Tuesday, October 19, 2010


From my recipe searches, Swedish cuisine appears to be centered on meat, cookies, and sweet breads, with some potatoes thrown in for good measure. Wikipedia tells me that traditional Swedish cuisine includes local ingredients such as berries as well. I guess the latitude is a good reason for the lack of vegetables other than potatoes. There are also fish dishes such as pickled herring, but I'm definitely not adventurous enough to touch that yet. I am REALLY not adventurous enough to try Lutfisk, fish cured in lye. As one of my coworkers told me, friends don't let friends eat Lutfisk.

In case you needed proof that there's no particular order to these countries, I picked Sweden this past weekend because I read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last weekend and the bacon pancake sounded good. Unfortunately, I got to the bacon pancake after I'd left my parents' house outside Philadelphia - and the Ikea I drive past to get back to DC. Consequently, I was worried about finding lingonberry anything, especially after the red currant jam issues. And I definitely couldn't make Swedish food without lingonberry! So my plan was to try World Market first, then Harris Teeter and Whole Foods, and settle for the boysenberry I used for Austria if I couldn't find it. Luckily, World Market came through!

While I was traipsing all over NoVA, I decided to check out Penzey's Spices in Falls Church to pick up white pepper. Great decision! They had almost everything I could have wanted (no vanilla beans that I saw, but they did have vanilla sugar), and I'll definitely be heading back there. Everything was cheaper than the supermarket, there was way more variety, I could usually get smaller quantities, and I'm pretty sure the quality is higher. As a bonus, they have descriptions of many of the more exotic spices or varieties posted so you know what you're buying.

My parents have been making Swedish meatballs since I was little, but theirs are just basic meatballs in a simple beef gravy. I wanted to see what the real thing was like. The recipe I used had all this stuff like roll the meat carefully into balls, dip in flour, freeze so that they stay together better. I didn't want to deal with all of that, so I made little patties using spoons. They're not the most baller meatballs I've ever made, but they were also fast, and I fried them in so much butter that they were in no danger of sticking to the pan and coming apart. I also knew I wanted to make that bacon pancake, but the recipes I found were for a large souffle like the Salzburger Nockerl, and souffles do not make good leftovers. So I made a third of the recipe and baked it in two personal-sized ramekins until they were golden brown and delicious. It worked well, although the actual pancakes were a little eggy for my taste, and I didn't think the bacon flavor was as integrated as I wanted it to be. I was at a loss for a vegetable recipe - I'm trying to eat a little healthier, and potatoes do not count as vegetables. Finally I found a creamed mushroom recipe from Jamie Oliver Does Sweden. I don't know how authentic it was, but it worked. It was supposed to be made with chanterelles, which are allegedly common in Sweden, but I had shiitakes. The meatballs and mushrooms were really tasty, if incredibly fattening from all the sweet, sweet butter.

The first recipe I found that I decided I wanted to make was glogg, a mulled wine. This recipe was unique because it also included white rum and bourbon, and was supposed to be SET ON FIRE. Unfortunately, my landlords are not fans of temperature moderation, so between the blasting heat and slaving over the stove, oven, and skillet, I was just not in the mood to mull anything, much less set it on fire.

Swedish Meatballs

1 tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
7 oz ground beef
7 oz ground veal
4 oz ground pork (quantities are flexible)
3 tbsp dried bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 small potato, boiled and mashed
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 tbsp butter for frying


1 tbsp flour
2 tsp beef bouillon
salt and white pepper to taste
3/4 cup cream

Saute the onion in the butter until soft and yellow. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk. Combine all ingredients except 4 tbsp butter. Melt butter in nonstick skillet (I used my electric skillet set at ~300F). Scoop heaping tablespoons of meat mixture into butter and pat into shape. Fry until brown, then flip and fry until done. Set aside. Stir flour into the butter and juices left in the pan so that there are no lumps. Add the cream. Stir in the bouillon, salt, and pepper, and boil until thickened, a couple of minutes. Pour over meatballs and serve with lingonberry jam.

Meatballs before

Meatballs after

Creamed Mushrooms

2 tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
~2 cups of mushrooms (I used a package of sliced shiitakes. Original recipe calls for 350g chanterelles)
olive oil
salt and white pepper to taste
3 tbsp cream

Melt the butter in a pan (I used my 10" cast iron skillet). Add a drizzle of olive oil, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Stir frequently until onions are softened and mushrooms start to caramelize. Add the parsley and cream and cook until reduced. Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon juice to taste.

Bacon Pancake (for two)

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1/3 tsp salt

Bake the bacon at 375 in the ramekins until more or less done. Beat the eggs until foamy, then add the salt, milk, and flour, continuing to beat. Add the mixture to the hot ramekins and bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until pancakes are puffed up, golden brown, and delicious. Serve with lingonberry jam.

Puffed up, golden brown, and delicious
Lingonberry Jam

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