Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Waiter, there's something in my... easter basket!
The Passionate Cook Johanna has asked us to share some favorites for easter. Swedes often eat the same thing for easter as they do for christmas, or for midsummer's - a smorgasbord of dishes with things like smoked or cured salmon, egg halves with roe or mayonnaise, or shrimp perhaps, various cold cuts, boiled potatoes, salads.. well, different in every family. When I grew up, the one thing I remember was that my parents made "passa". It's an eastern european dish (as far as I know) from curd cheese, almonds, sugar and raisins. Very sweet. And very good, in small quantities. Maybe I'll make some this year. It'd be fun!
As for Swedish easter traditions - kids, and um, many adults too, get eggs (cardboard) filled with candy. Or other gifts, but mostly candy. (Nowadays, I prefer a little bit of good and expensive candy over lots of the cheap stuff, but it has certainly not always been so!) When I was a kid, my parents would hide the egg(s) in my room, and I had to hunt for them in the morning. (Me and Per still do that, sometimes.) That's on the Saturday before easter, by the way.
The Friday - Good Friday - is called Long Friday here. And it's very long indeed, as everything is closed. A good time to watch tv - maybe Passion of the Christ?
On the Thursday before Easter (I'm doing this in reverse as you can see), most people have half the day off work. And the kids dress up as witches, and go around to the neighbors, begging for candy. Much like trick-or-treating for Halloween! They also give out home-drawn cards. Very cute. I must remember to buy some candy in case any witches come calling to our house!
Ok. As for what to cook - I chose to share a spring-colored focaccia with you. Not traditionally Swedish, no, but very tasty. And very easy to whip up. You don't need a machine. (But you can obviously use one, and then it'll be even easier.) Perfect to accompany any meal. Feel free to substitute the topping for something else! And if you have leftovers - you probably won't - it freezes very well.
Green Garlic Focaccia
30 g fresh yeast
500 ml tepid water (2 cups)
1 kilo (that's 1000 gram) of flour (high-protein if you have it)
1 tbsp flaky sea salt
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
50 ml olive oil
about 30 g of rocket/arugula
handful of fresh basil leaves
flaky sea salt
Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Pour over half the tepid water, and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Mix the flour and the salt in another large bowl (The bowl of your Kitchen-Aid if you're using one.) and add the yeasty water. Mix well, and add the other half of the water. Mix until you have a dough, remove from the bowl, and knead well for about ten minutes. (Or just let your machine do the work.)
Shape into a ball, and slash it a few times with a knife. (This helps it rise faster). Place in a warm spot - the sun coming in your kitchen window is perfect - and leave to rise for about an hour. (Cover with plastic wrap for even more rising action.)
Now is the time to make the topping. Mix rocket, basil and olive oil in a food processor or with a handheld mixed. Add more oil if you need too - it should be fairly liquid but not too runny. Add the garlic.
When the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and give it a few good kneads. Oil a large rimmed baking sheet, and flatten the dough into this. Pour over the herby oil, and spread this all over the bread with your hands. Press down with your fingers, so that you get little dimples all over - this will help the flavor go deeper. Sprinkle over some sea salt. Cover with plastic foil (or not) and rise for 45 minutes or so.
Bake in a hot oven - 230°C - for about 15 minutes.
If you want to, you can add even more olive oil when it comes out of the oven, but I find that the amount in the topping is plenty for my liking.
Recipe in Swedish:
Grön Focaccia med vitlök