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6 posts categorized "Random Scandinavia"

June 05, 2014

How to create a midsummer picnic - the easy way

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How to create a midsummer picnic - the easy way

Midsummer occurs at exactly the same time as the summer solstice. It’s a wonderful time of year where we have almost round-the-clock daylight and try to tap into as much of it as we can, preparing ourselves for the long dark winter days ahead.

In Sweden, 'midsommar' sort of means picnics. It also means midsummer maypoles, aquavit, dancing, fun and frolics, and maybe a sing-song or two. It means flowers in your hair, and it definitely means local food eating outdoors with friends and family.

If you want to try your hand at a typically Scandi midsummer picnic, here’s our easy guide to doing it yourself. And don't worry if you think you'll have problems getting some of the trickier ingredients - we've suggested alternatives throughout.

What to make and pack

The emphasis is on seasonality and authentic produce.

Herring

It’s just not Scandi unless there's herring, so don't be squeamish and give it a try. At midsummer, we enjoy Matjes herring in particular. A lot more delicate than the usual pickled herring, it goes very well with the season's new potatoes.

We usually have at least two types of herring, so try one with Swedish mustard dressing – ABBA’s Senaps Sill is great.

Some UK supermarkets do have Scandi brands of pickled herring, so go for those if you can as they have a sweeter brine. Matjes herring is available online from ScandiKitchen.co.uk and you can also get it at Ocado. Rollmop herring is easy to find, but it is rather sourer than what we have in Scandinavia, and we have it in chunks rather than rolled lengths - avoid unless there's nothing else.

New potatoes

A must-have. Get really good quality new potatoes, boil and cool down to bring along to the picnic. Some people like them very plain, some like them tossed in dill. We prefer them in a light dill dressing as follows:

Cook the potatoes as described above. You can use slightly warm potatoes for this, or cooled ones straight out of the fridge. The most important part is to dress them just before serving.

Prepare the dressing:

• 75ml sunflower oil or other light oil

• 25ml white wine vinegar

• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 1 tbsp caster sugar

• 1 medium shallot, very finely chopped

• 1 bunch of dill, finely chopped

• Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the liquids, mustard and sugar until the sugar has dissolved, then fold in the chopped shallot and dill. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and make sure each potato is coated.

Gräddfill 

Swedish sour cream. There's no direct British equivalent (due to the fat content), but if you mix half natural yoghurt to half crème fraîche, you'll get something very close. Make a small batch so you have enough to pour over the potatoes and Matjes herring as a dip or dressing. Add a handful of finely chopped chives to the mixture.  

We do sell Gräddfil at ScandiKitchen if you want to get hold of the real thing.

Beetroot salad

This makes an appearance at every festive season. It’s delicious and simple to make, but you can easily buy our own from ScandiKitchen or Ocado.

To make it yourself, drain a jar of Scandi pickled beetroot and lightly chop them. Mix with one chopped tart apple. Add enough crème fraîche and mayonnaise to create a light pink hue, then season with salt, pepper, a dash of balsamic and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice if needed. Leave to set. 

If you use British pickled beetroot, you may need to add sugar for a more authentically sweeter taste.

Meatballs

Of course. Did you think we could have a picnic with no meatballs? 

Make or buy. If you decide to make, do so a day in advance, as it takes quite a while to make a full batch. If you buy, we highly recommend either Per i Viken or Mamma Scans. Either way, eat them cold.

Salmon

We love salmon, but it can be a bit difficult to sit and eat on a picnic. We suggest making a cured salmon salad with new potatoes. You can omit the potatoes if you don’t want to double up on spuds for your picnic.

  • 300g cooked, cooled new potatoes, halved
  • 200g cured salmon (or smoked salmon, if you prefer)
  • 100g green beans, blanched, cut into 3-4 cm pieces
  • 150g green asparagus, blanched, cooled, cut into 3-4 cm pieces
  • 100g green peas, blanched, cooled
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful of crunchy green leaves (from iceberg to frisée – whatever you prefer)
  • 1/3 cucumber, cubed
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives 
  • Sprigs of dill to decorate

Fold together and dress lightly with gravlax sauce, which is a dill and mustard dressing. We stock it, as do some supermarkets. 

Green salad

Nobody will eat it, but it’s pretty and looks like you've make a massive effort. Optional, of course.

Cheeses

Go for a lump of lovely Swedish Västerbotten or Prast. Don’t forget the cheese slicer.

If you want to show off, make a Väststerbottenpaj. It's a cheese quiche made with Västerbotten and full-fat cream. The dressing for the quiche is easy: a small jar of red lumpfish roe mixed with 100ml of crème fraîche. Or just buy a cheese quiche and smile sweetly.

Bread

This bit is important. You have to have crispbread, of course. Go for Leksands or Pyramid, both are very nice. Crusty bread is also common - get a baguette or some seeded rolls, whatever you fancy. Just don't forget the butter. 

Sweet stuff

Midsummer is all about the humble strawberry, and you’ll need to incorporate strawberries into your picnic somehow. If you're having it in your garden, you could make a jordgubbstårta – a strawberry layer cake – but that would be hard to bring along to a picnic. Instead, we suggest a few punnets of strawberries with a bit of cream and you’re done. If you want to bake, make a delicious Swedish sticky chocolate cake called a kladdkaka the day before. Chill it and slice before you leave (it's slightly under-baked and sticky, so you can only cut it while cold).

Serve with the cream and strawberries. Here's the recipe for kladdkaka.

Booze

Aquavit, cider and beers. You can add wine or champagne, but be careful of mixing aquavit and wine. We recommend a bottle of Skåne aquavit or Hallands Fläder, both are nice and summery. Only ever drink very cold, and as shots. For beers, go for Tuborg or Pistonhead. Rekordelig or Kopperberg are good cider options and probably the easiest thing on your shopping list to obtain. 

If you can't get aquavit, try flavouring a bottle of vodka. Google "make your own Swedish aquavit" for ideas.

Singing

Once you crack open the aquavit, the desire to sing will become evident. Prepare some good old Swedish ‘snapsvisor’, aka drinking songs. If you don’t speak Swedish, just pretend to be the Swedish Chef from The Muppets for a few minutes. More aquavit helps with that. Please be aware that after two shots of the strong stuff, you are likely to be fluent in Swedish, just by default.

Midsummer maypole etiquette

If there is a maypole, you need to dance around it. Not on your own, but with other people. Let them take the lead if you are unsure (and you will be unsure, so let them take the lead). If you find yourself pretending to be a little frog, this is quite normal. More aquavit helps with that.

Dress code

Well, there's not a dress code as such (although UK midsummer celebrations probably should include an anorak and umbrella). Women tend to wear white clothing, with wild flowers in their hair. This is of course optional, especially when it comes to keeping tidy during a picnic, although the floral hair arrangements can get quite competitive. Men tend to wear stuff that makes them look even more Swedish. Like tight trousers, maybe even yellow ones. We don't really advise either, if we're honest.

And that's it. Just have a lovely day whatever you do. Glad Midsommar!

 

February 13, 2014

WIN: 'The Almost Nearly Perfect People' - by Michael Booth

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Did you read the article that got everybody talking a few weeks back? (if not, read it HERE) Are we Nordics not all we're cracked up to be? Who decided to put us on a pedestal in the first place and how do we get down from there without ruining everything? Are we really obsessed with Midsomer Murders? (Ed: Yes).

Michael Booth, writer and journalist, currently living in Denmark (and, we can vouch, speak Danish pretty well) is not sure all is as it is cracked up to be. Well, actually, that is if you only read the article (so don't be offended just yet). In the book, you see, Booth goes deeper into the psyche of what makes us Scandinavians special and finds that, in fact, we might just be almost perfect...

Confused? Don't be. It's a good book and it is worth a read. You can buy it here

We've got a copy of the book to give away - fancy being in with a chance of winning it?

Just answer this easy question:

The statue of the Little Mermaid is in which Nordic town:

a) Stockholm

b) Copenhagen

c) Skagen

Answers by e-mail, please, to iloveherring@scandikitchen.co.uk before Monday at noon (17/2). Winner will be drawn at random from correct entries. No cheating, no cash alternative, no non-sense and all usual terms apply. 

February 08, 2012

How to annoy a Swede...

Viking1brilliant photo by jayspec

It's been a week in which we have learnt how to annoy people like us.  

Interesting.  But quite true.

The lovely Kate Reuterswärd has written a blog about 20 ways in which to annoy the Swedes and possibly ensure you never associate with any of those tall blondes again.

Kate's examples include:

1. Speak at an American volume (loudly) in public places, especially on public transportation. 

2. Walk inside with your shoes still on.

3. “I don’t like coffee.” 

4. Tell Swedes who are not from Skåne that Skåne is the real Sweden.

5. Criticize Midsummer.

6. Compare them to Danes.

7. Compare them to Norwegians.

8. Compare them to Finns.

9. Compare them to Germans.

10. Complain about environmentalists.

11. Try to arrange an office happy hour less than a week in advance.

12. Make fun of the Vasa Ship..

13. Install wall-to-wall carpeting.

14. Try to convince a Swede to come to church with you next Sunday.

15. Say you’ve never heard of Astrid Lindgren.

16. Say that Sweden’s government is Socialist. 

17. Corner someone at a party and insist they tell you the secret to why Swedish people are so so beautiful.

18. Lecture everyone on the dangers of candles.

19. Tell people that women should stay at home after their first child.

20. Start a conversation with a stranger.

You can read Kate's blog post right here 

 

June 22, 2011

The new BA advert... (Danes, look away now)

We saw someone post a photo of the new BA advert on the tube.

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July 19, 2010

Get away for a while...and sit in a tree

 
There are many spectacular hotels across the globe, but try one of these in Sweden if you fancy a bit of a different experience.

The rest of the article can be read here in The Local, Sweden's English News (including contact details).

We'd love to stay in any one of these - what a cool way to spend a few days.

Hotel1

in the middle of a lake...

Hotel2
Up in a tree...


 Hotel4
in a hotel made out of ice (no central heating, no)

Hotel5

In an old airplane, now grounded...

Hotel6
In a really cool eco hut

Hotel7
up in another tree...

Hotel3
in a hut made for trolls....

  
  

January 28, 2009

Random places to visit in Scandinavia #1

Should you ever end up in Iceland, take a break from your Blue Lagoon trip and pop in to visit the willy museum.  Apparently, it is quite interesting.

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