Bibliophile’s shrimp sandwich

I'm bringing this to the top because I wanted to add a note about the best mayonnaise to use in the recipe.

While this is hardly Icelandic, I will say that Icelanders have a fondness for sandwiches filled with mayonnaise-based salads. Shrimp salad is one of the most popular. This is a healthier option that uses less mayonnaise.

2 slices of sandwich bread (I prefer whole-wheat, but French is just as tasty). When I intend to eat a sandwich like this while reading, I use pita bread.
1 small handful frozen arctic shrimp, thawed and drained
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
1 slice sandwich ham (optional)
mayonnaise (see note)
pepper or fresh chives

Spread mayonnaise on each bread slice according to taste. Put ham slice (if using) on one bread slice and top with egg. Top egg slices with shrimp, grind some pepper over it or sprinkle it with finely chopped chives and close the sandwich.
Finely chop the ham and mash the egg with a fork. Put into a bowl with shrimp and 2 tbs mayonnaise. Give it a grind of pepper and mix everything together and fill the sandwich. This method requires more mayonnaise than the other.

2 slices of bread
1 handful of frozen arctic shrimp
2 slices of sandwich ham
1 pineapple ring, finely chopped or mashed, and drained
mayonnaise (see note)
garlic to taste

Same processing methods as above.

A note on mayonnaise:
The favourite brand of mayonnaise in Iceland is Gunnars Majónes, which is thick and creamy with a slightly sour flavour that reminds me of sour cream or yogurt. If the ingrdients in a salad or dip are well drained, it holds well together. I tried using Hellmann’s mayonnaise to make this shrimp salat and I do not recommend it. The mayonnaise becomes soupy and merely coats the ingredients rather than hold them together and the salad has an unpleasant, almost metallic, vinegary taste that does not go well with those ingredients. If you want to approximate the taste of Icelandic mayonnaise, try making it at home, make it thick, use oil with a mild flavour, use as little vinegar/lemon juice as possible, and add a bit of mustard.


Icelandic liver patties - Lifrarbuff

It's the season when fresh offal is to be had in every self-respecting supermarket, and liver is one of the things I enjoy at this time of year. My mother used to make Lifrarbuff fairly often when I was a kid.

500 g. lamb's liver 1/2 - 1 cup flour
1 egg 3 ea. potatoes, raw
1/2 - 1 cup milk 2 medium onions
1/2 tsp baking powder to taste salt, pepper and/or other favourite spice

Remove all membranes and blood vessels from the liver and peel the potatoes. Peel onions and chop coarsely. Mince together liver, potatoes and onions. Mix in flour, baking powder and spices. Add the egg. Thin the mixture with milk until it is the consistency of porridge.
Drop the mixture by the tablespoonful on a hot frying pan and fry on both sides until firm. Serve with butter-fried onion rings, mashed potatoes, green peas and rhubarb jam. Fried eggs are also good with this dish.


Fried sheep's hearts

Slaughter season is in full swing in Iceland. This means that besides lowered prices for fresh unfrozen lamb, mutton and horse meat, you can also get fresh offal, which is not only cheap, but also nutritious and often quite yummy. While it is generally possible to get these products fresh year round now, it is more usual to find them frozen and when fresh they tend to cost more off season because there is less supply. This is also the only time of the year when you can get fresh sheep's blood to make blood sausages.

In the next week or so I am going to revisit some offal recipes I have published here in the past, but I am going to start with a recipe I haven't published before: Fried sheep's hearts.

2-3 sheep's hearts, or 1-2 pig's hearts
1 bunch parsley
1 tbs butter or margarine
50 g margarine or butter
1 tsp salt
300 ml water or milk
2 tbs flour
100 ml cold water

Wash the hearts well under cold running water until there is no blood left in them. Soak in cold water for a while. Dry inside and out with a cloth. Chop the parsley and mix well with the 50 g of butter and stuff the hearts with this mixture. Melt the 1 tsp. of butter and brown the hearts in it. Put the hearts in a cooking pot, add milk or water and salt. Cook for 30 to 60 minutes. Small hearts need less cooking and if the hearts come from an old sheep they need longer cooking.

Remove the hearts. Make a paste out of flour and cold water and use it to make gravy from the cooking liquid.

To make gravy, strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. When it is boiling, you add the flour paste, stirring constantly. It takes a bit of experience to know when to stop adding the paste – just pour it in slowly and stir the gravy with a whisk and when you feel it getting thicker, you stop pouring the paste. Then cook it for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste, and adjust the flavour with salt and spices and if you think it looks too pale, add a couple of drops of gravy colouring.

Slice the hearts and arrange on a serving dish. Pour a little of the gravy over them. Serve with cooked or mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables with the sauce on the side.

The hearts can also be stuffed with prunes and dried apples or browned mushrooms, in which case they need to be sewn closed, OR they can be cut into 6-8 strips, in which case they only need 30 minutes of cooking.


Ale soup

This is a luxurious relative of rye bread soup.

300 g dark rye bread
1 litre water
700 ml dark malt ale, Guinness for example (Icelanders use Egils Malt)
Brown sugar
100-200 ml cream

Finely chop the bread and soak in the water overnight. Cook over low heat until completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. Press through a sieve, put back in the saucepan, thin with the ale and mix well. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Add brown sugar to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot with whipped cream as a dessert.