EAT THE WORLD: SWEDEN

Yet, again, much time has passed since my last EAT THE WORLD entry. I apologize to you and my stomach. If you don't know what this little blog series is about: this is where we attempt to cook a meal from every single country in the world, while pairing it with a movie from that country. 

For this edition of EAT THE WORLD, my sister and her boyfriend were traveling from Los Angeles just for this meal. Well, not really, but it was still a big deal to me. We opted to let them pick what country they would like to eat from for dinner - the first time I had people over to eat at my lovely rustic dining room table. A table I have had for 10 months and never had anyone over for dinner on. Mainly because my new home is largely uninhabitable to guests, as most of my money this year has been spent on the house, my business and my travels. And survival. My sister and her boyfriend opted for the European country of Sweden. Famous for its furniture, ironically. My sister has a lot of friends from Sweden, hence the choice. This is what we ate and cooked. 

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy, Lingonberries and Cucumber Relish

Cucumber Relish

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch white pepper

Directions

  1. Slice a third of the cucumber finely, and lay the slices on a large plate in one layer, then sprinkle over one third of the salt. 
  2. Repeat this process two more times, until you have used up all the cucumber slices and the salt. 
  3. Place another plate on the top of the slices and place something heavy on top of the plate. Leave for an hour or more.
  4. After an hour or more, pour and discard the liquid from the cucumbers. 
  5. Place a quarter of the slices in a jar, and sprinkle with a quarter of the parsley. 
  6. Repeat this process until you have finished all the cucumber and parsley. 
  7. Mix water, vinegar, sugar and pepper in a jug, and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. 
  8. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar, and seal. Refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup Panko 
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE GRAVY

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until onions have become translucent, around 2-3 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, Panko, egg yolks, allspice, nutmeg and cooked onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine the mixture.
  4. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful to not burn them.
  6. When done transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil. 
  7. To make the gravy, melt butter in the skillet. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in sour cream; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Stir in meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.

MOVIE PAIRING: THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING (SWEDISH VERSION)

We watched the Swedish, original movie, instead of the Americanized one. No idea why the US needed to redo the movie three years later, because this one was enough on it's own. Anyway, forty years ago a women disappears, and the family suspects that someone in his family murdered her. He employs a disgraced journalist, to investigate the disappearance. The journalist works with a tattooed, female hacker to help him.  The TN LOVES these kinds of movies, and that is great! However, for me, watching very real depictions of some of the scenes in this movie just too deeply disturbs me. Some deeply disturbing sexual and vioelnt content here, guys. In recent years, I've had a hard time watching anything like this, because I know that for so many women that kind of thing is a reality for them. Eventually, I insisted on turning it off. SOOOO, if you are sensitive like myself, skip over, and find something a little more chill. I tried to look for something else from Sweden, but they all seem to be about horror movies or thrillers? Any Swedes out there who can recommend a nice, family friendly Swedish movie for me? 

THE TRAVELING NINJA VERDICT: 

Nothing like some homemade meatballs to Sweden the deal 

RATING: 7.6/10

THE TRAVELING GINGER VERDICT:

So everyone else seemed to enjoy this dish, although I was not sold. I'm pretty sure my amateur cooking skills are too blame, but the sauce tasted a tad bit burnt - which I believe is probably because the meatballs probably burnt and the burnt bits fell off into the sauce. However, the sauce was rich and creamy, and was delicious, minus the burnt taste. Oddly enough, it was only I that could taste it (although people were probably being polite). Everyone did however rave about the cucumber relish, which was very refreshing. The lingonberries jam was also really delicious, and added to the taste of the dish. All in all, not so bad! Not a favorite, but definitely worth making again! This is a pretty easy recipe, and if you can find the lingonberry jam, definitely serve some up. 

RATING: 7.5/10

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Have you traveled to Sweden before? Any other non hard core content Swedish films to suggest for me? Let me know in the comments below!