All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.
Continuing with the baking from scratch (letter B) idea, and that pre-packaged foods aren't really that available, brings me to cooking in general. Swedes don't buy the P.F Chang's orange chicken from the frozen food section, put it in the pan, let it thaw and simmer, and have dinner in 20 minutes. (I admit I love these, so simple, so convenient, so much cheaper than GOING to P.F Chang, so delicious...but so not very Swedish.)
Swedes cook dinner from scratch, too, and most of the time it's fairly simple fare. Today I'm focusing on one of my favorite herbs and how it's used: DILL.
(Ok, I know that's parsley, but it had the Swedish flag...) However, this is an example of one of my favorite Swedish dinners: meatballs, potatoes with DILL, and lingonberry sauce. Swedes eat by combining a tiny bit of everything on their plate into one bite. It makes a truly fantastic combination.
They also use dill for garnish on lots of dishes. One very popular item at get-togethers, and at the cafes visited when downtown, is the shrimp sandwich. It comes in many variations, but neither of these is what I was looking for...
The idea is simple, however. Take a base (bread, slice of cucumber, cracker), add a spread - something creamy, arrange shrimp, and then top with a sprig of dill.
The first one is in made in a hollowed out avocado. The next one has bell peppers. I need you to give me just a little slack on this one. I google-imaged, flickr-ed, wiki-commons-ed in TWO languages and could not find a non-copyrighted picture of a Swedish, traditional shrimp sandwich...perhaps they want to keep it a secret. Just like there's parsley on the other plate...sigh.
So what is this monstrosity, you ask? Well, it's the party version idea of a shrimp and dill sandwich. The Swedish hostess has many tricks up her sleeve, and though this looks fabulously intricate and impressive, it's really just a big sandwich. Bread, spread, SALMON, bread, spread, SHRIMP, bread spread, LOX, bread, spread beautifully arranged SHRIMP, with some LOX for contrast, and then covered in dill garnish. Cut and serve.
I have three versions of dill in my pantry. Plain dill weed. Pampered chef dill blend which has garlic and other spices, and when I can find it, fresh dill. I use it all the time in my lunches when the kids aren't home...they're not as into dill as this Swedish chick.
Do you like dill? What's your favorite simple recipe? Do you have any ethnic secret cooking ideas to share? Do tell.
~Tina, who really wants dill now, but had tamales for dinner
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