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I´m here only for the food

Category: Icelandic

Lamb soup (Icelandic meat soup with a twist)

Spring time is here you might say, still a bit cool in Iceland though so a last chance to warm up with a hearty Lamb soup.  What I love a bout spring is the longer days, the daylight that is.  It is bright 6 in the morning and until about 21.00   I am one of those who really love the almost 24 hour daylight in the summer.  But I also like to take a break from it with the darkness of winter because then I appreciate it when it comes again, I don´t mind the darkness in winter either.  Two different seasons but I am always glad for spring and to get up in the morning more easily.

The meat of lamb in Iceland is delicious.  Try it if you ever come here.  The lamb runs free and it is more like a meat of a game.  They wander around the mountains where they nibble on the fresh country side and often they go to the shore to eat the seaweed, plain healthy!  When I got left overs from the leg of lamb for example I sometimes make a soup.  The classic Icelandic lamb soup has lamb, on the bone, onion, rolled oats (or rice) carrots, rutabaga and cabbage.

I on the other hand love the Icelandic Barley.  It is perfect with lamb.  Then I use can of tomatoes.  I usually never make the same soup twice because this is a good way to clean your fridge.  Therefor I use what I have.  This time because it was after Easter I had leftovers from the Easter dinner, leg of lamb and bigotto (barley cooked inspired by risotto).  I cooked the barley in water with a handful of dried wild mushrooms.

lamb soup

Lamb Soup

  • 1 cup cooked barley (with the dried mushrooms)
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 can organic plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannelloni beans
  • 1 cup chopped lamb meat
  • 2 teaspoons curry
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil, 3-4 tablespoons
  • As much water as you like the soup to be thick

Sear the veggies with oil.  Add the rest and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes or so.  I didn´t use much water, maybe a cup,  because I liked it on the thicker side.  If you have fresh cilantro that would be lovely.

Anything goes here, if you use the cooked barley, cooked lamb and can of tomatoes you could endlessy improvise.  Once I had an indian dinner I threw in a soup like that.   Potatoes or pasta instead of barley would be nice too.

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Lamb pâté – Icelandic Style and only 3 ingredients

This is classic Icelandic.  We have very good lamb meat.  It´s lamb that wanders around the mountains during summer eating what ever they find there and many end up by the shore eating  seaweeds.  Very good.

For a lamb pâté you only new few things, meat of lamb, onion and salt.  This type of lamb pâté is ment to be served cold and put on bread.  It is amazing on Icelandic flatbread called Flatkaka, on a Rye bread or crisps.

lamb paté

Lamb pâté

  • 1 kg Lamb
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Keep few tablespoons of the broth you get after simmering the meat.

You can experiment with seasoning, spices and garlic for example.  I like it simple but I use a bit of black pepper for seasoning after I grind it.

It is essential to cut of a lot of the fat off the meat.  Put the lamb meat  in a pot with salted water that covers the meat.  Bring to boil and the simmer for couple of hours.  For the last hour or so add the onion, no skin and roughly chopped.

lamb paté

After couple of hours of simmering, cool the meat, put it in a grinder or a mixer.  It depends on how fine you want your pâté how well you mix it.  I like it not too fine. So either I grind it or mix it shortly with a food processor. Use few tablespoons of the broth when you mix or grind the meat.

Don´t throw away what is left of the broth, it´s perfect to use it in soups.  You can freeze for later.

lamb paté

lamb paté

Few slices of cucumber would be perfect on that piece of crisp.

lamb

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The outside kitchen …coming soon! Icelandic flatkaka, it´s healthy – why not try it!

I am dreaming of a kitchen outside.  Shouldn´t be a problem and it´s on the drawing table since we are building our dream house in the country.

The weather here in Iceland in´t that special, but we get really good days once in a while and then it´s so worth it to have a good cooking facility outside.  I am not the sun bathing type so being able to be outside and cook, what a dream!

I have a little oven I put outside the other day when the weather was so nice.  I made the Icelandic flat bread, because it can get smoky when making it  I used tthe opportunity to do it outside.  It was so relaxing, baking outside in the sun.  It wasn´t me being baked but the bread, that´s better.

If you have a little oven like this, take it out side next time the weather is nice and try to make this recipe. Or do it inside on a rainy day…

I grew up eating this flat bread and  I love it.  I also love rye flour.  If you do, you should try this recipe.  Don´t forget to dip the cakes in water after you bake them.

I use a pancake pan, cast iron would be good, or just any pan you have.

Icelandic rye bread – Flatkaka (Flat “cake”)

  • 200 g rye flour
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 -3 dl boiling water
  • All purpose flour when rolling it out.

Blend all ingredients together, pouring the water in little at a time.  It´s like making any bread dough, or like tortillas.

Make little balls and flat them out in round cakes. When you flat them out, I use all purpose flour for dusting so they don´t stick to the rolling pin.

Poke the cake with a fork few times.  I use a plate I cut around, same size the pan to make them perfect circle .

 Bake it on a hot pan (dry pan, no oil or butter on the pan) for about one minute each side.  I have parchment paper between the cakes before cooking so they don´t stick together.

Dip them in water after cooking and store them in a plastic bag or under a wet towel to keep them moist and soft.

Cut the flat cake circle in half.

Serve with butter and even some sliced cucumber.  I love it with lamb pate.

This is a video in Icelandic about making flatkaka, but you don´t have to understand the language to get a better idea how flatkaka is made.

Icelandic sweet rye bread

I have a recipe of a sweet rye bread, another classic Scandinavian bread and very Icelandic.  There are few types of this sweet rye bread.  I will give you two different recipes with two different cooking methods.

This bread is so good with the Plokkfiskur recipe, and really good with lamb pate and cucumbers and also really good with a boiled or fried egg.

Icelandic rye bread

  • 225 g rye
  • 150 g flour
  • 125 g whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 liter buttermilk
  • 325 ml syrup

Mix all ingredients together.  Butter up 5 empty cans.

But a parchment paper in the bottom of the cans.  Pour in the rye batter, so you fill the cans half way up.

Close them with a piece of aluminum paper and put them in a pot of boiling water.  The water should cover half of the cans.  Turn the heat on medium low and boil it for about 3-4 hours.

And with some Plokkfiskur, the fish in a white sauce on top, match made in heaven, I kid you not.

Then I have another recipe, similar a  little darker bread.  It is best to cook it for a rather long time on low heat.

Icelandic rye bread II

  • 375 g rye
  • 125 g whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 liter buttermilk
  • 325 ml syrup

Mix all ingredients together. Butter up a pot made of Cast iron, enamel or ceramic. I also put some parchment paper in it in case the dough would stick.  Pour in the bread dough. Put the lid on the pot.  Put in it the oven at 100°c ( 212 f).

Bake for 10 hours.  I put mine in the oven around 10 in the evening and took it out 8 in the morning and it was nicely baked.

What´s for dinner? Thai, Mexican, Indian, Italian…Icelandic?

Often when people are thinking about what to have for dinner they ask: Do you want Thai, Mexican, Indian…?

I guess there is a reason why it´s not a common thing people don´t ask if they should have Icelandic for dinner.  Maybe because they don´t know much about Icelandic kitchen or maybe because what they hear is that we eat sheep’s head and balls, whale, shark that has been pissed on and hearts from the foals.

I got interviewed for an Estonian online Food Magazine about Icelandic food some time ago.  Here you can read it if you speak their language but read on for the English translation if you want to know more about Icelandic food:

Interview – Perenainee.ee

What are the typical Icelandic foods?

Typical Icelandic food is a salted cod, smoked lamb and skyr which is a milk product similar to yogurt.  And we eat lots of hot dogs. In February we celebrate Þorri, a festival honoring the god in Norse paganism, by eating food in the spirit of the old Icelandic kitchen, food like putrefied  shark, ram’s balls, bold sheep’s  head, dried fish,  blood pudding made from lamb’s blood and suet, rye bread and flat cake.  That kind of food is not popular and is by most people eaten only once a year for a festive reason.

What kind of berries, mushrooms etc can be picked in Iceland? Do people like this berry-picking, is it popular?

We have lots of berries, mostly blueberries, crowberries and currant ribes.  It is common to pick berries in the fall and make jam of it.  We have lots of rhubarb that we also use to make jams and pies. Picking mushrooms is not very common but we do have many kinds of mushrooms, though not all of them are eatable. So you need to know the once you can pick.

What kind of (dark) bread do you make in Iceland? Do you also have some bread with rye?

We have two types of ryebread, one called rugbraud and other is called, flatkaka, which is a flatbread, usually served with butter and a thinly sliced smoked lamb.

We know about an Icelandic dark bread which is sweet and sticky (very tasty!), how typical and/or popular is that?

That dark and sweet bread is rugbraud.  It is very traditional and popular, served with plokkfiskur, a traditional icelandic fish stew.  It is also popular to eat it with pickled herring.  The ingredients of rugbraud (ryebread) are rye, flour, buttermilk and lots of syrup.  Some bakers bake the rye bread in a hot spring or buried in a sand close to a hot spring and kept there until fully cooked.

What are the recent trends in Icelandic food sector (anything such as “local food” trends in the UK)?

The recent trend in Iceland now is the new nordic kitchen.  The manifesto of the new nordic kitchen is:

1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.
2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.
3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.
4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.
5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.
6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.
7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.
8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.
9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.
10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food , retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.

(http://www.clausmeyer.dk/en/the_new_nordic_cuisine_/manifesto_.html)

For example Estonian kitchen has many impacts from Russian and German kitchen, does the Icelandic kitchen have some impacts from some foreign country?

Now a days we are influenced from all over the world with easy access  to all kinds of products in the supermarkets like, Indian, Tex Mex, Italian and Asian food.  But traditionally we have been influenced from the Danish kitchen, for example with the open sandwiches, called smorrebrod and the herring.

Do you have some local food magazines also? How popular is food blogging among Icelanders?

We have one food magazine, called Gestgjafinn. (Translation, The Host).  It has been on the market for 30 years now and is an ambitious magazine.  Food blogging is getting more and more popular.

What are your personal favourites from the Icelandic kitchen?

My favorite food  from the Icelandic kitchen is the salted cod served with freshly picked Icelandic potatoes and lots of Icelandic butter.  The fish in a white stew Plokkfiskur is also my favorite and a must to serve it with the sweet rye bread, Rúgbrauð.

Do you have some popular cake, dessert etc you can also share a recipe ?

Icelandic rye bread – Flatkaka (Flat “cake”)

  • 200 g rye flour
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 -3 dl boiling water

Blend all ingredients together, pouring the water in little at a time. Make little balls and flat them out in a round cakes. Poke the cake with a fork few times.  Bake it on a hot pan for about one minute each side.  Put them in water after cooking and store them in a plastic bag or under a wet towel to keep them moist and soft.

Plokkfiskur

  • 500 gr haddock
  • 5-6 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion (or couple of spring onion)
  • 25 gr butter
  • 2-3 tbsp flour (or barley)
  • 2,5 – 3 dl milk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Boil the fish in one pot and potatoes in another. Put aside.Take a bit of the butter and melt it, brown the onion. Melt the rest of the butter in the pot with the onion and add flour and whisk together until it´s like a massive bun. Add the milk (and maybe some of the water the fish was boiling in if you like) until it´s thin enough (similar to a creamy soup or a pancake batter). Take the skin off the potatoes and cube them. Take the fish, we want no bones, no skin, and put it in the sauce, throw in one egg and stir a bit with a spoon. Salt and pepper, I like quite a bit of pepper. You can use any type of pepper you like. Usually people used white pepper because they didn´t sell many brand back in the days, but I use fresh black pepper. Simmer for few minutes and then serve with rye bread.

Eating only what grows in Iceland, how would that go?

I have been thinking about this concept “eating local” and seasonal lately after reading few books by American authors.  We don´t have much seasonal…Kind of only one season, fall.  Potatoes, carrots and roots during fall and lots of berries (picking them myself because usually they don´t sell the Icelandic berries at the supermarket and the few ones you can buy in stores are crazy expensive).  Other than few types of berries we got no fruits.

There is no one that makes oranges, bananas, melons, apples, lemons, you name it, to sell in the stores.

We have big greenhouses making peppers, cucumber, salad leaves, carrots, few different lettuces, broccoli, tomatoes and mushrooms all year round, no special season there, and that´s almost all you get “grown in Iceland”. (Once in a while I find a zucchini).  No onion or garlic, pumpkins or eggplants…only imported

We have of course lots of fish, mussels and other seafood, lamb and beef all year around. Our fish is very fresh, so is the lamb.   Many Icelanders who eat meat eat horse meat and whales when they fish them.   Then we  have chickens and pigs.

We grow barley but  no white flour and no sugar or syrup at all.   Few farmers have been making honey.  A tiny little jar is very expensive, so honey would be luxury.

My boyfriend ate nothing but Icelandic food for a whole month, that meant NO SUGAR and no white flour and no alcohol. We did buy a little jar of honey for him to last the month 🙂  At that time I was pregnant so I was to lazy to participate fully in this experiment, with all my pregnancy cravings 🙂

It was interesting.  It went well, We do have food in Iceland and for sure we would not starve. BUT! I am happy we import some things.  There are few things I couldn´t live with out, like my fruit smoothie in the morning,  sugar for baking, white flour for my pizzas and pasta and last but not least my red wine.

I made these Barley pancakes for my boyfriend during the Icelandic food period using only Icelandic grown food.  They are healthy, simple and good.

Barley pancake patties

  • 1/2 cup Barley flour (ground barley)
  • 1/2 cup Quick cooking Barley, boiled in water with a little bit salt for 5 minutes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, or enough to make think pancake patties
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the ingredients well togeather. Melt butter on a pan and add to the batter.  Cook the pancake patties on both sides on a pan, just like pancakes.  With a little bit of white flour mixed with the barley flour they get a little lighter.  I use butter because we don´t have any Icelandic cooking oils.

It´s very good with an egg , salt and dried chili flakes.

Plokkfiskur – the Icelandic name for a haddock stew…

…it´s really really good, one of my favorite food and a must to serve it with some good rye bread.

Since I spent all January in experimenting with local ingredients I had a bit of Plokkfiskur.
In Iceland we don´t make our own flour (it is all imported), so instead I used barley, but we do grow barley in Iceland.
Here is a recipe of a traditional Haddock stew. What I really like is adding some spring onion to it as well, all kinds of onion goes well with this dish, spring onion, chives, even garlic for garlic lovers.
For a fancier version you can mix milk with cream. And even put it in an oven proved dish and top it with cheese and grill it in the oven for few minutes (gratinate it).

Plokkfiskur

  • 500 gr haddock
  • 5-6 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion (or couple of spring onion)
  • 25 gr butter
  • 2-3 tbsp flour (or barley)
  • 2,5 – 3 dl milk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Boil the fish in one pot and potatoes in another. Put aside.

Take a bit of the butter and melt it, brown the onion.

Melt the rest of the butter in the pot with the onion and add flour and whisk together until it´s like a massive bun. Add the milk (and maybe some of the water the fish was boiling in if you like) until it´s thin enough (similar to a creamy soup or a pancake batter).

Take the skin off the potatoes and cube them. Take the fish, we want no bones, no skin, and put it in the sauce, throw in one egg and stir a bit with a spoon.

Salt and pepper, I like quite a bit of pepper. You can use any type of pepper you like. Usually people used white pepper because they didn´t sell many brand back in the days, but I use fresh black pepper.

Simmer for few minutes and then serve with rye bread.

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