Sugar and salt-cured lavaret with mustard and dill sauce

Devoted Husband is a passionate fisherman, and a rather successful one too, and he really contributes to keep our food costs down during the summers spent in our summer-house. Besides all the pikes, which nobody but ourselves and the French seem to appreciate, here is one of his more exclusive catches, a lavaret (European whitefish).

When I recently visited one of Stockholm’s better seafood stores I noticed that they sold lavarets at the price of 30 € / kg. This one weighed 2.2 kg, so maybe fish monger may be a lucrative future business.

The lavaret is a member of the salmon family but with a much lighter, almost white-pinkish flesh, than its cousin. It can be eaten smoked, freshly sugar and salt-cured, baked, fried, poached, or grilled. Its roe is almost as prized a delicacy as that of vendance.

Caught wild in lakes or sea the lavaret is more sensitive to parasites than the salmon though, so if you think of eating it raw  you’ve to let it stay in the freezer for 5 days before preparing it.

This one landed in the freezer before she (yes it was a she!), or it, was cured and served as a starter with toasted bread crumbs and a dill and mustard sauce. Cured in this case means raw fish that has been preserved with sugar and salt.

This recipe and method is the same I use preparing sugar and salt-cured salmon (gravlax or gravad lax), the crown jewel on the Swedish smorgasbord.

Sugar and salt-cured lavaret (gravad sik)

Sik - Lavaret, plated

Ingredients

  • 2 large filets of lavaret, about 1 kg
  • 50 ml salt
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp coarsely crushed white pepper corn
  • 1 bunch chopped dill
    ********************************************
    So far the basic recipe. You can either stop here and go straight to “Method” or continue and give it a personal twist by adding your own favorite flavours that can be anything from false/pink pepper, zest and juice from lime, lemon or orange, fennel seeds and juniper berries to whiskey, gin, calvados or vodka. Only your imagination sets the limit! Here are my extra all!
  • 1 tbsp coarsely crushed pink pepper
  • 1 tbsp crushed juniper berries
  • 50 ml lingonberries (save some for serving)
  • 3 tbsp whisky or other alcohol (gin goes very well with both the juniper and lingonberries, but whisky was all that was available at the time)

For serving: toasted bread crumbs of dark rye bread, mixed sallad or ruccola and lingonberries.

Method

  • Start by placing the two filets skin side down on a cutting board. Feel the row of pin bones with your finger and remove them with a pair of fish tweezer.

Sik - Lavaret 4

  • Combine sugar and salt until evenly mixed and sprinkle a thick layer of the mix onto the filets.

Sik - Lavaret 5

  • Sprinkle peppercorns, juniper berries and dill and spoon the liquor over the filets.

Sik - Lavaret 7

  • Finally add the lingonberries.

Sik - Lavaret 8

  • Place the filets one on top of the other, thick part against thin part, with the spices in between.
  • Wrap tightly in cling film and put the package in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Place in a deep dish large enough to allow the filets to lay flat.
  • Let rest in the refrigerator for 48 hours, Flip the package over a couple of times during curing.
  • Remove plastic wrapping and the accumulated juices.
  • Carefully scrape off peppercorns, dill and lingonberries with a knife and wipe the surface clean, not too neatly though (don’t rinse in water).
  • Cut the lavaret flesh into thin slices.

Sik - Lavaret 9

  •  Arrange 2-3 slices on a bed of mixed sallad. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs along with some lingonberries and spoon the mustard sauce (gravlax sås) on top. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Sik - Lavaret extra

Mustard sauce

  • 1,5 tbsp sweet mustard
  • 1,5 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp red (or white) vinegar (little at a time while tasting)
  • juice of half a lemon (little at a time while tasting)
  • 200 ml  rapeseed oil
  • A bunch of chopped dill

Mix all ingredients except oil and dill. Whisk in the oil, little at a time to start with and finally add the dill. If the sauce is too thick dilute with a little water.

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The noble art of making a classic Swedish Rose Hip Soup

Two years ago I wrote a post on my Swedish blog (JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE) about gathering rose hips (which can be a real painful business, so working gloves are recommended), drying them and finally turning them into a real classic Swedish dessert, a Rose Hip Soup.

Well, do people really take the trouble to pick these red, glowing bulbs and make their own rose hip soup from scratch, 2013? Besides myself, I haven’t heard of anyone who does. But still, there must be those doing it, at least thinking about doing it, judging by all the visits to this particular post. It is without doubt my most viewed one, and has skyrocketed my stats. Thanks! That’s why I’ve now decided to rerun the post in English.

Rose hip soup is not just a hot beverage in a thermos to keep you warm on outdoor activities or a tasty dessert, it is also a real vitamin C and antioxidant bomb. Making your own soup is easy and much tastier and healthier than the powder mix you might find in the supermarket. There’s no problem making the soup from fresh rose hips, but those who want to enjoy this delicacy throughout fall and winter have better dry them or make portions of purée and freeze for later use.

The best time to pick the rose hips is said to be right after the first frost. Don’t wait too long though and make sure the bulbs are red and firm. Avoid the soft, wrinkled and blackened ones.

Drying rose hips

Methods

  • Remove stalks and blossom ends.
  • Rinse in cold water, pat dry and cut the bulbs in halves.

Rose hips, halved

While doing this you can give a thought (with a smile) to those mischievous schoolboys back then who used hairy seeds from rose hips as itching powder, and tried to drop them down between shirt and back. So, to avoid too much itching – use a pair of thin plastic gloves while handling the rose hips.

  • Spread the rose hips on a baking tray and allow to dry in the oven at gentle 50º C until the shells are dry and hard. Shake the tray and stir now and then, and it’s a good idea to keep the oven door slightly ajar.

Drying rose hips

  • Let the rose hips cool and make sure that they are thoroughly dry before placing them in a glass jar and store in a dark place until it’s time to use them.

If I have the time and energy I sometimes poke the seeds out, but just as often I leave them as they contain beneficial essential fatty acids.

Rose hip purée

As mentioned above, if you don’t want to bother with the drying procedure you can just as well make a purée from fresh rose hips and store in the freezer.

Methods

  • Remove stalks and blossom ends, rinse and boil in plenty of water for about 20 minutes.
  • Drain and save some of the cooking water.
  • Press the hips through a strainer or sieve with a wooden spoon or spatula and dilute the paste with a some cooking water to a purée-like consistency and freeze in 400 ml containers.

1. Soup made of rose hip purée
4 servings

  • 400 ml rose hip purée
  • 1200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch + 100 ml water
  • sugar to taste (50 – 150 ml)

Methods

  • Mix purée and water and boil vigorously for a few minutes.
  • Skim off the scum.
  • Dissolve potato starch in cold water and add the liquid to the soup in a fine stream, stirring constantly.
  • Allow the soup to get a quick boil (just enough for the first bubble to burst), then remove soup from the stove.
  • Add sugar to your own taste.

2. Traditional rose hip soup made from dried rose hips
4 servings

  • 500 ml dried rose hips
  • 1500 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 50 – 150 ml sugar

Methods

  • Boil rose hips and water.

Boiling rose hips

  • When the hips are properly soft, drain and save the cooking water.
  • Press rose hips through a sieve.

Passed through a sieve

  • Dilute the purée with cooking water until it measures 1250 ml.
  • Boil the soup.
  • Dissolve potato starch in a little cold water and add the liquid in a fine stream, stirring constantly.
  • Add sugar according to your own taste and bring the soup to a quick boil.

3. Rose hip soup with a vanilla and honey twist
5-6 servings

  • 500 ml dried rose hips
  • 1500 ml water
  • half a vanilla pod
  • 3 tbsp liquid honey.

Methods

  • Let rose hips soak i the water for 4 hours.
  • Add the vanilla pod and mix everything in the food processor or with a hand blender.
  • Add the honey and boil for a few minutes.
  • Strain and serve.

A rose hip soup is often served warm with ice cream or lukewarm or cold with whipped cream or cardamom yoghurt and with mini macaroons or almond flakes on top.

Cardamom yoghurt
Mix 150 ml Turkish yoghurt, 1 tsp ground cardamom and 2 tbsp brown sugar.

Rose hip soup with cream

Borsjtj or Russian beet soup

Just as we had closed our summer house and were ready to head back home to the city again, I took a last look around the garden and realized that we had forgotten to harvest the last of our beets. Six big, lovely beets remained, and we just couldn’t let them go to vast, could we?.

The beets landed in a bowl on the kitchen counter and have stared me in the face for several days now, so today it was time to let them come to use. And what could suit us better on a cold, grey and gloomy Saturday than a hearty classic Russian beet soup, a borsjtj. So borsjtj there is!

Borsjtj
Serves 4

Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb sausages
  • 6 beets
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 250 gr cabbage
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 + 2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
  •  2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • 3 bouillon cubes (vegetable and meat)
  • 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200 ml crème fraîche or Turkish yogurt
  • grated horseradish

Methods

  • Peel and chop onion and garlic coarsely and fry in oil until softened but not burned..
  • Place into a large saucepan and pour over the broth and boil gently.
  • Shred the rest of the vegetables and sauté a few minutes in the remaining oil along with mustard seeds, thyme, star anise and bay leaves.

Frying

  • Transfer to the saucepan and let simmer for about half an hour.

Cooking 1

  • Cut the lamb sausages into chunks, add to the soup and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.

Cooking 2

Serve the soup with sourdough bread, pickles and sour cream or yogurt flavored with grated horseradish.

Soup 2

Bon appetit!

The Cinnamon Bun Day

Living above a bakery and café might have its advantages. In our case that means underfloor heating for free (from the ovens below) and a flat that is often filled with the heavenly smell of freshly baked rolls and buns. Quite disappointing though for unexpected visitors, as we rarely have any baked goddies to offer. On the other hand we can just run downstairs and buy something sumptuous – and at a discount!.

Those of you who have browsed through a Swedish almanac / calendar know that it not only lists Swedish names for each day of the year but also marks days of certain importance like the King,s birthday (!), International Women’s Day, May 1st etc. Today, Oct 4th, is another of those special days, a day dedicated to the cinnamon bun, the Cinnamon Bun Day.

The cinnamon buns are an almost daily feature of Swedish life and you will find them in cafés, on the go with a cup of coffee from “Pressbyrån”, at home and at the “fika-paus” (coffee break) at work.

The baker below us has kneaded his dough and baked his buns since 3 am this morning to be ready to meet the queuing mass at 6.30. No one wants to miss the opportunity to indulge a cinnamon bun at work today.

I myself made mine last night and here is my version of them, or versions actually.

One dough – three kinds of buns

Three kinds of buns

Basic dough 

  • 50 g yeast
  • 500 ml of milk (cold)
  • 200 g butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50 to 100 ml sugar (to taste)
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • approximately 1.5 liters of flour

Methods, common for all three

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  • Crumble the yeast into a bowl and dissolve in a little milk.
  • Add the butter in small pieces, sugar, salt and cardamom.
  • Add flour and milk alternately, a little at a time and work the dough in a kitchen aid for about 6-8 minutes.
  • Place the dough on floured surface and knead lightly and divide into three parts.
  • Roll out one portion at a time into a rectangle about 300×400 mm.

#1 Cinnamon Buns

cinnamon buns

Filling

  • 100g butter
  • 50 ml sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Methods

  • Spread the butter evenly over the dough.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll the dough lengthwise and finish with the seam down.
  • Cut the roll into 2-2.5 cm wide slices and place in paper cups.
  • Let rise in warm place for 2 hours.
  • Brush with beaten egg.
  • Reduce oven heat to 225 degrees and bake for about 8 minutes or until the buns are golden.

#2 Cinnamon and muscovado buns

Muscovado buns

Filling

  • 100 ml muscovado or brown sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Methods

  • Mix all ingredients with a hand blender.
  • Cover half the dough with the butter mixture and fold over the other half.
  • Cut the dough into 15 mm wide strips.
  • Twist the strips and form a knot.
  • Place in paper cups and let rise in warm place for 2 hours.
  • Brush with beaten egg.
  • Reduce oven heat to 225 degrees and bake for about 8 minutes or until the buns are golden.

#3 Appel och coconut buns

Apple and coconut buns

Cut the rolled out dough into Squares, 80×80 mm.

Filling

  • 50 g butter
  • 1 1/4 dl coconut flakes
  • 3 tablespoons apple sauce
  • 2 tbps sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Melt butter, add the remaining ingredients and let the mixture get warm.

Topping

  • 75 gr butter 50 ml sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 75 g almond flakes or chopped hazelnuts

Melt butter and add remaining ingredients. Let simmer until the mixture thickens.

Methods

  • Spoon apple and coconut filling on each square and fold up the corners and pinch.
  • Place in paper cups and let rise in warm place for two hours.
  • Brush with beaten egg.
  • Reduce oven heat to 225 degreees and bake for 4 minutes.
  • Remove the plate and spread the topping over the buns and continue baking for another 4-5 minutes or until the buns are golden.

Buns in a basket