I stand entirely corrected when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine – I have gone from a total “hater” to someone who LOVES the cuisine. I am always looking for excuses to visit Pläj, one of the best Scandinavian restaurants in San Francisco. I have also (somewhat) successfully converted some my foodie Asian friends who were convinced, like I was, that the cuisine is bland and horrible, by taking them the restaurant. Yes, we suffered from a superiority complex and we were missing out because of it. I suspect eating IKEA’s meatballs had something to do with perpetuating our biases. Real Swedish meatballs are amazing and a dish that you cannot stop eating. Yes, compared to the food I cook, Scandinavian food is simple. But it isn’t without immense flavor. Scandinavian cooking and ingredients are truly unique and the cuisine is deeply influenced by what nature has “forced” upon the people of the region. Long, dark winters along the Arctic Circle have greatly influenced the cuisine of Scandinavia from Viking times to the current renaissance of “New Nordic” cuisine. Foraging in bountiful times, preserving food for survival during icy winters, a deep connection to the landscape and environment, and a celebration of design, all give an insight into the culture, history and cuisine of the region. And suddenly, all food Scandinavian is receiving it’s rightly deserved global acclaim. Meanwhile, I am obsessed with “The Scandinavian Kitchen” cookbook by Camilla Plum and working my way through it. Perhaps a vacation to a Scandinavian country is next. 🙂 The mustard sauce below is a bit of a revelation. We taught the recipe at a recent cooking class for high-schoolers. I brought the leftovers home and refused to share them with anyone. It’s a great sauce to have lying around in the refrigerator as it revives even the most boring of dinners. Continue reading
My summer obsession: roasted peppers. I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about them: sweet, tangy, colorful, juicy. Luckily they are incredibly easy to make and impossible to screw up. They’re delicious cold, room temp and warm and they’re even better a few days after you make them, which is the best kind of recipe. These are fabulous on an antipasto platter alongside cheese, Italian cold cuts and pepperoncini; and delicious on crostini with alongside ricotta or mascarpone and a sprinkling of parsley. Saute Italian sausage and onions, then add some of these peppers and diced tomatoes and you’ve got a quick and super yummy pasta sauce. Or simply add a few to a sandwich or a pizza. Like a lot of kids out there, Luca is suspicious of their “vegetable-y and slimey” texture, but he’ll put up with them if I cut them in small and don’t draw too much attention to them. Maybe your little eaters will too.
Ingredients: Sweet Peppers any color but green (choose flat sided ones); Olive Oil; Sea Salt or Kosher Salt; Garlic Powder
- Wash your peppers and just leave them whole, stems and all. Choose flat sided peppers if you can because they get more surface contact with the grill and char more evenly.
- Throw them on a dry grill plan or cast iron skillet on the stove. You can also do them on your outdoor grill or under the broiler. Using high heat char them on all sides. Let them get really black. It takes a while, so just keep turning them from time to time.
- Set the peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let them come to room temperature.
- Uncover the bowl. The skins should slip off easily. Remove the stems and open up the peppers with your hands, keeping them as in tact as possible, and remove the seeds. It’s tempting to want to rinse them with water, but try not to because you’ll lose a lot of flavor. My friend Christian’s trick is to “wash” the peppers by swishing them around in their own collected juice.
- Once you have them cleaned up, tear them by hand (way, way better than cutting them with a knife). Drizzle generously with good quality olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt. I usually give them a few good shakes of garlic powder for good measure. Toss them well. They should be nice and juicy.
You could eat them right away, but the flavor is even better if you cover them and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a week for sure, but they never last that long with me around. Buon Appetito!