Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Read this with Swedish Coffee and Kanelbullar

Swedish Coffee and Swedish Kanelbullar
Picked this paperback up at Costco before heading to the beach (also picked up the 2 others in the series)
It took me about 200 pages before I really started getting into the mystery of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larson.  I took this book on vacation with me to the Virgin Islands and couldn't put it down.  It was unlike any book that I have read, in the sense that it combined elements of a murder mystery, a thriller, financial journalism (similar to the use of the legal system in John
Grisham books), religion, history and culture.  It definitely was heavier than my normal beach reading, (I will warn you it is a little violent and disturbing in parts) and I found it so interesting to learn a little about the Swedish culture while reading it. 

Throughout the book, almost every meeting between two people is commenced with a cup of strong Swedish coffee. I would venture to say chapter did not go by without discussing the strong coffee multiple times - clearly, this is a big part of the culture.  In Chapter 4 (p. 82 in my edition) it says, "Blomvist took a swallow of black coffee - plainly boiled in a pan in true Norrland style..."
So, it wouldn't be right if I didn't make this coffee as my featured item,  and a Swedish Sweet to go along with it. I found the following recipe for the Swedish Coffee - secret ingredient - egg shells and eggs!

So, I thought maybe someone "punked" with this swedish coffee recipe - I mean, I have never in my life heard of doing this and it sounded like a recipe for salmonella poisening (did I mention I'm food safety certified), but I followed the instructions exactly, except for I strained it though a very fine wire strainer five times to make sure all the grinds and egg bi-products were removed.  I then tasted it:  it was very strong, similar to Starbucks, but very mellow with no after-taste.  I had a few family members try it, and they thought it was pretty good. Will I make it again?   But, that's because it is too much work for me - when I need caffeine, I don't have time to crack eggs and their shells into it...and then strain it out. But  now I know how to made Swedish Coffee.

Of course I made a Swedish pastry to go along with the coffee.  I decide to make Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Rolls) to go along with it.  I used the following recipe:

Some notes: 
1) I halved the recipe. Forty Kanelbullar looked a little extensive.  I made 16 out of the halved recipe.
2) Cost Plus World Market was out of ground cardamom (a spice I have ever used), so I bought a jar of the whole cardamom pods and ground them is a lesson learned.  I put the whole pods into the "Magic Bullet" and ground them up...I was lefty with a then occurred to me that I needed to shell the cardamom before grinding.  So I took about 15 of the pods (to make about 1 tsp), popped them open, and THEN ground them into the "Magic Bullet."  Once ground, it looked kind of like a steak seasoning blend (black, brown, red) and it had a very strong smell kind of like a mix of pepper, cinnamon, ginger and something else.  It didn't smell great by itself.

I also found these at Cost Plus World Market in Smyrna, GA on the spice aisle
3)  The recipe says your dough is supposed to double on the 1st rise, and then again double once you cut into the rounds. I used fast acting dried yeast, but mine never seemed to double either time.  I'm not sure what I may have done wrong, but this is what they looked like before I put into the oven.

4) The recipe says to use Pearl Sugar, which I hear can be found at IKEA or purchased online.  I wasn't adventurous enough to drive out to IKEA today so I used regular granulated sugar, which I think worked just fine.  If you want to know more about it, go to this website:  Also, if you google "where to buy pearl sugar" several different websites come up.

The rolls before I put them into the oven - I did bake a few extra minutes than it said

After they came out of the oven, I sprinkled with more sugar. These are not your typical Sticky Bun - much less sweet, so they need a little extra.

The book weaves in other cultural references to the book that the two main characters eat.

Salander, the leading lady in the book, who lives in Stockholm, has  everyday meals consisting of sandwiches made of eggs and herring or caviar.  It seemed an odd combination, but very common in Sweden. Blomkvist (the leading man) and Vanger have a more formal dinner in freezing cold city of Hedestad consisting of Roast Hare, Currant Jelly and Potatoes.  One day, while he went to Konsum, "he discovered fried sausage with potatoes and beets - a dish he had never been fond of but for some reason it seemed suited to a cabin in the country." After reading this, I wanted to look into Swedish cuisine a little further, as I have never really cooked or eaten it to my knowledge. Trust Wikipedia was a wealth of knowledge:

While I was a Cost Plus World Market looking for my cardamom, I also found Lingonberry jam, which tasted kind of like cranberry sauce.  It might be good on the rolls!

I found this at Cost Plus World Market in Smyrna, GA with the other jellies/jams
Overall, a fun and tasty experience!  I recommend reading the book and trying out my treats!


  1. Good job on your first post Jess!

  2. Great job Jess! The blog went great with my Swedish Kanelbullar and Italian roast coffee. (the breakroom did not have Swedish)

  3. Fact of the Day: cardamom isn't indigenous to Guatemala, but to southern India and Sri Lanka. It is still produced in both countries, and India remains a major exporter

    My culinary skills may be limited to microwaving, but I do know my spices!

  4. Great post Jess. I'll have to try it out. Still reading through the sure is a heavy beach read. Great, but a little more difficult than my usual fluff books. Only on page 115 so still discovering the mystery.

  5. Keep reading Linz! Break through to page 200ish and you'll be good!