Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review: The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann

At first glance, this is an utterly beautiful book, with full-color, glossy photos of food and Scandinavian landscapes--food and travel porn at its best. Trina Hahnemann divides her recipes into the four seasons, which is an increasingly popular style of organizing a cookbook. It doesn't always work, but I think in this case it does, as she is in part emphasizing the seasonality of food in Scandinavia--especially the foods that are fished or hunted. She also puts together menus for different holidays, which is appropriate considering most of her readers in the United States will not be familiar with the customs in Sweden and Norway (the two cuisines most often highlighted).

All that being said, I have tried one recipe from this cookbook, and it was very nearly a disaster. I made the 'Rice Pudding with Warm Cherry Sauce,' a dessert traditionally eaten following Christmas dinner. The first pitfall was far too much salt in the rice pudding (and I used less than what was instructed), an error, I suspect, of translating from metric to English measurements. The second was too much sugar and corn starch in the cherry sauce, making it very closely resemble canned cherry pie filling. Not the result I wanted when I spent a small fortune on organic frozen cherries. I was also confused by her insistence that the pudding be eaten cold, as my second generation Swedish immigrant grandmother always served rice pudding warm. The resulting dessert was edible, but just barely.

I am not willing to give up on this cookbook, however, as it has too many promising recipes to try, including ones to use up my significant other's vast quantities of venison in the freezer. I will come back to this review and rating once I have tried others, but for now I must say I was very disappointed.

Cross-posted on my LibraryThing profile

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