As I have a long weekend planned in Gothenburg, Sweden in December, it was with great excitement that I read through Danish TV chef and food writer Trina Hahnemann’s The Scandinavian Cookbook. Gothenburg will be the first of several Scandinavian trips for me,Â so I was as interested in the evocative photography as I was in the recipes. The photos, taken by Lars Ranek, one of Scandinavia’s leading food photographers, ‘reflect the cycle of a full year comprising seasonal ingredients and dishes, lifestyle and festivals’. I hope that I’ll be able to capture the essence of Gothenburg in winter in a similar way with my little Leica…
The book is divided into the twelve months of the year and focuses on a ‘light, modern version of Scandinavian home cooking’. The four seasons are reflected in the recipes, with much emphasis on fresh local produce. A short introduction accompanied each recipe, explaining the background to the dish, sometimes with a personal anecdote. I find this an essential part of any cookery book, because I like to learn about the origins of a dish than simply be told how to prepare it. For example, Hahnemann describes Skagen, located in the northern tip of Denmark, where the famous Skagen fish soup comes from, and it sounds like a place I would love to visit.
Out of all the recipes, my personal favourites included potato cakes with lumpfish roe and beetroot salad; various smÃ¸rrebrÃ¸d (open sandwiches made with rye bread); kartoffelkage (traditional Danish cake which resembles a large potato, but is actually choux pastry covered with cocoa-dusted marzipan and filled with luscious cream); meatballs with thyme, summer cabbage and lingonsylt; langoustines with herb mayonnaise; fruit ‘porridge’ with cold cream; gravad lax with honey mustard sauce; reindeer with anise and pepper, potato-celeriac gratin and Brussels sprouts; cinnamon rolls and smÃ¥kager (Danish vanilla butter cookies).
I chose to replicate the recipe for potato soup with bacon and chives from the October chapter. According to Hahnemann, hot meals in Scandinavia are usually served with potatoes and her grandparents ate potatoes almost every day of their lives. I love potatoes, so this sounded perfect to me.
Potato Soup With Bacon & Chives – serves 4
- 1.3kg potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 litre water
- 100ml double cream
- 100g bacon, diced (instead of bacon, you can use crisp croutons of dark rye bread)
- 4 tbsp chopped chives
- grainy bread
What to do next:
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with leeks, garlic, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns and water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, fry the bacon until crisp and golden, then leave to drain on paper towels to remove the excess fat.
Remove soup from the heat and take out the bay leaves. PurÃ©e the mixture in a blender or food processor then return it to the saucepan. Add the cream and heat through. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then serve the soup very hot with the bacon and chives, plus grainy bread on the side.
I made one version with bacon for myself, while the husband had the non-meat version with rye bread croutons. Delicious and just right for autumn weather.
I’m very much looking forward to visiting Gothenburg the week before Christmas, when I can eatÂ Ã¦bleskiver (Christmas butter-fried doughnuts), drink glÃ¶gg (warm red wine with aquavit and spices), visit the Christmas market and bring back lots of food goodies. And I’ll certainly be turning to The Scandinavian Cookbook for inspiration after the trip. If you have any eating suggestions in Gothenburg, please let me know!
The Scandinavian Cookbook was sent to me by Quadrille Publishing to review and costs Â£20.00.
Trina’s next book The Nordic Diet will be published in January 2010. It’s all about ‘eating with the seasons, taking advantage of locally sourced seasonal ingredients and eating a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrate and fat’. Please email email@example.com for more details.
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