Fika

In October, two of my three nieces spent 3 weeks in & around Sweden, France, and the UK. The first leg of their trip was Göteborg & Stockholm. After photos of their arrival, the cobbled streets and brightly colored buildings around their inn, Instagram lit up with photos of Fika. I had never heard the term Fika so turned to Google. Much more than coffee break, Fika embodies the social, the gathering of friends, accompanied by coffee and, usually, something sweet. Growing up the child of a Norwegian Grandmother and Swedish Grandfather, my parents, aunts & uncles ALWAYS had coffee break-mid morning and mid afternoon. The idea that coffee break was an actual Thing, a big deal, a Swedish phenomenon even, tickled me. My niece at home found this book, which I promptly ordered, and with more pictures from my Eurotravelers, began investigating Fika.

Stocking up on cardamom, I first explored Johanna Kindvall’s Vetebullar. Always one to throw whole wheat flour into everything I make, the first batch didn’t respond well. The second batch made true to recipe, white flour and all, was amazing. I tweaked the third batch with half whole grain and while it was ok, wasn’t like that second batch. On my baking docket is a fourth batch of Vetebullar, one to incorporate my new-found love: Kamut.

After getting the vibe of the recipes, I turned to Tartine Book No. 3 for more. No. 3 is the culmination of Chad Robertson’s time in Scandinavia, exploring different grains, studying and creating with native bakers. With two-thirds of the book devoted to bread, and bread the reason I have the book, I forgot that the remaining recipes are pastry. Pastry using spelt and Kamut and barley and rye. These recipes, none overly sweet, fit easily into what I was reading about Fika. I arranged a baking day with Niece No. 1 and set a date for a Family Fika Event.

The Sunday following Thanksgiving had the World Travelers, most of my family and in-laws, gathered in the afternoon. We pulled espresso drinks for all, ate Vetebellar Twists & Rolls, Chamomile-Kamut Shortbread, Kamut-Walnut Shortbread, Fig-Walnut Cookies, Cardamom Einkorn Crumb Cake, an allergen-free Chocolate Sunflower Cookie, with a few other offerings. We talked and laughed and cheered on the Seahawks.IMG_0240

The Seahawks, and Fika, won.

 

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Reincarnation

Swedish, Norwegian, a tiny tidge of Irish, and bits of other Northern European Peoples are what make up my DNA. I have the ruddy skin and stocky ankles belonging to any quality Scandinavian grandmother. But lefse, lutefisk, and långkok? These leave me cold. The foods that move and comfort me are pastas, red wine braises, polenta, porcini, and Sangiovese.

I must have been Italian in a past life.

My dinners and parties usually pay homage to my adopted or former nationality without apology. Most recently I made dinner for thirteen guests, celebrating friendship and the season of Christmas. Armed with my copy of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, here’s what I served:

Antipasti

Olive, Genoa Salami e Parmigiano

Prosciutto San Daniele con la Mela

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

Primi

Ravioli con Ricotta e Pomodoro

Secondi

Manzo Brasato al Vino Rosso

Forno Patate Arrosto a Dadini

Venda Colli Euganei Rosso

Contorno

Fagiolini al Limone

Zucca Arrosto

Insalata

Verdure Miste con Scaglie di Parmigiano

Dolce

Crostata di Mele

Semifreddo di Cioccolato

There were elements that really worked and some that could have been better. A thicker ravioli pasta would have kept the parcels from rupturing but the texture and taste were very good. The braised beef was amazing, and my first attempt at semifreddo was tasty indeed.

Multiple course dinners are tricky in my tiny kitchen but I’m willing to keep practicing. The only apology I’ll make for being an Italian wannabe is that I use Google to translate. Language learning is on my list of things to do but I’d rather cook and eat. Salud!