Swedish-American Crossover Christmas Cranberry Sauce

My first meeting with cranberries was when I lived in the US for a year as a high school exchange student. I had cranberry juice, cranberry bread, cranberry muffins, and of course, cranberry sauce. I loved it all. We didn't get cranberries in Sweden, at least where I lived. But a few years later, you could finally get Ocean Spray cranberry juice in regular grocery stores (maybe the Sex & the City Cosmopolitan effect), and more and more recipes using cranberries, especially dried ones, showed up. Fresh cranberries are still kind of hard to get hold of, so I was very happy when I found them in our small, student-oriented neighborhood store.

Most of the cranberries went into a rye sourdough fruit and nut bread that Markus made, but the rest were reserved for cranberry sauce. We had a leftover bottle of glögg from last year (actually, maybe from two years ago, since we spent the run-up to last Christmas in Hong Kong) and I got the idea of making a cranberry sauce flavored with glögg. The tart cranberries and the sweet, spiced glögg worked perfectly together! The glögg I used was the low-alcohol version that you can buy in regular grocery stores here in Sweden, but using glögg with higher alcohol content will work as well! The alcohol will vaporize during the boiling.

Cranberry sauce with glögg

80 g sugar
½ dl water
3/4 dl glögg (the regular red-wine kind)
3½ dl cranberries

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add glögg and cranberries and let simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries pop.


The Daring Cooks gets wrappin'

'Tis the season to be jolly, and 'tis also the season to wrap up stuff! In between wrapping Christmas presents, the Daring Cooks also wrapped salmon, meat or vegetables this month.
The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
Food baked in pastry, it's hard to go wrong with this one! After exploring the meat section of our local supermarket we decided to go with a regional twist and make a Moose Wellington.

For me, eating game feel better and more ethical. I would love to get it more often, but unfortunately, unless you know someone who hunts, meat such as moose, venison and deer can be really hard to get hold of, and it's often very expensive. Moose hunting season in Sweden is a short period in the fall, and is quite heavily regulated. Fresh moose meat is not very commonly found in supermarkets, so if you want to cook with it you have to take the opportunity when it arrives, and also be ready to splurge a little!

The filling for the Beef Wellington recipe was button mushrooms and Parma ham. We decided to use a mixture of chanterelles and porcinis instead. Chanterelle picking season kind of coincides with moose hunting season, so the two are often served together. Instead of Parma ham, we used a Swedish cold-smoked ham called Tvärnö ham.

We missed the September Daring Bakers challenge which was making puff pastry. Had we done that one, we probably wouldn't have hesitated to make our own pastry dough for the Moose Wellington (or there would have been leftovers in the freezer). But attempting it for the first time seemed a little too adventurous and time-consuming now, so we turned to the ready-made stuff.

The recipe called for the Beef Wellington to be in the oven at 200°C for 20 minutes. That really seemed too inexact for me (what size of beef is that for? how well done will it be?) so we stuck a thermometer into the moose and cooked until it read 73°C. Unfortunately, we had forgotten that it would keep cooking also when it was out of the oven, and a dilemma presented itself: letting the meat rest and see the temperature keep going up, or carving it without letting it rest for the desired 20 minutes? When the thermometer read 80°C, we decided to carve it. This meant that the moose was a little too well done for our liking. It was, however, still delicious. I got a bad migraine the night we made it, but since we had put in all the effort (ok, it wasn't that hard) and money I just had to eat some, even though I normally would have been in bed without a thought of food. The pain kind of took away the enjoyment of eating it though. Fortunately there were leftovers, so both Markus and I were treated to Moose Wellington for lunch the following day. It was really nice also after being heated in the oven (me)/microwave (Markus), and even the crust was still quite crispy and flaky which I hadn't expected. I guess the wrapping-meat-in-crepes part really do prevent the crust from getting soggy!

What didn't work however, was the picture taking part (seriously, every month I hang my head in shame when I see some of the pictures other Daring Bakers and Cooks have taken of their dishes), and a big computer catastrophe (tip of the day: laptop should not hit floor) didn't make things better. So we only have these two really crappy picture of our Moose Wellington. Ouch!

Thanks Simone for a fun challenge! Below you will find our version of the recipe, which has some changes, and is also halved. The original (and the recipes for salmon and vegetables en croute) can be found over at the Daring Kitchen, where you also can see the other Daring Cooks' creations.

Finally: Happy Holidays to all the Daring Cooks around the world! I look forward to see what exciting challenges 2010 will bring us!

Moose Wellington

400 g moose (elk)
110 g canned chanterelles
110 g canned porcinis
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
1 tsp dijon mustard
Ready-made puff pastry (rolled)
3 slices cold-smoked ham (Tvärnö ham)
1 egg yolk

For the herb crepes:
25 g all purpose flour
62 ml milk
1 tbsp mixed herbs (we used a frozen "Italian mix" of flat leaf parsley, oregano and sage)
½ tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
  1. To make the crepes, whisk the flour, egg and milk with a pinch of salt in until smooth. Pour into a jug and stir in the herbs and some seasoning. Leave to rest.
  2. Drain the chanterells and porcini well. Heat the oil in a pan, and fry the mushrooms until most of the liquid is gone. Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan (or small crepe pan) and mix the butter into the batter. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly. Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple of more crepes than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe.
  4. Sear the meat all over in a little oil in a very hot pan. Brush with the mustard, season and allow to cool.
  5. Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little. Lay over the ham. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and put the meat in the centre. Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. Heat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under. Trim to keep it nice and neat. Brush with egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
  7. Stick a thermometer into the meat and cook until it reads about 70°C. It will keep cooking while it rests, so if you prefer your meat slightly less done, remove it a bit earlier. We cooked it until 73°C, and it was a bit too well done for our liking. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes before carving and enjoying!


Paper Chef 47: And the winner is...

It was my great pleasure to be the judge (and ingredient picker) for Paper Chef this month. We've got four great entries, turning my picks of mustard, thyme, saffron and ham into something delicious!

First up, we have Pauline, who made Ham and cheese croquetas with salad and mustard dip. I would love to bite into one of these crunchy, cheesy and fried delicious little things!

Next up is Ilva of Lucullian Delights who created a scrumptious Saffron breaded ham with a mustard seed, thyme and pecorino filling. This sounds like a perfect lunch sandwich, and I like the use of mustard seeds.

Our next contestant is Bron Marshall who made Little ham, cranberry and saffron rice stuffing cakes. These are very creative and it looks like a perfect side dish, or just a tasty little something to snack on.

Last, but of course not least, is Karen of Prospect: The Pantry, who made a beautiful and mouth watering assortment of appetizers. A plate of tapas to share with family and friends sounds just perfect for the holidays!

You can imagine that this was not an easy one, with four such diverse and delicious dishes (alliterations are fun!). But I have to make a choice, so... (drumroll, please)

A big congratulations to the next Paper Chef:
Ilva of Lucullian Delights!

Who can resist that hearty, delicious looking sandwich? Not me! So Ilva, it is my honor to pass the virtual Paper Chef hat to you. See you next month, and until then: happy holidays!


Paper Chef 47: The (Christmas) ingredients!

As the winner of last month's Paper Chef challenge, it is my honor to pick the ingredients for Paper Chef 47: the Christmas edition! For December's ingredient list, PCers around the world were asked to suggest ingredients that they associate with Christmas. As Paper Chef is a global event, and Christmas means different thing to different people around the world, the list was very diverse.

I had to use something suitable to pick out my three random ingredients, and the choice was obvious: a sparkly Santa's hat!

So, all the ingredients went into the hat (well, not the ingredients themselves, that would have been messy!).

And then it was time to pick!

Holding the hat, sticking my hand into it to pick out pieces of paper, and taking pictures at the same time required a few more arms than I have.
But the first ingredient to come out of Santa's hat is...


And the second:


And the last random ingredient is:

Delicious flavors, but nothing much substantial. So now that it's time to pick the ingredient of my choice, I will go with:


This will be an interesting challenge! I think the possibilities are endless with this one. By the way, you can use any type of ham you want to: boiled, grilled, cured, smoked...

Now you have until next Tuesday, December 8th, to create something from these ingredients. Then the entries will be presented and I will get to select the winner. To read up on how to participate in Paper Chef, go to the rules and regulations. Have fun everyone!