Norwegian Meatballs

Don’t even be thinking I got the name wrong.  How many times have I said I was Norwegian?  How many times have I said I was Swedish?  So, what kind of meatballs do you think I make?  Exactly.  I had a bit of an epiphany the other day.  I was reading about Sean Brock, one of the best Southern chefs.  I kind of have a crush on him; he’s all that and more.  I was getting ready to order his book when I thought, Why?  My family is not from the South.  None of my family emigrated to the South.  The few times I was in the South it made me nervous, so WHY?

So, back to the epiphany.  Why am I studying the South when I’ve got my own heritage to study.  So, here we go, it’s time to go Nordic.  Before the libraries were closed, I’d checked out a few books to explore.   The New Nordic:  Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen and Sweet Paul Eat and Make were my favorites and I ordered both.  Remember my rule:  Check it out twice before ordering so I don’t have buyers remorse.  So, let’s make Norwegian Meatballs.

2 pounds ground meat

2 cloves minced garlic

2 eggs

1 cup grated Parmesan (this is my non-Norwegian addition)

1 ½ tablespoons chopped parsley (I had no parsley, bummer)

S & P

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

Olive oil if you’re frying

½ cup panko

Combine meat with garlic, parsley, cheese, eggs, S&P.

Blend in panko.

Slowly add water, ½ cup at a time.  The mixture should be very moist but hold its shape.  I use it all.

Form into meatballs.  And the easiest way to do that is to form the meatball mixture into a rectangle and cut it into squares.  You will get the exact number of meatballs you need and they will all be of equal size.  (I know, and you thought I was just another pretty face.)

Fry in olive oil or bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning after 10 or 15 minutes.

Next is the Brown Gravy.

2 1/2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons flour

2 to 3 tablespoons butter

S & P to taste

Make a roux of the butter and flour.  Brown for a few minutes.  Slowly add the beef broth.  Allow to thicken.

I serve this with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes and of course, a spoonful of ligonberry jam.  If you’re feeling really Norwegian, go for mashed rutabagas or cauliflower.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The New Nordic is going to make you hungry for a trip to Norway.

Couple of notes:  I do not go to the store for 1 item.  Currently I can’t go to the store at all, so you’re right, that is raspberry jam not ligonberry jam.  I had no beef broth, so I used au jus.  I didn’t love it, but I’m a firm believer in faking it.

and remember:   Oscar Wilde said it best:  Never love anyone who treats you like you are ordinary.   Big kiss, Lynn

Norwegian Seed Crackers

I think I may have OCD.  Once I get on topic, I can’t seem to shake it.  Currently, I’m totally committed to crackers.  I love, love, love crackers.  I always have and I always will.  Part of it is my deep love of soup and you have to have crackers if you have soup.

I’m also looking for things to cook with Gluten-free Girl.  She’s coming up this weekend and is always up for a new cooking experience.  Please don’t judge them until you taste them.  They are pretty good.  You simply can’t make everyone happy.

dry ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces pumpkin seeds (approximately 5/8 cup if you don’t have a scale)
  • 3 1/2 ounces sunflower seeds (5/8 cup)
  • 5 ounces sesame seeds (1 1/8 cups)  I used 50/50 black and regular sesame seeds.  This did affect the color of my crackers.  Next time, only a sprinkling of the black.
  • 5 ounces flax seed (1 1/8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 ounces chia seed (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ounce or 6 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

wet ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  •  a smidgen less than 1/2 cup oil (I use grape seed oil, without flavor)

Directions

Mix all the dry stuff and stir it together.

Mix the wet stuff and stir it all together.

Let it rest for half an hour until it becomes a solid dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Put the dough onto a piece of baking paper. Add another piece of baking paper on top.

Flatten the dough with a baking roll or the like.

Put the dough on a baking pan while still inside the baking two papers.

Remove the top piece of baking paper.

Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes 350 degrees.  If the dough is not completely baked after 30 minutes, turn it over and remove the baking paper to make it easier for the steam to escape. The paper might stick a bit.

Take it out of the oven, remove the baking paper and allow it to cool. I use a cooling rack. If the paper sticks and is hard to remove, the crispbread is not fully baked.

Break it gently into bits the sizes you prefer.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Until you have tried the recipe a few times in your own oven, it’s a good idea to check the dough when it has gotten 20 minutes. It is so thin that it easily burns in the corners. For example, in my oven, I have to both turn the baking trays and switch the top and bottom trays after 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes.

Check out more Nordic Nut Breads at Kvalifood.com

and remember:  Pain makes you stronger; tears make you braver; a broken heart makes you wiser; and alcohol makes you not remember any of that crap.  Thank you alcohol.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Grandma Olson’s Bread Pudding

I do love bread pudding.  I know I’m constantly telling you how much I love sweets, but ultimately I’m not sure it’s true.  I love “sweetish”.  Not Swedish, but marginally sweet.  This is not a sweet dessert.  It’s more of a custard and you know how we Norwegians love custard.  I think my mom’s favorite pie was custard.  I’m not going that far, but I do love a good custard.

This is Grandma Olson’s bread pudding.  As you can see, it is totally unfancy.  With basically 6 ingredients, you can make this with ingredients on-hand.  I doubt if Grandma specifically called for an Italian boule, but it’s the closest thing I could find to the bread she would use.

The other thing you’ll notice is the lack of a sauce.  Grandma never made a sauce for the bread pudding when she served it.  So often you will see vanilla or rum sauce to serve alongside the pudding, but Grandma always served it with whip cream and a sprinkling of sugar.  Not whipped cream, but straight out of the milk jug cream.  She might froth is up with a fork, but truly this is a simple dessert.

3 cups cubed Italian boule, allowed to stale overnight in a bowl

2 cups granulated sugar

5 beaten eggs

2 cups whole milk or half and half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins soaked in bourbon for 10 minutes or so

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half in a bowl.  Pour over the cubed bread and let it sit for 10 minutes, so the bread can absorb the liquid.  Add the raisins.

Pour into the greased 8 x 8 inch pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set.

There’s not much to this recipe.  I’ve even fancied it up a bit from the way Grandma did it.  I do not remember her soaking the raisins.  I’d eat it right after it comes out of the oven.  You’ll like it; I promise.

*  from the Recipe Box:

A boule is basically a round, fairly dense loaf of white bread.  It is much thicker than a French loaf or baguette.

You’re on your own if you want a sauce, but they are all over the Internet.

and remember:  Tell the truth or someone will tell it for you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Valsa Kake

It’s time for another edition of white food.  Most Norwegian desserts are white.  There will be almond flavoring but rarely any other.  This one has a wee drizzle of chocolate, but I added it just to be fancy.

          

I love this recipe.  There is a pie crust-type base, a cream puff-type layer and then a glaze.  I’ve taken it to fancy parties, Kindergarten potlucks, work functions and more.  Everyone loves it.  I am noticing a trend though, none of my sweets are all that sweet.  I always tell everyone what an incredible sweet tooth I have and then I turn around and bring you recipes that aren’t very sweet.  There isn’t even any sugar in the main part of the recipe, it only comes later when you put a thin frosting layer on.

 

The one thing you are going to swear to is the cream layer in the center.  There is no cream layer.  I swear.  When the cream puff layer collapses it creates a creamy texture, but there is no cream.  I’ve actually had people call me a liar.  No cream.  Honest.

Crust strips:

Combine:  ½ cup butter cut into dice, 1 cup flour, 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Cut butter into flour.  Slowly add enough water to make a pie crust-like dough

Press two 3” x 12” strips on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Top Layer:

1 cup water

½ cup butter

½ teaspoon salt

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup flour all at once, stirring until it leaves the side of the pan.  Let cool a bit and the add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.

Spread this over the crust dough and bake approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Frost with a thin layer of powdered sugar frosting while still warm.

*   From the Recipe Box:

It is so indicative of all things Scandinavian.

Sprinkle with sliced almonds before baking if you lean that way.

Drizzle with melted chocolate when cool if you lean that way.

See those layers.

and remember:  I like the smell of earth, the touch of waves, the taste of berries, the sight of trees, the sound of laughter and the feeling of being fully alive.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

 

Lefse and the Norwegian love of white food

This is the very first entry of my very first blog.  I’ve been writing in journals forever.  They are a mixture of my daily routine, a monthly news round-up, the excitement of Christmas, trip plans and the occasional recipe.  I decided the recipes needed to be released and the perfect one to start with was lefse.  It brings us together and keeps us family.  I do have a theory about white food and Norwegians.  I think it’s the snow.  We love potatoes, bread, almond paste, pickled herring (well, that’s not true of us all), and on, and on.  Remind me soon and I’ll tell you the story of getting a bowl of rommegrot for my mom when she was sick.  So the recipe for lefse……

Once a year, the cousins get together at Paul and Linda’s house to make lefse.  We aim for the last Saturday of October.  It’s an incredible amount of work made fun by the company, the champagne and the nibbles.  Paul, Linda, Greg and I get together on the Thursday night before to cook and rice the potatoes.  We usually do about 40 pounds.  The potatoes need to be thoroughly cooled before we can proceed.  We start the process at 10 a.m.  Saturday morning.  Everyone brings a bottle of champagne, a nibble and an apron.  We roll until the potatoes are gone, usually making about 12 dozen pieces.  Everyone takes lefse home, but I don’t think anyone enjoys eating it more than Hillary.

Everyone must pass the lefse test before marrying into the family.

Lefse Recipe

6 cups riced potatoes

1 ¼ cups flour

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Place the riced potatoes into a large bowl.  Thoroughly rub the dry ingredients into the potatoes. Add the milk.  Combine.  Place dough on a well-floured pastry cloth and form into a log.  Cut into 16 slices.  Roll out into an approximately 12 to 14 inch circle.  Bake on lefse grill heated to max.  Flip once.  Cool between several layers of towels to allow it to cool as slowly as possible and avoid crisping up.  As it cools, fold in fourths and overlap edges to keep soft.  Freezes well with waxed paper between each slice.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Typically, we boil 30 to 40 pounds of potatoes.  A few years ago I had an epiphany and decided to try baking them to keep them dryer and fluffier.  Eureka!  It worked like a dream.  Millions of Norwegians are rolling in their graves.  We also quit ricing and started using the Kitchen Aid shredder.  Easy squeezy.  As a purist, I prefer the ricer but this gets the job done so fast.  Paul, Linda, Greg and I do potatoes on a Thursday so they are well chilled by Saturday, Lefse Day.

The key to properly made lefse lies in tradition.  You must have lots of Champagne, hors d’ouevres, and your favorite cousins to help.

One year, a friend of Chris’ asked to participate.  We don’t normally allow outsiders, but she was a fun friend.  We told her the rules:  bring Champagne, an apron and an hors d’ouevre and that’s all.  She arrives wearing this beautiful long, red wool coat and we’re all going WTF!  She looks around, asks if there are any guys here and then drops her coat.  All she’s wearing is an apron and she’s holding a bottle of Champagne.  What a hoot!  The amount of Champagne consumed is directly related to the quality of the lefse.  40 pounds of potatoes makes approximately 12 dozen pieces of lefse.

And remember:  From quiet homes and first beginnings out to undiscovered ends, there’s nothing worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends.  Big Kiss, Lynn