potato and leek soup with smoked salmon
The thick, mild soup (potatoes and leeks cooked in cream and vegetable stock seasoned by bay leaves) was the perfect backdrop for the flakes of salty salmon. The girls gobbled this up before Susan and I were even halfway through our portions!
red cabbage braised with beets
coquilles St. Jacques
Coquilles St. Jacques is French for "shells of St. James" (you might appreciate this explanation). It's essentially a scallop casserole. It may be a French dish, but "seafood" is very Norwegian--so that's my justification for the casserole that we served in individual stoneware ramekins (the ones that Susan uses for baked French onion soup). We cooked scallops and onions in a broth of white wine, parsley, and lemon juice. Then we thickened the liquid with butter, flour, cream, and Gruyère cheese. We added crab, shrimp, and mushrooms; spooned the mixture into the ramekins; topped them with garlic bread crumbs; and popped them into the oven. The result was a creamy, cheesy seafood medley!
(Chefs say never to cook with a wine that you wouldn't drink--in other words, don't cut corners by buying something cheap for a recipe, because bad wine cooked into a dish makes the dish itself bad. I took that advice to heart and bought a bottle of a Riesling that Susan and I have had before and really like. She and I each enjoyed a glass with the meal, too.)
As a side dish, we chopped red cabbage and grated raw beets, braising them with browned onions in a mixture of water, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. The beets helped the cabbage maintain its bright red color. This dish is often served with pork in Norway, so it's a good thing that we're having pork chops for supper tomorrow night (yeah, we made a lot of cabbage and beets tonight).
Abigail and I bought a package of lefse (a soft flatbread made from potatoes) in the grocery store, and I had her butter, sugar, and roll each piece when we got home. I told her to use plenty of sugar, and she surely did as she was told! Sugar poured out the ends of the lefse onto the serving plate, and it crunched audibly between our teeth as we chewed. (It even covered the kitchen floor beneath the counter upon which Abigail had worked her magic.) I told Abigail that my mom would have liked the way Abigail prepares lefse!
riskrem ["rice cream"]
This traditional Norwegian dessert is similar to "glorified rice," a white-rice-and-whipped-cream dish popular in the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century and a staple of church potlucks and family get-togethers for Midwestern Lutherans even today. Glorified rice is easy to make, but some cooks still mess it up by undercooking the rice, using fake whipped cream ("whipped topping") instead of whipping real cream themselves, or adding wacky ingredients to the mix (marshmallows and pineapple are acceptable, but "fruit cocktail" is simply an abomination). Even good glorified rice cannot rise beyond its own limitations: whipped cream soon separates, and white rice rinsed of its cooking water does not give off enough starch to thicken the cream into which it is mixed. Thus, glorified rice becomes watery within a day, which isn't very appealing.
Not so riskrem--at least not ours! We used Arborio rice (the kind that makes Italian risotto such a naturally starchy/creamy dish) and cooked it with milk and salt in a double boiler for two hours. Then we added vanilla extract and sugar and chilled it. Then we made whipped cream (whipping and sweetening actual heavy cream ourselves, thank you very much) and stirred it into the rice. We served it with seedless raspberry sauce on top. Delicious!
(We broke from tradition by not hiding a whole almond in the riskrem. When that is done, whoever finds the almond gets a gift: a marzipan pig! Because we did not buy any marzipan--or make any ourselves--we skipped this part of the recipe.)
Next week Scandinavian Saturday will go on hold again; we'll be at a family reunion. However, it's a gathering of "Scandihoovians" (Hillary's new favorite word for our ancestors), so we're likely to encounter some Scandinavian cooking there anyway. Stay tuned!