Monday, July 19, 2010

Norwegian Summer Meals

July is usually vacation month in Norway. Most people take their vacation at that time, traveling to their summer cottages or abroad. Life slows down a lot, Oslo is much quieter and not so crowded with cars and traffic, and all of it is a welcome change from the rest of the year. We are enjoying a “stay-cation” this year, to borrow a word from a young Norwegian woman whom we had the pleasure of conversing with this past Saturday evening at her parent’s summer party. We are not traveling anywhere during the month of July. We are instead enjoying some quiet time at home, sleeping in a bit later, enjoying leisurely breakfasts, shopping, watching Tour de France, biking long trips or biking down to our boat, and taking some boat trips in the nice weather. It’s been a relaxing summer so far. And with free time comes the desire to try out new recipes and to make some traditional Norwegian summer meals. I love buying new cookbooks and this summer has been no exception—I’ve purchased a world recipe book on baking—from dinners to desserts. I have a list of new recipes I want to try. But the two recipes I’m including here are not from this book. The first is fried mackerel, a general meal that most Norwegians prepare at one time or another during the summer months, and the second is cucumber soup (Norwegian-style) from Magnar Kirknes’ Kokkeskolen (Cooking School) section in the VG newspaper from June 2010. Neither of them is very complicated to make and they come out well each time.

I. The first recipe is Fried Mackerel served with cucumber vinegar salad and boiled potatoes

1-2 mackerel fillets per person, cleaned and well-dried
flour, salt, pepper
oil for frying
4-6 oz. sour cream

Coat the mackerel fillets in flour, salt and pepper. Fry the mackerel in oil until golden brown and add 4-6 oz. sour cream just before serving. The cucumber salad is prepared as follows: peel one medium-sized cucumber and slice it into wafer-thin slices with the slicer section of a grater. Place in a small bowl and cover with white vinegar (7% strength), add 1 tsp. sugar and mix. Prepare several hours ahead of time and refrigerate. Serves 3-4 people.

II. The second recipe is Cucumber Soup with Crayfish Tails

1 large cucumber, peeled
½ yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 green chili
1 green apple
1 garlic clove
1 tbs. sherry vinegar
1 bunch dill, chopped (save a little to mix with crayfish tails)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 oz. olive oil
2 cups chicken bouillon (should be hot)
5-6 oz. crème fraiche (18%)
7 oz. crayfish tails rolled in chopped dill

Cut the peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the soft centers with a spoon. Chop up the pepper, chili and apple coarsely after removing the seeds from each of them. Chop the onion and garlic also. Place all ingredients in a bowl along with the chopped dill and parsley. Cover with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then place all ingredients in a food processor, add the hot chicken bouillon and process until completely mixed. Add the crème fraiche and mix until the consistency is soup-like. Add a little sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. While the soup is cooling, mix the crayfish tails with finely-chopped dill and divide into about four portions in soup bowls. Pour the cooled cucumber soup over the crayfish tails and add a little crème fraiche (in stripes) to the surface of the soup. Serve with buttered toasted Italian or French bread.


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