The art of Harmonious cooking
Steffi Knowles-Dellner's new book embraces food that is cooked according to the Swedish custom of lagom - meaning that it's in harmony with the seasons and as good for the soul as it is the body...
Almond milk-braised pork belly with peas, watercress & samphire
This may sound like an unusual combination, but braising in almond milk helps to keep the pork moist and tender. It also makes a delicious gravy once the dish is finished. Be sure to heat the almond milk before adding to the pork, as this helps to avoid splitting, and to brush off any excess salt before serving.
1.2kg (2¾lb) rolled and tied pork belly, skin scored
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
750ml (3 cups) unsweetened almond milk
1 small bunch of sage
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
Pinch of chilli (red pepper) flakes
150g (scant 1 cup) fresh or frozen peas
2 shallots, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g (3½oz) samphire
1 small bag of watercress (about 100g/3½oz)
Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9. Rub the pork with the olive oil and place in a snug roasting tray. Sprinkle the skin with plenty of sea salt and roast for 25 minutes until the skin starts to blister.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and continue to cook for 1 hour. Pour the almond milk into a saucepan with the sage, fennel seeds, bay leaves and chilli flakes and heat very gently.
Once the pork has been cooking for its hour, spoon out any fat from the tray, then tip in the hot almond milk, pouring all around the meat but not on top of it. Return to the oven for a further hour - it's ready when the meat pulls away easily.
Finally, raise the oven temperature to its highest setting and cook for about 10 minutes until the pork skin has crackled all over. Remove from the tray (reserving the almondy juices) and allow to rest on a carving board, covered with foil.
Cook the peas in a small pan of boiling water for a few minutes (longer if using fresh peas), and then drain.
In a large frying pan, heat a little oil and gently fry the shallots until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and samphire and sauté, stirring frequently, until the samphire is just tender, bout 4-5 minutes. Add the peas and watercress and cook until the watercress has just wilted.
Strain the almond milk into a jug to remove the herbs and spices, then pour back into the tray. Set this over a low heat
and simmer until saucy. The milk may split slightly, but don't worry too much, as it will still taste delicious.
Brush any excess salt off the pork and carve into thick slices. Serve with the vegetables and almond milk gravy.
Crispy sliced & stacked lemon-roasted potatoes
Hasselback potatoes are a firm favourite of the Swedish culinary canon, particularly as part of a special meal; I particularly like them served with game. However, they are quite fiddly and time-consuming so I find this recipe easier than faffing about with each individual potato. Not least as there is plenty of margin for error: any scrappy off-cuts can be tucked into the bake. You still get that crispy, crunchy texture in this version, as well as a hit of freshness from the lemon. Serve as a side with a roast dinner or with a salad for a main meal.
1.3-1.5kg (3-3¼lb) floury potatoes, peeled
50ml (3½ tbsp) olive oil
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1½ lemons, zest and juice
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
Begin by thinly slicing the potatoes, about ªcm (ßin) thick. The easiest way to do this is to use a mandoline or the slicing attachment on a food processor. If you are doing it by hand,
make sure you have a comfortable seat, as it will take a while. Place the slices in a large bowl of cold water as you go. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Drain the potatoes and pat very dry. Stack the potato slices lengthways and upright in a large ovenproof dish with high sides, about 35 x 20cm (14 x 10in), so the cut sides are facing you. Pack them tightly so that they support each other to form long rows.
Mix the oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest with the dried thyme and oregano. Drizzle over the potatoes; sprinkle with salt and fresh thyme.
Bake for 1 hour-1 hour 10 minutes, until crispy and golden. Cover with foil if the potatoes start going too brown. Be sure to test that the potato slices are cooked through with a skewer before removing from the oven.
Mormor's curried fish soup
As part of a wedding present, we were given something called 'Viking Salt' by our friends Hattie and Oli. It's basically a salt flavoured with a mild curry and I put it on everything. It may seem a peculiar spice for the Scandinavians to lay claim to, but we have flirted with unusual flavours for hundreds of years, sourced on those far-flung Viking plunders and raids. We use them gently, as a way to lightly season and add subtle layers of depth. This chunky soup is a perfect example. My mormor (maternal granny) has been making it for as long as I can remember. She only uses curry powder in the soup itself, but I also like to make a fragrant oil, swirled through at the end. For a lighter soup, use milk instead of cream and add a dollop of crème fraîche.
1 tsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tsp medium curry powder
1 litre (4½ cups) fish or vegetable stock (broth)
300g (10½oz) thick cod fillets, cut into chunks
300g (10½oz) salmon, cut into pieces
150g (5¼oz) cooked frozen Atlantic prawns, defrosted
250ml (1 cup) single (light) cream
2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 small bunch of dill, roughly chopped, to serve
1 small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped, to serve
Chunky bread, to serve with curry oil
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onions and sauté over a low heat for 5 minutes, without colouring. Add the leek and cook for another few minutes until softened, then add the garlic. Stir through 1 tsp of the curry powder and fry for another minute or so, until fragrant.
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat - it should be just quivering. Add the white fish and salmon, and poach for 5-8 minutes, then tip in the prawns and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the remaining curry powder. Fry for 1 minute or so until smoky and aromatic, then remove from the heat and tip into a bowl to cool slightly.
Divide the soup between 4 bowls, drizzle over a little curry oil and sprinkle with the herbs before serving with chunky bread.