The Elegant Cook

M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Cook Notes

Split Pea Soup, a Swedish Tradition

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

See Elegant Soup and Pasta for M-J's Split-Pea Soup

Starbucks' Blonde Willow Blend

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Starbucks' Blonde Willow Coffee: Do Not Confuse Light Roast with Weak Cup!
Fresh-tasting and robust, Starbucks' new Blonde Roast is coffee the way it tasted in the United States and Scandinavia before the dark-roast craze made everyone forget.... Yes, there is a good, old-fashioned coffee available in the ubiquitous Starbucks cafés, and you can take home a bag of the ground beans and brew it to your desired strength. My Scandinavian mother-in-law brought me this bag of Starbucks Blonde Willow Blend ground coffee lately, and as I made it for dessert in our French press, we passed it round the table so that we could breathe-in its lovely aroma. Usually, coffee smells better than it tastes, but not in this case--Starbucks'new offering, which I brewed using two tablespoons per cup because we Scandinavians prefer it strongly-brewed--tastes delightful (many who patronise Starbucks confuse strongly-brewed with darkly-roasted, and they are two vastly different things).
©Jeanne "M-J" de Mesterton

Economical, Elegant Swedish Meatballs

Posted on April 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM
An elegant way to stretch your meat budget in these austere times is to make Swedish or Scandinavian-style meatballs. Each household cook has his or her recipe, but the basics are ground meat such as beef, veal and/or pork mixed with bread crumbs or bits of bread (I use bits of brioche pulled out from my brioche hamburger buns, which have been reserved in a freezer-bag), an egg and some cream or milk.  Finely-minced onion is optional. Spices include nutmeg and/or allspice, salt and optional white pepper. Onion powder can take the place of minced onion, or that flavour may be omitted altogether. Meat mixtures are shaped into small balls and rolled in flour, then fried in butter. A pan-gravy is made while the finished meatballs rest in a warm oven until serving time. I prefer to use ground beef, brioche bits, sour cream, minced onions or onion-powder, nutmeg, salt and white or green ground pepper. ©M-J de Mesterton 2011
Serve Swedish meatballs with new potatoes and perhaps a little lingonberry or cranberry sauce on the side. This Danish baking-dish has the traditional cream gravy at its bottom, topped with the meatballs (this type of meatball recipe is found in Swedish, Danish and Finnish cookbooks). Very small new potatoes are usually just boiled in salted water, and not cut into pieces. These Yukon Gold new potatoes have been cut and boiled, then sautéed in butter and smashed lightly. ©M-J de Mesterton 2011

Elegant Swedish Semlor Buns

Posted on February 14, 2010 at 2:51 PM


This is a traditional Swedish sweet bun that is baked for Shrove Tuesday or Fettisdagen,the second Tuesday in February. It is similar to cardamom braid, but baked in bun-form, split-open and filled with both an almond cream and whipped cream. I believe that semlor were the inspiration for the very popular “Beard Papa" brand dessert of Japan. Some Swedes put the semla (singular of semlor) in a bowl with warm milk, also known as‘hetvägg,’which means ‘hot wall’.  I prefer to eat semlor buns with coffee. An accompanying cup of  light-to-medium roast coffee is a must.


Yield: 16 -20 Semlor Buns

Ingredients for the Buns

75 g butter (about 3/4 stick)

1 cup of milk

One tablespoon (15 ml) or about 25 g of yeast

A half-teaspoon of salt 2.50 ml

10 teaspoons (50 ml) of sugar

3 cups (720 ml) of white or unbleached flour

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

2 eggs, beaten in a small bowl (you will need a pastry brush to apply this egg-wash to the buns before baking)


The Fillings


300 g (10.5 oz.) of almond paste

1/2 cup of milk (120 ml)

Crumbs from interiors of the baked buns (you will make these after the buns are baked)

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) of heavy whipping cream

One-half cup of confectioners' sugar for adding to the whipped cream and dusting the finished semlorna




 Melt the butter in a saucepan, pour in the milk and cook the mixture until lukewarm (99° F).

 Put the yeast in a bowl and, adding a little of the warmed butter and milk, whisk until the yeast is completely dissolved.

 Addthe rest of the butter, milk, salt, sugar, cardamom and most of theflour (set aside a little flour for the work-surface). Knead the dough until it is smooth, shiny, and will not stick to other surfaces, then place it in a large mixing-bowl. Cover the ball of dough with a tea-towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Dust your work-surface with flour and place the dough there. Gently divide it into about 16 to 20 balls that will fit in the cupped palm of your hand.

 Place the semlor buns on a baking sheet, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 440° Fahrenheit.

Brush the semlorna with the beaten egg, then bake them for about 10 minutes in the middle of the oven. Let these buns cool on a rack.

Cut the tops off of the buns, and remove from them some of their inner crumb, and put this in a mixing-bowl. Mix the moist crumbs with almond paste and 1/2 cup of milk until a soft cream has been created.

 Distribute the filling into the buns. Whip the cream with a half-cup of powdered sugar until it is quite stiff, and put a large spoonful  of it on to pof each filled bun. Replace the bun-tops, and dust some powdered (confectioners’) sugar over your finished Swedish semlor buns.