The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden this year, and as per our new annual tradition of making dishes from the host country, we created a big ol’ Swedish smorgasbord for our viewing party.
I actually did have a go at making pickled herring. By some sort of Orthodox Easter miracle, I happened to be shopping at Kielbasa Factory the Friday before Orthodox Easter, and they had fresh brined herring available. However, I very clearly did not fully get all the salty brine out of the fish and when I tasted the herring’s progress in the middle of the week, it was inedible. We couldn’t serve that to our guests.
Funnily enough, the recipe that we whipped up to replace the herring turned out to be the hit of the party. Toast Skagen is simple enough to make, and we made it simpler by toasting the bread rather than frying it. I also substituted sour cream for the creme fraiche the recipe called for. (We used the leftover orange fish roe we used to top the Toast Skagen in taramosalata.)
We made the Swedish meatballs as the recipe described; we used a mix of beef and pork for the ground meat. Using double cream that was called for certainly made for a rich dish, so much so that the lingonberry jam accompaniment was absolutely necessary to cut through the richness. Next time, we’ll substitute the double cream with sour cream. Still, the meatballs went very quickly.
The last two dishes we made from scandinaviafood.com were the potato-salad and the beetroot salad. The former I would not recommend; we served it without the cold roast beef, and it was very bland. We later added sautéed green onions to it, then fried them up as croquettes. That worked.
But the beetroot salad was brilliant. You may not like beets, but trust us, this could be your gateway recipe to them. We made pickled beets last summer, and I had just enough of them left to use in this recipe, so certainly that pickled flavor enhanced the recipe. I used fuji apples and regular old horseradish and I again replaced creme fraiche with sour cream. (I like sour cream.)
It looked and tasted great, and of everything we made, this is the dish we’re clamoring to make again. Especially because we have a lot of leftover capers. But we do have to wait for our next batch of pickled beets to be ready to serve.
Notes on the other dishes you see in the picture above: Yes, those are breakfast boards that we used as plates. The Sweden flag cupcakes are just chocolate cup cakes from a mix and food coloring for the two colors of icing. The cookies are Anna’s chocolate mint thins and ginger thins. The cracker plate at the very end has Ritz crackers and Finn Crisps, a little shout-out to the country that puts the Fenno in Fenno-Scandinavia. (We also had Danish aquavit and Norwegian smoked salmon, which is why you see cream cheese on a plate in the photo, but we had so much food already that we didn’t need to bring those out. No skyr from Iceland, though.)
Lastly, rising above the plate of crackers like Spaceship Earth at EPCOT Center is the Herman Reunion Cheese Ball. This is the recipe that all of our guests expect year in and year out at our Eurovision party, because what goes better with cheesy Eurovision music than a cheese ball? This one is pretty terrific; we only use a couple of teaspoons of worcester in the recipe rather than the full tablespoon, but otherwise we make it as is. Totally worth it every year.
Denmark won Eurovision this year, and I’m already bookmarking sites to help me with my Danish smorgasbord next May.