Dill stewed potatoes and gravlax (cured Salmon)

I love cured salmon and could easily eat it in various forms almost every day. A real Swedish classic is to serve it with dill creamed potatoes, and a perfect dish to cook if you have leftover potatoes from a previous meal.

Dill stewed potatoes

Dill stewed potatoes and gravlax 1

Ingredients

  • 10 firm potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 500 ml milk or half and half
  • 100 ml finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

  1. Drain the boiled potatoes of water and let cool.
  2. Mix chopped dill with sugar.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Whisk in the flour and add milk to the paste, a little at a time during constant stirring until incorporated.
  5. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes on low to medium heat – and don’t stop stirring – until thickened into a cream sauce!
  6. Add the dill and season to your own taste with salt and black pepper.
  7. Slice the potatoes, not too thin, or cut it in cubes and gently fold into sauce. Cook until warmed through.

Serve with slices of gravlax (cured salmon), smoked salmon or mackerel, mixed salad and a wedge of lemon.

Dill stewed potatoes and gravlax 2

Spring chicken with asparagus and autumn chanterelle sauce

Celebrating Valentine’s Day or “Alla hjärtans dag” (All Hearts’ Day) is a fairly new tradition in Sweden. It was slowly introduced for commercial reasons in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s when more and more students, after spending a high school year in the U.S., brought this custom of Valentine’s Day with them when they returned home.

Commuting home from work on February 14, whether by train, bus or subway, it is a rather moving sight to see all these tired and half asleep men and women, all having a flower package resting on their knees, containing the day’s mandatory rose for their loved ones.

Fine dining, roses and heart-shaped jelly candy are the most common gifts this day, while Valentine cards are no bestsellers.

Our day started early this morning with breakfast in bed, served by Devoted Husband, and tonight it was payback time for me, which meant cooking and serving my beloved man a delicious meal accompanied by a glass or two of a great red wine.

I often try to avoid buying vegetables and fruit / berries that do not naturally exist in our country this time of year, but today I could not resist the temptation of  a bundle of green asparagus from Spain. With asparagus, my dried autumn chanterelles and a couple of chicken fillets I was able to treat him with a dinner that rocks hard, despite its simplicity.

Spring chicken with asparagus and autumn chanterelle sauce

IPlated dish 2

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 fillets of chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter and olive oil

Sauce

  • 5-10 cm leek, rinsed and shredded
  • 2 cups dried chanterelles
  • 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1 tbsp black currant jelly
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
  • 2 pinches of curry
  • 2 pinches of smoked paprika
  • black pepper, thyme and salt

Methods

Soak the chanterelles in water for 20 min. Drain and gently squeeze the excess water out.

Soaking chanterelles

Dry sauté chanterelles until remaining water has boiled away.

Add butter and oil together with spices and leek and stir fry for a few minutes.

Add cream, sherry, jelly and bouillon powder, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Meanwhile mix butter and olive oil in a frying pan, season the chicken fillets and fry them until the meat juice is clear. If the fillets are thick continue baking them in the oven at 175 degrees C.

Frying chicken fillets

Rinse asparagus under running water and snap the bottom part.

Fill a large pan with a little water, add salt and let come to the boil, then add asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Cooking asparagus

Drain of excess water in a colander, then rinse in cold water to preserve crunchy texture.

Distribute asparagus stalks on warm plates, place the chicken fillets on top and spoon the sauce over.

Plated dish

Tuck in!

A bite

Enjoy and have a Happy Valentine’s day!

Recipe: From Nyfiken Grå (Curious Gray) a blog that caters seniors and retirees.

Swedish Cheesecake Day

According to the Swedish calendar November 14 is the day when Emil and Emilia are the names of the day meaning that all boys named Emil and all girls named Emilia can celebrate a little extra.

Since 2004, November 14 is also the Swedish Cheesecake Day or ‘Ostkakans dag’. Cheese means ‘ost’ in Swedish and cake means ‘kaka’, cheesecake, but not as in ‘American cheesecake’.

The Swedish cheesecake is traditionally produced by adding rennet to milk and letting the casein coagulate. Then cream, sugar, eggs, flour and almonds are added to create a batter, so I suppose a more correct translation would be ‘curd cake’.

Since the process of curding milk is somewhat complicated I’ve instead simplified the recipe by using cottage cheese as a base to simulate the curd texture of the dessert.

So here is to all you Emils and Emilias out there, a real Swedish ‘Ostkaka’ to celebrate your name day!

Swedish Cheesecake

Ostkaka, served with cloudberry jam

Ingredients

Ostkaka, ingredients

  • 500 grams cottage cheese
  • 50 grams chopped or ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 bitter almonds
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon vanilla
  • 300 ml creme fraiche
  • 4 eggs, divided into yolks and whites
  • 6 tbsp flour

Method

  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees
  • Mix the cottage cheese quickly with hand blender and add the creme fraiche.

Ostkaka, cottage cheese

  • Add egg yolks, flour, sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Ostkaka, batter

  • Add the ground hazelnuts and bitter almonds.

Ostkaka, almonds

  • Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (do the upside down-test) and fold gently into the batter.

Ostkaka, eggwhites up side down

Ostkaka, fold in eggwhites

  • Pour batter into a greased tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cover with waxed paper if the surface tends to burn,
  • Serve luke warm with jam and whipped cream.

Ostkaka, 3 kinds of jam

Ostkaka, served with cream and jam

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.

Lentil soup

For I and Devoted Husband Mondays are usually reserved for long hikes together with some of our friends. Then, we pop on our hiking boots and set off for a 10 km hike or walk along one of many surrounding trails. Right now though, with lots of snow, it is difficult to get around in the woods on foot, so today we had to settle with a walk along slippery and icy country roads. It was a fine morning, minus 7 degrees C and the sun barely made it over the treetops and we all made it back home again in one piece, no falls or broken legs.

While the rest of us struggled with boots and sweaty clothes in the hallway Devoted Husband quickly set the table, heated up his homemade lentil soup and sliced the freshly baked sourdough bread (still warm) from our nearby stone oven bakery. And voilá, luncheon was served! Coffee and my apple cake with cinnamon and lingonberries on top of that made a perfect ending to our Monday gettogether and a great start to the week.

Lentil soup

Linssoppa serverad

Ingredients

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 potatoes
2 deciliters red lentils
1 liter of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 deciliter Cream (half and half)
lemon juice to taste (optional)
salt and pepper
fresh thyme  for decoration

Directions

  • Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
  • Dice the potatoes.
  • Fry everything in butter in a saucepan.

  • Add the rinsed lentils, broth and spices.

  • Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are mushy.

  • Mix soup frothy, add the cream (and some lemon juice as an extra twist) and season with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with fresh thyme and serve with a piece of good bread.

Nettle soup and poached egg

Equipped with gloves and a pair of scissors, it’s time to open the door to nature’s own pantry and look for spring’s first primeurs – which are also completely free of charge – the young, tender shoots of stinging nettles that’ll make a delicious nettle soup.

Ow, ow you might think, that doesn’t sound like something I’ll fill my mouth and stomach with! Well, don’t eat them raw and be careful to wear gloves when picking and clearing them. When soaked in water, cooked or dried the stinging chemicals are destroyed and you can handle and eat the nettles without getting stung.

Nettles are extremely nourishing and rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. When cooked they taste pretty much like spinach and in most recipes containing spinach you can replace it with nettles.

Nettles are also high in nitrogen and therefore an excellent fertilizer that’ll make your garden and vegetables sky rocket. To make the liquid manure, fill up a bucket with nettles, fill the rest up with water and allow to steep for a week or so until water starts to stink (cover with a lid if too unpleasant) and gets a browny color. Throw the used nettles on your compost pile where they’ll speed up the decomposition process. Dilute one part of fertilizer with ten parts of water before using and you have just made yourself a very potent, environmentally friendly and to no cost at all (here I go again) fertilizer. Just don’t over-fertilize!

Well, back to my nettle soup, this delicatessen, that highlights SPRING and is a common use of the plant especially in Scandinavia and certain parts of Eastern Europe. For most people though, I guess, the stinging nettle is just regarded as an unpleasant weed in their gardens, just like the ground elder which can actually be used just the same way as the nettles. So my advice to those of you who struggle with these intruders is simply: If you can’t fight them – EAT them!

Here goes

Nettle soup with poached egg

4 servings

  • 1.5 liters of  nettles
  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 deciliter of cream
  • salt
  • chopped chives for decoration
  1. Clear the nettles and remove any sharp stems.
  2. Place the nettles in a large bowl and fill up with water.
  3. Stir occasionally to make sand and dirt sink to the bottom.
  4. Repeat this process once more with new water.
  5. Boil water with a little salt and add the nettles and give them a quick boil.
  6. Strain the cooking water and add the stock cubes and bring to a boil again.
  7. Fry onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft.
  8. Squeeze liquid from nettles and let them fry with the onions.
  9. Dust with flour and dilute with the broth little by little and let simmer covered for about ten minutes.
  10. Blend the soup in a food processor, little by little, bring to boil again and add the cream.
  11. Adjust seasoning according to taste.

Poached egg

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 liter of water
  • ½ deciliter white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  1. Boil water, salt and vinegar just before serving.
  2. Crack an egg at a time into a cup and gently drop the egg into the water when it starts boiling.
  3. Immediately remove the pan from the burner.
  4. With a spoon, nudge the eggwhites closer to their yolks and let stand covered for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon and place on a towel.
  6. Divide soup into four bowls, gently add the eggs and garnish with chopped chives.

If you prefer you can just as well serve the soup with hard-boiled eggs cut in halves. That’s what I generally do, but as I have never poached an egg before I thought I would give it a try.

Pea soup, punsch and saffron pancake

Over the past 20 years, Easter weekend has always been spent in our little summer cottage, our Paradise, in the north of Hälsingland. One of our Easter traditions is to invite friends and neighbors on Good Friday for a get together on the frozen lake and treat them with my homemade pea soup, punsch and saffron pancake.

This year was no exception and we enjoyed a seven hour joyful gathering in the sun with friends, food, drinks and music.

If you ask a Swede what’s for dinner on a Thursday the answer would most likely be “Pea soup and then pancakes for dessert”

Pea soup, or as we say ‘Ärtsoppa’, is a traditional Swedish dish you’ll find on almost every restaurant’s Thursday menu. It is also a popular dish when you invite a lot of friends for an informal party, simply because it is easy to make in large amounts, it doesn´t cost much and most people like it. At least if they have the punsch to go with it.

Punsch is a Swedish liqueur with the base ingredient of arrack that’s often served (then hot) with the pea soup. The peak of the Punsch consumption in Sweden occured during the nineteenth century when it became part of the cultural life and festivities in the universities’ student associations at the time and still is.

Saffron pancake (saffranspannkaka) is a traditional dish from the province of the island Gotland (the larges island in the Baltic Sea) that’s served with blue raspberry jam (salmbärssylt). Blue raspberry is a cross  between raspberries and blackberries and grows wild on Gotland.

Here are my homemade versions of pea soup and saffron pancake, so enjoy!

Pea soup

Serves 6

  • 500 grams of dried yellow peas
  • 2 liters of water
  • 2 + 2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 1 cube of vegetable stock
  • 300-400 grams of salted pork
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet (and coarse-grained) mustard (Swedish mustard is often sweetend)

Just double the ingredients if you want a larger amount. The soup is also perfect to store in the freezer for meals to come.

  1. Rinse and soak the peas along with 2 teaspoons salt for 6 – 12 hours.
  2. Boil fresh water with peas, pork, the remaining salt (don’t take all at once, remember the pork will add some salt too) and herbs.
  3. Let simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours
  4. Remove the pork when tender and add the onions, whole.
  5. Cut the pork into cubes and add at the end. Season with mustard (and salt) to taste. Let it simmer for 1,5 – 2 hours.
  6. Taste the peas to make sure they are completely cooked and soft.

Serve with mustard on the side and a shot of hot (or chilled punsch).

 

Saffron pancake

This is what you need to serve 10-12Preheat oven to 200 degrees

  • 4 x 500 gram rolls with rice porridge ( I make it easy for myself and buy rolls with ready-made rice porridge, but of course you can cook your own.
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 dl of single cream
  • 1 gram of saffron
  • 0.5 dl sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla sugar
  • 100 grams of finely chopped almonds
  1. Whisk eggs, cream and almonds mixed with sugar and vanilla sugar together.
  2. Fold into the rice porridge and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into a greased dish and bake for about 1 hour. Check with a stick that the cake has set and the stick comes out dry.
  4. Cover with waxed paper or foil if the cake starts to get too much color.
  5. Serve lukewarm with “Queen’s jam” (drottningsylt – a mixture of blueberries and raspberries) and whipped cream.