Sweden: prawn sandwiches by the sea

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As you might have learnt from this blog, us Swedes LOVE seafood. I ate prawns every single Friday night through my childhood and I still love them. Like a lot.

So every chance I get to eat nice (cold water) prawns I take. Like when I was at home in Sweden in the summer and my parents suggested we try out the local café in Smyge (the most southern point in the country!) because their prawn sandwiches are talked about a lot and meant to be really good!

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So on my boyfriend’s last day visiting we had lunch there, in their cosy little garden a stone’s throw from the sea.

They offer prawn sandwiches in three different sizes and we all decided on medium as that looked pretty big to us. And what we received was the perfect specimens of a Swedish prawn sandwich. It had soft white bread that’s still sturdy enough to not go soggy, lettuce, a nice amount of mayonnaise and sliced boiled eggs and a small mountain of Atlantic prawns peeled by hand. And of course lemon, dill and tomato and cucumber slices as decoration.

So nice, and extremely filling! We only had a hot dog each for supper as we were too full to have something resembling a proper dinner. Great place!  Highly recommend. Especially when you can sit outside in the garden. Inside is quite rustic, but I can see it being cosy too.

Café Smyge, Smyge strandväg 4F, 231 78 Smygehamn, Sweden

Recipe: rösti with avocado, creme fraîche and lumpfish roe

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This recipe might be the best Scandi brunch recipe yet. Rösti with creme fraîche and lumpfish roe (or bleak roe) is a retro starter from the 1970s that I grew up with in the 1980s and I still eat it regularly now too, but for supper.

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By adding avocado the dish feels more current (thanks avocado toast, for that!) than retro even though half an avocado topped with creme fraîche and lumpfish roe was another popular starter back in the day, so all I’ve really done here is to combine the two.

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Rösti with avocado, creme fraiche, lumpfish roe and red onion, serves 2

2 large potatoes

1 avocado, sliced

2 large spoonfuls creme fraiche

2 topped tsp lumpfish roe 

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

butter and oil for frying

Peel and grate the potatoes on a coarse setting. Shape into two rounds and fry in butter and oil until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Season well. Plate the rösti and top with avocado, creme fraîche and lumpfish roe. Scatter with chopped red onions.

 

 

Recipe: slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce

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In between Christmas and New Year back in Sweden we cooked venison one night, using a recipe from a Swedish cook who also likes to go shooting so I really trust his game recipes.

The original recipe called for elk meat but it worked just as well with venison. The cut is near or around the rump; one that needs to cook slowly to become tender. So this will take a bit of time but it’s not difficult at all and definitely worth it. The tender meat and the creamy sauce (with all the jus from cooking the meat) is just amazing. Serve with Hasselback potatoes and broccoli and tarte tatin and vanilla ice cream for dessert. So yummy!

Slow cooked venison with Hasselback potatoes and cream sauce, serves 6

Translated from and adapted after Per Morberg’s recipe in the book Morberg Lagar Vilt.

1 kg venison rump (off the bone)

salt and pepper

1 carrot

1 onion

1/2 leek

3 tbsp tomato purée

300 ml game stock

200 ml red wine

2 bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

6 juniper berries

Creamy sauce:

the jus from the meat

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp blackcurrant jelly

salt and pepper

Trim the meat and rub in plenty of seasoning. Brown the meat on all sides in a large casserole dish.

Cut the carrot and onion in large pieces. Wash the leek and cut it into large pieces as well. Add it all to the casserole dish and let it brown for a few minutes. 

Add tomato purée, stock, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat until simmering and let it simmer with the lid on until cooked through (until the meat is 65-70 C in the middle), approx 45-60 minutes (maybe more). Turn the meat and baste it a few times. Remove the steak from the casserole pan and cover with tin foil.  

For the sauce: sieve the jus and pour it into a clean saucepan together with the cream. Bring to the boil and let it slowly thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the jelly and season to taste.

Cut the meat into thin slices across the grain of the fibres. Serve with the sauce and Hasselback potatoes.

 

 

 

Recipe: bleak roe pizza

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Bleak roe, i.e. Swedish caviar, is a treasured ingredient in Sweden and something I can really long for. We eat it with devotion and save it for special occasions. I always make sure I have some, for emergencies, in my London freezer, and try to eat it regularly when I go home to Sweden to visit. Luckily we’re more or less feasting the whole time I come home as my parents and I are so happy to be together.

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My only “problem” with bleak roe, is that I under no circumstances want to mess it up. Therefore I often serve it like a ‘toast‘ with butterfried bread, creme fraiche or smetana and chopped red onions. Because, as we now, less is sometimes more.

But it’s equally lovely as a topping for crisps (it’s the perfect snack to accompany a glass of champagne) or served with crispy rösti as a starter.

When I was last home in May, we decided to branch out to pizza. A pizza bianco though as the tomato would rival the bleak roe too much. And, as you can probably guess, it was wonderful! I used a recipe from a restaurant in Stockholm famous for their bleak roe pizza (or löjromspizza as it’s called in Swedish) but made a few minor changes to it (because I simply can’t help myself).

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Bleak roe pizza, serves 4-6 as a starter (2 as a main course)

Translated from and adapted after Taverna Brillo’s recipe.

Pizza dough:

250 ml water

1 tbsp olive oil 

390 g 00 flour 

1 tsp dried yeast

2 tsp sea salt

Topping:

8 tbsp creme fraiche flavoured with a little lemon

100 g buffalo mozzarella 

100 g coarsely grated mature präst cheese or cheddar

80 g Kalix bleak roe

100 g creme fraiche

finely chopped red onions

finely chopped chives

dill

lemon

Ina  mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add salt, olive oil and flour. Knead the dough by hand for 15 minutes (or in a machine for 10 minutes). Divide into two, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, approx 30 minutes. Roll out the dough and shape into round pizzas. Place on a parchment paper covered baking tray. Heat the oven to 250°C.

Spread 4 tbsp creme fraiche onto each pizza and divide the mozzarella (in chunks or slices) and präst/cheddar cheese. Bake in a low oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and top with bleak roe, creme fraiche, onions, chives, dill and lemon. 

Recipe: creamy apple and dill sauce for fish

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The type of cooking I love the most is when you have a few simple ingredients that you add the together, and the result is so much more than the some of its parts. It’s like magic, really!

This excites me to no end and I love sharing those recipes with you readers.

The recipe below may sound simple, and it so is – if it didn’t involve a knife anyone could do it blindfolded – but the reward is grand. It’s the perfect recipe to remember for those light summer lunches in the summer when you’d rather sip rosé with your friends than cook (see evidence below).

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Creamy apple and dill sauce for fish, serves 4

150 ml creme fraiche

2 tbsp Hellman’s mayonnise

3 apples, cut into small cubes

plenty of chopped dill

salt and ground white pepper

Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise, then add the apple cubes and dill. Stir together and season to taste. Serve with fish. 

Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Recipe: Beef Rydberg (a Swedish classic)

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Typically when I buy fillet of beef to make a steak sandwich or a pizza with steak and bearnaise sauce, I get some steak leftover. A first world problem I know, but this is the best way I know to use up those bits of steak. (Please note that only fillet of steak will do here as you want small tender uniform pieces.)

Beef Rydberg is a real classic Swedish restaurant dish served with fried onions and potatoes, a dijon crème and plenty of grated horseradish. It’s both hearty and sophisticated somehow and very comforting during the colder months.

Beef Rydberg, serves 2

ca 300 g fillet of beef, cut into (not too small) cubes

1 yellow onion or banana shallot, finely chopped 

400 g firm potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

butter for frying (and a little oil) 

salt and black pepper

Dijon crème:

100 ml thick creme fraiche

2-3 tsp dijon mustard (to taste)

1 tsp runny honey

salt, white pepper

To serve:

fresh grated horseradish 

chopped parsley

Mix the dijon crème and keep it cold. Bring water to the boil in a saucepan, add salt and the potato cubes and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, fry the onions until soft in plenty of butter on a low-medium heat, without browning. Remove the onions and fry the drained potatoes in butter. Add salt, pepper and a little sugar abd fry until golden on the outside and soft inside (pierce with a knife to check). 

Pour the sauce into a little bowl or an empty egg shell, chop the parsley and keep the the onions and potatoes warm in separate pans while you fry the steak on high heat in butter and oil for approx 2 minutes (you don’t want the meat well done and it cooks quickly when it’s cut up like this). Rest the meat for a few minutes, then plate up. Scatter with parsley and serve with plenty of grated horseradish.