Ah, gingerbread! It’s not something I’ve always associated with Christmas but now I can’t think of Christmas without pepparkakor anymore. There is no Advent without the smell of spices coming from my kitchen at least once. This year I decided to try my hand at gingerbread cheesecake. No-bake cheesecake, in fact, but don’t let the fact that no baking was involved make you think the house did not smell like gingerbread. This gingerbread cheesecake is flavoured with the same spices I use in pepparkakor: cinnamon, ginger and cloves, and it features a speculoos biscuit base.
Saffron panna cotta is my way to honour Italy and Sweden this Advent season. On one side we have panna cotta representing Italy, and in particular my home region: Piemonte. On the other side we have saffron, one of the key flavours of the Swedish Christmas. Italy is a producer of one of the finest saffron qualities in the world, yet we mostly use it in savoury dishes. (Namely, risotto alla milanese.) In Sweden saffron goes mostly into sweet foods, in particular during the Christmas season.
Adjusting to Sweden’s food availability I noticed one thing: pumpkins are not very popular. Butternut squash is available year round, and I feel lucky because it’s my favourite type. But finding other kinds of squash and pumpkins is not so easy. There is one time when stores suddenly have them and that is around Halloween. Rather than for eating, they’re sold for lanterns. When Halloween is done, unsold pumpkins drop in price and that’s when I took a muscat squash home and made roasted pumpkin salad. Continue reading
Ever since I moved to Sweden I have become an avid coffee drinker. Sweden’s coffee culture was one of the first features I embraced. Sweden tops world coffee consumption statistics, ranking second only to neighbouring Finland. Coffee plays a crucial role in everyday life in Sweden. I remember how important the role of coffee breaks was at university here. Every couple of hours or so we would get a coffee break. It was sacred, there was no way we would not stop for coffee. Continue reading
When I want to impress my guests or just treat myself to a good meal I’ll pull a recipe from my Italian tradition. More than often, despite the aura of fancy that some Italian dishes have, they are easier to make than it may seem. Walnut cream pasta sauce is one of them. Served, it may look like the fanciest sauce ever. In reality, making it is actually pretty easy and requires only a bunch of ingredients that are also quite accessible. Continue reading
Cornmeal cornbread is a fantastic complement to a hearty meal. Traditionally served for Thanksgiving, I find it incredibly suited year round. Entirely gluten free, it is an excellent option for gluten intolerant guests. I baked my first loaf last year precisely because it is gluten free! I had ran out of gluten-free flour and needed to cater to people with gluten intolerance. There was almond meal at home, but any type of nuts was banned from the workplace so that was not an option. My last card was cornmeal. So I figured that a nice loaf of cornbread was better than nothing. Continue reading
Ireland is ancient. Civilization on the little island at the edge of the European continent dates back to 12,500 years ago. It goes without saying that such a long history has left its marks everywhere on the land. Ireland is full of ruins, of remains of past human settlements that have long outlived their primary inhabitants. The most common feature that we noticed during our Ireland road trip were the dry stone walls that line the meadows. Built as boundaries to delimit land property and fence off cattle, some of these dry stone walls can easily be a few centuries old. Continue reading
Apple cinnamon pie rhymes with comfort food (no, it doesn’t). But seriously, this might be the most basic pie, yet to so many people it brings back childhood memories. A warm apple pie that fills the room with its flavour. Add the warming hint of cinnamon and you reach sensory heaven. What’s more? The butter, of course. A proper buttery and flaky pastry that, when warm, releases its butter scent. Apple, cinnamon, butter. Warm. Want some more? A side of sweetened whipped cream. BAM! Continue reading
My friends know that I like all kinds of foods and that I am not the typical Italian that only cooks Italian food at home. I actually love so many foods from various culinary traditions and I’m always happy to experiment. Yet, I must admit that sometimes I like to show off some classics of the Italian cuisine, and this applies in particular when I have people over for dinner. In a way they expect it, and I don’t blame them. Being served real Italian food at home is a luxury, when Italian food abroad is always fancy restaurant material. How does tiramisù for dessert sound? Continue reading
Autumn in Sweden can be a nasty time of the year. It rains a lot and the first frost always comes earlier than you’d expect. Darkness looms, days get dramatically shorter and the day after we move back the clocks I always feel jetlagged. Autumn in Sweden can be a real pain, yet some days I get to be reminded it still is my favourite season. Those days, when the sun is out, the crisp air is so thin and everything looks incredibly sharp. When such days occur Sweden turns the colours of its flag. Most of the trees display a glorious yellow foliage in the backdrop of that saturated blue sky that I love so much in Scandinavia. Continue reading