Gina is one of our chefs at the Midgard Restaurant. As most of our employees she started her Midgard career at the other end of the counter. She already lived in Hvolsvöllur for many, many years, was a rescue team member and a friend of many at Midgard long time before she started working here. On many occasions (mostly concert or party nights) she ordered her favourite cocktail (the Midgard Mule) and at the same time always threw in a “Can I work here please?”. For a long time we didn’t have an empty chef position, which was good and bad at the same time. Good as we loved our team, but bad as we already knew her amazing cooking skills and would have loved to have her amazing character with us 24/7.
One day in 2019 that spot finally opened up and she finally got to wear that Midgard chefs hat (she always expected some cool looking Midgard uniform… well she is still waiting for that one – but nevertheless she loves working for us and we love to have her in the team).
During this Covid crisis and as Midgard Base Camp remains closed, Gina, as all of us, had to find ways to keep herself busy. And here comes what she came up with, a little blog post/recipe written by our lovely Gina to bring a little piece of Iceland on your plate in your home:
I „fell“ into being a chef by accident….and now I can never imagine NOT being one! It is a glorious job to have…to be able to make people happy with a single morsel of food, a whiff from the kitchen and your mouth waters in anticipation. So, you can well imagine how desolate I feel at the moment that there are no guests at Basecamp to tempt with delicious food and melt in your mouth chocolate chip cookies (Stefan will happily devour those by the truckload so I´m good there..).
With no guests, I have had to turn to my children who have along with me gained some #coronakilos as I have baked loads of cinnamon buns dripping with glacé icing and crunchy with walnuts and sugar; warm bread rolls coated in a crisp crust of cheese and fresh herbs; homemade cream cheeses loaded with thyme and himalayan pink salt; chicken with feta and homemade pesto and a personal favourite – Hjónabandsæla – basically translated as „Happy Marriage Cake“. Icelanders love it and as a foreign import from Africa and now happily „married“ to Iceland, a favourite of mine too. So, whilst you cannot visit us at Basecamp and taste some of it, I thought to bring it to you all wherever you may be scattered around the world and share the recipe with you and so you can taste a little bit of Iceland during lockdown!
Traditionally it is made with rhubarb jam that Icelanders boil for what seems like 958359849 hours until it is almost black as the sugar caramelizes more and more. I personally love it with freshly made lightly boiled rhubarb jam that is still pink. However, I have made it with loads of different kinds of jams and it is always good. Just don´t put too much as firstly it is hot and can burn when you cannot resist that first bite as it comes out of the oven and secondly it can make the base too soggy.
So here it goes: please take note that I am not one to really use recipes as I tend to just be a „bit of this and a dash of that“ kind of chef but I have tried very hard to be as precise as I can!
Heat your oven to 175C and grease very well an oven proof dish that is not smaller than about 30cm x 25cm and about 5cm deep.
Into a bowl or a stand mixer put all of the ingredients except the jam.
370gr plain flour
300gr melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
Mix it all until it just comes together. Take about 2/3 of the dough and press it firmly into the bottom of the dish. Spread a layer of whatever jam takes your fancy onto the dough. Make sure to not get it onto the sides of the dish as it will burn when cooking and we don’t want to burn our Happy Marriage Cake! Take the rest of the dough and break it up into small chunks and scatter over the top of the dough and jam. Pop it into the oven and bake for about 25-30 mins until a light golden brown. Take out and let cool for a few minutes – then slice it into roughly 5cm squares. If you can resist it, let it cool a little longer to allow it to firm up.
Enjoy a little bit of Iceland on a plate!