It seemed about time that we did a blog on one of favourite chefs, Rachel Khoo, and what better opportunity than to do a review of her latest book, The Little Swedish Kitchen. I was instantly intrigued from just the title of this book as Swedish cuisine is something I know nothing about, apart from the stereotypical Swedish meatballs and admit I haven’t even tried Ikea’s. Each of Rachel’s books has a clear identity through her recipes and the creative design. The Little Paris Kitchen paints a ‘khooky’ picture of Rachel’s journey in Paris in her quirky little flat, giving us all hope that French cooking is easy, even in the tiniest of spaces. Her Little French Kitchen makes you dream of long, summer days in France going to markets and living off the land and sea, and you really feel like you have borrowed her Kitchen Notebook to make a dish she has been researching with squiggles and splatters all over the page. The Swedish Kitchen is no different with its cool, scandi feel that champions the use of simple, foraged and preserved ingredients; it could be her most sophisticated book yet. Rachel moved to Sweden after falling in love with a Swede (not the vegetable) and now has a young family there. There is a lot of love in this book are there are glimmers into some of her very personal recipes, such as the recipe for her own wedding cake. I think it is amazing that after only being in the country for a few years, she is already putting a spin on Swedish recipes to make them her own. I love that it has been split into the four seasons as I really like to cook this way, the seasons dictate so much of what we feel like eating at that time. Due to the short days in Sweden in the winter, they have to make the most of their fresh ingredients when they are in season or preserve them to stretch them out over the year so a lot of the recipes have smoked, brined or pickled/acidic flavours which makes for some new and exciting combinations I have never come across. The summer celebrates their glut of berries and fruits, particularly lingonberries which can be seen in both her sweet and savoury dishes.
I have mainly cooked from the autumn section of her book with lots of recipes flagged to try in the new year such as her spring nettle and chicken pie. Strangely, I love the taste of nettles and have been known to eat the young ones raw when they don’t have sting. I used to trample over the fields collecting new spring nettles to make nettle soup for my family which was the most delicious shade of witches’ brew green. So I was thrilled to see another nettle recipe again as it is such a rarity. Another recipe of hers on my must list is her roast rhubarb and custard magic cake which just looks divine – those two flavours are always a match made in heaven and I will be making it as soon as the spring rhubarb appears. And of course, I will be trying out her version of Swedish meatballs!
Peas, potatoes and Chicken in a pot – tasty, light and bright and also great to have in the summer.
Marmalade Biscotti went down a triumph with coffee when I made them for my in-laws. I may have made them a little too thick but the slightly bitter marmalade (homemade) flavour worked so well with the sweet biscuit. Will definitely make these again and they were so easy. She also has a tempting crunchy cardamom heart biscuit recipe which is on the to-do list.
Toasted pearl barley mushroom risotto- A great alternative risotto recipes which Rachel says acts as a good blank canvas to throw some addition veggie leftovers in that you might have hanging around, so I did just that and added in some frozen peas.
Yellow pea soup – a lovely soup with a lovely undertone of mustard and chunks of smoked bacon.
Smoked sausage stroganoff- a tasty, comforting tagliatelle dish.
Bacon and prune stuffed apples – Mum gave me a big bagful of apples recently and I made these for lunch. I used baking apples instead of eaters but it worked just as well. The stuffing combination is a triumph of sweet, salty and savoury flavours. Very autumnal!
Jansson’s temptation – apparently is something that appears on Swede’s tables at Christmas but Rachel says it is a lovely comfort dish any time of year just served with a crisp salad and she was absolutely right! The use of a mandolin is advised here when chopping up the potatoes, carrots and beetroot. A lovely creamy, root vegetable dish.
Vasterbotten pie – I recently made this quiche as James way away so I could get my mushroom fix (he hates them!) and it was a really good pie, with plenty of cheese! The pastry was really delicious too and made with wholegrain mustard and vodka! It also freezes really well, so cut up into slices and treat yourself at lunchtime – the mushrooms are best being done fresh though.
Hayley made Rachel’s hot smoked salmon with gravlax dressing with the addition of tomatoes, potato and a boiled egg and Rachel even re-posted it on her instagram she liked our version so much!!
So if you are intrigued about Swedish cuisine and want to try out some interesting recipes with alternative flavour combinations, then this is the book for you! Rachel has done a few podcasts recently about this book if you want to know more – look up her interview on Desert Island Dishes, Is it just me?! and The Lifestyle Edit- the last one is a cracking and refreshing listen and leaves you feeling very motivated 🙂