Thursday, February 18, 2010


Oh, Norway. Looks like a picture you would see on a puzzle, doesn't it? With it's fjords and mountains, this Scandinavian country seems like an idyllic dreamland. It is quite the progressive country, as well. Not only was Norway second to recognize same-sex civil unions, but it was also the sixth country to give gay couples full marital rights. It is not a member of the EU, in fact, it has rejected EU status twice.

For our purposes, Norway meant one very important thing: fish. The Norwegians typically enjoy all types of fish including salmon, herring, codfish and trout. Luckily, our neighborhood is chock full of different canned, salted, smoked, dried, and fresh fish. We chose to go with salmon and herring for the first course. Below is a picture of our fish paste platter that greeted our guests:

Herring Spread

Our first fish based dish of the evening was this lovely spread that we ended up eating for days after. We paired it with some dill and garlic baby pickles, crackers and some homemade rye bread. While some may have been hesitant to eat our "fish paste", everyone eventually opened their minds and their palates and enjoyed.

1/2 pound canned salmon bones removed if any
1/2 pound smoked herring meat
1/2 pound farmers cheese
1/2 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 tbsp paprika
Cold water for thinning

1. Combine everything except the water in a food processor and begin processing.
2. With the motor running, pour in enough water slowly to thin the mixture to a smooth yet thick consistency.
3. Serve in a bowl with crackers, rye, and pickles.

Pickle Rye Bread

This was the first time we have ever attempted to make a rye bread, and not to toot my own horn, but it came out fantastic! You may be wondering about the word "pickle" in the name, well, there is pickle brine mixed in the dough. It adds a subtle sour note to the bread and pairs wonderfully with the fresh dill and caraway seed.

3.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups rye flour
1.5 tbsp dry yeast
3/4 cup hot water
1 cup pickle brine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg room temperature
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 tbsp dried
1 tbsp caraway seed
1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tbsp milk

1. Mix 2 cups all purpose flour with yeast, pickle brine, and hot water. Stir well until a batter is formed. (I'd recommend a mixer with a flat beater for the initial mixing, but with a lot of work all this mixing can be done with your hands and a wooden spoon.)
2. Add the butter, sugar, 1 egg, salt, dill, and caraway. Mix either 4 minutes by flat beater or 6 minutes by hand.
3. Add the rye flour to the mixture and mix to incorporate and add the white flour to the mixture gradually 1/2 cup at a time. This makes a crumbly dough so don't be too worried at this point.
4. Kneed the dough by hand or mixer for 10 minutes making sure to add a bit more water if it is to dry or a bit more flour if it is too sticky. The dough should be a fairly smooth and non-sticky ball at the end of this.
5. Roll the dough into a ball and let rest in the mixing bowl near a warm place for 30 minutes.
6. Gently press air from the dough and divide the mixture into two equal portions. Shape these portions into balls. Cover and let rest for a further hour in a warm place.
7. Preheat the oven to 375. Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife to give it an x shape on top. Brush the dough with the bread and milk mixture. Sprinkle extra caraway seeds onto the dough.
8. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until nicely browned. The bottom of the loaf should make a hollow sound when tapped to let you know it's done.
9. Let rest at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cauliflower Soup

This plain and simple soup is one of the better things you can do with an old head of cauliflower, in my opinion. However, if you do not like cauliflower you should probably avoid this dish, for obvious reasons.

1 large head cauliflower cut into florets.
2 quarts stock
1.5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the cauliflower in the stock for 40 minutes or until completely mushy. Remove and drain reserving the stock. Mash the cauliflower into a clumply consistency.
2. Melt the butter and flour in the sauce pan to make a smooth paste. Add the stock a little at a time and whisk to make a smooth sauce. When all stock is incorporated simmer this mixture for 15 minutes.
3. Allow the soup to cool for 20 minutes and mix in the egg and cream. Gently reheat being careful not to boil. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Herring Salad

I've got to be honest about this dish, I didn't care for it. I could not wrap my brain around biting into an apple, beet and piece of herring at the same time. It is something to try though, because if you end up liking this combination, it does end up being quite surprising. If I do recall, this was the dish that became the debate of the table. Some enjoyed it enough to have seconds and others were just as confused by all the different textures as I was.

5 fillets salt herring
2 cups diced pickled beets
2 cups boiled potatoes cubed
1 cup chopped apple
1 cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp mustard
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish.

1. Soak the herring fillets in water for 48 hours changing the water at least 3 times. Do this in a fridge (or in our case a very cold guest room)
2. Combine the herring with all the other ingredients making sure to drain everything thoroughly before mixing.
3. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Brine Cured Pork Loin


Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the first time we've had the pleasure of curing ham for this blog. This has long been a passion of Tom's and we are pleased to finally share this with you. I know this picture does not do it justice, but it was quite the tasty piggy.

5 lbs pork loin in one piece
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sea salt
2 tsp cardamon seeds
2 tsp carraway seeds
2 tsp pepper
Handful of fresh sage leaves or
2 tbsp pink salt (curing salt)
1 gallon water

1. Mix the water with everything but the pork and place over medium heat. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Allow to cool.
2. In a large non-metallic container add the brine and submerge the pork. Place in the fridge or other cool place for two days.
3. Soak the pork in fresh water for 30 minutes to remove excess salt and dry thoroughly.
4. Cook with a bit of beer for braising at 350 for 1 hour or until the meat is 150 degrees. Raise heat to 450 at the end with fatty side up to crisp the fat.
5. Serve with lingonberry sauce.

Lingonberry Sauce

1 lb lingonberries (we used frozen ones)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 tsp salt

1. Allow the berries to thaw and combine with everything in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Reduce the mixture to a thick syrup and taste for sugar.
3. Serve on top of the ham.

FAIL: Almond Cookies

Okay, I know that they don't look like it, but thanks to some crappy directions on how to make almond paste for these cookies, they did not turn out quite right. After having added cup after cup of flour and anything else that would bind this watery goo I had created, I neglected to put in the one thing that would actually make these cookies taste good: butter. I've told Tom this before but I feel like I need a tattoo on my arm to remind me that butter exists. The times that I've forgotten to grease a pan or put butter out to soften or add it for taste is immeasurable at this point. If you look back at this blog alone, you will see all my fails are due to lack of butter. Therefore, I refuse to even dignify my mistake this time with a recipe. I'm sorry for the failure.


During the dinner, we listened to some Norwegian hip-hop and country music that added to our herring and pickle eating experience. Despite my cookie blunder and the interesting flavor mix of the herring salad, I would say Norway was a success. I had the enjoyment of making my first rye bread and Tom, to his immense pleasure, got to prepare a ham for the meal.

Things we may have done differently:
-added butter to cookies
-made herring salad less sweet
-listened to the band Europe during the dinner (turns out 2 members were from Norway, not 1 like we thought--something to save for Sweden I suppose)

Next up is Equatorial Guinea! Until then, skal!

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