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Simply Scandinavian: A Cookbook Review

Simply Scandinavian: Travelling Through Time with Finnish Cuisine and Nature is a well written, beautifully photographed cookbook that caught my eye from the moment I pulled it out of the packaging.  The authors, Tero Kallio and Kimmo Saira, have broken the book out by season beginning with Spring and ending with Winter.  The recipes range from simple to complex and many of the ingredients are quite unique.  With chef driven instruction for everything from rheindeer carpaccio, to soup of moose and oven-baked cheese, to Vorschmack with potato salad and beetroot crisps, to rabbit sausages with Jerusalem artichokes, I’ll admit that I was drawn in and ready to cook almost immediately.

The only double edged sword of this book is that several of the recipes include ingredients that are truly local to the area.  On the one side, it leaves many cooks, such as myself, unable to complete the dishes in the original way the authors intended them to be eaten.  But with that being said, the recipes are just that, local Finnish cuisine, and are a true representation of the delicious edible fare Finland has to offer.  As such, it would be remiss to not include them in the roundup.

In choosing which recipe to cook, I decided upon a main course from the Autumn section of the book; loin of pork with cauliflower puree and dark beer gravy.  The recipe was straight forward and the results were satisfyingly delicious.

Start out by heating up a frying pan on medium high heat and searing your pork loin on both sides until it turns a beautiful shade of caramel brown.

Remove it from the pan and toss it in the oven to finish cooking.  Using the same pan you seared the meat in; add a little beef broth, some veggies, and a couple herbs and spices.

Pour in some beer and add a swirl or two of molasses to the pot.

Cover that beautiful mixture and let it simmer at a gentle boil for about an hour.  When the hour’s up you’ll strain all the bits and pieces out of the gravy, return the liquid to the pan and thicken it with a little cornstarch.

Last up, the cauliflower mash.  Grab a pot and add in some chopped potatoes and cauliflower.  Let it boil until soft.

Once they’ve cooked through, give them a rough mash with a potato masher and then add in a little butter, milk and Parmesan cheese.  Finish it off with a quick whirl of the emulsifier and add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the meat and cauliflower mash with a heaping spoonful of the beer gravy over the top and enjoy.

For anyone interested in learning more about Finnish ingredients and cuisine, this cookbook is a perfect addition to their recipe collection.  I’m excited to have had the opportunity to review it.  Now if I can just get my hands on a little rheindeer….

Loin of Pork with Cauliflower Puree and Dark Beer Gravy

Total Time: 1 hour 30 min

Adapted from Simply Scandinavian: Travelling Through Time with Finnish Cuisine and Nature written by Tero Kallio and Kimmo Saira


For the Pork:

1 Two Pound Pork Loin
Salt and Pepper to Taste

For the Beer Gravy:

11 Fl. Oz. Dark Beer
10 Fl. Oz. Beef Stock
3.4 Fl. Oz. Treacle ( I used Molasses; about 1/3 cup Converted)
2 Carrots, Chopped
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Bay Leaf
3 Dried Allspice Berries (I subbed 1/8 tsp ground Allspice)
1 Bunch Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
Salt to Taste

For the Cauliflower Puree:

1 Head Cauliflower, Roughly Chopped
2 Floury Potatoes Peeled and Roughly Chopped (I used Russet)
1.8 Oz. Parmesan Cheese, Grated
7 Fl. Oz. Milk (about 3/4 Cup)
1 Tbsp Butter


Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat and sear the loin on both sides.

Remove the meat from the pan, season with salt and pepper, and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until the internal temperature of the loin reaches 170 degrees. Tent with aluminum foil and set to the side.

To the same pan, add in the beef stock and heat on medium.

Add in the carrots, onions and spices to the stock.

Pour in the beer and the treacle.

Cover and let boil gently for one hour.

Strain out the veggies, return the broth to the pan, add the cornstarch (mixed with 2 tbsp cold water) and boil gently until thickened.

For the cauliflower puree, boil a pot of water and add in the potatoes and cauliflower. Cook until soft.

Strain and return to the pan. Adjust the heat to low.

Roughly mash the veggies with a potato masher and then add in the milk, butter, and Parmesan cheese.

Smooth out with a emulsifier.

Add salt to taste.

Serve the meat and cauliflower mash with a heaping spoonful of gravy poured over the top.