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ScandiKitchen: Christmas – Bronte Aurell

August 7, 2018

The book contains all your traditional bakes – as well as plenty of new takes on old favourites – mince pie buns and meatball stuffed turkey, to name a few. 

A fab read as well as an incredible resource for anyone wanting to add some Scandi elements to their Christmas celebration. 

ScandiKitchen: Summer – Bronte Aurell

February 5, 2018

Recipes span from aquavit bloody Mary to rye & banana bread with cinnamon butter, green crispbread pizza and summer celebration cakes. Also included are sheer indulgent cinnamon bun french toast and celebration cakes that burst with summery produce – plus new takes on old favourites such as Beef a La Lindstrom Burgers. 

North: How To Live Scandinavian – Bronte Aurell

August 8, 2017

Like her viking ancestors before her, Brontë Aurell left Denmark to explore the world beyond home shores and in her travels has come to understand the fascination with her kinfolk, as well as seeing the idiosyncrasies of the Scandinavian lifestyle that locals take for granted.  

Whether you want your apartment to look like it belongs in Copenhagen, to workout like a Norwegian or to make cinnamon buns like a Swede, this is the ultimate insider’s guide to the countries of the north. Full of inspiration and ideas, how-tos and recipes to help you experience the very best of Scandinavian design, philosophy, cookery and culture. With a signature wit and a keen eye for detail, travel alongside Brontë through fjords and mountains, farmlands and cities to better understand these three nations and what makes each one so unique. 

So get outdoors, learn the life lesson that there’s no such thing as bad weather (only bad clothing) and you may discover your inner Scandi sooner than you think.

ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Bronte Aurell

August 19, 2016

Fika and hygge are two Scandinavian words gaining more and more popularity – and we understand why. The Swedish concept of fika (fee-kah) means taking a little break from the daily grind to sit down, connect with someone and perhaps have a cup of coffee and something sweet. Hygge is a Norwegian word embraced by the Danes, and the concept of Hygge is usually associated with the latter – in Norway it is often called ‘kos’. Hygge, in essence, is a feeling of safety and contentness. Candles, your favourite people, a cup of tea or coffee or a piece of homemade cake can all enhance the feeling. This book is a collection of recipes from across Scandinavia, all beautifully illustrated and divided into chapters – Biscuits and Cookes, Tray and No Bakes, Everyday Fika, Little Fancy Cakes, Celebration Cakes and Bread and Batters. Something for every baker, and every occasion.

The ScandiKitchen Cookbook by Bronte Aurell

August 5, 2015

Our very own cookbook: The ScandiKitchen Cookbook. With more than 75 recipes this book covers all our favourite Scandi recipes – from breakfast to supper and everything in between. Learn how to make your own Swedish meatballs, soft and fluffy cinnamon buns, healthy and hearty salads, our Scandi Christmas favourites and tons more.

How to give your apartment the ‘Copenhagen’ look

October 6, 2017

 

How to give your apartment the ‘Copenhagen’ look

When you first go to Copenhagen and you visit someone’s apartment, you usually end up in awe … ‘Are they interior designers?’ you ask yourself. ‘What style!’ you exclaim, tearing up your insides as you try to forget about your own bedsit hovel with magnolia coloured walls. Then you visit someone else, and you think ‘Oh, this place looks quite like Søren and Sofie’s’. Third time around, you know: there is a ‘style’. It’s a thing.

Ten ways to make your apartment instantly look ‘Copenhagen’ fab:

1. Rip up all carpets and sand your floors. Then paint them white.

2. Paint all your walls white. Yes, all of them, white. If there is a shade of white called ‘Scandinavian white’ or ‘Ringsted white’ or ‘Vesterbro white’, go for that, it’s probably whiter and better with even more white added, so go for that.

3. Paint all your skirting boards and doors white.

4. Remove all curtains and traces of curtains, because you no longer need them. If you can’t live without window coverings, add some (white or neutral) stylish blinds, but make sure that, when they are rolled up, you can’t see them.
 It must look like you have no curtains. Curtains are bad.

5. Get one colourful statement chair, ideally by a designer from Denmark. Anything with the word Jacobsen or Wegner is good. It will cost the same as a remote village, but it will be worth it because it’s just so beautiful and perfect. Buy a woolly sheepskin from a remote farm in Sweden and add this to said statement chair.

6. Have one normal chair next to your sofa where you add a stack of books or magazines with pictures of bearded men. Leave them there, in an ordered unordered fashion.

7. Put just one green plant in the window.

8. Your sofa must be a tasteful colour or stick to black. It must also be simple – none of this ‘all the way to the floor’ business. Legs – and nothing underneath. People must be able to see you have nothing stored under there and that your stylish white floors are also stylish and white under the sofa. Thou shalt not add too many cushions.

9. Add all or some of the following: one rug (can be colourful), one or two designer posters of designer things (drawings of chairs or statues). One standing lamp (tasteful, sleek). The coffee table must be in front of the sofa and it must have thin legs. Two candle holders (the metal kind, from Illums Bolighus) OR one Lassen candle holder, one Lyngby Vase and one Kähler vase. The bookshelf is allowed to be from IKEA, but must be ‘Is it really from IKEA or not?’

10. Hide your TV in a sleek hideaway “I never watch it anyway” place, or even better, don’t have one.

This is an extract from Bronte’s book Nørth – How to live Scandinavian, now all in all good bookshops – and also available in our shop and online. Photo by Anna Jacobsen.

Danish Koldskål dessert

June 24, 2019

Danish Koldskål and Kammerjunker biscuits

The most Danish of summer desserts
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Danish

Ingredients

The ‘soup’ base

  • 1 litre/4 cups buttermilk the liquid kind, not thick – usually found in Polish shops or larger super markets
  • 150 ml/2/3 cup Greek or natural yoghurt
  • 2 egg yolks (pasteurized
  • ideally – this soup contains
  • raw egg yolk)
  • 60 g/1/3 cup caster/granulated sugar
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod/bean
  • zest from ½ lemon
  • freshly squeezed juice from ¼ lemon

Kammerjunker biscuits

  • 150 g/1 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50 g/. caster/granulated sugar
  • 50 g/3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
  • zest from ¼ lemon
  • 2 teaspoons single/light cream

Instructions

Method

  • On high speed, whisk egg yolk and sugar until white and thick. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, then the yoghurt and start to add the buttermilk whilst continuously whisking.
  • Add lemon juice to taste – the soup should be sweet but have a good lemon flavour coming through.
  • Serve the cold soup in bowls, topped with strawberries and Kammerjunker biscuits.

Method

  • To make the biscuits/cookies, combine the flour with the baking powder. Add the cold butter, cubed, and mix in until you have grainy consistency. Add the sugar, then the other ingredients and mix again until you have an even dough.
  • Leave to chill for 20 minutes before rolling the dough.
  • Turn the oven to 200 degrees C
  • Roll the dough out and cut 35-40 small pieces, roll them and place on a lined baking tray.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from oven and cut each biscuit across the middle so you end up with two flat halves. Return to the warm oven and leave them to finish baking, at 170 degrees, for 8-10 more minutes OR until golden and crisp.

Notes

Tip This soup should be eaten on day of making it as it contains raw egg. However, if there’s ever any leftovers at home, I use the this mixed in with a fresh fruit smoothie the morning after: It’s delicious. Recipe is taken from the ScandiKitchen Cookbook by Bronte Aurell, published by Ryland Peter and Small, photography by Pete Cassidy.

Västerbotten Cheese Tart

June 9, 2019

Västerbotten Cheese Tart (Västerbotten Paj)

This savoury tart can be found on every Swedish family’s dinner table several 
times a year. It’s essential to get hold of Västerbotten cheese as it really does have
a very unique taste and it is exported to speciality shops across the world. You can substitute with a good aged Cheddar, but for the ‘real’ taste, do make this if you have Västerbotten cheese. This one is normally served at room temperature rather than hot, and it is marvellous as part of a summer smörgåsbord or served just on its own with a leafy salad. It is also an essential part of an August crayfish party.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: sweden
Servings: 6

Ingredients

The pastry

  • 125 g/11⁄8 sticks butter cold and cubed
  • 200 g/11⁄2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • small dash chilled water if needed

CHEESE FILLING

  • 3 eggs
100 ml/1⁄3 cup whole milk
  • 250 ml/1 cup double/heavy cream
  • 1 ⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 250 g/9 oz. Västerbotten cheese finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a food processor, briefly blitz the pastry ingredients together
to form a dough, only adding a tiny bit of chilled water if needed to bring it together. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is crumbly, then adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing until smooth. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm/plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
  • Roll out the chilled pastry until nice and thin and use to line the
tart pan evenly. Prick the base with a fork a few times, then line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake in the preheated oven for about 12–13 minutes. Remove the beans and baking parchment and bake for a further 5–6 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.
  • For the filling, mix together all the filling ingredients except
the cheese, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Evenly scatter the Västerbotten cheese all over the base of the pastry, then pour over the egg mixture.
  • Return to the oven for about 15–20 minutes. It’ll puff up quite 
a bit towards the end and will turn golden on top. It’s done when the middle is set, so do keep an eye on it. Leave to cool before removing from the pan and slicing.
  • Note: This dish goes very well with romsås, a caviar sauce (pictured). To make this, mix together one small jar of red lumpfish roe with
 3 large tablespoons of crème fraîche and leave to set. Just before you serve the tart, stir the romsås again. Alternatively, if you can get real bleak roe (löjrom – a beautiful but quite pricy caviar delicacy), serve the tart with a spoonful of this caviar and some crème fraîche and chopped red onion.

Notes

This recipe is taken from the book ScandiKitchen Summer by Bronte Aurell, published by Ryland, Peters, Small. Photo by Pete Cassidy. You can buy singed copies of this book on our website. Also available in all good bookstores and on amazon (both in the UK and US)
    Pandalus Kräftor – Crayfish in Dill Brine 1kg
    £16.99 £15.29
    ScandiKitchen Meatballs cooked 3-Pack (3 x 300g)
    £11.97 £7.99
    ScandiKitchen: Summer – Bronte Aurell
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £16.99
    Abba Klassisk Matjessill – Classic Matjes Herring 200g
    £2.89
    Norrmejerier Västerbottensost – Mature Cheese 33% 450g
    £9.99
    ScandiKitchen Rödbetssallad – Beetroot Salad 200g (Rødbedesalat)
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £1.99

Little Lessons: Smorgasbord

April 5, 2019

Little lessons: How to Smörgåsbord

There is literally nothing more Scandinavian than a good old Smörgåsbord. Except, Smörgåsbord is a Swedish word and in Norway and Denmark, it’s called something else (Koldt Bord (cold table), and similar). But really, it’s all about food and our way of grazing through a nice, big wonderful lunch.

No matter which of the Scandinavian countries you are in, follow this guide and you won’t go far wrong, bar a few regional variations. As long as there is enough aquavit, people will be happy.

The word smörgåsbord comes from the Swedish word smörgås, meaning ‘open sandwich’ or ‘buttered bread’, and bord, meaning ‘table’. If you translate it very literally, it could also mean Butter-Goose-Table, but that would be wrong, although quite funny.

A smorgasbord is basically means a buffet made up of many smaller dishes: ‘a laid-out table’. The traditional smörgåsbord is slightly different, depending on the country you are in. Just follow the guidelines of what to eat and in what order and you’ll be all right, no matter where you are. It’s our tapas, our buffet, our small-plate-phenomena.

The term smorgasbord first cropped up outside Scandinavia during the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, when a Swedish restaurant served a smörgåsbord as we know it today. This, however, was not the first occasion of a smörgåsbord, as this was more of an accidental invention. Many centuries earlier, people in well to-do homes had what was known as an “Aquavit Table”. They would return back from whatever they had been doing (hunting moose or looking after their estates etc) and enjoy a few snacks. A few hours prior to dinner, shots of aquavit were served, likely as an afternoon pick-me-up. These were accompanied by a selection of cheeses, pickles and meats laid out on a side-table to snack on before the main meal. Over the years, the choice of dishes expanded and, one day, the Aquavit Table because the main event instead of the actual lunch or dinner. Clever marketing people at the World Fair coined a new word that since then has been adopted into a word that works in many languages.

The essence of a real smörgåsbord (or cold table) is all about taking your time to eat and talk to your guests as you do it – and share food, conversation and time. There is lots of food, granted, but we spend many hours eating it. No smörgåsbord ever took an hour – and there is no time limit on how long we might sit there – the Danish Christmas Table, for example, can easily take an entire afternoon and end with an early dinner and most certainly result in quite a hangover, too. This is why these are usually done during high seasons such as Christmas, Easter and Midsummer when people plan big get together and have time to relax and enjoy both food and company to the max.

Traditionally, a smörgåsbord is served in ‘rounds’ – on a Swedish one, usually everything is set out at the start of the meal in buffet style, whereas in Denmark, each round is brought to the table one after the other in strict order and shared round.

It’s tricky to know how to maneuver a smörgåsbord if you are a rookie, especially if you are in Denmark and nobody has told you that there are seven more rounds of food to follow the one you are eating. What foods go together? Can you put remoulade on liver pate (answer: No) and do you ever put herring with prawns (answer: NEVER). How much aquavit are you allowed to drink? (Answer: As much as you can, but not so much so that you appear drunk until everyone else is).

Rookies will fill a plate like they are at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will also hit the aquavit hard – and you just know that no rookie will last till the end. Many a newbies have fallen off the Smörgåsbord wagon at round 2 and missed the party.

The biggest smörgåsbord of the year is at Christmas. This is the julbord (literally meaning ‘Christmas table’) and is also the one that takes the longest to complete. There are many dishes and rounds – and there will absolutely be beer and aquavit, too. And singing. Lots of singing.

During December, people across Scandinavia will attend many different julbords. There is the work julbord, the friends’ julbord, the julbord for the golf club, the book club … The most intimate one is always on Christmas Eve with the family (less drinking at that one). Then there is the smörgåsbord at Easter, Midsummer and birthdays.

The dishes on a Scandinavian smörgåsbord vary seasonally and regionally, but the main dishes are the same – and these are also what connects us Scandis together, despite living in a place 3 ½ time the size of Britain and with quite a varied food culture. This is where you will always find herring and meatballs!

Photo: ScandiKitchen Summer Cookbook – by Bronte Aurell, photo by Pete Cassidy – click on photo for link to buy a signed copy.

The order and how-to of a good Smörgåsbord

Always eat everything with a knife and fork – NEVER with your hands.

Always start with the herring. It needs its own plate, because it’s a strong fish and you don’t want it to flavor all the other foods. We eat the herring first – and it needs a glass or two of Aquavit to go with it – it pairs well in flavor. Yes, you have to drink the whole shot and smile through gritted teeth. From this follows other fish, sliced meats, warm meats, salads and other warm dishes, then cheese and then – finally – dessert. And coffee.

Everything is served buffet style or passed around the table in small servings. You will never find pre-made open sandwiches on a smörgåsbord – you are supposed to make your own as you go along – and you will also rarely find many ‘fillers’, such as warm potatoes or gravy (it is not a dinner, it is a cold table with a few contradictory warm dishes included).

A good old smörgåsbord may sound a little complicated at first, but it is a very enjoyable way to spend 4-6 hours with some really nice people you get along with. While Scandinavians will never, ever talk to you at the bus stop or in the supermarket, once you have shared a few merry tunes around the smorgasbord and a few shots of aquavit, you’ll be making new friends in no time, perhaps even find yourself fluent in a Scandinavian language by song number three.

The basic order of the smorgasbord – a guide

Round one

Pickled herring (a few different kinds, served in bowls) and shots of cold aquavit. Singing at this point is optional. Beer is the traditional drink served with smorgasbord. You can drink wine, but if you mix that with wine, it just gets you even more drunk.

Suggestion: A good plain onion herring and then Mustard herring for Swedish, Curried herring for Danish, spiced herring or tomato herring for Norway.

Round two

Fish and seafood dishes. Smoked or cured salmon (with dill & Mustard sauce). Serve bowls of good quality prawns, smoked mackerel (either fresh or literally from a tin), skagenröra, halves of hardboiled eggs or any fish other than herring – even small, warm fried plaice fillets (quite a Danish thing – goes well with remoulade dressing). Lumpfish roe and creamed cod roe on the side.

Round three

Cold meats and pâté. Smoked ham, salami, liver pâté (a firm favourite amongst all three countries), cold roast beef, rolled rullepolse sausage – any deli meats are served in this round, along with pickles and/or toppings.

Round four

Warm meats. Meatballs (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian), roast pork (Christmas only for the Danes), mini sausages – anything warm is served for this course. If you want to serve Janssons frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation – a traditional Swedish gratin-style casserole made with potatoes, onions, cream and sweet pickled sprats) for the smörgåsbord, this is the course to do it. It’s mainly served at Christmas, but can also be served at Easter with some lamb (The sprats go well with lamb). In the summer seasons, serve a light quiche instead of heavier meats – Vasterbotten cheese quiche, mushroom pie or similar. But always meatballs.

Any warm sides, such as red cabbage, can be served here – but again, warm cabbage is usually more of a winter thing. Opts for a coleslaw style in the summer.

Round five

Cheese selection. Optional decorative grapes that nobody will eat and maybe a slice of green pepper that you can put in the bin after. 2-3 cheeses is enough. Go for a good blue cheese such as Kornblost or Danish blue, a solid harder cheese – Vasterbotten is always a hit here. And a milder one such as Creamy Havarti (Åseda). For the love of Thor and Freya, get yourself a good few cheese slicers.

Round six

Dessert and coffee. Any soft cake, such as a strawberry Midsummer cake or a berry cake, works here and a nice selection of little fika treats goes well too – there won’t be many hungry people at the end of a smorgasbord, so limited selection is fine. At Christmas, you might have your creamed rice pudding, in the summer a more fruity option. Or simply little marzipan/chocolate treats with the coffee. By this time, there will be no more singing, just attempt to manoeuvre a fork.

Stuff to always serve alongside a smörgåsbord:

Rye bread, crusty bread and crispbreads, bowls of salads (beetroot salad, mainly), pickles, condiments, sauces such as dill and mustard sauce, Mayo, Danish remoulade – and more.

Traditional drinks for smörgåsbord: Beer and aquavit.

Round Seven

Bugger off – food

In Denmark, the last dish serves is called Skrub-Af Mad, this means “Bugger off, food” – it is served right at the end a few hours after the last bit of the smorgasbord – it is a signal for people to leave. This might be a light soup, a hotdog or similar.

    ScandiKitchen Wild Lingonberry Jam 200g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
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    ScandiKitchen Prinskorv – Mini Sausages 300g
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    ScandiKitchen Kottbullar – Swedish Meatballs 300g
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    Falkenberg Gravad Lax – Cured Salmon 100g
    £4.99
    ScandiKitchen Rödbetssallad – Beetroot Salad 200g (Rødbedesalat)
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
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    Aalborg Dild Aquavit 38% – Dill Aquavit 700ml
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    Amo Fuldkornsrugbrød – Rye Bread Mix 1kg
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
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    Abba Grebbestad Ansjovis – Sprat fillets 125g
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Little Scandinavian lessons: Lagom

January 30, 2019

Little Scandinavian lessons: Lagom

People talk a lot about the word ‘Lagom’ – but what does it actually mean?

Lagom is the most important Swedish word you will ever learn. Used every day, multiple times, by Swedes the world over, it goes deep into the soul of every Swede. It’s part of being quintessentially Swedish.

The word lagom is said to derive from the folk etymology in a phrase used in Viking times: “laget om” – meaning ‘around to the group – allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group. This etymology is commonly accepted to be right, although some parallels are made with the Law of Jante and the common set of rules about how much one should have of something – again, things go back to the greater good for the whole group. You would take a lagom sip of the bowl, thus allowing everyone to have a ‘sufficient amount for them’ – and everyone to be satisfied. Fairness and balance.

The word itself means ‘just right’. It also means ‘just enough’, ‘sufficient’, ‘the correct amount’ (In Finnish, the word is sopiva; in Norwegian and Danish, the word tilpasselig is the most fitting, although is not used it in exactly the same way or as often – but the meaning of lagom is still engrained in every person across the Nordics). It means ‘not too much, not too little’ and also means ‘fair share’. This single little word, Lagom, denotes all of those meanings, simply depending on the context in which you use it.

There is an old saying in Sweden: lagom är bäst (‘lagom is best’), which really sums up how Swedes think and act in everyday life:
– How big a slice of cake would you like? Lagom.
– How are you? Lagom.
– The weather is lagom.
– You drink a lagom amount of wine.
– The dress is lagom.
– You have one cinnamon bun, not two. Lagom.

Lagom is positive as well as sometimes negative, it’s also the middle of the road and the average of everything. It is as it should be. It does the job, but it’s not too much, not too little.

To understand lagom, you first need to first understand the Scandinavians – in particular, Swedish cultural psyche, which is one of consensus and equality for all. Swedes don’t overdo anything, there are no over-the-top buildings, no flashy show-offs. Everything is middle of the road, fair and just the right amount. It works, just right.

People often wonder why, with the amount of cake we eat in Scandinavia and the number of sweets consumed, are we not all as big as houses. It’s because, well, lagom. Most Scandinavians won’t have two buns with their fika break, only one. One of those big bags of to-share crisps may be opened alone, but you won’t eat it all in one sitting. There will be mayonnaise on the open sandwiches, but it’s on one slice of rye bread, making it all very lagom and balanced. ‘Super-size’ in fast-food restaurants isn’t really that popular – it just isn’t lagom. We eat sweets on Saturdays – when we pig out completely. But we don’t eat them Sun-Thu, because, well, lagom.

It’s impossible to define the word lagom as a specific amount because it varies so much between people. How much cake is it appropriate to eat? How hot is lagom when it comes to your coffee? It’s a feeling, it’s something engrained in the culture and psyche of the people that is almost impossible to learn. But the amazing thing is: if a Swede asks you how much milk you want in your coffee – and you say “lagom”, they will know exactly what you mean.

How do you define Lagom in your every day? Does balance matter that much?

This post is a part extract, part re-write from Bronte Aurell’s book North, published by Aurum Books, available in all good bookshops. Photograph “lagom’ by Anna Jacobsen (North, Aurum) 2017.

Get the book here https://amzn.to/2sYz9ZW

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