Food You Can Eat: David Niven’s “Jansson’s Temptation”

The stars: They're just like us!

Image and recipe via silverscreensuppers.com

This was copied verbatim from one of my favorite websites, Silver Screen Suppers (https://www.silverscreensuppers.com), and she (the author of the site) got it from somewhere. I CANNOT recommend this website highly enough.

Niven passed along his wife Hjördis’s recipe for this Swedish dish to a food writer in 1967. Hjördis was Niven’s second wife and they remained married for 35 years until Nevin’s death at the age of 73 in 1983. Hjördis was a Swedish supermodel, among the first according to infallible wikipedia, so well done Dave. I have made this and it is delicious, despite, or maybe because of, its simplicity. I suppose you need to enjoy a good anchovy or ten. 

6 large peeled potatoes

2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced

8 to 10 anchovy fillets

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 and half cups light cream (or milk)

Softened butter

Cut potatoes in thin slices. Place layer of potato slices in well greased, ovenproof baking dish 

[Author’s note: I used an 8 X 8]. 

Top with anchovies, sliced onion; end with layer of sliced potatoes. Season to taste but use salt sparingly as anchovies are quite salty. Pour cream, or milk, over all, mixing with a fork; dot with bits of softened butter. Put casserole in pre-heated 350 degrees F oven (175 degrees C, gas mark 4). Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes (or until potatoes are tender). Add more cream (or milk) if potatoes get dry. Serve as luncheon or midnight supper snack with Knackerbrod (Swedish rye crisp), sweet butter, hunks of dark rye bread, herring salad (available in Swedish delicatessens) 

[Author’s note: as if you can find these on any street corner but the writer of SSS lives in London and I think by this point Dave and Hjördis had high-tailed it off to Switzerland. Herring in cream sauce is really common here in New York but it is from the Jewish people and the Russians, many of whom are Jewish, that we have so much of it, not the Swedes] 

and Vasterbotten (pungent semi-hard cheese) with steaming goblets of Glögg or Julol (special Christmas beer).

[Final author’s note: I have made Glögg, it’s not difficult, it’s a mulled red wine with fruits, usually an orange, and spices thrown in. Never heard of Julol and don’t even want to imagine what one bottle would cost.]

So there we have it. It seems odd to just serve a potato casserole as a full meal but that’s what we did. I must have made a garden salad to go along with this but I can’t remember. I remember one section had a little more anchovy than the rest so I scooped a small clump of that out for The Ravenous Hound and he acted like he would give this recipe 5 stars, if that helps.

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6 Comments

  1. To atone for this anchovie/potato bake (which is really quite delicious) let me present what I made this morning: Claudia Schiffer’s Apple Pancake à la Claudia. 

    Peel and slice very thinly 4 apples. I used Honeycrisps, because that’s what we had. Put the slices in a shallow bowl and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration but also (Claudia doesn’t mention this) to impart a very slight but detectable zing.

    Beat 3 eggs with 2 tbsp. sugar until it’s foamy. I did this by hand, as I’m sure Claudia‘s ghostwriter did herself. Then, add 2 cups milk and 1 3/4 cups flour alternating, beating and beating so it all combines. Shake and stir a little salt into this.

    Heat up a large skillet with vegetable oil. I went with medium-high heat, Claudia does not concern herself with stovetop temps. That eggy thing is your batter. Ladle it in 1/4 at a time in different spots around the skillet to create four pancakes. “Immediately” add the apples slices in a circle on the batter puddles. “When pancake is firm” (Claudia has no time for cooking times, SHE IS A BUSY SUPERMODEL), flip, cook (I let mine go for about 2 minutes), and then turn again (for a minute–CM).

    Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, which I did, once they were removed to 2 plates. 

    These were actually very good but the thought that she let(s) something like this be in the same room with her, let alone create and eat this, beggars belief. 

    I wish I had a publicist.

    • If anyone here remembers the brief minute in the ’90s that The Fashion Café was a thing (think Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Café for fashionistas and helmed by Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Elle Macpherson), Claudia included her German apple pancakes on the menu. 
      Here’s a chippy recipe from Naomi: 

  2. I just pulled out a batch of crinkle cookies.

    Also, I am surprised that anchovies are not contentious. I only like them in a Caesar dressing. My father used to enjoy eating eating anchovies right out of the tin.

  3. It seems odd to just serve a potato casserole as a full meal…”

    Jesus fucking Christ, Cousin Matthew, it’s like you’re trying to stab me right in my midwestern heart. Potato casserole is totally a full meal. 

    Ope excuse me while I go figure out what to put ranch dressing seasoning on today. Yesterday it was the potatoes I baked and added butter and mashed up into basically a potato casserole that I ate for lunch. 

    • Oh believe me, I enjoy a good spud or 10. I used to use them a lot more, but not usually as a full meal. I have a Jacques Pépin recipe for potato pancakes coming up (they’re called “criques” in France) and you can easily make a meal out of those. Years ago when Better Half was globe-trotting I used to make a big batch of potato salad a dozen different ways (not all at once) in the morning and would sometimes just eat it for dinner. But it was just for me though. 

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