It's March now; the sun is shining and snow is melting (and then refreshed overnight, and then melting again, and then refreshed, and then….but that's our March). That's why it was good that Norway came up last month in the randomizer.
February, it turns out, was a great time for thinking about Norway. Here in Michigan, February is the month that seems to go on and on, one iron grey day after another, until suddenly it's over and we're into March, where there is a glimmering hope of the eventual arrival of spring. In Norway, however, March is still dead winter. Michiganders thinking about Norwegians in March is like your mother reminding you about the starving children in Biafra when you don't want to eat your liver and onions; things could be much worse.
Of course, in Norway, they necessarily have a more pragmatic view of winter than we do. We love to complain about the winter; it's one of the favorite ways to pass the time around here. In Norway, they just say "There's no bad weather, only bad clothing." (Meaning that if you're dressed appropriately, any weather can be tolerated.)
But where ever you are, winter is an excellent time to do cheerful things. And what could be more cheerful than breakfast for dinner? Pancakes, waffles, sausages, fried eggs seem positively festive when eaten at the end of a cold grey day. And how much more fun when the breakfast is Norwegian.
So, spicy gravlaks and a sugary, fluffy omelette, and warm woolly socks.
Blueberry Omelette with Spicy Gravlaks
(adapted from the very excellent Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad)
This was much tastier than commercial, less spiced gravlaks I've had, and was extremely easy to make.
Crush, either with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board using a heavy skillet:
1 t caraway seeds
1 t fennel seeds
3 juniper berries
1/2 t red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 t black peppercorns
Add and mix together:
1 T dried dill, or 2 T fresh, chopped dill
4 t salt
1 T sugar
Rinse in cold water, pat dry. and cut in half crossways:
1 lb. salmon fillet, skin on (the section from the front of the fish is meatier)
Place one piece of salmon, skin side down, in a dish just big enough to hold it. Rub with half the spice mixture. Rub the other piece with the rest of the mixture and place skin side up on top of the first, like a salmon sandwich with the skin on the outside. See:
Pour on top:
2 T aquavit, brandy, Scotch, or what-have-you (I used white rum, because I have a lot of it for some reason)
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and put a heavy weight on top. I put the salmon in a Pyrex loaf pan, and put another Pyrex loaf pan on top with a jar of pie weights in it. If I didn't have pie weights, I would have used a bag of dried beans or two.
Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, turning the fish occasionally and basting it with the brine that accumulates in the dish.
To serve, wipe off some of the spices and slice as thin as possible against the grain, using a very sharp, very thin knife, such as a filleting or boning knife or even a bread knife.
Serve with capers and cucumbers, and rye bread if desired. (Trader Joe's makes a gluten-free "Ryeless Rye.")
Serves 4 people who like gravlaks.
Norwegian Blueberry Omelet
(adapted from the quaint but surprisingly good Best of Scandinavian Cooking, by Shirley Sarvis and Barbara Scott O'Neil. This book was an account of two spunky gals and their camping and cooking adventure through Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, published in 1963 and reprinted by Hippocrene in 1997. )
Stir together in a small bowl:
2/3 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
Combine in a saucepan over medium heat:
1 1/2 c fresh blueberries, or 1 bag of frozen (I used a 2 c bag of blueberries from last summer, excavated from my freezer)
1/2 c water
juice of one lemon
Add sugar and cornstarch mixture. (What a great way to add the cornstarch. Much, much easier than mixing with a little liquid before adding to the pot, or worse yet, adding cornstarch directly to pot while fruitlessly trying to avoid lumps.)
Bring to a brief boil to activate the cornstarch. Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened and smooth.
Meanwhile, start on the
Preheat oven to 350°.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. (That means they should stand up in peaks, but should still be glossy and smooth, not lumpy.)
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs briefly, until smooth. Beat in:
1/4 c milk or cream (or water or soy milk)
1/4 t salt
Fold in egg whites. (Or you can fold a little of the yolk mixture into the white, and then a little more, and so on, until it's all just mixed together.)
Melt in a large frying pan:
2 T butter (Don't stint on the butter or you'll have a mess.)
Pour in egg mixture and spread evenly in the pan with a spatula. Cook gently on low heat until eggs are cooked underneath. Use a very thin knife or a spreader to check - when it's ready you'll be able to lift the edge of the omelette cleanly. Be patient.
Place pan in oven and bake until eggs are set, when you can tap the middle of the omelette gently with your finger and it feels firm rather than wet. Turn off oven and turn on broiler.
Sprinkle evenly on top:
grated peel of one lemon mixed with
1/4 c sugar
Put under broiler until sugar melts.
Cut omelette into pieces, pour blueberry sauce on top, and serve immediately. Serves 4 restrained or 3 greedy eaters.
*To separate eggs, I have three bowls ready: a mixing bowl for the whites, another bowl for the yolks, and a small bowl for the cracking. I crack the eggshell over the third bowl and hold it like a cup, letting the white drop into the bowl. I gently tip the yolk into the other half of the shell, so as much of the white as possible drains into the bowl. (It's better to err on the side of not getting all the white rather than risk a broken yolk. If the yolk breaks, you must get a clean bowl - even the tiniest drop of yolk will prevent the white from beating properly. You can add the contaminated white to the yolk bowl.) I dump the yolk into its bowl, and pour the immaculate white into the mixing bowl. Repeat as needed.