I stand entirely corrected when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine – I have gone from a total “hater” to someone who LOVES the cuisine. I am always looking for excuses to visit Pläj, one of the best Scandinavian restaurants in San Francisco. I have also (somewhat) successfully converted some my foodie Asian friends who were convinced, like I was, that the cuisine is bland and horrible, by taking them the restaurant. Yes, we suffered from a superiority complex and we were missing out because of it. I suspect eating IKEA’s meatballs had something to do with perpetuating our biases. Real Swedish meatballs are amazing and a dish that you cannot stop eating. Yes, compared to the food I cook, Scandinavian food is simple. But it isn’t without immense flavor. Scandinavian cooking and ingredients are truly unique and the cuisine is deeply influenced by what nature has “forced” upon the people of the region. Long, dark winters along the Arctic Circle have greatly influenced the cuisine of Scandinavia from Viking times to the current renaissance of “New Nordic” cuisine. Foraging in bountiful times, preserving food for survival during icy winters, a deep connection to the landscape and environment, and a celebration of design, all give an insight into the culture, history and cuisine of the region. And suddenly, all food Scandinavian is receiving it’s rightly deserved global acclaim. Meanwhile, I am obsessed with “The Scandinavian Kitchen” cookbook by Camilla Plum and working my way through it. Perhaps a vacation to a Scandinavian country is next. 🙂 The mustard sauce below is a bit of a revelation. We taught the recipe at a recent cooking class for high-schoolers. I brought the leftovers home and refused to share them with anyone. It’s a great sauce to have lying around in the refrigerator as it revives even the most boring of dinners. Continue reading
We’ve fallen in love with the bento box and its friendly little compartments which has inspired a new theme for us: world bentos. There’s something about the format that just seems to invite your creativity — it also creates the perfect canvas for tasting and is just plain fun. Fill your bento with homemade goodies, store-bought or a mixture of both and you’re on your way!
Because starting with Japan would be too obvious, we headed to Scandinavia for our inaugural bento filled with Swedish meatballs, a refreshing cucumber salad and some heavenly creamed potatoes with dill. [Simran was dying over the awesome-ness of these potatoes, so I can assure you the recipe will be coming soon.] For dessert – our favorite homemade, whole grain hardtack crackers, Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese and berry jam.
Recipe for Hardtack – rest of the recipes coming soon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 ½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cup finely ground oats (finely grind the oats in a food processor before you begin)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease the bottom of 2 11×17 inch cookie sheet (or whatever size you have)
- Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Set aside to cool briefly.
- In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients to make a stiff, sticky dough. Let stand for 10-15 minutes so that dough becomes less sticky.
- Divide into four parts and place one part each on greased bottom of two cookie sheets,
- Roll dough with rolling pin all the way to edges of cookie sheet. You want a very thin dough — less than ¼ inch. If it breaks, that is ok. Just press gently back together and smooth. Trim edges to make a neat rectangle. Pierce all over with a fork (all over!). Score dough into 2”x4” rectangles, or the shape of your choice! Bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden (but not brown) and crisp.
- Let cool for a few minutes, then break apart on score lines and let cool on cooling rack.
- Makes approximately 110 crackers. They will keep in tightly sealed container for about a week.