Helping children, one cookbook at a time

New Scandinavian cookbook benefits hospitalized children—and your taste buds

Photo courtesy of A Taste of Scandinavia Make tasty foods and help bring comfort and joy to sick children with this cookbook.

Photo courtesy of A Taste of Scandinavia
Make tasty foods and help bring comfort and joy to sick children with this cookbook.

Norwegian American Weekly

Food is at its best when it’s shared, and that’s especially true with Scandinavian dishes, where the tradition of the coffee table or the syv slags kaker (seven sorts of cookies) of Christmastime all but imply that guests might be coming. A new cookbook, A Taste of Scandinavia by Lars Roalkvam and Trond Espen Hansen, which features some of the most beloved of Scandinavian dishes, celebrates that spirit by benefiting sick children in Norway.

We first encountered the book at Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota, this fall, where co-author Lars Roalkvam is executive chef of Scandi, one of the annual festival’s many dining options. Scandi features traditional food made by Norwegian chefs, with dishes including salmon burgers, Norwegian fish soup, and Norwegian waffles. Roalkvam writes in the book that people often ask for their recipes and that the book includes some of the dishes served at Scandi, among other very traditional Scandinavian recipes.

Divided by recipes from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, the recipes include everything from Toast Skagen (shrimp toast) and fiskesuppe (fish soup), to blomkålsuppe (cauliflower soup) and komler, Norwegian potato dumplings (recipe featured here).

The profits from sales of A Taste of Scandinavia go to Stiftelsen Sykehusbarn, which was co-founded by Hansen, one of the book’s authors. He “saw firsthand how sad and bleak the experience was when his daughter was hospitalized,” says the press release. “Sykehusbarn provides fun activities that provide a diversion from a long hospital stay such as music therapy, boat excursions, play and leisure rooms for hospitalized children and teens, and annual Christmas parties. This December, a ballet will be performed at eight hospitals throughout Norway.”


If you’re looking for a Christmas gift that will both delight a food-loving friend or family member and bring joy to others in need of a little light, A Taste of Scandinavia might be just the present you’re looking for. The 80-page book is available online at, or at all Ingebretsen’s locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Komle / Potato Dumplings
Recipe reprinted with permission from A Taste of Scandinavia

Komler is one of those dishes that exist in many varieties. Depending on where you are in the country, the name of the dish changes, the ingredients change, and the preferred sides change. Some Norwegians eat komler while others eat raspeballer, ball, or klubb.

Some prefer to sprinkle sugar or pour syrup over their dumplings, while others eat them with a sauce made of brown goat cheese. Many serve the potato dumplings with salt meat, sausages and/or bacon, mashed or boiled rutabaga, and perhaps melted butter. How about a glass of milk with those dumplings?

This recipe keeps to the basics, but feel free to experiment!

1 lb salt pork or lamb meat
2 ounces bacon
2 tbsps. butter

Mashed rutabaga:
1 lb rutabaga
2 cups water
1 tsp salt

1 lb. potatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup barley flour
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups water
½ teaspoon thyme (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cover the salt meat with cold water and let it soak overnight.

The next day, pour out the water and transfer the meat to a pan. Add enough fresh water to barely cover the meat, and gently bring to a boil. Let the meat simmer just below the boiling point until tender, about 2 hours. Take out the meat and set aside. Reserve the broth for later.

To make the dumplings, boil and peel one quarter of the potatoes. Grate or grind the remaining three quarters, add salt, and mix in the water and flour. Mash the boiled potatoes and fold in. Adjust the amount of flour until the batter has the right consistency: neither muddy nor heavy.

Wet your hands and form balls. Bring the broth from the meat to a boil, and gently put the dumplings in the pan. Add thyme, if using. Let boil at medium-low heat, lid ajar, until they are done and float to the surface, about 25 minutes. Before serving, add the meat and heat through.

While the dumplings are simmering, you can prepare the mashed rutabaga. Cut the rutabaga in slices and remove the peel. Boil until tender, and drain. Put the rutabaga back into the pot and mash it. When smooth add salt, pepper, a little grated nutmeg, and a dash of cream.

Serve the dumplings with salt meat, mashed rutabaga, bacon, and butter. Serves 4.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 4, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.