Saturday, September 26, 2009

Scandinavian Food with Italian Wine

Having spent last weekend at my dad's, I haven't made a meal for Scandinavian Saturday for two weeks, so I was eager to get back at it today. Finding recipes for these weekly meals is a snap now that I have a new mentor in the kjøkken ["kitchen"]: Beatrice Ojakangas. I consulted her Scandinvian Cooking and found some recipes to try, made a shopping list, and sent my kitchen-helper-o'-the-week, Suzanna, to the grocery store to shop (well, she tagged along with Mommy, who had her own grocery list).

While they shopped, I mowed the lawn. Once they had returned and put away the groceries and I had cleaned up after the yard work, we all walked to campus for a free chili feed, part of the university's annual Family Days weekend. The weather was perfectly beautiful, the food was delicious, and we got to visit with some coworkers whom I don't get to see very often anymore. When we returned home, Suzanna and I got to work.

There is nothing remotely Scandinavian about chicken Marsala, whose name comes from the Italian wine used for the chicken's sauce. However, because we still had Marsala in the fridge, I decided to make this dish to make use of what was on hand. Suzanna and I flattened some chicken breasts, dredged them in seasoned flour, sautéed them, and set them aside. We sautéed fresh white mushrooms, added Marsala and the juice from a lemon, and let frozen asparagus spears simmer in the sauce as it reduced and thickened. We returned the chicken to the pan to reheat before serving it, and it was an attractive, tasty dish.

To go with the chicken, we made something Swedish called Janssons frestelse ["Jansson's temptation"], an anchovy and potato casserole. We sautéed onions and then filled a buttered casserole dish with layers of julienned raw potatoes, the onions, and tinned anchovy fillets. We added half-and-half and popped it in the oven to bake. The anchovy added a subtle saltiness--and fishiness--to what otherwise might have passed for scalloped potatoes (except for the julienne slice). It was a good match for the chicken Marsala.

While home on the farm last weekend, I picked up some jars of dill pickles that my mom had canned years ago, so Suzanna and I put together a pickle tray (of Mom's dill pickles and of canned black olives) to accompany the chicken and potatoes. Unfortunately, the glass tray of pickles sat in its plastic wrap inside the refrigerator throughout the meal, making an appearance only once we had all finished dessert and I went to the fridge to put away leftovers. So we shrugged our shoulders and had pickles for a post-dessert dessert! Because that's how we roll.

Suzanna and I made dessert early in the afternoon before starting either the potatoes or the chicken. We made a Finnish butter cookie dough and used it for a Danish cookie called raspberry ribbons. To make the pikkuleipienperustaikina ["basic dough biscuits"], we mixed together butter, sugar, egg, flour, vanilla extract, and salt. After the dough had spent a half-hour in the refrigerator, we rolled it into logs, pressed grooves into the length of each log, baked the logs partially, filled them with two kinds of raspberry jam, finished the baking, and then frosted the hindbærkager ["raspberry cake"] with a powdered sugar glaze before cutting them into one- or two-inch lengths. We sampled quite liberally as we transferred them from the pan to cool! For dessert we served them along with bowls of Schwan's vanilla ice cream. Wonderful!

The entire time that we worked side-by-side in the kjøkken today, Suzanna and I conversed, covering numerous topics and sharing many laughs throughout the day. That (in addition to teaching the girls about their cultural heritage and about how to cook) is a great reason to continue our family Scandinavian Saturday meals!

1 comment:

  1. It was fun to hear the bursts of laughter coming down the stairs all afternoon -- it sounded like the two of you were having lots of fun, and the results were delicious!