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New Year, New Reading List: Scandinavian Cookery

January 16, 2012

After toying with Scandinavian food in the autumn, I have decided that there is so much to learn about the ingredients and flavours of these northern lands that I’m going to dedicate this year to Scandi-cooking. On hearing this (and with the memory of other ‘food research’ seared on their palates), my children immediately wailed in unison ‘do we have to?’

They, like many of us, think that Scandinavian cooking is all about meatballs (thanks largely to Ikea!) and pickled herring. Well, nice though they both are, there is a whole lot more to the food of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark than that.

Some of my authentic (spicy biscuits) and Scandinavian-inspired (seafood chowder) recipes are available over on the BBC Food blog and I’ll be posting my experiments here over the next 12 months. If any of you have recipes to share or books to recommend – please let me know.

Scandinavian Cooking: Reading List

Elna Adlerbert: Cooking the Scandinavian way (1961)

Trina Hahnemann: Scandinavian Cookbook and The Nordic Diet

Signe Johansen: Scandilicious: Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking

Anna Mosesson: Swedish Food and Cooking

Beatrice Ojakangas: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

Camilla Plum: Scandinavian Kitchen

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. outsideoslo permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:55 am

    I love Scandinavia and its food so much that I write a blog devoted to it! Glad to hear you enjoy the cuisine too.

  2. January 19, 2012 12:34 pm

    Hi again, Here is the recipe for Norwegian “grove knekkebrød” (something like whole grain crispbread in English). I have translated it, so I hope it makes sense. For example, I’m not sure if we say “whole grain spelt” in English? A direction translation would be “course spelt.”

    Norwegian Whole Grain Crispbread
    3.5 dl whole grain spelt flour (or whole grain rye)
    3.5 dl rolled oats
    2 dl sunflower seeds
    1.5 dl sesame seeds
    1 dl flaxseed
    1 dl wheat bran
    1 ts salt
    7 dl lukewarm water
    1/2 dl chopped walnuts (optional)
    * 1 tsp. honey or a bullion cube can be added to the warm water (optional)

    1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees.
    2. Blend all ingredients in the same bowl until you have a thick consistency.
    3. Spread the dough out over a baking sheet covered with baking paper. The easiest way to do this is with damp fingers. The dough should be as thin as possible.
    4. Bake at 190 degrees for 10 minutes. If you are using a warm-air oven you can set two baking trays in the oven at once.
    5. Take the tray out of the oven and divide the dough into slices using a pizza cutter or knife. Place back into the oven for 30 min.
    6. Take the tray out of the oven and break apart the pieces of crispbread. Put back into the oven and dry for 30 min. more with the oven at 100 degrees and the oven door slightly ajar.
    7.Remove the crispbread from the oven and place on a drying rack to cool. The crisp bread can always be freshened up in the oven or in a toaster.

    ** My notes: This recipe makes several trays (5 maybe?), so you may want to halve it the first time. I don’t use walnuts, honey or bullion. I have had better luck spreading out the dough by placing it on a silpat baking mat rather than on baking paper. The key to good crispbread is making it as absolutely thin as possible. The wet fingers method works very well and takes some patience – the dough can be thin enough to almost see through in parts. If the dough is too thick the crisp bread becomes tough when baked.

  3. January 17, 2012 8:10 pm

    You’ve certainly got the right idea with that combination – a simplicity of ingredients is the key to Scandinavian cooking, especially as ingredients were so hard to come by until recently (and even now). I’ve got friends in their mid-thirties and forties who ate only fish, potatoes and carrots growing up. And the occasional meatball. 🙂

    I frequently use a few of the recipes from Andreas Viestad’s “Kitchen of Light: The New Scandinavian Cooking” Many of the recipes have failed me (the vanilla cod was a disaster, and, I think, a wrong combination to begin with), but the book is worth it for the stunning photographs and stories! I make his Bergen Fish Soup exactly to the recipe (leaving out the optional veal stock and flour) and it is a family favorite — I have small kids, so kid-friendly is important! I also like his recipes for cucumber salad and crab cakes (although my kids prefer the more traditional fiskekake – fish cakes, which in Bergen are often sold as snacks on the street in heart shapes.)

    I am desperate to find a good recipe for lamb and cabbage stew, which is really a staple here. When a Norwegian makes it for me it is rich and delicious. When I try it it is greasy and bland.

    I also have a really good recipe for home-made, whole grain knekkebrød (crisp bread?) given to me by a Norwegian. It is very easy to make and my kids enjoy helping. I will look it up and post it here, if that is all right with you.

    But as I said in my previous post, I am interested to read about what you find and what successes you have with some of the more traditional foods. Good luck! And as they say in Norwegian: Håper det smaker! (literally, “I hope it tastes!” 🙂 )

    • fooddigest permalink*
      January 18, 2012 11:44 pm

      Thanks for all this – lots to think about. I love the idea of heart-shaped fishcakes! what an idea – have you got photos?

      It would be great if you could share your knekkebrod recipe – I’ll have a go and post the results and your recipe if that’s ok?

      • January 19, 2012 12:36 pm

        Please do post the results if you like. I will take a picture of the heart-shaped fishcakes on Saturday when we go shopping.

      • January 31, 2012 4:48 am

        Hi again, I have a photo of the heart-shaped fishcakes I can send if you like (I finally remembered to upload it!) – do you have an email address I can send it to?

  4. fooddigest permalink*
    January 16, 2012 9:08 pm

    What have you discovered so far? I’d love to hear about your favourite recipes? I really love dill and keep mixing it with creme fraiche, dolloping it on smoked salmon and rye – very nice.

  5. January 16, 2012 7:48 pm

    I am an American who has lived in Norway for 7 yrs, so I will be interested to read what you find — especially your successes as I am still experimenting with Scandinavian food!

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