Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Swedish dinner for Ann's book club

Ann has a book club which meets at our house once a year. I love cooking for a crowd, so this is often a time for me to try out new recipes. This year twelve people RSVP'd so I knew it was time to show my creativity. [I will admit that, at times when only 5 people show up, I just throw together a quiche; this was not one of those times.]

The book for January was The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, a book by the Swedish author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg  that takes place in Sweden.  This called for a Swedish dinner. I have included the links to the recipes, but I have also copied the recipes below the way that I modified them. Note that the women also drank shots of Aquavit to get into the Swedish mood. I had sampled various Aquavits in trips to Sweden in the past, and found a newspaper article that went into more detail so that I could pass it along. doing shots worked.

Dessert featured Swedish ginger cookies, from the NY Times Cookbook

I have only a few comments before the recipes. The comments around the meatballs were good in the recipe and on the web. I was surprised at how wonderful they were. I've learned that my two go-to cookbooks are Cook's Illustrated and the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion Cookbook for don't-fail wonderful food. I still fall back on Betty Crocker and the Settlement Cookbook for everyday.

Swedish Meatballs  (serves 4 to 6)

I tripled the meatball recipe and quadrupled the sauce, as the noodles would absorb some of the sauce. If you thought that Ikea meatballs were good, these are great.

Why This Recipe Works:  We wanted our Swedish meatballs recipe to produce substantial yet delicate meatballs with a sausagelike springiness and satisfying snap. To achieve the right texture, we combined beef, pork, bread, cream, and a surprise ingredient, baking powder, which kept the meatballs delicate and juicy. For the meatball gravy recipe, we wanted a light cream sauce instead of heavy brown gravy. To get this, we added a bit of cream to our stock to lighten it up and a splash of lemon juice for some bright flavor.

1 large egg
¼ cup heavy cream
1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces ground pork
1 small onion, grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar (see note)
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper


The traditional accompaniments for Swedish meatballs are lingonberry preserves and Swedish Pickled Cucumbers (see related recipe). If you can’t find lingonberry preserves, cranberry preserves may be used. For a slightly less sweet dish, omit the brown sugar in the meatballs and reduce the brown sugar in the sauce to 2 teaspoons. A 12-inch slope-sided skillet can be used in place of the sauté pan—use 1 1/2 cups of oil to fry instead of 1 1/4 cups. The meatballs can be fried and then frozen for up to 2 weeks. To continue with the recipe, thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and proceed from step 3, using a clean pan. Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes, boiled red potatoes, or egg noodles.

  1. For the Meatballs: Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3. For the Sauce: Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
  4. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Swedish Red Cabbage

2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped up
1 kg/2.2lbs red cabbage, finely sliced (many heads here in the US are 3+ pounds, so scale) 
½ cup red wine
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cloves
2.5 teaspoons salt
Black pepper to taste

  1. Saute the onions in the butter on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the apples and cook for 3 minutes or so. Then add the cabbage and stir and place the lid on for about 10 minutes and cook on medium heat. After 10 minutes the cabbage should have softened and wilted. Then add the red wine, brown sugar, vinegar,caraway seeds, allspice and cloves. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until soft. Season with salt and black pepper. 

Glazed Carrots

1 pound large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces 1/4-3/8 inch thick)
2 T. butter
1 T. honey (and you may want to be a bit generous)
¼ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

  1. Cook the carrots in boiling water for 15 minutes, or until your desired state of done
  2. Add other ingredients to saucepan to melt butter and combine. Add carrots and toss. I added the nutmeg as I tossed so that it was fresh

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

¾  cup rendered bacon fat (from cooking 1 1/2 to 2 pounds bacon), chilled
1  cup white sugar, plus extra for rolling
¼  cup molasses
1  egg
2  cups grams all-purpose flour
1½  teaspoons grams kosher salt (I used 3/4 tsp salt)
2  teaspoons baking soda
1  teaspoons ground ginger
1  teaspoon ground cloves
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners (this is very important when the cookies are crispy).
  2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or a mixer with a heavy beater paddle, combine all ingredients. Pulse until a smooth, stiff dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week.
  3. Drop the dough in 1-tablespoon lumps on a cookie sheet, form into balls the size of a small gumball, roll in sugar, space 2 inches apart and press flat with fingers. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until dark brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling.


At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a lovely evening at Ann and Charlie's, with lots of good conversation and laughter! We had fun guessing what herbs were in the Aquavit, since none of us had tasted it before. The meal was absolutely delicious!! The meatballs and ginger snaps were especially good!! Red cabbage and carrots were beautiful and tasty accompaniments. Thank you, Charlie, for treating us to this wonderful meal and for sharing the recipes! A good time was had by all and you can bet these wonderful dishes will be made again at each of our homes. Thank you both! Sharon


Post a Comment

<< Home