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Aug 6, 2007 03:03 AM

Scandinavian cookbook recs?

I've become really intrigued lately with Scandinavian cooking, partly due to watching the shows on Create, "New Scandinavian Cooking". I really enjoy both watching the travel aspect and the recipies have me wanting to invest in a few good cookbooks, to help me make all that delicious-sounding food! I have a few questions for more informed, knowledgable 'Hounders here.

What are your favorite Scandinavian cookbooks in English? Dates/publishing times aren't needing to be current, as a local used book store has a wide selection of older cookbooks, and I remember seeing more than a couple on Dutch and Swedish cooking. A great older cookbook might even be more desired, based on recipies and if there's a bit on culture and history of the areas. Titles and authors would be most appreciated.

I know lefse is a flat bread. The only thing I can even relate it to, is a tortilla- and i'm sure that doing both a disservice! Are lefse griddles worth the slightly pricey investment? $130 seems to be the going price online, and I have the slight feeling that I may want to get the hang of making lefse decently, before that kind of money dropped. Anything I can use, pan-wise to make it decently?

And finally: Am I going to weigh 300lbs, once I start all the baking? *laughs* All their baked goods sound divinely sinful, I guess I should start giving food away to co-workers!

I thank you in advance for any help,


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  1. Beatrice A. Ojakangas is the authority on Scandinavian cooking and baking. Check out her website for some recipes, and a list of her books:

    Marcus Samuelsson's Aquavit cookbook is lovely to look at, heaps of fun, and the several recipes I've tried have turned out well. However, I wouldn't call it the go-to book on Swedish cooking, as it's not meant to be a comprehensive guide, but rather a chef's pimped-up interpretations of traditional Swedish cooking.

    The same could be said for Kitchens of Light by Andreas Viestad. Another beautiful, glossy book, this time focusing on Norway.

    Dutch? Did you mean to say Danish?

    3 Replies
    1. re: TheGloaming

      second anything by beatrice ojakangs. she has written books on scandinavian cooking and finnish cooking, but her baking books are true classics-- the scandinavian baking book and the holiday baking book.

      you know, i live here in msp and there are still lots of scandinavians kicking around here, and they'll bring some lefse over if you give 'em a chance-- i'm *not* nuts about it. if you haven't tried lefse and fallen in love with it, i wouldn't shell out the $130 for the griddle. just my opinion, though. good luck!

      1. re: soupkitten

        I love lefse, but if you are learning, don't spend the $$ on the griddle. Just use a frying pan to start - they will be smaller but come out basically the same. Once the lefse is done, butter and sprinkle brown sugar on, roll and eat! Yum! Where do you live?

        1. re: WildSwede

          WildSwede, do you mean where am i from or where is Honeychan from? i can't tell. anyway, i'm here in Minneapolis/St Paul. Scandinavian cooking and baking is alive and well here, esp in some enclaves elsewhere in the state. If you ever visit, you'll have to check out the Swedish Institute :)

    2. The Cooking of Scandinavia volume from the old Time-Life Foods of the World series provides a good overview of the traditional cuisine of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and (not technically part of Scandinavia) Finland. Lots of lore and cultural background and a separate spiral bound book of authentic recipes. Published in 1968. Author is Dale Brown.

      3 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          So, in my online cookbook finds, I managed to snag the wirebound companion cookbook to the Time-Life Foods of the World Scadinavia volume. WHY THE HECK did I buy that, and not the main book, as I kicked myself in the pants upon realization?!? Well, my "main" book is on it's way now, hopefully in my mailbox this very week. I feel awfully silly for that blunder!

          I'm happy to report my first time cooking Swedish meatballs was a big sucess! Thr fmaily was very happy with the final result, and I was suprsied how easy they were.

        2. I think carswell's endorsement of the Time-Life volume is spot on, and Dale Brown does a wonderful job writing about the various food cultures in Scandinavia. It's no longer in print, but I think an eBay search could yield results. The spiral bound recipe books are a little harder to find, due to use. The book is certainly not as "modern" as Samuelsson's or Viestad's, but it will give you an idea of the food traditions. Another thing: a jumping-off-point would be to look at other Baltic food traditions. Anya von Bremzen's "Please To The Table" has a section on Baltic food which, in my opinion, is quite similar to the Scandinavian's. The book is largely about Russian (or at that time, USSR) regional foods, but the Baltic commentary is worth it if you're interested in that foodway.

          No, you will not weigh 300 lbs. with Scand. cooking! The baking is what gets attention here in the States, but the fresh veg., berries, fish, roe, mushrooms,game, etc. are spectacularly heathy. And used judiciously, the fresh dairy and cheeses are heavenly...I think Ementhaler-style cheese is at it's best with the Finnish cheesemakers. It's available here in the States - look for "Finnish Swiss" at your co-op. Traditional Scandinavian cookery is very similar to what we think of as macobiotic and seasonal.

          TheGloaming mentioned Bea Ojakangas, and I think she is particularly good for baking, if you're in that frame of mind. Scandinavian breads, especially those recipes that hail from Karelia, in the east of Finland, are especially good.

          Enjoy your exploration of this under-appreciated food culture. I have many recipes; let me know what you're interested in (not baking...I bake very little).


          6 Replies
          1. re: cayjohan

            Yes, if you have specifics, I can probably help, too. My mom is Norwegian and dad is Swedish, so I can get my hands on my mom's cookbook. I find the local Sons of Norway cookbook pretty good (my lodge is in Van Nuys, CA). Every year they have their annual Lutefisk dinner (incl. lefse, meatballs, rice pudding, krumkake, etc.) in November.
            New Scandinavian Cooking cracks me up! I love to watch the show, but have never eaten any of the preparations on my many visits there (and once living there) and am very certain that my family who still live there have not either! - I would guess that is why they have the "new" in there.

            1. re: WildSwede

              Have you been watching the one with Tina or with Andreas Viestad?

              1. re: likaluca

                Both and now the new one with the Danish guy.

                1. re: WildSwede

                  Wait a tick - there's a new one? My PBS station must not have picked up on it yet. Can you review, or maybe this is for the Food Media and News board?

                  1. re: cayjohan

                    Yep new one. Only think I don't like about the Danish version is that he gives you measurements in liters and deci-liters! ;-) "Den I add ten deciliters of the cream..." I am in Los Angeles (KCET and KOCE). I have seen about 3 or 4 episodes, but have not been home for the several past weekends, so cannot say how many there have actually been.

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      omg! I don't think my PBS picks it up either!!! Grrrr.

                      But I do miss my Andreas. His little gap in between his teeth was super cute and he could cook. Tina, is adorable, but I never really wanted to make any of her recipes. I wanted to want to though, so thats something

          2. Thank you all who've posted responses to my questions! I'll be hopping over to the bookstore over the weekend (fingers crossed, on Thursday even) with these recs. I've seen Beatrice A. Ojakangas and her books pull up on searches on, and they do look good. Kitchens of Light by Andreas Viestad looks like a wonderful photo-book, but aren't these the same recipies that are posted on I'm sure they are not *all* on that website, but I saw that most of the episodes that Andreas hosted have the correllating recipies on that site.

            Carswell, it's funny that you mention the old Time-Life Foods of the World books! I just adore the one on Japan, and have gotten so much use out of it. I really enjoy the history, and culture aspects it covers..Plus, I'm almost -certain- that my used bookstore had many different volumes that were released from the series. I'm really excited and looking forwards to picking this book, especially.

            TheGloaming: You would be exactally right! In my hurry, I made a incorrect correllation. My bad, and I am going to have to make a real effort to re-train my brain on a few things I -thought- I knew on world geography! Back to school for me. ^__^

            Now, my brain is working overtime, thinking about lefse. It's made from potatoes, correct? It is like taking grated potatoes, mixing with flour and eggs (and other things, of course) and making something akin to a crepe or tortilla? Does it really -taste- like potatoes? (gosh, I hope that didn't sound too stupid!) I am going to play around, once I get a good recipe in my hands, and i'll let you all know what I think.

            Anyone have the IKEA cookbooks? I seem to remember seeing 2 different ones at the store in Burbank, California when I was there last. One seemed to be more "high end" and was around $20-25, then there was a more "home-style" cookbook for around $10. I was intruigued, but when I went back to pick them up, parking was near impossible! I am going to have to try harder next time i'm out to get them, I think.

            Thank you all again! Plus, if others have more recs, please add away, so we can all benifit!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Honeychan

              Hi everyone! I'm Swedish, and pretty new on these boards. Anyway - I find that there are rather few good cookbooks about Swedish food in English. However, a new one just came out, and it's absolutely excellent. It's called "Very Swedish" by Annica Triberg and has a really nice collection of recipes. (As well as nice pictures and stories about the different regions.) The only problem is that it might not be easy to get outside of Sweden. here's what it looks like, and ISBN:

              There's another one due to come out soon by Swedish chef Leif Mannerström. It's already out in Swedish and is very much about classic and traditional home cooking, and it's being translated and released in English in the fall.

              1. re: Honeychan

                Hello everyone who happens to be following my little topic on Scandinavian cookbook searches. After going to 3 used bookstores here in Las Vegas, I came up totally empty-handed. The one store that I remember seeing a few at suddenly up and went out of business with no notice, so that wasen't an option.

                Next option? Online used bookstores! There are quite a few of them, and I used Hmmm..While I was thrilled to find so many books and options- and the used listed prices were dirt-cheap...The shipping was a killer. For $14 worth of books, my total with shipping fees was $30! They are all books from different bookstores, so they each charge for their shipping..-_- I wasen't overly thrilled with that. Next time, I think I'll be using another site, and hopefully save on some shipping charges.

                My first cookbook arrived the other day: Classic Scandinavian Cooking, by Nika Hazelton. Origional publish date was 1965, updated in 1987. It's not bad at all, over 200 recipes, and cultural information on the 5 countries. I feel like i'm already learning more than I expected from just one book. I'm very surprised to learn that i'm allready familiar with more dishes than I knew! I have a strong feeling that Scandinavian cooking here in American has been eased into the home cooking culture- I mean for example my Grandmother who's Scotch/English made some of the same dishes I have in my new book, but she had totally different names for them.

                I have 3 more books on the way, and I'm so excited to get them all!

                On a slightly related side-note: Las Vegas is getting an IKEA store, finally! I will wait till the opening, and buy the 3 cookbooks I saw at the Burbank store at our new one.

                1. re: Honeychan

                  Hey Honey, just realized where you are (I am in Pasadena). Check out Janis Jarvits's used cookbook shop in Pasadena on Washington/Hill. A lot of books there. Damn, I am giving out my secret. Her website is:
                  She sells her stuff on ebay... you can do searches on her website.
                  If you are interested, you can join my mother and me for the Lutefisk dinner at S of N this year, you can email me at But it is here in S Cal. We always take "newbies" and it is great fun. You can also purchase several items including cookbooks and other cooking items (lefse griddle, krumkake iron, etc.) at the dinner.
                  I had some old Scandinavian cookbooks, but am not sure if I have them any longer. If I do, you may have them if you want.
                  Best, Lisa

              2. There is a lovely book called "Young and Hungry" by Suzanne Taylor, about her childhood experiences visiting her grandparents in Norway between the world wars, and it has lots of recipes, though I have not tried them. Found it at a used book store in Wisconsin.

                11 Replies
                1. re: MMRuth

                  Not all lefse is made with potatoes. There is a version called Hardanger Lefse which is made with all flour. This one is used more as a dessert while potato lefse is usually served with butter along with the main course much like rolls, garlic bread or French bread. My dh is half Swedish and half Norwegian and I learned to make both kinds of lefse as well as Swedish meatballs and Limpa from his Mother.

                  1. re: HBGigi

                    Oh, you are sooo lucky to have learned recipes from your MIL, HBGigi!! I know all the ones my Grandmother taught me are the best ones I know, as well.

                    Might I ask a horribly simple question? (I think I know the answer, buuut....) When making Swedish meatballs, when the recipe tells you that the meatballs should be made in a cream or white sauce, does that just mean a sauce made from the pan/pot drippings of the meatballs you just fried? This is what I think, and so far...I haven't gotten a 100% solid answer from a few cookbooks/ internet searches i've tried.

                    WildSwede, thank you so much for both the bookshop reccomendation, and the invitation to the SoN event! I've heard a few comments about what Lutefisk is like...Should I be worried? It's codfish that's been soaked, then dried in LYE? Sorry for my gasp of surprise, it's just not something that's done very often these days.

                    I'm out in LA to visit family at least 8 times a year, and I seem to allways find my way into Pasadena for one thing or another. If it's not to stop at Stat's, it's to have tea at Chado, or some hot pastrami at The Hat. Since family's in Burbank, Pasadena's just hop, skip and a jump away. I bet I can even talk my mother into joining me at the bookshop! (But, I may never get her out!)

                    Am I crazy or what? I'm really wanting to make a trip to Solvang, these days as well..I'll be nice and open a new post about good bakery reccomdations in Solvang. ^__^

                    Everyone has been so nice in assisting me, thank you all so very much.

                    1. re: Honeychan

                      try this recipe for white sauce Honeychan


                      and lutefisk is. . . a *very* acquired taste. see if you can find a little lutheran church in your area. ten bucks says they have a lutefisk dinner around the holidays. very popular with the older folks. with the younger generations. . . not so much.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Hi Folks-

                        I.m a bit late to this thread, but...
                        Are lutefisk what I had growing up and known as "Norwegian Fish Balls"?

                        They were canned (maybe a narrow egg shape), served in cream of shrimp soup, maybe over egg noodles? We were not then CHs--when I was a child we were lucky to have dinner for all of us--but we were half Norwegian. At any rate- I remember, gasp, liking them, a lot. Could this be them?


                        1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                          Fiskeboller (fish balls)!!! MY FAVORITE!!!
                          They are definitely not the same as Lutefisk (Lutfisk in Sweden). The reason Lutefisk has a bad rap is because they are looked down on as "poor man's food" but it is making a comeback in Norway! Since they did not have refrigeration in the old days and fish is a main staple in the Norwegian (and Scandinavian) diet they found a way to preserve the fish.
                          The Sons of Norway have the preparation down to a "t": they boil if in water for exactly 6 minutes (any more and it disintegrates).
                          Side note: My mom's cousin came from Norway earlier this year and insisted on making a Lutefisk dinner for us as my mom had some sitting in the freezer. He cooked it the way they do in northern Norway - in the oven with bacon. It was the most nasty stuff I had ever had. I could still taste it the next day. Both my mom and I thought we were going to die - and he was eating it with gusto. We LOVE it the way the Sons of Norway prepares it. His was hard an crisp and the SoN version is moist, succulent and delicious (actually it really has almost no flavor except for the melted butter poured liberally on top!).
                          You can get the Fiskeboller canned with hummersaus (lobster sauce), dillsaus (dill sauce), rekesaus (shrimp sauce) and some kind of briney sauce. I like the lobster one best. I get a can, then dump it into a pot. Have potatoes and carrots boiling separately. Then add a slurry to the pot to thicken the sauce. Add veggies and you are in business. You can probably get them through Ingebritsen's in Minneapolis and you can definitely get them at Olsen's Deli in Los Angeles.
                          This is funny:

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            Thank you--I know no one outside of my family who has ever heard of fishballs. Great to see some one who not only knows them, but loves them!

                            We never had lutefisk to my recollection. Very Interesting!


                            1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                              Come out to L.A. in early November and you can join us for Lutefisk!! ;-)
                              There is also something called fiskekaker which is fish cakes in a brown sauce. They are fantastic as well!!
                              See the link for Ingebretsen's below. Note, they have Lutefisk Candy! They also sell a Lefse Mix.
                              OH! The Turkish Pepper Candy - great recipe (if you like black licorice) for a sipping liquer - take a bag of the candy, dump it into a bottle of Vodka. Shake a few times a day until the candies dissolve. Pour into liquer glasses and enjoy! I had this in Hamar, Norway at my mom's uncle's friend's house when we went for the Olympics in '94. It is really good!!
                              The Gjetost - goat cheese (the guy on New Scandinavian Cooking called it "Caramel Cheese" which I realized is actually a good description (after I stopped laughing)). Get the knackebrod (here called Siljan's Hardtack Round or the wedge ones), slather with butter and put the cheese on top. This is what I would have for breakfast every day at school in Norway. I still eat it often!! My favorite cheese is Nokkelost, which is very hard to get in the US. I did see it at the cheese store in Stoughton, WI when I was there in May and almost had a heart attack! We cannot get it here in L.A. (unless it is ordered in).
                              For the fishballs, look under the "seafood" section and there they are. I like the Abba brand, although I currently have a can of the Husmor (housewife) brand at home. Sorry for the rambling...

                              1. re: WildSwede

                                Ha-just what I need, yet another way to enjoy vokda!! My poor liver! Sounds good, thanks!

                                "Carmel cheese is a great way to describe gjetost!

                                What a great website-thanks!

                            2. re: WildSwede

                              I love fish balls in any culinary tradition. (Seriously love them.) Do you have a recipe for your fiskeboller that you can share? I'm guessing it's a dried cod prep, correct?

                              I'll also have to check out Ingebretsen's for the canned...but I'd rather like to try making them myself.

                              1. re: cayjohan

                                You know what, I go the lazy way and use the canned (I know, SHAME!!). I will have a little chat with my mom and see if I can get a recipe out of her (she may also have used the can). One more thing, she has completely stopped making meatballs - now she goes to Ikea and gets the ones that are frozen and gets a gravy packet. I swear, the Ikea ones are delicious.

                        2. re: Honeychan

                          Hi Honey, yes your fears are confirmed - that is exactly what Lutefisk is, but it is really, really good! You should try it! ;-) You should let me know when you go to The Hat and I will meet you!! ;-)