2. A Norwegian might describe someone as being ‘born behind a brown cheese’ – this simply means someone who is a bit slow (Å være født bak en brunost)
3. The Norwegian cheese slicer has remained nearly unchanged since it was invented in 1925 by Norwegian Thor Bjørklund. We thank him ever day.
4. A Swede doesn’t seek revenge – instead, he “gives back for old cheese.” (Ge tillbaka för gammal ost)
5. If you slice a cheese the wrong way, Scandinavians will get cross with you. There are 3 main types of slicers: A metal planer for harder cheeses such as Västerbotten and cheddar (if it has grooves, it is for brown cheese). A plastic planer is for cheeses such as Aseda, Havarti and Greve – softer but still not too soft. Lastly, a cheese string slicer for softer cheeses such as Riberhus and Gamle Ole. If you dare to make a ski-slope, you will be banished from our shoes. We’re sorry, we just can’t be friends any more. And NEVER hack away at a cheese with a knife unless it’s a darn brie.
6. In Danish, if you call someone a cheese, it means you think they are acting a bit stupid or being mildly irritating. As in ‘Stop doing that, you cheese’ (stop det, din ost).
7. Norwegian brown cheese is the favourite in Norway. It is brown because the whey has been allowed to boil, thus caramelising the milk sugars. Brown cheese is most often made with goats milk or a combination of goat/cow’s milk.
An essential on any Swedish Christmas table, the humble Jansson’s Temptation is actually one of the stars. It is one of the most misunderstood dishes outside Sweden because it includes ansjovis, often mistranslated into English as ‘anchovies’. Swedish ansjovis are a sweet, pickled sprat as opposed to the actual anchovies in oil. The most famous brand of sprat used for this is Grebbestads ansjovis original, which we sell in our shop and online. Your local IKEA or Scandi shop may also stock it. If you cannot find this brand, try finely chopped pickled herring instead, rather than oily anchovies.
SERVES 4 AS A SIDE
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: christmas, julbord, smorgasbord, sweden
Author: Bronte Aurell
700gg/1 lb. 9 oz. floury potatoessuch as Russet, King Edward or Maris Piper
25gg/1 3/4 tablespoons butter
200gg/7 oz. sliced white onions
125-gg/ 4 1/2-oz. can of ansjovis (see introduction or finely chopped pickled herring
300mlml 1 1/4 cups whole milk
300mlml 1 1/4 cups double/ heavy cream
3-4tbsptablespoons dried breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Peel the potatoes and cut into matchsticks, a little thinner than French fries. Do this in one go and don’t soak them in water as you want to keep the starch. Put the potatoes in an ovenproof dish and place in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes to pre-cook them a bit.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook over a gentle heat until soft, taking care not to brown them. Remove the potatoes from the oven and add to the onions, mixing gently without breaking them up, and fold together.
Place half the potatoes and onion back in the ovenproof dish. Place half the ‘ansjovis’ over the vegetables and season well. Mix the milk and cream together, then pour half the mixture over the vegetables in the dish.
Repeat with another layer of the potatoes and ansjovis, pour over the rest of the milk and cream and finish with a scattering of breadcrumbs on top. The cream and milk mixture should reach the top of the dish.
Pop back in the oven and bake for around 30–35 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Some potatoes soak up more liquid than others, so you may need to add more milk and cream during cooking – you want the end result to be creamy.
This recipe is from our Bronte Aurell’s book The ScandiKitchen – available in all good book stores and on Amazon both in UK, mainland Europe and the US and Canada. Published by Ryland Peters and Small – signed copies in our online store.
Omit the ansjovis and this becomes a lovely vegetarian potato gratin. If you do this, I suggest you add a few drops of white wine vinegar to the milk and cream mixture and adjust the seasoning. If you want a bit of a bite, add some capers or mushrooms.This recipe is from our Bronte Aurell’s book The ScandiKitchen – available in all good book stores and on Amazon both in UK, mainland Europe and the US and Canada. Published by Ryland Peters and Small – signed copies in our online store.
If you’ve ever been to Scandinavia at Christmas time, you will have been offered any variety of these ginger biscuits. We practically live off them during the colder months!Note - this dough requires min 12h rest time before baking
Cuisine: Danish, Nordic, Norwegian, Scandinavian, Swedish
Mix the flour and bicarbonate of/baking soda with the dry spices and salt.Add the butter and all the other ingredients and mix until you have an even dough. It may still be sticky, but shape into a log and wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator overnight before using. Try to resist eating the dough every time you pass by the fridge. Yes, we know it is hard not to do…Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured work surface and use cookie cutters to cut your desired shapes. You want the biscuits/cookies to be thin.Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 5–6 minutes or until the biscuits turn a darker shade of brown. This is a large quantity of dough so you may need to bake the biscuits in batches (or you can freeze part of the dough for next time you wish to whip up a few trays).Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Variations:- Flavour with the zest of one orange for citrus hit- Add chopped almonds- Add food grade cedar oil for a distinct flavour (you only need a little bit)… or let the kids run wild with icing and decorate little heats, gingerbread people shapes – or even make a ginger biscuit house. This dough is very versatile.In Sweden these are called Pepparkakor – in Norway, Pepperkaker (Peberkager in Danish and in Finnish, Piparkakut). All have slightly different regional differences, but by and large, the end result is similar: A fragrant, spiced biscuit, easy to make, bake and decorate. And terribly hard to stop eating.Find this recipe and many more in Bronte’s Christmas cookbook ScandiKitchen Christmas – available signed from our website. Also available in the US and Canada on Amazon – and in Italian, German and Russian in the respective countries.
These little seedy crackers are always a hit in our house. Also, no gluten – I use buckwheat flour which isn’t actually a wheat at all.Make these and you’ll not go back to biscuits with your cheese – these are far too satisfying!
50gFlax seeds (linseed)
80g Sunflower seed
3.5tbspcold pressed rapeseed oil or other good olive oil
sea salt flakesto taste
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) Gas 2.Add all the ingredients (apart from the extra sea salt) to a bowl and stir well.Split the mixture in half and place one half on each lined baking sheet. Place another piece of baking parchment on top (sandwiching the mixture) and roll out the mixture thinly and evenly to fit the baking sheet.Remove the paper from the top and scatter with more dried nettles (if you like it stronger) and some flaky sea salt, to taste. Repeat with the second batch.Bake in the preheated oven for around 50–60 minutes – do watch the seeds don’t brown too much – until completely cooked and dry. I usually turn the oven off and leave in the oven while it cools to ensure they are completely dry. Break into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container.
Try with a lovely cheese such as Åseda or Vaästerbotten. You can vary the seeds as you prefer.
How to be Swedish, lesson no. 129: Julmust (Swedish Christmas soda).
Something happens to most Swedes when the nights start getting longer and everything get darker. We start longing for the Swedish Christmas soft drink called Julmust (Lit: Christmas ‘juice’). A ‘must’ is the Swedish word for a type of fermented juice, although non-alcoholic.
Julmust was invented in 1922 as an alternative to the dark porters often drunk at the winter time. The original recipe stems from Germany. It was invented by a chap called Harry Roberts – and the original very secret recipe is still safeguarded by the family company that launched it first.
All Julmust brands taste slightly differently – and the two biggest brands (Apotekeren and Nygårda) are the ones that mostly divide people in taste. We stock Nygårda at ScandiKitchen.
When the festive season comes along, sales of Coca Cola in Sweden drop by around 50% as people choose Julmust instead. It’s a bit like a mixture between root-beer and Coca Cola – and rather sweet. Because its only available late Autumn and Christmas, people often over-indulge*. Obviously miffed by the reduction in sales, CocaCola even tried to make their own kind, but it tanked.
If you want to make friends with a Swede, often buying them a few bottles of this at the beginning of the season will make you very popular. They may even marry you**. Don’t buy Julmust for the Norwegians or the Danes: They don’t drink it. This is a very Swedish thing.
Show us your buns 2019 - our very own mini bake-off
Use hashtag #ShowUsYourBuns – our very own online bake-off game.
The 4th October is Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden – now also celebrated in various other countries.
We’re getting everyone baking in time for the big day – and we want to see you buns. Yes, yours.
Over the next week from 27th Sep until 6th October, we’ll be posting pictures of some of the best ones across social media. If you want to show off your home baked kanelbullar, tag us (@scandikitchen) on Instagram – or use the hash-tag #showusyourbuns across different channels. You can also email one medium sized photo to email@example.com, if you prefer. We love seeing your homebakes.
Throughout the week we will be picking some of the photos to showcase – and some might even win fancy prizes*
What buns count?
Any Scandi style cardamom based yeast dough bun. Cinnamon buns or various other fillings such as vanilla, hazelnut spread, Tosca, blueberry… Of course, you need to have baked them a home.
What prizes do you have and how do I get one?
It’s very hard to choose between people’s home bakes because you can’t really measure it. We usually choose 2-3 people who’ve really shown great bun-twisting skills, innovative bun skill or kids. Prizes range from bags of sweets and chocolate to one of our baking books. Sadly we can only send gifts inside the UK. You can still play if you are outside the UK, but prizes can only be gifted to UK addresses. See terms*
You can also Google ‘Swedish Cinnamon Buns’ and you will find more recipes online than you know what to do with.
Why do cinnamon buns have a day of of their own?
The average Swede eats 316 buns a year. That’s a lot of buns. It’s one of the favourite bakes amongst the Nordics – so why not celebrate it?
Bye for now, The Kitchen Team x
*terms: Prizes are given randomly and chosen for various reasons, so please bear with us. Maybe your kids decorated your entire kitchen with flour, maybe you just took the best photo of buns that we happen to love. We will post a lot of photos throughout the week but only 3 will be winners of prizes (ranging from bags of sweets and one signed book). Winners will be notified individually via social media. We’re sorry but we can only send prizes inside the UK, but everyone may play – but prizes are for UK only. This is a fun-to-do thing we do and we simply just want to see your great bake-off baking skills, so play along for the fun of it.
Some people say it smells so bad they can’t even describe it. It was once voted the worst smelling food in the world. Durian fruit has nothing on this little fish – it really stinks.
Why does it smell so bad? The little herrings are caught and then salted and left to ferment for quite some time before being canned. Even inside the tin, the fermentation process continues which is why the tins are pressurised when you open them (be careful).
It’s known as ‘fermented herring’ or ‘surströmming’ – or some just call it ‘rotten fish’ (but it isn’t: it’s fermented, which is a different thing).
The smell might be bad – but the taste is quite nice – and a lot of people really enjoy the whole process of eating it. There are even surströmming parties and get together when the season starts in about August.
Quite surprisingly, here in the UK, this is quite a popular product – a lot of people buy it as joke presents and just trying to see if they can handle the #surstrommingchallenge. Can you?
How to serve and store
Always store the tin IN THE FRIDGE when unopened. It needs to be chilled. Do NOT keep it ambient.
ALWAYS open outdoors – never, ever indoors. The smell will hang around. Most surstromming is eaten outside, too.
Hold a cloth around you hand when you open the tin as it is pressurised. Some people open it under water which stops this a bit – and limits the smell, too. Gloves are good…
You need to wash and gut the fish before you eat it. This is quite easy: Hold the fish on a chopping board with the fork and scrape along the body with the knife to remove meat from the fish.
Serve with Swedish flatbread, with new potato, red chopped onion and sour cream. Enjoy beer and aquavit on the side for a true fermented herring party.
Please note most airlines do not allow these tins to be transported as they are pressurised (and can you imagine the smell?) so do not plan to take these tins on any flights. We only ship inside the UK.
This is when our Jonas opened fermented herring in Hyde Park
Oskars Surstromming *(Ship to UK ONLY) – Fermented Herring 300g
Our Bronte has been busy these past four years, writing a lot of books about Scandinavian culture and food.
This autumn, her seventh book has been published. It is a sort of new – and sort of not! Bronte decided to collate all her favourite baking recipes from her four cookbooks into one handy baking book – adding loads of new recipes too at the same time.
The result is called Bronte at Home – and that is exactly what it is: Scandi home baking. Ranging from how to make rye bread to how to make the best cinnamon buns, you’ll find great bakes to fit any occasion – over 70 delicious recipes.
Examples of what you will find in Bronte At home: Baking from ScandiKitchen:
Cinnamon buns, custard buns, Napoleon cakes, Danish marzipan cake, Princess cake, rye bread, stone age bread, saffron swiss roll, Danish breakfast buns, waffles, Lena’s apple pie, bilberry pie with cardamom, Vegan chocolate cake, rhubard & custard cake, banana bread, bundt cakes, muffins, honey cake, dream cake, Love cake …. and much, much more.