Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Table Full of Food

Still featuring Sweden this week, with today’s focus on FOOD! (scroll down for recipes)

Who can resist a good smorgasbord? You don’t really hear that word much anymore, it’s been replaced by the shorter, easier-to-spell “buffet.” But it was the Swedes that made popular the idea of a table laden with a variety of foods where guests or customers could fill their plates. Smorgas means something akin to “open sandwich,” and bord means “table,” but a true smorgasbord does not have sandwiches. Instead, you’ll find numerous small dishes containing pickled herring with onions, Swedish meatballs, salmon, eggs, fried potatoes, salads, pies and more.

Nowadays, fast food is very popular in Sweden. You can go to a korvkiosk stand for boiled or fried hot dogs, fries and mashed potatoes!

Easter celebrations in Sweden usually mean coming home from church and enjoying a smorgasbord feast. Afterward, there are plenty of desserts to go around. Here are a couple of recipes for Swedish sweets. (Couldn't find a photo, so enjoy this picture of the Northern Lights instead!)

Spice Cake (kryddkaka)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs until very light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually while beating. Sift together flour, spices and baking powder. Fold this into the egg mixture gently, so as not to deflate eggs. In a small saucepan, heat butter and water over low heat until butter has melted. Once butter melts, bring to a boil and add while still boiling hot to the batter (first mixture). Combine thoroughly. Butter a 7 3/4 inch tube pan and sprinkle evenly with the bread crumbs. Pour cake batter into pan. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done. Serve unfrosted or with confectioners icing.
Serving Suggestion: Slice and serve with fruit and fruit syrup topped with whipped cream.

Almond Cake (mandeltårta)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. can pears in light syrup, drained
1 cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup buttermilk, divided

Caramel-almond Topping
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Puree pears in a food processor or blender until smooth. Measure out 1/2 cup of the puree; keep the remainder for another use. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and the 1/2 cup pear puree in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.
Beat egg whites in a clean mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk to the wet ingredients and beat with the mixer on low speed. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and flour. (Be careful not to overmix, or the cake will be tough.) Fold in the reserved meringue with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

To make caramel-almond topping: Combine 3/4 cup sugar with water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns a deep caramel, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add 1/3 cup buttermilk. (The caramel will harden.) Return the caramel to low heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves. Stir in almonds and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Place the cake, upside-down, on a serving plate. Poke holes all over the top with a thin skewer. Spoon the topping over the cake, spreading the almonds evenly and letting the caramel drip down the sides. Let the cake stand for about 1 hour to absorb the syrup, then serve.

1 comment:

  1. I have lots of smorgasbord recipes and layouts in the vintage cookbooks. Think orange, gold, and lots of meatballs...