Ending the summer with a Swede time

How fortunate my family is to be able to spend these past weeks in Stockholm, Sweden. We’ve been enjoying the late evenings, swimming in the fjords and picking loads of wild blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries and chanterelles. The weather is quite mild, with short rain showers from time to time. The abundant salmon, perch, mackerel and pike make our kosher diet quite easy to adhere to.

Out of 9 million Swedes, the Jewish population is about 18,000. Stockholm has the largest Jewish community, with two Orthodox synagogues, one Conservative synagogue, a cemetery, a day school, a library and a bimonthly newspaper called Judisk Kronika. The Jewish community is made up of prewar refugees, Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

One of the most delicious dishes we’ve been taking pleasure in is Jansson’s Frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation), a fabulous, rich combination of potatoes, onions, anchovies and cream. The name of this national treasure comes from Eric Jansson, a Swedish minister who preached abstinence in all matters of life. However one day he was discovered by a parishioner relishing a tasty potato gratin. Rev. Jansson had been led into temptation and succumbed, or so goes the story.

The mushrooms and wild berries are outstanding and there for the gathering. In addition to soups and omelets, I love the chanterelles prepared very simply, sautéed in butter with garlic and parsley, and served on toast as an appetizer. Swedes love a kind of rice pudding mixed with wild berries as a dessert, and we’ve quickly become fans. Of course, what Swedish meal would be complete without a cucumber salad?

Jansson’s Frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation) | Serves 8 to 10

4 Tbs. butter
8 baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
3 medium onions, peeled and coarsely shredded
30 Swedish anchovy fillets with brine
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup breadcrumbs made from day-old bread

Grease a large open baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter, and layer the potatoes, onions and anchovies in the dish, beginning and ending with the potatoes.

Combine the brine from the anchovies with the half and half and pour over the potato mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and the remainder of the butter, and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Cucumber Salad | Serves 8

3 Swedish or English cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped dill

Mix together all ingredients. Serve at room temperature.

Chanterelles | Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbs. butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, through the press
1 lb. chanterelles or other mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the mushrooms and sauté well, until the mushrooms give up most of their liquid. Increase the heat to high, add the salt and pepper, and continue cooking until all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir in the chopped parsley, remove from the heat and serve immediately on toast as an appetizer.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].