Inside the Nordic Kitchen

An authority in the culinary history of Scandinavia offers recipes and cultural insight.

As winter fast approaches, the recipes in Fire & Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking by Darra Goldstein (Ten Speed Press, 2015; $40.00), which reflect the rich history and evolution of Scandinavian home-cooking, seem the perfect complement to chilly days and seasonal ingredients.  The book offers an in-depth exploration of not only the culinary traditions of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, but the author’s comprehensive knowledge of and love for the region. Extraordinary photographs by Stefan Wettainen bring the landscape and ingredients into vibrant relief, offering a visual gift to accompany the detailed, vivid descriptions of food and culture. This is a book to savor.

RECIPES

SWEDISH ALMOND WREATH

(Mandelkrans)

FireIcealmond wreath285THANKFULLY, THE ART of baking is alive and well in Scandinavia, where coffee breaks are a cherished part of the day. I’m especially fond of the sweetened yeast breads made in all sorts of intricate shapes. The truth is, anything with almond paste makes me swoon, and this beautiful wreath is a particular favorite. During our penurious year in Stockholm we had two weekly indulgences: a visit to Tommy, our friend the fishmonger, and a pastry at Vete-Katten, a warren of small rooms where coffee was served in Royal Copenhagen china and most of the patrons (it seemed to us) were ladies of a certain age, all perfectly dressed and coiffed. This konditori is now less formal and the plates more pedestrian, but the pastries and breads remain spectacular. It’s hard to decide which I like best: kanelbullar (soft cinnamon buns), semlor (tender cardamom buns filled with marzipan and whipped cream), the lavish prinsesstårta (sponge cake layered with pastry cream, raspberry jam, and whipped cream mounded into a dome and draped with pale green marzipan), or this delightful almond wreath. Mandelkrans tastes best when very fresh, but you can reheat it gently to serve the next day.

 

MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF; SERVING 8 to 10

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

4 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup lukewarm water

¾ cup whole milk, lukewarm

1 egg, at room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces

¼ teaspoon salt

3 to 3 ½ cups flour

 

FILLING

½ cup blanched almonds

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon natural almond extract

  • In a large bowl, stir the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar into the lukewarm water and let proof until bubbles appear, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the lukewarm milk, egg, butter, and salt. Add 3 cups of the flour, mixing well until a soft dough forms.
  • To knead the dough by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it springs back to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes, adding up to ½ cup more flour if necessary. To knead the dough with a mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough at slow speed until it springs back to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, transfer to a greased bowl, and turn it to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
  • To make the filling, in a food processor grind together the almonds and sugar until the nuts are very finely ground. Transfer to a bowl, add the butter, and stir until a mass forms. Stir in the almond extract.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to a 12 by 18-inch rectangle. With a small spatula, spread the filling evenly over the entire rectangle. Starting at the long end, roll the dough up into a log. Transfer it to the baking sheet, seam side down. Bring the ends together to form a circle, pinching them tightly to seal.
  • With scissors, snip the dough two-thirds of the way through the circular log at 1-inch intervals. Gently turn each cut section on its side. Let the loaf rise in a warm place, uncovered, until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the bread until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice.
  • While the loaf is still warm, spoon the glaze over the loaf. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. Transfer carefully to a rack to cool.

 GLAZE

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

 

FireIceChanterelle Soup285CHANTERELLE SOUP

(Kanttarellikeitto )

SERVES 4

1 pound chanterelles

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups vegetable broth

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Pick over the mushrooms and wipe away any forest debris with a damp paper towel. Chop them medium fine.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the mushrooms, onion, and ¼ cup of the parsley. Sauté until the moisture released by the mushrooms evaporates, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir for a minute more, then gradually whisk in the broth.
  • Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, taking care not to let the soup boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley into the soup and serve hot.

 

 CHOPPED WINTER SALAD

(Salat af rå tern)

FireIceChopped Winter salad285

THIS DANISH SALAD is an antidote to winter—bright, crisp, and filled with vitamins. The Danes use rapeseed (canola) oil for most of their cooking, but I like to add a little olive oil to enhance the salad’s fruity notes. Good cider vinegar is also a must—make sure you don’t use one that is simply “cider flavored.” Although dicing the vegetables by hand may seem a little tedious in this era of the food processor, it only takes a few minutes and yields a better texture. The small size of the chunks allows the salad to cohere. Feel free to play around with the proportions of vegetables.

 

SERVES 4

Granny Smith (8 ounces), diced

6 ounces celery root, peeled and diced

1 small red or yellow beet (about 3 ounces), peeled and diced

4 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

  • Stir together the apple, celery root, and beet in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, stir together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt. Season with pepper, then gradually whisk in the oils until an emulsion forms.
  • Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir in parsley and dill to taste until everything is well combined, and the salad is ready to serve.

 

 Reprinted with permission from Fire + Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking, by Darra Goldstein, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 Photographs copyright © 2015 by Stefan Wettainen

 Purchase Fire + Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking here.