Rauðkál – Pickled red cabbage

This side dish is good with many kinds of roasted and broiled meats. For many it is a necessity with the Christmas ham or steak. I don’t particularly like vinegar pickled cabbage so I haven’t tried this recipe myself, but I’m told it is good.

2-3 tbs butter
1 kg red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup white vinegar OR red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tsp salt

Melt the butter at medium temperature. Add finely shredded red cabbage and stir to coat with the hot butter. When the buttered cabbage begins to sizzle, add vinegar, sugar and salt. Simmer until the cabbage is limp and boiled through (about 45 mins. to 1 hour).
Serve with ham, pork roast, roast lamb, duck, goose or turkey.

Some people will eat this with hot dogs as well.

Mandarin-orange cheesecake – Mandarínu-ostakaka

This is a lovely cheesecake, rich and smooth. It is commercially available in Iceland. I just love it, and I’m grateful for The Icelandic Dairy Produce Marketing Association for providing the recipe for the public. The cake is relatively cheap when you buy it ready-made, but I think making it yourself adds to the enjoyment of eating it.
While this is not a Christmas recipe per se, it is so time consuming that I would only ever make it for special occasions like Christmas or a special birthday party.

Serves 10-12 (or 6-8, depending on how much self-control you have :-)

1 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tbs sugar
5 tbs butter, soft
90 g lemon flavoured gelatine
1 cup boiling water
500 g cream cheese, unflavoured, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cream, whipped (measure before you whip)
1 can (480 g) mandarin orange sections
1/2 cup juice from mandarin oranges
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp unflavoured gelatine powder OR 2 sheets unflavoured gelatine

Mix together cracker crumbs, 5 tbs sugar and soft butter. Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a spring mold (22 cm in diameter). Bake for 8 minutes at 175°C. Remove and cool.
Dissolve the lemon gelatin in boiling water. Cool. Be careful, you don’t want it to set completely!
Mix together cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla essence. When the lemon gelatine is about half-set, mix carefully into the cheese mixture, little by little. Fold in the whipped cream and pour into the mold over the crumb shell. Cool for about 1 hour.
Drain the mandarin oranges well, reserving 1/2 cup of the juice. Add lemon juice. Warm up the juice and dissolve the flavourless gelatin in it. Cool, stirring occasionally.
Arrange the orange sections on top of the cheesecake in a pattern. Gently spoon or brush the mandarin gelatin over the top. Cool until set.
Remove the sides from the mold and serve.

Traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes

The Christmas meal that is traditionally served in my family.

I have received a question about traditional Icelandic Christmas dishes and as it’s a subject I’m sure many are curious about I decided to make a blog entry about it.

Traditional Icelandic Christmas food is a somewhat complicated subject, as there are several traditional Christmas dishes and there is no one Christmas dish that is served in every home. Even the leaf bread, which is uniquely Icelandic and as traditional as it gets, is not served in every home.

The most common main dishes served for Christmas in Icelandic homes are hangikjöt (smoked and salted lamb or mutton), ptarmigan (see recipe), lamb roast (see recipe for Sunday roast), roast goose, Hamborgarhryggur (smoked pork center rib roast), and American style turkey (relatively new, but has become a tradition in many families). As a starter or dessert, many serve either rice pudding (recipe will be posted soon) or ris a la mande (will also be posted soon) which is a Danish rice pudding.

If you go to the “Label” option at the bottom of this post and click “Christmas recipe” you can find some of the stuff I have already posted, mostly cookies.

Danish style pork rib roast – Ribbensteg (rifjasteik)

You may ask why I am publishing a recipe for Danish food when this is an Icelandic recipe blog? Well, this is something that has become an inseparable part of Christmas in my family, ever since I returned from a six month stay in Denmark and offered to cook rib-roast on Boxing Day. I have done it every year since then, and I know other Icelandic families serve rib-roast for Christmas, New Year’s or Easter. This is my variation of the recipe:

Recipe (serves 4)
1 kg pork rib-roast, with skin and fat and with or without bones. I don’t know if this cut is available in the USA, but from having looked at American posters of pork cuts I don’t think so. This is what it looks like:
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2 bay leaves
Whole cloves

Take the roast and make cuts into the skin and fat almost down to the meat, with about a finger width between the cuts. Make either strips or diamond-shaped pieces (see images below). Do not cut into meat.

Heat the oven to 250°C. Boil some water, put the roast into an oven pan skin side down and pour boiling water into the pan to cover the skin and fat up to the line of meat. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Remove the roast from the oven and lower the temperature to 170°C. Turn the roast around, sprinkle with salt and ground pepper, and put cloves and little pieces of 1 bay leaf here and there into the cuts.

Parboiled roast with spices, skin cut into strips:

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Add a bit of salt, pepper and cloves and one bay leaf to the cooking liquid. Return to the oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours. Replenish the water whenever it begins to boil down. Remove from the oven, pour the water into a saucepan (through a sieve) and return roast to the oven while you make the sauce.
If the skin is not bubbly and crackling by the time the sauce is ready, turn on the grill for a short while until the skin bubbles, but be careful not to burn it.

The same roast as above, ready to serve (only needs to remove cloves and bay leaf). As you can see, not all of the skin bubbled up:

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Gravy: This is all in approximates, as I never measure for the sauce.
Cooking liquid from roast
Sauce colouring
Extra spices (if needed)

Make a thick paste from flour and water. Bring cooking liquid to boil in a saucepan and slowly add the paste, stirring all the time. When you feel the gravy begin to thicken, stop adding paste. Bring to the boil again and cook for a couple of minutes to remove raw flour taste. Test for taste and thickness and thin with water and add spices as needed. Add a little cream, add as much sauce colouring as needed to give the gravy a nice brown colour and remove saucepan from heat when the gravy starts to boil.

Remove the roast from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. While it cools, remove the cloves and pieces of bay leaf.
Serve with gravy, potatoes (plain or caramelised), green peas, redcurrant jelly, pickled red cabbage and cooked vegetables or a fresh salad.

Roast with skin cut into diamond shapes:

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