Beatrice Ojakangas

Recipes from the Scandinavian Chef

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Location: Duluth, Minnesota, United States


Holiday Favorites

Holidays, for many people are laced with a web of memories, and these memories center on “together” times, be they a cookie making session, a coffee party, a family gathering, or just a get-together of friends.
Here, four special friends share their own favorite holiday recipes, each one is connected to family or friends in a special way. I offer, also, my family’s favorite memory.
Kathryn Martin, UMD Chancellor, shares the recipe from her Dutch grandmother. Kathryn writes: “My grandparents, Katrina and John VanZutphen moved to the United States shortly after the First World War, settling first in Kimberly then Little Chute, Wisconsin which was home to a significant number of immigrants from the Netherlands. My grandfather worked in a tannery and my grandmother ran a rooming house, both in an effort to save money to buy their dairy farm in Stanley, Wisconsin. Every Friday my grandmother baked fresh cookies, fresh bread and a variety of kinds of cakes and pies. But only at Christmas time did we have “Grandma Van’s Refrigerator Cookies”. Christmas for me is not complete without my Grandma VanZutphen’s Refrigerator Cookies, both as a recollection of wonderful family events, but also for my memories of helping her and my mother stir the dough and make the cookies.”

Grandma Van’s Refrigerator Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup lard (can substitute Crisco, but do not substitute butter for this)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
5 cups all-purpose flour

Melt the butter and lard together. Add soda to the melted mixture and add the remaining ingredients in the order given. Form dough into sticks, either round or rectangular. (I usually make rectangular blocks about 2 inches high by 2 ½ inches wide). Wrap and chill overnight. Slice 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and bake at 375 degrees F. until light brown. Time depends on how thick the cookies are.

Arlene Coco, restaurant owner, writer, and fellow “foodie” is of Southern heritage She says her mother would always make Jambalaya on Christmas Eve because it fed a crowd and she could keep it warm in the oven to serve when the family came home after Midnight mass.

Louisiana Jambalaya
Serves 12
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups onions, diced (1 large)
2 cups celery, chopped (2-3 stalks)
1 ½ cups green pepper, chopped (1 large)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced (3 large cloves)
2 pounds of Boneless Chicken Breast, diced
1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes in juice
1 Tablespoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced thin
3 cups parboiled rice (Uncle Ben’s)
5 cups Chicken stock
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Tabasco to taste

In a large Dutch oven or straight edge saucepan with a lid, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery, green peppers and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add chicken and cook slightly. Add diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce , Cajun seasoning and salt. Simmer 10 minutes more and add sausage and rice.
Stir until well mixed and add 5 cups of chicken stock. Stir again and heat to a boil. When boiling, turn heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste with Tabasco.

Lise Lunge Larson, was born and raised in southern Norway, and brings her tradition of food and story telling to Duluth. For many Norwegians, Ribbe, Pork Rib Roast with red sweet cabbage (surkal), mashed potatoes, gravy and green peas is the traditional Christmas meal. Its status is a little like that of the Thanksgiving turkey for Americans. In other words, it’s just not Christmas without it. The fact that the roast should be seasoned and refrigerated for 1 to 3 days makes it very handy for the cook to get a large part of the meal preparation done ahead. And, the cabbage is best made a day ahead of time, too.

Norwegian Pork Rib Roast, “Ribbe”
Serves 6

One 4 pound pork rib roast with the rind and fat. The bones need to be cut every 2-3 inches by the butcher.
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
½ -1 cup water

If you managed to get the pork rib with the rind, place it fat side up and with a very sharp knife, cut through the rind and fat in a crosshatch pattern with 1 inch diamond shaped squares. Rub the meat all over with salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 or 3 days.
Preheat oven to 400degrees F. Place the meat fat side up in a roasting pan. Bring the water to boil and pour over the meat. Cover with aluminum foil and place the roasting pan in the middle of the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the roast from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and place the roast on a wire rack inside the roasting pan. Return to oven, this time in the lower third.
Roast for about 1 hour, basting if needed to keep it moist. It’s a little difficult to say exactly when the ribbe is done as it will depend on how thick the piece is. Use a thermometer to check for internal temperatures.
If you managed to get the ribbe with the fat and rind, move it to the middle of the oven when it is done and turn up the heat to 400-425 and roast for about 20 more minutes, checking it frequently. You want to turn the crackling crisp without burning the roast. When the rind is brown and the squares have started to separate, it’s ready.
Cut the meat into 2-rib sections and serve with mashed potatoes, gravy made from the drippings, green peas and a sweet and sour red cabbage (surkal) dish for a colorful and festive meal.


1 head of red cabbage
2 apples
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or more to taste
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 tablespoons maple syrup or more to taste.

Finely slice cabbage into thin, long strips. Slice apples into sections and layer the cabbage and the apples in a heavy bottomed pot with the caraway, salt, and maple syrup. Pour the water and the vinegar over and bring to a boil. Stir to mix and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for at least one hour, till cabbage is completely tender. Add currant jelly and adjust the sweet and sour ratio to taste.
This dish is actually best when made one day ahead of time and is the perfect accompaniment to ribbe.

The talk at the Continental hair solon often centers on food, and when I mentioned this gathering of recipes for this story, Chuck immediately offered Bill’s recipe for Cranberry Pudding. This favorite of theirs was first served to them at a friend’s home, who shared it with Bill who makes it every holiday season without fail. The recipe, he thought came from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. Bill, however, always makes this steamed pudding in a metal loaf pan rather than a tube-type pan that is commonly used.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Serves 10 to 12
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup boiling water
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Lightly grease a 2-quart metal pan. Pick over the cranberries, wash and drain.
Sift together the flour and salt; dredge cranberries in the flour mixture. Dissolve soda in the boiling water and add the molasses. Stir and allow to foam up.
Add molasses mixture to the flour and cranberry mixture. Mix until well blended. Spoon into the prepared pan and cover with a double layer of foil. Fasten with a heavy elastic band or string.
Place into a deep saucepan and fill with water up to about half the way up the side of the pudding pan. Cover and place over high heat. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Remove from water and allow to cool. When ready to serve, invert onto a serving plate. Cut into 1/2 inch slices.
To make the sauce, mix together the sugar, butter and cream. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and pour over individual slices of the pudding.

I think my brothers and sisters would agree that Mom’s Raspberry Sauce is our number one Christmas food memory.
Back when our parents lived on Rose road, they had a huge raspberry patch. Every summer they froze ice cream buckets full of these beautiful, juicy, berries. Mom would use them to make Raspberry Sauce for Christmas Eve dessert.
On Christmas Eve we packed into their little house – there must have been a hundred of us, or so it seemed. The buffet was potluck and varied in offerings from hamburger casseroles to wild rice salads, fruit salads, a variety of Christmas breads and cookies.
What we all looked forward to, though, was the Raspberry Sauce Mom made from her frozen berries, and served out of a huge punch bowl. The sauce was a clear red pudding, which she usually thickened with tapioca. Cornstarch would have made it cloudy. We spooned the sauce into clear glass cups or clear plastic glasses and plopped a dollop of whipped cream on top. Even the babies loved this dessert!
Today, without the advantage of having buckets of home-grown raspberries, I make the sauce using raspberries from the supermarket and cranberry raspberry juice.

Mom’s Raspberry Sauce
Makes about 16 servings
2 quarts frozen unsweetened raspberries
2 quarts raspberry cranberry juice
1 cup minute tapiocas
Sugar to taste
Sweetened whipped cream for serving
In a large 6 to 8 quart pot, combine the berries, juice and tapioca. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Then, place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring at first occasionally, but when the sauce comes to a boil, stir vigorously until it is smooth and thickened. Taste and add sugar.
Cover and set aside to cool. The sauce will thicken even more when it is cold.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream for dessert.


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