Princess cake + Norwegian cheese = Valhalla

I don’t know what possessed me to want to bake today. The weather in NY has been yucky all week, muggy, humid with oppressing heat intermingled with thunder and lightning and heavy rainstorms. Not exactly ideal conditions for baking. But … my love for geitost (also called “brunost” meaning “brown cheese”) won, and thus I wanted to create another recipe that involved this lovely cheese. If you are not already familiar with this unique, Norwegian cheese, please visit my previous post here, where I go more into detail about what it is and how it is made.

This cake offers multiple layers of flavors; a yeast dough flavored with cardamom, smeared with melted brown cheese, butter, sugar and maple syrup (what’s not to love??) and a home made rum cream. Fluffy, sinful and amazing… that must be the first three words that come to mind. Did I mention sinful? Cheese AND booze? Sign me up! I imagine this is what the big Viking Warriors who fought hard back in time and gave their lives, would want to eat once they arrived to their paradise, or Valhalla, as we call it in Norse mythology.

valhalla

“Valhalla” by Max Bruckner

Melting the brown cheese, heightens the buttery, tangy flavors already present in the cheese from the process of making it when caramelizing the whey, so the liquid becomes a sophisticated caramel sauce. You can also add a bit more liquid to the sauce (adding cream), making it slightly runnier, to drizzle over ice cream, or even this cake.

For those of you who don’t secretly eat gjetost plain by the slice (one of my bad habits), here is a recipe you can put to use if you are pressed for creative ideas of what to do with your hunk of cheese. When I tasted this cake out of the oven, I was truly brought back to Norway eating this yeasty dough… it was just so moist and flavorful.. reminding me of great mornings and afternoons at the bakery spending time with my friends over a cup of coffee and delicious baked goods. Believe me – you will be the star of the night (or day) if you serve this up to your family, friends, guests or neighbors… just be prepared to be asked for the recipe! Luckily, I will share it with you below…

PRINSESSEKAKE MED BRUNOSTFYLL (Princess Cake with Brown Cheese Filling)

120 g butter (1 stick)

1 cup low fat milk

1 packet rapid rising yeast (or 50 g fresh cake yeast)

2 eggs

70 g (2.5 oz) sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 lb (500g) all purpose flour

Gjetost/brown cheese filling:

75 grams (3 oz) shredded TINE gjetost

100 grams (3.5 oz) granulated sugar

60 g butter (1/2 stick)

1 tbsp maple syrup

brunostfilling1

brunostfilling2

*Rum Cream *recipe to follow

To make cake:

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the milk. Remove from heat, and add in the packet of yeast (make sure the mixture is not too hot – only about 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit).

In a stand mixer or by hand, whisk eggs, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the milk-yeast mixture. In a separate bowl , combine the flour and cardamom. Add in the flour mixture to the liquid and combine until you have a smooth dough. Let rise covered with plastic wrap in a warm spot for about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, make the gjetost filling. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot over low heat on the stove, stir until everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

Make the Rum Cream:

1 3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

150 g (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar

2 eggs

40 grams (1.5 oz) cornstarch

4 tbsp rum

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and cornstarch thoroughly together until no more lumps are showing.

In a sauce pot, add the milk, cream and sugar and bring nearly to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly pour in 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg-cornstarch mixture. Careful not to let the eggs scramble. Add the egg mixture back into the sauce pot and heat up slowly once again, constantly whisking until the mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Pour into a shallow bowl or sheet pan with edges, and place in fridge to cool.

Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 9-inch spring form cake pan with nonstick spray.

Once dough has risen, place onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half. Press the first half into the prepared cake pan.

princesscakehalfdough

Spread the gjetost filling on top along with half of the chilled, prepared rum cream.

princesscakefilling

Roll out the other half to a rectangle 20×30 cm (50 x 75 inches). Smear the other half of the rum cream onto the dough and roll into a tight sausage.

princesscakehalfdough2

Cut the rolls into 1 inch pieces, and place on top of the cake in the spring form cake, forming a circle.

princesscakebefoven

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for another 3o minutes.

Brush with some egg whites and bake in the bottom of the oven for about 30 minutes until golden.

princesscake2

princesscake

Rullekake; a perfect cake for any season

Rullekake is  one of the few Norwegian “classics” t that is not Norwegian at all.  More commonly known to English speaking readers as “Swiss Roll Cake” or “jelly roll”, its origins are unclear but is not from Switzerland as the name might imply.   In fact, it may only be the British who gave credit to the Swiss for this cake, as everywhere else in the world it goes by different names.  The cake most likely originated sometime in the 19th century in Central Europe.

I don’t see rullekake very often in Norway anymore.  Norwegians may recall it being served at their grandparents homes, or something they enjoyed as a teenager when all things sweet were devoured at high speed.   Perhaps the rullekake slowly disappeared along with people’s new habits of not eating desserts as much? I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s, my mother always used to end our dinners with a little sweet something, but then a period followed where people in general abandoned this tradition.   Today there is talk of a new “dessert generation” emerging in Norway with all the popular coffee shops popping up everywhere, and people’s sweet tooth have appeared yet again.  There is still hope for the rullekake!!

Endless varieties exist of this moist sponge cake.  Quick to make, light and delicious in any flavor, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular cake all over the world,  eagerly made all over Asia, Latin America, northern and southern Europe as well as right here in the U.S.
Here is a cool looking version made in Vietnam called where it is called Bánh bông lan cuốn:

vietnameserollcakeImage from dongtienbakery.com.vn

And here is a pretty one from Russia, where its name is Рулет:

russianrollcake

I like to make all my dishes with seasonal ingredients, because I feel there is a reason why certain fruits and vegetables grow at certain times of the year.  Obviously they are more flavorful in season and of superior quality in this window frame, but it also somehow doesn’t feel right to eat strawberries in December or have pumpkin pie in June.  Rullekake is a pastry that is easy to adjust according to the time of year by just switching out the filling, making this a perfect cake for any month of the year.

Strawberries are in full bloom now and at the height of their season, so any chance I get to make a recipe that includes these luscious berries, I jump on.  While strawberries and cream are a very common and classic combination and one I happen to love, I decided to fold in some of that tangy Norwegian Snøfrisk cheese to make the filling a little more interesting.   Adding some Scandinavian vanilla sugar,  the filling tastes almost like a cheesecake, but the consistency is looser and lighter and pairs perfectly with the sweet and crisp tasting strawberries.

rullekakeslice2

The key to a successful rullekake is to not make the sheet cake too thick, and not bake it too long – or else it will crack and break, leaving you unable to roll it together. This happened to me earlier this week. By no means am I claiming to be an expert at making this cake – as always, practice makes perfect! But if you end up with a less than stellar looking cake the first time around, I promise that if you follow this recipe, you will at the very least have a light, delicious tasting cake that will please you and your guests!

rullekakeslice1

You can use strawberry jam if you don’t have fresh berries, and also add in some chopped nuts for a nice texture.  Shaved chocolate on top also goes really well with strawberries .. use your imagination!  Lykke til! (Good luck!)

RULLEKAKE MED JORDBÆR  (Swiss Roll Cake with Strawberries)

4 eggs

120 g (4.25 oz) sugar

120g (4.25 oz) all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling:

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

40g  (1.5 oz) Snøfrisk cream cheese

1 basket fresh market strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

2 tbsp powdered sugar (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400F.  Spray and line a rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper.

Line a second sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle an even layer of sugar onto it. Reserve.

In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until light yellow, thick and frothy.  Combine the flour and baking powder, and sift. Fold in to egg-sugar mixture carefully using a spatula until no more streaks of flour are visible.   Pour the batter into the rimmed baking sheet and smear out evenly to a rectangle (the batter may not completely fill the baking sheet).

Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 7-8 minutes.  NOTE: It’s easy to over bake this, take it out after this time regardless of whether or not you think it’s done – it will be!! If the cake is too dry you won’t be able to roll it.

Remove the cake from the oven and lifting the parchment paper with the cake on it, carefully turn the top of the cake onto the baking sheet with the layer of sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper (which was the bottom, but now is on top). If you have problems removing it, it helps to brush with a little bit of water.   Cover the cake with a moist, large kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.  Let the cake cool completely (it will take no more than 30 min).  While you wait, prepare the filling.

To make filling:

Slice the strawberries and reserve.

Pour heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar into stand mixer /mix by hand or using a stand mixer, mix until whipped cream and make sure to taste so cream is appropriately flavored.   Spread the cream onto the cooled cake with a spatula, stopping an inch from the edge, to prevent it from spilling out when rolling it. Top with the sliced strawberries.

rullekakefyll

Carefully roll the cake together (start at the long end), using the parchment paper to tightly (but gently!) roll the cake together and make sure the seam is at the bottom.  Sift some confectioners sugar on top and decorate with additional sliced strawberries.

rullekake1

The cake can keep for about 3 days in fridge and also freezes well!

rullekake2

Sankthansaften – Norway’s Summer Solstice

While the international world hears of “Midsummer” celebrations in Sweden, Norwegians have a similar celebration on the same day referred to as “Sankthansaften”, also sometimes called “Jonsok”. This was thought to be the birthday of Johannes the Baptist. “Jon” comes from “Johannes” and the ending “ok” is a derivative of “Jonsvaka”, meaning the church would lie awake the night before, awaiting Jon’s birth.

The midsummer day has however most likely originated from pagan times and is one of our oldest customs, a celebration of when the summer sun turns. Decorations like birch branches and rowanberries, and branches of bird cherries were placed above each cow in the barn – the latter was said to avoid the trolls and any other supernatural powers from having any power over the cattle. People were also told to make sure nobody took their brooms!

sankthansheks

This night was riddled with superstition, as one story from the town of Selje explains:

“Women” who had outgrown their baby carriage, had to walk three times around a rock placed in the ground or walk barefeet on Santkhans, if they wanted to be able to bear children in the future.”

A lot of rules to follow, if you were to have a normal life, in other words! Another story goes, that during the midsummer night, one would find out who they would marry if they slept near a place that had an underground creek with running water, or placed Jonsok flowers on their pillow at night… Sankthansaften was also the best time to gather medicinal herbs, because at this time they were fully mature and were most effective.

Another tradition is the bonfire that is raised in many places across Norway and Denmark. The fire was central in the celebration of the turning of the sun, as it was seen to help life-giving forces, and a symbol of strengthening of the sun, in this critical turn of seasons. The bonfire was also a natural gathering spot, and the unity of people was in itself a strengthening tool when one would enter into a time with less sun and light. The fire was also protection against trolls, witches, and other evil spirits. Among these supernatural creatures, below is a photo of the “fossegrim” – which according to Norwegian folkore, lives near waterfalls or rivers, and is a very talented violin player. He is willing to teach people if they bring him a fenalår (cured mutton leg) stolen from the neighbor’s “stabbur” (outhouse) every Thursday for four weeks in a row. This has to be done very discreetly and in secret, otherwise the fossegrim will undress and dance naked in front of you. (I’m not making this up!)

fossegrim

Sometimes paper witch figures were thrown into the bonfire (and still are today, mostly in Denmark but also in Norway), a tradition that was brought in by German carpenters in the 1860s.

Today, children especially look forward to the bonfire and playing games around it, and young and old dance and party into the early morning hours. People barbecue or bring picnic baskets with everything from pickled herring to sandwiches, smoked salmon, potato salads and bread, paired with lots of beer and aquavit. Some celebrate by the beach or take their boat out on the ocean, while others choose to spend time in their cabins up by the mountains.

jonsokbal

In the old farming community, midsummer was a time to party, much like Christmas was during mid-winter. The plowing and sowing and other spring chores were done, everything that was supposed to be planted had been completed, and it was too early to start the harvest. During the Middle Ages the Church wanted to give the old celebratory days a Christian meaning, because they thought all of this superstition and celebratory drunkenness was highly immoral. So when Christmas Day was decided as Jesus’ birthday, his conception had to have been 9 months before, i.e. March 25th. The angels announced Jesus’ birthday when Johannes’ mother, Elisabeth, was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Appropriately, Johannes’ birthday would therefore be three months after, June 24th. This way, one could “christen” both Christmas and Jonsok. All the way until1770, Jonsok (or Sankthansaften) was considered a Church Celebration.

doyperenjohannes
These days, Sankthans is not related to anything religious and is just a day when people get together, celebrate summer, eat well and drink even better…

While many traditions have changed, some have not. Food is one that has remained the same in many places in the country. Rømmegrøt is a food that still is very popular to eat on this day, enjoyed with “spekemat” (cured meats) and flatbrød (flatbread). You can find a recipe for it in my previous post here.

Rømmekolle is another name for this dish, and in some areas of the country, this used to be served with freshly caught salmon.

rommekolle

Image from melk.no

One common theme for food on this day, is that the dishes are not complicated. Simple, easy to eat foods dominate here as many people are outside. I chose to include a recipe for “skagenrøre”, sometimes referred to as Skagen Toast, a creamy shellfish salad which is often topped on a piece of toast or served as a side. I think this is the ultimate Scandinavian food, and while its origins are from Sweden, “Skagen” is the name of a region and fishing port at the northern tip of Denmark. The dish was, according to a popular legend, invented by legendary Swedish epicure Tore Wretman while on a boat. Wretman began his cooking career in Stockholm in the 1930s. Participating in a regatta race in the very fancy Marstrand on the Swedish west coast, Wretman and his team did miserably and the entire crew were depressed and down afterwards. Wretman did what many chefs do during unsuccessful regatta races: created something tasty with ingredients he could find on the boat to cheer everyone up. He found some eggs, oil, dill and shrimp. A couple of minutes later he served the delicacy, which he named “Skagenrøre” after he looked out on the horizon and could see the tip of northern Denmark.

skagen

That was in 1957, and skagenrøre is now served everywhere in Norway as well. This dish really envelops Scandinavian food culture, which is why I found it suitable to post on midsummer, which is such a big Nordic celebration. Dill is a very important ingredient here… of course! 🙂

dill

SKAGENRØRE

1 lbs cooked shrimp (small)

1/2 pound crayfish (or crab)

1 1/2 cups sour cream

3 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp chives, chopped fine

3 tbsp dill, chopped fine

1/2 small red onion, diced fine

2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in a big bowl except the shrimp, crayfish and boiled eggs.

skagenbolle

Carefully mix in the shrimp, crayfish and finally add in the chopped egg at the end.

Season with salt and pepper and additional lemon juice until you get the taste you want. It should be bright, zesty and refreshing on the palate. You are now ready to toast some bread and top with your delicious skagenrøre! God midtsommer!!

skagentoast2

Celebrating Norwegian summer with a Snøfrisk parfait

What is parfait exactly? Parfait is one of those desserts that is most often either misunderstood or underutilized.  Parfait is defined as a) a dessert made with cream, eggs, sugar and flavoring frozen together and served in a tall glass or b) a dessert made of several layers of different flavors of ice cream or ices, variously garnished and served in a tall glass.

We also see yogurt with granola and fruit being labeled as “parfait” as a lighter alternative to the ice cream version.  I have always loved parfait, so when I received some Snøfrisk containers from my friends over at Jarlsberg USA I instantly had the urge to make some using this wonderful product.

snøfrisk

Snøfrisk is a Norwegian white, unripened spreadable cream cheese that is made with 80% goat’s milk and 20% cow’s cream. Mild in flavor, but still with a delicious tangy taste, it is suitable  in everything from desserts to savory foods such as sauces and dips. The cheese is especially great when spread on our popular flatbread “lefse” along with smoked salmon or charcuterie, and rolled up.  The cheese was launched during the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, and has been very popular both in Norway and abroad ever since.

With midsummer approaching and days getting warmer, I felt like making a seasonal dessert that would go along with the lighter meals we tend to it this time of year.  Norwegians love their strawberries, as we have the tastiest berries in the world, and many agree with me! Super flavorful and very pretty to look at, what could be better than macerating some fresh berries I picked up at the market with a little lemon juice and sugar to use as a sauce to spoon over the parfait? I almost felt bad slicing into these beauties:

strawberries

Norwegian strawberry farmers produce around 9,000 tons of strawberries yearly and half of this is sold to farmer’s markets and farms. The season in Norway is from May until August and the reason the berries are particularly tasty in this part of the world is the dry sun it gets during the day,  which helps ripen the berries, coupled with the cool nights which  preserves the acidity.  The days do not get too hot and ensures a long ripening period, helping the berries to mature properly and develop great depth of flavor.  When I say Norway may have the world’s best strawberries, I invite you to try for yourself when you’re there to prove that I’m right!

On to our dessert…. this is so simple even a 2-year old could make it. You don’t even need an ice cream machine and it takes about 2 minutes to put together, and about 2 hours to freeze it.  By pulling the parfait out of the freezer about 15 minutes or so before serving,  it ensures a creamy texture without any of the crystal formations often seen in other home made ice creams and sorbets.    My husband was skeptical at best when I served him his portion last night, as he is not a fan of desserts, but don’t you know he asked for a second serving shortly thereafter?  The Snøfrisk adds a really nice, refreshing tanginess to the parfait, coupled with the sweet berries spooned over it.    This light dessert will not make you feel weighted down after dinner; quite the opposite; I felt rejuvenated and happy and ready to make this again later this week!

SNØFRISK PARFAIT WITH MACERATED STRAWBERRIES

Serves about 4

75 grams (2 1/2 oz) Snøfrisk cheese

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)

3 tbsp granulated sugar

Whisk the heavy cream lightly with the granulated sugar, and fold in the Snøfrisk cheese. Add the lemon juice and vanilla sugar/extract. Taste the mixture to make sure it’s right – adjust with more sugar/lemon juice if necessary.  Pour into a bowl and place in freezer for at least 2-3 hours.  Remove from freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the parfait to slightly soften before scooping.  Serve in tall glass with fresh strawberries (or berries of your choice).   Now this is the taste of a Norwegian summer!

parfait1

MACERATED STRAWBERRIES

1 container fresh strawberries (preferably from your local farmer market)

Juice from 1 lemon

about 1/2 cup sugar

Clean the strawberries and slice them thin – place in a bowl with lemon juice and sugar, and stir for a minute or so. Let sit for about 30 min-1 hour before serving.   So simple and beats any pre-packaged sauce by a million times!!

 

parfait2

Stranda bakelse; a local Norwegian fjord pastry you never heard of

Stranda bakelse is a very unique cookie from my region of the country, Sunnmøre, more specifically, my neighboring town of Stranda.  The name literally means “baked item from Stranda” and is extremely hard to find outside of this area.  All the more important to keep the tradition alive, and I really wanted to devote a post to this particular delicacy.  Here is a photo of the little picturesque village of Stranda, also home of one of the most gorgeous ski resorts in the country:

stranda

While the very classic Stranda bakelse cookie is traditionally eaten for Christmas and select other special occasions such as weddings and confirmations in Norwegian households, I see no reason to not bake this all year around.  Especially during summer, when we typically crave lighter desserts,  the Stranda bakelse could be your perfect choice.  Delightfully light and crisp in texture,  with a slightly sweet flavor, this very thin pastry makes for a wonderful sweet snack, either plain or, as in my house and more correctly, cut in half,  spread with a layer of local butter and folded and cut again.   So simple, but incredibly special.   Alternatively, eat it with a side of lightly whipped cream with fresh, seasonal berries.  My mouth is watering already!

Standard ingredients in the stranda bakelse batter include eggs, flour, sour cream, sugar and heavy cream.  We Vikings do love our dairy, yes!  Probably because dairy was such a luxury in the past, we make up for it today by going overboard and adding it wherever we can.  Can you blame us?  Dairy products in Norway tastes ten times better than anywhere else in the world, and I’ve traveled to quite a few places…

As with any recipe, the proportions and ingredients vary from family to family,  based on their experiences making this cookie.  Somewhat similar to the krumkake,  the stranda bakelse is much thinner and crispier, although not as buttery. Unlike the krumkake, the Stranda bakelse does not get rolled into a cone, but stays flat and can keep for longer.

strandabakelse1

Many have proudly kept old irons with the two-sided ornate patterns, used in the making of  Stranda bakelse by their parents and grandparents, along with the family recipes and stories that accompany them.  The oldest iron I learned about that is still in existence, is from 1733. While older irons were used over a live flame or heat from the stove top, more modern irons are electric with non stick surfaces and even come with a timer and the ability to cook multiple cookies at a time.  As the romantic I am, I much prefer the older version, because of its authenticity and it also requires a certain technique and skill.

strandabakelseiron

Jon Bratli, a lifetime Stranda resident, has been making Stranda bakelse irons  by hand according to the old school method since 1985.  Today he is 80 years old, and has made 164 irons in total since he started, all with personalized  numbers branded into the irons before they are delivered.  In an exchange this spring, he told me he has shipped several irons over to the U.S. to customers who have requested them, even as wedding presents. The pattern he uses is over 100 years old.   If you are interested in ordering one of these extremely unique and rare irons, Jon’s contact details are at the bottom of this post. Here he is at work:

jonbratli

strandabakelse2

Below is Jon’s recipe for Stranda bakelse. I can’t think of a more appropriate recipe to post than from the man himself; this fantastic craftsman who has dedicated his retirement to making these old irons with so much local history.  If you want to try the recipe out without the special Stranda bakelse iron, you could try it on your krumkake iron (more readily available for purchase in the U.S.) , but I will definitely recommend you get in touch with Jon to get this rare gadget before it disappears completely from the market.  I can’t see people making these by hand much longer…   A true gem in the Norwegian culinary history!

STRANDA BAKELSE

Adapted from Jon Bratli’s Facebook page “Stranda Bakelse”

1 1/4 cup full fat sour cream

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (60 grams) sugar

1 egg

1 quart + 1/2 cup water

800 grams (3 1/3 cups or 1 lb 12 oz) all purpose flour

Combine the sugar and the water, and whisk in the egg.  In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream until almost soft peaks, and combine in the sugar-water-egg mixture.  Add in the sour cream, whisk until combined and add in the flour last.   Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour before baking.

You are now ready to bake your stranda bakelse. You will need an electric stove top about 17cm in diameter (7 inches). Sometimes there is a small circle in the middle of the stove top, if so, place a nickle in the middle (large enough to fill the hole) to avoid the stranda bakelse to form a lighter ring in the middle.

When the iron is heated through, place a small scoop of batter in the center. There is no need to spray /coat/ brush the iron with additional grease because the batter contains enough fat to easily release the cookie after it is baked.  Carefully close the top of the iron, and with either paper towels or a regular towel in your hand, press down on different parts of the iron to make sure it is cooking evenly.  Turn the iron so that the stranda bakelse cooks evenly on both sides.

The heat is not to be too high, you have to go through a few trial and error sessions to see what level is best for you iron (differs according to iron, stove top, etc).  Here, the “practice makes perfect” saying really comes into place. Sometimes batter will ooze out on the sides of the iron, cut this off either with a potato peeler or thin knife.   When the stranda bakelse is done, remove it carefully from the iron, and place onto a flat surface.  Place a flat object (not too heavy but heavy enough, like a dish/platter or wooden board) on top of the stack of stranda bakelse as you continue baking, to keep them flat/ prevent them from curling.

Store the stranda bakelse in a tight cookie box, you may place a plate on top of them inside the cookie box as well. These will keep for a couple of weeks at least if not longer!  Below is a photo of my mother’s stranda bakelse she made for my niece’s confirmation last month when I visited. As you can see, the pattern is different than Jon’s, and this is the beauty of these unique cookies.

strandabakelse

All photos in this post as well as the below recipe borrowed with permission from Jon Bratli. Visit his Facebook page or contact him at +47 70 26 15 80, or email @flybillett.no.

A strudel recipe rich in flavor

I can’t think of any other food product as authentically Norwegian as brunost (“brown cheese”), or gjestost   (goat cheese). This unique cheese goes by both names and is made from goat or cow milk or a combination of both.  More correctly, I should say it is actually more like fudge than cheese, as it is caramelized whey leftover from cheese making, that is pressed into a cube to look like and be consumed as cheese.  Gjetost is the symbol of Norwegian food culture.  In a previous post I explained all about this cheese and its history, if you haven’t read it I strongly encourage you to do so by clicking here.  I mentioned there that when showing this cheese to Americans or any other foreigners, upon first glance they would mistake it for either caramel or nougat, dulce de leche, toffee or some sort of chocolate.  I guess it can look like that when cut like this:

geitost

Geitost truly is an incredible product, packed with layers of flavors that gets the mind working the minute it hits your lips.  While most people use it as a topping on pieces of bread or crackers (for breakfast or lunch), on waffles or in savory foods, it is less common to see it used in sweet dishes, like dessert.   This is a shame, because it has the ability to contribute a wonderful nutty, caramelized flavor with a lot of depth to dishes like pie, cakes, sweet rolls and even sauces to be poured over ice cream!

A few years ago I was so happy to see that Norseland started to import “Ekte Geitost” to the U.S.  Previously only Ski Queen was available in the U.S., and while that is also a wonderful product with a very similar flavor profile, I got a special “homecoming” feeling when I saw the Ekte Geitost in the stores.  This is how the packaging looks like:

ektegeitostEkte Geitost, means “Real goat cheese”, is made from 100% goat milk, and has an intense sweet, caramel flavor that turns tangy, and then finishes slightly salty.  It is incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way.   Ekte Geitost is perhaps the style of brunost with a taste that most resembles the way this cheese was made on the farms in Norway in the old days.  Slightly milder and rounder than other cheese, it is my clear favorite among the many types Tine makes today (and there are many!).  Here are a couple of others – snapped at a grocery store in Norway last month:

brunoster

brunoster2

I wanted to come up with a recipe to showcase how this cheese can be utilized in a dessert, and by trying out a few different recipes, I finally came up with a strudel type dessert.   A strudel is a layered pastry, originally from Hungary with a sweet filling (sometimes savory), which is often served with powdered sugar.   The dough used in Hungary and Austria is very elastic, and is not a puff pastry traditional in other countries. I made a simple butter dough, filled with tart and sweet apples mixed with some sugar and cinnamon, crushed almonds and shredded gjetost and baked in the oven…. what could go wrong here? Nothing!  Apples and cheese go well together in both pies and grilled cheese sandwiches, so why not add in gjetost? They came together so harmoniously you would think they were created for each other, I was really pleased with how this dessert came out!

strudel2

Try this out this weekend for Father’s Day if you can get a hold of this cheese in your town – a lot of American gourmet stores (and even regular grocery stores) carry the Ski Queen, and in larger cities also the “Ekte Geitost”. Either cheese would be just fine in the strudel.  I think you will make Dad happy with this one!

APPLE STRUDEL WITH GEITOST

Strudel Dough:

1 cup (250g) all purpose flour

1/2 stick (50g) unsalted butter, cubed

2 whole eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt

melted butter for brushing strudel dough

Filling:

4 large Gala/Jona Gold/Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

juice from 1 lemon to keep apples from browning

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

3 tbsp butter

2 tsp cinnamon

125 g (4 1/4 oz) or 1/2 cup shredded Ekte Geitost

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Combine all ingredients for strudel dough (including the salt) in a food processor and combine until it comes together. Dump onto a surface and knead into a disc, and let rest /chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F and  spray or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium low heat, add the butter, sugar and cinnamon and heat through until it melts and everything is combined.    Pour into a bowl and add the apples. Set aside.

Roll out the dough to a large, thin rectangle, about 14 x 20 inches, dusting with flour as needed so as to not tear the dough.  It’s important to get it thin enough but also thick enough so it won’t break when you fill it. Place the apple-nut mixture in a row in the middle (make sure it is not very liquidy, as that will assist in tearing the dough), and top with the shredded cheese.

strudeldough

strudeldough2

Fold /roll the dough over the filling and place onto the baking sheet.  Brush generously with melted butter and bake in the oven in the middle rack for 30-35 minutes until the top if golden brown.   Cool slightly and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Delicious when served with vanilla bean ice cream!

strudel

strudel3

You can purchase Ekte Geitost at Scandinavian Butik either online or visit them at 349 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Tel (203) 529-3244. They are open Mon-Sat from 10am-5pm, closed on Sundays.

The Jarlsburger; where Norway meets America

Having spent over two decades in the United States so far,  there are some classics I have come to love and appreciate in American cuisine.  With summer follows barbecue, and the hamburger comes first to mind.  With big hunks of Jarlsberg cheese in my fridge these days, I am constantly thinking of ways to blend the cultures of Norway and the United States that will please my readers from both nations.   Sure, I could make a fabulous grilled cheese, but many before me have done this and I wanted to do something different.   I will readily admit that my husband is definitely fonder of burgers than I am, but he has taught me how to make a proper,  juicy burger that has made even me an avid fan.  In a  previous post I explained that Norway has its own version of the hamburger, called “Karbonader” , but today I will include my more Americanized recipe for the burger itself.

Few argue with the statement that cheese makes everything better, and is there a more decadent cheese to use on a hamburger than Jarlsberg?  Rich and nutty with a texture that combines perfectly with the meat, it should be a required standard offering with other classics such as Swiss, American and Provolone when ordering a cheeseburger.

jarlsbergchunk

When designing my burger plate, I wanted to add more Norwegian touches to it.  I was looking for something acidic and refreshing to cut through the fat of the meat and the cheese, so naturally my mind went to pickled cucumbers and onions. My pickling liquid is awesome:  I use a 1-2-3 ratio (1 part sugar, 2 parts vinegar, 3 parts water)  and add a cinnamon stick, some cloves, all spice, star anise and some chopped fresh ginger.  Bring it all to a boil and turn off the heat and let steep for about 30 minutes before straining over your vegetables.

cucumberandonions

This time I added fresh stalks of dill into the jars with the cucumbers as well, which added another dimension of  that typical Scandinavian flavor.

dilledcucumbers

A second “secret” we have in the Nordic countries, is our very special mustard sauce.  Typically we fancy ours up, it simply won’t suffice to just slap the bun with mustard from a jar! The horror!! I will include my own recipe for  a heavenly mustard sauce in this post, as long as you promise to keep it to yourself.. 🙂  This adds another layer of flavor and honestly, makes the burger even more decadent.  Make a large batch and add it to your smoked salmon sandwiches, grilled cheese or as a condiment to charcuterie platters.  One of my secret ingredients in my my mustard sauce:

mustard seeds

Thirdly, instead of just throwing in a bag of potato chips with this meal, why not add some beet chips? And no, you don’t buy them, you MAKE them!!  Incredibly sweet and earthy when baked on low heat in the oven, they are also ten times healthier than regular chips and is a great way of using beets.

Lastly, do you think I would even dream of using store bought buns? Heavens, no! The Jarlsberg and the flavorful homemade burger deserves an equally delicious partner, so I have gone to the extra step of providing my amazing recipe for burger buns made from scratch. These are incredibly easy to make, and if you are going to go all out, you might as well add this to your to do list when making this recipe. You won’t regret it!!

Adding all of these steps, what do you get? A gorgeous, juicy cheeseburger with decadent Jarlsberg cheese in a fluffy, homemade bun, spread with a flavor packed Scandinavian special mustard sauce,  topped with refreshing, dill pickled cucumbers and onions, served with sweet and earthy baked beet chips. If you don’t love this, please check your pulse!

jarlsburgercomplete

Are you ready to cook??! Start here:

SUNNY’S SCANDINAVIAN MUSTARD SAUCE

5 egg yolks

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tbsp mustard power

1 large shallot (or 2 small)

3 tbsp warm water

1 tbsp garlic confit

2 cups grape seed oil

* 1 tbsp pickled mustard seed  *recipe to follow

Add egg,  mustard powder, water, shallots and garlic to a food processor.  Add in the oil in a slow stream while the motor is running. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of sugar. Add pickled mustard seeds. Cool and store.

I got the recipe for pickled mustard seeds in one of my favorite cookbooks, Momofuku,  co-authored by David Chang, the chef of the very popular restaurant of the same name here in NYC.

momfukubook

PICKLED MUSTARD SEEDS

Adapted from “Momofuku” by David Chang and Peter Meehan

Makes about 1 cup

1 cup yellow mustard seeds

1 1/2 cups water (more as needed)

1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp kosher salt

Combine the mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a very gentle simmer over low heat. Cook the mustard seeds, stirring often, until they are plump and tender, about 45 minutes.

Note: it is important to cook them this long and until plump, otherwise they get a bit too much of a bitter taste. If the seeds look to be drying out, add more water as needed to keep the seeds barely submerged. Cool and store in a covered container in the fridge.  Pickled mustard seeds will keep for months.

LIGHT AND FLUFFY HAMBURGER BUNS

Makes 8 large buns

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)

1 tsp salt

about 1 lb all purpose flour

1/2 stick (or 60 g/ 2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed small

sesame seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling buns

In a stand mixer with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients except the butter, and knead on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes.  Add in the cubed butter and continue kneading for another 5 minutes until you have a smooth, shiny dough that has released from the edges of the bowl and formed a ball.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down, roll out into a thick link and cut into pieces weighing about 4-5 oz each. Roll into balls and flatten slightly with the palm on your hand and place on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise again for about 45 minutes, while preheating the oven to 450F.

hamburgerbuns

Brush the top of the buns with a bit of egg white, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, place in oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden on top.

Next is beet chips – these are best the day they are eaten.  It may take a few tries before they turn perfect, but I think you will be happy you went to the trouble.

HOME MADE BAKED BEET CHIPS

Serves about 4

2 medium beets, washed and peeled

1 tbsp olive oil

salt for seasoning after baking

Preheat oven to 325F and position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.

Using a mandolin, slice the beets 1/16th inch thick and place them in a bowl, toss them with olive oil.

beetsinbowl

Place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and place another rimmed baking sheet on top. Repeat with a new set of baking sheet.

beetsonsheet

Place them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes covered with the baking sheet. After 20 minutes, remove the top sheet and continue baking for another 20 minutes uncovered. The beets should get lighter in color, make sure to monitor them throughout because each oven is different.  Remove from oven, and place on a rimmed rack and sprinkle with a little sea salt. The chips will crisp up as they cool.

beetchips

I would imagine the hamburgers you are about to cook may taste really good with a gamey meat like reindeer for the added Norwegian touch, or venison or elk if reindeer is not available. Keep in mind this is a much leaner meat and will easily dry out, so be mindful not to overcook if you choose this option.  For my recipe, I used ground beef and I chose to keep the seasoning fairly simple to not interfere with the toppings and sides.  I named it after my dog, Thor.  Here he is, guarding my cookbooks:

Thor

THOR’S THUNDER  BURGER

Makes 4 burgers

2 lbs ground beef  (or ground meat of your choice)

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground fennel

salt, pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl and shape into four 8 oz burgers. Let sit out for a few minutes before you put them on the grill or saute them.

hamburgerbunsraw

Saute /grill  over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, 5 minutes on each side for medium.  As I was in a hurry yesterday, I chose to saute them:

hamburgers

Once the hamburgers are cooked and have rested for about 5 minutes, you are ready to assemble your meal!

Slice the hamburger buns in half and spread them with your mustard sauce:

mustardsaucebuns

Place a couple of nice romaine lettuce leaves and a slice of beef steak tomato on the mustard spread buns:

tomatobun

And, most importantly top with the burger and add lots of Jarlsberg cheese!

jarlsbergslices

cheesebuns

Finally, top with some dill pickled cucumbers and onions and garnish with a dill sprig:

jarlsbergburger

Serve with your baked beet chips, and you are ready to eat a delicious burger that will hopefully taste like Norway mixed with America!

Jarlsburger

Picaccia ; a perfect Norwegian-Italian snack

What on earth is picaccia, you say?  My own creation that was invented on a Sunday afternoon, when I had next to nothing in my fridge except Jarlsberg cheese, milk and some herbs, combined with an insane craving for carbs.

I felt like having something hearty and naughty, but wasn’t in the mood to make anything complicated.    I say “naughty’ because I always associate bread and carbs with something bad, which it isn’t of course, but I suppose it’s my background in competing in bodybuilding shows that has made me think about this food group as something that should be consumed only on special occasions.

Besides Norwegian food, my other favorite cuisines are Mexican and Italian.  The former because my husband grew up with this food and taught me how to make simple, delicious dishes utilizing completely different ingredients than I grew up with and I love it, and the latter because I spent a year in Italy after high school and learned how to properly cook.  It was in Rome my obsession for food and wine began at the age of 18, and where my now 2,000+ cookbook collection started.  So why not make focaccia?  Easy but delicious and would definitely satisfy my desire for bread. The nice block of Jarlsberg cheese was staring at me from the fridge, begging to be a part of my meal.   I proceeded to make a focaccia dough,  and topped it with some caramelized onions (the only vegetable I had) , some leftover herbs and my beloved, shredded Jarlsberg. In the end, it came out more like a pizza – so I ended up calling it picaccia!

jarlsbergfocacciaslices6

 

This is not really part of my Jarlsberg series – more like a bonus recipe I wanted to offer in between so we can have another excuse to eat this gorgeous cheese… not that we need one!

The focaccia dough recipe is adapted from Beth Hensperger’s fabulous book “The Bread Bible” – a dangerous book to keep in your kitchen, because all you’ll want to do is make bread every day.    This recipe may be more Italian than Norwegian,  but while Italians have mozzarella, parmigiano and gorgonzola –  we Vikings have Jarlsberg and that is what makes this recipe!  The sweetness from the caramelized onions, combined with the rich, nutty flavor of Jarlsberg topped on a fluffy focaccia dough  makes this a truly special snack.   Who said Norwegian and Italian cuisine can’t be combined??!

jarlsbergfocacciaslices

PICACCIA a la Jarlsberg

Makes one 17 x 11 inch rectangular focaccia

1 tbsp (1 package) active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 cup hot water (120F)

1 cup hot milk (120F)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

olive oil for oiling bowl and brushing top of focaccia

Topping:

1 large Vidalia onion, peeled cut in half, and sliced thin

3-4 shallots, peeled, cut in half and sliced thin

1- 2 cups shredded Jarlsberg

2-3 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped  (thyme, oregano, or whatever you have on hand)

Maldon salt or sea salt for sprinkling on dough

Note: It’s important to use good olive oil here, as I feel it really adds depth and a special earthy flavor to the dough. I love Greek olive oil, in particular one I get at my local farmer market called Kountoulis  extra-virgin olive oil.   It is run by a Greek couple who live in Westchester (NY) but are from Kalamata, Greece ,where they have their olive farm. After I tasted their olive oil, I couldn’t go back to any brands at the super market.  Truly special!  As it’s very pungent you only need a few drops to achieve a wonderful flavor.

oliveoil

To make dough:

In a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, 2 cups of the flour, and the salt. Add the hot water, hot milk and the olive oil. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.  The dough will be sticky soft and oily.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, drizzle sides with a bit more olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Oil a 17 x 11 inch baking sheet. Turn the dough onto the baking sheet. Spread and gently pull the dough, flattening it to fit the entire baking sheet.  Let rest , uncovered for about 15-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F, with a baking stone on the bottom rack, if desired.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat – saute the onions and shallots with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and a dash of sugar. Saute for about 15 minutes or so until the onions are soft, brown and caramelized.

caramelizedonions

Brush the focaccia dough with some olive oil, sprinkle with some Maldon or sea salt, and top with the caramelized onions, Jarlsberg cheese and herbs.

jarlsbergfocacciabefoven

Place the focaccia sheet directly on the hot stone, if using, or on the lowest rack and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the oven thermostat to 350F and continue to bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, before loosening sides with a knife and slip the bread onto a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temp, eat as a snack with a salad or as side with your lunch or dinner! 🙂

jarlsbergfocaccia2

jarlsbergfocacciaslices4

 

A little Jarlsberg makes everything better

I am very happy to announce that I’ve formed a relationship with Jarlsberg USA and I’m excited to begin developing some recipes utilizing their awesome cheeses!!  I’ve been a fan of this cheese since I was a little girl in Norway, and am always happy to see it in stores here in the U.S.  In addition to the delightful Jarlsberg cheese,   I was also sent the most delicious brown cheese,  “Ekte Gjetost”, as well as the more commonly seen Ski Queen and the spreadable white goat cheese, Snøfrisk. The cheeses are distributed by Norseland Inc. who is the exclusive importer and sales and marketing agent of Jarlsberg in the U.S.

jarlsbergcheese2

If you’ve ever tasted Jarlsberg, you instantly notice there is something special about this cheese.  Its deep flavor, rich, buttery and round with a slight nuttiness, as well as the special consistency is the perfect choice for a grilled cheese, but there are so many other ways to utilize this tasty product. Try to add it to your cheese trays, topped on our popular Scandinavian open face sandwiches, in salads and on pizzas and in other hot dishes.  I’ve also cut the cheese in cubes and placed them in a glass jar with some good olive oil and herbs and garlic, which makes for a tasty snack alongside a nice crusty loaf of bread and of course a good glass of red wine… Jarlsberg pairs perfectly with wine, beer and aquavit – whatever your drink of choice, this cheese will do a great job as a pairing partner.

A semi-soft, part-skim cheese made from cow’s milk and aged for a minimum of one year,  Jarlsberg is characterized by its large round holes.  It has often been compared to the Swiss Emmentaler because of its appearance, but it is both sweeter and stronger (and dare I say better?).

jarlsbergcheese

Jarlsberg is one of the world’s most  famous cheeses, which is not a small feat  coming from such a small country as Norway.  The unique flavor of Jarlsberg was created as a result of a lengthy research task led by professor Ole Martin Ystgaard at  “Landbrukshøyskolen” (The Agricultural University) in Ås dating all the way back to 1957. To this day,  a secret ingredient has been said to be responsible for the very particular taste we find in Jarlsberg today.

Since 1957, over 900,000 tons of cheese has been produced, and every little grams is said to originate from this small bottle containing the secret ingredient. That is why the cheese has been called irreplaceable.

Jarlsberg began exporting its cheese slowly in 1961, and today it is being sold all over the world.  In the U.S., an impressive nine out of ten supermarkets carry Jarlsberg, and is the most sold and recognized cheese in its category in this country.

So with all this wonderful information, how does one even begin to develop a recipe that will best showcase this incredible product?  I had to limit it to three of my favorite foods I like to eat, and today I am going to start with an “ost og skinkepai” – literal translation is “cheese and ham pie” but most of you will most likely think of it as quiche.

jarlsbergcheeepiesliced

I remember my sister making this pie when I was a young kid, and I was mesmerized because it seemed so modern and exotic (my mom only made ultra traditional Norwegian food at home), but it still tasted very Norwegian.  The versatility of this dish also appeals to me;  perfect for lunch or dinner, or as a snack at any point of the day, and it tastes just as good cold as it does warm.  Satisfying, rich but still light – it’s a perfect choice when you want a meal that looks both simple and impressive.

jarlsbergcheesepie2

For my pie, I chose to add some caramelized shallots to the mixture, which I believe gives it that extra sweet flavor.

shallots

I decided to serve the pie with a mixed green salad, drizzled with a Norwegian inspired salad dressing.   I am not one to brag, but this turned out better than I had dared hope for, and I’m sneaking into the kitchen for leftovers as I write this!! I am hoping there will be a piece left for my husband when he gets home from work tonight… 🙂

jarlsbergpiehalfeaten

JARLSBERG PAI m/SKINKE OG SJALOTTER  (Jarlsberg Pie w/Ham and Shallots)

Serves 4-6

For the pie dough:

300g 10.5 oz all purpose flour

1 1/2 stick butter (about 185g)

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp ice cold water

For the pie filling:

300g/10.5 oz thick ham, diced /cubed

6 large shallots (or 9-10 small), peeled, halved and sliced thin

1 bunch scallions, cut the greenest tops off but utilize both white and some of the green, sliced thin OR

1 small leek, cleaned, halved and sliced thin

3 tbsp butter for sauteing

6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Make the pie dough:  Combine flour and salt in a food processor, pulse a few times to combine.  Pull the butter from the refrigerator (it has to be cold) and cut into 1/2 inch cubes and add on top of the flour.

piedough1

Pulse to combine a few times,  until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; the butter should not be larger than the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until a dough starts to form and you can see it can come together.

piedough2

Pour onto a work surface and knead into a disc (do not overwork it), cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for about 1 hour.   You can do this step up to two days before you make the pie.

piedough3

Preheat the oven to 400F.   Coat a pie pan with spray.

In the mean time, place the 3 tbsp of butter in a large saute skillet, add the onion and scallions and sprinkle with a little salt, saute for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the ham and saute for a few minutes and season with some cracked pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, crack the eggs, add the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg and add in the onion-ham mixture and Jarlsberg cheese. Combine and set aside to let flavors combine.

Pull the pie dough out of the fridge, dust work surface and rolling pin with a little flour and and roll out into a circle large enough to fit into your pie pan.  It may be a bit hard coming right out of fridge, so if need be, let it rest for 10 minutes or so until it becomes soft enough to handle (not too soft though!).  Push the dough into your pie pan, pushing the dough up against the edges, and covering the entire pie pan.

piedoughpan

Prickle the bottom with a fork, cover the pie with parchment paper or tin foil and place a bag of dried beans over it to prevent the pie dough from shrinking. Place in middle of oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Pull out of oven and remove the beans and tin foil/parchment paper.  Pour in the egg/ham/onion mixture.

Jarlsbergcheesepaibefoven

Reduce oven to 360 degrees and place pie in oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until set.   Enjoy warm or room temperature, and serve with a mixed green salad (recipe to follow).

Jarlsbergcheesepieslice

MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH SYNNØVE’s DRESSING  (that’s me – Synnøve:))

1 small head of Boston (butter) lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces

1 small container of mixed greens

2 large tomatoes, diced

1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

any other vegetables or ingredients you desire in a salad!

Dressing:

1 small container sour cream

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1-2 tbs chopped chives, thyme, oregano or herbs of your choice

sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and keep adding ingredients until you get the consistency you want for your dressing. It’s supposed to have a combination of sweet and tangy with a hint of salt. This is also delicious on poached salmon!

jarlsbergcheesepieslice1

Jarlsberg is made by TINE, the biggest dairy company in Norway. Its history goes all the way back to 1881, and today makes over 500 different products.  Norseland Inc. is owned by TINE and employs 29 people.  Regional sales offices are located in Montreal, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas and New York with the corporate office in Darien, Connecticut.

Kålruletter – a forgotten spring classic

Summer is on its way and the season in Norway is celebrated with a bit lighter, traditional pre-summer dinners.   Cabbage is in season in Norway from May through the end of June, and has always been an important vegetable for Norwegians. Hearty and able to tolerate a variety of temperatures, many people grow it in their backyards.  What better way to utilize this vegetable than by whipping up some kålruletter? An old classic, this consists of ground pork that is spooned into blanched cabbage leaves and sauteed (or steamed) in a pan.   Perhaps this is Norway’s answer to spring rolls?

kål

I would venture to say that kålruletter,  a simple (although somewhat time consuming to make) but flavorful and not to mention healthy, dish – is rarely prepared in Norwegian homes anymore. What a pity! But as you know, the goal of this blog is to bring back old classics, and perhaps put a new spin on it to make it more appealing to the newer generation.   Back in the 1950s and 1960s, this dish was however a classic in Norwegian homes, and it was almost a luxury to be able to get a hold of ground meat, especially so soon after the war (WWII).  The dish is said to have appeared in a cookbook as early as the 18th century, and that it arrived from Turkey via Sweden.

Another famous dish using cabbage is “fårikål” – a mutton and cabbage dish that is just boiled together in a large pot.  Very  simple but with a distinct, flavorful taste.  You can read more about fårikål and get a recipe in my previous blog post here.

Below is a fairly classic recipe for kålruletter but I have added some spices and my own touch to it.  Some newer recipes are adding more bold flavors into the meat mixture such as garlic, chili, other exotic spices,  which you can certainly do if you feel the dish needs a little kick.  Kåruletter has sometimes been described as not much to look at, as the colors do not exactly pop, but the flavor more than makes up for it.

Some people choose to add a tomato sauce instead of white gravy with this, which I think sounds like  a great idea too. Play around with it and let me know what you think!  Don’t forget to like me on Facebook for more tips, videos, photos and history surrounding Norway!

KÅLRULETTER

Serves 4

1 lb ground pork (you can also use beef, chicken or turkey)

2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch

about 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk

1 Vidalia onions, peeled, halved and diced small

2 tbsp for sauteing onion

16 large nice, fine and green cabbage leaves, picked and cut off the thickest part of the stem running down the middle  (Napa Cabbage works well too as the leaves are a bit more pliable)

about 1 quart water

salt for water

butter for sauteing

Make the ground meat mixture:

Saute the onions in a saute pan over medium heat with the 2 tbsp of butter and plenty of salt and a dash of sugar. They should be caramelized and browned, adjust heat and avoid stirring too much but don’t let them burn. It will take about 15 minutes or so.  Reserve.

Combine the ground pork with the sauteed onion, egg, salt, pepper, spices, parsley, cornstarch and cream/milk, either by hand or pulse in a food processor. Set aside in fridge while you blanch the cabbage leaves.

In a large pot over medium heat, pour in the quart of water and season with salt.   Reduce to a simmer and blanch the leaves for about 1 i minute until bright green, remove and place in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking.  Pat them dry with a paper towel,  place a spoonful of the meat mixture in the lower half of the leaf, and roll it up.  * Note: if you find it difficult to enclose the meat mixture in the cabbage leaf, you can use a small piece of butcher twine to tie the cabbage leaves with, or as some people do, enclose it further with a strip of bacon for additional flavor 🙂

kalruletterlagingkalruletterlaging2kalruletterlaging3kalruletterlaging4

Images from bama.no

With the seam down, place the kålruletter in a large saute pan over medium heat with some butter, and saute them on both sides. Place a lid on the pan to finish cooking.

kalruletter

Serve the kålruletter with boiled potatoes and carrots and white gravy (gravy is optional).

kalruletter2

Photo from Opplysningskontoret for egg og kjøtt/Morten Brun

White Gravy with Dill Recipe

2 cups milk

3 tbsp flour

3 tbsp butter

1-2 tbsp freshly chopped dill

salt, pepper, freshly ground nutmeg

In a small sauce pot over medium heat, pour in the milk and heat up until warm.Place the butter into a shallow sauce pan over medium heat, as soon as it has melted add in the flour and whisk until combined.   Gradually add in the warm milk,  while constantly whisking until smooth and a bit thick or until it has the consistency you want from the gravy (add more milk if it gets too thick).  Season with dill, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.

kalrulettermedhvitsaus

Image from frukt.no