Scandinavian Cookbooks

Aquavit by Marcus Samuelsson

One of the first Scandinavian cookbooks I purchased around the time I started Outside Oslo in 2009, Aquavit appealed to my need for nostalgia in the time following Grandma Agny’s death as well as inspired me to think beyond the cliche when it comes to Nordic cuisine. Samuelsson, the chef behind the renowned Aquavit restaurants, has put together a beautiful, delux hardcover cookbook that would be just as lovely on a coffeetable as in a kitchen. Recipes range from the classic Swedish meatballs to the restaurant-worthy salmon braised in vinegar with with cannellini beans, shiitake mushrooms, and truffle oil.

The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

Arguably the queen of Scandinavian cookbook authors, Ojakangas writes about the cuisine of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland as though she lived over there instead of in Minnesota. Each chapter, on breads, cookies, cakes, tortes, pastries, and pies, features not only a delightful assortment of traditional recipes, but also introduces them with essays that explains their place in Nordic cuisine. My copy has a sharp crease down the spine from all the time it’s spent in use in my kitchen. It is my ultimate authority in Scandinavian baking, and its Swedish brandy cake and Tosca cake are recipes I will return to again and again.

Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Ojakangas

One of the things I love about Ojakangas is the timelessness of her recipes. This book, for example, was first published in 1983 (the edition I have is from 2003), yet the recipes don’t bear the mark of the decades gone by–instead they just portray the foods that Scandinavia is known for. This book features traditional menus for various occasions, from a farmhouse brunch complete with potato soup, a bacon bake, and Danish pastries, to an old-fashioned Christmas smorgasbord with six courses.

Scandinavian Feasts by Beatrice Ojakangas

First published nearly a decade after the author’s Scandinavian Cooking, this book is organized similarly, with recipes grouped according to menu suggestions. From the Saint Lucia’s Day candlelight brunch with a seafood omelette, Saint Lucia buns, and almond-stuffed baked apple halves to the Christmas season lutefisk and meatball dinner, Ojakangas gives readers plenty of inspiration for hosting parties and celebrations with a Scandinavian touch.

Swedish Cakes and Cookies, translated by Melody Favish

First published in 1945, reportedly as the result of a baking contest held right after the end of World War II, this cookbook went on to sell over 3.4 million copies in Sweden and has been repeatedly adapted over the years. In the now-available English edition, readers will find nearly 300 recipes, each with a simple photo–which is particularly helpful for visualizing some of the more ornate Swedish delicacies–including some that are gluten-free, egg-free, or sugar-free.

Kitchen of Light by Andreas Viestad

Easily my favorite Scandinavian cookbook, Kitchen of Light is a combination of mouthwatering recipes and eye-catching photos of both food and the places from where it comes. In this colorful book, Viestad, a Norwegian food writer and TV host, takes hungry readers on a culinary tour of Norway through his eyes. Viestad manages to modernize Scandinavian food while staying true to its roots and shows readers the fresh and seasonal side of how Scandinavians eat, highlighting the sun-kissed berries ripened to perfection in the long summer days and the wild mushrooms found in late summer. Viestad’s essays on places and products–with beautiful photos by Mette Randem–will make you want to visit Norway and discover its food. Read my entire review here.

The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann

Competing with Kitchen of Light in its portrayal of the beauty of Scandinavia, this cookbook organizes recipes by month rather than type of food or course, offering a readers a taste of each season in Scandinavia. Hahnemann, a Danish chef and food writer, worked with photographer Lars Ranek to produce a book that’s just as much of a joy to peruse as to cook from. The photos of food are combined with images of people enjoying it, as well as portraits of the land where the food is from. The cod in mustard sauce with condiments and pickled beets is one of my all-time favorite recipes.

The Nordic Diet by Trina Hahnemann

I keep forgetting that “Diet” is part of this book’s title. If I dined on nothing but Hahnemann’s creations for a month, I’m sure I would never feel like I were dieting and then would all of a sudden wonder why my clothes were fitting differently. The premise of this beautifully-photographed book is to encourage people to eat fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. Hahnemann takes inspiration from the Nordic countries in her diet plan than builds meals largely on whole grains and vegetables with meats taking a backseat. The vegetable biksemad with beets, potatoes, carrots, and poached eggs looks as hearty as it is healthy, and the rye pasta with kale and garlic sounds like a perfect light meal for a late weeknight dinner.

Scandilicious by Signe Johansen

If I were to pick one Scandinavian cookbook as one that I wish I had written, this would be it. Johansen unveils the “Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking” in this recently-published book from Saltyard Books in England. My mouth is watering as I look forward to cooking grilled brunost on toast; mackerel, fennel, and horseradish smørrebrød; cinnamon toast with strawberries and cream; and blackberry, almond, and cardamom cake. Johansen’s interpretations of Scandinavian cuisine are wholesome and healthy, opting for fresh and nutritious ingredients over rich and processed. If her photo on the back cover is any indication–she’s seen with her blonde hair swept back and licking a spoon very happily–the recipes inside will make you very satisfied.

Authentic Norwegian Cooking by Astrid Karlsen Scott

Nordic cookbooks are few and far between on most bookstore shelves, and when they do show up, they tend to encapsulate the cuisine of the entire Scandinavian region rather than specific countries, often while combining contemporary trends with classic cooking. Scott’s cookbook takes the food of one country–Norway–however and preserves all that is traditional about it. With more than 300 recipes, from pickled mackerel to rice cream, Authentic Norwegian Cooking is a great compendium for the home cook hoping to learn more about Norwegian cooking or recreate recipes from his or her youth.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi

For those of us not yet lucky enough to have dined at Noma, the two Michelin star restaurant near Copenhagen, this book provides a glimpse into the world that chef René Redzepi has created. This lovely hardcover book features more than 90 recipes that often sound simple but make food a cross between a science experiment and a work of art. Redzepi is credeted by many as reinventing Nordic cuisine, and Noma has been named the World’s Best Restaurant for three years in a row.

Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

This thin, 96-page cookbook is totally accessible and unpretentious, just as a Nordic cookbook should be. Sinclair has put together around 40 recipes for coffee breads, cakes, cookies, tarts, and pastries, ranging from Norwegian julekake to Swedish pepparkakor, along with traditional favorites such as lefse and sandbakkels. Each recipe is accompanied by a photo, giving readers a visual taste of what they can expect, and Sinclair and photographer Joel Butkowski have put the recipes in context as well both through a variety of sidebars and through photos of Scandinavia.

Cooking Danish by Stig Hansen, “The Viking Chef”

With my cultural background, I’m more familiar with the foods of Norway than the other Scandinavian countries, so I appreciate this offering from Stig Hansen, which he declares is “the only complete full-color Danish cookbook available in English.” You’ll learn all about smørrebrød–which is among the best known of Danish cuisine–how to make smoked cheese and Danish beer, and you’ll be treated to recipes ranging from a hearty breakfast of pumpernickel beer porridge to homemade Danish sausage to be served with red cabbage and boiled potatoes.

The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson

A look through the recipes listed in the table of contents is enough to make me want to head downstairs to the kitchen and start cooking: chilled rose hips soup with whipped cream; yellow pea soup with bacon, cherry tomatoes, and parsley; gravlax with mustard-dill sauce and fresh baby spinach; fresh herb omelet with gravlax; cloudberry shortcakes. Swedish-born, LA-based Henderson has given a modern touch to traditional recipes and presented them in a simple and accessible cookbook.

Gudrun’s Kitchen: Recipes from a Norwegian Family, Baugh and Sandvold

As my mom and I work on a collection of family recipes, I can’t help but hope that someday we’ll be able to publish a book that tells the story of a family, through food, like this one does. This book is a family memoir and immigrant story with nearly 200 recipes from Gudrun Thue Sandvold, the youngest of a large Norwegian immigrant family. Putting together the book was a family affair for Gudrun’s relatives, and I love that the Sandvolds put in the effort to preserve memories, family history, and recipes in such a special way.

Swedish Breads and Pastries by Jan Hedh

The French may be known for their perfect baguettes and excellent bread, but Scandinavians appreciate baked goods just as much. So it comes as no surprise that an entire book could be dedicated to the breads and pastries of Sweden. This book provides an overview of the ingredients and techniques that are part of the baking process along with recipes for a variety of Scandinavian breads. However, the title might be a bit of a misnomer, as readers will quickly discover that there is just as much about French, Italian, and other breads as there is about those from Sweden.

Cooking the Norwegian Way by Sylvia Munsen

A primer on Norwegian cooking from Lerner, an independently-owned children’s publishing company, this no-frills book provides an overview on the cuisine of Norway as well as simple recipes for traditional foods such as open-face sandwiches, cucumber salad, fruit soup, and rice pudding.

Full disclosure: Review copies were provided of the following books: Scandinavian Cooking, Scandinavian Feasts, Kitchen of Light, The Scandinavian Cookbook, The Nordic Diet, Scandilicious, Authentic Norwegian Cooking, Noma, Scandinavian Classic Baking, Cooking Danish, The Swedish Table, Gudrun’s Kitchen, Swedish Breads and Pastries, and Cooking the Norwegian Way.

One thought on “Scandinavian Cookbooks

  1. Hi,
    Do you have any idea where I can order these books? I live in Belgium and it’s impossible to find any Scandinavion cookbooks around here.

    Thanks in advance.

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