Tag Archives: swedish food

7 Random Facts About Surströmming

August 16, 2017 | Leave a comment

7 Random Facts About Surströmming

  1. Surströmming is made by preserving the raw herring with just enough salt to prevent it from rotting, then left to ferment for at least 6 months. A Japanese study ranks it as one of the most putrid food smells on the planet.
  2. Surströmming day is the 3rd Thursday in August – in 2017 this falls on the 17th August.
  3. Surströmming translated to sour Baltic herring. Tempting, ey?
  4. How to eat it? A common way is to have it in a ‘klämma’ – a ‘squeeze’. Take two pieces of (crunchy) flatbread and spread with sliced or crushed boiled potato, add the surströmming, squeeze and enjoy. Alternatively, place on a soft flatbread with potato, sour cream and some raw onion. Eat as a wrap. Think of it as the Swedish burrito.
  5. Whatever you do – NEVER open the tin inside. To say the smell is strong is an understatement. And it lingers.
  6. Beer and aquavit are commonly served along with it – but milk, too, is a common drink.
  7. Surströmming is so smelly it is forbidden on most airlines.

Despite (or because of – we don’t know) the smell – surströmming is very popular in Sweden, and many await the season with anticipation, dreaming about the first taste of this speciality.

Our Jonas had a chat with a lovely chap from the Telegraph a few years ago – to find out what he thought have a look at the resulting video here, or click here to read about it.

Have you tried it? What did you think? Share in comments please – we’d love to hear your thoughts on this smelly subject.

 

Easy Västerbotten Cheese Quiche

August 10, 2017 | Leave a comment

Easy Västerbotten Cheese Quiche

A great side dish for a crayfish party – this traditional cheese tart is really lovely served with caviar dressing.

For the pastry:
125g cold butter
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg (plus water, if needed – add a few drops if dough is not coming together)

For the filling:
250g Västerbotten cheese, grated
3 eggs
100ml whole milk
250ml double cream
½ tsp paprika, salt and pepper

You’ll need a tart tin (25-28cm diameter) with a loose base.

Method:

  1. Blitz your pastry ingredients in a food processor (egg and water at the end only) to form a dough, then leave to chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Roll out the chilled dough and line the pastry tin. Prick the base with a fork and blind bake using baking beans for 10-12 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 5-6 minutes.
  4. For the filling, mix together everything except the Västerbotten cheese.
  5. Scatter the cheese on the base of the pastry, evenly all over – then pour over the egg mixture.
  6. Return it to the oven for about 15-20 minutes. It’ll puff up quite a bit towards the end, but will turn golden on top. It’s done when it is ‘set’ so do keep an eye on it.

Leave it to cool before slicing. Serve cold or lukewarm.

Västerbottenpaj goes well with romsås, a caviar sauce. Alternatively, if you can get real bleak roe (Löjrom), serve the tart with a spoonful of this, some crème fraîche and finely chopped red onion.

Romsås Caivar Sauce:

In a bowl, mix together 3 large tbsp. crème fraiche and one jar of red lumpfish roe (80g). Leave to set in the fridge, then stir again just before serving.

The Crayfish Season

July 16, 2017 | Leave a comment

Crayfish Season

Picture this: a little, red wooden house set by a calm, blue lake that sparkles silver from the rays of the summer sun. Rolling green hills and never ending meadows full of wild flowers and berries, surrounding everything and everyone on pure postcard bliss.  Welcome to the picture perfect Swedish late summer evening and welcome to the Crayfish Season: it’s time for Kräftskiva (or, if you’d rather: a somewhat messy event involving lots of crustaceans and hard liquor).

Every year in August, Finnish and Swedish people all over the world get excited by the start of the crayfish season. The timing of the season is founded in local law which dictates that Scandinavian freshwater crayfish must only be fished in late summer and early autumn. Although in this time of easy imports where crayfish is available all year round, tradition still holds strong and the season is very much part of the Swedish and Finnish calendar of events, thirdly only to Midsummer and Eurovision.

Crayfish was first mentioned by Aristotle back in the really old days but as a delicacy its big break came in the 1800’s when Monsieur Napoleon developed a thing for the ‘écrevisses’ and got the whole of France hooked as a result. Initially crayfish were plentiful in rivers and lakes all across central and northern Europe, but as this gastronomic trend spread across the continent, the crayfish stock was in steep decline. A lethal pest almost wiped out the entire stock in the early 1900’s and local laws were quickly introduced to limit the availability of the delicacy thus saving it from extinction.

Today most crayfish in the world is farmed, although the ultimate delicacy for a crayfish party is still locally sourced Swedish or Finnish beauties. These are seriously pricey, though, so most people settle for the almost-just-as-good imported, cooked and quickly frozen type, usually imported from China, Turkey or other fancy far-away places. Alternatively, if you happen to have your own Swedish lake handy, you can opt for some night time fishing with wire traps – these buggers are nocturnal and will do much to avoid your dinner plate.

The difference between crayfish you buy at your local fishmonger outside Sweden is that the Scandinavian kind is cooked in a brine sauce of dill, then some dill and a bit more dill thrown in for good measure. Crayfish is, like lobster, cooked alive (sorry if you are vegetarian and reading this) which is why most people who do not have access to live crustaceans tend to buy the frozen kind – these have been cooked to the Scandinavian recipe already and all you need to do is remove from freezer and wait a while.

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So, how do you go about celebrating the humble crayfish, Scandinavian style? A traditional Kräftskiva, or Rapujuhlat as it is called in Finland, typically starts late afternoon or early evening. A long table, which is usually outside in the garden or park, is decorated with colourful tablecloths; there are silly special crayfish party hats and bibs available for all guests to wear (surprisingly, with pictures of crayfish on them), lanterns depicting the Man in the Moon as well as festive crayfish cut-out garlands.

The crayfish is served cold in a big bowl on the table, lovingly decorated with some more dill. Eating crayfish is a long process: a crayfish party can last well into the night, so mountains of toasted, white bread is also served to ensure the aquavit is soaked up along the way. It’s always preferable that the guests don’t end up too wobbly too quick and get ideas about skinny dipping and sing-songs before time.

Blocks of the infamous Västerbotten cheese (a 12 months aged Swedish cheese from the Västerbotten area, not unlike parmesan in consistency but without the smell of feet) is also served. Along with this is an abundance of cold beers and, of course, no Scandinavian party is complete without the presence of the old Aquavit – a grain based, flavoured strong liquor that is served ice cold.  Some people practice “one shot for every claw” but as you’ll eat your way through a good dozen crayfish during the course of an evening, pacing yourself below this is recommended – at least until someone starts singing.  Singing is a good sign that you may as well just give in and join the fun – and there’s no drinking without any singing, according to Swedish law (nor is there any singing without drinking, or any time for silence, according to most local ‘Crayffectionados’).  A few of those aquavit and you’ll automatically be able to sing all the songs in fluent Swedish.

Crayfish is eaten with the hands and it is a lovely, messy affair.  If you are invited to one of these special parties during the season, do remember that it is absolutely a requirement to slurp noisily as you suck up the dill juices from the claws and belly of the “kräft” as well – a sign that you are truly initiated into this wonderful tradition.  Before you know it, all the people around the table will be your best friends, you’ll be planning next year’s holidays with Björn and Agneta in Uppsala and maybe even having a cheeky footsie session with Lars under the table.  Suddenly, after you’ve thrown in a swarm of evil mosquitoes, that little red house by the lake doesn’t feel that far away after all.

    Hedlund Festlykta Dragspel – Crayfish Party Lantern 2-pack
    £4.29
    - +
    Hedlund Festlykta Måne – Crayfish Party Decoration (medium – 44cm)
    £4.49
    Hedlund Kraftgirland – Crayfish Garland 4m
    £3.49
    - +
    Brondums Snaps 40% – Aquavit 700ml
    £29.49
    - +
    Hedlund Kräftservietter – Crayfish Party Napkins (20 pack)
    £2.99
    - +

Scandinavian Cheese: A Handy Guide

March 9, 2017 | Leave a comment

The Essential Guide to Scandi Cheese – Part 1

We first posted this no less than four years ago, and considering how much we love cheese it is due a re-visit – we consider it our duty to share the with you the wonders of Scandinavian cheese. Over the next two weeks we’ll introduce six of our favourite cheeses.

To kick off we will give you a brief introduction to the many faces of Scandinavian cheese – because let’s be frank – Scandinavian cheese doesn’t have a very sexy reputation (with names like ‘Old Ole and ‘Old Cheese’ we really don’t get why).

Many of us have memories of sitting in a field on a summer’s day eating crusty French bread and sharing a kilo of creamy Brie (also French). In fact, some of us would like nothing more than to spend most of our days doing just that, had it not been for the eventual need to be moved around by a pick-up truck.

Fewer people have such glorious thoughts when thinking about Scandinavian cheese – in fact, most people associate Scandinavian cheese with Eurovision. The exception is those – very few – of us who know just how many amazing cheeses actually come from our northern corner of the world.

Cheese has been made in Scandinavia since the days of old Harold Bluetooth, and the vikings reportedly had a diet rich in milk, butter and cheese – and it was thought to be a sexual stimulant.

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the more famous Scandinavian cheeses.

Gamalost Scandinavian Cheese

1. Gammelost (Old cheese)
A recipe dating back to the Viking times, ‘Old cheese’ needed very little help to mature. Most people say both taste and smell resembles something that has spent a few months inside a sweaty old sock. As you know, nothing pleases a true tyrophile more than a slice of stinky old sock. Admittedly, perhaps due to the taste, younger Norwegians are falling out of love with it, even if it is does have the nickname of Norwegian Viagra.

Danablu Scandinavian Cheese

2. Danablu (Danish Blue)
We had to include this as it is the most popular Danish export cheese and it is a darn fine cheese. Invented originally to emulate Roquefort, and quickly making its own mark on the cheese scene, Danablu has a sharp, salty note and is excellent served on just about any kind of bread. Swedes tend to love blue cheese on ginger biscuits (we say don’t argue with anyone who invented Billy bookcases, Volvos and the zipper) – and the rest of us agree. A match made in cheese-heaven.

Brown cheese - Scandinavian Cheese

3. Brunost (Brown cheese)
Comes in many different varieties: the two best known are the Gudbrandsdalen (cow and goat) and Ekte Gjeitost (pure goat); the latter is the connoisseur’s choice

Okay, so it’s an acquired taste, but, vasterbottenon average, Norwegians eat about 4 kilos each of this stuff a year so there must be something to it. It’s as Norwegian as trolls and fjords. It looks a bit like a block of plasticine, tastes a bit like caramel and is enjoyed on its own, on open sandwiches or with freshly baked waffles: all you need then is a patterned jumper and people will soon start calling you Håkon.

4. Rygeost (smoked cheese)
A very Danish invention that is never exported due to its very short shelf life. Unmatured, smoked cheese made from buttermilk and milk and turned in less than 24 hours, after which it is smoked very quickly over a mixture of straw and nettle and topped with caraway seeds. This cheese is simply amazing, light and divine eaten on a piece of rye bread. Resembles a firm ricotta in texture.

Vasterbottensost Scandinavian Cheese (1)

5. Västerbotten
If ABBA is the queen of cheese, Västerbotten is the king. A firm, kinda crumbly, aged Swedish cheese not unlike parmesan in smell but with immense flavour and character. This cheese is a welcome addition to any cheeseboard and is also a partner to any crayfish party. Can also be used to make the excellent Västerbotten pie.

hushallsost - scandinavian cheese

6. Hushållsost
A cheese that has a name that translates as “household cheese” sounds like it belongs on a value shelf in a corner shop in Hackney, but it is actually an excellent cheese. Mild, creamy and full of small holes, this cheese is usually a big hit with the younger generation. Hushållsost is one of six Swedish food products with a so-called TSG protection (only one other cheese, Svecia, also holds this distinction). Taste wise it is unoffensive and buttery – a good all-rounder.

Gamle Ole Scandinavian cheese (2)

7. Gamle Ole (Old Ole)
A sliceable mature Danish cheese, this baby stinks. Oh yes. Don’t touch it too much or your fingers will honk all day. The taste, however, is mellower and really lush. Also known in Denmark as Danbo 45, there are many varieties in the same vein: ‘Sorte Sara’ is another good version, popular in Norway.

Prastost Scandinavian cheese (1)

8. Prästost (Priest cheese)
Sweden’s most popular cheese. It was given its name because the farmers at the time it was invented could pay their church taxes in dairy products. Prästost comes in many varieties, from the mild to the mature and flavoured with anything from vodka to whisky.

Squeaky Cheese Scandianvian Cheese

9. Leipäjuusto (also known as “squeaky cheese”)
This is a fresh young cheese from Finland. The milk is curdled and set into a flat round shape, then baked. In the olden days it was dried for months and people put it on the fire to re-activate it. The name comes from the sound it makes when you bite into it. The taste is not unlike feta. Hugely popular – very difficult to export due to its fragile nature.

Prawn cheese - Scandinavian cheese

10. Rejeost (Prawn cheese)
For some reason, spreadable prawn cheese (ideally in a tube) is immensely popular across all of Scandinavia. Not really a great cheese from a connoisseur’s point of view, but surely any product that manages to combine cheese and prawns and make it taste good needs a mention. If cheese and prawn can be coupled in peaceful harmony, then there’s hope for world peace.

For all our cheeses, click here.

WIN a Mega Scandi Easter Egg

March 7, 2017 | Leave a comment

WIN a Mega Scandi Easter Egg

As we find ourselves in the deepest, lagom-est lent – we dream about all the sweets we’ll be eating once Easter is here (by Easter, we mean this Saturday.  We have to quality check the sweets well ahead of time, you know).

Scandis are big on Easter. It is a reason to get together, be merry, enjoy some outdoors – or indoors – activities, and gather round a big table filled to the brim with all things nice and decorated with little deformed bright yellow chickens. And of course, munch away on your well deserved Easter egg after lent.

Easter egg chicken decorations

We think our Easter eggs are pretty epic – and so we introduce our annual ‘win a massive Easter egg competition‘. Yay! That’s right, you can win a 23cm diameter Easter egg chock full of our favourite Easter sweets and treats.

Fancy winning? Simply answer the easy question below;

Which colour is usually associated with Easter?

A.) Bright green

B.) Pink

C.) Yellow

Send your answer by email to iloveherring@scandikitchen.co.uk before Tuesday 28th March 2017 at midday. One main winner, getting a big ScandiKitchen Easter egg, will be drawn from all correct entries.

The usual rules apply. UK residents only. No cheating. One main winner. No alternative prize and no cash alternative.

Crispbread Pizza – Weekday Dinner Revelation

February 6, 2017 | Leave a comment

Crispbread Pizza – White Winter Pizza

A super easy, quick and tasty take on pizza. By using a round of Leksands as your base you can have pizza in 12 minutes – and the mild rye flavour goes really well with the white sauce and salty bacon.

  • 1 round of Leksands crispbread
  • 100ml creme fraiche
  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon in small pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 30g fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 60g mozzarella
  • Good handful grated gruyere (or try it with Vasterbotten)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees celsius.
2. Finely chop onion and fry in  a bit of butter until soft – add a pinch of sugar and the garlic and let caramelise. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Spread the creme fraiche over the base and add the onion mixture, chopped spinach and bacon – finish with the cheese.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.

Enjoy!

—–

Pizza Bianco - White Winter Pizza

Thanks to our friends at Leksands for the recipe – just mildly adapted for a UK kitchen.

Semla Season 2017 – Everything You Need To Know

January 26, 2017 | Leave a comment

 

Semla Season 2017 – Everything You Need To Know

After Christmas we always feel determined to start a new and healthier life – less chocolate and more spinach, but only until we remember the next big occasion in the Scandi baking calendar; Semla season. Semla is the Swedish answer to pancake-day pancakes, but in our completely unbiased opinion; a million miles better and far too good to only eat once per year.

We started selling these chubby marzipan and cream filled buns of glory in the café a few weeks ago – and as we are now only 1 month away from the big day, it is time to kick off and remind each other what the Semla is all about. We have collated some essential reading (all the important semla-facts), our favourite recipes, and our very own semla product bundles if you want to give them a go at home without the hassle of seeking out the products you need. Ah, you’re welcome. Public semla-service is what we do.

– 12 Things You Need To Know About Semlor –

– Princess Semlor – The 2017 Luxury Semla – Recipe –

Princess Semla Recipe Image

Classic Semlor – Swedish Marzipan Cream Buns – Recipe

Classic Semlor Recipe


 

Fancy doing some baking? Try our kits to get started;

    Cinnamon Bun – Product Bundle
    £9.75
    - +

 

Now, promise you try one. Come say Hej and have a coffee and semla with us in our café or make your own, just don’t go without. They are too good to be missed.

Swedish Cheesecake – Ostkaka – Recipe

January 18, 2017 | Leave a comment

Swedish Cheesecake (Ostkaka)

If you’re looking for one of those sweet Americans style cheesecakes, forget it. This is the much less sweet Swedish version – ‘Ostkaka’ – which simply means cheesecake. It is a really old Swedish traditional favourite, first mentioned in the 16th century – it’s that old.

The original version requires you to go buy some rennet and make milk curds from scratch, but cottage cheese works well too, so that’s what I use in my version. Indeed, most people use cottage cheese nowadays except purists. I’d say this cheesecake is not dissimilar to the ones you get in Northern Spain, in the Basque Country – and, like the Spanish ones, work well with a glass of sweet sherry on the side. This recipe is naturally gluten free.

This cheesecake is served lukewarm, never cold and never hot. Most people enjoy it with a dollop of strawberry or cloudberry jam on top, although I prefer a quickly made compote and some fresh berries.

The recipe fits a standard brownie tray, approx 20 x 20 or similar, but you can use any sort of dish or even a spring form. Just don’t forget to line the dish.

Ostkaka with hallon (raspberries)
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 400g natural cottage cheese
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50 g ground almond
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp almond essence (optional)
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • Dusting of ground cardamom
For the topping:
  • 125g raspberries
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • Dash of water
How to:

Turn the oven to 160 degrees celsius fan (170 degrees normal).

Whisk the sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Add all the ingredients apart from the flaked almonds and cardamom and pour into your prepared tin.

Scatter the flaked almonds on top, then dust the tiny bit of ground cardamom (less than 1/2 tsp – it’s just for a bit of flavour).

Place in the oven and bake until set and slightly golden on top. This depends on your oven – but around 30-40 mins is a good guideline.

To make the topping: Place 100g raspberries in a saucepan, add the sugar and a dash of water and boil until the raspberries have broken down and it looks like a runny jam. Leave to cool. Use the remaining berries to decorate.

Kalles Kaviar – The Legend, The Myth, The Breakfast Topper

January 12, 2017 | Leave a comment

Kalles Kaviar – Everyday Hero #1

This is the first of six posts – each presenting one of our favourite everyday products. The things we eat again and again and that always provide a taste of home.

Open a random Swedish fridge and chances are you’ll find at least one blue and yellow tube of creamed cod roe with a smiley blonde on the pack. Creamed cod roe..may not sound very appetising, but its slightly salty, savoury mild taste makes it an excellent addition to your egg-sandwich – and this, indeed, is how most people enjoy it.

We have shared the recipe on this Swedish delicacy before – check it out here; Kalles Kaviar 3 Ways.

Kalles Kaviar Kaviar

What’s the fuss about you may ask? Well let us tell you how it all started (drumwhirl please)..
Kalles Kaviar was launched in Sweden in 1954, and is based on several hundred years old recipe from the Swedish west coast. Its iconic blue and yellow tube has changed little since then, and is a much-loved sight for a Swede in need of some TLC. No one is quite sure who to credit for the recipe, which was bought by Abba from a peddler for around 1000SEK – a small fortune in the 50s.

The mystery of Kalles remains to this day – not least to non-Swedes, who struggle to find anything lovable about this little bit of Sweden in a tube – well, maybe apart from Kalles’ smiley self.

Fancy some? Order some Kalles and some crispbread today and we’ll send it straight to you – your Swedish breakfast dreams will soon be answered.

    Abba Kalles Kaviar Original – Smoked Cod Roe 190g
    £3.29
    - +
    Leksands Brungraddat – Brown Baked Crispbread 830g
    £4.49
    - +

 

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