Fish pancakes – Fisklummur

My mother sometimes deliberately cooks more fish than is necessary for one meal, and uses the left-over fish and potatoes to make these pancakes. They are popular with the whole family, and an excellent way of using up leftovers and getting finicky eaters to eat fish.+

This is really more of a guideline than a recipe. It recipe will yield enough pancakes for 2 people.

Take leftover cooked fish pieces (preferably plain poached or steamed fish, about 1/2 a fillet), remove any bones and flake with a fork. Put in a bowl with finely chopped, cooked potatoes (2-3 small ones); one small, finely chopped onion; and garlic to taste.

Stir in some flour (approx. 3 tbs in a recipe for two), and 1 tbs potato starch or cornflour. Flavour with salt and your favourite fish spice mix . Add one beaten egg. Thin with milk to the consistency of thin porridge. Fry in a medium hot skillet until golden and serve with potatoes, melted butter, and tomato wedges on the side.

Traditional rolled Sausage – Rúllupylsa

This is a good way of using up cuts of meat that are often considered inferior because of their high fat content. This sausage is generally used as a topping for bread.

1 kg mutton, pork or beef flanks (the soft, layered belly meat) and fatty scraps of meat. Mutton or pork is best.
2-3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp saltpeter (optional)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbs onion, finely chopped

Wash and dry the meat. If it contains ribs, remove them. Beat with a meat mallet to soften. Cut the largest piece into a square or rectangular shape, large enough to roll up. Cut the rest up in strips. Rub the spices and sugar on one side of the meat and arrange the meat strips on top. Roll up tightly, taking care to obtain an even thickness. Hold together with a fork or some toothpicks, and sew closed with twine. Start at the middle and work towards the ends. Truss up with more twine. Rub with a mixture of salt and saltpeter (3 tbs salt and 1 tbs saltpeter). Preserve by freezing, salting or smoking (leave out the onion and use less spice if smoking).

Cook for 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on size. The sausage is done when it can be easily pierced through with a pin (use a slender knitting pin). When it’s done, it should be pressed – place on a cutting board, put another cutting board on top and weigh down with something heavy. Keep it pressed until cold. Cut into thin slices and serve on bread.

Beinlausir fuglar – "Boneless Birds"

I have no idea why this dish is called “boneless birds”. My aunt often serves it at family dinners, and it is a great favourite of mine. To the basic recipe of meat and bacon she adds mushrooms and onions. Use lamb for preference.

1 1/2 kg. lamb, beef, or horse meat
50 g butter/margarine
salt and pepper to taste
500 ml water
100 g bacon
30 g flour

Traditional preparation:
Cut the meat into thin slices, and roll each in a mixture of salt and pepper. Put a slice of bacon on each slice of meat, roll up and tie up with twine. Brown on a hot pan. Add the water and cook until done through. Use the flour to thicken the sauce. Serve with potatoes, rhubarb jam and green peas.

Easy method with bacon and mushrooms:
Cut the meat into bite sized pieces and brown on a frying pan. Put in a pot with the water and bring to the boil, lower cooking temperature to simmer. Cut the bacon into pieces, fry lightly and add to the meat. Cut one large onion in half and cut the halves into thin slices, crosswise. Fry on a pan until transparent and add to the meat. Cut some fresh mushrooms (about 1/2 kg.) into slices and fry in butter until soft. Add to the meat. Simmer until the meat is done.

Flavour the dish to taste with salt and pepper and Season-All (optional). I always add a touch of garlic as well. You can make a sauce out of the cooking liquid by thickening with flour, but I recommend just pouring everything into a large bowl and serving it up that way. People will be wanting to drink the cooking liquid afterwards! By using more water, you can make this into a hearty, warming soup.
Serve with potatoes – boiled or caramelized – and a fresh salad.

Iceland Moss Soup – Fjallagrasamjólk

This is a very healthy, nourishing soup.

Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica) is very versatile. In spite of the name, it isn’t a moss at all, but a lichen. It’s used in cosmetics (especially creams and ointments), medicines and nutritional supplements (it is an excellent remedy for coughs and digestive problems), and as food. In the past it was also used for colouring wool.

Iceland moss also grows in other northern countries, but as it is very sensitive to pollution, it is not much harvested. It tastes very bitter when used in teas and infusions, but cooking it in milk, like in this recipe, removes most of the bitterness.

This soup is very nourishing and tasty. It is up to you if you choose to actually eat the moss or just use it as a flavouring (it gets a bit slimy when cooked). I sometimes get this at my grandmother’s. She also makes a cough syrup with Iceland moss, which tastes extremely bitter in spite of it being saturated with sugar, but it is the best cough remedy I have tried.

1-2 fistfuls Iceland moss
1 litre whole milk
2-3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 litres whole milk
30-40 gr. Iceland moss
50 gr. sugar
pinch salt

Clean the lichens well (this includes picking off any remains of moss). Flush the lichens with cold water and chop them up. Bring the milk to the boil and add the lichens. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and sugar and serve.

Cauliflower-cheese bake – Bakað blómkál með osti

My aunt often serves this as a side dish with Sunday roast, but it is also a good main dish for vegetarians who eat dairy products.

To serve 6 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish with bread and a salad.

1 medium head of cauliflower
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
100 g mild cheese (I like Gouda), grated

Remove all the greens from the cauliflower and cook (in one piece) in lightly salted water for 10-15 minutes. Heat the oven to 200°C. Remove cauliflower from the water, drain and put in an oven-proof dish. Mix together breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle on top of the cauliflower and top with grated cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Serve warm.

Split pea soup with salt lamb – Saltkjöt og baunir

Today is Shrove Tuesday. This day is called Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) in Iceland. This is the last day before Lent, and during the time when Icelanders still observed the fast, it was the last day on which meat could be eaten until Easter. The origins of the Icelandic name for this day are uncertain, but today it is generally taken to mean “eating until you feel like you’re bursting”. Split pea soup and salted mutton has been the traditional meal for this day since the 19th century.

2 l water
500 g lamb meat or mutton, preferably salt cured, or salt pork if lamb/mutton is not available
200 g yellow split peas
1 tsp salt
500 g potatoes
1 onion
500 g carrots and rutabagas
3-4 slices smoked bacon (optional) – I use a lot more

Soak the peas for time indicated on packaging. Bring water to the boil. Cut onion into chunks and add to the water with the meat and peas, and cook for about 1 hour. If you are using bacon, cook with the rest for the last 1/2 hour. Potatoes, rutabagas and carrots can either be cooked separately, or with the rest, for the last 1/2 hour.

Remove the meat and potatoes and serve separately.
Some people will eat the meat and potatoes first, others will cut them up and add to the soup. Some also add milk to the soup just before serving.

The recipe comes from the teaching leaflet “Súrt og Sætt”, by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, published by Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga, 1998. Historical information comes from “Saga Daganna”, by Árni Björnsson – Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1993).

Súkkulaði – Hot chocolate

Deliciously warming on a cold winter’s day – and whe have had some chilly ones lately – this is my favourite hot drink. Preferably made with Síríus Konsum chocolate, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate available.

250 g semi-sweet chocolate*
250 ml water
1 ltr milk
1 tsp butter
sugar and vanilla essence to taste

*I use semi-sweet chocolate, but bitter chocolate will do – just use a bit more sugar.

Break up the chocolate into pieces and put in a cooking pot with the water. Heat gently, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add the milk in smallish portions, allowing it to boil before adding more. Add sugar and vanilla essence to taste, and melt in the butter just before serving.

-Serve in mugs with whipped cream ( and your favourite cake or cookies on the side).
-Alternatively, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream floating on top.

Velvet Pudding – Flauelsgrautur

Like macaroni soup, this is a comfort food for me. The smooth texture of the pudding makes it feel like soft velvet on the tongue – thus the name. Serves 6.

175 g butter
250 g flour
2 ltr milk
2 tsp salt

Melt the butter and add the sifted flour and mix well. Add boiling milk, portion by portion and mix well in between (just like making white sauce – which this really is, only thicker). Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Adjust flavour with salt. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with milk or sweet berry juice (make from berry syrup or use sweetened juice).