Feast for a fest: 17. mai treats
A gourmet twist on the traditional 17. mai fare from Outside Oslo
Syttende Mai—it’s been a part of my Norwegian-American identity for as long as I can remember. Heading down to Ballard where Market Street would be lined with thousands of people from throughout the greater Seattle area, I’d watch the parade as a child with my parents and both sets of grandparents. That was when the heart of Ballard still distinctly felt like a Scandinavian neighborhood, when Market Street still had a Scandinavian goods store, before Ballard became a destination not only for the maritime and mill industries but also for its trendy restaurants and nightlife.
We’d stop to order a pølse og lefse from a sidewalk vendor and wash it down with Solo. Grandpa Lauritz would give me the year’s commemorative Syttende Mai pin. For a day the streets of Ballard were filled with Norwegian flags and people wearing bunads and other traditional clothing.
I suppose you may detect a hint of nostalgia in what I write, a yearning for the past. That is true, to an extent. I miss those grandparents who have departed and the Scandinavian touches that are fading from the neighborhood. But I also love what it today: a place continuously being rejuvenated while retaining the history of generations of Norwegian immigrants. That can be seen most clearly on Syttende Mai, when the festival and parade draw crowds with just as much enthusiasm as I can remember in past years. Norwegian or not, Seattleites flock to the neighborhood for what is an event full of community spirit.
The first Syttende Mai festival in Washington took place in 1889, the same year the state was admitted to the union. It’s also one of the largest Syttende Mai parades outside of Norway and said to be one of the largest ethnic parades in the United States.
In honor of Syttende Mai, I’ve been sharing some special Norwegian food recently on my food blog, Outside Oslo (www.outside-oslo.com <http://www.outside-oslo.com> ); you’ll find everything from rhubarb desserts and traditional Norwegian waffles to foods perfect for a parade picnic. I’ve also created an original recipe for cardamom ice cream with milk chocolate chunks to share with you here. I’m not sure whether ice cream or hot dogs are more popular on Syttende Mai, so go ahead and roll up some pølse in lefse – don’t forget to serve it with some good, Scandinavian mustard and a sparkling orange Solo – and whip up a batch of ice cream for dessert.
Hot dogs with Lefse
Pølse med lefse
Hardly requiring a recipe, simply roll up pølse or any other similar sort of sausage in a lefse. Serve with mustard and a cold bottle of orange soda.
Cardamom Ice Cream with Norwegian Chocolate Chunks
Is med kardemomme
An Outside Oslo original
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 1-inch piece of vanilla bean
3 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1.5 oz Norwegian milk chocolate, roughly chopped
Roughly crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise using the point of a knife and split open, scraping out the seeds. Combine milk, cream, cardamom, and vanilla seeds and the bean in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking frequently until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and cover, letting the spices steep for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large, heatproof bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar and vigorously whisk until the sugar dissolves into the eggs and you have a creamy, pale-yellow mixture.
Stirring constantly, slowly pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture. Transfer the custard back to the saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat until the mixture has thickened to a consistency that could coat the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. (Take care not to let it come to a boil. If you accidentally do and the eggs form clumps, you can remedy the situation with a food processor.)
Pour the custard through a strainer to remove the cardamom seeds and to ensure a smooth ice cream. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. A few minutes before the ice cream is frozen, add chopped chocolate and churn until mixed and the ice cream is the consistency you desire.
This article originally appeared in the May 10, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.