Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fruit for Every Course

This morning the girls had a piano performance at the home of their piano teacher, Mrs. Vold. Susan had helped to organize a scrapbooking weekend event at our church and had to be there today. So I took the girls to Mrs. Vold's house, in the basement of which she had set up rows of folding chairs facing her grand piano. Parents and grandparents were a friendly audience for the students, who took turns playing their songs and practicing the performance techniques that Mrs. Vold wants them to "have down" before they play for an actual recital or piano festival: how to approach the piano, adjust the bench, find the correct distance to sit from the keyboard, prepare mentally before touching the keys, and so on.

All the children--our girls included--did well. One of the students is Madeline, our neighbor and Hillary's best friend. Madeline's little brother Jack sat with me while his parents, our friends Chuck and Reba, sat behind us. At one point, Jack looked over at the table of punch and cookies that awaited us for the end of the performance, and he whispered, "What do you suppose that is for?" A little later, he tugged on my ear and whispered, "I'm getting a little bit bored now." All in all, he sat pretty well for a little guy not that interested in a piano recital and tempted by the presence of red fruit punch and store-bought cookies just a few feet away.

Before we left, we made plans for Madeline and Jack to come over to our house in the afternoon to play. Abigail was supposed to be my helper for Scandinavian Saturday supper tonight, but it seemed cruel to expect her to be upstairs in the kitchen while all the other children played together downstairs . . . so I cooked alone and told her to help me next weekend instead. I consulted a cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas and planned a menu featuring fruit in every course! Here's what I prepared for my family's dining pleasure:

Danish æblesuppe ["apple soup"]

Ojakangas writes, "In Denmark, apples are sometimes used as vegetables in soups and salads." This soup looks like it should be savory with its cheesy-looking color and thick, smooth, velvety consistency--but it's actually a mostly-sweet soup with spicy undertones. I peeled apples (two varieties) and simmered the peels for 30 minutes in water with whole cloves in it. I cored and sliced the apples and sprinkled them with lemon juice. I strained out the peels and cloves and added to the broth some white wine and the sliced apples, letting them simmer for a half-hour. Then I puréed the apples in a blender, adding cornstarch and curry powder during processing. I poured the mixture back into the pan and stirred in heavy cream, sugar, butter, and salt, stirring it as it thickened while boiling gently.

Danish sommer koteletter ["summer house pork chops"]

I served the pork with crudités and a dill sauce for dipping.

I browned pork loin chops in butter and set them aside. Then I added to that pan some tart apple slices, diced onion, salt, black pepper, sugar, and curry powder. I put the apple/onion mixture into a baking pan, arranged the browned chops on top, and baked them for 30 minutes. Then I stirred melted butter into dry breadcrumbs, sprinkled the mixture over the pork, and baked it for about 10 more minutes. The apples and curry made this dish a good match for the soup, and the pork was tender and flavorful with the unusual combination of apple and onion.

Norwegian krem ["grape pudding"]

It's not a perfect photo, but you can sense the bright scarlet color of the translucent pudding. Ojakangas writes that this dish is a "favorite of young and old" and is "light, refreshing, and simple to prepare." I'll have to take her word for it on the first part, but I can confirm the second part. I combined tapioca, grape juice, sugar, and salt and let it stand for 15 minutes. Afterwards I brought it to a boil and then reduced the heat to low, stirring the entire time until it became thick. I poured it into individual bowls and chilled it in the refrigerator until ready to serve dessert. (The white circle on top of the pudding is homemade whipped cream with plenty of sugar and vanilla extract.)

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed all of the dishes -- another successful meal!