Saturday, February 06, 2010

Boneless Birds That Once Moo-ed

The table is ready for our ethnic meal! The roses are the ones given to us by our friend Monica last Sunday (remember?). Near the roses is a covered plate of lefse made by the ladies at our church (thank you, refrigerator freezer, for storing our lefse so well).

Faithful Reader, it's time for another chapter in the continuing story of our family's Scandinavian Saturday suppers. Abigail was my helper today. While she and her sisters helped Mommy run errands this morning, I chose the recipes for tonight's meal (thanks again, Beatrice Ojakangas, for your useful cookbooks) and made a grocery list. This afternoon Abigail and I went shopping and then got to work immediately upon returning home. Good thing we did, too; it took us all afternoon to prepare the food, what with all the chopping and meat-flattening and stirring-continuously-until-it-comes-to-a-soft-boil and that sort of thing. Whew!

Once this afternoon, I relieved Abigail of stirring and chopping duties so that she could practice her piano lesson. Awhile later, I did the same so that she could practice her saxophone. Other than that, she worked steadily with me in the kitchen and was an excellent helper. Here's what we made:

Swedish svampsoppa ["mushroom soup"]

Abigail and I cleaned and sliced a pound of Portobello mushrooms and sautéed them in butter. We poured off the juices into beef broth and set it aside. We stirred salt, white pepper, and flour into the drained mushrooms and then slowly stirred in the broth, cooking it on high until the soup had thickened. Just at the end, we stirred in lemon juice, heavy cream, and sherry. It was quite a tasty start to our meal. We selected the Portobellos for their flavor (the best option of the fresh mushrooms available to us at the grocery store), and the soup had the distinct taste of mushrooms, which went well with the beefy base and the tang of the lemon and sherry. Relatively simple but delicious just the same.

Norwegian okserulader ["boneless beef," although this stuffed-and-rolled meat dish is called "boneless birds"--I don't know why]

Finnish perunalanttulaatikko ["rutabaga/potato casserole"]

For the vegetable dish, Abigail and I peeled and diced two pounds of rutabaga and half a pound of potatoes, cooking them together in water on the stove top. Then we drained and mashed them and used the electric mixer to whip into them these ingredients: some of the cooking liquid, flour, breadcrumbs, heavy cream, dark corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, salt, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and white pepper. We spooned the mixture into a baking dish, drizzled the top with melted butter, and baked it.

For the meat dish, we pounded thin several pieces of beef round steak and sprinkled each with salt and allspice. We topped each steak with chopped mushrooms, diced bacon, chopped fresh parsley, and diced onion. We rolled up each steak and used toothpicks to keep it closed (and its filling inside). We dredged the rolls in flour, sautéed them in butter, and transferred the browned steaks to a baking dish. We deglazed the frying pan with beef broth and then added heavy cream to thicken the liquid, which we then poured over the beef rolls before covering the baking dish and baking the "boneless birds" in the oven.

The vegetable casserole had nice flavor with all the seasonings and was definitely my favorite way (so far) of eating rutabaga. The beef was tender and went well with the rutabaga, but we could have used more salt and allspice and maybe a smokier bacon--it just wasn't as flavorful as I had been expecting. But the lefse made everything all better!

Finnish marja kiisseli ["berry kissel," a kissel being a dessert made of thickened fruit purée]

Making this dessert involved boiling blueberries in water, adding sugar, and thickening the mixture with cornstarch. Easy. Well, it was tedious to stir and stir and stir while waiting for the thickening to occur, but it wasn't complicated. Sadly, it also wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped. For desserts in the past, I have made berry sauces whose flavor I enhanced by adding lemon juice and vanilla extract; maybe we should have tried that with the marja kiisseli, too. The recipe suggested serving the marja kiisseli in a bowl with cream poured over it. Instead, Abigail and I started with bowls of Schwan's vanilla ice cream and used the blueberry pudding as a topping. Not bad at all!

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