Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kevin's Kitchen

Well, each of our daughters has now had a turn helping me to prepare supper for Scandinavian Saturday (remember?), so last night was my turn to go it alone in the kitchen. I went grocery shopping in the afternoon and got right to work when I returned, preparing this meal for my family:

mango sardines

I mixed cream cheese with the juice of an orange and added small shrimp and chopped sugar snap peas. I diced a mango and chopped a tin's worth of Brisling sardines and gently folded both into the mixture. I topped the mixture with dried onion and ground black pepper and served it with wheat crackers.

Gotta tell ya, I won't be making it again. The notes from the chef who created the recipe say, "It looks surprising, but it tastes like the most natural thing in the world." Um, yeah, no. Perhaps with better ingredients--a mango that hadn't been picked super-early in order to survive shipment to central North America, shrimp and sardines freshly harvested from icy Norwegian waters, cream cheese made from goat's milk as recommended by the chef--the dip would have been more flavorful. Still, nobody complained, and in fact everybody had several helpings. Go figure.

main course
goulash soup
fresh asparagus and cucumber salad

I was surprised to find a recipe for goulash, an Eastern European dish, offered by a contemporary Norwegian chef; but it looked good, so I gave it a try--and it was a huge hit with the whole family. I improvised a bit, adding things not in the recipe, but the result was tasty. I sautéed a mix of diced vegetables--yellow onions, red bell pepper, potatoes, kohlrabi, and parsnip--with pressed garlic in canola oil and added celery salt, ground black papper, and salt. I browned some ground hamburger and ground pork seasoned with marjoram, cumin, and paprika and added the meat to the vegetables. I added tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and chicken stock and let it simmer for a couple hours. It became a deep orangy-red stew that I served topped with sour cream and more freshly ground pepper.

For the salad, I chopped asparagus, spring onions, and a cucumber into roughly equal-sized pieces and tossed them with olive oil, the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, and tarragon and let it chill for a good while in the refrigerator. The many shades of green looked especially appealing in the white serving bowl, and it was a delicious side dish: fresh, crunchy, tangy from the lemon juice, and bright from the taragon.


I remember my mom's telling me that one reason she always looked forward to attending the annual Norsk Høstfest in Minot, ND was the tasty rømmegrøt served there. I went to the Høstfest with my parents once and, of course, accompanied my mom to a food counter where rømmegrøt was being sold--and it was delicious. Rømmegrøt is a sour cream porridge: thick, creamy, and frankly bland (other than the rich dairy flavor) until sugar and cinnamon are liberally sprinkled on top. A little cup was just enough to serve as a treat in the middle of the day at the Høstfest. It is vaguely similar, I suppose, to custard or vanilla pudding.

The recipe that I used last night probably would have been better had I had access to fattier ingredients. It called for 35% fat sour cream and full-fat milk. Without ready access to a dairy farm, I had to go with what I could get in the dairy case at the grocery store, which resulted in a version of rømmegrøt decidedly less rich than I recollect from the Høstfest. In fact, one step in the recipe is to "simmer until the butterfat begins to leach out and skim off the fat." Yeah, there was nothing to skim off. And, therefore, I couldn't strictly follow the serving suggestion, either: "Serve with sugar, cinnamon, and the fat."

When I served the rømmegrøt, I told the girls to add plenty of sugar and cinnamon, but they underestimated the amount needed to sweeten the porridge, and we had to re-pass the sugar/cinnamon blend around the table. It was a creamy enough dessert; but once in the refrigerator, the leftovers hardened into a playdough-like substance (there's a lot of flour in it) that didn't seem so appealing when we pulled it out to reheat today. I may keep experimenting with this recipe, or I may just let it be a treat that draws our family to attend the Høstfest ourselves someday.

Okay, Faithful Reader, have you been wearing your thinking cap over the past several weeks? Do you have any suggestions for me of Scandinavian recipes that I might serve of a Saturday night? Please share!

1 comment:

  1. It was fun to play "guess the ingredients" -- we were challenged with the appetizer! I really enjoyed the salad -- it'll be yummy with grilled foods this summer. Keep up the good work! :-)