Nordic cookbooks entice and inspire

Photo: Photography by Peter Cassidy Scandi Kitchen: Fika and Hygge by Bronte Aurell Ryland Peters & Small, $21.95;

Photo: Photography by Peter Cassidy
Scandi Kitchen: Fika and Hygge by Bronte Aurell
Ryland Peters & Small, $21.95;

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

Despite having grown up eating my grandmothers’ Scandinavian cooking, I found myself starting from scratch when I decided to add a Nordic touch to my own kitchen some years ago. Back then, few Scandinavian cookbooks were readily available at the bookstore, and a search at the library yielded books that were as much a time capsule as a cookbook. That’s changed in recent years, with some wonderful Scandinavian and Nordic cookbooks being released, from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Cookbook to Darra Goldstein’s Fire and Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking. This year is no exception, with a number of new releases highlighting the foods and ingredients of the north. Here are just a few:

The Nordic Kitchen: One year of family cooking
Claus Meyer is one of the most influential figures in the world of Nordic cuisine. The cofounder of Noma and one of the authors of “Manifesto for the New Nordic Cuisine,” this year Meyer opened up restaurants in New York and also published his cookbook, The Nordic Kitchen: One year of family cooking (Mitchell Beazley, May 2016).

The Nordic Kitchen

“The cookbook is structured as a year of family cooking, so it’s much about cooking with what’s available in nature right this very moment,” Claus said. “Some of the dishes are traditional dishes that me and my family have given a modern spin and revived with new ingredients and wild elements—with an American context in mind. Others are more ‘New Nordic’ but some even take inspiration from Asian dishes that we love to eat in our family, yet using ingredients within the realm of what North America provides and with a Nordic flavor palette in mind.”

His favorite recipes in the book include the fish cakes with quick tartar sauce, baked apples with beer ice cream, and braised pork knuckle with spicy sugar-browned cabbage.

Photo: Anders Schønnemann The Nordic Kitchen by Claus Meyer; Mitchell Beazley

Photo: Anders Schønnemann
The Nordic Kitchen by Claus Meyer; Mitchell Beazley

Smoked Salmon with Pearl Barley, Walnuts & Apples
Reprinted with permission from The Nordic Kitchen

¾ cup pearl barley (uncooked)
1 ¼ cups water
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. standard canola oil
finely grated zest and juice of ½ organic lemon
1 tsp. acacia honey
2 celery stalks
1 oz fresh baby spinach
1 ½ tbsps. walnuts, coarsely chopped
5 ¾ oz thinly sliced smoked salmon (or sea trout)

Rinse the pearl barley well in cold water. Put it in a saucepan, add the 1 ¼ cups of water and a little salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the barley stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.

When the barley is done—tender but still al dente—season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk the oil, lemon zest and juice, honey, salt, and pepper together in a bowl to make a dressing and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Rinse the celery and spinach. Slice the celery very finely and mix with the spinach in a large bowl, along with the cooked pearl barley and the walnuts. Mix the dressing into the salad and serve it with thin slices of smoked salmon (or sea trout) and some good bread.

nordic light

Nordic Light: Lighter, Everyday Eating from A Scandinavian Kitchen
On the heels of The New Nordic, Stockholm-based photographer and cookbook author Simon Bajada has just published Nordic Light: Lighter, everyday eating from a Scandinavian kitchen (Hardie Grant Books, August 2, 2016). Bajada, who grew up in Australia, was introduced to Scandinavian food when he cooked in a Swedish restaurant years ago. Bajada gives a playful touch to his recipes, incorporating the ingredients and ideas behind Nordic cooking into dishes that are inspired and fresh.

“The main difference with Nordic Light is that in developing the recipes I referenced raw, dairy free, and vegetarian cooking to make the recipes lighter,” he said. “It’s strictly none of these but ahead of writing the book I believed that Nordic preparations inherently complimented these styles of cooking. Another difference is that in The New Nordic, I restricted the recipes to using only produce from Northern Europe; on this occasion I let that go slightly.”

Some of his favorite recipes in the book are the rye crepes, smoked chicken with buttermilk, and oat milk parfait set with tofu.

Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant Books

Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant Books

Venison, Pickled Chanterelles & Mustard Rye Crumble
Reprinted with permission from Nordic Light

3 ½ oz chanterelles, cleaned, larger mushrooms torn in half
10 ½ oz small new potatoes
½ oz salted butter
3 tarragon sprigs, leaves picked, plus extra to garnish
14 oz venison fillet
1 tbsp. rapeseed oil
rosehip ketchup to serve

Light Pickling Solution
10 fl oz apple-cider vinegar
5 ½ oz superfine sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 dried juniper berries
2 allspice berries
2 bay leaves

Mustard Rye Crumble
1 cup rye flakes
2 tbsps. rapeseed oil
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey

For the pickling solution, put all the ingredients in a saucepan along with 7 fl oz of cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring, for 2 minutes, until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Place the chanterelles in a non-reactive bowl and pour over the cooled pickling liquid.Leave for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, add the potatoes to a saucepan of boiling water and cook them until they are tender and easily pierced with the point of a knife. Drain, add the butter and tarragon, and toss together. Keep warm with the lid on.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

To make the mustard rye crumble, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Arrange spoonfuls of the mixture on the prepared baking tray and bake for 5–8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool and crisp up.

Season the venison fillet well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan or cast-iron grill pan over a high heat, add the venison and fry for 30 seconds on each side to seal the meat. Transfer to the oven to cook through. How long it needs will depend on the thickness of the meat and how well it was sealed in the pan; 8–10 minutes is usually enough. You want the meat to be quite rare so it should just spring back when you press it. Remove from the oven and place on a board. Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

To serve, cut the rested venison fillet into very thin slices and divide between serving plates. Top with the mustard rye crumble, pickled mushrooms, and tarragon sprigs and serve with the potatoes and rosehip ketchup. Serves 2 with leftovers.

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ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge—Comforting cakes and bakes from Scandinavia with love
With a name evoking two of the coziest Scandinavian words I know, ScandiKitchen: Fika and Hygge—Comforting cakes and bakes from Scandinavia with love (Ryland Peters & Small, September 2016)—the second release from Brontë Aurell of the London-based Scandi­Kitchen is bound to inspire readers to spend hours in their kitchen. Inviting photography, along with delicious-looking recipes sure to please both traditional and modern palates, make this a book a staple in any Scandinavian baker’s kitchen, and a great gift. You’ll find Christmas cookies, Norwegian apple cake, gingerbread layer cake with lingonberries, mazarin tart with plums and black pepper, a traditional success cake, among dozens of other recipes.

Suksesskake (Success Cake)
Reprinted with permission from ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge
2 cups whole almonds
1 1/3 cups icing or confectioners’ sugar
5 egg whites
a pinch of salt

5 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. whipping cream
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ sticks butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
milk or semisweet chocolate curls, to decorate
2 x 8-inch round cake pans, greased and lined with baking parchment

Suksess means success, so this cake really does talk itself up a bit and sets expectations high! It does not disappoint.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Roughly grind the almonds in a food processor, leaving a few chunkier pieces in there. Combine the ground almonds with the confectioners’ sugar and set aside.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand-held whisk), beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until lightly stiff. Add the ground almond mixture and gently fold in until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for around 35–40 minutes or until light brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out carefully onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the egg yolks, whipping cream, and granulated sugar into a saucepan over a low heat. Bring just to a boil, whisking constantly—as soon as you see the first bubble, quickly take the pan off the heat. To check the mixture is thick enough, dip a spoon in it, then run your finger through the back of the spoon; if the line stays, it’s ready.

Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature. Then slowly beat in the room-temperature butter using a hand-held electric whisk, a little at a time, until you have a nice thick, glossy topping.

Spread 2/3 of the topping mixture onto the first almond base, add the top layer of almond cake, and spread the remaining topping on the top.

Decorate with chocolate curls and serve chilled and sliced. Serves 8.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American

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