Food writer Gunilla Blixt whips up some great snack ideas for a modern Midsommar picnic.

The most popular food for a Swedish midsummer lunch is still herring, preferably with beer and schnapps … and a beautiful, big serving plate with new potatoes, eggs and fresh green aromatic herbs with red onion.

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Few make their own herring at home nowadays. With tasty, prepared products available for purchase, why spend a lot of time in the kitchen? All self-respecting food companies produce their own offerings, some with special editions only for midsummer. I usually buy Abba herring in a jar and decorate it nicely.

When it's time to go to the meadow for the dancing of Små Grodorna around the maypole, the picnic basket is brought with us. We love to bake a Swiss roll filled with sweet strawberries, sliced up and ready to eat on the blanket. We add whipped cream from a can or a disposable piping bag … and sometimes with small Swedish flags.

In the evening we gather for a barbecue. Seafood is becoming increasingly popular to put on the grill. As a starter we can have smoked shrimp, bought from the fish shop. We just make a small bowl with aluminum foil, put the shrimp in it and heat them for a few minutes, to make a small appetizer.

And not so different from the tradition is a main course of roasted, quick-cured gravlax, served with roasted vegetables and a dill cream.

Potato Plate
8 servings

Prepare a nice serving of potatoes, eggs and aromatic herbs on a large plate while the potatoes are still hot. There's no dressing on this dish; the idea is that you serve it together with sour cream and various pickled herring.

2 pounds potatoes (1 kg)
1 onion
1 bunch chives (20 g)
1 bunch dill (20 g)
4 hard boiled eggs
salt and ground white pepper

Cut the potatoes to a smaller, uniform size so they have the same cooking time. Boil new potatoes soft in lightly salted water. Pour off the water and steam the potatoes.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Cut chives small. Coarsely chop the dill. Peel the eggs and cut them into quarters.

Add the potatoes and eggs on a large serving plate. Sprinkle with onions, chives and dill just before serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dressing up purchased herring
Horseradish Herring: Decorate pickled herring with horseradish, diced apple and finely chopped fresh tarragon.
Romsill: Add sour cream and caviar to herring. Garnish with dill rockers.
Tomato Herring: Decorate pickled matjes herring with chopped red onion, finely chopped tomato, coarsely ground black pepper and dill.

BBQ Quick-cured Salmon and dill cream
4 servings

This is not a curing in the proper sense, so the salmon should not be eaten without cooking it first. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to broil salmon in a pan on the stove. In Sweden we now can buy smetana, Russian sour cream, and it's delicious use for making dill cream.

1 1/3 pounds salmon fillet with skin (600 g)
1 bunch dill
1 lemon
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 pinches coarse crushed white pepper

Dill Cream:
1/2 cup crème fraiche (2 dl)
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped dill (1 dl)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper

You also need: a coffee filter

Begin by pouring the crème fraiche for the dill cream in the coffee filter and let it drain for 2 hours.
Coarsely chop the dill for the salmon, even the stems. Rub the salmon with salt, sugar and pepper. Sprinkle with dill. Place the salmon with its skin side up in a form with edges. Put in refrigerator for about 2 hours.
Add the crème fraîche in a bowl. Peel the garlic and grate it down. Stir in the dill and season with oil, salt and pepper. Set cool for serving.

Divide lemon and rub the grill rack with it. Cut the salmon into serving pieces and place it on the grill skin side down. Grill the fish until skin begins to loosen. Cook until ready on the other side.
Serve the salmon with vegetables and dill cream.

Tip: Another way is to cut the fish into cubes and roast them on skewers. Stick two skewers through each, so the fish won’t fall apart when you turn the skewers.

Take-away Pastry
10 servings

Pastry roll:
3 eggs
2/3 cup of sugar (1 1/2 dl)
2/3 cup of flour (1 1/2 dl)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water

Filling:
1/2 pound strawberries (250 g)
1 1/4 cups of whipping cream (3 dl)
1 teaspoon vanilla seeds

Garnish:
1/2 cup of whipping cream (2 dl)
2/3 pound strawberries (150 g)

You also need: Greaseproof paper, disposable piping bag, 10 small Swedish flags

Preheat oven to 475°F (250°C). Add parchment paper in a roasting pan. Add another baking paper on a baking tray and sprinkle with sugar.

Pastry roll: Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. Mix together the flour and baking powder and stir into the batter along with the water. Spread the batter onto the paper in the pan.
Bake in center of oven for about 5 minutes. Turn the cake on the sugared baking paper. Remove the paper the cake is baked on. It is easy if back of the paper is brushed with cold water. Allow the cake to cool in the roasting pan.

Filling: Clean and cut the strawberries into slices or chunks. Pour the cream into a bowl and add the vanilla seeds. Whip the cream until stiff and mix with strawberries.
Spread the mixture over the cake and roll up into a tight roll with the help of baking parchment. Cut the roll into 10 slices and pack them with greaseproof paper between each layer in container with a lid. Put in refrigerator until time for packing.

Garnish: Whip the cream and put it in a disposable piping bag. Rinse the strawberries and store them separately. Refrigerate until time for packing.

On site: Put pastry wedges on paper bowl or plates. Pipe the cream and decorate with strawberries and flags.