Mainly out of curiosity and a dash of nostalgia I recently bought a copy of Scandilicious (Saltyard Books May 2011), by Signe Johansen. I was just watching her promotional video on Amazon today and reflected on how different her upbringing was from mine!
Min Danske Mor arrived in England in the fifties from Sweden, where she had lived from the age of thirteen, armed with two Swedish cookbooks and only the vaguest notion of how to feed a family. She struggled with the butchers, who cut the meat up differently, the imperial weights and measures, unfamiliar dishes with names like Yorkshire Pudding and relied on a handful of suppers which she could make. We never had puddings, but ate large quantities of salad as our second course, always with a mustardy French vinaigrette.
We ate cherries always in season, and I associate this fruit very much with Sweden and high summer and look high and low for the varieties I like best each year. Most of the cherry orchards of England have been grubbed up and it is rare to find Kentish Whitehearts and the lighter coloured cherries I remember from my childhood these days. Last year there was a bumper crop of wild cherries in my local dog walking woods and I made jam with it, this year there are hardly any cherries on the same trees.
My mother always wanted to eat the foods of home and so we would have gravad lax, matjes herrings, rare beef and rye bread and dark hard crackers and liquorice and thin wafers of chocolate on white bread and butter. They are quite fashionable these days, though I haven’t seen anyone write up the chocolate bread sandwich on a blog yet. I wonder if you can get that special bread chocolate in one of the Scandinavian shops here?
One of the meals we had fairly often was ‘Soup and Pancakes.’ A traditional evening meal for Swedes everywhere.
Browsing through Signe’s beautifully photographed collection of her favourite meals and dishes I came across her recipe for evening pancakes and thought it sounded just like my mother’s way of making them. She had a very heavy cast iron pan with six or seven little indented circles which made lots of little pancakes, and from an early age I used to help make them. I found, and still do, the whole process really exciting.
I love trying to guess how much batter is just right; the sound of the butter hitting the hot metal; the blue smoke; the moment as the batter flows onto the pan; the frantic swirling; the bubbles forming; the lifting of the edge; the decision to turn – such drama – and then you get to do it all over again!
So for supper we had mushroom soup, followed by Evening Pancakes, which we filled with all sorts of bits and pieces I found in the fridge; some mini chorizo sausages, a bunch of Lincolnshire asparagus, a few cold new potatoes, some pancetta cubes, a handful of oyster mushrooms. I heated everything up, flipped enough pancakes for the two of us, and put some on a mental plate for my ancestors in case they happen to be watching.
I cut the quantities down to make enough for the two of us as follows:-
More or less these are
Signe’s Evening Pancakes from Scandilicious – Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking
- 300 ml full cream milk
- a tablespoon and a half of yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- 165 g plain flour
- 60 g melted butter
- Salt to taste
Mix the eggs and the yoghurt together first and then add the milk and flour, whisk well, finally pouring in the cooled and melted butter. I used mine after about ten minutes, but you can leave it to stand longer.
I use a steel crepe pan, the one made famous by Delia many years ago. Properly seasoned and cared for, it has outlasted any non stick pan I’ve ever owned. To season a pan like this when it is new or has been washed up by someone with washing up liquid (noooooo-ooooo) you heat it up on the hob, allow it to cool down, then add a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper and rub it round the pan, then warm it up again and allow it to cool. Other methods of seasoning pans are heating it up with salt in it, but the principle is that of heat and cooling. I store it with kitchen paper inside it to protect the seasoned surface when not in use.
To make pancakes, first heat the pan up, add a small piece of good butter, watch it sizzle and tip it round the pan. Then take a small quantity of batter to start with, and pour it into the centre of the pan with a ladle. Lift the pan and tip and turn it to swirl the batter round the pan and fill in any big gaps.
Once small bubbles have appeared, you can pick up the edges of the pancake and see how it is doing underneath. It should take a minute or two, then flip it over and cook the other side. I keep them warm in the oven while I work my way through the batter. This quantity made about twelve eight inch pancakes.
Signe adds sugar to her batter, but I left it out as we were having savoury fillings. Though I did squeeze lemon juice and brown sugar on my very last one. Her pancake recipe is quite perfect, what else can I say?
I spy a recipe for waffles in there too…. nestled in with the cakes, fish dishes, breads and meatballs and other delights. There are useful tips on how to play with the repertoire of foods and bright clean flavours that one associates with Scandinavia. I am looking forward to trying many more of the recipes in this book and revisiting my childhood. Do visit Signe’s blog and have a look at her lovely book full of gorgeous photos and recipes.
I entered her blog competition last month on a whim, thinking of Moomins and my mug collection, and much to my surprise I have won a pretty set of Iittala Korento summer coffee cups from Skandium, a great store full of wonderful design classics like the Lamino chair. I’ll share a picture of them when they arrive!
This was what I wrote on her blog….
‘It’s the long dark November nights that make for good interior designers; there is time to think long and hard about making beautiful chairs that are really comfortable while a thousand candles twinkle in the night and the wolves howl in the pine forests outside, while inside one dreams of the midnight sun and the reflections on the Kattegat from sunlit sandstone cliffs….’
Thank you Signe for writing such a lovely book, (I have her permission to write about the recipe by the way) I hope it does well.
I made these pancakes last month when I first bought the book, the photos are a bit grainy but that’s because they were taken with the iPad.
Related Posts :
- Piima Bread for Moomins
- Gravad Lax
- This post I found this morning – an explanation for the historical background to this meal, apparently it should be pea soup and pancakes and served on Thursdays; maybe I’ll do that next time.