Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice

There is a rolling continuum of the ingredients I cook with throughout the year, mounds of rhubarb in late spring toppling into the berries of summer, mingling on occasion in recipes like Nordic rhubarb and strawberry jam. In this way, fruits and vegetables help mark the changing seasons, ushering one gracefully into the next. Around this time each summer, when the midday sun begins to compete with the moist marine air around Seattle and the leaves begin their gradual display of changing colors, I feel compelled to embrace tomatoes, still vibrant and full of flavor, as often as I can and buy corn to grill for an outdoor meal, even if we must pull a sweater up over our shoulders while we dine.

This time of year, we do a lot of grilling. My husband prepares good quality meat or fish, seasoning it simply with olive oil and sea salt and maybe a little pepper and puts it on the grill while I make the side dishes and set the table. On Friday evening we needed little more than lamb chops and a couple of simple salads to make a meal.

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice and Tomato Salad

Cucumber salads have figured prominently in my home in recent months, with the sweet-and-sour cucumber salad and cucumber salad with dill that I made for June’s Midsummer picnic and a creamy salad of cucumber and radish. There are any number of varieties in Scandinavian cuisine, and even with similar ingredient lists they can taste much different, depending on technique, the palate and taste preferences of the cook, and the seasonings. I veered away from the traditional Nordic varieties this past weekend, taking cues from David Tanis’ Heart of the Artichoke instead. Peeling the cucumber and slicing it into half moons, I dressed it with yogurt seasoned with garlic, fresh dill and mint, and drizzled olive oil and sprinkled red pepper flakes over the top. Adding a simple salad of heirloom tomatoes, we were set.

Heirloom Tomatoes on Board

Soon enough the tomatoes will make way for the foods of autumn. Apples are already making their way into my baking, and soon artichokes and Brussels sprouts will take up significant parts of our meals. And don’t forget the squash and root vegetables that conjure up all the cozy nostalgia of autumns past. One season is beginning its gradual roll into the next, but I’ll hold onto every last bit of summer as long as I can.

Tomatoes and Summer Dinner

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Spice
Inspired by the Cucumbers and Yogurt in Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

1 large cucumber
Salt and pepper
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 garlic clove, pressed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Red pepper flakes

Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise, then slice into half moons about 1/3-inch thick. Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add yogurt, garlic, olive oil, mint, and dill, and stir. Refrigerate while you’re preparing the rest of your meal–try to give it at least a half an hour. Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and drizzle olive oil over the top.

Serves 4.

Kräftskiva, Swedish Crayfish Party

Swedish Crayfish Party with Dill

It’s been a quiet week here in my little corner of the world, and to my dismay a quiet one on the blog as well. I have spent the entire week sick, and while it hasn’t kept me from working toward essential deadlines, I’ve had to take it easy and also decline invitations for some quintessentially summer events in Seattle (boating? On a sunny summer evening? I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to miss that).

As August nears a close and I reflect back on the summer, however, I have to say that it’s been a good one. My husband’s MBA graduation, a Midsummer picnic out of town, picking berries and freezing them for special treats as the weather cools down, the majority of dinners eaten outside on the patio, and plenty of writing, recipe development, and recipe testing to keep me inspired–I can’t complain. To top it off, last Friday I hosted a kräftskiva-inspired crayfish dinner for the family, complete with the requisite aquavit and Scandinavian beer.

While my own roots are entirely Norwegian, there are some Swedish connections on my husband’s side, so I enjoyed researching the traditional Swedish crayfish party and holding one of my own.

Swedish Crayfish Party Sides

Lemon and Crayfish

Kräftskiva–as the parties are called–typically take place in August as a throwback to the times when crayfish were limited to this time of year. Sweden used to be the world’s biggest crayfish exporter, I read in Scandinavian Classics by Niklas Ekstedt, but now–nearly a century after the crayfish plague there–the country is now the world’s biggest importer. An interesting turn of events, to be sure. Much of the crayfish now comes from China, but that doesn’t stop people in Sweden from going all out and enjoying a Scandinavian feast as festive and abundant as any other.

The menu typically features crayfish cooked in a brine flavored with crown dill, served with a variety of cheeses, bread, flatbread, pickled herring, potatoes, beer, and schnapps (aquavit). We took some liberties with the traditional menu, extending the country of origin for some of our items to neighboring Norway and Denmark (even in Seattle, a distinctly Scandinavian city, we do have limitations in what’s readily available). We also served the crayfish alongside Alaskan salmon, freshly caught by my father-in-law who had just returned from vacation (it’s hard to make a meal out of crayfish alone, after all). I should add that if you don’t know where to find fresh crayfish, I found mine frozen at Ikea last week.

Before August comes to a close, I thought I’d take a moment to share with you my menu from last week, along with links to the recipes that I used. Next year I’ll do it up a little more, adding the crayfish streamers lanterns, and other trappings that traditionally accompany these events. But I have to say, the menu was a success, and people were talking about the event for days.

Outside Oslo’s 2013 Kräftskiva Menu
Crayfish with Lemony Mayonnaise and Lemon Wedges
Fresh Alaskan King Salmon
Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing
Assortment of Scandinavian Cheese
Various crispbread and bread
Pickled Herring
Linie Aquavit
Karlsson’s Gold Vodka
Carlsberg

Swedish Crayfish Party Feast with Salmon

Danish Blue Cheese Salad

Danish Blue Cheese Salad Vertical

To paint with light–that is what photographers do.

That idea, a way to reshape the way I look at the world, is the one nugget that’s stayed with me all these years since I was first studying photography.

Fast forward from the late 1990s to the present, I’ve been switching from film to digital this year as I relearn the art of SLR photography. Although technology has evolved, film has become a niche, and time has clouded much of what I learned back then, one thing is still the same: the science of light and the way it wraps around an object, enveloping it with its invisible yet transformative qualities.

Radishes and Salad

Armed with a new DSLR camera and taking workshops here and there, my eyes are being reopened to the beauty of the world around me–in particular, the beauty of food.

Just take a look at a bunch of radishes, their magenta skin glowing and contrasting with the green leaves. Exact opposites on the color wheel. Nature. Art.

Radishes on Plate Vertical

When food is this pretty in its raw, whole form, it deserves to retain its dignity when integrated into a dish.

That’s one of the things I love about this Danish blue cheese salad. Isn’t it pretty? On a bed of curly lettuce, thinly-sliced cucumbers and radishes nestle together with sliced cherry tomatoes, a trace of shaved onion, fresh dill, and crumbled blue cheese. It’s so simple there’s almost nothing to it. The dressing–oil and vinegar accented with a little mustard, salt, and sugar–highlights the salad’s flavors without drawing attention to itself.

Crisp, fresh, summery. No one ingredient dominant, except perhaps the blue cheese with its pungent pop of flavor. Just right.

Of course, presentation is important–ingredients this beautiful want to be dressed up, allowed to shine.

Danish Blue Cheese Salad Horizontal

In some regards, photography has been reminding me about how lucky we are to have access to so much good food. Quality, whole ingredients–radishes, tomatoes, artichokes, you name it–possess a special beauty that their canned and frozen counterparts lack. As I’ve been studying photography and applying what I’m learning to my own work, I’ve been reflecting on the luxury that living in Seattle provides; as I mentioned the other day, the city has a multitude of farmers markets, some of which operate year-round, and it’s no problem to find grocery stores stocking quality, whole, organic items. Eating well is easy.

Circling back to the idea of painting with light, consider that the next time you sit down to eat something fresh. Look at the reflections and shadows, the range of colors and textures, and how they all work together to create something beautiful. See if taking the visual nature of food into account doesn’t somehow elevate its taste. It sure does for me.

Lettuce and Salad Closeup

Danish Blue Cheese Salad
Adapting a recipe from Scandinavian Feasts by Beatrice Ojakangas, I added dill and tomatoes, giving it an extra special summery touch. I resisted the urge to swap the canola oil and white wine vinegar with more special versions; I’m glad I did, as the resulting salad is just right. 

1 head curly green lettuce
1 small bunch radishes
1 2-inch length of cucumber
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese (or other blue cheese of your choice; I used Stilton)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly-ground black pepper (optional)

Prepare the salad ingredients and place them in individual prep bowls: Wash and dry the lettuce then tear roughly into pieces; thinly slice radishes, cucumbers, and onion with a mandoline; cut tomatoes in half; and roughly chop dill.

To make the dressing, combine vinegar, mustard, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Slowly pour the oil into the vinegar while whisking, allowing the ingredients to combine.

Assemble the salads by dividing the lettuce between six plates and topping with radish and cucumber slices. Place a little sliced onion on the top of each salad, then arrange tomato halves around. Scatter blue cheese and dill over each salad. Just before serving, spoon the dressing over each salad. Top with a little freshly-ground black pepper if desired.

Serves 6.

Plums with Blue Cheese, Walnuts, and Crispbread

Plums with Blue Cheese and Dill

Circles of rye crisp roughly broken, sweet-tart plums and pluots oozing pink juices, creamy blue cheese releasing its pungent aroma from where it sits on a platter–these are the makings of a summer appetizer that came together the other day in preparation for a family dinner.

Crispbread and Plums

Red Stone Fruit

We strive to eat with the seasons in my home–berries and corn in the summer, apples and squash in the fall. I’ve been noticing lately that with its emphasis on seasonal and local foods, Seattle’s approach to eating mirrors the Nordic culinary philosophy. Farmers markets pop up all over the city, some running year-round. Many people plant edible gardens. Foraging for berries and mushrooms is a favorite pastime.

Today’s recipe, while hardly traditional, reflects that seasonal sensibility and makes use of some favorite Scandinavian ingredients. I’ll be honest, I manage to get to the farmers market less frequently than I would like. But even though the grocery stores around here stock virtually all types of produce all year long, I take care to shop wisely and focus on what’s fresh and at the peak of deliciousness. In this case, plums and pluots.

Cheese with Nuts and Plums

Four Plums

Plums with Blue Cheese

They’re pretty, aren’t they? After attending a food styling and photography workshop with Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille this past weekend, I couldn’t wait to apply what I had learned in the dishes that I would create at home. These deep purple black plums and speckled orange pluots caught my eye and as I gathered a few to put in my cart, an appetizer began to take shape in my mind. Creamy blue cheese to offset the tart sweetness of the fruit, walnuts to give crunch, bright green dill for color, a drizzle of honey, and some crispbbread–that’s all it would take.

Simplicity in the kitchen has been a hard thing for me to learn, but time and time again I see proof that when you start with good ingredients, you don’t need to do much to make them shine. This particular recipe requires no cooking, only requiring that you start with the best ingredients you can find and that you slow down and enjoy the process of preparing the ingredients and lovingly arranging them on a platter. Once it’s ready, bring it out to your guests, open up some ice-cold refreshing beers, and sit down and enjoy the summer sun.

Plums and Walnuts

Crispbread with Plums and Blue CheesePlums with Blue Cheese, Walnuts, and Crispbread
An Outside Oslo Original

4 plums, or a combination of plums and pluots
6 ounces blue cheese*
3 ounces walnuts
1 small bunch fresh dill
Honey, for drizzling
2 large circles of crispbread, roughly broken into large pieces

Halve the plums, discard the pits, and cut into thin wedges. Arrange on a platter with the blue cheese and walnuts. Roughly chop the dill and scatter over the fruit. Drizzle honey over the fruit and serve with a bowl of crispbread pieces.

Serves 6.

*I used gorgonzola for this recipe. If you enjoy the strong flavor of Danish blue cheese, then go ahead and use it for an extra Scandinavian touch; I wanted to create a dish that would please a wide range of palates so I chose something a little lighter.

Plums on Norwegian Tray

Picking Strawberries at Biringer Farm

Strawberry Pickers

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most pleasant, enjoyable combinations of time and place that I can imagine. Neither chilly nor too hot, the days are typically sunny and just warm enough to allow for flip flops and tank tops, sundresses and shorts. Upon first sight of the summer sun, people flock to the many lakes to sprawl out on the grass, take a stroll, or get out on boats. With my love of food, summer to me means a chance to embrace the bounty of summer produce with its refreshing, sweet vegetables and luscious, jewel-toned fruit.

This past week I had a chance to go berry picking up at Biringer Farm in Arlington, about 50 miles north of Seattle. Catching strawberry season just in time, I joined a number of people who made their way slowly along the rows of bushes, pushing leaves aside with their hands in search for perfectly-ripened berries. Over the course of an hour or so, I relaxed and enjoyed the summer sun as I collected a flat’s worth of berries to take home. They’re in my freezer now, waiting for me to decide what to make. I’m thinking of a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but am also considering distinctly Scandinavian options. If you have any ideas, leave a comment–I’d love to hear from you!

Biringer Farm Entrance

Tractor at Biringer Farm

Strawberries in Field

Strawberry Picking Diptych

Tractor in Strawberry Field

Picking Strawberries

Biringer Farm Equipment

Biringer Farms Strawberry Fields Diptych

Strawberry Flat

All photos are by Daytona Strong; some appeared in a post on her other blog, The Flying Salmon, at Wanderlust & Lipstick.

Nordic Blueberry Tart with Rye

Rye and Blueberry Tart with Berries

June 25, 3:45 p.m. - The velvety smell of melted butter mingling with oozing blueberries permeates my kitchen right now as a rye and berry tart bakes. The aroma lures me from the sofa where I am opening a new book I am eager to read. I set the book down and walk over to the oven, opening the door and beholding what I see inside. The crust, made from organic all-purpose flour mixed with dark rye flour, has turned a golden brown. The sour cream-based filling has puffed up, transforming from a thin coating at the bottom of the shell into a plump, luscious filling that cradles the glistening purple berries. In just a few minutes, the tart will be ready to remove from the oven. I will set it down on a wire rack and wait, resisting the urge to slide a knife through the hot filling and take a bite while it is still warm. Such is the discipline of a baker. The pastry still warm from the oven is one of the greatest temptations. Waiting must sometimes be accompanied by diversions. So I will return to the sofa, pick up my book, and begin to read.

Blueberries

Rye and Blueberry Tart

Nordic Blueberry Tart with Rye
This attractive and delicious tart, adapted (barely) from the Nordic Bakery Cookbook, features a crust made from a combination of all-purpose flour and dark rye flour. The proportions mentioned below come from the original recipe and produce results that are sure to please. Since I enjoy the taste of rye, I’ll try increasing the amount of rye flour next time and might even try substituting the all-purpose flour with some other types.

For the crust:

6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the filling:

2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
10 ounces blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable base. Prepare the crust by beating butter and sugar until well mixed, then gradually beating in the egg. Add the flours and baking powder and mix to create a dough. Press the dough into the tart pan, evenly covering the bottom and sides.

Make the filling by mixing together the sour cream, heavy cream, egg, sugar, and almond extract, then pour into the crust. Evenly distribute the blueberries over the filling and bake until the filling has set and the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

Blueberries

Tart Dough Ingredients

Pouring Filling into Shell

Filling Tart with Blueberries

Rye and Blueberry Tart

Tart with Berries

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

The Essence of Summer in a Bowl of Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

Carrots to kale, asparagus to zucchini, rhubarb to strawberries–such is the progression of produce finding its way to markets throughout the year. At this particular moment, strawberries abound. The crimson berries dotted with tiny ovoid seeds mark the season as well as any calendar could. No wonder Norwegians are excited about their strawberries: These sun-kissed morsels must sparkle brilliantly after the long, dark months of winter.

Plate of Strawberries

When at their peak, strawberries require little adornment to shine. One needs only to bite into the juicy berry to experience this gift of nature at its best. Today I offer you an idea for how to enjoy the regal strawberry in a manner almost as simple and pure as it is when it comes from nature. The taste of strawberries and cream brings me back to my childhood experiences of summer, as I suspect it may for you as well.

Strawberries and Cream

I need to provide you no recipe today, only to encourage you to take a few vivid red berries from your next market trip, slice them roughly, and plop them into the bottom of a white porcelain or ceramic bowl. Scoop a teaspoon into a canister of sugar and shake it over the berries ever so gently, watching the granules begin to dissolve as they come in contact with the berries’ moist surface. With the care of an artist, gently tilt the carton of cream over the bowl and pour the opaque liquid over the berries, forgetting about restraint and calories and fat just this once. Allow the cream to pool around the berries, caressing them with its satin touch. Scoop up one of those sugar-coated creamy berries with that teaspoon, slide it into your mouth, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Strawberries in Cream

 

Midsummer Picnic in the Meadow (and Thoughts on the Writing Life)

Valley Floor

I sip my tea as I sit down to write, the aromas of rose petals and cardamom pods wafting up from the steaming mug. The floral spiced black tea, purchased at Samovar Tea Lounge during a New Year’s trip to San Francisco, brings back memories of a weekend celebrating with dear friends. I have come to enjoy these quiet moments, times when I sit down and simply reflect and write, taking the time to think and imagine, to contemplate and to create.

I never take for granted this gift, to be a writer–an artist whose canvas is the keyboard. My medium consists of the letters and words that form the sentences, paragraphs, pages, and posts that I write. As I look back on my teenage years and my 20s, I see that this is where I’ve been headed all along. Although I–as every writer does–occasionally have moments of self-doubt, I know this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

One of the benefits of the writing life is the preservation of memories. Reading old blog posts, journal entries, and articles takes me back to moments in time that exist only in my catalogue of memories. Often needing a prompt to come to the surface, they reappear when I read such records.

Thanks to this, I will always remember a Midsummer picnic shared in the Methow Valley with my husband and son last week. With the school year behind us and my husband done with three years of graduate school, we took off last week for some time away at a lodge nestled in the valley near the North Cascades National Park about four hours away from Seattle.

Valley View plus Flowers

On Friday we set out for a secluded meadow dotted with wildflowers and rimmed with trees. Emerging at the entrance to the meadow after a long drive through winding, rugged roads, we found a patch just right for a picnic and settled down to eat. It being Midsummer, I had prepared a Scandinavian-inspired meal consisting of the cucumber salads I shared recipes for last week; salmon and pickled herring; an assortment of cheeses from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark; and dill- and parsley potatoes adapted from Molly Wizenburg’s blog; among other treats. (Hint: Follow Molly’s recipe until you get to the herbs, then swap them out with a quarter cup each of chopped dill and chopped parsley–the results appear simple yet are tender, moist, and flavorful).

Tailgate

Cucumber Salad, Tailgate

For those hours we spent in the meadow, life moved at a slower pace. We breathed in the fresh, pure air and listened to the gentle swishing and crunching of grass and twigs as we walked along a trail. Each of us knew this was special, even the normally-active little boy who was content to simply sit on his father’s lap and ride on his shoulders, savoring this time as a family.

Picnic Basket in Meadow

It has been alternately sunny and rainy back home in Seattle since we returned, summer taking a while to arrive as usual. But life is beginning to take on the pace of the season, with a freer schedule, no homework or classes, and the promise of more road trips, picnics, and memories just waiting for us to create.

I leave you today with a collection of photos from our Midsummer picnic. I also encourage you to get out there this summer and share a picnic or two with those you love, capturing the memories through words, photos, paint, or whatever medium you choose. Life is so full of beautiful moments begging to be embraced.

Until next time,

Daytona

Midsummer Picnic

Cheese and Cucumbers

Midsummer Picnic Spread

Tree in Meadow

Tree Branches

Trees in Forest and Tree Trunk

Pine Needles

Forest Floor

Meadow Floor

Wildflowers in Meadow

Purple and Yellow Wildflowers

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
Salt
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.

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