Today is fettisdagen, Shrove Tuesday. Time to boost your fat layer before lent. Easter is approaching! Old traditions here in Sweden (and Finland, apparently) call for eating a lot of unhealthy things to be able to endure the last batch of Winter days filled with cold and misery.
So let’s get to the point. Here is my top eight list of semlas and the first entry will start the story. You will find semlas for everyone’s taste – almost. In order to follow the recipes more easily, I have also added some illustrative pictures (sketches).
The original semla consists of whipped cream, almond paste, all stuffed in a piece of bread – sort of.
Let’s borrow a quote from Wikipedia (under Creative common’s license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
“Today, the Swedish-Finnish semla consists of a cardamom-spiced wheat bun which has its top cut off, and is then filled with a mix of milk and almond paste, topped with whipped cream. The cut-off top serves as a lid and is dusted with powdered sugar.”
So this forms the template for the rest of the semlas.
2) Sillsemla (herring semla)
Going back to the Swedish tradition: Midsummer. Dancing around poles, having one or two drinks and “enjoying” a large variety of herring and potatoes. Why not do a herring semla? (Well, honestly – why …)
Do a so called Gubbröra, chop your herring, mix with sour cream, onions, spices, and stuff your dough with it. For this, probably the sweet bread does not make sense. Pick a normal roll – don’t use a too heavy bread, but also not too light. It should be lagom, just about right. You could use some darker bread for the purpose. Rye, or so.
Spray with sour cream and top the semla with flaked salt.
Another upcomer in Swedish (?) cuisine is the Tex Mex, the tacos, etc. A Mexican or a Texan would probably laugh at our pity trials with minced beef and taco spices, and tortillas, but still – most Fridays, Swedes sit there and stuff them self full with “Mexican” food.
I definitely vote for the tacosemla – it could be an all-time favorite. Fry up some ground meat with Taco/TexMex/what-have-you spices. Don’t make it too soggy, but not too dry either. Then spray guacamole (the mashed avocados) on top and put the lid on. Top it all up with raw onion and/or all-spice. Why not take a bread baked with corn flour? A bit yellow-ish and more resilient.
In Sweden we have a tradition of celebrating Lucia, on December 13, i.e., Saint Lucy’s day. Think singing people, walking in procession, white robes, candles, etc. (No, not those guys!). Those days, lussebröd and mulled wine, etc., are also served. Think saffron, raisins, cardemom, exotic (for us) spices and more. A highlight in the beginning of Swedish Winter.
So, use saffron in the dough (will become yellow and smell nice). Then you could take raisins in mulled wine and mix them slightly. Preferably chop the raisins rather than mixing them. Stuff your semla with it. Then top with whipped cream before you put the lid on.
5) Semla Tartare
Ok, so this is for the freaks. Why not go wild and impress your partner with a semla tartare. Inspired by the Steak tartare. Take a slightly more robust bread, chop the lid of, and remove the center. Stuff it with raw, minced meat of nice cut. Let it be a bit bloody, such that the bread can soak it up a bit for those flavours to come out.
Take an egg, separate the yolk from white. Put the yolk on the raw meat and whip the egg white and put on top. Then add the lid with some sprinkled, chopped capers on top.
Don’t leave it out in room temperature for too long. It might crawl away after a while.
6) Curry semla
An homage to our Indian students and colleagues. Why not think semla – Indian style? Curry semla, anyone? Take a naan-type of bread and try to make some kind of bun out of it. (Good luck trying to get it to stick to the walls of that special clay oven they use). Don’t burn off all your hair on your arms… Get the bun out, open it, fill it with chicken vindaloo.
On top of that, take some Ghee and whip it up to get some air into it. Put it on top of the chicken mess and then close the lid by eventually powdering some Garam Masala on top.
7) Falu semla
We need to make the children happy too. The Falu semla would consist of the famous Falukorv. Chop it up and mix it with ketchup and possibly some mustard – not too much! Children normally shun mustard. Then think hamburger bread as a substitute for the sweat dough. I would suggest building a small “silo” with a couple of hamburger breads with holes cut out of them. Glue the layers with ketchup.
Stuff it with the Falu thingie. Put mashed potato on top and then the lid with the sesame seeds forming the top layer. I bet you that the children would love to do this.
8) Semla Surprise
Save the best for last, and possibly inspired by one of the others above. Here, in Sweden, people tend to – for some odd reason – eat fermented hering. I’m thinking of going all in with the Semla Surprise.
Take the bun, throw the stuff in the middle away, fill it with stinking, rotted, fermented hering. Top it up with sour cream, put the lid on –QUICKLY- and sprinkle chopped chives on the top.
Serve, as fast as possible and get the stuff out of the kitchen ASAP! Enjoy?
But seriously, what’s wrong with these guys (bar that they want to eat crisps with soured hering).