After years globetrotting, author Nevada Berg settled in Norway with her Norwegian husband and son. With a farm, and with the eyes of a newcomer, Berg learns the local traditions as she assimilates into the mountain-top lifestyle and creates her award-winning blog, North Wild Kitchen.
The cookbook breaks down those activities that are common to Norwegians: foraging, fishing, farming, hunting, harvesting, camping, baking, grilling, and frying. Each chapter begins with an explanation of Nordic culture, so you get a little lesson in the way things are done. For example, in the Foraging chapter Berg mentions “allemannsretten” a concept that everyone has the right to take from nature, whether or not they own the land. (how unlike American culture!) The idea is that you can take what you need, but make sure to leave something for others to enjoy.
Photography throughout the book showcases the simple, rustic recipes and scenes from the surrounding areas. You almost feel as if you were on a journey far away. Recipes follow the four seasons using local ingredients. Traditional foods like Meatballs with Creamed Cabbage alludes to a super-popular dish in Norway, as well as Milk Cakes, which get served up with jams, spreadable cheeses, sour cream, and butter. Hearty soups and stews using meats like venison, moose, reindeer, and hare are sure to entice.
There are plenty of recipes for bakers too. Breads, pancakes, and lots of buns and cakes will have you wanting to curl up by a fireplace, and settle in. Sour Cream Wafers and Soft Potato Flatbread Veiled work in on the sides of many meals. For sweeter pursuits, Peasant Girls is an old-fashioned dessert that combines stewed apples, with sweetened breadcrumbs and whipped cream. Plums, a Norwegian staple for 300 years, are abundant, and the excess gets made into jam for use on Custard Buns or Aniseed Wafers.
I tend to like my desserts mixed with a little savory, and thought this recipe from the book would make a nice accompaniment on a cheese board, or as a atypical dessert.
Pan-Fried Pears Wrapped in Cured Pork with Honey and Pink Peppercorns
PÆRE MED SPEKESKINKE
Salty, rich cured meat and fresh sweet fruit are a natural and balanced pairing. When pan-fried together, the crispy texture of the meat against the warm, softened flesh of the fruit brings this pairing to a whole new level. I enjoy serving these special bundles, because they’re flavorful, fresh, and quick to pull together. If you prefer, you can substitute another cured meat, such as lamb (fenalår).
serves 4 to 6
4 large pears
8 to 16 pieces thinly sliced cured pork
2 tablespoons lightly salted butter, for frying
Crushed pink peppercorns
Cut the pears lengthwise in half. Carefully remove the cores and seeds, but leave the stems. Wrap each pear half with 1 to 2 slices of the cured pork and press the fat of the meat together to keep from it from falling off the pear.
In a large, heavy frying pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the pears, flesh-side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the pork is golden brown and crisp. Flip the pears and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until the other side is golden brown and crisp and the fruit is slightly soft.
Arrange the pears on a platter, sprinkle with flaky salt and crushed peppercorns, drizzle with honey, and serve immediately while still warm.
Reprinted with permission from Prestel Publishing.
North Wild Kitchen: Home Cooking from the Heart of Norway by Nevada Berg