Former contributor publishes cookbook

Nevada Berg’s North Wild Kitchen showcases the delight of Norwegian cooking

Nevada Berg

Book cover: North Wild Kitchen by Nevada Berg

The Editors
The Norwegian American

The moment we’ve been waiting for is here. Former Taste of Norway contributor Nevada Berg has published her first cookbook, and it’s as gorgeous and mouthwatering as can be. North Wild Kitchen: Home Cooking from the Heart of Norway was released on Oct. 2 by Prestel.

Born and raised in Utah, Berg lived abroad in various cities before buying a mountain farm in Norway’s Numedal valley and settling down there with her Norwegian husband and their son. From there she’s been studying the food and culinary heritage of Norway and writing about it on her blog, North Wild Kitchen.

In 2016, Berg won Saveur magazine’s Blog of the Year and Editors’ Choice award for Best New Voice ( Shortly after that came a book deal, and the rest is history.

Nevada Berg

Photo courtesy of Nevada Berg.

In North Wild Kitchen, readers will find a variety of traditional recipes and ones inspired by Norway. Readers will recognize such classics as pinnekjøtt (cured lamb), which she serves with rutabaga mash, and fenalår (cured leg of lamb), and will be inspired by her recipe for shaved cured pork with pickled fennel and strawberries. They’ll see traditional favorites such as rice porridge and rømmegrøt, and then be surprised by a recipe for rømmegrøt ice cream.

The beer-battered spruce tips and syrup and wild nettle honey cake are examples of the inventive nature of Berg’s cooking, and the plukkfisk (fish and mashed potatoes with roasted carrots, sauteed leeks, and bacon) and the creamy chanterelle with goat cheese skillet sound as cozy as can be.

For dessert—or at least a sweet treat—readers will find classics like the Norwegian bløtkake cream cake, caramel pudding, and a wild strawberry soup that she serves with wild field mint cream. Cloudberry caramels with sea salt and homemade blueberry marshmallows invite readers to savor the flavors of Norway in a new way.

The book also features a variety of breads and buns, from flatbreads and knekkebrød to cinnamon buns and a multigrain bread.

Congratulations, Nevada, from all of us here at The Norwegian American! Your new book is gorgeous.

Nordic-Inspired Hot Dogs (Pølser)

Nevada Berg = North Wild Kitchen

Photo: Nevada Berg

Norwegians love their sausage, especially cooked over a fire. The most “Norwegian” way to serve sausage is wrapped in lompe, which are soft potato flatbreads, and topped with ketchup, mustard, and crispy onions. While this is very delicious, I wanted to elevate the typical sausage and play on some iconic ingredients like strawberries, sweet and sour cabbage, lingonberry jam, and beer. So, here are my five Nordic-inspired topping suggestions to take any sausage experience to the next level.

aioli base:
2 large egg yolks, at room temp.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup mild-flavored oil
salt & pepper to taste
to make dill aioli, add:
1 ½ tbsps. chopped fresh dill
to make horseradish aioli, add:
3 tbsps. freshly grated horseradish
to make dark ale aioli, add:
1⁄3 cup dark ale

strawberry ketchup:
2 tbsps. mild-flavored oil
1 red onion, diced
2 whole cloves
¼ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
9 oz. vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
9 oz. strawberries, hulled & chopped
¼ cup distilled white vinegar, divided
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
salt & pepper

crispy onions:
2 tbsps. mild-flavored oil
2 large yellow onions, cut into thin rings
1⁄8 tsp. salt

pea relish:
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ yellow onion, finely diced
zest of 1 lemon
salt & pepper
crispy mushrooms:
1 tbsp. lightly salted butter
3 tbsps. mild-flavored oil
9 oz. button mushrooms, trimmed & cut into small pieces

no-dressing slaw:
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
1 cup finely chopped fennel

for serving:
sausages, hot dog buns, sharp cheese, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, sliced pickled beets, sweet and sour red cabbage (rødkål), strong mustard, cream cheese (preferably goat’s milk), lingonberry jam, diced apples

For the aioli, in a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until thick. Stir in the dill, horseradish, or dark ale, depending on which aioli you’re making; season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the strawberry ketchup, in a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, cloves, coriander, and cinnamon and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, strawberries, 2 tbsps. of the vinegar, and the brown sugar and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Add the remaining vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the crispy onions, in a large, heavy pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onions, lower to medium heat, season with the salt, and sauté for about 20 minutes or until darker in color and a little crispy. Keep warm.

For the pea relish, in a small bowl, combine the peas, yellow onion, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the crispy mushrooms, in a large, heavy pan, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 20 to 30 minutes or until they crisp up and lose their moisture.

For the no-dressing slaw, in a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage and fennel.

Here are five of my favorite hot dog combinations:

• THE SUMMER DOG: Strawberry ketchup, dill aioli, and no-dressing slaw. Slather one side of the bun with strawberry ketchup and the other with aioli. Add the cooked sausage and top with slaw.

• THE VIKING: Sharp cheese, dark ale aioli, and crispy onions. Melt sharp cheese of your choice and place inside the bun. Add the cooked sausage, aioli, and caramelized, crispy onions.

• THE UNDERDOG: Bacon-wrapped sausage, horseradish aioli, pickled beets, and blue cheese crumbles. Wrap the entire uncooked sausage with 1 to 2 pieces of uncooked bacon. Grill until sausage is cooked through and bacon is crispy. Place the sausage in the bun and top with aioli, beets, and blue cheese.

• THE MOUNTAIN FARM: Pea relish, crispy mushrooms, and lingonberry jam. Place the cooked sausage in the bun. Add relish on one side and jam on the other. Top with mushrooms.

• THE ZINGER: Sweet & sour red cabbage, strong mustard, and cream cheese (optional: diced apples). Spread cream cheese on the bun. Add the cooked sausage and top with mustard, cabbage, and apples if using.

Beer-Braised Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables (Ølbraiserte lammeskanker)

Nevada Berg - North Wild Kitchen

Photo: Nevada Berg

As September arrives in Norway, so does the annual herding that takes lambs from the mountain pastures to their respective farms. Those lambs that have grown big will go straight to the slaughterhouse, but the rest will spend a few more weeks at the farm until they reach the ideal weight. Throughout this season, lamb is the highlight of many dishes, and since the animals have grazed on grass and wild herbs all summer long, their meat has exceptional flavor. When it comes to cooking lamb shanks, I like to braise them in dark ale, along with root vegetables. The result is a rich and deeply flavored stew, with the meat falling off the bone.

1 large fennel bulb with fronds
3 tbsps. mild-flavored oil
4 lamb shanks
3 tbsps. lightly salted butter
2 medium carrots, peeled & chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 small rutabaga, peeled & chopped
1 medium parsnip, peeled & chopped
17 oz. dark ale
2 bay leaves
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Cut off and discard the stalks from the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds for garnish; chop the bulb.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches as needed, add the lamb shanks and sear, turning, for 2 to 3 minutes or until brown on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside; repeat with the remaining lamb shanks.

Add the butter to the lamb pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the chopped fennel, carrots, onion, rutabaga, and parsnip and sauté for about 10 minutes or until starting to caramelize. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Add the beer and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaves and apple cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and cover with foil. Discard the bay leaves and bring the sauce to a boil. Continue boiling until reduced by a third or to the desired consistency.

Pour the sauce over the lamb and garnish with parsley or fennel fronds. Serve warm with mashed potatoes. Serves 4.

Light and Fluffy Cheesecake (Ostekake)

Nevada Berg - Noth Wild Kitchen

Photo: Nevada Berg

In the 1700s, cheesecakes reflected the tastes of the times and what was available. They were typically made with fresh cheese curds, cream, eggs, butter, sugar, and currants, and seasoned with cloves, nutmeg, and rosewater. Today, you’ll find cheesecakes similar to New York-style versions, with cream cheese being the star ingredient. One big difference, however, is that the Norwegian variety often uses flavored gelatins in and on top of the cake.

My mother-in-law, Kari, makes one of the best cheesecakes around. It’s her most requested dessert, and I’m incredibly pleased that she’s happy for me to share her recipe. It’s a light variation on what can be quite a heavy dessert, and it requires no baking. Her filling has a subtle touch of lemon, while the base has a buttery, sweet, and salty taste that literally melts in your mouth.

Kari uses lemon-flavored gelatin powder, but only folded into the batter, so there’s no wiggly layer of gelatin on top. This creates a delicate balance of velvety texture and buoyancy, without taking away from the simplicity of this delightful dessert.

½ lb. digestive biscuits, roughly crushed
½ cup lightly salted butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tsps. water
4 ½ oz. lemon-flavored gelatin powder
½ lb. cream cheese
1 ¼ cups light sour cream
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
seasonal fruit, to garnish (optional)

Butter a 9-inch springform pan, then line the pan with parchment paper, and butter the paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the crushed biscuits and melted butter. Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Pour into a medium, heat-safe bowl and let cool completely. Add the cream cheese and stir to fully combine.

In a second large bowl, whisk together the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar. Add the cream cheese-gelatin mixture and whisk to combine.

In a second medium bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then add to the batter and gently fold to combine.

Pour the batter over the biscuit crust, smooth the top, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Serve plain or topped with seasonal fruit. Serves 8 to 10.

The recipes and photos in this article are from North Wild Kitchen by Nevada Berg (Prestel Publishing, 2018). This content is printed by permission of Prestel Publishing.

This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.