Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Smӧrgåsbord to ring in the New Year

Spanish Tapas
Sorry this is a little late. I meant to post this right at the new year but got a little side-tracked with a car accident and a fall from a bike. Oops.  So allow me to go back a few weeks.

This year my holidays were marked with food from distant lands. Christmas “dinner” was served Spanish tapas style, with a wonderful assortment of salami, ham and Manchego cheese, olives, skewers of lamb, chicken, and shrimp, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and a veggie dish of marinated artichoke hearts with peas and red peppers.  Positively divine. New Year’s was celebrated early (by one day) and was welcomed with food from Scandinavia.

Planning meals around a theme or ethnic cuisine can be a lot of fun. I like the research involved - combing the Internet for ideas, looking for what’s typically served at an event like the one I’m interested in, reading the history behind the dishes and culture, finding recipes for those dishes, and figuring out what beverages go best with everything. It’s all part of the adventure!

The Julbord
Like the dinner I just planned with my Norwegian friend, Lorine. We put together what we commonly refer to in the U.S. as a Smӧrgåsbord, which is called Koldtbord or Kaldtbord in Norwegian. She referred to it as a Smorbord. It goes by a few variations  throughout Northern Europe.

The word Smӧrgåsbord is of Swedish origin and regardless of the country or word for it, it is a traditional Scandinavian meal served at special occasions, with multiple hot and cold dishes on a table. The word Smӧrgasbord breaks down as Smӧrgås (open-faced sandwiches) and bord (table). At the holidays it’s called the Julbord (yule + bord = Christmas table).

On a traditional Smӧrgåsbord you’ll obviously find the obligatory bread, butter and cheese, but there is also fish, especially herring and salmon, as well as baked ham, meatballs, pork ribs, head cheese, sausages, potato, beetroot salad, boiled cabbage and kale.

Fresh, clean herbal flavors like dill, fennel and caraway, along with mustard and lemon, make up the sauces and accompaniments. Here’s what we did:

Lorine had prepared the open-faced sandwiches which we simply assembled at my house.

They consisted of shrimp and seafood salad garnished with lemon slices and tomato, ham and a salad topping of carrots and peas in a creamy sauce on another, one sandwich of deli meats with crunchy fried onions and tomatoes, and then my absolute favorite: crispy bacon over a delicious sautéed apple and onion medley. Yum-my!

These were each served on a different type of bread: rye or white.

Following these we enjoyed “frikkadeler" or meatballs, sweet and spicy pickles, red cabbage, boiled potatoes with butter and parsley, and a cucumber dill salad. The hubby smoked salmon on the smoker for a few hours beforehand.

Crispy bacon over sautéed apples and onions

Everything was washed down with Aquavit (a traditional Norwegian liqueur), wine or beer, and later some coffee. For dessert, anise biscotti, leftover from Christmas.

It was indeed a feast, and lots of fun. We had a chance to enjoy some cultural foods that we had never had before that have been a part of our friend's holiday experience since she was a girl.

Planning a dinner party around a theme is enlightening and fun, especially when prepared with friends. Put a few of these kinds of events on your list of New Year’s resolutions this year and gather some people around you to share them with.

Happy 2017!

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