Category Archives: drinks

Cult Vinegar and Fresh Pickled Cucumbers

The other day I was in London and met up with Jonathan Brown in Kings Cross to taste vinegar. Even though we never met in real life, it was like meeting an old friend. We met through twitter via our shared interest in Nordic cuisine and mushroom picking several years ago. In 2012 I had the pleasure of drawing mushrooms for Jonathan and his wife Sarah’s wedding. Each mushroom was made into a cute place card to organize the guests during their wedding feast. Jonathan and I also share an interest in sourdough, pickling, and other fermenting things. So when earlier this year I discovered that Jonathan had gone into business to make vinegar I felt it necessary to meet up in person when passing by London.

And o’boy his Cult vinegar rocks!

During a wonderful lunch (mushroom toast with some deep fried squid) Jonathan let me taste about 10 different kinds of his Cult Vinegar collection (several of which you can purchase online). For example; red wine vinegar (perfect in a dressing over sun ripe tomatoes), white wine vinegar (think mustard sauce and Hollandaise), moscatel vinegar (sweet and sharp like a white balsamic vinegar), ruby port vinegar (deliciously sweet and perfect in red meat sauces, waldorf salad dressing or together with blue cheese), sherry vinegar, German Riesling vinegar (perfect in a Fresh Pickled Cucumbers, recipe below), sake (should work beautifully in a dumpling dipping sauce), apple cider vinegar, and champagne vinegar (curiously citrusy and sharp which I liked on the fried squid).

In 2011 Jonathan and Sarah traveled to Burgundy, France to hunt for their wedding wine. In a country side kitchen just outside Beaune they got introduced to a vinaigrier container; a very traditional ceramic vessel that lets natural bacteria in the kitchen turn leftover wine into vinegar. The initial incubation takes about 6 to 8 weeks – once alive it will last forever if topped up with the occasional half glass of wine.

Jonathan quickly got addicted to the living smell of vinegar, so back home in London he started to make his own while playing with the idea of creating a modern version of a traditional French vinaigrier. A few years later after visiting a local ceramic school he connected with ceramicist Billy Lloyd and together they took on the challenge to design a new version. The result is the Cult Ceramics Vinegar Vase which is both beautiful and clever. With it’s hexagon shape and three different colors on the lids (red, white, and yellow) you can easily group several vases together and have different types of vinegar in the making at the same time. The vase comes with a handy “How-to- Guide” booklet and a bottle of a vinegar culture (the “mother”) so you can start your own vinegar production as soon as you have unpacked the vessel.

Back in Brooklyn I have now started my first batch of white wine vinegar. Every time I walk by the vessel I can’t stop myself from lifting the lid to have sniff. I think I’m addictive already!

Here is a classic recipe for pressgurka, Swedish fresh pickled cucumbers. Normally these pickles are made with distilled white vinegar but some German Riesling Cult vinegar will make it extra special. If you don’t have a Riesling vinegar on hand, substitute with Champagne vinegar or a good quality white wine vinegar. Try the pickles with meatballs, gravlax, or on a smörgås (Swedish open-faced sandwich) with cheese.

Swedish Fresh Pickled Cucumbers
(adapted from my recipe in Smörgåsbord)

serves 4 to 6 as a side

1 medium (about 12 ounces, 340 grams) English cucumber
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) German Riesling Cult vinegar + more if needed
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water + more if needed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill or parsley
freshly ground white pepper, for seasoning

Rinse the cucumber in cold water. Slice it with a mandoline, cheese slicer, or potato peeler as thin as you can.

Arrange the slices in a wide colander and sprinkle them with the salt. Toss gently to distribute the salt evenly. Press the cucumbers down with a plate that fits within the colander and place something heavy on top. Let sit for about 30 minutes, at room temperature. (The salt and the heavy weight will help drain the water from the sliced cucumber.)

In the meantime, prepare the pickling liquid. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar water, sugar, and dill. Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Adjust the acidity with more vinegar or water to your liking.

Remove the weight and the plate and squeeze gently with your hands to remove any excess liquid. Place the cucumbers in a bowl or in a clean glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

These pickles are best eaten fresh so consume them within a few days. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

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related links

read more about Jonathan and his story here

fungathlon – half marathon with mushroom foraging,
invented and practiced by Jonathan Brown

Cult Ceramics & Cult Vinegar on Instagram

more work by Billy Lloyd

Classic Hollandaise Sauce by Ruhlman

How to make French Vinaigrette by David Lebovitz

Apple Cider Vinegar – kokblog recipe

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Elderflower Tea in my Summer Garden

© Johanna Kindvall

Its that time of the year when I stand under the big oak tree in our summer garden listening to the bees collecting honeydew, picking mushrooms, pickling gherkins, making jam, weeding, fighting brown murder slugscooking outdoors or waiting for the rain to stop so I can hang my laundry.

Earlier this year, Rachel Safko introduced me to Elderflower tea or rather Elderflower herbal infusion. Rachel paired the infusion with Dream Cookies by Unna Bakery. The warm and refreshing tea brought me back to my summer garden where I can enjoy afternoon fika while listening to hard working bumble bees and newborn tree sparrows tweeting in their nests. In the back of the house where I hang my laundry, we have a large elderflower bush. The bush produce enough flowers to treat us with my favorite summer cordial while at the same time infusing our laundry with a refreshing smell.

Obviously, this year I couldn’t resist to dry a bunch of them. And it couldn’t have been easier:

Pick as much elderflower clusters as you can. Cut off the thick stems, and give them a gentle rinse. Place them on parchment paper or something similar in a dry and warm place. Let them dry completely. Store the flowers in airtight containers.

If you need guidance to brew your tea or herbal infusion, check out this diagram that I developed together with Rachel.

© Johanna Kindvall

The elderflower season is over but here are a few things you can do with the berries:

Elderberry Liqueur by Hank Shaw
Elderberry Jelly by Elise Bauer
Elderberry Capers by Anna Billing (in Swedish)
Elderberry Syrup with Alexis Siemons

related links
Fika with Tea – Paring Tea with Swedish cookies
Tea and Food by Rachel Safko at Fresh Cup Magazine
A Swedish Coffee Tradition Breaks Through the Day’s Buzz by Rachel Safko at Edible Manhattan
Elderflower gravlax by kokblog

also…
Check out the pattern design I created for Unna Bakery’s new cookie packages. The pattern was inspired by Scandinavian porcelain.

Tea Paired with Swedish Cookies and Treats

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A week ago, I hosted a tea pairing event in my kitchen with Rachel Safko and Ulrika Pettersson (Unna Bakery).  Rachel, who’s a writer and tea specialist, selected six different teas and paired them with traditional Swedish treats baked by Ulrika and me.

The three of us ladies got to know each other by talking and tasting a lot of coffee, tea and treats for an article Rachel wrote for Edible Manhattan, issue No 44, 2016 about the Swedish tradition of fika. We’d hosted a small fika for the Edible crew back in the fall that became the cover of the drinks issue (photographed by Scott Gordon Bleicher) and felt inspired to host a larger tea & fika event.

We were so happy and honored to share these with such wonderful guests on a late winter day in New York and hope this list will give you a sense of the surprising and very delicious flavor combinations that can come from pairing tea and Swedish snacks.

Tea Paired with Swedish Cookies and Treats
written by Rachel Safko

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Elderflower herbal infusion from In Pursuit of Tea with Unna Bakery’s dream cookies: A springlike aperitif, with rich, delicate elderflowers complementing the sparkle of Unna’s airy cookies.

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In Pursuit of Tea Tung Ting Oolong with Unna’s raspberry cave cookies. A nice transitional snack from late winter to spring: this green, woodsy, medium-oxidized charcoal-roasted oolong has darker undercurrents of smoke and sweet berry jam that suit the cookie’s marvelous mix of tart and sweet.

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Joseph Wesley Assam tea with sharp cheddar, Johanna’s cardamom skorpor and handmade orange-thyme marmalade. The cinnabar-esque brightness and warmth of this classic Indian Assam stand up to the cheddar’s bite and bring out the orange and cardamom notes in this traditional Swedish snack, matching its complexity. You can find a similar recipe (with caraway seeds instead of cardamom) in Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall–just switch out the caraway seeds for 4-5 teaspoons of freshly crushed cardamom.

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Joseph Wesley Keemun with Unna’s gingersnaps and blue cheese. This elegant, mellow Chinese Keemun tames the punch of the blue cheese and the cookie spices, “calming the palate like a blanket.” A surprising winter hors d’oeuvre—terrific for parties.

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In Pursuit of Tea Shu Puerh with Unna’s chocolate-caramel cookies. With earthy, barnyard flavors characteristic of teas from China’s Yunnan province, this coffee-like dark tea melds with the deep richness of the cookies; its barnyard notes are also somewhat soothed by waves of pure caramel and big, bright bursts of sugar.

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Surprise pairing for a late winter day on the cusp of spring: Bellocq Shire Antlers white tea with Johanna’s cardamom cake. This unusual white tea combines light delicate notes with underlying chocolate and rose, offering a lovely backdrop for this spicy yet delicate cake, made with hand-crushed cardamom pods. You can learn how to make it from Johanna’s book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break.

We hope this inspires you to make your own fikas at home and to try new kinds of tea! We’d also be delighted to help if you’d like to host any events with tea and Swedish snacks. The three of us can be found here: Rachel, Ulrika and Johanna.

Enjoy spring!

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related links

The Harmony Of Tea + Fika by Sara Shacket (a review of the event)
Pairing Tea and Food by Rachel Safko, Fresh Cup
Global Tea & Food Traditions: Russia by Rachel Safko
Ulrika Pettersson & Unna Bakery at Food52 (about Unna Bakery)
Unna Bakery & dream cookie at Edible Brooklyn
Savory Caraway Crisps (from Fika book), by Anna Brones @ The Kitchn
A New Cookbook Imparts the Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Lindsey Tramuta, T Magazine, NYtimes

 

 

Fika with Tea

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On Sunday, March 13, I will be hosting a Tea and Fika event in my kitchen with tea specialist Rachel Safko and Swedish cookie maker Ulrika Pettersson from Unna Bakery (NYC).

Rachel, who recently wrote an article about the Swedish Fika tradition for Edible Manhattan in their latest drink issue, will share some of her knowledge about tea and suggestions for pairing tea with snacks. Ulrika and I will share our experience of fika (Swedish for coffee break) and the Swedish cookie tradition. Together we will guide you through a tasting menu consisting of five different teas paired with treats.

So if you want to learn more about the art of tea and Swedish treats, you are most welcome. We have limited spots for this cozy gathering. Hope to see you there.

SUNDAY, MARCH 13
4-6 p.m. (Please arrive at 4 o’clock)
location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (you will receive directions with ticket order but it’s close to both C and G).
price: $30 person


SOLD OUT!!!

Please note that the tickets are transferable but not refundable!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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We will set up a special shop prior to the event, where we will have Unna Bakery cookies and signed Fika books for a special price. Johanna is also planning to have a few Fika and Tea related prints available. If you already have the Fika book, please bring it along and she will sign it.

A little background about your hosts

Rachel Safko is a Brooklyn-based journalist and tea specialist, who writes about everything from French couture to ancient Yixing teapots. Her most recent articles include a feature on tea and food pairing for Fresh Cup Magazine and the Swedish art of fika for Edible Manhattan.

Ulrika Pettersson is a Swede who’s been living in New York for the last five years. To honor the Swedish heritage she started Unna Bakery with the purpose of making traditional Swedish cookies. Unna Bakery cookies are handmade in Harlem and use mostly organic ingredients for uncompromised quality.

Johanna Kindvall is an illustrator and recipe creator from Sweden who lives in Brooklyn. Her latest book is Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break (Ten Speed, 2015). The book was a collaboration with food writer Anna Brones. Johanna is also the creator of the illustrated cooking blog Kokblog.

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Similar events

Glöggmingel with Madame Fromage, 2015
How to host a Fika & Cheese Party (Madame Fromage), 2015

 

Glöggmingel with Madame Fromage

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It’s getting cold out there so it’s time to cook comforting stews, soups with dark rye bread or have tea with cookies crawled up on the sofa. Another combo that works is to host a Fika & Cheese party with glögg. And this is exactly what Tenaya Darlington aka Madame Fromage I did in Philly the other day.

I arrived by bus with loaves of rye bread,  thin crisps with caraway seeds and ginger cookies while Tenaya unwrapped incredibly luscious cheeses that I had been dreaming of for weeks (and still do). Together we fired up some spicy glögg (image above) just before our guests filled the kitchen/ living room with joyful cheese & baking conversations while we were munching away.  One of our guests, cheesemaker Sue Miller from Birchrun Hill Farm came with some of their ‘mind blowing’ blue cheeses. Another guest, Marisa McClellan from Food in Jars brought pickled kohlrabi and honey-sweetened jam that matched our cheese & fika board beautifully.

In Sweden we would call this kind of party glöggmingel (mingle with mulled wine), a party that often is held in December prior to Christmas.

Want to host a party like this? Then you should continue reading about the party over at Madame Fromage’s blog. Tenaya brings you behind the scenes and reveals how to successfully host a party like this.

I especially want to thank Tenaya and Todd for having me in your kitchen. It was wonderful to finally meet you in person. And thanks to everyone who came and made this event into an inspiring and fun party.

Cheers!

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related links

Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall
Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington (I love this book!!!)
Glögg – Swedish Mulled Wine
Lussekatter recipe by Anna Brones with illustrated shapes by me
Pepparkakor (ginger cookies) by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall at Ecosalon
Knäckebröd (thin crisps) with wild fennel – baked in Sicily
Fika & Cheese Party (original invitation)