For today’s recipes, we’re calling on Fredrik Berselius, chef and owner of restaurant Aska in Brooklyn, New York.
Recipes? From DWR? Yes, indeed! If you have a great table and chairs, you certainly should have good things to eat and drink when you sit down with guests.
We met Berselius (@fredrikberselius) for a feature in our September catalog, which has a theme of dining and entertaining. Berselius, we learned, is a passionate host.
“I take care of my guests like they’re in my home,” he says of customers in his restaurant, which has just 10 tables. “We cook and prepare each course in the dining room, so it’s like being in someone’s kitchen.”
His way of doing things, in style and ingredients, is rooted partly in his home country of Sweden and partly in the embrace of fresh and seasonal ingredients, whether foraged himself from a local farm or acquired from suppliers.
We asked Berselius to share a couple of recipes, and he gave us three, one for a high ball and two for savory appetizers.
The recipes called for ingredients that can be hard to come by for amateur cooks like me, so I took the liberty of sourcing ingredients from my own garden, much like Berselius might do in that situation. And I turned to the internet for one ingredient. My results were nowhere near the exquisite heights of Berselius’ preparations, but they were delicious (though a tad homely) and done in his spirit.
In the recipe details, I list the ingredient Berselius specified followed by my interpretation based on what was available to me in August in the New York area. I encourage you to do the same wherever you live and in whatever season, adding your own interpretations. Taken together, the recipes make a nice start to a cocktail party just about any time of year.
The recipe calls for something called a “shrub.” Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, go back to a time before refrigeration and were used as a way to preserve fruit. Shrubs can be made from almost any fruit or even edible flowers. Mixed with seltzer, they make a refreshing, sweet-sour drink, with or without alcohol. If you don’t have access to fresh elderflowers, order elderflower syrup online and use the shortcut recipe below.
1 ounce premium vodka or aquavit
1 ounce elderflower shrub
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add vodka or aquavit and elderflower shrub, then top with club soda. Garnish with a few fresh elderflowers, if available, or a sprig of mint.
15 large elderflower umbels, all leaves removed
3.5 cups water
1 lemon, sliced
1 whole star anise
5 cups sugar
White wine vinegar
Place elderflowers and lemon in a container suitable for hot liquids. Meanwhile, add water, star anise and sugar to a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Simmer for one minute stirring continuously. Carefully pour hot mixture over elderflowers. Let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and macerate for two days in the refrigerator. Strain syrup and season with vinegar to taste.
Elderflower Shrub Shortcut
5 ounces elderflower syrup
10 ounces apple cider vinegar, preferably Bragg
Mix ingredients together and refrigerate in a capped jar. Keeps for several weeks.
Potato Pancake with Fish Roe and Onion
For the fish roe emulsion
1 ounce smoked fish roe, such as flounder, or almost any jarred fish roe
1 teaspoon sour cream
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
For the potato pancake
2 large white potatoes
4 eggs, separated
28 grams (⅓ cup) all-purpose flour
1 gram (1 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
2-3 small white onions, raw or pickled
Pickled sorrel leaves or fresh dill
1. Combine sour cream and mayonnaise and then gently fold in the roe being careful not to break any of the roe. Chill until ready to use.
2. Wash and peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Place into a small pot and cover with cold water to which and a tablespoon of salt. Boil the potato until completely cooked, then strain and mash.
3. Measure 450 grams (2 cups) of mashed potato into a bowl, stir in egg yolks one at a time. Sift in flour and baking powder.
4. Whip egg whites to medium peaks and fold into potato mixture.
5. Heat a nonstick pan on high. Just coat the bottom of the pan with a film of oil. Drop one tablespoon of batter for each pancake, leaving a generous space between each to maintain pan temperature. Reduce heat to medium. Fry until crispy then flip and fry opposite side. Remove pancakes and cool slightly.
6. Place a small amount of roe emulsion on each pancake and a few slices of onion. Garnish with pickled sorrel or dill flower and serve immediately.
Yield: About 36 pancakes
Kohlrabi is almost always eaten raw and this preparation offers endless opportunity to innovate with whatever you have available in your garden or what you find at the farmers market. “The texture of this vegetable is incredible, and served cold it is a very refreshing snack,” Berselius says.
1 kohlrabi, about 3 inches in diameter
2 large egg yolks
15 grams (1 tablespoon) white balsamic apple or just plain white balsamic vinegar
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) vegetable oil
Pickled linden flower or pickled dill flowers or any small edible flower, such as tomato or nasturtium or sunflower petals or basil blossoms
Salad burnet leaves, or cilantro leaves
1. With a sharp knife, cut the kohlrabi down the center from top to bottom. Then cut each half in half and each quarter into four wedges. Trim off the skin from the bottom of each wedge and cut away kohlrabi flesh from the top to create a flat, crescent-moon wedge.
2. In a food processor, combine egg yolks and vinegar at low speed to make a base. Gradually stream in the oil to emulsify, then season with salt and transfer to a squeeze bottle. This is a basic mayonnaise. Keep cold until ready to use.
3. Pat the kohlrabi tops dry. Pipe a decent amount of the mayonnaise along the top of the wedge in a neat line. Add a few pickled linden flowers evenly spaced or dill flowers from a jar of pickles or whatever edible and interesting flower you have available. Garnish with inverted leaves of salad burnet or tiny herb leaves of your choosing. Serve chilled, preferably on ice.