Read an Excerpt
Gravlax with Mustard Sauce
Serves 10 to 12 as an appetizer, more as part of a buffet
Gravlax, salmon cured to a velvety, silky-smooth texture in a sugar-salt-dill mixture, is one of the great traditional Scandinavian dishes. An essential part of any smorgasbord table, it also makes an elegant appetizer for a dinner party, perhaps a New Year’s Eve celebration. Although it is a special- occasion dish, it is simple to prepare. I like to start the cure at room temperature, so that the sugar and salt slowly dissolve, penetrating the flesh of the fish, then finish with a longer stint in the refrigerator. (The word gravlax comes from gravad lax, literally, “buried salmon,” because in the days before refrigeration, the salmon was buried in the ground to keep it cold as it cured.) As gravlax has become popular in the United States, chefs have experimented with all sorts of curesusing tequila and cilantro, for example, or gin and juniper berries. But of all the fresh herbs used in Sweden, dill is the most popular, particularly in fish preparations, and I offer the classic version here, with the traditional mustard-dill sauce as an accompaniment. I do add a little coffee to the sauce to give it a touch of earthiness.
On a smorgasbord table, present the cured fish whole, with a sharp slicing knife so guests can serve themselves. If you’re not sure about your guests’ knife skills, slice the gravlax and arrange the paper-thin slices on a platter, with the mustard sauce alongside.
FOR THE GRAVLAX 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup kosher salt 2 tablespoons cracked white peppercorns 2 1/23 pounds skin-on salmon fillet, in one piece, any pin bones removed 23 large bunches fresh dill, coarsely chopped (including stems)
FOR THE MUSTARD SAUCE 2 tablespoons honey mustard 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon cold strong coffee Pinch of salt Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill Thin slices Potato Mustard Bread (page 204) or whole-grain bread
1. PREPARE THE GRAVLAX: Combine the sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a small bowl and mix well. Place the salmon in a shallow dish and rub a handful of the salt mixture into both sides of the fish. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining mixture and cover with the dill. Cover the dish and let stand for 6 hours in a cool spot.
2. Transfer the salmon to the refrigerator and let cure for 36 hours.
3. UP TO 1 DAY AHEAD, PREPARE THE MUSTARD SAUCE: Combine both mustards, the sugar, vinegar, coffee, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until the sauce is thick and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to marry.
4. Scrape the seasonings off the gravlax. Slice the gravlax on the bias into thin slices, or leave whole so your guests can slice it themselves. Serve with the mustard sauce and bread.
Buy only the freshest salmon for gravlax; ask the fish market for sushi-quality fish. If wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest or Alaska is in season, so much the better; wild salmon has more flavor and a better texture than the farm-raised fish. There are several different varieties of salmon, most of which are in season in the late spring or in the summer. Look for wild salmon at good fish markets.
Gravlax will keep in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for at least 7 days. Leftovers can also be frozen, wrapped in plastic and then in foil, for up to 2 months.
Be sure to save the salmon skin to make Crispy Salmon Skin (page 20). If you serve only part of the salmon, cut off the exposed skin and reserve it. When you are ready to serve the remainder of the gravlax, crisp the skin as directed in the recipe, then break it up and use it as a garnish for the fish.
Warm Beef Carpaccio in Mushroom Tea
The idea for this dish came from a trip to Japan, where I saw people eating Kobe beef sushi or sukiyaki; for both these dishes, the meat was sliced extremely thin and then eaten raw, as sushi, or rare, as sukiyaki. For this “carpaccio,” the beef is sliced very thin and pounded even thinner, then rolled up around a garlicky taro rootpotato mash. It’s served in shallow soup plates, two or three rolls per person, and the meat is cooked only by the hot broth that is poured over it, leaving it very rare.
Kobe, the famous Japanese beef, has an amazing texture and flavor, and we use it at Aquavit for this dish. Unfortunately, it is expensive and difficult to find, so we call for regular beef tenderloin in this recipe; flavorful boneless rib-eye steak would also work well.
1 10-ounce center-cut beef tenderloin roast
FOR THE FILLING 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 shallots, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finnnnnely chopped 2 cups peeled and diced fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes 1 cup peeled and diced taro root (see Pantry, page 284) 2 cups Chicken Stock (page 263) 2 cups heavy cream 2 cups milk 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only 1 teaspoon truffle peelings (see Sources, page 290; optional) 1 teaspoon truffle oil (see Sources, page 290; optional) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE GARNISH Juice of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon truffle oil (optional) 1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish (see Pantry, page 281) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 shallots, thinly sliced 2 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced Mushroom Consommé (page 92)
1. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes, or until partially frozen (this will make the meat easier to slice).
2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the beef into 12 thin slices. Pound each slice between two sheets of plastic wrap until very thin. Transfer the beef to a plate, cover, and refrigerate.
3. PREPARE THE FILLING: Heat the oil in a large deep skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, just until lightly softened. Add the potatoes and taro and sauté until lightly golden brown. Add the stock, cream, and milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and taro are very soft.
4. MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE GARNISH: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, truffle oil (if using), horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallots and mushrooms, toss well, and set aside.
5. Drain the potatoes and taro, reserving the cooking liquid, and return them to the pan. Add the butter, thyme, truffle peelings and oil (if using), and about half the reserved cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes and taro with a fork, adding additional cooking liquid as necessary until the potatoes are the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Heat the consommé in a saucepan over medium heat until hot.
7. Meanwhile, lay out the slices of beef on a work surface, with a short end of each slice facing you. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the potato-taro filling toward the bottom of each slice, and roll up to enclose.
8. Arrange 2 or 3 rolls in each shallow soup plate. Arrange the mushroom garnish on top of the rolls, pour the hot consommé over and around the rolls, and serve immediately.
If you omit the truffle peelings, you may want to use more truffle oil in the filling.
Substitute bottled horseradish for the fresh if necessary.
The inspiration for this recipe goes back to my childhood, when I was fascinated with “junk food” culture. Before I knew how the English word was spelled, I used to write my own Swedish transliteration, djunk, all over my school notebooks. I still like good junk food. When you pop these crispy potatoes into your mouth, you’ll fall instantly in love with their flavor and texture.
Panko, Japanese bread crumbs, give fried foods a light, crisp coating; the corn flakes add more crunch and a slightly sweet undertone. A bowl of these potatoes quickly disappears at a cocktail party.
2 Idaho potatoes About 4 cups grapeseed oil or canola oil, for deep-frying 2 cups corn flakes 1 cup panko (see Pantry, page 283) 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 large eggs Freshly ground black pepper
1. Peel the potatoes. Cut them into sticks 1/2 inch thick and 4 inches long, dropping them into a bowl of cold water as you work to prevent them from discoloring.
2. Pour 3 inches of oil into a deep-fryer or deep heavy pot and heat over medium-high heat to 350sF. Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Add the potatoes, in batches if necessary, to the hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown. With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain. Carefully set the pot of oil aside.
3. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer, and place in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until they are partially frozen.
4. Combine the corn flakes and panko in a blender or a food processor and process until fine. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne in a second shallow bowl. In a third bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Roll the semi-frozen potato sticks in the flour, dip them in the eggs, letting the excess drip off, and roll them in the corn flake mixture. Repeat the process a second time, and place the potatoes in a single layer on a large plate.
5. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375sF. Fry the potatoes, a handful at a time, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Be sure to allow the oil to reheat between batches. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
The potatoes are fried twice, the same way the best french fries are made. The first time, they are “blanched” in the hot oil until almost cooked through; then they are fried a second time at a higher temperature to finish the cooking and turn them golden brown and crisp.
Serve the potatoes on their own as cocktail food or alongside Barbecued Boneless “Ribs” (page 54) or Slow-Roasted Turkey Wings (page 53).
Swedish Roast Chicken with Spiced Apple Rice
This recipe comes from my grandmother, who roasted a chicken for dinner every Sunday night. The chicken is seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and cloves, spices that have been an important part of Swedish cuisine since the eighteenth century, when the Swedish East India Company first brought them to Sweden from Asia.
The spices are used to season the apple-vegetable stuffing as well as the bird. Although some recipes call for roasting chicken at high temperatures, I prefer to cook it at 350°F so that the spices have time to penetrate the flesh inside and out with their flavors. After the chicken is cooked, the stuffing mixture of apples, sweet potato, and onion is added to hot rice, along with a spoonful of yogurt to cool and soften the spicy flavors, and served alongside.
FOR THE CHICKEN 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 shallots, coarsely chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 cardamom pods or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 2 star anise 2 whole cloves or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 2 black peppercorns 4 white peppercorns (or 4 additional black peppercorns) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 3-1/2-pound chicken, preferably free-range
FOR THE SPICED APPLE RICE 1 cup long-grain white rice 1 cup water 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste 1 1/2 tablespoons yogurt Freshly ground black pepper
1. PREPARE THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 350sF.
2. Blanch the sweet potato in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. In a medium bowl, combine the sweet potato, onion, apples, shallots, garlic, thyme, and mint. Combine the water and olive oil and add to the vegetable mixture, tossing to coat.
3. Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves, black peppercorns, and white peppercorns with the salt. (Or combine the spices on a cutting board and crush with the bottom of a heavy pot.) Add half the spice mixture to the vegetables, and reserve the rest.
4. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Remove all the excess fat. Lightly stuff the bird’s cavity with about half the vegetable mixture and tie its legs together with kitchen string. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and rub it all over with the reserved spice mixture. Scatter the remaining vegetable mixture around the chicken.
5. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 160sF. After the first hour, or when the vegetables in the pan are tender, remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Check the pan occasionally as the chicken roasts, adding a bit of water if it becomes completely dry.
6. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a cutting board. Remove the vegetables from the cavity and add to the vegetables in the bowl. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and let rest while you cook the rice.
7. Add a few tablespoons hot water to the roasting pan, stirring well to deglaze the pan. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and skim off as much of the fat as possible. Add enough additional water to make 1 cup.
8. PREPARE THE RICE: Combine the rice, water, deglazing liquid, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 18 minutes, until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fold in the yogurt and reserved vegetables, and season with salt if necessary and pepper.
9. Carve the chicken and serve with the rice.
Roasted Beets in Orange-Ginger Sauce
serves 4 to 6
Roasting beets on a bed of salt keeps them moist and flavorful (you can do the same with baked potatoes). Garlic roasts alongside the beets, then the soft garlic pulp is added to a tangy citrus sauce flavored with traditional Swedish seasonings.
About 2 cups coarse salt 8 medium beets, trimmed and scrubbed 2 heads garlic 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1 cup Chicken Stock (page 263) 1 tablespoon honey 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped 4 cardamom pods 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1. Preheat the oven to 350sF.
2. Spread a layer of coarse salt on a small baking sheet and place the beets and garlic on it. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beets are fork- tender and the garlic is soft enough to squeeze out of the skin; the garlic may be done before the beets. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, stock, honey, ginger, and cardamom in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until reduced by half. Strain the sauce into a saucepan and set aside.
4. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Put in a medium bowl. Separate the garlic cloves, squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins, and add to the bowl.
5. Reheat the sauce over low heat, stirring a few times, and pour the sauce over the beets. Garnish with the tarragon and serve.
Copyright © 2003 by Townsend Restaurant Group. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.