If like me, you have studied the behavior of Swedish people by reading all three of the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson, you can’t help but be struck with the outrageous amount of sandwich eating that seems to go on in that country. Lisbeth Salander (The girl with the dragon tattoo) is described as being incredibly skinny, yet here she is eating “three big open rye-bread sandwiches.” Everyone is always waking up in the middle of the night and making a couple of sandwiches and some coffee to think over a problem. This is unequivocal prooof that sandwiches are the bread and butter of Scandinavian cuisine. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist)
It is important to note that these are not gigantic Dagwood-type hoagies. A sandwich in Nordic culture is most often a small snack, usually one piece of bread with butter and another topping like pickled herring or cheese and cucumbers. We might call this a canapé if we were being fancy. A typical Swedish party would have a smörgåsbord consisting of many different types of open sandwiches.
For the purpose of a picnic, a bunch of open sandwiches would be difficult to manage and messy, so a fun alternative is the Striped Sandwich, which behaves like a closed sandwich with a top and bottom until it is sliced, then you have a beautiful, thin, open sandwich.
4 thin slices of white bread (cut the long way across the loaf)
3 thin slices whole wheat or whatever dark bread you prefer (cut the long way across the loaf)
It’s important to get really wonderful bread for this sandwich. See if there is a good Scandinavian Bakery in your area. It’s worth the special trip.
Parsley Butter (Persiljesmör)
4 oz butter
3-4 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix the butter with the parsley. Cream until smooth. Flavor with a little white pepper and lemon juice
Meat Butter (Köttsmör) How can you not love the term “meat butter”?
4 oz butter
3-4 oz salted or smoked meat (I used smoked ham) chopped finely
1-2 Tablespoons grated horse-radish
Mix the butter with the meat. Cream until smooth. Add horse-radish and cream if desired.
Cheese Cream (Ostkräm)
2 oz blue cheese (or grated cheese of your choice)
2 oz soft cream cheese
3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
10 radishes, finely chopped
Mash the blue cheese very thoroughly or sieve it with the cream cheese. Beat the mixture until smooth. Whip the cream and fold it into the cheese. Flavor with radishes and celery salt.
Alternate: Flavor with tomato purée, French mustard and a little lemon juice instead of radishes.
Spread the fillings evenly (and thickly) on the bread and pile the slices on top of each other, alternating the light and dark slices. Do not spread any filling on the outside of the top slices.
Press the sandwiches together and wrap in aluminum foil. Place the sandwich in a light press, such as between two cutting boards and set aside in a cold place, like the refrigerator, for at least two hours.
Trim the edges of the sandwiches and cut it into 20-25 thin slices. Each slice may be cut into two triangular shapes. I think it is best to bring a bread knife (packed safely) and slice your sandwiches on site.