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Showing posts from 2006

Rauðkál - Pickled red cabbage

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This side dish is good with many kinds of roasted and broiled meats. For many it is a necessity with the Christmas ham or steak. I don't particularly like vinegar pickled cabbage so I haven't tried this recipe myself, but I'm told it is good.

2-3 tbs butter
1 kg red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup white vinegar OR red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tsp salt

Melt the butter at medium temperature. Add finely shredded red cabbage and stir to coat with the hot butter. When the buttered cabbage begins to sizzle, add vinegar, sugar and salt. Simmer until the cabbage is limp and boiled through (about 45 mins. to 1 hour).
Serve with ham, pork roast, roast lamb, duck, goose or turkey.

Some people will eat this with hot dogs as well.

Mandarin-orange cheesecake - Mandarínu-ostakaka

This is a lovely cheesecake, rich and smooth. It is commercially available in Iceland. I just love it, and I'm grateful for The Icelandic Dairy Produce Marketing Association for providing the recipe for the public. The cake is relatively cheap when you buy it ready-made, but I think making it yourself adds to the enjoyment of eating it.
While this is not a Christmas recipe per se, it is so time consuming that I would only ever make it for special occasions like Christmas or a special birthday party.

Serves 10-12 (or 6-8, depending on how much self-control you have :-)

1 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tbs sugar
5 tbs butter, soft
90 g lemon flavoured gelatine
1 cup boiling water
500 g cream cheese, unflavoured, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cream, whipped (measure before you whip)
1 can (480 g) mandarin orange sections
1/2 cup juice from mandarin oranges
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp unflavoured gelatine powder OR 2 sheets unflavoured gelatine

Mix togethe…

Traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes

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I have received a question about traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes and as it’s a subject I’m sure many are curious about I decided to make a blog entry about it.

Traditional Icelandic Christmas food is a somewhat complicated subject, as there are several traditional Christmas dishes and there is no one Christmas dish that is served in every home. Even the leaf bread, which is uniquely Icelandic and as traditional as it gets, is not served in every home.

The most common main dishes served for Christmas in Icelandic homes are hangikjöt (smoked and salted lamb or mutton), ptarmigan (see recipe), lamb roast (see recipe for Sunday roast), roast goose, Hamborgarhryggur (smoked pork center rib roast), and American style turkey (relatively new, but has become a tradition in many families). As a starter or dessert, many serve either rice pudding (recipe will be posted soon) or ris a la mande (will also be posted soon) which is a Danish rice pudding.

If you go to the “Label” option at th…

Danish style pork rib roast – Ribbensteg (rifjasteik)

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You may ask why I am publishing a recipe for Danish food when this is an Icelandic recipe blog? Well, this is something that has become an inseparable part of Christmas in my family, ever since I returned from a six month stay in Denmark and offered to cook rib-roast on Boxing Day. I have done it every year since then, and I know other Icelandic families serve rib-roast for Christmas, New Year’s or Easter. This is my variation of the recipe:

Recipe (serves 4)
1 kg pork rib-roast, with skin and fat and with or without bones. I don’t know if this cut is available in the USA, but from having looked at American posters of pork cuts I don’t think so. This is what it looks like:

Salt
Pepper
2 bay leaves
Whole cloves
Water

Take the roast and make cuts into the skin and fat almost down to the meat, with about a finger width between the cuts. Make either strips or diamond-shaped pieces (see images below). Do not cut into meat.

Heat the oven to 250°C. Boil some water, put the roast into an oven pan sk…

Air cookies - Loftkökur

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Another cookie recipe my mother always makes for Christmas. These delicious candy cookies are light as air and melt on the tongue. The rising agent, baker's ammonia, unfortunately makes a big stink while the cookies are baking. I've seen these cookies for sale in Denmark, where they are called Rutebiler (Buses).

1 kg icing sugar
3 tsp bakers' ammonia
3 tbs cocoa
3 eggs, beaten

Mix the dry ingredients and beaten eggs and knead well. Run the dough through a cookie press. Use this attachment:


Each cake should be about 5 cm (2 inches) long. Bake in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes at 175°C. These cookies are light and airy, with a hollow center.
The unbaked cookies don't need to be big - they will expand in size 3-4 times during the baking.

A little break from the Christmas recipes: Muffins/cupcakes for every-day use

It seems the line between what counts as a muffin and what as a cupcake is blurry. The dictionary tells me that muffins are sweet breads, leavened with baking powder or baking soda and baked in cup-shaped tins, while cupcakes are cakes leavened and baked in the same way.

I suppose the following – my own recipe – falls somewhere in between the two. It is a cake recipe, but I have added a bread ingredient: whole-wheat flour.

Basic recipe:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
50 g margarine or butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Enough milk to make a thick batter, usually about 2/3 cup

12 paper muffin cups
1 12 muffin baking tray (mine came from Ikea)

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add egg, milk, vanilla and melted margarine and stir into a thick batter. Put paper muffin forms into the cups in the baking tray and fill each to 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 190°C (180°C if you have a convection oven), for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cakes …

Icelandic Christmas cocktail - Jólabland

This mix is, as far as I know, purely an Icelandic invention. In the first half of this century not many people could afford to buy ale and fizzy drinks, and they were therefore something to be enjoyed at festive occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays. Mixing the drinks together was probably believed to make it even more enjoyable to drink. The taste is sweet, malty and mellow. This is a comforting drink that always makes me think of Christmas.

Take equal measures of an orange flavoured fizzy drink (Fanta will do) and brown ale (Guinness is supposed to be good) and mix together. Be careful to pour the orange drink first, and pour the ale carefully to avoid it getting too frothy. Drink with the Christmas meal. To get an authentic flavour, the orange drink should be the Icelandic Egils Appelsín, and the brown ale Egils Malt. Some people (like my family) like to add some cola, usually Coke.

Icelandic Christmas bread – Laufabrauð

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Fried leaf breads. The top two have patterns made with a leaf-bread cutter, the third is hand cut:



My father's extended family usually gather together at the beginning of December to make Laufabrauð, spending a whole day kneading, cutting and frying, before sharing a festive meal. There are usually 12-15 of us working together, turning out a couple of hudred of these flat, decorated breads in one day. The bread gets divided evenly between the families, who take it home and store until Christmas.

This year’s gathering is tomorrow, so here is a recipe and I will try to remember to take photos to post.

These deep-fried, thin wheat breads are traditionally cut with intricate decorative patterns, and are mostly eaten at Christmas. The tradition of making Laufabrauð has its roots in the northern part of Iceland, but has spread all over the country. Many bakeries now sell ready-made Laufabrauð, or pre-kneaded and cut dough that only needs decorating and frying, but nothing beats making it…

If you are a subscriber to Icelandic cooking, recipes and food culture

I'm sorry for the inconvenience and all the reposts, but I am in the process of labelling the posts to make it easier to find recipes by main ingredient, cooking method and other criteria.

Fish stew (leftover fish in white sauce) - Plokkfiskur

I recently dined at an upscale restaurant in Reykjavík, Lækjarbrekka. Due to its location, in the very heart of the old town, it caters to many tourists and some of the menu items are quintessentially Icelandic. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that good old leftover food, plokkfiskur, on the menu. It's served au gratin with the classic accompaniment of rye bread and potatoes on the side.

There are jokes about plokkfiskur - it can be either a delicacy or a disaster. During the old days, when fish was served (in some homes) five days a week, this was the standard way of using up leftovers. If you didn't finish the fish at lunch, this was what you could expect to be served for dinner.

about 700 g cooked fish
about 500 g cooked potatoes
50 g margarine or butter
50 g flour
750 ml milk
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 to 1 medium sized onion, optional

Any kind of cooked fish can be used, but to make this authentic, use cod, salt cod, haddock, or halibut.
Remove all s…

Elbow macaroni soup - Makkarónumjólk

This was a very popular soup in my home when I was little. Every time I taste elbow macaroni in sweet milk, it brings back childhood memories.

1 1/2 litre milk
60 g elbow macaroni
1/2 litre water
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 12 tsp salt
cinnamon sugar

Cook the macaroni in the water as indicated on the packet. Add the milk, sugar and salt and heat to boiling. Skim and serve with cinnamon sugar.

The mother of one of my friends calls this "englaballagrautur" which translates as "angel dick soup" - I suppose because it's white, sweet and the elbow macaroni kind of look like little penises.

Chocolate-date cake with strawberries and cream

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Frú Hnallþóra: So delicious!
Originally uploaded by Netla.
A friend of mine made this cake for her son's birthday party in August.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate-date cake with strawberries

The most common way of serving this kind of cake is with bananas, but since the photo is of one with strawberries, I am putting strawberries into the recipe instead.

4 eggs
150 g sugar
50 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 g dark (semi-sweet is best) chocolate
100 g dates

Whip together eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sifted flour and baking powder by the spoonful until fully mixed. Chop chocolate and dated (raisin-sized pieces are good) and fold into batter.

Line two round baking tins (approx. 22 cm in diameter) with baking paper and put in the dough. Level dough with a spatula. Bake at 180°C on the middle rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until firm when poked gently with a finger.

Filling and decoration:
1 small or medium box fresh strawberries (depending on how much decorating you plan to …

Report on skyr-making in England

It gladdens my heart to know that people have actually used my skyr recipe with edible results. I got this (through my LonelyPlanet account) from Ivan:

“This is just to report my skyr-making attempts in England.
I brought some skyr back from both my last trips to Iceland. The first time was subject to all sorts of over-heating disasters, and finally came to an end when I spilt it all over the hall carpet.
The most recent attempt (from skyr brought back in summer 2005) was much more successful. I was using the junket-rennet, which is not ideal, and does not really give the right texture, but I was definitely making something with the right kind of taste and which people wanted to eat. I kept it going for 6 months, and then suddenly it stopped working, so I must have done something to kill it.”

So you see: it can be done. The starter is always taken from the last batch of skyr and I think in Ivan's case it probably got weaker every time until it finally died. I have been told the skyr …

Icelandic doughnut balls - Ástarpungar

The name ástarpungar means “love balls.”
These are a delicious workaday kind of fried pastries that are still made weekly in some households. My paternal grandmother always has some ready for guests.

I really like these little doughnuts, especially warm with a glass of cold milk. Make them and everyone will love you for it ;-)

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
to taste: raisins

Method:
Mix the dry ingredients well in a bowl, add the rest and mix into a smooth batter. Batter should not be very thick. Unlike regular twisted doughnuts which are made with kneaded dough and need very high temperatures to fry properly, these doughnuts can be fried in a regular deep fryer. Use whatever frying fat you like best, heated to the highest temperature the deep fryer offers. Drop dollops of dough into the frying fat with two teaspoons and fish out when they have turned a dark brown colour. Drain on paper towels. Some people like to sprinkle icing sugar on th…

Icelandic egg soup - Eggjamjólk

I'm back after taking a break from blogging to finish my master's thesis.

Today's recipe is for a soup that I like very much.

The nights have turned cold and this soup might have been invented for cold nights, as it's wonderfully warming. Think of egg-nog, but without the alcohol.
The original recipe includes raisins or prunes, which I prefer to leave out.
Serves 5.

1 ¼ litre milk
2 tbs flour
1-2 eggs
1-2 tbs sugar or brown sugar
vanilla essence to taste

Break the egg(s) into a bowl or soup tureen and whip with the sugar until light and frothy. Mix together flour and 200 ml cold milk into a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil. When the milk boils, add the flour/milk mixture and bring it back to the boil. Cook on low for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour slowly into the egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Add vanilla flavouring to taste. Sprinkle sugar on top to prevent a skin from forming. Serve immediately.

The origina…

Colostrum pudding (broddur) – Ábrystir

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This is a lovely pudding, rich and thick with the texture similar to crème caramel. It makes me think of spring, as it's the time when the cows calve and colostrum is readily available if one knows an obliging farmer. Colostrum is not sold in supermarkets, but you can sometimes find it at the Reykjavík flea market's food section.

1 litre cow's colostrum (milk from the first or second milking after calving)
Whole milk, as needed
1-2 tsp salt

Mixing the colostrum with milk is an art one has to learn, but the rule of thumb is that if it's from the first milking, then it should be thinned 1:1, but if it's from the second milking, then it should be thinned with two parts colostrum to one part milk. To make sure you're getting the mix right, do a test batch and cook it to see how it comes out.

When you're sure of the mix, stir together the milk and colostrum, dissolve the salt in a little warm water and add to the mix. Pour into a saucepan or bowl, put a lid on it …

How to cook a whale

I have received a request from someone who wants to know how to cook whale. The recipes are presented here for the curiosity value, as whale is only available in a few countries. I haven't tasted whale since I was in my teens, and I don't expect many of my readers will ever get the chance to try it. The recipes are therefore untested by me. Beef or a good, tender piece of horse-steak can be substituted for whale, in which case you can leave out the beating.

Recipe nr 1:
3/4 to 1 kilo whale meat (or beef/horse)
50 g butter, tallow or lard
2-3 onions
Salt and pepper
Laurel leaf (optional)
600-700 ml water
Sauce colouring (caramel)
50 g flour
200 ml milk

Clean the meat: some say it's enough to slice off about a centimetre off each side of the piece, others recommend soaking in milk overnight. This is only to ensure there will be no oily taste to the meat, but if it has been properly handled in the first place, it will not taste oily. Cut into steaks and beat with a meat mallet.
Slice t…

Biximatur

When I went to sixth-form college (the school stage between elementary school and university) I lived in a dormitory and ate all my meals in the school cafeteria. Whenever the cook had amassed enough leftover meat, we would be served "biximatur", a medley of fried meat leftovers with potatoes and onions. This can be quite good, or it can be a disaster. Serves 5.

250 g cooked meat, mixed or not. Can be anything: beef, mutton, pork, horse, sausage, turkey, chicken or game.
500 gr. cooked potatoes
1 large onion
100 gr. margarine or butter, or substitute with cooking oil
1 tsp salt dash pepper

Cut the meat and potatoes into small cubes. Peel and slice the onions. Fry the onion slices in the margarine on a frying pan until they take on a golden colour. Add the meat and potatoes and fry until heated through and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with fried egg and ketchup (optional), and a fresh salad.

Recipe taken from Helga Sigurðardóttir's "Matur & …

Baked fish loaf - Fiskrönd

This recipe uses the same basic fish dough that is given in the recipe for fish balls.

Press 400 gr. fish dough into a loaf pan (fill the pan no more that 3/4). Cover with aluminium foil to avoid burning. Pour boiling water into a roasting pan (or use a Bain Marie) and add the loaf pan with the fish dough. Cook in this waterbath in a 180°C oven for 40-50 minutes, making sure that the roasting pan is always at least half full. When ready, remove from the loaf pan. Serve upside down, decorated with sliced lemon, cooked shrimp, tomatoes and salad leaves.

Serve with white sauce, melted butter, caper sauce, shrimp sauce, asparagus sauce, or sauce Hollandaise.

Baking-powder bread - Hveitibrauð með lyftidufti

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My mother sometimes makes this delicious bread. We usually eat it while it's still hot out of the oven, with butter and cheese.

500 g flour OR 400 g flour and 100 g whole-wheat flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp sugar
300-350 ml milk, OR a mixture of water and milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
milk or egg for brushing

Sift together the dry ingredients, and add most of the milk. Knead until smooth, adding milk as needed. Form into a loaf. Make shallow cuts into the top of the loaf. Brush the loaf with milk or beaten egg. Bake immediately. Bread should be baked on the lowest rung in the oven, at 175°-200°C, for about an hour. It will be crusty and tastes best while warm. It's very good with butter and cheese, but I prefer to eat it with just butter.

Puffin in milk sauce - Mjólkursoðinn lundi

I don't care much for puffin and other sea-birds as food, but many people love them and eat them whenever they can. This recipe resembles the recipe for rock ptarmigan, in that the birds are cooked in milk.

4 puffins
50 g smoked bacon
50 g butter
300 ml milk
300 ml water to taste salt

Puffins should be skinned or carefully plucked and singed. Remove the innards and discard. You can use the breasts alone, or cook the whole birds. Wash well in cold water and rub with salt, inside and out. If you are using whole birds, truss them. Lard the breasts with bacon fat. Brown the birds on all sides, and stuff them tightly into a cooking pot. Heat the milk and water and pour over the puffins. Bring to the boil and cook on low for 1-2 hours (test the birds for softness). Turn the birds occasionally. Remove from the cooking liquid and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

The sauce:
30 g butter
4 tblsp flour
400-500 ml cooking liquid
to taste salt and pepper
as needed caramel/sauce colouring
to taste…

Oven-pan cake - Skúffukaka

An old family favourite, and the first cake I learned to make - in fact I know the recipe by heart. This is a very versatile recipe. The recipe can also be used to make an apple-cake, spice cake, or a batch of muffins.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbs dark cocoa, or more, to taste
150 g margarine, melted
2 eggs
1-1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Mix the dry ingredients well together in a bowl. Add the eggs and milk and then the melted margarine and mix well. Although this batter is supposed to be just mixed, I prefer to whip it slightly - it makes the cake wonderfully light and fluffy.
Pour into a greased oven-pan (a deep, square one), and bake at 175° C for about 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. The cake is done when it feels firm when you press gently on it with your hand. Allow to cool and spread with cocoa icing.

Varieties:
-Leave out the cocoa, and make a white cake. Spread with cocoa icing when cool.
-Cinnamon cake: Make a white batter and s…

Icelandic Rhubarb compote - Rabarbaragrautur

It's rhubarb season, so here is a recipe to try.

Rhubarb grows in abundance in almost every vegetable garden in Iceland, right alongside the potatoes. In the summer, it is mostly used for soup and grautur (compote). It is preserved mostly as jam, but it also freezes well, and tastes excellent when preserved in syrup. There are many homes where rhubarb soup/grautur is eaten throughout the winter. It is also good for desserts (especially pies and compotes) and chutneys, and it makes excellent wine.

My mother used to make rhubarb compote about once or twice a month through the summer when I was little, but after my brother decided that he didn't like it, she hardly ever makes it anymore.

3/4 litres water
3-3 1/2 tbs potato starch/cornflour
250 g rhubarb
100 ml water, cold
200 ml sugar

Wash the rhubarb and chop into small pieces. Drop into cold water and bring to the boil. Cook until the rhubarb pieces separate. Add the sugar and thicken with the potato starch. Don't c…

Lisa's spiced chocolate cake - Lísu Brúnterta

This is one of the cakes my mother always makes for holidays like Christmas and Easter, and for birthdays and other special occasions.

500 g flour
350 g sugar
250 g margarine or butter
2 eggs
3 tsp ground cloves
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tbs dark cocoa
as needed milk

Cream together the sugar and softened margarine or butter. Mix in the eggs. Sift the flour with the spices, baking soda and cocoa. Add to the margarine mix, one tablespoonful at a time. Alternate with splashes of milk, and mix well in between (batter should be medium thick). Pour into cake tins and bake at 190°C until firm. Cool.
My mother makes these cakes about as thick as her thumb, and uses three layers of cake and two layers of vanilla butter icing. Tastes great with whipped cream.

Freezes well.

Devils' Cake - Djöflaterta

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This devilishly good chocolate cake is very popular all over Iceland, and you can buy a slice in most cafes and bakeries, although they are usually covered with buttercream icing and sprinkled with dessicated coconut.

I like it best when it has been frozen and thawed before glazing, because the cake will then be nicely moist.


Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs or 1 egg and egg 2 yolks (if you're making Angel's créme icing)
1/2 cup dark cocoa * (or more, if you prefer your cake really dark and chocolatey. Proper Devil's cake should be almost black in colour)
100 g margarine/butter (soft)
1 tsp vanilla essence

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add milk and mix well. Add eggs, soft margarine/butter and vanilla essence and mix well. Pour into two cake pans and bake at 175° Celsius until firm (usually 25-30 minutes). Remove gently from pans and cool.

When cold, spread one half with rhubarb jam (lea…

Butter icing for cakes and cookies - Smjörkrem

Since I am about to start posting some cakes and cookies that require butter icing, here is the recipe for this excellent substance.

125 g sweet butter or margarine
125-200 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
to taste: flavouring (see notes)
1 tbs cream (optional)
few drops food colouring (optional)
a pinch of salt (leave out if you're using salted butter)

Soften the butter at room temperature, or put in the microwave for a few seconds. Whip together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Adjust amount of sugar according to how sweet you want the icing. Add the egg yolk and flavouring, and cream, if using (will make the icing smoother). Frost the cake and enjoy.

Notes:
Vanilla essence is the usual flavouring for white icing, but many other flavours are excellent. Rum, sherry, amaretto/almond and hazelnut are good flavours for many kinds of cake. Fruit, berry and flower flavours, such as orange, lemon, strawberry, cherry, peppermint or rosewater, are good with vanilla-flavoured cakes.

Other v…

Wedded Bliss - Hjónabandssæla

I don’t know where the name for this yummy cake originates, but I think it’s a good one. I learned to make it in home economics class when I was in elementary school.

200 ml Oatmeal
100 ml Whole wheat flour
100 ml Flour
100 ml Brown sugar, well packed
1/4 tsp Baking soda (optional)
100 g Butter/margarine, semi-soft
1 Egg
As needed: Rhubarb jam or stewed prunes (go to he bottom of the page)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the butter/margarine and mix well with your hands. Add the egg and mix well. Press the dough into a round baking tin, saving some (a small handful or so) for the topping. Spread with the jam and crumble the rest of the dough over the cake. You can also use the leftover dough to make a pie lattice for the cake (reserve more dough for that)). Bake at 200°C for approx 20 min. or until the cake takes on a dark, golden color. Delicious hot or cold.

Icelandic Christmas cake with variations (tea buns, marble cake, lemon cake) - Jólakaka (tebollur, marmarakaka, sítrónukaka)

Probably not Icelandic in origin, but we have certainly made it our own. Although we call it Christmas Cake, we actually enjoy it all through the year. My mother usually bakes up a big batch of these cakes in one go. They freeze well, and are always popular with guests.

This versatile recipe is also good for making tea buns, and, with minor changes, Marble Cake, Lemon Cake, Sand Cake, Fruitcake and Spice Cake. Christmas cake is traditionally made with raisins, but as neither I or my mother like raisins in cakes, we usually substitute them with chocolate chips.

Ingredients:
150 g margarine, soft
150 g sugar
1 egg
250 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 ml milk
100 ml raisins or chocolate chips or 50/50 of both (optional)
1/2 tsp lemon, cardamom or vanilla essence

Margarine, milk and eggs should all be at room temperature.
Beat together sugar and margarine until it takes on a pale, almost white, colour. Add the egg and continue beating until light and fluffy looking. Add flavourin…

Icelandic blueberry/bilberry soup - Bláberjasúpa

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It's almost blueberry season in Iceland, so here is a recipe to try.

What we call bláber (blueberries) in Iceland are actually the related bilberries. Either bilberries or blueberries can be used in this recipe.

Bilberries in the wild:


250 g blueberries or bilberries, fresh or frozen
1 + 3/4 litre water
approx. 150 g sugar
30 g potato starch or cornflour
100 m cold water

Drop the berries into boiling water and cook on low until they burst, 3-5 minutes. Mix together potato starch/cornflour and cold water into a smooth paste. Add sugar to the soup and stir until melted. Thicken with potato starch/cornflour mix. Serve and enjoy.

-Use more thickening mixture to make a blueberry pudding. Pour into a bowl before it stiffens and sprinkle sugar on top. Serve warm or cold with milk or cream (or half and half).

Coconut Drops & coconut cake - Kókostoppar og kókoskaka

Coconut drops
These little drop cookies are more like sweets that cookies, especially if you dip them in melted chocolate. This recipe makes about 20-25 cookies.

2 eggs
150 g sugar
225 g desiccated coconut

Whip together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in the desiccated coconut. Drop by the teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 200°C until light golden brown (approx 10-12 minutes). Serve as is, or dip the bottom half of cooled cookies in melted chocolate.

Coconut cake
This cake is delicious by itself (especially when made with chocolate chips), or you can layer it with jam/jelly and decorate with whipped cream.

200 g margarine or butter
200 g sugar
2 eggs
200 g flour
180 g dessicated coconut
1 tsp baking powder
chocolate chips to taste (optional)

Beat together softened margarine and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and mix well. Mix together flour, coconut and baking powder, and chocolate chips (if using). Add to sugar-egg-margarine mixture. D…

Chocolate "Snake cake" - Súkkulaði-slöngukaka

A chocolate version of the delicious snake cake. Plain version

3 eggs
125 g sugar
50 g potato starch or cornflour
2 tbs dark cocoa
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together the eggs and sugar. Add the dry ingredients (sift them first) and mix carefully. Bake like the other snake cake. When done, turn over onto a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with sugar. Roll up with the paper to store. When you want to serve the cake, gently unroll and smear one side with fruit jam, and top with whipped cream (about 150 ml is suitable). Slice and serve.

Variations:
-Instead of cream and jam, use vanilla buttercream or cream with mashed fruit. Banana is especially good.
-Smooth half-frozen ice-cream custard on the cake, roll up and freeze before serving.

Recipe taken from Helga Sigurðardóttir's "Matur & Drykkur", Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

Bibliophile's Pepperoni sauce for chicken, fish and pasta

This is a flavourful sauce that I use for chicken, fish and pasta. This makes a meal for two.

1/2 onion, chopped
50-100 g mushrooms (less for chicken and fish, more for pasta), sliced
10-15 slices of pepperoni, quartered (from the smaller kind of pepperoni sausage. If you have the big slices where one is enough to top a slice of bread, halve the amount and cut into more pieces), OR equal amount of bacon (will be less flavourful)
1 tbs tomato purée
150 ml cream
garlic to taste
salt, if needed

200 g chicken (breasts or thigh meat) or white fish, cubed
1 cup of rice (or more if you simply love rice or need to make the meal bigger)
salt, pepper and your favourite chicken or fish spice blend
Additional for fish:
½ cup flour
cheese, grated or sliced

OR

enough pasta (farfalle or rotini) for two people

Heat oven to 180°C (170°C if you have a convection oven like I do). While the oven is heating up, cut the chicken or fish into bite-sized cubes and prepare the onions, mushrooms and pepperoni. If using fish, …

Fried rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) - Steiktar Rjúpur

This is THE Christmas dish in many Icelandic homes, although not in mine. I must admit that I have never tasted ptarmigan, but this is such a typical Icelandic Christmas dish that I had to include it here. Some of my friends claim that there wouldn't be any Christmas in their homes without it. For some, it has to be birds shot by their father, brother or uncle, but these days more and more people don't feel like going through the whole process of shooting, hanging, plucking and cleaning the birds. They people simply go to the next supermarket and buy the birds ready to cook.

3 rock ptarmigans, plucked, cleaned and ready for cooking
75 g fatty bacon
90 g butter/margarine
450 ml boiling water
450 ml boiling milk
2 tsp salt
300 ml cream
2 tbs flour
caramel colouring for the sauce - optional

Cut slits into the bird's chests and lard with strips of bacon fat (this is to ensure that the flesh will not be too dry). Truss the birds. Melt the butter in a cooking pot and brown the …

News: Icelandic foods in the USA

29 shops in the Whole Foods Market chain in the Mid-Atlantic states are now offering Icelandic skyr (vanilla and blueberry flavors, with strawberry and unflavoured coming soon), cheeses and lamb. Icelandic chocolate (Síríus Konsúm) will be available soon, and fresh Icelandic fish will be available in the fall.

The Icelandic exporter expects to start selling the same products in Whole Foods Markets in the North-east USA, including Boston and New York, in September.

Source: Morgunblaðið

Bibliophile's summer refersher

Here's a refreshing summer drink that has a taste reminiscent of a popular Icelandic soft drink, Mix, only not quite as sweet.

1 part pure pineapple juice
1 part Sprite Zero (or regular Sprite or 7up if you prefer it sweeter)
ice
decorations (optional): pineapple ring, paper umbrella, straw

Pour the pineapple juice into a highball glass, add the Sprite and top up with ice. Decorate and add a straw.

For a sunset effect, pour a little bit of Grenadine down the side of the glass after you pour the Sprite and allow it to settle on the bottom before you add the ice.

Crumbed fish - Steiktur fiskur í raspi

This is an old family favourite. Some variation of this dish can be had in many roadside diners thay serve more than the traditional hamburgers, sandwiches and hot dogs.

2 kg fish (cod, haddock, sole, flounder or any other white fish) – skin and bones removed
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg or egg white
a splash milk (optional)
250 g margarine/butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fish spice mix (use your favourite mix or substitute with Season-All)
a dash of pepper
1/2 medium onion, sliced

Break the egg and beat to break the yolk, add a splash of milk (if using) and mix well. Mix salt and spice with breadcrumbs. Cut the fish into pieces, across the fillet. Width of pieces can range from 2 1/2 to 5 cm (1-2 inches), depending on appetite. (Just make the pieces uniform in size.)

Set up your workplace:
First, a plate with the fish pieces, then a bowl with beaten egg, then a bowl with breadcrumbs, then the heated frying pan on the stove.

Instructions:
Melt half the margarine/butter (or use equivalent in cooking oil) …

Snake cake (rolled cake) - Slöngukaka

It's called a snake cake because the slices look like stylised coiled-up snakes.

4 eggs
150-200 g sugar
50 g flour
50 g potato starch or cornstarch

Cream the eggs and sugar together. Add the flour and potato/corn starch, little by little. Prepare a temporary baking container by putting baking paper on a baking sheet and folding in the corners to make a shallow "box". Pour in the dough and smooth with a spatula. Bake at 250°C for about 10 minutes. Set the oven to heat from below. Test for doneness by gently pressing the top of the cake with your finger - if the cake feels firm and the fingerprint quickly disappears, the cake is done. When done, turn the cake over onto a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with sugar. Put baking paper and a roasting pan or cutting board on top of the cake while it cools, to keep it smooth and prevent it from hardening.

Possible fillings:

Chocolate butter cream:
50-73 g margarine or butter, soft
50 g brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbs dark cocoa
1 tsp v…

Vanilla ice-cream - Vanillurjómaís

Because it’s warm(-ish) and sunny outside, here is a lovely and fattening recipe for home-made ice-cream. My mother makes this for special occasions, like Christmas and easter. It is very rich and creamy, and absolutely delicious!

1/2 litre heavy cream or whipping cream
5 egg yolks (use the whites to make meringue drops
75 g sugar
vanilla essence to taste

Mix egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence* and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Whip the cream until it is quite stiff and fold into yolk/sugar mixture. Pour into a mould and freeze, or use an ice-cream maker. Use the egg whites to make meringue tops to serve with the ice-cream.

*Note on vanilla use: A little goes a long way. The vanilla taste is stronger once the custard has been frozen. You can also use vanilla sugar or a vanilla bean (soak it in the milk).

Variations: Experiment with different flavourings and extras: chocolate chips, small pieces of preserved fruit, liqueurs, flavour essences.

Goes well with Crème de Menthe and M…

Traditional Icelandic fish balls - Fiskibollur

Fish balls are one of the many ways in which Icelanders like to cook fish, and the recipes are numerous. When I was little I loved to eat fish-balls in pink sauce (see recipe below), mostly because of the colour of the sauce.

1 large fillet white fish (cod, haddock and saithe are traditional), skinned and boneless
1 medium onion
2/3 cup flour
1/5 cup potato starch (use cornstarch if potato starch is not available)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
milk, as needed

Finely chop or grind the fish fillet and onion. Mix together in a bowl (or just throw both ingredients into a food processor and let it do the work). Add the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add the eggs and then the milk. The fish-dough should be just thick enough to stick together when you form it into balls. Form small balls with two tablespoons or use your hands. Fry in oil or butter over medium heat, until browned and cooked through. Serve with fresh salad and potatoes. Ketchup also goes well with fish-balls.

-If you must have some sauce on y…

News: Skyr goes to Europe and the USA

It seems the world is finally to taste this unique Icelandic dairy product outside Iceland.

Skyr and some other Icelandic products will soon be available from the chain store Whole Foods Market in the United States.

A Danish dairy factory has started making skyr for local distribution, and skyr will soon be available in several other European countries.

If you see skyr on sale anywhere outside Iceland, please let me know.

Edit: See Rebecca's Comment for a heads up on the Whole Foods Market situation.

Ávaxtagrautur - Icelandic style compote of dried fruit

This is one of my father's favourite dishes. He likes it best with heaps of sugar and cream.
It can be served hot or cold, as a meal in itself or as a dessert.

150 g. mixed dried fruit – the usual Icelandic combination is prunes, apples, apricots, pears and peaches. Or you can use one type of dried fruit.
100 g. sugar
900 ml. water
30 g. potato flour (or cornstarch) mixed with 100 ml. cold water

Cook the fruit in the water until soft. Press through a sieve or process in a blender if you desire a finer texture. Add sugar and thicken with potato flour mix. Serve hot or cold, with cream or half & half.

Icelandic hot dogs

I recently got this request (through my book blog):

“I read the recipes from Iceland. I was wondering if you have recipes for the hot dog toppings for a hot dog with the works? We visited there last June and loved them, but couldn't figure out how to make them ourselves!?”

A hot dog with the works includes ketchup, remoulade, French fried onions and mustard, sometimes also raw onions.

Here is part of an essay I wrote about hot dogs:

The basics of an Icelandic hot dog:

Icelandic hot dog sausages are made from a mixture of pork, lamb and beef. The fat content is quite high, as you can see if you grill or fry one. They are flavourful and I like them better than any other hot dog sausages. Having run an Icelandic food website in English for several years, I can attest that they are the subject I get the biggest number of e-mails about from abroad, all of them positive, and most of them asking where they can order some.

The bun is a regular hot dog bun: sweet, soft, light and whi…

Strawberry meringue cake - New

Meringue:
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips

This will make enough for two layers. The cake tins should be about 23 cm/9 inches across.

Eggs should be at room temperature. Whip the egg whites (you can use the yolks to make ice cream) until they are stiff and form peaks. Add the sugar in small doses, whipping well in-between. Whip until the dough is stiff and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Line the cake tins with baking paper and lightly grease the paper. Divide the dough between the tins and level the top.

Bake at 100 C/212 F, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When the baking time is over, let the cakes cool with the oven.


Strawberry cream:
1 cup whipping cream (unwhipped)
1 can strawberries in syrup or equivalent in fresh strawberries.

Whip the cream until it is stiff and forms peaks. Drain the strawberries and pat dry. Mash the strawberries with a spoon, and fold into the whipped cream. Put the strawberry cream between the meringue layers and cool for 4-6 hours be…

Gravlax recipe - Grafinn lax

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The Norwegians and/or Swedes invented Gravlax, and it is a national dish in both countries. This pickled salmon is an excellent entrée and has in recent years become a necessary part of any cold buffet in Iceland. It is almost always served in the same way: thin slices on toast with mustard-dill sauce.

I'm including two gravlax recipes here, one with MSG and another one without it. I'm also including two recipes for mustard-dill sauce, one simple, the other fancy. The pickle mix can also be used with trout.

Recipe 1:
The following pickle is enough for two medium salmon fillets (from a 3-4 kg. fish).
4 tbs fine salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp MSG
3 tbs dill (fresh)

Mix all ingredients together. Apply an even layer of the mix to the fish. Wrap each fillet in plastic wrap and then in kitchen foil, skin down. Leave in the refrigerator for 4 days. Remove the gravlax from the packaging and gently scrape off the spice mix. Cut the fish into very thin d…

Fish soup

I sometimes make this delicious fish soup. It's especially warming on a cold winter's evening.

Serves 4.
4-5 potatoes , diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbs olive oil
1 litre water
1 tbs fish bouillon
1 sprig thyme or basil (optional)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
8-10 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into finger-wide slices
2 carrots, julienned
1 tsp lemon juice
400-500 g white fish or 250 g white fish and 250 g shrimp, lobster/crab and/or scallops
optional: broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chives, parsley

Fry the potatoes and onion lightly in the oil (use a deep saucepan or soup pot). Add the water, fish bouillon, thyme, garlic and sun-dried tomato slices*, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the julienned carrots to the soup. If you are using broccoli or cauliflower, slice broccoli stalks and cut cauliflower into small florets and add with the carrots. Cook for approx. 5 minutes. If using, julienne the celery and cut broccoli heads into florets and add. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and cook …

Skyr, recipe and instructions

The Viking settlers are believed to have brought the knowledge of how to make skyr with them from Norway, and may have developed it further after settlement. Since that time, the knowledge of skyr-making has been lost in Scandinavia.

Skyr looks like thick yoghurt, and the taste is reminiscent of it. But skyr is actually a type of fresh cheese. Because it is made with skim milk, the fat content is very low, allowing it to be eaten with cream and sugar without too much guilt. It is also an excellent source of calcium. Making it takes time, but it's well worth the effort.

Skyr is not widely available outside Iceland (it is sold in limited amounts in some speciality shops in the USA), which can make it hard to produce in other countries. The reason for this is that in order to make skyr, you need skyr. There is a special bacteria culture that gives skyr its taste and texture, and the best way of getting the bacteria into a new batch is by mixing a portion of prepared skyr into it. Sour …

Herring salad - Síldarsalat

This herring salad is a fresh and unusual addition to a brunch or buffet.

1 sweet apple
5-6 slices pickled red beet (Recipe!)
2-3 fillets marinated
or spice pickled herring
1/2 - 2/3 cup mayonnaise

Take about half a cup of mayonnaise and stir well to prevent lumps (Icelandic mayonnaise is thick and tends to become lumpy if not stirred). Cut the herring fillets into small slices and the apple and beet into small cubes. Add to the mayonnaise and mix well. The salad should be a rose-pink colour - if not, add some of the juice from the beets (or cheat and use red food colouring).

Serving suggestions:
-serve with rye bread or crackers. Top with slices of hard boiled egg (optional).
-replace half the mayonnaise with sour cream.

Marinated/pickled herring - Marineruð síld í kryddlegi

Marinated herring is a family favourite, although I must admit that we prefer to buy it ready made rather than make it from scratch.

3 salted herrings
200 ml white vinegar
1 medium onion
200 ml water
6 black peppercorns
100 ml sugar
1 laurel leaf, broken into pieces

(To convert measures, use the link on the right sidebar)

First, the excess salt must be removed from the herring:
Wash the fish under cold, running water. Soak in plenty of cold water for 24 hours, changing the water every few hours. Fillet and soak in cold water for 1-2 hours.

Preparation:
Cut each fillet diagonally across, into finger-wide pieces, OR roll up, beginning at the tail end. Slice the onion. Put the herring into a sterilized jar, layering with onion slices and spices. Stir together vinegar, water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Pour over herring until covered. Close the jar, and give the herring a few days to marinate properly. Store in the refrigerator. Will keep for a couple of weeks.

Serving suggest…

Icelandic lamb/mutton pate – Lamba/kindaKæfa

In Iceland, the economy-minded meal-planner knows that it is cheaper to buy a whole or half lamb (divided into various cuts) than to buy individual pieces when needed. The meat is bought frozen and will keep for 6 months or more at -18°C. This pâté is a good way to use up those leftovers and scraps that you don't know what to do with, and cuts that have freezer burn but have not gone bad.

5 kg meat on the bone (lamb or mutton)
1 1/2 kg mutton suet (optional)
120 g onion, quartered
150 g salt
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp allspice, ground
1 tsp cloves, ground

To convert measures, click the link on the right sidebar.

Note: If you leave out the suet, use fatty meat. Some fat is necessary to hold the pâté together.

Wash the meat and cook in a little water with the suet (if using), onions and salt. When the bones can be easily pulled from the meat, it is done. My mother likes to pour off some of the cooking liquid at this point, and continue to gently fry the meat in its own fa…

Icelandic bread soup - Brauðsúpa

Thriftiness is a strong trait in many older Icelanders, especially the generations that were born before World War II. Everything had to be used up, and throwing away edible leftovers was considered criminal. This thick soup is one way of using up bread leftovers and crusts.

Recipe serves 5.
200 g rye bread or assorted bread leftovers. Must be at least half rye bread.
1,25 l water
2 tbs raisins OR 4 prunes
1 tbs orange marmalade (optional)
6 slices lemon, OR orange/lemon zest or a cinnamon stick
2-3 tbs sugar
100 ml cream, whipped

(There is a link to a measurement converter on the right sidebar).

Soak the bread in the water overnight, or until the crusts are soft. Purée (use a blender if you have one) and cook on low for 1 hour. Add the raisins, lemon slices and sugar and cook for about 10 minutes more. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Recipe translated from Helga Sigurðardóttir's recipe book Matur & Drykkur", Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

Brúnaðar kartöflur - Caramelised potatoes

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These are good with any kind of roast meat, especially lamb and pork roast. I don't like to make them too often, just occasionally.

Potatoes caramelising in the pan:


1 kg cooked potatoes
50 g butter OR margarine
50 g sugar

If you need to convert the measures, see link on the right.

The potatoes should preferably be cold, but it is not necessary. They should be small and even in size. If they are big, cut into smaller pieces (about bite-size), flush with water and pat dry. Put the sugar in a medium hot frying pan. When it starts to brown, add the butter and stir to mix. Lower temperature and add potatoes. Roll the potatoes around to coat evenly. The caramel covering should be soft and light brown. If it is dark and hard, the sugar syrup was too hot. This can be fixed by removing the left-over sugar from the pan and returning the potatoes to the pan with a little water. Roll them around and allow the boiling water to soften the caramel shell.
Serve hot, for example with roast or ham…

Icelandic cocktail sauce - Kokkteilsósa

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Every nation has its favourite condiment to use with French fries. The British use vinegar and the Americans ketchup, but the favoured condiment in Iceland is cocktail sauce. This versatile pink goo is also good with deep-fried or broiled chicken, hot dogs, grilled sausages and fried fish.

I have watched in amusement as Icelanders abroad tried to make cocktail sauce from salad cream and ketchup because they could not imagine eating fries without it.

The most basic recipe calls for mayonnaise and ketchup, but this one is a little more refined ;-)

Take 200 gr. sour cream or 100 gr. sour cream and 100 gr. mayonnaise and stir until smooth. If you are using both mayo and cream, stir separately and then mix. This is important and will help you avoid lumps in the sauce.
Add approx. 3 tbs ketchup.
Finally, add 1/2-1 tsp sweet mustard.

This is what it's supposed to look like:


You can make cocktail sauce in a blender, in which case you just dump everything in at once and mix on high un…

Sunnudags-lambasteik - Icelandic Sunday roast

In many Icelandic homes this is the Sunday meal. I like this food a lot, but not every Sunday! Some families also serve roast lamb for Christmas.

Take one leg of lamb with bone (approx. 1 1/2 kg.). Wash under running cold water and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. I also like to use Aromat (flavour enhancer), Season-All, garlic and coriander. Quarter an onion and put in a roasting pan with the meat. It’s also good to put carrots in the pan. For added flavour, rub the meat with the onion before seasoning. Cover and insert into a heated oven (175-200° C.). After about 15-20 minutes, pour in some water to cover the bottom of the pan, and add more water as it evaporates. Baste the meat with the cooking juices. The roast should stay in the oven for about 2 hours. After about 1 1/2 hours, take the roast out and pour off the cooking liquid. Return to the oven without covering, to brown. Use the cooking liquid to make the sauce (see recipe below).

Alternative method:
If you have enough time…