Saturday, May 28, 2011

Little Guests at the Scandinavian Supper Table

Faithful Reader, you must recall that I teased yesterday that we had some baby-related fun scheduled for today.  Well, Susan's cousin Todd and his wife arranged for us to babysit their kids overnight.  Trae (three years old) and Tatum (nine months old) arrived this afternoon and will get picked up in the morning.  Trae has spent the night with us before (remember this and this?), the second time getting to join us for a Scandinavian Saturday supper--just like tonight!  However, I chose a menu this time around that seemed more kid-friendly (well, to non-Moberg kids, that is--you just never know how adventurous others' kids will be), and Trae ate it all up!

Click on any photo to enlarge it for more tantalizing viewing.
To find out what everything is--and to see dessert--read on:

I tried a new recipe for Norwegian kjøtboller ["meatballs"] . . . well, actually, I combined some new recipes to create my own.  The meatballs contain ground beef, ground pork, buttermilk, dry bread crumbs, an egg yolk, minced onion, salt, pepper, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, minced capers, and dried dill weed.  After browning the meatballs, I set them aside and then sautéed fresh mushrooms in the pan drippings.  Then I added flour, butter, smoked paprika, beef stock, sour cream, salt, and pepper to make the gravy.  I put the meatballs in the gravy to simmer until cooked through.  They were very good!  The Dijon and capers added a new dimension to the meatballs' flavor, and the smoky paprika was a surprising twist to the gravy.

As an accompaniment, I made Swedish Hasselbackspotatis ["Hasselback potatoes"], named after Hasselbacken, the Swedish hotel whose restaurant first served them in the 1700s.  I peeled baking potatoes and sliced them not-quite-all-the-way-through ("accordian-style," as some food sites online describe it) before drizzling them with butter, seasoning them with salt and pepper, and baking them uncovered in the oven.  I redrizzled midway through and, five minutes before removing them, put a mound of grated Jarlsberg cheese and a sprinkle of paprika on each potato.  What a fun and relatively easy way to serve a baked potato!  Some Web sites show that one could tuck garlic cloves within the slices or sprinkle herbs atop the potatoes or leave the skins on the spuds.  I think we'll be having some version of Hasselbacks again sometime!

The other side dish was Norwegian erter og gulrøtter med dill ["peas and carrots with dill"].  I simmered frozen peas and sliced fresh carrots in water, but the star of the show was the sauce that I made separately and then poured over the vegetables.  It was a white sauce made from butter, flour, white wine, cream, dill weed, salt, and pepper.  After folding the veggies into the sauce, I garnished it with chopped scallions.  What a creamy, tasty way to serve vegetables!  The wine and the dill flavors were distinctive (white sauces are sometimes quite bland), making for a delicious compliment to the peas and carrots.

Dessert was an American favorite with a Norwegian twist: apple crumble served with kardemomme vanilje karamellsaus ["cardamom vanilla caramel sauce"].  I tossed green apple slices in the juice and zest from a lemon along with sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  I put that in a baking dish with melted butter and topped it with a crumble made from flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, and unsalted butter.  After it had baked, I drizzled it with the sauce, made by caramelizing sugar on the stovetop and then stirring in butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and ground cardamom.  Cardamom is a popular baking spice in Scandinavia, and it was a lovely addition to the sauce.  And when topped with a scoop of Schwan's vanilla ice cream, the dessert became something close to heavenly.

It was Hillary's turn to be my helper this week, and she did help with menu selection and grocery shopping.  However, with Suzanna gone until late tonight (remember?) and Abigail absent for several hours today to attend a friend's birthday party, Hillary was needed to entertain Trae and Tatum--so I prepared the meal on my own today.  Susan helped with cleanup, and afterward we chilled with our houseguests and then put them to sleep.  It's going to be an early morning . . . stay tuned for details!

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