As I have a long weekend planned in Gothenburg, Sweden in December, it was with great excitement that I read through Danish TV chef and food writer Trina Hahnemann’s The Scandinavian Cookbook. Gothenburg will be the first of several Scandinavian trips for me, so I was as interested in the evocative photography as I was in the recipes. The photos, taken by Lars Ranek, one of Scandinavia’s leading food photographers, ‘reflect the cycle of a full year comprising seasonal ingredients and dishes, lifestyle and festivals’. I hope that I’ll be able to capture the essence of Gothenburg in winter in a similar way with my little Leica…
The book is divided into the twelve months of the year and focuses on a ‘light, modern version of Scandinavian home cooking’. The four seasons are reflected in the recipes, with much emphasis on fresh local produce. A short introduction accompanied each recipe, explaining the background to the dish, sometimes with a personal anecdote. I find this an essential part of any cookery book, because I like to learn about the origins of a dish than simply be told how to prepare it. For example, Hahnemann describes Skagen, located in the northern tip of Denmark, where the famous Skagen fish soup comes from, and it sounds like a place I would love to visit.
Out of all the recipes, my personal favourites included potato cakes with lumpfish roe and beetroot salad; various smørrebrød (open sandwiches made with rye bread); kartoffelkage (traditional Danish cake which resembles a large potato, but is actually choux pastry covered with cocoa-dusted marzipan and filled with luscious cream); meatballs with thyme, summer cabbage and lingonsylt; langoustines with herb mayonnaise; fruit ‘porridge’ with cold cream; gravad lax with honey mustard sauce; reindeer with anise and pepper, potato-celeriac gratin and Brussels sprouts; cinnamon rolls and småkager (Danish vanilla butter cookies).
I chose to replicate the recipe for potato soup with bacon and chives from the October chapter. According to Hahnemann, hot meals in Scandinavia are usually served with potatoes and her grandparents ate potatoes almost every day of their lives. I love potatoes, so this sounded perfect to me.