Our favourite Swedish cheese, Västerbotten, is known as the King of Cheese – because it’s utterly delicious.
It was created in 1872 by mistake when dairymaid Ulrika Eleonora Lindström was wooed by the milkman and accidentally left the cheese at the Burträsk Dairy to spoil while she went out for, erm, cuddles. They shelved the spoiled cheese anyway and tasted it over a year later, realising the mistake had resulted in an amazing discovery. The dairy has tried to make Västerbotten in other locations, but no matter what they try to do, it never tastes the same as when it’s made in the town of Burträsk.
We’ve been stocking Västerbotten cheese at ScandiKitchen since the day we opened, so we like to think of ourselves as small time Västerbotten pioneers in the UK! Perhaps this is why the makers asked me to give some classes on how to use Västerbotten in everyday cooking.
Here are some of the recipes I created. I highly recommend you make Västerbotten crème – it may seem the most simple of the lot, but it’s worth it.
Västerbotten is on sale online, and also in smaller packs at Ocado and in selected Waitrose stores. And if you haven’t got time to make any of these recipes, then a bit of grated Västerbotten in some mash tastes amazing.
Paj (pronounced 'pie') is actually more like a quiche than a pie. This one is normally served at room temperature rather than hot, and is marvellous as part of a summer smörgåsbord or with a leafy salad. Västerbottenpaj is an essential part of an August crayfish party.
Västerbottenpaj goes well with romsås, a caviar sauce. Alternatively, if you can get real bleak roe, serve the paj with a spoonful and some crème fraîche and chopped red onion.
You'll need a tart tin (22-23cm diameter) with a loose base.
- For the pastry:
- 125g cold butter
- 200g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- (water, if needed – add few drops if dough not coming together)
- For the filling:
- 250g Västerbotten, grated
- 3 eggs
- 100ml whole milk
- 250ml double cream
- ½ tsp paprika
- salt and pepper
- Step 1 Heat the oven to 180°C.
- Step 2 In a food processor, blitz your pastry ingredients to form a dough, then leave to chill for about 30 minutes. If you don’t have a processor, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do this by hand.
- Step 3 Roll out the chilled dough and line the pastry tin. Prick the base with a fork and blind bake (with beans or whatever you normally use) for 12-13 minutes.
- Step 4 For the filling, mix everything except the Västerbotten. Stir that in last.
- Step 5 Carefully pour the mixture into the pastry case, then return it to the oven for about 15-20 minutes. It’ll puff up quite a bit towards the end, but will turn golden on top.Leave it to cool before slicing.
- Step 6 To make romsås, Mix together one jar of red lumpfish roe with 3 tbsp crème fraîche and leave to set. Just before you serve the paj, stir the romsås again.
They say the best things are the simplest things. This recipe isn't really a recipe, more a cream cheese with some extra flavour. I save all the crumbs of my Västerbotten to make this delicious spread, which works well on crispbread. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I end up grating fresh cheese because there’s never enough crumbs for my consumption levels of this spread. Västerbotten pairs really well with a tart jam such as cloudberry or lingonberry. The quantities below are just guidelines - for a spread at home, I prefer a strong, thicker mixture, but sometimes add more crème fraîche if I want to use it as a dip. If I want to pipe out the mixture to use on canapés, I add more of the cream cheese.
- 75g Västerbotten, grated
- 50g Philadelphia cheese
- 50g crème fraîche
- freshly ground pepper
- cloudberry / lingonberry or other tart berry jam
- Finncrisp or similar (dark rye bread, toasted, is also a wonderful match)
- Chopped chives (optional)
- Step 1 Mix the cheese, crème fraîche and Philadelphia together, then season with pepper to taste. You almost definitely won’t feel the need to add any salt. When the spread is smooth, try it on crispbread with jam and chives.
Raw courgette salad with Västerbotten
- For the salad:
- 50g Västerbotten, shaved
- 2 medium sized courgettes
- 1 small bunch of rocket (or whatever leaves you prefer - strong flavour works well though)
- 50g flaked almonds
- For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Step 1 Toast the almonds lightly and shave the courgettes into thin strips lengthways. You can use a mandolin for this, but a friend uses a flat metal cheese slicer, which also works well. You’re looking for thin strips.
- Step 2 Place the courgette strips in a big bowl, add the leaves and mix gently. Add the Västerbotten and fold it in.
- Step 3 Make the dressing by combining the vinegars and oil in a separate bowl, whisk well and season to taste. This salad doesn’t need much dressing, so don’t pour it all on at once – taste as you go.
- Step 4 Scatter the toasted almonds on top of the salad and serve immediately.