#31 Date selected: 4/5/16 Date completed: 6/5/16
Country selected: Sweden
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu/recipe address:
- Stuffed cabbage rolls (Kåldoma)
· Quails’ eggs with dill (Vaktelägg med dill)
· French bean salad with horseradish (Fransk bönsallad med pepparrot)
Taken from “Klassica Svenska Smaker, Recept Med Ursprung och Originalitet” by Carl Jan Granqvist and Lena Katarina Swanberg which is apparently now out of print but you can find an online version at the following link (the catch? It’s written in Swedish!!): http://sharingsweden.se/materials/klassiska-svenska-smaker-recept-med-ursprung-och-originalitet-swedish-culinary-classics-recipes-with-history-and-originality/
It seems appropriate that on the weekend before Stockholm hosts the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest I pick Sweden as my next challenge.
Sweden (or Sverige as the locals call it) is a country quite close to my heart. Not because I’ve travelled there (though I would love to do so one day), but because quite a few years ago I decided to start learning the language. I will point out right away that I haven’t had much of a chance to study in recent years and am VERY rusty (I never got to the point where I was fluent to begin with either), but it did spur me into trying many Swedish recipes.
To help with my language skills I purchased a couple of books written in Svenksa (Swedish) to read. One was a children’s book (Pippi Longstocking of course!) which I thought would be a nice simple way of getting my head around some basic words and phrases. The second was a Swedish cookbook. My thinking was I would be able to work on the words for a lot of everyday household items and learn a bit about the culture as I did.
I loved working like this and became a bit of a fan of Swedish cuisine. It’s simple yet elegant as well as being incredibly tasty. I’ve found that a lot of the food is based around meat and seafood which I attribute to the fact that it gets so cold over the winter months that nothing else grows in the icy conditions. As mentioned in many previous posts, I’m really not much of a fan of seafood but if you do like fish I’d highly recommend looking up some Swedish recipes such as Gravad Lax (Salmon with Dill) but I tended to stick with making the meat and vegetable based dishes instead (including the famous Köttbullar aka Swedish Meatballs – yes they are delicious!).
In doing this kind of cooking I also managed to come across a range of different ingredients that I wouldn’t have usually even consider using. Lingonberries have since made their way into a lot of cooking that I do. I’ve become a little obsessed with these tart little berries that are considered to be one of the ‘superfoods’. Rather than going into sweet foods like many berry fruits, they are best suited as an accompaniment to savoury dishes. They’re especially good with red meat and are delicious mixed in with yoghurt. I usually buy mine in jam form from Ikea, though you can often find them online as well. They will almost definitely make an appearance in this challenge.
Saturday 7th May 2016, 1.52pm
When I discovered I had Sweden as my next challenge I immediately went to my Swedish cookbook to see what I could find to make that I hadn’t already tried. As it turns out, I had already attempted most of the non-seafood based recipes in the book! I did find one however, Raggmunk (Potato Pancakes) that I was keen to try and decided to get a few more online and make a few different dishes.
The Raggmunk is quite easy to make however it took a little while for me to familiarise myself again with the Swedish language and translate it all (there may have been a few phrases that I double checked on Google Translate just to make sure I was getting them correct!). The method is really just a case of making a batter, adding some grated potato and cooking them like a pancake so very simple to do. I found my batter was a little runny however and ended up adding a little extra flour to the mixture which helped a lot.
I found the trick to making sure the potato gets cooked through is to make sure that it is spread evenly across the pancake. To start with I was finding that I would get a big lump of shaved potato in the middle of the pan and then a halo of plain batter around the edges. The middle would be very thick and a little crunchy. By spreading it out a little more, it gives a more even consistency and a softer pancake.
The pancakes are so yummy! I served them with crispy bacon and a bit of lingonberry jam and both went beautifully. They are not a sweet pancake and I could see this being served as either a hearty breakfast or a simple winter’s lunch.
I decided that eggs would make a great accompaniment to the pancake as well so decided to try Quail’s eggs with dill. The problem was that quails eggs were hard to find and I found myself on a very tight budget this week. The recipe stated that you could make the recipe with hen’s eggs instead so I decided to go down that route. We had some smaller sized eggs in the fridge already so that seemed like the most logical option.
This is a super simple recipe to make and very similar to devilled eggs. Instead of using curry however, finely chopped dill, mayonnaise and celery salt is mixed into the boiled yolk before being spooned back into the egg white. It’s a very delicate flavour – super fresh and very moreish. I could happily munch on these alone but they did also go very well with the raggmunk.
Next on the menu was a French bean salad with horseradish as I decided I wanted to add a bit more vegetable content to the dish. I really like beans and horseradish and was intrigued about how they would come together to make up a salad.
Again, the method is quite simple – quickly boil the beans then refresh them in ice cold water. Once they are cold, pat them dry and mix them in a vinaigrette type dressing made from horseradish mustard (I used horseradish cream which you can easily pick up from the supermarket), lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, spring onion, and olive oil. Add chopped parsley and you’re done!
The horseradish brings a heat to the salad which almost makes it feel like you’re eating a cooked dish, thought the beans remain crispy and the lemon and parsley give it a fresh taste. I was worried that the horseradish would overpower the taste of everything else but it’s beautifully balanced. This is a really unique and flavoursome salad that I would most definitely make again. It would go really well with a number of meats and would quite probably suit as a side dish to fish as well.
Last, but certainly not least on my list are stuffed cabbage rolls. It was only about mid way through making this dish that I had a flashback and I’m pretty sure that I have actually tried making these before! It’s been quite some time though and something about this recipe really appealed to me.
The recipe does offer a vegetarian option of this dish but I decided to make the traditional meat version which is a stuffing made up of pork and beef mince, onion, egg, fresh thyme, cooked rice and seasoning. You wrap these in lightly blanched cabbage leaves and put into an oven proof dish, topping with butter and golden syrup and cooking in a moderate oven for 40 minutes.
These rolls are so delicious! They come out slightly browned and with a lovely sweet jus. I served mine with a basic gravy and lingonberries and they went perfectly with the wintery flavours. Often when I’m making these recipes, I halve the quantities, but these freeze well so I made the lot so that I can continue eating these for quite some time. Best decision ever!
Overall, I was so pleased with the end result of this meal. The foods were hearty but fresh and all were super tasty. I’d make any of these again in a heartbeat so in other words, a great success!!
And now, onto our next challenge…..