Having lunch the Swedish way

 

 A Swedish lunch

 

 Yes, frozen fries and yes, shop-bought sausages (although flown in from Sweden).

What makes this lunch so special is the knäckebröd (lit. “bread that cracks”) at the back and this really, really fresh mayonnaise (just made by yours truly).

Let me tell you, after having made a bucket load of mayo with 30 yolks (which I separated myself) nothing tastes as gloriously delicious as a plate full of chips (my friend must be telepathic) with a dollop of the mayo you just made. If you don’t believe me, try it.

I know you can separate the yolks using the broken egg shells but I do it the Nigella way: using my hands I pass the yolk back and forth between the palms of my hands until all the egg white has squeezed out and only the yolk remains.

Do it in a small separate bowl, one egg white at a time just in case the yolk breaks. This way you won’t have to ruin the 30-odd egg whites should you want to use them for meringues or any other egg-white- only concoction.

Once made, you can enrich this mayonnaise with either lemon or lime juice to taste  (for my serving I added a generous squeeze of lemon juice).

Because I was making such a huge batch I played it by ear, as I do most of the time. I am giving you a few recipes with proper quantities, though.

I also used Swedish mustard to do this mayonnaise (English mustard is too strong but Dijon mustard is OK).

As for the vinegar, whatever you do, use red wine vinegar NOT white.

The sausages, by the way, are fried falukorv, not unlike German frankfurters.

 What you see, almost at the back of the plate is Swedish knäckebröd.

My Swedish dictionary gives the translation of knäck [knek:] knäcken knäckar  as “to break” so I was right in my assumption that the name meant more “crack” as in “cracking” than crisp bread as it is normally referred to in English.

When you roll it out, really thin, please consider using a pasta machine to do this if you have one; it will save you many a headache. Once it’s baked and has cooled down, just break it into big, irregular pieces and serve as canapés with some smoked salmon, sour cream and dill. 

Another great idea for serving is spreading some ricotta (not much!) and top with smoked salmon and grated lemon zest.

These traditional crispbreads were originally made with a hole in the centre so that they could be hung over the oven to keep dry. Nowadays, they keep well in an airtight container knäckebröd is also sometimes made with rolled oats, in a similar way to Scottish pancakes.

Knäckebröd  (Swedish crisp bread) – adapted from Swedish Food and Cooking by Anna Mosesson

Makes 15

 600ml/1 pint/2 ½ cups milk

50g/2oz fresh yeast (use half the quantity if using dry yeast)

565g/1 1/4 lb/5 cups rye flour plus

225g/8oz/2 cups for dusting

565g/1 1/4 lb/5 cups  strong white bread flour

10ml/2 tsp caraway or cumin seeds

5ml/1 tsp. salt

 

  1. Put the milk in a pan and heat gently until warm to the touch. Remove from the heat. In a bowl, blend the yeast with a little of the warmed milk. Add the remaining milk then add the rye flour, bread flour, caraway or cumin seeds and salt and mix together to form a dough.
  2. Using the rye flour for dusting, turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 2 minutes. Cut the dough into 15 equal pieces then roll out each piece into a thin, flat round. Place on a baking sheets and leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Using the rye flour, roll out the pieces of dough again into very thin, flat rounds. Return to the baking sheets. Make a pattern on the surface using a fork or a knife.
  4. Bake the breads in the oven for 8-10 minutes, turning after about 5 minutes, until hard and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Store the breads in an airtight container.

 

Tip: great used for canapés, just cracked and some smoked salmon and sour cream with dill on top. 

Another tip: The Swedes use a special rolling pin with a knobbly surface to create the distinctive texture of this hard bread. An ordinary rolling pin is a good substitute, with the speckled texture created with the head of a fork or a knife end.

 

Mayonnaise (all the varieties you can possibly imagine) 

Very easy and good mayonnaise adapted from the Mosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

Yields 3 ½ cups

 

 Beat together in blender:

 ½ cup vinegar (you can use part, or all, lemon or lime juice)

1 tsp. honey

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. tamari

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

gradually drizzle in 2 ½ cups mixed olive and sunflower oil (or one, or the other) while blender is still running in a trickle and continuously.

The mayonnaise will become thick as the oil s drizzled in.

As soon as it is thick, stop beating it (or it will thin again. Strange, but  true).

Taste to adjust seasonings.

 

Another mayo – adapted from a recipe in Leith’s Cookery Bible

 

2 egg yolks

salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 tsp. dry English mustard

290ml olive oil or 150ml each olive and salad oil

squeeze of lemon juice

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

 

1)      Place the yolks and the mustard with a pinch of salt in a bowl and beat well.

2)      Add the oil in a thick trickle. The mixture should be quite thick by the time half of the oil is added.

3)      Beat in the lemon juice.

4)      Resume pouring the oil, very slowly, alternating oil with vinegar.

5)      Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

 

If it curdles, whisk another yolk in a separate bowl and add it to the curdled mayonnaise drop by drop.

 

Variations:

 

Dill mayo: add chopped dill, to taste, to the mayo.

Mustard mayo: mix mustard to the mayo.

Parsley and lemon mayo: mayonnaise, chopped parley, lemon juice and/or lemon zest.

Green mayo 1: add ½ cup chopped parsley and/or ½ cup chopped chives.

Sesame mayo: use 2 ¼ cups safflower oil PLUS ¼ cup sesame oil.

Sauce Marie Rose (or as I have always known it, golf sauce): mix ketchup to the mayo.

Chilli mayo: mix Japanese chilli sauce to mayonnaise.

Avocado mayonnaise: mash avocado and mix to mayo use for grilled chicken club sandwiches.

Basil mayonnaise: smash up a small handful of fresh basil and mix it in the mayonnaise. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste.

 

Soy mayonnaise – adapted from Yoshuku by Jane Lawson

2 tsp. white miso

½ tsp. Japanese soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

125g (4 ½ oz ½ cup Japanese mayonnaise)

 

To make the soy mayonnaise :

Mix the miso, soy sauce and garlic until smooth and then whisk into the mayo and set aside.

 

 

Green mayonnaise version 2 – adapted from Leiths Cookery Bible

 

1 bunch watercress

290ml mayonnaise

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

1)      Pick over watercress to remove the stalks and yellowed leaves. Blanch and refresh. Dry thoroughly and chop very finely.

2)      Add to the mayonnaise and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Note: cooked and well-drained spinach can be used instead of watercress. *

 

How to cook spinach without boiling it 

I know boiling spinach is boring and, in addition, it takes all the nutrients away. Plus, when it comes to squeeze it, it doesn’t matter how much you do it, there is still plenty of water coming out.

* Note to the note: you can also put a packet of spinach in the freezer and forget about it. (very low temperatures also cook food as was demonstrated by the liquid nitrogen (see this post) Take it out of the freezer but DO NOT open the package. Simply rub it in your hands until it’s sort of pulverized. Presto! You have cooked, chopped spinach with a fraction of the effort!

 

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