It may not have escaped your notice that I grew up outside the boundaries of the US of A. :-)
I was born and raised in Sweden, and came over here when I was 18 years old with my family. Yup, I'm Swedish through and through - here legally though, no worries.
Many Swedes favorite holiday is Midsommar, or Midsummer. It is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and traditionally a large maypole is raised, decorated with birch-branches and flower wreaths. People wear traditional folk costumes and there is good food, plenty to drink and lots of good cheer. Midsummer used to be the time when people thought magic was at it's strongest and so it was a good time to perform rituals. One such ritual was for young girls to pick seven different kinds of wildflowers, place them under their pillow before going to sleep and they were then supposed to dream about the future husband. I'm all set in that area, so no sleeping on wildflowers for me anymore. :-)
The traditional food is the freshest, first harvest from the garden: new potatoes, fresh strawberries and the like. My mom and I like to put on a very Swedish menu so this year we made gravlax (marinated salmon) with dill-mustard sauce, new potatoes out of our garden, some fresh bread and a yummy cake with strawberries and our own blueberries. My grandmother also serves "kassler" or Canadian bacon sliced thick with a pineapple-mayo-peas and whipped cream kind of sauce. Sounds weird but it's delicious. We also had some home-made bread and some cucumbers.
Here is the recipe for Swedish Gravlax:
For 1 kilo of gravlax (2.2 pounds, for 6-8 people)
I freeze my salmon before marinating it to make sure it is safe, and then I take it out of the freezer so that it is just about defrosted when I add the marinade.
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp salt
2 white pepper corns - smashed
lots of chopped dill (1-2 cups)
Leave the skin on the salmon. Cut out or pull out all large bones. Cut the salmon in half on the short end.
Rub the sugar,salt and pepper mix on the meat side, pat it into the fish (don't wipe off) and put 2 pieces meaty side together with the chopped dill in between.
Put the thick side against the thin side of each half.
Put all of this into double plastic bags and put in the fridge for 1-2 days. Turn the bags about once a day.
Once done - scrape away the spice mix and throw away the salt fluids.
Cut in thin, thin strips and eat with gravlaxsas. (see recipe below)
You can freeze gravlax, or you can put it on the grill and quick-grill it for a more finished flavor.
I prefer mine raw!
It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days!
Almost one cup of chopped dill
1 tsp salt + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sweet swedish mustard (or 1-2 tsp dark french mustard, I've used Grey poupon in the past as well)
1 1/4 cups oil (canola)
Some ground white pepper
Some vinegar (optional)
Place half of the dill in the bottom of a round bowl
Add sugar and salt and rub it into the dill with a wooden spoon
Add mustard - mix well
Add the oil by dripping it into the mustard mix while CONSTANTLY stirring.
If you stop stirring, the sauce will not coagulate - it will separate.
You will end up with a nice thick, shiny sauce.
Add the rest of the dill and pepper to taste (1-2 turns), a splash of balsamic maybe
IF the sauce separates - add a few drops of lemon juice and stir again until it's mixed nicely.
Did I perhaps say I wasn't going to eat cake until the wedding? Well, I obviously couldn't keep that promise with this guy/gal sitting in front of me....It has layers of strawberry mousse, blueberries, white chocolate mousse and strawberries. How can you go wrong?
Digging up new potatoes. Very fashionable outfit, ey? :-)
The happy farmers (it was a rough day at work for me, that's my excuse for looking horrible!)
Yeay - we have hot peppers (Wenk's yellow hot)! I can't wait to taste them!
We had a fabulous midsummer dinner, before I had to pack and go to Chicago on a businesstrip. It was a good trip but it's even better to be home. And there's still cake left!