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How to Cook Nordic Food at Home: Tips for Beginners

How to Cook Nordic Food at Home: Tips for Beginners

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Whether you’re interested in foraging or pickling (or anything in between), chances are good you’ve noticed that Nordic cuisine is influencing cooking and eating around the globe. In his beautifully photographed cookbook, The New Nordic: Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen, Simon Bajada shares recipes that remain true to Scandinavian flavors but that anyone can make at home. From the warm and hearty Isterband Salad (studded with sausage and onions) to the rich and decadent Chocolate Potato Cake, these are recipes you’ll want to make time and again.

We had a chance to talk to Simon about his book and Nordic cooking. Here’s what he had to say.

The Daily Meal: You mention in the book that it is difficult to define new Nordic cuisine because it’s constantly evolving. What are a few of the ways that you’ve seen Nordic cuisine change?
Simon Bajada: I would say in the past five years the focus on foraging and finding those unique “stand-out” ingredients has given way to applying new cooking techniques to everyday northern European produce.

While it may be a global trend, Nordic chefs are focusing on vegetables as prime components of dishes. They are not cooking strictly vegetarian dishes, but they are reducing emphasis on meats and protein.

More recently, a notable tendency is to use not only strictly Nordic ingredients but to add a foreign ingredient to these Nordic dishes.

(Simon's Black Bread recipe from 'The New Nordic')

How does your book contribute to the conversation around Nordic cooking?
The main aim of the book is to give the reader an understanding of Nordic produce and techniques applicable to their home kitchen, wherever they are in the world. I hope it contributes to a better understanding of food from this region outside of the world of fine dining.

Talk us through a few basics. What do we need in our kitchens if we’re going to start making some of the recipes from the book?
In terms of equipment, only the basic utensils are required to cook from this book. The exceptions are the mandolin and DIY home smoker. The mandolin will help slice vegetables very thinly for light pickling and the smoker will impart flavor often found in Nordic cuisine.

More importantly, the home cook should have an attitude open to experimentation and an appreciation for different and subtle flavors — the book hopes to encourage the reader to develop his or her own take on Nordic flavors.

(Simon's Chocolate Potato Cake from 'The New Nordic')

Which recipes should we start with and why?
Starting with recipes like gravlax, rhubarb chutney, and Swedish meatballs with lingonberry will give the reader an understanding of the balance of sweet, salty, and sour. These recipes are perfect examples of the flavor profile found in Nordic cooking and they combine simple techniques with produce that’s relatively easy to find.

Anything else we should know about Nordic cooking or the book?
Don't forget all this sweet and salty fish needs a cleanser, so if you are making an event of things, make sure a bottle of aquavit is close at hand!

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

How to start cooking healthy meals at home

Develop these 11 habits to cook healthier meals all year long.

Chowhound This story is part of New Year, New You , everything you need to develop healthy habits that will last all the way through 2020 and beyond.

A new year is all about new habits to help you be your best self. And after a few months of rich meals, cookie parties and holiday cocktails, there's no better time to reset your diet and Eating healthy on vacation: 7 tips that don't involve skipping dessert . The best way to start is by cooking at home .

The benefits to cooking at home are rooted in both health and finance -- two resolutions for the price of one. Holistic health coach Sam Ciavarella from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition supports at-home cooking for many reasons as well, "First and foremost, when you cook at home, you control what ingredients go into a dish, so you always know that you're fueling yourself with the best and most nutritious ingredients."

She continues, "Next, by cooking at home and having whole foods in your house, you are setting yourself up to make healthy choices without having to think about it in the moment. Additionally, cooking at home gives you the opportunity to try new things and experiment with making your favorite dishes healthier. And finally, you save money because you aren't spending money on takeout!"

With those benefits in mind, begin by incorporating as many of the following 11 habits as you can toward the promotion of a healthier lifestyle through home cooking .

1 How to boil an egg

Let’s start with something simple- a perfectly boiled egg.

It’s great for a quick snack or as an add-on to your salad. It is one of the simplest things to cook — put on a tight lid if you know how.

Cooking an egg to the perfect level of hardness can seem like a mystery. The trick, however, is in the timing.

Put a pan on the stove with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat slightly to a simmer where the water bubbles gently. Add the eggs carefully and then start a timer. You need to leave them for 6 minutes if you want a runny egg yolk. Leave them for 8 minutes if you want the yolk to be set softly or 9 minutes if you want a hard boiled egg.

How to Cook Healthier at Home

When you prepare and cook meals at home, 1) you&rsquore in control of what you and your family are eating, 2) you can get inventive and inspired with your culinary creations, and 3) you save money.

Pretty much a no-brainer. So let&rsquos bring cooking back to life!.

You don&rsquot have to be an experienced cook to prepare something everyone will love. Anyone can learn to cook healthy &ndash yes, even you.

Here are our top ten tips to get you started cooking healthy at home:

    Get inspired by healthycookbooks, cooking shows and blogs, and try new recipes that will &ldquowow&rdquo your family.

So take a deep breath, step away from the takeout menu and give it a try!

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

If You Have Space, Compost Outside.

Yimby Tumbler Composter

“For people with outdoor space at home, the easiest way to start composting is in in your backyard,” Chen says. While you can do this by burying a pile of waste and yard scraps, that’s a bit more complicated, and not always an option. “Most cities require an enclosed compost bin to prevent pests,” Chen says. This is the route we recommend.

The larger your bin, the better, says Franciosi. As food and other materials break down they create heat — more stuff means more heat, which helps everything break down faster.

The Yimby Compost Tumbler is a good bet. You rotate it every few days to keep scraps moving, which helps ensure that everything is breaking down at the same rate. Your compost is ready in two to six weeks, when it’s dark and soil-like.

In terms of what to compost in an outdoor bin, the EPA recommends using equal parts “greens” (food scraps and fresh grass clippings) and “browns” (yard material like dead leaves, branches and twigs), and moistening the browns with water before you add them to aid the process. Temperature is also key for decomposition and killing pathogens. “Buy a backyard composting thermometer to check that you’re getting temperatures of 130 degrees F,” Franciosi says. This Greenco Gardening Compost Soil Thermometer will do the trick.

The 7 Essentials of Becoming a Better Cook

</head>I'll never be the best cook on staff at Bon Appétit. I cover restaurants and food culture—code for the fact that I eat out constantly. I post up at restaurants for as many as six nights a week. When my body rebels, my restaurant count drops to around four per week.

I never learned how to cook as a kid. Growing up, dinnertime involved thumbing through delivery menus and picking up the phone. We had a couple of family staples—meatballs, mac and cheese, steak—but no family heirloom recipes, intensive all-day cooking holidays, or cookbooks marked up with tried-and-true adjustments.

It wasn't until a few years ago, after a Chopped marathon, that I decided I should teach myself how to cook. The structure of the show is formulaic, and after watching enough episodes, I began to notice chefs leaning on the same few staples to build their dishes. They riff on beurre blancs and French toast. They make compotes by reducing in a saucepan, blend ingredients to form sauces, and pulverize crumbly foods to make "croutons." What changes are the flavors.

Every week for a summer, I tackled a new technique or ingredient and consciously tried to build a foundation. I've never been one for recipes (though, now that I work here, I'll admit I've tried a few), and I'm still learning. But now I'm the person who picks up a random ingredient at a farmers' market (garlic scapes! elderberries!) and builds a meal around it. Once I learned the following, it all came together:

Once I learned to roast, sauté, and stir-fry, I realized I could make low-key hot food with very minimal effort. Roasting really is as simple as putting vegetables or a protein in a pan, dousing in oil and salt, and popping it in the oven at 350°F, give or take 50°F. Stir-frying requires oil in a scorchingly hot pan plus ingredients in constant motion. Those simple building blocks helped me build confidence that I could treat several different ingredients with these methods and work from there. My go-to fall roast this year was butternut squash plus grapes, which I folded into a farro and arugula salad for lunch and added to yogurt with honey for breakfast the following morning.

57 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Cook Right Now

The quickest way to ruin a perfectly marbled $25 steak? Cutting into it to figure out if it’s medium rare. Yes, the Thermapen is $95, but four steaks later, you’ve broken even.

Soup could have used more tomato? Chicken needed ten more minutes in the oven? Make a note of it and you’ll never make that mistake again.

Whisk a little salt and sugar into some white vinegar. Pour over thinly sliced raw vegetables. Wait 20 minutes. Eat.

You may have a steel or a sharpener at home, but once a year, get a pro to revive those knives. Your chopping will get faster, more precise—and, believe it or not, safer.

Chicken breasts are expensive and can get dull after a while thighs are juicier, cheaper, and more flavorful.

Ground spices die quickly. So give them a whiff—if they don’t smell like anything, they won’t taste like anything. And if they don’t taste like anything, you’re cooking with a flavorless, brown powder.

At a minimum, you’ll learn how to cook kale fifteen ways. At a maximum, you’ll broaden your culinary horizons by finding ways to use up all that fresh produce.

Do your scrambled eggs slide off the pan if you don’t use oil or butter? They should. Might be time for an upgrade.

There’s nothing worse than limp herbs. Next time, trim the stems and put the parsley in a glass of water, fit a plastic bag over it, and stash it in the refrigerator.

Want gorgeous scalloped potatoes or perfectly julienned carrots? Buy a mandoline. Are you a scaredycat? Wear a cut-resistant safety glove until you feel comfortable bare-handed.

Having cooked grains in your fridge means that fried rice, pilafs, rice bowls and robust salads are just minutes away.

Look, the 40-watt lightbulb in your oven hood isn't going to cut it. Get a cheap clamp light from a hardware store so you can see what you’re doing.

What else are you going to roast your vegetables on? How else are you going to make quick dinners of fish en papillote?

A freezer full of roasted turkey necks and bony beef cuts will ensure you always have what you need to make broth.

Remember that thing about super-cheap cuts of meat? Think of rinds as cheese bones.

Existential question time. If your sponge is filthy and smells, how can you expect it get your dishes clean?

Seems obvious, but if you don’t know, now you know.

Salad spinners? So bulky and annoying. Instead, pile your just-washed greens into a clean dish towel, gather it by the ends, and swing that sucker around until your salad is dry (or your arm is tired).

Chicken fat is amazing stuff, whether you’re frying onions in it, sautéing greens in it or spreading it on toast. So after eating your roast chicken dinner, drain the now-cooled liquid fat into a plastic container and store it in your freezer. (Pro tip: This also holds true for bacon fat.)

Hat tip to Rachael Ray. Buy a large bowl and keep it at the ready to fill up with egg shells and other trash generated while cooking.

Like anecdotes about high school football games, peelers get dull, especially after a couple years. We recommend the Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler, which is just seven bucks.

You cannot toss a salad or mix cookies or make meatballs in a tiny cereal bowl. All you can do is make a bigger mess.

And they’re all evil. Glass cutting boards send shivers down your spine when you use them. They dull your knives. They’re slippery. And they’re hard to use. Use wood, bamboo or plastic instead.

Bread keeps really well in the freezer. And there are always plenty of uses for it. Just remember: Air is the enemy! Wrap that loaf in foil (sliced or unsliced) and put it in a freezer bag before stashing.

Food that's crowded into a cast-iron skillet or sheet tray gets steamed—and soggy—instead of crisp.

A quick stint in a dry skillet over medium heat wakes dry spices up and releases their oils, which means your paprika will taste a lot more paprika-y. Use whole spices, watch the pan like a hawk, and stir constantly until the spices are fragrant, then transfer to a plate to cool before using.

“These nuts are too crunchy,” said nobody ever.

It's the first step to building roasty, warm flavor. (Using quinoa? Toast it before you rinse it.)

Carrots, squash, tomatoes—these vegetables have a natural sweetness that’s enhanced by a dash (just a dash!) of sugar.

Your baby has been safely chugging along on a diet of breastmilk or formula, and is about to hit the time to add solids. First of all, don’t panic! It can seem overwhelming (and frankly a little scary) to think about starting your little one on solid foods—we’ve all been there!

How to Know if Your Baby is Ready for Solids

Thankfully, there are some easy ways to tell when your baby is actually ready for solids:

  • They are around six months of age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), around six months is the proper time to begin introducing solids. The AAP also advises that babies who begin solids too early are more likely to be obese in adulthood.
  • They can hold their head up. Another major marker for a solid-ready baby is the ability to hold their own head up with properly developed neck muscles (this is when all that dreaded tummy time starts paying off!).
  • They can sit up on their own. This ensures your baby has proper alignment for chewing, swallowing and digesting food safely.
  • They appear interested in table food. Have you noticed your baby leaning towards your plate or opening their mouth when you pick up a fork? These are a few signs that baby is interested!

What Should Baby’s First Food Be?

Now that you know your baby is showing the readiness signs of solids, where do you actually start? Is now the time to know how to make homemade baby food? What is a good first food?

There’s no definitive answer to this, as there are many schools of thought, but a great food to start with is baby cereal. The Center for Disease Control recommends parents feed their children fortified cereals like oats, barely and multi-grain rather than just rice cereal, as there is a risk for exposure to arsenic.

You could also try a homemade puree as a first food—like a cooked sweet potato mixed with breastmilk or a mashed banana. Whichever food you choose, give your baby a tablespoon or two and let them explore the taste and texture. Keep in mind that baby’s tummies are very small, and it doesn’t take much to make them full!

If you have a family history of food allergies, it’s best to talk to your pediatrician about how to navigate that, and if/when to introduce that particular food type.

How Often Should Babies Eat Solid Foods?

At the beginning, food is just supplemental and for fun. As breastmilk or formula is still the main source of nutrition for babies aged 6 months up to a year, this is a great opportunity to allow your child to be exposed to different flavors and textures. Remember, start small—an infant’s stomach is tiny! Aim for one to two ounces of food three to four times a day around six months, then bump it up to six to eight ounces of food three times a day with two snacks in between.

Cooking Tips

The Old and Original Recipe for Aebleskiver

This recipe for Aebleskiver is the one my parents used to make homemade Aebleskiver when I was a child, and it's the one I use today.

The first Aebleskiver were originally cooked with small pieces of apples or sometimes applesauce as filling, from there they got their name. However, in the modern Danish kitchen these filling are not included anymore and haven't been for the past many year. For us this is the most original recipe for Aebleskiver, it's super delicious and relatively easy to make.

This is one of our best Christmas traditions and we always makes them several times during the Christmas holidays. Most of the times we stick with our traditional recipe but sometimes we add different kinds of filling inside the Aebleskiver. This filling is added during the frying process.

As filling, we have used chocolate chips, small apple pieces or different variations of jam.