Sweden, a country of Scandinavia is found neighboring Finland and Norway and the Baltic and North Seas. Sweden is known for its vast forests and bountiful lakes. Interestingly Sweden is an importer of waste and recycles, composts, or incinerates all but 1% of waste. That being said their cities tend to be cleaner than others across the nation with Stockholm being one of the cleanest (Sweden’s capitol).
The food of Sweden is known for focusing on dairy, bread, meat, seafood, and berry products. Lingonberry in particular is berry native to Northern Europe and is featured in this dish. It is a country known for foraging and many citizens participate in this. Some Swedish staples besides lingonberries included pickled herring, crispbread, pea soup, and crayfish. Of course meat balls are very popular here too but did you know they actually don’t originate in Sweden?
Swedish meatballs originate from the Ottoman Empire which is now present day Turkey. More recently there was a debate on how Swedish svenska köttbullar is and apparently the Swedish King Charles XII brought this recipe from his exile in the Ottoman Empire back to Sweden. Lingonberries however are as Swedish as it gets. This country favorite which is also the national dish is what we are making today. You can find the recipe here.
Cooking wasn’t too complicated, the meatball making was pretty standard and so was the gravy. Butter is the key and important to enhance the sweetness and richness of the dish. Once the gravy is made add the meatballs in and allow them to get fully coated. I decided to serve my meatballs on top of mashed potatoes, but I have seen it served on the side too.
Dang this was a yummy one! We appreciated the sweetness that the lingonberry brought to a hearty meal. I find it comparable to cranberry sauce with gravy on Thanksgiving! The meatballs were delicious and the gravy was sweet and creamy- a perfect balance of sweetness and tang! We thought this meal was worthy of 8.75/10 for a rating!
Here we are back in Europe with a salmon dish. Similar to its neighbor, Norway traditionally has salmon dishes to represent their nation. Interestingly, Japan did not use salmon when making sushi until it was suggested in 1980s by Norwegian delegation- this not only created a popular sushi, but helped out the overwhelming amount of farmed salmon. Norway is a part of Scandinavia and has a dramatic landscape that I wish I could place myself in.
To represent Norway and its famous salmon aquaculture I made a creamy salmon bake. In Norway, salmon is a true staple in their diet which could be eaten for any meal of the day. For this dish salmon lies on top of potatoes, onions, dill and cream cheese and is bathed in eggs and milk. I was unable to use true Norwegian salmon, but made up for it with wild caught Maine salmon- the next best thing!
Once again salmon and dill make a wonderful pair. We liked the creamy texture the dish had and how well all the aspects of the dish played together. It did not blow either one of us away, however it was an easy meal to prepare during the week and was tasty! We rated it 6.5/10.
Denmark is a southern Scandinavian country composed of the Jutland Peninsula and other various islands. Because this region sits in the temperate zone, the area experiences varying weather and well-defined seasons.
Most notoriously known for it’s history of fierce, bearded, axe-wielding Vikings, Denmark is also home to some delicious food! We chose to take a crack at their traditional meatballs known as Frikadellar.
The general consensus is that Frikadellar originated from northern Germany. I found recipes throughout Germany and Scandinavia with small variations of a rather simple combination of veil, pork or beef, onions, eggs, milk, oatmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Simply combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Allow the mixture to consolidate in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to a day. Once settled you can then form your meatballs and cook them on the stove top in butter or margarine. When sifting through recipes one may notice that these meatballs often appear more like meat patties. It’s said that the today’s hamburgers actually evolved from the frikadellar recipes of Hamburg Germany. So thank your favorite German with a “Danke”, the next time your appreciating a fine burger.
In addition to the meatballs, I made a basic gravy and mashed potatoes for a side, as well as another Danish specialty known as Rødkål- which is a red cabbage concoction that balanced this savory “meat and potatoes” kind of dish with notes of sweet and sour.