Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eating Like Norske Royalty

After a busy morning, I was on my own to make this week's Scandinavian Saturday supper.  (My helpers didn't abandon me, mind you; it was my turn to cook solo this week.)  I purposely selected recipes that I thought wouldn't be overly complicated and, thus, would be relatively quick for me to make alone.  Well, everything still took me a while, but I was able to make one thing at a time to decrease the stress of tending to several dishes simultaneously and trying to get them all to be ready at the same time.  I made the dessert in the morning, and late this afternoon I got the main dish ready and into the oven before preparing the salad.  Here's what I served:

hakket salat [chop salad] -- I didn't follow a recipe for this one.  I just thought that the main dish (see below) would be well balanced by some fresh veggies, so I decided to make a chop salad (made by chopping up all the salad ingredients), except that I chose not to chop the greens.  It had cucumber, green pepper, red pepper, celery, cherry tomato, arugula, and fresh dill, all tossed together and served with bleu cheese dressing.  It was a refreshing start to the meal.

torsk gryte ["cod casserole"] -- I figured that a hot dish would be pretty low-key: just prepare it, stick it in the oven, and wait.  I found several recipes for cod casseroles and took what I liked from each to make this recipe.  First I simmered cod fillets in freshly squeezed lemon juice, fish stock, white wine, coarse mustard, crushed garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Then I flaked the cooked cod and, in a baking dish, I layered sliced potatoes, onions, green pepper, red pepper, and the fish.  I poured the sauce over everything, covered the baking dish with foil, and baked it.  Once the vegetables were tender, I uncovered the dish and sprinkled a mixture of breadcrumbs, grated Romano cheese, and grated Gruyère cheese over the top.  I baked it uncovered for a few more minutes until the top was melty and crusty.

It was pretty tasty.  I didn't like that the sauce was so liquid-y; I'm thinking that it would have been better thickened with cream or cornstarch or both.  But it gave great flavor to all the ingredients.  The oregano, thyme, and cheeses made the hot dish much more interesting than some of the original recipes, which basically called for fish, vegetables, salt, and pepper.

fyrstekake ["first cake" or Norwegian royalty cake] -- This was my morning project.  I mixed together sugar, butter, an egg yolk, and milk.  I gradually added a mixture of flour, salt, and baking powder until a dough had been formed.  Then I kneaded the dough and spread 2/3 of it into the bottom of a spring form pan.  I ground a bunch of almonds and mixed them with powdered sugar, almond extract, cinnamon, an egg, and a little water and spread that mixture on top of the dough in the pan.  We had a couple Bosc pears on the counter that needed to be eaten, so I peeled and sliced them and tucked them into the almond layer of the cake.  I was supposed to take the remaining 1/3 of the dough and form a lattice pattern on top, but I chose to drop the dough in dollops all over the pears, which created an interesting design on top while it baked.

We ate slices of the cake with scoops of Schwan's vanilla ice cream.  It was really tasty.  The bottom and top layers were buttery with kind of a shortbread consistency.  The pears melted into the almond mixture to form a sweet and slightly gooey layer in the middle.  Although a Norwegian maybe wouldn't recognize it as a royalty cake with the addition of fruit in the middle, I think that many tasty variations could be made just by adding a different fruit to the ground almond layer each time.

Vær så god!

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