Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just for the Halibut

Last night Suzanna had a belated birthday party (very belated!) at the bowling alley with a handful of friends, one of whom then stayed with us overnight. Abigail and Hillary each had birthday parties to attend, too, and ended up as overnight guests at different spots after their parties. By the time we got Hillary back at our house today, it was time for her and me to go grocery shopping for supper.

For tonight's Scandinavian Saturday supper, Hillary was my helper, and she spent the majority of her time in the kitchen grating cheese. Yep, that's pretty much it. I gave her a block of Jarlsberg to grate, and she grated and grated and grated . . . eventually pulling a stool over to rest her weary body as she continued to grate. While she grated, I chopped and stirred and fried and baked and cleaned and got everything ready for the cheese that she was grating (I needed only one cup, by the way). I did enlist her help in setting the table, though, and she was a great visitor while we worked together in the kitchen. Here's what we made:

løk pai med Jarlsberg og timian ["onion pie with Jarslberg and thyme"]

ovnens kokt kveite ["oven-cooked halibut"]

poteter med olivenolje og sitron ["potatoes with olive oil and lemon"]

The onion pie and lemon potato recipes came from Andreas Viestad's book Kitchen of Light, and the halibut recipe came from the bounty of the Interwebs. For the pie, I sliced red onions and sautéed them on low heat in butter with garlic, peppercorns, cloves, salt, and a bay leaf. I lined a baking dish with puff pastry and put the onions in it with some thyme and the grated Jarlsberg cheese (thank you, Hillary!) and baked it. The thyme and cloves gave an interesting flavor to the onions, which were tender but firm enough to be a little crunchy and juicy. And who can go wrong with crispy puff pastry and melted cheese in a savory pie?

The potato dish called for goose fat instead of olive oil, but not surprisingly that was nowhere to be found in the grocery store. I cut the potatoes into wedges, salted and peppered them, and fried them in the hot oil to give them a crisp surface on each flat side. Then I put them into a baking dish and nestled wedges of fresh lemon and crushed bay leaves in between the potatoes. Frying the raw potatoes briefly on high heat gave them a crunch on the outside that sealed in the moisture while they baked, making them tender and fluffy on the inside. And the lemon added a tart surprise to every bite of potato. I suspected that the bay leaf flavoring would go well with the salt and pepper and olive oil, but I was skeptical of the lemon--but lemme tell ya, it was terrific.

I cut a couple pounds of halibut into bite-sized pieces; coated them in flour; seasoned them with salt, pepper, and lemon-herb seasoning; fried them in butter until golden brown on the outside but not yet done inside; placed them into a baking dish; and sprinkled them with lemon juice. Then I deglazed the frying pan with chicken stock (the grocery store does not sell fish stock, and I bought boneless, skinless halibut so had nothing to use to make homemade fish stock) and turned it into a sauce by adding cream, sherry, and whisked egg yolks (that I tempered first). I poured the sauce over the fish and baked it. The sauce thickened nicely and finished cooking the fish so that it had a firm consistency something like a fast food chicken nugget. The lemon and sherry gave the sauce a great flavor--a wonderful way to prepare halibut (a fish expensive enough to deserve a great recipe).

Suzanna had leftover belated birthday cake (a brownie cake made with my mom's recipe for homemade chocolate frosting, similar to Abigail's last birthday cake), so we ate that for dessert instead of concocting something Scandinavian for that dish, too. All in all, it was another great culinary cultural experiment!


  1. Delicious on Saturday AND reheated for dinner on Sunday -- I love it when that happens! :-)