Banish the cold with these cosy dinner ideas – straight from the Scandinavian Kitchen cookbook
Beetroot tart with fennel and dill
This tart works well both warm and cold and it is lighter than traditional quiches as it uses less dairy filling. Serves 6-7 3–4 fresh beetroot, approx 300 g/101⁄2 oz raw weight; alternatively, you can use 1 x 250 g/9 oz pack of ready-cooked beetroot
200 ml/3⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon creme fraiche/sour cream
100 ml/7 tablespoons milk
200 g/7 oz feta cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 fennel bulb
50 g/2⁄3 cup walnuts, lightly crushed
150 g plus 2 tablespoons butter
150 g plus 1 tablespoon plain/all-purpose flour
100 g wholegrain rye flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons cold water
Fluted, loose-based round pie tin, approx 28 cm/11 inches diameter
If using fresh beetroot, put them in a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Cook for 30–40 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot) until soft. Rinse in cold water. The peel will come off easily when you rub them with your fingers. Set aside.
To make the pastry, cube the butter and crumble it with the flours and salt. This is quickly done in a food processor. Add the egg yolk and water and quickly, without working the dough too much, shape into a ball. Leave to chill in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes before using.
Roll out the dough and carefully place into the fluted loose-based pie tin. Prick the bottom of the case with a fork in several places. Leave to rest for another 15 minutes in the fridge or freezer.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Pre-bake the crust in the middle of the preheated oven for around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the crème fraîche/sour cream, milk, eggs, crumbled feta, salt, pepper and half the dill in a bowl. Cut the fennel lengthways and remove the bottom core. Thinly slice the fennel.
In a saucepan, add a little oil and sauté the fennel on a low heat for 5–6 minutes. After a few minutes, add a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Remove the crust from the oven. Scatter the sautéed fennel across the base and add one-third of the crème fraîche/sour cream mixture.
Thinly slice the beetroot and arrange the thin slices all across the tart in neat layers. Add the remaining crème fraîche/sour cream dressing on top and scatter with half of the crushed walnuts. Return to the middle of the oven for around 20–25 minutes. When done, scatter the remaining dill and walnuts on top. Serve warm.
Real Swedish meatballs
There are as many recipes for meatballs in Scandinavia as there are cooks. Recipes vary regionally, too, both in ingredients and sizing. Sadly, nowadays a lot of people buy meatballs instead of making them. The homemade version is so very wholesome and worth the effort. Serve with creamy mashed potato. Serves 6 30 g porridge/old fashioned oats or breadcrumbs
150 ml meat stock (chicken works well, too)
400 g/14 oz minced/ground beef
250 g/9 oz minced/ground pork (minimum 10% fat)
1 large egg
21⁄2 tablespoons plain/allpurpose flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
a dash of Worcestershire
sauce or soy sauce
1 small onion, grated
butter and oil, for frying
mashed potato, to serve Stirred lingonberries:
250 g/9 oz frozen lingonberries (available in some speciality food stores and online)
100 g/1⁄2 cup caster/granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plain/all-purpose flour
a good glug of single/light cream
salt and ground black pepper
Soak the oats in the meat or chicken stock for 5 minutes. Mix the minced/ground meat with a good pinch of salt for a couple of minutes in a food processor to ensure it’s blended thoroughly.
Add the eggs, flour, spices and Worcestershire or soy sauce to another bowl and mix with the soaked oats or breadcrumbs and grated onion, then add this to the meat mixture. You’ll have a sticky, but moldable, mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for 20–25 minutes before using.
Heat up a frying pan/skillet with a small knob/pat or butter or oil and shape one small meatball. Fry it until done and then taste it. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and fry another meatball to test it until you get it just right. Shape the individual meatballs in your hands – it helps if your hands are damp. Each meatball should be around 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter, or larger if you haven’t got time.
Melt a knob/pat of butter in a frying pan/skillet with a dash of oil and carefully add a few meatballs – make sure there is plenty of room for you to swivel the pan round and help turn them so they get a uniform round shape and do not stick. You’ll most likely need to do this in several batches. Cooking time is usually around 5 minutes per batch. Keep in a warm oven until needed.
When your meatballs are done, keep the pan on a medium heat. Ensure you have enough fat in there, if not, add a knob/pat of butter to the pan. Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk, then add a splash of stock and whisk again as you bring to the boil. Keep adding stock until you have a good creamy gravy, then add a good dollop of single/light cream and season well with salt and pepper. The colour of the gravy should be very light brown.
To prepare the Stirred Lingonberries (rårörda lingon) simply add the caster/granulated sugar and stir. Leave for a while and then stir again, until the sugar dissolves and the berries have defrosted. Store leftover Stirred Lingonberries in the fridge. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Cinnamon wreath with rye
A beautiful centrepiece for a big fika session or birthday party. Essentially, a big cinnamon bun with a bit of extra oomph. Serves 10-12 Dough:
25 g/1 oz fresh yeast or 13 g/21⁄2 teaspoons dried/active dry yeast
80 g/51/2 tablespoons butter, melted
300 ml/11/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
50 g/1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
375 g/3 cups white strong/bread flour
80 g/ 3/4 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 beaten egg Filling:
100 g/7 tablespoons butter (spreadable)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
125 g/generous 2⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
25 g/2 tablespoons caster/granulated sugar
70 g/ 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts, e.g. almonds and hazelnuts
Topping & brushing:
1/2 beaten egg mixed with a dash of milk, for brushing
icing/confectioners’ sugar and warm water
If using fresh yeast, pour the melted butter into the milk. The temperature should be between 36–37°C (97–98°F). Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Pour into a mixing bowl. If using dried/active dry yeast, heat the milk to 36–37°C (97–98°F) and pour it into a bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast granules and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm/plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to activate.
Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, sugar and cardamom and stir again. Add 250 g/13⁄4 cups strong/bread flour and all the rye flour, salt and egg. Mix until everything is incorporated. Work the dough until it almost stops sticking and has a shiny surface – about 5 minutes with a mixer using a dough hook, or 10 minutes by hand. The dough should only just reach the point of not being sticky. Leave to rise until it’s doubled (around 40 minutes).
To make the filling, put the softened butter, cinnamon, cardamom and sugars into a bowl and mix well. Tip the dough out on a floured surface and work it with your hands, adding more flour, until you have a good, mouldable dough that does not stick and can be rolled out. Cut the dough in half and roll each piece in a rectangular shape (around 50 cm x 40 cm/16 x 20 in.).
Spread the butter mixture evenly across the dough. Add three-quarters of the chopped nuts across the surface. Roll the dough up lengthways so you end up with a long, tight roll. Place on a baking sheet and shape into a round circle, attaching the ends. Using scissors, cut slices almost to the base.
Spread each roll out to the side and flatten slightly until you have done the whole wreath. Ensure the wreath is quite flat. Let the wreath rest again for 30 minutes under a clean dish towel. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Brush the wreath gently with the remaining egg/milk and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until done.
Brush at once with a very thin layer of warmed syrup, then sprinkle over the rest of the nuts and keep under a damp dish towel until cooled a bit. Once cooled, make the icing using a little icing/confectioners’ sugar and a few drops of warm water and pipe over the wreath. Recipes taken from The Scandi Kitchen by Brontë Aurell, photography by Peter Cassidy, published by Ryland Peters & Small