Slipping into Scandinavia

Cooking is my jam. Something about the creativity of it, the inherent usefulness and practicality, combined with the sensual element – using taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing to conjure up a dish – it just makes me feel alive.

I’m at my best when discovering new recipes, darting back and forth between the screen and the chopping board, double checking quantities and ingredient lists, wondering all the while what new flavour combinations will be unearthed as the finale.

This past fortnight we have ‘travelled’ to Denmark and Sweden. We have discovered a whole new flavour palate – from fermented vegetables (carrot and beetroot), to the seductive taste of dill, rich buttery gravies and sumptuous desserts. I have decided that Danish cuisine is almost a mix of French and Polish flavours – the heavy emphasis on butter and pastries with the unmistakably sour/salty tastes from across the bay. We overloaded on flaky apricot and chocolate danishes, made our way through mounds of potatoes and the kids even scoffed down bowlfuls of a beef and pickled beetroot curry. The dill sauce recipe absolutely blew my mind and I quickly declared it to be my favourite gravy ever (it is like a mix between pickles and gravy in the best possible way).

Swedish cuisine (or at least the recipes we tried) was similarly hearty, though fresh elements swept through as well. On the last night, I concocted a Swedish lasagna, to use up the rest of the ingredients and it was surprisingly good (who would have thought a sauce of Swedish meatballs, finely chopped mushrooms, spinach and pickled beetroot would ever come together!). There were the open sandwiches that were delicious, the decadent layer cakes and the crunchy oatmeal biscuits with their sweet chocolate layer.

I never realised what a big part baking played in the Scandinavian way of life, from the midsummer cake parties, to the crunchy loaves of freshly baked bread. Trine Hahneman swept me away with her incredible recipes and my lists grew longer as I was unable to stop jotting down new ideas of what to try.

The Around the World Stories series on Denmark got us all contemplating why Denmark consistently places at or near the top of the World Happiness List, and wondering if we could bring a taste of their appreciation for the everyday moments and the concept of ‘hygge’ into our lives here. We also learned a lot about the origins of Lego, which I had never realised came from Denmark. We were all awed with the Swedish tale of the Icehotel which is built from scratch every year, allowing a perfect vantage point to experience the northern lights phenomena.

If dinner time is becoming a chore and you are feeling a little hemmed in by those four walls, maybe a ‘trip’ is in order? I’ve included a list of recipes below to give you a head start.

Danish Recipes

Fermented carrot
Easter chicken stew
Danish beef stew with dumplings
Veal breast with dill sauce (I used chicken instead)
Childhood curry

Swedish Recipes

Swedish beef burgers
Fat almond pancake (I made a spinach and cheese version)
IKEA meatballs
Pickled beetroot

Scandinavian Baking

Walnut and coffee macaroon layer cake
Autumn apple and hazlenut layer cake
Danish pastry
Swedish oatmeal crisp cookies

Next we travel to Portugal… I can’t wait to see what new concepts and flavours we discover.

Do you have any favourite Scandinavian recipes to share? I would love to hear about them! What creative outlets do you have to stay sane with the constant demands of motherhood? 

Continue Reading

Vive la France

Aperitifs Cheese sables Cornichons Camembert Grapes Pickled onions Goat’s cheese Hot salami Paired with: Kir Royale & Champagne Main Course Coq au Vin Roast pork stuffed with apricot and rosemary Braised carrots Buttered peas French bread Paired with: Pinot Noir Dessert Chocolate Tart Almond Meringues Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup […]

Continue Reading

Write 31 Days: Instagram Series

I still remember the click of the metal tin. The smooth forms in perfect order, resting silently in hollow beds. Pencils. Waiting to be swept up in passionate fingers, begging to sing onto the page. My eyes scanned hungrily over the names- Vermillion, Emerald Green, Burnt Umber. Somehow they seemed […]

Continue Reading

The Best of Intentions

It was at twilight at the Summer Night Market. Dave and I were savouring bites of food from the far reaches of the planet and avidly people watching. “Who is intriguing you?” I asked Dave. He pointed out a pair of starstruck lovers who were dancing off to the side of […]

Continue Reading

A Year of Discovery

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott I need to have something to aim for. An ideal to step towards, […]

Continue Reading

Poetry & Passion

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? —Mary Oliver, ‘The Summer Day’ When I first began musing about ‘passion’, I was briefly tempted to write about sex. For a number of reasons, not least of which was the mental image of […]

Continue Reading

Hidden in Plain Sight

The scent of lilies,  white, subtle, unfurling The chance to revive  childhood memories ‘Cuckoo, Cuckoo’ … A pot furiously bubbling on the stove The long stem of  a crystal glass swirling with  warmth, laughter, passion Bergamot scented  clean, crisp washing Cool and smooth white sheets … Reclining on a rope swing […]

Continue Reading

Venturing into the Unknown

A month ago I was visited with frustration and discomfort. Dave was neck deep following inspiring leads and sparks of insight, and I was wallowing… wanting to be a writer but unwilling to take the leap that would make me so. And then I wrestled with the concept of authenticity, […]

Continue Reading