Food on the table
Interview with top Norwegian food blogger and cookbook author Ina Johnsen
CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
One of my favorite Norwegian food writers to follow is Ina-Janine Johnsen, the award-winning voice of the food blog Mat på bordet, translated as “Food on the Table.”
Mat på bordet features a wide range of recipes with lovely photography, and Johnsen is also active on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Johnsen’s blog won Food Blogger of the Year in 2015 and was a runner-up in 2016. She is the author of four cookbooks, including “Eltefrie Bakst” (No-Knead Baking), published in January 2020.
The Norwegian food blogger lives in Oslo with her husband and two daughters. Born in Germany, she has lived in Canada, the United States, Switzerland, and England. Before going to cooking school, Johnsen worked as an interior designer and worked in hotel and restaurant design.
I was so excited to interview Johnsen by email to learn more about her work as a food writer and recipe developer in Norway.
Christy Olsen Field: When did you get into food blogging and why?
Ina Johnsen: I started my blog Mat på bordet (matpaabordet.no) in 2009. Before that, I started a blog for my children’s school Christmas market, which I was running. I came across blogging as a tool, as I wanted to set something up that would be available to all, a place where we could inspire each other with ideas for what we could make and sell at the market. It proved to be a very easy and efficient tool, and I realized that it would also be perfect for me and my recipes. Until then, I had saved recipes in scrapbooks, ripped out magazine pages, had Post-it Notes in cookbooks, and so on.
I went to cooking school in London. My husband and I moved there just after getting married, and I grabbed the opportunity (after having realized it wasn’t something I could do in Norway with a full-time job) and spent a year in cooking school. I was heavily pregnant by the time I graduated with my diploma in food and wine, with a second child not far behind. That kept me from plunging into a career in cooking at the time. Blogging is now a full-time job, and I am so happy to be here. I find it very meaningful to be able to inspire people to get cooking and baking. It’s not hard; it doesn’t have to take much time, and it really is an important skill, which helps with a healthy and nourishing lifestyle.
COF: What are your favorite dishes to make for everyday cooking? Special occasions?
IJ: My favorite dishes to cook are the ones my family or friends wish for. Tex-Mex food—fajitas and tacos—are very much in demand. Pizza on Fridays is a must. I also love cooking curries, risottos, stews, vegetarian dishes, etc. I also love to barbeque, especially during summer. It’s so quick and easy to put something on the barbeque, make some side dishes, and serve up (outside preferably).
COF: What is the most popular recipe on your site?
IJ: The most popular recipe on my site is a one-pot wonder: a very easy beef stew, where you just put everything in a pot, put it in the oven or on the stove and leave to simmer for a couple of hours. It’s wonderfully delicious, easy to make and adapt and perfect for Sunday dinners.
COF: What is the most popular typisk norsk recipe on your site?
IJ: I don’t really do typically Norwegian recipes on my blog, I feel that there are plenty of others who do that. I do like to take Norwegian favorites and put a spin on them. Take waffles, for example. Waffles are a Norwegian staple often served with cream and berries in the summer or topped with goat cheese (brown cheese). When I introduced a ham and cheese waffle, the blog went crazy.
COF: What other food writing have you done?
IJ: I’ve written for Matmagasinet Nord, A-magasinet, and written four cookbooks. The latest one is out now: www.friskforlag.no/eltefri-bakst.
COF: Can you tell me about some food and drink trends that you see in Norway right now?
IJ: Well the strongest trend for the moment is the vegetarian/vegan trend. It’s fun to see the development, not only through blogs but also what products are becoming easily available. Norway is a small country and the selection in stores is quite limited, especially in rural areas. Slowly but surely, vegetarian products are finding their way to stores.
Another trend is locally produced foods. Fine cheeses, cured meats, ice cream, and all other sorts of specialties, all made in Norway are making their way into the stores. I love that!
COF: Anything else you want our readers to know?
IJ: I am also known as “eltefri dronninga,” the “No-Knead Queen,” having introduced the no-knead technique to readers in 2011. (You can watch the YouTube video here:
I got so many questions about the technique and requests to make variations. I now have over 100 varieties on the blog, wrote a book in 2013, and another one now that also includes sweet varieties. The famous, and oh so popular, kanelbolle (cinnamon bun) is now even easier to make.
Tusen takk to Ina Johnsen for inviting us to her table! You can follow Mat på Bordet online here:
YouTube: Search “mat på bordet”
This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.