Over the past few months I’ve been working with Scan Meatballs on a number of different projects including hosting a food blogger’s event and taking over their twitter and facebook feeds in the run up to Sweden’s National Day and Midsummer’s Eve next week. They’ve been a fantastic company to work with as they are keen to promote Swedish food and culture over here in the UK and to get away from some of the more traditional views of Scandi food. As such they’ve given me free reign to create some recipes for them.
Meatballs are perhaps a bit of a stereotype of Swedish cuisine and with good reason: a classic Meatball sarnie is a staple in every Swedish café. I always have one on one of the boats that take you out to the Stockholm archipelago, with a cup of coffee or a cold beer. However, meatballs aren’t just limited to the stereotypes. Families regularly have meatballs for dinner in all manner of guises and Swedish food mags contain countless variations with inspiration from all over the world. And so with this in mind, I’ve created a Meatball Mushroom Stroganoff and a sticky sweet Teriyaki meatball served with rice in crunchy salad cups.
Classic Swedish Meatball Sandwich with Quick Pickled Cucumber
You will need:
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp caster sugar
pinch white pepper
small handful dill, roughly chopped
1 x 230g pack Scan Meatballs
2 cooked beetroots (not in brine)
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp mayo
2 wholegrain or rye bread rolls
To serve: salted butter, salad leaves, radishes, dill
1. Begin by making the quick pickle. In a small bowl, combine the sliced cucumber with the white wine vinegar, sugar, white pepper, a little dill and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside while you make the rest of the sandwich.
2. Cook the meatballs according to packet instructions, either in the oven or on the hob.
3. Dice the cooked beetroot and mix with the creme fraiche, mayonnaise and salt and white pepper. Slice the bread rolls and spread with butter. Top with lettuce, cucumber, beetroot salad and finally the meatballs. Scatter a little extra dill on top, if you like, and serve immediately.
Meatball Mushroom Stroganoff
You will need:
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 onions, sliced
200g mushrooms, such as chestnut or shitake
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 x 395g pack Scan Meatballs
200ml chicken stock
100g creme fraiche (about 4 generous tbsp)
1 tsp dijon mustard
small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Rice or pasta
Gherkins or capers, Pickled Red onions, optional
1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until golden and soft. Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the mushrooms in batches. Set aside.
2. Tip in the meatballs into the onion pan and fry for about 5-7 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic, thyme and paprika cook for another couple of minutes.
3. Add the stock and creme fraiche and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Sitr through the dijon mustard and add the mushrooms. Season to taste before sprinkling with chopped parsley. Serve with rice or pasta as well as some pickled red onions, gherkins or capers.
Teriyaki Meatball Salad Cups
You will need:
300g Jasmin or Basmati rice
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
small thumb fresh root ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 pack Scan meatballs
4 Little gem lettuces, leaves picked
3 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp toastec sesame seeds
Small handful corriander, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger and garlic. In a separate and even smaller bowl, mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp of water, stirring until milky and all lumps have disappeared. Add to the teriyaki sauce and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the meatballs. Fry for about 5-7 minutes, until just starting to go golden. Add the sauce and heat through over a low heat until thick and really sticky – a couple of minutes.
3. To serve, lay out the remaining ingredients on your table. Let everyone help themselves to make the lettuce cups by topping each leaf with a spoonfull of rice, a couple of meatballs, spring onions, sesame seeds and coriander. Squeeze over a little lime and dig right in.
So it’s Shrove Tuesday, which here in the UK is celebrated with pancakes, generally something which I have absolutely no objection to whatsoever. It was pancake day on one of our first dates, so my husband and I always mark it- usually with some crepes stuffed with spinach, ham and cheese, slathered with more cheese before baking. Sweet ones to follow, of course.
But in Sweden, the tradition is to eat semlor on ‘fettisdagen’ or Fat Tuesday. Originally, these buns were really quite simple and based very much on the classic ‘vetebröd’ (literally ‘wheat-bread’) recipe. Sweetened, leavened bread flavoured with cardamom- pretty much the same thing we’d use for cinnamon buns. Semlor were served floating in a bowl of milk, for dipping and dunking. But traditions, of course, evolve. The Sweden.se homepage describes the semla’s trajectory best:
‘At some point Swedes grew tired of the strict observance of Lent, added cream and almond paste to the mix and started eating semla every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.
Today, no such reservations exist and semlor (the plural of semla) usually appear in bakery windows as near after Christmas as is deemed decent – and sometimes even before. This is followed by a collective, nationwide moan about how it gets earlier every year. Shortly thereafter people begin to eat the things like the world will end tomorrow.’
I know that my last post exalted the virtues of restraint and substitution in order to make a sweet treat a bit healthier. This post, by contrast, is really all about excess, which is as it should be on the last day before Lent. My take on the semla uses plain flour, which gives them a cakier texture and just a dash of cardamom- it’s more for the scent than anything else. Unfilled they freeze really well, so you can make them in advance and have a stash to hand.
Semlor (Swedish Lent Buns)
Makes 24 mini buns or 12 big ‘uns
You will need:
For the buns:
75g unsalted butter
150ml whole milk
5g fresh yeast
60g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (or 2 tbsp pods, shelled and ground)
400g plain flour
For the almond paste
100g blanched almonds
75g golden caster sugar
Double cream, whipped
1. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Add the milk and bring to blood temperature. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl with the sugar. Pour over a little of the milk mixture and stir until the yeast and sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining liquid, 1 beaten egg, salt and cardamom.
2. Gradually add the flour, stirring until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly, until it comes together to form an elastic dough. Return to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, make the almond paste by blitzing the blanched almonds to a fine powder. Add the sugar and continue blitzing to a smooth paste- it may take a little while for the oils in the nuts to release, be patient. Cover and pop in the fridge until needed.
4. Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto your work surface. Knock back a little before dividing and rolling into buns. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, about 2 cm apart. Again, cover with the tea towel and leave for about 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
5. Beat the remaining egg and use to lightly glaze the buns. Bake for 7-8 minutes for small buns and up to 10 for larger, until golden. Cool on a wire rack completely.
6. To serve, cut off the tops of the buns and scoop out a little of the bread-y middles. Fill with a spoonful of almond paste and spritz or spoon in the cream. Crown with the reserved bun tops and dust with icing sugar.
I haven’t been to Copenhagen since I was quite young and my memories of the city are a bit hazy. I think at the time I was most excited about seeing the mermaid statue- Disney to blame there, I’m afraid. But it is fair to say that it was a much busier, livelier city than I remembered or expected. Perhaps because I’m used to the relative peace and quiet of Stockholm, despite being a bigger city- at least in terms of population (or so Google tells me). It seems like (and the Stockholmer in me can’t quite believe I’m saying this) somewhere with a bit more going on.
While this buzz felt really exciting, I left feeling that it’s a city that has gained an international reputation (not least when it comes to food) perhaps before it was quite ready for it. For example, there is so much to do and see, but everything shuts so early. We found the service in general, with only a handful of exceptions, rather brusque and bordering on rude. But more than that, it seems to be a city very much in flux as the many building projects and developments hinted at- roads, offices, flats and bridges, growth spurts everywhere like teens in the summer holidays. I’d love to go back in a few years and see what kind of a city it becomes.
The food though, oh the food. There is no shortage of exceptional places to eat and drink. And yes, we did manage to get a booking at Noma for lunch as a once-in-a-lifetime, just-married treat. And yes, it was incredible (with wonderful service, incidentally). And yes, I took some snaps. And no, I won’t be blogging about it. Partly because it has been done, partly because I covered it at the time on Instagram, but also because no photos or description I could provide would do it justice. It was entirely out of this world, mind-boggling and unlike anything else I’ve eaten and experienced.
Other foodie highlights include Granola on the lovely Værnedamsvej in Frederiksberg. Nestled between little design shops, florists and bars, Granola seemed the perfect place to watch Cophenhagen style hunters go oby over, well, granola. They also do fluffy pancakes, traditional hearty porridge (served with cranberries, cinnamon and butter) and eggs any way you’d like.
We were entirely spoilt for choice for where to go out on Copenhagen’s light summer evenings. The one thing I would say is that it is a shame everywhere closes so early, particularly when the days are so long. The streets were absolutely deserted by 11pm and forget about getting any food whatsoever post about 9pm, which didn’t suit our lazy honeymoon mindset at all. We were caught out quite a few times, settling into a funky bar, ordering drinks and before we knew it (but just as our appetites started to wake up), they had stopped doing food. Get with it Copenhagen!
Some fave areas included Nørrebro, where we found the Laundromat Café on Elmegade (yes, an actual laundromat as well as a café and bar, although no machines whirling when we were there). The meatpacking district of Kødbyen (literally ‘Meat village’) would definitely be top of my list were I to return to Copenhagen anytime soon- most of the old slaughterhouses have been turned into restaurants, bars, cafés, delis and art galleries and the whole area makes for a lively place to spend an evening, wandering between place to place. Some of the area’s original history still endures, turn a corner and you may well come face to face with a butcher’s shop window.
Other highlights include Dyrehaven bar for its selection of beer and nibbles and the wonderful Torvehallerne market which overflowed with pristine fruit and veg, incredible fish and seafood and the most beautiful, almost architectural open sandwiches (which inspired my recipe, see below). The cafés there will also do you a damn fine breakfast.
I should probably but in a disclaimer at this point to note that you shouldn’t just go to Denmark or Copenhagen for the food. It is a gorgeous city to walk or cycle around and of course you can’t move for design- the Designmuseum and Statens Museum for Kunst as well as the quieter Danish Architecture Centre. But you can also see plenty of contemporary design for free at Hay House, George Jensen, Illums Bolighus and the Royal Copenhagen Flagship store to name but a few. Not to mention a few recognisable landmarks that are worth seeing in person- we were delighted to be staying to close to the actual Borgen.
One of the inescapable staples of Danish food culture is the dark, treacle-y seed filled roggebrød. Dense rye bread, filled with hearty goodness and available at practically every meal time.
For me, this was what I was most keen to perfect from our trip so that I could enjoy it back at home in London. I thought it was important to develop a simpler recipe that didn’t use traditional sourdough, as it would be easier to throw to together, although, I accept, finding rye seeds and flakes isn’t exactly something that you can do at your local Tesco Metro- I would go online for this and stock up. I promise it’s worth it. I’ve used treacle too, for depth of flavour. The photographs are, once again, by the fantastic Faith Mason.
Danish Rye Bread
Makes 1 loaf
You will need:
120g rye flakes
50g rye seeds/grain
80g sunflower seeds
12g sea salt
30g fresh yeast
250g rye flour, plus a little extra
100g strong bread flour
1. The night before you wish to make the loaf, soak the rye flakes, grain and all of the seeds in 200ml of water and leave overnight.
2. The next day, mix the treacle and 100ml water (at blood temperature) together in a small bowl. Crumble in the yeast and stir to combine. Place the flours in a large bowl along with 12g of salt. Add the yeasty mixture along with the seeds and grains. Mix until you have a very sticky dough. Turn this out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It will be a very tricky dough to work with- sticky and dense, but that’s to be expected. Hang in there.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warmish place (an airing cupboard is perfect) for at least one hour, until the dough has visibly risen. Tip out of the bowl and knead briefly, only for a few seconds, before shaping. I baked my loaf in a lightly greased 900g/2lb loaf tin. Leave, covered in a clean tea towel, for a further 45 minutes, until the dough has risen to fill out the tin.
4. Preheat the oven to 230 C. Sprinkle the bread with a little extra rye flour then place the tin in the middle of the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 180C. You can also put a baking tray with hot water in the bottom of the oven, to create steam. Bake for 40 minutes, until the loaf is dark and sounds hollow when tapped on its base. Turn out of its tin and leave to cool completely before slicing.
It has been an absolute age since my post, practically a lifetime in blogging terms. The reasons for this are simple and hopefully understandable: firstly, I got hitched! Secondly, I’ve been embarking on a freelance career foodstyling and writing so between that and planning a wedding, something had to fall by the wayside and that, unfortunately, was this blog.
However, I am back now and very much raring to go. The blog has had a makeover which is now almost complete- just a few niggly behind the scenes bits to sort out and a long backlog of posts featuring wintery fare to warm your cockles.
I couldn’t get stuck back in without sharing some photos and recipes from our ‘scandimoon.’ We spent the week after the wedding in Denmark- a few days relaxing on the island of Bornholm before heading to bustling Copenhagen. Bornholm was the real surprise- perhaps a slightly unusual choice (I’m fairly sure we were the only honeymooners on the island), but absolutely worth the trek. The island is in fact closer to Sweden than it is to Denmark (as I’m fond of pointing out), about an hour and a half by ferry from Ystad in Skåne.
There’s plenty to see and do on the island and although we had hired a car, the most popular way to get around is definitely on two wheels. Bikes are easy and cheap to hire and mean that you can whizz along the coast with ease- darting between pretty seaside villages, forests, cliff tops and beaches. And what beaches- white sand, clear blue sea and a not-too-shabby 24 degrees in the water! We were there in August and had many of the beaches to our selves, including the one at the bottom of the road from our little cabin/cottage (or ‘cabbage’ as we found ourselves calling it).
Bornholm is well known for its incredible produce. It almost feels like the island could be self-sufficient, with its agricultural riches and hard working locals, who all seemed invariably passionate about their goods. We came home with pasta made from durum wheat grown on the island, buttery, golden rapeseed oil, a basket of garlic and several bottles of the local brew. We passed on the local wine, however. Though perhaps that was a mistake as a certain famous Copenhagen restaurant proved to us later in the week with its offering of Danish vino (more on that in the next post).
Every road was lined with little stalls filled with bags of produce, when we were there these overflowed with several varieties of spuds, with a little honesty box for your contributions. Each little coastal town or village had something foodie to offer- flødeboller from chocolate shops and smoked fish from the smoke houses in Snogebraek, fish restaurants in Nexø, beer from the brewery in Svaneke and the Gårdbutik och Polsemageri in Hallegård. This deli and sausage specialist was a bit tricky to find, but well worth getting lost down narrow country lanes for. The unassuming farm also has garden with chairs and tables set up under fig trees and rosehip bushes where they serve a few open sarnies and nibbles. However, the highlight is definitely their tapas board, laden with home-made charcuterie, pickles, veg, cheese and even soup.
Bornholm was basically one giant food coma as it was (the cycling helped), but we still couldn’t miss out on dinner at Kadeau. Inventive, local and yes, foraged, this is the place to experice New Nordic Cuisine on Bornholm. We had the set menu bursting with freshly caught seafood, herbs, fruit and veg picked from their own garden. The food was excellent, but it really had to be to compete with the ridiculous view.
Below are some snaps of the best of Bornholm- a round up of Copenhagen and a little recipe will follow shortly.
The last few days have been gloriously sunny and bright- a real shock to the system after the wet, dank weather we’ve had since the start of the year. The only thing that really keeps me going towards from February to March is the promise of lighter days, warmer weather and finally being able to hang up my winter coat. It looks like I’ll be doing that a couple of weeks earlier this year- this weekend we even sat outside at the pub, squinting into the sun.
There is one bright and brilliant addition to the last push of winter that I always look forward to, though: blood oranges. It seems strange that this vibrant citrus fruit is in season during the winter, though I’m not complaining, as they always seem to arrive just when I need an injection of freshness and long for lighter foods. This year, I was lucky enough to find bergamots for sale alongside blood oranges at the brilliant Deli Downstairs, my local treasure trove. So I had a bit of a mad few weeks where every meal was finished with a juicy, plump Sicilian blood orange, bright juices streaming down my hands and feat like some sort of gory feast. But I also experimented with them in salads, puddings and bakes. The results are in.
Blood Orange Curd
Adapted from Steve Parle’s recipe, found here.
(makes 1 large jar)
You will need:
400ml blood orange juice (from about 8 blood oranges)
zest of 3 blood oranges
150g caster sugar
10 eggs (5 whole and 5 yolks)
200g butter, cubed
1. Sit a medium sized bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Add the blood orange juice, zest sugar and whole eggs along with 5 yolks. Allow to thicken for about 15 minutes, until it coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the butter, one cube at a time, waiting until each has melted before adding the next one. Tip into a large sterilised jar, allow to cool completely then refrigerate. Use within two weeks.
Blood Orange and Mascarpone Victoria Sponge
You will need:
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour, sifted
1 blood orange, zest and juice
blood orange curd
1 tub mascarpone
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease 2 x 23cm springform cake tins, lining each with a circle of greaseproof paper and greasing again. Cream the butter and sugar together with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, continuing to beat between each addition. Fold in the flour and orange zest, adding 1-2 tbsp of juice to lighten the mixture slightly.
2. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes are risen, golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes, before removing from their tins and cooling completely on a wire rack. Generously spread one cake with the mascarpone and curd before sandwiching with the second cake.
Pan Fried Mackerel with Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
(Serves 2 as a light lunch or starter)
You will need:
220g pack of green beans, topped and tailed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly and any fronds reserved
2 blood oranges, peeled with any pith removed, sliced into rounds
large handful black olives, I used Kalamata
2 mackerel fillets, pin-boned (get the fish monger to do this for you)
small knob of butter
25g toasted flaked almonds
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the beans and cook until just tender. Drain and place in a large bowl of ice cold water to cool and crisp up. Whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, sugar and some seasoning. Place the fennel, blood orange slices, drained green beans and olives in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss together then divide between two plates.
2. Add the remaining oil to a large, cold pan. Sit the mackerel, skin-side down, in the pan and turn the heat on to medium. Frying your fish this way means the fillets don’t curl up and ensures perfectly crispy skin. Keep frying, basting with the oil and adding a little knob of butter if necessary. Once the flesh of the fish has gone from translucent to opaque, it has cooked through. Flip over briefly and fry for a further 30 seconds. Top the salads with the fish fillets and sprinkle with flaked almonds and any reserved fennel fronds.
Bergamot and Blood Orange Pavlovas
You will need:
5 egg whites (from the curd, see recipe above)
2 bergamots, juice and zest
275g caster sugar plus a little extra
300ml double cream
1 blood orange, segmented
blood orange curd
handful pistachios, roughly chopped
1. To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 120C. Place the egg whites in a large, preferably metal or glass, bowl with a squeeze of bergamot juice. Whisk to stiff peaks. Mix the sugar with the zest of 1 bergamot then add in heaped tablespoonfuls to the whites, whisking between each addition. Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper, then drop on 6 even dollops of the meringue mixture, leaving as much space between each as your baking sheet will allow. Use a spoon to swirl each meringue nicely before placing the lower part of the oven for 1 hr 45 min- 2 hrs, until the meringues are crisp and dry and will easily lift off the baking sheet. Allow to cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Add the zest of the remaining bergamot and a squeeze of the juice. Sweeten to taste with a little caster sugar, but keep in mind that the meringues are very sweet. Once ready to serve, place each meringue on a serving place the pile high with the cream, segmented blood orange slices (in the photos for these posts I used bergamot segments, but feel these were too sour), a dollop of blood orange curd and a sprinkle of the pistachios. Serve immediately.
Blood Orange Jelly with Custard
(makes 5-6 individual or 1 large jelly)
You will need:
For the jelly:
3 leaves of gelatine
300ml fresh blood orange juice (about 8 blood oranges)
For the custard:
290ml double cream
zest 1 blood orange
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
1. Begin by making the jelly. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water so they are completely submerged. Leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat the blood orange juice and sugar until just dissolved. Do not boil. Set the sweetened juice to one side, then squeeze out any excess liquid from the now softened gelatine leaves and add to the pan. Stir for a few minutes, until all the gelatine has melted. Pour into a medium sized bowl or, for individual servings, ramekins and wine glasses work well. Allow to cool before chilling until completely set- at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
2. Make the custard. Place the cream and orange zest into a pan and bring slowly to the boil. Set aside to cool briefly. Beat the yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl briefly until combined and creamy. Pour over the cooled cream and then clean out your pan. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over a low heat, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This should take about 10 minutes- do not simmer or boil at any point. Strain if necessary and use to top the set jellies. Return to the fridge for a further hour before serving.