Swedish Meatballs and Holiday Dinner…without Lutefisk!

Mon mari tends to take the fun out of being a traveling food blogger.

He’s quite patient at home, waiting while I take a few hundred photos of a crumb of bread: arranging and rearranging; posing and reposing; adjusting the lights and the props.

And he did ask me, very nicely, to please not embarrass him by doing the same at restaurants.

Considering that the lighting in restaurants is not, usually, conducive to good pictures, and that the head waiter is, usually, surveying all with a sharp eye, I suggested a compromise.

After much negotiation we agreed that on one evening only, I could take one photo only of each course; provided that the camera never moved more than 3 inches above the table or away from my body.

Here they are:

We had a glass of champagne and some crispy,Tripamusebouche cheese biscuits while studying the menu.  As usual, we each had the menu of the day.

The evening before our amuse bouche was all in shades of green.  This one is variations on orange. Left to right is a crab mousse with flecks of carrot, winter squash soup, and parsnip pudding with pumpkin sauce.

Each one was no more than 2 bites – well, with that tiny, little spoon (that matches the tiny little soup bowl), the soup was 4.  It’s hard to tell but the spoon is about the size of my thumbnail.

Tripfoiegras I believe I mentioned the warm foie gras and spinach salad?  That I had twice?

This was the second time I had and you can see I couldn’t be bothered to take the photo before tucking in.

It was good.

It’s very simple to pan-sear foie gras at home.  If you are interested in trying I give detailed instructions on my Foie Gras recipe along  with my best guess for the spinach salad.  I’m going to make if for Christmas….I might even share.

Tripvenison_2Next came this juicy venison tenderloin.  It was accompanied by a creamy parsnip puree, woodsy sautéed forest mushrooms, slightly ‘al dente’ shredded broccoli, sweet sautéed apple wedges and ‘frites’: potatoes fried in goose fat.

Yeah, I ate it all.

But this was our third night out and, in the interest of being able to toddle up to our room unaided, I’m ashamed to admit that I skipped the cheese.

I’m even more embarrassed to admit that I ‘just said no’ to dessert.

We did have coffee, though.  Our waiter, obviously thinking that we had made a very poor effort, brought us the ‘pre-dessert’ anyway: a small creme brulee.

And, of course, with the coffee came 2 small plates of sweet biscuits and one of chocolate truffles.  I mean, we wouldn’t want to go to bed hungry, now, would we?

But is was so, so very, good!

Back to reality. But a reality still filled with wonderful food.

Pasta.

During this hectic holiday season it’s always nice to have an easy, warm, comforting pasta dish.

Or anytime.  The savvy Ruth of Once Upon A Feast knew that when she started Presto Pasta Nights, over 10 months ago.

Apparently the blogosphere agrees because it is still going strong.  Visit her blog on Friday for the recap of pasta from around the world and some new ideas for eating this season.

When I was growing up, in God’s country, the back of beyond, miles from nowhere, out in the tullies, in the sticks (you get the picture) there were community dinners.  We called them ‘feeds’ (before RSS).

In spring there was the Rod & Gun Club Smelt Feed.  Still is, come to think of it.  It was unique because “the Men” did the cooking.

In early winter, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there was the Lutheran church Lutefisk Feed. (Did I mention that I was the only Catholic in Luther League?)

We always went to both.

My father was Norwegian. (My mother was German – and I have no idea…)
I still have a cousin living on the family farm in Norway.

He loved lefse, we all did.

He was, also, the type of person that ate anything put in front of him; then thanked the cook and said it was delicious.

Even he drew the line at Lutefisk.

To get actual real people to come to the Lutefisk Feeds the good ladies of the church also made huge vats of Swedish Meatballs!  Now we’re talking!

They served them with…lefse, dumplings or egg noodles.  I serve them with any small pasta.

I can’t get lefse, but I can make Swedish Meatballs.  Happy Christmas!

Swedish Meatballs with PastaSwedishmeatballs

8 oz ground beef (250gr mince)
1 small onion
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tsp dried dill weed
1 1/2 cups (12oz, 375ml) chicken stock
1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) Greek or plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs chicken stock
1 1/2 cups small pasta
1 tbs butter

Put water on high heat for pasta. Mince onion.  In medium bowl combine onion, half of the dill, the egg, breadcrumbs and beef.  Mix well and form into small meatballs, about 1″ (2.5cm) in diameter.  In a medium skillet with lid heat the chicken stock.  When simmering add the meatballs, being careful that they don’t touch.  Cover and continue to simmer until done, stirring and turning the meatballs once or twice, about 15 minutes.  Cook noodles.  Dissolve cornstarch in chicken stock.  When meatballs are done add the dill to the stock and move the meatballs to the sides of the pan.  Turn up the heat a bit and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until thickened and clear.  Drain noodles and toss with butter. Remove meatballs from heat and stir in the yogurt, mixing well.  Serve, meatballs on top of or next to the pasta.  Sprinkle with a bit more dill…

SkeletonsStill over a week left to bear your foodie soul.  Search your closet/pantry for skeletons.  Remember, confession is good.  It can, but doesn’t have to, be an actual recipe.  It could just be the description of the, um, food or a story of the, um, event;  holiday related or not….
Really, any dirty little secret you feel like sharing!  You have until Christmas to post – the round-up will be just before Dec. 31.  The usual rules: post, link to me, send me an e-mail with permalink.  Click for details!

Come on, tell!  Share the pain…you’ll feel better!  And so will we!

15 thoughts on “Swedish Meatballs and Holiday Dinner…without Lutefisk!”

  1. Katie, I’ve been looking for a decent Swedish Meatball recipe…yours is worthy, my previous attempts were not!
    As for your restuarant food, I look the French Bento Box presentation.
    I’m sure the Gauls will make it their own in no time…Le Bento-oise!

  2. Arrgh! I couldn’t get restaurant photos that good if I clicked through the whole meal. Nice work!
    (I get my Swedish meatballs from Ikea, frozen. They’re surprisingly good.)

  3. Hi Katie
    It’s been a wonderful blogging year.
    I have much inspiration from so many like minded cooks.
    This is to wish you a Very Merry Christmas/Holidays and a Fabulous 2008
    Looking forward to lots more contact in the New Year
    Cheers Gilli

  4. Double dose of stories–I’ll take it! Sounds like a wonderful trip. My wife and I ate like that in Italy on our honeymoon…I’ve never spent so much on a meal in my life, but it was so worth it. And I am a big fan of the little pre and post desserts.
    The meatballs look delicious.
    If I don’t get a chance to post between now and then, happy holidays and new year, Katie!

  5. I did smile and nod my head reading your dilemma about getting good restaurant shots. How come some people do it so well?
    Anyway, have a great rest of the vacation and thanks for sharing the Swedish Meatballs with Presto Pasta Nights. It’s first up when I get back to Halifax.
    Have a happy holiday and a great 2008

  6. You know, I just realized this morning that this would be my first Christmas sans lefse! 🙁 I know it’s really time-consuming, but I wonder if there’s some sort of adapted recipe I could make here? (goes off to do a google search)

  7. Good job on the restaurant shots. And the food, ah to die for! The potatoes fried in goose fat, oh yum! Seconds for me on that one! We do the same traveling, pig out on dinner and then when dessert time, forget it. I never can move. But truthfully, sometimes I will do 2 appetizers instead of having a dessert. Sweets are low on the list. Ditto me on all of your photo comments. Sometimes hubby says, “can we just sit and eat tonight?” Yes, there are nights I give in. All looks very good Katie!

  8. Great story about growing up in the north country! Lutefisk — I’ve heard of it but never eaten it. (for some reason in my mind it’s associated with gefilte fish. ugh.) Anyway, your meatballs look delicious and sound like the perfect holiday comfort food!

  9. Peter, Bento Box…that’s what it reminded me of…thanks!
    Cookiecrumb, frankly, I was amazed! There really only was one click for each pic. I’ve heard that about the Ikea meatball…must try!
    Merry Christmas to you, too Gilli! And everyone else!!!
    Mike, I do love the meals….but I no longer think I could do it for 2 weeks. Have to take a vacation from the vacation. Happy holidays to you and yours, as well!
    Thanks, Ruth, and your and yours the same!
    Sam, If you find the recipe…and make the lefse, let me know!
    Deb, I really have the hardest time passing on the cheese – and it’s usually what puts me from comfortably full to groaning!
    Lydia, it’s preserved in/with lye….need I say more?
    Tanna, yeah and I’d do it again in a heartbeat…. although that could be at risk eventually…

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