I was delighted to be invited to a Swedish Cooking event featuring Vasterbottensost and demonstrated by Bronte Aurell from Scandi Kitchen Cafe, whose cook book The Scandi Kitchen is published in September. Scandi Kitchen has often been both a saviour for authentic ingredients and a home from home for me for traditional Swedish food in London. I don’t often flaunt my Scandi heritage but this reminded me that there is much to brag about.
Vasterbottensost is the typical wedge shaped hard cheese that I remember, as a child, being on the breakfast table and understatedly just called Fruckost ost (breakfast cheese). However it is far from a typical cheese, with tiny holes through it and a slightly grainy texture a little like parmesan, it packs a punch of aromatic flavour and tangy bite. Swedes eat a lot of cheese, thinly sliced on bread for breakfast, on open sandwiches, with potatoes, in a souffle, a fondue or a multitude of other recipes. One dish that makes it into just about every recipe book is Vasterbottensost pie.
Who would have thought that such a delicious cheese as Vasterbottensost could have been created by accident. It’s a versatile cheese that’s prefect for eating on it’s own, cooking with or as a garnish. Only made in Burträsk since 1872, it is known as the King of cheeses, it has a royal warrant from the Swedish Royal Family and is often given as a gift to visiting dignitaries.
Legend has it that it came about when a dairy maid was distracted by her lover whilst making cheese. The constant heat that is traditionally used for cheese was interrupted and the curds heated and cooled; making it necessary to reheat the curds and stir them again. The ‘mistake’ was placed on a shelf and not looked at for a year. When the cheese was tested the flavour and texture were so good that Vasterbottensost was born.
Vasterbottensost Pie is utterly delicious with the distinctive cheese flavour in the filling, I added asparagus to Bronte Aurell’s recipe but it is delicious without any additions. Vasterbottensost is available from Waitrose and Ocado.
- For The Pastry
- 125g Cold butter
- 200g Plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Large egg
- Water if needed - 1 tsp at a time
- For The Filling
- 3 Eggs
- 100ml Whole milk
- 250ml Double cream
- 250g Vasterbottensost
- ½tsp Paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 110g fine asparagus
- Loose base 22-23 cm tart tin
- Heat oven to 180c 160c fan, Gas mark 4, 350f, grease the flan tin
- Put all the pastry ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough and line the flan tin with the pastry. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork or cover directly with parchment paper and weigh down with baking beans.
- Bake blind for 10 - 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the filling excluding the asparagus and stir in the Vasterbottensost last.
- Remove the flan from the oven and remove the parchment paper and baking beans.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the pastry case. Arrange the asparagus on the mixture and pop it back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until done - It will puff up quite a bit towards the end.
- Leave to cool before slicing.
- Serve with Romsås - a caviar sauce -or if you can get real black roe, serve with a spoonful of this and some creme fraiche with chopped fresh red onion.