Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.
While herding the family’s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors’ strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson’s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackåsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.
Cecilia was a customer of ours for many years before she moved to Canada – and we’re are immensely proud of her achievements with her first book. She has given us a signed copy of her book to give away to one of you guys.
If you want to be in with a chance of winning, just answer this easy question:
Which if these is not a town in Sweden:
Answer by email to email@example.com before Tuesday 1st April at noon. Winner will be picked at random from correct entries and notified by email. Usual rules apply. No cheating.
Jansson’s Temptation is a traditional Christmas recipe in Sweden. However, at home in our house, we also eat it at Easter time because it simply goes so very well with roast lamb.
It’s a creamy, tasty potato gratin with bags of flavour from the fish.
Do try it and I promise your tastebuds won’t be disappointed. A perfect addition to your Easter Smorgasbord or as a side dish with your Easter Roast Lamb.
Do get the right ‘Sprats’ Anchovis to go with this and do not be tempted to use the anchovies from southern Europe as these are too salty.
Janssons Temptation – also good for Easter time
Author: Bronte Aurell
2 tbsp butter
2 onions, finely sliced
9-10 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ cm sticks (a bit smaller than ‘fries’ size)
20 fillets (1 ½ tins) Grebbestad’s Anchovis (these are pickled sprats, not actually anchovies – which are too salty for this)
Salt and pepper
300ml milk-cream mix, made with 150ml each of cream and full-fat milk
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the onion and cook until soft (a few minutes, taking care not to burn). Add the potatoes and leave for another few minutes to start the cooking process. Take off the heat.
In an ovenproof dish add half the potato/onion mixture, then place about 10 sprat fillets evenly across. Season with salt and pepper. Add another layer of potato—onion mixture and the rest of the sprat fillets. Add 200ml of the milk-cream mix to the dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Season again.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Half way through, check the moisture level and add the rest of the milk-cream mix. If the dish feels a bit dry you can add a bit more milk. You want a creamy consistency.
Tip: Don’t peel the potatoes and keep in water for a long time: You want to contain the starch. Cook as soon as you have peeled them.
1 sachet ‘Kagecreme’ crème patisserie (approx. 500ml crème patisserie) – get it HERE
How to: Mix the content of sachet with 500ml whole milk. Whisk for 30-40 seconds, then leave to set for 15 minutes.
You can also use homemade cold crème patisserie for this instead, but we cheated a bit – and this powder is really good quality and is bake-safe.
300ml whipping cream
4-5 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam
150g icing sugar
1 tsp cocoa
Edible decorations of choice
Make the dough:
In a mixer / food processor, add butter and flour and blitz a few times, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined and smooth. Fold together and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Turn on oven to 180C.
Cut the dough in two pieces.
Medaljer – roll out and cut 18 round circles with the 7 cm cutter. Place on a lined baking tray and then bake 5-7 mins in the warm oven until slightly golden (taking care not to over bake).
Meanwhile, roll out the remaining dough for the Cremelinser. Use flour if it is a bit sticky.
Cut circles to line the base of the 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray – the dough should go to the top line, neatly. Add a good heaped teaspoon of crème patisserie to each ‘Linser’. Roll the remaining dough out flat, then cut the smaller 5cm circles. Carefully top each Linser with the pastry circle and press down gently around the edges to close.
Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until done taking care not to allow the Liner to crack open and the custard to seep out (but if it does a bit, don’t worry, it will sink again when cold).
To assemble the Medaljer:
Make the strawberry whipped cream:
With a blender, blend 6-7 strawberries (or mash them very thoroughly with a fork). Whip the whipping cream with a tbsp. icing sugar, and add 3-4 tbs strawberry puree. Allow stiff peaks to form.
Lay out 9 baked circles on a tray. Add ½ tsp jam to the base of each circle, then a tsp of crème patisserie in the middle. Using a piping bag with a wide cream nozzle, pipe cream in a circle around the base of 9 of the baked circles. Keep cold.
Place the remaining 9 circles on the table. Mix the icing sugar and 1tsp cocoa powder with a few tbsp. hot water until you have a smooth icing – not too runny. If the icing gets too runny, add more icing sugar – you want the consistency so it will not spill over the edges.
Carefully add a dollop of icing to each circle and top with a few decorations. Carefully place the lids onto the ‘Medaljer’ and cream.
A perfect selection of real Danish cakes to serve with your afternoon coffee.
A delicious Curried Cauliflower Salad – super simple and tasty.
Our good friend Kobi Ruzicka came up with this a few years back. We didn’t put it on the menu for a while and then a few months ago, we found his notes and, well, it was a bit like discovering your favourite toy that you thought you’d lost.
This salad is so delicious. A perfect way to use this season trendy veg: The humble cauliflower.
Use whatever grain you like – at the café, we use boiled whole rye grain (we sell this in the café shop, so pop by). In the picture here, I used pearl barley. Cooked spelt works well, too.
Cooking grain for use in salad:
Rye grain need to be soaked overnight before use – then they take 20 minutes to cook al dente. If not pre-soaked, double cooking time. Pearl Barley takes about 35 minutes.
Recipe: Curried Cauliflower Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Bronte Aurell
100-150g grain (rye grain, pearl barley), cooked and cooled – see notes.
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 tsp mild curry powder
Glug of olive oil, salt, pepper
1 bunch spring onion
½ bunch flat leaf parsley (12-13g) roughly chopped
75g feta cheese
A good handful of raisins
Additional season may be required: salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil
Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite size florets, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Place on a baking tray and cook at 160C for about 10 minutes – the cauliflower should be more on the raw side than soft.
Pick, wash and chop the parsley, place in a bowl.
Remove the outer layer from the spring onions, rinse if needed, and finely slice these at a large angle. Add to bowl with parsley.
With your fingers, lightly crumble the feta into the same bowl and aside.
When cauliflower is cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Add to bowl along with remaining ingredients. Stir, check seasoning and serve immediately.
Also known as: Quirky traits of the Scandinavian people.
We asked on Facebook and Twitter for your help on this. Thanks to everybody who came up with some awesome suggestions:
The slicing of cheese
It’s a thing. A big thing (especially in Sweden). Do not cut the end of the cheese if it’s a triangle, always use a cheese slicer (never a knife, sacré bleu!) – and if you make a ski-slope (i.e cutting too much of one side without correcting it) you risk being outlawed.
Using the right cheese slicer
What, you didn’t think there were rules for this? Of course there are rules. This is Scandinavia. The metal cheese slicer is for harder cheeses, such as Cheddar and Västerbotten. The plastic slicer is for cheese that are slightly softer, like Havarti (aka Åseda Gräddost), Herrgårdsost, Grevé – and some brown cheeses, too. And the cheese slicer with a wire on is for Danish cheeses such as Riberhus and Gamle Ole.
Look, we know its sounds complicated, but if you use the wrong one, your cheese will be cut wrong. See ‘The slicing of cheese’.
Speaking as you breathe in
Sometimes we say things while breathing in. Like ‘ja’. Try it, you will find it most peculiar.A point to note, however, is that it is usually done when you agree on something – affirming the point by breathing in and saying ’ja’ at the same time. The further North, the less sound is needed More here
Friday night is for tacos.
Nobody is sure when it happened, but we only eat tacos on Fridays. Don’t ask, just do.
Sweets are for Saturdays
It’s called Saturday Sweets. It’s also a thing. If you have them on Friday, then only in the evening and they its called CozyFriday. But on Saturdays, it’s Lørdagsslik or Lördagsgodis.
Our obsession with coffee breaks
You will find very few Scandi work places that don’t have the fika/kaffepause at 11am and again in the afternoon (before we leave work at 16.30, because that’s also a thing – and nobody stays late). Usually with some sort of cake. The only acceptable drink is super-strength filter coffee – so strong that it hurts your nostrils and makes all the caffeine receptors in your brain think you’re back clubbing in a field in 1993.
I’m off on holiday in week 29…
We don’t count months, we count weeks. Nobody else does, which makes for interesting conversations. First week of January is week 1 – and so it goes. Forget months and days, it is all about weeks in Scandinavia. Easter is in week 14 this year. Now you know. We have no idea when that is, either.
Cheese & jam
It’s most certainly a thing. Toast, cheese and jam. Any kind. Even marmalade. Just embrace it. Cheddar and Strawberry jam is a thing.
Salty, strong liquorice
Most Nordic people embrace salty liquorice. The stronger and saltier, the better. We just do not understand that you don’t like it. How can you not? It’s strong, makes your mouth feel like its on fire and gives you a tummy ache when you over do it. We start training our children when they are young so we are sure they develop a taste for it. For Scandi ex-pats, it’s a rite of passage to make sure their overseas-born children develop the taste too (we see them at the cafe, tempting little Ingrid with salty liquorice lollipops).
The top ones are Tyrkisk Peber, Djungelvrål, and chocolate with salty liquorice centres.
Eurovision is huge. Huge. Especially in Sweden, where they have six regional heats just to find a representative winner. Even those who say they never watch it probably still do in secret. Eating tacos and Saturday sweets.
Our home style
The first time you walk into a Danish apartment, you will think the owner is an interior decorator. Second time, you wonder if the owner of the first and second flat know each other. Third time, you realise every single apartment looks the same. White walls, white doors, Arne Jacobsen dining chairs, an Eames chair in the corner with a casually thrown sheepskin, Eva Solo or Blue Flute crockery.We all have the same cutlery and, curiously, we seem to leave the stickers on them.
In Sweden, it’s the same except it’s a lot more IKEA mixed with stuff from our country cottages by the lake.
We really do eat a lot of meatballs
But the Swedish ones are not the same as the Danish ones, and the Norwegian ones are different too. Don’t confuse things. Learn the difference or get found out.
We have rules for the Smörgåsbord
There is a strict set of rules about when you eat herring and what bread you use for prawns and salmon. And at what point you start singing and cheering with aquavit. Eat open sandwiches with your hands and be forever excluded. No, we don’t write down the rules: You just need to know them.
Look me in the eye…
When you cheer with Scandi folk, it is very impolite not to look everybody around the table in the eye before you take a sip. Skål!
How you butter your bread.
Crispbreads usually have a bubbly side and a flat side. The flat side is for every day, the bubbly side is for Sundays. Some people disagree, so there are no hard rules, for once. Rye bread that has too much butter is called ‘tandsmør’ – literally, tooth butter. Meaning the indent of your teeth can be seen.
The queuing system
In most shops – especially in Sweden – there are little ticket machines. Brits may remember these from supermarket deli counters in the 80s before they disappeared. Take a number as you enter and wait your turn. You never ever cheat. We like orderly queues, but are not very good at them, so this helps us. At bus stops there are no ticket machines, so it is your job to remember at what point you turned up. This is stressful. You know the other people will remember, so don’t mess it up.
The Scandi look
So, you want to look like one of us? Then you need to decide which one of us you want to look like. You see all us Scandis as the same, but we have very clear differences between us (as illustrated here by the brilliant Jenny Blake).
A general rule of thumb:
Danish: If you own anything not black, get rid of it. You’ll probably never need it again. Buy oversized scarves, dye your hair very blond and wear it in a messy bun if a girl – or bed-head style if you’re a guy. Viking Beard optional.
Swedish: Very blond hair. If you’re a guy, we recommend the ‘Stockholm Stureplan Brats’ look. Maybe. Well, try it and see if it fits you. Otherwise, just grow a beard and speak with a funny accent. If you’re a girl, get yourself some skinny white jeans and white converse all stars.
Norway: Beard. Definitely eat brown cheese, have a backpack stuffed with Kvikklunsj and oranges. Buy a sheep. Bring it with you to places*.
*(Okay, the sheep comment was added by a disgruntled Swede who has since been punished and sent on a long vacation to Finland. Norwegians don’t really have pet sheep).
But no matter who you choose to style yourself on, don’t forget to get a Fjällräven backpack.
Now, go forth and be a bit more genuinely Scandi.
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Fancy a treat this Easter? Then how about entering the competition for a filled egg from ScandiKitchen. No, not the small kind, the nice big beautiful kind. The kind stuffed with amazing pick and mix from our cafe (over half a kilos worth of sweets and treats).
We’re giving away one egg this week – to be in with a chance of winning, simply answer this super easy question:
The Danes love a nice piece of cake or biscuit with their coffee. This biscuit/cake is called Hindbærsnitter in Danish and literally translated this means Raspberry Slices.
These are very simple to make – and you can make them fancy or basic.
It’s basically two pieces of sweet shortcrust pastry, baked, then layers with raspberry. Topped with a nice layer of white icing – and then whatever you fancy on top (we like freeze dried raspberries, but the traditional recipe called for hundreds-and-thousands).
Recipe: Raspberry Slices (Hindbærsnitter)
Recipe Type: Fika
Author: Bronte Aurell
An old Danish biscuit/cake to have with your afternoon coffee.
350g plain flour
200g cold butter
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or seeds from one vanilla pod
A pinch of salt
200g good quality raspberry jam (i often add mashed raspberries to mine to make the result a bit more tart)
250g icing sugar
Toppings of your choice (chopped nuts, freeze dried raspberries, hundreds-and-thousands)
In a food processor, add the cubed cold butter and flour and sugar. Blits a few times to start the mixing.
Add the remaining ingredients and blitz again until the dough starts forming. It’s done as soon as it is smooth and holds together.
Pop the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest – this will make it easier to roll out.
On a floured surface, add half the dough and roll out to 25 x 25 cm. Transfer to a lined baking tray.
Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Pop both trays in the fridge again for 10-15 minutes.
Turn the oven to 200C/400F/GM5
Bake until golden (10-12 minutes, depending in your oven), then remove from the oven and leave to cool for just a few minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your icing: Add the icing sugar to a bowl and add 2-4 tablespoons of hot water – you may need more water than this, but start with 3-4. Stir, adding more water if needed, until you have a thick icing with the texture of syrup (i.e. not too runny).
On the still slightly warm pastry, add the jam and spread carefully and evenly all over. Add the second pastry on top so it lines up.
Carefully, using a spatula, smear the icing across the large cake. If your icing is too thick, it wont work – and too runny, it will spill everywhere, so test a little corner first and adjust accordingly.
As soon as you have spread your icing, add your toppings.
You have two choices at this point: Cut while pastry is a little bit warm (this is easier) – or pop the entire thing in the fridge to harden up and then carefully cut to precision when cold. Either way, when you cut, do so with a sharp big knife, in clean precise swoops.
First, cut all the sides off so you have an even cake – then cut into 10-16 pieces (depending on how big you prefer them to be). We cut 14 from this recipe.
Ever thought about cooking your berries into your porridge? Some mornings, we just yearn for porridge with a difference. This porridge was one we tested last week and it may well make its way onto the menu in the future.
Change the toppings as you see fit – we love banana and blueberry, so we went for that, but you can do this with raspberry, too. As for the seed and nuts, hazelnuts go well – and we also made it with chia seeds, as some of us are really into chia and all the benefits that go with those.
It’s a super lovely porridge – do give it a try. We added a drizzle of honey, too.
By the way, if you happen to pass by the cafe for your morning porridge, we support a great charity called Magic Breakfast that provides breakfasts for young kids at schools in the UK. One in three children in the UK go to school hungry – and how can you learn on an empty tummy? So, Magic Breakfast go in and help out where the need is greatest. ScandiKitchen donates one whole breakfast for a child EVERY time you buy a porridge at our place. So, suddenly, your porridge is double good for you. And someone else, too.
A delicious and super healthy porridge full of goodness
125g pack of blueberries
1 cup oats
2 cups water
Pinch of salt
In a saucepan, add the oats, half of the blueberries and the water and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Once the berries have cooked through, mash them gently with a fork to let the juice out to colour the porridge.
Serve piping hot in a bowl, top with 1/2 banana per portion, the remaining blueberries as well as a small handful of chopped almonds and linseeds. We added a drizzle of honey, too.