The very first banquet in 1901 had 150 invited guests. Dinner was enjoyed at the newly renovated Grand Hotel, and Crown Prince Gustav (the future King Gustav V) presented the prizes, as King Oscar II was occupied in Norway. With just 150 guests, there were not nearly enough people to fill the galleries of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, where the ceremony was to be held. But this problem was easily overcome: the gentlemen’s servants were simply invited along to boost the numbers. Today’s Nobel banquet at City Hall is an event many would give a fortune to attend. Only 1,300 are chosen.

First course:
Hors d’oeuvres

Today, the expression “hors d’oeuvres” refers to the cold or hot appetizers or snacks that precede a meal. One hundred years ago, however, hors d’oeuvres might be served at any time during the meal.
We present recipes here for six of the 1901 Nobel appetizers. Most can be prepared well in advance of the dinner itself. Two or three per person would make a reasonable first course. If you choose to prepare only one of them, the recipe should be doubled or tripled to serve six people.

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WILD MUSHROOM SALAD Slice 300 g (10 oz) small wild mushrooms (Boletus edulis or cep mushrooms were used here). Fry them in 2 tbs. olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Blend 50 ml (3 1/2 tbs.) olive oil, 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar and a crushed garlic clove to make the dressing. Halve, remove pulp and then chop 3 tomatoes. Finely chop one red onion. Mix the tomatoes and onions with the dressing. Place in a bowl and crown the salad with the mushrooms and some chopped parsley.

NIZZA BEANS Wash 250 g (1/2 lb.) fresh green beans. Boil for one minute in lightly salted water. Drain and cool immediately by pouring cold water over them. Allow 1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes to drain through a sieve. Fry one finely chopped onion and one finely chopped garlic clove in vegetable oil. Flavor with 1 tbs. tarragon and a pinch of black pepper. Add the tomatoes. Simmer for about five minutes. Add 2 tbs. capers. Arrange the beans in small bundles. Spoon over the tomato mixture, and garnish with olives, such as a black anchovy-stuffed variety.

SALMON SALAD Layer three sliced tomatoes with slices of three pre-cooked almond potatoes and 75 g (2 1/2 oz) thinly sliced smoked salmon. Whisk together 100 ml (7 tbs.) vegetable oil, 2 tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 tbs. mustard and 1 tbs. sugar to make the dressing. Pour it over the layers. Sprinkle 1 tbs. finely chopped chives and 1 tbs. finely chopped red onion over the top.

ÖREGRUND FISH APPETIZERS Cut the fins off six double fillets of Baltic herring (stuffed with dill or parsley). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay six thin slices of cold smoked salmon over the fillets. Fold the fillets in half like a wallet. Dip in breadcrumbs. Fry in butter until golden brown. Allow to cool. Serve with sour cream, a spoonful of whitefish roe and a sprig of dill.

MARINATED MUSSELS AND SHRIMP Mix 3 tbs. oil with 100 ml (7 tbs.) white vinegar. Whisk in 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, a pinch of black pepper and a crushed garlic clove. Add one finely chopped red onion and one chopped sweet or sour pickled gherkin (about 50 ml, or 3 1/2 tbs.). Add 80 g (3 oz) peeled cooked shrimp and around 80 g (3 oz) previously cooked and shelled mussels (you will need about 1 kg (2 1/2 lb.) of mussels cooked in their shells). Leave to marinate for half an hour. Add 2 tbs. chopped parsley and serve. This mixture can be spooned onto small slices of bread that have been fried in butter.

EGGS PROVENÇAL Hard boil three eggs. Shell and halve the eggs. Remove the yolks and mash with six anchovy fillets. Stir in 2 tbs. mayonnaise and 1 tsp. finely chopped dill. Pipe the mixture into the egg white halves. Garnish each egg half with a whole anchovy.

Main Course:
Filet de boeuf à l’Impériale

Filet de boeuf à l’Impériale (above) is a classic dish that has disappeared from most menus. According to cookbooks from the turn of the century, a whole fillet of beef is served with slices of paté de fois gras, whole mushrooms and veal quenelles. It is served with a velouté sauce, a light basic sauce made in this case from a delicate veal stock and a light butter-and-flour roux to bind it together. Veal quenelles take a bit of work if made at home, but they are definitely worth the trouble. Alternatively, increase the servings of paté.
To make veal quenelles: Mince 200 g (1/2 lb.) fillet of veal a few times through the meat grinder’s finest setting (or ask your butcher to do it for you). Make sure that the meat and all other ingredients are well chilled. Mix the minced veal with two egg yolks. Add 100 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream, a little at a time. Season with 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of white pepper. Form into a bobbin shape a tablespoonful at a time and simmer in veal stock for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, grease and fill small, round individual baking tins with the mixture. Tap the tins against the work surface to settle. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes in the center of the oven, at 120 C (250 F). Test with a skewer to ensure that the meat is cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow the quenelles to cool slightly before removing from baking tins.
Here is an updated version of Filet de boeuf à l’Impériale, substituting matchstick vegetables for the veal quenelles.


ROAST FILLET OF BEEF IMPERIAL
Serves 6

1 kg (2 1/4 lb.) lean fillet of beef, trimmed.
Salt and pepper.
Butter for frying.
6 slices of paté de foie gras, about 20 g (3/4 oz) each, or other good quality paté.
6 slices of black truffle.

MATCHSTICK VEGETABLES:
24 small green asparagus spears, or 12 large ones.
2 carrots, about 180 g (6 oz).
3 parsnips, about 150 g (5 oz).
1 tsp. sugar + 2 tsp. salt + 1-2 tbs. butter per liter of boiling water.

PORT AND CREAM SAUCE:
150 ml (2/3 cup) port wine.
50 ml (3 1/2 tbs.) veal stock (bottled).
1/2 tbs. balsamic vinegar.
A pinch of black pepper.
1 bay leaf.
1/2 tbs. cornstarch or other thickening agent (e.g., Maizena).
100 ml (1/2 cup) water.
150 ml (2/3 cup) crème fraîche

INSTRUCTIONS Begin with the sauce. Bring the port wine and veal stock to the boil, adding the vinegar, pepper and bay leaf. Remove from heat and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes to extract the flavor of the herb. Set the oven at 110 C (230 F).
Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the beef fillet in butter and then put it in the oven. Roast until the inner temperature is about 59 C (138 F) according to a meat thermometer. Wrap the roast in greaseproof paper and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Wash the asparagus and cut into 5 cm (2 inches) long pieces; larger asparagus should also be cut lengthwise. Peel and cut the carrots and parsnips into matchsticks. Briefly boil the root vegetables in water with sugar, salt and butter until they are just soft, but still al dente. Then boil the asparagus in the same water. Drain the vegetables and keep them warm.
Strain the sauce. Thicken with corn flour or equivalent thickening agent dissolved in water. Boil for five minutes. Put about 75 ml (5 tbs.) aside to serve. Whisk the crème fraîche into the remaining sauce so that it becomes light and airy. Taste and season if necessary. Cut the meat into six slices.
Pour a circle of the light sauce (that with crème fraîche) on each plate. Place the meat on top. Pour a circle of dark sauce around the light sauce. Lay the matchstick vegetables around the meat and crown the dish with paté de foie gras and a truffle slice.

Dessert:
Apricot Tartlet with Ice Cream

Serves 6

2 sheets puff pastry
6 fresh apricots or 12 preserved apricot halves
100 ml (1/2 cup) red currant or rowanberry jelly
600 ml (2 2/3 cups) vanilla ice cream

FILLING
150 g (5 oz) marzipan
75 g (2 1/2 oz) butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. plain flour
1 tsp. sugar
50 ml (3 1/2 tbs.) whipping cream

APRICOT SAUCE
5 fresh apricots or 10 preserved apricot halves
2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs. sugar

INSTRUCTIONS Defrost the sheets of puff pastry and roll them out to double their size. Set oven to 175 C (350 F). Prepare the filling by whisking the sugar and butter until pale and airy. Grate the marzipan. Add the egg, flour, marzipan and cream.
Divide the puff pastry into six pieces and use them to line six individual baking tins, cutting away excess pastry. Fill the tins until 3/4 full with the marzipan mixture. Bake the tartlets in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
For the sauce, process the pitted apricots with the lemon juice and sugar until they form a fine purée. Dilute with a little apricot juice if necessary.
Slice the remaining apricots. Warm the sauce. Arrange the apricot slices over the tartlets and pour over the sauce.
Serve the tartlets on a circle of sauce with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tip: An easier way to make the apricot sauce is to start with a jar of apricot purée baby food and add lemon juice and sugar to taste.
Originally published in Nordic Reach. Recipes and photography courtesy of Mixoft and its U.S. distributor.