the idea was to be able to enjoy some of the recipes i remember from my childhood, to try out new recipes i've heard of but never attempted, and moreover to invite some wonderful people for their first taste of Sweden.
when i was a child we used to go to Sweden on holiday. my family are from the southern part, in and around Gothenburg (Göteborg); so we used to stay in the lakes, the islands and travel in and out of the wonderful city.
so many of my childhood food memories come from these trips; picking wild blueberries in the forest until my fingers were purple, fishing on the lake and barbecuing the fish straight away, eating lots of hönökaka smothered in kalles caviar for breakfast, a bucket full of prawns from the local fish market and having competitions to see who could shell and eat the most the fastest (my little brother would always win!), consuming bags of little kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) that were so cinnamon-y and sweet you would feel just so perfectly happy.
and then there are the sort of foods that Farmor, my Swedish grandmother, still cooks, and i have had the pleasure of enjoying when i visit her (she and my grandfather live only 1 hour away from me, which is such a treat!) - things like proper meatballs, potato salad with dill and smörgåstårta on Christmas eve.
so as well as including these gorgeous memories and inspirations, i wanted to add a few extra things that really help to define the Swedish food scene - gravadlax, pytt y panna, pickled herring, to name a few.
the real joy of Swedish cooking is it's simplicity and cleanliness of flavour. it's not about artistically mixing ingredients, it's about celebrating each individual taste and relishing in seasonal produce. it's a style of cooking that is very much connected with the earth, and a lot to do with preserving (well, Farmor did have to ski to work when she was a youth, so it does get quite cold!)
♥ the first step to creating this feast was to create a menu plan, and so i followed Farmor's footsteps and did a menu diagram to show how the food would be laid out on the table - that way you can see what utensils and bowls you need, and notice any obvious unbalance in the food choices
♥ next to order some proper Swedish food, i got my delivery from totally swedish, and received some really scrummy goodies, including the invaluable parlsocker (pearl sugar) and kardemumma malen (ground cardamoms) which you just can't get anywhere else
now for the low-down on what we ate:
♥ ärtsoppa med fläsk (swedish pea soup) - the traditional Swedish thursday dish, which we eat in our house at least once a month, because it's so simple and very tasty! i love a really thick mushy pea soup.
simply, soak some dried yellow peas in water overnight. then fry some bacon/pork, cubed celery and a diced onion in a pan until cooked through, add in a little dried thyme, oregano and seasoning's then cover with stock and add in the soaked peas (rinsed well). cook for about 1 hour at a low temperature, adding more stock if necessary. leave overnight for the flavours to absorb and the peas to go a little more mushy. eat for lunch or dinner the following day with a little knäckebröd
♥ köttbullar (meatballs) - one of the most 'Swedish' foods ever! and they are just great when served with some chopped hot dogs - which is how we have them every Christmas eve!
to make them, mix a little milk with some breadcrumbs, add in some salt and pepper, dried dill and fresh chopped parsley, mix in an egg and a finely chopped onion, and then scrunch in a pack of minced pork and pack of minced beef. roll them into little balls and put them into a hot frying pan with a little olive oil until cooked through.
♥ crunchy salad - inspired by the jamie does book - with grated carrot, finely sliced radishes, sliced red onion, chopped cucumber, fresh dill, olive oil, salt and pepper
♥ pytt y panna - really simple and very tasty, this is another family recipe
simply dice some carrot, potato, onion, beetroot and pork/bacon lardons, fry them all together in a pan with some olive oil for about 20 minutes, and then put in an oven proof dish on a low temperature (120c) for a few hours so the flavours can mesh, then turn the heat up just before you want to serve.
♥ gravadlax - this is something i've wanted to try for a while, but i was a little too nervous, but i finally plucked up the courage...and it's actually fairly simple.
take a piece of salmon (i used wild alaskan here) and cover it with rock salt and then sprinkle with granulated/unrefined sugar, then flavour it with whatever you choose - i did beetroot and dill. put in a pan with high edges, cover with cling film and layer on water bottles or something else that is quite heavy to press the salty mix into the fish. pop in the fridge for two days, then take it out, wash it off and slice it up!
♥ potatissallad (potato salad) - a classic at any swedish buffet or smörgåsbord, especially in our house, my Farfar (grandfather) makes the best ever potato salad, made even better when it includes some of his homegrown new potatoes
half some new potatoes, wash them off and boil them up until a knife easily passes into them, wash them off under some cold running water and then leave to drain. once cool enough to handle, chop up into small pieces and mix with mayonnaise, yogurt, dill, chopped gherkins, salt and pepper
♥ kalles kaviar and boiled egg on homemade knäckebröd - one of the most simple swedish pleasures i can imagine. i followed this recipe for the flatbreads, which was incredibly tasty but didn't quite turn out crispy enough!
♥ laid out in the summerhouse, the food looked rather beautiful! there's a little svensk senap (swedish mustard), dill sild from ikea, prawns, hönökaka, gravadlax and soured cream and mustard sauce. there was also a bowl of rdkål (red cabbage), cooked with raisins, apple and cloves
♥ the wonderful eaters: my mum, steph, yvette, zoe and me!
♥ smörgåstårta - one of the most beautiful and memorable dishes at any swedish celebration, layers of bread, cream cheese and fish make a gorgeous savoury cake - check out the video at the end for a full description and how to instructions!
♥ still enjoying the food, as each of our bellies grows and grows. the meal started at 2:30pm, for a family tradition called middan, which combines lunch and dinner and lasts for a couple of hours, or all the way into the evening.
♥ pepparkakor and kanelbullar - both incredibly delicious, and full of Sweden's favorite spices!
to make the pepparkakor, mix together 1tbsp ground cinnamon, 1/2tbsp ground cloves, 1/2 tbsp ground ginger with 150g butter and 1 small egg. add in 50g honey, 1tbsp golden syrup, 50g light brown soft sugar and 50g caster sugar, add in 150g spelt flour and 300g plain white flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda. roll out to 3mm thick and cut out. bake for 10 minutes in batches, or until golden.
♥ the pepparkakor are particularly delicious when double dipped in hot coffee!
♥ we also had some organic blueberries with filmjölk, and tried some Polly's, Plopp and Marabou as well - fairly memorable sweeties from when i was younger...
and that just about sums up our eventful afternoon. after finishing one course, and all being particularly full, my mum whipped out a quick Swedish quiz, and we had a laugh trying to all pronounce Swedish words...
everyone really enjoyed trying out some new foods, and we had a great time talking and taking the time to chill and eat really good food.
did i tell you that i love swedish food? well my love for it has definitely stepped up a notch...and i hope you all feel inspired to try out some tasty Scandinavian treats...
thanks so much for the wonderful crew at Foodbuzz for enabling this event to take place! and don't forget to check out the other participant entries to the May 24x24 event...i am sure that they are all fantastically delicious too!