Gluten-Free Scandinavian Baking & Cooking (Your Feedback Needed)

blackberry and almond cake

While out walking with a friend yesterday, the topic of food came up. Specifically, gluten-free food. There was a time when I wouldn’t have given GF eating a second thought, having no known sensitivities myself. But then I started hearing more and more about it: Celiac disease and gluten intolerance seemed to be popping up more and more in people I know and on blogs I read.

I’ve come a long way in my understanding of how gluten affects people. I no longer take for granted the ability to order a pizza or sandwich or any number of items at a restaurant without having to scan the menu for special selections. Still, I have a lot to learn.

Though there are no dietary restrictions in my household right now, we eat much less bread and pasta than we used to. Dessert is a rare treat, despite how often I write about sweets here on the blog. We keep processed foods to a minimum.

I’ve been reading more about gluten-free cooking lately, especially after signing up for a food styling and photography class with Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle and Vanille and subsequently buying a copy of her “Small Plates and Sweet Treats.” Through her stories, recipes, and stunning photos, Aran showcases a lifestyle that—though avoiding gluten—looks as rich and abundant as any other. Her way of incorporating gluten-free flours into recipes sounds delicious rather than restrictive, and she and her family appear to be a picture of health.

I have been thinking about ways to make Outside Oslo accessible for those with gluten or dairy intolerance, as well as vegetarians, vegans, and people with nut allergies. But I need to hear from you. Are you interested in gluten-free Scandinavian baking? Dairy-free? Nut-free? What are the things that interest you most? Would you like to read about special adaptations of your favorite classic Scandinavian dishes? What about being able to search or browse the recipes by diet? Please leave a comment and let me know.

This blog is as much for you as it is for me; it’s a place where we can share our love of great food and connection to or appreciation of Scandinavian culture and heritage. I would love to hear what you think about these ideas.



My Original Summer Recipes in Pregnancy & Newborn

Ice Cream Article

If you would have told me back when I was a journalism student that I would eventually be a food writer and professional recipe developer, I’m not quite sure what I would have thought. Back then I was interviewing bands and trying my hand at concert reviews while simultaneously trying to establish a credible name for myself as a news journalist. Sure, I baked regularly, but it was for fun. I didn’t give much thought to the fact that I could transfer my love of baking and cooking into a job, let alone a significant part of a freelance writing career. I’m so glad I came to my senses, though; with my food- and nutrition-related articles in a number of publications, I’m lucky enough to be able to stretch myself and hone my craft, all while eating well and playing with my food.

Today I want to share with you my latest article, “Chill out: Beat the heat with homemade ice cream, frozen yogurt and the best smoothies on the block” (page 40), in the June 2013 issue of Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. The article features five original summer recipes, including Chocolate-Earl Grey and Blueberry Ice CreamBanana Bread Frozen Yogurt, and Carrot-Beet-Apple Sorbet. If you’re looking to give a healthy edge to your treats, I encourage you to try out the Chocolate-Cinnamon Smoothie, which features a base of avocado (you can’t even taste it!) and is sweetened with banana and honey.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, I think you’ll enjoy these creative ways to cool off in the summer months. I hope you’ll check out the story!

Norwegian Mackerel with Roasted Rhubarb

Two Mackerel

When I think of summer, my mind immediately goes to the meals we’re going to eat: strawberry tarts, chicken with homemade mayonnaise, melon and prosciutto washed down with chilled rosé. There are tomatoes to dress with little more than some fruity olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, zucchini blossoms to pair with anchovies and mozzarella, figs to layer with goat cheese and honey on rounds of baguette. And don’t forget the mackerel.

Mackerel is an underrated fish, and it just so happens to be one of my favorites. With an oily, salty flavor and texture, it’s hearty and nourishing and stands up to bold flavors. In the summer, we salt the mackerel to draw out some of the oil, then dress it with lemon juice before grilling it. The bright pucker of the lemon complements the rich fish, leaving tender, flavorful flakes that pair well with rosé.

Recently, though, we’ve also been preparing it alongside rhubarb. Rhubarb and mackerel, you may ask? Why, yes. Trust me.

Rhubarb and Mackerel Collage

Though rhubarb is most commonly prepared as a dessert, its technical status as a vegetable warrants thinking of it as such. Chefs Trina Hahnemann of Denmark and English food writer Nigel Stater have both created intriguing recipes pairing mackerel with rhubarb, and it turns out that the tart flavor of the rhubarb balances out the oily fish just as well as the lemon we’ve used in years past.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is based on Slater’s version. To start, you’ll roast the rhubarb with only the tiniest touch of sugar, just enough to take the sharpness away. While it’s cooling, you’ll fillet two mackerel, such as the Norwegian ones pictured here, leaving the skin on, then dredge the skin sides in flour and cook in a pan for a few minutes with capers, rosemary, sherry vinegar, and the rhubarb nestled beside the fish. That’s it. You could serve some boiled new potatoes on the side and and drink it with a a dry rosé or pilsner. We happened to have one last can of Ringnes Pilsner in the fridge, which was the perfect pairing.

Mackerel and Rhubarb on Platter

Norwegian Mackerel with Roasted Rhubarb
Adapted from Nigel Slater

5 stalks rhubarb
1-2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or other brown sugar
2 Norwegian mackerel, filleted
1/4 cup flour
Freshly-ground black pepper
A few glugs of olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped, plus 2-3 sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon capers, drained
Splash of sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut rhubarb into 6-inch lengths and place in a roasting dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Roast about 10 to 15 minutes, until the stalks are just tender enough to be pierced with a knife. Cool in the dish.

Working in two batches or using two large frying pans, heat the oil. Season flour with some salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the skin side of the mackerel fillets in the flour and place in the frying pan, skin-side down. Sprinkle the rosemary over the fillets, nestle in the rhubarb, and scatter the capers over the top. Give the mackerel a minute or two to cook halfway through, then flip. Pour in some vinegar and cook until the mackerel is done. Serve the mackerel with the rhubarb on the side, pouring the juices from the pan on top of the fish.

Serves 4.

Bergen Fish Soup (Bergensk fiskesuppe)

Bergen Fish Soup

Everyone has their own idea of a place, a snapshot memory encapsulating the scenes, smells, and moods they experienced there. One person’s Paris is different than another’s. A visit to Seattle might be dreary for one and vibrant for another. With that in mind, let me take you to my Bergen–not the rain-soaked city you may picture, rightfully so given it rains there more than 260 days a year, but the place that exists in my personal catalogue of memories.

Golden skies bathed in sun-drenched heat. Chilled rosé in the cool, dim cave of our hotel restaurant. Seagulls perched on the roofs around the famous open-air seafood market. Bergen was alive when I visited in the summer of 2008. Ski boats ferried joyful passengers in the harbor housing Bryggen, the Hanseatic wharf. A biker could comfortably break out his ride with no concern of rain. Any restaurant with patio seating was the place to be.

Seafood for Bergen Fish Soup

I’ve been reliving that trip this past week since cooking a batch of Bergen Fish Soup (Bergensk fiskesuppe). The soup is one of the best fish soups in the world, right up there with bouillabaisse, according to chef Andreas Viestad. Some say the absolute proper way to make it, Viestad writes Kitchen of Light, is to purchase live pollock at the fish market–which is one of the biggest and best-known outdoor fish markets in northern Europe–and make the stock the same day. It’s possible to bring the taste of Bergen home, however, with quality fish stock, such as the halibut variety from our neighborhood fishmonger.

As with most classic dishes, the recipes and styles vary. One cook might choose to use only white fish while another might add salmon or perhaps scallops and prawns. Some add dumplings while others omit them. One person might ladle thick, chowder-like portions into bowls while a neighbor makes it on the lighter side with the seafood surrounded by a creamy broth.

No matter the style, the soup allows the flavor of the seafood to shine, proving that a handful of quality ingredients simply prepared can go a long way.

Prawns for Bergen Fish Soup

Bergen Fish Soup and Crispbread

Bergen Fish Soup (Bergensk fiskesuppe)
This version is on the light side, which makes it perfect for dinner on a late spring evening when you need a little warming. Adapted from Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking by Signe Johansen, this recipe veers slightly from the traditional by adding a small amount of spices and giving sweetness with white wine and brandy rather than an abundance of root vegetales and a touch of sugar. Johansen grew up in Bergen, however, so she knows the essence of the soup and has created an elegant recipe that comes together so quickly it can easily be a weeknight meal. The mix of seafood is flexible; use whatever is fresh and available. 

6 1/3 cups quality fish stock
1 bay leaf
1 handful flat-leaf parsley stems, plus additional leaves for garnish
12 whole peppercorns
2 carrots, roughly diced
2 celery stalks, roughly diced
1 leek, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces salmon fillet, cubed into 3/4-inch pieces
3 1/2 ounces prawns, shells removed
5 ounce cod fillet, cubed into 3/4-inch pieces
8 ounces clams, with shells
Finely-chopped chives, for garnish

Heat fish stock, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns, carrots, celery, and leek in a large pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the wine and brandy and simmer for five more minutes, then add the cream. Once the soup has returned to a simmer, add the salmon, cod, and clams and cook for a minute or two before adding the prawns, which should only take an additional minute or two to cook.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional parsley leaves and chives. Serve with crispbread.

Serves 4.

Bergen Fish Soup

A Salad for a Scandinavian Picnic

Scandinavian Potato and Egg Salad

Today the birds sang brightly, their whistling chirps piercing through the still spring air. The afternoon sun cast a diffused light through the clouds and the temperature called for sweaters over tank tops and t-shirts. Yet the day still held the promise of warmer months to come. These are the signals that point to picnic dates and barbecues, long evening walks and cocktails sipped on the porch at sunset.

To complement the season, substantial salads have comprised the theme of dinners at my house in recent weeks. From a pasta salad with asparagus, radishes, and a creamy avocado dressing to a chickpea and feta salad that’s been a staple in my house for several years, such dishes have formed the base of most meals in my house recently, with the fish or meat being almost an afterthought. Most recently we enjoyed a Scandinavian potato, egg, and dill salad.

Potato Salad Dressing Ingredients

When it comes to potato salads, it seems that there are as many versions as there are families to make them. Whether they’re made with a Scandinavian, American, French, or German touch, they’re each unique and personalized for a particular palate. For some reason or another, I’ve never developed a signature potato salad. Both my mom and my mother-in-law make spectacular ones with an indulgent combination of flavor and texture, but I haven’t learned their tricks. This week, however, I think I came up with a potato salad to call my own.

Inspired by the Tangy Egg and Potato Salad in Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking, I got to work mixing up a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, grainy mustard, dill, shallots, cornichons, green onions, and lemon juice. The dressing generously coated boiled new potatoes, which I sprinkled with fresh chives before arranging hard-boiled eggs on top. Author Signe Johansen calls her version a pepped-up version of a traditional Scandinavian salad, and if that’s the case, then mine takes takes even more creative license, swapping out her salad cream for mayonnaise and her pickle recommendation for cornichons, giving the salad some American and French touches.

The result, to me, is perfect. With a sprig of dill and a few chive blossoms as garnishes, the vibrant colors of the salad reflect the beauty of spring. Pack it up in a basket with some smoked salmon, a thermos of coffee, and a few slices of bløtkake (Norwegian cream cake) with fresh strawberries, and you’ll have the makings of a delicious Scandinavian picnic.

Potato and Egg Salad

Scandinavian Potato, Egg, and Dill Salad
Adapted from Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking by Signe Johansen

14 ounces new potatoes
4 eggs
6 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons finely-chopped shallot
12 cornichons, finely chopped
¾ cup sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
4 sprigs dill, finely chopped, plus one more for garnish
Juice of one medium-sized lemon
Pinch of ground allspice
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

Bring two medium pots of water to a boil. Gently lower the eggs into one and allow to simmer for 11 minutes, then remove the eggs and submerge into a bowl of ice water to cool. Meanwhile, lightly salt the water in the other pot and cook the potatoes in simmering water until fork tender but not too soft, about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked through, drain and set aside in a cool place until they reach room temperature.

While the eggs and potatoes are cooling, prepare the dressing by placing the green onions, shallot, cornichons, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, chopped dill, lemon juice, and allspice in a large bowl and stirring to combine. Taste and adjust ingredients to suite your tastes.

Add potatoes to the dressing and stir gently to coat, then transfer to a serving dish. Scatter the chives over the top. Peel and quarter the eggs and place them on top and garnish with dill.

Serves 6.

Spring Potato and Egg Salad in Dish

The Essence of Spring in Rhubarb Soup

Rhubarb Soup for Spring

When I cook with rhubarb I’m struck by the color–that ballerina-pink to magenta ombré effect married with salmon and the faintest hint of green. Then there’s the scent, the almost citrus, grassy notes smelling like the essence of a spring garden in the moments after the rain.

Rhubarb Soup with Yogurt Ice Cream Horizontal

I wonder if there are many foods more associative of spring in our childhood memories than this unusual plant. The thought of it conjures up sunny days in my grandparents’ backyard garden, where the rhubarb–at least as I remember it–seemed as large as a prehistoric turtle. Guarding the steps down to the raspberry patch, the plant silently waited as we passed by to comb through rows of bushes for berries at the peak of perfection.

These days I take every opportunity like to cook with rhubarb. Roasted with vanilla bean and wine. Cooked and strained for a syrup to add to tequila. Simmered until its fibrous stalks soften and become a delicately-textured base for rabarbrafromasj, rhubarb fromage.

The desserts made with rhubarb are some of the best that come out of my kitchen. The latest one–rabarbrasuppe, rhubarb soup–is no exception. Simmered with vanilla bean, the rhubarb releases all of its flavor and vivid color into the water, which, when strained, becomes a clear pink soup. Scattered pieces of baked rhubarb and a scoop of homemade yogurt ice cream complete the simple yet elegant dessert.

Spring Rhubarb Soup

Rhubarb Soup (Rabarbrasuppe) with Yogurt Ice Cream
Despite the various steps, this recipe–adapted from The Nordic Diet by Trina Hahnemann–is rather simple. Since it is to be served cold, each step can be prepared in advanced, leaving only assembly for serving time.

For the soup:

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup sugar

For the baked rhubarb:

2 rhubarb stalks
1/4 cup sugar

For the ice cream:

1 3/4 cups low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Several hours before serving, prepare the soup by placing the 1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb pieces in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean down the middle with the tip of a knife and scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, resisting the urge to stir (you don’t want to break up the rhubarb, which you’ll soon strain out and discard).

Pour the soup through a sieve and return to a clean saucepan, adding sugar and bringing back to a boil just to dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool, then transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

While the soup is chilling, prepare the baked rhubarb and the ice cream. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and toss the rhubarb with sugar in an baking dish and placing it in the oven until it’s tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make the ice cream while the rest of the dessert cools. Beat the yogurt and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then gently fold it into the yogurt. Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer instructions; depending on the machine, this should take about 20 minutes. If needed, transfer to the freezer for a little while to firm it up further.

To serve, divide the chilled soup between four wide, shallow bowls. Scatter the roasted rhubarb pieces around and place a scoop of ice cream in the center.

Serves 4.

The Norwegian Dessert Known as Troll Cream (Trollkrem)

Krumkaker and Troll Cream

If you follow Outside Oslo on Facebook or Instagram, then you probably know I’ve been planning to tell you about trollkrem, a traditional Norwegian dessert that translates to troll cream. Perhaps the best explanation that I can come up with about the name is the dessert’s almost-mythical properties.

Consisting of a mere two ingredients that barely form a pool in the bottom of a mixing bowl, the dessert transforms in a matter of minutes to a silky, creamy cloud. Egg whites mingle with lingonberry preserves as the mixer rapidly whisks them together, fluffing up the egg whites with air. The result is a featherweight pale pink puff.

Troll Cream Ingredients

Troll Cream in Progress

One of the things I love about having a Facebook page for Outside Oslo is the additional communication it fosters about Scandinavian food. When I made my first batch of troll cream, I was unsure that I was getting the whole picture as I opened book after book and searched the internet to try to find out the proper uses for it. With a texture and consistency far too ethereal for the dessert to stand on its own, it seemed to need a base, something to act as a foundation. I turned to you on Facebook and discovered not only a range of uses for trollkrem, but also how enthusiastic many of you are about Norwegian food. And that made me very, very happy.

From you I learned to put trollkrem in krumkaker (pictured here)–perhaps in the shape of cups rather than cones–and garnish it with mint. You also suggested filling sandbakkelse with trollkrem or using it to top pancakes. Growing up in a Norwegian-American family, krumkaker were always part of the holiday cookie trays, but we always ate them plain. Filled with trollkrem, the delicate cookies require just as much care in eating so that they don’t crumble all over, but the experience is much different, more akin to eating an ice cream cone. I’m still trying to find the perfect krumkaker recipe to share with you here, and when I do I’ll also try making them in the shape of cups, which cookbook author Astrid Karlsen Scott recommends.

If you don’t already follow Outside Oslo, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so today and join the conversation about Scandinavian food. You can subscribe via email or RSS, plus follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for trollkrem.

Trollkrem med KrumkakerTroll Cream (Trollkrem)

This particular technique is adapted from Authentic Norwegian Cooking by Astrid Karlsen Scott. If you have access to fresh lingonberries, you can use those instead of the preserves, adding some sugar to the recipe. If you’re concerned about raw egg whites, apparently it can be made with meringue powder as well, according to The Everything Nordic Cookbook, which has such a recipe. Scott suggests serving this in a crystal dessert bowl garnished with fresh lingonberries and mint leaves or in krumkakeskåler–krumkaker in the shape of cups.

2 egg whites
1/4 cup lingonberry preserves

Place the egg whites and lingonberry preserves in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed until the ingredients expand, quadrupling their volume. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes.

Serves 4.

Savoring the Seasons: Chicken with Baked Rhubarb

Dining Outside on Spring Day

Visiting Bergen back in the summer of 2008 I noticed something special about the Norwegians, the way they embraced the long hours of sunlight and milked the sunshine for every last drop. Out on ski boats in bikinis and swim trunks as the evening sun hovered lazily above the horizon, never seeming quite like it would ever fully set, the smiles never left their faces as their boats skimmed the surface of the golden water, bouncing along as it went. That image of pure bliss, of people relishing the moment, has stayed with me through the years, and it demonstrates a part of the Norwegian character that is not so unlike that of people in the Pacific Northwest.

Chicken with Rhubarb, Cucumber Salad, and Potatoes

Here, as in Norway, spring and summer are short, and hot, sunny days are rare. At least on this side of the Cascades. When such conditions happen, restaurants with outdoor seating fill up and the roads leading to any body of water become clogged with traffic. It seems ingrained in us to seek out the sun and to bask in its rays amongst strangers who are celebrating it as well.

Chicken with Rhubarb

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Each year I make a summer list, a collection of ideas and ideals, things that seem to capture the essence of the season. This year one of the first to surface is dining outside whenever possible. Though squinting our eyes in the bright sun and enduring the goosebumps that come from the breeze that even the warmest days can bring, we can hardly imagine anything better, while in the moment, than sitting amongst friends in the little bits of nature we try to create in our urban dwellings.

Please promise me, no matter where you live, that you will embrace the sunshine this spring and summer too, that you’ll get out there and enjoy meals on your patio or deck or front porch or the nearest park. Listen to the birds chirping and dogs barking and notice the warmth of the sun mingling with the gentle breeze on your skin. Breathe in the fresh air and smell the scent of flowers and grass being carried on the wind. The winters can seem so long and so dark, and moments like these are ones to savor.

Chicken with Rhubarb Served with Salad and Potatoes

Chicken with Baked Rhubarb and Cucumber-Radish Salad
When it comes to using foods in respect to their sources and peak seasons, Danish chef Trina Hahnemann is a star. Her book The Nordic Diet–from which this recipe is adapted–celebrates locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients with a collection of innovative recipes that are always fresh, always healthy, and totally satisfying. Hahnemann would have you using a whole organic or free-range chicken cut into eight pieces, along with organic raw sugar and goat-milk yogurt. If you choose to follow her lead, please do. I have modified it below for ease and convenience. This dish only needs potatoes to round it out (I recommend six medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes).

For the chicken:

8 chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
11 ounces rhubarb
1/4 cup raw sugar

For the salad:

1 medium cucumber (about 11 ounces)
1-2 bunches radishes (about 7 ounces)
Generous 1/3 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet or shallow ovenproof dish and season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes. While the chicken is roasting, cut the rhubarb into 1-inch slices on a long diagonal and toss in a medium-sized bowl to coat. After 30 minutes of roasting, remove the chicken from the oven and tuck the rhubarb pieces underneath the chicken and return to the oven to roast for 15 minutes longer.

To make the salad, peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into 1/4-inch slices and toss in a medium-sized bowl. Thinly slice the radishes and add them to the cucumber. Stir together the yogurt, garlic, mint, salt, and pepper, and add to the cucumbers and radishes, stirring until well combined.

Serves 4.

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Composed Salad of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Mâche, Egg, and Asparagus

Composed Salad with Smoked Salmon

I think it’s part of the collective food-lovers’ experience to crave salads as soon as spring rolls around. In contrast to the hearty dishes that have dominated our kitchens for months, salads seem to represent the fresh air, lightened moods, and sense of new beginnings that come with spring. So it seems appropriate, then, that my latest article for the Norwegian American Weekly features an original recipe for Composed Salad of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Mâche, Egg, and Asparagus.

This salad makes me think of a Norwegian variation on the salade Niçoise, which I love so much. Just as with that French favorite, this salad is fresh and light yet contains enough protein to make it a meal. Just butter a slice of bread and pour a sparkling beverage, and you’ll be set. Or, better, yet, pack it up and make it part of a Syttende Mai picnic if you live in a city that has a parade. Click here for the recipe, and enjoy!

Composed Salad with Smoked Salmon and Cucumber

Delicious Nostalgia: Boiled Cabbage with Butter and Dill

Cabbage with Butter and Dill

I wonder if all of us who cook bring a certain amount of nostalgia to the process. There are the dishes we remember from our childhood, those homey, cozy recipes that nothing can beat when it comes to comfort food. They are the staples of our family’s cooking repertoire that we come back to when we want a taste of home. And they satisfy, time and time again.

As a reluctant foodie, one who embodies the love of food that the term inhabits but chaffs at the title, I love chasing the next trend as much as the next enthusiastic eater. But it is the food of my youth and family heritage that intrigues me more than any.

Cabbage Half

Cabbage Slices

Outside Oslo has long been a means of discovery, a place where I can record and share what I’ve uncovered as I’ve explored the cuisine of Norway and its neighboring countries. I’ve featured some of my own family’s stories and recipes as well. Something I’ve discovered in the process is the value of hanging onto elements of the past as we move forward with the future. So much of a place’s history is evidenced in its cuisine; once you know a little bit about both, you can start seeing the correlation between the two. The same goes with family history. I love rummaging through my grandma Adeline’s old recipe boxes and her notebooks full of handwritten recipes. Through her handwriting and those of her friends and relatives, I find treasures that are priceless, and I am grateful that she has given me her collection now that she no longer cooks alone. Those recipes are filled with her stories and memories. Each time I get together with her to bake, I uncover little snippets of her life as she talks.

Dill and Cabbage

Cabbage in Pot

With all this about nostalgia in cooking, perhaps it won’t take much effort for me to convince you of the merits of writing about something as seemingly “anti-gourmet” as boiled cabbage on a food blog. To be honest, I wouldn’t have given this preparation a thought until I read about it in Nigel Slater’s Tender last week. In two paragraphs, this talented chef and author transformed my idea of boiled cabbage from a limp, soggy, tasteless mess into something luscious, incredibly simple, and comforting. Upon preparing it as a quick side dish for a weeknight meal, I was reminded of something deep in my past that I haven’t thought about for years: the steamed cabbage my mom used to make when I was growing up. I can’t remember the last time she made it, and I had forgotten how satisfying toothsome and nourishing it tasted. I guess some foods go out of fashion in families just like they do with global food trends. After rediscovering this though, I’ll be keeping it in my own cooking repertoire.

The key, I think, is in watching the cabbage carefully and removing it from the water at precisely the right moment. With a pat of butter, a sprinkling of salt, and some chopped fresh dill, the cabbage has a warm, thick yet silky quality and the flavors that any Norwegian would appreciate.

Cabbage with Dill

Boiled Cabbage with Butter and Dill
Inspired by Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater and many meals of my childhood

1/2 head cabbage
1-2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and liberally add salt. Meanwhile, slice cabbage into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide pieces and separate the leaves. Drop them in the water and cook just until the color begins to brighten and the cabbage softens slightly. This will take just a couple of minutes. Immediately remove the cabbage with a slotted spoon or sieve and allow to drain for a moment in a colander. Divide between two plates and top each serving with a pat of butter, a sprinkling of dill, and salt to taste. Serve immediately while still hot.

Note: Please don’t even consider making this in advance and reheating at serving time; fresh from the pot is best. Due to the quick preparation, it’s easy to prepare this recipe right before going to the table. If you’re preparing a meat dish that needs to rest, you can easily make the cabbage in those last few minutes as long as you have a pot of water boiling in advance.

Serves 2.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...