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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smørbrød, or, Something to Eat When You're Tired of Turkey

I hosted a dinner party on Thanksgiving weekend and wanted it to resemble turkey and trimmings as little as possible. So, a Scandinavian theme! We started the evening with gjetost on Kavli with butter and honey, and then four different smørbrød. Smørbrød (this is the Norwegian spelling; the Danes say smörrebröd) literally means "buttered bread," but has come to mean small, fancy open-faced sandwiches. Web research and cookbooks told me a smørbrød layout usually starts with fish and eggs, proceeds with liver, and then moves on to red meat, so that's what we did.


First up (ingredients in order of assembly): rye bread (I found small loaves of thinly sliced bread at the grocery store, labeled "party slices"), butter, spinach, cucumber, scrambled eggs, herbed chèvre, ivory smoked Chinook salmon, dill. To make perfect scrambled eggs, whisk 8-10 eggs with 2 oz softened cream cheese, salt and pepper until cream cheese is in small bits, then cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just set.


Next: sourdough, butter, forgot the spinach, Chop chicken liver pâté with pistachios and brandy-soaked currants, homemade cranberry sauce (thanks to J's mom!), crispy onions.


Aaaaah: pumpernickel, butter, spinach, havarti, thinly-sliced rare-side-of-medium steak (this was the last steak from our 1/16, a cube steak, but I think any steak would work), tomato, plain or pickled thinly sliced red onion, minced flat-leaf parsley.

I made my own pickled red onion: halve onion pole to pole, peel, then slice very thin with a mandoline. Toss sliced onions in a small bowl with a tablespoon of kosher salt, top with a cup or two of ice cubes, then let sit for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, make a sugar-vinegar solution. I think I started out with a cup of sugar and a half-cup of vinegar, and then added another half-cup of vinegar when it seemed too syrupy and not like the refrigerator pickles I remembered my dad making when I was a kid. I think next time I'll try replacing half the vinegar with water, to make them a tad less potent. Anyway, you'll probably need to heat the vinegar some for the sugar to dissolve completely, and a quick zap in the microwave did the trick for me. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, set it aside to cool while the onions sit. After a couple of hours, pick out the ice cubes and drain the onions well, then stir them into the sweet brine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.


Finally: Trader Joe's European-style whole grain bread, butter, forgot the spinach, jarlsberg, Swedish potato sausage, sour cream, chives. This was the only combo that wasn't spot-on perfect. I think the bread was a bit dense, and the whole thing needed something to moisten and tang it up. Or maybe it just seemed bland after the very exciting steak sandwich that came before it.

Once everyone had polished off the assembled sandwiches, I hauled out all the raw ingredients (there were leftovers of almost everything other than the tomato) and let my guests build their own smørbrød until they couldn't eat any more (I was fine with just the four!):


For dessert? Riskrem, aka Norwegian Christmas Rice Pudding. I can't give you an exact recipe on this, since I didn't measure anything. Essentially, though, you cook arborio rice (maybe 1 1/2 C?) in whole milk (6 C?) with a little salt until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (there should still be some, though, as the rice will continue to soak it up as it cools). Then you stir in sugar (1/2-3/4 C) and vanilla (2 t) and let cool. Then you whip a cup or so of cream and fold it in, along with (if you want) the prize almond (I skipped it this time). Serve with jam (I had rhubarb-ginger, tayberry and cloudberry) and cookies (ginger thins + Danish butter cookies).
Copenhagen Butter Cookies
from Sheila Lukins' All Around the World Cookbook

1 C unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C superfine sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
2 C flour

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until thoroughly combined, but not fluffy. Mix in the flour just until it's fully incorporated. Form the dough into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Either cut dough log into scant-1/4" slices, or let the dough warm up just a little before rolling and cutting. Bake at 350 until the edges are golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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2 Comments:

Blogger The Laundry Queen said...

Looks good. You've been a busy blogger as of late. Keep it up.

December 8, 2010 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Rebekka Seale said...

Yum...and it just sounds so fun!

December 20, 2010 at 1:03 PM  

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