International Dinner: Norwegian pepper cookies and fish burgers

Sunday, 30 September

When we told Samuel that we had been to Norway on our honeymoon, he asked “Did you see any witches?” And that’s when the penny dropped, he had chosen Norway because of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” which I have been reading to the boys each night, and in the story Norway has the highest concentration of witches. Their absolute favourite part? “Children are rrrrevolting, children is smelling of dogs droppings. Dogs droppings is smelling of violets and primroses compared to the stench of a child!”

I don’t recall having any of these dishes there apart from maybe the Skolebrød which I think we may have had at our continental breakfasts at the hotel, but everything was so expensive over there that we only went out to dinner once – I mean a Big Mac combo was 4 times the price we pay in New Zealand, and it was the end of the honeymoon so the cash reserves were running out…

Spinatsuppe (Spinach Suppe)
Lefse (Potato flatbread)

First up tonight is Spinach Soup. If you find a new food the boys like, use it regularly is my motto (mainly so they don’t forget that they like it – it’s happened before!). But having said that, Spinach soup may be a hard sell, Ryan loves spinach fresh, but not cooked so much – but there’s no harm in trying especially since the base is chicken soup. I think the green colour may be what was offputting for the boys, Samuel did have a taste though, he’s getting really good at trying new foods at least. But I ended up finishing his off. A healthy starter to be sure, and the adults enjoyed it so I think at least up grown-ups might have that again as it’s quite simple and quick to make. Traditional served with a slice of hard boiled egg on top – but I wasn’t going to push it tonight!

On the night I had too much cooking at the same time and I was really dreading these Lefse, rolling a potato dough out as thin as a pancake (flapjack for you Americans) looked to me to be a task fraught with expletives and doomed to failure, making the sticky potato Kroppkakor had given me an incorrect view of this dough. So on the night, although I had already prepared the dough I opted for  serving everything while it was still hot and the kids were in a good mood – and passed this planned dish, I did however cook it the next night and it was actually not that difficult at all, the end result was pretty much a perfect light, fluffly, spongey pancake/crêpe/flapjack, more time consuming than the pancakes we normally make, but a good way to get the kids to eat potatoes without knowing it!!

Sam’s rating: 2/10
Ryan’s rating: 4/44
It’s like a pancake”

Rugbrød (Rye Bread – Rolls)
Fiskekaker (Fish Patties)
Gløgg (Norwegian mulled wine)

Looking for recipes for the main meal I came across a few, so I gave the boys a choice.

“Fishburgers!” was the unanimous reply.

So I found a nice norwegian bread recipe and adapted it to good size buns. Quite simple, similar in flavour to the Icelandic Thunderbread, except instead of slow cooking to develop a molasses flavour, this on had molasses added to it, it was softer and lighter than the Thunderbread though. The flavour was a little strong than the boys liked, but the fish cakes were a hit, both Sam and Ryan polished there’s off with even less coaxing than a normal dinner night – so they were a good success, easy to make as well.

The Fiskekaker were simply pureed fresh fish fillets, chives, nutmeg, pepper, and egg to bind it, easy to cook and the kids loved them – totally different to the standard fish fillets we normally serve them so we might try those again!

Now the Gløgg, a good Viking drink, to warm you in the middle of a cold norwegian night. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we had our first proper spring day, with full sun on Sunday, so we weren’t feeling very wintery, but the gløgg was a hit with the adults, and the boys were allowed a little sip (the brandy in the soaked raisins was quite warming). Even the boys thought their little snifter was tasty, so just as long as they don’t get a taste for it!

Sam’s rating: 11/10
Ryan’s rating: X-Infinity / Infinity
GLØGG: (just one sip!)
Sam’s rating: 10/10
Ryan’s rating: 44/40

Skolebrød (School Bread)
Pepperkaker (literally Pepper cakes) RECIPE

I’d have to say, decorating the pepperkaker was the most enthusiasm I’ve had from both boys to help cooking, there was almost a fish over who got to ice first! These cookies are like gingerbread except there is not ginger in the recipe, black pepper provides that zing! Interesting, not too sweet, but very tasty reminiscent of the speculaas cookies from the Netherlands, similar dough, completely different spices. Cardamom is a popular spice in these scandinavian countries, and it makes nice change from what we’re used to. Traditianlly they’re a christmas (or holiday) treat, so we made sure we included some christmas tree shaped ones. The boys had great fun decorating them, and I think as much chocolate went in the boys as on the cookies.

Skolebrød looked interesting, apparently it’s as its name suggests, a food good for putting in school lunches. As we have just started school holidays we were safe from having to include it in their school lunches next week. A cross between a bread and a pastry, sugar glazed with sprinkled coconut and a vanilla pudding centre, they were just as popular with the adults as they were with the kids (well apart from Ryan – he was busy filling up on pepperkaker I think he ended up have 5 or 6!)

Sam’s rating: Infinity / Infinity
Ryan’s rating: Wouldn’t try them because of the gooey centre
Sam’s rating: X-infinity / Infinity
Ryan’s rating: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz / infinity (suffice to say he liked them)

I was very impressed with the Norwegian food, and that spinach soup definitely felt healthy, good for the iron intake!


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