy for Christmas time. We spent a sweet morning with hubby and the baby and the evening was spent with my side of the family. We ate the most delicious food, had a visit from Santa Claus & sent a lovely evening together. The following day we went to my hubby’s side of the family and spent a lovely evening there as well. After a few hectic late nights with the lack of sleep, the following days were spent taking it easy at home with our little family. Christmas was extra special for my husband and I this year, the greatest gift we could ever ask for, was our little boy.

A snowy road to our future property- love the beautiful trees that the road surrounds. 

the train is one of baby’s first ornaments

A set table and delicious winter cocktails

Christmas Eve morning

Merry Christmas everyone. It has snowed last night and the ground is all white and magical with -10 degrees outside. This morning feels that much more special as it is our first Christmas as a little family. We all gathered in bed, Siena was allowed too because it is her birthday today and she is turning two years old. We have some rice porridge in front of us that is topped with a sticky date and plum sauce. To make the sauce, you basically boil some dates and plums together with some seasonal spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, orange zest) and a touch of brown sugar, if needed. I topped it with some dried apples and more cinnamon. We have Christmas music playing in the background and it’s time to open a few presents that are under the Christmas tree. The little one has his Christmas hat on and we are still in our pj’s with hubby. We are going to spend the holiday with our families (we are naturally all taking a covid test before hand to be on the safe side) and enjoy some time with our loved ones. This moment right here is something I wished for last Christmas and it feels quite magical to have this moment to ourselves.

Savoury Christmas Treat & Cardamom Cocktail

‘ Shrimp toast and a cardamom gin cocktail as a Christmas movie snack’

Christmas is the time when you eat savoury and sweet, one after the other to satisfy all your taste buds. Even though I love to bake and cook sweet things, I much prefer eating savoury over any given day. This very typical sweet rye bread combined with some form of shrimp paste and/or cured salmon is something us nordics love to eat. I added the runny egg on top as I personally just love the combination together. My husband and I had these toasts yesterday when we watched a Christmas movie. I love that he has been home so much now as he is on daddy leave combined with some holidays, so we are trying to make the most of enjoying this time together with our baby. We also enjoyed a light cocktail each made from cardamom, grapefruit and gin. I cannot believe it is only two more nights until Christmas Eve. I just made some gingerbread cookie dough into the fridge that I will be baking in the morning as we will have a little picnic in the forest tomorrow. Let’s start with making the cocktail-

Cardamom gin cocktail

  • 2 oz Heindrick’s Gin
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice ( I used fresh juice)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz syrup
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • Rosemary/ Seabuck thorn/dried apple to garnish

Toast a cardamom pod on a dry pan to intensify it’s flavour. Put the pod in a cocktail shaker and gently crush it. Give it just enough pressure to crack the pod and a few of the inner seeds. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with sea buck thorn and a twig of rosemary.

 

Shrimp Paste 

  • 1 cup chopped shrimp
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • thyme twigs

Mix everything together in a bowl to make a delicious shrimp paste

Remaining ingredients for the toast

  •  few slices of Cold smoked salmon
  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 7 minute cooked egg (runny yolk)
  • ground green pepper
  • toasted walnuts

 

Christmas Date Cake

Dates are the perfect sweet ingredient for a winter kitchen. The natural sweetener makes a great base for cakes, salads, jams, smoothies, sauces, breads and gives that lovely rich intensive caramel taste. I’ve done date coffee-style cakes every winter and since it is only three nights until Christmas, it was about time to make one. The sticky juicy cake was topped with a cream cheese icing and some macarons but the cake is great just on its own. I love to have it with a cup of tea or an espresso as a little pick me during the day. I enjoyed some while wrapping the last of the gifts and organising some last things that we have to do before winding down for the big day.

 

Date cake ingredients

  • 250g dates (pit removed)
  • 2dl sugar
  • 2dl water
  • 200g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2dl flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

cake tin

  • butter
  • bread crumb- flour

toppings

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • macarons

Directions

Deseed and cut the dates into a saucepan and cook on medium heat . Add the sugar and water. Let the dates cook until soft and mushy for about 10 minutes. Add in the butter and allow to melt into the dates.

Allow the dates to cool a little and add in the egg. Add in the dry ingredients. Butter and flour the cake tin, then pour the date mixture into the cake tin. Place the cake tin into the oven ( 175 degrees Celsius) onto the lower level for 45 minutes. Check that the cake is ready by pressing a tooth pick into the mixture, if it comes out dry, it is ready. However, do not overcook the mixture and allow it to cool before tipping it over onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt some butter and mix in with the icing sugar. Mix in some cream cheese and a splash of milk. Pour the frosting over the date cake and garnish with macarons. If the consistency seems too dry, add more milk or butter and if the consistency seems too wet, add more sugar.

Pour the icing over the cooled date cake and garnish with a few macarons. Sieve on some icing sugar.

Christmas coffee & Pine wreath

I usually prefer a simple good quality cappuccino in the morning without any sweetness but during the Christmas season it is nice to spruce up the coffee once in a while. This maple latte also makes a great afternoon pick-me-up if you have a little sweet tooth craving and elevates your cappuccino in a matter of minutes. While hubby has looking after our little one, I quickly made a little wreath and enjoyed it over Christmas music and this smoothing coffee, which is super delicious. Cardamom is one of my favourite spices during this time of year, which I would say the entire Scandinavia agrees on.

I actually found the twigs for the base of wreath on my morning walk with Siena who happen to be chewing on them. I noticed how durable and bendy they were that I snatched a few to take home with me. You basically bend them into a circle and attach the ends together with floral wire. I took some pine twigs and little white berries from the forest and simply attached them to the base with more floral wire. It is really as simple as that. This little wreaths make great decorations on top of gifts or simple around the house to bring a little of nature inside. I think, wreaths are perhaps the finest Christmas decorations. A little evergreen in Christmas time is a must. 

Maple Cardamom latte (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk (or any milk of choice)
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter
  • pinch of vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 2 good quality espresso
  • toasted almond flakes
  • pinch of cinnamon for topping

Directions

In a saucepan combine the milk, cardamom, almond butter, vanilla and maple syrup. Bring to a high simmer over medium heat. Transfer the milk to a blender and blitz until smooth and frothy. Top the milk on top of your espresso. Garnish with toasted almond flakes and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Christmas Pomegranate Pavlova

‘cosy candlelight mornings & early hour baking of a Pomegranate Pavlova’ 

A traditional pavlova really sets the mood during Christmas time, so I decided to whip one up for this Sunday. For the past few weeks my hubby and I have been had a nasty stomach bug, which has drained our energy to the maximum with a baby under one month, but now we are both feeling much better. It means it is time to get back into the holiday spirit as it is only a few weeks until Christmas Eve. My hyacinths are starting to bloom in the kitchen, our little baby has grown 3cm since our last checkup and I’ve made one wreath from pines and white berries. The tree is still as beautiful as ever and we have managed to watch one Christmas movie thus far. I started whipping up the egg whites before 7am while the baby was sleeping and managed to snap a few photos even though it was really dark outside still. I find baking early morning such a pleasant activity, I enjoy a freshly brewed coffee with a little bit of me time (so rare lately) and appreciate all the little Christmas ornaments around the house. When the pavlova was set in the oven, our little elf woke up as well and after a nursing session my boys enjoyed a slow morning in bed with some cuddles. My brother and his wife bought the little one a cutest elf hat from a countryside village that was just the cutest visual ever. The weather is miserable today, foggy, slippery and dark so it’s time to cosy up indoors with some candle light.

In this elegant dessert, a crisp thin layered meringue layer is filled with homemade pomegranate sauce, greek yogurt and toasted almonds. The greek yogurt may not be a traditional topping for a pavlova, but trust me, the tanginess works against the sweetness of the meringue. To keep the meringue from being flat and grainy, try beating egg whites until stiff but not dry. Over-beaten eggs easily lose volume when folded with other ingredients. Also, when adding in the sugar, add it one tablespoon at a time mixing well continuously. Then, you beat the meringue until thin and glossy that is easily shipped into a dome on your parchment paper that is placed into the oven. A pavlova cooks for about an hour and takes about 2 hours in total to make even though it is not much work.

Ingredients for pavlova

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (topping)
  • handful of almond flakes (topping)

Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 tablespoons blackcurrant jam
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 140 degrees celcius. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add in the egg whites. Beat them with an electric whisk until stiff, but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla extract, cornstarch and lemon juice.

Spoon the mixture onto your parchment paper. With this quantity, you make two smaller ones or one large one. I made two smaller ones, shaped like a dome. Bake for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack.

 

To make the toppings: 

Sauté some almond flakes on a dry pan with a pinch of salt. Cook until slightly golden and remove to the side to cool.

To make the pomegranate sauce, deseed 1 pomegranate and keep the juices. Place this into a small saucepan and cook on medium-heat. Add a teaspoon of sugar and 3 tablespoons of blackcurrant jam. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until everything has incorporated. Remove to the side to cool.

Once the meringue has cooled. Add some greek yogurt on top, some pomegranate sauce and a topping of the almond flakes. Do not be alarmed if the dome cracks, it usually does as the toppings are much heavier.

 

Time for a Christmas tree.

‘Picking up our first Christmas tree as a little family’

Our annual trip to pick up the Christmas tree is finally here, that we did on the first advent which means, only four more Sundays until Christmas. This time our trip to the organic tree farm felt that much more special as we picked the tree up as a little family. I got emotional on our car ride to the farm as we were listening to the most beautiful Christmas songs and I kept thinking how lucky we are to have our little one all bundled up in the backseat and Siena sleeping in the trunk of the car.  The weather was crispy with a light dusting of snow, which made our drive that much more idyllic.  tWe walked around the farm looking for a large bushy tree and when we found the perfect one, hubby cut it down for us. Our little baby was sleeping the entire time as he likes the car ride, so our trip went really smoothy. Siena enjoyed the frosty hay on the ground and wanted to be a part of everything as she usually is. Once we came home, we went to get all the boxes of ornaments from storage and set up our tree in the evening. As part of tradition, we played the home alone sound track, set up the lights of the tree and after decorated it with all our ornaments. We made a glögi cocktail and enjoyed the evening in our little baby bubble. We danced together with our little baby in between us to our favourite festive song and enjoyed the pine smell of the tree and the twinkling lights as the day got darker. The evening is one for the memories and I’m glad I managed to snap a few shots so we can show our boy once he is old enough to understand such matters. Today it is December first and it is officially the month to start feeling the holiday spirit.

Pre Christmas Honey Pear Cocktail

 

 

 

‘December 23rd– Time to wind down with a festive pear cocktail made from roasted honey pears’

Many of you are getting ready to roast the pig overnight while others may be wrapping gifts has households wind down. It is officially one day before Christmas Eve and I think a well-deserved cocktail is in order. The past two days have gone in a whirlwind of cooking, baking, running last minute errands, finalizing gifts and cleaning. It is late evening already and there are still a few remaining things to do, but slowly the winding down process has begun. This festive honey pear cocktail is the perfect way to begin the Christmas celebrations. I have my Christmas playlist in the background, candles on and I’m testing out tomorrows outfit. I’m planning on wearing a long glitter dress that has an open back or a champagne-colored silk gown that is simple but elegant. There is a lot of uncertainly in the air at the moment around the world- many people are facing lockdown and can’t spend it with family and others are terribly lonely over the holidays. Take the time to make those distant phone calls this year and give a helping hand to those who need it. My parents are spending Christmas just the two of them at the countryside to be on the safe side and us kids are spending the eve tomorrow together. It’s sad, but the responsible thing to do. I hope everyone stays safe this year and thinks twice about the people they choose to see. Thankfully we are all in this together and this year has shown what uncertainly can look like. Whether you have decided to skip Christmas totally this year or are spending it with your loved ones, let’s try to be grateful for the small things in life. Currently, I’m grateful for the cosines in our house, the flickering of our stunning tree and the fact that most of the Christmas cooking is done. Despite the fact that Siena has a puppy flue and I spilled coffee all over our linen curtains, I’m ready to sip on this honey roasted pear cocktail that I scouted from Pinterest. I made some dried clementine slices last night, as they slowly cook in the oven for 4 hours.

For this recipe you need honey roasted pears that you will turn into a purée. In terms of alcohol, you can use sparkling wine as a base or something stronger like whiskey or vodka. For a mocktail version, use grapefruit juice. The recipe calls for all kinds of winter spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar rims and rosemary for garnishing.

Ingredients

  • 5 pears sliced in half
  • 3-5 tablespoons Honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg & ground clove
  • 2 tbsp apple juice or water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Sparkling wine

Garnish: dried clementine slices & rosemary, Brown sugar to coat the glass rims

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with a greased sheet. Add the halved pears (remove stems) on the tray. In a small bow whisk together 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Brush this over the pears and place into the oven for about 25 minutes until browned and soft. Remove from oven and once cooled, remove the seeds with a spoon. Next, place into a blender with the vanilla paste and apple juice or water and blitz into a puree. Scoop into a maison jar and refrigerate until served.

Once ready to serve:  in a pitcher, add some of the pear puree, a pinch of ground clove, 3 tablespoons of runny honey, and your alcohol of choice. Mix together.

Meanwhile coat the cocktail glasses rims with brown sugar. (Do this by adding lemon to the sides and placing the rims into some brown sugar). Pour some cocktail into them and garnish with a twig of rosemary and a dried clementine slice.

 

 

Gooey Blueberry Cinnamon Buns

Have I got the recipe for you… These oozing blueberry cinnamon buns are moist and gooey, perfect for a little sweet treat during the holidays. I wanted to make buns stacked in an oven dish and not too many of them, so I think this recipe calls for the perfect amount. I basically used a normal cinnamon bun recipe but added a little extra by filling it with a berry glaze alongside the cinnamon sugar mixture.

While the buns were cooking in the oven, I was walking our dog and kid-you-not, there was the most wonderful smell lingering in the hallway of our apartment before I stepped back inside. I wanted to share this recipe with you as fast as possible, so you can bake this on Christmas morning if you love to start the day with something sweet.  My husband who does not have a major sweet tooth, loved this dish, so will be making it much more gladly than traditional cinnamon rolls. This little festive treat made to be eaten with woolen socks on, under the blanket with the fire roaring in the background. We ate the remaining of the buns last night while watching Home Alone 2, all cozy in our living room.

Bun Ingredients: (serves 1 baked tray)

  • 2.5dl whole milk warm
  • 75g dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 egg
  • 1dl sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cardamum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 7dl flour
  • 75g melted butter

Bun Filling

  • 50g butter
  • ½ dl brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup Blueberry filling (see recipe below)

 

Blueberry filling

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen berries of any kind (I used blueberries)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoon honey to taste
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Blueberry Glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon of blueberry filling

 

Blueberry filling Directions

In a small saucepan, add the blueberries and bring to a gentle boil. Let them soften a bit and add in the remaining ingredients. After a few minutes of gently simmering, puree into a desired smoothness with a hand-held blender. I left some chunks to add a bit of texture. Bring back to gentle simmer and let the filling thicken. Leave to side to cool.

Blueberry Glaze Directions

Make a traditional frosting by mixing together powdered sugar and a bit of milk. Use a lot more sugar (1/2 cup) than milk (1-2 teaspoons) for a thick glaze. Take a tablespoon of the blueberry filling and mix it into the glaze so it turns it a wonderful purple color.

 

Directions for Buns (1 ½ hour) 23cm x 12cm bread tin

In a large bowl, add the dry yeast to the warm milk and allow it to dissolve by stirring. Mix in the egg, sugar, cardamum and salt. Slowly, pour in the flour kneading it along the way. Add in the melted butter in the end. The dough is supposed to be soft so that you can just remove it from your fingers and so it does not stick to the bowl. Allow the dough to rest (under a kitchen towel in a warm spot) for 20minutes.

Meanwhile the dough is resting, make the blueberry filling and allow it to cool.

Knead the dough on a flat surface. Spread some flour on the surface so the dough does not stick to it. Roll out the dough into a rectangle so it is thin enough to roll it later. Then spread the softened butter all over along with a dusting of brown sugar. Spread the blueberry filling mainly in the center of the dough so it is easier to roll. Then roll the dough, it does not matter if it does not look perfect. Make sure the seam is on the bottom so it is easier to cut. Cut into enough pieces that fit our baking tray.  I used a smaller bread tin that was 6cm in height so I cut roughly the same length rolls. Butter your bread/cake tin and place the rolls “standing up” alongside each other, all along the tin. Place the kitchen towel on top and let them rest for 15 minutes before baking.

Add little knobs of butter on top of each roll and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Bake in the oven at 225 Celsius degrees for 8-10 minutes so they are crispy on top but soft on the inside.

Eat either straight from the oven or let them cool. Pour the blueberry glaze on top before serving.

Oven Christmas Porridge

‘Oven Christmas Porridge during the days that lead up to Christmas’

It is tradition in Finland to eat rice porridge in the morning of the 24th, Christmas eve. The one who finds the hidden almond in the porridge is blessed with luck to the upcoming year. Traditionally the rice is cooked slowly in whole milk (constantly stirring) and served with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of butter. This tradition is not a must in our household but I do love a cozy rice porridge during the dark mornings leading up to Christmas. My favorite eve tradition with hubby (before visiting family) is to have a frothy coffee in bed with candle lights listening to Christmas songs and taking a long dog walk in the forest before all the hassle starts. Currently it is so dark outside, you easily forget is it morning or night time! Beautiful flowers can overcome these dark December days, just look at the coloring of this antique looking amaryllis? A few buds are still closed up, but these open ones are just magnificent. I love the muted pink and soft greens, really elegant as a flower itself. A couple of bouquets of amaryllis stems would look sophisticated in a table setting, paired with pine or eucalyptus for a softer look.

This 2.0 rice porridge is exemplified with various festive spices and is cooked slowly in the oven so it is gooey and oh so amazing. It doesn’t need stirring (only a few times in the beginning), and it cooks in 175 Celsius degrees for an hour and a half. Not only does it make the kitchen smell of cinnamon, but it tastes hearty and comforting as it should. Keeping in mind, Christmas may be a hard time for many out there so a little soulful food in the morning, is not such a bad idea.

Oven Porridge

  • 2 dl rice porridge
  • 1L whole fat milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter to grease the oven dish
  • ½ cup frozen berries of choice I used a mixture of frozen lingonberry and blueberry that we picked over the summer)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional: plus 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamum
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

Toppings

  • Pecan nuts
  • Brown sugar
  • dates

Directions

Begin by greasing the oven dish. Add in all the ingredients and give a little stir. Do not be alarmed by the liquid consistency. Do not put the toppings yet. Place the lid on and put into the oven for 1.5 hours. After 1 hour, add on the toppings; arrange the pecans and dates and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top. Place it back into the oven for another 30min before serving. Once ready to eat, serve with fresh berries of choice and a little bit more of cinnamon. I would have served this with fresh figs, but did not have any in the store so blueberries will do.