03 July 2006

Midsummer Pics

The party was wonderful. I wanted to post the pictures and the recipes from the Swedish food. The picture above is of K's hand holding one of my Darlencian Horses, a very typical Swedish symbol. There's 4 types of crispbread and a Swedish cheese on the platter.

Next, Choklad Bollar

I know it is bad form to compliment yourself, but damn, that's a cool picture that I took. Chocolate Balls are comfort food for Swedes. I first encountered them in Västerås, at language school. They were sold everywhere and I got them at cafes, convenience stores, wherever. The first time I ever tried to make them myself back here in the states, though, it was a complete disaster. They've got butter, oatmeal, sugar, and cocoa in them, and how hard can that be? You don't even bake them, for heaven's sake. My mistakes weren't just in the ratios of the ingredients, but in my methods, as well. The butter and sugar must be creamed for a very long time by hand, or done in the food processor, which is the definitely the easiest way. Then the oatmeal; this time, I used steel cut oats. That wasn't a mistake, exactly, but I won't do it next time. I will repeat what I did with the steel cut oats, though. I ground them in the coffee grinder until they were powder fine. That makes a big difference in the final texture, so I will keep on doing that, even with rolled oats.

1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 2/3 cups oatmeal (DO NOT COOK THE OATMEAL!)
6 TBSP cocoa, unsweetened (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 TBSP milk

In a food processor, grind the oatmeal into a fine powder. Remove the oats from the working bowl of the food processor and cream the butter and sugar in the food processor. Add the oats, cocoa and vanilla sugar and pulse until the mixture resembles gardening soil! Remove the mixture from the food processor and put into a large bowl. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with your hands. After each addition of milk, check to see if the dough will hold together. When it does, you're ready to roll! I used a #60 ice cream scoop to make sure the balls were all roughly the same size. Roll the balls in coconut, cocoa powder, pearl sugar or nuts. Store in the fridge. You could substitute coffee for the milk, and have Mocha Balls. I don't know if rum or another booze would work, but it would be fun to try!

I doubled the recipe and ended up with 58 balls, and used only a couple of tablespoons of coconut. I had some trouble getting the coconut to stick to the chocolate balls, and I don't know why. The original recipe that I got off the web said to chill the balls first, then garnish. I didn't do that, I garnished them as I rolled them. But that seems counter-intuitive to me that the garnish would work better after they're chilled. I would think that they would accept a garnish better while warm.

Next is the dilled potatoes.

I love potatoes, and I love dill. There's no real "recipe" to this....
Boil 3 lbs "B" size potatoes and drain. Melt one stick of butter and add 3 tablespoons chopped dill. Allow the butter and the dill to hang out together for a while, like brewing a cup of tea! Toss the taters and the butter in a casserole dish and garnish with a blossom from the dill plants. Keep warm until serving time.

These are lingonberry pears, or lingonparon. You can find lingonberry jam if you hunt for it. Hell, my local grocer in Ohio carries it, so it can't be that hard. But check a local IKEA if your grocer doesn't. Anyway, I did these the cheating way by using canned pears. This means I didn't peel, core, or cut the pears. They are better when you use fresh pears, of course, but I was short on time. I bought pears that were in light syrup and rinsed them well to rid them of the syrup, although that doesn't get completely rid of it, it does decrease the sugar content a bit. Then I took the whole jar of lingonberry jam, added some water, lemon zest, a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves, and boiled it for a few minutes. Add the pears and stew for a little while. Serve warm with vanilla sauce or sweetened whipped cream.

Add lots of friends, a bunch of alcohol, stir well and keep the stories going until at least 1 am. Repeat annually.

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