Living Lite

Swedish Midsummer - Feast the Night Away!

June 26, 2013

(Photo by: Embassy of Sweden)

For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock. Every ear, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day.

Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve. It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop.

I celebrated Midsummer this year in the Pennsylvania countryside, but with fellow Swedes and in typical Swedish fashion. You can create your own "midsummer" party any time this summer, too.

Beginning Friday morning, we gathered to set the scene, setting up a festival atmosphere. Of course, you can grab any tables and set them up outside for your guests - nothing fancy required.

Setting the scene with beautifully set tables - always with flowers (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Setting the scene with beautifully set tables - always with flowers

Smorgasbord (pronounced: Smer-gose-board) is a Swedish invention and is literally a table of open-faced sandwiches. Though its origin was a simple array of hors d’oeuvres, smorgasbords today are exhaustive buffet-style spreads, the Swedish version being the best known.

Midsummer Smorgasbord (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Midsummer Smorgasbord

There are appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. The dishes signal summer’s first harvests: freshly clipped dill, tender root vegetables (see recipe for "Potato and Asparagus Salad in a Lemony Mayonnaise Dressing"), fish and other seafoods, and strawberries grown in the country. There are cured ingredients, as well. Pink rolls of cured salmon (see recipe for "Gravlax," "Swedish Mustard Sauce," and "Gravlax Club Sandwiches") are wrapped around dill sprigs, with yellow mustard sauces and peppercorns alongside. There is marinated herring and coarse salt, as well as dill and other pickles. Dairy products also are important, including eggs, cheese and cream.

The traditional drink is aquavit, Swedish vodka spiced with anise and caraway. It is served in tiny schnapps glasses. The Midsummer toast, which loses something in translation, usually amounts to a unanimous gulp followed by a chant of “rah, rah, rah, rah.”

Desserts often highlight strawberries, the first fruit of the year...

Strawberries (Photo by: Embassy of Sweden) Strawberries

Live musicians help create the mood - with one of the oldest Walnut trees in Pennsylvania gracing the stage (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Live musicians help create the mood - with one of the oldest Walnut trees in Pennsylvania gracing the stage

Though Jeannie isn't too interested (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Though Jeannie isn't too interested


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Katherine's Market Recipe: Potatoes, Asparagus and Salmon Salad

May 21, 2013

Today is the 4th "Katherine's Market Recipe" of 2013, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, famiy-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local farmers markets this week. At your farmers market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your farmers market. Here's how...

I'm so appreciative of the support I get from my clients, friends, and readers, this recipe, and all of my other newest spring recipes can be downloaded and printed FREE from my up-coming "Diet Simple Farm-to-Table" Cookbook. Just let us know what you think of the recipes by posting your comments with The Georgetown Dish!

For my "Salad of New Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony-Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise Topped with Poached Salmon," I recommend you buy the asparagus at Wednesday's Rose Park Farmers Market, Saturday's Burleith Farmer's Market, or Sunday's Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market.

Salad of “New” Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony-Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise and Poached Salmon
www.KatherineTallmadge.com

This  “salad”features the best of spring-time food: asparagus, thin-skinned tiny new potatoes and salmon. It can be served warm as a great holiday side dish, or enjoyed cold. The mayonnaise dressing brings out the flavor of any vegetable, especially if allowed to soak into still-warm, just cooked asparagus, haricots verts (the tender French green bean), delicate, small, thin-skinned “new” potatoes, or broccoli. The salmon can be poached, grilled, smoked or cured: your choice!

Serves 6 to 8

Mayonnaise Dressing:

1/4 Cup Mayonnaise, preferably made with Canola or Olive Oil
Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Garlic cloves (or more, to taste), mashed
1 Tbsp (or more, to taste) Tarragon or other fresh herb such as Dill
Salt and Pepper, if desired (none needed)

Vegetables:

1 quart Asparagus, tough end removed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pint small New Potatoes with skin, cleaned but not peeled (optional)
2 Red Bell Peppers, roasted (if desired) and chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Bunch (about 4 – 5) Green Onions, chopped

Salmon:

2 pounds of salmon fillet
1 Bunch Fresh Dill
1 teaspoon Salt

Place the salmon in a frying pan large enough to hold it laid out flat. Pour cold water over salmon until it is covered.  Add salt and dill to the pan. Place lid on the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit about ten minutes in the hot water. Remove the fish from the water when the flesh is opaque when checked with a fork. Let cool, if desired.

Prepare the dressing in a bowl large enough to fit the salad ingredients by mixing the mayonnaise, the lemon, garlic and fresh herb of your choice. Place in refrigerator to keep chilled. 

In a frying pan large enough to fit the asparagus end to end, steam or boil the asparagus slightly (in a small amount of water) for about 3 minutes, until they are al dente (firm, but not hard, with resistance to the bite). Drain and immediately toss in ice water to stop the cooking process. Place in the bowl of cold mayonnaise dressing. Toss to coat with mayonnaise dressing. Put the bowl back into the refrigerator to halt the cooking process.

Slice the small potatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size. Boil the potatoes for about 5 or 10  minutes, until tender when pierced by a fork. Drain and place in the bowl with the mayonnaise and asparagus. Toss to coat with the mayonnaise dressing. Place in the refrigerator.

Roast the red bell peppers if desired, chop, and add to the mix. Chop the white part of the green onions, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and place in bowl with the other vegetables; toss.

Serve the salad with about 4 ounces of salmon on top of each serving.


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Katherine's 3rd Market Recipe: Strawberry & Rhubarb Soup

May 16, 2013

Today is the 3rd "Katherine's Market Recipe" of 2013, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, famiy-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local farmers markets this week. At your farmers market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your farmers market. Here's how...

For my "Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbe," I recommend you buy the strawberries and rhubarb at Rose Park Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoons, the Glover Park-Burleith Farmers Market Saturday, or the  Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market on Sunday.

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbe
(Strawberry and Rhubarb Soup)
by Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tablespoons Canola Oil

3 stalks Rhubarb, pealed and cut into 1.4 inch chunks

2 cups hulled and sliced fresh Strawberries

4 ounces fresh Orange Juice

1/4 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Nonfat or Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt

4 fresh Mint Leaves

Procedure:

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Use a pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add the rhubarb and saute about a minute. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the strawberries, orange juice, sugar and 1/2 cup of the yogurt and blend with an immersible hand blender (I like the Cuisinart Smart Stick). Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or until it is well chilled.

Presentation:

Pour the soup into four small chilled bowls. Place a 1 Tablespoon dollop of yogurt and a fresh mint leaf on each bowl.

Did you know that there are 200 seeds on each strawberry?

Strawberries are members of the Rose family and there are over 600 different varieties. Choose freshly picked, ripe berries, as they will be the tastiest and will have the most nutrients. “Look for berries fully formed, bright red, without bruising or soft spots and with fresh-looking green caps,” says Janie Hibler in “The Berry Bible.”

Strawberries are considered a “superfood.” They have one of the highest antioxidant and nutrient contents of all foods, yet they are low in calories, so you can eat them in unlimited quantities. In fact, for your health, the more the better! “A serving of eight strawberries contains more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries are also rich in folate, potassium, and fiber. They’re especially high in cancer- and heart-disease-fighting phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) called flavonoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechin, and kaempferol.

Soupe aux Fraises et Rhubarbeis adapted from "The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking" (Rodale Press, 1998), one of my favorite cookbooks, which I highly recommend!

For more of my fantastic spring recipes...


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