‘Nordic Family Kitchen’ by Mikkel Karstad is one of those delightful books, obviously written by somebody with a passion not just for cooking, but also for the ingredients.
I loved his description of how as a boy he was given, as he puts it, his own ‘dinner day’, when he could cook whatever he wanted for the family dinner that day, and not only that, he had to buy the ingredients himself and prepare them. What a great way to get a youngster to engage with food and all it entails before it appears on a plate.
Mikkel’s culinary background includes having worked in top London restaurants, and at Copenhagen’s famed NOMA restaurant, where he acts as a consultant chef when not writing cook books or generally writing about food.
Married with four children he realised he needed to spend more time at home with the family than was possible when he worked in restaurants.
Simple, fresh food and good ingredients
And in any event his love was for more simple food with fresh, quality ingredients – home grown or locally foraged in preference.
So now he and his wife are endeavouring to instil in their children the joy of cooking and appreciating good, and preferably, fresh food. And the recipes in the ‘Nordic Family Kitchen’ certainly encourage that.
On the whole they are straight forward, and look delicious, and the ingredients not too difficult to obtain in the UK. However, redwood sorrel will slow us down a little (though it does grow in the UK – as does sea buckthorn another ingredient favoured by Mikkel), but unfortunately, we will have to pass on the crab bisque, however delicious it undoubtedly is.
His recipe for ‘Egg salad on Waffles’ is a must-try for us, as is (and doubtful as it may sound) ‘Preserved Apple Cores’ which are an integral part of the ‘Baked Beetroot’ recipe; and we love the ‘Cannelloni’ recipe with its tomato sauce and delicious sounding filling including cavolo nero, chopped hazelnuts and ricotta.
Meat and seafood eaters have not been left out either, the roast chicken cooked in butter milk, with preserved apple cores and preserved lemons sounds delicious, as does the squid fricassee plus several others.
A pleasure to read and illustrations to enjoy
The book is divided into several sections – ‘Breakfast’, ‘Dinner’, etc but also, which I found a bit disconcerting, sections headed ’In the Orchard’, ‘Eggs’, ‘On the Beach’ etc. In the end I just read the book for the sheer enjoyment of reading it.
At the end of the book by the way there is a perfectly good Index should it be necessary to track down a recipe. Incidentally the beautiful illustrations of Mikkel and his family, the food, and lovely glimpses of the local scenery taken by Anders Schønnemann are a joy.
Nordic Family Kitchen. Mikkel Karstad. ISBN: 978-3-7913-8741-3. UK: £24.99. US: $35, Can: $47. Prestel. prestel.com