Our journey today takes us to Scandinavia to what is officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden, but to us Sweden. A place I have never visited but one day would like to. Sweden borders Finland and Denmark and is connected to Denmark via a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund. Sweden is the third largest country in the EU and approximately 450,000 square km and has inhabitants of around 10,ooo,000, but has a low population density with approximately 20 inhabitants per Sq Km – which is around 54/Sq miles. The southern half of the country has the thickest population. Around 80% of the inhabitants live in urban areas.The North of Sweden is dense with forests and the South is mainly agricultural. Sweden is part of the geographical area of Fennoscandia.
Since the prehistoric times Germanic peoples have occupied Sweden and establishing the sea folk known as the Norsemen. During the middle ages Sweden arose as a united and independent country. During the 17th century Sweden’s lands expanded to create the Swedish Empire, and they remained as a great power in Europe until the early 18th century. In 1814 Sweden was immediately involved in a war which saw Norway forced into personal union. In 1905 the union between Norway was dissolved, which sees Sweden’s current borders. 1995 after the cold war Sweden joined the EU, but refused membership to NATO
The food of Sweden is food and cooking of the Swedish people and this is because of the large area from North to South and there are local differences between food and cooking in South and North Sweden. In the far north food has its roots in Lapps (Laplanders) which are native people living in the Arctic, which today comprises of parts as far north as Sweden, Finland, Norway and Kola Peninsula of Russia and meats such as reindeer and game are cooked and eaten.fresh Vegetables player a bigger role in the South. There are traditional dishes that are very simple with different flavours, such as meatballs and brown cream sauce with tart, strong lingonberry jam (slightly similar in taste to cranberry sauce). Swedish people are very open to foreign influences, French cooking and latterly sushi and cafe latte of today.
We couldn’t visit Sweden on our journey and not have Swedish meatballs especially home cooked and not purchased from Ikea. Ikea meatballs are delicious but to cook them ourselves and serve with a cranberry jam as we couldn’t get lingonberries just had to happen. The accompaniment for the meatballs seem to be varied so we opted to serve tagliatelle, as suggested in some of the recipes. Incidentally, my daughter in law to be is no longer a Pescatarian, but doesn’t eat minced beef or pork, so I have opted to prepare her Swedish Poached Salmon
Swedish Meatballs or Kottbullar are according to my research must be prepared with love. There are many varying recipes and some people think that there should be grated onion in the mixture, but others prefer to dice and fry the onion separately. Some prefer a thicker gravy and others prefer it thin. In the South folk prefer their meat ground with more fat and the further North you travel, the less pork. However, it is very important to soak the bread crumbs in milk to allow them to swell, which gives the meatballs the wonderful soft consistency.
So breadcrumbs soaking the onion is chopped and then the minced beef and minced pork, and egg and bread mixture is blitzed together and the mixture is shaped into balls.
The recipe asks for the balls to be placed on a damp plate – we believe this was to stop them sticking.
Heat some butter in a frying pan and begin to cook the meatballs, cook through until they are golden in colour.The aroma was beginning to come through and was very appetising. This is where the recipe finishes. The salmon was easy to prepare and cook and I believe the result was very tasty. Place the salmon on a bed of dill in some foil, pour over some white wine, lemon and salt and bake in the oven for around 20 – 22 minutes.
I decided after we cooked the meatballs they would go nicely with a little sauce,as some recipes serve with a gravy. This recipe didn’t have this and I know my family like a little sauce. I melted some further butter in the pan and in the absence of lingonberry jam, melted some cranberry sauce in with the butter and served on top of the meatballs.
The salmon was served with sour cream mixed with the juices from the fish and I added extra dill… Emily decided to serve the side all over the salmon…
Family Verdict: Fantastic and delicious dinner. Meatballs easy to prepare and very different to meatballs we have ever cooked before. The mixture of pork and beef was lovely and light, the soaked breadcrumbs did indeed make the mixture soft. We feel they were a bit wet at the moulding stage, and if we were to cook them again, which is highly likely, we would use slightly less milk. Emily loved the salmon and she said the flavour was different to what she had had before.