Saturday, March 28, 2009

Music, Theatre, and Fine Dining

Today was a busy day for Susan and the girls. It started with the girls' performing for a mini-recital at the home of Mrs. Vold, the girls' piano teacher. A few weeks ago, most of Mrs. Vold's piano students played in the annual piano festival, in which Abigail and Suzanna performed quite well (remember?). Mrs. Vold's youngest students, however, were not entered in the festival, and she wanted them to have a performance opportunity, too. So Hillary and the other new-this-year-to-piano-lessons students played their own memorized piano solos this morning, and a few of the older students (including Suzanna and Abigail) played their festival selections, too, to round out the event. According to our daughters, a highlight of the in-home recital was the serving of refreshments afterward (store-bought doughnuts and canned punch).

In the afternoon, Susan and the girls attended a children's theatre performance of Puss in Boots at the university. It was a production by the University Players, a student organization that presents a play for children nearly annually. Besides the inherent kid-friendliness of the play, it had the added appeal of featuring in the cast and crew many university students with whom our daughters had worked in Seussical last autumn. When they returned, I asked them about the play, which they enjoyed but about which they shared no significant details, instead opting to tell me stories about meeting with the cast and crew members afterward to get their signatures on the programs and to get hugs!

Suzanna was a particularly busy girl today because, in between these events, she joined me for grocery shopping and, later, for kitchen duty. Yes, tonight was her turn to help me prepare supper for Scandinavian Saturday (recall Hillary's and Abigail's turns). Here is what she and I served:

appetizer
red onion soup with Port and Jarlsberg

We sautéed lots of red onions in butter with bay leaves and fresh oregano before adding Port wine and chicken stock. We ladled it into stoneware ramekins, topped each with bread chunks and grated Jarlsberg cheese, placed them under the broiler until the cheese melted, and served them as the opener for our ethnic supper. Norway's version of baked French onion soup!

main course
juniper-spiced venison with brown goat cheese sauce
leeks with dill and coriander

The limited inventory of local grocery stores forced us to make some adjustments. The leeks, for example, were supposed to be fennel bulbs, but those were nowhere to be found in the produce aisles. So we sliced leeks and green onions and softened them in a frying pan with coriander before adding freshly squeezed orange juice and leaving it to simmer. After it had reduced, we plated it and served it with a vinaigrette of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and finely chopped fresh dill.

The meat dish called for juniper berries, but they must have been wherever the fresh fennel bulbs were, so I substituted . . . (wait for it) . . . gin! Yes, juniper is what flavors gin, so why not? My father-in-law and brother-in-law are hunters who keep our freezer well stocked, so Suzanna and I thawed a couple pounds of venison chops and covered them in a rub of crushed fennel seeds, salt, and ground pepper. The juniper berries were supposed to be part of the rub, too, so instead we marinated the rubbed venison in gin. Later we seared it in a skillet of butter, sliced it, and plated a couple chops per person.

We drizzled each chop with a sauce made of flour, butter, beef stock, sour cream, more gin, and melted gjetost, a Norwegian goat cheese that has the color of caramel and the consistency of fudge. We were supposed to add aquavit to it just before serving, but rather than drive to the liquor store to purchase a bottle in order to have two tablespoons for the sauce, I decided to skip it. In addition to the gjetost sauce atop the venison chops, we garnished each plate with a dollop of lingonberries.

dessert
baked apples with lingonberries

Suzanna retired to the living room to practice her piano lesson, so I made dessert (while Abigail and Hillary continued to wash and dry dishes--good helpers). I removed the top 3/4 of the core from each of five Golden Delicious apples. I removed the seeds from some vanilla beans and smeared them inside each hollowed-out apple, then dusted each with sugar, then stuffed each with lingonberries, and finally stuck an empty vanilla bean into each. While they baked, I got out the hand mixer and made some whipped cream with plenty of sugar and vanilla extract, and we enjoyed our baked apples blanketed by ample amounts of whipped cream! (And I do mean "blanketed.")

So, another busy day in the Moberg household, but especially for little Suzanna, who was a sleepy girl tonight. I'm a little drained myself . . . what am I going to serve for Scandinavian Saturday next week?! Suggestions gladly accepted.

2 comments:

  1. Everything was delicious again! Nicely done, Kevin & Suzanna!

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  2. Do you just wonder around the grocery store in search of anything that looks good, then come up with a recipe? hmm....

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