At the top of the plate is a bowl of fresh pears and apples simply because the pears on the counter were ready to be eaten--nothing Scandinavian about it! The lefse at the upper left of the plate is from a batch that we bought a few weeks ago from the ladies at church. To the right is seibiff med karamelliserte løk, and at the bottom is stekt poteter med laurbærblad, pancetta, og sopp, both of which are described below.
We had started eating before we thought of photographic documentation of the gustatory experience, so Susan's plate (above) doesn't look quite as it did when first dished up. But at least you get a visual aid to go along with the descriptions:
seibiff med karamelliserte løk [seared pollock fillets with caramelized onions]-- Pollock is a fish so common and easy to catch in Norway that it was for years regarded with apathy until a Norwegian chef won a prestigious world cooking championship with a pollock dish ten years ago. Now, according to Mr. Viestad, Norwegians take pride in their traditional, rustic dishes featuring pollock, including this one. I caramelized the onions (but left out the sugar and cloves that the recipe called for, and we found the onions sweet enough on their own), dredged the fish in flour and salt and pepper, fried it, and served my family a platter of flaky, mild fish atop beautifully golden yellow onions.
stekt poteter med laurbærblad, pancetta, og sopp [pan-fried potatoes with bay leaves, pancetta, and mushrooms] -- Mr. Viestad writes that "potatoes have been a staple food in Norway for three centuries and the cornerstone of almost every traditional Norwegian meal." His modern Norwegian cuisine includes potatoes, too, with some updates. For this dish I diced and fried pancetta and then set it aside. I cubed some russet potatoes and fried them in the pancetta drippings with salt, pepper, and crushed bay leaves. Later I sliced and fried portobello mushrooms in olive oil and thyme and then tossed everything together: golden potatoes, juicy mushrooms, and crispy pancetta.
The girls drank milk with the meal, and Susan and I enjoyed some Zinfandel. For dessert we had Christmas cookies made by my colleague Suzanne.
grønne erter puré med asparges og scallions [green pea purée with asparagus and scallions] -- I boiled asparagus spears and scallions in salt water for just a few minutes before plunging them in cold water. Then I boiled peas in chicken stock and puréed them in a blender with some butter. I sautéed the asparagus and scallions in some butter to reheat them and then dished it up: the pea purée sprinkled with pistachios and drizzled with toasted sesame oil and topped with the sautéed vegetables. Simple flavors in an unusual combination. It went quite well with our leftovers: roast beef, baked sweet potato, and last night's mushroom/potato/pancetta dish.
It was Susan's turn to be my helper in the kjøkken, but she and the girls had rehearsal yesterday and this morning for this evening's Sunday school Christmas program (of which Susan, as Sunday school director, is in charge), so I worked alone and let her tend to more pressing items. Stay tuned for a debrief--coming soon!--on the Christmas program.