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Our new book: ScandiKitchen Christmas

September 14, 2018 | Leave a comment

Our new book: ScandiKitchen Christmas

At Christmas time we get really, really busy. Our Bronte especially, as she often ends up in the café, writing down festive recipes for homesick people on pieces of till roll. It is that time of year when people want to know just how Mamma used to make the rice pudding and how Granddad used to cook the Christmas ham.

So, Bronte decided that her 6th book should be a book about Christmas. It also happens to be her favourite time of the year. A book takes quite some time to write, which sneakily meant that Bronte’s Christmas last year started in November and ended in mid February. By this time, her kids were going bananas due to all the festive music and tinsel still present in her little kitchen in Queens Park: “I needed the inspiration” she reasoned. Really, she just loves Christmas and relished being able to drag it out.

What’s in the book? It is split into different sections:

  • The Christmas Pantry
  • Advent Gatherings (æbleskiver, canapés, glögg, lussebullar etc)
  • Biscuits and edible gifts (chocolate balls, klejner, serinakaker, ginger biscuits and more)
  • Christmas Eve (Norwegian and Danish pork, ham, Turkey, cabbages, duck)
  • Smörgåsbord (salmon, ham, herring, 3 meatballs, Janssons, salads)
  • Christmas bread (vörtbröd, flatbread, limpa, skorper, Kringle, Julekake)
  • Desserts (rice puddings, pavlova, logs, cloudberry cream, kransekake)

It is always hard to make decisions on what to include, so Bronte decided to take the lead of all the wonderful people who follow us on social media and asked what recipes they most often have to go look for – as well as how often she gets asked for specific recipes in the café.

Here’s a sneak peak of the introduction (click on the image to get a readable version):

The book is released 9th October 2018. You can get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US and CA… It is also out in German.

Most importantly, you can get it online at our place (we will have signed copies) – and you can also pop by the café and buy it there – and if Bronte is around she is always very happy to sign it for whoever you plan to give it to.

We do hope you like the book – it was most certainly written with love.

The Kitchen People x

Ps when you have the book, and if you like it, please do pop a review on Amazon (for this and any other of her books). It makes a massive difference to the authors.  Thank you.

 

Swedish Princess Cake: 7 Random Facts

August 24, 2018 | Leave a comment

7 Random Facts About Swedish Princess Cake

1. 70% of all cakes sold from Swedish pastry shops are princess cakes in some shape or forms. About half a million are sold each year. 

2. Since 2004 the last week of September has been dedicated to the cake – yep – a whole week where you can indulge (although maybe best not to, not every day!)

3. Marlene Dietrich once warned against men who don’t enjoy cake (and food in general) – she deemed them ‘lousy lovers’.

4. The cake came about in the 1930s when the home economics teacher of the three Swedish princesses published her cookbook, named ‘the Princesses’ Cookbook’. The book contained a recipe for a green cake that was their favourite and it quickly became known as the princess cake instead. 

5. Sometimes you’ll see the princess cake in different colours. Traditionalists insists that the real deal has to be green – other’s say it doesn’t matter. Some places it will be called Opera torte if it is pink, Carl Gustaf torte if it is yellow, and any other colour simply called Prince torte. We don’t mind – they’re all delicious.

6. To jam – or not to jam? We like raspberry jam in ours – but this is a fairly new addition, it seems. We also like adding fresh raspberries in season. Traditional or not – it goes so, so well with the luscious vanilla cream and sweet marzipan.

7. In 2016, someone thought it would be interesting to see what happened if you cross a princess cake with the Swedish semla – the marzipan cream bun they eat for pancake day. We tried it – it was delicious. Like a mini cake, but all to yourself. 

Recommended products

    Dr Oetker Kagecreme Vanilje – Instant Vanilla Creme 3x85g
    £3.09
    Odense Marsipanlock – Marzipan Cake Cover 200g
    £5.59
    Karen Volf Lagkagebunde – Cake Sponges 3-pack
    £2.99

Recipe: Prinsesstårta – Swedish Princess Cake

August 2, 2018 | Leave a comment

Prinsesstårta - Swedish Princess Cake

By popular demand, we are now posting the princess cake recipe from Bronte’s book Fika & Hygge – with a few added hints and tips for making the perfect cake. It’s not the easiest cake in the world to make, let’s be honest. But you can do it! You just need some patience and a bit of guidance… And soon you’ll have the perfect Fika cake for your afternoon tea party – and what a beautiful centre piece it is on the table. 


The cake stems from the royal household in Sweden. Back in the 1940’s when the 3 princesses were young, the Home Economist was teaching them how to cook and bake. This cake was called Green Cake and was published in the book (The 3 Princesses’ cookbook) as The Green Cake but eventually it earned the name Princess Cake as popularity grew – for obvious reasons. 

There are a few secrets to making a good Princess cake – the first is to get the ratio right of base, cream and pastry cream and marzipan. Too much of either and it is just a bit sickly. The second thing is perfecting the marzipan – it is tricky. It may take a few attempts to be able to pull the marzipan around soft whipped cream without making a mess of it – here, patience, cold clean fingers and perseverance is key. We’ve added some cheat’s steps along the way if you want to make things easier for yourself. In fact, lots of people use a few cheat steps along the way - and we think this is perfectly fine. If you use all the cheat’s steps, you can actually whip up a princess cake in 15 minutes from start to finish – and one that still tastes good and will look great. 

The original recipe can be found in the book Fika & Hygge, by Bronte Aurell, published by Ryland Peters and Small, photography by Peter Cassidy.

Ingredients

You need:

  • 3 layer cake bases
  • 1 x portion of pastry cream around 600g
  • 600 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 150 g raspberry jam
  • 200 g light green covering marzipan
  • pink and green modelling icing for flowers and leaves decorations
  • Piping bag spatula, cake stand.
  • Tip: Depending on your schedule you might find it best to make the pastry cream first so it can cool and have time to set whilst you get on with the cake layers - but this is up to you.

Layer Cake Bases

In our book we do not use baking powder – which is a genoise sponge – but if you are a little unsure add the mentioned 1 tsp baking powder and your rise is pretty much guaranteed. For more experienced bakers, try without (and you avoid the baking powder slight aftertaste and get a lighter result).

  • 25 g butter melted and set aside
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 120 g plain flour
  • optional 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract or seeds from ½ pod
  • 3 baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper (and ideally a few puffs of non-stick spray).

Pastry Cream

  • Makes 600g gram approx.
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod seeds scraped out
  • 1 whole egg plus one egg yolk
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 30 g cornflour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 25 g butter

Make your own marzipan:

  • 200 g finely ground almonds use ground almonds, then re-grind them a few ties to make them extra fine.
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 medium pasteurised egg white
  • Green food gel

Instructions

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4

  2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attached, beat the egg and sugar on high until you reach ribbon stage. This means when you can see the traces of the mixture when you most the whisk through it. It will take a good 4-5 minutes to reach this stage and it’s crucial – especially if you are not using baking powder, this is your only opportunity to get air into the mixture.
  3. Using a 20cm plate, draw 3 circles on your baking paper. Set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder if using. Sift this into the egg mixture and very carefully fold to combine, using a figure of eight, until all the flour is incorporated. Be very gentle at this stage, but thorough. Pour the cooled, melted butter down the side of the bowl at the end and give a final few folds to incorporate it.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the 3 circles and gently use your spatulas to guide to the drawn edge.
  6. Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until baked through and lightly browned.  Allow to cool down. To remove from the baking paper, if it sticks, wet your hands and allow to damped the underside of the baking paper, this release the cakes.
  7. Trim any edges so you end up with 3 perfectly round and even sized bases.
  8. Tip: You can use 3 x 20cm baking tins if you have.
  9. Cheat’s tip: Use ready bought layers – these from Karen Volf are brilliant. Comes with 3 layers and are ready to use. They are light and not too sweet – a really good option.

Vanilla Cream Patisserie

  1. In a saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla seeds.
  2. In a separate bowl, using a mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and corn flour.
  3. When the milk reaches just boiling point, take it off the heat and pour 1/3 into the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
  4. Pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk, return to the stove and bring to the boil whilst whisking. Whisk continuously as the mixture thickens and keep on boil for just under a minute (this removes the cornflour taste).
  5. Pour into a cold bowl and leave to cool and set for several hours in the fridge. To avoid a ‘crust’ forming on top, place clingfilm straight on to the cream, covering the entire surface.
  6. Cheat’s tip: Use an instant cream mix – we like this one from Dr. Oetker - just mix one sachet with 500ml whole milk, whisk for 1 minute and leave to set in the fridge. It has a nice vanilla taste and does not taste powdery – this is a great pastry cream alternative. You can also use this one for baking.

Green Marzipan Lid

  1. Here’s the admission: I usually buy green marzipan. Why? Because it’s easy and smooth and it’s ready to use. You can get one that fits a 20-cm cake here – Odense Green Marzipan Lid.

    Buy a covering marzipan from the supermarket and colour it green (should be minimum 25% almonds). To colour the marzipan, you must use a gel colour NOT a liquid green food colouring. If you use a green liquid colour, your marzipan will get sticky and hard to work with - and you will have to add a lot of extra icing sugar to make it workable.

  2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth marzipan. Roll the mixture into a ball and wrap tightly with cling film. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before using.
  3. Because this marzipan contains egg white, use within a day.

Recommended Products

    Dr Oetker Kagecreme Vanilje – Instant Vanilla Creme 3x85g
    £3.09
    Odense Marsipanlock – Marzipan Cake Cover 200g
    £5.59
    Karen Volf Lagkagebunde – Cake Sponges 3-pack
    £2.99

The Crayfish Season

July 15, 2018 | 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 Crayfishionados).  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.

Crayfish Essentials

    Pandalus Kräftor – Crayfish in Dill Brine 1kg
    £15.99
    Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale 330ml
    £5.99
    Kräfthattar – Crayfish Party Hats (4 pack) – Blue
    £2.59
    Ærø Walnut Beer Organic 6%
    £4.99
    Ærø IPA Beer Organic 5%
    £4.99
    Norrmejerier Vasterbottensost – Gourmet Piece 165g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £4.99
    Nils Oscar God Lager – Beer – CASE of 20
    £39.99
    Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout – 9% ABV – CASE of 12 x 330ml
    £69.99
    Nogne O IPA Beer 7.5% ABV – CASE of 12
    £69.99
    Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale – 7.5% ABV – CASE of 12 x 330ml
    £69.99
    Ærø Organic IPA Beer – CASE of 15
    £72.99
    Ærø Organic Walnut Beer – CASE of 15
    £72.99
    Hedlund Kraftgirland – Crayfish Garland 4m
    £3.59
    Festlykta Måne – Crayfish Party Decoration 55cm Ø
    £6.29
    Gäsene Hushallsost – Mild Cheese c.1.1kg
    £10.29
    Arla Gräddfil – Sour Cream 300ml
    £1.89
    Hedlund Kräftservietter – Crayfish Party Napkins (20 pack)
    £3.09
    Leksands Normalgraddat – Rye Crispbread 830g
    £5.59
    Leksands Brungraddat – Brown Baked Crispbread 830g
    £5.59

How to make a Swedish Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)

June 28, 2018 | Leave a comment

 

How to make a Swedish Sandwich Cake (Smörgåstårta)

It’s often described as Sweden’s guilty secret: in all the Nordic Diet, healthy eating and green good-for-you flurry, we also have The Sandwich Cake.

We’re unsure of the exact origins, but suspect it may have come over from the States in the early sixties when housewives made similar ‘cakes’ for their cocktail parties. Someone must have brought it back to Scandinavia, and voila, it took hold and never went away. In all our obsession with rye bread and crisp bread, using soft white sandwich bread was – and is – seen as a huge treat. So, the Smörgåstårta became synonymous with birthdays and big celebrations and times to indulge.

If you google Smörgåstårta, you will see a variation of monstrosities – 80’s creations that would make any Sundsval housewife from 1984 weep with pride. Still today, this is what they look like – some with seafood, some with ham, cheese, pate, tuna and anything else you can think of. Smothered in mayonnaise and then decorated with twirly bits of cucumber and the odd radish rose.

Our Roxanne, who looks after our Logistics, used to make these for a living when she was a student back in Sweden. She tells us tales of a particular kind from her home town of Trelleborg – that has egg mayo, prawns, ham – covered in mayo and topped with roast beef. In one cake.

See, we told you: It’s quite something.

Here’s a selection of creations we found on the internet of different kinds….

 

Ica

Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In recent years, many have tried to make the Sandwich Cake look a bit more current – including yours truly – but it is hard: You don’t want to play too much with tradition, but also, you don’t want to start bringing back hair scrunchies, Miami Vice and Melanie Griffith. It’s a fine balance.

Since I showed off one of our sandwich Cakes on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch the other day, we have had a lost of request for the recipe. So, here goes: There is no recipe. You make it up as you go along. But, to please you all, here is the recipe for the one we showed on the TV show. Just remember: You can make it any way you like – any shape, any size – just adapt the recipe to fit your party.

A few things to note and adhere to:

– White bread works well. You can also use wholemeal, but hey, why go wholemeal with a mayo cake? Rye bread does not work well.
– Butter the bread still, it will create a barrier and avoid it all going too soggy
– make the base the day before, then decorate on the day.
– Keep the layers tasty – although some people put both ham and prawns in one, it doesn’t taste nice. Keep it classic – I love seafood salad with salmon, for example, and egg.
– Make it on the tray you plan to serve it on – don’t try to move it once done.
– Plan to serve other things along side it – or else it gets too heavy. It’s a nice addition to a buffet with some salads and other bits.

This Smörgåstårta serves approx. 12 people with one nice bite per person.

Ingredients

12 slices of thick sliced white bread, buttered and crust cut off.

Egg mayo made from mixing:
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
½ tsp Dijon mustard
salt, pepper
Chopped chives OR cress (as you prefer)
Mayonnaise – to taste. I like it not too gloopy as I feel there is enough mayo in this as it is.

Skagenröra basic mixture
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 small bunch of chives, chopped
A bit of grated lemon zest
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
50g Mayonnaise
50g Crème fraiche
A bit of freshly grated horseradish or a small bit (1/4 tsp) horseradish sauce
Salt, pepper

A mixture of prawns and crayfish tails OR just prawns – to taste (approx. 200g-250g in total). Again, you want to have a good amount in there, but ensure the mixture is not too gloopy. If you feel you need to bulk it out, you can add a few finely chopped seafood sticks in the mixture, too.

Mix and its ready to use.

Topping:
1-2 cucumbers
Smoked Salmon approx. 150-200g
Pea shoots, micro herbs, radish thinly sliced, prawns in shell or whichever toppings you feel will work well with your cake. On the one in the photo, I used pea shoots, baby watercress, radish, asparagus, dill, prawns and candy beet.

Plus, a lot of good, thick mayonnaise.

How to

On your serving tray, place 3 slices of bread in one length. Top with egg mixture (1/2 of it), then add another layer of bread. Now add your prawn mixture (you may have some left over). Add more bread, then the rest of the egg and the top with the last 3 slices of bread.

This stage can be prepared the day before – keep in fridge to set.

Using a serrated knife, trim the edges so it is a uniform sized cake. Using a spatula, smear Mayonnaise all over the sides and top – as thick as you prefer it to be.

Measure the height of the ‘cake’, then using a mandolin slicer or very sharp knife (or even a cheese planer), slice pieces of cucumber to fit all the way around. The mayonnaise will act as a sort of glue.

Once all sides are decorated with cucumber, add the salmon on top evenly, then add your other toppings. You can choose to do it in best 80’s food fashion – or try to be a bit more contemporary (although, as I did, you will likely fail, but it will taste nice!).

Only your imagination sets the limits for a good old Smörgåstårta

By Bronte Aurell, author of about 6 books on Scandinavian food.

The Only Aquavit Song You Need

June 21, 2018 | Leave a comment

Lyrics – ‘Helan Går’ Aquavit Song

Because when Swedes party, they party with drinking songs. Aquavit songs, specifically. This is a popular one – we have included the original lyrics as well as the phonetic English ones (ie. how it sounds).

Helan går

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Phonetic version – sing as you read it:

Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Oh handsome in the hell and tar
and hell are in the half and four
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley


Skål!

Midsummer in Scandinavia

June 19, 2018 | Leave a comment

 

Midsummer in Scandinavia

Midsummer, to Swedes especially, is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. In Sweden, the date moves each year, as it is an official holiday – and it is always celebrated on a Friday. With the official midsummer day of the year being 23 June, it is always moved to the closest Friday (for 2018, this is 22 June and 21 June for 2019). In Denmark and Norway, the date doesn’t move – it is always celebrated on the evening of 23 June.

In Sweden, Midsommar is simply known as that, whereas in Denmark and Norway
the name has changed to St Hans Aften (‘St John’s Eve’). That’s the official name, although it’s also known as Midsommer.

As the longest day of the year, midsummer was a very important day in the pagan
calendar. The Vikings used this night to visit healing water wells and had huge bonfires to ward off evil spirits. These celebrations go back to Freyia and Freyr, the Norse gods of fertility. The Vikings worshipped fertility on this day – and hoped for a rich harvest.

Today, you see the remains of these old traditions both in Sweden and Denmark.
Sweden’s midsummer symbol is now a midsummer pole, Midsommarstång, decorated with flowers. (It was originally a Maypole, likely brought over from Germany, but there weren’t enough flowers to decorate it in May so it is now used in June instead.) In Denmark and Norway (and parts of Finland), the bonfires won out and are still the main symbol of midsummer.

In Sweden, schools and offices close and it is the time for friends and families to get together. People wear flower garlands in their hair; some wear traditional dresses or just long, light-coloured dresses. Younger men wear traditional accepted Stockholm clothing for Swedish dudes: light-coloured, tight trousers, pointy shoes, fashionable sunglasses and slicked-back hair. Maybe a crown of flowers.

The flower garlands are a major part of the outfit. Most people make their own while
sitting in a field, waiting to celebrate and for someone to crack open the aquavit. People gather wild flowers and the garlands are made for grown-ups as well as children. This adds to the picture-perfect setting – everything becomes wonderfully colourful and happy, as people sit in nature and enjoy the lightest day of the year.

Thus properly attired, they gather to raise the midsummer pole, which is decorated with more flowers and leaves and can be anything from small poles in private
gardens to massive poles in the town centers.

Where food is concerned, everybody brings a picnic or has a midsummer lunch together. Lunch always consists of pickled herring, new potatoes with dill, meatballs, cheese… Not dissimilar to food at other Swedish celebrations, but with a lot more strawberries, as these are usually just in season when midsummer comes around. This is also a big day for smörgåstårta – a popular dish for high seasons. Essentially, this is a massive sandwich made with white bread, covered in a litre of mayonnaise and decorated in the best 1980’s style. Then eaten like a cake, by the slice. With this, people enjoy aquavit, in shots (nubbe). Roughly one shot to every two beers and Bjørn will be playing footsie with Gunhilde before you know it.

Drinking songs, such as ‘Helan går’, are sung, shots are enjoyed and after a few of those, almost everybody will feel ready to dance. Don’t worry if you can’t sing songs in Swedish, after two or three nubbar, people automatically develop a peculiar singsong fluency in Swedish. The party then gathers around the midsummer pole to hold hands and starts to run around in circles, pretending to be little frogs with no ears and tail. This is the traditional Swedish song – sung at every party – called ‘Små grodarna’ (the ‘Little Frogs’). If you are ever invited to join in, you must oblige. It would be rude not to and nobody feels embarrassed about this dance. Once it’s over, you’ll be allowed to get back to more food and aquavit.

The afternoon is usually spent playing games, such as Kubb (Viking chess) and an odd version of rounders called Bränball. When people have finished eating and playing, the dancing continues – as does the drinking. The party will go on until last man standing, with darkness never setting on this lightest day of the year.

On this night, it is also tradition to pick seven different kinds of wild flowers. Put them under your pillow before going to bed and you will dream of the person you will marry. This makes Tinder-swiping a whole lot easier as you will now know what he or she looks like.

In Denmark and Norway, people are a little more controlled in their midsummer celebrations. It is not a public holiday and, while it is still a big celebration, it is by no means as big as in Sweden. The celebrations centre around big bonfires, usually by the shore or in town centres. Bonfires, originally intended to ward off evil spirits, have become slightly warped in Denmark over the years. Nowadays, they signify the burning of witches. Each bonfire has a witch made out of straw, dressed in old ladies’ clothing and stuffed with whistle crackers. The fire is lit and everybody waits for the witch to catch fire, the whistles signifying her screams. Legend has it that, by doing this, you send the witch off to the Brocken mountain in Germany to dance with the Devil.

As they watch the witch burn, people sing songs about how much they love Denmark. There is usually a guy with a guitar and no socks. He plays songs slowly, with his eyes closed. There may or may not be skinny dipping. At midsummer in Denmark, kids will usually be making snobrød (‘twist bread’) – its bread dough wrapped around .a twig and baked on the fire. Except it never bakes, so you everyone ends up with a stomach ache from eating raw dough covered in jam. The fire ends and people go home. Unlike Sweden, this isn’t a massive party, but a much calmer affair (save the burning of witches, of course; some may find this rather sinister).

From the dancing and the ancient traditions to the seasonal food and togetherness, Midsummer in Scandinavia is an enchanted time and writing about it doesn’t do it full justice. The light is entirely spellbinding – and it’s something to be experienced. The day after Midsummer in Sweden, in particular, is a whole different ball game – and it’s yours alone to deal with. The ‘where are my shoes?’ questions will inevitably start to be pondered on. Who are you? Who am I?

For anyone who has partaken of a traditional Swedish Midsummer, the day after is likely to be long – and very slow. But you’ll always have the memories.

Or not.

ScandiKitchen is celebrating Midsummer – we even have a Midsummer pole and every year, we have to stop drunken Swedes from trying to walk off with it. All part of the fun. Stock up on your Midsummer foods in our London grocery store open every week day until 19:00 and Saturday until 18:00. Online here www.scandikitchen.co.uk

Extract MIDSUMMER taken from our Bronte’s best selling book Nørth: how to live Scandinavian, published by Aurum, with stunning photography by Anna Jacobsen. Get your copy on Amazon – it has everything you need to know to live a Scandi life, from Hygge to Lagom to how to wear a Norwegian jumper.

Available in Italian here
Available in German here
Available in French here

In America? Get it here.

In Canada? Get it here?

Get it signed here (or pop by the cafe in London, Bronte will be super happy to sign it for you and have a chit chat if she is around. She is not at all scary)

‘Små Grodorna’ song – Midsummer

June 18, 2018 | Leave a comment

picture credit: talldungen.se

 


 

Dance like a frog and celebrate Swedish midsummer

No, we don’t know why either – but dancing around the beautiful midsummer pole like little frogs is a thing. There is no escaping it, when you celebrate Swedish midsummer, you dance around pretending to be a frog. So there. You might as well embrace it and learn the lyrics! First, the Swedish – second a commonly used (well…commonly is relative) English version.

 

Swedish:

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

 


 

English:

The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

 

Happy Midsummer!

Celebrating? Check out our ready to go Picnic box to bring to the park – or our huge selection of Swedish midsummer foods from herring and aquavit to meatballs and cinnamon buns.

Lyrics found all over the internet – we are merely repeating them from wikipedia which has lots of translations should you want them.

How to do a Scandi Midsummer at Home

June 12, 2018 | Leave a comment

How to do a Scandi Midsummer at Home

Midsummer is one of the most important days in the Nordic calendar – especially for the Swedes where it is a huge holiday (and hangover).

Here’s a guide on how to make your own Swedish Midsummer Buffet and celebrations at home.

When to celebrate

Swedes always move Midsummer to the nearest Friday for Summer Solistice. This year that means Friday 22nd June. This day is a holiday in Sweden and everybody will be out all day celebrating in the sunshine (read: rain). When celebrating abroad, most move it to the Saturday (23rd June in 2018) so we can benefit from a full day of sitting outside, hoping it will not rain.

How to set the scene

Flowers and green stuff. Everywhere. Outside is preferable – in a park, in your garden, by a lake or even on your balcony if you have no outside space. Midsummer is all about the outdoors.

What to wear

Something light in colour, flowers in your hair. Real flower garlands are a must for all! Be at one with nature (avoid walking around naked – that’s too much. Especially before the first bottle of aquavit has been opened).

What to eat

Make a Smörgåsbord buffet or a picnic (Smörgåsbord just means ‘laid out table – a buffet). Both will contain the same sort of foods. We have added ** for things that are essential – the other stuff are fillers: add as many as you fancy or have time to do.

• Pickled herring** (Mustard herring and Matjes Herring are two solid choices). Recipe for Mustard herring is here or get it ready to serve here. Arrange in bowls, decorate with onions rings on top and dill sprigs.

• Gubbröra – boiled egg with pickled sprats. Eat with crispbread. Find the recipe in our first cookbook.

• Gravad Lax cured salmon and Dill & Mustard Sauce ** (goes well with rye bread)

Västerbotten Quiche – a beautiful Swedish cheese pie, perfect eaten cold. Top with caviar sauce (red lumpfish roe mixed with a few large spoonsfuls of crème fraiche or sour cream). If you can’t be bothered to make the quiche, just serve the cheese on its own with a dollop of cloudberry jam. Or, like us – do both! Cheese pie with a side of cheese.

• New potatoes ** – Cook and cool down, dress with melted butter and fresh dill. When you serve them, you do so with a bowl of what Swedes call Gräddfill on the side – it’s similar to crème fraiche – but lighter. You can get the exact same thing by mixing half natural yoghurt and half crème fraiche (or simply buy your gräddfill from us here). Add lots of chopped chives with the gräddfill, too – essential. A great match for Matjes herring. Here is a recipe for a simple potato and dill salad.

• Swedish Meatballs**. Well, you didn’t think you could avoid meatballs, did you? You can find a recipe on how to make your own here. We stock some really delicious ones, too – very meaty and with just the right spice from a slow food producer called Per I Viken (budget 2-3 meatballs per person of these – they are quite filling). If you use the smaller supermarket variety, budget about 120g per person.

• Beetroot Salad** It wouldn’t be Midsummer without a good beetroot salad. You can find a recipe here – or get your hands on our own version here. If you pop by the café, we’ll usually be able to sell some of our homemade salad to you by the kilo, also, if you ask nicely.

• Extra salads – if you fancy making a more elaborate spread, try the Courgette & Västerbotten salad here or the Curried cauliflower with rye grain for something different? Or even a nice fresh kale salad with apple here – or how about a lovely slaw?

• This Beetroot Tart is a fab veggie option that both tastes and looks stunning.

• Bread **. Make a bread basket of lovely crispbread, rye bread and crusty bread so there is something for everyone.

• Cheeses – if you want to add a cheese selection, we recommend Västerbotten (truly a phenomenal cheese, especially with Cloudberry jam on top), and then an Åseda – a mild, super creamy cheese that everyone loves. You can also perhaps add a bit of Danish cheese – the Riberhus with caraway is lovely and has a good bite to it. Don’t forget you need cheese slicers.

• Dessert has to incorporate strawberries** – that’s the law. The more strawberries the better. In Sweden, most people will make a strawberry layer cake – 3 sponge or genoise sponge layers, with half pastry cream half whipped cream in the middle. Add chopped strawberries in side in the layers, and cover the whole thing in more strawberries. An easier option of Strawberries and cream also works! Here’s the cheat’s version for the cake and the full recipe.

What to drink

Aquavit** is needed for your cheering and singing – for Midsummer, the delicious light Elderflower aquavit is great (Hallands Fläder) or try the most traditional OP Andersson. Serve slightly chilled in shot glasses. Be warned, it gets you drunk from the waist down.

Here’s a link to the songs you need to know for the aquavit cheering:

Aquavit Songs (Snapsvisor) for Midsummer

Also, serve nice beers (God Lager, Tuborg, Lapin Kulta etc) – and wine, if preferred, but this is less traditional (and doesn’t work so well with aquavit, so do be careful of who you’re playing footsie with under the table).

A nice non-alcoholic drink is Elderflower or Lingonberry Cordial – great both with still and sparkling water.

How to arrange the table and buffet if you’re having the party at home and not in a park:

If arranging on a separate Smörgåsbord buffet table (recommended for 10 people or more), always arrange the fish at one end, starting with the herring, followed by any other fish dishes. Follow it with cold meats, then warm meats, side dishes and finally bread and butter. Cheese can be placed by the bread section or served separately at the end as a cheese board. Dessert is not usually brought out until the main smörgåsbord has been eaten.

Always start with herring and a shot of aquavit (butter some rye bread or crisp bread, add a few slices of herring on top, eat with a knife and fork, drink a shot of aquavit, and everybody cheers together). After a few sing songs, tuck into the rest of the meal.

Glad Midsommar!

PS if you’re still in doubt on what to do, here’s a Midsummer for Dummies guide:

Easy Västerbotten Cheese Quiche

June 7, 2018 | 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.

    Norrmejerier Vasterbottensost – Gourmet Piece 165g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £4.99
    Norrmejerier Västerbottensost – Mature Cheese 33% 450g
    £9.99

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