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Put a new plate on the table

Year to be dedicated to cuisines of the world

SUBMITTED PHOTOS  - The Randall family enjoyed eating Broder Swedish Meatballs during the holiday season.

Last year, Lifting the Fork was all about food finds. I enjoyed sampling the wide variety of foods and discovered some truly delicious products.

This year, the focus will be on discovering what people in different parts of the globe put on their dinner plates. I hope that by sharing recipes from other countries and the stories behind why they eat what they do, we will gain a better understanding of others. It’s my attempt to make the world a little smaller, and quite a bit more delicious.

And I am hoping that you will share the recipes and stories of your heritage, so that I can pass those treasures along to our readers.

We start with what I know best — the foods of Norway.

Geography isn’t a strong suit for Americans, so let me help you place Norway on the globe. It is located in Northern Europe on the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The coastline, broken by huge fjords and thousands of islands, stretches 16,000 miles. It shares a 1,006-mile border with Sweden to the east, 421 miles with Finland and 122 miles with Russia to the northeast. To the north, west and south Norway is bordered by the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, the North Sea and the Skagerrak. Norway also includes the islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, located in the Arctic Ocean.

Much of the country is dominated by mountains and high terrain. The southern and western parts of Norway get more precipitation and have milder winters than the eastern and far northern parts. Norway is the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” Because it is so far north, from late May to late July, the sun never completely sets in areas north of the Arctic Circle. Likewise in late November to late January the sun never rises above the horizon in the north and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country.

As you might expect the basic cuisine includes lots of fish — salmon, herring, trout and cod — balanced with cheeses, dairy products and breads. And I can attest that Norwegians love their fika (a coffee break that usually involves pastries) any time of day and a dram of aquavit at night.

My grandfather, Clarence “Iver” Iverson immigrated to the United States from Norway as a young man. He settled with relatives in South Dakota, but eventually, he and my grandmother (who was German and English) settled in Oregon.

Grandpa Iver was a great fisherman and gardener. He was a good dancer and would sing as he reeled us grandchildren around and around. We didn’t eat much Scandinavian food growing up — sometimes my mother would make lefse (Norwegian flatbread), which we all enjoyed, and lutefisk (made from dried fish), which we didn’t. My younger brother spent his junior year in high school as an exchange student in Norway, and my older brother and I toured the country for about six weeks while he was there. I remember the country was beautiful; the sheer cliffs of granite tumbled right down into the deep blue water and there was an ancient feel to the whole country.

Lured in by the Cook and Eat series of cooking classes offered by the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, I have enjoyed learning more about my heritage in the past few years. I am a proud member of the SHF and serve on the planning committee for the Cook and Eat series. My husband and siblings have been good sports and accompany me to many of the events hosted by SHF, including ScanFair, the winter festival of all things Scandinavian. Actually, I believe they’ve enjoyed exploring the culture as much as I have. And I am enjoying meeting new friends.

This fall, SHF opened the new Nordia House, a striking example of Scandinavian architecture, where films, cooking classes, presentations and more will be held. Housed in the building is Broder Söder (south), the popular Scandinavian restaurant owned by Peter Bro. Stop in and enjoy delicious Scandinavian smorbrod (open faced sandwiches) or the delicious tradition of fika. Broder Söder is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Nordia House is located at 8800 S.W. Oleson Road in Portland. Learn more at scanheritage.org or by calling Nordia House at 503-977-0275 or Broder Söder at 971-373-8762.

My family enjoyed Broder Swedish Meatballs for dinner during the holiday season. You might too. Peter Bro generously shares his recipe with us.

Smorbords (open faced sandwiches) are another Scandinavian culinary treat.

What country will we explore next week? Don’t be shy! Call or email me to share your culinary heritage.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

God appetitt! Gjøre å spise et eventyr!

Broder Swedish Meatballs

Serves 6

1 medium shallot

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons tarragon, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon salt plus another tablespoon for the sherry cream

2 tablespoons ground black pepper, plus another 2 teaspoons for the sherry cream

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

2 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons dry sherry wine

Combine all ingredients except beef, pork, cream and sherry in a large bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from the fridge, add beef and pork to the mixture and work with your hands until fully incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using cold water to keep your hands moist, form golf ball-sized meatballs and place them on a baking sheet. Cook the meatballs for 12 minutes, or until their internal temperature reaches 155 F.

Pour heavy cream into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Add sherry, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce sauce for about 7 minutes, or until large, thick, bubbles form and cream coats the back of a spoon. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes longer before serving. Broder’s Peter Bro recommends serving with lingonberry jam.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.com.