By now you know I am obsessed with the book “Edible Selby“, a super stylish, globe-hopping, sketchbook tour of some of the world’s tastiest eateries. I’ve been staring especially longingly at the feature on Linnéa Thomsen and her gorgeous bakery nestled in the equally gorgeous Stockholm Park, Rosendals Trädgård. Everytime I see those photos, I want to jump right into the pages and grab a cardamon bun and a hunk of one of her wood-fired breads. Heaven! But until my family makes it to Sweden, we can at least make these lovely crackers. They’re super light and crisp and perfect with any sort of cheese, jam or cracker topping you can think of…. or do as the Scandinavians do and have yours with a bit of good butter. Continue reading
I had read that there was a place in Berkeley for Scandinavian food and gifts and so finally this summer, I dragged the kids and grandma to Nordic House on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. My mom is part Norwegian, so that was one of the reasons I was curious to check it out, but also I think Simran and I have both become a bit enamored with Nordic food since dipping our big toes into the cuisine over the last year. It’s kind of funny to think that things like creamy potatoes with dill, smoked salmon, little open faced sandwiches (Danish smørrebrød), crackers (knäckebröd) could seem so exotic compared to Thai curries and Indian biriyanis, but in our case they do. It’s much easier around here to find Shanghai dumplings, South Indian dosas and Salvadoran papusas than an authentic Scandinavian smorgasbord and when cooking at home we both tend to gravitate towards our comfort foods (Southeast Asian for Simran, Mediterranean for me).
Nordic house was a really fun find and it is totally worth checking out next time you find yourself in Berkeley. They have gorgeous, brightly colored table linens; a great selection of children’s books; Christmas decorations and lots of fun little gifts. I’ll be making a return trip to stock up on supplies for a holiday glögg (mulled wine) party. And as far as the food goes (always my favorite part) there was a lot to tempt a curious eater: jams, licorice, cookies, knäckebröd of all types, pickles, mustards, lefse (thin Norwegian potato pancakes), herring, sausages, cheeses….. And they have a small deli in the back which serves up a pretty epic roast beef sandwich. We of course grabbed one to take along to our excursion to Tilden Park and I had to use all my will power to resist sneaking a big bite in the car. My experience of this sandwich was in line with my other brushes with Scandinavian cuisine — familiar but with an interesting twist, in this case a hefty layer of thinly sliced roast beef on a good roll, but trading the standard lettuce, pickles and tomatoes for pickled cucumbers, dill havarti and crispy onions. This is a really great sandwich worth making a detour for, but if driving to Berkeley is not in the cards for you this might be one you could try duplicating at home. I know we will.
- Swedish Sides: Creamed Potatoes with Dill and Cucumber Salad
- Easy as 1-2-3: Swedish Hardtack
- Swedish Meatballs
- Tokyo Fish Market is another one of our favorite ethnic markets in Berkeley
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.