Hello 2015 – Nordic Canapés with Roe & Gravlax

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas in good company and enjoyed delicious food and got a chance to relax for a few days! If you're like me, you're surprised by the approach of New Year's Eve. It's quite ridiculous as Christmas and New Year are always just one week apart from each other, but every single year I find myself kind of surprised by their proximity. Suddenly, one has to change from Christmas mood to the celebration of a new, hopefully exciting year.

Some of you may have made plans for New Year's Eve. Maybe a party at a friend's house or a casual get-together? Or maybe you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and consider spending a night at home. Or you're hosting a New Year's Eve party yourself (awesome!). Well, for all of you who haven't yet decided what to serve next Wednesday whether to friends, family, or just yourself, I have a Nordic treat that I strongly recommend you to consider.

I call these Nordic canapés as they really are a culinary love letter to Nordic flavors. Dark rye bread is topped with smetana, a kind of sour cream from Eastern and Central Europe, finely diced red onion, roe, gravlax, and dill. These are super easy and quick to prepare, look absolutely stunning, and taste amazing. In my world, there's no better way to welcome guests into your home. Serve with a glass of sparkling wine and welcome 2015 with a broad smile.

Nordic Canapés with Roe & Gravlax

I recommend dark rye bread or Nordic potato rye bread/limpa (which I actually used), but crispbread or lightly toasted toast would work as well. Use whatever roe you like the most or are able to find; this time, I used vendance (the orange one in the pictures) and European whitefish (the yellow one). You can make gravlax yourself or buy it from a trusted source. Always make sure the gravlax is fresh; it should be consumed within a couple of days.

dark rye bread or Nordic potato rye bread/limpa
smetana or full-fat sour cream
red onion, finely diced
fish roe, thawed if frozen
gravlax, cut into thin slices

Cut out canapés using a cookie cutter of your choice. I used a round one with a diameter of 4 cm / 1.5". Lightly butter each piece. Top with smetana or full-fat sour cream, finely diced red onion, roe or gravlax (or even both), and dill. Serve and enjoy!

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Last Breath – Beet & Potato Latkes

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Do you still remember how I told you that February is my favorite winter month? Well, that was before this February. It has been a letdown. A total bummer. Where are the freezing temperatures? Where is the bright sunshine? I wanted to take long walks on the lake ice. I wanted to wear sunglasses because the harsh light that would be reflected by the white snow would otherwise hurt my eyes. I wanted to go sledding with my friends and drink Lumumba from a thermos. Instead, it has been gray and wet. Snow? Gone. February 2014, nul point.

I don't want it to be winter anymore if it looks like this. Spring. I want it to be spring.

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

At the same time as I wish this season would be already over, I realize (with a slight feeling of terror) that I don't have much time to enjoy the wintery foods. Like beets. I've had them way too seldom. I haven't made borscht. I haven't baked a chocolate beet cake yet. I've not eaten enough of beet salad with arugula, chèvre, and walnuts.

This is me taking my last breaths of winter. This is me shaking off the gray dust of February. This is me making beet & potato latkes.

Will you join me?

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Beet & Potato Latkes

makes about 20 latkes, enough to serve 4–6 hungry souls

The ruby red latkes topped with creamy sour cream, salmon with a subtle smoke note, crispy apples to fresh it up, and the classic pairing of dill. These latkes aren't only gorgeous to look at but also damn delicious. I think they are perfect served at a get-together with a simple green salad and a glass of sparkling wine. I used blazing salmon as I really love its flavor but you can substitute it with regular cooked salmon. Blazing salmon is a traditional Finnish fish preparation, in which the salmon is nailed to a wooden plank and partly smoked, partly cooked over an open fire. It's one of my most favorite ways to enjoy salmon, especially in salads, as smoked salmon often has a too strong flavor for my liking.

For the latkes:
375 g (13 oz) red beets, peeled
900 g (2 pounds) starchy potatoes, like Russet, peeled
2 eggs (M)
40 g (1.5 oz; 0,6 dl; ¼ cups) fine plain tried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp fine sea salt

vegetable oil, for frying

To serve:
~ 375 g (12 oz) salmon (preferably blazing salmon)
~ 300 g (10 oz) sour cream
2 tart apples, cubed
dill sprigs

Preheat the oven to 150°C (325°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top of it. Line another baking sheet with paper towels.

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the beets and potatoes. Place in a colander and let drain for 10–15 minutes. Press the shreds firmly against the colander a couple of times to draw out excess moisture. We want the shreds to be as dry as possible to ensure crispy latkes!

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, breadcrumbs, and salt. Add the beet and potato shreds. Using your hands or a silicone spatula, mix until well coated.

Generously coat a large frying pan with oil (about ⅓ cm / 1/8" high) and heat over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into the pan – if the oil sizzles around the edges, it's ready. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of the latke mixture into the hot pan and press slightly with the back of your spoon to flatten. My latkes were around 1 cm / ½" thick and 7,5 cm / 3" in diameter. Fry until brown and crisp, about 2–3 minutes per side.

Transfer the latkes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to the prepared wire rack. Place the sheet with the wire rack and latkes in the oven to keep warm and crisp while continuing to fry the remaining latkes.

Serve the latkes warm with sour cream, salmon, apples, and dill as well as a simple green salad.

beet & potato latkes :: my blue&white kitchen

Real-life food blogger note: The day I shot this post (last Tuesday) was one of those nasty, gray days. The secret behind these sunny looking pictures? A foam board. Praise the foam board!