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Posted September 13, 2010
This is a unique cookbook. It contains recipes with ingredients I've never heard of, a layout different from most cookbooks, and a collection of stunning nature photography.
The book format is large, 10 ¼ x 11 ¾, and the page layout is uncluttered with beautiful mouth-watering photographs of the dishes represented. The photos are not labelled though, and I would have liked to identify the places, flowers, plants and foods they depict.
The recipes are presented according to the seasons, starting with spring and ending with winter. For example, under each season heading you will find appetizers, main courses and desserts made from ingredients popular and available in that season. There are 40 recipes in total: 13 appetizers, 17 main courses and 10 desserts. Each recipe is accompanied by an introductory paragraph and ends with a selection of wine best suited for that dish.
The book begins with an introduction to Finland. I learned interesting facts about this country, among them that it contains one of the world's largest archipelago and that almost every family has a sauna. It is a country close to the North Pole and much of the recipes reflect foods found from hunting in its forests, fishing in its lakes or known locally to the Finns.
The author chose Simply Scandinavian as a title for this cookbook because the recipes are uncomplicated and require only a few basic ingredients. The problem I encountered as I read each recipe is that sometimes I had no clue what the basic ingredients were or I could not find them at my local grocery store or food market, such as reindeer, nettle, birch sap, false morel (mushroom), mallard, smoked vendace, sal ammoniac, beestings, cep (mushroom), cloudberries, viili, lingonberries, blini, etc.
Although I find this book is not practical for me and my family, it is clear that care has been taken to produce a quality cookbook with traditional and modern Scandinavian gourmet recipes. This book would make an excellent addition to the repertoire of any chef or amateur gourmet cook. I will attempt to adapt some of the recipes because I have no doubt they are delicious. And perhaps if I find the missing ingredients at a specialty shop, I will have the pleasure of tasting Scandinavian cooking.
Posted August 8, 2010
I love food, so as soon as I saw the gorgeous piece of salmon nesting on a bed of greens on the cover of "Simply Scandinavian, Traveling In Time With Finnish Cuisine And Nature," I was excited to get my hands on a copy. While I have to admit I didn't have a clue about Finnish cuisine, that picture was enough to pique my interest.
I was thrilled when I discovered that this cookbook is more than a collection of Tero Kallio's recipes. It's a stunning book that will teach you a bit about Finland through images and food. Good food engages all of the senses and Kimmo Saira's pictures will have you drooling in anticipation as you flip through. Another thing I really appreciate is the way this collection is organized. Anyone who has had the pleasure of picking a tomato off of the vine in the summer can tell you the importance of eating seasonally and this book guides you through all four seasons on a culinary journey.
While pretty pictures are nice, what really counts in the end is the food you produce and both items I made were fantastic. Since it's been nearly 100 degrees every day, I started with the Lemon and Lime Sorbet, which was easy and refreshing. While I sadly couldn't track down the Sal Ammoniac squares need to make the accompanying sauce, it was fantastic by itself. Hopefully I can find that missing ingrediant in the future to enjoy it as intended by the author. Regardless, it was a quick and easy summer dessert.
I also couldn't resist trying the Grilled Raw Spiced Salmon with a green pea salad. It's a fantastic summer dinner because you don't need to turn on the stove for more than a couple of minutes. I loved the horseradish cream which is reminiscint of wasabi, but offered a fresh burst of flavor thanks to the green peas.
Both recipes were easy to follow and the results were well received by everyone. The only thing I should point out for those of you who are used to American cookbooks is that the ingrediants are measured using the metric system. While nothing I made required exact measurement and I'm used to converting because of my work, you may have to take an extra five minutes to figure out how much of everything you'll need before starting for recipes requiring precision. From what I've made so far, it will be worth it!
After reading through this beautiful book and trying a couple of recipes, I'm sold on the food of Finland. While I most likely will not be serving Reindeer with Cloudberries at my next dinner party, there are a number of recipes I'm looking forward to trying out. Plus, even though some of the ingredients may be difficult to find here, I think the techniques and concepts will translate to my local ingredients just fine!
Posted April 12, 2010
"Simply Scandinavian - Travelling in Time with Finnish Cuisine and Nature" by Tero Kallio and Kimmo Saira is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. The authors claim to take readers on a journey of two dimensions: tastes and time. Boy, do they succeed.
The gorgeous photography sets off the more than 40 recipes included in the book. Kallio and Saira divide the recipes by season, and further by appetizers, main courses and desserts, with accompanying photos of the recipes and Finnish scenery. The authors point out that "Simply Scandinavian" is a picture book and that the recipes, some of which combine the old and new, are mostly Finnish dishes with a smidgeon of Italian, Russian and other cuisines thrown in.
Readers will learn how to prepare dishes of reindeer, rabbit, salmon, crayfish, beef, lamp, cep mushrooms and more. I did have to look up some of the ingredients in the recipes because I was unfamiliar with them. With each recipe, the authors recommend a beverage ranging from pinot noir to champagne to cold milk to specialty drinks, etc. One of the recipes that sounds interesting is reindeer with cloudberries. I would like to try that someday if I were to visit Finland. Some of the dessert and drink recipes like the rhubarb smoothie and blueberry cheese-cake I may attempt to create at home.
In sum, "Simply Scandinavian" is a breathtaking picture book that readers will enjoy for both the recipes and photography. I recommend it wholeheartedly.