The Scandinavian Cookbook: A Review
I have to be honest I'd never heard of Trina Hahnemann before the recently published paperback version of Scandinavian Cookbook dropped through my door. My knowledge of Scandi cuisine extended only so far as knowing herring is pretty popular and cardamom buns are an institution (*hangs head in shame*!).
However, thanks to following some Scandinavian foodies on Twitter, such as Scandilicious and Scandinavian Kitchen, Scandinavian cuisine has really come into my radar in the the last few months and I jumped at the chance of reviewing, reading and trying out some new recipes from this beautifully presented book (a book which quite frankly is far too good to be confined to the bookshelf thanks to the stunning photography by Lars Ranek).
So Trina Hahnemann - who is she? Well after a little bit of research I found out she is a leading Danish T.V chef and food writer but her career started over 20 years ago when she co-founded a company that catered for the film and music industry on location in Scandinavia. She has since started her own company Frukostkompagniet, which runs restaurant and personnel canteens throughout Denmark, including Denmark's House of Parliament - Christiansborg.
In this book, Trina introduces a light modern version of traditional home cooking to the reader and for that reason it offers the perfect way into Scandi cuisine for novices like me. The book is split into 12 chapters mirroring the 12 months of the year and showcases the fresh and seasonal ingredients available. But don't worry there is also plenty of page space dedicated to traditional scandi baking too.
The book starts its story at the beginning of the year in January, at a time when most Scandinavian countries are in darkness for the majority of the day. This chapter includes traditional comforting bakes such as the ever popular Danish pastries (which look so unlike the danish pastries I know its untrue) as well as recipes for Rye Bread and Spelt Buns. But, its the fish dishes in this chapter that lend a hand to beating the January blues. The Pan Fried Plaice with Potatoes and Parsley (p18) is one such dish as is the Marinated Fresh Salmon on page 20 - both so simple but elegantly fresh.
February has a comforting Lamb stew with rosemary mash that caught my eye as well as the all important Cardamom Buns, which I have yet to make myself at home...but soon! March showcases one of the many traditional Smorrebrods in the book, an open sandwich made with Rye Bread topped in this case with cods roe, a speciality at this time of year. The Yogurt and Wheat bread also looks like a must try.
Its all about Herrings in April, which are typically served on top of rye bread with raw onion and dill. There is also a lovely light lemon mousse on offer and traditional almond cakes worthy of an afternoon baking session. In May I was drawn straight to the Rhubarb cordial and Rhubarb Trifle - I adore Rhubarb and I'm always looking for new ways to use it.
The summer months feature some fresh salads and fish such as The Fried Mackerel with Fresh Summer Salad - the picture alone makes me salivate! Berry recipes are also prevalent with offerings such as Redcurrant and Strawberry Smoothies, Fruit Porridge (which sounds particularly interesting) and a beautiful Strawberry Layer Cake.
Heading into Autumn and there is an intriguing recipe for Chanterelle, bacon and plum salad with blue cheese, utilising the wonderful seasonal produce on offer, a divine looking blueberry tart and a beautiful Apple Trifle. However its the Winter recipes that really inspire me. Meatballs in curry sauce would go down a storm with the kids in this house and the recipe for Mulled Wine would go down a storm with me.
The Swedish Christmas Ham, with a simple mustard and sugar crust would be perfect on Christmas Eve and my daughter already has eyes on the Christmas Cookies, especially the swirl butter cookies (very heavy on the butter though!) made with vanilla and cocoa.
This beautifully styled book really has opened my eyes and awakened my taste buds to Scandinavian cuisine and is definitely a book I will be dipping into for inspiration very soon.