Jo's Icelandic Recipes

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Beverages

The last time I added a recipe to this page was August 12th, 2001.

 
There is no universally accepted Icelandic "National Drink". Cynics will tell you that it's Coca Cola, and it is true that the per capita consumption of Coke in Iceland is among the highest in the world. But Coke isn't Icelandic - therefore it can't be the National Drink.

When it comes to liquor, "Brennivín"is a national drink, a nasty schnapps made from potatoes and flavoured with caraway. It is also called "Black Death", which explains a lot. Many Icelanders never touch it, and a majority of the ones who drink it only do so when feeling patriotic, such as when attending Ţorrablót or when trying to impress foreign visitors.
There is a recipe for simulation Brennivín out there on the Web - I haven't tested it, so don't blame me if you try it and hate it. Click here to see the recipe. (By the way, "powder sugar" refers either to brown sugar - according to the Icelandic instructions - or to icing sugar - according to the German instructions. I'm inclined to think it should be brown sugar).

Another possible national drink is whey - a liquid that is formed when making skyr. In past centuries, whey mixed with water was an everyday drink. These days not many people drink it and it's mostly used for pickling food. It's also a good substitute for white wine in cooking.

I got an e-mail some time ago that reminded me that I had forgotten about mead and ale. Basic mead is honey that has been mixed with water and allowed to ferment. Sometimes it was spiced with herbs, sometimes not. Import of mead had all but disappeared by the mid-19th century. 
Ale was brewed in Iceland using malt and hops, at least up to the 17th century, and ale and beer were also imported.

Other than these (very patriotic) beverages, we mostly drink what any other nation does: water, milk, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, beer, wine and liquor.

Jólabland - Christmas cocktail (non-alcoholic) Kúmenkaffi - Caraway coffee 
Engifermjólk - Ginger milk Heitt súkkulađi - Hot chocolate 

 

Súkkulađi - Hot chocolate

Deliciously warming on a cold winter's day, this is my favourite hot drink! Preferably made with Síríus Konsum chocolate, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate available.
250 g   250 ml water
1 ltr milk 1 tsp. butter
sugar and vanilla essence to taste
*I use semi-sweet chocolate, but bitter chocolate will do - just use more sugar.
Break the chocolate and put in a cooking pot with the water. Heat gently, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add the milk in smallish portions, allowing it to boil before adding more. Add sugar and vanilla essence to taste, and melt in the butter just before serving.
-Serve in mugs with whipped cream ( and your favourite cake or cookies on the side).
-Alternatively, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream floating on top.

 

Jólabland - Christmas cocktail

This mix is, as far as I know, purely an Icelandic invention. In the first half of this century not many people could afford to buy ale and fizzy drinks, and they were therefore something to be enjoyed at festive occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays. Mixing the drinks together was probably believed to make it even  more enjoyable to drink. The taste is sweet, malty and mellow.  A comforting drink that always makes me think of Christmas.

Take equal measures of an orange flavoured fizzy drink (Fanta will do) and brown ale (Guinness is supposed to be good) and mix together. Be careful to pour the orange drink first, and pour the ale carefully to avoid it getting too frothy. Drink with the Christmas meal. To get an authentic flavour, the orange drink should be the Icelandic "Egils Appelsín", and the brown ale "Egils Malt". Some people (like my family) like to add some cola, usually Coke. 

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Kúmenkaffi - Caraway coffee

Brew some good, strong coffee. If you use ready-ground, add some caraway seeds  before brewing. If you grind your own, throw some caraway seeds in the grinder along with the coffee beans. I'm not going to offer any measurements, as people's tastes vary widely where coffee in concerned, and the amount of caraway should be adjusted to taste.  
-For a truly adult version of caraway coffee, make a "Black Russian" with fresh, hot coffee and use brennivín instead of vodka. To add a bit of brennivín ("ađ gefa út í") is a tradition still honoured by some Icelanders, and there are stories of caraway coffee sometimes arousing the (happy) suspicion that the hostess has put "a little something extra" in the coffee.

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Engifermjólk - Ginger milk
Serves 2.

My own invention. This sweet ginger-milk drink is wonderfully calming if you have an upset stomach. Ginger-root is a well-known nature medicine, and is especially recommended for stomach ailments and motion sickness.
250 ml milk to taste sugar
1,5 cm fresh ginger root  OR 1/2 tsp. dried, powdered ginger
Peel and grate the ginger root into a saucepan and add the milk, OR put the milk into a saucepan and add powdered ginger and stir to mix. Bring the milk to the boil. Just before the milk begins to boil, whip it with a egg-beater to make it frothy. Pour through a fine sieve or tea strainer into mugs, add sugar and enjoy.
-You can vary the amount of ginger according to taste. Just don't put too much or the milk will curdle!

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