Jansson’s Temptation

While we were in the north I had high hopes of being snowed in and had made sure we had the makings of lots of delicious comfort food recipes  to see us through what could be a seige situation.

Of course, while there was snow we didn’t exactly get trapped by it. It showed no sign of melting, though, so I felt entitled to think about something warm and sustaining. Calorific, even. After all, if it did turn nasty, we wanted to be able to fend of hypothermia.

It really was cold, though. Colder than I have known in a long time. We went to the beach nearby and, even though it hadn’t snowed for three, maybe four days, there was still snow on the rocks that are piled up for the sea defences.

Now these rocks are lashed by the sea daily. The waves often crash onto the promenade and you can taste the salt in the air. You’d expect, then, that the snow would have either been washed away or to have melted.

There was even snow on the beach.  Nothing was melting.

Faced with all that, I knew I had to make something to cheer us up, warm us through and fill us with each decadent mouthful.

It had to be Jansson’s Temptation.  I was always told that it was called that because it is so delicious it caused a Swedish clergyman to break his vow not to indulge in earthly pleasures. If you haven’t made it, try it. It will be something you dream about.

It is an oven baked dish of potatoes, onion, cream and Swedish sprats, anchovy style.

Now before you start scuttling backwards, shrieking that you don’t like anchovies, bear with me. They are actually sprats, cured in the Swedish fashion, which means they are a beguiling mix of sweetness and saltiness. The best place to get them? That famous Swedish home furnishings superstore – Ikea.  And the tin to look out for?

Right. First things first. Peel some potatoes and slice them, first one way and then the other until you have matchstick sized pieces of potatoes. I used two potatoes per person because, somehow, this just slides down.

That’s probably a bad thing in terms of diets but a good thing in terms of sheer, unadulterated pleasure.

Parboil them for 3 or 4 minutes, then rinse them in cold water

While that is going on,  peel and slice thinly, a large onion

Butter an oven proof dish

And then put a layer of potatoes

Followed by a layer of onions

Then scatter your sweet and salty sprats

They are so pretty – pink and silver…. quite unlike Mediterranean anchovies.

I pour some of the liquid sweet brine over the potatoes as well

Then cover the lot with some single cream. A large pot should do it.

And then… well, what the heck… just put a few dots of butter on top of it….and then into an oven  at 170 degrees

……….until you have a golden brown,  delicious dish. It takes about 40 minutes or so.

 A bit longer, if you have other things to do. Just cover the top with tinfoil to stop it burning .

Then… heap your plate with what is probably the most delicious potato dish in the world. The sprats have dissolved completely into the cream and give a beautiful sweetly, savoury flavour. Unless you’d been told there were sprats or anchovies in there, you’d never know. This has everything you could wish for – the softness and comfort of potatoes, a creamy, mouth filling texture and that umami type of taste – all sweet, salty and deep.

You would just swoon with the first mouthful.

I serve it with plain roast meat – lamb is good… but the star of the meal really is the potato.

No wonder poor old Jannson succumbed.


This section is for Laura and this is what she says about her cooking journey..

“right,  my blog thing.

where to start???? aged 19 I flew the coop and moved in with my husband to be (he was a wanker). Anyway, I had to cook, and loved feeding him. I learned largely from my grandmother and always had something up my sleeve.

And then I woke up and got rid of him (yay).

I don’t really remember what I used to cook for Jonathan because in the end it all became about Isobel. When she started solids I would cook all sorts for her. She had to take her own lunch to nursery and I was always making freezable home cooked meals for her, Annabel Karmel I love you!!!!!

As time wore on I worked more and more, and Jonathan worked more than that and we were all of a sudden having Chinese or frozen stuff. Then Wendy put a picture on Facebook of bread she’d made!! Well I had to have a go, or two…………

and the rest is history!”

Laura was  the first T.O.B Cook. She made bread……the No Knead Bread

Laura G Breadbmp

And it turned out brilliantly

Laura G bread2bmp

She has encouraged the others to try it… so well done Laura!

Then she made the butter to go with it..

Laura G butterbmp

And followed that with chillies… those delicious bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed chillies…

Laura G chillies

Brilliant, Laura…

Laura G slow roast pork

Slow roast pork and orange glazed carrots with roast potatoes! Mmmmmmm……

January 2010

I made Jansson’s Temptation and Laura wanted to do it too… the problem was she lived too far from Ikea to get the sprats, anchovy style. Which are an absolute essential…

I couldn’t let that hold her back so I posted her a tin ( the lady in the Post Office did look at me oddly when I said I was posting a friend some sprats…. Swedish sprats, anchovy style… 🙂  )

See how technical we are? She prepares food, takes a picture with her BlackBerry and sends it to mine….

We discuss how it is going and she sends a picture of the finished dish!

(She liked it… as did her in-laws!)