Every year, when December rolls over into January I feel like celebrating.
After a whole month of feasts, dinner, friends and family, playing dress up at fancy evening parties, and perhaps with a bit too much bubbles. The brand new year gets kicked off with fireworks that light up the sky in a sparkly interpretation on the rainbow, and I secretly feel excited for what is perhaps the dullest month of the year.
January, filled with quiet days, rain, fog as thick as a home spun tweed, January feel like an abrupt hand break from the lovely December party that was filled with laughter, delicious food and the anticipation of both Christmas and New Year´s eve.
So every year, I decide to make January a months of celebrations, of celebrating the everyday, the way life is suddenly back to normal, with its rocking back and forth like a steady tide with routines and everyday tasks like doing the laundry, pottering in the garden, walking the ever excited Mr Whiskey in the afternoon, and perhaps contemplating mowing the lawn that is now turning into a jungle...
This is January, quiet, steady and grey, and the kitchen is the perfect refuge from what may on the outside seem like a month not worth spending too much time on.
If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that I've recently made a move to a home in the countryside, now, I did live in the countryside before as well, in a charming little thatched cottage, but I needed a home,with a larger garden for my vegetables to grow, for Mr Whiskey to roam free, and a slightly bigger kitchen for my many cooking endeavours.
So one day, in autumn I spotted this lovely home nestled on the outskirts of a forest, just a mere 7 min from where I used to live, but instead of waking up to the chatter of people on their way to the market in town, I would fall asleep to Mr Owl outside my bedroom window, and wake up to the ever so chatty birds in my garden.
And so it happened, that amidst travels to Venice, Milano and Ireland, I made plenty a phone call to my real estate broker in England, sobbed a bit from a balcony of a renaissance palace in Venice overlooking the grand canal, when I almost lost the house to someone else, and jumped of sheer joy when it was finally mine, after what felt like an eternity with uncertainty.
So here i am now, in my new home in the english countryside.
I don´t really do any detox, as many do in January... I simply reach for local cider instead of bubbles to accompany supper, and keep myself warm throughout the day with cups of fresh ginger and lemon tea with a humble spoonful of honey in.
Boxes of fresh and seasonal vegetables are dropped off on my doorstep that I eagerly rummage through each week to see what may be steamed, sautéed, baked or roasted for dinner that week, and this week it´s the unassuming potato, or spud, as the brits calls it.
This starchy little oval shaped root vegetable, is perfect as a side or as a main ingredient this time of the year.
My mother and father came to visit my new home last week, and we talked food, family recipes, wandered nostalgically down memory lane, and my beloved mother recalled a favourite potato dish that is perfectly salty and heartwarming this time of year, that originates in Sweden, where our family hails from.
Jansons fristelse, or "Janson´s temptation" may sound more like a naughty and sweet dessert, rather than a salty baked potato dish, but bear with me.
This dish is just as lovely as a wee starter served in individual ramekins, as it is served for lunch on a Sunday with a side of local cider and fresh crusty bread from your neighbour baker...
This is just the kind of Scandinavian comfort food that I've longed for, as a wee celebratory Sunday lunch for my new home here in the english countryside, and here´s my version of it.
8 Medium size potatoes
2 medium yellow onions
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (as this dish is quite salty as it is)
2,5 dl double cream
A pinch of Nutmeg
A gentle sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
Anchovies to decorate generously on top of the dish.
Preheat the oven to 200 C
Peel the potato and then shred them on a grater.
Cut the onions in half, then cut think half rings.
Heat a medium sauce pan, and gently soften the onions in a little know of butter.
Butter a medium sized baking dish.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish in one layer of grated potatoes.
Add another thin layer of onions.
Season gently with sea salt, but you can be more generous with the pepper.
Add a few small butter knobs.
Then repeat the above steps, potatoes, onions, season, butter and then potatoes again on top.
Mix a the pinch of nutmeg in with the double cream and pour over the dish, grate a thin payer or parmesan cheese, before covering the top with anchovies in a pattern you like.
Put in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are completely soft, and the top has a light golden crust.
Serve warm with a wee side salad of your choice and a chilled bottle of local cider.