Posts Tagged ‘nordics’

Nordic Cookbook

Monday, May 16th, 2016 | Books, Food


The Nordic Cookbook is a book on Nordic cooking by Magnus Nilsson. The first thing you notice about it, is it’s size. It’s not quite A4, but it’s not far off. The depth of it is even more impressive. It weights in at over 750 pages. It’s so heavy: a real struggle to lift with one hand.

It covers Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

It is well presented. Being so big, it does not have great structural integrity. The spine moves around a lot. It stays open really well though. It also comes with two ribbons for saving your place.

The chapters, organised by food type, are broken up with full-page photographs from across the Nordics. Many of which are very beautiful. It’s printed in quite a dull matte.

The recipes themselves are poor. Nilsson starts the book by explaining that you won’t be able to make a lot of the recipes because you will not be able to get the ingredients or do the cooking methods. He’s right. There are maybe five recipes to a spread, so there are probably somewhere in the region of 800 recipes in this book. How many did I manage to make? 19.

This is in-part by design. He explains that is a guide to Nordic food, rather than a recipe book. Some of the stuff is just boring. Everything is served with boiled potatoes. Some stuff you have to cook for six hours.

You also need some local knowledge. There is typically a paragraph or two for each recipe, one explaining where the dish comes from and a brief one explaining what to do. Other than that though, you are pretty much on your own. Photos are few and far between. Occasionally you get a full-page photo with six dishes on it, each one labelled. So there is sometimes a pictorial guide, sometimes not.

If you are after a book that captures the essence of Nordic cuisine, tells you how to make authentic recipes and contains some beautiful photography, this is a good book to get. As a straight-up cookbook, it’s less useful.

Nordic baking

Saturday, May 14th, 2016 | Food

Last month, I wrote about my experiments with Nordic cooking. Having worked my way through the recipes, I then moved onto the second half of the book: the desserts and baking chapters. Excitingly, this opens Nordic cuisine to a whole range of colours, rather than just brown.

Ginger cake

Okay, I’ll give you, this one is still brown. But a ginger cake in any other colour might look a little strange. Those biscuits at the side of the tin are actually…


Shortbread. Made to Douglas’s recipe. I don’t know who Douglas is, but he worked in a Swedish restaurant. You hollow out the middle, fill it with jam, and then bake.

Blueberry tart

Blueberry tart. Of all the Nordic baking I have done, I think this probably looks the most Nordic. The filling is made with sour cream, and then you scatter the blueberries over (and inevitably into) it.

Glazed rasperry fingers

Danish glazed raspberry squares. You bake it as a full sheet of pastry and end up with a 30cm by 40cm single pastry that you then cut up. I found it easier to slice into fingers (finger shaped biscuits, rather than my own fingers) than squares. It’s simple to put together as you bake the two layers, leave to cool a little, then add the jam. You can add the icing later. Make sure you slice it up while still warm though, or it will become very brittle.

Gooey chocolate cake

Gooey chocolate cake. Oh my god this was so good. It comes out as a really thin layer in my 18cm tin, so I might try a smaller one. Or, more likely, the same tin with several times the amount of ingredients. You bake it until not quite set, then leave it to cool before eating. It is amazing warm as well.

Nordic food

Friday, April 8th, 2016 | Food

I like Nordic cooking. The reason is quite long.

If Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Scandimania and The Hairy Biker’s Northern Exposure are to be believed, there is something very exciting about Nordic cooking. But there really isn’t. That in itself is novel.

You see, I’m from Britain. A country not known for its spicy food. As the timeless Good Gracious Me sketch ably demonstrates.

But it goes further. When Fearnley made his show TV Dinners he searched the country for people who really went all out for their dinner parties. However, when he floated his boat up as far as Yorkshire, he went ot see a man who did an amazing Sunday roast. The conversation went sometimes like this:

Hugh: “That is a beautiful piece of beef. What are you going to do with it?”

Yorkshireman: “Just roast it.”

Hugh: “Just roast it?”

Yorkshireman: “That’s right.”

Hugh: “Are you going to season it with anything?”

Yorkshireman: “No, I’m just going to roast it.”

In a country known for its bland food, I live in the county that thinks the rest of the country goes a bit too crazy with all that fancy seasoning nonsense.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because when I tell you that Nordic food is fucking bland, I want you to appreciate the true enormity of that statement. They are not messing about here. Traditional Nordic dishes have taken bland to a whole new level.

Check out this photo of me preparing a Nordic stew:


Normally, a stew would consist of some meat, with some vegetables, and seasoned with some salt and pepper, and a bay leaf or two. Not this recipe. You put a much of red meat in a pot, and you boil it for five hours.

Most dishes are served with boiled potatoes, but I like to go wild, so I whipped up some traditional root vegetable mash to go with it. It is like regular mash, except it comes with bits of swede and carrot in it that in no way make it look exactly like sick.


Or, if that doesn’t float your boat, why not fry up some potato cakes?


If you really want to go big, why not make a meatloaf? Simply get as much mincemeat as you can, shape it into a bread loaf, wrap it in bacon, and cook it for a few hours.


Every mouthful wiped about a week off my life expectancy. It was totally worth it. If you want to add some variety of your diet, you could add some fish. However, even in that case, the Nordic recipe turns it brown.


Unfortunately, even my sauté pan was not big enough to fit the breaded sea bass in.

Whether these Nordic classics will make it onto our regular rotation remains to be seen. I do like these recipes, however. They are simple. Most of them involve piling ingredients into a pot and leaving it for ages. There are odd parallels between having to build a fire pit to stay alive in a frozen forest and the stress of modern day life: both greatly benefit from recipes that can be slow-cooked with almost no interaction.


Saturday, February 27th, 2016 | Distractions


Scandimania is a 3-part TV series in which Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall visits Sweden, Denmark and Norway to investigate their cuisine.

There is no Finland, but that makes sense given how much duplication there would be with the Swedish episode. While it is in theory about food, it more reflects Hugh’s views on conservation and sustainability. Some of it goes rather darker: discrimination in Sweden, crime drama in Denmark and Anders Breivik in Norway.

Each episode bases itself around a concept of modesty and simplicity. ‘Lagom’ means ‘just enough’ in Sweden. ‘Hygge’ means ‘coziness’ in Denmark. The Law of Jante teaches people to be humble in Norway. Perhaps this is another reason not to include Finland, who have ‘sisu’ which is all about having the stoic determination and guts to beat the Russians – probably not quite the character the show’s producers had in mind.

All of this means that there isn’t actually that much discussion of food. Therefore, while it was interesting, I think the Hairy Bikers did a better job of exploring Nordic cuisine.

The Hairy Bikers’ Northern Exposure

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Distractions


The Hairy Bikers in Finland? We had to watch that, of course. We also watched the Swedish episodes for good measure.

I had never seen The Hairy Bikers before I watched it. I have mixed feelings. At first I was put off by the somewhat low-brow comments and humour they seem to display. But I have since warmed to them, and both Elina and I agreed that they did a good job of representing Finland.

The Norden

Friday, January 2nd, 2015 | Religion & Politics, Video

The Norden is a documentary series where they take someone from the United States to visit Finland, Norway and Sweden and compare the way they do things. With predictable results.



Guns are a terrible idea; go Norway.


I think the paster here does really well. He is down with the Heavy Metal Mass, and it feels like with the room 666 they are just teasing him. Plus the Bible does hate gays. I do not agree with that, but it is in there.