Red Lentil Fritters

(or are they actually burgers ūü§Ē)

So we’re going back to my childhood again. Well… maybe not childhood. My mom really wanted to cook nice food for various vegetarian (girl)friends that me and my brothers started bringing home at some point. And nice food to my mom meant no store bought, ready made stuff, no short-cuts, no I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-meat… stuff. You know? Real stuff.

I have no idea where she got these ones from, or if they’re something she more or less came up with herself, but they became a real staple food at home. The base is red lentils but I think what give them their defining character is rather the mix of root vegetables that result in a sweet, earthy taste which I became really fond of.

What’s a bit weird is that despite making them regularly for, well, fucking twenty years, I’ve never really settled on a pairing. Sometimes, it’s roasted potatoes with bearnaise sauce. Other times it’s the wonderfully Swedish “stuvade makaroner”, i.e. macaroni boiled in milk, or perhaps mashed potatoes with browned butter. So you know, throw em in somewhere and see how it feels.

That’s at least what I’m (still) doing (seriously..? Twenty years? TWENTY?! Well. I’m old I guess).

Created with Sketch. 1 hour Created with Sketch. About 10 burgers

Ingredients

  • 130 gred lentils
  • 130 gyellow onion (1 normal sized onion)
  • 130 gcarrot (1 big or 2 smalls carrots)
  • 80 gparsnip (1)
  • 4 eggs
  • 30 gpanko (plus som for coating the burgers before frying)
  • Some salt, pepper and whatever you like in stuff
  • A dollop of tomato pur√© and/or mustard if you're feeling fancy

Directions

Making these ones are ridiculously easy. The only thing to really learn is how the consistency should feel to make the burgers keep their shape, but not be too compact when fried in the pan. I’ve included pictures and a video to help but as ever, practice makes perfect.

  1. Boil the lentils (130 g) in salted water (or if you like, broth) until they’re soft
  2. Finely chop the onion(s)(130 g) and finely grate the carrot(s)(130 g) and the parsnip(s)(80 g). Squeeze some of the water from the grated carrot. Then put everything in a bowl.
  3. Add the boiled lentils (not the water of course), then mix the eggs in. Finally add the panko (dried bread crumbs), some salt and black pepper and stir everything together. It should look something like this:
  4. If you have the time, let it set for a while in the fridge (overnight is also fine if you end up with un-fried left-overs), this helps with consistency. Make an oversized golfball of burger-mix in your hand and dump it in a bowl of panko/ dried bread crumbs. Cover it with crumbs and place it in a pan with medium hot oil, then gently press down on it with a spatula to make a burger. Fry for 2-3 minutes before flipping. Naturally, you can prepare several breaded over-sized golf balls before putting any in the pan.




Obviously these can be endlessly added to and experimented with, but I wanted to give you the base, the original, first.

I often add feta cheese, fresh herbs (thyme is a good one), as mentioned in the list of ingredients but not in the instructions; mustard and/or tomato puré

Tomato and Aubergine Lasagna

(definitely not Italian, Italian food)

So I’m Swedish. That’s important, because I don’t want you to think you’re getting a traditional bonafide Italian lasagna. This is a Swedish lasagna. So, to Danilos big big disappointment I don’t make the pasta sheets myself, I don’t pre-boil them, I don’t… I’m not Italian ok?

I’ve been trying to find a vegetarian lasagna recipe that is – not similar to – but equally great as the meat lasagna I’ve grown up with and really love. I stopped trying to mimic the meat version a long time ago, partly because, well the meat substitutes no matter what the hype says are… well crap. Ok, maybe not crap. Some of them are quite good but all of them are very far from imitating meat. So for me, a soy, quorn, impossible meat whatever lasagna is always a sad reminder of what could have been.

Instead I’ve been making a tomato version more and more. It really clicked when I added the fried aubergine (as already established, tomato and aubergine make good bedfellows) and I think it took another not insignificant step forward by adding kale.

This is it. The lasagna I make because I can’t have meat lasagna that often because my wife is a vegetarian. It’s pretty good.

Created with Sketch. 2 hours Created with Sketch. 8

Ingredients

  • General stuff
  • Salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar (weights in the description)
  • 2 aubergines
  • Rapeseed oil for deep frying / pan frying the aubergine slices
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 300 glasagna tiles
  • For the tomato & kale sauce
  • 500 gtomato sauce
  • 500 gcrushed tomatoes
  • 100 gkale
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • For the b√©chamel sauce
  • 25 gbutter
  • 1 lmilk
  • 100 gflour
  • 100 gParmigiano cheese
  • 100 gadditional cheese of your choice

Directions

  1. Heat up some olive oil in a big pan with a clove of garlic. Cut away the thicker parts of the kale stems, slice the kale and put it into the pan.
  2. Chop 1/2 yellow onion and add to the pan.
    Kale
  3. After about 5 minutes, add the tomato (500 g tomato sauce + 500 g crushed tomatoes) and the salt (10 g / 1.7 tsp), sugar (10 g / 1.8 tsp), vinegar (15 g/ 15 ml) and some white pepper. Let this simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Meanwhile…
  4. Béchamel. Put the butter (25 g) in a pot on medium heat. Finely chop 1/2 yellow onion and fry it in the butter until soft.
  5. Mix flour (70 g/ ca 1.2 dl), salt (7 g / 1 tsp) and white pepper in a bowl. Add 3 dl of milk and whisk until smooth.

    Add the rest of the milk (7 dl) while whisking.
  6. Add the milk-mix to the pan (with the chopped and softened onion). Heat it up on medium to high heat while stirring with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon or a spatula.
  7. When the milk starts to thicken, lower the heat to avoid burning the bottom of the pan and add the parmigiano cheese while continuing to stir. When the cheese has melted into the sauce (couple of minutes), take it off the stove to cool.
  8. Slice the aubergines (2) into 0.5 – 1 cm thick slices and coat them with flour.
  9. Deep fry the aubergine slices (or fry them in a pan with plenty of oil).
  10. Put the oven to 220 C.
  11. Now you’re ready to assemble. Start with a layer of b√©chamel sauce in the bottom of a quite deep oven tray.
  12. Then add 1) lasagna tiles, 2) tomato & kale- sauce, 3) grated cheese, 4) fried aubergine slices with a sprinkle of salt, 5) b√©chamel sauce, 6) repeat until you’re out of stuff. Save a bit of the b√©chamel sauce for the top.


  13. Top it off with a layer of béchamel sauce and put it in the oven for ca 25 min or what the lasagna tiles require.

So here comes the really tricky part. Don’t eat it for at least 45 minutes. It’s so much better when the whole thing has had time to really set, and furthermore: this type of food shouldn’t be piping hot when you’re ingesting it, right? I say… it should be around… 50 C. You say, yes?

 

Salmon Pudding

(don't worry, it's not a fish dessert)

This is a real Swedish classic. As in Britain, also in Sweden a “pudding” can be both a dessert and a savory dish (unlike in Britain it can also mean an attractive person). This is… kind of a gratin I guess? There’s another traditional thing in Sweden called Cabbage pudding (coming on the blog sometime in the future), which is completely different from Salmon pudding so the Swedish word for savory “pudding” doesn’t mean much more than “stuff put together in an oven shape”, at least not to my knowledge. As you never now how traditional something you perceive as traditional really is, I did some light googling to get a sense of the history and it does seem to have been around quite a while. It is mentioned in the early 19th century, thou I would guess the recipe has gone through some changes since then. Presumably lemon wasn’t something that people had in general. On the other hand, maybe Salmon pudding wasn’t something ordinary people had? The good news is that all you ordinary people can have it now!

As it turns out, it’s also perfectly adapted to modern society as it’s an ideal lunch box meal. Easy to divvy up in pieces, well suited to be reheated in a microwave and you know…. ridiculously good, which is a big plus in my book.

It’s also one of these dishes that almost makes itself. Yes, there’s a bit of light seasoning but for the most part, the flavors come from the ingredients themselves and there’s not many of those. The only real hassle is slicing the potatoes and the onion which is why you should really have a kitchen mandolin handy.

Let’s get to it!

Special Equipment

  • Kitchen mandolin
Created with Sketch. 2 hours Created with Sketch. 8

Ingredients

  • 1 kgpotatoes (low starch)
  • 500 gcold smoked salmon
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 pot of dill
  • 6 normal sized eggs
  • 3 dlmilk
  • 3 dlcream
  • 350 gbutter
  • Some salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Put the oven on 225 C.
  2. Smear the bottom of an oven pan with butter (50 g). Thinly slice potatoes and onion (preferably with a mandolin) and spread across the bottom. Sprinkle the surface with salt and black pepper. It’s hard to give any exact measure regarding the salt. It depends on how salt the salmon is, but it shouldn’t be a lot.
  3. Add a layer of salmon, then another layer of potato, onion and dill. Another sprinkle of salt and pepper (for each layer of potato). Repeat until you’re out of stuff.

  4. Mix the eggs (6), the milk (3 dl) and the cream (3 dl) in a bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of dashes of black pepper, then pour the mix over the layers of potato, onion and salmon.
  5. Finish by spreading the surface with flakes of butter (100 g), more dill, the juice from 1/2 a lemon and another light sprinkle of salt.
  6. Put the pan into the oven for about 40-45 minutes (225 C). When it’s done the potatoes should have some firmness left and the top of the pudding should be ever so slightly burnt.
  7. Serve with clarified butter (200 g), some fresh dill and a slice of lemon.


This is actually a sort of summer dish, probably because of the fresh dill, but don’t let that stop you!

Croquettes

(the ultimate snack?)

In our previous apartment, we used to host traditional Christmas dinners for our friends. Well, maybe not that traditional as a lot of our friends were (and are) vegetarians, which meant we’d do twice the stuff. My favorites from the meat side of things but also vegetarian alternatives. That meant almond balls and vegetarian Jansson’s, but also a lot of other things not intended to mimic meat “originals”. Tofu, fried cheese, pickled mushrooms and: croquettes. I’d do them with fried mushrooms or chili and som herbs (I should say that they aren’t especially Christmassy or anything, which is important as you really should have more often than just Christmas).

So croquettes can be many things. Commonly, they’re mashed potato rolled in bread crumbs and fried, maybe with something mixed in with the mash. I find these to be… not very interesting.

Others are based on b√©chamel sauce mixed with chicken or lobster or something else wonderful.¬†To me, regardless of what you mix in, these croquettes are all about the b√©chamel. I looooove b√©chamel. A couple of years back my brother Olov taught me a new trick, which he got from Mathias Dahlgren (Olov talks about it in Swedish here). Fry chopped yellow onion in butter as a base for the sauce. Sounds… insignificant, yes? But no, I find it to be a great improvement. In addition, I use bay leaves and cloves to spice the sauce, which I also thought I got from Olov (and in turn from Mathias, btw, here’s a croquette recipe by him) but I’m not sure about that (Mathias does use it in another of his croquette recipes¬†so it is probably from him, and he is a god damn genius so… it makes sense).

I probably got the whole concept of making croquettes from Olov actually, so yeah… credit to him. But I’m writing it up which is… real hard work (I should say he also wrote it up, in Swedish, here).

So, back to it. The base of these croquettes is a thick, tasty b√©chamel. As mentioned: to this, you can add just about anything. Some chili, seafood, mushrooms, chicken, whatever! It’s all going to be great. These particular ones are made with smoked salmon and confit yellow onion. They’re pretty great but as I said: put anything in a great b√©chamel and deep fry it and it’s gonna be good.

Created with Sketch. 1.5 hours of cooking, a couple of hours of waiting for the sauce to cool down Created with Sketch. 80-100 croquettes

Ingredients

  • 700 gmilk
  • 100 gflour (ca 2 dl)
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 200 gsmoked salmon
  • 150 gParmigiano Reggiano (or, other cheese if you prefer)
  • 50 gbutter
  • 100 gpanko (asian bread crumbs)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 loil for frying, e.g rapeseed
  • Additional flour for the breading
  • Salt, pepper, bay leaves and clove

Directions

  1. Begin with the onion confit. Put a pot with 4-5 centimeters (ca 1.6 inches) of oil on the stove, on medium heat. Slice two of the onions into quarter onion rings. When the oil has heated up a bit (couple of minutes), add the onion and turn the heat down. The onion should simmer gently in the oil for an hour or so.
  2. Put the butter in a pot on medium/high heat. Finely chop one of the onions. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the onion chop and turn the heat down to medium/low.
  3. While the onion is frying put the 100 grams of flour in a big bowl. Add about 3oo grams (3 dl) of the milk while whisking. Continue whisking until it’s a smooth batter (add more milk if it’s too thick to whisk but don’t add all the milk at once, you’ll never get rid of the flour lumps), then add the rest of the milk while continuing the whisking.
  4. Add som salt, white pepper, 2-3 bay leaves and 3-4 cloves to the mix.
  5. Grate the cheese.
  6. When the onion has softened, add the flour-milk-mix to the pot. Turn the heat up and stir the bottom of the pan continuously with a flat wooden spoon.
  7. When the mix starts to thicken (it will become quite thick, quite quickly), lower the heat and add the cheese. Continue stirring on low heat for a minute or two.
  8. When the cheese has melted in the sauce, take the pot of the stove.
  9. Put the onion confit in a sieve.
  10. Taste and add salt and pepper to the béchamel as to your liking. Chop or rip the smoked salmon into small pieces. Mix the salmon bits and the onion confit in with the béchamel.
  11. Spread the salmon-onion confit-béchamel-mix in an oven tray. Let it cool down for 10 minutes, then cover it with plastic film and put it in the fridge to cool down further. It needs at least a couple of hours in the fridge to become cold enough to allow us to make firm (enough) balls from it.
  12. When the mixture is cold and firm, prepare three bowls. One with flour, one with the two eggs lightly whisked with some water (10% of the volume) mixed in, and one with panko.
  13. Make balls (ca 3-4 cm, 1.25 inches, in diameter) from the batter and cover them with flour. They will be both sticky and a bit unstable so this step requires careful handling (the colder the béchamel, the easier this becomes). Proceed to dip them in the egg whisk and then roll/cover them in panko.




  14. Deep fry the balls in rapeseed oil for 1.5 – 2 minutes at 180C (356F), and you’re done! Let the croquettes rest for a couple of minutes before eating. Garnish with som fresh herbs and a maybe splash of lemon (not to much though, as too much moist takes away the crisp).

If you want, you can freeze the croquettes when they’ve been “floured”.

Then, it’s real easy to take them out of the freezer, dip them in egg-water-mix and cover them with panko. It’s nice to have a bit of a buffer in the freezer and it’s a great starter in under 10 minutes.¬†As they’re frozen, they’re real easy to handle, but does tend to become a bit flat in the bottom. You might also need to adjust the frying time to avoid a frozen b√©chamel core. However, I fried these ones (pre frozen) for two minutes and they came out great.

Janssons frestelse

(maybe my favorite food... yes, of aaaaaall of the foods)

Well. It’s that time again. Christmas is coming.

I like Christmas I have to say. All in all, it’s mostly quite cosy and nice. There are things I LOVE about Christmas though. And maybe, just maybe, what I love the most is Jansson’s frestelse (sorry, all my family members, you’re a strong second).

According to folk lore it was invented by the opera singer Per Adolf “Pelle” Janzon, that used to treat his guests to beer, schnapps and this type of gratin¬†(Wikipedia tells me the name might be from a movie with the same name. Let’s hope it’s not that boring).

It’s something so unusual as a completely Swedish dish (I don’t even think it’s got an international name) that I really think should be the envy of the world. It doesn’t seem to be though. I think very few people outside of Sweden have ever heard of it. But hey, up here,¬†it’s one of the seminal holiday dishes. It is essential. It is culture. I’m not sure if people really like it that much though..? But I love it and that’s enough for me.

It’s a bit complicated to explain what ‘Jansson’ actually tastes like to non Swedish people. You see, in Sweden there are anchovies, but they’re not like anchovies in the rest of the world, which are usually salty and preserved in oil (they’re called “sardeller” in Sweden). The Swedish version is very sweet, pickled with a whole bunch of spices like cinnamon, bay leaves, allspice, black pepper, sandel wood, clove, cardamom and some version of oregano. And it’s not made from the fish “anchovy” either, but rather sprat. Crazy stuff, right? But it is the bomb. And these “Swedish anchovies” basically make the dish; the savory, sweet, fatty, salty, wonderfully decadent Janssons frestelse. I love everything about them. Even the can they come in is awesome!

In my family we eat (and always have eaten) Jansson’s on 100% of the following holidays: Christmas, Easter, Midsummer, and on 0% of all the other days. Or, well… sometimes my dad can’t help himself and makes it off-season with like twice the anchovies.

It’s also really easy to make, as all the spicing is already in the stuff you put into the gratin. No added spices, easy peasy.

Let’s go!

Created with Sketch. 45 minute preparation, ca 45 minutes in the oven Created with Sketch. 8-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.8 kgpotatoes
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 400 (or 500) gcream (40-ish %)
  • 3 (or 2)cans of anchovies (125 g per can, including the liquid)
  • 100 gbutter
  • 25 groe
  • 20 gtomato pur√©
  • 50 gbread crumbs

Directions

As you might have guessed, I like anchovy. So this recipe does not skimp on the anchovy. For some people this amount can be a bit much. If you think that you’re one of these people, you can skip one of the cans of anchovy and add about 100 g (1 dl) of cream instead.

  1. Put the oven on 225 C. Put a pan with 25 g of butter on medium heat. Chop half of the onions. When the butter starts to sizzle, lower the heat to medium/low and add the chopped onion. Fry until the onion starts to caramelize.
  2. While the onion is frying, peel the potatoes and cut them into sticks.
  3. Finely chop the rest of the onion. Open all three cans of anchovy and drain the pickle-juice into a bowl. Whatever you do: don’t throw it away! This is very important. It really packs a lot of flavor!¬†Chop the anchovy from two of the cans. When the onion in the pan has caramelized somewhat, let it cool down off the stove in a bowl.


    I mean, just look at those… so pretty.
  4. Whisk the pickling juice, the roe and the tomato puré into the cream.

  5. Now you’re all set to put the pieces together. Layer potato sticks – raw and fried onion – ¬†and pieces of anchovy, until you run out of ingredients.
  6. When you’re done with the layering, pour the cream/anchovy pickling juice/tomato pur√©/roe- mix on top.
  7. Now sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the surface.
  8. Distribute the remaining can of anchovy fillets on top of the layer of bread crumbs.
  9. And finally: slice the remaining butter (or better yet, use a cheese grater) and layer it on top of the anchovy fillets. 
  10. Into the oven it goes! It needs about 45 minutes but this is very dependent on the oven, the depth of the oven dish and to some extent the ingredients (like the type of potato). You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden brown, the cream is wonderfully gooey and the potatoes are soft. Check in now and then to time it perfectly. Let it rest out of the oven for at least 30 minutes before eating. As with many recipes, this is probably the most important and hardest part. But the gratin really has to set to let the ingredients meld. It’s also way tastier at something like 60 C than piping hot.

This is normally had at Christmas with tons of things as a part of the Christmas dinner¬†behemoth. But it’s great with just some good ol’¬†meatballs¬†and an egg.

Happy holidays!

Swedish Meatballs

(originally from Turkey or something of course)

We’re not getting around the most Swedish of the Swedish foods right? Nope. As a Swede I don’t have that¬†strong of a bond to meatballs. I mean, they’re pretty great and all but I eat them on holidays like Christmas and sometimes I make’em at home (but really, it’s quite rare). I think my most common interaction with the little suckers is when I spend time with my girlfriend’s nephews because listen: “Mamma Scans k√∂ttbullar” is the bleeding bedrock of any household that includes kids. Back in the day I ate those type of meatballs as well (not that much though). They weren’t that great really. Lately though, I personally think they (“Mamma Scans”) have improved somewhat. But whatever, let’s get on with it.

In my opinion, Swedish meatballs should be made with quite a lot of onion, some sweetness and above all have a really smooth¬†taste. The smoothness comes from a mix of cream/milk, egg and bread of different types. Some recipes use potato (grated, either boiled or raw) which plays a similar role. A friend told me that his grandpa, who in his family is the often challenged but ever undisputed champion of meatballing, put potato pur√©e in his. Not mashed potato, potato pur√©e, the finished product. Top marks for ambition and originality (btw: I imagine that’s a pretty good idea actually).

Anyway, here’s how I make mine.

Ingredients

  • 500 gof minced meat. Use a mix of pork and beef. 70/30 or 60/40 beef/pork is good.
  • 1.5 yellow onions
  • 1 egg
  • 50 gmilk
  • 50 gcream
  • 1 sliceof white bread
  • 15 gbreadcrumbs (preferably the Asian variety "Panko")
  • 50 gbutter
  • 7 gof vinegar
  • 7 gof sweet mustard (can be substituted for the Swedish speciality "pickled sprats", most famously used in the holiday dish "Jansons Frestelse")
  • Some salt, white pepper and sugar (just a sprinkle of sugar)
  • Some allspice (if you like that sorta thing)

Directions

  1. Chop one onion roughly and fry them on medium to low heat in a pan with half the butter until golden.
  2. While the onion in the pan is frying, grate or finely chop the remaining half onion.
  3. Tear the bread into small pieces.
  4. Put everything in a bowl, including the fried onion with the residual butter from the pan. Mix with your hands or with a fork.
  5. If the mixture seems too loose/wet you can add some more bread crumbs but be careful to not make the mixture too firm.
  6. Taste and adjust with salt/pepper/sugar/vinegar.
  7. Roll the mixture into balls with a diameter of about 3 cm.
  8. Fry ’em on medium heat in a healthy amount of butter (the other half of the 50 grams) and some oil.

 

It’s all a bit confusing as a Swede – the talk about Swedish meatballs. But, it’s really good, especially with some killer mashed potatoes, chanterelle sauce and lingonberries or maybe pickled cucumbers. Mmmmm. So make ’em for gods sake. What could go wrong?