Ever since I was a little girl in pigtails and tiny red wooden clogs, I adored sitting on the counter in the open kitchen of my childhood home, and just look at my beloved mother cooking.

The way she moved ever so gracefully around the kitchen, gathering ingredients to mix together with a wooden spoon in a saucepan or baking bowl.

Sometimes I would stir, crack and egg, roll out or knead the dough, but most of the time I would just watch her do her magic cooking dance in the kitchen, where like the comforting rhythm of her heartbeat, she moved, gathered, mixed, stirred, baked and kneaded. I was always in awe of what deliciousness she would be able to create with little to no ingredients, it seemed to me...

This is also perhaps why I took to cooking much later in life.

Although I have vivid a delightful memories of tasting and feasting on her cooking, I was not very good participating in the cooking part, but perhaps I made up for it in the eating part;)

Perhaps I already back then, was more of a photographer, enjoying the visual ballet of her cooking more than the actual...cooking part.

However, as I grew older and moved out of the nest, I began craving her cooking. Craving the comfort of home, the familiar, the kind of cooking that evokes delightful memories from ones childhood. The kind of cooking that calms and delights and that makes you feel at home even if you´re far way from your country, family or friends.

Ever since I created my own home a few years ago nestled in on a quiet street in a small english town, and began heating up the stove in the wee kitchen of my 200 year old thatched cottage, I found myself again and again tempted to try to recreate these delicious treats that my beloved mother had made me, growing up in Norway.

So, a few weeks ago I invited her to join me in my countryside cottage here in England, and while the cool temperamental spring winds blew outside the window, my mother and I stayed warm inside baking and cooking to our hearts content these childhood treats I had yearned to learn how to make for so long.

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Mr Whiskey quietly took his rather lengthy afternoon nap, the freshly ground cardamom aroma infused my cottage kitchen, the fireplace was crackling and my beloved mother and I went down memory lane together, wearing her beautiful old aprons, and while nipping to warm tea.

The bleak english landscape outside was wrapped in a gentle fog that day, and I may or may not have eaten a little bit too many of these sugar based, and cardamom and cinnamon spiced cookies, that in Norway traditionally are baked only at Christmas.

Perhaps there´s a more fluid sense of approaching tradition that comes from living abroad, but there´s certain treats that I think should be brought out on sweet little porcelain plates more than once a year, and Trysilsnipp is among them.

So with a bit of cheeky delight at breaking a few unwritten rules of baking traditional Christmas cookies in March, my beloved mother and I rolled up our sleeves and began baking.

The dough of Trysilsnipp doesn't require any rising time, so if you have guests coming over for afternoon tea, these are easy to whip together last minute. Besides, theres nothing like coming over for tea being greeted by a sweet cloud of warm cardamom and cinnamon cookie aroma, as you open the door;)

Trysilsnipp

(Makes around 30-40 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 kg All pupose flour

500g Salted butter

500g Caster sugar

5dl Whole milk

3tea spoons baking powder

3 tea spoons Freshly ground Cardamom

Directions:

Mix it all together in a large bowl.

If the dough separates a bit, just add a little more flour and knead it till it´s smooth.

Lightly dust your table or use non stick baking paper and roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pencil laid flat on a table.

When you´ve achieved the right thickness, cut out the cookies on a bias turning every cookie into an rectangular diamond.

Butter lightly your oven tray and preheat the oven to 180 Celsius.

Before moving the cookies over to the oven tray, generously sprinkle over a well filled handful of caster sugar and a happy 3-4 tea spoons of cinnamon evenly over the cookies.

gently roll over the cookies with your rolling pin to get the cinnamon and sugar to stick.

Now place the cookies on the buttered baking tray spacing them apart like friends having a stroll in the park, leaving them a little rom to manoeuvre.

Bake till very lightly golden, between 5-7 minutes, leaving them to rest on a rack for 5 min after their time in the oven.

Serve warm or cold, with s strong cup of black coffee, the way the Norwegians from the mountain region of Trysil would.

(Cookies are best eaten within 3 days, but you probably won't have any left by that time)

Happy baking.

 

 

-French Vanilla and Orange Blossom Crullers-

Last Autumn, summer had just let go of its hold on nature and cooler winds, fog and bit or mild rain wet my appetite for making something warm, a bit crunchy and utterly delicious for my afternoon tea.

Days were getting shorter and I found myself more often than not, lighting the fireplace and dreaming up recipes for when I had more time to get baking in the kitchen, not for a shoot, but just for me.

To fill my cottage kitchen with the sweet aromas of Vanilla and Orange blossom, blended ever so gently with the sultry perfume of my favourite blend of black tea.

But Autumn turned to Winter, and before I knew it, I found myself in a brand new year...

Oh, how fast time flies...sometimes a day is over before I even knew it had properly begun, and the little things I promised myself id do, eat, read, write or see gets puts aside for more important tasks or simply forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of our fast paced days.

So, as this year is slowly getting up to speed, allow me to take you back to those soft and colourful days of Autumn, when gentle drizzle made my hair curl ever so slightly around my face and my cheeks had happy roses from the seasonal change that filled me with so much excitement I got all giddy.

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One fine September day, we took a wee detour one afternoon and explored the most beautiful garden in our backyard.

The sun played with soft curtains of shy haze, and every now and then made the landscape bask in gold.

Wet grass, moss, wilted flowers against a perfect backdrop of old school garden glamour greeted us along the way as we wandered slowly on little pathways around the majestic Stour Head gardens.

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Autumn is perhaps my favourite season, so even if the temperatures have dropped outside and winter is upon us here in England, I´m re living a bit of Autumn days in my cottage, as I finally took time to bake those crunchy French little treats that need not much more than to be accompanied by a warm cup of tea.

But because I like to frequently indulge a bit as the clock enters the hours of the afternoon,

I´ve included a recipe for a fresh little dip or glaze to add even more treat factor to the ritual of having a treat with my tea, almost every day...

...because let´s face it, January needs a bit of help to see us through its cold and grey days, and reliving those beautiful Autumn days might just do the trick...

French Vanilla and orange blossom crullers

Ingredients:

1 cup water

6 tablespoons  butter

2 tablespoons powdered (confectioners) sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon Orange Blossom (it's a very subtle flavor note)

½ Vanilla essence

1 cup all purpose flour

3 large eggs

1 - 2 large egg white 

 

Directions

In a heavy bottom nonstick sauce pan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a brisk boil. Then quickly add the Orange Blossom and vanilla essence and blend well.

Immediately after as add in the flour and whisk until it's completely incorporated.

Keep stirring over the heat, but keep it at a low. Remove as much moisture as possible for a fluffier pastry later on. I did this for about 5 minutes. Then, transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric hand mixer.

Carefully add one egg at a time.

Don't add the next egg until the first one is completely mixed. Repeat the process with the remaining egg.

Then add one egg white and blend until the dough becomes smooth and glossy, if it's not getting smooth and glossy, add the other egg white. but only if the one egg white is not enough, and the batter doesn't turn glossy.

Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag with a star tip.

Preheat your oil to 370 degrees in a deep saucepan. To test if the heat is right, simply pipe in a little dollop of the mixture and see it turn golden i minutes with a bit of a hiss around its edges.

Cut about 16 little squares out of parchment paper, melt a wee bit of butter and brush the parchment paper with it for the batter not to stick.

Then simply pipe a ring of dough onto each square.

Now to be fair, I didn't really do this, I simply piped in a little twirl of the mixture straight into the hot oil.

This works just as well, but for a more refined look, I suggest you do the remade circles on the parchment paper trick and place 

cruller and paper into hot oil, paper side  up!

 The paper will automatically separate from the oil, and the cruller will float on the hot oil, so no worries there.

Flip cruller once after 2-3 minutes, and fry until light brown. the crullers will darken a bit post taking them out of the oil, so make sure you don't leave them in too long.

Cool the little delights on a wire rack.

These French cruller delights are simply delicious on their own, but with an easy twist of the hand, adding a few lovely and sweet ingredients, you can create a great dip that adds the final little ompf to this dessert snack.

I made a lemon and honey dip, but withholding a bit on the liquid front will make the below recipe into a more dense glaze that you can dip your crullers into and serve looking all pretty and delicious.

Let´s face it, I simply didn't have the patience, and hence filling up a shot glass with the mixture, dipping the crullers in between sipping to my tea.

 

Honey and Lemon Glaze:

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ tea spoon lemon peel

1 ½ cups powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons honey

3 - 4 tablespoons milk 

PS: Be careful not to make your dip too thin, so hold back on the milk, carefully mixing in one table spoon at the time.

 

Directions

Combine all the honey and lemon glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Takes about a minute.

When the crullers have cooled,  dip each top half of the cruller into the glaze.

Let glaze harden with a cookie sheet under the wire rack to catch the drippings which saves you cleaning up a bit of mess later.

If you want a thicker place simply re dip when the first layer has called and hardened.

Now I must admit, these little tasty things taste best of the day they are made, but they can keep for up to three days, but lets face it, thats never going to happen as they´ll be gone in a flash, trust me...

Enjoy!

This delicious recipe is adapted from Little Spicejar´s version.

The time of anticipation before Christmas is perhaps my favourite time of the year.

It´s a bit colder outside, so its legit to snuggle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and freshly bakes goods.

Perhaps it´s all the exciting aromas that fill our homes this time of the year as we bake with cinnamons, orange peel, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cardamum to name a few.

They all leave such a festive perfume that lingers for hours after the last treat has been devoured.

That´s right, that time of the year, I don't daintily pick at my salad, I devour and indulge, and I do so quite shamelessly.

In happy strides I bake and eat and repeat.

But then January comes along, the christmas tree has lost its glow, decoration is being carefully wrapped and placed back in its box and put back in storage to rest until next year.

Luckily, where I´m from, Norway, winter is all about comfort for, and mother´s continue to bake, so kitchens all across the land still smells of lovely spices.

My beloved mother used to bake cinnamon rolls on particularly cold days, so when I cam home from school a bit frozen and a bit tired, I´d sprawl out on the heated floor as soon as she opened the door.

I´d lie there and defrost while she pulled my heavy winter boots off asking me about my day at school.

All I remember was the heat from the floor slowly warming by back, gentle hands lovely warming my feet and heavenly smells of baked gods that every now and then would make my nostrils vibrate with delight and anticipation.

Later in life as I began traveling to Stockholm on wee road trips with my friends I discovered cardamom knots, and feel in love...with the knots and possibly the handsome Swedish baker that had made them.

Many a trip was made across the boarder.

Even if the festive glow of the Holiday season may have been packed and stored in the magical box labeled Christmas and been put back in the loft, January need not be as grey and dull as it might seem in comparison to the colourful December.

With a bit of Cinnamon and Cardamom, some kneading and a bit of sugar, these little knots will get you through any cold winter day.

And may I suggest, to light the fire and put the kettle on as well...just saying...

Wishing you all a happy New Year, hoping it will encourage you to be brave, find happiness in the small things surrounding us daily, or as my beloved mother always say, make/bake something to be happy about.

After all our next great adventure might just be a hop and a skip away, and when it arrives, I´ll be ready...with a bag of freshly baked cardamom knots and an open heart...

 

Cardamom and Cinnamon knots

 

Ingredients

(Ca 25 knots)

 

Dough

6 dl milk

1 farm fresh egg

200 g white caster sugar

( I usually infuse my sugar with half a pod of vanilla left in the jar, so all my sugar has a hint of vanilla)

1 kg white all purpose flour

150 g salted butter (room temperature)

50 g dry yeast

2 tea spoons freshly ground cardamom (from about 25 cardamom pods)

Use a mortar and pestel.

 

Filling

150 g butter (room temperature)

100 g white caster sugar

4 table spoons cinnamon

1 farm fresh egg for egg wash

A handful of pearl sugar (optional)



Directions

Mix flour, salt and cardamom in a big mixing bowl.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan till it has skin temperature, test it with a drop at the back of your hand, if you feel nothing its the right temperature.

In a small mixing bowl, or simply use the small saucepan but remove it from the heat source, mix the milk with the yeast, egg and sugar and stir till it´s all mixed evenly.

When the above yeast mixture is dissolved, add it to the middle of the flour mixture and combine gently, kneading it into a smooth bought.

This dough needs a bit of TLC, so kneading it well is an important aspect of making sure the buns become as smooth and light as possible.

Keep kneading!

Add a bit more flour if you have to.

Keep kneading.

Add the butter and keep kneading for about 5-10 min.

When smooth and elastic, cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm corner of the kitchen for about 1 hour.

 Mix the filling on a bowl and have a spatula ready.


With a rolling pin, roll the dough out like a rectangle, ca 1/2 cm thick, on a flat surface with a sprinkle of flour so the dough won´t stick.

Slather on the cinnamon, sugar and butter filling on one half on the rectangle and fold the other half over where you have the mixture.

Fold again and part the dough up with a knife into 

Cut ribbons of ca 6mm width.

Twist in create a knot, don't take this aspect too seriously, every knot is different to me too, and in the end that is what makes it fun.

Place all your knots on a baking tray on baling paper, cover with a kitchen towel and let the rise in a warm place for about 25 min.
Pre heat the oven to 250 C

Which one egg in a little bowl with a fork and brush over each knot after they have risen and are ready to go in the oven.
 Bake for 5 - 7 minutes. 
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Serve warm straight out of the oven, with or without a sprinkle of real sugar.

Enjoy!

Theres something ever so magical about silver, that shiny little brother to bold and flashy gold.

So when the oldest Norwegian silverware workshop asked me if I´d collaborate with them in sharing my love for the tradition of   handmade silverware, how could I resist!

There´s something so precious about passing down knowledge of handmade trades from generation to generation, just like they have done at Norwegian silverware company Theodor Olsen.

Founded in 1868 in Bergen, Norway, Theodor Olsen began their production long before there were machines that could do the job.

Silver is unassuming in its shiny presence, and I´ve been in love with silver ever since my grandmother began giving me an ornate handmade tea spoon every year for my birthday.

On Sunday´s my family would gather in her dining room to enjoy a simple but delicious dinner, traditional Norwegian "Suppelapskaus" with flatbread and ice water served in a crystal decanter. 

However simple and traditional the dinner may have been, we drank from small crystal glasses, the soup bowls where fine china and the cutlery beautifully polished silver.

It made me appreciate those simple Sunday dinners, the heartfelt conversations around the table, and the beautiful tradition of handmade silver cutlery.


For my grandmother´s generation, silver was reserved for special occasions only.

Her beautiful silverware would have to be dusted and polished every now and then, and once a year us ladies of the family would gather to polish it all, silver tea pots, sugar bowls, trays, cake spades and cutlery.

It was quite the treat to be able to spend a whole afternoon, us three generations of women, oftentimes in the summer in the garden underneath a parasol with cool drinks and nibbles.

I on the other hand, love using silver on an everyday basis, probably in the same decadent spirit that I enjoy my afternoon tea with cake every day too.

It makes every day special, and it adds a bit of that dash of magic we all need, come rain or sun.

One of the things I adore about using silver cutlery is the handcraft and tradition that it makes me feel a part of as I still my cup of tea with a little silver spoon, slice through a succulent steak with a silver knife or tuck into bowl of warm risotto with a silver fork with great gusto.

The thing with silver is that if you don't use if often it goes a bit dull and need to be polished to be brought back to life again.

Polishing silver with the women in my family was a treasured event, that even if it was work, brought us closer together as we polished, talked and enjoyed each others company.

So the other day I invited a friend over to polish some silver with me over a glass of deep red and cheese, a cheese and wine afternoon, where our hands slowly yet with firm strokes and a cloth, made the silver shine again, like they had when the very hands that made them put on their finishing touch.

Who's says polishing your silver needs to be a dull event.

Invite a few friends over, fill up those glasses and the rest will be history...

...and remember, everyday is an occasion for a bit of magic, so keep that silver on the table and not tucked away in a drawer for that special occasion that may never happen...

Happy polishing!

This sponsored content is a part of a lovely creative collaboration between Norwegian Silverware company Theodor Olsen and myself, and I´m exited to share more with you early in the new year.

Lemon and Mint Sardines with Steamed Asparagus

When I first moved to Dorset last year, I was lucky to quickly met Heather Whitehead, a beautiful, talented, smart woman with a wicked sense of humour.

She´s a beauty therapist turned cake goddess, with a penchant for gardening and making great  food and drink from scratch.

Take a look here for her delicious cakes , that I´ll have to tell you more about later, and her lovely `Maid with a spade´ site here.

So when she invited me down to her pretty little allotment, I was thrilled.

It’s always such a pleasure to have a peek at someone’s garden.

Audrey Hepburn once said:

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

And I couldn't agree more.

The slow and seasonal process of working on your garden, from planning to planting, weeding and harvesting, is such an optimistic and hopeful process that it is indeed believing in tomorrow.

Heather laughs from the belly with a heartfelt sound that is greatly contagious. And as we made our way to her allotment in our wellies one morning last week, with little baskets filled with breakfast treats in tow, I felt so lucky to be in her company.

Fun and wise women who can sport dungarees with such a coolness factor are a dying breed, and I fell ever so slightly in love with her wild curly hair and ability to spit cherry pits over the asparagus rows and almost all the way to the beetroot area.

But I think perhaps it was her colour combination that day that spurred my food creativity in the whole lemon and sardine direction.

Exhibit A below:)

As the morning began to have nibbles at the afternoon and our breakfast picnic turned into brunch, she talked to me about life, about gardening, and about how much patience really goes into planting and nurturing an asparagus plant before you get to pick it.

Planting a garden with plans, hopes and dreams for what it can become and yield is one thing, but that hope will not keep the weeds away, nor will it nourish the plants into delicious parts of your lunch and dinner.

However, steady consistency in weeding, a dash of knowledge about the plants you choose to grow and a healthy dose of patience is just as important as enough rain and sun.

I watched her wander in front of me with her old bucket, which I secretly wanted to nick, tend to her plants, and walk me throughout the process of planting asparagus.

This is the thing: sometimes when you simply go to the store to buy what you need to make that dish you want, regardless of season or knowing where the products or produce come from, you really don't know how much goes into growing that salad, potato, or asparagus.

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Listening to her guide me verbally through the process of growing asparagus, which takes about 3 years before you can harvest, truly made me appreciate it more when I went home with a freshly picked basketful from her allotment. And it made the above quote from Audrey Hepburn even more true: planting a garden is indeed believing in tomorrow...

With a basket full of her delicious and fresh asparagus, I went to the local market for some sardines and lemons to create a little summer dish that incorporates my food philosophy of using seasonal produce with few ingredients and very little fuss.

I have had a wee bit of a love affair with Mediterranean cuisine since I lived in Italy in my early twenties – it’s simple, fresh and easy to make – so this recipe is an ode to Italian summers served in my English cottage garden.

Lemon and Mint Marinated Sardines on a Bed of Steamed Asparagus

(Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe) 

(for two people)

Ingredients:

4 freshly caught sardines

A big fistful of asparagus

2 lemons

A fistful of fresh mint

2 dl olive oil

A pinch of chili

Ocean salt and crushed pepper

2-4 cloves of fresh garlic

1 dl all-purpose flour

Directions

Gut the sardines, cut the heads off, and wash under running cold water. Pat dry.

If you are a bit squeamish about fish bones, sardine bones are very soft, but I tend to take out the backbone with all the bones that are attached to it.

There’ll still be plenty bones left, but they are so soft that unless you really have an aversion, you should be fine.

Keep the sardines whole, or split them open to cut down on frying time.

TIPS: To save the fish heads for making fish stock, simply freeze them till you’re ready to make the stock.

Crush the garlic with the fresh mint in a mortar.

Zest 2 lemons.

In a large bowl, add the olive oil, crushed garlic, mint, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.

Add the fish, thoroughly coat them in the mixture, and let them marinate for a minimum of 30 min. Leave them overnight if you wish.

When ready, dust the sardines with flour, and using a sprinkle of the olive oil left in the marinade, fry them for about one minute on each side, skin side down first to crisp up nicely..

Steam the asparagus for a couple of minutes, and serve warm.

TIPS: Save the asparagus water for the next time you bake bread or make vegetable stock.

Serve the crisp sardines immediately on a bed of steamed asparagus with a drizzle of the marinade, a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice.

Serve with ice cold Limoncello in the garden for a real Mediterranean feel.

Happy summer cooking!

(PS: Thank you to Heather for letting me photograph you for this story in your beautiful allotment and to my trusted four-legged assistant Whiskey, who patrolled the area proudly as I styled and shot in my little cottage garden.)

Warm design for a classic downtown brunch spot

 

Tucked away on a street in the colourfull urban jungle of Oslo, this gem of a restaurant invites you in with a great menu, spectacular murals gracing its old walls, and interior that makes you want to linger over a cup of coffee for way to long.

Olympen has been one of my favorite places to dine with friends for a long time, and it still, after many years on the list, delivers in every way.

 

Made from beautiful Sienna marble this London Cafe stands out in every way.

 

Cafe Royal is a part of Hotel Cafe Royal on regent street in London and I remember falling ever so slightly in love with its interior from the moment that cake display in the big window facing the street lured me in through its doors.

Like The Wolseley, this cafe is on my list of places to visit almost every time I swing by london.

I adore sitting on the sofa side with a cup of tea a mindblowingly delicious cake and enjoy being completely removed from everyday life.