Friday, April 24, 2009

Ingmar Bergman Swedish Meatballs

You might not think the 99 Cent Chef a fan of Swedish existentialist filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. After all, this Cinematic Chef's short food films are light, comedic fare; but don't be fooled, even comedian auteur Woody Allen ventures over to the bleak side.

While Ingmar Bergman is best known for brooding scenes of Stringbergian domestic angst, he would often include comedic elements and a touch of the frisky sex romp.

Igmar Bergman (dark beret) and Sven Nykvist (cinematographer)

This is what first attracted me, humor mixed with fatalism, when I haunted art house movie theaters upon my arrival here in the film capital just before I turned 21 years old (anyone remember The Fox Venice Theater on Lincoln Boulevard?)

Now on to a Swedish culinary classic, done in the 99 Cent Chef manner.

On my frequent trips to Swedish discount furniture store Ikea, when the window shopping and furniture gazing induces a Scandinavian-like snow blindness, this Cheap$kate Furniture-Assembling Chef always makes his way to their cafeteria to rejuvenate over a plate of Swedish Meatballs with lingonberries and boiled potatoes in a rich Cream Gravy.

To keep the price down I buy ground poultry or breakfast pork sausage, instead of more expensive ground beef.

This traditional Swedish dish appears bland but is quite flavorful with sauteed onion and nutmeg-spiced meatballs. To the poultry meatballs add some beef bouillon for extra flavor. And substitute a side of whole cranberry sauce for hard-to-find lingonberries.

In these final chilly nights of the season, this tasty fare will lift your spirits. There you have it, another cinema-inspired dish: Ingmar Bergman Swedish Meatballs.

Ingredients (serves about 4)
  • 5 slices of white bread or sourdough
  • 1/4 cup of milk or cream - added to bread.
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1lb. ground chicken or turkey - okay to use ground beef or pork.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Black Pepper to taste - no salt for me, as bouillon cubes contain plenty.
*Serve with boiled white or red potatoes, and whole cranberry sauce.

99 Cent Chef playing chess with Death

Cream Gravy Ingredients
  • 1 beef or chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of milk or half and half milk
  • Pepper to taste
Directions for Cream Gravy
Prepare Cream Gravy by heating flour for a couple of minutes, to take out raw flavor. Slowly whisk in water, milk. 

Finally, add a bouillon cube and mix well. Stir over medium heat about 5-10 minutes until gravy thickens.

Okay to make Cream Gravy as Swedish Meatballs bake.

Directions for Swedish Meatballs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Chop or tear white bread into small pieces, and soak with 1/4 cup of milk in a large bowl.

Saute chopped onion with one bouillon cube in a tbsp. of oil for 5 minutes until soft.

To a bowl of bread and milk, add ground pork and chicken (or turkey,) 2 eggs, sauteed onion, nutmeg, allspice and salt and pepper.

Mix well and form small one to two-inch meatballs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Ovenbake about 30 - 45 minutes, until done. Okay to check and slice into one of them at the 30-minute mark. Cooking time depends on the size of meatballs.

You can also saute in batches in an oiled frying pan until cooked through and brown.

When Swedish Meatballs are done, serve topped with Cream Gravy, with a side of boiled potatoes (red or white) and whole cranberry sauce.

Load your Netflix DVD of Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night" and enjoy the Chef's movie director themed dish.

Check out classic Ingmar Bergman in this trailer for "Smiles of a Summer Night."

And finally, this weekend is an annual Los Angeles literary highlight - The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA. Hopefully this year it will be cooler and cloudy, making hanging-out at the outdoor Culinary Stage bearable. 

This 4/20 Chef is looking forward to seeing a cooking (toking) demo by the "Two Dudes", owner/chefs of Animal and a just published cookbook, "Two Dudes, One Pan", this Sunday at 11am. Also, the Literary Chef's wife will be signing her book, "Sunset Boulevard, Cruising the Heart of Los Angels", at the Ange City Press booth from 2-4pm on Sunday. Best of all it is all free, just pay for parking. 

And here, for your entertainment, is a fun photo story of our book adventures.

See you at the book fest!

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