I am so pleased and honored to be here with Jill Sorensen & team.
Thank you for taking a moment to read a little about me as a long time chef and former cover model with a thriving 20+ year career in the fashion industry.
My love of food and rustic living developed as a child when I would spend my summers and holidays with my grandparents in Sweden.
Upstate New York with Glögg.
My grandfather worked most of his life as a mason in the city of Stockholm, but his passion for hunting, fishing, and foraging led him to constantly explore the nearby dense, undisturbed forests. I often went with him…carrying my magical “bärmaskin” (berry picker) and a bucket. I never emerged from the forests without my face and hands stained from the copious amounts of wild Blåbär (blueberries), Hallon (raspberries), and Lingon (lingonberries). If we were lucky, we would find a sweet spot of plump Hjortron (cloudberries) that lay like a golden blanket glistening in the sunlight through the trunks of pine trees.
I learned to identify the hiding places of treasures of wild mushrooms like the coveted Kantareller (chanterelles)—under a specific type of tree that had the right amount of mulch and “just right” weather conditions. With my wonderfully worn Morakniv, (Mora utility knife) I whittled a walking sticking specifically designed to check for mushrooms.
I still have it some 40+ years later.
It wasn’t uncommon for us to fish before breakfast—Abborre (Perch), Gädda (Pike), and the occasional Lax (Salmon), were plentiful in Lake Siljan, which lays like its own vast universe nourishing surrounding villages. Occasionally, we would improvise a smoker by digging into the side of a small hill, carefully burning brush of foraged juniper and pine twigs, low and slow.
My grandmother was a phenomenal cook and baker.
She taught me the craft of canning everything that was harvested from the forest and our garden including: Rabarber (rhubarb), Jordgubbar (strawberries), Smultron (wild strawberries), Svartvinbär and Rödvinbä, (black & red currents), Körsbär (cherries), Krusbär (gooseberries), Nypon (Rose Hip), Potatis (potatoes), Ärter (peas), and various Örter (herbs).
My son and occasional co-worker Björn.
We made Sylt (preserves), Saft (concentrated berry-juice) and Kräm (compote) that were jarred, bottled, tagged, dated and placed in a crawlspace under the cottage and stored for years—like fine wine.
Occasionally I would take an adventure into the unknown, and would stretch myself into the dark crawlspace—as far back as possible— hoping to find the oldest, dustiest bottle. Sometimes I could find a precious sample of my great-grandmother’s preserves.
I still own those same dusty bottles and jars, and they occasionally land on a TV show or magazine spread I’m styling to echo a time past and its superb handling of food.
My inspirations for the holidays during the current unprecedented time of COVID-19, bring me back to basics and comfort. Glögg is a classic Swedish boozy mulled wine served warm with various garnishes as raisins, slivered almonds, fresh slices of ginger or orange peel.
Since we can’t visit friends and family as traditionally this year, I decided to package the Glögg and it’s ingredients in various sized mason jars, placed in gift bags and left on door steps of my loved ones.
The twist to my mulled wine is omitting sugar which is often a component and adding a rich dark beer. Yes warmed beer with wine…it mellows out the tannins while steeping with the spices.
Chef Kersti’s Glögg:
Yields 24 servings
2 Bottles of Simple Red Wine
1 1/2 Cup Vodka
2 bottles amber or dark beer
6-8 whole cardamom pods, cracked 4 small cinnamon sticks 6-8 whole cloves 2- 3inch strips of orange peels
1 Cup dark raisins
1 Cup blanched slivered almonds
2 dozen ginger snap cookies
In a stockpot with a lid; Heat the wine, spices and orange peel over medium heat until just below the simmering point. Add beer and bring mixture back to just below simmering for about 25-35 minutes allowing mixture to steep.
Turn off the heat and add Vodka. At this point you can carefully light the mixture with a long match for a little flambé effect or not. Add Raisins and almonds allowing them to soak and plump up for at least an hour or overnight. To serve, pour glögg in a saucepan and warm over low heat.
Using heatproof glasses with handles or small mugs, serve garnished with “drunken” raisins and almonds. Dunk your ginger snaps in the warm mulled wine.
(For an alcohol free variation; Vodka can be omitted. The wine beer and beer can be alcohol free varieties.)
Another favorite tradition from my Swedish memory-bank is to decorate this years Christmas tree with simple, edible ornaments. As oranges poked with whole cloves, chocolates and candy canes, ginger snaps baked in various shapes and hung with red ribbon.