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Showing posts from January, 2006

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…

Icelandic pancakes - Pönnukökur

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To me, pancakes always evoke the image of my grandmothers, both of whom are expert pancake makers, and will whip up a batch at a moments' notice. These pancakes are quick and (fairly) easy to make, and how you serve them depends on the occasion. Rolled up with sugar, they make an excellent addition to afternoon tea (or coffee, depending on your preferences). Spread with jam and folded up with whipped cream, they are a delicacy fit for festive occasions. This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother.

This "recipe" is only a guideline to help first time pancake-makers along. As you become more fluent in pancake-making, you will probably develop your own "dash-of-this, a-little-of-that" recipe, as I have.

1 cup flour
1 medium egg (the original calls for two eggs - I prefer to use just one)
dash of baking soda
a dash of baking powder
100 grams margarine/butter, or equivalent amount of cooking oil
milk, as needed.
These are the basic ingredients. I also add abou…

Easy Icelandic fish casserole - Ofnsteiktur fiskur með lauk og osti

This is a simple, easy, nourishing dish.

400 g fish fillets (I use cod or haddock, but it would be good using flounder or sole), boned and skinned
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbs bread crumbs
2 tbs cheese, grated
25 g butter

Cut the fish into chunks and arrange in a greased casserole. Add salt. Sprinkle chopped onion over the fish. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese on top, and dot with small pieces of butter. Bake at 175-200°C for 20-30 minutes. Serve with cooked potatoes and a salad.

Variation:
Put the salted fish in the casserole with the chopped onion and butter. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 175°C. In the meantime, mix together:

50 ml Cream
100 ml Milk
1 tbs Breadcrumbs
2 tbs grated cheese

Pour over the fish and continue baking for 15 minutes.

Note:
Can also be made in a microwave oven. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

convert measures

Rúgbrauð – Icelandic Rye bread

This is the last of the Þorri recipes.

Rúgbrauð is great topped with butter and cheese, or with home-made lamb pâté (recipe will be posted later). Serve it well buttered on the side with poached fish, or Danish style with cold pickled herring (recipe will be posted later). Eat it with sliced hangikjöt or ham or spread it with cream cheese, and if there is anything left, use it to make bread soup (recipe will be posted later).

600 g sugar
400 g whole wheat flour
2 kg rye flour
1 tsp salt
50 g dry yeast
1,5 l milk

convert measures

Mix the ingredients together and knead well.

To cook in used milk-cartons:
Half-fill each 1 liter carton, pressing well to avoid air bubbles in the bread. Stand on the bottom of the oven and bake at 100°C for about 12 hours.

To cook in loaf pans:
Press the dough into tins/bread pans and stand in an oven-pan, half-filled with boiling water. Bake as above, adding extra water whenever necessary. This method is called seyðing, which translates as "slow-boil…

Icelandic flat bread – Flatbrauð

Yet another food you are likely to find on the Þorri buffet.

This traditional bread is delicious with butter and a slice of hangikjöt (smoked lamb).

500 g rye flour
1/2 tsp salt
250-300 ml boiling water

Mix the salt and the rye flour. Add some water and knead. Dough should be fairly soft. Roll out thin and use a small plate to cut even sized breads. Prick all over with a fork and bake on top of the stove at medium to high temperature. For authenticity, do not use a griddle or skillet, but put the cakes directly onto the cooking plate (this is both smelly and smoky). Cook on one side until it begins to look dry, then turn over. The bread should have some slight burn spots here and there.
Good with slices of cold meat, such as hangikjöt, ham, or lamb pâté, and delicious slathered with butter.

Someone contacted me with a couple of tips for making flat bread:
-If you make the flat bread in the traditional way, there will be smoke - so do it in a well ventilated area.
-To avoid the breads g…

Svið & sviðasulta – Icelandic singed sheep's heads & brawn

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Continuing with the Þorri food, here is a popular Þorri dish, one that is also widely eaten outside the Þorri season.

Sheep's head jam is a traditional meat product that can be found in any Icelandic supermarket. It is usually eaten fresh, but during the Þorri season you can also get whey-pickled head jam. There is also a pig's head version, svínasulta, which is spiced. This variety food is known as head-cheese or brawn in English.

Some recipes include gelatine, but it is generally not necessary if the cooking liquid is allowed to thicken during cooking (by not adding water unless it seems to be completely evaporating).

6 ea. sheep's heads, singed (see instructions below)
as needed water and salt

How to singe and otherwise prepare sheep's heads for cooking:
Take the fresh heads and singe them with fire until all the hair is burnt. Use a stiff brush to clean the heads under running cold water. Clean the area around the eyes and inside the ears especially well. Saw the…

Hangikjöt - Icelandic smoked lamb (instructions)

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Still in keeping with the Þorri theme, here is a popular food that is a favourite main dish for Christmas and Sundays, as well as being an essential part of the Þorri buffet.

Hangikjöt is an old favourite of the Icelanders. For centuries, we have smoked, pickled and dried food for preservation, and hangikjöt is one of the most delicious of the smoked products. Much like in olden times, hangikjöt is not an everyday food, except when used as a topping for bread, skonsur and flatbread. It may be eaten either hot or cold, and is traditionally served with cooked potatoes, white (béchamel) sauce, peas and pickled red cabbage. What follows is a description of the old method used for smoking lamb/mutton to make hangikjöt.

Smoking food, general information:
Smoking is an ancient food preservation method, which leaves the food tasting delicious. The smoke dries the food, and contains preservatives which prevent the food from spoiling. All food that is to be smoked must be salted first.

The smoke …

Harðfiskur – Icelandic hard (dried) fish

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Continuing with the Þorri theme, here is the single most popular food you will find on the Þorri buffet. It is a popular snack in Iceland, and many people take some with them when they go abroad on holiday.

Of the traditional Icelandic foods, harðfiskur and skyr are probably the two which most appeal to foreigners. I have received several e-mails from people asking how to make harðfiskur or where to buy it abroad, and so I decided it was time to give a description of how it's made.

Many kinds of fish dry well, but traditionally it is mostly cod, haddock and ocean catfish (wolf-fish) that are dried. Flounder also makes excellent harðfiskur, and in some areas of Iceland people also dry arctic char.

Drying haddock, cod and flounder:
Wash the fish and scrape off the slime. Gut the fish and remove the head. Haddock and cod can either be butterflied or filleted before drying. Flounder is filleted. If you butterfly the fish, you must take care to keep the fish spread open while it is dryi…

How to prepare hakarl: "rotten" or cured shark

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I think I will start my series of Þorri recipes by describing how the most controversial item on the Þorri menu is made.

Cured shark is one of those classic "let's scare the tourists" foods that can be found in most countries. This is not to say that we don't eat it as well. We do. Some of us love it so much that we will eat it as a snack. For others, a small nibble before the Þorri buffet begins for real is quite sufficient. It helps the digestion, which is why I always have a few bites before sitting down to the heavy Þorri food.


Cured shark for sale at an outdoor market.

I read in a book that there is uremic acid in the flesh of sharks. This I am inclined to believe, considering that cured shark smells like stagnant urine or ammonia. The uremic acid content only becomes dangerous if the shark is not butchered correctly right after it’s killed, becasuse fresh shark meat is edible and supposedly quite good, although it has never been popular in Iceland. The folk tal…

Rabarbarasulta - Rhubarb Jam

This is served with all sorts of foods and some people will eat it with anything. It is delicious spread on pancakes, between the layers of a Devil's Cake, on waffles (with cream), with roast lamb, or even with ice-cream. There are two varieties of this jam: dark and light. My mother always makes the thick, dark variety. The light variety is better if you intend to use it in baking or to spread on cakes.

1 kg rhubarb (use the red variety as much as possible, it gives better colour)
800g-1 kg white sugar

convert measures

Wash the rhubarb with cold water. Remove any traces of the leaves, which are toxic. Leave the white roots. Chop up the rhubarb, mix up with the sugar and stand aside over night. Put in a big cooking pot and bring to the boil over high temperature. Turn down the heat and cook on low until it is about the thickness of thick porridge. The recipe recommends about 10-20 minutes, but if you want darker, thicker jam, cook it longer. Stir frequently.
When done, pour the hot…

Icelandic recipe links (in English)

Although Jo’s Icelandic Recipes is the largest website of its kind, it’s not the only one. Here are links to some more Icelandic recipes:

The Icelandic National League’s recipe collection

Virtually Virtual Iceland. Check out the rest of the site for more information about Iceland.

Icelandic recipes from European Cuisines

Recipes from Iceland Naturally. Go to the Food menu on the left and choose “recipes” from the submenu that pops up. Commercial site for promoting Iceland and Icelandic products.

There are more websites with Icelandic recipes out there. They are not included here because:
I didn’t find them in a web search,
they only have a few recipes that can also be found on the other sites,
they have pop-ups (which I hate),
or have taken recipes from my website and presented them as their own without changing the text or giving me credit.

If you have suggestions for other websites with Icelandic recipes in English, write me a comment and include the link, and I will check it out.

Vínarterta - Vinarterta

This cake is also called Randalín (the striped lady). The name Vínarterta means Viennese Torte, but with the English spelling which leaves out the accent above the i, it becomes Friend’s Cake.

A variation of this cake is famous among the Western-Icelanders - the descendants of Icelandic immigrants in Canada and the U.S.A. For them, there is hardly anything more Icelandic than Vínarterta.
In spite of the name Viennese Cake, I think it probably originated in Denmark. The Western-Icelandic version is somewhat different from this - you can find one variation at the INL recipe collection.

This is my grandmother's recipe.

Ingredients:
500 g flour
250 g sugar
250 g margarine/butter, soft
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. baker's ammonia (ammonium carbonate)
a pinch of baking powder
essence of cardamom or a pinch of ground cardamom

convert measures to your preferred system

Mix together all dry ingredients. Add the margarine/butter and eggs, kneading until well mixed. Cool in the refrig…

Kjötsúpa - Traditional Icelandic Lamb soup/stew

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Updated 20. december 2013 to include kale. It's not a necessary ingredient, but it will add a lovely flavour note to the soup.

This is a classic Icelandic dish, a relative of Irish stew. There is a recipe for this soup in most Icelandic homes. No two are the same, and most are not really recipes, but general guidelines. It is very hard to put down a measured recipe, since the ingredients available will vary, and so will the taste, mood and inclination of the cook! The following is one variation, which I have tried to make as authentic as possible. The measurements are not meant to be taken too seriously, and should be varied according to taste and availability of ingredients. I have marked the absolutely necessary ingredients with an asterisk (*). These are only necessary for authenticity – part of the fun is coming up with your own preferred recipe.

Cooking time: appoximately 60 minutes, 10-15 minutes preparation. Serves 4-6.

* (duh!) 1 1/2 litre Water (less if you want a stew)…

Welcome to Jo's Icelandic Recipe Blog!

For several years I have been running Jo’s Icelandic Cooking, a website dedicated to Icelandic recipes and food culture and the biggest of its kind on the web that is available in English. I have not updated the site for nearly 2 years, simply because the work involved was getting in the way of my studies. During this time, I have kept up a web forum where people can write in to ask advice and request recipes. Now I think it’s time I started posting recipes again. To begin with, I will post recipes from the website with the occasional new recipe thrown in. Questions regarding each recipe can be posted in Comments, and so can general requests, but they can also be posted on the forum. When all the recipes from the website are posted on the blog, I intend to close down the forum.
Comments are moderated, so when you post a comment, it will not appear under Comments until I have approved it. This is to prevent spamming.