Salmon from the grave (gravlax)

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Something that we Swedes eat for pretty much every holiday is cured salmon, or as we call it – gravlax (salmon from the grave). It got it name from the fact that fishermen used to ferment it by burying fish in the sand by the high-tide line for a while (probably flavoured by some brackish Baltic sea water) but I promise you, it works just as well to make it in a plastic bag in your fridge.

The taste is similar to smoked salmon but with a slightly different consistency (it kind of melts in your mouth!). It’s quite expensive to buy pre-made and believe it or not – dead easy to make at home! All you need is:

1 filet of pre-frozen salmon (buy it previously frozen or have it in the freezer and then de-frost before you make it)

1 large ziploc plastic bag

Per 1kg salmon:

  • 3 tbs salt
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1½ tsp white pepper corns
  • 150 ml chopped fresh dill

Mix the salt, sugar and ground pepper corns in a bowl.

spread the mix out evenly on two pieces of salmon filet (I kind of rubbed it in a little too).

Add the chopped dill on top and press the two filet pieces together.

Put the whole package in a sealed plastic bag and let sit in the fridge for 3 days. make sure to flip the package half way through so that everything gets evenly cured.

The picture below is from the original recipe where they did it between two plates instead of in a bag:

Gravad lax

Once the 3 days have passed, take your filets out and scrape off the dill & pepper (you could wash it lightly if you want to make it a little less salty). Finish by cutting thin slices along the fish like in the picture.

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Serve rolled up like little roses to get the perfect midsummer smörgåsbord:

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Borscht with a tomato twist

Summer heat is gone, and it’s time to enjoy the last few dinners on the patio. I love to make some hearty soup at this time of year, and since I’m a huge fan of beats, the traditional borscht is a natural choice to make. This time though, I thought I should include some of our enormous tomato harvest in it, and what would fit better than some tomatoes of the variety “Black russians”.

Here’s what I put in the soup:

  • Pulp from ~20 black russian tomatoes
  • 2 large beets
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a chunk of red cabbage
  • two spoons of vegetable stock mix
  • 2 bayleafs
  • ground black pepper
  • hungarian paprika powder
  • fresh cilantro (parsley works good too)
  • olive oil
  • 500 ml water
  • sour cream

I started by chopping onions, carrots and garlic finely and frying them in some olive oil in a large pot. To avoid getting the tomato peels in the soup, I grilled them in the oven for about 10 min and then pressed them through a sieve into the pot and threw out the peels. To make the beets cook faster, I peeled and grated them before putting them into the soup. Depending on how much juice you got out of the tomatoes, add water (I added another 500 ml). Add spices and let simmer until the beets and carrots are soft. Add some chopped cabbage and cilantro last to keep some crunch in the cabbage and the flavour of the cilantro.

Serve with a spoon of sour cream, some fresh ciabatta and fried chantarelles (if you have some :).

Jammin’ in the okanagan

All jam-making normally starts with a nice little adventure of fruit picking. Here in Kelowna, BC, we harvest apricots from an abandoned tree by the university (if we get to them before the wasps) and heaps of raspberries from our backyard. Blueberries don’t really grow in the dry forests around here, but you can buy them for cheap from some farmers that cultivate them.

Once you’ve got the berries all you need is two large pots, some old jars and a bunch of sugar (and spices if you want to mix things up a bit).

The amount of sugar you need to add depends on if the fruit is sour or sweet. I normally just fill up with sugar so that it looks like the fruit/berries are somewhat covered. In most cases you don’t need to add water, the sugar will dissolve the fruit into nice a juicy jam.

When the jam is boiling (on low heat so that it doesn’t burn) foam will form on the surface. Remove the foam by scooping it off with a spoon since you don’t want it to end up in the jars.

Once the jam has boiled for a while and reached a nice consistency (it will be rinnier hot than once it’s cooled down), put the empty jars and their lids in a boiling water bath to kill potential pathogens and then while the jam and the jars are still hot, fill the jars with jam and seal the lids. Let the jars rest until they cool down, then the lids will pop down and seal. A lot of people buy new jars or lids, but I’ve always just used old olive jars or jam jars with their lids and it has worked just fine, as long as you make sure to boil everything.

The end result might look something like this:

Here are some of the flavour-mixes for this year’s harvest:

From the left: Apricot-ginger-cinnamon (made with fresh chopped ginger and cinnamon sticks), Raspberry-lime and Blueberry-vanilla (made with a dried vanilla pod that I cut open).

My favourite out of the bunch is the blueberry-vanilla one. It has a perfectly balanced sweetness and the hint of vanilla coats your mouth in a smooth and comforting way. I actually got the idea to combine bluberry and vanilla from a jam I got from my friend Amanda that she had bought in a cheese store in Umeå where they make cheese and jam pairings. It is considered a good complement to soft cheeses like a brie or a cambozola and I can guarantee that it sure is!

My own little red lentil lasagna

When it’s really hot outside, warm meals can feel a little too much, but I feel a good pasta dish still tastes great under the gazing sun, and here’s my recipe for a lighter version of lasagna  – without any meat!

All you need is:

Filling

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbs vegetable stock
  • ~ 200 ml red lentils
  • corn kernels from a fresh corn cob
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • A handfull of kalamata olives.
  • fresh oregano
  • fresh basil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek

Fry the onions in some oil and then add the chopped tomatoes, lentils and stock. Let simmer until the lentils are soft, then add the rest of the vegetables and spices.

Bechamèl sauce

  • 100 g butter
  • 500 ml milk
  • 3 tbs flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Melt the butter in a pot with a thick bottom, stir in the flour little by little. Then add the milk and wait for it to come to a boil while stirring continuously. Be creful so it doesn’t burn. Keep it at a low heat and once the sauce has thickened, take it off the element.

Once you have the filling and the sauce, layer it in a glass pan with lasagna plates. Finish with a layer of bechamèl sauce and some grated cheese.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for about 20-30 min. Take out when the lasagna has a nice colour and the plates are softened.