Saturday, October 09, 2010

Leif Erickson Day Meal

What a happy coincidence that our family's Scandinavian Saturday should occur on Leif Erikson Day this year!  Faithful Reader, did you celebrate the occasion with Nordic songs, folk dances, crafts, literature, fine art, and food?  I'm sure that you did.  As for us, the extent of our celebration was eating our weekly ethnic meal.  It was Abigail's turn to be my helper this week; but because she was otherwise occupied all day long (remember?), I made everything by myself.  It turned out to be quite the tasty meal, thanks to recipes that I adapted from Trina Hahnemann and Astrid Karlsen Scott.

Want to know what everything here is and see photos of dessert?  Well, then, you know what to do! 

We essentially had a hearty supper of roast chicken and vegetables, potatoes, bread and cheese, and apples. However, nothing was quite that straightforward with this meal!

kylling og grønnsaker med pepperrotkrem saus ["chicken and vegetables with horseradish cream sauce"]

The recipe called for me to boil a chicken in a pot of water, but that sounded so boring that I decided instead to roast a whole chicken in the oven.  I seasoned it inside and out with pepper and seasoned salt and stuffed sprigs of thyme beneath the skin and inside the cavity.  While the chicken was in the oven, I sliced artichoke hearts and a fennel bulb and sautéed them in butter.  Then I sprinkled in flour to thicken the chicken stock that I added thereafter.  Then I stirred in grated horseradish, heavy cream, salt, and pepper, bringing the sauce to a boil before reducing it to simmer and thicken.  When the chicken came out of the oven, I burned my fingers pulling the meat off the bones so that I could add it to the sauce.  I chopped the fennel fronds and lots of parsley to stir into the sauce just before serving.

The chicken was tender and moist, the vegetables were firm but cooked through, and the sauce was a relatively mild mix of interesting flavors: I could taste the thyme from the chicken, the pungent horseradish, and the anise flavor of the fennel all working together in the creamy sauce.

potet suppe med bacon og gressløk ["potato soup with bacon and chives"]

I peeled and roughly chopped a few pounds of potatoes and put them in a stock pot with sliced leeks, garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, and whole peppercorns.  I added the recipe's recommended amount of water, but it didn't cover the potatoes--so I added chicken stock the rest of the way.  After I brought it to a boil, I let it simmer while I made bacon on a roaster pan in the oven.  When the vegetables were cooked, I used the immersion blender to purée the soup and then added heavy cream.  When I dished up the soup, I crumbled the bacon into the center of the bowl, sprinkled on chopped chives, and artfully added a crispy bacon strip for decoration.

The soup was a big hit with everyone.  It was thick and smooth and savory and super-peppery, and the smoky saltiness of bacon is always a great match for potatoes.

ristet brød med ost ["toast with cheese"]

Remember The Bread Lady?  She makes something called Venetian bread that has a swirl of garlic, basil, and olive oil right in the center of the loaf.  It was delicious toasted, buttered, sprinkled with garlic salt, and served with Danish fontina cheese.

 eplekake med iskrem ["apple cake with ice cream"]

I made a dough of flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  I spread part of it in the bottom of a pan, topped it with sliced apples and fresh lemon juice, and put the remainder of the dough on the top.  After it was done baking and had cooled slightly, I frosted it with a mixture of powdered sugar, crème de cacao, and rum (I know, right?!).

Okay, first of all, Schwan's vanilla ice cream is heavenly.  Second, I could have eaten the dough before it made its way into the oven--it was just that sweet and vanilla-y.  Third, baked with tart apples into it, the dough was all the more wonderful and comforting.  And finally, that frosting packed a punch and was a surprising contrast to the mild flavors of apple and vanilla white dough.  We really enjoyed it.

Best of all: there are leftovers of everything, so we can continue to celebrate Leif Erikson Day tomorrow when we enjoy this menu for a second time at noon after church.


  1. Yummy! Dessert first is my vote...but the anise flavoring wouldn't sit well with me. The rest sounds delightful!

  2. Just to be clear, there was no anise flavoring in the dessert, so you'd be safe starting with that. And the anise flavoring from the fennel was pretty mild in the sauce on the chicken, but you could pull the chicken out of the sauce and eat it alone if need be. Or just eat what you're served, little miss!