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Author Archives: Bronte Aurell

How to create a midsummer picnic – the easy way

June 5, 2014 | Leave a comment

How to create a midsummer picnic – the easy way

Midsummer occurs at exactly the same time as the summer solstice. It’s a wonderful time of year where we have almost round-the-clock daylight and try to tap into as much of it as we can, preparing ourselves for the long dark winter days ahead.

In Sweden, ‘midsommar’ sort of means picnics. It also means midsummer maypoles, aquavit, dancing, fun and frolics, and maybe a sing-song or two. It means flowers in your hair, and it definitely means local food eating outdoors with friends and family.

If you want to try your hand at a typically Scandi midsummer picnic, here’s our easy guide to doing it yourself. And don’t worry if you think you’ll have problems getting some of the trickier ingredients – we’ve suggested alternatives throughout.

What to make and pack

The emphasis is on seasonality and authentic produce.

Herring

It’s just not Scandi unless there’s herring, so don’t be squeamish and give it a try. At midsummer, we enjoy Matjes herring in particular. A lot more delicate than the usual pickled herring, it goes very well with the season’s new potatoes.

We usually have at least two types of herring, so try one with Swedish mustard dressing – ABBA’s Senaps Sill is great.

Some UK supermarkets do have Scandi brands of pickled herring, so go for those if you can as they have a sweeter brine. Matjes herring is available online from ScandiKitchen.co.uk and you can also get it at Ocado. Rollmop herring is easy to find, but it is rather sourer than what we have in Scandinavia, and we have it in chunks rather than rolled lengths – avoid unless there’s nothing else.

New potatoes

A must-have. Get really good quality new potatoes, boil and cool down to bring along to the picnic. Some people like them very plain, some like them tossed in dill. We prefer them in a light dill dressing as follows:

Cook the potatoes as described above. You can use slightly warm potatoes for this, or cooled ones straight out of the fridge. The most important part is to dress them just before serving.

Prepare the dressing:

• 75ml sunflower oil or other light oil

• 25ml white wine vinegar

• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 1 tbsp caster sugar

• 1 medium shallot, very finely chopped

• 1 bunch of dill, finely chopped

• Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the liquids, mustard and sugar until the sugar has dissolved, then fold in the chopped shallot and dill. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and make sure each potato is coated.

Gräddfill

Swedish sour cream. There’s no direct British equivalent (due to the fat content), but if you mix half natural yoghurt to half crème fraîche, you’ll get something very close. Make a small batch so you have enough to pour over the potatoes and Matjes herring as a dip or dressing. Add a handful of finely chopped chives to the mixture.

We do sell Gräddfil at ScandiKitchen if you want to get hold of the real thing.

Beetroot salad

This makes an appearance at every festive season. It’s delicious and simple to make, but you can easily buy our own from ScandiKitchen or Ocado.

To make it yourself, drain a jar of Scandi pickled beetroot and lightly chop them. Mix with one chopped tart apple. Add enough crème fraîche and mayonnaise to create a light pink hue, then season with salt, pepper, a dash of balsamic and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice if needed. Leave to set.

If you use British pickled beetroot, you may need to add sugar for a more authentically sweeter taste.

Meatballs

Of course. Did you think we could have a picnic with no meatballs?

Make or buy. If you decide to make, do so a day in advance, as it takes quite a while to make a full batch. If you buy, we highly recommend either Per i Viken or Mamma Scans. Either way, eat them cold.

Salmon

We love salmon, but it can be a bit difficult to sit and eat on a picnic. We suggest making a cured salmon salad with new potatoes. You can omit the potatoes if you don’t want to double up on spuds for your picnic.

300g cooked, cooled new potatoes, halved
200g cured salmon (or smoked salmon, if you prefer)
100g green beans, blanched, cut into 3-4 cm pieces
150g green asparagus, blanched, cooled, cut into 3-4 cm pieces
100g green peas, blanched, cooled
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of crunchy green leaves (from iceberg to frisée – whatever you prefer)
1/3 cucumber, cubed
1 tbsp chopped chives
Sprigs of dill to decorate
Fold together and dress lightly with gravlax sauce, which is a dill and mustard dressing. We stock it, as do some supermarkets.

Green salad

Nobody will eat it, but it’s pretty and looks like you’ve make a massive effort. Optional, of course.

Cheeses

Go for a lump of lovely Swedish Västerbotten or Prast. Don’t forget the cheese slicer.

If you want to show off, make a Väststerbottenpaj. It’s a cheese quiche made with Västerbotten and full-fat cream. The dressing for the quiche is easy: a small jar of red lumpfish roe mixed with 100ml of crème fraîche. Or just buy a cheese quiche and smile sweetly.

Bread

This bit is important. You have to have crispbread, of course. Go for Leksands or Pyramid, both are very nice. Crusty bread is also common – get a baguette or some seeded rolls, whatever you fancy. Just don’t forget the butter.

Sweet stuff

Midsummer is all about the humble strawberry, and you’ll need to incorporate strawberries into your picnic somehow. If you’re having it in your garden, you could make a jordgubbstårta – a strawberry layer cake – but that would be hard to bring along to a picnic. Instead, we suggest a few punnets of strawberries with a bit of cream and you’re done. If you want to bake, make a delicious Swedish sticky chocolate cake called a kladdkaka the day before. Chill it and slice before you leave (it’s slightly under-baked and sticky, so you can only cut it while cold).

Serve with the cream and strawberries.

Booze

Aquavit, cider and beers. You can add wine or champagne, but be careful of mixing aquavit and wine. We recommend a bottle of Skåne aquavit or Hallands Fläder, both are nice and summery. Only ever drink very cold, and as shots. For beers, go for Tuborg or Pistonhead. Rekordelig or Kopperberg are good cider options and probably the easiest thing on your shopping list to obtain.

If you can’t get aquavit, try flavouring a bottle of vodka. Google “make your own Swedish aquavit” for ideas.

Singing

Once you crack open the aquavit, the desire to sing will become evident. Prepare some good old Swedish ‘snapsvisor’, aka drinking songs. If you don’t speak Swedish, just pretend to be the Swedish Chef from The Muppets for a few minutes. More aquavit helps with that. Please be aware that after two shots of the strong stuff, you are likely to be fluent in Swedish, just by default.

Midsummer maypole etiquette

If there is a maypole, you need to dance around it. Not on your own, but with other people. Let them take the lead if you are unsure (and you will be unsure, so let them take the lead). If you find yourself pretending to be a little frog, this is quite normal. More aquavit helps with that.

Dress code

Well, there’s not a dress code as such (although UK midsummer celebrations probably should include an anorak and umbrella). Women tend to wear white clothing, with wild flowers in their hair. This is of course optional, especially when it comes to keeping tidy during a picnic, although the floral hair arrangements can get quite competitive. Men tend to wear stuff that makes them look even more Swedish. Like tight trousers, maybe even yellow ones. We don’t really advise either, if we’re honest.

And that’s it. Just have a lovely day whatever you do.  Glad Midsommar!

Recipe: Blueberry, Gorgonzola and rye crouton salad

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Blueberry, gorgonzola & rye crouton salad

This is probably one of the easiest salads in the world to make. The marriage between blueberries and gorgonzola is everlasting - fruity, creamy, tasty.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: blueberry, gorgonzola
Author: Bronte Aurell

Ingredients

  • 120-140 g mixed salad leaves (we prefer ones containing beetroot leaves as these go very well)
  • 1180-230 g blueberries
  • 150 g gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 slices of seeded rye bread
  • a small handful of toasted walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  • Arrange the salad directly on four small plates – or on a big serving platter (as preferred).
  • Scatter the salad leaves across the plate, then the blueberries.
  • Spoon out small lumps of Gorgonzola cheese across the serving plate.
  • Add the walnuts either whole or slightly broken up.
  • Toast the rye bread, the cut into small croutons (don’t over toast it or it will be hard to eat – the bread should still be slightly chewy). Then tear and scatter the bread onto the plate.

Dressing:

  • This salad thrives on strong tastes from the creamy cheese and the berries. It really doesn’t need seasoning or oil – but instead, choose a really good aged thick balsamic vinegar or glaze and sprinkle lightly just before eating.

Recipe: Smoked mackerel salad with fennel and apple

May 29, 2014 | Leave a comment

Smoked Mackerel Salad with Fennel, Apple and peas

Ahhh, hello summer.
Try this salad - it may sound simple, but it is very delicious.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: apple, fennel, mackerel, peas
Servings: 2
Author: Bronte Aurell

Ingredients

  • 250-300 g smoked mackerel fillets
  • a large handful of mixed salad leaves
  • ½ fennel bulb
  • ½ apple such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith
  • 200 g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dollop of olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Dressing:

  • 50 g honey
  • 15 g wholegrain Swedish mustard
  • 15 g red wine vinegar

Instructions

  • Finely shave fennel on mandolin or with a very sharp knife and place in a bowl. Then shave the apple in similar thin pieces. 
  • Combine with fennel, then dress with lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil.
  • Arrange the mixed leaves on individual plates or a large flat serving dish.
  • Thaw the peas and sprinkle on the leaves along with the tarragon and chives.
  • Tear bite sized pieces of smoked mackerel and arrange across the salad (taking care to check for bones), then add the fennel and apple pieces on top.

Recipe: Gravlax & Potato Summer Salad

May 23, 2014 | Leave a comment

Gravlax & Potato Summer Salad

This is a wonderful summery cured salmon salad. Perfect for any Smorgasbord. The ingredients can be changed to fit personal taste – sometimes, we add boiled egg to the recipe, or whatever crunchy veg we have in the fridge…
When we have this salad on at the café, it is one of the most popular salads. Healthy, filling, delicious and authentic all in one.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Author: Bronte Aurell

Ingredients

  • 300 g new potatoes cooked, cooled, halved
  • 200 g cured salmon or normal smoked salmon, if you prefer
  • 100 g blanched green beans cut into 3-4 cm pieces
  • 150 g blanched green asparagus cut into 3-4 cm pieces
  • 100 g blanched green peas
  • 10 cherry tomatoes halved
  • a handful of crunchy green leaves from iceberg to frisee – which ever you prefer
  • 1/4 cucumber cubed
  • 1 tbs chopped chives
  • sprigs of dill to decorate

For the dill and mustard dressing

  • this will make a larger quantity than needed but you can keep it in the fridge for a week and use for sandwiches or other salads
  • 2 tbs Swedish mustard
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 100 ml rapeseed oil
  • 4 tbs chopped fresh dill

Instructions

For the Salad

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix gently. Arrange on a serving tray and drizzle over 2 large tablespoons of dill and mustard dressing. You can buy ready made Dill & Mustard dressing here

For the dressing

  • Mix mustard, sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Add the oil carefully, start by adding a few drops, then steadily adding a thin stream of oil to emulsify the dressing. If you add it too quickly it will split. Keep whisking until you have a good, creamy consistency. Add a little bit more oil if it is too thick.

Strong, salty and sweet licourice

May 22, 2014 | 2 Comments

Strong Scandinavian licourice. Lakrids. Yummy. It’s the thing that most of us really miss from home. Since we opened last year, we’ve even converted a few locals onto the taste of Turkish pepper sweets and anything with salmiakki flavour. Salmiakki is a nice Finnish word for saying “ammonium chloride” (NH4Cl) which really does not sound like something that should be in sweets, but we love it so much we see past it.

At the moment we’re doing a little feature on the salty licourice – here are some of the many kinds we stock. Learn these and next time a few sneaky Danes try to offer you one of these sweets, you can knowingly say “Ha! you fools! Don’t you think I know how strong Djungelvrål is?” instead of being the laughing stock when your face ends up looking like you’ve just swallowed a hedgehog.

Tyrkisk peber – a strong boiled sweet containing ammonium chloride. Not for the faint hearted – this stuff is strong. The grey version (firewood) is chewy and a lot milder.
Djungelvrål – little sweet licorice monkeys covered with ammonium chloride. Extremely salty in the beginning, but sweet finish. Not for young kids

PANDA licorice – soft licorice, not too strong. Go for salty or sweet version.
Piratos – Danish salty licorice – chewy, strong and salty. Not for young kids
Salt Bomber – sweet licorice with sugar coating – a good beginner, not strong – ok for some viking kids
Lakrisal – ammonium chloride pastilles, medium strength, a favourite all over Scandinavia – not for kids
Labre Larver – sweet sugared caramel coating, sweet licorice inside – not strong, ok for kids
Nappar – salty licorice dummies, medium strength, OK for kids
IFA salty pastilles from Norway – medium
Salty Dent – from Norway, salty pastilles, chewy (medium)
Bilar “lakrits” – marshmallow type liquorice cars from Sweden – mild. OK for kids. And grownups.

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