By Gini Rainey
I’m always on the lookout for good cookbooks that are either regional, ethnic or odd, and my sister scored a direct hit at Christmas when she included a Scandinavian cookbook in my Christmas gifts. Talk about a win-win! This year she presented me with “The ScandiKitchen” that was written by Brontë Aurell, with photography by Peter Cassidy and was published in 2015 by Ryland, Peters & Small. Without a doubt, if reading the yummy recipes didn’t put pounds on me, the wonderful photographs did.
Whether you are of Scandinavian descent or not, this book will appeal to you on all levels. From the hearty breakfast dishes straight through to the amazing pastries and breads, this book is a veritable compendium of all the dishes that this part of the world of cooking has to offer. I am extremely envious of anyone who has access to fresh lingonberries and cloudberries (also known as Arctic Raspberries), because a lot of the recipes call for these tart and tangy berries, and although raspberries and cranberries can easily be substituted for them, I just know they wouldn’t be near the same.
I don’t think you would need much more for a light lunch or dinner than slices of the easy Danish Rye Bread or Seed Rye Rolls with thin slices of a rye Havarti and a chilled glass of Aquivit, followed by a light and fluffy dish of Whipped Lingonberries (vispipuuro) topped with raspberries. Oh my, this is making me hungry!
Interestingly enough in all of my reading, I’ve found many dishes in the different cultures are very similar. This book has a recipe for meatloaf that is close to the one I make, except theirs is wrapped in bacon strips. And would you believe that across Sweden and Finland Crayfish Festivals are celebrated, much like we do in the South. I will say, though, I don’t believe you will find any dishes in this area that are made with reindeer (sautéed with chanterelle mushrooms) or for lutefisk (made from aged stock fish or dried/salted whitefish and lye – trust me, I have yet to taste lutefisk that is good.)
One of the recipes that is very similar to one we have in these parts is for a breakfast open-faced sandwich that incorporates a hearty rye – or seeded rye – with avocado and eggs. First, slice two ripe avocados in half, remove the seeds, scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork in a bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Then, soft poach two large eggs and toast two slices of bread. Spread the avocado on the slices of toast, top with some watercress, if desired, and add a teaspoon of Kalles Kaviar (available on Amazon, eBay, and believe it or not, WalMart, among other specialty stores). Top each slice with a poached egg and season with salt and pepper. Not only is this any easy meal to prepare for breakfast or brunch, it also tastes as good as it looks!