Smörgåsbord: The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats, written by Johanna Kindvall, features an intimate look at the traditions and food behind the Nordic Smörgåsbord. From quick lunches to lavish spreads, you can enjoy the flavors of Sweden at home with dishes such as Ugnsbakad Sparris med Senapsfrödressing (Roasted Asparagus with Pickled Mustard Vinaigrette), Vörtbröd (Christmas Malt Bread), Parisare (The Parisian Open-Faced Hamburger), Höstsallad (Autumn Salad), Fyllda Ägg (Scandinavian Deviled Eggs), and Inlagda Rödbetor (Pickled Beets). I am also including Johanna’s recipe for Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan (Orange Marmalade with Thyme) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Ten Speed Press in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Johanna Kindvall is a Swedish illustrator and cook currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She is the editor of the illustrated cooking blog, Kokblog, and her work has been featured in books and magazines around the world. She is also the co-author of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (this was one of my first reviews).
Chapters are divided according to the following: The Meaning of Smörgåsbord, Swedish Breads, The Everyday Smörgås, Outdoor Seasonal Spreads, and Condiments & Sides. Each chapter also begins with a list of the included recipes for easy reference.
Along with a wonderful selection of recipes, Johanna shares the history and traditions behind the Smörgåsbord- a spread with a variety of small dishes and well-balanced flavors. You will learn about the basics, from its meaning (smörgås: open sandwich and bord: table) to the specifics of year-round dishes, seasonal favorites, and regional variations. I especially love the intricate details and cultural notes included between the recipes. Holiday celebrations are also highlighted with a section on Julbord (Christmas Table), Påskbuffé (Easter Buffet), Midsummer, Kräftskiva (Crayfish Party), Regional Parties, and Open House Parties. For those new to Swedish cooking, there is a guide for basic pantry ingredients including types of flour, vinegar, common spices/herbs, and Nordic cheeses.
Just like Fika, this book is uniquely filled with beautiful and detailed illustrations in place of photographs (see examples on the cover above). The recipes are accompanied by these illustrations of the finished dish and even a couple of step-by-step drawings. Every recipe begins with a headnote with background information, tips, stories, menu ideas, and serving size. Ingredients are listed in US Customary and Metric. The titles of the recipes are written in English and Swedish.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Swedish cuisine. While Fika’s main focus is sweet treats, Smörgåsbord highlights the savory side of Swedish cooking. Many of the dishes come together easily and are meant to compliment others in the book. Menu guides are scattered throughout for popular combinations and flavor pairings. Bakers will enjoy a nice assortment of breads and history on Swedish baking. Most ingredients can be located in the average American supermarket, but a few may be more difficult to find such as rye berries, flax seeds, cardamom, hog casing, juniper berries, allspice berries, crème fraîche, stinging nettles, cured herring, and live crayfish. A resource section with websites on where to locate Swedish products is also included.
Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan (Orange Marmalade with Thyme)
The idea of canning still makes me nervous, so recipes like this Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan are perfect for creating small batches of jams and jellies. Johanna calls this a lazy version of the classic orange marmalade. Regular oranges are used in place of the bitter Seville oranges to make the marmalade in less time with less sugar.
The outer layers of the oranges are removed and cut into thin strips (carefully to avoid the bitter white pith). The strips are boiled in water until soft, then simmered with the pulp and sugar until thickened. Thyme leaves are added towards the end for an extra layer of flavor. The resulting marmalade can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months.
A way to check the desired consistency of the marmalade is to drop a spoonful on a plate that has been in the freezer. After a few minutes, draw a line with your finger through the marmalade. It is set when the mixture is thick and wrinkles.
Pair the orange marmalade with cardamom crisps or breakfast rolls and a few slices of sharp Cheddar.
I also made Frallor (Breakfast Rolls), Kardemummaskorpor (Cardamom Crisps), Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs- Not Photographed), and Nypotatissallad (Fresh Potato Salad).
Frallor are poppy seed, sesame seed, or grated cheese topped breakfast buns. Commonly served as open-faced sandwiches with the top or bottom part of the bun, they paired perfectly with the Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan and slices of cheese. Johanna also recommends it topped with Smoked Fish Salad with Horseradish.
The Kardemummaskorpor (Cardamom Crisps) also went well with the Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan, cheese, and butter. The bread is traditionally baked as rolls, then sliced in half and toasted until dried. This recipe forms the bread dough into two loaves that are then cut into slices and toasted thoroughly. The resulting crisps will store for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
Köttbullar (not photographed) are the versatile Swedish Meatballs. The spiced ground beef and pork mixture is pan-fried in butter until cooked through. Serve in a cream sauce with boiled potatoes, Dill Pickled Cucumbers, and Raw Stirred Lingonberries or over a sandwich with a Beet Salad (Rödbetssallad).
Nypotatissallad is a Fresh Potato Salad that works well with cold cuts or smoked fish. The name comes from the use of first harvested potatoes with a thin and flaky skin. The small potatoes are boiled until tender and peeled. They are tossed with red onion, a picked cucumber vinaigrette, and nasturtium leaves or arugula. Johanna also recommends topping the salad with a few nasturtium flowers, but they were unavailable this time of year.
Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan (Orange Marmalade with Thyme) Recipe
Apelsinmarmelad med Timjan (Orange Marmalade with Thyme)
Excerpt from Smörgåsbord
One 8-ounce (250 milliliter) jar
4-6 (about 2 pounds, 900 grams) oranges
2 3/4 cups (650 milliliters) water
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces, 148 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
With a sponge, scrub the oranges thoroughly in warm water. Remove the rind by using a potato peeler, extracting as little of the white pith as possible. Cut into thin strips. Place 1/2 cup (120 ml) zest in a pot with the water, bring to a boil, and let simmer over medium heat until the zest is soft, about 30 minutes. (The remaining zest can be dried to make Orange Zest Powder- recipe in book).
In the meantime, cut off the ends of the oranges, using a small sharp knife. Then, cut off the white pith including the outer membrane of the individual orange segments. Remove the seeds and the rest of the membranes from the pulp and reserve as much juice as you can.
Separate the cooked zest from the cooking water by straining it through a sieve; reserve both. The water should have reduced to about 3/4 cup (180 milliliters); if not, add more water.
In a small saucepan, cook the zest, pulp, and sugar with the reserved zest water over medium heat until it has reduced and starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam that develops on the top. Add the thyme and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the mixture has reached the desired thickness. (To check the consistency, place a plate in the freezer until it’s completely cold. Remove the plate from the freezer and drop a spoonful of jam onto it. Let it sit for a few minutes before you draw a line with your finger right through it. The jam is set if it’s thick and wrinkles.)
Remove the pan from the heat and pour the marmalade into a clean jar, then let cool completely.
Store the jar in the refrigerator and eat the jam within a week or freeze in a covered container for up to 3 months.