Tag Archives: scandinavian

Scandinavian Potato Salad


I call this a Scandinavian Potato Salad, because I discovered this fresh and light-handed potato salad years ago in Denmark. Most likely it was at a frequent family gathering, in the shadow of a thatched roof farmhouse in the Danish countryside, seated at a long wooden table outdoors with the summer sun hanging, as if caught on the hook of the horizon, refusing to sink as evening set in. I know it was summer, because that’s when the potato is at its peak in new-ness and considered not only a staple but a delicacy to be greedily devoured. I was smitten by the salad’s restraint, simply tossed with oil and vinegar and generously showered with fresh snipped herbs from the garden. As an American, my experience with potato salads to that point had been the heavy-handed mayo-egg sort, tasty for sure, but more of a cloak and disguise to the mild-mannered potato. I would prod a fork through those murky salads swathed in cream, sugar and oil  in an attempt to fish out any morsel of potato, which by then had no flavor except that of the coating with which it was blanketed. The Danish potato salad was delightfully different, and appropriately Scandinavian in its understatement and use of fresh ingredients, celebrating the humble potato with a confetti of the garden’s herbs. Most importantly: I could taste the potato.  And when the season’s newest potatoes are available, delicately sweet and faintly redolent of butter and grass, there is nothing as sublime as the taste of potato.

Scandinavian Potato Salad

I refer to this salad as “potatoes and herbes du jour,”  because the combination of herbs is up to your taste and whatever might be growing in your garden. The chili flakes are my contribution to this salad, since I am hopelessly hooked on a little kick of heat. Serves 6.

3 pounds new potatoes or fingerlings, washed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups fresh herbs, chopped, such as parsley, mint, dill, oregano, chervil

Bring a large pot of salted water and the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain. If using larger potatoes, cool slightly, then cut in 3/4-inch chunks. Toss with oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic, salt, pepper and optional chili flakes. Cool completely. Before serving, add fresh herbs and mix well. If salad is too dry, add additional olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

For more Scandinavian inspiration, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Red Berry Soup
Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill
Shrimp and Dill Open-Face Sandwich (Smørrebrød)

 

Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote, Yogurt and Dill

It’s time to get fresh and meaty. I created this recipe for an upcoming class I am teaching at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, California on Scandinavian cooking. While traditional Scandinavian cooking may be heavy and meat focused (especially in the winter) it delightfully tips to an abundance of fresh produce in the warmer, brighter summer months. This recipe marries the Nordic climate extremes with a spin on the Swedish meatball, which is traditionally pan-fried and then napped with a warm cream sauce. These ground meat patties are transformed into fun finger food, freshened and brightened with tufts of parsley and dill. The heavy sauce is replaced by crisp lettuce leaves for wrapping  and a sweet-piquant cranberry compote and a dab of yogurt.  Continue reading Spiced Meatballs with Cranberry Compote

Scandinavian Classic Baking and a recipe for Desert Sand Cookies

When Pat Sinclair asked me if I would like a copy of her newly published cookbook, Scandinavian Classic Baking, I didn’t hesitate to accept. She reached out to me after she read an article I wrote on Danish Open Face Sandwiches for NPR – perhaps recognizing another kindred spirit when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine. Well, she got that right.

Since the book arrived, I have pored through it – that is, when I have had a chance to read it. This book has struck a nostalgic chord in our entire family, with everyone vying for a look and tagging favorite recipes. And there is something for all of us:  soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls drizzled with almond icing, cardamom scented breakfast buns, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and ginger-spiced pepperkakor cookies – to name but a few.

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully compiled, with an authentic collection of recipes representing all of the Scandinavian countries, accompanied by lovely photographs by Joel Butkowski. The recipes in the book are clear, concise and approachable, splendidly representative of Scandinavian cuisine, which is typically unpretentious and uncomplicated. Many of the recipes are supplemented with side bars packed with informative tidbits on Scandinavian culture with tantalizing photos of landmarks and people, elevating this compact book to the cocktail table.


Swedish Apple Pie, simple and pleasing. Luckily I snapped a picture before the family devoured it.

Last weekend we ticked a couple of recipes off of our long list. Since my daughter was helping, she chose to make Desert Sand Cookies and Swedish Apple Pie. As we baked, we chatted about Denmark. We spoke of family, friends and places we look forward to visiting on our next trip.  We spoke of holidays and some of our favorite foods. I thought of the traditions that are passed down through generations through recipes, and how these recipes keep memories alive while connecting us as a family. In our well traveled family life this has been exceptionally important, as we mindfully strive to remember our roots and the different countries in which we’ve lived.  Now we have a little extra help from Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Desert Sand Cookies
adapted from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

The key to these simple butter cookies is the browning of the butter, which gives them their unique and delicious flavor, typically found in Danish Butter Cookies.

Makes 24 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter begins to foam, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. Watch it carefully at this point, because the color will change quickly. Cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cooled butter and vanilla to the sugar in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed Add the flour and mix to form a dough. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch rounds. Place on baking sheet and press a crisscross pattern with a fork. (Dip the tines of the fork in a little flour if it sticks.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until set; they will not brown very much in the oven. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies are fragile until cool.