Archive for the scandinavian Category

Mushroom Season

Posted in mushroom, preserve, scandinavian, vegan, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2017 by oskila

Not to dwell on the scarcity of posts because of diverted interest (haven’t had time to brew beer since before Christmas either) I think it’s time to drop a line or two about recent mushroom hunting adventures. 

I enjoy mushroom hunting very much and view it as upholding a tradition inherited from my grandmother. With kids and school and work and whatnot there hasn’t always been time lately though. For example, 2014 was a legendary year for King Bolete here, but I didn’t manage to pick a single one. 

This year I forced action by buying a dehydrator and introducing a mushroom theme in my teaching. Also, NC junior, at three and a half, is big enough to move around on her own in the forest. 

At my parents’ cabin we’ve walked some distance to get to good mushroom grounds, but it turns out the forest just behind the house was even better. Only took 13 years to find out…

From the new forest we got our first batch of dehydrator material. Yellowfoot, king bolete, bay bolete and orange birch bolete. Golden chanterelles don’t dehydrate well. 


Sunday took us closer to home, to an area we tried last year, resulting in three chanterelles and five lingonberries. A well visited neck of the woods, we correctly assumed most boletes and chanterelles would have been picked off already. Luckily, less widely known tasty mushrooms, like orange milk-cap and slimy spike-cap were still available, as well as a few bay boletes and spruce bolete. 


That’s picking and drying done. So, what about cooking? The dried ones were of course saved for later as dried mushrooms keep indefinitely. The milk-caps, spike-caps and a bare-toothed russula (apparently also known as The Flirt) went in the pot instead since they don’t dry well. Terminology is unclear, but I’d call what I did parboiling. Simply put chopped mushrooms in a pot, add some salt and heat. The mushrooms will start sweating and the juices will eventually boil off, leaving well cooked mushrooms, greatly reduced in bulk and ideal for freezing. No fat added. 


We’re planning more mushroom gathering trips in the near future, so watch this space for updates! Here are a few more mushroom photographs for fun. Might add names later, but I’m posting from phone and it’s a bit cumbersome to flip back and forth between apps. 

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Venison à la Nelson?

Posted in mushroom, potato, scandinavian, stew, vegetables, venison with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by oskila

Already a new post? It never rains but it pours…

Venison again? Yes. The grocery store offered venison at a discount again, this time cuts best suited for boiling.

À la Nelson? Why? Well, it’s slightly complicated. There’s a classic Swedish dish, the name of which translates to ‘sailor’s beef’. It’s sliced beef, onions and potatoes, stewed in beer. The sailor connection is supposedly that it’s practical to cook everything in one pot on a ship and fresh water isn’t always readily available, hence beer. A bit of googling indicates that there’s an English (or Polish) version that adds mushrooms and trades beer for stock. It’s called Steak à la Nelson. Yes, after lord Nelson, of Trafalgar fame.

I bastardized my recipe further by not only using venison instead of beef, but also wine and stock instead of beer and adding mushrooms and parsnip.

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Frying a chopped portabello mushroom.

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Searing the meat for a more flavoursome stock.

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Thinly sliced potatoes, onions, browned venison and parsnip in a pot, together with mushrooms, various herbs, black pepper, a hint of garlic and a few juniper berries.

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Deglaced pan with wine, stock and bayleaf.

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After simmering everything for 45-60 minutes it’s not the prettiest of sights, but it’s how it’s supposed to look.

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Finished dish along with a dollop of crème fraîche and pickled Hokkaido pumpkin (Many slow-cooked meat dishes in Swedish cuisine are traditionally served with pickled beets. Pumpkin was the least sweet pickle I had in the house. And it’s halloween soon…)

Throwback Thursday Battle of the Gratins

Posted in dairy, pickled sprats, potato, scandinavian, side dish, swede, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2014 by oskila

Merry Christmas readers! The posting has been sparse this year and I don’t think I can promise lots of improvement with Nerdcuisine jr entering her second year in life rather soon.

When I started this post it was still Thursday so it counts. It’s a post I’ve been meaning to do for a whole year. It’s like this you see; last year mrs Nerdcuisine’s water broke on December 22nd. No baby came though, so we had to go in for check-ups the following three mornings. On the morning of Christmas Eve we decided to get some work done before having to go to the hospital, so we prepared some Christmas gratins. A classic Swedish one and a probably even more classic Finnish one. I usually have lot of photos in my posts, but this session was done very early in the morning, so most of the pics were mostly pointless. We’ll have to make do with just the finished products.

Gratin 1: Janssons Frestelse
Janssons frestelse (en: Jansson’s temptation) is a gratin of julienned potatoes, onions and cream, flavored with ‘anchovies’, which is, for some reason, a trade name for pickled sprats seasoned in a specific way. There are a few explanations for the name. The one I’m going with claims that an opera singer named Janzon often served the dish at his afterparties in the late 19th century. It’s been an important part of smorgasbords and late night snacks for a long time.

It’s also easy to make. Layer matchstick-cut potatoes, onion slices and ‘anchovies’ in a suitable vessel. season with salt and pepper. Smother the whole thing in double cream mixed with the brine from the anchovies tin and cover with breadcrumbs. Cook for an hour in 200 degrees C. Some people use machinery or graters for the potatoes these days (I’ve even encountered a TV chef using frozen french fries) but I consider the hand-cutting a point of honour.

Gratin 2: Lanttulaatikko
Lanttulaatikko (en: Turnip box) is a traditional Finnish Christmas dish. Since the main ingredient is mashed swede it’s a bit more like a pudding than a gratin perhaps, but Christmas is no time to be picky. The mashed swede is mixed with treacle, breadcrumbs, eggs and cream, seasoned with white pepper, ginger and nutmeg, plopped in a dish and generously sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked at 175 degrees or so for 2-4 hours.

To ensure a nice crust on both varieties we usually put a generous helping of butter on top. Some people are content with a few dollops, but I like to slice most of a stick of butter with a cheese cutter and arrange the slices in a nice tile pattern.

These two dishes have several ingredients in common but are very different in most other aspects. One is a standalone dish or part of a buffet, the other more of a side order. And thus ends the battle of the Christmas gratins, Sweden vs. Finland. It’s probably a draw. I had a sceptical attitude towards Jansson’s well into my twenties but after being assigned to make it for student association Christmas parties I warmed to it and it is now my favourite Christmas food, along with pickled herring. My first encounter with lanttulaatikko was an anecdote dad brought home from a work-related Christmas party in Finland in the 90s. It has since entered the list of must-haves by way of my wife’s Finnish ancestry. I like it not only for flavor, but also because it’s an excuse not to boil any potatoes, since I consider eating potatoes at Christmas a waste of stomach room.

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Lanttulaatikko on the left, Janssons frestelse on the right.

That’s what we did the morning of December 24th (which is the day for Christmas celebration in Sweden). Terribly early on the morning of Christmas Day we went to the hospital again, this time to induce labor. About 48 hours and a C-section later, NC jr was safe in my arms and stuff like blogs pushed down several notches on the priority list.

Merry Christmas and other holidays again dear readers. Hopefully I can squeeze another post in before the year ends. There seem to be a lot of grandmothers around this time of year…

Feral Fall Food

Posted in cabbage, chestnut, discount, leftovers, mushroom, parsnip, pork, potato, sauce, scandinavian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by oskila

Autumn is truly upon us and almost automatically, the food gets stouter and earthier, at least in my kitchen (well not ALWAYS, but what few salads we had during summer have definitely given way to soups, stews and casseroles). One of the returning, short-seasoned ingredients that tend to sneak in is chestnuts. For many years, I bought a few out of interest, then saved them for a more festive meal, until they dried up unsalvageably and had to be thrown out. Over time I’ve learned to get my chestnuts early in the season and use them the same day.

The post title refers to the mix of domesticated and ‘wild’ ingredients of today’s dish, which is a bit of a stretch really, since only the mushrooms are actually harvested in the actual wild.

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These chestnuts (already roasted in the picture) were picked up at a grocery store closer to work than home, which I visit only occasionally, mainly for the differences in product range (such as early chestnuts). A short walk down the vegetable aisle also resulted in good looking parsnips, fresh brussel sprouts and some yellowfoot mushrooms.

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Mushrooms, having been fried in a dry pan with some salt beforehand, sizzling away with onion and garlic.

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Diced potatoes, parsnips and carrots added. The different dice-size was decided upon in order to cook them fairly evenly as they were nuked in the microwave for five minutes before frying.

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It’s also time to fry up some salt pork. I had originally decided to use pork loin in this dish, but as I went shopping at the local store for hand soap, potatoes and an apple, I came by short date salt pork at 50% off. I sprinkled some of my dry rub on it, but I think most of the rub stuck to the pan, on account of containing lots of sugar.

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To the vegetable pan, add finely diced apple (I use Granny Smith), chopped roasted chestnuts and brussel sprout leaves. (Separating them is a tedious task, but a lot more elegant than chucking whole or chopped sprouts in)

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For the plating I made use of the bottle of red wine sauce my brother left last week. It goes rather well with the pork and the apple and the parsnip and so on.

Smoked Salmon Hash

Posted in peppers, potato, scandinavian, smoked salmon, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2013 by oskila

There’s been quite a long silence, for quite good reasons if I might say so myself. I got married on June 1st (which was preceded by a lot of nervousness and preparations) and then went honeymooning in New York for a bit over a week. The trip will be elaborated upon once I’ve sorted through the 900+ pictures.

Swedish hash, or pyttipanna, is made by frying neatly diced potatoes and leftover meats along with chopped onions. We were a bit short in the leftover meats department but had some smoked salmon that we got from my wife’s aunt, who was clearing out her fridge.

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In one pan, onions, fried over medium heat until brown. I added some garlic and red peppers to keep the salmon more company.

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In a second pan, potatoes, along with a sprig of thyme.

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Once everything is more or less cooked, the salmon can be added. It really doesn’t need a lot of pan time, already being smoked.

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Potatoes tipped in too. Time to season and stir.

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Pyttipanna is traditionally served with fried eggs and pickled beets (and in recent times often with ketchup and similar) but I decided to manage without.

My Big Fat Swedish Pancake

Posted in bacon, eggs, pancakes, scandinavian, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2013 by oskila

After a bit of surfing around I came to the conclusion that baking pancakes in the oven is a quite local Swedish/Finnish thing, with oven pancakes more often being served as a main dish and ‘normal’ pancakes for dessert. This only came up because we had one for dinner yesterday and I’d be interested to know whether similar dishes occur in other parts of the world. Also, since I’m given to understand that pancake batters are different in different places I’m going to include an actual list of ingredients, with measurements, which is pretty close to a first.

I’ve always been a bit skeptic about oven pancakes, probably because of the ones served in school cafeterias (commonly known as wrestling mats) but homemade ones are clearly much better (ooh, surprise…)

Oven pancake batter (serves 2-3)

600 ml milk

300 ml wheat flour

½ teaspoon of salt

3 eggs

A standard recipe contains just the above (and can also be used for pan-fried Swedish pancakes) but I have to be different of course, so I’d suggest adding a small amount of fat, like oil or butter, and half a teaspoon or so of baking soda.

Mix everything together thoroughly and pour into a greased baking tray or ample size dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 225 C. Serve with jam.

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This particular pancake has some bacon in it and is served with a sprinkle of leeks and blueberry jam. I would have wanted the leeks in the batter as well, but the oven pancake aficionado of the household vetoed that. You can put all kinds of stuff in the batter though. Carrots, apples or berries would probably be nice.

Guest Post

Posted in herring, scandinavian with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by oskila

A couple of weeks before Christmas I had the opportunity to write a guest post for the rather awesome food blog rantingchef.com. Since Christmas was just around the bend at the time, I chose a Swedish Christmas classic – pickled herring. Due to the immense amount of bloggers who wanted to contribute, my post missed Christmas by more than a month, but one could use the time left until the next one to hunt down a supplier of herring and experiment with the recipes.

And after you’ve read my wall of text on curing, soaking and pickling herring, be sure to check out the rest of the blog. As I said before; it’s rather awesome!

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