Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scandinavian Food and American Music

There was another performance last night in the concert series to which we hold season tickets (remember?)--more on that in a minute. But first: Abigail was my helper this week for Scandinavian Saturday supper.

Denmark: tomater med Danablu ["tomatoes with Danish bleu cheese"]

We hollowed out five firm tomatoes and stuffed them with this mixture: diced apple, diced radish, diced celery, diced pimiento-stuffed green olive, chopped fresh dill, crumbled bleu cheese, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce. We served it as an appetizer, and it was a big hit. I think it would go well with a grilled steak in the summertime, too.

The main course! Details to follow . . .

Norway: oksestek med poteter ["roast beef with potatoes"]

This was the easiest meat dish I have ever prepared for Scandinavian Saturday, and here's why: On Thursday Susan put a beef roast in the crockpot, but it wasn't done by suppertime; so she served something else instead, let the roast finish cooking, and later that evening transferred the tender, delicious, uneaten roast from the crockpot to a storage container that went straight into the refrigerator. So Abigail and I reheated the roast in its cooking juices (along with some leftover roasted potatoes in onion from another meal) in the oven for last night's supper, and it was moist and tender and absolutely delicious.

Finland: tilliherneet ["dilled green peas"]

We cooked frozen peas in the microwave, and on the stove we sautéed some scallions in butter. Into the peas went the scallions, chopped fresh dill, and chopped pimiento. Finally we sprinkled shredded Jarlsberg cheese over the top. It was not only fresh-tasting and delicious, but it was also a great burst of color for the plate (gotta please the eye as well as the tongue when serving a meal, don'tcha know).

Denmark: glaserede champignon ["glazed mushrooms"]

Abigail spent a good amount of time slicing a pound of crimini mushrooms for this dish. We heated salt, paprika, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, and chopped scallions in olive oil and then tossed in the mushrooms to sauté. We added dill and dried basil just before serving. This, too, would make an excellent side dish with grilled steak . . . and it certainly was a great accompaniment to the roast beef last night.

Norway: Trondhjem suppe ["Trondheim soup," a lemon-raisin soup]

For dessert, we brought water to boil and added rice and raisins ("fancy mixed raisins": flame raisins, Thompson raisins, and golden raisins) to simmer. Then we added the juice from a lemon, sugar, cream, salt, egg yolks, lemon extract, and vanilla extract. We let it sit for a long time until the raisins had plumped fully and they and the rice had absorbed the extra liquid, so the result was more a raisin pudding than a soup . . . but, oh, what a refreshing dish it was: slightly sweet, faintly lemony, creamy and rich, warm and comforting--really, really good.

Then it was off to the concert for us. The performer was Paul Asaro, a pianist specializing in stride and ragtime piano, adept at playing jazz, boogie woogie, blues, swing, stomps . . . everything and anything related to early 20th-century American piano styles. He was very impressive technically, running his fingers up and down the keyboards so adroitly and unbelievably quickly that I would have guessed only a player-piano could have managed that many notes that rapidly that precisely. He also has an easy-going, warm, mellow and inviting personality. Before playing a song, he would give a short explanation of the style that he was about to demonstrate and how it evolved from a previous style in this country. He told stories about the pianists who composed and made popular each song that he played. He even sang several of the songs, mimicking the singing style of the original performers. It was a great concert. Here's a sample of his playing:


  1. A great meal and a great concert!

  2. wow...great player on the black and white! I love this kind of piano music. Amazing how fast he goes back and forth from one end of the keyboard to the middle again....

  3. I just checked out YouTube and listened to another video. The one about Christopher Columbus. Very quick playing on this one as well....