Category Archives: smörgås

Pickled Mustard Herring

KINDVALL-herring_updated

This year I will be celebrating midsummer here in NY. Midsummer is the day when Swedes like me celebrate the longest and brightest day of the year. We eat plenty of herring, new potatoes (that you buy freshly picked and dirty), aged cheese on “knäckebröd“, drink aquavit and sing songs. The dessert is always strawberries which are often eaten plain with just a little sugar and cream (either whipped or mixed with milk.) Some make creamy strawberry cakes while I serve mine with dark chocolate cake and whipped cream.

For practical reasons the midsummer holiday is always on the Friday closest to the actual summer solstice day which this year will be on Friday the 22nd of June.

The traditional herring you eat for midsummer is Matjes. It’s an excellent herring typically spiced with sugar, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Traditionally you eat this type of herring with sour cream topped with chopped chives and new potatoes & fresh dill. I love this meal so much that I keep eating it throughout the whole summer.

Other common flavors are mustard, onion, lemon or dill herring. More rare or rather unexpected flavors are tomato, garlic or curry herring (not my cup of tea though). You can find these different types at any supermarket in Sweden or more homemade styles in most Swedish fishmongers.

If you can get hold of fresh herring, the best experience is to cure and flavor herring yourself. This can be a tough task if you are outside Scandinavia. In New York City I have only seen fresh herring a couples of times. In the city it’s possible to find simple cured herring in vinegar. You don’t really need to do anything if you find this kind of herring but with just a few simple additions like mustard and dill you will raise this fish to another level (see below).

the cure
(if you can get hold of fresh fish otherwise skip this part)

  • about 1 lb filets of fresh herring*
  • ½ cup white vinegar (6%)**
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon salt

Rinse the herring in cold water. If you like you can skin the herring but I normally do that after the cure as it gets off easier then. Mix the white vinegar together with the salt and the sugar. When the sugar and salt are totally dissolved in the liquid add the water. Place the herring in a bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over. Set aside in the fridge for about 24 hours. Stir in between to make sure that all fillets gets properly cured. Its done when all fillets have become white in color.

Let the fillets drain properly in a strainer while you prepare the sauce. Remove the skin with your fingers or use a knife to peel it off. Cut the fillets with a scissor into bite size pieces.

mustard herring

  • about one lb cured herring(as above or get simple herring in vinegar. Only use the herring pieces, removing all liquid, onion, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons sweet mustard
  • one tablespoon dijon mustard
  • one tablespoon brown sugar
  • one teaspoon sherry vinegar (apple cider vinegar works as well)
  • 50 ml sunflower oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup dill
  • one shallot

for decoration
chopped chives

Mix together mustard, sherry vinegar and sugar. Add carefully the  oil drop by drop while stirring. Chop the shallot and dill finely and add it to the sauce. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Place the herring pieces into the sauce and stir carefully around so the sauce gets around the fish evenly. Let the fish rest for a couple of hours, preferably 24 hours but I can never wait that long. Before serving chop the chives into 1/4” pieces and sprinkle on top. Serve the herring with new potatoes or just on dark rye bread with sliced boiled eggs. Enjoy!

* It’s not impossible to fillet the fish yourself but you need some practice. This is one way: Cut off the head and tail. Open up the stomach with a small knife (or even your fingers) to take out the innards. Make it as clean as possible. Now comes the tricky part where you use your thumbs to loosen the backbones by pressing your thumb under it. When it starts to loosen grab the top of the backbone and pull it off. You now have both fillets connected together. Remove the fins with a scissor and rinse the fillet in cold water. You will get a hang of it after some practice. If you think this is too messy, just ask your fishmonger to do it for you.

** If you only find 5% white vinegar you should use a little less water.

Before buying any fish check with Seafood Watch for the most sustainable options.

Thei article was originally published at EcoSalon on 19 June 2012.

Two Different kinds of Pesto: Sorrel and Basil & Celery

Some may think it’s silly to grow your own sorrel when you have it growing wild just around the corner. As the cultivated sorrel has a slightly milder and nicer flavor I believe its a great idea to include this sour and lemony herb in a  garden plot.

Its best is to harvest the young light green leaves, as when the leaves gets older and larger (darker green) they get tough and unpleasantly sour. Sorrel can be cooked like spinach for soups and omelets or raw in salads and pesto (see below). I also think the sourness in this pesto works terrifically well with fish, poached or cured. Spread on cracker this sorrel pesto can be a simple and delicious appetizer.

Sorrel Pesto

about 2 cups of young sorrel leaves
2 garlic cloves
a handful of walnuts
fresh red chili to your own taste (I use about ½”- 1″ depending on hotness)
½ cup grated parmesan
olive oil
a few sprigs of parsley (optional)
season with: salt and pepper

Pick about 2 cups of very young Cultivated Sorrel leaves. Rinse the leaves in cold water and drain while you prepare the other ingredients. Chop the walnuts and the chili a little. Grate the Parmesan roughly.
When the sorrel is dry, run them in the food processor (or use a mortar and pestle). Add chopped garlic and run the machine a bit before adding chili, walnuts, (parsley) and parmesan. Drizzle some olive oil over. Blend the mixture carefully as it should have a crunchy texture. If necessary add some more olive oil. Season with salt and fresh pepper.

Note: Sorrel contains plenty of vitamins but the plant contains some oxalic acid which is not healthy if eaten too much (especially if your body easily creates kidney stones). I think to have sorrel on a few occasions over the summer can hardly harm you.

This spring I have seeded plenty of basil and they are now all growing on my window sill. They are doing well but are still too small to be harvested. If you don’t have the patience to seed basil you can of course buy a plant from the plant shop. You can also sometimes find small pots at the vegetable shop which work really well replanted in a larger and nicer pot. I use basil to spice up almost any vinaigrette and as a main herb when making hazelnut baked cauliflower. Why not try basil as a flavor in cocktails! I like it with cucumber in my favorite summer drink pimm’s cup. Even if it’s well known, I still think basil on fresh tomatoes and mozzarella is magical.

This basil pesto is made with the addition of celery stems (and leaves) that gives a nice grassy flavor. Instead of pine nuts I use walnuts (or roasted sunflower seeds). I use this basil pesto with spaghetti, as side to vegetable patties or on bread topped with tomatoes.

Basil & Celery Pesto

2 stems of celery
about 2 cups basil leaves
two cloves of garlic
handful walnuts (or sunflower seeds)
½ cup fresh grated parmesan
olive oil
salt and pepper

Rinse the basil leaves carefully under cold water. Set aside and let dry while preparing the other ingredients. Chop the celery and garlic into small pieces. If the celery comes with leaves I would add them to the pesto as well. Mix all ingredients in a blender, starting with the basil, garlic and some olive oil. Add the celery, walnuts and lastly the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add as much olive oil as you like. Use less if you like to spread the pesto on bread and more if serving with pasta.

Both of these pesto variations, when packed nicely in a jar, are a great summer present – especially when you have a place in your garden where sorrel or basil grows better than any flowers.

If you like to learn more about sorrel I suggest reading Sarah Smith’s article about sorrel at The Foodie Bugle and Clotilde Dusoulier’s 50 Things To Do With Fresh Sorrel post.

Over at Food52 you can follow Amy Penningtons City Dirt column on how to grow plants from seeds etc.

this article was originally published at Ecosalon

 

 

Cured Trout for Easter

It’s Easter again and I’m planning to treat myself and guests to some cured trout. To cure trout I use the same method and ratio as when I make traditional Scandinavian gravlax. The recipe below is plain and simple. Not much more is needed for this delicate treat, but if you want to try something different you can add other flavors. Ederflower, ginger, crushed juniper or a shot of aquavit work really well. The list is endless.

Besides salmon and trout you can use this same method to cure other types of fish. Mackerel is an excellent option, and Keiko over at food blog Nordljus cured a good looking seabass with a scent of licorice. As I love licorice, I decided to add some toasted fennel seeds to my cure this Easter, which I think will go really well with the mild trout flavor.

for the curing you will need

1 kilo (2 lb) trout fillet
1 teaspoon freshly milled white pepper
4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
bunch of dill

toasted whole fennel seeds (optional)

for decoration
fresh dill
lemon

Note: The trout should be frozen one or two days before you start the curing. The freezing will eliminate unnecessary bacteria.

It’s not hard to fillet your trout yourself. The benefit is that you can use the remaining parts (except for the guts) to make an excellent stock together with bay leaves, carrot, celery, onions, dills stalks, some herbs like thyme, salt and pepper.

If you still think this is too messy, ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you but remind them that the skin should be kept on.

When you have your fillets ready. Rinse them in some cold water and pull out, if there are any, remaining bones with a pair of pliers.

Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. Rub the fillet with some of the mixture and sprinkle the rest on top of the fillets. Wash the dill and chop finely. Put the fillets together, meat against meat with the chopped dill and (if you like) some toasted fennel seeds (slightly crushed) in between. Wrap the fish in a plastic foil. Let the fish cure in the fridge with something heavy on top for 48 hours. Turn them now and again.

After two days, unwrap and clean the fillets. Start to slice the trout at the end of the fish into thin diagonal slivers using a fillet knife (or any other suitable knife). Garnish with some dill branches and slices of lemon. They can be served on toast or dark bread. However this fish is sensational on a thin “knäckebröd” topped with a drip of Hovmästarsås. Enjoy!

Hovmästarsås
Stir together 3 tablespoons mustard, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar with plenty of chopped dill. Slowly start dripping in a little less than a 1/2 cup of olive oil into the mixture while stirring continuously (just like you make mayonnaise). If you add the oil too quickly the mixture can separate. The result should be a thick sauce. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Before buying any fish check with Seafood Watch (US) for the most sustainable options.

 

This article was originally published at Ecosalon, 5 April 2012

Duck Liver Starter

While the duck is baking I treat my friends with some spiced duck liver. Often there is not that much liver that comes with a duck, so you may have to add some extra if you like. Many food shops sell duck or chicken livers separately. This dish may be tiny but its definitively worth every bite.

a couple of duck livers (or chicken livers)
one small shallot
half a poblano
one teaspoon coriander seeds
one teaspoon cumin seeds
chili flakes
salt
one or two garlic cloves

lime juice
fresh cilantro

Chop the shallot and the poblano into tiny tiny pieces. Saute in plenty of butter on low heat until soft. In another pan, roast the cumin and coriander seeds on high heat until they start to pop. Remove from heat and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle to a semi fine powder. Chop the liver into very small pieces. Heat up a pan with some olive oil. When hot add the spices with some chili flakes. Let the spices merge with the olive oil before adding the liver. Sprinkle some salt over and stir constantly until the liver starts to get color. Squeeze some garlic cloves in and cook for just a little bit more. Take off the heat and add some freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with some bread. Enjoy!

A Toast of Trumpets

This summer many of my friends in Sweden bragged about the number of baskets of yellow chanterelles they carried home from the woods. I came home with none. But I smiled along and remembered last year, when I couldn’t carry home all the King Boleteus I stumbled over in the woods. I still have plenty left, dried in big glass jars in my pantry.

But, I got to pick other treasures such as Black Trumpets and Funnel Chanterelles which are both equally delicious.

(read the whole story over at EcoSalon… )

Toast of Trumpets
an appertizer for two

about ½ -1 cup dried Black Trumpets (or Funnel Chanterelles)
*½ cup or more white wine (for example, a dry Riesling)
salt and pepper
about 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
butter
one shallot
about ½ cup cream
a small handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
freshly grated parmesan
sliced baguette, toasted

Soak the dried mushrooms in just enough white wine to cover all the mushrooms for at least 30 minutes until soft. In the meantime, chop the shallot into tiny pieces. Sauté on very low heat with plenty of butter until soft and golden.
Drain the mushrooms and reserve the wine for later. Heat up a dry pan, set the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. If the soaked mushrooms get stuck on the pan, add some of the soaking water, in this case the soaking wine. When the water is gone add a big lump of butter to the pan. Add thyme and sauté the mushrooms until they start to get some color (can be hard to see with black mushrooms). Raise the heat and add the shallots and the rest of the soaking wine. Let simmer and reduce to about half. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. When the cream has thickened divide it equally over the toast. Top with toasted walnuts and freshly grated parmesan. Serve this Trumpet Toast with a simple tomato salad. Enjoy!

If using fresh mushrooms you should skip the soaking part and only add the wine at the end.

* if you are not able to pick Black Trumpets or Funnel Chanterelles yourself, you can find them dried in well-stocked food shops. There are also plenty of online shops that sell them. Other dried mushrooms such as King Bolete work mighty fine as well.

Story and recipe was originally posted at EcoSalon on 26 October 2011.

More mushroom stories on kokblog:
Mushroom Pie (recipe)
Mushrooms (preserves)
Mushroom Risotto