Swedish Crayfish

The annual ‘kräftskiva’, or crayfish party, in Sweden is not something to take lightly. It’s a celebrated with plenty of crayfish, salads and silly hats. Because the summers are so short in Scandinavia it feels right to mark the arrival of locally caught crayfish with a big party.

Dill crowns, the flowering part of the fully grown plant, are commonly found on farmers’ markets in Sweden but less readily available elsewhere. You can grow them at home, or source them from specialist suppliers who stock edible flowers and pollen varieties. Fennel fronds or dill fronds would make good alternatives.

about 50 crayfish

7oz sea salt

4 tsp caster sugar

1 pint beer

large bunch of dill crowns, stalks removed

Bring about 10½ pints (6 liters) water to the boil in a large pan and add the salt, sugar and beer. Add most of the dill crowns, reserving a few for serving, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the crayfish and cook for 5–7 minutes before removing from the heat. Cool the pan quickly by placing in a tub or bath with cold water, iced if possible. The crayfish can be kept in their brine for up to 2 days.

To serve, drain and decorate with the remaining dill crowns. Serve with lemon aioli.

Cold Poached Salmon with Herb Sauce (Örtagårdssås)

SALMON:

1 whole salmon, weighing about 1 lb. 12oz filleted and pin-boned

FOR THE POACHING LIQUOR:

7fl oz white wine vinegar

1¾oz sugar

1 leek, sliced

1 onion, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

10 peppercorns

3 bay leaves

FOR THE SAUCE:

3½fl oz sour cream

2 tbsp mayonnaise

small bunch each of parsley, dill and chives, finely chopped

½ unwaxed lemon, zest and juice

pinch of caster sugar

TO GARNISH:

1 lemon, sliced

½ cucumber, sliced

Begin by making the sauce. Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise and herbs. There should be about 1 tablespoon of each chopped herb. Add the lemon zest and a squeeze of juice, then season to taste with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed but serve at room temperature.

Bring all the ingredients for the poaching liquor to a simmer in a large pan along with 2¾ pints water and 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Simmer for 5 minutes then pour into a fish kettle or large high-sided oven tray set over a medium heat.

Carefully lower the salmon fillet into the liquid, ensuring it is completely covered (if not, add a little more water). Bring to barely a simmer and cook for 10–12 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Lift the fillet out of the poaching liquid and onto a plate, carefully peel off the skin and allow to cool completely.

Serve garnished with the lemon and cucumber slices and the room temperature sauce alongside.

Garlic Fresh Cheese

Garlic Fresh Cheese

Foraging is integral to the rural Scandinavian way of life and each season offers some delicious ingredient from nature’s bounty. Scandinavians actively seek out wild garlic when it’s in season so if you’re out in the woods in spring, collect a few leaves.  This garlic fresh cheese is delicious with sourdough.

2 lbs. 4oz Greek yogurt *

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

small bunch of garlic leaves (preferably wild), finely chopped

½  lemon, zest and juice (optional)

Stir the yogurt in a large bowl with the sea salt. Transfer to a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin and set over a large bowl. Wrap up the ends of the muslin tightly, twisting and securing with an elastic band. Leave in a cool place to drain for 24 hours.

The following day, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan and add the wild garlic. Sauté for a minute or so until wilted. Allow to cool.

Unwrap the drained yogurt and place in a bowl, discarding the liquid. Stir in the wild garlic and season with pepper and a little lemon juice and zest, if desired, for a tangier version. Adjust the salt to taste, then drizzle over the remaining oil before serving.

*Real Greek yogurt is best as the original kind from Greece is properly strained and has the right consistency for this recipe. Do not use ‘Greek-style’ yogurt as this description can mean anything, and won’t necessarily have as good a texture or as delicious a flavour.

Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Currant Marinade

4 lbs leg of lamb 1 tsp sugar

½ cup red currants

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp rosemary, minced

½ lemon, juice and zest

2 tsp salt

1½ tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F

Cut away any large chunks of fat, membrane and tendons from the leg of lamb, then pat it dry.

Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and let them sit for a couple of minutes before crushing them with a fork. Add the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Stir together then rub on the meat, making sure to cover every inch. Let the lamb marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

Place the lamb on an oven rack in a baking pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Make sure the rack is high enough that the lamb is not sitting in the cooking water. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and let roast for 70 to 80 more minutes, or until the lamb’s internal temperature has reached 145°F for medium rare or 155°F for medium.

Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before slicing it. Make a jus from the collected juices by reducing them to half in a small saucepan and if you would like, add a little heavy cream to it right before serving.

Serve with roasted Potatoes and a green salad.

Grilled Whole Red Snapper

2 red snappers, scaled and gutted

Salt and pepper

6 sprigs marjoram

4 sprigs flat-leaved parsley

Several celery leaves

1 lemon, sliced

Olive oil

Season the fish cavities with salt and pepper then stuff each cavity with marjoram sprigs, parsley, celery leaves and 2 to 3 lemon slices. Rub the outside of the snapper generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill and grill the fish on high heat for 7 minutes per side. The fish will let go of the grill and you can easily flip it over when cooked through. If the fish sticks to the grill try giving it a couple more minutes and see if it does let go on its own (if not, you probably didn’t use enough oil and will need to carefully scrape it off the grill).

Serve with a refreshing salad, such as a tomato salad

Fried Cod Cheeks

COD CHEEKS:

2 cups peanut oil

1 lb cod cheeks

Salt and pepper

¾ cup flour

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1 cup beer

DIPPING SAUCE:

¾ cup Skyr

½ lemon, juice and zest

Handful dill, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In a deep fryer or deep skillet, heat the peanut oil to 350 to 375°F (175 to 190°C).

Rinse the cod cheeks under cold water and pat them dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stir the flour, smoked paprika, and a little bit of salt and pepper together, then slowly whisk in the beer. Dip one cheek at a time into the batter, let the batter drip off, then transfer directly to the oil and let them fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

For the dipping sauce:

Whisk together the skyr, lemon juice and zest and finely chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pan-Fried Quick Cured Salmon With Dill Vinaigrette

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2 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 lemon, zest and juice

4 salmon fillets, about 5½oz each, skin on

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for frying

1½ tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp finely chopped dill

Mix the sea salt and sugar together with the lemon zest and a teaspoon of juice. Rub the mixture all over the salmon fillets, cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes. Brush off any excess salt/sugar mixture then pat dry using kitchen paper.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients for the vinaigrette. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Add a little olive oil to a hot frying pan and fry the salmon fillets (in batches if needed) for about 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through and the skin is crispy. Serve warm, drizzled with the vinaigrette.

Lucia Buns (Swedish Lussekatter)

½ gram saffron

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

⅓ cup sugar, plus a pinch for proofing the yeast

3½ cups flour

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon table salt

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

36 dried, sweetened cranberries

Swedish pearl sugar (optional, but so good – available at King Arthur Flour or Sur La Table) for sprinkling

On a small plate, grind the saffron with the back of a spoon until it is powdered. If you have a mortar and pestle, that will work wonderfully.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk until just beginning to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the saffron, and stir. Allow the mixture to cool to the temperature of a warm bath. When the milk is warm but not hot, add the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Allow the mixture to sit until it is bubbling and has grown in volume, about 5 minutes

While the yeast mixture is proofing, in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the sugar, flour, sour cream, and salt.

Add the yeast mixture, and knead until the dough is nice and smooth, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue kneading the dough until it again pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It might seem like this is never going to happen, but all of a sudden, you’ll have a nice, smooth ball of dough.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled in size.

Punch down the risen dough, knead it briefly on a lightly floured counter, and divide the dough into eighteen equal portions.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, skinny strip, about 12 inches long. Roll the left end of the dough up and clockwise until it reaches the middle, then roll the right end down and clockwise until it reaches the middle. Your dough should now look like a very tightly rolled S.

Place the Ss on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. While the buns are rising, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops and sides of each lucia bun with the egg wash, place a cranberry at the center of each swirl, and sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar.

Bake the lucia buns for 8 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the buns to cool. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

For the Salmon:

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Table salt

4 (6-ounce) fillets salmon

For the sauce:

1 cup packed fresh dill

1 small green onion

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Special equipment:

Blender or food processor

To poach the salmon, in a wide, deep skillet with a lid, add 1 inch of water. Add the vinegar, and bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat.

Lightly salt the salmon, and add it, skin side down, to the poaching liquid.

Cover, reduce the heat until the liquid barely simmers, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the salmon fillets.

While the salmon is cooking, make the dill sauce. In a blender or in the bowl of a food processor, combine the dill, green onion, mayonnaise, sour cream, and vinegar. Process until smooth.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked salmon from the skillet. Serve topped with the dill sauce.

Herbed Cream Cheese and Baby Cucumbers Open Sandwich

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 scallion, finely minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of table salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Crispbread crackers or thinly sliced rye bread, for serving

Baby cucumbers, for serving

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, scallion, parsley, chives, dill, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Reserve a small amount of fresh dill for garnish. Mix until everything is evenly distributed. Cover and chill the mixture at least 1 hour before serving.

Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on a crispbread cracker. Repeat until all of the cream cheese mixture has been used. Top with the baby cucumber slices, and sprinkle with the reserved fresh dill. Eat immediately.

Other ideas for open sandwiches:

• Instead of the baby cucumbers, top the herbed cream cheese mixture with smoked salmon and very thinly sliced red onions.

• For a heartier snack, use thin slices of European rye bread instead of the crispbread crackers. It can be found in the bread aisle of higher-end grocery stores, and is usually packaged in little bricks. It tastes best lightly toasted.

• Goat’s cheese, fresh herbs and shaved asparagus and cucumber.

• Rare roast beef with horseradish cream, quick-pickled onions and cornichons.

• Smoked mackerel, crème fraîche, pickled rhubarb and watercress.

• Boiled eggs with dill and chive herb mayo, anchovies, capers, red onion and cress.