Saturday, September 25, 2010

All Hands on Deck for Scandinavian Cooking

Today was all about preparing Scandinavian food with our entire family involved in one project or another.  It was my turn to cook alone for our household's weekly Scandinavian Saturday supper.  Furthermore, we all helped to prepare for our Sons of Norway lodge's annual lutefisk supper, to be held tomorrow, by making lefse and treats to contribute to the dessert table for that meal.  And I've got lots of photos to share, so let's get started!

Faithful Reader, you may recall the lutefisk supper a couple years ago that got us involved in the Sons of Norway in the first place.  The lefse that is served at each supper is made the day or so before by lodge members, who gather in the foods classroom of the public high school to make lefse dough, roll it into rounds, fry the rounds on lefse griddles, and slice and package the rounds for the next day.  Today Susan and the girls joined other lodge members to help make the lefse!

Here is Abigail rolling out a round of lefse while Susan supervises.  The next step is frying the lefse round on the griddle to Abigail's left, resulting in a beautifully browned lefse round such as the one by Abigail's left hand.  The other lodge members in the photo are Barb (behind Susan), who was a convention delegate with me this past summer (remember?), and Monica (to Abigail's left), who is the girls' "in-town grandma."

Hillary takes a turn rolling a lefse round.

And here is Suzanna doing the same (with Barb in the background).

The dessert served at tomorrow's lutefisk supper will be a collection of Scandinavian baked goods provided by lodge members.  Each adult member is expected to take four dozen treats, so Susan and I split the task and each made some items.  She consulted my Scandinavian cookbooks and found a recipe for mandelflarn, which are thin, delicate almond cookies that she had to drape over a broom handle so they would take on a U shape as they cooled and hardened.  She also made several loaves of almond bread, which she sliced and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

To kill two birds with one stone, I myself chose a cookie recipe that would provide dessert for tonight's supper as well as leave plenty extra to bring to the lutefisk supper.  I did my menu planning and grocery shopping in the morning while Susan and the girls were making lefse.  After mowing the lawn (yes, it's still green and growing, even at the end of September), I made my cookies early in the afternoon and then made supper later in the afternoon while Susan joined me in the kitchen to do her own baking.  Good thing we don't mind bumping into one another once in a while!

The meal started with Skagen fiskesuppe ["fish soup"], a Danish recipe from Trina Hahnemann, who was inspired by Skagen, an area on the northern tip of Denmark.  I brought to a boil a mix of white wine, fish stock, freshly squeezed lemon juice, heavy cream, and several strands of saffron.  To that I added thinly sliced leeks and carrots, shrimp, and cubed fillets of salmon, pollack, and halibut.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and dill weed.  We all loved it!  It was "fishy" in the best sense of the word with flaky chunks of fish and tender shrimp in each bite.

Doesn't the main course look good, too?  These recipes are from Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson.  Read more below . . .

The main dish was hälleflundra med prosciutto, örter, och mörk öl sås ["prosciutto-wrapped herbed halibut in ale sauce"].  I browned shallots and garlic in olive oil and then caramelized them in honey before adding chicken stock, a cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods and simmering to reduce the liquid.  I strained the broth, added brown ale, and whisked in butter and sour cream to complete the sauce.  I chopped fresh cilantro and basil leaves and sprinkled them on fillets of halibut, which I then wrapped in paper-thin slices of prosciutto.  I seared each fillet in canola oil until the fish was done and the ham crispy.  The rich aroma of the sauce filled the kitchen, but it turned out to be a pleasantly mild addition to the fish, not overpowering it in the least.  The fresh herbs and salty prosciutto added great flavor, too, without detracting from the halibut.

As a side dish, I madmajs potatismos ["corn mashed potatoes"].  I scrubbed and cubed potatoes and simmered them in a combination of milk and heavy cream.  Then I removed them and mashed them, adding back just enough of the cooking liquid to give them the right consistency.  I also stirred in a mix of beaten egg yolks, olive oil, and fresh thyme leaves.  Finally I folded in steamed corn and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  Unadorned mashed potatoes are a great comfort food, but we enjoyed the distinctive thyme and sweet-and-juicy corn kernels in each mouthful of this version.

These are the cookies that I made both for tonight's dessert and for tomorrow's lutefisk supper: apelsin pepparkakor ["orange ginger cookies"].  I toasted ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom in a skillet before sifting the spices with flour, baking soda, salt, and white pepper.  I used the electric mixer to beat butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  To that I added eggs, molasses, and chopped candied orange peel.  I used a scoop to drop equal amounts of dough on the baking sheets, resulting in uniformly shaped cookies for the best impression at tomorrow's supper!  Sampling them after supper tonight, we all thought they were great.  The toasted spices, the white pepper, and the candied citrus give these cookies a real "kick" that is intense and delicious.  Susan and I had decaffeinated coffee with our dessert, and the girls had spiced apple cider.


  1. The girls are learning the ropes of making lefse....did they think it was fun?

  2. Sandy-- the girls had a blast! They would have happily done more lefse rolling. Suzanna mentioned that perhaps you'd like to bring all of your equipment home with you next time, and we could all make lefse together :-)

    Kevin -- the whole meal was delicious, and the leftovers were too. Thank you for another fantastic meal!