A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scandinavian seafood koldtbord or smørgåsbord

The combination of Norwegian genes in our household and our experience with amazingly fresh seafood enjoyed during our trips to Norway occasionally result in a strong desire to try to replicate some of those cold and room-temperature aquatic platters. It’s never the same, though, not least because we aren’t consuming this food while outside on Aker Brygge in Oslo, watching sailboats and gazing across the bay at Akershus fortress where the World War Two Norwegian traitor, Vidkun Quisling, was executed after war’s end. Atmosphere can enhance the taste buds, as everyone knows.  - the atmosphere of the general scene, not the thought of Quisling and his richly deserved demise.
This set of recipes and offerings requires a small investment of time for preparation a day or two in advance, but the payoff comes with a leisurely meal later to the accompaniment of perhaps akvavit, the unofficial Scandinavian national beverage.
Smoked salmon with chive oil
The salmon is easy. Just purchase some, but with three qualifiers: Get cold-smoked,
also called lox as in bagels, cream cheese, and lox, not hot-smoked. Be sure it’s thinly sliced. Finally, do not get the cheapest you can find. 
The chive oil is made simply by putting a bunch of chives in a food processor or blender along with a half-cup or so of olive oil. Don’t just leave it there. Process it. Then pour the  chive oil into a sieve and press with the back of a soup spoon, leaving behind the chive pieces which you will discard. The result will be a very pretty green oil, which is then poured over the salmon slices on a serving platter.
Hard-cooked eggs with mustard and chive stuffing, pimientos on top
Hard-cook the eggs. (You don’t hard-”boil” the eggs, except during the first few seconds.) There are countless recommendations about how long to subject the eggs to heat, whether they should in fact be boiled or simmered or taken off the burner once they boil. Here’s mine, which has never failed to produce perfectly good eggs. Place eggs in a saucepan so they’re rather snug, which reduces the possibility of their bouncing around and damaging themselves. Cover with water and add about a tablespoon of salt which (allegedly) makes peeling easier. Put the top on the pan and heat to boiling. Don’t go to the store or to a movie while the eggs during this period of waiting. As soon as they begin to boil, turn off the heat but keep the pan on the burner. Wait 17 minutes, drain the hot water, run some cold water over the eggs to cool them enough for peeling, and then peel. Halve the eggs. Combine the yolks with mayonnaise, minced chives, Dijon mustard to your taste, salt and white pepper. Spoon the mixture into and on top of the white parts, decoratively if you like. Top with some minced pimiento. 

Thinly sliced cucumbers in vinegar, sugar, and dill 

That’s pretty much it. The “English” or “European” cucumbers are better than ordinary ones due to their lack of seeds, thin skin which needn’t be peeled, and superior taste. The ratio of vinegar (cider or rice vinegar) to sugar is a matter of taste. 
Smoked whitefish, leek, potato aspic
This is the only that takes some time, but not much. Buy smoked whitefish. Clean the leek and slice into thin slices. Boil some non-starchy potatoes (e.g., red) and thinly slice them. Now make a fish aspic by using a cup or so of clam juice and following the instructions on a package of gelatin to combine them. Use a small loaf pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray and layer each of the three ingredients, brushing a liberal amount of the clam gelatin between each layer and sprinkling salt and white pepper on each layer as well. Cover with plastic wrap and put a small weight on top. Leave overnight, unmold, and slice. A plain yoghurt sauce with minced chives would be a good accompaniment. 
Finnish rye with butter flavored with salt
I purchased this bread at the Finnish Bistro in St Paul. Use whatever kind of bread you like. Just make sure it’s good bread and that you use good butter. 
Smoked scallops and smoked trout
I smoked my own in a small smoker designed for use indoors on a cooktop. The brand name is Cameron [http://www.cameronsmoker.com] and it’s a good thing to have. In the absence of that, simply purchase smoked trout, which is widely available. Smoked scallops are, for some reason, not widely available. You could use a backyard grill with a cover. In both cases, I sprinkled on some salt and white pepper prior to smoking. I have to state emphatically that it does not take long to smoke any seafood, particularly scallops. Too long and you have hockey pucks. 
Smoked horseradish mayonnaise
Purchase some smoked horseradish and mix with some mayonnaise.
Place everything on a large platter in some reasonably appealing manner and scatter the capers about. As for the capers, salt-cured are better than brined but are not essential by any means.

No comments:

Post a Comment