One morning, we left for Byske as soon as K. got home; with, for only reason, the two horses that he’d seen and wanted to show me.
In the distance, a farm broke through the wall of björkar [birches] that lines the road. As we approached, it became clear that the horses had been moved.
Instead, we stopped a few hundreds of meters later, way past the runestone that I’m still very curious about (note-to-self: go there again, please). We sat on the car and ate the two apples I had brought along. K. cut some birch branches for the påskris [Easter tree] that was to happen.
Another day, we sat in the setting sun; to the sound of a crackling fire, and geese heading north above our heads, not unlike a compass of some sort. There might have been korv and baguette, chocolate and kokkaffe. And before dusk settled behind the trees, Kalle threw his first cast into a river that had lost its winter ice.
Tonight, we heard raindrops against the glass rooftop of our veranda. And really, I had forgotten how wonderful rain can be after months made of silent snowflakes.
Yes, just like that, spring happened.
Adapted from Suss’ recipe in Megafonen n°3 2016.
From what I’ve gathered, romtårta [litterally, roe cake; a savoury roe cheesecake] is a summer classic.
It does, however, get made as soon as the sun makes its return in the north; perhaps, not unlike a rain dance.
This recipe comes from my friend Suss, and I fell in love with it when she made in at the café for an Easter du jour special.
The earthiness of the bread, which I highly recommend to be a sunflower seed-heavy rågbröd, meddles beautifully with the lemon and the sea-saltiness of the roe.
Make sure to top your tårta with plenty of vegetables to add texture and freshness. I went for thinly shaved radishes and cucumber, sliced sugar snap peas, and bits of lemon segments.
You can make it either as a large tart, which I think would look stunning on a dinner table, or like I did, smaller individual tarts.
In any case, I truly think it will become an Easter tradition in our house. And perhaps in yours too.
A note on the gelatin
As you may know, I’ve been trying to write an article about gelatine for – literally – years. And every now and then, I become obsessed with it again.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as it’s an ingredient that is so tremendously different from one country to another that it makes my job as a chef and a food writer quite difficult.
I won’t get into details about it now, but let me just tell you that in between France, the UK, and Sweden, I’ve had to adjust my recipes a lot to fit the gelatin available in each place.
When I first made this recipe, it called for 4 gelatin leaves. The gelatin we get from the supermarkets here is extra guld [extra gold], so I’m assuming its on the higher end of the bloom spectrum for gold gelatin, perhaps 220-230 bloom.
However, I have found that 4 leaves was slightly too much in this case, so I’ve reduced the gelatin in the recipe below to 3 leaves, bringing it to 5.1g of 220-230 bloom gelatin.
Please, note that the gelatin here in Sweden is much stronger than the gelatin found in French or English supermarkets, so you might need more. In fact, one leaf here seems to be almost the equivalent of a professional gelatin leaf, both in strength and weight.
If in doubt, go by weight: 5 grams; and add a couple of grams if your gelatin has a strength comprised between 160-190 bloom.
However, remember to start with less, as a cheesecake with a creamier texture – although it might look a bit messy – will always be better than an over-set one.
Makes 8 individual tarts or one 24cm.
For the base
200 g rye bread, pumpernickel, or even crackers
75 g butter, melted
a fat pinch of salt
For the “cheesecake”
3 gelatin leaves (around 5g, see note above)
300 g cream cheese
200 g crème fraiche
1/2 red onion, finely minced
juice and zest from a lemon
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
80 g fish roe
300 g cocktail prawns, shelled
radishes, sugar snap peas, cucumber, dill, chives
Make the base
Prepare eight 8cm-wide rings or a large 24cm ring on a tray that fits in your fridge, and is lined with baking paper.
Blitz the bread into crumbs, and add the melted butter and salt. Divide the mixture in between the prepared rings, and press to form a base.
Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Make the filling
Soak the gelatin leaves in ice-cold water.
In a large bowl, mix half the cream cheese with the crème fraiche, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining cream cheese – either in the microwave or over a bain-marie – until around 60°C.
Dissolve the gelatin in the warm cream cheese, and incorporate it into the crème fraiche mixture using a whisk.
Gently fold in the roe, and divide this cream into the prepared ring.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Unmould by running a small knife around the rim of your rings and top with prawns and sliced vegetables of your choice.