Olson Family Traditional Smörgåsbord

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Mar 4, 2004
Olson Family Traditional Smörgåsbord

This is what we have every year at Chritmas. My 3rd cousin in Sweden eloquently described it all as "poor 18th century farmers food," but it's GOOD (with the exception of the lutfisk; see other posts!)
<tried to upload pretty dessert table picture but did not succeed.>
Recipes included for:
Pickled Beets
Pickled Cucumbers
Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa)
Lutfisk buried under Dilled Potatoes and Cream Sauce with Allspice
Swedish Meatballs
Potato Sausage (Potatiskorv)
Brown Beans (Bruna Bönor)
Fruit Soup (Fruktsoppa)
Rice Pudding (Risgrynskaka) and Lingonberries
Pepperkakor (spice cookies)
Spritz butter cookies

There are as many Smörgåsbord menus as there are Swedes, but if you'd liek to make this as a full pretty typical one, you would also purchase pickled herring and Knäckebrod to serve with the appetizers. We also add distinctly non-traditional ham with horseradish-mustard sauce, assorted relishes and a B-day cake for mom (her birthday is Christmas Eve, so the Smörgåsbord is her party every year).  


Pickled Cucumbers

1          cucumber, about 7”
1/2 c    vinegar
2 T       water
2 T       sugar
1/2 t     salt
dash of white pepper
1 T       parsley, chopped

Wipe cucumber, score with a fork, slice and place in glass dish.  Mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and white pepper thoroughly, pour over cucumber and sprinkle with parsley.  Allow to stand 2-3 hrs. in refrigerator before serving.

 Pickled Beets

1 can of small whole beets (or sliced)
1 c       white vinegar
4 T       water
4 T.      sugar
1          clove
Mix vinegar, water, sugar and clove.  Pour over beets
Allow to stand 1-2 hours before serving.

Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa) -- Double Recipe (2 small & 3 reg. loaves)
--unbelievably good sliced thin and lightly toasted with real butter--
Soften 2 pkg. yeast in 1/2 c. lukewarm water
sift together:      3    c. sifter rye flour
                                    1/2 c. brown sugar
                                    1/2 c. molasses
                                    2 t. salt
Slowly add 4 c. boiling water.
Blend well.  Stir in 6 T. softened butter.
Cool to lukewarm. Blend in yeast and 2 T. finely chopped candied orange peel, 1 t. crushed fennel and a little cardamom seed.  Mix in 8-10 c. white flour to make stiff dough.
Turn out on lightly floured board and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Knead dough for 10 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double (about 1 hour).
Shape into loaves and let rise for 30 minutes.
Bake in greased loaf pans at 350° for one hour.
During baking, brush loaves several times with a mixture of beaten egg white and 1/4 c. water.

Purchase frozen lutfisk and follow the directions on the package
Smother with:
Boiled Dill Potatoes with Cream Sauce
Peel and quarter potatoes;
or use small red potatoes and omit the peeling.
Cook until tender.  Drain; toss with butter and dill weed.
While potatoes are boiling, make the cream sauce.
            4 c. milk (or 6 c. for thinner sauce)
            1/2 c. butter
            1/2 c. flour
            1 t. salt
            1/4 t. white pepper
Serve with fresh ground allspice
--> If you are going to serve this purely for the sake of tradition, read "The Lutefisk Lament" (appended to the end of this post) to your guests before imposing such a dish on them!
The potatoes and cream sauce, of course are quite nice all by themselves.

Potato Sausage
1 lb. beef
1 lb. pork
2 lb. potatoes (ground)
1 lg. onion (ground)
Salt to taste (approx. 1 T.)
1 t. allspice
1 t. white pepper
Mix all ingredients together and put in casings.  Boil sausages in water.  Place a few peppercorns and a bay leaf in the water while cooking.
(we break from tradition to serve this with cocktail sauce or ketchup mixed with a little brown sugar and mustard)
Swedish Meatballs(double recipe)
   6 lb. ground meat (1/2 beef and 1/2 pork can be used; 3/4 venison, 1/4 pork sausage was really good last year)
    4 t. salt
Combine and blend.
    2 c. bread crumbs, soaked in milk
    2 c. skim milk (or less)
Mix with meats.
    6 T. chopped onion
    1  t. white pepper
    2 t. allspice
    1  t. nutmeg
    4 slightly beaten eggs

Stir in spices and onion.  Add eggs.  Shape into balls and roll in flour.  Brown, then add water to cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Bruna Bönor
Soak 2 c. dried brown beans (or red beans) in 6 c. water.
Let soak overnight.
Cook slowly in same water until tender (1 1/2 - 2 hours).
            1 1/2 t. salt
            1/2 c. white vinegar
            1/2 c. dark Karo
            3 T. brown sugar
            2 T. butter
            1 cinnamon stick
simmer while rest of meal is prepared; hold warm during first courses.


1 c. butter               
2/3 c. sugar           
3 egg yolks           
1/2 t. almond flavor  
1/3 c. finely chopped almonds (opt.)
2-1/2 c. flour             
Cream butter and sugar.  Add well-beaten yolk, almond flavor, almonds, flour.  Mix well.  Chill.  Shape as desired. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes.

Pepperkakor ("Anna's" are a fine version you can buy in the store, but very different - this is recipe is older, more subtly spiced, and oh so good)

Heat:    1 c. dark Karo
           2 T. molasses
Cream:1 c. shortening
            1 c. brown sugar
            1/2 c. granulated sugar
            2 eggs (or 3 yolks)
Sift:      1-1/2 t. baking powder
            1 t. baking soda
            1 t. ground cloves
            2 t. cinnamon
            1 t. ginger
            1/2 t. allspice
            1/2 t. salt
            5-6 c. flour (no more than 6 c.)
Mix heated and creamed ingredients.  Let cool.
Add 2 eggs (or 3 yolks).  Add sifted dry ingredients.  Chill.  Roll out to 1/8" or thinner and bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.
Rice Pudding

1 c. cooked rice                                   4 eggs
5 T. sugar                                             1/2 t. vanilla (opt)
1/2 t. salt (or less)                                 4 c. scalded milk
Beat eggs and add sugar and vanilla.  Stir in cooked rice.  Fill casserole with scalded milk.  Stir.   Bake in a pan of water at 350° for about 1 hour.  Stir mixture after 1/2 hour then sprinkle nutmeg over the top.
Serve with lingonberry preserves (you can find them at IKEA and specialty stores)

Ode to the Smörgåsbords (more norwegian, but what the hey)

"Lutefisk Lament"
By Robbie Rhodes
Lutefisk Lament (possibly by Roger Erickson)

'Twas the night before Christmas with things all a bustle
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles and cousins would soon be arriving
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.

While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.

For I'm one of those who good Swedes rebuff:
A Scandahoovian boy who can't stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game
to spare mama and papa the undying shame.

I must bear up bravely, I can't take the risk
of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.
I know they would spurn me, my presents withhold,
if the unthinkable, unspeakable truth they were told.

Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter,
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
three of my uncles had taken a tumble.

My aunts, as usual, gave them "what for",
and soon they were up and through the door.
Then with talk, and more cheer, an hour was passed
as Mama finished the Christmas repast.

From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
that fairly set my senses to reeling.
The smell of lutefisk creeped down the hall
and wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.

The others reacted as though they were smitten,
while the aroma laid low my small helpless kitten.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said, "Oh, that smells yummy,"
and Kermit's eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

The scent skipped off the ceiling and bounced off the door,
and the bird in the cuckoo clock fell on the floor.
Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They pushed to the table with a yump and a yell.

I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
and a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
With wooden legs I found my chair
and sat in silence with an unseeing stare.

Most of the food was already in place;
there remained only to fill the lutefisks space.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought the crown jewels were in it.

She placed it carefully down and took her seat,
and Papa said Grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, with my whirling head,
the shortest prayer he ever had said.

Then Mama lifted the cover on the steaming dish,
and I was face to face with the quivering fish.
"Me first," I heard Uncle Kermit call,
while I watched the paint peel off the wall.

The plates were passed for Papa to fill.
I waited in agony between fever and chill.
He would dip in the spoon and hold it up high.
As it oozed on the plates, I thought I would die.

Then came my plate, and to my feverish brain
there seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue:
oddly transparent, yet discolored, the hue.

With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it;
I salted and peppered, but the smell still revealed it.
I drummed up my courage, I tried to be bold.
Mama reminds me, "Eat, before it gets cold."

I decided to face it, "Uff da," I sighed.
"Uff da, indeed," my stomach replied.

Then I summoned that resolve for which every breed's known.
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon that lutefisk I ate,
within twenty seconds I'd cleaned my plate.

Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
as butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he whispered in my ear:
"I'm sure glad this is over for another year!"

It was then I learned a great and wonderful truth,
that Swedes and Norwegians, from old men to youth,
must each pay their dues to have the great joy
of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy.

And so to you all, as you face the great test:
Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.

[ Reprinted from 991210 MMDigest. An Internet search suggests
[ that it might be from a 1981 audio recording which contains
[ "'The Lutefisk Lament' by Boone & Erickson" and "How Vikings
[ Football Came to Minnesota".
from http://mmd.foxtail.com/Archives/Digests/200012/2000.12.21.03.html
Thanks for the recipes and especially thanks for the "Lutefisk Lament". Not being a Scandahoovian boy myself, I am not forced to face this dish down twice a year like my Norselander friends but I have tried it once...ONCE! I now know why the Scandanavians are such a hearty breed. Anyone who can choke it down and stand up...is tougher than this ol' Southern boy!
It's to make us appreciate what our ancestors had to eat with limited resources and before modern refrigeration, I think. Believe it or not, I know a few people who actually love the stuff, and they aren't even scandinavian. A couple brothers who come to our shindig cajoled my mother into keeping it on the menu the one time she seriously considered giving us all a break! no accounting for taste.

Still on the Swedish kick:
one of cleverchef.com's current feature menus is from a new book called GOOD FOOD FROM SWEDEN. the ginger cake looks really good.
i think i'd rather starve, lol. i can understand that though. i believe my dad said his father used to eat it. i will check out that website, i love ginger.
I think I mixed up my Russian and Scandinavian earlier on another post, either way I am going to buy some herrings and find my recipes, yum.
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