A traditional yet modern summer menu
Mix up a flavorful salad of rye berries and herbs to accompany classic biff à la Lindström
Taste of Norway Editor
I love the way one season rolls into the next, treating us to a symphony of the five senses—especially the unfolding of flavors. While I love winter for its hearty stews and spring for the jewel-toned explosion of colorful produce, I am especially fond of summer.
In the summer months, eating seasonally and locally is as easy as finding strawberries picked at the peak of sun-ripened perfection and tomatoes almost bursting with crimson juices. Blueberries pop with sweet indigo and the herbs scatter everything they touch with flavor to match their verdant hues.
Along with the bounty of seasonal produce, I appreciate summer for the ease of cooking. Our grill seems like it’s constantly cooking steaks dressed with little more than olive oil and salt, pork ribs slathered with sweet-and-tangy sauce, coral-colored fillets of salmon, whole corn enveloped in its husks, and any number of vegetables large enough to not fall through the grates.
We could cook this way all summer without referring to a recipe. But every once in a while it’s fun to switch things up and put something together that requires a few more ingredients, with a bit more complexity. And that’s where these recipes come in.
Biff à la Lindström is a classic Swedish dish. If Americans love hamburgers during the summer months, then these beef patties are sure to be a welcome variation. With capers, pickled beets, and Worcestershire sauce, biff à la Lindström is full of flavor, with no hamburger condiments required.
The salad rounds out the meal with a grain, mushrooms, berries, and plenty of flavor, no other sides required. I came up with this salad several years ago while writing an article for The Oregonian about the similarities between the produce of the Nordic region and the Pacific Northwest. I realized as I researched the Nordic diet that the staples very much mirrored what I was used to eating in the Seattle area, from the berries and mushrooms to the plentiful fish. I’ve come to realize over the years that the food I prepare in my home would likely taste familiar to someone visiting from the Nordic countries, even if I’m not cooking something traditional.
Biff à la Lindström
As I wrote on my blog a while back, people in Scandinavia have been enjoying biff à la Lindström for potentially over 150 years, making it a true classic. There are a couple of stories about its origins, one being that Captain Henrik Lindstrom brought the dish from Russia to Sweden in May 1862 when he introduced it at Hotel Witt in Kalmar. Another story involves Norwegian chef Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm, who was involved in three famous Norwegian polar expeditions.
As with any classic recipe, variations for biff à la Lindström abound. It’s often made with mashed potatoes, though cookbook author Beatrice Ojakangas swaps breadcrumbs for the potatoes in Scandinavian Feasts, and Trina Hahnemann doesn’t use either. Recipes sometimes include a liquid of some kind—heavy cream, or even the liquid from pickled beets—but this recipe shouldn’t need it.
I researched a number of recipes to come to this one, and I trust you’ll be pleased with the results. It’s delicious alongside a simple green salad, or perhaps some new potatoes that have been boiled, smashed, and then roasted with olive oil and salt. It’s truly an all-season recipe, and I hope you enjoy pairing it with a summery salad such as the one included here.
This recipe was originally published on my blog, Outside Oslo: www.outside-oslo.com/2016/01/21/biff-a-la-lindstrom.
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ medium onion, finely chopped
¼ cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1 extra-large egg
½ cup chopped pickled beets, plus more for garnish
2 tbsps. capers, finely chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1-2 tbsps. butter
whole grain mustard, for serving (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together beef, onion, and bread crumbs. Add the egg, picked beets, capers, and Worcestershire, along with salt and pepper, and mix to combine well.
Using your hands, shape the meat into 8 patties, creating a little indentation in the middle of each one with your thumb to help cook them evenly.
In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add the patties, in two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, and cook, flipping once, until each side is a rich golden brown and the center is cooked as you’d like.
Garnish with additional pickled beets (try my recipe: www.norwegianamerican.com/food/you-cant-beat-vibrant-pickled-beets) and a spoonful of mustard on the side for serving.
Summer rye Berry salad with blueberries and herbs
This recipe originally appeared in my article, “Nordic in the Northwest,” in the Sep. 3, 2013, issue of The Oregonian.
3⁄4 cup rye berries
2 ½ cups water
2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup walnuts
2 tbsps. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsps. roasted or regular walnut oil
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
4 oz. fresh goat cheese (chèvre), crumbled
Rinse the rye berries. In a medium saucepan, combine them with the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about an hour. Drain any excess water then cool the cooked grains to room temperature. Set aside to cool, or refrigerate overnight if desired.
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, toast the walnuts over medium heat, then roughly chop.
In a small bowl, combine sherry vinegar and salt. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil. Toss the dressing with the cooled rye berries to coat, then add the sautéed mushrooms, half of the walnuts, and all of the blueberries and dill; toss gently to combine. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and the remaining walnuts. Serve at room temperature.
Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).
This article originally appeared in the June 15, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.