1 lb mix of ground pork, beef and veal
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko or ¼ baguette without crust, cubed
3/4 cup cold milk
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp allspice
½ of a small Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup cold milk
1/2 onion, diced finely
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups meat stock, either from frying the meatballs or beef stock, heated
2 tbsp red currant jelly
3 slices of “brunost” (Norwegian goat cheese)
1 tbsp fresh herbs (I like a mix of thyme and rosemary)
½ cup heavy cream
To make sauce: Saute the onion in butter in sauté pan. Add in the flour and the warm stock gradually while constantly whisking. Season with salt and pepper. Add ‘brunost , herbs and red currant jelly and whisk in, then heavy cream at the very end. Let the sauce simmer for another 10 minutes, and season again w/salt and pepper if needed.
To make the meat cakes:
Mix the meats together in a big bowl, using your hands, and season with salt and pepper. Add the panko or bread cubes, egg, remaining spices, and finely chopped onion.
Knead well. Add the milk gradually and knead well each time. The milk should have the same temperature as the ground meat, preferably cold. The mixture should be smooth and even. Shape into patties using a large spoon and a moist hand. Add a tbsp of butter to a large sauté pan and fry the patties on medium heat, flatten them a bit with your hand, turn after 5 minutes and cook until golden brown on both sides. Transfer them over to the already made sauce and let them steep for a few more minutes before serving.
ERTESTUING (Mashed Peas)
This popular, ultra Norwegian side dish is versatile and can be used as a companion to many meals. Most commonly known as the side kick to the famous (dreaded?) “lutefisk”, I certainly prefer it with my kjøttkaker. Simple, but satisfying – just remember to season well – nobody wants bland peas!!
2 cups green peas (frozen is ok)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp sugar
about 2 tbsp of milk
If using fresh peas, soak them overnight. Cook them according to the package in lots of salted water, about 1 – 1 ½ hour. Drain. (otherwise if using frozen peas, all you need to do is thaw them ). Melt the butter in a sauce pan, whisk in the flour. Add in a splash of milk and whisk until smooth. Fold in the peas and let them simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper.
KÅLSTUING (Creamed Cabbage)
Kålstuing is a very simple dish, but this rich, creamy side is another classic staple in Norwegian cuisine, much like creamed spinach is here in the United States. Wonderful with all types of sausage dinners, charcuterie and our popular fish cakes (to be covered later), I felt it necessary to incorporate kålstuing here!
1 1/2 lb head of cabbage, shredded
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups cabbage stock (leftover from cooking the cabbage)
1 cup milk
Bring the shredded cabbage to a boil in a large pot of salted water. Drain, saving the water and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pot with a heavy bottom, and whisk in the flour until smooth and no lumps are left. Add the cabbage stock and milk until desired thickness. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and let it cook for about 5 minutes or so. Season again if needed.
The wonderful thing about the meat patties we make in Norway, is that we constantly experiment with these little suckers, and one version that has become extremely popular over the last couple of decades are kjøttkakermade from venison (or reindeer in Norway, but I know that is somewhat difficult to get a hold of here!!). Not only does the venison give the meat patties a wonderful gamy flavor, but it is also a healthier version providing lower fat. Although relatively easy to get, reindeer is still considered a special treat in Norway, so people will offer these on special occasions mostly. Because I am generous (sometimes), I have added a bonus recipe using venison as well. Here I use fewer spices to make the venison shine. This sauce has mushrooms added into it, which is a terrific partner to any game dish.
REINSDYRKJØTTKAKER (Reindeer Meat Cakes)
1 ½ lbs reindeer meat (or venison), ground
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter or oil for frying
Make the sauce (recipe to follow). Place the ground venison meat in a large bowl, and add in spices, salt, pepper and potato starch, and mix into meat. Add the eggs and heavy cream and combine well. Shape into round patties, and fry them in a sauté pan about 5 minutes on each side. Add them into the sauce and let them steep under low heat for about 15 minutes.
Serve with boiled or oven fried potatoes and lingonberries, and if you like, brussels sprouts or other greens.
VILTSAUS (Game Sauce)
200 grams mushrooms (whatever kind you like), sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups beef or venison stock
5 juniper berries, crushed
2 cups heavy cream or sour cream
4 oz “brunost” (Norwegian brown cheese)
3 tbsp currant jelly
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan, add the onion and sauté on medium heat until clear, about 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté further, another 10 minutes. Add the stock and let it simmer and reduce by half. Add the juniper berries, heavy cream and brown cheese and simmer another 10-15 minutes. Finally, add the currant jelly and season with salt and pepper.
Ever since I started this blog, my purpose and desire have remained to spread my knowledge about Norwegian cuisine through my native Norwegian experience living abroad, as well as trying to increase people’s awareness of my country’s food and traditions. Mainly because I felt whenever “Scandinavian food” was mentioned, everybody’s thoughts always went to Sweden or Denmark. I heard of “Swedish meatballs” and Danish “smørrebrød” and nobody had knowledge of any Norwegian food. Norway fell in the background somehow, and when questioned if they could name a Norwegian dish, people’s faces would turn into a huge question mark.
Since I live in the U.S. now, my initial focus has been to share my recipes (both traditional and modern), stories and experiences growing up in the fjord country of Norway, with all my fellow Americans, but now my readers have shown to come from all over the world and I’m so delighted to hear from all of you and to find out you enjoy some of the posts I’ve put out. Norway is not just about smoked salmon, “gjetost” and herring – we actually have developed quite a refined cuisine, and one of the foods I thoroughly think we could compete with the rest of the world is: Cheese!
I realize I have written a lot about cheese lately, mostly Jarlsberg andgjetost, since these two cheeses are available in this country and my readers can get a hold of them. But sometimes I need to write about products that are less known, in the hopes that someone will read this and get encouraged to import it! So with that intro – let me present: MUNKEBY Cheese!!
This cheese is a semi soft washed cheese made from raw cow’s milk. It is different from Brie, and connoisseurs will immediately realize that when smelling the aromas and by its feel and consistency. With a sharp flavor, the consistency is creamy and melts slowly in the mouth. The rind, which is fine and smooth, is washed by hand during the five week’s aging process. The cheese is aged in a cellar on spruce planks and is turned daily. The cheese is unpasteurized and completely natural without any additives. Not necessarily easy to come by in Norway either because it is produced in such small quantities, it has become quite the sought after delicacy.
This is such a unique cheese, as it is produced by four monks in the first new monastery founded by the Abbaye de Citeaux since the 15th century (I encourage you to read about the history of the Abbey of Citeaux separately). Before arriving at the Munkeby monastery in Norway in 2006, the brothers Father Cyril and Father Joe had both been responsible for the fromagerie in Citeaux for over 50 years between the two of them. Here’s a photo of the French version:
There is not a whole lot of information about the original monastery Munkeby, located in Frol by Levanger. The Cistercian convent was well established before 1180, most likely founded by Lyse convent close to Bergen and shut down before Lyse founded the monastery at Tautra in 1207. The farm at Munkeby remained in operation under the Tautra convent until the reform period. The ruins continued to speak to the people of Frol, who kept the monks’ traditions alive. To the French monk’s big surprise (and the locals in Frol) they were met by Norwegian farmers who had read Saint Bernard when they arrived in Norway in 2006. Here are the four cheese making monks from left to right: Brother Cyril, Brother Arnaud, Brother Joel and Brother Bruno:
Image from Ivar Kvaal,
The locals had dreamed about founding a new monastery in the area, and the French monks had a desire to live a simpler convent life than the one in the larger, more complicated monastery organizations found in France. They finally, after much discussion and planning with the locals, decided to build the convent at a farm in town that was currently shut down. Building a Catholic convent in today’s Norway certainly opens up to a lot of challenges and the need for communication and cooperation between the people, but the monks believed building a dairy farm would help bring the community together, helping the monks to understand daily life in Norway and also to learn the language. There is the quick story of how the cheese came about!
The top quality milk used to make the Munkeby cheese comes from two neighboring farms in the area, and the brothers combine their experience to make a wonderful cheese that is based on both new and traditional methods. The careful handling of the fresh milk keeps and develops a natural fullness and characteristics throughout the aging process.
Munkeby cheese has now become so popular in Norway that the monks no longer can keep up with demand. It has become the darling of many famous chefs and top restaurants in the country and the cheese has won several prizes in cheese competitions. As one Norwegian chef, Tom-Victor Gausdal, wrote in a recent article: “In a way, I wish I were the only person who knew about this cheese, but some secrets are so great they just have to be shared!”
To properly be able to enjoy this cheese, I recommend eating it in the simplest of forms; spread it on home made crackers or fresh bread, with a nice glass of wine (or aquavit!). Maybe even rolled up in a Norwegianlompe (potato flat bread, almost like a tortilla) with some sliced bell peppers and cucumbers or fresh sliced apples – get the recipe for lompehere.
If you can’t get a hold of Munkeby but want to get a similar idea of how the cheese tastes, try Reblochon, Brillant Savarin or Epoisses, all available in the U.S. Then when you are in Norway get the real deal!