Saturday, September 05, 2009

Supper from the Swedes, Finns, and Danes

While in Fargo a couple weeks ago, Susan and I took the girls for an evening walk downtown and stopped in at Zandbroz to look around. While browsing the selections on their bookshelves, we spotted several Scandinavian-themed books, including a number of cookbooks by a woman named Beatrice Ojakangas. I was so excited to find a source of authentic Northern European recipes that, as soon as we were back in our hotel room, I fired up the laptop and ordered three of Ojakangas' cookbooks online. (She's quite a prolific culinary writer, apparently.)

Those books have since arrived, and I predict turning to them often as sources of recipes for future Scandinavian Saturdays. In fact, I took one recipe from each book for tonight's meal! I started by thawing a loaf of Danish rugbrød ["rye bread"] that has been in the freezer since we bought it at the Northern Plains Ethnic Festival a few weeks ago.

Rugbrød with caraway seeds on top, which we sliced and served with butter.

Then I made the dessert: Danish citronsmåkager ["lemon cookies"]. I mixed unsalted butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and lemon extract for the batter, which made about four dozen cake-like wafers, each with a mild sweetness and subtle lemon flavor. Abigail was my helper this week, and she frosted the cookies with a glaze made from powdered sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. We had to sample a few, of course, and were pleasantly surprised at how tart-but-sweet the frosting was. In fact, the fresh lemon juice in the frosting delivers more lemony flavor than the extract in the batter.

Sorry about the poor photo, but you get the idea what citronsmåkager look like. This recipe came from Ojakangas' book The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.

I thought that soup and salad would go well with the rugbrød, so next we made Finnish lohikeitto ["salmon soup"]. I sautéed onion, scallion, and celery in butter. To that I added flour, chicken stock, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Then I flaked in smoked salmon and added cream, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and pepper. Abigail was a good stirrer throughout the process, keeping a skin from forming on top of the soup while it was heating. When we dished up the soup, we topped each bowl with a generous amount of chopped fresh dill.

The recipe for this thick, hearty, savory lohikeitto came from Ojakangas' book Scandinavian Feasts.

For the salad, I selected Swedish västkustsallat ["west coast salad"]. In between batches of cookies, I steamed some frozen peas, boiled some fresh asparagus, and hard-boiled some eggs, setting all of them in the fridge to cool before we would need them. I had much more chopping to do before we could plate each salad, but Abigail joined me at that point and helped insure that everybody's salad contained goodly portions of these ingredients: romaine lettuce, asparagus, sliced cremini mushrooms, sliced canned beets, peas, tomato wedges, egg wedges, tiny shrimp, and crab meat. I made a dressing using minced garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and minced fresh dill.

The recipe for this fresh, colorful, zesty salad came from Ojakangas' book Scandinavian Cooking.

It was a really terrific meal that had us all so full that we had no room for the cookies . . . but that didn't stop us from eating them! The best part is that, were I to consult no other recipe source than these three books by Ojakangas, I could still continue to prepare Scandinavian Saturday meals for years without ever making the same item twice!


  1. Everything we've eaten for Scandinavian Saturday has been delicious (well, except maybe the lutefisk) but the salmon soup from last night made its way to the top of the list as my favorite. YUMMY!!!!

  2. It all sounds very "Norwegian!"