Avoiding Death by Semlor

On Saturday I taught a spring brunch class at the American Swedish Institute, organizing the menu around Sweden's King Adolf Frederick's last meal (often referred to "Death by Semlor"). King Adolph Frederick feasted on lobster, caviar, kippers (herring), sour kraut, champagne, and fourteen sweet semlor steeped in warm cream. What a way to go.

Semlor (singular: semla), also known as Fat Tuesday buns, are chubby cardamom buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Back in the days of Catholic influence, Swedes ate their fill of the buns before their Lenten fasts. Modern Swedes reach for the buns as soon as  Christmas is complete and don't stop eating them until Easter disappears from the rear view mirror.

Our semlor brunch menu included a batch of cardamom buns; spring greens with citrus vinaigrette; quick pickled beets, cucumbers, and red peppers; fingerlings roasted with herbs and lemon zest; and gravlax and egg salad with roe on toasts. Next time I make this salad I'll serve it on rye toast. Delicious!

Gravlax and Egg Salad with Roe
Serves 12

For the gravlax:
12 ounces salmon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
fresh dill
lemon zest
Dill or citron aquavit or vodka

Combine sugar, salt, dill, and zest and cover the salmon with the mixture on all sides. Spritz with aquavit. Pack in plastic and weigh down with heavy dish or pan. Refrigerate 48 hours, turning every 12.

Rinse or wipe cure from salmon and slice into cubes. (Retain skin to fry later.)

For the salad:
6 large eggs, soft to hard boiled and diced
8 to 12 ounces gravlax, cubed (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 shallots, diced
1/3 cup capers, drained
1 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon horseradish
Several tablespoons each minced fresh dill and chived, plus additional sprigs for garnish
2 or more tablespoons roe

Combine eggs, gravlax, shallot, and caper in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl whisk together creme fraiche, horseradish, and herbs. Gently coat egg-gravlax mixture with creme fraiche. Garnish with roe and herbs.

Serve on crackers or toasts.

To make inexpensive homemade creme fraiche:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine ingredients in glass jar and cover with plastic wrap; set out at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours. Stir and chill.


Aaaand I'm officially salivating.

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