The final recipe for our first World Bento from Scandinavia is Swedish meatballs. You cannot get more Swedish than IKEA and Swedish meatballs. And for those of you who do not know, IKEA’s cafe serves some pretty decent meatballs. We obviously prefer making our own at home because you can control the quality of the ingredients, but if you are at IKEA, and feeling hungry, grab some as a snack. IKEA’s little “grocery” and cafe section also serves some pretty delightful Nordic (and inexpensive) treats, that are worth a try if you are thinking of creating your own Scandinavian bento at home.
Kids generally love meatballs and they are easy to make “international”, and hence use the humble meatball as a vehicle to introduce the little ones to different flavors (and the world). I make a rather delicious and often-requested Indian kofta (meatball) curry. Then there is the “ever popular” Italian/American spaghetti and meatballs (“pasketti and eatballs” as we used to call them when the munchkin was younger). The Middle East has a whole host of kofta (meatball) recipes. Check out this article from the Huffington Post on 15 International Twists On Meatball Recipes for inspiration. I am envisioning an International Meatball Party and perhaps even a “meatball swap”! 🙂
Swedish Meatballs – adapted from Alton Brown
- 2 slices fresh white bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided (used regular butter)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 pound ground chuck (used just beef and you can substitute with turkey)
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef broth (used chicken broth)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.
- In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. (we did this by hand to save ourselves some washing up)
- Make tablespoon size meatballs and place on a sheet pan
- Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven. Do not overcrowd pan.
- Once all of the meatballs are cooked and in the oven, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.
Stacie and I have been having fun exploring the wonderful food of Sweden (and the rest of Scandinavia). The first of our World Bento series featured Scandinavia and we thoroughly enjoyed cooking and exploring a whole new world of food together. We have some exciting World Bentos coming up and hopefully they will inspire you to create your own bentos at home. I am envisioning a restaurant that serves a rotating set of world bentos. Creating those bentos would probably be our collective dream job.
On a separate note, one of the most positive outcomes of starting this blog with Stacie has been “finding a partner in crime” for all my foodie adventures in the kitchen and beyond. Stacie is always game to try something new/different and also has the cooking skills to deliver a stellar outcome. We have a common vision and common aspirations but different strengths – making for a rather fruitful partnership. I am looking forward to being her friend and partner-in-crime for a long time to come.
I am planning on working my way through my latest very inspiring cookbook acquisition: The Scandinavian Kitchen by Camilla Plum. This may be the start of my obsession with all food Nordic. It’s a flavorful and fresh cuisine, so much more than pickled herring and bland food, as I once (very recently) believed.
Dill Creamed Potatoes – from The Scandinavian Kitchen by Camilla Plum
Potatoes are considered the soul of Nordic cooking and I am a gigantic fan of anything potato, as are most people. This recipe had us “oohiing and aaahhing” and is simply put, quite spectacular. I may even like it more than mashed potatoes. Little one adored them too! Great side for salmon and sausages with a simple side salad. It’s a whole lot of yumminess.
2 1/2 lb small new potatoes (I used peeled Yukon Golds cut into cubes)
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large bunch dill, chopped
- Scrub the flaky skin off the potatoes with a handful of coarse salt
- Put them in the sink, and rub the wet potatoes until most of the peel is gone, then wash. They do not have to be totally free of peel
- Boil in salted water till half done.
- Drain and then put the potatoes in a wide saucepan with the cream, salt and pepper and then let simmer until the cream has reduced and the potatoes are done.
- Add the dill at the last moment and enjoy!
Swedish Cucumber Salad with Dill and Parsley – from Shockingly Delicious
2-3 large cucumbers, unpeeled (about 2 pounds of cucumbers)
1 small onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
- Partially peel cucumbers by peeling a lengthwise strip, then leaving a nearby strip of peel attached, then peeling another lengthwise strip.
- Slice the cucumer in half vertically. Use a tiny teaspoon to gently scoop out and discard the seeds. Then slice the cucumbers thinly in half-moons.
- Place cucumber slices and onion slices in a deep bowl. In a measuring cup, mix the vinegar, sugar, parsley and dill, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over the cucumbers. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. The cucumbers will have released some of their water and the liquid in the bowl will have increased.
- Cover and chill well before serving.