“Nordic in the Northwest”: My Article and Recipes in The Oregonian

Daytona with Oregonian Article

So, here it is: the article I have been longing to tell you about! Published yesterday as the centerpiece food piece in The Oregonian (with a front-page teaser!), “Nordic in the Northwest” examines the similarities between the way of eating in the Nordic countries and the Pacific Northwest, especially each region’s emphasis on local, seasonal foods.

I started working on this piece earlier in the summer, interviewing experts on Nordic cuisine, researching immigration to the Pacific Northwest from Scandinavia, and developing five original recipes. If that weren’t exciting enough, I got to do all the photography, with three images used in the package.

I designed the recipes to work together as an entire late-summer menu, though you can certainly pick and choose which ones to make. They honor traditional Scandinavian cooking while reflecting modern influences. With salmon, blueberries, and an assortment of produce figuring heavily in the menu, the recipes also emphasize eating local and seasonal as much as possible and in such a way that is relevant in the Pacific Northwest and the Nordic countries this time of year.

I’ve included some outtakes from the photo shoot here in this post. Please do feel free to pin them on Pinterest–in fact, I’d be honored if you did!

Grilled Salmon with Lemon Horseradish Cream

Seasonal Greens Salad with Cucumber

Rye Berry Salad with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Blueberry Fruit Soup

Reflecting on June

Dear Friends,

Let me invite you into my kitchen for just a few minutes on this hot summer afternoon. I have just slid a disk of dough into the refrigerator, where it will chill for the next hour or so. And right now I am simply sitting on a bar stool and sipping an ice cold sparkling water spiced with a few dashes of bitters. Time seems almost to be standing still, put on pause by the heatwave happening in the city right now. (I know, it’s relatively cool compared to other parts of the country, but for Seattle it’s hot.)

In my kitchen, the lights are off, the shades are drawn two-thirds of the way, to keep out the heat and prevent creating more. At least until it’s time to bake the tart! It’s quiet in here, except for the swishing of the water scrubbing dirty dishes inside the dishwasher. It’s June 30, and summer seems to finally have arrived here in Seattle–in terms of weather and activities. School and graduation and end-of-the-year parties and homework and tests and papers are all a couple of weeks behind us. Now there’s time to go to the farmers’ market, visit the beach, splash in the pool, go for long walks–whatever we want to do after work and on weekends. After being an MBA wife for three years, it’s taken a while to settle into the new routine, but it’s starting to sink in!

A month ago I sat down to map out some things I wanted to share with you here at Outside Oslo during the month of June. Now looking back at the month, I’m enjoying seeing how several of those posts panned out and how others turned out to be a surprise. With a quiet kitchen and hands freshly washed after massaging butter into flour to make a flaky, buttery crust, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past month here on the blog.

Rhubarb and Mackerel Collage

We played around with an interesting flavor combination with Norwegian Mackerel with Roasted Rhubarb early in the month.

Scandinavian Almond Cake with Tea

I shared a Scandinavian Almond Cake while thanking you for being such supportive, engaged, and encouraging readers.

Ice Cream Article

I announced my latest article in Pregnancy & Newborn magazine (homemade ice cream, anyone?)…Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam with Bread

…and shared recipes for Nordic Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

Bløtkake

…and Norwegian Bløtkake.

I reflected on the writing life

…and shared highlights from my interview with celebrity chef Tyler Florence.

Sweet-and-Sour Cucumber Salad

There were two cucumber salads

Midsummer Picnic

…and a Scandinavian-inspired Midsummer picnic enjoyed in the Methow Valley a few hours away from Seattle.

Strawberries in Cream

Finally, we celebrated the regal strawberry with one of the simplest and most delicious preparations.

Thanks again for reading Outside Oslo and for sharing your own experiences and memories of Scandinavian food with me. I always love hearing from you.

Wherever you are, I hope you are staying cool and enjoying the start of summer.

Until next time,

Daytona

Dill in Scandinavian Cooking

Dill Sauce

When it comes to understanding Scandinavian cuisine, I’ve had to take a few steps back from my own experience and look at how the dishes and desserts I grew up eating fit within the culinary traditions of a people and a place. Sometimes just being in the midst of it–especially in one’s youth–provides the enjoyment of the moment without the appreciation or understanding of perspective.

Such was my experience with the holiday meals my dad’s parents served on Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was growing up. The pork roast, medisterkaker, surkål, steamed vegetables, and rice cream were standard fare at their house, and on one hand I knew that we were eating a Norwegian spread. But on the other hand, it took a trip to Norway as an adult, along with an active exploration of the foods of my heritage, for me to fully grasp the gift I had been given by experiencing those home-cooked meals year after year.

Tomato Salad with Dill

Since starting Outside Oslo several years ago, I’ve enjoyed having an outlet for sharing my explorations of Scandinavian cuisine and an excuse to get to know more fully what defines the foods of the Nordic countries. As I seek to build culinary traditions in my own home that reflect my family’s heritage, I love that I get to collect those notes and ideas and recipes here–and that you share your feedback and your own experiences as well!

The other day I built a meal around a commonly-used ingredient: dill. Danish food writer Camilla Plum, in her book The Scandinavian Kitchen, calls dill “the ultimate Nordic herb,” and I agree. In the early days of my Scandinavian culinary exploration, dill was one of the flavors that seemed to most represent the cuisine. It flavors everything from gravlax to cucumber salads with its grassy, springlike taste.

Green Beans and Mushrooms with Dill Vinaigrette

As I explored dill in Scandinavian cooking the other night, the main course was cod served with a creamy dill sauce–a traditional way of serving fish. For the accompaniments, I branched out and allowed the flavor to be my guide as I shopped for vegetables, choosing bright red tomatoes and alluring green beans to bring home.

A tomato salad came together easily, with a simple dressing of olive oil and red wine vinegar to accent the flavors of the tomato and dill. Thinking of what flavors would best suit a dill vinaigrette for green beans and mushrooms, I combined white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard, whisking in walnut oil to give it a soft, nutty profile that would pull all the flavors together.

I have included all three recipes here, two of them Outside Oslo originals. What are your favorite ways to work dill into your cooking? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Cold Dill Sauce
Serve this sauce–adapted from Scandinavian Classics by Niklas Ekstedt–with cod prepared in any way you’d like; broiling is an easy way.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 packed cup chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sugar, to taste

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the salt and sugar to dissolve into the cream.

Green Beans and Mushrooms with Dill Vinaigrette
An Outside Oslo original

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 pound green beans
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
Salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Stir together vinegar, mustard, and salt in a small bowl until the ingredients are combined and the salt has dissolved. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the walnut oil and continue to whisk until emulsified. Gently stir in chopped dill. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Vinaigrette can be made several hours in advance.)

Steam green beans until tender. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet, then add mushrooms and sauté until cooked but still al dente; season with a little bit of salt.

Arrange green beans on a platter, and top with mushrooms. Scatter sliced almonds over the vegetables, and drizzle the vinaigrette on top.

Grape Tomato Salad with Dill
An Outside Oslo original

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Stir together vinegar and salt in a small bowl, then slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Toss vinaigrette with the tomatoes until coated, then arrange in a shallow serving dish. Sprinkle chopped dill over tomatoes and serve.

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