Riskrem for Christmas Eve

IMG_4404Being Norwegian, it would not be Christmas Eve without rice porridge for lunch. Cooked with milk, and served with cinnamon, sugar and an eye of butter, it is essential. Usually there is a blanched almond hidden in here, and whoever finds it wins a marzipan pig  (in red wrapper below).  This one came from Norway. ingredients for rice porridge I had brought rice for the porridge from Norway, and found expensive almonds at Koala here in Accra (32 cedis for 200 grams, about 8 USD. Still the almonds were in the fridge and thus not rancid, so worth it.  With power cuts and heat, nuts are often not at there best even well before expiry date, but these were good. As mentioned earlier,  I was searching high and low here for cinnamon for my Christmas Eve rice porridge, and almost cried when shop after shop had no cinnamon and it was the 23rd. Cloves, nutmeg, ginger: none of those would have been quite right. I must have looked upset: one of the staff in the last shop found me an opened jar of cinnamon sticks in the back, which I clasped with joy and took home, grating it with much gratitude. The lone blanched almond cooling on the kitchen counter attracted an army of tiny ants: we must keep all food sealed, I can see.

As you see, there is also raspberry syrup and potato flour here: leftover rice porridge is cooled and mixed with whipped cream, and served cold as riskrem for dessert Christmas Eve, with a fruit-based sweet sauce. If the almond has not been found, it’ s the second chance to find it. I made

Riskrem med rød saus   (Creamed rice with red sauce)

Rød saus: (do earlier):
3 desilitres of undiluted sweet fruit cordial (raspberry, cherry, or red currants)
4.5 desilitres water
1.5 tbs potato flour (cornflour might work too)
3 tbs water

Heat cordial and water. Stir the potato flour into the 3 tbs of water, and when the cordial mixture is coming to the boil, pour it in while stirring. Boil briefly, it will thicken and become syrupy. Cool.

7 desilitres cold rice porridge
5 desilitres whipping cream
1.5 tsp vanilla sugar
2 tbs sugar

Whisk cream with sugar, fold gently into cold porridge. Serve with a little cooled red sauce poured over. Voila!  As I forgot to take a photo, here is a nice one from http://ceciliesmat.no/  (many thanks!)

PS If you want a to make a  vegan version of rice porridge and creamed rice, have a look at Arctic Grub’s Riskrem: a classic Norwegian Christmas Dessert.  Informative, vegan and delicious!

Tandoori spice baked aubergines on a vegetable-rice bed


It’s almost at the end of August, but still quiet here. Schools do not seem to start until mid-September, so the buses are intermittent, the metro pleasantly spacious (quite odd!), and many shops are still closed. The worst heat may be over, and I stocked up on vegetables on my way home, noting the usual accumulation of older men outside the ferramenta (hardware store), the bar and their venue with the yellow & red door, for the Rome football club. Very location and time specific, these gatherings. The older ladies never seem to congregate in quite the same way. Regardless of age, people lean out of their windows in the evenings, often in their undershirts, to catch a whiff of a breeze, to see what is happening in the piazza (not much), and to toss comments back to someone inside the other shuttered rooms.

albergo rosso
The Albergo Rosso in Garbatella. Almost tandoori red? I’d seen a recipe like this recently calling for aubergines and curry paste, which I did not have, but I excavated a really old jar of tandoori-barbecue spice powder of dubious vintage, which worked just fine. You might need less spices if yours are fresher. Taste them to see. At least with the heat relenting, it is possible to cook again, which is wonderful!

Tandoori-spice baked aubergines on a vegetable-rice bed

Three small aubergines, sliced lengthwise
200 ml plain yoghurt
2 tbs tandoori-barbecue spice powder (use less if yours is not quite old…)
3 tbs olive oil, to grease aubergine bases

1.5 cups rice
3 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes


Heat your oven to 220C. Slice the aubergines lengthwise in three. I took off a little on either side so the slices would lie flat. Brush the bases with a little olive oil or sunflower oil, so they do not stick. Stir your spices into the yoghurt, and spoon some over each aubergine slice. Bake at 220C for a couple glasses of wine  — until they are soft — maybe 30 min?

Separately, boil your rice. Just before it is done, toss your chopped onion and chopped bell peppers on top, so they steam just a bit. Spread the cooked rice out on a serving dish, add some halved cherry tomatoes, and top with some of the baked aubergines.

tandoori spice baked aubergines

I could have sliced these, to faciliatate diner in the sofa, but that would look quite messy. Tuesday is TV night, when a friend comes over, so we enjoyed this with “Alpha House”  and “Dag”, the latter a dark Norwegian comedy. After months of Scandi thriller noir, it was a nice change!

Risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian rice porridge)

Since we have been highlighting exotic Norwegian food, here is another classic. Risengrynsgrøt is a long name for a very simple dinner option, perfect for cold weather. Rome is still really hot and sticky, so this may be a bit premature…. This is rice porridge, like a thick congee or rice pudding – but served warm for dinner, often on Saturdays. Porridge rice is another food item I usually bring from Norway, but with a kilo or so stockpiled here, I am trying to use up what I have. It is a white, medium grain rice which must be imported to Norway, though from where? Anyway, risotto rice or English pudding rice should work as well.

Risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian rice porridge)
4 dl water
2 dl porridge rice (a white, medium grain rice)
1/4 tsp salt
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
For serving: butter, cinnamon and sugar.
To drink: Red cordial with water.

Bring water to a boil with rice, and let it simmer for ten minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Add milk and bring to a boil, continually stirring. Then turn the heat to its lowest setting, and let the grøt slowly cook for 45-60 minutes, depending on the rice you use. In Norway you can get five-minute porridge rice, very convenient. However, the 50 minute rice gives much nicer porridge, and that is what I used here. Stir from time to time to make sure it doesn’t burn, it neds less attention and stirring than a risotto. The rice and milk will thicken nicely. Add more milk if needed. Add salt (important for taste! You will notice if the salt is not there.) When ready to eat, serve with cinnamon, sugar and finally: a teaspoon or so of butter. This is the smørøye, the “butter eye”.

That “butter eye” is delicious, and there is even an expression in Norwegian: å være midt i smørøyet, which means “to be in the middle of the butter melting in the porridge”. It means to be in a very favourable place or situation. Now I wonder what the Italian equivalent of culinary-illustrated state of bliss would be…..? Surely there is one.

Norwegian ski sign on train

From a local train in Norway a couple weeks ago. Pram, something….bicycle….. It took me a moment to work out what the middle sign was for. Can you see? It is skis and poles! Of course the train has a built-in ski rack!

Normally you would mix leftover rice porridge with whipped cream to make riskrem, especally on Christmas Eve. Often with a blanched almond hidden inside, and whoever finds the almond wins a small marzipan pig. But Christmas is many months away, and we fancied pancakes, so that is what we made here the next day. It is easy enough to make a generous portion of rice porridge, to have some for lapper the next day. Norwegian pancakes are thin, but these are smaller and thicker. You could easily make this with leftover oatmeal porridge as well, you just need eggs and flour to bind it together.

Risgrøt lapper (pancakes)
400g leftover rice porridge
2 eggs, beaten
55g flour (1 desilitre)
10g sugar (1 tbs)
A little butter for frying
For serving: jam or sugar

Mix all, let stand a few minutes. Heat a frying pan, fry small pancakes, serve with jam or sugar.
Risgrøt pancakes