The Swedish Chef is in Paradise

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“I love the mountains. There is something about the mountains..it’s just the feeling. I can’t really explan why.” The Swedish Chef said, while  gazing at the green silhouette of the majestic Alps mountains.

First time he was here was fifty-two years ago. And for this trip, we made sure we visit this little village again. This paradise, called Hallstatt, is an idyllic place. Visitors and locals are welcomed with breathtaking view of fairytale houses, impressive Alps mountains and the serene Lake Hallstatt.

What you read about Hallstatt is never enough to describe the real magic of being there. The experience can never be contained in one or two blogs or a hundred photos. With all its historic houses, cobblestones and manhole plates  I have inscribed this travel in my heart and mind to treasure until the next time we visit Hallstatt again. Or maybe Not.

 

 

 

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Jordgubbstårta for the Swedish Chef

Where’s the cake? Just in time as I topped the cake with the last strawberry and a loving kiss, I greeted the Swedish Chef.

“Cheers and Happy Birthday to you!”

 

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Swedish Crayfish Sandwich

Kräftstjärtar smörgås (crayfish sandwich) is one of the best Swedish food you have to try. You can make this in 5 minutes and finish it in 3 minutes. Yum!

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kräftstjärtar smörgås (crayfish sandwich)

 

 

It’s A Winter Wondering Tale

I felt cold air on my nose. I woke up and look around. No snow here.  I must be dreaming. Everything looks the same, except for one thing. It is Christmas Eve.

 

They told me to wait by the fireplace for the BigFatMan in the Red Suit. With a head-tilt, I looked at them, “But we don’t have a chimney here. I would rather be close to the warm stove where the smell of cookies is coming from.”

 

Then I heard the doorbell ring. “Who is it? Did we order pizza today?”

 

“Oh good! I thought I would not get it on time. Next year will be too much waiting,” said the Swedish Chef to the man by the door.

 

“Nope that’s not  TheBigFatMan in the Red Suit,” as I glimpsed at the man before he disappeared. That man is not fat and not dressed in red suit either.  But why did he give the Swedish Chef a big white bag? And then when I looked at the Swedish Chef, his face is beaming and he was grinning from ear to ear.

 

“I wonder what’s in the bag?” My senses dictate a fact. It’s definitely not bacon. They don’t have that here either. Maybe it’s a bag of sweet goodies. Or prinskorv  or falu sausages. Or roasted beef ribs. Or liver patty. Or cold meats. Or gravlax. Or dinner steaks.

 

Then I saw him pull out a black shiny thing out of the box. Now this is really getting out of shape. I was expecting something soft and fluffy, not a hard black box.

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“It’s the Force!” hollered the Swedish Chef to me. “Oh! That’s a holler of joy by the way,” as he grinned back to me.

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“Where’s  the button? Isn’t that suppose to glow in the dark like in the movies? Or maybe it will transform into a nice pudding pie after a few minutes.”

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“Drake, always remember some days it’s a grocery bag, some days it’s not. And a shopping bag doesn’t always mean it has meatballs in it,” whispered Grandma Glasses.

 

“ Am I hallucinating or have I developed 3D senses? Aha! I am having hunger pang attacks again. And no one is in the kitchen.”

Oh well, back to being patient. I don’t mind waiting for the julbord to be ready, if only the days are shorter and the nights longer. I know TheBigFatMan in the Red Suit has some rabbit meat in his big sack when he comes.

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The Stove Top Hambo

On a warm quiet evening, I went into the kitchen to get some water. And there she was, Grandma Glasses digging into the pantry shelves like a treasure hunter.

She turned around to me and said, “I have to be quick Drake. I need to prepare the ingredients. The Swedish Chef is cooking tonight.”

“But this is not the first time he will be cooking dinner,” I muttered while I take a sip of my cold water.

“But tonight it’s going to be different. You will see him do the Swedish Hambo-Polka steps,” said Grandma Glasses in a voice that sounded like a burble.

“The what?” I turned to her as she speak. Most of the time I hear the Swedish Chef speak and he sounds as Swedish as a Swedish should be. But everytime Grandma Glasses says it herself it confuses me.

“The hambo is a traditional dance that originated in Sweden in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has three-count step, with one step movement on each beat of the measure, danced smoothly and easily, not tense but floating with the music,” explained Grandma Glasses.

“The steps should be smooth and relaxed, never jerky.” as she flipped her feet to do a turn.

“It requires coordination and control to become a graceful Hambo dancer,” I sneered in silence as I watch her. As if she heard my thoughts, she stopped.

She turned to me and said, “Oh yes he can dance! Pirouetting back and forth, he moves with grace. And with extreme precision, he makes a hambo turn so graceful even Gene Kelly would approve. The best timing I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

“From what you just did, that fancy footwork in the kitchen is The Stove Top Hambo.” I said loudly with a sniff.

“Oh Drake don’t be silly. You’ll see what I mean.. Here he comes now. Out of his way, and stay in the corner.”

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   “Today it is Stir Fried Chicken Liver in Bacon and Mushroom Sauce I will cook,” said the     Swedish Chef .

   “We need 300g chicken liver,strips of veal bacon,1/2 cup of chopped mushroom,1/2 cup     of diced onions, fried potatoes, 4 tbsp of butter, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup of           cooking cream, salt, pepper and sprinkle of dried oregano.”

Grandma Glasses and I listened carefully while he gives cooking instructions.

   “First I marinate chicken liver in soy sauce, salt, roasted garlic and herb seasoning and      set aside.”

Then suddenly he did a hambo turn as he puts a pan on the stove. Grandma Glasses looked at me and smiled.

   “Heat the pan, and when it is warm enough put the butter to melt until bubbly.”

Another hambo turn as reaches for the other ingredients. I am surprised to see him move without bumping into anything, so perfectly in such a small space for a big guy like the Swedish Chef.

    “Saute onions, bacon and mushroom and let it cook for 3 minutes.”

I was quick to notice another hambo turn as he takes the next ingredient.

     “Add the chicken liver and soy sauce. Sprinkle dried oregano and continue cooking in         medium heat for 3 minutes.”

He looked at us to check if we are listening. He did another hambo turn to reach for the cream.

    “Pour cream and let simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper        to  taste.”

Another hambo turn and he has salt and pepper in his hand.

“Oh I know good food when I smell one,” I whispered to Grandma Glasses.

“Quiet now Drake, this is the best part,” Grandma Glasses whispered back.

We stood still, only our eyes following the Swedish Chef as he makes his finale. This is like watching a movie on the big screen with the popcorn box almost empty.

    “Aha! Time to remove from heat and serve with fried potatoes or rice.”

The Swedish Chef said it in a loud voice I almost jumped. He takes a plate and scooped a big serving on it. And for his finale, he did a last hambo turn as he exits the kitchen and walked to the dining table with the plate.

Grandma Glasses smiled at me and gave me a pat on the head.

“Yes Drake, that is what we call The Stove Top Hambo.” I wagged my tail to agree as she walked away to follow the Swedish Chef.

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marinade chicken liver

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Saute onions, bacon and mushroom

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Add the chicken liver and soy sauce

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Pour cream and let simmer until sauce thickens

 

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Plate and serve

Moelleux au Chocolat

Up north from the Swedish Chef’s Kitchen, turn left. Then right.  Then go up the hill until you see the village tower. Next to it you will find the Jonsson Bageri. You will never miss it, they have Swedish-speaking Buddy Rabbits and Buddha dogs waiting at the bageri’s main door.

With only the best ingredients used, one can expect the highest quality baked goods from the Jonsson Bageri. It is known for its  Swedish Kanebullar, Jordgubbstårta, homemade bread, sandwiches, and other specialty pastries. Usually  during weekends, business hours start at two o’clock in the afternoon and closes at eight o’clock in the evening.

Today I was lucky to sit next to the Swedish Chef’s table who was having his afternoon fika. Looking over my shoulder towards his table, I can’t help but notice the dessert plate next to his coffee cup. It’s  a French dessert consisting of a chocolate cake with a liquid center.

” Aha!  My name is not Francoise. Wouldn’t it be nice to try something French other than French Fries, ” I mused as I enjoyed the aroma of freshly baked bread filling the air . On today’s list is Moelleux Au Chocolat and Swedish Kanebullar.  Am I daydreaming or is it the sugar rush making me giddy?

Moelleux au Chocolat

Moelleux au Chocolat

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As I finished my Moelleux Au Chocolat, I pulled out  a bill from my purse for the tip jar. Life is good and I feel it is worth to share a good day to the bageri girl named  Charmaine.

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How to Make Moelleux Au Chocolat

You will need
100g  dark chocolate (a bar of dark chocolate)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup powder sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to around 180C. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, mix together the powder sugar and flour.Then add eggs. Mix well. Butter two ramekin dishes. When the chocolate/butter is truly melted, pour the mixture into the flour-sugar-egg bowl and mix completely. When it looks gooey, pour mixture into the ramekins about 3/4s full. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until they have risen about an inch. Serve in ramekin dish or invert on dessert plate and sprinkle with powder sugar, whipped cream or ice cream.