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Smörgåstårta - Sandwich Cake

Smörgåstårta is a savoury Swedish party cake

Smörgåstårta is a party dish from Sweden. Layers of sandwich fillings and white bread are stacked, frosted and garnished to resemble an elaborate and gaudy celebration cake. Served at birthday parties and anniversaries this retro 70's sandwich cake is an entrenched part of Swedish culture and  has experienced a revival amongst young Swedes lately. Policemen in Sweden have even been known to ask for Smörgåstårta as a bribe to solve cases. Here's the story This type of cake is also popular in Finland where it is known as voileipäkakku.

Smörgåstårta is a savoury Swedish party cake
a smörgåstårta can have almost any type of savory fillings and toppings, but traditionally uses egg, vegetables, seafood, ham, pate, smoked salmon, or caviar. I made mine with alternating layers of egg salad and smoked salmon cream cheese decorated with shrimps, hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, cucumber, caviar, and dill

Smörgåstårta recipe

White bread sliced lengthwise works best as a base. I placed 3 slices side by side on the dish I planed to serve it on  and spread a generous layer of egg salad on top. The next layer of bread is placed perpendicular to the first and spread with a thick layer of cream cheese blended with smoked salmon. After 4 layers of filling I placed a round cake pan on top and cut around it to create the cake shape. I wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it a couple of hours to let the layers set. I frosted it with a half mayonnaise half sour cream mix and started adding the decorations. This dish is very rich and filling and a small sliver is all most people can eat. This is meant to be a lavish. fattening indulgence, so if your looking for a low fat or vegan version please go HERE.
In Toronto we use the smörgåstårta  as a fun centrepiece in the bridal suite in the daytime before weddings.

Smörgåstårta is a savoury Swedish party cake recipe
no one would eat a slice this big
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Veal Cheek Ragù Guardaporta

recipe braised veal cheek ragu

Ragù Guardaporta is a traditional dish from Napoli. Guardaporta means "doorman" in Italian and the dish was originally a stew that was slowly braised in a pot by hotel doormen and other staff in their living quarters while on duty. Ragù Guardaporta was a stew that could cook on it's own with little or no attention. Any cheap cut of beef, pork, veal, lamb, or even horse meat was stewed in a "doorman's ragu".

The word ragu is derived from the French verb ragoûter, which means "to revive the taste". Ragù Napoletano and Ragù alla Bolognese are similar Italian meat stews served on pasta, and many of the ingredients are the same.

recipe braised veal cheek ragu
whole raw veal cheek

I decided to make my version of guardaporta with veal cheeks, a cheap and increasingly popular cut of meat. Cheeks are a tough cut containing a lot of collagen and are perfect for this slow braising style of dish. The meat softens as the collagen breaks down into gelatin and enriches the sauce with a glazed goodness like osso buco or oxtails. It is not necessary to fuss with the cheeks before using them as many recipes indicate. I just wash them, cut them into 4 or 5 pieces and remove the excess fat and cartilage.

recipe braised veal cheek stew beefSeason and brown the cheeks well in a pan and deglaze the pan with a glass of red wine and set aside. Rough chop onions, celery, carrot, and fennel and cut some side bacon into 1cm pieces.

recipe braised veal cheek raguSaute the vegetables and bacon with a good amount of garlic until the onions become translucent and the bacon begins to release it's fat. Add the cheeks, red wine, a couple of bay leaves, tsp of oregano, some rosemary, hand crushed plum tomatoes with juice, and a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms. Add some water so the cheeks are just covered.
Slowly simmer the dish for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The cheeks should be fork tender and surrounded by a thick rich sauce. Add a handful of kalamata or niçoise olives and serve over tagliatelle or pappardelle with fresh parmesan and olive oil. This dish is very hearty and a small amount of ragu will go a long way.

braised veal cheek ragu beef recipe

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Hagelslag - Chocolate Sprinkles

hagelslag chocolate sprinkles Dutch

Hagelslag is a type of manufactured chocolate nonpareil from The Netherlands. Known as jimmies or chocolate sprinkles in English, these Dutch treats are usually used as a topping on buttered bread for breakfast. The Dutch company Gerard de Vries for Venz  invented hagelslag in 1936, and they soon became popular in Holland, Belgium and France. In The Netherlands only hagelslag with a cacao percentage of more than 35 can be called chocolat hagelslag. If the percentage is under the 35%, it has to be called cacao fantasy hagelslag.

Dutch chocolate sprinklesThere are many brands of hagelslag, De Ruijter being one of the best known. Because hagelslag is also popular in Indonesia via the Dutch, the easiest place to find a box in North America would be in Asian supermarkets. I bought the Swiss brand Callebaut in Toronto at The Chocolateria on Roncesvalles 
I'm not really a sweet breakfast kind of guy so I created my own dessert :

hagelslag dessert chocolate  dutch sprinkles
Toasted Baguette with Hagelslag and Cocoa Rum Brittle
I took a thick slice of baguette spread it with butter, and lightly toasted it in an oven. Then I spread another layer of butter on the toast and covered it with hagelslag. I caramelized some sugar and threw cocoa nibs into it along with a dollop of butter and a shot of rum. After spreading the brittle of a baking sheet, I cracked it into shards and sprinkled it over the bread. I added vanilla whipped cream to make it even more delicious, and gold leaf to make it more ridiculously decadent. Maybe next time I'll add Morello cherry sauce, just to get crazy.

hagelslag dessert chocolate  dutch sprinkles
dutch chocolate sprinkles
Another Fine Use of Hagelslag by Helga Hagelslag

Helga Hagelslag at the market
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