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Icelandic Christmas recipes

Since the holiday season in upon us I decided to gather together all the Christmas recipes I have published on this blog. I chose to do it this way rather than repost them because the comments get lost when reposting. I plan to make this an annual post, with new recipes added as they come along, so if you have comments, please comment on the recipes themselves, unless you don't mind if your comments go missing every time I repost this list.

So here they are, starting with the Christmas dinner dishes:

Starters or desserts:
Rice puddingRis a la mandeVanilla ice cream
Main dishes:
Hangikjöt (smoked lamb)Pork rib roastRoast lambRock ptarmigan
Side dishes and accompaniments:
Leaf breadChristmas cocktailPickled red cabbageCaramel potatoes
Cakes and cookies:
Gingerbread sandwich cookiesSarah Bernhardt cookiesJewish cookiesHalf-moonsCoconut wreathsSiggi's cookiesSyrup cookiesAir cookiesSpice cake with buttercreamChristmas cake

Rjómaterta III: Púðursykurmarengs - Cream cake III: Brown sugar meringue

This is a simple and impressive fancy cake – if you can avoid breaking the meringue!
If it does break, no matter: simply crush the meringue and layer it in dessert bowls or glasses with the cream, or toss it with whipped cream, fresh fruit and chocolate bits to make a smashed Pavlova.


4 egg whites
400 ml brown sugar

Optional:
1 cup cornflakes and ½ tsp baking powder

For the filling:
Whipping cream
Chocolate bits, chocolate-covered raisins, salted peanuts (all optional)

Whip together the sugar and egg whites (and baking powder if using cornflakes) until sugar is melted and mixture is stiff. If using, fold in cornflakes. Smooth into two greased round baking tins, or put into an icing bag and squeeze onto a cookie sheet covered with baking paper in a circular shape (good idea to make a guide on the paper beforehand with a pencil and a plate). Bake at 150°C for 1 hour. Cool.

To make a simple but tempting cream cake, put whipped cream between the layers a day before serving and refrigera…

Cold bread casserole

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Have I mentioned the Icelandic taste for bread dishes? Here is one more:

Sweet mustard
White (French) bread

4 hard-boiled eggs
1 small can crushed pineapple, minus the juice
15-18 slices of ham, julienned or cut into small squares
1 small Camembert cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 leek, pale part only, finely chopped (you can also use chives or spring onions)
1 tsp Season-All (or to taste)

Garnish, to be prepared shortly before serving:
Red bell pepper, finely chopped
Green bell pepper, finely chopped
Arctic shrimp, cooked

Smear a thin layer of mustard inside the casserole dish. Remove the crusts from the bread, tear the bread into small pieces and line the casserole dish with it. Mix together the remaining ingredients, except the bell peppers and shrimp. Refrigerate overnight.

Garnish just before serving, or if you garnish right away, make sure the shrimp and bell peppers don’t touch because the shrimp will absorb colour from the peppers. The toppi…

Rjómaterta II: Guðdómlegt Gums - Cream cake II

Once upon a time I promised to publish more recipes for fancy cream cakes, and here is one that’s a favourite with both young and old. The name, Guðdómlegt gums means Heavenly Mess.

4 egg whites
200 g sugar

Whip together until the sugar is mostly melted.

1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
100 g dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp baking powder

Fold carefully into the egg-sugar mixture. Bake in 2 round baking tins with detachable bottoms, at 150°C for 1 hour. Cool.

Whip 1/2 litre of cream until stiff. Fold in some quartered strawberries, 1 mashed banana, a handful of salted peanuts and a handful of chocolate-covered raisins. Put between the 2 layers. Decorate with whipped cream, strawberries, salted peanuts and chocolate-covered raisins.

The other recipe

Flatbread III: Potato bread - Kartöfluflatbrauð

Here is a third flatbread recipe.

500 g potatoes, cooked, peeled and cooled
250 g rye flour (or more, if needed)

The amount of rye flour depends on how much moisture there is in the potatoes. Start with the given amount and add more if necessary. Mash the potatoes until smooth, or process in a food processor (take care not to over-process, or they may turn gummy). Knead the rye flour into the potatoes until you have a stiff, dense dough. Whole wheat flour may be mixed in with the rye flour. Roll out the dough into thin, round cakes. Dry-fry the cakes on a griddle or electric hotplate until browned with small burnt-looking spots.

Links to the other recipes:
Most commonly used recipe
Luxury recipe

Party casserole

I mentioned this dish in my post about the bread casserole, but was unable to find the recipe at the time. Well, here it is:

White (French) bread in slices, enough to cover the bottom of the casserole dish
400 g mayonnaise
1 tub sour cream (about 180 g, but a little more or less will not hurt the dish)
1 can Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup
1 small can asparagus
Grated cheese, e.g. Mozzarella or a mixture of Mozzarella and Gouda
1 1/2 small can mushrooms (I recommend using lightly sautéed fresh mushrooms instead)
10 slices of ham, cut into squares (for a vegetarian version leave out and just use more mushrooms)


Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into cubes. Cover the bottom of a greased casserole dish with the bread cubes. Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream and the soup. Add the asparagus. Pour the mixture over the bread and top with mushrooms and ham and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

Shepherd's pie

I have used the English name for this dish, but the dish itself is a logical invention that could have happened any place where potatoes and mutton are eaten. I occasionally make it to use up leftover Sunday roast.

250 g leftover meat (for this to be a real shepherd’s pie, it should be mutton. If it’s beef, the dish is called Cottage Pie)
25 g butter, margarine or other cooking fat
2 tbs flour
250-300 ml meat broth or gravy
Some left-over mashed potatoes

In case you don’t have left-over mashed potatoes:
750 g cooked potatoes
100-200 ml milk
25 g butter or margarine
Salt and pepper
1 finely chopped onion
Breadcrumbs
Cheese, grated

Make the mashed potatoes, using this method but the above ingredients. Add the onion when the mash is ready to eat. It is also good to add one beaten egg or two beaten egg whites into the mash (I never do this, but it probably makes a better crust).

The meat can be either boiled or roasted, but this does not suit smoked meats.
Grease an oven proof dish and sp…

Potato Danish pastries

150 g butter or margarine, at room temperature
150 g flour
150 g cooked potatoes
Rhubarb jam
Some almonds, flaked
Pearl sugar

Peel and mash the potatoes until completely smooth. Knead together with the butter and flour. Roll out to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut into strips of about 15 cm wide. Spread rhubarb jam down the center of each strip, fold in the edges so that about 2 cm strip of jam is showing between them. Brush with milk and sprinkle with flaked almonds and pearl sugar.

Chunky fish spread:

This is a recipe developed my myself and my mother. Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish.


1/2 fillet of cold cooked fish, e.g. cod or haddock (but salmon and trout work as well), cut into small pieces

3-4 cold cooked potatoes, cut into small pieces

1/2 onion or red onion, finely chopped

Mayonnaise to taste

Pepper
Garlic powder


Mix together the mayonnaise and spices and add the rest, blending well. Serve on sweet, dark rye bread.


Note: I also like to add 1/2 a finely chopped red bell pepper to this spread.

Leftover fish salad

150 gr cold cooked fish, preferably salmon or halibut, cut into small pieces
Mayonnaise to taste
6 leaves of green salad
3 tomatoes
6 slices of lemon
Lemon juice
Mustard

Add lemon juice and mustard to the mayonnaise, to taste. Wash the salad leaves and let them drain well, divide the fish pieces evenly onto the leaves and top with mayonnaise, 1/2 a tomato and a slice of lemon.

From 160 fiskréttir by Helga Sigurðardóttir

This is the last recipe from this book (for now, but I may return to it later).

Using up leftover fish: frying

I have already posted two recipes for using leftover fish: fish pancakes and the humble plokkfiskur, which is currently enjoying something of a renaissance. Here is one more leftover fish recipe, and two more will be posted soon.

You will need:
Enough cooked leftover fish and potatoes to serve four people, cut into bite-sized pieces
Cooked vegetables, if desired
100 g butter or tallow
Salt and pepper
Chives or onions, chopped

Heat the butter in a frying pan until it stops foaming. Gently fry the fish and potatoes and onions (if using) in the butter until heated through and slightly browned. Do not scramble the food around in the pan much – the fish pieces should be intact when served. Flavour with salt and pepper to taste, and if you’re using chives, sprinkle them over the dish before serving.

From 160 fiskréttir by Helga Sigurðardóttir

Fried smoked trout with scrambled eggs

There are two wild species of trout found in Iceland: the brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). Additionally, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) have been released into some lakes and rivers. The collective name in Icelandic is silungur, the char being called bleikja and the brown trout urriði.

This is a nice brunch dish that can also be made with smoked herring.

1 large, whole smoked trout
Butter
6 eggs
Salt
6 tbs milk
Butter

De-bone and skin the trout and cut it into slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the fish in it.

Scrambled eggs:
Mix together the eggs, salt and milk until well blended. Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring gently in circles until the mixture begins to thicken, then scramble the mixture back and forth until it is of the desired consistency.
Arrange on a serving platter with the fried trout and serve.

From 160 fiskréttir by Helga Sigurðardóttir

Halibut in cream sauce

Halibut has a number of names in Icelandic, reflecting its importance as a food fish. They include flyðra, spraka, lúða and heilagfiski. The last name means “holy fish”, presumably because it was popular Fridays food during the Catholic era.

Halibut grow to a gigantic size: the current record is around 330 kilos. One was recently caught off the coast of the West Fjords that weighed in at 219 kg. and was 248 cm. long. The flesh of these giants is rather coarse, but the flavor is delicious.

750 g halibut
1 tbs flour
Salt and pepper
2-3 onions
100 g margarine
100 g butter
50 ml cream

Fillet and skin the halibut. Cut into 2 cm thick slices.
Mix together flour, salt and pepper.
Slice the onions into rings.

Brown the margarine in a frying pan and fry the onions in it until golden. Remove and set aside. Put the butter in the pan, keeping back a small amount, and brown the butter in the pan. Dredge the fish slices in the flour mixture and brown over high heat for about 10 minutes. Arrange …

Fried cod cheeks

10 cod cheeks
1 egg white, beaten until it begins to froth slightly
Bread crumbs with salt and pepper to taste
200 g butter or margarine

Cut the cheeks away from the heads if needed. Clean well (scrape off the slime under cold running water) and pat dry. Dip the cheeks in the egg white and dredge in the breadcrumbs. Fry in the butter until golden brown. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them and serve with hot, poached potatoes.
May also be cooked in the oven.

From 160 fiskréttir by Helga Sigurðardóttir

Fried herring

6-10 fresh herrings, heads removed, gutted and cleaned
2 tbs flour
2 tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
100 g butter or margarine

If the herrings are large, butterfly them, otherwise leave them whole. Heat a frying pan with the butter. Mix together flour, salt and pepper and dredge the herring in the mixture. Fry the herring in the pan until golden brown. Serve with cooked potatoes and white sauce with vegetables

This recipe also works with mackerel.

From 160 fiskréttir by Helga Sigurðardóttir

Herring rolls

“All the housewives in the country should be on the habit of acquiring at least one barrel of salted herring for the winter. The barrel must be stored in a cold place, for if the herring goes rancid it will not make good food. It is our duty, Icelandic housewives, to ensure that more is eaten of the herring than is now the case, this wholesome, fine food, which is caught in such abundance off our shores.” Foreword to the chapter on herring dishes in 160 fiskréttir (160 fish dishes) by Helga Sigurðardóttir.

Helga Sigurðardóttir was Iceland’s version of Mrs. Beeton. She was not only a cook book author whose books can be found in many Icelandic homes, but also a cooking teacher . Several of the recipes on this blog originally came from one or another of her cookbooks, whether altered or unchanged. In the following weeks I will be posting a selection of dishes from this book, beginning with that gem of a fish, the herring.


2 salted herrings
2 bunches fresh dill, chopped
200 ml white vineg…

Blackcurrant jam - Sólberjasulta

Blackcurrants have come to be regarded as a superfood. They are very high in vitamin C, as well as being a good source of potassium, iron and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). They are also very tasty.

When I was growing up, my grandmother's house was surrounded by a hedge of blackcurrant bushes. I loved being able to go out into the garden and pick the ripe berries off the branches and pop them straight into my mouth.

1 kg blackcurrants
100-200 ml water
500-600 g sugar

Rinse the berries under cold running water and drain well. Put in a cooking pot and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries burst, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until melted.

Pour into sterilised jars, filling them completely and closing them while the jam is hot. Should keep for a year, but if you want to make sure, add a preservative.

Redcurrant jam - Rifsberjasulta

I love redcurrants, both cooked and raw. I usually make redcurrant jelly, rather than jam, but the jam is good too, especially with smoked ham.

I sometimes make jelly from a mixture of redcurrants and stone bramble berries, which has a beautiful ruby-red colour and tastes delicious with strong cheese, and on the side with lamb and all sorts of game.

1 kg redcurrants
500-600 g sugar

Rinse the berries under cold running water and drain well. Put in a cooking pot and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries burst, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until melted.

Pour into sterilised jars, filling them completely and closing them while the jam is hot. Should keep for a year.

To make redcurrant jam with a preservative, use

1 kg redcurrants
350 g sugar
1/2 tsp salicylic acid (or other preservative)

Make the jam as instructed above, them mix in the preservative before putting the jam in the jars.

Smoked salmon sandwich spread

300 g smoked salmon
3 eggs, hard-boiled
2 tbs mayonnaise
4 tbs sour cream
Dill
Aromat or Accent (may be left out)

Chop the salmon very finely, e.g. in a food processor, but do not process into a paste – there should be tiny pieces of salmon in the spread. Mash the eggs with a fork and mix together the eggs, salmon, mayonnaise and sour cream. Add a little Aromat and dill. Chill and serve with crackers or slices of white baguette.

Brauðterta – Icelandic style sandwich loaf: Tuna & egg

3 layers of bread (refer to the first sandwich loaf post for more information)

200 g mayonnaise
100 g sour cream
5 hard-boiled eggs
200 g canned tuna
1 medium onion
Aromat or Accent (may be left out or replaced with garlic powder)

Mix together mayo, cream and Aromat. Mash the eggs with a fork and drain the tuna well. Chop the onion very finely. Mix everything together and layer between the bread slices. Also put some spread on the ends and sides of the loaf and decorate with tuna, egg slices, and salad leaves.

Brauðterta – Icelandic style sandwich loaf: Ham and egg

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For 3 layers of bread (refer to the first sandwich loaf post for more information)

150 g mayonnaise
100 g sour cream
Aromat or Accent, to taste (may be left out)
Piquant seasoning
150 g thinly sliced ham
5 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 can green asparagus

Mix together mayo, cream and seasonings. Mash the eggs with a fork and chop the asparagus finely. Mix everything together. Put the spread between the layers of bread, spread mayo-sour cream evenly mixture over the loaf and cover with slices of ham. Garnish with, e.g. tomato roses, egg slices, cucumber, bell peppers, halved or quartered grapes, fresh parsley.


More decoration ideas:





Brauðterta – Icelandic style sandwich loaf: Shrimp

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Continuing from last'week's post:

4 layers of sandwich bread
300 g mayonnaise
200 g sour cream
300 g Arctic shrimp
1/2 red bell pepper
6 hard-boiled eggs
Aromat or Accent (may be left out or you can substitute garlic powder)
I also like to use a teensy amount of freshly ground black pepper in shrimp fillings









Mix the mayonnaise and sour cream until smooth and well-blended. Thaw and drain the shrimps well. Finely chop the pepper, mash the eggs with a fork and mix everything together. Put the spread between the layers of bread. Smooth a thin layer of mayo-sour cream mixture evenly over the loaf and garnish with large shrimps, egg slices and vegetables, e.g. bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes.

Brauðterta – Icelandic style sandwich loaf: Salmon and egg

I had planned to post a sandwich loaf recipe much earlier, but since I rarely make them and when I do I don’t use a recipe, I had to find a set recipe first. I finally did find it, in fact several of them, which I will be posting in the following weeks.

Sandwich loaves, or ‘bread cakes’ as they are called in Iceland, are an enduring presence at Icelandic celebrations where cakes are served. While not an Icelandic invention (I think they may have originated in the USA), they have been popular here for at least 50 years and there seems to be no stopping them. While the fillings change according to fashion and whim and we don’t use half as much mayonnaise in them as once was the case they continue to be a vehicle for cooks to display their talents with garnish, and a savoury palate cleanser in between nibbles of all the sweet cakes usually served at traditional birthday parties.

They are generally made from white bread, and you can buy the bread pre-cut for the purpose.

There are two ki…

Skyr dessert

200 g oatmeal biscuits/crackers (e.g. Graham crackers)
60 g butter
1 tbs sugar

Crumble the crackers finely. Melt the butter and stir into the crumbs with the sugar. Press into the bottoms of several small serving bowls.

4 sheets gelatin
The juice of 1/2 lemon
300 g plain skyr
100 g sugar
2 eggs
150 g sour cream
1 tbs sugar

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Remove from the water, squeeze out the remaining water and put the gelatin in a bowl or the top of a double boiler with the lemon juice. Heat gently until the gelatin is melted.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Mix together sugar and skyr and add the egg yolks, one by one. Fold in the sour cream.

Lightly whip the egg whites with 1 tbs. sugar. Mix the gelatin into the skyr mixture and then gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Divide the mixture between the bowls and cool in the refrigerator.

This can also be made into a whole dessert, in which case use a large, deep pie dish.

Liver with bacon (Lifur með fleski)

I love liver with bacon. I haven't tried this recipe, but I plan to.

750 g liver
100 bacon
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp pepper
1/6 tsp ginger
1/6 tsp ground cloves
60 g cooking fat
400 ml boiling cooking liquid
150 ml cream
40 g flour
200 ml cold water

Clean the liver and cut into thin slices. Mix together the flour, salt and spices and roll the liver slices in it to coat. Lay a rasher of bacon on each liver slice and roll up the slices. Tie together with cotton string. Heat the cooking fat ion a pan and brown the liver slices in it. Add the milk and water and cook for 15-20 minutes. Thicken the sauce with the flour (make a paste with a little cold water to avoid clumping). Cook the sauce for a couple of minutes, then add the cream.

I imagine this would be nice with mashed potatoes, redcurrant jelly and a salad.

Stuffed sheep's hearts - Fyllt hjörtu

5-6 sheep's hearts (or 4-5 pig's hearts)
10-12 prunes (stoneless)
600-700 ml mixture of equal proportions water and milk
50 g butter
50 g flour
salt and pepper
sauce colouring

Chop up the prunes and stuff the hearts with them. Sew closed. Melt the butter in a pan and brown the hearts in it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the milk/water mixture and cook for 1-2 hours. Remove the hearts from the cooking liquid.

Make a paste of the flour and a little bit of cold water. Bring the cooking liquid to the boil and stir in the flour paste to make a sauce. Add sauce colouring if desired.

Cut the hearts into slices, and serve with the sauce on the side.

Liver pate - Lifrarkæfa

I love liver pate, but I have never tried to make it, probably because you can get perfectly good liver pate in most supermarkets in Iceland. This sounds like a good recipe:

700 g liver
300 ml milk
2 cooked potatoes
1 tbs chopped, browned onion
3 eggs
100 g butter or 300 g fatty bacon
7 tbs flour
salt and pepper
dash of cardamom
1 fillet of spice-pickled herring (or about 10 anchovy fillets)

Soak the liver in cold water for about 30 minutes. Remove the membranes and blood vessels. Chop coarsely and put through a grinder 4 times, with the herring/anchovies, onion, and bacon (if using). Add the potatoes for the last round of grinding.

If you're using a food processor, dump everything above in at once and process into a smooth paste, using the chopping blades.

Mix together the flour and spices and mix into the liver paste along with the cooled melted butter (if using). Add the eggs and mix well. Finally stir in the milk, little by little.

Grease a pate mould and press the raw pate into it. Cov…

Stuffed leg of lamb

This is a rather good Sunday dish. If you don't know how to de-bone a leg of lamb, either buy it de-boned or get your butcher to de-bone it for you.

1 leg of lamb (about 2 kg. before boning)
50 g prunes, stoneless
30 g dried apples
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Soak the apple slices to soften. Rub half of the salt and pepper on the inside of the leg of lamb and stuff with the prunes and apple slices. Sew closed. Rub the remaining salt and pepper on the outside of the meat.

Put meat into a greased oven pan and roast at 250°C for about 90 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the steak shows 160°C. Start by roasting for 10-20 minutes, then add water to cover the bottom of the pan, to a depth of about 1 cm. Baste the meat with the cooking liquid every 15 minutes or so. Top up the water when it starts to boil down.

About 10-15 minutes before the steak is done, remove it from the oven, pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, through a strainer. Put the steak back into the …

Twice-baked buns - Tvíbökur

Twice-baked bread keeps well and is good in all kinds of sweetened soups, like Sweet Soup, Crowberry Soup, and Cocoa Soup.

250 g flour OR

100 g bread or all-purpose flour and 100 g whole-wheat flour

t tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
75 g butter or margarine
100-150 ml milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cardamom and add the sugar. Add the softened butter or margarine and rub into the dry mix until the mixture is crumbly. Add the milk, no more than needed to make the dough stick together. Knead until smooth and roll up into sausage shapes. Cut into even-sized pieces and roll into balls. Arrange on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 180°C until light brown.

Remove the buns from the oven and cool until they can be handled, then cut in half, put back on the cookie sheet and dry in the oven at a low temperature.

Serve with the above-mentioned sweet soups or with coffee.

Flatbread II - Flatbrauð II

There is already one recipe for flatbread on this blog, but I came across another one that I thought would be interesting to post for comparison. The first recipe, which is the basic, traditional recipe, is just rye flour, salt and water, but this one is more elaborate, and would most likely have been made only in richer households, since it contains three types of flour, The use of a raising agent should also mean lighter bread.

200 g whole-wheat flour
200 g bread or all-purpose flour
200 g rye flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
450-500 ml milk

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Bring the milk to the boil. Add the milk to the dry mix, stirring it in with a wooden spoon while it is too hot to touch and then knead it. When fully kneaded (smooth and even), divide into 10 pieces. Flatten and cut out into round pieces to fit the size of the skillet. Prick and bake on each side until the bread looks dry.

A little message to my readers

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Salting meat - Saltkjöt

Someone e-mailed me not too long ago and asked for a recipe for salting mutton. This is the recipe in my mother‘s old cookbook. I haven‘t tested it, but am relying on my grandmother‘s advice for the information that was missing, such as the minimum brining time and how long it will stay preserved.

The recipe contains saltpetre (potassium nitrate), the use of which has been mostly discontinued in Iceland due to health concerns. Saltpetre was used as an extra preservative and it also gives the food a characteristic pink hue. It may be safely left out, but the meat may not keep for quite as long as it would otherwise. The sugar tenderises the meat.

Meat may be dry salted or brined. Dry salting is best for lean meat and brining for fatty meat.


For 50 kg of meat (mutton, lamb, horse, beef, pork, etc.):

Salting mixture:
3 kg salt (coarse pickling salt works best)
250 g sugar
2 litres water
(30 g saltpetre)

The meat should be cut into in serving-sized pieces (half-cutlets, steaks, etc.). It should b…

Cod with roe and liver

Fresh cod roe becomes available in late winter, and is a lovely addition to the fresh seafood available year round.

My mother would serve roe with cooked cod's liver, cooked cod or haddock, and potatoes, sometimes with melted sheep's tallow (with cracklings) or butter, and rye bread on the side.

To cook the roes, drop them into boiling salted water and cook for 15 to 45 minutes, depending on their size. The roe is cooked when firm and of an even pale pink colour all the way through.

Drain well and serve warm or cold. Cold roe can be sliced and used as a topping for bread.

To cook cod liver, soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, to allow any nematodes to crawl out (this is why I do not eat fish liver). Remove the membrane from the liver, drop into heavily salted boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes. Some like to cook the liver, fish and roe together, but as the liver imparts a strong flavour to the cooking liquid, I recommend cooking it separately.

If the roe is to be serv…

Cod roe omelet - hrognaeggjakaka

Cod roe should be available in fish shops now, and I usually treat myself to some once or twice during the season. (I really must check tomorrow). The traditional way of serving it is to cook the "bags" of roe in salted water, along with the liver from the fish and some fish, either cod or haddock. Everything then becomes greasy and slightly liver-flavoured, which I do not like at all. (Just take a sip of cod liver oil and then tell me if you honestly like the taste). But it is not the taste that I dislike the most about cod liver, it is the nematodes. I don't think I will say more on the subject, as I don't want to put anyone off their food. Just don't look up the word if you are going to eat soon.

I usually cook roe in salted water with some fish but without the liver. While leafing through one of my cookbooks looking for recipes, I came across this, which I really should try – it sound delicious:

1/2 kg cooked cod roe (use canned if you can't get fresh). If …

Pickled beetroot and beetroot salad

Pickled red beets (beetroots) can be served as a side dish with all kinds of meats, and also in salads, such as herring salad and the salad I have included a recipe for below. This is a slightly different variety from the one I posted earlier.

1 kilo red beets
600 ml white vinegar
150 g sugar
1/2 tbs caraway seeds
a few mustard seeds

Cook the beets with the skins on, in boiling water or bake in the oven, until al dente but not watery. Peel and cut into slices, about 1/2 cm thick. Commercially pickled beets are usually cut into waffled slices, but if you don't have a waffle slicer just cut them with a knife.

Layer into a sterilised jar and sprinkle caraway seeds between the layers.

Heat the sugar in the vinegar until melted, bring to the boil and pour over the beet slices. Sprinkle some mustard seeds on top and close the jars.

Allow to ripen for at least a couple of weeks. Should keep for several months if kept cool.


Beetroot salad:

2 green apples, peeled, cored and diced (1-2 cm)
250 g pic…

Cooked, fermented shark – Hákarlsstappa

I have no idea whether people still use this recipe, but I am publishing it here as a historical curiosity.

The shark is fermented as instructed here.

Remove the skin from the shark piece. Cook in boiling water until firm and cooked through. Remove and allow the liquid to drip off over night. Cut into pieces and mash in a cooking pot. Add sour butter (I never said this was good) or stale tallow. Serve hot with potatoes, or cold as a topping for rye bread.

Blóðmör - Icelandic blood sausage

Blood sausage is an ancient dish and can be found in many countries where domestic animals are kept and there are no taboos against eating blood. This is the Icelandic version.

Slátur is the collective name for blood sausage and liver sausage, and also for the necessary ingredients. "To take slátur" means to buy the ingredients and make the sausages, and in fact Icelandic supermarkets sell boxes with blood, livers, suet and stomachs (sometimes also the salt, cereals, thread and needles) in the autumn when the summer lambs are slaughtered.

2 litres sheep's blood
1 litre water
50 g coarse salt
1 kilo rye flour
200 g flour
400 g oatmeal
2 - 2 1/2 kilos sheep's suet

Some people add raisins or chopped Iceland moss to the stuffing. If using Iceland moss, use correspondingly less rye flour and a little more water in the stuffing. If using raisins, use correspondingly less suet.

Cut each stomach into 4-5 pieces suitable for stuffing, or use bags of sausage skin or even plastic cooking…

Snúðar og snúðakaka - Rolled buns and Bun cake

This is a nice cake that appeals to kids. The buns can also be baked and served separately.

25 g cake yeast OR 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
100 ml milk, skimmed milk or water
400 ml flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
30 g butter or margarine, soft
1 small egg (or 1/2 a big one)

Filling:
1 tbs butter
2 tbs sugar
50 ml raisins or 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Icing:
4 tbs confectioner's (icing) sugar
1/2 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
2 tsp boiling water

Heat the milk to 37°C and dissolve the yeast in it.

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Crumble in the butter. Add the egg and milk, mix well and knead well. Set dough aside to rise for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Punch down the dough and knead again. Roll out into a rectangular shape, about 20x30 cm. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle over the sugar and raisins or cinnamon. Roll up into a sausage shape and cut into 10-12 slices.

To make a cake, arrange the slices into a buttered cake pan so that they touch and le…

Steikt síld - Fried herring

This recipe also works with mackerel and other fish of the herring family, just adjust the cooking times according to the size of the fish.

Serves 2:
2-4 fresh, whole herrings (depending on size)
1 medium onion
40 g butter or margarine or equivalent in vegetable oil
3-4 tbs rye flour or wheat bran
1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 lemon
Parsley for garnishing

Clean the herrings (or get your fishmonger to do it): remove all innards and membranes from the body cavity, remove the spine and bones from the insides, cut off the tail and fins, scrape the slime from the skin. Remove the head if you would rather not have it on, but don‘t fillet the fish.

Peel and slice the onion. Mix together the flour or bran and the salt and pepper. Melt and heat half the butter and fry the onion in it until slightly browned. Set aside.

Put the remaining butter in the pan and heat. Roll the herrings in the flour mixture and put in the pan. Brown at medium-high temperature, lower the heat and continue…

Oven-baked fish in cream sauce

This is a nice fish dish that my mother sometimes makes. I make no claims about its traditionality.

Serves 2:

400 g fish fillets (mom uses cod or haddock, but try plaice, sole, flounder or other white fish)
1/2 tsp salt
25 g butter or margarine
50 ml cream
100 ml milk
1 tbs breadcrumbs (Paxo crumbs look nice and colourful, but home-made ones are fine)
2 tbs grated cheese (mom uses Gouda, but I imagine Cheddar or a mixture of Mozzarella and some stronger cheese would be good)

Set the oven temperature to 175°C. Butter or oil a shallow oven-proof dish. Cut the filleted and boned fish fillets into pieces and arrange in the dish. Sprinkle the salt over the fish and dot with butter.

Put the dish into the heated oven and bake the fish for 8-10 minutes.

Mix together the milk, cream and cheese and pour gently over the fish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top and continue baking for 15 minutes. Serve in the dish, with potatoes or rice and a fresh salad on the side.

Curried fish, 2 varieties

This is basically the same recipe with one ingredient replaced with another.
As I mentioned earlier, Icelanders embraced curry powder as an exotic new cooking ingredient when it arrived in the country and there are numerous recipes for food that call for curry powder.

Here are two that I like:

Serves 2:
400 g fish fillets (tradition calls for cod or haddock, but any lean white fish can be used)
1/2-1 apple OR 1 medium onion
25 g butter or margarine (or equivalent in the frying oil of your choice)
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

Remove the skin and bones from the fish fillets if necessary (or just buy them boned and skinned to save you the work). Cut into 4 even pieces.

Peel and grate the apple, if using. If you are making the onion version, peel and finely chop the onion.

Heat the pan and turn the heat down to low. Melt the butter (or heat the oil). Add the apple or onion and fry gently for a minute or so.

Add the curry powder and mix well. Top with the fish pieces and sprinkle the sal…