Ambassador Wilhelm Wachtmeister and his wife, Ulla, give beautiful parties at the Swedish Embassy, and they show no hesitation in giving credit to their 29 -year-old chef, Pierre Fahlman.
At a reception and buffet for 75 food editors recently, Chef Fahlman was brought out of the kitchen and proudly introduced to the guests, who immediately asked him questions about his cooking and about the handsome buffet of Swedish foods he had prepared.
The young chef, from a famous baking family in Sweden, received his training in Helsingborg and in Switzerland. Today, he likes to work alone. A few weeks ago he cooked for a party of 700 guests and enjoyed the advance preparations, he said, including baking 25 cakes. This fall he plans to be in Sweden doing special work in baking and pastries, while Chef Robert Ohlsson takes over the duties of chef at the embassy.
For the food editors he had prepared a magnificent smorgasbord with several kinds of herring, both pickled and smoked, and a delicate fish souffle made of pike, ground three times, Fahlman said, then combined with cream and egg whites, baked in a bainmarie, and served with a lobster sauce.
There was sliced reindeer meat, flown from Sweden; and from the garden on the 8-acre embassy estate there was bibb and Boston lettuce and fresh sugar-snap peas.
The herring, served in several ways, was an excellent example of the expertise a Swedish cook can bring to this fatty fish which makes it seem more versatile. It was filleted, sliced, cut into tidbits, pickled, jellied, and wound up in litle circles.
Mouth-watering sauces were combinations of red and white vinegars, salt and sugars, peppers, mustard, ginger, horseradish, mustard seed, and spices. It all looked beautiful with bracelets and chains of red and white sliced onions, sprinklings of parsley and chives, bay leaf, carrots, capers, dill, and hard-boiled eggs, along with sour cream, red beets, and thin, translucent slices of cucumbers.
Swedish cooks do something special to the herring, and probably the wonderful flavor comes not so much from the fish as from the kinds and proportions of the vinegar and the sugar. Swedish white distilled vinegar and the sugar. Swedish white distilled vinegar is more acid than American, and Swedish cooks do not stint on the sugar. This combination of opposites complements the salty flavor of the herring.
Swedish specialties on the beautiful table included gravlax, or marinated salmon, chicken liver pate, Beef Lindstrom, Stuffed Cabbage Leaves, and several imported Swedish breads and crisp breads, as well as one made by the chef.
A fascinating and delicious dish called oxEye was made of chopped onion, anchovies, capers, and raw egg yolks. The ingredients were finely chopped and arranged in concentric rings like a target, with the raw egg yolks nested in middle. As guests helped themselves, the ingredients were mixed together and eaten on crisp bread and crackers.
To finish, there was a beautiful table with an assortment of Swedish cookies including pancake cookies, rosettes, and many other traditional pastries.
The buffet was served in the traditional formal dining room. Guests carried their plates to the terrace, where tables had been set up under a yellow and white stripped awning. Other rooms in the house were decorates with the countess's own paintings, many in bright, modern florals.
Swedish foods, especially suited to preparation done ahead of serving time, are often the answer for busy people who liek to do their own cooking.
Here are some of the recipes that would be well suited to the season's entertaining: Ox Eye 53-ounce cans anchovy fillets, finely chopped 1/2 pound pickled beets, finely chopped 1/2 pound onion, finely chopped 3 egg yolks Capers Swedish rye crisp bread
Place chopped anchovies in a ring in the center of a round platter. Surround with a ring of chopped beets, then with an outside ring of chopped onion. Place egg yolks in the center of the anchovy ring. Garnish with a thin ring of capers.
The first person help himself stirs all the ingredients together with a serving spoon. Each person takes a small a spoonful on his buffet plate to eat on buttered crisp bread. Marinated Salmon 13-pound salmon, cut in half lengthwise while still frozen 1 cup coarse salt Fresh dill, chopped 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard 1 tablespoon sugar 1 egg yolk, beaten lightly 1/2 cup salad oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
Place salmon halves side by side on tray or baking sheet with skin side down. Coat each half with layer of salt like fine snow. Leave in fairly cold place 12 hours. Remove any salt that has not been absorbed into fish and lift out bones. Do not remove skin.
Put halves together and place in refrigerator in sealed plastic bag another 12 hours or longer. It will keep in refrigerator up to a week.
To serve, pat dry with paper towels if necessary, slice thin, and arrange on platter. Garnish with fresh chopped dill. Serve with mustard sauce.
To make sauce, mix together mustard, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl or blender. Gradually beat in salad oil and continue beating until sauce is thick and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and fresh dill. Makes about 3/4 cup.