St Lucia’s Day

December 17, 2012

In Sweden, it is easy to think that St. Lucia Day is only about the saffron-infused, raisin-topped, reverse-S shaped buns (Lussekatter) which appear on every home and meeting table in the month of December:






(photos by Ryo Yonami)

But in Fittja, the tradition of St. Lucia’s day at school is very important to many of our young friends, even if they themselves are not Catholic or born in Sweden. Our friends Kubra and Cevda invited us for 7am at their school, though we didn’t see them till later that day. Even the school told us to come back at 8; we were welcomed into the elementary school with a stern look and ‘shoe protection’:Shoe Protection at Fittja School

After appropriately outfitting our shoes we were seated in the school’s auditorium with its beautiful tapestry:

Forest tapestry at Fittja SchoolAnd then the saints walked in…

Saint Lucia Procession

Santas, Lucias, and gnomes on stageThere were so many kinds of saints on the stage, from female St Nicholas to every kind of St Lucia imaginable, except for Kubra and Cevda. Still it was fun to see the elementary school sing, and to hear the female drum corps lead them off the stage:

Drum CaptainWe got to cook with Kubra and Cevda later on, and to top off the holiday, Phil Hession gave an artist talk and performance event at the Fittja youth center which turned into an impromptu open mic and dance party.

Performance with Phil Hession at Fittja Youth CenterThe night ended at the Pelikan with traditional Swedish Christmas fare and a long slow farewell to Phil and his amazing project.

Menu at Pelikan


(the elk)

What a treat. Thank you everyone – Cevda, Kubra, Phil, and everyone at Botkyrka Konsthall – for a really warm St. Lucia’s Day.

To make St. Lucia rolls in the style of Malin, an artist and farmer who is part of Kultivator, here is the recipe:

 6.5 cups of flour; 1 cake or 4.5 tsp of active dry yeast; 1 tsp salt; 1 cup fresh milk; 3/4 cup sugar; 1 cup melted butter; 1 tsp saffron threads pounded to a powder and mixed with 2 Tbs vodka; 2 eggs beaten together plus one egg white for glazing; raisins.

Melt 1 cup butter and add 1 cup milk with 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine and heat through.
Cool mixture to skin temperature in a large mixing bowl and break up or stir in yeast. After 5-10 minutes add 6.5 cups of flour gradually, in alternation with 2 beaten eggs and the saffron dissolved in vodka. Once mixture comes together in a soft dough, stir or knead well to combine and develop the dough. Allow to rise for 1-1.5 hours, then deflate and knead several times on a floured surface. The dough should be smooth, soft, and elastic. Divide dough into small handsful and roll to make snakes; then curl top end toward left and bottom end toward right to form a backward S. Decorate with raisins at either end of the curl and allow to rise again, covered, for an hour. Meanwhile, warm oven to 375, and when rolls have doubled in size, brush them with egg whites and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.

Yesterday was our first workshop of the Takeaway Caffe here at Krogarvagen 26.

At first, all of our guests were from Botkyrka Konsthall…

Shashtin Peeling Apples

(photo: Ryo Yonami)

Shashtin, the ceramicist at the Konsthall, taught Ryo how to peel an apple in 30 seconds flat while they began simmering the apple butter which would cook all afternoon.

Apple Butter and Milk Tea Cooking on the Stove

(photo: Ryo Yonami)

The kitchen was pretty quiet at first, so we began cooking Fittja Food recipes, including a winter vegetable soup which we put on to boil just as Irina, the curatorial intern at Botkyrka Konsthall, walked through the door.

Irina and Elmas at Fittja Caffe Table

(photo: Ryo Yonami)

Here is Irina at the table with Elmas, our friend from October, who had been waiting for us to come back. Elmas taught us how to make Turkish dolma in October, so when she came, we began steaming the eggplant and peppers to stuff for this week’s dolma.

Irina, Erik, and Chanise discussing Jamaican Jerk ChickenHere are Erik, Irina, and Chanise discussing recipes. By far the most prepared visitor, Chanise brought much more than she took away! She arrived with a whole chicken, a pair of slippers to wear, and ready to chat, saying that in Jamaica, where she’s from, everything happens around a plate of jerk chicken.

As she was writing the recipe, team MAGO showed up: Mohsen, Oden, and Gyorgye, three friends who were ready to cook. All of their fathers work as restaurateurs or cooks in restaurants, some as far away as northern Sweden, and they confidently took knife in hand, cutting up Chanise’s chicken and spicing it – heavily! – for a very open interpretation of Chanise’s recipe.

Gyorgye cutting up the chicken at Caffe FittjaAs the chicken was finishing, our friends Cevda and Kubra came and took charge of the last of the cooking and eating:

Kubra stirring the dolmasWhen it was all over, we had cooked a massive feast, including winter vegetable soup, eggplant and pepper dolmas, MAGO’s extremely spicy jerk chicken, beetroot salad, a chicken stock for the week, apple butter, and a cauldron of milk tea, mixing recipes from Jamaica, Turkey, Estonia, Sri Lanka, Chile, and of course Tumba and Fittja.

We sat down for a final conversation with the kids about food, agriculture, St. Lucia Day (today! the 13th of December!), and Rihanna, and then the hallway began to empty of boots, jackets, and snow pants.

Takeaway Caffe Hallway

Cevda, Kubra, and Allison – our daily participants from the fall caffe – were the last to leave, and we’ll see them again today at 7:30 at Fittja School for the St Lucia Day ceremonies!

It’s many days after the second day of Fittja Caffe, and we’re overdue on updating the blog with the amazing weeks spent in Fittja in October with Marjetica Potrc and her studio of students from HFBK in Hamburg, farmer-artists Kultivator, and student artists from the Konstfack and Royal Academy of Art Schools here in Stockholm.

Fittja Caffe at 26 Krogarvagen

(photo credit:  Johanna Padge)

However, it’s no longer sunny – in fact, when we arrived in Stockholm today at 3pm, it was already dusk turning to dark and snow was falling everywhere! Now the front yard of the caffe is covered in snow, and student artist Ryo Yonami from Berkeley, the most recent OPENrestaurant intern and collaborator, is making snowpeople for the first time!

Ryo Yonami at 26 KrogarvagenHere is Ryo in front of the same apartment/residency/caffe, two months after the photo above, at 5 in the afternoon!

We will be updating the blog daily, or as often as we can, during the next week and a half that we are here in Fittja, making the recipes we learned in October during the OPENFittja Caffe / Common Roof Kitchen, and creating a recipe and leftovers exchange in the gallery at Botkyrka Konsthall.

State of the Craft at Botkyrka Konsthall by Anneli Backman

(photo credit: Anneli Backman)

This is Hilda, niece of our project manager Anneli, running past OPENrestaurant’s table at the State of the Craft Exhibition at Botkyrka Konsthall. The table is one of fifteen that were made for the Common Roof Kitchen at Fittja Open / OPENFittja Caffe by Til Richter and others from HFBK (Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst, Hamburg).

Saturday, 15 December from 12:00 – 15:00 we will be filling the table with Fittja Food in an exchange of leftovers for our takeaway containers. Sunday we will be in the gallery again making more of the containers with gallery visitors.

Here are the takeaway containers in their shipping crate, all intact after 24 hours of plane travel!

Takeaway containers for Fittja Caffe

We will be cooking at Residence Fittja, 26 Krogarvagen tomorrow, Wednesday, December 12 from 14:00 – 18:00.

All are welome to visit, eat, cook, and share ideas.

Already today in the taxi from the airport, Ildo our driver shared some recipes. He lives in Tumba with his wife, his two-and-a-half-month-old daughter, and his son, who is five and who loves to cook. They are always in the kitchen together, cooking Swedish food, and cooking Estonian-Russian fare with his wife – Ildo says this is “quite a bit lighter” than Swedish food!

Ildo suggested that if we are making Fittja Food, maybe we would try Baklava? And he contributed a few recipes for Tumba food, including the recipe for Jansson’s Frestelse (Temptation), which will be on his Christmas table, along with salmon, mashed potatoes, vodka of course, and a salad of grated beets, garlic, and mayonnaise (“100% for sure!”).

Jansson’s Frestelse a la Ildo

Use anchovies, or scandinavian sprats.

Line the bottom of a casserole with butter, then potatoes cut into fries, then sprats.

Repeat with potatoes and sprats, potatoes and sprats, until the top, sprinkling each layer with salt and black pepper.

Onions can also be used, sauteed first in a pan to soften them and then layered in with the sprats and potatoes.

Over the top, sprinkle crushed knackebrot, then pour cream or half and half over all.

Bake it in a 425 degree oven for one hour or until cooked through and browned on top.