Category Archives: smörgås

Cult Vinegar and Fresh Pickled Cucumbers

The other day I was in London and met up with Jonathan Brown in Kings Cross to taste vinegar. Even though we never met in real life, it was like meeting an old friend. We met through twitter via our shared interest in Nordic cuisine and mushroom picking several years ago. In 2012 I had the pleasure of drawing mushrooms for Jonathan and his wife Sarah’s wedding. Each mushroom was made into a cute place card to organize the guests during their wedding feast. Jonathan and I also share an interest in sourdough, pickling, and other fermenting things. So when earlier this year I discovered that Jonathan had gone into business to make vinegar I felt it necessary to meet up in person when passing by London.

And o’boy his Cult vinegar rocks!

During a wonderful lunch (mushroom toast with some deep fried squid) Jonathan let me taste about 10 different kinds of his Cult Vinegar collection (several of which you can purchase online). For example; red wine vinegar (perfect in a dressing over sun ripe tomatoes), white wine vinegar (think mustard sauce and Hollandaise), moscatel vinegar (sweet and sharp like a white balsamic vinegar), ruby port vinegar (deliciously sweet and perfect in red meat sauces, waldorf salad dressing or together with blue cheese), sherry vinegar, German Riesling vinegar (perfect in a Fresh Pickled Cucumbers, recipe below), sake (should work beautifully in a dumpling dipping sauce), apple cider vinegar, and champagne vinegar (curiously citrusy and sharp which I liked on the fried squid).

In 2011 Jonathan and Sarah traveled to Burgundy, France to hunt for their wedding wine. In a country side kitchen just outside Beaune they got introduced to a vinaigrier container; a very traditional ceramic vessel that lets natural bacteria in the kitchen turn leftover wine into vinegar. The initial incubation takes about 6 to 8 weeks – once alive it will last forever if topped up with the occasional half glass of wine.

Jonathan quickly got addicted to the living smell of vinegar, so back home in London he started to make his own while playing with the idea of creating a modern version of a traditional French vinaigrier. A few years later after visiting a local ceramic school he connected with ceramicist Billy Lloyd and together they took on the challenge to design a new version. The result is the Cult Ceramics Vinegar Vase which is both beautiful and clever. With it’s hexagon shape and three different colors on the lids (red, white, and yellow) you can easily group several vases together and have different types of vinegar in the making at the same time. The vase comes with a handy “How-to- Guide” booklet and a bottle of a vinegar culture (the “mother”) so you can start your own vinegar production as soon as you have unpacked the vessel.

Back in Brooklyn I have now started my first batch of white wine vinegar. Every time I walk by the vessel I can’t stop myself from lifting the lid to have sniff. I think I’m addictive already!

Here is a classic recipe for pressgurka, Swedish fresh pickled cucumbers. Normally these pickles are made with distilled white vinegar but some German Riesling Cult vinegar will make it extra special. If you don’t have a Riesling vinegar on hand, substitute with Champagne vinegar or a good quality white wine vinegar. Try the pickles with meatballs, gravlax, or on a smörgås (Swedish open-faced sandwich) with cheese.

Swedish Fresh Pickled Cucumbers
(adapted from my recipe in Smörgåsbord)

serves 4 to 6 as a side

1 medium (about 12 ounces, 340 grams) English cucumber
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) German Riesling Cult vinegar + more if needed
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water + more if needed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill or parsley
freshly ground white pepper, for seasoning

Rinse the cucumber in cold water. Slice it with a mandoline, cheese slicer, or potato peeler as thin as you can.

Arrange the slices in a wide colander and sprinkle them with the salt. Toss gently to distribute the salt evenly. Press the cucumbers down with a plate that fits within the colander and place something heavy on top. Let sit for about 30 minutes, at room temperature. (The salt and the heavy weight will help drain the water from the sliced cucumber.)

In the meantime, prepare the pickling liquid. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar water, sugar, and dill. Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Adjust the acidity with more vinegar or water to your liking.

Remove the weight and the plate and squeeze gently with your hands to remove any excess liquid. Place the cucumbers in a bowl or in a clean glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

These pickles are best eaten fresh so consume them within a few days. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

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related links

read more about Jonathan and his story here

fungathlon – half marathon with mushroom foraging,
invented and practiced by Jonathan Brown

Cult Ceramics & Cult Vinegar on Instagram

more work by Billy Lloyd

Classic Hollandaise Sauce by Ruhlman

How to make French Vinaigrette by David Lebovitz

Apple Cider Vinegar – kokblog recipe

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Smörgåsbord – My second cookbook

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This week my forthcoming book, Smörgåsbord: The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats (Ten Speed Press) is on its way to the printer and will hit the bookshelves on September 26. Yay!

The book is a celebration of the Swedish tradition Smörgåsbord which is a festive buffet with dishes like cured herring, gravlax, cold cuts, pickles, salads, and meatballs. This table with its well balanced flavors of sweet, sour, and salt is an excellent display of Nordic cuisine.

As the word Smörgåsbord is composed of two words; smörgås (open-faced-sandwich) and bord (table), the dishes are always served with several different types of bread, butter, and cheese. A smörgåsbord is most often set up in a separate room and the table can sometimes be several meters long and consist of over 100 dishes.
johannak-smorgas-03
At a time when we have too many things on our minds, it’s hard to find the time to prepare a whole smörgåsbord. The intention of this book is to inspire you to make smaller portions as festive starters or individual smörgås bites. Every dish in the book includes pairing suggestions so you can easily create your own personal smörgåsbord spreads. The dishes can be as simple as deviled eggs, or more ambitious with freshly baked rye bread paired with hot smoked salmon, homemade pickles, and marinated mustard seeds.

Thanks to my editor Kaitlin Ketchum for believing in this project. It’s always a pleasure to work with you and everyone at Ten Speed Press.

If you like, you can already now pre-order the book in several bookstores online: Random House, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Amazon (US), and Amazon (UK). The book is also listed at the Swedish bookstores Bokus and Adlibris.

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related links

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (my first book)

Smörgåsbord chapter pattern on fabric at Spoonflower

 

my second cookbook

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I’m finally ready to tell you, I’m working on my second book. It will be, like the first one, an illustrated cookbook with recipes and stories inspired by my Swedish roots.  But instead of being on the sweet side I will be sharing savory treats. Right now I don’t want to reveal more about the subject, but stay tune I will share more details soon.

It all started about one year ago when I sat down over a fika with my dear editor Kaitlin Ketchum to discuss some initial ideas for a potential book.  The meeting was followed by a few weeks of intensive thinking, drawing, writing and cooking while looking over a walnut orchard in Chico, California. The final proposal ended up in a contract and was followed by an extensive amount of recipe tweaking, research and writing. And when I couldn’t lift more pots or fit another bread in my belly, I sat down to draw.

I’m now working closely with the Ten Speed Press team to get all the pieces in place. Later this Spring it will be off to the printer and the book is scheduled to be published by Ten Speed Press, September 26, 2017.

Some other exciting news is that Fika has been translated and published in both Chinese and Korean. And the book is about to be translated to Simplified Chinese. Hurrah!

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Related links

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break
by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

Behind the Scene of Fika
more about my first book

Fika on National TV in Korea
(in Korean)

johannak-bakar

Roasted Acorn Squash Spread

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The reason for my silence here on kokblog is simple, I have been extremely busy with a number of exciting projects in the kitchen as well as in my drawing studio (about which I’m hoping to share with you soon). I’m also recovering from a long lasting and painful frozen shoulder. Luckily it hasn’t stopped me from creating stuff but it surely has slowed me down a little. One good thing is that it has encouraged me to take exercising more seriously and daily walks in the neighborhood.

Well, it’s getting freezing out there so I’m enjoying cozy nights in front of our fireplace with warming dishes like mushroom risotto or polenta with hearty ragu. If I want something simple I make Äggakaga a pancake like dish from South Sweden. Traditionally it’s served with bacon but it’s delicious with Andrew Janjigian’s mushroom confit too.

Lately I have been developing several new bread recipes. Instead of the normal spreads like cheese, charcuterie and pickles, I  enjoy having bread with slices of avocado or hummus with roasted peppers. I have also been savoring it with roasted acorn squash, as in the recipe below. Typically, this is a side dish but I think it really works well on slices of toasted sourdough bread. If you like, add some goat cheese but it’s pretty good just as it is.

Roasted Acorn Squash Spread
serves 2 to 4

1 acorn squash, approximately 1 pound
about 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
1 to 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or brown sugar)
rosemary, fresh or dried, chopped or crushed
salt and freshly milled pepper, for seasoning

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)

With a sharp heavy knife cut the acorn squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds (which are delicious roasted) and all the stringy pulp with a small knife and a spoon.

Arrange the halves in a baking pan, with cut side up. Pour the olive oil into the center of both halves. Add the syrup, rosemary and a dash of salt.

Roast the squash until very very soft and with a nice caramelized top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Scope out the flesh into a medium bowl including any remaining olive oil. Mash it all together with a fork. If it feels too dry, add more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with toasted sourdough bread.

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Related links

Acorn Squash Crostini with Crispy Bacon and Sage Recipe – Serious Eats

Butternut Squash and Sage Latkes by Martha Rose Shulman, NYTimes

Yotam Ottolenghi’s butternut squash and tahini spread, The Guardian

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illustrated by me

Adventures in Vegetables
Interview with Dennis Cotter by Killian Fox at The Gannet Magazine

Pumpkin artwork

Chickpea Salad with Rosemary & Almonds

© Johanna Kindvall

One of my favorite starters is Jules Clancy’s warm chickpea salad with rosemary & garlic. It’s a wonderful dish that is super easy to put together. It always seems to be a welcoming treat for my guests. I serve it warm or cold as a starter together with fresh homemade bread. This dish is also nice together with olives, mushroom confit, feta and thinly sliced dried sausage.

I have tried different variations of this recipe; thyme instead of rosemary and sunflower seeds instead of almonds. They are all good, however the original combination of chickpeas, chili, rosemary and almonds is just perfect so I mostly stick to that. The recipe below is almost identical to Jules, but my method is slightly different. For example, I prefer to add the garlic at the end, as I easily burn the garlic otherwise. And in this way I minimize the risk of bitter and overcooked garlic.

Thanks Jules for this lovely recipe.

Chickpea Salad with Rosemary & Almonds
adapted from a recipe by Jules Clancy

400 g cooked chickpeas, drained (about one regular can)
chili flakes
one sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped fine or kept whole
one garlic clove, minced
flaky sea salt
¼ cup (60 ml) almonds, toasted

In a separate frying pan, heat up some olive oil. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium and add the rosemary with a pinch of chili flakes, fry for about a minute before adding the chickpeas. Stir occasionally. Just when the chickpeas start to brown, clear a spot in the pan and add the minced garlic. Let cook for just a little bit before stirring in the rest. Lastly, add the toasted almonds and season with sea salt and some more olive oil (if it feels too dry).

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As you may know already, Jules is the creator of Stonesoup where she share recipes and teach minimal healthy cooking. In 2011 she was a guest here on kokblog. I have also done several illustrations for her websites, for e.g. the beets in the header of stonesoup, the yellow bench and header of her Virtual Cookery School.

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Can’t get enough of chickpeas? I suggest you check out these links:

Feed the Hommous – Chickpeas, the Versatile Bean by Fouad Kassab
Fabrizia’s Panelle by Nicky at Delicious Days  (I love Fabrizia‘s Panelle)
Black Chickpea and Broccoli Soup by Elizabeth Minchilli
Smoky Fried Chickpeas by Aliwaks at Food 52
Easiest Way to Skin Chickpeas for Super Smooth Hummus [VIDEO] by Andrew Janjigian at America’s Test Kitchen